George E Sturtevant
Number of Cruises: five
Cruise Line: Holland America
Sailing Date: December 13th, 2003
Itinerary: Eastern Caribbean
We drove to the Holland America Lines pier located at Ft Lauderdale Fl. and parked at the Mid Port parking garage.
We arrived about 11:30 am and were eating in the Lido by 12:15. Holland America has certainly improved the embarkation procedure. Since this was our first voyage on the Zuiderdam, we just explored the vessel for the remainder of the day. She sailed on time at 5:00pm.
We had an inside cabin and it
seemed somewhat larger then what we expected,
although the bathroom was very small.
We had heard so many negative comments about the Zuiderdam that we just decided to form our own opinion. Since we just returned this afternoon, and while it is fresh in my memory, here are our comments:
By HAL standards, the Zuiderdam is a large Vista Class Vessel and like anything new , it takes time to figure out the layout. It is not like the other HAL ships. Many people have commented about the loud colors (carpeting & furniture), but we found them refreshing.
We enjoyed the "outside"
elevators, and took them whenever possible. Great views.
The stage productions were great, but the sound was somewhat loud for my taste. The comedians were terrific.
The food served in the Vista dining room was generally very good, but the service was slow. And the tables were much too close together. We had asked for a table for two and they simply pushed our table up against a table for four, with a little space in between. Not what we asked for.
The air conditioning was warm in some areas and very cold in others.
Before we departed, i had read comments about the vibration felt mainly in the Vista dining room However, it was very minimal and we hardly noticed it at all. Now, I must mention, that the Zuiderdam had just come out of dry dock and the vibration problem was one of the repairs corrected. According to the crew, she will be going back into dry dock after the Holiday cruises. Don't know what she will be going in for this time. As on all HAL ships that we have sailed, the crew was very pleasant and accommodating.
We visited St. Martin, St. Thomas and Nassau and their private island, Half moon Cay. Half Moon Cay is always a delight. Although we didn't participate in any of the water activities, we enjoyed our time there.
We had arranged for an island tour of St Martin and enjoyed that. There was a lenghthy stop on the French side. St. Martin was very crowded, since there were five other ships in port.
The Zuiderdam docked along side the pier at St Thomas near the Havensight Mall, and it is a nice clean area for shopping. We also went into Charlotte-Amalie for some shopping and returned late in the afternoon. Last year, while visiting St. Thomas, we took the island tour, including the paradise point tramway which is a must. If u are into shopping, St Thomas is the place.
Nassau also has lots of shopping. And a trip over to Paradise Island to the hotel Atlantis is another must.
In summary: We enjoyed this trip on the Zuiderdam and would recommend it to anyone considering a cruise. It is a big ship with lots of activities. Always something going on into the wee hours. Nothing structured, so u can choose whatever activities u are interested in.