After reading several reviews of the Zuiderdam I was thinking we had made a mistake in booking this ship. I'm thinking those who wrote the negative reviews must have been on the wrong ship - yes, the decor in the staterooms is a bit dated, but then we didn't go on a cruise to see modern decor. The ship was wonderful - clean and very comfortable. The crew was great! We'd do it again!
EMBARKATION: We got to the port about 11 AM and were checked in and on board around noon. Our cabin was ready and our luggage was waiting for u in the stateroom.
CABIN STEWARD: Dodik was a great steward - very efficient and helpful.
CABIN: We loved stateroom 8052. It was right under the lido pool, so I was a little concerned about noise, but we only heard noise of furniture being moved one night after a party at the pool. It was quiet by 10:30 (and I'm a light sleeper!)
The verandah was great - 2 chair at a table and 2 more chairs with cushions and ottomans - plenty of room. We did have smokers next to us, but that was only a problem one morning.
FOOD: For the most part, the food in the Main Dining Room was OK. It wasn't the fastest service in the world, but then it was nice to not feel rushed - there was time in between courses to visit with those at our table. The tables were a bit too close together which made it difficult to get out of your seat if the people behind you were still there. The food on the Lido was OK if you wanted something quick. One day for lunch there was an Indonesian Rijsttaffel which was really great if you want to experience something different - we thought it was delicious with a lot of choices.
ENTERTAINMENT: We only went to a few shows in the Vista Lounge - one of the comedians was a bit boring but the illusionist was super! The HALCats offered great music for dancing each night. But our favorite was Michael Simons every night up in the Crow's Nest - great guitar music and singing from the 60's to today. It was very relaxing to go up and listen to him - great way to end the evenings.
DECK LAYOUT: We love the smaller ships - that's one reason we sail with HAL. Easy to get from place to place, once you remembered where things were.
MEDICAL STAFF - I cut my foot (entirely my fault) and the nurse was very helpful. My husband got cut on some coral while snorkeling (some older people swam over him and pushed him down - didn't even see him) and again, the medical staff was very attentive.
DISEMBARKING: Very well organized - we got our color/number tag the night before. We put our luggage out the night before and in the morning, had a quick bite of breakfast on the Lido deck and when our color/number was called we went down and straight out About a 15 minute wait in the customs line, then straight on to the bus and to the airport. We liked having these options of HAL taking our luggage to the airport ahead for us and getting on a bus they arranged to get us to the airport.
Honestly, I'm having a hard time thinking of too many "cons". The worse thing was the service in the Main Dining Room - slow. The food wasn't always 5-star quality food, but it wasn't horrible. A few nights, I got the wrong entree but they were quick to correct the problem. If the food wasn't to your liking, you were encouraged to return it and order something else.
As for the entertainment, if you go expecting a Vegas show - go to Vegas. You'll be disappointed if that's what you're looking for on the ship, but then - that's why these people aren't in Vegas. It was good Cruise Ship Entertainment.
Watch your toes! There were many elderly with electric scooters and you need to get out of their way! One night in the Vista Lounge, a lady ran right over my feet with her electric scooter (VERY painful!), then into a railing, and 2 tables before coming to a stop. She got out of her scooter and sat down to enjoy the show as if nothing had happened. I know this is nothing the crew can do anything about - but just be cautious around those scooters, wheelchairs and walkers! Luckily it happened near the end of the cruise, or I would have been miserable.