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Old January 13th, 2008, 01:58 AM
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Default Zuierdam- Kuki's Virtual Cruise Report

Zuideram – Day 1- Jan 12

Over the next 7 days I’ll be bringing you hopefully informative and enjoyable daily reports live from the Zuiderdam, sailing in the Eastern Caribbean.
To begin telling the story of this cruise though we have to go back to a story I posted a week ago on the CruiseMates message boards. It’s not crucial to the upcoming report, but most certainly a part of it, so before you continue today’s report, I suggest you read it, so here’s the link…..

We flew into Florida on Friday evening, pre-booking a night at the newly opened Florida Grande Hotel (the ex cruiser’s favorite, Marriott Marina Hotel) on 17 St. in Ft. Lauderdale. I’ve found in the last several years the hotels in this area of have kept their prices climbing upward. As this hotel was an old favorite I wanted to give it a try. The cost was $196/night. There are some really interesting new features in the new hotel, now affiliated with the Hilton chain. Some parts of the property are still under development. Though the location is outstanding, I’m not certain that I’ll be returning to this hotel very soon.

But, that’s not even where this story really begins. Relating back to my “skunk post?, when our luggage arrived in our hotel room we noticed a skunky smell coming from our luggage. It was then we realized that some of the clothing, which had been hanging in laundry bags in a clothes still were carrying some of that foul odor. First order of business this morning, before heading to the ship was a trip to purchase Fabreze. It was that, or send everything to the ship’s laundry as soon as we boarded, or have no one on the ship willing to sit anywhere near us for more than 30 seconds the entire cruise.

Later as we unpacked our luggage in the cabin, each and every item was sprayed with Fabreze before it was stored. It seems the clothing is wearable now, but we’ll certainly have each item laundered by the ship as we wear it. An interesting and unusual problem to begin a cruise ?

The Cruise Begins –
Embarkation was a breeze. We arrived to Pier 26 at Port Everglades about 12:30 P.M. There were no crowds, and no waiting; stop by the check in counter, got our “sail and spend? cards/room keys, and were on the ship. The entire process was under 10 minutes. Just prior to 1 P.M. an announcement was made that cabins were ready for occupancy.
I haven’t sailed on Holland America for over 2 years. Our last HAL cruise was on the Westerdam, and I loved the ship, and the layout of the Z is the same, so I expect to enjoy her as well. Our cabin is a Category VA, standard balcony cabin on Deck 6. As the cruise goes on I’ll give more detail about the cabin, and other categories that I may get a glimpse off. Though we’ve been onboard for only a few hours what’s jumped out at us already is our fellow passengers on this cruise are not the “stereotypical HAL passenger?. By that I mean the average age of passengers on this cruise is no different than any of the major lines we’ve sailed in recent years. The passengers cover a wide demographic, including young children, and surprisingly even school aged kids (surprising because it is January).

Even though we are not in a Suite, we received an invitation for this evening to join the Captain Werner Timmers, Hotel Manager Mark Pells, and other ship’s officers, as well as those in Suiites, in the Neptune Lounge for pre-dinner cocktails. Turnaround day on ships is normally quite chaotic, so I was somewhat surprised to see the Officers hosting such a gathering, but I understand this is the norm for Suite passengers. I must say for those guests it is a lovely and civilized way to begin a cruise.

We’ve been assigned “Main Upper? seating for dinner, which means we’re dining at 8 P.M on Deck 3 of the Vista Dining Room. Mrs. Kuki and I are traveling with friends, and we are seated at a table for 4, along the railing in the center of the Dining Room. An excellent location, a lovely view, and seemingly a nice service team; AG and assistant Yudi.

Apparently the menus are recently reformatted, and we’ll learn more about that as the cruise goes on as well. I can tell you that tonight I ordered the Prime Rib, as I do on almost every cruise I can recall (it always seems to be on the menu the first night), and tonight’s was an excellent version; Very tender and tasty.

Because we attended the cocktail party earlier, we missed the showroom entertainment, which was a pre-dinner show for late seating guests. After dinner we did go to the Queens Lounge to watch the NCL playoff game being shown on the big screen. They had set up a bit of tailgate party with party at the entrance, but of course we had just eaten. Once the game ended, we spent some time in the Casino.
It’s been my experience that on the first night of a cruise the casino is generally pretty quiet, with people being tired from travel, etc. This was not the case tonight. The casino was actually very busy, and stayed quite busy until past midnight. As I headed back to our cabin to write this I was thinking to myself… Am I really on Holland America?

One note before I sign off for today. Zuiderdam is NOW WiFi enabled throughout the ship, so if you bring your own laptop, as I have, Internet service is available from all cabins.

Due to the inordinate amount of time our unusual unpacking process took today I didn’t get around the ship as much as I’d hoped. But I will report lots of details with more photos in the coming days.
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