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Douglas Hicks

Age: 31 to 40

Occupation:Stock Broker

Number of Cruises: 3 to 5

Cruise Line: Holland America

Ship: Zaandam

Sailing Date: August 5th, 2000

Itinerary: Western Caribbean

Holland America's new Zaandam is a beautiful, clean ship and was a great compromise for our ages which range from 8 to retired. My parents, wife, daughter, and I went on the Western Caribbean cruise.

The ship leaves at 5pm with boarding at 3pm. I recommend you arrive by 1pm at the latest so that you can book your shore excursions, spa appointments, and dinner reservation at the Marco Polo before they are all sold out. We were on the ship with all this taken care of in time for a late lunch on the Lido deck.

My parents stayed in a regular ocean view room and we opted for the mini-suite. The mini-suite was not too much bigger than a standard room, but it had lots of little extras, most importantly the private veranda which measured approximately 6' x 9'.

The main atrium was only three stories and the view was obstructed by the giant organ in the middle (which didn't work). The overall effect was not near as impressive as most modern ships that have glass elevators and grand staircases.

There may have been hydraulic problems in general since there was a delay one afternoon in leaving because a tender couldn't be raised back up onto the ship and here were also occasional problems with the elevators.

The main dining room was first class in its design, service, and food. However, the wine steward was over-worked most nights. We had a great experience in the smaller Marco Polo restaurant as well-- don't forget reservations ASAP.

The Lido deck offered a great variety of food for both breakfast and lunch. It was serve yourself, but someone would always help my daughter carry her tray to the table.

Finally, we enjoyed three of the four ports. "Downtown" Ocho Rios, Jamaica was almost third world in its look and Dunn's River Falls was just O.K.  Holland America's Half Moon Key, Bahamas was a highlight and looked as good as the brochure

Overall, I recommend the cruise for almost anyone. The Zaandam is a luxury ship that appeals to all tastes and ages.

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