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Carol Perlman

Age: 65

Occupation:special education therapist

Number of Cruises: 4

Cruise Line: Holland America

Ship: Zuiderdam

Sailing Date: November 13th, 2004

Itinerary: Eastern Caribbean

My husband and I sailed on Holland America’s Zuiderdam on a seven night cruise to the Eastern Caribbean from Fort Lauderdale on Saturday, November 13th. This was our 4th cruise with Holland America. Last winter we sailed the Veendam from Tampa to the Western Caribbean, and this summer we were on the Statendam to Alaska cruising seven days from Vancouver to Seward, and seven days back to Vancouver.

I was skeptical about sailing on the Zuiderdam because I had read so many negative comments about the vibration and the decor. Our outside cabin, 1050, was on the Main Deck. and close to the front of the boat. It was very roomy, but lacked drawer space. The only drawers were in the two night tables. There were several shelves in the spacious closets, but I would have preferred the drawers that were located in the desk area on the older ships. There was very little vibration in our cabin and we never found it to be a problem. However, the back of the dining room on the upper level, did have some vibration, but nothing terrible. The table we had in the back of the dining room on the Veendam had as much, if not more vibration.

We both found the decor of the ship to be very colorful, pleasing and upbeat. There were
beautiful fresh flower arrangements and lovely artwork all over the ship. The ship, a vista class, was much bigger than the Veendam and the Statendam, and some people did complain about having trouble finding their way around. The Crow’s Nest was only accessible from the elevators in the front of the ship, and it took me several days to locate it. I loved the view from the outside elevators located midship.

My favorite spot on the ship was the few tables outside on the Lido deck at the aft pool. I enjoyed eating breakfast there because it was quiet and not too many people seemed to know about these tables outside .Another great spot was the outside deck near the Crow’s Nest . It had loads of chaises in the sun, and some comfortable chairs that were under a shade canopy so I could read without getting burned. Since my husband likes the sun and I need shade, this was a good compromise for us.

We had requested an early dinner seating and were given 5:45, which was a bit early and some days I felt rushed coming back from the beaches and having to be ready for dinner at that time. The food in the dining room was very good, as was the service. My complaint, however, is that the food came so fast that I felt rushed. Although the Lido on this ship has several specialty stations, I found the food there to be quite ordinary. We saw the waiters take the deserts out of boxes and put them into the cases, making us wonder if they were baked on the ship. The
specialty Odyssey Restaurant was great, and well worth the $10 per person discounted charge on the first night of the cruise.

Since we both love the beach, we didn’t take any of the scheduled tours that Holland America offered, but went instead to the beaches.. We stopped first at Half Moon Cay, Holland America’s island, and we had to use the tenders to access the island. The sand was a beautiful fine white powder. We had reserved a clam shell to protect me from the sun, which was a great idea, except that it was a very hot day and it was hard to get air inside the shell. The beach front is narrow and was crowded.

Our second stop was St. Thomas which we had visited about 30 years ago. We shared a van with two other couples and went to Magen’s Beach which is supposed to be one of the top ten beaches in the world.. Cab fare was $6 per person each one way. The beach was beautiful and filled with many trees for shade. Lunch and snacks were available as well as chairs and chaises to rent. After the beach, we wandered around town and browsed a few of the jewelry stores. I was impressed with the array of stones available and the unique designs, but after pricing a gold bracelet, I felt the prices were no better than I could get in the jewelry district in New York City.

The next stop was Tortola where we shared a taxi to Cane Garden Beach and paid $5 a person. This beach had chaises and umbrellas to rent, although I again found shade under the trees lining the beach. We ate lunch in a charming restaurant on the beach and bought some souvenirs for our grandsons from one of three concession stands. The water here was very warm and my husband loved it. On the cab ride back to the boat, I started talking to my seat mate who was sailing on the Costa, an Italian ship docked along side the Zuiderdam.. We discovered that we came from the same hometown in New York and that she and my daughter knew each other in High School.

Our last stop was Nassau. where we went to the Wyndham Resort on Cable Beach, recommended by the ship’s port and shopping expert, and used their facilities which were free. We shared the cab with two other couples and were charged $6 each. On the way back, it was just the two of us and the charge was $15 total . Lunch was available at the beach and the food was quite good We did see evidence on this beach of hurricane damage to the palm trees, some of which were bare, and some which had been uprooted.

We enjoyed two of the shows on board, Edge, the comedy- juggler, and the Under the Boardwalk extravaganza. The other shows were just so so. The Vista Lounge is quite colorful, but there are some blind spots in the middle section due to supporting poles in the theater.

The front desk staff was very friendly and helpful, however the people at the cruise excursion
desk weren’t able to tell me if there was shade or umbrella rentals on the beaches in St. Thomas or Tortola.

There were very few children on this cruise, and the average age was over 60. We loved the stately feel of the Veendam, but found the Statendam to be showing its age. The Zuiderdam was a fun ship, and we would cruise her again.

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