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Lana537 10-09-2005 06:24 PM

Hello fellow CruiseChatters~~~

I would appreciate your ideas and input on a bit of a conundrum....

I had wanted to book for our next cruise a trip in March out of NYC (no flying necessary in snow season), and I need a cruise longer than seven days in length. March is the month that I can swing for time off; to wait would mean delaying until summertime or fall--which would be too long since our last July cruise. (My goal is to wait no longer than eight months between cruises!)

I saw with delight that Celebrity's Constellation has a sailing scheduled on March 26th that would be perfect. Sadly, according to Celebrity, there are no category CC staterooms on the aft end of the ship available. For my Brian, having an aft stateroom is paramount. I might as well add right here that for Brian, the standard to be challenged is sailing as a Diamond Member on RCI on a Radiance class ship....(now spoiled, he is limiting our range of possibilities!)

My alternative for a longer cruise out of NYC at this time is Holland America's new Noordam. We have never sailed with Holland America, however, I have learned that there are aft staterooms available! It would take some positive points from people such as The CruiseChatters to help me convince him to book this trip.

I understand that a Cat A will have a bathroom with a bathtub, which means to me that two large people will enjoy some turn-around space there. There is traditional dining--we love having a set time with six or eight other newfound friends. Holland America is still known for their wrap-around promenade decks. The average age onboard will be older and the atmosphere a bit more sedate and hopefully refined....

What can we expect to "replace" our love of the "solarium pool"? Can HAL be counted on to indeed make use of the ceiling/covering that can enclose the main/central pool area in the cold weather of March while on the Atlantic to and from the Caribbean?

What is your opinion of the food in the dining rooms vis-a-vis RCI and Celebrity? Is there more than one lounge offering an elegant cocktail setting for enjoying a bit of time before dinner that would be an enjoyable alternative to having use of a concierge lounge. (I am understanding that those who book the highest suites have the Neptune Lounge, but I know that we won't be going that route.)

I am hoping to hear that we could expect as nice of an experience on Holland America that we have enjoyed on Celebrity and most of all on RCCL.

Lastly, and perhaps as important as all of the above----what are your experiences on sailing on the THIRD sailing of ANY new ship. Just how "lumpy" should we expect this cruise to be? It is entirely possible that this cruise just may not be "ready to go, or up to snuff?"

Should I push for this cruise with my dear other half, or should I "can" the whole idea and look towards the summertime on another known quantity......

I am thanking you for reading so far along with my questions.

With gratitude for your opinions,


arckac 10-10-2005 07:29 AM

OK here goes. First off I am 51 and my wife is 41. We have an 8 year old son who enjoys cruising as much as my wife and I. We have been on 12 curises and are currently booked on the AOS in Feb, the Zenith in April and have decided on the Oosterdam to Alaska in August. I have found what I feel is a wonderful cruise professional at Only fun cruises. This fellow goes the extra mile and somehow gets very good prices on Celebrity and RCCL. As you know agents cannot discount these sailings except there are a few that still can. As far as HA goes, of all the cruises we have taken the Two Zuiderdam cruises were our favorite. WE have done both the ewestern and eastern sailings in August of 04 and just this past August. For my family, this ship is like a home away from home. The only complaint about the new Vista Class ships is the design of the Vista show lounge. It has obstructed views due to polls. that is where the complaints end. Food is well presented in the dining room as well as in the Lido if you decide to not do the formal nights and eat up int he Lido. The Pinnacle Grill was nothing overwhelming to me but I did it as It was a comp. We aloays enjoy the early seating and usually ask for a small table to sit as a family. Not that we dont enjoy other people. We do very mcuh, just not at dinner. The buffet in the Lido each morning was nicer and well set up as compared to RC. I like how they put covers on the plate to keep it warm as you seek out where you will sit. There is never a shortage of lounges you can experience before dinner. We are not drinkers, therefore Not much I can add to that. There was the privacy of the Thermal Spa which we did not make use of. On our first sailing The main pool roof needed to be closed on one or two days as we experienced rain in Grand Cayman. The pool water was heated also. As a matter of fact, on our second sailing we hardly made use of the pool as the activities kept us fairly busy.
My wife and I enjoy many of the participation shows. Each day there is team trivia, one night there was a game show mania, which my wife participated in each year. On many evenings there was various trivia contests in the northern lights lounge. Another reason why we take the early seating is many of these participation shows start at around 7:45 which runs into the second seating. I love sailing HA and my son enjoyed the kids program better than the other ships including Disney. there is personalized attention to the children. One other thought. We have never taken a cruise out of NYC. We prefer to fly to the south or west and cruise to a port from that point. Most of our sailings have been out of Fort Lauderdale and we generally spend an extra day or two pre or post cruise to unwind. If you need me to be more specific on anything. Just ask and I will do the best I can to answer. You can send me a private message if you see me on or ask me here.

Lana537 10-10-2005 08:15 AM

Thank you very much for your reply. I am glad to hear that your experience has been that HAL is not shy about making use of the roof over the midships pool in inclement weather.

Thank you for the tip on Only Fun Vacations; I have bookmarked them for the future.

You said that the ship is like a home away from home, and that's a pretty high recommendation. Now it's up to me to entice my sweetie to try Holland America.

We've been thwarted by snowstorms in the past when trying to fly to our winter cruises. Being that we live on West 49th Street, the Noordam would just about be picking us up at our front door!

Thanks again for your advice and opinions.


arckac 10-10-2005 10:21 AM

I would like to suggest you always use cruise compete on all your future sailings. you would be amazed at the number of different quotes and perks you will receive. BTW I work on 49th Street. Only on the east side

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