Zuiderdam/Baltic Cruise and General Questions

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#1
67 Posts
Joined Jun 2016
Dh and I are considering the 10 day Baltic cruise on the Zuiderdam in July of this year. Has anyone done this cruise before and did you like it? It looks like many European cruises are already sold out, so I was wondering if there is any reason that this particular cruise is not sold out.

Also, I've looked over the HAL website trying to get an idea of the excursions available. I can find a listing of excursions, but I can't find prices on any of them. Are they listed somewhere that I am just overlooking?

I don't see any way to check the prices of airfare through HAL. How do you find the fares? Reasonable or am I better off booking flights/hotel on my own. If I book the cruise through my big box TA, can I then go back to HAL to purchase airfare and/or precruise tours, etc.

Thanks so much!!
#2
Petaluma, Ca. 94954
31,951 Posts
Joined Jul 2000
We did the 10 day Baltic a few years ago on Eurodam.

I know you can't see excursion prices until you have an active booking. I think the same is true for airfares.

Booking airfare and hotels through the cruise line requires research. The air fare might be good, but hotels prices almost never are better through the cruise line.

Yes, you can book anything through HAL after you have an active booking through a travel agent.
#3
Burlingame calif
268 Posts
Joined Jun 2013
I seam to wonder why you would want to part of it with a TA and remainder on your own. They should be quoting the same price. Sometimes TA can get a better rate for you or reccomend hotels for you that are not only close to the ship but enables you see adjacent areas.
I have always found a TA that dosnt work for a big box store has a lot more travel knowledge. Usually diffent people in the office have expertise on different areas.


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#4
6,258 Posts
Joined Jun 2013
We did a Zuiderdam Baltics and it was fine. Ships is good, food is good, cabin choice is good and the ports are good. This is a good value cruise on the Zuiderdam

Shore excursions typically run around the $60- $100 range pp, but the ones in St Petersburg will be more expensive because that is just what they are - plan on several hundred dollars for those, esp the two-day one. Others have made private tour arrangements for this city, but there is additional paperwork involved to get off the ship on your own in Russia. Talinin you can easily do on your own. Not sure what other ports you have on this cruise, but some of the Norway ports you can also do on your own.

We have found HAL airfares are similar to what you can find on most of the other flight search engines. But you do get their missed flight/ship connection guarantee, which is worth something in todays crazy travel delay world.
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#5
Petaluma, Ca. 94954
31,951 Posts
Joined Jul 2000
Originally posted by SFBayAreaShipLover
I seam to wonder why you would want to part of it with a TA and remainder on your own. They should be quoting the same price. Sometimes TA can get a better rate for you or reccomend hotels for you that are not only close to the ship but enables you see adjacent areas.
I have always found a TA that dosnt work for a big box store has a lot more travel knowledge. Usually diffent people in the office have expertise on different areas.


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We book our cruises with a TA that gets us a good price regularly. We book our own flights, hotels and transport because we can get them cheaper on our own about 90+% of the time. Exception are extreme circumstances, like the time we were boarding a cruise in Lima, Peru, and landing there at 11pm the night before. It was nice having someone with a sign with our name on it after Immigration and Customs.
#6
New Zealand
22 Posts
Joined Oct 2015
Hello has anyone purchased drink package through Holland america, ie unlimited soda or alcohol.The question is were you charged 15% at the bar or is the 15% included in the package, such as Princess does it . We planning 18days from Copenhagen to New York via Greenland & we get great value out of the unlimited soda package but won't if charged 15% per drink Thanks
#7
Victoria Harbour, ON
3,540 Posts
Joined Nov 2007
We did the Baltic a few years back on the Prinsendam, it was an excellent cruise loved the ports, St Petersburg had been on our bucket list for a long time. You'll love it. Hotels & air we find is normally cheaper on your own. Bon Voyage.
Allan
#8
New Brunswick
45,454 Posts
Joined Jan 2009
Originally posted by CruiserBruce
We book our cruises with a TA that gets us a good price regularly. We book our own flights, hotels and transport because we can get them cheaper on our own about 90+% of the time. Exception are extreme circumstances, like the time we were boarding a cruise in Lima, Peru, and landing there at 11pm the night before. It was nice having someone with a sign with our name on it after Immigration and Customs.
We do the same as you. Normally do our own hotels, transport and flights. This year we did HAL's flight ease because of the discount we got from the P'dam promo which reduced the cost below what I could book for if I didn't use my FF miles. It was reasonable enough that I will save the FF miles for next year
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#9
Virginia
21 Posts
Joined Jan 2015
We just booked this cruise for July 2019 for my daughter's high school graduation. Can't wait!
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MS Zuiderdam, July 2019 (Baltic Sea)


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#10
6,258 Posts
Joined Jun 2013
Originally posted by AZ Gurl
We just booked this cruise for July 2019 for my daughter's high school graduation. Can't wait!
I would recommend getting as much information about the Siege of Leningrad (St Petersburg) during WWII as you can. We were surprised how many young Russians remain deeply touched by the sacrifices their relatives suffered during that very bleak time and how much they wanted recognition for what Russia sacrificed and the millions who lost their lives, and in fact played a much larger role in "winning" WWII in Europe than played by the UK or US. They said all we want is just a thank you.

Honoring this Russian experience with knowledge and reverence would be a very nice way to connect with young Russians today. There are very good history books and movies that recapture this time from the Russian perspective. For balance of course, the ravages of Russian troops as they made their way to Berlin can not be held in similar light.

And also be very aware there are plenty of other young Russians who operate in organized pick-pocket gangs - be very wary of that too. Guard everything very carefully and watch out for street sellers. When you are looking up at artistic masterpieces, they are looking down to see what they can later steal.
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#11
6,258 Posts
Joined Jun 2013
On a much lighter note, this book is a joyous romp through the history of Soviet era, decade by decade, based upon the foods that were available, what was unavailable, what was only dreamed about, and what was introduced as "good Soviet food" which in fact came from the US - Hellman's mayonnaise for Russian salads of all things: "Mastering the Art of Soviet Cooking": https://www.amazon.com/Mastering-Art.../dp/0307886816
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#12
Petaluma, Ca. 94954
31,951 Posts
Joined Jul 2000
OleSalt, I totally agree with your comments on the Siege of Leningrad. I happen to have read a lot about it when I was younger, and our guide (private tour with just DW and I)was very committed to talking in depth about it. They do feel very strongly about this history.
#13
101 Posts
Joined Jan 2005
We are going on this cruise. It was a much better price than similar cruises on Princess and Celebrity - mostly because of the 3rd and 4th free in the room. It will be a packed room for sure but is saving us thousands. We booked our own rooms in Copenhagen for one night before and after. We are doing SPB with TJ Travel and we got a private guide for Berlin. The rest of the stops we will do on our own. We are also flying into Paris because it was a much better fare. Staying 24 hours there and then an inexpensive flight on Air France from CDG to Copenhagen. We were able to get the return out of Copenhagen using delta points.
#14
6,258 Posts
Joined Jun 2013
Originally posted by kentuckycruiser
We are going on this cruise. It was a much better price than similar cruises on Princess and Celebrity - mostly because of the 3rd and 4th free in the room. It will be a packed room for sure but is saving us thousands. We booked our own rooms in Copenhagen for one night before and after. We are doing SPB with TJ Travel and we got a private guide for Berlin. The rest of the stops we will do on our own. We are also flying into Paris because it was a much better fare. Staying 24 hours there and then an inexpensive flight on Air France from CDG to Copenhagen. We were able to get the return out of Copenhagen using delta points.
Have you checked to see if there are different luggage weight restrictions on the "domestic" flight from Paris to Copenhagen, compared to what you can take to CDG? In the past I have heard the domestic weight allowances are much lower, unless one has ticketed this multi-city flight as a full international ticket.
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#15
sanford, florida
7 Posts
Joined Aug 2010
We're going on the Zuiderdam on June 3. Can't decide which excursions and which company to use. Any suggestions would be appreciated! Thanks
#16
Brisbane
255 Posts
Joined Nov 2012
we are doing a baltic cruise on the zuiiderdam that leaves copenhagen on 21/7 ..we are also on the previous cruise to iceland that leaves on 7/7....we booked tours for st.petersburg and tallin with alla tours, they were much cheaper than the boat tours and they also arrange our visa for russia.....I have found the boat excursions to be extremely expensive
#17
37 Posts
Joined Jul 2006
We are on the June 3 cruise as well. We are flying in and out of Copenhagen and staying there a few days. We are using TJ Tours for St Petersburg and Berlin and doing everything else on our own. We don't mind a lot of walking to see the sites. We may do a HOHO if we feel we need and I think we will take the train on our own to Lubeck from Kiel and not go to Hamburg. Haven't fully decided that. Does anyone have any thoughts of good options for that port?
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#18
Southern Ontario, Canada
3,020 Posts
Joined Jan 2010
You will love the cruise! We did the Baltics last May - one of our best cruises ever! I second TJ Travel - excellent tour guides.
#19
6,258 Posts
Joined Jun 2013
Originally posted by roblc1
........ I think we will take the train on our own to Lubeck from Kiel and not go to Hamburg. Haven't fully decided that. Does anyone have any thoughts of good options for that port?
We did both on two separate cruises - very different cities so it would be hard to recommend one over the other. Lubek is smaller, more intimate and historic. More walkable and it is the German center for marzipan - which was reason number one we went there and would go back - just to have more German sausages and marzipan. Reading up on the Hanseatic League makes a visit to Lubek more intriguing.

Hamburg is a bustling world class city. Keep in mind your train ticket gets you free metro access on one of the intra-city lines (not all of them) in Hamburg. You need to be more efficient about your time in Hamburg since the distances between sites are greater. But we were able to pack in a harbor boat tour as well as a quick scan of most of the main attractions - but did not get to the infamous Reeperbahn. The harbor cruise tour went past one of Cunard's Queens thrust up in dry dock so the vastness of their port operations was pretty awesome to see too.

Both train rides are similar - rolling countryside, small town and excellent train service. Both cities -you can start your touring by walking right from the train stations.

Kiel now has a painted sidewalk marker from the ship dock to the train station, if you want to walk - it takes you through their down town pedestrian mall area, which may be slightly longer than if you used the perimeter streets. It did seem to take a good half hour to walk to the train station. (??) There is a "Y" junction painted on the pavement that goes to two different cruise docks on the way back to the ship - be sure to take the right one, though this is not a fatal mistake - just a longer walk along the waterside to get to your correct dock.
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#20
3,529 Posts
Joined Oct 2011
I've been through Kiel once on a land tour in 2006 and three times on HAL ships. I found the military cemetery in the northwest of the city a very moving place. World War I dead buried in date order, a number of memorials including one or two built in the 1930s-early 1940s era (with swastikas removed). Also, a walk along the Kiel Canal is very pleasant.
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