Zuiderdam came out of dry-dock unprepared for passengers. Boarding was delayed and mechanical problems persisted during the voyage (loss of power, smoke causing alarms). The crew, particularly in the Lido cafe, appeared sleep-deprived. On the second morning they apparently did not know that opening time was 11:30 a.m., managing to get started between noon and 12:15. The ship was in desperate need of cleaning, which crew undertook during the cruise, making for a 11-15 hour workday while simultaneously dealing with the guests. They came through in fine style (grace under pressure). Especial mention of Bernard, Sute, and Suki for superior customer service. The food was excellent. Entertainment rather amateurish, with notable exception of the Island Magic Steel Band. Dancing was not encouraged as the HALCats apparently see themselves as a jazz group.
Several ship's officers apologized for the shape of the ship, but when the Captain was asked what had happened, he replied that there were no problems. One benefit of the problems is that they made for easy conversation-starters. My wife and I heard many complaints which we did not experience (e.g. balconies unfit for use, shower problems). General problems included inoperable hand sanitizers outside the dining room (corrected two days later by stationing a steward outside with one), 1/2 of the elevators closed for the first two days, extremely noisy cleaning of the Lido pool cover; there are many more specifics too boring to include here.
In his talk in the Crow's Nest, the Captain did reveal that the purpose of the dry-dock was a mandatory re-certification of the ship, which included mechanical repairs; appearance items were definitely secondary.
All of this can no doubt be dismissed as picayune, but what is going to precipitate a letter to the CEO is the mis-treatment of the crew. Word got out that they were on the ship in dry dock, with no A/C and some days without water at all, generally no hot water. Even if these observations are untrue, what we did observe constituted a lack of concern for the welfare of the crew. When a company advertises "A signature of Excellence", one expects that to permeate the organization. The abuse of the crew suggests that we have seen behind the facade to the real face of HAL. It is not pretty.