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81Zoomie

Jan 3-11 Live from the Zuiderdam

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I have read many travel blogs and live commentary over the years.  Since it’s a new year, I thought I would experiment and give it a try.  

 

First a little about me.  I have been cruising since the early 1970s thanks to great parents and living in south Florida.  DH and I are elite on Princess, 3* on HAL, Select on Celebrity, and have experienced Azamara, Ponant, and Royal Caribbean.  We are in our early 60s and have cruised in cabins from OVs to the Penthouse.  We select cruises bases on a combination of price, family schedule, and destination, and the bucket list.  
 

We selected this cruise with relaxation in mind.  This has been a year in transition for us with a new house, a retirement, and a move to a new location.  We moved last week and just needed to escape the chaos, and yes, the boxes!  This cruise is not about the destinations.  Its about putting our feet up, watching to world go by, and catching our breath.  DH splurged and booked our favorite cabin, 5190.  How could I say anything but, “YES!”  I was actually at 39,000 ft over the Atlantic when I read his text!  

 

Day 1
This was the first time we have driven ourselves to the port.  After reading the parking suggestions on the boards we decided to give the parking garage at the port a try.  We will let you know how it worked out next week.  We arrived at 11:00 and embarkation was fairly simple.  We brought 6 bottles of wine and expected to pay corkage on 4.  That’s what happened.  The guy at the scanner does make you feel like a criminal  by pointing and shouting.  We went to “the table”, paid our $18 corkage on 4 bottles, and received our stickers

 

Once onboard we dropped our bags in the room.  We wanted to avoid the hectic Lido and ate a relaxed lunch in the dining room.  Our bags were in the cabin after lunch.  I bring along a travel can of Lysol and sprayed down every switch, handle, phone, remote etc.  We were completely unpacked and settled before muster.  The muster drill went pretty quick by HAL standards.  There was a nice breeze and for the first time we didn’t get hot or baked by the sun during the drill.  We were supposed to do an informal meetup of the CC Roll Call group after muster in the Ocean bar, but it was packed and we never managed to find the other members.  

 

We had read on another thread that our cabin, 5190, and others nearby flooded on the Dec 10th cruise after dry dock.  This was apparently due to human error during a pipe replacement.  We were a bit concerned there might be some residual damage or odor.  Happy to report there are no issues.  Our cabin attendant (who was very surprised we knew) told us all the carpets had been replaced.  There are no odors, no apparent damage to the furniture, and all is good!  Additionally, there is ample water pressure in the shower, plenty of hot water, and the air conditioning is excellent.  Love ‘our’ cabin!

 

The weather was picture perfect for sail away.  The captain gave 3 very long toots of the horn and off we went.  The sunset was gorgeous and the seas were calm.  After sail away we sat on the balcony, sipped champagne, and enjoyed the view.  I felt calm for the first time in weeks.  We went down to the dining room at about 6pm for dinner.  There was no wait for a table in the regular or Club Orange line.  We met some lovely folks and enjoyed our dinner.  Shrimp Diablo was a big hit.  We received a complimentary glass of sparkling wine with dinner as part of the Suite/Club Orange package.  There was also one additional entree on our menus, Peruvian Chicken.  This is our first experience with Club Orange, so the jury is still out on this feature.  It was a long day and we decided turned in early.  It was a very nice evening at sea.

 

The Good - Easy embarkation, surprisingly good complimentary champagne in our cabin, comfy bed, lots of water pressure, great HAL staff

Needs Improvement -  The Gallery and Billboard bars were closed before/after sail away, and the Ocean bar was standing room only.  The “entertainment” in the theatre after dinner was a lecture on the history of HAL.  We stuck our heads in, heard, “extensive dysentery and typhoid, 10% died”, and decided we would pass.

 

Tomorrow.... Half Moon Cay.

 

 

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Posted (edited)

Bon Voyage . We were in 5191 on the December 10 th cruise when it happened . We think that 5190 and 5191 have different color carpets now . Is Risman your Cabin attendant ? Please tell him , Ann Margret  ( concierge ) and Ernesto and Jose in the Pinnacle that Pat and Joe said hello . Have a great cruise !

Edited by scubacruiserx2

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Sounds like a great start to a wonderful and relaxing cruise!  Enjoy HMC-we love it there.

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Thanks for reporting  "live from" the Zuiderdam.

Enjoy the remainder of the cruise.

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Boy after moving and boxes, you sure do need a break.

 

sounds like you’ve found the perfect one off to a great start.

 

Hope you have a great cruise and looking forward to hearing more 😄 

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16 hours ago, scubacruiserx2 said:

Bon Voyage . We were in 5191 on the December 10 th cruise when it happened . We think that 5190 and 5191 have different color carpets now . Is Risman your Cabin attendant ? Please tell him , Ann Margret  ( concierge ) and Ernesto and Jose in the Pinnacle that Pat and Joe said hello . Have a great cruise !

Yes and will do!

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Thanks for taking the time to post.  We'll be on Zuiderdam on February 8th doing the same itinerary as you.  We're looking forward to getting away for a nice quiet week.  We'll be eagerly following your posts.  Have a great cruise!

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Day 2 - Half Moon Cay

 
Nothing can be much better than waking up within sight of Half Moon Cay! We enjoyed a good night sleep in our cool and quiet room.  There was no motion or vibration.  I have yet to find a beach anywhere I enjoy more than a HMC.  The fine white hard packed sand, crystal clear turquoise water, and protected cove are unmatched IMHO.  Off in the distance I spied another HAL ship.  In the past we were lucky enough to be the only ship at HMC.  Today we would be sharing.  Our sister ship is the Nieuw Statendam.  I admit, I was curious about the newest ship in the fleet.  I grabbed the binoculars and checked her out.  We have heard good things about the new Pinnacle class ships.
 
We decided to eat breakfast and not rush off the ship.  We knew the tenders would be split between the 2 ships and hoped to avoid the lines.  That strategy didn’t pay off.  The large HMC tenders were running very slow due to the wind and swells.  We waited in line down on deck 1 for 40 minutes before we boarded a tender.  We were grateful the Zuiderdam was closer to the island than the NS so our ride was quick.  We also felt lucky the swells were not worse.  On one cruise we had to bypass HMC because the seas were too rough to tender.
 
We have a ritual at HMC.  We walk past all the rows of chairs and the cabanas to find a shady spot and lounge chairs under the trees near the hammocks.  DH goes for a long open water swim.  I take a long walk on the beautiful beach.  Then we read, sun, and dip in the awesome water.  This time I happened to see the horse excursion.  Riders up, and into the surf they go.  The horses are submerged up to the saddles.  The one thing is did notice is that the horses relieve themselves on the beach and in the water.  The beautiful beach loses a little luster when you have to step around horse droppings.  There did not appear to be anyone picking up the excrement  on the beach.  I keep this in mind and only swim up current past the white gazebo and closer to the Capt Morgan’s bar.
 
We decided to avoid any more kind tender lines and returned to the ship about 1pm. The goal was also not to overdue the sun on the first day.  We elected to eat at the Dive In rather than at the BBQ on shore.  Why the Dive In you ask???  They have the best French fries at sea!  I try to eat healthy, but I eat a hot dog and fries on every cruise. The fries are awesome.  Subjective I know, but give them a try.  We also like the Mexican buffet bar set up near the Dive In.  There is no shortage of guacamole, chips, pico, taco fixings, and even jalapeños.
 
We relaxed after lunch and read on the balcony.  We had a leisurely afternoon since we had a late lunch.  Cocktails were calling and we headed to the Pinnacle bar.  We do not have drink package on this cruise.  DH decided on a craft cocktail and I had my mind set on a Manhattan.  I will say, it appeared the bar was understaffed.  It wasn’t very crowded and we had to flag down the only waitress.  Then it took 15 min to get our drinks.  The drinks were good pours and we enjoyed them.  No one asked if we would like another round.  We will try another bar tomorrow so we can compare.
 
We decided to eat and then go to the late, 9:30 show.  We sat at the same table as the previous evening.  Once again, we met very nice people and had lively conversations. The CO special item was Shrimp Jambalaya which DH selected.  I had the always available salmon.  Dessert consisted of whiskey cake and berry sundae .  The food was good and the plating was nicely done.
 
We made the 9:30 show and there were plenty of empty seats.  The comedian was as you would hope, funny.  His jokes were targeted at an older demographic.  As I looked around I couldn’t help but notice all the gray and white hair in the crowd.  I felt young at 60.  It’s not a good or bad comment, just an observation.  We have been wondering what HAL has planned to attract the next generations of cruisers.  We were tired after the show ended and went to sleep.
 
Another lovely day, perfect weather, and calm seas.  Sea day tomorrow.
 
General Comments/Hints
 
- We have not sailed in a suite on any line in over 3 years.  The Neptune was a splurge for us.  We were interested in seeing if the Club Orange and Neptune benefits would enhance our cruise.  Who doesn’t love double sinks and extra space in the cabin? That’s a plus.  A quiet breakfast in the Pinnacle Grill, a plus.  The Neptune Lounge is not a big draw for us.  It does have a great coffee machine!  However, there is no elite happy hour, no bar service (except honor bar), and not much atmosphere.  There is a concierge dedicated to Neptune suites which can be handy at times.  The priority access to tendering does not apply at HMC.  There is a separate line for Club Orange at the guest services desk and in the main dining room.  More to think in this.
 
- We purchased one Premium internet plan pre cruise.  The speed is better than on previous cruises and the signal is strong.  There is a router in the room.  We tried without success to set up a hot spot or travel router after reading other posts and instructions on cruise critic. So, we have to log on and off with each device. The router in the room is great.... except the bright blue light it emits.  It’s looks like a blue moon at night that illuminates the entire cabin.  We solved that by covering the light with some paper and tape.  Thank you YellowFish (Princess blogger) for commenting she always brings tape along.
 
- On the subject of night lights.....  the bathroom has a great automatic night light.  There are also 2 new automatic under closet nightlights that are motion activated.  They are a little hard to get used too.
 
-  As noted on another thread, there are no cocktails besides the craft cocktails listed or priced on the drink menu.  This seems a bit odd.  There is also no mention of the bar opening or closing times in the ‘What & Where’, nor a description of Happy Hour pricing.  


 

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Those corner afts are great! Deck 5 has the largest corners, so stretch out and enjoy!

 

When you said no priority tender at HMC, did you mean returning to the ship? If so, that's normal. Priority tendering only applies to leaving the ship, not returning. This is true for suites, CO, and 4-5 star Mariners. 

 

I'm on the ship in Ferbruary, so I'll be interested in seeing your comments on the ship, especially about the entertainment. 

 

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13 minutes ago, 3rdGenCunarder said:

Those corner afts are great! Deck 5 has the largest corners, so stretch out and enjoy!

 

When you said no priority tender at HMC, did you mean returning to the ship? If so, that's normal. Priority tendering only applies to leaving the ship, not returning. This is true for suites, CO, and 4-5 star Mariners. 

 

I'm on the ship in Ferbruary, so I'll be interested in seeing your comments on the ship, especially about the entertainment. 

 

We asked the Neptune concierge if there was priority tendering to HMC.  She told us, “go downstairs and you will be accommodated.”  When we went downstairs we asked an officer where to meet for priority tendering.  We were instructed to get in line with everyone else.  Apparently priority tendering does not apply at HMC.  Who knew?  We are not above standing in line, but we’re just confused by what is advertised and what occurred.  

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3 minutes ago, 81Zoomie said:

We asked the Neptune concierge if there was priority tendering to HMC.  She told us, “go downstairs and you will be accommodated.”  When we went downstairs we asked an officer where to meet for priority tendering.  We were instructed to get in line with everyone else.  Apparently priority tendering does not apply at HMC.  Who knew?  We are not above standing in line, but we’re just confused by what is advertised and what occurred.  


Even the concierge is confused. Please put this on a comment card & submit it.  The ship staff needs to know the correct info. Or at least let the concierge know what occurred.

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Enjoy your R & R!  It's always fun reading other "live" reports!  We sail in February on the NA.  Can't wait! 

 

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18 hours ago, cat shepard said:


Even the concierge is confused. Please put this on a comment card & submit it.  The ship staff needs to know the correct info. Or at least let the concierge know what occurred.

The Neptune Suite Concierges are Front Desk Personnel that rotate through.  I am not sure they are well trained and well informed.

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1 hour ago, FlorenceItaly said:

The Neptune Suite Concierges are Front Desk Personnel that rotate through.  I am not sure they are well trained and well informed.


Well the folk at the gangway need to share the info with everyone.

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Congratulations on your wonderful retirement and I am enjoying your live blog! Have a fantastic cruise.

Denise😊

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Day 3 - At Sea

 
We awoke to smooth seas, calm winds, and 81 degrees.  It doesn’t get much better than that. A great start to a sea day.  We had nothing on the agenda except to get some exercise and our dinner in the Pinnacle Grill.  Both of us fell asleep while reading on the verandah!
 
Thought I would use the down time to describe a few things.  HAL has solved a vacation dilemma, “whose robe is that?”  They now supply robes with different color piping. Genius!
 
 
HAL doesn’t have a pillow menu like some of the other lines.  There are six pillows on our bed.  They range from firm to soft, so there is something for everyone.  The mattress is very comfortable and the comforter isn’t too bulky.
 
 
After a leisurely day we had a cocktail in the Ocean bar before dinner.  Once again, the pour was generous, but we had no idea what it cost because a bourbon and coke was not listed anywhere, nor was any other basic cocktail.
 
We had been anticipating our dinner in the Pinnacle Grill for months.  We have always regarded the Pinnacle among the best steak houses at sea. DH bought a special bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon for the occasion.  The days of steak Diane are gone, but we have always experienced an excellent meal and great service. We were promptly seated.  But then we waited and waited for our waiter.  It was 20 min before he appeared.  We ordered the tuna, salmon prosciutto, and the famous candied bacon we heard about. DH enjoyed the fish and I LOVED the bacon!  DH ordered the rib eye and I ordered the petite filet mignon.  Then we waited some more.  The waiter dropped off the food.  He never asked to see if the meat was done to our liking.  He never said, “Enjoy your meal”, or something similar.  He never came back to see if we needed anything else.  He never said anything.  The sides were very good, mashed potatoes, mushrooms, and asparagus.  The steaks, however, were dry and somewhat tough.  After we finished the main course we waited and waited for our table to be cleared and to order dessert.  The maitre d walked over and asked how we were enjoying our meal.  We explained our disappointment.  We probably should have said something sooner, but we were trying to make the best of it and enjoy the atmosphere.  Needless to say, when our server appeared to take our dessert order he was even less friendly.  Hubby had the Baked Alaska and I had the Leche  cake.  The baked Alaska was a better choice and I scooped up all the extra meringue!  We were not the only people having a discussion with the maitre d last night.  And no, there was no compensation for our disappointing experience.  Dinner was not up to our expectations, but the company was excellent 😉
 
We stopped through the casino on our way to the dancing show.  The casino is now no smoking!  This is a big improvement for the majority of passengers and dramatically improves the experience.  Dancers were the show this evening.  The 5 dancers were very talented.  They danced to prerecorded music and a video light show.  It was a much different style performance than the traditional production shows.  DH liked it a lot.  This concluded our day.  Falmouth, Jamaica tomorrow.

 

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