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Zuiderdam questions - I'm new!

Discussion in 'Holland America Line' started by cjb, Feb 11, 2004.

  1. cjb

    cjb Guest

    My husband and I are booked on the Zuiderdam in March for our anniversary. Now, I've cruised before, but it was long ago, in the ancient late 70's & early 80's when I was a college kid who was fortunate to assist elderly relatives on 3 Sitmar cruises.
    In following discussion threads on the board the past week, I realize things might be a bit different now, and I have some questions for you kind folks:

    1) Embarkation in FLL. We are in an S suite, so I'm wondering if there are embarkation perks to being in one of those lovely rooms. Embarkation procedures from your experience would be great. I know what HAL website says, but I am interested in info. from this group. What have you learned from your embarkations that you wish you would have known your first HAL cruise to make it go more smoothly?

    2) Spa services on the ship. Worth the $$? I've heard they are quite expensive!

    3) Dining--we've requested late seating, a table of 6. (We do not know anyone on the ship). Should we, or may we, request a certain area of the dining room?

    TIA for any input you might have!

    Carol B.
  2. sail7seas

    sail7seas Guest

    Hi Carol.....Welcome to the Board.

    We have cruised in an "S" suite many times. There is a separate check in line which is clearly marked and HAL assistants will point you there. "S" suite pax are given a gold medallion sticker which entitles them to priority boarding...immediately after wheelchairs. Depending upon what time you arrive at the terminal will define whether that sticker makes embarkation easier. In recent months, HAL has vastly improved embarkation and the terminal doors open at about 11:15 A.M. IF you are there then, your papers will be porocessed, you will be directed upstairs in the terminal and may have to wait a few minutes until embarkation begins.

    If you arrive after embarkation has begun, the sticker has no meaning as everyone checks in, goes upstairs and goes immediately aboard.

    HAL finally has an excellent embarkation IMO

    When booked in and "S", you may request (and have confirmed) whether you want early or late seating. You can request the table size and location you wish and MOST of the time that is where you will be assigned. We always request a particular table set a particular way and SO FAR we have always been assigned that. We do know it is request only.

    Hope this helps and that you have a great cruise.
  3. CruisinTex

    CruisinTex Guest

    Hi Carol. First, let me say Welcome to cruise @ddicts -- the friendliest board on the net! :wave =welcome

    My sister and I were on the Zaandam 2 weeks ago and got massages and facials at the spa. These were $99 for each treatment (total of $198 per person) and IMHO not worth the $$$. The massage therapist was much too rough and talked the whole hour. I realize everyone is different when it comes to massages, but I like a nice quiet relaxing massage, not one that leaves my shoulder muscles sore for 2 days (and they were!). The facial was very nice but left both of our faces very red and blotchy for 24 hours. Also, the hard-core sales pitch at the end of each treatment was a real turn-off (even though we both knew it was coming).

    And adding to Sail's dining room comment...you are in an S suite and get priority on dining room requests. My suggestion would be to contact your TA and have him/her tell HAL you want a certain area of the dining room.

    Since you haven't cruised in a long, long time, may I add that you are in for a real treat. My sister hadn't cruised since 1980, and she spent the entire week acting like a 5-year-old on Christmas morning (eyes wide open and mouth dropping). She kept saying cruising sure has changed in 20+ years! Bon Voyage - have a fabulous cruise - and Happy Anniversary!

    Post Edited (02-12-04 11:08)
  4. hbogart

    hbogart Guest

    Hi Carol...it's your long lost relative completely removed!!

    In answer to your questions as in my opinion...

    1. To make embarkation go smoothly - first, you will get on rather quickly because of S Suite status as Sail7 explained very well. HAVE ALL YOUR DOCUMENTS PREPARED BEFORE YOU GET THERE!!! You can complete your immigration forms online. If you are flying into FLL, take a cab from the airport. It's much faster and MUCH less expensive than the HAL bus transfer. The lines open around 11:15am or so. The rooms may not be available until about 1pm. Once you board, you can go to the Lido and have lunch while you wait for your room to be ready. I believe there is a place where you can store your carry ons while you wait for your room...ask at check in. Explore the ship...but 1pm comes fast (it was 12:30 when we went).

    2. Yes the Spa is expensive. We have used it before a lot on some cruises, ABSOLUTELY NONE on the last cruise on the Z. The treatments look wonderful. So are they worht the money? I don't know. Massages are pricey compared to what you get at home, and not any better. But they have many treatments not available anywhere else. Those look great. We just objected to their staff's presentation of the services. They were rude, VERY PUSHY, all about pushing their products, and degrading of whatever you have done at home...almost like their services were eliteist (spelling?). So we were taken aback a little. Al that said, your question was is it worth the $$? Maybe so.

    3. Dining - our last trip was our first "alone" without the whole family/generations. We booked a table for 8 so we could meet other people. We enjoy that, and it worked out GREAT. You can certainly request early or late seating and yes you can "request" location. We have always gotten what we requested, and as S passengers, I am pretty sure you get preferencial seating.

    Have a wonderful time and Happy Anniversary!
  5. cjb

    cjb Guest

    Thanks so much to all for your warm welcoming comments and your wonderful information! I think I'll save my spa money and put it elsewhere, based on the information thus far presented!!

    Re: embarkation in FLL, sounds like a breeze, espec. as an S passenger. That is, if we arrive early enough! Thanks so much for that heads-up. Since hubby is a commercial pilot, we are not 'allowed' to be tardy anywhere, so hopefully that will be well in hand.

    Re: the dinner seating, etc., I did find somewhere deep in the old messages, great information about what to expect when---formal night is 1st at-sea day, I believe someone wrote? Correct? Also saw the suggestion to plan to eat in dining room for sure the first night to meet table mates. Absolutely a plan!

    OK, this may be a silly question, but I am thinking ahead.....if we make reservations in the special restaurant (Pinnacle?) for one night, we should let our table mates know not to expect us, correct? Should we let the maitre d' know in case he needs to seat someone else there for that meal? Ah, decisions, decisions. You were all correct in noting that I'll be like a little kid having not been on a ship since 1980!

    TIA again for your kind info.

    And, how do you get those cool countdown numbers displayed on your posts?
    I'm currently at just about 30 days even and counting down!

    Sitmar's Fairwind 1/79
    Sitmar's Fairwind 3/79
    Sitmar's Fairsea 3/80
    Zuiderdam 3/04
  6. CruisinTex

    CruisinTex Guest

    Yes, first formal night is usually the first at sea day. It's the Captain's Gala Welcome Aboard party. Since you're in an S suite, be prepared for "party invites" - such as Welcome Aboard Cocktails with the captain the first night, another cocktail party with the captain and a suite luncheon with the captain.

    Pinnacle is wonderful, I highly recommend it! Yes, it is a good idea to let your tablemates and also your dining room steward (waiter for your table) know that you will not be at the table. The rest of your table can then begin ordering their dinners without waiting for you (when you aren't going to show up!). It isn't necessary to let the maitre d' know...I've never seen any additional people seated at a table in someones absence for just one night.

    Countdown clocks...there are several different ones, including one with HAL's logo on it. Go to the home page here and click on FAQ (left side, near the bottom). Then click on the Countdown Clock link and it'll tell you how to do it. If you have problems, let us know and we'll get someone to help you with it.

    Post Edited (02-12-04 18:22)
  7. cjb

    cjb Guest

    Again, thank you all for great info.

    Question of the night: Any recommendations for motel in FLL for the night before? As airline employees, we don't dare attempt to fly in the day of the cruise.

    I note a Comfort Inn which advertises a free shuttle to the embarkation point.

    Also helpful, of course, any 'do not recommends' for FLL lodging.

    As for end of the cruise, sorry, but I can't even think about end of the cruise. I do recall always being so terribly bereft at having to leave 'my' ship.

    Everyone have a great Friday!
  8. CruisinTex

    CruisinTex Guest

    I think a majority of c@ stay at AmeriSuites, Embassy Suites, and Marriott Marina for pre-cruise in FLL. All 3 are available for good prices through Priceline and they have airport to hotel as well as hotel to pier shuttles. You might try doing a search on the Community Board--I'm sure it will result in lots of discussions. If you don't get specific answers, post your question over on the Community Board.

    Got a real chuckle out of your statement about being airline employees and not daring to attempt to fly in the day of the cruise! Now, that is saying A LOT! :lol :grin
  9. sail7seas

    sail7seas Guest

    The Comfort Inn in FLL near Port Everglades is very shabby and rundown. I would suggest you try either Amerisuites, Embassy Suites, Marriott Marina, Rennaissance as recommended by Tex. We always stay pre and post cruise at Hyatt Pier 66 and have for years but it is more pricey than the others....particularly if staying in theTower which is where we like to be. If you bid on Priceline etc for Pier 66, you get the Lanai Rooms I think.

    Totally agree that you may wish to try Pinnacle as we think they do a great job. If you enjoy a fine steak, it is well worth it. You can read the menu on the HAL site and they offer far more than beef, but their beef is really good quality/prepared well and served very nicely.

    You are most considerate to think to mention to your tablemates and dining stewards if you know you will be away from the table the next night. They can go ahead and order their dinner and no one will feel they need to be waiting for you....when you won't be coming.
  10. hbogart

    hbogart Guest

    I agree with all. I think I am the one on a post long ago that said I like to always dine in the dining room the first night so we can meet tablemates...but temper that with the new knowledge that you can now dine at the Pinnacle for $10 per person on the first night instead of the usual $20! More decisions.
  11. cjb

    cjb Guest

    Cruisin' Tex....I think I better explain my comment about airline employees not wanting to wait to fly until cruise day! The reason is that the airlines will be so full of cruise pax that there may or may not be any seats available for employees. We're the ones who hustle on at the last second, because we've been having heart palpitations in the gate area not knowing if we'll get on at all.

    So, in any 'have to be there for sure' scenario we must travel off-peak the day before.
    Thought I'd best explain that in case anyone thought I lacked faith in the process of getting there at all! (Though due to snow/sleet I may not get out of DFW tomorrow a.m.!)

    Again, thank you all so much for your great information. I'm sure I'll think of more questions as the day draws near.

    Sail, glad I asked for negative recs. re: FLL lodging, as I will now pursue the positive ones you and others suggested.

    I look forward to hearing from folks returning from cruises the next few weeks to find out how the new liquor policy is really being implemented on HAL. Though I cannot fathom carting aboard quantities of anything in suitcases, the idea of being able to purchase a bottle onboard in D.Free and have it in the room sounded convenient. I await clarification on that point, as some previous discussions went back and forth. I know husband will have this question: just how expensive are shipboard drinks now, including those 'frozen thingies' I've noted Cruzman talking about?

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