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Lauretta S. Arnold

Age: 55

Occupation:retired

Number of Cruises: two

Cruise Line: Holland America

Ship: Zuiderdam

Sailing Date: September 18th, 2004

Itinerary: Western Caribbean


We boarded the Ms. Zuiderdam around 1:00PM. It only took about 30 minutes from the time we arrived until we were on board. A wonderful lunch was waiting as well as a welcome aboard get together.

When I started looking for a ship we knew we wanted it to have at least a 5 star rating. We wanted a ship that did not have a lot of children aboard and one that offered excellent serivce. We also wanted a suite w/balcony on a newer ship.

The ports we visited were not so important to us but we did want to spend two days at sea. We live in the desert.

The Ms. Zuiderdam was absolutely beautiful. The entire ship's decorating just flowed together rather nice. I never felt crowded or pushed around. The dining rooms were roomy and no matter where you sit you could see the ocean out the huge windows. The service and food was absolutely great! Never had one complaint. We always had room service for breakfast in our suite. The breakfast was always there on time. Only once did we have exactly what we ordered but the food and service was good.

Our suite was on the sixth deck, S suite. It was roomy, extremely clean and our steward, Komang, certainly knew his job. The balcony was definately worth the extra money it cost. The bathroom was the clencher to a great time. It had double sinks, huge mirrow with bright lights, a glass shower and seperate jeted tub w/shower. We were also provided a clean robe each morning.

We had down pillows and the bed had a pillow covering which was nice. One thing I noticed is that we never heard the next door neighbors or people going up and down the halls. Nice and quiet.

The entertainment was good. The staff presented "Under the Boardwalk" and it was very nicely done. The other shows were entertaining and well done.

We had the 6:15 seating for dinner. I do not recommend this for anyone considering this cruise. They offer several different shows; Not so Newly Weds, What's My Line, etc., between the seatings and we were extremely rushed to make the shows. Severly times we were not able to finish our dinner.

We wanted to attend church Sunday afternoon and was not able to as the lady that was presenting some shopping in the ports talk ran about an hour over her time. We found this very disturbing and rude. If we had stayed for church we would have been late for dinner. Feeding our stomachs won out over feeding our souls.

Ports: Key West was our first stop. We have been there several times so it was not that exciting for us.

Cozumel, Mexico was our second port. We had booked the Jungle ATV excursion.

We did some shopping which was very nice. Good deals on jewelery ladies! If you go to Cozumel you absolutely must book the ATV excursion. That was the highlight of our trip! I guarantee you that you will not be bored. The men that run it have outstanding upbeat personalities, the ATV's were new and the scenery, when you could see it, was beautiful. We own ATV's and ride quite often but, not like them. Take it and you will not regret it.

Due to hurrican Jeannie our ports were changed. Our next stop was Costa Maya, Mexico. We booked the 4 hour Myan Ruins tour. Don't bother to do this tour. It was 90 degrees outside. They loaded around 60 people on a bus with no air conditioner and drove us for over an hour to the ruins. The windows would not go down. The guide knew his business and was knowledgeable but we were so hot from the bus ride and then we walked around two miles in the hot sun. This really took the fun out of the trip. By the time we returned to town on a bus with no air conditioner I was ill from the heat. We did not like shopping in Costa Maya as the salesmen were extremely pushy and just flat rude at times. This was a big party port. It is a very small town with a few shops and many bars. The beach is rock so there were public pools. We thought about going swimming but the pools were full of many drunk people. Our ship was late in leaving as it took a long time to gather up all the drunks and get them aboard. But, once the drunks were aboard we never saw or heard them. Not sure what they did with them.

Our next port was to be Grand Caymons but Jeannie changed that. In fact, she changed the rest of our cruise. We ended up cruising back towards Florida and was detoured to the waters 30 miles off Cuba. The ports in Ft. Lauderdale were closed and our cruise extended an extra two days! Panic set in for us and many of the passengers due to scheduled flights, jobs, baby-sitters, etc. Holland America gave each passenger 15 minutes of free telephone time to make contact with the real world. The Captain kept the passengers informed at all times about the hurricane.

The staff made those additional two days at sea very special. They came up with new shows and many different types of entertainment. The food remained excellent. At no time did we feel like we were in any danger.

Yes, we missed several ports and were disappointed that we did not get to snorkle with the sharks, etc. But, we are the ones that booked a cruise during hurricane season. No complaints - in fact, the additional days at sea were nice.

If you want a more laid back cruise with good food and service we think you would be very happy booking on the Ms. Zuiderdam. We give it 5 stars.

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