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gee gee

Age: 31

Occupation:Professional

Number of Cruises: 2

Cruise Line: Holland America

Ship: Zuiderdam

Sailing Date: March 5th, 2005

Itinerary: Eastern Caribbean

My wife and I just got off the ZUIDERDAM, we were on from 3/5-12. we are both 31 and knew what we were getting into. I am going to break this review into two main sections – THE GOOD and THE BAD. But before I even begin, how can a modern ship not offer pay per view movies in the room nor allow you to book any excursions through your tv?

THE GOOD
the staff is amazing, from the porters, the room steward, the bartenders, etc. the embarkation/debarkation real smooth. The excursions, besides always starting at least 10 minutes late, fantastic. Spa and golf services were great as well. The room was great, as well the view, VA 7020.

EXCURSIONS
Deep sea fishing at Half Moon Cay, even thought the captain was “missing” before we were scheduled to go, it was great to have a boat just for me and my wife. No better way to spend a day than fishing in beautiful blue waters.

Kon Tiki Booze Cruise on St. Thomas, every thing you could want from a rum booze cruise. The only negative was that the beach they took us to did not offer many things to do, i.e. kayaking, etc.

Snorkeling by boat in Tortola. Once again this started late, the reef they brought us to was ok, nothing really to see.

No excursions in Nassau, went to paradise island and just walked around and found some nice bars to hang out in.

SPA/GOLF CENTER
Jeremy in the golf center was a really good guy, unfortunately the person who was in right before I went in was a real hacker and ripped a divot out of the mat that made the simulator a little harder to use. But it was definitely better than sitting in a driving range. My wife and I had the couples massage, she enjoyed hers more than I enjoyed mine, but it was still enjoyable.

THE ROOM
The room was real nice, the only thing that I really did not like was not having the option to rent movies on demand in the room. This is something that even the most basic hotel now has, I can’t understand how a modern ship does not offer this service. Back when I last was on a cruise in ’97 the ship had pay per view movies.

THE BAD
Basically everything else was bad. I’ll start from the beginning, we check into our room and there is a note saying that our request for a table for 2 will not be granted. After settling in, we decide to go see if there was anything that we can do about this. After waiting 20 minutes in a lounge we finally saw the DR steward who looked at his computer and said that we were at a table of 4 but that only the 2 of us are booked there. So we wasted the first half hour of our vacation taking care of something that we shouldn’t have even been bothered with from them.

THE FOOD AND DRINK
We went to the bar on the lido deck and asked what kind of bottled beers they had, the bartender gave me a list of beers. I asked for a Budweiser Select and he said that he was all sold out. SOLD OUT! How can you be sold out of a beer and you haven’t even left port yet, but we persevered. (I did find it later on in the cruise at one of the other bars, but still)

BREAKFAST
The first day we decided to order breakfast in, it was horrible and tasteless. The English muffins, OJ and bacon were all terrible. To say the least that was the last day we had breakfast.

LUNCH
Well if you did not make it to lunch by 2p you were basically regulated to hot dogs, hamburgers, and pizza. Otherwise the selections were OK at best, the taco bar was a little better than OK, but not much.

DINNER

First night at dinner I ordered the NY Strip steak which was more like a tasteless shell steak, we chalked that up to first meal blues. But besides the crab legs, lobster tail, and beef tenderloin the rest of the food was quite a disappointment. By the time we found out that the Pinnacle Grill was a zillion times better than the dining room, it was too late. Mind you, my wife and I went on this cruise expecting some good food, when we go away our bill before tip and we don’t order bottles of wine, are at least $150/night. To say that we were disappointed would be an understatement. For this reason alone we will not cruise with HAL again unless there’s nothing else available.

ROOM SERVICE
As I already stated the breakfast was horrible, we ordered lunch one day since we missed the 2p cutoff and didn’t want bad pizza. They have something called an ALL AMERICAN BURGER on the menu, that only comes with SWISS or CHEDDAR cheese. How can you have an ALL AMERICAN BURGER and not offer American cheese? My wife ordered the shrimp cocktail, which were a bunch of small shrimps that you would normally get from a Chinese take out place. The only salvation were the chocolate chip cookies.

THE MIDNIGHT BUFFET
oh yeah, there isn’t any. If you wanted a late night meal you better get a slice of pizza or order in some room service.

THE NIGHTLIFE

Before my wife and I went on this cruise we knew it was going to be laid back and probably not that many people close to our age. When we were first checking in, we were definitely afraid that we were going to be the youngest by at least 20 years. Thankfully as the day went on we started to see people around our same age and made friends with a few couples who were in close proximity.

At night your choices are limited to whatever act they brought in for the geriatric crowd, the casino, the piano bar, the sports bar (that only plays espn deportes, even though every port we went into had espn usa), and northern lights the dance club. As I already mentioned, since there were no pay per movie choices in the rooms, you either hung out in one of these places or went back to your room by 10:30pm.

So my wife and the other people our age split time from the casino and northern lights. Whomever on HAL’s staff is in charge of what goes on what nights in Northern Lights should have their head examined. For example, one night was Karaoke, then it went to country music trivia to country line dancing to a hip hop club. Pick a theme and stick with it for the night.

The casino was fun, especially after over hearing that the ship lost over 20g’s at the craps table during the duration of the cruise.

Btw…The sail away party from St. Thomas was absolutely horrible.

MISC.
- The automatic $10/day pp tipping policy seemed fine to me, you can always tip extra if you want to. The one thing that I did not understand is the 15% service charge per drink, it’s one thing if you are bringing a drink to my lounge chair, but it is quite another when you get charged and you are sitting at the bar.

- Also for those who say that you never win at the slots as the cruise goes on, my wife won for over $125 the last night, even winning $95 on one pull at the nickel slots.

- There is definitely no feel like you are on a cruise music wise, which was more disappointing then I thought it would be.

OVERALL
I will not travel on a HAL cruise again, the main reason being that the food was such a disappointment and the ship lacked any real character

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