Tony & Willetta Milone
Number of Cruises: 2
Cruise Line: Holland America
Sailing Date: November 8th, 2003
Itinerary: Eastern Caribbean
This was our 2nd cruise. Our first was 10 yrs ago on Royal Caribbean, Majesty of the Seas. We decided on the Zuiderdam because of the great value and also because it is a fairly new ship for our 20th wedding anniversary.
Before the cruise I read many mixed reviews about the ship. Most of the bad reviews were not seen on our cruise. The embarkation was very smooth and quick. We arrived at the terminal at 12 noon dropped off the luggage outside and was in the Lido eating within 15 minutes. The lido on the 9th floor has a variety of food. Sure, it is crowded at times, especially the first day when they send everyone up there after you board the ship, but the dining room staff helps you find a seat and are all exceptionally helpful throughout the cruise.
Around 1 pm an announcement was made that our rooms were ready. We were on the upper promenade deck(4)starboard side, aft. Room 4173, balcony. Room was spacious with a queen size bed, small couch, chair and private balcony. Plenty of space to put all your clothes, plenty of hangers, and 4 pieces of empty suitcases fit nicely under the bed. I have read bad reviews about this, but we had no trouble with the room. The cabin steward was excellent. Very friendly and courteous. He kept the room very neat and clean. The TV had 2 movie channels and CNN and a few others. Not much of a choice, but we weren't there to watch tv all week.
We ordered room service in the morning. Had coffee and danish on the balcony 2 or 3 times, which was very nice. Room service was always there on time and is complimentary (couple of bucks tip) Speaking of the food, we ate breakfast in the dining room 3 times, which was always nice, it is open seating and it keeps you away from the lido buffet style if you prefer. We also ate lunch twice in the dining room . They also have Dutch tea (at 3:15 pm) in the dining room on the formal nights which is very nice. (chocolate extravaganza)
We had late seating dinner at 8:30 pm. Seatings were early at 545 and 615. Late was at 800 and 830. The dinners were very nice, waiters and his assistant were great. The portions of food were not huge. They were enough and tasted fine and the presentation was nice. It seemed you were eating all day long, so you shouldn't be very hungry for dinner. We did not eat in the pay restaurant, although we heard it was well worth the $20 per person. We were at a table for 6, but it was only us at the table the first night. Then 3 ladies who were sitting alone sat with us the remainder of the cruise. We also had an officer sit with us on the formal nights.
Many of the reviews mention the
vibration and engine noise in the dining room....yes, we were sitting toward the
rear of the dining room on deck 2, a little vibration and some noise, but not
overbearing. The front of the dining room had considerable less noise.
The Private Island was great. It was the best stop of the cruise in my opinion. Beautiful powdery sand and clear water. It was a nice sunny day. The stop at St Maarten was cancelled due to rain and rough seas. We diverted to St Thomas and it rained all day there , also. It cleared up for the Nassau stop on Friday, but was very windy. We went to Paradise Island to the beach for a little while($5 a piece taxi ride) and went through The Atlantis Hotel. Then went a little shopping near the pier. A lot of the Nassau people bother you to braid your hair, etc. especially at the beach.
The decor of the ship was nice, despite what others claim. We saw nothing wrong with it. We also had no trouble with finding a bathroom as others had claimed. The shows weren't extravagant, but entertaining. The exercise room was spacious and had lots of equipment. I would have liked to play basketball on deck, but it was too windy for any activity outside. The pool areas had enough seats available. They take many pictures on this cruise, but never force you to buy any.
We never smelled any foul odor that others have claimed. Also, the ship will be in dry dock in December for some minor updates. More restrooms and to fix the engine noise and vibration problem (so, I was told)
Overall, we had a great time, and
it rained 3 of the 7 days. Seas were rough all week. The crew said it was the
rainiest week ever! We would definitely take this cruise again , you will not be
disappointed. The staff is great, many things to do, and good food.
I will be happy to answer any questions you may have. Just email me!