I have just returned from a 7 day sailing onboard the Zuiderdam. It was my 15th cruise but first with Holland America. The other cruises were mostly Royal Caribbean, Celebrity, Princess, Costa, Cunard, Norwegian and Carnival. We have been very happy on RCI and Celebrity, but from now, on I'll be checking Holland America first. The service, food, friendliness of everyone, with one exception, was impeccable. We were in a Category S Suite which consisted of a 374-sq-ft room and a verandah (that was supposed to be 189 but was actually more like 120-sq-ft but very good nontheless). After having read some of these reviews I was a bit concerned - mostly seeing more and more pictures of the ship as it has a modern or contemporary look that I am not at all interested in. It was not a problem, however, as the service and attentiveness of the staff and crew more than made up for it.I am not a big art lover, so I could not appreciate that part, although others, I'm sure will. I prefer elegance but do not feel that this ship did not provide it in a different way. I would cruise on-board this ship again and again. The only drawback was the check-in. As I said, this was my 15th cruise and I have never had such a long check-in on any other lines. Hopefully, they will correct this, but the check-out more than made up for it as we did not have to go to any common areas to wait to disembark. We stayed on our Verandah and being in a S category, we were in the first group off the ship. Amenities I did know we were getting were binoculars, umbrellas, travel bags, Champagne upon arrival, invitations to all kinds of things, a brunch with the Captain complete with white-gloved servers who served caviar (which I'm not crazy about) and enormous shrimp, letterhead with our names on it, priority tender tickets, a Concierge who got us DVD's and CD's. Oh, the list goes on and on.Our trip was to the Eastern Caribbean (Nassau, St Kitt's (which is in the beginning phases of being built up), St. Thomas (jewelry, jewelry and jewelry, which I love), and Half Moon Cay which again is the best private island of all of the cruise lines combined!It would stand to figure that a cruise line that puts so much attention on detail and 5 star ratings would have the best private island going. I had heard that the age of the passengers was an older crowd, an although the majority was, that still left the other 45% or so under that. Didn't see many children, which I liked, but enough to keep it not too stale. The food was, by far, the best I'd had on any other. The no-tipping policy was great. Of course tipping is always optional, so we did tip our room steward. I loved this policy. No bar-waiters trying their darndest to sell you the drink of the day. If you wanted it, you just asked. I am now a Holland America Line lover. I am convinced that this is the only way to go.
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