Embarkation: The Zuiderdam arrived 3 hours late and boarding took hours. There were no beverages or snacks available in the terminal like other cruise lines provide. Even though we had a "Superior Verandah Suite" we did not get priority boarding. On other cruise lines, a balcony category or higher gets you priority boarding. Once on the ship, we were greeted by mass confusion. When I stopped to ask where we could eat, I was rudely told to keep moving.
Cabin: When we entered our cabin, we discovered our balcony was filthy. It was covered by a black sooty dirt all over the furniture, rails, and flooring. We scrubbed the balcony ourselves so we could sit out there. Anyone who sat down on there balcony unaware of the filth would have ruined their clothing. While they held us captives in the terminal, they could have warned us that the balconies were filthy. The following day, they hosed them down, but those balconies needed a scrubbing which they didn't get. Our cabin was spacious with a large bathroom with two sinks, jacuzzi tub, and separate shower. The decor was 1950's trailer park. Nothing matched and for a suite it was really quite tacky. The decor I could overlook, but not the filth.
Food: The overall quality of the food was very good. However, the "As You Wish" dining was "As HAL Wishes" you would dine, not how you wanted to dine. We asked for a table for two and were taken to a table for six. When we questioned this we were told we needed to make reservations. That defeats the purpose of "As You Wish" dining. The diningroom manager made a standing reservation for us for 6:30 PM as nothing else was available. This was not when we wanted to eat, but we had no choice. The Lido Buffet was a nightmare. Number one problem is they have no trays for you to carry your food to your table. This required multiple trips to the buffet and when you finally got to sit down to eat, the food was cold. You could not serve yourself and there was not nearly enough staff to keep the lines moving. The set-up was really inefficient. Twice I was given food on a plate so hot I couldn't carry it. Water and cold beverages were doled out by staff in tiny juice glasses requiring multiple trips just to get a reasonable amount to drink. The whole dining experience on this ship was very aggravating at the buffet as well as the diningroom. The only good experience we had was with our room service breakfasts which came on time and were what we ordered.
Ship: The ship had just come out of dry dock and it really needed about 6 more months of dry dock. Every evening when we went to the diningroom, we had to walk around buckets catching water leaking from who knows where, I hope not a bathroom. Actually, there were many buckets around the ship catching leaking water. Occasionally, I felt water drip on my head while walking down a corridor. We had two fires while on board. Not one, but two! Although they were put out rapidly, you don't feel very safe as a passenger. Also, we lost complete power twice. Its a scary feeling to realize you're dead in the water in the middle of the ocean. This was not a relaxing cruise as we were always wondering what would happen next.
Charges: My friend and I had two separate accounts for our charges. The second night on board, we were charged for a glass of wine we didn't order or drink. When this was pointed out to the Front Desk their response was to ask if we were sure we didn't drink the wine. It took 3 days to have the charge taken off our bill. My friend charged a phone card to her account, but they put the charge on my account. I just don't understand how that could happen. That required another visit to the Front Desk. After that, I had them run my account daily to check for errors. A few days before the end of our cruise, my friend and I had to visit the nurse for medication for uper respiratory infections we had caught on the ship. We visited at different times, but when my friend got her statement, she was charged for both her visit and my visit. Again, it was down to the Front Desk to get it corrected. When I got my statement on the morning of departure, I discovered they had now charged me for my visit to the nurse as well as my friend's visit to the nurse. I went down at 6 AM to get it corrected and I was told to come back at 8 AM when they could check with the nurse to see if I had been there twice. By this time, I was quite ill and said I couldn't come back at 8 AM and fight the crowds. Eventually, someone took pity on me and corrected my bill.
Entertainment: Unfortunately, we didn't go to many shows because of our mandatory 6:30 PM dinner time. By the time we were done with dinner, there were no decent seats in the theater. We did see Benji Hill and Stage and Screen. Both shows were good.
Summary: We had so loked forward to this cruise. We thought we were on a "Five Star" cruise line in a suite. It should have been a great vacation. But when you have to check your bill daily for errors and worry about your safety on board, it definitely spoils the vacation.