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Zuiderdam recap for 8/30/03

Discussion in 'Holland America Line' started by Badbonez, Aug 26, 2003.

  1. Badbonez

    Badbonez Guest

    New cruiser here and actually I've always avoided them because I prefer spending making my own tours and spending more time in specific locations than the tour bus type of travel. But my wife and I found a deal, got a couple of friends and we're off this weekend. However, nosing around these boards has me wondering about a few things about the Zuiderdam.

    Booze? OK? Not OK? I was planning on calling and asking, but I am getting mixed signals from this board.

    Where to dine on the Zuiderdam? Some people talk about noise and vibration, others didn't notice it. Fine, but I would like to limit the probability that I might get noise and vibration, so where should we sit. And where would you seasoned vets of the Zuiderdam have preferred to sit?

    Speaking of which: When do we give our seating preferences? We already set our seating times and table size, but when do we say where we perfer to sit?

    Upgrades. Is it too late? How do you do it? We have a Upper Verandah room, but if I can get a SS for cheap, so much the better!

    Embarkation. If I have my immigration form filled out as well as my credit slip, what's the odds of us standing around for hours?

    Is there one thing I should know before getting on? Something that you wish someone had told you?

    Thanks in advance!

    EDIT: Tipping? How much, and to who. Sure, the brochure claims that it's a tip free ship, but I know some people will deserve it. Any thoughts on this? Like maybe tip the cabin crew ahead of time? And how much are we talking about?

    Post Edited (08-26-03 19:43)
  2. sail7seas

    sail7seas Guest

    Quick answers:

    It is too late for your TA /you to start making specific table requests. The Maitre d' has already begun making assignments according to requests previously received and then accomodating groups etc. Next time, you may wish to make a specific request when you book or certainly about a month pre-cruise. We prefer upper level of the dining room, portside on Zuiderdam. Not on other ships, but on that one.

    When you board, you can go to the dining room and will usually find there is a diagram posted with all of the table numbers. If you do not like the number you are assigned to, it is worth a try to request a change from the Maitre d' (or Asst) who will be set up to meet with passengers who have change requests. It will be posted where and what time he will be available.

    HAL allows you to bring a moderate amount of liquor aboard for your personal consumption in your cabin. They are one of the few lines that still allow it so they hope pax will not abuse the privilege by mixing and bringing their own drinks into the public areas. Enjoy it in your cabin and all will be well.

    We have never pre-tipped our cabin steward ahead of time and have never seen a need to. The cabin stewards on HAL are fabulous and in the unlikely event you are not satisfied, speak with the Guest Relations Manager.

    Embarkatin on Zuiderdam has been very much improved. Most pax are reporting they have boarded the ship quickly and painlessly.

    Most important of all.....Have a great time. Zuiderdam is a fabulous ship with a great crew. Enjoy.

    Post Edited (08-26-03 21:22)
  3. Bruce

    Bruce Guest

    I waited cause I knew Sail would be along......smiles.
  4. sail7seas

    sail7seas Guest

    :lol Bruce....such a gentleman!! :)
  5. CruisinTex

    CruisinTex Guest

    Sail, our resident expert, covered it all. Might I add a note regarding tips. Yes, HAL is "tipping not required" but this only means that you will not have tips automatically added to your onboard account or find envelopes in your cabin with notes about who to tip and how much, like on most other cruise lines . I'm sure you will find that the service provided to you is so outstanding that you will wish to tip certain people. Industry standard is $3.50 per person per day for cabin steward and the same for your dining room waiter, 15% of your bar tab in the dining room to the wine steward, and....oh heck, is it $1.75 per person per day for the assistant dining room steward/bus boy guy? Sorry, I can't remember. Sail, Bruce, help me out here. If you spend a lot of time in Crow's Nest (very easy!!!) the waiters/waitresses up there will take such good care of you that you absolutely won't believe it. Again, figure 15% of your bar tab at Crow's Nest. Tipping is done on your last night onboard and the front desk has a supply of white envelopes for your use in placing tips for various people. Enjoy your cruise.
  6. Bruce

    Bruce Guest

    A lot of people give the asst steward about half or 1.75 a day per person, but, in my experience, the Asst does more work and I have more interaction with him than the Steward so we have for the past few years always tipped the Asst the same as the Steward. Just my opinion.
  7. CruisinTex

    CruisinTex Guest

    Thanks, Bruce...knew you or Sail would come through. :thumb

    It's late, I'm tired, my brain is old, couldn't remember...!
  8. sail7seas

    sail7seas Guest

    Agree with both Tex and Bruce. HAL's stewards are the BEST and it is hard to imagine you would not wish to "thank them in the traditional way".

    HAL would not be what HAL is without their wonderful Filipino and Indonesian crew.

    The guidelines provided above seem a good "reference point" for industry standards.
    The amounts you tip or who you tip are your choice and no one on HAL will ever solicit a tip or suggest an amount....even if asked.

    We find it is almost a game with the stewards who deliver room service to have tip money already in hand when they bring our order. They never linger or make it obvious they are awaiting a tip. They make a beeline for the door after setting down the tray and we have to "catch" :) them before they exit.
  9. Badbonez

    Badbonez Guest

    Thanks for the help! I actually read a great thread you had all posted to on the tipping procedures/customs. So I think I have the tipping down. I called HAL and talked to a person who says that he noted our request for up stairs table, we'll see if that carries through but we'll try again on the cruise.

    Thanks again! I'm looking forward to the cruise with some excitement and anxiety (pretty typical for me though, before a trip).
  10. daluna

    daluna Guest

    "Booze? OK? Not OK? I was planning on calling and asking, but I am getting mixed signals from this board."
    Hi! We were lucky enough to be on the Zuiderdam for the Western Caribbean route July 26th. We picked up a few bottles of wine in Key West that were not on the menu for dinner. (Make sure you check the menu before you buy off ship. It would be rude, IMO, to bring on wine that they serve already.) The wine steward kept them for us, chilled, and served them each evening. The $10 corking fee per bottle was worth it. We had our favorites with no hassle. We also kept a couple of bottles in the room. But we always bought from the bar(s) otherwise.
    Have a great time. We loved it! I say, be sure to stroll the deck (on formal night....ahhhh....) with a glass of champagne!
  11. Badbonez

    Badbonez Guest

    Thanks daluna! I called and learned about their policy towards alcohol, it seems very accomodating.

    More like "waddle" after I finish eating!
  12. daluna

    daluna Guest

    You're welcome!
    I forgot to add that we went to Fausto's on Fleming Street (I think that's it!). They had a great wine section. We were able to get, for example, a Chalk Hill for $35. With the cork fee, we paid less than comparable from the menu! If you're on the Western, do keep in mind that Key West has Blue Laws regarding alcohol. You'll have to wait until after noon (I think) to purchase.
    If waddling's your thing, I say do it! There was nothing better on the cruise than strolling (or waddling), after dinner, with champagne in hand, listening to the sea, looking at the stars, holding hands .... Add to that nightcaps on the verandah, and you have one of the best, if not the best, holidays of your life.

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