Summary: HAL has gone downhill from our last cruise with them of 2 years ago. Food is mediocre and service while friendly has definitely been impacted by staff cuts. Many items that were free in the past are now up charges. This includes real coffee and the Canaletto restaurant. The Zuiderdam is a tired ship and definitely needs a long (non-cosmetic) dry-dock .
Very efficient. Had to wait in a holding area for 15 minutes after getting our room card before boarding ship.
Food and Service:
Service was friendly always as usual. However it is obvious that HAL has cut staff -- waiters and assistants are overworked. In fact they have additional duties as wages have been cut and they have to sell $60/day of up charged merchandise (cappuccinos, espresso etc.). First night was worse. Saw food sitting at the waiter station for over 15 minutes (and yes it was ours).
Pinnacle -- excellent food and great service. Wish the rest was as good.
Main Dining, Lido, Canaletto -- mediocre at best. Food sometimes overcooked and cold. Canaletto for a $10 up-charge per person is ridiculous -- especially when it is served in the LIDO.
Coffee tasted like urine. Caps, Latte and espresso are all upcharges.
Ship and Stateroom:
Yes the Zuiderdam still has issues. Smells of sewage during certain times of the day. A/C died twice in our cabin. Maintenance was annoying. They were changing drapes in the cabins. Maintenance staff has no clue what a "privacy" sign means.
Doors do not lock -- including the bathroom and the veranda. The veranda door lock/handle was so corroded that it was in danger of falling off -- leaving the person on the veranda with no means of getting back in to the stateroom.
Room stewards were good. Saw them at most twice during the cruise and room was always clean.
This was a Panama Canal cruise. No special lectures on the canal were given other than those by the in-house person Lance. Bridge narration during the passage canal was also mediocre. Our last HAL cruise we had Richard Detrich whose book is the best for Canal enthusiasts. Apparently this is another obvious HAL cutback.
Entertainment- we really don't care -- but the entertainment was just plain bad.
Internet - A good feature is the $99 internet package for the 10 days. Generally was happy with performance of the system. Except for last two days speed and connection were good. The last two days they offered $9.99/day and the speed went to a crawl.
Mediocre food, overworked staff, upcharges for anything (coffee, water etc.). HAL and the Zuiderdam are NOT for me anymore.