Here's my review of our cruise on the Zaandam, 11/30/01- Southern Caribbean Seafarer Due to the events of Sept 11, US Air changed our flight from an 8am non-stop to Ft Lauderdale to a 6am , change in Charlotte NC. Although this was a lot earlier than we preferred, everything went smoothly , and the flights were actually early. The only problem, which in my opinion was a minor one, was that our luggage which had been tagged with Zaandam tags, did not get pulled and was on the carousel. Although the HAL reps said it would eventually be pulled, we decided to take it to the pier ourselves rather than let it keep going around. We got a cab, which cost $10, and got to the terminal around 10:15. As passengers were still disembarking, we had to wait outside with other early arrivals until 11am. We chatted with several other people- one couple actually ended up at our dinner table and were lots of fun!
Check in and security were easy and we were given embarkation number 2. As were waited in the terminal , chatting with another couple our age, we were a bit nervous as most of the other early arrivals appeared to be quite senior,. However, this fear was quickly put to rest, as within the first 5 hours onboard the ship we met at least 6 other couples our age, and saw many others! We embarked around 1:45, were shown directly to our cabin by a steward, unpacked our carry-ons, and went to make a dinner reservation at the Marco Polo. This being accomplished, we then went to the Lido for lunch.. It was a full buffet lunch and wonderful!! Later we attended the sailway festivities!
Unfortunately, it rained in Bonaire, which spoiled our ships' tour of A Day at the Beach ( Plaza Hotel). The hotel was lovely, so we spent quite some time strolling through the gardens. We ended up getting a refund of ½ the cost per person from HAL, as other passengers must have complained. I thought that was rather generous, as no one can control the weather!!! I also strolled into Kralendijk, which is cute, but small- lots of little souvenir shops.and that's about it!
Isla Margarita was fun- we shopped at the bazaar set up on the pier, and went to the beach right there- there was a tiki bar with a steel band, and restrooms. $3.00 to rent a chair and an umbrella which we thought was reasonable. The water was wonderful- a sand bar keeps it shallow WAY out, and you can walk around the island in the water!!! The silver jewelry there was inexpensive and very nice. We spoke with others who had taken a bus ride to town and felt it was a waste of time.
St Lucia- after walking over to Port Seraphine to shop a bit, we took a cab to the Windjammer Landing Beach Resort- The most beautiful beach ever! It is your dream of a caribbean beach!!! We spent the day there.
In St Kitts, we again strolled through the town of Basseterre, bought a few trinkets and some rum at the duty free store ($10 for 1.75 litre of Mt Gay Eclipse) and then went to South Friar's Beach.. Again it was beautiful , but we were directed there by our cab driver, instead of going to Turtle Beach.
St Thomas, shopping in Charlotte Amalie in the am, then out to Magens Bay ( see some repetition here- we are beach people- not tourers!) Nassau- we went to see the Atlantis, then did the beach! We both enjoyed all the ports. and all the beaches.
The ship itself is absolutely gorgeous- there was NOTHING to complain about and much to praise- our cabin , 3387, outside on lower prom was very roomy and had plenty of closet, drawer and shelf space- we didn't even use it all.. There was room under the bed for all 5 of our suitcases..Our cabin steward was invisible, but we always had ice, fruit and our cabin was spotless! The food in all 3 of the restaurants was great, plentiful and fresh! The service we received from everyone cabin steward, dining stewards, assistants, maitre d', bar staff, wine stewards, etc was 5 star. Entertainment was good, with plenty of good music (we're baby boomers) and lots of different themed parties to keep us going at night! Wthe shops on board were well stocked, the casino was kind. What more could you ask for?!!
All in all, I'd have to say that this cruise was EVERYTHING I hoped it would be!!!! Any questions, feel free to email me!