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Amytanz October 26th, 2004 05:30 PM

Newbie questions
The Zandaam Christmas cruise will be my families first cruise!! We are so excited. Myself and husband, along with our two teenagers (daughter 15 son 14), Inlaws and Aunt and Uncle are joining us.
I would love to know if there will be other teens going. I have read that there isn't much for the teens onboard to do. Is this true? Should I pack formal attire for them or is there usually something else planned for them?
Has anyone been on a Christmas Cruise? What should I expect? Even though I am 35 I would love a visit from Santa!!! Will there be Christmas caroling? I should probably not get my hopes up for Hot Cocoa in the Carribean, huh?
Any advice or tips would be appreciated

Dizy October 26th, 2004 09:12 PM

Re: Newbie questions
We have cruised many times at Christmas and there are always lots of teen and children on board as it seems to be a time for families.

I think your kids may like to dress up for Christmas, so do pack them something nice to wear for Christmas dinner. I have seen so many young people dressed so smartly for this special evening and they really looked special.

The ship will be decorated with ornaments and Christmas trees all over the ship. Each cabin door will have a wreath on it.

Sorry, Santa is only for the younger ones. Too bad Mom.

Yes, there usually is hot chocolate in the Lido and miniature marshmallows at the ice cream stand.

Christmas Eve there is a Carol sing in the show lounge - it's usually around 11pm. The staff takes part and it's a wonderful evening.

Have a wonderful time. We are going again this year and looking forward to it. We'll be on the Westerdam.

Silliness October 27th, 2004 02:05 AM

Re: Newbie questions
My family will also be on the Zaandam Christmas cruise. My brother who is 15 will be cruising with us. This is my first cruise as well and I am really excited so I have read alot of articles about what to expect. I recieved this from a recent email.

"Holland America Line's on-board festivities for the entire family include holiday decorations, special movie showings, traditional dinner selections, religious services, a visit for the kids from Santa -- sometimes arriving by parasail -- activities and crafts for the Club HAL kids program, and a Christmas show by the crew on Christmas Eve."

I also read somewhere that there will be eggnog, hot chocolate and a small present left in our rooms on Christmas day.

As far as formal attire goes, my brother has a suit that he wears when he goes on a cruise(sadly yes, he has been on several and this is my first). On formal night he wears a black tie and white shirt to make it more like a modern tuxedo. Even though he hates wearing a suit, he loves formal nights. I think it has something to do with the food being more exquisite on those nights. I agree that your kids will enjoy dressing for the at least one of the three formal nights, if not all of them. Wouldn't it be nice to get a beautiful picture with everyone all dressed up?

What excursions are you planning? I am having a hard time finding information about the HAL excursions.

Dizy October 27th, 2004 07:07 AM

Re: Newbie questions
Silliness - to go HAL's web site and click on Destinations in the top left hand corner. Then click on "Caribbean". On the right side you will see "View Itineraries and Prices. Click on Month/year and highlight December 2004, and beside that click on Zaandam. Then click on View under the December 18th cruise and the itinerary will come up. Then click on each port and a list of the excursions will come up for each port and you can see what excursions are being offered. Click each one for a description.

You can book any of these excursions on line also. Back on the main page you would click "For Booked Guests" and then "Book Excursions Online".

You can also fill out the Immigration forms online. Just follow the instructions.

Any more questions, please do not hesitate to ask.

I can't remember receiving a small present - maybe it was a Christmas card signed by the Captain and Hotel Manager.

Amytanz October 27th, 2004 09:38 AM

Re: Re: Newbie questions
Thanks for all the info. I am so excited about this cruise I just can't sit still! My son does have a black suit, so I will go get him a black tie to dress it up. I think that's a great idea.
I found this book "Fodors Carribean ports of Call" that has great indo on the shore excursions and also ideas of things to do on your own. The book was only about $15.00 and has alot of great tips.
When does HAL send out any info on the trip to you? I have heard that they send out a packet with dinner seating etc. but I haven't recieved anything yet.
I was wondering how early you can board the ship? We leave at 5pm, so what would be the best time to actually get to the port?

Thanks for the advice,

Southbound October 27th, 2004 06:59 PM

Re: Newbie questions

We were on the Zuiderdam for Christmas last year and it was wonderful! Especially enjoyed the International Choir on Christmas Eve. Christmas morning there were announcements about Santa being seen in the vicinity of the ship and a build-up for the kids about Santa's anticipated arrival with gifts for them. It was a very festive week on board. Docs usually arrive 3-4 weeks in advance and included is lots of info about your cruise. Boarding usually starts around 11:30 a.m. (your docs will probably say 3 p.m., but HAL instituted early boarding a while back, so disregard the later time). If you do choose to board late morning, your cabin may not be ready and you'll be invited to visit the Lido for lunch and wait for an announcement that cabins are ready (normally around 1:15 - 1:30). The lunch buffet is excellent, so do try to make it.

We enjoyed last year's Christmas cruise so much we booked a 14-day sailing of the Rotterdam for the holidays this year. Will be our first visit to the Panama Canal and we're really looking forward to it.

Have a wonderful cruise!

Silliness October 28th, 2004 01:07 AM

Re: Newbie questions
Thanks for the information on the excursions, dizy. I printed out the brochure and have done some research online and in various guidebooks. Since there are five of us it may be in our best interest to just rent a taxi. Does anyone know if there are taxis that can accomodate 5 people? But just in case we want to do excursions, is there a website that has a review of HAL excursions or even which HAL excursion is best at each port? I ask because it seems that in the port of call forums, the excursions from cruise ship to cruise ship differs somewhat.

Thanks for all your help!

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