Sail Date: October 2013
We have just returned from the 11 day cruise from the Panama Canal. We were up graded to deck six with the balcony. The ship it self needs to be put away for remodel. The way the rooms are set up there is no room for storage. If you open ... Read More
We have just returned from the 11 day cruise from the Panama Canal. We were up graded to deck six with the balcony. The ship it self needs to be put away for remodel. The way the rooms are set up there is no room for storage. If you open the closet you can not get in the bathroom. The furniture is so old I thought it belong to my grandmother.the sleeper sofa and chair should be given to good will. The chairs on the deck should just be trashed and the ottoman on the deck is all ripped up and belongs in the trash. The shore excursions are all about the same do private they cost less and you will see the same. Toto the room attendant was excellent and helpful. Dining was good not excellent. I had to send my food back once it was burned. The waiter at the early seating at table 50 and 46 were excellent. The steel band was the best entertainment on the ship just loved them. The rest was ok nothing to hurry to see. Disembarkation was the usual. I would never sail with Holland America again back to Celebrity. I thought this was the cruise of wheel chairs and walkers!!!!! Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: October 2013
My friend and I sailed on this ship for the first time on October 18. I have been on 30 cruises and my friend on 25. This was the worst. Holland has such a good reputation but not for this ship. Embarcation & debarcation were a ... Read More
My friend and I sailed on this ship for the first time on October 18. I have been on 30 cruises and my friend on 25. This was the worst. Holland has such a good reputation but not for this ship. Embarcation & debarcation were a nightmare. We needed wheelchair assistance. It was a joke. I did a lot of loud talking to get something done. The handicapped cabin would not have accomodated a wheelchair. There were no drawers. Only 2 small closets. We had toilet plumbing problems 6 out of the 10 days. Lots of conversation with the front desk. Not terribly helpful. Everything on the ship is old and very tired. The electronic systems are at least 5 years behind the times. We had first sitting in the dining room. The first night we were told to go find our table. I complained and they found an assistant waiter to take us but he put us at the wrong table. The service was below par as was the food. I couldn't believe it when I found that I couldn't see my onboard account in the stateroom. You have to go to the front desk! Really! This was my first and last cruise with Holland. I am sticking with Carnival, RC, and NCl. Read Less
Sail Date: September 2013
This was my 30th cruise and my first and LAST with Holland America. Embarkation and debarkation were a nightmare if you needed wheelchair assistance. My friend and I both need it. The cabin was small. A wheelchair would have had a ... Read More
This was my 30th cruise and my first and LAST with Holland America. Embarkation and debarkation were a nightmare if you needed wheelchair assistance. My friend and I both need it. The cabin was small. A wheelchair would have had a difficult time. We had plumbing problems 5 out of the 10 days. Some cabins had no air conditioning for the whole cruise. Those folks got nothing from the front desk but excuses. The first night going into the first sitting for the dining room was sub, sub-par. We were told to go find our own table! What! The service was lack luster due to the fact the staff was on a brand new contract. The food was lackluster. The ship is TIRED. It needs a complete overhaul. You have to go to the front desk to get a copy of your shipboard account. Are you kidding me!. That is from 8-10 years ago. The shows were ok. One was cancelled due to a broken cable that took 3 1/2 hours to fix. I am sticking with Carnival and Royal Caribbean! Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: August 2013
Recently back from an Alaskan cruise on the Holland America Line ship Zuiderdam. Can I start with the good points before hitting the bad points. The ship was built in 2002 and is not one of the new super liners and that's exactly ... Read More
Recently back from an Alaskan cruise on the Holland America Line ship Zuiderdam. Can I start with the good points before hitting the bad points. The ship was built in 2002 and is not one of the new super liners and that's exactly what I was looking for, it was an elegant well maintained ship with excellent decks for viewing the fantastic scenery and inside was very luxurious with fine art where ever you looked. Cabin was nice size with lots of wardrobes and draws , mini bar, hair dryer, TV, DVD (large library of old DVDs available to watch on board), nice bathroom (very small bath) and ample size balcony especially as I had the cabin to myself. Food on board was of the highest standard and very plentiful although the lido deck self service was very crowded due to the limited opening hours. You need to be in a group of 2 people or more, one to hold a table while the others get the food, being on my own by the time I found a seat the food was often cold. don't expect to get much as you are only given 1 plate each and the only trays I saw were being used by the cleaners to clear tables. The crew in the restaurants, bars and cabin were of the highest standard with nothing being of too much trouble. Found the Vista dinning room no good for me as most of the dishes were fish and as I am allergic to fish/ seafood it only left 1 item most nights on the menu for me. The brochures keep on about the flowers on board, there are a few orchids on board but most of the plants and flowers are PLASTIC! The ship has a maximum capacity according to HAL of 1916 guest but we had 2040 on board meaning there were not enough seats in the theater and often saw people in there 80's sitting in the aisle on the hard steps or like me stood at the back all through a show. The ship is sold as being 5 star with lots of space but was overcrowded in most of the public areas and I am not sure were some of the people slept as a few people like me had a room to them selves and my room could take up to 3 people so were did the over capacity people sleep???? I took 3 shore excursions booked with the ship and thought they were good and not too badly priced, I would certainly recommend the three I took, whale watching in Juneau, misty Fjords catamaran trip in Ketchican and the White pass Railway in Skagway. Would very highly recommend the Allen marine trips even the coach driver was funny and informative. So far so good you may be thinking but now we get to the entertainment! Or lack of it! Again let me start with the good. The shows with the singers and dancers in the theater on 3 nights are a must see as is the Adagio piano and Violin of Christina and Simona in the explorers lounge from 6 till 10 is magnificent however the rest of the entertainment was of a poor standard or none existent. On board are 2 house bands they call the Hal cats they should play for a couple of hours at night mainly during the time your at the show!, or that's the theory, in practice they sit around messing about chatting and fooling around like some tipsy teenagers, when they do play (mainly after I complained about them) they play about 4 song per hour as they seem to have to re tune everything after each song and then have a long chat about it before playing the next, I have been to rehearsals that were far better than there so called performance, the piano bar I visited many times and never found anyone playing the piano. The bars and restaurants have mangers checking them all the time but no one seemed to be in charge of the entertainment as it didn't seem to matter if they played or even turned up. Two nights we had an American comedian who the Americans found funny but for the other two thirds of the International passengers found boring I walked out after 10 mins, we had a magician one night doing tricks that we saw Paul Daniels do in the 80s and the one show he did was just a sales pitch to show you his magic kit he sells on board. As for the daytime I would say no entertainment, Ross our cruise director would come on the p.a. every morning like Gladys Pugh from Hedi Hi and tell you the exciting program for the day is something like the following, 9 till 10 come to the shop and buy a watch, 10 till 11 buy a shore excursion, 11 till 12 buy some earrings, 12 till 1 buy a spa treatment, 1 till 2 come to the show lounge and we will tell you were to shop when you get off so as we can get our commission, 2 till 3 buy 5 beers get one free, 3 till 4 book your next cruise, 4 till 5 buy some photos, 5 till 6 buy a ring, it was like being stuck in the shopping channel, I went to be entertained not to shop all day. Luckily the scenery is superb but on the day we had fog and couldn't even see the water you would find people asleep around the ship as they were so bored. I heard that the drinks takings were way down and they couldn't work out why? Its probably because people were in there cabin watching a DVD as there was no entertainment in the bars???? The Zuiderdam ship was a brilliant ship let down by the people in charge of entertainment, you could turn up to a scheduled thing only to find no entertainment and no manager there to check this and no one who seemed to care. The best entertainment would be to put a short plank over the side and whoever was manager or organizer to walk it as all the hard work done by 90% off the crew was ruined by the 10%. I wasn't looking for a party ship, but a crew member doing an ice sculptor on deck (come to think of it I don't remember seeing a ice sculptor anywhere on board) a bit of music, just simple things would have been nice. So if you going on the Zuiderdam take board games, books, mp 3 players, your laptop and what ever else you can fit in your luggage( watched them throwing the luggage literally onto the Zandam so no breakables(probably how my binoculars got broke)) as you will need them if the weather isn't good enough to see the scenery. Treated myself to this cruise for getting over a brush with Cancer for the second time so thought I would book a five star cruise line but this experience was far from a five star experience. the cruise with no flights etc. cost $3000 I have emailed Holland America 3 times once in the U.K. and twice to head office however all I have had back is an automated Email saying it will take a few weeks to get back to me! wonder why perhaps there busy with similar Emails??????? This may have been my first cruise but my family cruise up to 3 times a year and I do all the research and all the booking for them and they have been on Princess, Royal Caribbean, NCL, Thomson, Airtours, Cruise and Maritime and more, all of which had better entertainment. I will return to Alaska as the scenery is fantastic and seeing whales is the most wonderful thing however it will not be with Holland America.   Read Less
Sail Date: March 2013
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 ... Read More
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 . Embarkation: 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. Other points: 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. Summary: Mediocre food, overworked staff, upcharges for anything (coffee, water etc.). HAL and the Zuiderdam are NOT for me anymore. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2012
Our cruise was from December 10-21, however due to the continuous problems we encountered on-board, Holland America succumb to our request to depart the ship and fly us home on the 14th. One would ask how this could happen to such a highly ... Read More
Our cruise was from December 10-21, however due to the continuous problems we encountered on-board, Holland America succumb to our request to depart the ship and fly us home on the 14th. One would ask how this could happen to such a highly regarded cruise line? Simple, the ship was not in dry-dock long enough to complete everything that needed to be done. The ship arrived to port late, we boarded late, left late, and arrived late to everywhere we were or supposed to be. There were water and computer problems which delayed boarding. Upon arrival to our veranda cabin,there was mold/mildew in the tub area, no bar soap, no robes, no fruit in the basket, no ice in the bucket, a soiled couch (didn't even want to sit on it),a dirty veranda that was full of sawdust and glass that hadn't been cleaned. The air conditioning was problematic in our cabin as well as the entire ship. The line at the desk was steady with people complaining. Damaged luggage, keys not working, no ac , etc etc. The main restaurant was a disaster concerning service, and was the only place on the ship we encountered flies. I even had a hair on my breakfast plate. The same morning my spouse waited 40 minutes before giving up and going to eat in the buffet. We encountered no Internet for the first day which normally wouldn't bother me except that I needed to review and reply to some important legal matters. We had bouts of no propulsion, power failures, contaminated water( we were flown home without knowing what the analysis showed), no ac (a tray of chocolates melted while on the table in our cabin),a small fire in the switchboard, cancelled excursions, and the list goes on and on. The galley had no hot water the first day. The walls and stairs in the common areas creaked. The staff and crew admitted the ship was not 100%. Yes, they were trying to correct everything and were giving it their best 100% but what they needed was 500%, an impossible task. Will say the food when served properly, was excellent. The entertainment enjoyable. And the jet ski excursion on Half Moon Cay was a blast and I highly recommend it. I thought it a little strange that the captain, during his toast didn't recognize what we, the cruise passengers were going through. We thought there was a lack of empathy by the crew and staff.There was never an announcement not to drink the contaminated water which for me, being a doctor, presented a health hazard for the elderly, many whom had compromised immune systems. We ended the cruise by being persistent with the Hotel Manager and Guest Relations Manager, and Holland America agreed to put us up for a night in Aruba, take care of our transfers and plane fare for our trip home, and refund our cruise. As we were finalizing the paper work, there was another power failure leaving us in the dark. We disembarked at 10 pm, the ship was to sail on at 11 pm. Our flight left Aruba on time the following day, and were were overjoyed, arriving home and off that miserable ship. This was our first and last cruise on Holland America. Read Less
Sail Date: September 2012
Having boarded the Zuiderdam in Vancouver we sailed out through some spectacular scenery towards Alaska. The hard sell started almost immediately with trips, shopping, entertainment and photos at $40 a photo! The first couple of days were ... Read More
Having boarded the Zuiderdam in Vancouver we sailed out through some spectacular scenery towards Alaska. The hard sell started almost immediately with trips, shopping, entertainment and photos at $40 a photo! The first couple of days were quite pleasant except the food was poor, the upstairs bars were cold and usually running with water from the overflow from the swimming pool. Unfortunately after a couple of days I felt unwell and started vomiting violently. The ships nurse came to visit me and, before I was treated, ensured that I signed an agreement to pay for her visits. I was given an injection, told that I was in quarantine and that I was not allowed out for 24 hours after the last episode. We were told that cleaning and a liquid diet would automatically be put into action for me. None of this happened. No cleaners appeared, no liquids or support was offered and in fact I was charged for water. Water was requested numerous times before any appeared and then the bottles were charged for. Cleaners eventually appeared but left whilst I was still being ill. The nurse had to visit twice more with further anti nausea injections and finally an anti nausea pill. Immodium was also given. After 36 hours I stopped being ill and only 1 cleaning session and 2 water bottles had been delivered. At this point my roommate contracted the virus and similar treatment was melted out to her. I can only say that I was shocked that we had paid so much money for such shocking care. Eventually we docked and, along with other families and couples who had been ill, we were escorted off the ship at 7 am and put in taxis. When asked what we were supposed to do in Vancouver at 7 am before everything opened we were told that it was not Holland Americas problem. I would never, ever travel with them again ..the correspondence I have since had from them was to offer me $100 off my bar bill on my next cruise with HAL. Needless to say I will not be taking them up on this offer. I'm sure the cruise was adequate but never contract the virus that is often present on these cruise ships.....their sympathy and care is only present whilst your wallet is open! Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2012
Embarkation was delayed several hours by the need to scrub the ship for norovirus problems. As a result lunch was for a very limited time. The ships condition varied greatly from one area to the next. For example, the shopping area ... Read More
Embarkation was delayed several hours by the need to scrub the ship for norovirus problems. As a result lunch was for a very limited time. The ships condition varied greatly from one area to the next. For example, the shopping area and main dining were well maintained. However, in the main theater, there were numerous and large tears in the upholstery, in our room, tears in a couch that should have been replaced years ago. The carpeting looked like in parts of the ship was new but in others looked as if it should have been steam cleaned years ago. Leaks in the ceiling in the buffet area with buckets underneath did not add a classy air to that experience. Apparently, from another review, this is a problem at least six months old and so it is clear that a serious case of delayed maintenance exists. I am a fitness nut and out of about 35 pieces of equipment in the gym area, 11 had out of order tags on them. A couple can be expected in the normal course of things, but in dozens of gyms visited over the years, none has had 1/3 of equipment unusable and more with serious rips in the rubber where folks use it. The food experience was better then ship condition. The variety of fare offered is better then other major cruise lines and as a result something is sure to please. The only issue is that the staff too often brings the wrong items. In 4 days, 4 different meals the food was mixed up by the staff. Not the worst thing but no too professional either. Drinks were pushed very strongly and indeed it was noticed that servers frowned if they could not complete a drink purchase. The overall experience when this happens feels cheapened if the need to spend more money at every occasion is not met. The ship had rocky seas and the port scheduled was canceled. Only issue here was that entertainment was supposed to come aboard and therefore there was less to do but weather related things are beyond the cruise companies control. All in all, this ships condition and lack of service made it feel like I was at a cheap motel instead of on a premium cruise ship. I'm usually easy to please and any cruise experience is ultimately a good one out of the 30 or so taken. So yes, I had a great time. However, Holland America did not seem to contribute much to make it so. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2011
I have done this repo cruise from Lauderdale to Vancouver several times over the last 10 years. Last one on HAL was 6 years ago. I was very disappointed with the cutbacks that have taken place over this time. For example, no more Rosario ... Read More
I have done this repo cruise from Lauderdale to Vancouver several times over the last 10 years. Last one on HAL was 6 years ago. I was very disappointed with the cutbacks that have taken place over this time. For example, no more Rosario quartet in the dining room, waiters no longer seat guests at the dinner table, no more lemonade on the prom deck, no chocolate truffles in Explorer lounge,no more big band dancing on mainstage, atrium or crows nest. The movie theatre has 30 seats, for 1850 passengers., not sure what they were thinking here. Food was mediocre at the best of times, so the Pinnacle grill was frequented more than once, for 20$ it is still excellent.Zuiderdam is in terrible condition, and really really needs a refit. Condition of the decks was dirty as was our balcony. The rattan ottoman was so beat up we had it replaced, with a chair? Outerdeck and pool chaises were dirty and beat up. I would not recommend this ship to any cruiser. I should have done my homework more diligently for this cruise. Despite being the first ship of the vista class and now 10 years old, I was sure she would have been much better upgraded. So, be advised and check out when refits have taken place. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2009
I traveled with a friend and co-worker. We made our reservations through a friend of a friend of hers. The travel agent could not tell us anything about our flight arrangements until three weeks or so before we were scheduled to leave. We ... Read More
I traveled with a friend and co-worker. We made our reservations through a friend of a friend of hers. The travel agent could not tell us anything about our flight arrangements until three weeks or so before we were scheduled to leave. We had chosen the no child left behind route of booking through Holland America. Then she (the travel agent) slept through our opportunity to up-grade. Marsha called us at 10am when the last up-grade was taken at 8am. I was appalled by the fact our flight was not scheduled to leave until 6:30 pm on our return(the ship was scheduled to dock at 7am). Silly us, thinking that Holland America was a service friendly line, tried to change our flight reservations, They referred us back to our lazy Travel agent. She referred us back to Holland America. Bottom Line is they did not care if our flights suited our needs or not...pay up 300 more each and we can talk change. We actually saw our cabin steward on the first day and the last day. The bonvoyage bottle of wine sent to us took three days to get opened. The stop at the private island was lovely until I stopped at the post office to send post-cards to my grandchildren, I waited in line 30 minutes to see what was available, got a pen without ink to write them and then when another passenger gave me a pen was able to write them out. I bought postage from the most unfriendly soul and yet to this day; almost a week after returning, they have yet to get them, the same for all the others I mailed from the ship. The buffet on the Island was mediocre and after being directed through three different lines we finally had our lunch, in order to get a drink one had to juggle many plates to sign for a 50 cent can of coke which would translate later into 2.95 plus 15 percent gratuity. If you are into Asian cuisine the food was plentiful. I am not. Each morning going to the lido deck for breakfast was a chore, by the time one got through the line and found a scarce open seat, the food was cold. Dinner at the late seating puts all evening entertainment except the poor offerings at 10pm beyond one's grasp. The ports of Call were nothing short of disillusioning..........The pictures and descriptions are of island magic. The true scene is of poverty, that the cruise line cautions against mentioning to the locals. We would not want to offend them. It is ok to charge me an exorbitant fee to see it, but heaven forbid if I mention I don't want to see their garbage. Holland America also sponsors a shopping advice seminar..........If you see it and you like it, buy it. Who are they kidding? There are no bargains there, only inflated prices for profit margins to the cruise consultant and line. If you want lots to do, take lots of money. If you just want to spend your day down under taking a history or cooking lesson, go the local community college. Would I spend this much again for this less? NEVER. We ended up purchasing an excursion in Fort Lauderdale to kill time between when we disembarked and when our flight left...........By the way, If you are unfortunate enough to have a transfer to Miami for a flight home, E stands for everyone.....You will have to struggle on your own to the concourse your flight leaves. Ours was at the far end of the airport. No I did not tip the driver!! The experience gets two thumbs down. I had far more fun in Myrtle Beach for far less money. If I did not care for the restaurant, I went down the street to the next one. On Holland America you are a captive audience, and no one really cares if you are happy or not. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2008
I am 61 years old and have been on several cruises before although not with Holland America. On this cruise I travelled with my wife and another couple who are also very experienced travellers. We like to dance and enjoy experiences not ... Read More
I am 61 years old and have been on several cruises before although not with Holland America. On this cruise I travelled with my wife and another couple who are also very experienced travellers. We like to dance and enjoy experiences not available in our home towns. Our first shock came when we went to the dance bar on a Saturday night to find there was no band. Instead, there was a three piece combo playing songs like Moon River. You can imagine the type of dancing you can do to those kinds of tunes. This continued throughout the trip and even when there was a band it finished at 11:30. In the afternoons many cruise ships have activities around the pool. I mistakenly assumed this was the same on this ship. To my great disappointment the only entertainment was a single piano player who entertained for one hour with such rousing tunes as Moon River. I assumed this was to not wake the dozens of people fast asleep by the pool. Even the nightly entertainment was over by 10:00 PM so we were forced to go to the 7:00 PM show before our 8:00 dinner seating. To their credit there was a disco, which I describe as an unimaginative hole in the wall with irritating strobe lights. The disc jockey could not figure out whether to play 50's, 60's or RAP so it became more annoying than pleasurable. There were many other irritants such as no iron, having to go through the main switchboard anytime you wanted the steward or other service, entertainment scheduled during your dinner hour and insulting social staff. Also, the Pinnacle Grill, which is their marquis dining room, served us the worst fish I have ever tasted. It had the texture of a rubber ball. This dining room is $10 extra for lunch ad $20 for dinner. Of course this was above the GI on board. Speaking of the GI the crew kept insisting the number was around 22 when in fact the actual number was closer to 300. The crew also refused to give any information on the spread of the GI other than wash your hands. Did you know the virus can last up to 21 days on a surface? I found this out after I left the ship. My warning is this. If you are under 70 or can actually dance something faster than a waltz, do not go on this ship. If you like to have fun and actually laugh do not go on this ship. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2008
The Zuiderdam is a lovely ship with nice amenities, such as a 3 deck high theater, glass outside elevators, a nice view astern in the lower dining room, a large and diverse buffet, a pool area with a removable cover. The ship had evidently ... Read More
The Zuiderdam is a lovely ship with nice amenities, such as a 3 deck high theater, glass outside elevators, a nice view astern in the lower dining room, a large and diverse buffet, a pool area with a removable cover. The ship had evidently recently had renovations as the deck map available did not show the internet access area and library had been moved from the promenade deck, Deck 3, to the Crow's Nest on Deck 10. This made room for additional shop space and a small movie theater on Deck 3. The dining arrangements are either fixed dinner in the upper dining room, or anytime dining in the lower dining room. Breakfast (usually 8:00 - 9:30) and lunch (12:00—1:00, except there is no table service in port) are anytime dining in one dining room or the other. There is no fixed seating for either of these meals. I found the breakfast, lunch, and dinner anytime dining room service is completely dysfunctional. It is impossible to obtain a complete meal as ordered in a timely manner. A couple examples, I ordered the breakfast special, two eggs with grits, with a side of ham at about 9:15. I received the dish, without the ham, after everyone at the table was finished at about 10:20 and waited 10 minutes more for the ham, or another time a person at our table was told they were out of oatmeal. Later in the cruise we found that by waiting until near 9:00 pm to enter the dining room for dinner, the service was better. This may have been due to the lack of a crowd, or the number of complaints resulting in an improved effort. The service in the dining room appears intended to drive one to the buffet, at least for breakfast and lunch. There are some nice touches in the buffet, namely fresh cooked stir fry and pasta dishes for lunch and made to order omelets and egg benedict for breakfast. Dinner selections available were usually similar to the dishes available in the dining room. When GI illness is present the ability to serve oneself is removed and the service in the buffet becomes iffy, meaning it is often difficult to communicate with the serving staff to obtain what is desired, and the lines are often long. The cleaning personnel appeared to be lacking in training or experience. We were in deck chairs on the promenade deck one afternoon and were splashed by water hitting a nearby boat. Then a second splash occurred, and I got up as the third salvo hit. Looking up I saw a room steward cleaning a balcony two decks up. With the sickness on the ship it is easy to imagine the worse as to what he was cleaning and tossing off the balcony. Room cleanliness was hit or miss, an example is I wiped up a coffee stain on the bathroom floor after our room was made up for the day. Beverage service personnel are prevalent on the upper decks and in the bars and theater prior to shows. There is a wine card available that provides 20 glasses of a limited wine selection for a fixed price of about $80. The card evidently is not highly thought of by the staff as the first time I tried to use it the server took our order prior to a show, punched the card, and I never saw him again, no wine, nothing. From then on I waited to see the wine before allowing them to punch the card. The GI illness on the ship was a holdover from the previous voyage. There were no precautions taken at the start of the voyage to avoid its spread, and it quickly showed up either due to a lack of cleanliness or a carryover of sick people from the previous voyage. The state of the epidemic was given daily in the afternoon status briefing at the beginning, but soon was not mentioned after measures to stop the spread of the disease were ineffective. We had an itinerary change near the end of the voyage. The last port was suppose to the Half Moon Cay in the Bahamas, which serves other Holland America ships. It was decided to go to Nassau instead. This decision was obviously made to avoid contaminating the other company ships. In response to the GI illness, after our voyage a general cleaning was undertaken prior to boarding the new passengers. Of course if the crew is infected this will be ineffective. I hope the new passenger take every precaution themselves to avoid illness. My personal defense was to avoid the gym and spa, don't touch anything on the meal table, and when in the buffet use only one hand to touch serving utensils, don't touch plates or glasses with that hand, and then disinfect hands after obtaining food and prior to eating. Even with the no touch policy in place I found myself disinfecting my hands after obtaining anything at the buffet. Since the hot tubs were closed the entire voyage I didn't have to avoid them, but this would be a good idea if they are available. Entertainment in the theater varied from non-existent on a couple nights to very good performances from some individual artists. There were also two pianists, a string quartet, and a dance band available in the bars. I'd give entertainment overall a C, as it provided what you'd expect on a cruise ship catering to an older crowd. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2008
Like all stories, this one is probably best told directly, and I hope this will provide exact detail about how Holland America failed this returning passenger in extensive and ongoing fashion. 1. HAL Reservations: Back in February, ... Read More
Like all stories, this one is probably best told directly, and I hope this will provide exact detail about how Holland America failed this returning passenger in extensive and ongoing fashion. 1. HAL Reservations: Back in February, following the sudden death of my husband, our family made the decision to get together on his favorite cruise line as part of our celebration of Jack's life and a major step in handling our recovery and grieving process. While I had hoped to get a family suite to allow us all to be together, after long discussions with our travel agent we finally realized four people jammed into a suite (my first request) would not work with 2 fourteen year old boys, and we finally settled on two Verandah my son and two friends. We requested a private dining table for four at 8pm. We also set up airfare via Holland America at that time. 2. Air Arrangements Our entire group was to fly out of SFO to Venice and then return August 31 from Barcelona back to SFO. And this is where the problems seriously began. Upon getting the travel documents, it was clear that something was wrong with the reservations. The HAL/Delta reservation person kept booking the various members of our party on different planes and it took extensive time to get them to accept four people traveling together did NOT want to be on separate planes. Yet upon their "final" version of reservations, it was clear there were serious errors. On the departure, we 4 were traveling together, BUT we could not secure seat reservations for me, John or Brian. Answer was that somehow we were booked as if the departing flight 150 went direct to Venice when in fact it stopped in JFK, required a change of planes and a transition to a new flight 150. After 15 separate calls I finally found a Delta supervisor who could confirm that the seats (impossible to set on online bookings) were held for us, but no one in advance of the flight would even begin to fix this problem. SO on our departure day, upon check in at SFO, the three of us were told we did NOT have seats to Venice, but that we would need to work it out in JFK. Four separate supervisors and nearly 2 hours at JFK finally got this issue handled, but with NONE of us flying in adjacent seats, as we had long requested, during that long stretch. No apologies, no explanation, merely that HAL's representative got it wrong and the impression that it was our fault for working with an incompetent booking agent. The madness around reservations was even worsened at departure out of Barcelona . Three of us, me, John and Brian were routed out of Barcelona to Atlanta and then to SFO. Georgie was forced into a much earlier flight sending her alone to JFK and then to SFO. At no time would anyone at HAL or Delta correct this problem, the entire attitude is that "oops, gee we're sorry, can't fix this one either". There were also many problems with Delta professionalism and staff, but that is something we'll take up with Delta in separate correspondence with them. But know that the total non-concern from HAL on this area PLUS the "shut up and do what we say" attitude from Delta make a very poor impression and became a major problem for all of us during this time. 3. Arriving on the Zuiderdam: While hampered a bit by the inability of the Venice transport team to really speak English, we finally arrived at the terminal with luggage intact. Your check in process was the first smooth and easy part of the trip and it gave us fresh hope things were finally going to turn around. Yet, upon arrival at rooms 4130 and 4132, it was a new struggle. Compared to the rooms we had experienced on the Volendam earlier, these rooms were cramped, smelled old and clearly had furnishings that were tired, broken and scuffed so much that I was shocked to see them on a HAL ship. Room 4132 was the true disaster. The walls had multiple wide scars and scrapes and the wall near the bathroom had wide broken sections. I felt as if I had arrived at a low end motel 6, NOT a high end luxury cruiseship. Immediately I went down to the front desk and asked for assistance on correcting this either by shifting rooms or at least having someone look at the room to suggest other steps. Despite many assurances, and a note being taken down NOT ONE person followed up to this problem, and no one ever responded to my urgent request for assistance. You will hear this result many times Gary during the write up unfortunately. 4. Cruising Issues We wedged into these rooms somehow, and waited for the professional response I assured my group would of course be coming from HAL (based on past experiences) - response that never occurred. Dining Issues First night, it was clear our request for dining seating was also ignored - we were seated at a large group table in the middle of the food prep area (think right by the kitchen door and you'll have it half right) at the front of the room with no possible window view. Maybe I'm expecting too much - but when I spend nearly $20K on a cruise/travel vacation - I think some level of meeting simple expectations (flying together, a table together and for heaven sakes a VIEW) shouldn't be beyond HAL's ability. After discussion, got our table moved - but again on the far wall and no view what so ever, but at least allowing the four of us to dine in privacy. Door Keys Next failure was with our door keys - the entire unit in room 4130 needed to be repaired, and for reasons never explained, the keys (mainly mine) for 4130 and especially 4132 would fail and need to be re-programmed on nearly a daily basis. By the 3rd time I was back at the front desk, I was getting snide commentary and I realized that not ONCE did any front desk staff try to fix this problem. They felt it was fine for my keys to fail, to make me come down regularly to have them re-programmed and then laugh about it in my face. A number of staff essentially told me it must be my own fault - but no other card in my possession ever failed, just the ones supplied by HAL. Incredible that a top team would behave in this manner. Related to the keys, my main room key never worked right on the ship registers and it was always requiring an extra 5 minutes to submit charges manually. I was also astounded to learn that my 14 year old son's card allowed him to order alcohol. Despite MANY requests, this restriction was never handled - again a major failure and something I would hope HAL would find a problem worthy of resolution. Spa - Pool During the cruise I received a card offering me 40% off a set of spa services, but when I arrived on time for my scheduled facial, I was set aside in the waiting area for over 30 minutes. Finally I went out to the front desk to see what was causing the delay and the person handling reservations was confused to see me. She sent me BACK to the waiting area and came back 10 minutes later stating the facial rep was not going to be able to do the appointment after all! We re-booked for the 30th, and the spa manage offered me a limited one time use of the thermal spa area by way of compensation. I am left wondering how long I would have been left sitting if I had not gotten fed up and went looking for an update at the desk. RE: the pool, I am not the only one who found the published temp of the pools laughable. Both were so cold as to appear to be unheated and they were no where near the 84 or 85 degrees stated day after day on the cable updates. Swimming on a ship is a great favorite activity for me, and if it HAD been to temperature, that would have been perfect swimming temperatures for me. But they never once approached the listed temperatures. Yet another case of HAL representing something that just was not true. Security Upon returning from Catania , my son has purchased a faux samurai sword. Security said they needed to keep this, but would return it to us on the night prior to departure. What no one mentioned is that security ripped away the wrapping and dismantled the entire sword, breaking it and leaving it entirely unusable. What is even more astounding- when I picked up the sword, not one person told me about the damage or even referenced it when returning the sword to me. It was only upon returning to the room that the destroyed state of the sword was obvious - Christine of the Guest Relations team was contacted and she wrote a voucher for the cost of the sword. But cannot understand, why a team with X-Ray technology needed to destroy this item and knowing it had been destroyed give it to me without a single word of comment - leaving it for me to discover on my own. It is not possible to replace and my son's disappointment colored the rest of the cruise. Shore Excursion - ROME We set up four shore excursions with you in this trip (plus had arranged four in our previous Volendam tour) but nothing prepared us for the terrible experience of the Panoramic Rome tour. The entire tour party (not just our group) was astounded to learn only upon arrival at St. Peter's that the tour would NOT include the Sistine Chapel- my whole life I understood the chapel is just off the main Basilica - yet due to some gerrymandering it was not included at all. This serious lack of information (as that the Chapel being excluded was never mentioned in any of the literature) was increased by the disappointing news that the tour was taking us to an unknown, isolated restaurant, where for nearly two hours we were forced to sit in a hot, steaming underground "C" level restaurant where plates of warm, brown salad with green ringed egg yolks were followed by cool, dry lasagna (only pasta and sauce) accompanied by stale bread and warmish wine that caused immediate headaches. One member of our group became seriously ill and vomited multiple times on the bus immediately leaving the restaurant. The day worsened when the guide blithely said "no, we will not be stopping at any of well known sites during our drive by of the city" YET unannounced we were forced to stop for 45-50 minutes at an unknown church outside of the city walls. Surely if we had this time, more interesting locations might have been able to be viewed? Furious about the massive misrepresentation and the horrible dining conditions, I filed an immediate complaint with Shore Excursion staff, at the direction of the front desk personnel. I was assured that someone would be in touch that day, yet day after day passed and NO ONE ever responded to this until I spoke to Christine on another matter. Even then, the response was so condescending and dismissive; it made the situation far worse rather than better. I am attaching the letter for the file, as I consider it one of the worse professional responses to a client that I've ever seen. When you have a valid set of issues and concerns someone sending a generic letter stating, "that tour is what we say - sorry you didn't like it" that in no way addresses any of the serious problems and concerns, shows all too clearly that guests don't matter and their concerns are not of interest. In this area, we strongly felt and asked the entire excursion fee should have been refunded and we still are asking that this refund be issued as the only fair response to this major problem. Room Condition - worsens As we entered the last few days of the cruise, we found the air conditioning in 4132 was not working effectively, but given the total non-response from the crew, we just endured rather than asking for help. However, when the shower drains in the handicapped room totally clogged - resulting in soapy water flowing into the room, we did need to ask for assistance. At this time, I went again to the front desk and insisted on speaking to a senior staff member. Christine appeared and told me, as guest relations on board, she had never been told about any of our problems. Within an hour four execs were in our room, and each one was shocked at the conditions of the room in general, the state of the shower drain and especially the pronounced stink of mildew coming from the room. The room continued to be uninhabitable for the remainder of the cruise. We were given access to room 8105 but any chance to truly enjoy the cruise had been destroyed by this point. While Christine did waive the fee for dinner at the Pinnacle our last night - it in no way replaced the vacation that the crew, staff and ship conditions combined to destroy for us on multiple levels. What is most sad about this account is that these are only the MAJOR issues, and that at this moment we have no faith that anyone at Holland American truly cares about our ruined holiday or any of the issues raised above. 5. Departure - Major Problems As mentioned earlier, the fact that the four of us were not allowed to travel home together was a major issue. This was compounded by many Delta staff and scheduling problems that we will address separately to that company, but of course even further lowered our opinion of your company, since YOU selected Delta as our flight carrier. Lastly, and still a major problem, when the final three of us (myself, John and Brian) left the Zuiderdam to make our flight at BCN, we had seven items of checked luggage. Six suitcases and one white box (about 36" x 22 wide) that had my home address, cell number, Zuiderdam room # and our Blue 5 departure tag clearly visible). We collected all seven items at the terminal, and I personally escorted the cart to the bus and watched all items loaded onto the bus. YET upon arrival at BCN only the luggage was removed and the box was not delivered. Ground staff promised to contact the bus, yet that never happened in the hour we waited with the bus line representative. We filed claim 50904 (scanned copy attached) and have also spoken to staff at the Personal Property Claims Dept in Seattle . So far despite repeated calls all I get is "we have not heard back from Barcelona ". Contents of the box (and we are just now getting close to a full contents list) ranged from ALL unbreakable souvenirs from each port, a substantial number of dirty clothes (both formal and casual) shoes, books, coats, hats, electronic game discs, the broken souvenir sword and many other items that we are able to identify as we finish unpacking and can confirm were placed in this essential piece of luggage. 6. Conclusion: In over 30 years of traveling, I have never been so consistently mistreated, faced so many carrier related problems and received such a lack of response from a professional travel firm. Until this event, I was a strong and vocal advocate of HAL representing the best of high end cruising. I can only hope your response to these many, many serious problems can restore my faith in Holland America Line. I am counting upon, and expecting a major response from you both in direct apologies, greater responsiveness and of course compensation for the problems we faced that essentially destroyed a vacation. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2007
we just returned from our 1st cruise from LA down the mexican Riviera through the panama canal ending in ft lauderdale. for first time cruisers we were totally disappointed. first of all there was NO briefing on ship. we didn't know ... Read More
we just returned from our 1st cruise from LA down the mexican Riviera through the panama canal ending in ft lauderdale. for first time cruisers we were totally disappointed. first of all there was NO briefing on ship. we didn't know when we got off ship where it was safe in mexico, where not safe, where to eat, where not to eat, do we need pecos or dollars, etc...... so no briefing on a 17 day cruise is unacceptable!! have to say the food was good both on lido deck and dining room and service great. hired help works hard for money. however, our main complaint was the lack of entertainment!! the daily program was awful. nothing to do. my husband and i are in our 50's and wanted activities that kept us busy, not bingo, or cards, or the casino. we were totally bored!! AND worst even was the nightly entertainment. they had a piano bar upstairs (can't dance to) a piano bar downstairs (can't dance to) and one small nightclub with a band that was geared towards the elderly with tango's , foxtrot, etc.. definitely not for us. the dj on board is a total waste. nobody was in northern lights. the dj starts at 10-11 at night instead of 7 pm when you want to dance. who dances that time of night and then gets up for excursion. nobody , that is who. we were the only ones in there. we asked him to play us country and he could not or would not. literally, nobody was in there. instead of them making it a country lounge where you can hear some george strait or alan jackson (whom most people that age bracket like) they prefer to not use the lounge at all. it was just awful. also note, most piano players take one hour long breaks so when you sit down to order a drink and plan on listening awhile they usually disappear and your left with no music at all. what horrible entertainment. also have to say shows on stage at night fell far below expectations!! JUST awful - two bad nights of bad comedians where people walked out. another night of a hypnotist that was god awful. people called up to stage actually walked off stage. nobody was hypnotized. that show belonged in a elementary school, not on a stage. singers just ok. have seen much better. entertainment fell so far below our expectations, we hated cruise. this cruise cost quite a bit of money since it was 17 nights and not worth it at all. also note, there is no washer/dryer on ship so for 18 days your stuck unless you want to pay expensive price for a small bag of laundry. also ship very very cold! everyone complaining and nothing was done so result was everyone got sick on board!! WE'RE home sick now. store had no meds. ran out. dr only works 2 hrs a day even when 3/4 of ship is sick i guess!! that's a disgrace. excursion desk very unfriendly and not helpful. when asked about a excursion i wanted to book which was $240 for hubby and i and said 7 1/2 hrs i asked about lunch if included. she said no just fruit. the trip said it would take 1-1/2 hr drive to and1-1/2 hr drive back and 45 mins at site i questioned what were we doing rest or time since it said 7 1/2 hrs i was told "we don't know"!!!!! CROWD is older 70's and 80's hubby and i are in 50's so we were totally bored between no music and no entertainment. will never cruise holland american again. the cost of the trip was much too high for what you rec'd. first excursion we went on was pirate ship and snorkeling. we went out to ocean , all got snorkel gear on , went into water and all got stung!! most likely jelly fish. some really bad. no refund was offered. it was not worth the money. think long and hard before booking this ship unless you enjoy sitting around and just eating and gambling and drinking!!! PRETTY much all there is to do on this ship and i'm sure that is where HA wants you, in the casino or the bar!!! never again. diane Read Less
Sail Date: August 2007
Ms Zuiderdam- Holland America cruise line- 7 day cruise thru Alaska Glacier Bay Tracy Arm August 2007. -A MAJOR DISAPPOINTMENT - I am a 46 year old man who after cruising for years on other cruise lines throughout the world decided to ... Read More
Ms Zuiderdam- Holland America cruise line- 7 day cruise thru Alaska Glacier Bay Tracy Arm August 2007. -A MAJOR DISAPPOINTMENT - I am a 46 year old man who after cruising for years on other cruise lines throughout the world decided to take my mother on a birthday cruise thru Alaska. Having never used Holland America in the past I thought that I would give them a try. Seeing as it was rated hi on the cruise ship ratings I thought how perfect this would be for her and several family members to experience and enjoy. Seeing as this was the first cruise my mother had ever been on in her life. WELL... without further ado Airport to ship: Vancouver airport to the ship terminal was smooth with the U.S Direct boarding. This is where you pay extra for a transfer and they send your bags on thru and give you a ride, by bus, to the airport. The bus driver will give you a vocal tour on the city of Vancouver on the way. A little political at times depending on your driver, but all in all it's worth the ride. Arrival at the ships terminal and boarding went well. They have a helpful staff of people along the way that give you information on what's going to happen next. So it was pretty smooth. Thank you Vancouver, it's people, and the wonderful terminal you have built. We love you Vancouver!!! Ship Boarding: After boarding the ship, it is basically waiting anywhere you can find a seat for your room to be ready. A wait anywhere from 1 - 2 hours depending on your arrival on the ship. HINT- those with small children or wheelchair/handicapped or needing assistance can oftentimes board earlier than set time. The Ledo deck provides a buffet ready for your enjoyment. That is if you can find a seat and stand in line for 30 minutes. I recommend something at the airport and a cocktail if that's your sort of thing. Once in your room you will find it to be more outdated than a Howard Johnsons or Holiday Inn. Floors uneven, bad lighting, worn carpets, spa tub that didn't work, little closet space, and saggy beds, broken fixtures. That sort of thing. And these where the Superior Veranda Suites I paid top dollar for...YIKES!!! Well on with our Mother's Birthday Cruise... Debarkation: We got all dolled up for our debarkation. Mother looked wonderful, family all excited to go forward to the Crow's nest to have a glass of champaign and watch as we left the port of Vancouver B.C. Having cruised out of Vancouver several times before I loved the passing under the bridge while sipping champaign in the comfort of a warm view. I was also excited for my mother to finally have that experience. Especially, after telling her all about it...several times. So the family and I proudly strolled our way to the front of the ship for that perfect view and to our dismay Holland America booked it for a wedding. How disappointing. The crew and staff: As far as helpful and nice, it was a hit or miss, ok more of a miss. We had maybe three staff members that we can say where good or that where worth remembering. Our cabin steward was good with what he had to work with. Joel the wine steward was great in the Vista dining room. And Jennifer the cocktail waitress in the Casino. She was wonderful and very friendly. As far as the rest I found them to actually be rude and unresponsive. I overheard other passengers throughout the cruise say the same. Ms Zuiderdam a good host?.. you where not. Dinning: The food was excellent for the first 3 days then it sank. I believe we can safely say that the leftovers, instead of turned into what was to be called a meal, should have been fed to the sea. I have a cast iron stomach and even I got sick from the food. My recommendation for this and well let's say any cruise, is a good supply of Emodium AC, you will thank me later for this one. If you are going to want to try and eat something you can keep down, after the third day, try lunch time in the Vista Dinning room. We found the service to be good and the food to be warm enough to eat. Breakfast took forever and dinner was to crowded and slow...food cold and service nasty. The Vista Dining: Dinners That assigned table all week long for dinner YUKE! ( we didn't like this, prefer general seating like most other cruises we have been on - first come first served is nice, that way you never have the same table, same people joining, or the same scenery every night) With general seating as you meet people you can have them join you for dinner. Conversation at dinner sells more wine Ms Zuiderdam. HINT- we discovered the wine is about a third of the price for the same bottle of wine in the Pinnacle Grill. We are very savvy about our wines and the fair price to pay for them. The Pinnacle Grill: Mother's Birthday Dinner with the family The only restaurant on board. Avoid it all cost. My mothers Birthday dinner with all of the family was worse than the Titanic going down. First the choosing of wine from there already depleted wine list, and this was the second day of the cruise mind you, went very wrong. After 5 attempts to order wine from the Pinnacle Grills wine list, watching the wine steward running back and forth to check availability of our choices then having to resort to the retrieval of the Vista dining rooms wine list and 3 more attempts, 40 minutes had passed by; famished with glazed looks in our eyes, we finally had to settle on a wine that the head wine steward suggested and yes, you guessed it, cost 3 times what it would have in the Vista Dining room and tasted like well I won't go there. I suggest you buy wine at Duty free in the airport and bring it on board and then carry it to your table...*wink wink*... ( This is the second thing you will thank me for later.) I saw several groups doing just that. We had our four bottles of wine and 2 bottles of champaign that we had brought on board in the evenings on or veranda watching the pristine scenery before heading down to the Casino. The Casino - HUM...well - That was short lived. We got in a few spins on the outdated slot machines that paid little or not at all. The blackjack or roulette tables with the dealers that didn't know what a smile was, which was not fun and very disappointing. I guess all in all that was ok we saved a ton of money seeing as I usually spend anywhere from 3 to 5 thousand dollars in ships casino everytime I cruise. And my family even more. Found out something interesting; the majority of the casinos on these" Proud members of World's Leading cruise lines " are all owned by Carnival Cruise lines corporation, So if you find them to look the same on the other cruise lines it's do to the fact that the list of them are all the same corporation now. Holland America, Carnival Cruise lines, Princess, Cunard Lines, Costa Cruises, Windstar Cruises and Yachts of Seabourn...kind of like PEPSICO. They also basically own the property at all ports, the shops, the eatery's, excursion packages. That is why they all look the same. And the reason I will never cruise with Holland America again. That and the fact that I think personally that they are not what they claim to be... A World leading cruise line and 5 star shinning with a Ms Zuiderdam ship that was reconditioned in 2003. I have been on several cruises to Alaska to see the Glaciers, go whale watching, sea kayaking, take a helicopter ride, and float plane to fish for Salmon. And loved it all from the get go. Save yourself the heartache folks...do your homework...find a good travel agent... read what the critics have to say and don't be taken in by a brochure. The less expensive cruise lines are not only cost saving. There crews are friendlier, fun, and the passengers are always laughing and smiling without a hesitation to say hello. Good luck and happy Cruising...Steve in San Francisco, Ca. A note to those who will review this critic and decide whether or not it will benefit them or there advertising campaigns. This is my experience and this is the internet and I have unlimited avenues in which to reach my fellow passengers. I truly hope you will help me in my attempt to share this information with others so that they may have a safe and wonderful cruising experience in there future. Questions or comments you may reach me at Steviejoe2000@hotmail.com I have learned many things by reading what people truly have to say and this being my first critic is my turn to play it forward...Thank you for your time and again GOOD LUCK and HAPPY CRUISING. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2007
This was our third time on the Zuiderdam (Z) (Aug., 04, Aug., 05 previously)and fourth time on a vista Class ship (Oosterdam, August 2006 to Alaska). Seven total HA cruises and 17 overall cruises. I have written other reviews and the one I ... Read More
This was our third time on the Zuiderdam (Z) (Aug., 04, Aug., 05 previously)and fourth time on a vista Class ship (Oosterdam, August 2006 to Alaska). Seven total HA cruises and 17 overall cruises. I have written other reviews and the one I wrote about the Oosterdam indicated an itinerary of activities that we were not as happy with as I had experienced in the past HA sailings. I think a negative trend is happening with HA. This trip on The Z was not only the worst HA cruise I have been on but the worst vacation I could of imagined. When the best part of a cruise was disembarkation, you know it was downright terrible. How far has the Z fallen? Our trip on the Z in 2004 was the best cruise we ever been on. Best to worse in 3 years. Why was it so bad? Here goes. It began 2 days before the cruise when the Island of Tortola cancelled the Z port call and Z was forced to to to San Juan. San Juan to us is nothing more than a huge toilet in the middle of the caribbean. We have been there 3 times before and experienced harassment by the locals. This would not be HA's fault, therefore, they cannot be blamed. Instead it just put us in a fowl mood from the beginning. Many of the activities we had experienced on the Z in the past have just vanished and replaced by activities that are revenue generating to the cruise ship. More art actions and wine tasting. What ever happened to Game show mania? Evening music trivia in Northern Lights? TV show theme song trivia? The newlywed game? This was our first sailing that we did not get to have some laughs with this fun game. If this was not bad then where have you gone Julie Barr? This woman's skills as a comedian is surpassed by her intelligence and business sense. She has left the Z for the Westerdam. In talking to another entertainer on the ship I was told that at one time the Z was the ship which the entertainers wanted to work on. Now they are getting entertainers that are downright awful. The comedian Jim Labriola was fine. However, they had a singer on for two nights that we thought was a joke. She was so bad that she would not of even passed through an audition on Idol. I have seen better jugglers in HS plays. Finally, late night adult comedy which has been previously held in the Queens Lounge at midnight, is now held in the Vista lounge at 10:15. When it had been in the Queens lounge, no one under the age of 18 was permitted in. Club HAL would stay open until 1am on that night. The place would be packed and Julie would have alot of adult humor for those of us who enjoy this type of Humor. Now with it in the Vista, There were children everywhere. What was HA thinking? What are parents thinking bringing kids to this type of show? The comedian looked around to a place which would be packed in the queens lounge with no kids was half empty with too many kids to count. He just totally had to hold back. What a waste of time! The superstar competition was done on Wednesday night, Whereas, in the past, it took place on the last night. It was won by Denny Neagle, the former baseball pitcher who also has a WS ring. he was entertaining. However, he was not as good a singer as the young lady from Florida. It would of been classy if Neagle had handed the bottle of champagne and the picture frame this multimillionaire had won to the young lady. Winning this contest would of meant a great deal to this woman and she would of remembered it for the rest of her life. IMO I don't thing Neagle will be telling this story years to come to his grandchildren. When we questioned the cruise staff about the lack of activities that we had experienced in the past their response was there was not enough time. When we informed them that it was the same amount of time as we had in the past, their response was "Oh Well" My response was "Oh Well" we will sail RCCL and Princess in the future. My 10 year old son use to love Club HAL, but on this trip, after the first night he said it was not the same and it took some doing for him to go. He wound up just hanging in the cabin watching the TV over going to Club HAL. Where have you gone Michelle Davy (In the past, she has run a remarkable club) The dining room was a joke. We booked a group of us on this cruise in March, 2006 and received some nice perks. However, they separated us in the dining room. It took them until Thursday night to get us together. Needless to say, the Head waiter was clueless and the man in charge of the dining room refused to come and take care of the situation. Finally one of the other head waiters took care of the situation. Too little too late and it was the first time we adjusted our tips where we prorated the tips for the amount of days we ate in the dining room (3). The Head waiter received zero of his lack of effort. Therefore, for one night in the dining room our group was together. On the last night (Fri) the adults ate at the Pinnacle Grill. The staff at the Pinnacle was terrific. However, club HAL did not offer Kid's dinners. Therefore, we had to schedule the dinner at a time when the club was opened (8pm) I believe in the past they did offer ids meals and we know RCCL does have this as long as you sign them up by a certain time. As far as the good, only Disney does disembarkation better than HA. We were so glad to be off the ship and on our way home. If we had not been with some of our friends, it would of been the cruise to and from Hell. If HAL offered us a free cruise it would not even be worth the effort to pack for. Anyone who could say anything positive about this cruise, I would love to know what they enjoyed as compared to what they experienced on other sailings. From now on, I will stay with RCCL and Princess! Read Less
Sail Date: November 2006
Well, looking at the reviews so far, there are some readers giving 5 stars, and others giving 2. So it seems that the Zuiderdam experience is pretty variable, but I can only give my first impressions. 1. Air Package. 0 stars. Flying ... Read More
Well, looking at the reviews so far, there are some readers giving 5 stars, and others giving 2. So it seems that the Zuiderdam experience is pretty variable, but I can only give my first impressions. 1. Air Package. 0 stars. Flying from the UK, we were only given 1 hour between flights at Boston airport. This is not long enough to go through US immigration, to take baggage through Customs, recheck baggage, change terminals and go through security screening. We were out of breath and very stressed when we made the connecting flight. Arriving at Miami airport we were met by probably the least enthusiastic agent ever, who managed to direct us to the transfer bus to our hotel. Unfortunately, our transfer bus, halfway to the hotel, had to turn around for a passenger the agent had missed. So with heavy traffic, that was another hour of travelling on top of the long flights. 2. Hotel pre-cruise. 5 stars. The Marriott at Hollywood Beach is a pleasant hotel, located on the "boardwalk" adjoining the beach. The rooms are a decent size and well furnished. We ate out for dinner a ten minute stroll away at "Angelo's Corner", a local pizza joint that has been established for 30-odd years and we enjoyed the genuine atmosphere.... a far cry from Pizza-hut. Highly recommended for a fun evening and a few beers, friendly, chatty staff. Just don't expect too much... the tablecloths are probably as old as the restaurant... but it adds to the atmosphere. We took room service for breakfast, which was very reasonably priced, well presented, promptly served and hot. The hotel has a comfortable beachfront bar, where I enjoyed a couple of beers in the sun before the transfer to the ship. 3. Transfer and check-in. 5 stars. A chatty coach driver never stopped cracking jokes on the short transfer to the ship. Check in was fast, queues were short, even the security staff were friendly. 4. Arriving on board. 5 stars. Staff were on board to direct us to a buffet meal, and the cabins were ready quite soon after boarding. 5. Cabin. 3 stars. The cabin was spacious, clean and comfortable... but the balcony floor was always a bit "gritty" throughout the cruise. We had a "veranda" cabin 8109 which was convenient for the aft lifts and was a quiet location. Above us was a store-room for the pool bar, but we only heard things being moved a couple of times. The "salon standard" hairdryer was pretty poor, and the spring closer on the cabin door was broken (although this made getting in and out easier... so we didn't report it. The sink and shower drained very slowly, and the vacuum toilet sometimes flushed a minute after pressing the button. 6. Luggage handling. 1 star. Our cases were undamaged when we handed them to the porter dockside. By the time they got to our cabin they were dented and seams were ripped. Although the ship's upholsterers carried out a repair, it took several phone calls to the front desk to get any action. 7. Dining Room Food and Service. 3 stars. We were on main sitting (8.30) in the lower restaurant. The food was sometimes very good, and sometimes pretty poor. On the first couple of nights the service was appallingly slow.... leading to a choice of dessert or seeing the show. The first time I commented, things were no better. The second time, I was initially misunderstood... the head waiter thought I was asking directions to my table! Finally I managed to get understood, and things improved from the 3rd night onwards. The steak and lobster on the second formal night was a highlight, the baked alaska was good, but the other meals were forgettable. Dinner was 8.30, and there was a notice informing us that doors would be closed again at 8.45. However, most nights the doors only OPENED at 8.45. One night, dinner was changed to 8.15.... the doors opened at 8.35. I could maybe understand this on the first night of a cruise, while passengers settle in, but not all week. The dining room was only about 60% full after the second night, although much fuller earlier. This implies to me that many passengers chose the buffet instead. Our waiter had no personality, he just took orders and carried plates. 8. Room service Food. 3 stars. The scrambled egg was always hot, but breakfast always came later than the time frame indicated on the order card and items were missing 2 of 7 times. The room service coffee was terrible, while the restaurant coffee was quite decent. However, a bonus point is well earned for making room service breakfast available on disembarkation day 9. Pinnacle Grill Food and Service. 2 stars. We had complimentary vouchers for pinnacle grill, and even so we were disappointed. Had we paid, we would have been really annoyed. The head waiter was inattentive and supercilious, the other waiters incompetent. Our wine went to the wrong table, and someone else's drinks and dessert came to our table. We were seated at a corner table with couch seating and found the seats uncomfortable after a short while. The crab cakes were tiny and lacking in flavor (try the ones at Miami Airport instead), the steak was very good, but the cheese plate was a very poor selection. 10. Spa. MINUS TWENTY STARS. My wife's first and second hair appointments were spoilt by constant hard selling of cosmetics. The results were such that you could see that the stylist was concentrating on selling more than styling. The third hair appointment was half an hour late, leaving us on the last minute for the second formal dinner. We were thrown out of the hydropool quarter of an hour before closing with an excuse of "urgent maintenance" but I am sure that this was not the reason. When I went to complain, I found that the spa staff were in a meeting...... so that's why they wanted to close early. 11. Turks and Caicos. 5 stars. A clean, pleasant, modern terminal, nice beaches, a few shops and a Margaritaville. Just like a private beach resort, but with a bit more to offer. 12. Tortola. 4 stars. An attractive bay was a nice backdrop for the ship to moor in, but we did not go ashore. 13. St Thomas. 4 stars. Why, oh why, do cruises still stop at St Thomas. OK.... US citizens get an extra duty free allowance, but the immigration procedure is normally a pain. On this occasion it was the least painful we have experienced... decks are called by rota, there is little queuing, things seem well organized. 14. Half Moon Cay. 3 stars. While there is more to do than Princess Cays, the things I wanted to do (jet ski in particular) were fully booked before the cruise even started. 15. Bars and Bar Staff. 1 star. The bar staff were devoid of personality, and it seemed that getting a glass for a beer was beyond their job description. Every time a beer was ordered, they tried to sell a bucket of 6. The bars constantly ran out of certain beers, but never bothered to get mote from the central stores... it was easier to sell you a different beer instead of your favorite. Cocktails were fairly poor. Coca Cola was served at room temperature (and that's warm!) with a bit of ice. I didn't think that you could wreck a diet coke, but they managed to. 16. Disembarkation and transfer. 4 stars. Holland America get a point for letting you stay in your cabin until you disembark, and another point for room service breakfast on disembarkation day. However, there was no advance notice to give anyone an idea what time their color would be called, and the announcements were not audible in the cabins. Disembarkation was fairly smooth, the coach transfer efficient, but the coach disembarked passengers well away from the check in desks at Miami airport. 17. Value. 3 stars. When I shopped around, this cruise was £200 per person cheaper, for a balcony room, than Princess for an inside cabin. However, I have always found Princess to be enjoyable, and I wish that I had paid the extra. People had told me that Holland America were a bit better than Princess.... that may be so in their experience, maybe I've been unlucky, but I wish I'd gone with Princess. 18. Entertainment. 3 stars. There were two very good "song and dance" shows by the ship's dancers, but that was all. Once the shows were over, there was nothing to do. 19. Public Rooms. 1 star. The crows nest bar was out of use all week for a private dance party. Many of the other bars were smoky. There was no "centre" to the public rooms, possibly due to the lack of a proper atrium. The casino seemed very popular... maybe that was the highlight of the ship, but we don't do casinos. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2005
Shabby Ship - Shabby Experience This was my first experience with Holland America and I expected 5-star surroundings and a 5-star cruise. I've sailed on Carnival, Celebrity, Royal Caribbean, Princess and Cunard, and this was the ... Read More
Shabby Ship - Shabby Experience This was my first experience with Holland America and I expected 5-star surroundings and a 5-star cruise. I've sailed on Carnival, Celebrity, Royal Caribbean, Princess and Cunard, and this was the absolute worst cruise I've taken. First - the ship. Very poorly designed with low ceilings, potholes in the floor, ripped wallpaper everywhere, and small, ugly public places. The Hotel Manager confirmed that when the ship was built, they forgot to include any public toilets. As a result, the bathrooms are barebones to say the least, and the ventilation system is non-existent (smelly). You have to walk through the buffet line to get to the pool which causes a bottleneck at all times of the day. The buffet line never took less than 15 minutes because of the poor circulation flow. Some other details - room towels were so frayed and old that I threw them away. Toilet flushing mechanism broke on day 2. Crew has to use public elevators because the crew elevators are too small. Luggage did not arrive until 6:30pm (sailed at 5pm). 23 broken glass doors around the ship. Second - the entertainment. On all other ships I've been on, there are at least 2 choices for big entertainment at the same time. Not here. Only one choice at a time, so you went from one venue to the next, and there were never any seats left. Poor organization of all entertainment and lack of thought as to where it should be held to allow enough seating. There were 400 children on board, yet the "adults only" pool rule was not enforced, so unsupervised children everywhere. Rather than having daytime adult entertainment at the adults pool, they had the steel drum band and adult pool games staged at the children's pool. Makes no sense. For the Caribbean Pool Party on the 4th night, I expected a very festive atmosphere with great decorations, fun music and activities and just a great party. None of this happened. Overall, I'd give the entertainment quality and selection a 3 on a scale of 1-10. Third - the food. The service in the dining room was fantastic, but it appeared that they were so understaffed that everything was rushed. The soup was consistently extraordinary, but that was it. Everything else was forgettable and either over salted or flavorless. On this ship, it is impossible to attempt to eat with a healthy theme. The selection and quality of fruit was pathetic. I'm in the caribbean and I expect succulent, exotic fruit, not very small cuts of honeydew, cantaloupe and watermelon. The fruit was an afterthought. Everything else was deep fried or smothered in butter. Zero variety from day to day. Inedible pastries and muffins. On the private island, a very greasy BBQ was served and much to my surprise, 2 days later that same BBQ was served at the "Island Party BBQ" on the ship. It was terrible and not at all Caribbean in theme. Fourth - the itinerary. This was the one redeeming factor for this cruise and the only reason we chose this ship. The private island was gorgeous and spending the day and evening docked in St Thomas gave us plenty of time to get to St John and spend time shopping. Tortola was fantastic but the stop in Nassau was forgettable. I would love this itinerary on any other ship. Finally, some words from the Hotel Manager. He said that the Zuiderdam was the first ship built in the Vista class series. He admitted that many things were done very poorly. They tried to correct these for the remaining three ships of the Vista class. A word to the wise - don't expect much from the ships of the Vista class. Read Less
Sail Date: September 2005
We want to let everyone know that this was the worst vacation we have ever had. My list of complaints is long but need to be brought to your attention. I don't know if the ship received our comment cards since our ships cabin steward ... Read More
We want to let everyone know that this was the worst vacation we have ever had. My list of complaints is long but need to be brought to your attention. I don't know if the ship received our comment cards since our ships cabin steward took them out of our room while we were in port. He was very polite, pleasant and hardworking but I got the impression he only understood about 1/4 of what we said (just like every other server on the ship). Do NOT expect anyone under the age of 65 to enjoy this cruise. 1. The beds were hard and sagging. When we first complained they did nothing, then we complained to someone else and finally on day 3 received a 1" egg crate that didn't help much. 2. The buffets were horrible and room service was worse. You couldn't get breakfast till after 7:30am or dinner after 7:30 pm, there never seemed to be anything open but that nasty pasta bar when we wanted to eat. The so called steak was thin and mostly gristle. The chicken was extremely dry and all the vegetables were either undercooked or over seasoned. 3. The ship was beautifully decorated but unless you were into bingo and dancing the tango, there was never anything to do. The pools closed way too early and the decks were always closed after dark for cleaning. There was no "night life" on this ship. The Disco was always deserted and playing elevator music. The music in the piano bar wanted to make me cry. 4. I don't know where their bartenders train but the drinks I tried were awful. I watched them put club soda in my margarita and I don't know what they put in the Mai-Tai's and Daiquiris but they tasted unlike anything I had ever had and you couldn't drink enough of anything to get drunk. And we needed to be drunk to be able to sleep. 5. Half Moon Cay was beautiful but there was nothing to do there but lay on the beach. 6. Costa Maya was almost as bad and one of the shopkeepers actually tried to sell us cocaine and pot. I was horrified and afraid to shop there after that experience. Our trip and first cruise that we saved for and planned for over a year after my battle with cancer turned into a complete disaster. It was so bad that we asked to be let off the ship in Key West to try and salvage a couple of days of our trip. We were told by the service desk staff that we couldn't leave the ship without paying a total of $600.00 in fines and there was nothing we could do about it. I've had better accommodations at Motel 6 and would never recommend this cruise to anyone unless all they wanted to do was sleep, watch TV and drink watered down drinks. The highlight of our trip was waiting in our state room for over three hours to get off that boring boat. Read Less
Sail Date: September 2005
Zuiderdam 9/17-2005 through 9-24-2005 Superior Verandah suite (Category SS-SZ) Room 8080 Half Moon Cay-Bahamas, Roadtown-Tortola, Amalie-St Thomas, Nassau, Bahamas. This was a cruise to remember! I cruise about three times a year and ... Read More
Zuiderdam 9/17-2005 through 9-24-2005 Superior Verandah suite (Category SS-SZ) Room 8080 Half Moon Cay-Bahamas, Roadtown-Tortola, Amalie-St Thomas, Nassau, Bahamas. This was a cruise to remember! I cruise about three times a year and love to read and write reviews for each cruise line. Holland America had us checked in and onboard drinking our welcome aboard cocktail (drink of the day) within 1 hour. The drink was called a Mohito Cuban drink, tasted like I was drinking straight lime juice. After the cocktail I ordered a Coke to get the flavor out of my tastebuds. We had lunch at the Lido deck and it was delicious, terrific variety and flavor, I tend to eat at the Seafood niche in the Lido because their California Rolls are great. We checked into our room# 8080, Superior Verandah suite and I was pleased with the size, large outdoor balcony, marbled anterior walls in the bathroom, shower, and bathtub with Jacuzzi option. The bed was a queen size and it had a mini bar, refridge, safe, with plenty of closets, & drawer room for clothes. We had the making for a fantastic cruise! The first day out we had a letter waiting under our door from the Captain (Hans van Biljouw) explaining that our first port of call was cancelled because of a tropical storm so we would simply spend that day at sea and continue with the itinerary. The next day the captain and hotel manager decided that the passengers would be happier at their private island instead of Nassau Bahamas. Then the fireworks began, passengers in Tortola became upset... emailing and calling the Holland America Headquarters protesting the decision to cross the Bahamas off the list of destinations and opting for the private Island It greatly suspected the private island was substituted for the Nassau Bahama port of call so the cruise line could make a larger profit and not loose money from cancelled private island excursions while also avoiding expensive docking fees in the Bahamas. Funny, the one thing I am not trying to do on vacation is help Holland America pinch pennies and find ways to make them bigger profits. People were literally packing their bags and walking off the ship at the first & second port of call while others were emailing & calling Holland America's headquarters office in Seattle Washington. The suggestion box was overflowing with angry letters and the hotel manager was being yelled at for constantly changing the itineraries and placing these sarcastic condescending letters under our doors explaining they knew what we wanted and how best to make our cruise a pleasant one. The next day the captain backpedaled and stuck to the original published itinerary, sure we did not go to the private island but that was weather related and everyone understood. The food in the Vista Dinning Room was great, the variety was decent and the fresh herbs, fantastic presentation, great service, and yummy deserts are what I would expect from a premium cruise line. I gained about 5 pounds on this 7-night cruise, yeah...the food as great and if it was not nailed down I ate it! Children: If you're looking for a cruise line that caters to children take NCL or Disney where the environment is like "Chucky Cheese" We were parked next to NCL in the Bahamas and they had huge blowup animals and playgrounds for the kids to play at, Disney well...is Disney and they take excellent care of making sure both adults and kids have a great time. If there is one cruise line that allows adults to relax away from the chronic drone and yelling, screaming, undisciplined, unsupervised, spoiled temper tantrum throwing children...its Holland America. So lets recap this....if you are looking for a cruise line that caters to your children...you may want to think about NCL or Disney cruise lines. Dress Code: Holland America was turning people away from it's Pinnacle Grill, for not wearing a suite or tux. The daily program asked that no shorts or tea shirts be worn to the Pinnacle Grill but passengers not wearing a tux or suite were being turned away. I spoke with the Hotel Manager Diderik Van Regemorter and asked why there was such inconsistent information regarding the dress code policy, documentation and what the passengers were being told by the cruise staff. I explained that the last thing they should want to do is turn the passenger's way that came dressed in business casual attire when they had been previously assured that business casual attire (khaki pants, dress shoes, and polo shirts) was fine for the Pinnacle Grill. I showed him the documentation re: dress code and he said regardless of the little pieces of paper in my hand it's their prerogative to create, change, and enforce their dress code policy as they see fit. I was finished trying to reason with him at that point, I greatly suspected that the poor man was nursing a hangover from his previous nights dinning and I decided to just enjoy the rest of my cruise and get over the initial embarrassment of being denied seating at the Pinnacle Grill. FYI: Don't risk it...Every night you must dine wearing a suite or tux with the only exception being the Lido Deck...The Lido deck (buffet style dinning) is casual. Excursions and private outings: In Amalie, St. Thomas my partner & I grabbed a cab & went Jet Skiing, it was fantastic. We paid $50.00 per person & per Jet Ski for ½ hour and let loose in a huge, calm, beautiful bay, we had a blast! In Road Town Tortola- we had an excursion & took a jeep to the top of a mountain and took pictures, then we drove down to a beach and swam, and came back to the ship...an OK time was had by all $37.00 per person. Bahamas, we booked an excursion through the ship's excursion desk ($69.00) and went snorkeling, this was fantastic, we went to two spots and the reefs and fish were terrific. We then went to a spot called Hollywood Bowl and they lowered a chum box (box of dead cut up fish) into the water and lowered it about 15 feet. Then some people who felt brave enough jumped in and watch the Caribbean reef sharks swim around below them. I think the sharks are used to this because as soon as we arrived the sharks came right up to the boat to check us out. This was a once in a lifetime experience...most everyone had a great time, as this was a unique way to come face to face with a group of live Caribbean Reef Sharks! Tipping, I always liked to have tips refunded at the front office so I could hand out tip money to the people I come in direct contact with instead of the cruise staff charging me and deciding who got what. After speaking with our cabin steward and several other passengers it was discovered that at the end of every cruise (when tips are reversed and envelopes are handed out) Holland America goes to it's employees and shakes them down for their tip money. This verifies to me that Holland America relies on tip money as a main source of corporate compensation to it's employees...the only problem is that its not Holland America's money...its mine. If I tip an employee, this is a private transaction and I do not need Holland America to act as a custodian or big brother and take the money away from the employee and redistribute (circumnavigating my wishes) to whomever they choose. I suspect if Holland America were subjected to the United States Department of Labor there would be heck to pay, (taking tip money away from employees is akin to robbery and shameful unethical behavior, stating this in a policy manual does not justify or change the unethical nature of this wrongful act) Room Service was unreliable in both the time it was supposed to be delivered or the menu items requested being actually on the tray when it arrived late however...I simply got used to it and ate whatever whenever knowing it was better than the long lines and having no place to sit & eat at the Lido Deck. There are two pools, one at the rear (out door) was so dirty (brown dingy water) hardly anyone was swimming in it when I checked it out. There is another pool inside center that was nice with a big plastic polar bear and baby bear cub statue. The casino was small, the slot machines were tight, I spent very little time there, the night club was nice and included a dance floor, bar, and was fairly busy. Entertainment: The shows were great, including couple comedians that were not very funny and a Filipino crew show that was actually better than everything else. The crew show was a fantastic blend of culture and comedy, put together by a select few Filipino crew members. Conclusion. I had a great time on this cruise, I really enjoy the time away from reality while disconnecting from cell phones, email, pagers, meetings...As a member of their Marinar's Society and sailing previously on the Oosterdam I was really rooting for Holland America at the beginning of this cruise, however after seeing and hearing so many hurt & angry passengers I could no longer bury the fact that the senior staff at Holland America need to take Ethics 101 before touting their (Tradition of Excellence). If Royal Caribbean's logo is (Get out there!) Holland America's logo should be (What were we thinking?) or (Work In Progress!) Read Less
Sail Date: September 2003
My husband and I have been on 15 cruises in the last 3 years, We have sailed on every major line in the industry . We are pretty much laid back people and we had always thought that there was no such thing as a " Bad Cruise" but ... Read More
My husband and I have been on 15 cruises in the last 3 years, We have sailed on every major line in the industry . We are pretty much laid back people and we had always thought that there was no such thing as a " Bad Cruise" but alas, we just experienced one. For HAL's benefit I will list the positives first: 1} Embarkation and debarkation were easy and very organized. 2} Casino literally gave away money!! I truly had never seen a ship casino pay out on so many slot machines. 3} Entertainment was better than average Thats IT for positives!! Now for the negatives The Zuiderdam cannot find its place in the HAL lineup, You know that they are trying to achieve a younger audience but they just can't pull it off. Between the Decor ,[If you could call it that} which looks like a remnant sale at Kmart , the closed in hallways, the low ceilings and congested layout, this boat is was headed for disaster before it even left on its maiden voyage. We read the message boards before going on board, so we sort of knew what to expect. The first time cruisers on this ship probably thought it was wonderful, but if you are a seasoned cruiser, PAY ATTENTION TO NEGATIVE FEEDBACK on different boards, they are all true!! The vibration problem in the back of the ship is NOT a myth, it is a reality. After speaking with the maitred requesting a change of tables BEFORE the ship even sailed, he informed us that the upper level dining room was completely booked and not to worry we were in the front of the lower dining room. And by the way ,he mentioned that they had brought in heavier tables to reduce the vibration so the plates don't vibrate off the tables anymore. We knew we were in trouble when I asked if it was true that the ship was going into dry dock, He responded with a reluctant yes, and the ship will be drydocked in December for Mechanical Problems.. The sewer odor problem is NOT a fantasy! This ship is obviously not vented properly ,because at certain times of the day the overwhelming odor of raw sewage is prevalent throughout the ship. We could not use our balcony every morning because of it. Maintenance was sent, but they were well aware of the problem and their was nothing that they could do. Lack of maintenance was appalling, this ship is only 9 MONTHS OLD! It could easily pass for at least 5 years old. Water leaks in The "GRAND ATRIUM" turned the gold leaf green and moldy. I watched the art auction with buckets around me to catch dripping water from the ceilings. decks were not cleaned in the A.M. from the previous evening. laminate surfaces were buckling everywhere, door cabinets were hanging off hinges, paint was falling off the balcony roof in our friends mini suite . HAL definitely gets an F in maintenance. Dining room service is a disaster. We had only a waiter, no asst waiter or busboy. The food service was rushed and hurried ,they were trying to get second seating diners out in 1 hour! We had to keep calling the maitred over to tell our waiter to slow down. The first night at dinner he threw the menus at us and told us to make it "snappy". It all went downhill from there. The food was mediocre at best, the dessert selection was even worse, unless of course you consider JELLO to be a Treat! We were constantly holding onto our plates so our waiter would not swipe it away from us while we were in " Mid - Bite". It got so bad that the Head waiter removed our waiter from our section and served us exclusively the last 3 nights of our cruise. We were not alone in hearing dining room horror stories from other passengers ,we knew of at least 10 other tables that were experiencing the same kind of service. We also took a walk toward the back of the dining room one evening to "experience" the vibration problem. If anyone DARES to write that they felt no vibration, then they were either dead or drugged. You had to raise your voice just to have a conversation and the background noise from the vibration was like a scene out of the movie EARTHQUAKE! HAL definitely gets an F for dining room service. Our Cabin which was a category B balcony was below typical of other cruise lines. Once again you had the WAL-MART decor surrounding you, which flowed so beautifully with the prison grey corridor walls. A painting or two would help along the corridor walls but they obviously didn't have it in their budget. HAL gets a D for room and hallway decor The Staff on board was helpful in getting my room changed from the back of the boat to midship { Due to the heavy vibration in our cabin} other than that you are basically getting Holiday Inn level of service. I will have to say that room service was the highlight of HALS customer service. HAL gets a C- for service { it would have been a D if not for room service!} I have taken pictures of many of these things that I have listed here and intend to email them to HAL. Lets just say that this was a major disappointment on HALs part. As everyone knows HAL is giving away their cruises because the senior population is not traveling as much as they once did and they have to open themselves to other markets. They have a very long way to go and should look upon Celebrity Cruise line as their role model. If you are a 1st time cruiser all I could say is Bon Voyage, If you are a truly experienced cruiser then you will quickly know that all is not right with this vessel. Read Less
Zuiderdam Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 4.2
Dining 3.5 4.1
Entertainment 4.5 3.7
Public Rooms 3.5 4.1
Fitness Recreation 4.0 3.7
Family 2.0 3.7
Shore Excursion 5.0 3.8
Enrichment 5.0 3.6
Service 4.0 4.4
Value For Money 4.5 3.8
Rates 4.0 4.1

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