Abby/Rock - I hear your concerns. Before we did our 1st cruise back in 2008, I had the exact same concerns. Norovirus, fires, accidents. I recall one ship off of Florida caught fire and lost power for a day. There was one ship off the cost of San Diego that was without power for three days. And no power means no hot food, no a/c, no hot water, and the potties don’t work. And I won’t even begin to mention the Costa Concordia. Despite our fears, the trip went very well. The ship was the Conquest - one of the the Carnival line (the Wal-Mart of Cruise Ships). It was a big ship, well-run with all the bells ans whistles but loud and crowded. Lots of kids, people. A seven day cruise of the Caribbean. As first timers, we didn't know the system so we were trying to keep up with the activities/schedules. Lots of things to do and it is easy to get lost trying to keep up with everything. One thing these ships have nowadays is a real paranoia for any viruses or illnesses. Everywhere you go, they have hand sanitizer. Each of the restaurants has a sanitizer station when you enter. Every bathroom has sanitizer stations installed as well and they have this paper towel dispenser at the door so you do not have to touch any bathroom surfaces. Was kinda weird the first time we did it.
The Zuiderdam is one of the Holland America line and supposedly a bit more upscale (aka classier). For the technophiles - it is one of Holland America's Vista class cruisers - 10 years old, 936 feet long, 106 feet wide, can carry up to 1916 passengers, gross tonnage is 82,305 grt, max speed is 24 knots. It has 1 grill, 3-4 restaurants, 8-9 bars/lounges (we tried them all), a full sized theater, casino, 1st class work out room, two pools, 4 hot tubs, basketball court, observation lounge/library/internet cafe, spa, sauna, gift shops, medical center, and "the loft" (designed exclusively for teens (13 - 17) to have fun, socialize and hang out with people their own age) - that just sounds lame. For our cruise, we only had about 1800 people on board and almost no kids. Made for a nice, quieter trip. I was hesitant about traveling for 10 days, but since we had done this before, I was better prepared physically and mentally. There is a certain system you need to adopt, a schedule, and plan your days. 10 days on a boat with your loved ones can really test a relationship. I brought several books to read (still not ready for a Kindle), the wife’s iPad, two cameras with back up batteries and memory cards, plenty of clothes, and a few spare bottles of hooch.
The Queen's Lounge
The Vista Dining Room
The Ocean Pool
Life aboard one of these behemoths can be interesting. It can be as easy and relaxed as you care to have it or it can be as wild and crazy as you can handle. Everyday there is a schedule for everything. From early morning Tai Chi with Lifestylist Nick poolside on the Lido (not Libido) to breakfast in the Lido restaurant to aqua arobics with Nick (he gets around) to techy classes (how to manage your photos/hard drive), there is always something to do. You get an explorer flyer each morning that helps you map out your day. Since we going on a 10 day tour, some days would be in port (5 ports of call), some days would be at sea.
Of course you will not be lacking for food. Food is available 24/7. Aside of the main serving hours for breakfast, lunch, dinner, there are mid-morning treats, afternoon ice cream, late night snacks.
Lots to see and do. But sometimes it is just nice to sit back and put your feet up and enjoy the ride.