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Copyright © 1995-2004 
Linda Coffman


February 14, 2004
Eastern Caribbean Itinerary

by Rich and Patti Payne

We sailed on February 14 from Ft. Lauderdale. To summarize, we were very impressed. We were first time cruisers and here are the key points we would mention:
-- Boarding in Ft. Lauderdale was quite smooth. Fill out the forms on-line to make it even faster. Getting off at ports was quite smooth. Leaving the ship on Saturday took a little time, just keep something to read while you wait to be called. All things considered, they handle 1800 people very quickly.
-- Ports were varied in how much there was to do. Half Moon Cay is a very nice beach. Not much for snorkeling unless you're a beginner. St. Thomas is the most intensive shopping spot I've ever seen. We had dinner on the top deck in port at St. Thomas as the sun set--very nice. Tortola is very laid back, we encourage a tour while here. Nassau was nice. Atlantis a very busy upscale hotel and casino.
-- Ship is very nice. We especially liked the veranda which there are lots of on this ship. The veranda made a huge difference in our trip. We had breakfast their on occasion. Coffee, wine and cigars. Very nice. The ship is nicely appointed, very clean, fast elevators and very friendly staff. We felt the food was quite good. If you didn't like something you just ask for something else. And portions are of a reasonable size so you don't have to leave stuffed unless you want to. Outside the formal dining area is a special dessert treat each evening--very nice, but enjoyed by only a few. Excellent entertainment--especially the magician and the juggling comedian. We were amazed at the outstanding entertainment. Lots to do on board or on shore. As a first time cruiser I was worried about boredom--not the case. You could relax or do something all the time. Casino people very friendly. The special restaurant (Odyssey) is very nice. It is simply a very upscale restaurant set on a restaurant. Food is excellent, views are super and decor is outstanding. We had dinner there twice. Also, we especially enjoyed the formal dinners. Get the tux out and get dressed. We must have had 15 pictures taken of us by their photographers each night. The ladies love it.
-- Attitude is everything. We saw people who were complaining about everything. My guess is they did so their entire life. We found there were things that weren't perfect, but a very high % of the time service was excellent, food was great, etc. Most importantly, during dinner or at other times you have the opportunity to meet others. We found that a very interesting part of cruising. Some very nice people and some that had an attitude. We hope to have learned from all of them. 
-- Previous reports had talked about sewage issues on the Zuiderdam. The first time I flushed the toilet it didn't work properly and the first morning I thought I smelled sewage on the balcony. But on the second flush all was fine and I never had a hint of sewage again. I think they got it all fixed after dry docking in December. Reports had also spoken of serious vibration in the rear of the main dining area. We sat at the very back table (requested because we wanted the view of the wake and to check out this report). We heard a little engine noise but had no vibration.
-- Recommendation: We had very smooth seas during this trip. But if you're concerned just pick up some of the bracelets or over the counter medication for insurance. A little rocking motion while you're going to bed is not a bad thing. We brought about 5 bottles of wine with us and had them in our room or had them corked for us at dinner. But we found their wine prices to be quite reasonable when we only had a glass with dinner. We found coffee and cookies and or ice cream as an afternoon snack to be very nice. But a couple of afternoons they had tea and another they had special chocolate buffet in the afternoon. Wow. We gained a couple of pounds in that week--no big deal to get it off when home. We found the spa to be nice but not overly attractive to us.
That's about it--we'll do it again.

Photo Courtesy of Holland America Line

Holland America Line - Cruise Reviews

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