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-   -   Zuierdam- Kuki's Virtual Cruise Report (http://www.cruisemates.com/forum/holland-america/344713-zuierdam-kukis-virtual-cruise-report.html)

Kuki January 13th, 2008 02:58 AM

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…..
http://www.cruisemates.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=587894

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).
http://www.cruisemates.com/gallery/g...4142/69653.jpg
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.

rinker250 January 13th, 2008 04:36 AM

Thanks Kuki.
I'll follow along daily...helping me relive our Ryndam cruise.
Your second to last paragraph is a little confusing.
Are you plugged in by cable to the internet in your cabin?

ready2gonow January 13th, 2008 09:40 AM

Kuki, I was just on the Z in December and really enjoyed it. I'll enjoy cruising her through your eyes, again!

Kuki January 13th, 2008 10:56 AM

Quote:

One note before I sign off for today. Zuiderdam is not WiFi enabled throughout the ship, so if you bring your own laptop, as I have, Internet service is available from all cabins.
Thanks Dan... That was a 2 AM typo.

You CAN now use laptps for Internet Service throughout the ship.

Phyllbo January 13th, 2008 01:46 PM

Thanks for starting another cruise journal for us, Kuki. I'm going to enjoy following along, and learning about a cruiseline that I have yet to try.

Phyll

CruisinK n J January 13th, 2008 04:29 PM

Zuiderdam - Kuki's Virtual Cruise Report
 
I look forward to your observations, Kuki. Sounds like it's going to be a nice cruise.

Judy

shanicans January 13th, 2008 08:59 PM

KUKI'S ZUIDERDAM
 
GREAT TO HEAR FROM YOU KUKI.....I CAN'T WAIT UNTIL WE BOARD THE ZUIDERDAM ON THE 19TH OF JAN......NEVER BEEN ON ANY OF THE HOLLAND AMERICA SHIPS....THIS IS OUR FIRST! ANY CHEAP PLACES TO PARK OUR CAR FOR THE CRUISE? OR ARE THEY ALL $12 A NIGHT?

NOT STAYING AT A HOTEL (WITH FRIENDS IN STUART,FL)

THANKS,
SHAN
BUFORD,GA

rinker250 January 13th, 2008 09:31 PM

Shanicans,
Why are you yelling?

DeeDee January 13th, 2008 10:50 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by rinker250
Shanicans,
Why are you yelling?

Could be that Shanicans does not know that when you type in Upper case, that it means you are "yelling". Some of her posts are in lower case and some in caps, so maybe it's easier for her to type in Upper case. Who knows. :-?

Doesn't bother me which way she types. :)

Kuki January 14th, 2008 01:03 AM

Z – Day 2 – Jan. 13- At Sea

The Stinkys (used to be The Kukis) slept late this morning. By the time I crawled into bed it last night it was this morning- 2:30 A.M. I was shocked when I looked at my watch. I’m on a Holland America ship! What is going on?

The Zuiederdam, when built, was given over to a quite different interior design flare than her sister ships in the Holland America fleet. The intent was to give her a more bold interior décor to broaden her appeal, to attract a bit of a new breed of passenger; more of the non- traditional Holland America passenger. Certainly on this sailing the broader mix in the passenger base is apparent. During this cruise, the diapers you see by the pool are worn by babies. (Please Note: that is a joke! Kuki HUMOR! Feel free to dismiss me, but PLEASE do not bombard me with hate mail LOL)
To get back on topic… with regard to the interior design of the Z… she has a major dry dock scheduled for her in the spring; 3 weeks in fact. This is quite an extended period for a dry dock, so we can be certain quite a lot of change is going to occur. As the cruise goes on perhaps I can dig deep for some interesting tidbits and details to share with you. The pending changes almost certainly have something to do with some areas and maintenance issues which would ordinarily would have been addressed already. Those cruising her in the next few months will see a ship apparently in some need of some TLC , but at least to this point, we haven’t seen anything that would be a cause for concern as a passenger.
http://www.cruisemates.com/gallery/g...4142/69663.jpg

The issues are mostly aesthetic in nature, such as the faux wicker furnishings on both the balconies, and used for al fresco dining areas by both pools. In many cases the “plastic wicker? is unraveling, or damaged. It also seems they haven’t been replacing or repairing them. The supply has obviously been depleted through time, and for the time being they seem to be using plastic folding chairs in their place.
http://www.cruisemates.com/gallery/g...4142/69660.jpg

Tacky? Yes, but hardly earth shattering enough to ruin a cruise.

When my eyes opened this morning, and it became clear I was gaining consciousness, I noted it was already 10:30 A.M. That was the end of my plan to go watch Chef Rajeev prepare appetizers in the Show Kitchen, in the Queen’s Lounge. Getting a gallon of coffee into me seemed the more urgent task. I proceeded to the aft pool area, out back of the Lido Buffet, to complete the process, while Mrs. Kuki slept a bit longer yet.
Mrs. Kuki is a vociferous reader, particularly while cruising. She did swing by the ship’s library last night, but noted the shelves are locked, and it has limited hours where there’s an attendant present for borrowing books. Some other lines have their libraries open 24/7 and use the honor system for borrowing and returning books. This makes much better sense. I can’t imagine the shrinkage for a ship’s library would be a serious problem. Would passengers really abscond with books to pack away and sell on E Bay when they get home?

However, just prior to departing for this cruise, Mrs.Kuki has moved into the realm of “reading? via the use of modern technology. In today’s modern world there’s a new term used for reading. It’s called listening. LOL
http://www.cruisemates.com/gallery/g...4142/69657.jpg
I had purchase a new IPod Nano for her at Costco (for $149), and with the help of Kuki Jr. training her, she learned how to download audio books. The technology is quite enthralling, as in some cases the books are read aloud by their original authors. So, after her late morning arrival on deck, she relaxed and began “reading? one of her downloaded books. She loved it, because she was able to combine this form of reading with her second favorite thing to do on a ship -which is not tending to my every desire- but is people watching.
http://www.cruisemates.com/gallery/g...4142/69658.jpg
http://www.cruisemates.com/gallery/g...4142/69662.jpg
By 2 P.M. the sunny skies began to fade, as we sailed into some cloudy and cooler weather. It was about the same time the ballroom dancing lessons were going to begin in the Crow’s Nest Lounge, and having met one of the instructors last night, we knew they were going to be teaching the Cha Cha today. I had to keep the promise I’d made last night to the instructor, so I didn’t go to the class. If any of you had seen Wayne Newton perform in the T.V. series Dancing With the Stars, he would have knocked me out of the contest in the first round.
I spent a “guy afternoon?, most of it spent watching the NFL playoff games, missing 3 P.M Dutch High Tea in the Vista Dining Room in the process, replacing it in the classical North American tradition with Nachos and Hot Dogs.

Tonight was formal night, and most guests seemed to attempt to follow the suggested dress guidelines. At times tonight I did reminisce a bit. After seeing a couple of older gentleman I wished I too had kept the nice sear-sucker suits I used to have.

The show in the Vista Lounge showroom tonight was the production number Under the Boardwalk. Once again, since I have a terrible ear for music, I rely on Mrs. Kuki’s judgment when it comes to all things musical, and she reports that the show was fantastic. I stopped in the casino to see if I could repeat the early luck I’ve been having, but alas my winning streak came to a halt, so I strolled the ship to visit some of the lounges I haven’t visited yet. By 11 P.M tonight things were pretty quiet around the ship, but then tomorrow is a port day, in Grand Turk. And it’s a very short port day at that – 7A.M to 2 P.M. As I saw more of the ship tonight, the general wear and tear throughout has become more obvious. As always, the crew is always busy cleaning, therefore the ship is clean, but most of the public areas do look tired and worn.

RTC girl January 14th, 2008 07:19 AM

Hi Kuki,
This is my first post at Cruisemates because I just had to reply to your post. You are in for the most wonderful cruise. I was on the Zuiderdam last week and it was the best vacation of my life. I had been on one cruise previously and this one surpassed that one by miles!!!

Others in my group of 13 and others that I talked with on the ship confirmed my thoughts that the staff/crew of the Zuiderdam are something very special. They made this trip for us so enjoyable. We never smiled so much in our lives, we laughed till we cried and we danced till we couldn't dance anymore!!!!

If you can and only if it isn't too much trouble, could you please look up a few of the following people and tell them Donna said "hi" and that I miss them so much.

Jacqui, manager of the internet center
Doni and Bimo, waiters of table 175 - 6:15 seating
Sigit, cabin steward of cabin 4021

Just for your info, I did two fabulous things on Grand Turk. I rented a motor scooter from "Tony" who has a truck filled with scooters and golf carts for rent. You can find him just outside the cruise center in Grand Turk by turning left on the street and walking a short distance ($55 for scooter rental for the day). Spent 3 hours touring the island, including stops at beaches, the lighthouse, and to take pictures of free roaming cattle, and donkeys. I believe Tony said you can make the complete loop around the island in 1 hour if you want. You can even take the golf carts on the streets and make the same trip around the island if desired. The posted speed limit is mainly 20mph.

I also tried the trapeze in Grand Turk. The set up is on the beach, slightly left of the beach chairs as you are looking at the beach from the ship and near the volleyball net if I remember correctly. It is run by a professional group of acrobats, Josh and Dany. I had wanted to do this all my life and proud to say I accomplished this dream at age 53! I climbed the ladder, stood on the platform, swung on the trapeze and then hung by my legs on the bar. I was ready for the next trick which was the release and catch and felt I could do it, but my arms were a bit tired from the motor scooter trip so I thought I'd save something for next time -- there will be a next time as I'm already planning a return trip!! You are in a harness for the entire climb/lesson/swings so I had no fear at all - it was a wonderful experience.

Thank you so much for your report -- I'll be reading it daily... have a wonderful week!
Donna

ready2gonow January 14th, 2008 10:45 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by RTC girl
.....If you can and only if it isn't too much trouble, could you please look up a few of the following people and tell them Donna said "hi" and that I miss them so much.

Jacqui, manager of the internet center
Doni and Bimo, waiters of table 175 - 6:15 seating
Sigit, cabin steward of cabin 4021

Donna

Donna, welcome to CruiseMates! I was on the Z in December, and Doni and Bimo were our waiters! And I agree with you, they were wonderful!

Kuki, I'm glad you are enjoying your cruise. I found the staff exceptionally friendly. As you have stated, the ship has some wear and tear, but I found the ship to be very comfortable.

DeeDee January 14th, 2008 12:02 PM

LOL - OMG - that chair looks like the ones we had on our balcony!!!
The HM told me that they know the chairs are in bad shape but as the new ones haven't arrived they can't throw out the broken ones as they couldn't replace them. In reality, I guess it's better to not replace the broken, unravelled chairs until they go into drydock and do all the renos.

My daughter also downloaded a book to use with her iPod and loved sitting by the pool or on our balcony reading. I think that's what I'll have to do for my next cruise.

Enjoy your cruise.

r_otway January 14th, 2008 05:22 PM

Kuki, you said in your earlier post you watched the "NCL" play offs. was this some kind of game between 2 ships. or were you refering to the other other game? I was wondering how it might be possible for colin vietch to pitt to ships against each other ? Russell :)

Kuki January 14th, 2008 07:01 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by r_otway
Kuki, you said in your earlier post you watched the "NCL" play offs. was this some kind of game between 2 ships. or were you refering to the other other game? I was wondering how it might be possible for colin vietch to pitt to ships against each other ? Russell :)

Gee.. you guys won't let a poor tired writer get away with anything LOL It was indeed a typo that should have read NFL. But in my defence I'm writing this stuff at 1 or 2 AM, and posting unedited, so please forgive some typos and bad grammar along the way LOL LOL

msblackjack January 14th, 2008 07:18 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Kuki
Quote:

Originally Posted by r_otway
Kuki, you said in your earlier post you watched the "NCL" play offs. was this some kind of game between 2 ships. or were you refering to the other other game? I was wondering how it might be possible for colin vietch to pitt to ships against each other ? Russell :)

Gee.. you guys won't let a poor tired writer get away with anything LOL It was indeed a typo that should have read NFL. But in my defence I'm writing this stuff at 1 or 2 AM, and posting unedited, so please forgive some typos and bad grammar along the way LOL LOL

you are doing a fine job . . . for a moose :wink:

rinker250 January 14th, 2008 07:40 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Kuki
Quote:

Originally Posted by r_otway
Kuki, you said in your earlier post you watched the "NCL" play offs. was this some kind of game between 2 ships. or were you refering to the other other game? I was wondering how it might be possible for colin vietch to pitt to ships against each other ? Russell :)

Gee.. you guys won't let a poor tired writer get away with anything LOL It was indeed a typo that should have read NFL. But in my defence I'm writing this stuff at 1 or 2 AM, and posting unedited, so please forgive some typos and bad grammar along the way LOL LOL

I think you should have 5, 6 drinks before the next installment!

Seriously, thank you for taking the time to share.

How 'bout those windows?

Kuki January 15th, 2008 01:26 AM

Z – Day 3- Grand Turk

The Zuiderdam arrived dockside in Grand Turk, and an announcement followed at 7:30 A.M. that the ship was cleared, and passengers could disembark the vessel. At the time I heard the announcement I disembarked my bed. I guess I wasn’t going to need the 9 A.M. wake up call I programmed the telephone for after all.
http://www.cruisemates.com/gallery/g...4142/69682.jpg
http://www.cruisemates.com/gallery/g...4142/69679.jpg

The cruise ship center at Grand Turk is a relatively new structure, with the pier, and of course, the requisite shopping area, obviously purpose built to attract the cruise ship industry.

If one longs to visit a Caribbean island, not yet transformed into a tourists “Caribbean theme park?, then Grand Turk fits the bill. Grand Turk has a permanent population of approximately 2500. However, if you’re not a diver, snorkeler, or otherwise inclined water bunny, there’s also not all that much allure to this island. Those who enjoy water based activities tell me the underwater life can be quite dramatic in this area.

There is a hop on, hop off bus available at the cruise ship center, for a cost of $40 per person. I thought the price was exorbitant, considering the island is quite small, and seemingly not that many points of interest. I was only half kidding when I asked the people selling the hop on hope off bus tickets if there was more than 1 stop.

We and the couple we’re traveling with opted to take a taxi to the “town center? – cost $5 per person. It was about a 4 minute ride to be dropped off by the Texaco gas station. And that is pretty close to the highlight of the area. The hot spot in town seems to be the Hookie Pookie Pizza Palace. We casually strolled through the town center, and got back to the Texaco just as our taxi driver got his vehicle out of the Texaco lot, where he’d dropped us off.
http://www.cruisemates.com/gallery/g...4142/69677.jpg
http://www.cruisemates.com/gallery/g...4142/69676.jpg

Not much doing in town, but they do have wonderful street signs.
http://www.cruisemates.com/gallery/g...4142/69675.jpg

There’s obviously a visionary leading the government here, because when the wild expansion of the tourist industry arrives they are prepared with great looking street signs.

Interestingly the government of the Turk & Caicos has been in talks with the government of Canada to encourage making these islands a part of Canada; the 11th province, if you will. The premise is to give Canadians a warm weather alternative vacation point that would still be “in? Canada. I believe discussions continue, with the local government even offering to switch to Canadian currency as their legal tender.

On the drive back to the pier we inquired of the taxi driver if there was anything else on the island we should see. He replied: “Nope?!
http://www.cruisemates.com/gallery/g...4142/69678.jpg

Back at the Cruise Ship Center- there is a large beach area, as well as a large version of Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville, where we stopped for a superb Pina Colada. The place was very busy, and no one seemed to be trying to sneak their own liquor into the bar, even though prices are quite outrageous. Particularly impressive at the beach here is all the stunningly beautiful hues of blue as you gaze across the water. Today was also a day of perfect weather, with highs in the 80s, and clear skies, and calm waters.
http://www.cruisemates.com/gallery/g...4142/69672.jpg
http://www.cruisemates.com/gallery/g...4142/69673.jpg

We did find an unusual gallery amongst the shops here. It is called Bruno’s Arts. What’s surprising here is that the entire gallery is dedicated to the works of Frank Meisler. For those who don’t know the Meisler name, his works are amongst the most unusual and beautiful creations on earth… if you like that sort of thing. LOL

Back onboard the Z by 1:30 P.M, for a 2 O’clock sail-a-way towards tomorrow’s stop in Tortola. There was a full sail-a-way party, complete with an excellent band, open air barbeque, serving barbequed salmon as well as chicken on skewers.
http://www.cruisemates.com/gallery/g...4142/69680.jpg

Speaking of chicken on skewers, a very pleasant Holland America tradition is the serving of hot, bite size, appetizers in several lounges onboard for those stopping in for pre-dinner drinks. We stopped before dinner in the Ocean’s Bar and they were serving large breaded shrimps, and duck spring rolls with plum sauce.

We’re now a few days into the cruise, so I suppose I can begin to express some opinions about the food. I’ve fallen in love with the deli section on Lido Deck for lunch. The Corned Beef on fresh rye bread is good, made even better when heated on the spot using the Panini Grills. But my favorite is their freshly made BLTs, piled with the extra bacon I ask for, and then the bread made slightly crispy using the Panini Grills.

To this point the food in the dining room has been quite good. I haven’t been wowed yet but any one meal, but it’s been good enough that I still hold out hope for a couple of meals to rave about. About the only limited complaint I have so far is the soups have been lukewarm, not hot.

Tonight featured “headline? entertainment at a pre-dinner show in the showroom. Joel Jason was quite entertaining with a tribute to Elton John, including extravagant costuming ala Elton John. His was a high energy act, mixed with comic banter, and the audience loved the show. My lack of appreciation of almost anything musical makes me unqualified to talk about his musical talent, but I did appreciate the showmanship and energy.

After the show we stopped in the casino for an hour or so. I’ve now got to know some of the casino staff, and those who I have met are a fun and friendly crew; somewhat surprisingly more so than when I last sailed on Carnival back in November. One would assume the “fun ships? would have the more “fun? casino staff.

For table game players, you’ll be happy to know that unlike the Carnival ships, which are also owned by Carnival Corporation, the Holland America ships casinos have not switched over to the automatic continuous shuffling machines.

After leaving the casino, I made a point of stopping by the Piano Bar, as I had yet to visit. There was a sizeable crowd enjoying drinks and the sing-along, even as it close to midnight. I didn’t stay tonight, but I do intend to make the time to sit in for a longer visit before the cruise ends.

We move our clocks forward one hour tonight, so it’s an “it’s later than you think? night. The ship isn’t scheduled to arrive in Tortola until 1 P.M, so the time change is slightly less relevant not having to get up early in the morning.

And we're looking forward to our reservations tomorrow evening in the Pinnacle, the ships alternate ($30 per person surcharge) restaurant.

DeeDee January 15th, 2008 06:24 AM

I'm enjoying your blog, Kuki. You must have been writing this last installment at 2am and been a bit bleary eyed 'cause it's Joel Mason, not Jason. LOL

Quote:

Joel Jason was quite entertaining with a tribute to Elton John,
Glad you are enjoying the cruise. :D

Great photos.

Kuki January 15th, 2008 09:48 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by DeeDee
I'm enjoying your blog, Kuki. You must have been writing this last installment at 2am and been a bit bleary eyed 'cause it's Joel Mason, not Jason. LOL

Quote:

Joel Jason was quite entertaining with a tribute to Elton John,
Glad you are enjoying the cruise. :D

Great photos.

Why OF COURSE it was an M , not a J in Mason. I had the program right in front of me LOL Now you HAL afficiandos are getting the right idea..... feel sorry for me and help LOL LOL

earl January 15th, 2008 03:40 PM

I remember back in the 70`s or 80`s there was talk of uniteing the turks
with canada. but of course that went no where. imagine traveling somewhere where your money is at par. they would of made
beaucoup money from us.
Hope you are having a great cruise . I look forward each day to read
about your adventures

momofmeg January 15th, 2008 06:56 PM

Kukli how doe sthis ship compare to the Constellation? I will be on Westerdam the sister ship in April.

I understand there is a charge for the spa pool. Do you know how much?

Kuki January 15th, 2008 11:57 PM

Z – Day 4- Jan. 25 – Tortolla
Even the most seasoned cruisers amongst us can, at times, still find ways to stumble through the experience. We can become overconfident with our preparation and traveling skills which we’ve so finely tuned over the years.

Mrs. Kuki is the most skilled practitioner of the art of packing that I have ever encountered. This, of course, is the primary reason we’re still married. When clothing is removed from a suitcase she’s packed, they come out already on hangers, looking like they’ve just come from the dry cleaners, with every crease exactly in place, and none where they shouldn’t be.

In the beginning, we’d pack a week or more prior to our departure date, but as our experience has grown, that task is left until the night before. My area of responsibility in this process is to choose my clothing, and lay it out for her to pack, and load the car on day of departure.

For this trip, a two week back to back jaunt, changing ships mid-stream, I made the decision to change with the times, and leave my tuxedo, dress vests, etc. at home, and to go with one suit, with various shirts and ties to match.

After our first formal night of this cruise, having spent the evening in a suit that halfway through the evening I realized was a bit overly snug, it dawned on me I had laid out the wrong suit. Many of us have a closet containing an assortment of sizes that we’ve lived through various stages of our life. And indeed this time the suit I chose for her to pack was from a more svelte stage in the life of my body beautiful.

Upon making this realization I of course blamed Mrs. Kuki for placing an old suit in a prominent position in my closet, knowing full well (because of the inherent psychic ability that women are born with) that this suit would now be a snug fit on the 2008 edition of my body magnificent.

Because of this faux pas, for the next 3 formal nights, I’ll suffer the gross indignity of hiding the somewhat unsightly enlarged girth of my midsection hanging over my belt top, while I store my vanity in the inside suit pocket.

This will be the last time, until next time, that I take my responsibilities of choosing my own clothing so lightly. Using this life experience to learn from, some day in the future, in some unknown city, I may even stop and ask for directions; Either that, or I’ll just go back to taking along my tuxedo.

Chef Rajeev was back in the Show Kitchen, in the Queen’s Lounge, at 9:30 this morning, demonstrating the preparation of Caribbean dishes. However I couldn’t smell or sample any of the items being prepared from my location in bed in my cabin.

At 11 A.M. this morning the ship began sailing through the Sir Francis Drake Channel. The Captain opened up a normally closed area on the bow on Deck 4 for passengers to enjoy his passage, and the public address system was used to supply a verbal narration of the history of the Virgin Islands, and the passage. In some areas the view was similar to parts of the day cruising the inside passage in Alaska.
http://www.cruisemates.com/gallery/g...4142/69683.jpg
http://www.cruisemates.com/gallery/g...4142/69686.jpg

Upon arriving just off the coast of Tortola, with Road Town in sight, the Captain announced that a problem had developed in the engine room that prevented us from pulling along-side the pier. A quick decision had been made to drop anchor and begin tendering passengers as soon as possible, while looking for and repairing the problem.

About an hour later, after the tendering process had begun, it was announced that the problem was found, and was being dealt with, and we hoped to be headed to the pier sometime in the next hour. The officers and crew seemed to be handling the matter professionally, and keeping the guests well informed.

The guests began acting as though they had been told they’d be spending the remaining days left in their lives drifting aimlessly at sea, and that the ship had run out of shrimp. The mood in the buffet lines turned nasty, as passengers amassed at buffet stations apparently in a quest to hoard anything edible in view, in case the engine problems lasted longer than forever. I thought, if this situation goes on too much longer there are going to be people on this ship attempting to survive on Splenda, and once decorative carvings made from lard.

I waited, relaxing on my balcony, a bit apprehensive as to whether the telephone would ring, with the call, asking for my assistance. I sat, with my tool kit in hand (my knife and fork), ready to serve (or eat) should that call come.

Shortly after 4 P.M. whatever issues had occurred were rectified and the Z was tied up at the pier in Tortolla. Mrs. Kuki and I had waited, and we disembarked the vessel to have a stroll around the area. As we did so, it became very obvious who had suffered the most from the ship’s few lost hours in port.
http://www.cruisemates.com/gallery/g...4142/69684.jpg

I felt just terrible for the lines of safari style taxi drivers waiting at the pier, by now almost begging passengers to go somewhere with them, if even only for an hour. Via the tendering process the ship was able to get guests on the ship’s tours off earlier, so those tour operators were not affected. The ship is scheduled to remain in port until 10 P.M., but few passengers are likely to be wandering the town after dark.

As we left the security area we passed a fellow yelling to people that he had jeeps and scooters available to rent. He was telling everyone walking towards the center of town... Don't go there, there's nothing there! He's right.. sort of.

We’ve visited Tortolla before, while on other cruises, and there are several magnificently beautiful beaches to visit; the most popular, with excellent facilities is Cane Garden Bay Beach. For those who are more interested in avoiding the crowds, look to Josiah’s Bay.

Prior to the cruise we had pre-booked dinner tonight in the Pinnacle Restaurant ($30 pp surcharge). We chose tonight’s date based solely on the fact it was mid cruise. The ship stayed in port late this evening, though I’m not entirely sure why, as it didn’t appear to me to hold much attraction to passengers for late evening activities. The ship planned a barbeque deck party for this evening, beginning at 5 P.M and continuing through until past 8 P.M., but our reservation at the Pinnacle was for 7 P.M, so we didn’t attend.
http://www.cruisemates.com/gallery/g...4142/69688.jpg
http://www.cruisemates.com/gallery/g...4142/69689.jpg

The Pinnacle is a beautifully decorated restaurant, using the finest flatware, and tableware. We found the menu format slightly confusing, but the selections seemed broad. Three of us chose the U.S.A. Sterling Beef, Filet Mignon for an entrée, while the other ordered the Boarded Monk Fish with Crabs Legs. The quality of the beef was outstanding, but our friend didn’t care for the fish, and reported the Crabs Legs were tasteless.

No one of the group of 4 of us was particularly impressed with the taste of any of our appetizer, soup, or salad choices. And though the presentation of the desserts made them appear to be delicious, the expectations were not met when we tasted them.

The same could be said of the service; on the surface it appeared good, but the expectations weren’t met. Though the staff went through the motions, the attentiveness seemed feigned. After finishing our entrees, and ordering desserts and coffees, it took some time to get coffee, and then a considerable amount of lag time before the desserts were served. Coffee refills were never offered, and when I did get someone’s attention to request a refill it took quite some time, and another effort on my part to get their attention once more before getting a second cup.

Frankly, and sadly, the Pinnacle experience did not offer full value for the additional cost. Our service team in the dining room has to this point outperformed the service we received tonight in the Pinnacle.

This evening’s entertainment schedule was the Newly Wed/Not So Newly Wed passenger participation game, Karaoke, Oscar music trivia in the Piano Bar, and the Indonesian Crew Show. We spent some time in the Piano Bar, which was full tonight, and people seemed to be enjoying themselves. However, we did miss the crew show that I normally do like to see.

Tomorrow morning the ship arrives in St. Thomas, and everyone must clear U.S. Immigration before the ship is cleared. My male friend and I have booked the ship’s golf excursion to Mahogany Run Golf Club, while our wives our planning on spending time together looking around (read shopping). Because our tour leaves early, we have to report to immigration early, and have decided to turn in early. (though it’s almost midnight as I type).

Kuki January 16th, 2008 12:03 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by momofmeg
Kukli how doe sthis ship compare to the Constellation? I will be on Westerdam the sister ship in April.

I understand there is a charge for the spa pool. Do you know how much?

In some ways the Connie and the Zuiderdam are comparable... in that both are slightly worn, and can both make use of upcoming dry docks. In other ways they are difficult to compare, at least until I have a full cruise on this ship "under my belt". I hate drawing conclusions mid cruise.

Both ships have passenger friendly layouts. Our cruise in Dec. on Constellation was near to perfect, and that was reflected in the review I wrote for CruiseMates. Hopefully I'll feel the same about this ship when we leave her.

I'm personally not a spa person, but I'll get the answer to your question... if some of the experienced Mariners here don't beat me to it.

DeeDee January 16th, 2008 01:06 AM

Quote:

The ship stayed in port late this evening, though I’m not entirely sure why, as it didn’t appear to me to hold much attraction to passengers for late evening activities.
Probably because it's a short hop, skip and a jump from Tortola to St. Thomas.

Mike M January 16th, 2008 01:29 AM

Kuki:

Thanks for the ongoing reports. Your Pinnacle Grill experience is very similar to mine. I would rate it among the bottom of specialty restaurants.

I learned a lesson awhile ago that I try on "Everything" before my wife packs it. I too don't have the packing gene. If I hadn't tried on my tux before I left I would have looked like I was wearing a black and white sack.

Take care,
Mike

Trip January 16th, 2008 08:39 AM

Hi Kukala,
I'm sorry you didn't have a good experience in the Pinnacle.Back in 05, when we cruised with Al & Pat, we had wonderful service and the food was so much better than the dr, we tried to get another reservation all week, and couldn't;(

Oh and isn't that room gorgeous......those silver chairs are the ones I want you to ship home for me..thanks, ever so much!

Keep on keepin on, for all of us!!! xoxoxoxox

rollerdonna January 16th, 2008 10:11 AM

Just wanted to let you know I'm following your blog and cruising along with you Kuki. Getting prepared for my own cruise in a week and a half!
Love the pictures, especially of Turks and Caicos. Hmmm, is there any way we can put pressure on our gov't to hurry up and adopt the Turks as our own? LOL

donna

jongbj January 16th, 2008 11:32 AM

Great Blog, read it everyday. We're taking almost the same cruise in 4 weeks (same boat anyhow :D ) and your blog makes us look forward to it more and more.

Phyllbo January 16th, 2008 11:58 AM

Kuki, I am also continuing to enjoy your blog very much. It's like trying out a new ship without actually being on it. It's great to have the pictures included, and your writing style adds so much interest to the report. Thanks.

Phyll


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