I want to describe the good things about this cruise and then discuss the major problem we had.
The Zuiderdam is an older ship which has recently been refurbished. She still is a little frayed around the edges, but I found her to be very clean, the crew, except the front desk, wonderful. The service in the dining rooms, the Lido and bars was what I would expect from HAL-all smiles and very helpful. The food, especially in the main dining room, was very good. We did not dine in their specialty restaurant, so I can't comment on that.
The cabin we were assigned is an outside one, unobstructed, and very adequate for the 3 of us. We had a 12 year old with us and she was very happy tucked in her bunk every night. The HAL cabins are always on the larger side and I found storage to be fine with 3 closets and shelves. I do wish they would have told us that under the beds, there was additional drawer space as I didn't know this until after the cruise.
We are big fans of the Crows Nest on the HAL ships. On the Zuiderdam, the Crows Nest has been altered so that it is half it's size and blends into the Library and Explorations Lounge. The result is a very noisy and disruptive Library and crowded Crows Nest. I did like the Explorations Cafe which had great coffee drinks you could purchase. Entertainment was mixed. The singer and dancer shows were fine. The magician was so bad I could see how he was doing his tricks, which I did find interesting as no other magician was so obvious. All in all, I have lots to say good about the Zuiderdam and especially the HAL crew who are delightful.
What I am unhappy about is so bothersome, that we will never cruise HAL again. The third day into the cruise, my friend, who is 75 had a terrible fall. I will be putting pictures of her injuries on the web, as unless you see her, you can't imagine how injured she was. The medical staff were helpful and kind. However, we had to walk my friend to the elevator and then to medical. No one was sent to help us. We immediately were met by an officer who took all our information which I realize now was to protect the cruise line.
Our big problem was the air flight, which we had arranged through HAL. We were scheduled to fly from Ft. Lauderdale to Minneapolis to NY, total of 6 hours in the air and 6 in airport. Hal would do nothing to arrange a direct flight which we needed as my friend was in pain and could not bend her knee. We were offered first class for an additional $600 per person. HAL did not try to schedule us on other airlines which I know had seats. My friend got home, with heavy medication. The icing on the cake was when there was no wheelchair as promised when we left the ship. We were told we would have assistance and no one was there. I do want to commend the pier staff who did everything they could to help us without advance notice. I think cruising is a great way to travel. When choosing a cruise line I think it is wise to listen to others experiences especially about health and safety issues. The bottom line is how caring a line is when you need them, not when it's about minor issues. I do want to mention, the rudeness and utter disdain of the front office staff. I would have been fired if I ever treated people the way we were treated.