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Day / Date Entry
#1

Saturday

12/15/2007

Got up pretty dang early - 4:20 am. Got picked up by Capital City Sedan right on time at 5:30 am. Got to the airport quickly around 6 am. Karen and I used the self-service kiosk to check our baggage. We then proceeded through security where Lou of course set off the metal detectors with his bionic hips. After getting the pat-down, we proceeded to the gate to wait for our flight to Fort Lauderdale. The flight was less than 2 hours.
We got to Fort Lauderdale, got our luggage immediately, hopped on the first cab and were at the Holland America check in terminal by 10:20 am. Patsy and Omer were waiting at the hotel. For some unexplainable reason, they were going to wait until 1 pm before leaving the hotel and going down to the Holland America terminal. We called them from the baggage claim area to tell them we had arrived and were on our way to the terminal. Once we got to HAL and checked in and found no security delay, we called Pat and Omer to tell them to get down here.
We got on the ship around 11:30 am. It was so early that our cabin wasn't ready yet. We were told they wouldn't be ready until 1:30 pm. So we went to the Lido and got our first meal. We explored the ship for a while. Finally we heard the announcement that the cabins were ready. We went to our cabin and it was fine.
Lou had the cabin number mixed up. We were in 5145, but we put 5148 on our luggage tags. So we had to go to the front desk to tell them about it. They don't worry that they always match up the name on the tag with the cabin guest.
We got our luggage around 4 pm. Lou's suitcase apparently had the zipper broken. So the HAL crew tied it together. It seemed like all was fine, but hours later, at the evening show, Lou realized that his toiletry bag was missing. So we ran down to main desk again this time to tell them about the damaged luggage and missing toiletry bag. They said they will look for it and get back to us in the morning. They gave Lou a standard toiletry bag to use over night. In the morning at 9:50 am we got a call from the front desk to tell us they found the bag. We went down and sure enough, it was there with Lou's new electric shaver.

We went to our 8:30 dinner and met our table mates. It turned out there was a mom and dad traveling with their son and daughter in-law. John and Gail live in FL and their son Andy and wife Kim live in MN where they board horses. They were a lot of fun. We were looking forward to seeing them again. We told them we would night see them on Sunday and Monday night because Sunday night is a formal night and we don't get dressed up and we would have dinner in the Lido. Monday we had reservations at 7:30 in the Pinnacle Grill which specialized in Pacific Northwest (!) cuisine.  How could we resist that?!
After dinner we walked around outside. We went to bed around midnight after getting up at 4:20 am. We were tired.

#2

Sunday

12/16/2007

Boy did it feel good to sleep in this morning. Karen and I were very tired. We had some recent days where we both had trouble sleeping. As usual though, sleeping on the ship is wonderful. We got up at 8:30 am and went to the sit down for breakfast.
We met Pete. His wife Rose wasn't feeling well so she was still in the cabin. Pete was great. He was really funny and talkative. We are glad we met him. Pat and Omer had breakfast in the buffet.
We went to the 10:45 St. Thomas shopping talk. Lou and Omer were bored, although Lou got 2 cigars. Pat and Karen were thrilled with all the talk about diamonds and gems.
Lou and Karen had Indian food for lunch. It was fine. We sat next to a table of New Yorkers. They got up and went into the buffet to get food so they left all there stuff on the chairs around the table by the pool. They were gone a long time. Eventually this lady came over and stood by their chairs watching for a while. Eventually she swiped 2 chairs. We never saw the NY guys come back.
Lou and Karen went to the sports bar around 1:30. One side had the actual bar with 4 TVs all showing the same game. Unfortunately it was smokey. So we went to the other side that we thought was full but we wanted to check out anyway. Amazingly enough we got seats right in front of the big plasma TV. Karen hung out for a while and then went to another gem lecture. Lou stayed to watch the game and drink Margaritas. Eventually Omer showed up and watch the Jaguars beat the Steelers 29-22.
This was a huge day because Lou saw the Dolphins beat the Ravens in OT 22-16. His much beloved Dolphins will not finish the season winless.
Since it was formal night, and we did not want to get dressed up, we planned to have dinner in the Lido at 8 pm. This ship or cruise line is really strange: they close the Lido (buffet) at 7:30. Who has ever heard of a cruise ship/line closing the buffet at 7:30 pm!?  The only food available was at the Italian section.  You got to pick exactly which veggies you wanted to have stir fried with your pasta, but that also means it takes forever to get served. We were able to get some pasta with meat sauce. It was ok. You go on a cruise and you do not expect to eat cheap spaghetti.
So far, we haven't been to thrilled with this ship/line. Here's a list of stuff we've noticed just on day 2:
-- A lot of the public area bathrooms do not have soap or towels.
-- Although this ship, the Zuiderdam, is suppose to target a younger crowd, we haven't really noticed. Who would close the buffet at 7:30?
-- The Pinnacle Grill (additional service charge restaurant) requires formal dress on formal nights. We had figured we could go there on formal nights like we had on other ships.
-- Lou's suitcase was damaged by the staff either on the ship or at Fort Lauderdale.
-- Our cabin steward did not clean out cabin until the afternoon when Karen called the front desk.
-- Pat and Omer's cabin steward offered to let Karen into there room when he saw Karen knocking at the door when P&O were not there.
-- The singers/dancers are just awful.
-- The food hasn't been anything to write about so I won't other than to say it isn't great.  The food variety is minimal. Pizza is sub par.
-- Cabins are over crowded with furniture.
-- Cabins are noisy so you can hear you next door neighbors.
-- Internet is outrageously expensive. You pay 75 cents per minutes. Or you have to buy one of the packages like 100 minutes for $55 or 250 minutes for $100.
-- The ship was built in 2002, but it looks beaten up. The furniture is starting to fall apart.
-- The way HA does mustering is just awful. No other cruise line does it like this. You put on your life preserver in your cabin. You then walk up to where you life boat is. You line up with men in the back and women and children in front. You then wait for the attendance to be taken. You then listen to the talk from the captain. All this in the Caribbean heat wearing a life preserver.

There are some good things about the ship.
-- It has an outside elevator which is pretty cool. You can look out as you ride the elevator.
-- There are some nice art work throughout the ship.

After our lovely college food, we pretty much all went back to our cabins to relax and get ready for the next day. We had to meet ashore at 7:50 am for snorkeling.

Patsy got a gold chain from one of the stores.

Luckily Omer and Pat brought a disposable underwater camera. Lou and Karen never got the chance to buy one.

We all met in the Lido for an afternoon snack around 4:30. We ran into Pete, who Lou and Karen had breakfast with, and we met Pete's wife Rose who was ill earlier. We all sat together and had a wonderful time laughing and talking. What a nice couple.

#3

Monday

12/17/2007

We woke up around 6:15 am when we got a knock at our door. Room service arrived with breakfast. Omelets, coffee, cereal, and croissants. It was ok, nothing great. Lou wouldn't get it again.
We went to P&O's cabin at 7:15 am to see the docking. Our cabin had a great view of the ocean. We headed down to the pier and hung out waiting for our excursion. The boat was fine. It was covered so we didn't bake in the Caribbean sun. We went to 2 snorkeling spots. The first one Lou had some trouble with his mask and one of the guides fixed it. The snorkeling was ok. The sun was behind some clouds so it wasn't very bright in the water. Also there had been a storm a week earlier so it seemed like the reef was disturbed. The second spot was much clearer. We saw lots more fish including a 4 foot barracuda that was fed by one of the tour guides. Karen freaked out a bit when the barracuda decided to come right up to us to say hello with a big grin filled with needle-like teeth. Pat and Omer enjoyed there snorkeling as well. We met a lady on the boat named Vivian. She had done lots of snorkeling including down in Australia. She was real nice and helped us out a bit with our masks. Apparently we were a bit rusty since we had not gone snorkeling since 2003.
The tour guides were great. Very professional, polite, courteous, and helpful.
We went back to the ship to have hang out and then eat lunch. We wanted to eat in the sit down, but once again, we had a food issue. We thought they opened at noon, but they opened at 12:30. So we ate in the buffet. It was ok.
Lou realized there was a Margaritaville ashore he wanted to get a picture of. Of course Karen wanted to go shopping. We had one hour left before we had to be back on the ship as all aboard was at 1:30 for the 2 pm departure. So we ran down, got the camera, got money, and hit the gangplank. We booked it over to Margaritaville. We bought some cool stuff including a Hawaiian shirt, mug, magnet, and 2 hats. We went outside and took some great pictures. We then walked around back and found a pool, tiki bar, umbrellas tables, the bar, and cabanas. Awesome. Took more pictures. We walked in to either get a shot or a marg. Lou asked the bartender if he could have a Margarita To Go. The bartender said of course. So Lou got a Margaritaville frozen Margarita in a to go cup and drank it on the way back to the ship. Totally cool!
Got back to the ship and went to the pool out back and hung out for about an hour. The steel drum band was playing good music and Margaritas were being serviced. Lou had one but it was no where as good as the one from Margaritaville.
Karen is now taking a nap after getting Lou a latte so he could do all this email.
#4

Tuesday

12/18/2007

Got up at 9:25 when Lou heard Cruise Director Parker say "It is 9:25 am."
We had breakfast in the Windstar Cafe. We had lattes and baked items.
We hung out by the pool aft waiting for the descriptive narrative to begin at noon. Karen read her book while Lou searched for the best photo spot. This ship blows! You can't get to the bow for an unobstructed view of the front. So Lou found this little area in the back of deck 10 where you could take some pictures. After Lunch we came up and took pictures for about an hour. The narrative started during lunch. Again, lunch kind of ok - burgers. The narrative was ok.
We looked for P&O but were unable to find them. Karen banged on their door at around 1 pm and the neighbor next door came out in her bathrobe with her hair sticking out wondering what was going on.
We went swimming after taking pictures cuz we were hot. That's what happens in the Caribbean.
we had a drink at the bar and Karen made me taste this disgusting "Cool as a Cucumber" low octane drink to make sure that there was no alcohol in it before she would take a sip. YUCK!!!!
We went on our excursion at 2:25 pm. We got into a Land Rover that held 6 to 8 passengers in the back. Our driver was "Karen", no, not my wife. This other local dude who we could not understand through the microphone.
This British guy kept commenting about one of the other driver's gold tooth. I wanted to smack him and tell him to shut up.
We went up and down these hills and stopped many times to watch the view. We saw goats, cows, a pony, chickens, sheep, and we saw the free hotel known as the prison. We also went to an awesome beach. The sand "Josiah's on the Bay" was smooth and no rocks. The water was cool and lots of waves and under current. We had a drink at the bar.
We came back to the ship around 6 pm. Still no sign of P&O. We headed to BBQ by the pool where we had good food on the ship for what seemed the first time. We then went to the Lido to look for P&O and no luck. We stopped and called them and found them. Karen got coffee for all and we went to P&O's cabin so they could give Lou his birthday present (Meatloaf 3).
We went to the sitdown dinner. This time the other 2 couples did not show up. I guess they stayed in town or wanted to teach us a lesson for not showing up the past 2 nights.
Dinner was fine.
Went for a walk. Did 3 laps. Going to bed now. Later.
Ran into an older couple we chatted with in the embarkation lounge and the guy told us a dirty joke about doggy style sex. That is a different web site.
Good night.
#5

Wednesday

12/19/2007

Got up early to meet P&O for breakfast and then go to immigration because we were back in the US at St Thomas. Off by 8 AM and then stood around waiting for tour, talked to two ladies going SHOPPING all day long. Funny. "Bob" inserted himself into conversation by telling them that they ought to loosen up (when they were obviously pretty loose already w/o alcohol).

Excellent snorkeling on Barefoot Castaway Girl III. Federal bird sanctuary. Both Karen and Patsy commented that the guide named Chris looked like Mark Granger. Another guide in water showed up sunken ship, drug runners, coast guard was going to raid them but someone called to warn them so they set it on fire and sank boat. One hurricane dumped wreck on beach (ugly) and luckily another hurricane moved it into Shipwreck Cove. Guided snorkel tour, guy dove and grabbed a spiny starfish from under a rock for people to hold. Karen freaked, Lou did not get to hold it because it got passed away. It broke off a leg, guy dropped it and leg, another fish ate leg. Later guy had white sea urchin, Lou held it squirmy spiny, suctioning on your hand. Karen held it too but got kind of freaked.

Rum punch handed out by pretty Jaime, who would not switch jobs with Lou. Catamaran. Good music. Easy ladder back in! No trouble with mark or snorkel thank God

Back to ship, shower, lunch -- tried sit down but it was closed! -- so Lido. Then off to shop.

We were thrilled to be parked next to the Emerald Princess, so big and beautiful, probably have food 24 hours a day. Could see big screen TV and some type of stadium seating.

Went shopping, 4$ each bus to downtown, Diamonds International, Karen bargained alone with saleslady Lilly. We had to hang out for 1.5 hr to get stone set. Lou drank rum drinks. Very crowded with 5 cruise ships in town. Buses slowed down and yelled "ready to go back to your ship?" as we walked down the street.  Karen found a cool Christmas embroidered apron for Cindy and regrets not buying a bunch more for other ladies.  Also picked up Del Sol T shirts that change color for boys.

back at ship 30 min before departure, more pizza, went up to watch emerald princess leave, very cool, sunset, music, we danced.

pictures with camera on railing.

Saw table mates and yelled hello

went to early magician show. talked to Northern VA lady who daughter got engaged formal night.

Karen talked to Asian couple from Toronto who got 21 inches of  snow day after they flew out, neighbor is feeding fish and shoveling snow

Lou suggested no sit down dinner. Instead internet, newlywed, late adult comedy, so more desserts and caffeine and here we are.

lobster on bed

#6

Thursday

12/20/2007

Lou brought Karen a latte in bed around 8:45 am in order to get her up and running. What a great husband!!

We went to the Mariner's brunch at 11:30. We had good food and good conversation with our table mates. At 1 pm we went to a presentation by the magician. I forget his first name, but his last name is
Ceiling. He was awesome. He had his family on the cruise. We met his wife Elizabeth and a 2 year
old and a 10 month old. He pretty much lives on the ship 40 weeks a year. Lou bought the magic
kit.

We went to the Lido to play dominoes for an hour. Went to the sit down wearing long pants even thought it was a formal night. We walked in and one of the waiters gave Omer a bit of a hassle but we just ignored him and kept going. Had steak and lobster and watched the Baked Alaska show. Lou and Karen went to the Oak Nest to listen to music before heading back to the cabin around midnight.

#7

Friday

12/21/2007

Gorgeous beach. White sand beach with crystal clear water. Via the excursion web site, we had rented a clamshell shade to stay out of the sun. Kind of like a huge umbrella staked to the ground. Had pretty good food at the BBQ. Lou got a huge frozen Pina Colada and Karen got a virgin daiquiri.
We swam a lot. P&O were freezing the Caribbean waters. Go figure.
Came back to the ship around 2:30 pm. Showered and got lattes and are hanging out. Time to pack
and say good bye.

One of our table mates at dinner is an extremely picky eater. Andy for some reason eats odd
stuff. Can you believe a grown man doesn't like steak? What's up with that?

 

 

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