Holland America Zuiderdam: Embarkation Day

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HAL sailaway FLL When I got to Fort Lauderdale this morning I went and did laundry at a local coin laundry facility as it’s much cheaper than paying $2 per article of clothing on a cruise ship. I wound up paying $2.75 and had all my laundry washed and dried (the facility was a couple minutes from the port of 17th Street).

Someone told me today that I’m a slave to free wifi and that’s pretty much true. Port Everglades website said that all terminals at the port are now equipped with free wifi (woo-hoo).

The curbside process was very efficient. We pulled up around noon, they put a tag on my bag with my room number on it and I was on my way. They told me that I would get my bag in my room by four (it arrived much earlier). Again, I forgot my boarding paperwork, but it was fine. They checked my name on the manifest, went through security, and I went to the check-in counter. The agent was VERY helpful to me. I did ask her about cash deposits and debit card holds. She said with a debit card, it’s typical for Holland America to hold $60 per day, this was a 10-day cruise so $600. If you want to do cash deposit, it’s recommended that you give $600 into which you’ll be refunded via check if you don’t spend it all on the last night of the cruise. I hung in the terminal for about two hours getting caught up on emails and editing files before I made my way on the ship and to my room. The room is on deck 7 (Rotterdam deck), port side, between midship and aft. I have a balcony stateroom, a nice sitting area, an actual tub, and three big closets to hang clothes. There is also a dressing curtain that I didn’t notice when I sailed ms Eurodam back in 2010. Each room has its own dvd player, flat screen TV, and super comfy beds. I think I’ve never been on a cruise ship or a hotel with a bed this comfortable.

The lifeboat drill was at 4pm and I have never heard a cruise line so strict on the policy. The cruise director came on the mic and said “if you don’t drill, you don’t sail.” He said that not once, not twice, but three times. I think he got the point across. The lifeboat drill took exactly 19-minutes and the captain released us with the blast of the ships horn. We were the third ship to pull out of port. Princess Cruises’ Pacific Princess was out first, followed by Holland America’s ms Maasdam, then us (ms Zuiderdam) and Seabourn was last. All Carnival Corp. ships.

The sail away band was great and they had an amazing sail away BBQ with all the fixings: steak, chicken, ribs, grilled salmon, grilled corn, and kabobs. There’s a Port Everglades webcam in one of the last buildings when you are pulling out of port, they didn’t zoom in close enough to check us out though. I stood on the aft end of the ship, port side during the sail out and watched the pilot boat take the river pilot off the ship.

We have open seating and went to dinner, cutting it close, around 8:45pm. More on the dining on this ship in the days to come.

Tomorrow is Half Moon Cay, Holland America’s private island that’s located about 100-miles southeast of Nassau, Bahamas. This will be my third time to the island in the past couple of years and has to be one of the better private cruise line owned beaches I’ve been too. I think HMC has actually won awards consistently from Porthole Cruise Magazine on the best private destination.

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