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  #1 (permalink)  
Old January 26th, 2006, 04:28 PM
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Default HAL Zuiderdam or Sapphire/Diamond Princess?

I'm having trouble choosing a cruise line and ship...I've never encountered this problem before!

First off, there are 5 of us....my wife and I are mid 40's.....our 2 boys age 11 and 13 along with my mom who's a very healthy and energetic 75. My kids are *not* interested in the kids programs...they mostly have a tendancy to hang with us as we always do the group/family thing. They love a good game room however (so does their dad!).

We were thinking about doing Denali, but we'd only have 3 days pre or post cruise, and that doesn't sound like quite enough time to explore w/o feeling rushed, and things getting hectic?

That said, we felt either a few nights in Vancouver, or Anchorage area might be a bit more to our liking.

Anyway, I've kind've narrowed it down to either the HAL Zuiderdam, or Princess Diamond/Sapphire....and I keep waffling!

We're gonna splurge and get a nice suite, and both ships have beautiful accomodations. But the "crowd thing" worries us on Princess...Horizen Court buffet, excursions, getting off in ports, etc.

Love the 'anytime dining' setup though, and the evenings seem a bit on the lively side.

On the other hand I worry that HAL (sailed Nordaam many years ago) might be a bit too tame for us...not enough evening activities and/or options in comparison to Princess.

The Zuiderdam has had its share of bad reviews...and it's new to Alaska after being dry docked (which I understand has had some nice changes) and sailing the Carribean. But the *lack* of crowds and more space per passenger is very appealing to us.

Princess is north/south...which really doesn't make that much of a difference to us (unless we can get a good taste of Denali in 3 days), although the flights are longer....

Zuiderdam is rt Vancouver....easier to get in and out of (we're from Florida), and the itinerary is excellent!

I'm leaning toward HAL....any reasons for choosing one over the other?

Thanks!
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Old January 27th, 2006, 03:57 PM
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I can't comment on the HAL experience, as we have just sailed on the Princess Diamond last spring break to Mexico... our twin 11 yr. old boys and their grandma all had a wonderful time on board. The Saphire is identical to the Diamond and while they are very large ships with large passenger loads, the experience is very nice. Never did we feel crowded other than finding pool lounges on sea days, the Horizon Court Buffett has 2 sides to it and they will open both sides when it is crowded. The ship was filled to capacity when we sailed, it was after all spring break, and there were 900 children on board. We were able to set up with the childrens program to allow our boys to come and go when they wanted without having to sign them in and out, so they loved the independance they had while on board. We never worried at all about them, they made friends and kept us aware of what they were doing and where. Princess Grand class ships are quite large but have an elegance to them with plenty of space to not feel crowded. Both lines have great reputations in Alaska, I don't think you can make a bad choice here...my wife and I are taking the RCI Serenade to Alaska this Sept. as the Princess ships did not work with our needs this time, we needed a round trip out of Vancouver and wanted an indoor pool, and all the Princess ships with an indoor pool are doing the one way sailings either Northbound or Southbound which I didn't want to do this time.... do your homework and you can't go wrong..
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Old January 27th, 2006, 04:24 PM
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I have cruised with kids, HAL, Princess and to Alaska. I would probably choose Princess over HAL but have you thought about RCI. We were on the Radiance and they have many more activities for the kids. They have rock climbing, mini golf and 2 billiard tables. Also, with 5 in cabin and since you're splurging, why not go with connecting balconies. This will give you 2 bathrooms, 2 tvs and maybe some private time. The buffet, Windjammer, is easy to get around too. Just a thought. Enjoy planning.
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Old January 27th, 2006, 04:26 PM
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You won't have problems finding space at the pools on an Alaskan cruise. At least that was our experience. Plenty of space.
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Old January 27th, 2006, 04:28 PM
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Thank you for the reply!

I'm pricing out the Zuiderdam now....they're both comparable in that regard, but I think you're correct in that we cannot go wrong.

If I'm not mistaken, this ship has a pool w/a retractable roof...that's something I failed to consider for *my* kids and this Alaska cruise....
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Old January 27th, 2006, 04:33 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CA Cruiser
I have cruised with kids, HAL, Princess and to Alaska. I would probably choose Princess over HAL but have you thought about RCI. We were on the Radiance and they have many more activities for the kids. They have rock climbing, mini golf and 2 billiard tables. Also, with 5 in cabin and since you're splurging, why not go with connecting balconies. This will give you 2 bathrooms, 2 tvs and maybe some private time. The buffet, Windjammer, is easy to get around too. Just a thought. Enjoy planning.
Our booking is contingent on getting 2 rooms side-by-side, so that the kids have access to grandma w/o having to go down the hall. Removing that balcony divider is a definite plus that we considered...thanks!

Unfortunately RCI doesn't do Glacier Bay, and we've made that a part of our criterion to help narrow down the search (although those Radiance class ships are beautiful!).
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Old January 28th, 2006, 04:06 PM
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If I am reading you correct, you are considering a one way and round trip Alaska cruise?? For you question about Denali Park- if the 3 days includes your travel days, no not enough time.

HAL is an excellent line on round trip Vancouver. As a suggestion for the extra days, go to Victoria for 2 days.
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Old January 29th, 2006, 03:24 PM
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Thanks Karen.

We've booked the Zuiderdam rd trip from Vancouver. Didn't feel we had enuff time to do any real touring afterward (wanted to do Denali on our own), considering the travel time involved.

We'll fly in a day early pre cruise, and then stay an additional 2 nights after getting off the ship.

You'd suggest Victoria? Any particular sights, and/or hotel? I'm going to get a rental car after getting off the ship....thought I'd take mom, my wife and the kids to Stanley Park in Vancouver, the aquarium, maybe ChinaTown...but after that, I'm at a loss.

I've seen many a negative review on the Zuiderdam, but have faith in HAL... the drydock should help to spruce up things a bit, and this being her inaugeral Alaska season my thoughts were that she would come through w/flying colors.
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Old January 30th, 2006, 05:56 AM
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You really don't have enough time for Victoria with only 2 days after your cruise. It is worth an overnight and I never go for just a day there. IF a must do, then fly in from Vancouver. Spend your time in Vancouver, plenty to see and do. Request their visitor guide, if interested in gardens there are several there- http://www.vancouverchinesegarden.com/

Grouse Mt, is great- if clear. Stanley Park can take a full afternoon. Enjoy Vancouver.
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Old January 31st, 2006, 08:54 PM
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thank you, we will enjoy vancouver!

i dunno if you can answer this question for me or not karen...i intend on renting a car in seattle (airport) and driving to vancouver the night before our cruise. the next day, when we go to the ship...is there a drop-off place by the pier so we dont hafta worry about getting a ride from the car rental place?

thanks.
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Old February 1st, 2006, 07:41 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rickmeoff
thank you, we will enjoy vancouver!

i dunno if you can answer this question for me or not karen...i intend on renting a car in seattle (airport) and driving to vancouver the night before our cruise. the next day, when we go to the ship...is there a drop-off place by the pier so we dont hafta worry about getting a ride from the car rental place?

thanks.
Yes I do one way car rentals all the time. You want a Seatac pick up and downtown Vancouver drop off, not the airport. I have rented from Avis, Budget, National and Alamo, there is also Hertz. I book based on price. My 4 cars for this year are all under $125/day.

I always walk to/from the downtown offices, as shuttles can involve significant waits, if available. Drop off your bags, passengers at Canada Place, then turn in your car. Walk back if you have no mobility problems. Last US gas is cheapest right at the boarder in Blaine. There is no easy gas to be found downtown Vancouver. Have a good city map, if is all congested stop and go traffic.
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Old February 1st, 2006, 08:52 AM
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Wonderful, thank-you...the walking won't be a problem, and then I'll know where to go after getting *off* the ship to rent again for the trip back to Seattle!

In lieu of staying in Vancouver for 2-3 nights we're considering the possibility of a night+ in Seattle (especially the night prior to an early flight)....any reco's for things to do?

Sorry about all the after-thought questions ....I'm kinda ad-libbing this trip as I go along.....
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