-Zaandam much better than the Oosterdam in decor, service and company response
to problems. Had a bad leak in my suite ceiling that took days to correct, but
received a very generous shipboard credit and a cookbook plus apology note as
compensation. Compared to the Oosterdam, where I had worse problems with cabin
and an injury caused by HAL and I got no compensation or apology.
-Shore excursions were excellent
-Food was pretty good, Pinnacle Grill filet was outstanding, La Cirque fantastic
-Entertainment at times was excellent
-Embarkation and disembarkation very smooth
-Hotel the night before, booked through my travel agent, Sheraton Marina in
San Diego very good (not necessarily affiliated with HAL.)
-Although I had a very bad spa experience with a too-young and experienced
staff person, the spa manager quickly refunded the hefty sum I had paid
-LOVE the Thermal Suite on HAL, though this one was WAY small. Pool was the
size of a hot tub. BUT there was rarely anyone in the room, and what a way
-Explorations Cafe really spacious, comfortable, and service was good there.
-HAL continues to have the best guest to tonnage ratio, with lots of space
and non-crowded atmosphere. However, at times this could be a negative for
a solo traveler!
Not so good points:
-Service was not up to par for the price and supposed reputation of HAL
Dining room staff seemed worn out or overworked, repeated requests needed
for simple items like iced tea, etc. Chaotic, unacceptable situation with
dining room seating. Some sort of "reservations needed" policy we were never
notified about- "on your own" dining turned out to receive annoyance from
restaurant manager, no table or a very long wait, and never could figure out
what kind of system or lack of they were using. Many people annoyed, very
long lines. 75% of the time, service overall could not in any way be
described as "luxury," "gracious," or "outstanding."
-Even though the restaurant food was good, the room service food was HORRIBLE.
Unacceptable, poorly presented, served with resentment, and hardly edible.
-Cabin steward(s) just okay. Just doing their job, and since you pay $11.50
per day for tips overall, felt underwhelmed so didn't tip them more. Was
slightly put off by Cruise Director's heavy pitch on the last day for
tips to the staff, when indeed, no staff member stood out for doing anything
other than their job.
-Unavoidable but still annoying culture/ language gap makes trying to complain
or explain needs met with blank looks, non-responsiveness, or incorrect/
poor resolution, if any. Tendency to insinuate blame on the guest and a
constant theme of NOT showing the kind of gracious, over the top service
HAL advertises. A big gap here!
-Very unclear when formal nights were- advance notice was the typical 2, but
turns out there were 3, with hardly any advance and not clear notice. How are
you supposed to pack or plan for that? Lack of enforcement of dress code
for formal nights.
-For the price I paid for my verandah suite, it was a rip-off. Very small,
the bathroom was tiny, and the "jetted" tub was a disgrace. Not big enough
for an adult, and all the jets didn't work.
-The Zaandam is looking a little shabby, and for the price of my cruise, would
expect stain-free carpet and not to see taped-together wood in a couple places.
-This is the nature of HAL, so is more a mis-match for me as a youthful solo
traveler, but a total lack of fun atmosphere. No club to dance, people my
age acting much older, grumpy (how can you be unhappy when you get to go on
a cruise???) and not everyone was unfriendly, but almost everyone seemed
confused why someone would cruise alone.
-NO gathering for solo travelers as I had seen on the Oosterdam schedule!!