Sail Date: November 2004
Husband and I were disappointed with our Nov. 6 cruise on the Zuiderdam. This was our 5th cruise (3 Carnival, 1 Royal American) and while the food was the best by far, the activities were lacking. Many days we couldn't find anything ... Read More
Husband and I were disappointed with our Nov. 6 cruise on the Zuiderdam. This was our 5th cruise (3 Carnival, 1 Royal American) and while the food was the best by far, the activities were lacking. Many days we couldn't find anything to do and with an inside cabin there was even limited deck space to watch the sea go by. The ship is divided into many small meeting rooms with no activities most of the time. We do acknowledge the fact that the weather for our cruise was less than desirable. However one problem we discovered was the planned games, like NewlyWed Game, were held during our dining time, 8:00. It seemed like the ship observed siesta in the afternoon and then activities continued at 7:45, after the first dinner seating but while we were eating. If you are planning on cruising on the Zuiderdam definitely opt for the first dinner seating if activities are important to you. Some of the shows were probably the best we have seen on a cruise ship. However there was only one late night comedy show. The show the first night almost put us to sleep. I was glad I returned, the rest of them were excellent. My group also missed the interaction with the dining room staff. They didn't even introduce themselves the first night. They just started taking our order. The service was good, although not the best. We observed a waiter spilling bread onto the preparation table and placing it back in the basket with his bare hands. Food was delivered and dishes cleared from either side. While this didn't bother us other passengers mentioned it. I had read on cruisecritic about Dutch night and anticipated experiencing it, but that never happened. There wasn't a dessert extravaganza at midnight, they had a small one one afternoon. Upon disembarking the ship one more seasoned traveler I spoke with said this would be her last Holland America cruise. She also said she missed the interaction with the dining room staff. The cabin space and storage are a plus over other cruises I've experienced. However, our cabin floor was never vacuumed, even after I asked the room steward to vacuum it. The visible things, like turning down the bed with a chocolate and fresh towels, were done. However when I found him with a vacuum in his hand and asked him to vacuum my room I expected it to be done. We never had ice in our room and our refrigerator was locked the entire cruise. I felt the room steward should have asked if we wanted either of these amenities. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2004
This year the Zuiderdam was a disappointment. Last year my husband and I sailed on the Zuiderdam along with our 2 granddaughters and were very satisfied. My only complaint last year was about fellow passengers not tipping the crew. When ... Read More
This year the Zuiderdam was a disappointment. Last year my husband and I sailed on the Zuiderdam along with our 2 granddaughters and were very satisfied. My only complaint last year was about fellow passengers not tipping the crew. When HAL decided to add the tips automatically, I felt that was a good step. I have changed my mind. The smiling, helpful, eager-to-please crew has been replaced by contract employees who leave much to be desired. The dining room stewards and assistants are inexperienced and not the same smiling bunch we have experienced on our other 7 cruises with Holland America. We hardly recognized a face from last year. The first day was so bad that I felt compelled to put my comments in writing to the front office. The bedding in our cabin was not clean. After complaining, fresh pillows and blankets arrived and the veranda was mopped. Our cabin steward, Ardi, was friendly and did try - he just seemed to have too many cabins to handle. The food in the dining room was delicious - the beef in the dining room being nearly as wonderful as that in the specialty restaurant. I don't think our dining stewards knew our names nor that of our table mates who were a likeable bunch. The entertainment was good - especially the Elton John impersonator. However - there are not enough scheduled activities and people were bored. The trio in the Ocean Bar was not the best - the lead had a very nasal voice which I found annoying - like someone trying to imitate Louie Armstrong. I missed the strings following dinner in the Explorer Lounge - they did not start until after 9 pm. The Crows Nest was dead. Nothing much to do after the show but go back to the cabin. While we feel we got an exceptional deal on the price and do wonder how Holland America was able to provide the quality food at the prices they were charging, we do feel that sometimes less is not better. I want the old smiling crew back - not contract employees who don't seem to care. Last year I raved about the Zuiderdam - this year I have to say it was ok. My husband and I both agreed that we are going to go back to Celebrity or try Princess. Even the crew on the Carnival Spirit doing Hawaii this past April was much more experienced and pleasant. And a PS - I like to see clean clothing on the dining room stewards - not stained uniforms. And - I don't like to see people clearing dirty dishes and then watch them pick up my baked potato with their hands. The dining room crew needs some schooling - both on cleanliness and the proper way to serve and remove dinnerware - and yeah - they need to smile. We left our tips at the suggested $10 per person per day but I really don't think I had the service I experienced on past cruises. Bye, bye Holland America. You need to clean up your act. Read Less
Sail Date: September 2004
I booked the Zuiderdam Eastern Caribbean itinerary. I had never cruised on a Holland America ship prior to our cruise this past September. As background information, I have taken 70 plus cruises in the last 40 years. I was accompanied on ... Read More
I booked the Zuiderdam Eastern Caribbean itinerary. I had never cruised on a Holland America ship prior to our cruise this past September. As background information, I have taken 70 plus cruises in the last 40 years. I was accompanied on this cruise by my wife and my six year old daughter. My wife and I decided to book a category S suite on the upper verandah deck. This was a special treat for us since we had never booked a suite before. Unfortunately, our September 28th sailing was interrupted by Hurricane Jeanne and instead of a 7 day cruise we wound up with a 5 day cruise. Embarkation was a breeze, due in part to only 1,180 passengers being on board for the sailing vs. regular capacity of 1,800. As suite passengers we enjoyed our own private dedicated check in area. Check in was very quick and before we realized it we were on board the ship. As soon as we boarded the ship we proceeded to the Neptune Lounge to meet the concierge staff and catch up with my cousin and her husband who were also traveling with us. Due to the cancellations my cousin was able to move her S suite to one adjoining our cabin. Once the cabins were ready for passengers we immediately went to the cabin to check it out. The cabin steward was coincidentally there and he was nice enough to open the balconies between both cabins. My wife and I were impressed with the spaciousness of the cabin and the amenities. The closet space was great! We also were surprised to find a great stereo system (JVC) with a CD and a DVD player. My wife brought CDs for her own entertainment and DVDs for my daughter to watch. The interior space of the cabin, as well as the balcony space made spending time in the cabin a "treat". I would give the accommodations an A rating. The cabin steward that we had assigned was great! He anticipated our every need and was as unobtrusive as possible. I think the cabin service on the Zuiderdam also deserves an A rating. The first evening we had dinner in the main dining room. We found the service to be sub-par. It was not what it should be for a premium cruise line. We found the cuisine in the main dinning room to be about average. The food tasted bland, was unimaginative in presentation and was not up to the quality I would expect from Holland America. Due to our experience the first night in the main dinning room we dined in the Pinnacle Grill (a la carte) dining room the remainder of the cruise. The food and service in the Pinnacle was excellent, except for the last evening when it was mediocre. Since we had our adjoining suites and we were traveling with children we only attended one evening show. On the second from last evening we went to the Vista Lounge for the Broadway show. The show was a disappointment based on my experiences on other cruise lines such as Celebrity, Princess and Royal Caribbean. In retrospect I am glad that we did not attend any of the other shows. The children's program was also a disappointment. The program was only available for selected short hours on a daily basis. Even though Holland America has made an effort to cater to families, they still have a long way to go to provide a quality children's program. The Lido food and service were excellent. The variety of food offered was beyond what anyone would expect. The hours of operation were also very accommodating. My daughter especially liked the pizza available each day. We did enjoy the cruise, but unfortunately it was too short. I would travel again with Holland America if the price and accommodations were right. Read Less
Sail Date: June 2004
We had not sailed a HAL ship in a number of years. The timing was right and the deal on the cat S cabin made it a no brainer decision. I had read some negative comments on this ship but decided to see for myself. Overall our experience was ... Read More
We had not sailed a HAL ship in a number of years. The timing was right and the deal on the cat S cabin made it a no brainer decision. I had read some negative comments on this ship but decided to see for myself. Overall our experience was a good one. I have cruised thirty something times. My expectations were not very high, considering some of the reviews. I traveled with my wife. We are mid fifties, but very active. The boarding process was great, got there at about eleven AM and were in our cabin by 11:30. The S category cabins are exceptional. Very large 536 sq ft and have a lot of storage and closet space. Double sinks and a separate shower and tub with whirlpool jets. King size bed with very comfortable mattress and choice of pillows (down or foam) nice touch. Picture window and large veranda. Cabin 6093 is center ship and right next to elevator. I had some reservations about the elevator noise, but never heard anything. We sat at a table with another couple that also were in an S cabin, but were on the stern. They said they view was great, but could feel vibration of the engines. We felt nothing and the ride was smooth and quiet. The reports about the vibration in the main dining room, we felt were not any worse than most of the ships we have been on. The food was about the same we have experienced on Celebrity and Princess and better than NCL and much better than Royal Caribbean. The Odyssey specialty restaurant was way above average in food quality and the steaks are at least as good as the best of the steak houses that charge an arm and leg for them. The service was OK but not on par with the food quality. The overall look of the ship is very confusing. My opinion was it looked like the ship builder had a warehouse of parts and decorations, that were left over from building a number of ships and decided to use the leftovers and make a ship. Not very tasteful in appearance or usefulness. The ship does look much older than it is and appears difficult to maintain. The layout of the ship is convenient and useful but certainly not in the same league as the other ships from the competition, in its class. The cabins, the food and their service and worth sailing her again, if you are not concerned about a flashy ship. The entertainment was just OK and the fitness center is just Ok. We were looking for a relaxing vacation and that's what we received. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2004
My partner and I enjoyed a relaxing week on the 7-day Western Caribbean on the Zuiderdam, May 29 - June 5. We got a terrific price on a Category AA verandah cabin. This was our first cruise on HAL, and we had high expectations based on ... Read More
My partner and I enjoyed a relaxing week on the 7-day Western Caribbean on the Zuiderdam, May 29 - June 5. We got a terrific price on a Category AA verandah cabin. This was our first cruise on HAL, and we had high expectations based on what we'd read on the HAL boards and heard from friends. Although we had some minor disappointments described below, we enjoyed ourselves and will certainly consider HAL again, especially if we see such a great value. To give you a sense of our cruise experience, we had previously cruised on Celebrity (five times) Princess (three times) NCL (once) and RCCL (once). We are confirmed Celebrity fans, but we've enjoyed every cruise we've taken, including this one. We're a childless gay couple in our early 40's, and we put a lot of importance on the quality of service and the food on a cruise. We cruise to relax, so the destination is less important to us than the on-board experience. Pre-cruise - The cruise departs from Ft. Lauderdale, but we flew in to Miami the day before as it's the only non-stop flight from San Francisco on United airlines (we were using miles). I think the 40-minute, $70 cab ride up to Ft. Lauderdale is worth it to avoid the hassles of changing planes and the chance for delay, etc. We stayed at the Marriott Marina on the 17th Street Causeway overnight, enjoying a nice dinner in the waterfront restaurant. We spent the dinner admiring the gigantic, 100+ foot long, four story yacht owned by someone who has too much money that was parked in front of the restaurant's windows. The next morning we worked out in the fitness center, had room service breakfast, and got ready to leave. I called downstairs about 11 a.m. to check about the free shuttle to the cruiseport, and found out that they take reservations on a first-come, first-served basis. The first open spot would be at 2:30 that afternoon. Next time, we'll know to put our name on the list the night before. Instead, we took a taxi for under $10 and were over at the ship in ten minutes. Embarkation - We gave our bags to a porter when we arrived (tip these guys - they work hard!), then got in line. There was a big line outside the terminal when we arrived (11:30-ish) which snaked into the building and back out again. It was probably a full hour from when we got in line until we got up to the desk inside. We saw special (shorter) lines for suite guests, but not for Mariner's Society members. We're Captain's Club members on Celebrity, and they always have special counters for their frequent cruisers in addition to suite guests. Also unlike embarking with Celebrity, there was no place to sit down, nor any refreshments, and we were tired after standing for an hour even though we're both pretty spry for 40! After getting our key cards, we went through the security check, boarding photo, and on board very quickly. There was a lineup of crew as soon as we got on board, and we were directed to follow one of the stewards. No champagne greeting like on Celebrity! We were expecting to be escorted to our cabin, but instead were kind of waved toward the elevator lobby. When we asked we were told that the cabins aren't available until 1 p.m. but that we could enjoy the buffet. We weren't hungry so we explored a little bit until we heard an announcement that we could go to our cabin. We found our cabin easily, #6123, a Category AA verandah cabin right by the rear elevator bank. We had booked an AA guarantee for a terrific price only a month before the cruise, so we didn't have any choice as to its location. We were a little worried about the location, but never had any trouble with noise from the elevator lobby. Cabin: This was one of the highlights for us. For a "standard" verandah cabin, we were very impressed by the size, layout and furnishings of the cabin. At almost 200 square feet with a balcony of 48 square feet, the cabin was larger and nicer than any other we've been in that wasn't a suite. The bathroom with a mini-tub was well laid out, the water pressure and temperature control was great, and we had enough storage space for our stuff in a little medicine chest and a shelf under the sink. The closets and shelves were just large enough, and had real wooden hangers that could be removed. There is a wooden shelf in the middle of the closets that can be folded up to allow longer items to hang on top. When this shelf is folded up the hangers on the top don't quite fit and the clothes get scrunched when the door closes. There are also drawers in the bedside tables, and (surprise!) under the beds and the sofa. The bed drawers have the extra coverlets stored in them, but the sofa drawers are empty and are pretty spacious. There are several "special" touches in the cabin that we appreciated: the height of the cocktail table can be adjusted from cocktail to dining table, a feature we used to eat room service in the room. The mini-bar is stocked, rather than being just an empty refrigerator (I know some prefer an empty refrigerator, but we like the convenience of sodas, beer, wine and cocktails available anytime). The verandah furniture was a comfortable armchair with cushion, ottoman, and a straight-backed chair with cushion, all made out of an imitation rattan that looked great all week. There is also a tiny, round cocktail table, just big enough for two glasses or two coffee cups. The door to the verandah was hinged rather than sliding, which made it much easier (and quieter) to go in and out. The complimentary bathrobes are a comfortable combination of waffle and terry cloth. Our cabin steward (Akmed) was fine but not great. He didn't introduce himself the first day (on Celebrity the cabin stewards make a point of searching you out and introducing themselves on the first day and asking about your schedule and your preferences, and telling you how to find them); and on several days our cabin wasn't made up until after noon. We also didn't have several items in our room at first (stationary, a pen, breakfast order cards) and I ended up breaking into the stewards' storage room one night to find them. I'm probably now featured on the cruise video! Public rooms: There are a lot of strong opinions about the Zuiderdam's decoration. Usually, they fall into two categories: HAL regulars comment on how bright the colors are ("garish" comes up a lot); and non-HAL regulars comment on how dark the ship is. We fall into the second category. We did think that there were many beautiful and/or elegant spots on the ship, and we appreciated the sprinkling of artwork around the ship. We thought there were several spaces on the ship that are made to feel smaller and more "intimate" (a.k.a.: claustrophobic) than necessary, such as the atrium, the dining room, the lido pool, and the staircases (are those narrow staircases really up to code?) but other spaces that worked wonderfully: the Erasmus Library and the internet room next to it; the buffet area, and the Crows' Nest. Dining: Vista Dining Room: Any reviewers' comments about the dining experience on any cruiseline need to be taken with HUGE grains of salt: always consider whether you have the same tastes as the reviewer. As I noted above, we enjoy a fine dining experience with professional service, a wide choice of excellent food with good presentation, and professional wine service. We expect such a dinner to take upwards of two hours; we feel rushed if it takes less. By this standard, our experience on the Zuiderdam was not great. Good, but not great. Other reviewers have commented that the dining room on Zuiderdam is crowded and that the servers are clearly overworked and are serving too many tables with too few people. I can confirm that is true. Our Waiter, Ali, was certainly friendly and capable, and the Assistant Maitre d' for our area, Ferry, stopped by each night. Ferry even helped out in serving, pouring water or removing plates occasionally. Our wine steward(ess), (name?) was friendly and very efficient after the first night when she was a little overwhelmed. Our assistant waiter, Surya (sp?) was a problem, and was clearly unhappy about being there. The second evening he disappeared for an hour - our tablemates even joked that they hoped he'd quit and at least we'd get better service. But then he came back... The menus had a good selection of choices, always several meats, two fish, one pasta dish, and one vegetarian option. My partner is vegetarian so we noticed the limited choices for him - Celebrity has a whole separate vegetarian menu that changes every night, and Princess always has several choices and can make up any kind of pasta. Our waiters never offered him anything other than what was on the menu. Chicken, steak and salmon were always available. The plating and presentation were well done, although the portions were a little large for our taste (see comment about different tastes, above). The china, crystal and silverware are of a good quality. So what didn't we like? As noted, the servers were rushed, and there was little of the daily chatting and joking with the servers we have enjoyed on other cruises. The courses were brought out rapid-fire, so that the table wasn't synched up: one person had their appetizer while another had salad, etc. The ladies weren't served first; the plates weren't centered when they were placed on the table; the table was never crumbed all week; the silverware was never arranged for the next course. The several times that our table companions asked to change their order or asked for a second portion it was clearly a problem. Once a gentleman at our table asked the assistant waiter if he could have a second portion and he got a stare, then Surya said "I'll have to check with Ali." I've never heard that before on a cruise! The wine service was good, and the selection was interesting even at the lower end of the price range, with moderate quality Chilean, Australian, and French wines. Lido Restaurant (a.k.a.: the Buffet): a real bright spot! The room is very well designed, as there are six or eight stations each of which has something different: deli sandwiches; pizza and pasta; sushi and stir-fry; carved meats; salads, deserts; and regular buffet foot. Therefore, you could select the kind of food you wanted and stand in a shorter line than on other cruise ships. Although you have to get your own plastic tray with no linen place mat, at least the servers cover the hot dishes with a lid - a nice extra. The tables are cleared quickly, and a rolled-up linen napkin with silverware inside is placed on a clean table so you know it's available (and so you don't have to carry the silverware around with you). The Lido is between the mid and rear elevator banks so there is easy access from both ends and good traffic flow, and you can take your food out on the back deck to eat al fresco. Bar servers circulate frequently so you can get wine, beer, or soda easily. Servers also circulate with carts of iced tea, lemonade and water in case you forgot to get them from the dispenser or if you want a refill. We only ate there for lunch so cannot speak to the breakfast service. Room service: When we're on a cruise, we order breakfast in our room every day. Zuiderdam has door hangers with a good selection of continental style breakfast, along with eggs any style and breakfast meats. If you order a hot breakfast the plate arrives on a warmer that keeps it at the right temperature - a very nice touch. They use the same elegant china as in the dining room, and the silverware is rolled in a linen napkin as in the Lido. You order in ½ hour ranges, and our breakfast arrived within five to ten minutes of the beginning of the period every day. They also provided room service on the last day, unlike some other cruiselines, so you didn't have to leave your room and eat with all your belongings in tow. Several days we ordered room service lunch when it was late or we wanted to eat on the balcony and read - orders were delivered in less than ½ hour and very well presented. Specialty dining: We enjoyed our table mates so much that we didn't try the Odyssey Restaurant during the week. The space looked very interesting, including tables overlooking the atrium and tables by large windows on the sea. The menu looked pretty meat-heavy, like a steakhouse, rather than the Pacific Northwest cuisine we thought it was supposed to be. Fitness center/Spa: We generally work out every morning, so the gym equipment and design is important to us. The gym on the Zuiderdam was well equipped and well designed for a ship-board gym. There is a good circuit of selectorized machines on one side of the room, plenty of cardio equipment including treadmills, bikes (both upright and recumbent), elliptical trainers, and "striders" facing a curved wall of windows across the front of the ship, and three benches (flat, decline, and adjustable) with a rack of dumbbells up to 40 lbs. The gym is located at the top of the ship above the bridge and below the Crows Nest, looking forward. There is a wood-floored area for classes in the middle, which included aerobics, yoga (fee) and spinning (fee). Although signup was required for the classes, they didn't look that full. I used the Hydrotherapy pool every afternoon, as I have a bad back. The charge is $15 per day or $80 for the week, and was well worth it for me - the doors have a card-access system to make sure no one sneaks in. The pool is very similar to the Thallassotherapy pools on Celebrity's Century class ships, and the space includes a large skylight and lounge chairs to relax, and there are showers to rinse off. The spa also includes a "Thermal Spa" with steam and sauna that I didn't even visit, although I paid for access - the Hydro pool was enough for me! There is a small men's locker room with showers and facilities, and presumably a comparable locker room for ladies. My partner got a haircut during the week, but we otherwise didn't use any of the spa facilities for massage, etc. Entertainment: We enjoyed the entertainment on this cruise more than any other we've been on. The two production shows ("Under the Boardwalk" with music from the 50's and 60's and another show with music from movies) were very professional and enjoyable, and the singers and dancers had great talents. There was also an Elton John impersonator (surprisingly good) and a juggler who we didn't see. The Vista Lounge is an intimate theater with one balcony, and the sightlines are good if you're not behind a column. There are no cocktail tables for your drinks unless you sit up front on the banquettes. Also, what's with passing off Korbel for champagne?!? We were not impressed by the selection of drinks or wine either in the Vista Lounge or in other lounges. We found the jazz trio in the Ocean bar early on, and tried to stop in each evening to have a nightcap and enjoy their music. Frequently, we were the only people in the bar at 11:30 or midnight to appreciate this wonderful group. Lounges/public spaces: Many evenings we stopped at the Crows Nest for a drink before dinner and to watch the couples dancing. The views from the front of the ship are pretty spectacular. As mentioned, we also liked the Ocean Bar for the live jazz. Most afternoons would find us in the Windstar Cafe having a Latte while playing Scrabble - we have a tradition of playing Scrabble on our cruises, so we bring our own board. We were surprised that for a cruiseline as supposedly upscale as HAL, they insisted on serving coffee in paper cups. We had to ask every time to have our coffee in a china cup and saucer. There is also no table service in the Windstar: you have to stand in line, even though it was never crowded. The Explorers' Lounge is along one side of the passage from the Windstar back to the Dining Room, and is a lovely room. Unfortunately, they pull the curtains before dinner, making an already dark room oppressive. There is a talented three-piece group that played right after dinner while they offered after-dinner liquors. The Piano bar off the Casino was a nice space but we didn't quite warm to the piano player so didn't spend any time there all week. The Casino: We normally spend some time in the casino every evening after dinner or after the show, or both. We each came out about even playing the slots, and we enjoyed watching others lose money on roulette and craps. The dealers and other casino staff were friendly. Ports: Key West - we got off the ship about 10 a.m. and were back on about noon, eating lunch. It was so humid in the town that we really couldn't take it - we're wimps out here in California! For our dose of "cul-chuh," we visited the Oldest House in Key West, a state monument, and spent about an hour touring the house and outbuildings. We also walked down Duval Street and browsed in some of the shops. Cozumel - we took a ship's tour in the morning that included both kayaking in clear, acrylic kayaks, followed by snorkeling in the same general area. We also had about an hour after snorkeling to relax at a beach with drinks, a pool, and some shade. We had never seen the clear kayaks before and they were more than just a novelty: you could see the coral heads and schools of fish through the bottom and sides of the kayak! The snorkeling was also quite nice, and we were allowed to relax in the shade for a while before returning to the ship. Grand Cayman - This was our first tender port, and it does add 45 minutes to an hour to go on shore. As anyone who's visited Grand Cayman knows, the small port area can get very crowded and a little confusing. We were there with a Princess and a Carnival ship; HAL probably handled the crowds better than either of them did. Upon returning, we were able to walk aboard a tender to the Zuiderdam with no waiting, whereas the line for the Carnival ship snaked down the block and into a nearby parking lot. We had booked a trip to Stingray City with Native Ways on the web; although it was a smaller group on the boat than the huge catamaran used by the ship's tour, we wouldn't recommend them - the boat broke down on the way back to harbor, and the crew clearly didn't know what to do. We had a wonderful time with the stingrays, and we also made a stop to snorkel that was fabulous, but that would be true with any operator. Half Moon Cay - everything you hear about how beautiful HMC is, is true! Light blue water, powder soft white sand, beautiful set up. For beach lovers, this is heaven! HAL has the perfect set up there, and very organized tendering, nice buildings and pathways, freshwater showers, clean bathrooms, etc. We didn't rent a cabana, but we did rent a "clamshell" a tent-like structure that gives shade for two lounge chairs. We lasted about a hour, reading in the shade with an occasional swim in the warm water. By that point, we were panting in the heat, and decided to head back to the ship rather than having lunch on shore. We enjoyed the empty ship, and had one last game of Scrabble that afternoon. Departure - HAL allows you to stay in your cabin on departure day, and calls you by tag color. We had room service breakfast, and relaxed while waiting to be called. Very civilized! We were off around 9:00 a.m., found our bags in the hall, got a taxi and were at the airport in 20 minutes. Our flight wasn't until 11:30, and we just got a paper and sat, as there was no Red Carpet Lounge for United frequent flyers at the Ft. Lauderdale airport. Final thoughts - Overall, this was a great, mindless, vacation. For tropical beach lovers, the stops would be perfect. Sunbathing, snorkeling, SCUBA diving, windsurfing, sailing; they were all available. We're not beach lovers, and we like at least a modicum of culture with our vacations, so we didn't fully appreciate the ports. We could have done without the frequent, intrusive announcements on board, the "party hearty" games and music by the pool, or the paper "to go" cups for coffee. HAL service was fine, certainly better than Princess, RCCL and especially NCL, but not up to the standards we're used to on Celebrity. That said, we love certain HAL touches: the larger cabins; hot bites with hors d'oeuvres; the quality entertainment. We do understand from our research that the Zuiderdam is not typical of HAL ships and we are interested in trying other ships in their fleet that might be better examples of their level of service. We loved getting to know our table mates during the week, and we generally found our own fun. We hope that everyone finds a cruiseline that's "right" for them and enjoys their time on board - it's your vacation, you deserve to enjoy it! Read Less
Sail Date: March 2004
My husband and I just returned from out first cruise on Holland America on the Zuiderdam. Because of reviews that I read and how helpful they were to me in making my decision on whether or not to book this ship, I thought it important to ... Read More
My husband and I just returned from out first cruise on Holland America on the Zuiderdam. Because of reviews that I read and how helpful they were to me in making my decision on whether or not to book this ship, I thought it important to add my comments. I must mention that this was our first experience cruising with HAL. There was some trepidation on my part that the other guests would be much older. While there were a lot of older guests, it was a well-mixed crowd. We had a balcony cabin on the Verandah Deck. The reviews on the Zuiderdam that I read were very mixed - from the worst to the best. While I assumed that many of the differences in opinion had to due to the fact that the ship was taken out of service to correct some of the problems, it was not until I experienced them for myself that I could understand the vastly different opinions given. Here is my summary of the experience. Here are the top five reasons to book this cruise: 1.Significant last minute discounts, especially on balcony cabins (check prices at 2.Spacious and clean rooms. 3.Good food (including room service) 4.Efficient Staff 5.Easy on and off. Here are the top five reasons you may not want to book this cruise. 1.Excessive Noise and Vibrations in many areas, especially Restaurant, Rooms (Excessive Noise in Room from A/C and unable to turn fan/down off at night). 2.Few activities, poorly scheduled activities, and shows that are just "okay" 3.Poor dEcor & sauna and Jacuzzi equipment that was often not working well despite being fairly new. 4.Poor ship layout of lounges and walkways that took us almost the whole cruise to figure out. 5.Slight smell of sewage in certain areas of ship at times and outside on upper decks. While this was not the worst cruise I have ever taken and I actually had a very relaxing time, I made the decision to book based on a very good deal on the balcony cabin and my willingness to accept most of the negatives listed above. Since I planned on spending much of my time relaxing in my cabin while on board, the lack of activities did not bother me and there was actually a very good selection of in-room movies at no cost. Some quick tips if you decide to book this cruise: - Insist on a dinner seating on the upper level - the noise and vibrations were much lower. - Take a taxi from the airport for a flat $10 fee per cab, as opposed to paying $12 per person for the HAL transfer. You can grab a cab right outside the baggage claim area. - Although not on the menu, you can request an after dinner cappuccino. - Take advantage of the half-price drink specials at certain times, esp. in the disco. - If your short on time in Nassau and want to shop and hit the beach, you can walk to the Hilton Hotel which is near the port (you'll see it from the ship as you dock) and use their heated pool and beach for $15 per person. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2004
This was our 10th cruise (we normally cruise with Princess), however it was the first time to cruise with HAL. We were impressed with the high level of service that we received in the dining room, Neptune's lounge, Odyssey Restaurant, ... Read More
This was our 10th cruise (we normally cruise with Princess), however it was the first time to cruise with HAL. We were impressed with the high level of service that we received in the dining room, Neptune's lounge, Odyssey Restaurant, and most public areas. We felt that the service on the lido deck buffet was very inconsistent and definitely not up to par with the other areas of the ship. We were not impressed with the ship. If you have questioned any other posts about the Zuiderdam's vibration problems, IT IS STILL TRUE! We were in stateroom 8135, and the ship vibrated at sea and sometimes when docked. When we tried to sleep at night it felt like we were in the bed of a cheap motel room (no wonder we received such a good rate on that particular room $$$). The layout and flow of traffic on the Zuiderdam felt more crowded and enclosed than other similar sized ships that we have experienced. Some people might prefer this since the Zuiderdam does have the feeling of a much smaller ship. The entertainment / activities were below average. They were very limited and only a few interested us. We like the activities on Princess much better since they have a wide variety that seems to meet all age groups. HAL closed their pools at 7:00 PM and hot tubs at 10:00 PM, so you can forget that if you like to do it in the later evening. HAL does appear to hold their tour operators to much higher standards. They were the best that we have ever had in the Caribbean. We will not cruise with HAL again. While they do a few things better than some of their competitors, our overall vacation experience has been much better on Princess. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2003
HAL-July 19-ZUIDERDAM review by the wack001 Before I go into my review, I thought it helpful to disclose a little about myself so that readers can get a sense of what my opinion is based on. Also, please note that I read numerous ... Read More
HAL-July 19-ZUIDERDAM review by the wack001 Before I go into my review, I thought it helpful to disclose a little about myself so that readers can get a sense of what my opinion is based on. Also, please note that I read numerous negative reviews prior to sailing and did not let that persuade me as I love ANY cruising and judge for myself and went into this cruise with the same positive attitude that I usually do. Additionally, I am not really a complainer onboard the ship - everyone is human and life is not perfect. This was my 10th cruise overall and my 2nd HAL cruise. Having been on many previous cruises, and traveled abroad significantly it is not easy to impress me, however I do enjoy cruising as a vacation method and have been able to find positives on every cruise sailed previously. I do expect to get full dollar value for what I pay and prior to any cruise, I extensively research the ship, read the boards, email others, and basically do my homework. On this cruise I was traveling with a group of 31, ages ranged from 16-58 years. I selected the Zuiderdam because it met my selection criteria; i.e. new ship, reliable line (having cruised HAL before on the Zaandam, I had experienced relatively high quality and service), medium passenger load (around the 2000+/-0 is about right) and reasonable cost. Boarding: Most of my party arrived at about noon, we followed the "Mariner" signs, but the lines where no longer at the non-Mariner area. HAL insists on a passport or birth certificate as a form of ID, no other forms of ID are acceptable, oh well! My pre-printed US immigration form downloaded from the web was ready and this speeded everything along, but before you can proceed, HAL insists on having each passenger fill out a Bahamas immigration form that nobody checked yet collected (I was told this form was required for the private island, you will have to do this form once more if the ship stops in Nassau, kind of an overkill IMHO). This entire process took about ½ hr and then we proceeded to the ship. Your luggage is left at the luggage drop off with the baggage handlers - Note: there are signs clearly posted that they are salaried and tips are not necessary, you will leave your luggage - before you enter the terminal, so make sure your room number is clearly indicated on your HAL luggage tags. For this process I give HAL overall 3 out of 5 stars, nothing great or out of the ordinary. Heads up, a cab ride from the Fort Lauderdale airport is about 10 minutes and the cost is about $10PP. Cabins: I try and book the cheapest; my past experience with HAL is that most of the cabins are about the same square footage (unless you are in the premium ones i.e., veranda, suite, etc) and they are relatively large in size compared to other lines. However, on the Zuiderdam it appeared that room size was related to category, Cabins for our group ranged from a category "N" (lowest) to an "AA". I was in a category "G"; outside cabin with obstructed view/yes you had a full floor to ceiling view of a life boat/ but no big deal as I spent very little time in my cabin. Room size was about 185 sq ft, but the arrangement was poorly laid out. Storage cabins beneath the bed were awkward, some drawers with locks were very hard to open and the hair dryer (which automatically turned off when it got a bit hot) was in the small sitting area vice in the bathroom. Room colors were not lively and considering how new the ship was, looked worn. I visited a category 'N" cabin and be advised they are SMALL! Prior to this sailing I had read about problems with the ships toilets. I did encounter a toilet leak on the first day of the cruise and another member of our party complained that her toilet did not work and that there was an awful smell the entire trip. Additionally, we were on level 4 and our category "N" cruisers said they could hear the LOUD noise from the shows and the bands until the wee hours of the morning. I will give HAL 2 out of 5 stars. Food/Dining Room: Food on this ship was very good, but the dining experience was lacking. Let me explain; one of the big events during every cruise is dinner with all my family members (there were 9 adults), so once on board ship, a member of my party went directly to the maitre'd to insure we were seated together at first seating - Note my daughter was first in line (to see the maitre'd) and was told that first seating, which we requested and got, is typically less crowded. Apparently this was not the case as we were seated at a table for eight and there were nine adults. Even after repeatedly voicing our request for a larger table, nothing changed throughout the cruise. Our "solution" was to be given chairs without arms to make more room at the table. Additionally, we noticed that tables for 10 had numerous small children and some tables were empty - why could they not have moved some people...? I was given the standard excuses. Needless to say it was very unpleasant and cramped through dinner. Additionally, the dining room has a very low ceiling and is located on the second level above the engines and tables are very close together, this makes for a very noisy dining room. I read about the noise and vibration and it is real- not something I experienced on any previous cruise. There were times that you had to shout to be heard. Air conditioning throughout the dinning room was very inconsistent, some areas were cold and some were hot. I also observed a number of areas, which had plastic covering taped to the ceiling. The waiter and bus boy provided good service, but appeared tired and overworked. Flame-type desserts were non-existent. Since this is a vacation, I usually eat all my meals in the dining room, and try and avoid eating at BUFFETS, but the service in the dining room was so slow that I started to eat at the LIDO for breakfast and lunch; I will say that the variety was excellent and the lines were never long. I am very mixed about giving a grade here as I thoroughly enjoyed the food and it deserved 4+stars, but the numerous problems encountered detracted from the experience, so overall I would give HAL 3 stars. Entertainment: In the evening, you will find music at a variety of locations throughout the ship. HAL is trying to break away from the big band era and cater more to the growing baby boomer population. However, they (HAL) seem to be having an identity crisis as they are trying to do too many different things to please everyone. The Disco in the Northern Lights was great, but there are only 8-9 booths to sit in, therefore people are standing everywhere and it caters towards the 40 year old crowd, while the younger folks have nowhere to go but a few bars. The one evening where the disco/theme night was moved to the Crows' Nest it was a huge success and there was plenty of room. Speaking of the Crows Nest, it is very nice but underutilized and they have a piano player (one of two) vice a nice band. This was also the first cruise I have ever taken that there was NO Karaoke (apparently HAL is phasing it out). The nighttime shows at the Vista lounge were below par, I usually attend every show, but on this ship I walked out on three occasions. Except for the juggler and one variety show, the overall quality was poor. Once again I am having a tough time and HAL could easily have made this a memorable cruise. I give them 3 stars, but if they moved the theme nights to the Crows Nest, turned the Northern Lights over to the 20's crowd and booked better entertain, it would be GREAT! Activities: Most daytime activities were well spaced, from the usual trivia (there was a lot of that) to the Bingo (I always play Bingo; HAL has kept the cost of bingo at a reasonable level while maintaining a fair prize money distribution). The Casino was the norm, but what I did not like was the space, the lack of ease with which you could move around and the general feeling of being crowed as it was in the center of the ship - main traffic area. Everybody seemed to be having a good time but were confused on the direction of where to go. I will assume HAL designed the ship's entertainment by keeping passengers around decks 2 and 3 (except for the pool and LIDO buffet). This might have been a grand idea, but it was so difficult to move around, getting in and out of the different duty free shops was very confusing and the passenger flow in the casino was awful. 3 out of 5 stars. Teen activities: HAL is advertising the ship as kid friendly, there were plenty of kids on board and I did see the activities in full swing, since nobody on our group participated, I am unable to comment. Excursions: I rarely take the ship excursions as I find them too expensive and can usually do my own excursions, visiting the same places as the ship's excursions, and save quite a bit of cash. However, for this sailing I made an exception since I have done a great deal of independent reading regarding the "America's Cup" excursion (you cannot do this on your own as the ship reserves this company for their excursions). All I can say is that this excursion is one of the best things about this cruise (you need to be stopping at St Maarten to do this), it is a MUST. Be warned this is a very active excursion and if you are prone to seasickness or do not wish to try a physical activity, look elsewhere, otherwise, it is a MUST! Note; if you want to go on any ship excursion, sign up on the HAL website 2 plus weeks before sailing, this avoids the crowds and also being told the excursion is "sold out" which was evident on the popular ones. In Nassau, my party rented a private boat, went snorkeling at a wonderful reef, spent some time on our own private island and it was the same cost as the ship's excursion for our own private yacht! Tipping: The HAL policy of "Tipping not required" just adds more confusion when there are envelopes throughout left for all the passengers to pick up. How can you not tip when your waiter tried to please you and it was not your room boy's fault that the room was poorly designed. As for tipping amount, I use the standard rule of thumb, waiter $3.50-4.00 per person per day, Bus boy half the waiter tip. I ordered the wine package (if you drink wine it is a fair deal) HAL does NOT ADD the normal 15%, so be aware that the steward and ANY other bartenders need to be tipped. Your room steward gets the same as the waiter. If you order drinks at any of the bars, you might want to carry a few dollars for tips since HAL does not add 15%. All this cash adds to the frustration, as HAL would not allow for you to add tips when you sign the check. Trying to remember which person served you a drink or which bartender needs to be tipped at the end is a major hassle, and HAL seems to refuse to change. Front desk/purser: I had to include this category since it is usually a hub of activity; in most ships you rarely get good service and the lines are always long. The Zuiderdam desk area was always fully staffed but the staff did not have many right answers. Some questions got the usual "I can find out" or "you need to..," "perhaps" All I can say is HAL needs training and work. Disembarkation: This has been a hassle on every cruise line but one. You have to be out of your cabin by 7AM and sit in a hallway and wait for your number to be called. Why cruise lines have not adopted the very successful procedures that have been on NCL ships I will never know. 1 out of 5 stars. Notes: I had read that former passengers complained of an odor from different areas in the ship. I did not believe this, however it is true and very noticeable in some public areas and in hallways. On the second day of the cruise, five public restrooms on the 9th deck were not in operation and on another occasion, cabins on the sixth floor had a foul odor with guests complaining. Additionally, throughout the ship, numerous public rooms were under some type of construction/repair. Areas were covered in plastic and you could hear the load noise of drilling and cutting etc. This was an irritant and if you were trying to sleep late, that did make noise. Upon docking at St Thomas, ALL passengers were required to wake up by 7AM and proceed in person to US immigration with their passport. Even though the process was painless and takes less than 3 minutes, having everybody get up at 7AM while you are on vacation for a three minute procedure even though you can't get off the ship for another 3 hours seemed like poor planning. Every person I encountered complained about the early hour. Once again poor planning by HAL, as the ship could have easily docked at a more reasonable hour or done the process differently. Overall: I have tried to be as objective as possible hoping to give you an overall big picture. I want to be very clear that I had a very nice time, as cruising is always great, but this is a review. Even though this is a new ship, I was amazed at the number of problems I encountered. The ship is not well laid out and everything seems worn out. The officers seemed aloof and were not up to my past HAL expectation. Employees seemed overworked and not often smiling. But my wife does not agree; she thought they were all very nice and helpful. HAL seems to want to make but some changes but these changes do not seem to have been well planned. Prior to this cruise my previous HAL experience was superb, however, with so many problems, and with so many other ships at sea, I would not recommend this ship and would rank this cruise as my 5th best among my 10. Happy sailing, Bob Bush. ( July 2003 Zuiderdam 03 Sun 02 Destiny 01 Zaandam 00 Sea 99 Century 98 Leeward 97 Fantasy 96 Big Red 95 Triton 94 Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: April 2003
INTRODUCTION: We set out on 19 April 2002 for a 7-day Western Caribbean cruise on HAL's new ZUIDERDAM. For me, this was my first HAL cruise, though other members of our party had sailed HAL numerous times. ZUIDERDAM has been a very ... Read More
INTRODUCTION: We set out on 19 April 2002 for a 7-day Western Caribbean cruise on HAL's new ZUIDERDAM. For me, this was my first HAL cruise, though other members of our party had sailed HAL numerous times. ZUIDERDAM has been a very controversial vessel and I was quite looking forward to seeing her first-hand and forming my own opinions about this ship, as well as sampling HAL for the first time. SHIP BACKGROUND: ZUIDERDAM is the first of five new Vista-class ships for Holland America; at 81,769 GRT she is by far the largest HAL ship ever (the previous largest HAL ships were VOLENDAM and ZAANDAM at 60,906 GRT each) and represents HAL's vision of the future, at least on their 7-day Caribbean and Alaska cruises. Like VOLENDAM and ZAANDAM a few years ago, HAL has made a point of saying that this ship is designed to appeal to a new generation of cruisers. I guess this means that the twins were not quite successful at this ;-)... That said they have certainly taken a much more aggressive approach with ZUIDERDAM, using a totally new design rather than simply a tweaked STATENDAM-class. We will see later on whether she lives up to her promises in this respect... A little technical background - she is, as noted above, 81,769 GRT; at 950 ft long and 106 ft wide she is of Panamax breadth and is only a few feet short of the maximum to go through the Canal as well. She is loosely based on Carnival Corporation's 8000-series ships; these included CARNIVAL SPIRIT and COSTA ATLANTICA among others. She is powered by five diesel and one gas turbine generators, which provide electricity for onboard use as well as for her two ABB Azipod propulsion units. ZUIDERDAM carries 1,848 passengers in lower berths with a generous space ratio of approximately 44.2 GRT per passenger with all lower berths full. Fully two-thirds of her cabins have private balconies, bowing to a trend that has taken the industry by storm in recent years. EMBARKATION: We arrived at Port Everglades' Terminal 26 at approximately 1:30 PM on 19 April. HAL's embarkation procedure is by far the worst (most time-consuming) that we have seen, and was the source of much frustration for many passengers. Upon arriving at the terminal, passengers wait on a line where they are given a number (ours was 32), and several forms not included in the document package. After detouring to fill out the forms, one then goes to another line to check-in and receive their ID cards. There is then a third line for the security photo which is embedded on the ID cards, as is typical of the high-tech security systems on the latest ships. After completing this process (which takes in total about a half-hour), you are directed to a large waiting area (actually the same room where all the other procedures took place) to sit and wait until your "number" is called for boarding. When we arrived they were calling number 14; by the time we sat down they had gone to 17. It is this part of the boarding procedure which comes across as frankly quite useless, not to mention time-consuming. On other cruise lines, after checking-in, you can (if the ship is ready) simply proceed right to the gangway and board. While there is understandably a continuous stream of people walking on to the ship, we see no problem with this procedure. In comparison, on HAL, they called a number roughly every ten minutes, at which a few dozen people would stand up and walk aboard, followed by another ten-minute lull with no activity whatsoever. Even airlines generally call the next group as soon as one has boarded, so this procedure is honestly quite perplexing. In all we waited about two hours in the noisy, crowded, not especially comfortable waiting area, while on other cruise lines this entire step is eliminated. HAL, you can do better! Note: Reports from later cruises indicate that the embarkation procedure has been significantly changed and improved, so the procedure which we so disliked on our cruise has presumably been replaced by a (hopefully) better one. CABINS AND SUITES: Upon boarding we were directed (not escorted) to our cabin - 1015, a large inside Cat. J on Main Deck... i.e., the cheap seats :-). We found the cabin to be rather disappointing. It was quite large (I'd judge around 180 sq ft, which is also indicated in the HAL brochure, but cabin sizes vary greatly on this ship) however the layout and design is quite awkward, as you can see from the photographs in my gallery. The storage space was also rather limited for such a large cabin - showing poor space utilization. Furthermore the dEcor was quite sparse (not even a painting, mirror, or curtains behind the bed - just a blank wall), and the furnishings seemed to be of a very low quality. The bathroom was surprisingly not very good either - a very small shower stall, which had the disadvantage of an opaque shower curtain and no light within; the result is showering in complete darkness which caused me to spill out the entire little bottle of shampoo the first night out :-). The bathroom was (as is common on new ships) made almost entirely of a composite (fiberglass?) liner, but unusually, there was not even a small tiled inset in the floor... Rather the plastic was molded in an imitation of tile, with large squares of a mottled, raised design that were separated by grooves representing tile and grout respectively. Very cheap and tacky. It is worth noting that not all cabins on this ship are created equal, especially in the lower grades... So choose carefully. If looking for an inside cabin, do choose one of the Cat. J or K grades on main deck or one of the Cat. I cabins. These are classified as "large" rather than "standard" and are indeed much larger; the ones I saw all had some form of sitting area. I must have seen at least three or four different layouts to the inside cabins, and it is impossible to tell from the deck plans which are which... So choose carefully. Unfortunately I can't tell you which cabins are which, and I haven't found anyone who can! The standard outside cabins are quite like those seen on other HAL ships, while the balcony rooms are essentially standard outsides, but with balconies (unlike other HAL ships where they are slightly larger and called "mini-suites"). The suites - from what I saw - looked nice enough. It's worth noting that the dEcor in the balcony cabins and suites was much nicer... As they comprise two-thirds of her accommodation, it almost looks as if they ran out of money for the lowest grades. Do note that none of the suites, except the two penthouses, are actual suites; i.e. you cannot separate the sitting and sleeping areas - not even with a curtain. Even in many standard cabins it would seem as though one could easily be fitted, but it was not. PUBLIC AREAS: We start our tour of ZUIDERDAM's public areas on Deck 1 (Main Deck), the lowest passenger deck on the ship. Amidships is the lowest level of the Atrium. The Atrium is three decks high, and culminates at the top with a large Waterford crystal seahorse sculpture. The Atrium Bar is located on the lowest level of the Atrium, along with the Front Office and the Shore Excursions Desk. The Bar is located at the center of the three-deck Atrium, and is surrounded by a free-form shape area of white marble decking. Along a curved wall behind the bar is seating with turquoise leather chairs and caramel-colored settees, as well as gold-colored cocktail tables. The wall behind this area is in dark suede and has fiber optic "points of light" which twinkle in the image of a night sky. Set in this wall is a glass display case which contains a BEAUTIFUL antique silver ship model. (This is typical of the art collection on the ship, which is one of her strong points as far as design is concerned; it is really excellent in terms of enhancing the ship's dEcor if not necessarily as stand-alone art. While there are some lovely original artworks and artifacts throughout, there are also some fake ones which are aesthetically lovely but which simply do not live up to the "museum-quality" billing that HAL gives their art collection.) In this area passengers will notice for the first time the specially-designed stain-hiding carpet which is a common thread throughout the ship. It consists of various blotch-like shapes and patterns in different colors designed so that stains will blend in with the random-looking pattern. In certain color combinations, it is truly ghastly in appearance. This carpeting is featured in almost all of the public areas of the ship, though in some places plain (non-patterned) carpet is used to provide relief from this particularly bold pattern. The colors of the pattern are different in many areas so as to compliment the color combinations of the room. The rest of Deck 1 is dedicated to passenger cabins. All the way forward, is the lowest level of the Vista Lounge, the main lounge on the ZUIDERDAM. The lounge is designed to be entered from Decks 2 and 3; however there is also a Deck 1 entrance, through which we will now walk. The Vista Lounge can seat about 800 passengers at any one time, and spans three decks. The Orchestra is suspended between Decks 1 and 2, while the balcony descends from Deck 3. The room is decorated almost entirely in bright red, in a dEcor scheme that would surely cause an angry bull to have a nervous breakdown. Seating is mainly in settees in red velvet, though near the stage there is a wooden dance floor which is covered by individual chairs in the same fabric when it is not in use. The carpeting is the inevitable stain-hiding pattern, this time in a color scheme predictably centered on red. The columns are in red velvet with brass trim. The ceilings are in red suede. I imagine by now you get the picture... Along the sides of the room on the lower level, there are bronze-colored fixtures each one deck high, designed in the imitation of oversized table lamps. The only relief from red in most of the room is the brown and purple patterned wall covering. However, in the three-deck high center area, the ceiling is draped by a billowing silk parachute in a white-and-red pattern likened by many passengers to the corporate logo of the American discount store chain Target. It is certainly an imaginative ceiling treatment, though sadly the rest of the room's monotone dEcor does not impress except for die-hard fans of red velvet! The room's biggest problem is most certainly not its dEcor though... It is the incredible number of pillars scattered around. Other cruise lines have in recent years managed to conceive of rooms larger than this that are designed so that there are no obstructions to the sightlines of any seat, and I fail to see why HAL could not do this as well. Unfortunately they have failed miserably in this aspect, as in fact a majority of seats would seem to have a pillar directly obstructing their view of the stage. Not only is there such a profusion of pillars, but the seats are arranged in such a way that the pillars affect a maximum number of viewers. Whereas it would make sense for the pillars to come between the seats and the adjacent aisles, the seats are arranged so that pillars come directly in the midst of large rows of seats, directly obstructing the views of the seats behind and to the sides. The room is connected by two spiral staircases, one on each side of the ship. Using one of these, we ascend to Deck 2, Lower Promenade Deck. Deck 2 houses a majority of the more intimate public areas of the ship. Moving aft from the Vista Lounge, we pass through the forward (red) staircase and come upon a foyer directly aft of it, in which another staircase, connecting only Decks 2 and 3, is located. An interesting woven wall covering is featured here, and along this staircase the ship's port plaques are displayed. The forward staircase also has four passenger lifts, correspondingly decorated in red. The lifts on decks where public spaces are housed feature an elaborate metal engraving which looks like it would easily have fit in on NORMANDIE. Moving through the foyer we come to the Casino, which for a ship of this size, is not very large, and on our cruise, was not very well patronized for that matter. The dEcor here is typically orange and red, with a mirrored ceiling. Off the forward/starboard corner of this room is the Piano Bar. The focal point of this room is a grand piano around which is built a small bar - a design feature which ZUIDEDRDAM borrows from the ships of HAL's parent company, Carnival. The room has a very bold dEcor, with curved, coral-colored ceiling panels, coral and dark green leather seating, and dark green iridescent wall covering. Bar seats appear to be hollowed-out spheres and are covered in the dark green leather. A live pianist was indeed featured in this room each evening, as would be expected considering its name. In the aft starboard corner of the full-beam casino, you will find the Sports Bar. The dEcor here is perhaps more radical than anywhere else on the ship. This tiny room has blonde wood-effect paneling, myriad flat-screen televisions, large and small, showing the requisite sports for which it is named, and a black lacquer bar. The furnishings are in brightly colored vinyl, and oddly shaped in curved forms that look almost as though they were carved out of fruit. The dEcor here is certainly rather shocking to see for the first time, and a complete departure from what one might expect to find on a ship of the normally conservative HAL. Opposite the Sports Bar, on the port side, is the Northern Lights nightclub, which along with the Sports Bar is one of the more radical rooms on the ship. Entering through the Casino, we pass a bar, which features stools similar to those in the Piano bar, but this time in bright gold. The dEcor in the Northern Lights is typically dark for a nightclub, with black wall coverings, black overheads, and a dark violet floor. Settees here are in a black-and-white spotted vinyl imitating cowhide, and are accompanied by white chairs. Immediately next to the aft exit of Northern Lights is the "back door" to the Queens Lounge. This is a combination cinema and also as the name suggests a lounge. Unfortunately, it does neither very well. The dEcor here is again eclectic and bold, though in comparison with the Sports Bar and Northern Lights it is almost restful. Again the predominant colors are dark, with dark red wall coverings, settees in dark red and gold, tub chairs in gold, and smaller chairs in bright orange. The chairs are arranged in a horseshoe shape around the smallish stage, and there are few pillars. The failure of this room as a cinema is that almost all of it is on one level which means that sightlines are quite poor unless you are quite literally in the front row. As a lounge, while it does have a large dance floor, the chairs are for the most part arranged in the format of a theatre, in rows, which are not conducive to conversation. So I will have to give a thumbs-down to HAL for dumping the genuine cinema and replacing it with this dual-purpose room which is good for neither purpose. The fact is, during our cruise, the Queens Lounge was used for nothing that could not be done every bit as well in the traditional cinema/auditorium. Exiting the Queen's Lounge using the main entrance, there is a curved passageway which is the starboard side boundary of the lounge (on the port side, it is the aft portion of Northern Lights). Moving aft again, this passageway leads us through the main (blue) stairs. It is here that you will find the much-touted exterior glass lifts. There are six lifts on this staircase, a pair of glass ones on either side, and a pair of the more standard type in the center. The call buttons for each pair of elevators only calls that pair, unlike the other staircases where all four elevators are called. While those are admittedly closer to each other, it would be more efficient to have all elevators in each staircase operate off a single call button. Crossing over to the port side, we come along Odyssey, the controversial alternative restaurant located on the port side of the Atrium here on deck 2. The controversy stems from the fact that the food here is extra cost - something which has never before occurred on HAL (though the phenomenon hit most other cruise lines a few years ago). The dEcor of the room is very interesting. The first thing that will likely strike you are the chairs - huge, heavy metal chairs in an ornate design which is quite indescribable outside of a photograph. The decking is white marble, and on the ceiling are large fiberglass plates in the shape of sea rays, with fiber optic veins in them that sparkle and twinkle discreetly above. The artwork is in my opinion rather less successful - it consists of huge still life photographs of various foods, which to me looks like it belongs in a grocery! Moving aft on the starboard side of the Atrium on Deck 2 is the Windstar Cafe. This is essentially a coffee bar in the fashion of the ever-popular Starbucks (in a departure from HAL tradition, all items are extra-charge), but with a rather more nautical dEcor. Indeed it is in my opinion one of the most attractive spaces on the ship. The ceiling is gently cambered and done in brilliant blue-green suede with copper lighting clusters. Along the outboard side are large windows which can be covered by opaque wooden latticework panels, rather than curtains. On the inboard side are half-height walls which are covered by huge enlargements of photographs of sailing ships. The furniture in this room is especially nice - wooden "deck furniture" with the HAL logo engraved. At the aft end is a large model of WIND STAR, the first ship of HAL subsidiary Windstar Cruises and the pioneer of the modern sail-cruise ship (really sail-assisted, rather than traditional sailing vessels which have the wind as their main power source). Overall it is a stunning space, one of the best on the ship. Going aft of the Windstar Cafe is Explorers Lounge, a signature room for HAL, which should be a relief to HAL loyalists who might not agree with some of the more avant-garde dEcor on the ship. We pass through the first of two round vestibules here, which feature beautiful glass decking laid over a sea-themed painting. Moving past this we come to a large glass display case containing several Venetian Carnival costumes, followed by a second round vestibule which marks the aft end of the Art Gallery. Beyond this we finally enter Explorers. The dEcor here features a restful color scheme, mainly using dark reds along with dark wood veneer. Along the inboard passageway, separated from the lounge by a half-height wall, is a large mural of the harbor of Venice. The lounge itself is divided in two by the piano and musicians' alcove. In the aft section, the dEcor lightens up slightly, with soft beige fabric on some of the sofas and chairs providing a break from the dark reds and browns which dominate the room. At the very aft end of Explorers is a small room that could pass for a miniaturized version of the library of an English manor house. The floor is inlaid wood, and the room has dark paneling and deep, traditional leather furniture. There are several bookshelves here, which were all totally empty. The room would work as a smoking room (for which the dEcor is quite appropriate) as it can be closed off entirely by heavy wood-and-glass doors, so as to keep smoke from the other areas. (Of course, the ship HAS a smoking room, elsewhere!) As far as I know, this room does not have a name, and we saw nobody using it at any time through the whole cruise. I have no idea of its intended purpose; in its present state, it looks almost unfinished with all the empty bookshelves and the complete lack of people. I'd say most passengers likely don't even know it's there! We now come to the aft (magenta) staircase. Off this vestibule is the Lower Vista Dining Room. The name here is rather confusing, seeing as there is also a Vista Lounge. Initial HAL publicity called this the La Fontaine Dining Room (a traditional HAL name) which I feel would have been more suitable. Red is again the predominant color in the dining room, though the use thereof is much more subdued than in the Vista Lounge. The dining room features windows on three sides and is two decks high, though this is not as dramatic as it is in the dining rooms of ZUIDERDAM's predecessors - the rather small central atrium is filled mostly with a large staircase and also with a musicians' balcony which did not host any musicians at all during our cruise (or if it did, we certainly couldn't hear them)! The dining room is relatively restrained in its dEcor for the most part, with the exception of a few points, notably the heavy, black lacquer-framed chairs in bright red vinyl with the back panels in vinyl in a bright print of large flowers. The design of these chairs did not win many compliments that I heard, and I would tend to agree that they are not the most attractive choice, though you do get used to them after a while! Also, as we ascend to the upper level of the dining room, in the center are large, gold flowers hanging from the ceiling, which are certainly not restrained... I did not get to see one of these up close and am perplexed as to just what they are made of. Whatever they are, they're positively hideous in my opinion. In general the dining room is rather disappointing; it is quite generic in appearance and even rather gaudy in some places as mentioned above. We now exit the Upper Vista Dining Room on Deck 3, Promenade Deck. This deck is circled outside by a full wrap-around teak promenade deck (shaded in most parts either by the deck above or by lifeboats), which features traditional wooden steamer chairs that are provided with cushioned pads during the day. Well done, HAL! Inside, we proceed forward from the aft staircase through the photo gallery, on the starboard side. There is not that much to be said about this area, except for a rather interesting aluminum chair, apparently designed to look as though it came from an antique airplane, which is housed here, presumably as art! It is worth noting that the rest of the beam of this area (as well as the corresponding area, housing Explorers Lounge on Deck 2) is taken up by the galley for the main dining room and Odyssey. Moving forward we enter the Ocean Bar, which is another signature feature of HAL ships, though the layout here is quite novel. The Ocean Bar consists of the entire upper level of the atrium, with raised, enclosed sections on the sides, as well as seating open to the atrium in the center... The place to sit for a good view of the seahorse! Colors here are primarily coral and turquoise with pastel-blue patterned bulkheads, and in one of the various alcoves is the namesake bar - quite attractive in what is almost a sort of 1940s streamline style. Out in the open area, there is a smallish dance floor of S-shaped brass tiles - very attractive and unique. This is overall one of the better areas on the ship, in dEcor if not in layout. We now move forward past the midships stairwell and on to the shopping arcade. Whereas most ships have a variety of different shops, on ZUIDERDAM this is a full-beam area which is rather like a department store, with all of the various categories, from jewelry to logo items to sundries all in the same area, which is divided up by interesting colored-glass display cases. There's really very little to say about this area; aside from a bottle of sunburn-relief spray (story later on!) we bought nothing so I really cannot advise on prices, selection etc. To the starboard side just forward of the shopping arcade is the Erasmus Library. This is a very interesting room, with a large inlaid-stone research table that is made to appear as though it is a historical artifact. This contrasts with the modern furniture, in bright colors, and dark blue bulkheads to make a very attractive space. The ceiling is worth noting; it features small niches, each of which contains a molding in the shape of a book-binding. Hard to describe, but it's rather whimsical and quite attractive in person :-). Moving forward on the starboard side we find the Java Corner, which does not appear to be used except for the on-board tailoring service. It has rather pleasant dEcor, with interesting tan leather chairs and light wood veneer. On the port side are the ship's three "all-purpose" rooms for meetings, card games, etc., the Hudson, Half Moon, and Stuyvesant rooms. They're really quite ordinary, but attractive enough, and certainly functional for their purpose. Besides, the names remind me of home :-)! Moving forward again is the forward staircase and then the entrance to the balcony of the Vista Lounge. Decks 4-8 contain the majority of the ship's passenger accommodation. We therefore move all the way up to Lido Deck, 9, where off the forward staircase we find the Greenhouse Spa & Salon. From a brief look it appears to be large and well-equipped, on par with similar facilities on other ships. It includes a salon, spa treatment rooms, sauna, gymnasium, and a "thermal suite" for aromatherapy and the like. Just aft of the forward stairs is the Hydrotherapy Pool. There is a charge of $15 per day for the use of this indoor pool, which appears to be rather like a giant Jacuzzi tub. Needless to say we did not pay the $15 so I cannot comment on the experience :-)... However the dEcor in here is worth a look, with large (Moorish?) columns and an interesting skylight which is covered up by a silk parachute. The point of this escapes me, but it's certainly different :-)... We now move aft to the Lido Pool, the ship's main pool which features the obligatory Magradome. This is quite large, with rubberized (Bolideck?) deck covering (not teak) and plenty of deck chairs. Interestingly, the Magradome was kept only partially open during our cruise, despite beautiful weather the whole time. At the foot of the pool is a statue of too large polar bears... When the ship came out, I and a couple of other people said immediately that they looked TOO WHITE, a comment which brought a lot of laughs... After all, what color are polar bears going to be? (Well, on AMSTERDAM they're a sort of bronze color, but then they're not polar bears!) Unfortunately they ARE too white, and too big... From most angles the immense white bears blend right into the scene; all that stands out are the eyes and noses. What's more, they're rather too large for the area; when the Magradome is closing (or even closed) one gets the impression from some angles that the larger of the poor beasts is going to be decapitated :-)! Aft is the Lido Bar, notable for its dolphin (the fish, not the mammal) shaped stools. Also back here is a grove of trees, made up of flexible metal tubing rather like that of my gooseneck desk lamp. At the end of these are small round lights. Unfortunately they have the opposite problem as the polar bears; due to the height of the dome they're quite small "trees" and the taller amongst us are liable to bump into them! Aside from their questionable artistic value (gooseneck lamp trees?!) they are quite impractical. Aft of this we find the traditional companion to the Lido Pool, the Lido Restaurant. On ZUIDERDAM it has a new twist - rather than the typical buffet, there are various "stations" for different types of cuisine. At first this can be quite confusing for those of us used to each buffet having the same items as the next; but after a while we got used to it and in the end came to like it very much... More in the "dining" section. As for the dEcor, it's also a twist on the traditional Lido... The usual colored glass lamps are here in a soft translucent plastic instead. The traditional light wood paneling is here too; but the contemporary furniture looks like it came from IKEA (I like it). The ceiling is perhaps most interesting; it is printed to look like a blue sky with wispy clouds. Interesting effect, but the wispy clouds often have flat edges to them where there are seams in between the ceiling tiles! Also of note are several large urns, a beautiful mural of flowers which graces the central dining areas, and a yellow (!) grand piano which we never saw used. Finally we come to the Aft Pool, the second (and also quite large) pool on the ship. This is the more traditional fantail pool, this time with teak decking, and again with plenty of space for deck chairs. This is also generally the venue for the poolside games, entertainment, etc. Personally I prefer it to the Lido Pool, but both were quite busy during this jam-packed holiday sailing. Going up the outdoor stairs, we move up to Observation Deck. Here we find a vast expanse of (mostly teak) deck space, partially empty and partially with loungers, all fully exposed to the sun (OK, the funnels do cast a FEW shadows...). Most of the time this area was quite empty, and it was quite enjoyable to walk around up here and view the scenery (what scenery there was!) from WAY, WAY above the sea... Amidships on this deck are the golf simulator, game room, and children's facilities, none of which I ever did see. All the way forward on this deck is the traditional Crows Nest lounge. As on many recent HAL ships, it is subdivided into three areas - the central lounge, and two more intimate side areas with different dEcor. In this case, the area on the port side is open to the main room, whereas the starboard alcove is closed off and features a completely different dEcor. The main room and starboard alcove are done predominantly in bright blues and greens, while the starboard-side room is quite attractive with rattan furniture (the exception being the room's centerpiece, a HUGE, very ornate chair that might be used as a throne), inlaid marble flooring, light wood paneling and light earth tones. The main attraction of the Crows Nest is its spectacular floor-to-ceiling windows on three sides, providing spectacular 270° views from ten decks above the sea. At the forward portion are a large number of blue leather chaises for those wishing to relax and watch the world go by... Also, aft of the port-side alcove is the Oak Room, the ship's smoking room. This features quite modern dEcor, with even more of the ubiquitous pale wood paneling and furnishings, and an elaborate carved mantelpiece which sadly cannot contain a fireplace due to safety regulations. The treatment of this was quite odd; there was simply a large black board covered in felt plugging up the mantle. Perhaps a faux fireplace with a few logs inside (giving the impression that it might sometime be used) would be more appropriate? Above the Crows Nest, on Deck 11 forward, is the observation deck. It is unfortunately not great for observing, as it is surrounded by full-height wind baffles all around which unfortunately have extremely dark tinted glass that is quite difficult to see through. Up here the decking is fake teak (unlike all of the other similar areas, except one small patch on each side of the ship on Deck 10), and loungers (cheaper plastic-and-mesh ones) are the primary occupants of this space. At the center is the interesting radar mast; it is comprised of a sort of metal grille. Up the center appeared to be a sort of broad yellow tubing... If anyone sees the photo of the radar mast in my gallery and can tell me what this is, I would be most interested. That concludes our tour, as we've exhausted all of her public space... A good thing otherwise this review would REALLY be too long :-)! All in all I quite like this ship's public areas, except for the main (Vista) lounge, Queens Lounge, and the dining room, all of which I thought were quite lackluster. The other (smaller) public areas however show an incredible variety as well as really fascinating details in the dEcor; after a week on the ship I was still noticing new "little things" everywhere I went. Also notable is the ship's excellent art collection, there are many lovely pieces throughout the ship's public areas to enjoy... My favorites of course being Stephen Card's great paintings (as always). DINING: Overall we found the dining experience on ZUIDERDAM to be quite good... Certainly better than we've experienced on other mass-market ships recently. In the dining room, we found the menus to be both well-planned and extensive, with very good presentation and taste... Everything came just as it was described on the menu, with hot food coming hot, cold food coming cold, and so on. There's nothing extraordinary about the food - it is after all really just banquet food, as is the case on ALL large ships, but this was about as good as banquet food gets. Of special note was Dutch Night - the Dover Sole I had that night was probably the best food I ate the entire cruise, including the Odyssey. Breakfast in the dining room was quite good, with the full selection of American and British breakfast items as well as Continental breakfast naturally available for those wanting "light fare". We did not eat lunch in the dining room at all, so cannot comment on that. As far as the Lido goes, it is BY FAR the finest casual dining area we've seen on a ship. The selection is positively astounding, and we never got around to trying everything! It is divided into several stations, including Italian, Asian, Delicatessen, Salads, Bistro (main hot entrees), Grill, Sweets and so on. As I said, we didn't get to try everything, but all of it was really quite good! Considering how awful the casual food offerings are on many other ships, HAL really puts them to shame... The Lido is TRULY superb. At breakfast, the various stations are transformed to do duty for various items. Eggs are made to order here, not served out of a huge tray, and again the variety was excellent and the quality, quite frankly, amazing. Even items that are normally a "no-no" at buffets (for instance bacon) were astoundingly fresh. I don't know how they do it :-)! It's also worth noting that real china, cloth napkins, glassware, etc. are used here, unlike some other cruise lines. In particular we have always seen plastic glasses at similar dining areas on other cruise lines, and on occasion even encountered paper napkins, so it was good to see that they did not skimp in this regard... At dinner the Lido is transformed into a casual alternative with tablecloths, china, etc. and partial waiter service... We did not go up there during that time period, but did see them setting up, and also viewed the menus, and it looked quite nice. The one weakness of the Lido is that the hours for many of the stations are rather limited... For instance, I went in search of a bowl of fruit at 2:30 PM and could find one. Generally other lines schedule an "afternoon snack" in between lunch and dinner, but not HAL. A minor issue though - the Lido is truly excellent and HAL should be commended for their industry-leading standard in this area! The third option for dinner is of course the Odyssey (or Pinnacle Grill, as it is now being styled). This is an upscale American restaurant (i.e. steakhouse) for which there is a $20 per person charge. We thought the charge was quite reasonable for the experience provided; the meats and various accompaniments were excellent and a similar meal on shore would cost easily twice as much, if not more. Personally I could do without an option like this - the food in the dining room was more than sufficient - but it is a fine value for those who like to have an extra option. ENTERTAINMENT: Entertainment is really not a focal point of a cruise for us - it's just something to do at night after dinner :-). I found the entertainment to be fine; nothing spectacular but certainly adequate. The production shows were rather low-budget; there was no live orchestra and they were OK, but nothing special. Frankly I find most cruise ship production shows to be rather alike, and I have already forgotten which ones were on ZUIDERDAM :-). The guest entertainers, in my opinion, were considerably better than the production shows. Of special note was pianist Paul Pappas who has just started an exclusive contract with HAL and is a real asset to the entertainment program. In addition to two (well, one and a half) nighttime shows, he also held a daytime concert on the second sea day which was standing-room only. There was also a comedian/magician, Sam Simon, who was also quite good... Not everyone appreciated his rather dry sense of humor, but personally I got a few good laughs :-). I can see why some people might tire of it though... PORTS OF CALL: FORT LAUDERDALE, FLORIDA: Lots of ship sightings at our home port, including MONARCH OF THE SEAS, GOLDEN PRINCESS, ISLAND ADVENTURE, OCEANBREEZE, CARNIVAL LEGEND, CENTURY... KEY WEST, FLORIDA: We basically just walked around in town and enjoyed the atmosphere here... We've been to Key West many times (not on cruises) and like the place very much. Unfortunately we headed back to the ship quite early as it was sweltering hot that day! This was our maiden call at Key West, and there were no other ships in port that day, aside from a visiting Royal Navy vessel berthed nearby. COZUMEL, MEXICO: We had previously only been to the mainland, so this time we decided to take a tour of the island... Frankly we found this quite dull, as there is, surprisingly, not very much ON Cozumel. I'm rather puzzled as to whether so many ships stop here, in fact. And ships there were - along with us, we found ENCHANTMENT OF THE SEAS, GALAXY, JUBILEE, and last but not least SENSATION (berthed right alongside us). Nothing very exciting, but nice to see a few ships nevertheless. It was the first time we'd seen another cruise ship in a few days in fact. GEORGETOWN, GRAND CAYMAN: This time we decided to take a Nautilus semi-submersible. We had done this previously in Aruba, and thought Grand Cayman's was superior. We saw two rather interesting wrecks and a large profusion of marine life. A nice way to see underwater, but without getting wet... In port today were several billion dollars' worth of cruise ships, including CARNIVAL TRIUMPH, GRAND PRINCESS, NAVIGATOR OF THE SEAS, and SUMMIT. Three post-Panamax ships in the same port in one day! Not to mention the profusion of tenders as Grand Cayman has no cruise-ship pier... HALF MOON CAY, BAHAMAS: HAL's private island proved to be the big surprise of the trip. It was far, far nicer than other similar private islands we've been to (Labadee and Coco Cay). HMC is far more developed than others we've seen, and had really beautiful, uncrowded beaches. The food was adequate, nothing special, but then what do you expect on a desert island ;-)? Unfortunately, despite factor 45 sunblock, I managed to get terrible sunburn on this last day of the cruise. So much for "waterproof for up to two hours exposure", etc.! Naturally there were no other ships in port with us today... FLOTSAM AND JETSAM (general comments and observations): - Service throughout the ship was adequate, though in most cases not especially friendly. It would appear as perhaps the crew is still rather unsettled on this new ship. - We found a few noticeable cutbacks, including VERY skimpy daily programs, consisting of a single letter-size page (not folded). I just obtained a few daily programs from a recent cruise on another HAL ship; they appear to still be the "normal" ones. - There are no self-service laundries, in a departure from HAL tradition. Interestingly, the "Know Before You Go" booklet still indicates that there are self-service laundries on all ships in the fleet. - There is excessive vibration on the lower level of the dining room, all the way aft. It is not known whether this is due to broken or damaged equipment, or if it is from a design flaw... Regardless, it is NOT supposed to vibrate this much ;-). Luckily it would not seem to affect any cabin areas, where it could be quite disconcerting. - The ship's sign maker ought to be thrown overboard ;-)! Amongst other errors, in every stairwell you will find a plaque telling you to "please no use the lifts in the event of an emergency"... IN SUMMATION: In most ways, ZUIDERDAM is a very good new addition to the HAL fleet, which will perhaps bring in some of their much sought-after younger clientele. Certainly moving to a larger ship with more varied dEcor and a few more facilities (dedicated nightclub, smoking room) will help. The food was excellent; entertainment and service were quite adequate... In general, a very good cruise. On the other hand, it is surprising to see that a company like Carnival Corporation, with so much experience and money, would make so many mistakes in the design of a ship... For instance the poor design and furnishing of the cabins, poor sightlines in the main lounge and Queens Lounge, disappointing dining room, and so on. In some ways this would seem to be a step backward from the very well-received STATENDAM-class. Hopefully some of these issues will be rectified on ZUIDERDAM's newer sisters and also on Cunard's QUEEN VICTORIA. Would I recommend ZUIDERDAM? Depending on itinerary, price, and the other ships available, yes. Would I go again? Yes, but not on this itinerary, we're all quite tired of the Caribbean already, at least this part of it. My preference is always to try something new, so obviously that disqualifies her in most cases, but notwithstanding that, I'd certainly have no objection to sailing in this ship again. Finally, for photos from this cruise please see: 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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