Zuiderdam East Carib 9/13 Help



Cuising 9/13 1st time with HA and need some questions answered:

1. Are there any themed nights, ie Western, Luau, 50's etc.?
2. Out Island: Are there chairs/lounges in the shade, do they charge for anything out there, what is there to do (snorkling, jet ski, hobie catts, etc)?
3. St. Maarten, St. Thomas: what is the best things to do for sightseeing and shopping?
4. Can you recommend any independent charter sailboat or catamaran trips in St. Thomas?
5. Room on the Verandah deck with an outside balcony towards the back - what is missing in the room that I need to plan to bring and do they do special things that you need to ask for that aren't advertised?
6. Is it really tip free?
7. Do they offer a lot of specials for the spa?
8. Is the Odessy really worth the extra $?
9. What is on the ship that we shouldn't miss?
10. How is the service and food?

Any feedback is appreciated. Thanks!


Hi Karin. Welcome to c@ :wave
I haven't been on the Zuiderdam yet so can't answer some of your questions specific to that ship, but can answer some of the general ones.
2. Out Island - I assume you mean HAL's private island, Half Moon Cay. There is lots to do but not much is free. Bring your own snorkel gear if you have it (HAL has it for rent if you don't want to lug your own). If you get on HAL's website and check under Shore Excursions, they list everything available on HMC and the cost. There are loungers and hammocks in the shade but they go fast. There are also lots in the sun.
3. St. Thomas: been there 4 times and my favorite thing is still to grab a cab at the pier and do an island tour, with a stop at Mountain Top for shopping and scenery. The driver will drop you in town after the tour for shopping or return you to the ship. The taxis are usually 8-12 person vans and they're lined up at the pier. The driver will wait until his van fills up before leaving. Then he goes wherever everyone wants to go. Shopping at Havensight Mall, pierside, besides in town. The Paradise Tramway is across the street from the pier and provides beautiful scenery from the top. Godfrey Tours are supposedly very good, although I personally have never used Godfrey.
6. I wouldn't exactly call HAL "tip free". Their policy is "tipping not required", which means they won't add tips onto your onboard account nor will they give you envelopes with names and amounts of who and how much you're supposed to tip. They won't even give you suggested amounts to tip. From what I've seen, most passengers do tip. Industry standard is $3.50 per person per day for cabin steward, same for dining room waiter, and 1/2 that for asst. waiter/bus boy. We tip 15% of our dining room bar tab to the wine steward and also tip waiters and/or bartenders in the various bars. Please understand that "tipping not required" doesn't necessarily translate to "tip free".
7. Spa - I book a massage as quick as I can when I board the ship! There are combo specials, like facial/massage, pedicure/manicure, etc. After your treatment, be prepared for the big sales pitch - they want you to buy at least one of every product they carry!

Post Edited (09-02-03 16:33)


Written from aboard Zuiderdam :)

Tex has it correct.

Tipping not Required is NOT tipping not allowed or included.

You will WISH to tip, I am sure. The crew on this ship is so wonderful I cannot imagine anyone would not wish to say thank you in the "internationally accepted manner".

Our cabin steward, dining stewards and bar stewards in our favorite lounges are so wonderful, we would not dream of neglecting to tip. Hopefully, most others feel the same way.


Karin, we spent a week in St. Maarten last year and cruised the Eastern Caribbean on the Disney Magic. We love St. Maarten as kind of a regular guy's paradise. In general you'll find prices lower in St. Maarten than St. Thomas, so that may be your best shopping day. My favorite jewelry store in Philipsburg is D and K. If you're on Front Street looking at the town hall with the ocean to your back, turn left and it's a block or two ahead on your left. Ask for Deepti - she's this tiny young woman who went to school at UCLA. Be prepared to haggle - yuck! But she'll give your husband free Heineken.
A good beach day in St. Maarten is Dawn Beach. There's good snorkeling and a restaurant right on the beach - Mr. Busby's. There were lots of taxis in the afternoon to take you back to the ship.
A beautiful beach day in St. Thomas is Magen's Bay. It's a state park or something so there will be a $2 or so charge at the gate per person. When you get to the beach, turn left and keep walking. Most people stay close to the taxi area and bar/ snack bar. On the far left side of the beach you'll have the place to yourself and you'll find good snorkeling among the rocks. My 9 yr old son said the taxi ride to Magen's Bay was the scariest roller coaster he had ever ridden!
Have fun! We'll be on the Z for Thanksgiving!

mix wizzard

karin....we just got home from a wonderful east carib trip on the zdam.....I think I can also help shed some light for you

there was no western night, but they did have a "tropical night" and a 50s-60s night

half moon cay is beautiful...lots of lounge chairs but the little shade tents are fewer in numbers and go very quickly....grab one quick!.. they offer snorkeling, banana boat rides (you know that inflatable toy that is towed behind a boat),, aqua trike, and kayaking.....if you snorkel BUY A BAG OF FISH FOOD,,,,,its incredible what you will see.. they will eat right from your hand!.. once you run out of fish food you will need to venture out to the rock jetty to see anything else..

st thomas we did the intro to scuba diving and it literally changed my life.I cannot put into words how incredible this experience was.....I just cant quit thinking about it. I have never scuba dove before and am now looking into a full fledged certification... this was by far the highlight of my trip...so sorry i dont know of any other charters....we didnt get to go to st martin due to hurricane fabian.......you will love your room, we stayed in 5122 which has a balcony too....we loved it! you will not need your hairdryer, I personally hated the bath towels...VERY stiff and starchy....instead of using them... drop by one of the pools and swipe a couple of their big blue fluffy towels...trust me on this
one of the little secrets is that they do offer room service for breakfast.but you have to ask your CABIN STEWARD for the menu.........we would order the night before and enjoy our morning sipping coffee on the balcony every day...order a couple of POTS instead of a couple cups

tipping: there is absolutely no pressure or hassle at all about tipping, I think you will want to tip your cabin steward and room service guy they truly are great at what they do and i think they are well worth a little extra
the spa does have specials but it only reduces the price to where is normally should be rather than their amazingly high normal price

the food in the dining room is good,, the odyssey is great,, the lido is marginal, and the room service menu stinks.........have room service bring you a menu from the DINING room and order from that a couple of times.........plus they make pretty cool souveniers to bring home to show your friends

have a great time ! go to the crows nest and have a drink for me! "rico" is a great bartender


Don't let Tex fool you. She only goes to Mountain Top for the Banana Daiquiris.