Sail Date: February 2015
We took our 84 year old mother on this cruise so I did know to expect that the cruise would cater to an older crowd. As a family we had a wonderful time. Would I go back NO! The ship is just ok. Our cabins were fabulous. We had a good time ... Read More
We took our 84 year old mother on this cruise so I did know to expect that the cruise would cater to an older crowd. As a family we had a wonderful time. Would I go back NO! The ship is just ok. Our cabins were fabulous. We had a good time but we could have had a good time in a brown paper bag. The service I must say is great but then I find out that shore time for employees is based on the reviews and comments by passengers. Everyone was friendly and service overall was fantastic. The Lido deck for lunch was horrific to try to get a table, the entertainment was boring, they were constantly trying to sell you spa services or something else. The ship is okay lots of places to read or have drinks but at the internet area they have a coffee shop where you have to purchase your coffee... Really .......!!!!!!! And don't start me on the internet.... $0.75 cents an minute or $9.00 for 30 minutes or $150.00 for the cruise.. are you kidding... and I would pay but the problem is it is like snail mail. It takes 3 minutes to get now which costs you money. When I relaid my concerns to the front desk their answer was: Well all of us employees experience the same problem. Wow great answer!!! Thanks Holland America!   Read Less
Sail Date: February 2015
This was our fifth cruise with Holland America but our least favorite. We sailed on the Zuiderdam previously and very much enjoyed it. We were told it will be going into dry dock soon which is good as it badly needs to be renovated. Our ... Read More
This was our fifth cruise with Holland America but our least favorite. We sailed on the Zuiderdam previously and very much enjoyed it. We were told it will be going into dry dock soon which is good as it badly needs to be renovated. Our toilet frequently malfunctioned along with the same situation in some of the public toilets. The carpet in our cabin was badly worn along with the chair. I noticed the same for furniture in some of the lounges. On a positive note, the evening entertainment was good. Daytime activities need to be expanded as choices were small. The Screening Room where movies were shown only holds 30 people and would be filled sometimes 45 minutes ahead which caused some very angry passengers. Holland's food was excellent as always but service in the Dining Room suffered. Room Service was never delivered one morning. Our cabin steward was superb. Polite, courteous and the room always looked great. Overall, this wasn't the quality that HAL delivers. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2014
Let me start by saying that this cruise was our 23rd. First and last with Holland America! The embarkation was smooth and we had a corner room the size of a small hotel room. That's all the good review. First the shower in our room ... Read More
Let me start by saying that this cruise was our 23rd. First and last with Holland America! The embarkation was smooth and we had a corner room the size of a small hotel room. That's all the good review. First the shower in our room was scalding hot! We couldn't adjust the temperature, so we informed our room steward. It took 5 or 6 days for them to send someone, and when they did, it was an electrician!!! Took another day for this to be fixed. The buffet which we tried twice was a joke! All the trays on the steam table were empty. Before replacing them they scraped every tiny bit of food off the empty tray! When I asked when they would be getting fresh, the server behind the buffet, replied we need to use this until they are empty and turned away, we ended up getting room service for breakfast as it was fresh and tasted good. The dining room service was just as bad. Servers looked lost and confused as if they had received no training at all. Out of 10 dinners, we only had a bar steward twice ask us, before dinner if we wanted a drink. The rest of the time someone would ask halfway through dinner, or later! The food was acceptable in the dining room, but we heard many complaints. The entertainment was adequate, but not good by any means. As for activities on the ship it was geared for old seniors! There is absolute nothing for children, teens, young adults or middle aged people. The only reason we went with this cruise line is because we wanted to go through the Panama Canal, but it definitely not worth the money. Very seldom did a crew member say hello in the hall, including the officers! Sorry Holland America! You need to get your crew trained, by Carnival, Royal Carribbean, or Norwegian whose crew and officers can't do enough to make your cruise enjoyable. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2013
We just returned on November 8th from a Panama Canal cruise on MS Zuiderdam. We were in Suite 7065, right across from the Neptune Lounge and had minimal air conditioning the entire cruise. What should've been an awesome cruise was ... Read More
We just returned on November 8th from a Panama Canal cruise on MS Zuiderdam. We were in Suite 7065, right across from the Neptune Lounge and had minimal air conditioning the entire cruise. What should've been an awesome cruise was diminished quite a bit by the discomfort we experienced. The concierge ladies were quite sympathetic but said that the engineers had told them that there was nothing that could be done, that the a/c was operating at full capacity. Since there was barely a whisper of air coming out of either of the vents, we found that awfully hard to believe. Tests were performed three times daily that indicated that our room was two degrees less than the "Acceptable Range". The solution was to give us an oscillating fan which effectively did nothing except keep the air moving. When we showered, the cabin was almost unbearably warm and we started perspiring as soon as we got out of the shower. And this was showering with cool water!! We were interested to learn that many others were experiencing a/c problems; DH saw the concierge's list and it seemed as though there were at least 10 suites having problems and were being checked several times each day. Since this was not a new problem to the ship, why has it not been taken care of?? How can HAL allow this sort of situation to continue, especially in light of what we and others paid to go on this cruise? Additionally, we too were underwhelmed by the Pinnacle Grill service. The food was delicious but the service was incredibly slow. Near the end of our meal (with friends), all of us had nearly empty water glasses. When we asked for more water, the server filled one of the four glasses and walked away! We had to call him back to specifically ask him to fill the rest of the glasses! What is that about? And when we went to leave, not one staff member spoke to us; in fact, there wasn't really anyone around that seemed to care whether we enjoyed our meal or wished us an enjoyable evening. Not at all what we've come to expect from Holland America. We did have excellent room stewards and our server in the Lower Vista dining room was outstanding. We had a wonderful time on the cruise but our overall experience would have been much improved by having proper air conditioning. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2013
We were on the 13 October sailing to the Panama Canal. This was our 39th cruise and our 5th with HAL> We had not sailed HAL for 10 years but decided that the 10 night Ft Lauderdale round trip was the ideal itinerary as we both work full ... Read More
We were on the 13 October sailing to the Panama Canal. This was our 39th cruise and our 5th with HAL> We had not sailed HAL for 10 years but decided that the 10 night Ft Lauderdale round trip was the ideal itinerary as we both work full time. Embarkation was painful. Took us on ehour from the time we were called to get in line until we checked in. Muster Drilol - Absolutely terrible. There were many older senior citizens on board and they had us stand for the Muster Drill for at least 30 to 45 minutes in the heat. Watched people drop like flies. In fact, we were almost an hour leaving port as an ambulance was dispatched to the ship for one of these poor souls. Dining Room - We had late seating and our waiters were good not great but good.on sizes were pitiful. I am not a big eater, howerver, when you order a scallop appetizeerppetizer and it arrives on a large plate and there are 2 tiny scallops that's small. The food selection was very limited and the overall food was barely good. On the positive side, the one night they served steamed littleneck clams and they were very good. So good, I had two orders for my dinner. The other issue at dinner was that you were always beingiven the upsell for wine and wine packages. Photographs - as I mentioned earlier, we cruse often, mstly on RC as we are Diamond Plus. I have never seen such expensive photographs. They charged $40 for an 8/10, 5/7 and 2 wallet size. I cannot use that many photographs. I asked if I could buy an 8 x 10 and they said absolutely at the same $40 price. Air Conditioning - when we first went to our cabin is was extremely warm. After sailing went to desk and inquired and they said yes they were having an AC problem but that it would clear up in about 6 hours. Well inever did get better. Went to desk 2nd time and was told they would check themselves to be sure there really was a problem,. It didn't get any better. Finally went the 3rd time, and they said they didn't have any record that we complained the first 2 times. Again they said they would check. When we got back that night, the AC was definitely better. That lasted one day and back to the same problem,. Relatives traveling with us came home on e evening and their toliet would not flush. They called the front desk and an hour later someone came, looked at the problem and said Yes it is broke. They had to use the public restroom during the night (in jammies). The smell was terrible in the cabin. Entertainment one night was a comedian. I have seen teenage talent shows 5 times better. It was horrible. One night after we waited for 30 minutes, the cruise director came out and said the show had to be cancelled as there was a major malfunction. Needless to say, with all the cruise options available today, we will never sail HAL again. We steered away from RC and we learned our lesson.   Read Less
Sail Date: July 2013
We took a 7 day Alaskan cruise on the Zuiderdam during July, 2013. There is not one bad thing to say. Our verandah room offered spectacular views every day. We often saw whales and porpoises. There were no issues of concern with our room. ... Read More
We took a 7 day Alaskan cruise on the Zuiderdam during July, 2013. There is not one bad thing to say. Our verandah room offered spectacular views every day. We often saw whales and porpoises. There were no issues of concern with our room. Every morning, we ordered breakfast brought to the room and it was very good and on time. Housekeeping was performed twice a day when we were not in the room. We were especially pleased with our meal server Pacar and wine server, John, working in the Lido dining room. Those 2 guys were friendly and at the same time very professional. Kudos to them and their team. The food was tasty and a good menu selection. I got addicted to the baked Alaska that was done a little bit different every day. We took several shore excursions and they were all excellent. The best excursion was viewing Mendenhall Glacier and whale watching out of Juneau offered by Gastineau Guiding and sold through the ship. It was one excursion. Our guide was Aleta. Aleta knew of a stream along our route where we could observe spawning salmon. That was an unexpected treat. We also saw lots of humpback whales from the whale watching boat. Glacier viewing offered a wonderful photo opportunity as the scenery was breathtaking beautiful. From Segway , we took the train trip, barbeque and gold panning excursion. It too was interesting and fun. We even found some gold but do not rush. It was a very small amount If you have the time, book the 2 day pre cruise package tour of Vancouver and Vancouver Island. Our package included 2 nights at the Pan Pacific hotel that is conveniently located at the docks. There are lots of interesting sights and places to eat in that area. One of the days included a bus trip to Vancouver Island to visit Butchart Gardens and also the town of Victoria. Both Butchart Gardens and Victoria are two places we would like to revisit to spend more time.   Read Less
Sail Date: March 2012
We just returned from the March 19, 2012 sailing on the Zuiderdam, visiting Aruba, Bonaire, Curacao, Panama Canal, Costa Rica and Half Moon Cay. We are three 50-something ladies who get together to have some R&R and good laughs every ... Read More
We just returned from the March 19, 2012 sailing on the Zuiderdam, visiting Aruba, Bonaire, Curacao, Panama Canal, Costa Rica and Half Moon Cay. We are three 50-something ladies who get together to have some R&R and good laughs every other year. 2010 was the Emerald Princess, this year the Zuiderdam was our choice because of the itinerary in both cases. PreCruise: We stayed at the Hilton Fort Lauderdale Beach Resort for two nights before the cruise. The hotel was right across from the beach, but we had no idea that it was spring break and it made for some very interesting people watching. We ate at H20 and at Casablanca Cafe. Both were excellent choices. We purchased 6 bottles of wine for our cruise at Total Wine and have to say that we were very disappointed with their recommendations. Next time we'll stick with wines that we are familiar with. We each purchased splits of vodka, baileys and gin and tucked them into our toiletries. I also took several small bottles of gingerale. We also purchased three large insulated to-go cups from Target. We used these extensively because the water from the tap in the cabins was yucky. So we filled our to-go cups with ice water in the Neptune Lounge and in the dining room several times a day. Bottled water is available for purchase in the room and throughout the ship, including the dining rooms. I also packed a water bottle to take with me when I went off the ship. Cabin Choice: We were very pleased with our aft wraparound cabin choice. I worried that the aft cabin might have more motion than I could handle since I suffer from motion sickness, but I took a Bonine at bedtime each night and never experienced a problem, even during the two or three nights of rougher seas where the ship was really rocking. Our only disappointment was that the wind prevented us from enjoying sitting outside until after we reached Aruba. The Panama Canal experience was perfect on the balcony since it was raining that morning and 5190's balcony is completely covered. Our room steward (Bayoo, sp?) was very attentive and kept us amused with his fabulous towel animals. We had asked for and received a third lounger on our balcony. We indulged ourselves in room service for breakfast several mornings and appetizers before dinner from room service and the Neptune Lounge (mid ship on deck 7). The Neptune Lounge also has latte/expresso/coffee but we preferred the purchased coffee in the Explorations Cafe which is at the front of the ship on deck 10. Condition of the ship: We read many reviews prior to this cruise that said the condition of the Zuiderdam was very poor. We did NOT find this to be the case. Our airconditioning worked extremely well in our cabin, the public restrooms were always clean and in working order except for one occasion and the problem was fixed before the end of the day. We did find the dining room to be very warm a couple of nights so keep that in mind when dressing for dinner. Dining: There were only a couple of nights that we couldn't find something on the menu that was to our taste. We had several exceptional meals in the Anytime dining room (deck 2) and also booked the Pinnacle Grill, including the Cirque night. Ivy in the Neptune Lounge made our reservations (dial "information" on your suite phone). We love our desserts and the red velvet cake was so yummy we mentioned it to the Maitre'D, and he arranged for us to have it again another night. We also requested a small sample of the lobster mac & cheese in the Pinnacle Grill and all agreed that it was superb (but we didn't think we could have eaten a whole meal of it). We never had to wait for a table because we were willing to sit at a larger table with other guests. We met a lovely couple from Arizona that we dined with several times throughout the cruise. We ate at the Lido buffet for lunch a few times and also enjoyed the burger grill poolside. Entertainment: We only tried a couple of the shows and were disappointed both times. We caught a fabulous rendition of Unchained Melody during the karaoke show one night. The casino kept us entertained most evenings but the smoking kept our visits short (and our pocketbooks thank the smokers!) The trivia competitions were fierce in the Crows Nest most afternoons. Port Excursions: Aruba - we booked a snorkel trip with Aruba Bob. It was fabulous! Stuart picked us up at the dock and we snorkeled Mangel Halto using motorized handheld units. We freshened up at Club Arias (where Aruba Bob is based), using the restrooms, outdoor showers and having a refreshing drink before returning to the ship. Bonaire - we walked down the street towards the freight containers and snorkeled on a little beach across from a condo. We love Bonaire. Curacao - we booked the dolphin swim excursion through Holland America. They gathered everyone on the cruise ship dock in the hot sun so we checked in with them and then went to sit in the shade further down the dock. We were all assigned a cab driver who took us to the Dolphin Academy adjacent to the Lions Dive Resort. We were told to look for the same cab driver at 1:45 pm and not to be late or he would leave us. They had change facilities and lockers. We got some basic information and were assigned flippers before getting into the pool. No cameras were permitted. We had six people on our team and two dolphins. Each person got to shake the dolphin's flipper, get the to do a trick and have the two dolphins pull them along in the water. You could also swim alongside the dolphins and rub them. After the swim, you could purchase photos and/or a DVD. Then you had to wait until 1:45 pm. The aquarium affiliated with the dolphin swim was pathetic and around 1:15 they put on a dolphin show. This was an expensive excursion and I would not do it again. Panama - we did not get off the boat in Panama since we felt it was not safe. We did enjoy the Panama Canal from our balcony and from the Crows Nest but could not go outdoors since it was raining for most of the transit. We were surprised that they used the lifeboats to take excursion passengers off the ship. Over 350 passengers were delayed getting back to the ship from their Holland America excursion/full transit of the canal and the ship waited for 90 minutes until they were back on board. At one of the other ports a couple was shopping and late getting back to the ship, but the ship did wait for them. Puerto Limon, Costa Rica - we booked a private excursion with Your Lucky Tours prior to the cruise. We weren't certain what time to meet Eduardo since his email said 8 a.m. but there was a time difference between the ship & port on this stop only. So we decided to depart the ship at 7 a.m. and found Eduardo waiting for us. Our group was four people and our guide was a little late arriving. Eduardo told her to take us to the Jungle Breeze zipline first and we were glad he did, since a cruise ship excursion of 100 people arrived just as we were finishing. The zip line was awesome and we did not have to brake - they did it for us. We also did the Tortugeuro Canal where we saw a family of howler monkeys, a toucan, an alligator, a sloth and many birds. We visited the banana plantation (where a snake made an appearance on the path in front of us and ended our visit per our request!) The tour ended with a trip to the grocery store for coffee and other goodies. The grocery store does take credit cards. Eduardo does not. The cost was $89 and we were back to the ship by 1:30 pm. I highly recommend this tour. Half Moon Cay (pronounced Key): This is a money maker stop for Holland America. The snorkeling was not good, but the beach was lovely. Other: We felt that the photos were outrageously expensive and that printing all of them was a huge waste of paper/ink. The viewing system is very time consuming and the hallway is very congested. I would like to see the cruise lines go to a system similar to Disney's Photo Pass where your cruise card would be swiped at each photo and then you could view your photos on a screen and select the ones you wanted to print or perhaps purchase the entire selection of photos on CD. Please review your bills carefully by requesting a copy at the front desk (or Pinnacle Lounge for guest suites). Keep your receipts as you purchase items throughout the cruise because several times we found the wrong cabin number on our purchases. The bills aren't delivered until the morning you are disembarking and you won't have time to dispute charges at that time. Even after we disputed charges, we found them still on our bill. Read Less
Sail Date: August 2011
Second time on Holland America. 10 times on Princess. 8 Carnival. 3 RC. We choose this cruise for the itinerary (7 day inside passage, in/out of Vancouver, and Glacier Bay). Colleagues recommended against HAL as perceived not kid friendly. ... Read More
Second time on Holland America. 10 times on Princess. 8 Carnival. 3 RC. We choose this cruise for the itinerary (7 day inside passage, in/out of Vancouver, and Glacier Bay). Colleagues recommended against HAL as perceived not kid friendly. HAL assured us that summer Alaska would have families on board, but agreed that other sailing not good for kids. HAL rep even said that they warn clients to expect kids on summer Alaska routes. Very smooth and efficient boarding in Vancouver and staterooms were ready at 1130 am. We were very impressed. As returning guests we were invited to dinning room for lunch. First impression of overall appearance was so so. Carpets and tiles need to be cleaned or replaced in many areas. Not very fancy interior. I'm sure it was nice in 2002, but I think the only upgrade since were flat screen stateroom televisions. We had open seating, but requested the same table and time every night. Dining room service was slow, slow, and slow. Perhaps assigned seating was better. We had one waiter and never saw an assistant waiter as on all other cruises. Very bland menu and poor quality steaks and food often cold. Kids menu very poor. Would not recommend this line for families. On three occasions, our food sat out for 15 minutes while we waited. Carnival menu and food quality was at least twice as good, and Princess and RC were both better quality than Carnival. On positive dining note, we ate at Pinnacle Grill and had a lively dinner. If we ever take HAL again, we would pay the $20 every night as the service and food quality is worth it. Show quality was poor compared to all other lines. Magician was good, but unfortunately hawked his magic kit (which he sold after show and in gift shop) throughout show which was unprofessional and annoying. Inside passage and ports were great, but we will travel on a more kid friendly line with better service next time. On positive note, ship never appeared overcrowded, we could always get deck chair, and most passengers were asleep by 11. Casino was usually quiet. Once again, very efficient disembarkment in Vancouver. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2010
Embarkation: Embarkation was going smoothly until we got to the point where we were supposed to get our stateroom key and were told to go back to the beginning as we did not have all the required paperwork. It seems the customer service ... Read More
Embarkation: Embarkation was going smoothly until we got to the point where we were supposed to get our stateroom key and were told to go back to the beginning as we did not have all the required paperwork. It seems the customer service representative who directed us at the entry point was misinformed about procedures. As we were walking back to the check in area we heard several fellow passengers were grumbling because they too had received misdirection from Holland America staff. Public Rooms: Public rooms were adequate, not spectacular by any means but not totally unpleasing. Several areas showed obvious wear and tear and contained furniture which needed to be updated, renovated or replaced. Cabin: The suite was quite spacious with a couch, chairs and small table. There was a nice balcony and plenty of storage space. The bathroom contained a glassed shower stall along with a whirlpool bath which also had a shower - good thing as the first night while showering the shower stall overflowed due to a clogged drain. The hair dryer in the room also did not work however it was replaced when a call was placed to our room attendant. The furniture in the room had wear spots and is in need of replacement in the near future. A suggestion for improvement would be to get better lighting for reading near the bed and couch. A "perk" of the cabin is access to the Neptune Lounge where light breakfast is served in the mornings and canapEs throughout the day. A concierge is also in the lounge to assist with reservations or any issue with which you may need assistance. Fitness and Recreation: This is an important component of the trip for me and unfortunately it was disappointing. The first day of the cruise I bought a thermal suite package with hopes of a sauna, thermal bath, thermal chair relaxation or some time in the steam room after my daily workouts. Unfortunately daily, something did not work properly. Some days the sauna was out of order, the thermal chairs weren't all working; the thermal bath was not heated to the proper temperature, etc. Only one television on the treadmills was working by the end of the cruise, one of two elliptical never worked and one of two recumbent bikes was not operating properly. Dining: We didn't utilize the dining room but one night opting instead to eat at the Pinnacle Grill, on the Lido deck, in the Italian Specialty Restaurant and in the room. One of the advantages of a suite is being able to order anything being served in the main dining room. Entertainment: I was not impressed with the entertainment I viewed but it should be noted I did not attend but two of the evening events. Service: The service of the room stewards was wonderful. They were attentive, knew our names on day one and greeted us wherever they saw us around the ship. They were on top of anything we needed and had a positive, upbeat attitude. The same is true of the beverage servers and dealers and supervisors in the casino. Those staff members "rock"!!! Shore Excursions: I went on only one ship shore excursion and that was to kayak in the Panama Canal. Although it was a rainy day, it was an incredible experience and one I am glad I took. Value for the Money: The price paid was not bad for the accommodations due to the discounting received however if I had paid full price, I would have been upset. Overall: Overall, it was a ship with a majority of older, not so active, adults. While younger, more energetic folks could be found they were few and far between. The positive of there were lounge chairs available on the decks anytime one was wanted. This is not a ship I plan to cruise on again and unless I see or hear some major positives in relation to this cruise line, I most definitely try another line my next trip. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2007
Zuiderdam April 7. 2007 A wonderful cruise, enhanced by getting to know so many CC members! Captain Jeroen van Donselaar. Hotel manager Simon De Boer. Cruise director Trevor Millar. We traveled with my Sis, Brother-in-law and two ... Read More
Zuiderdam April 7. 2007 A wonderful cruise, enhanced by getting to know so many CC members! Captain Jeroen van Donselaar. Hotel manager Simon De Boer. Cruise director Trevor Millar. We traveled with my Sis, Brother-in-law and two nephews, ages 16 & 17. Friday, April 6. Flew into Miami. Took limo to FFL and Hyatt Pier 66. Requested tower room with view of port to be able to see ships coming into dock Saturday morning. Paid extra $50...but had no view of the port. (they rebated us $25). We elected to have a light dinner since we would be eating non-stop starting Saturday! Not certain the Hyatt Pier 66 worth the money for such a short stay. Saturday, April 7. Arrived at port at 10:30 and waited for Sis and family who arrived around 11:15. On board drinking fancy drinks and having lunch before noon. Check-in staff were great, especially checking in all six of us at once! HAL leads the industry on embarkation process. Boat drill at 4:15. Love seeing everyone in orange! Set sail at 5:19 pm... dinner at 8:00...everyone excited. meal delicious. "Didit", our server, was fantastic. Smile could melt an iceberg! (and we were in the Caribbean!). All attentive, including Asst. Diningroom manager who was promoted to diningroom manager mid-cruise and left us for another HAL ship..I believe it's the Oosterdam. Showtime "Under the Sun" and the Comedy of Jim Labriola. Hubby and Brother-in-law enjoyed show. I enjoyed the casino! Sunday, April 8. EASTER. Mass at 8:00 am. HAL unique in the cruise industry in offering daily Masses on board. then off to HMC. Rented 2 clam shells and had a great day at the beach. Bar-B-Q good as always. wonderful beach day at 77 degrees with a light wind. Showtime was comedian Bob Cates. Mixed reviews. Crow's Nest had 50's/60's "prom night". Watched "Nana"...known by almost everyone on the ship as the 90-year-old celebrating her birthday with a wonderful group of women of all ages...dance the night away. she was incredible. it was formal night...got see Nephews in a suit for the first time! (ages 16 & 17). Monday, April 9. At sea. CC Roll-Call members had our Meet and Greet. HAL surprised us with champagne, Mimosas, Bloody Mary's, punch and hot and cold appetizers. Hotel manager, Simon De Boer addressed the group and apologized for not being able to stay for an hour or more. So he took our cabin numbers and invited us to a very private reception later in the week. it was disappointing that some Roll-call members who confirmed attendance at the Meet and Greet did not attend. HAL went overboard on the drinks and food, and it was a shame that so much was wasted. so if you agree to participate in the future, please make every attempt to do so. it was a wonderful opportunity for our group to become acquainted...and we kept meeting each other for the rest of the cruise...so it was almost like family! Spent time in the Thermal Spa..it's worth the $20 fee...trust me. Showtime was the Zuiderdam cast in "Under the Boardwalk" musical review. Enjoyable. karaoke in the Northern Lights lounge...what fun. Daytime temp was 79 degrees. Tuesday, April 10. St. Thomas. Booked a private tour with Sunny Liston Tours. Combo tour of shopping/island tour/ and beach time at Sapphire Beach. $25/pp. Great value. Guides were on time, friendly, and informative. We had the "happening" tour bus on the island. lots of music...and the entire group really got into the mood...singing and just having a great time. Hubby bought me a beautiful ring at Tanzanite. had a wonderful lunch in a Cafe right down the alley from the info booth along the waterfront (forgot it's name)...but had a great Grouper sandwich...and order any of their speciality drinks! YUM!!! Showtime was an adult late night comedy: Jim Labriola after dinner. And at 11:15 pm the Filipino Crew show (don't miss it). Pool party in the Lido from 8-10 pm. Wednesday, April 11. Puerto Rico. One beautiful island! Another private tour, this time with Countryside Tours...Tony was our guide. Very knowledgeable about Puerto Rico and loved the island. Short hike through the rain forest. Really got to see the area. Tony left us off near the ship and recommended Raices for lunch. It was very good. Local menu/great food and drinks. Invited to a private party hosted by the Captain and Hotel Manager in the evening. VERY nice! had time to spend with our CC Roll Call Board members. Showtime was vocalist Alfreda Gerald. Hubby enjoyed show...I stayed in casino and won the progressive slot prize of $1300! YEA!!! (nothing like going home from a cruise WITH money!). Thursday, April 12. Grand Turk. had a special invitation for a "Behind the Scenes" tour with hotel manager Simon De Boer. You wouldn't believe how CLEAN all areas of the ship are! Able to see all food prep areas, freezers/coolers and work areas. Then off for a wonderful day at Grand Turk. Loved the island. Caribbean 50 years ago. So undeveloped. Spent the day at Grand Turk Inn hosted by Sandy and Katrina. wonderful lunch...and their special island slaw is to die for! had a beautiful, private beach...floated the day away. Then showered off...and back to the port area. met up with Sis and Brother-in-law and had wings and drinks at Margaritaville. they went on a shell "hunt"...and found lots of wonderful shells. Back on board...it was formal night...with lobster (Yummy) and of course the Baked Alaska parade. The Zuiderdam cast did another show..."Stage and Screen"...with costumes by Bob Mackie. Friday, April 13. (yes, Friday the 13th!). At sea. spent morning in the Thermal spa. (my best time for TRUE relaxation). Mariners Society reception at noon. Purchased several pieces of art at the auction in the afternoon. Attended a special invitation to a Q & A hosted by the hotel manager at 5:00. Folks, HAL really cares about what you think. There are no excuses for not putting your concerns forward. and Simon De Boer ( hotel manager) was FANTASTIC. he really wanted to improve service delivery. He listened intently and made lots of notes. packed in the late afternoon. Had the delightful Parmesan Chicken for dinner. Saturday, April 14. Depart. . Got van to Thrifty car rental and then drove to Miami and spent the afternoon in South Beach. Had a wonderful lunch. Hubby got his fill of "bathing suit beauties". Flew out next morning. American Airlines lost our luggage and it was finally delivered late Tuesday after numerous calls to the airline. Special notes: Had an Ameretto (sp?) post dinner each evening in the dining room in a special glass (etched with HAL logo). A good purchase and ended up with a beautiful collection of shot glasses. Food was very good. We each gained more than 5 pounds. Try the hot sandwiches (veggie) in the late afternoon in the Lido as a snack if you have a late dining time. We had breakfast delivered to our cabin each morning. It arrived precisely on time, hot, and exactly what we ordered. We took wine on board for our use in our cabin...HAL is one of the few lines that allows wine to be brought on board. It was great having a glass on our aft verandah in the evening to watch the sunset. The Ocean Bar (deck 3 outside the dining room) was wonderful pre-dinner each night. We loved watching folks dance. And the musicians were fantastic. Nice appetizers, too. If you want to purchase liquor in San Juan...do it at the terminal BEFORE you leave the port area. At the terminal, there is no tax (on the island...it's a 7% tax). and it's difficult to find on shore. We got off a little early, purchased our liquor, then walked it back to the ship for 'storage", and then off for the day. Easy. Convenient. or just do it at the end of the day and pick it up on your way back onto the ship. Not everything went smoothly. Room keys didn't work for the first half of the cruise. But they were dogged about getting the problem fixed...and the front office staff were great in helping you replace your card. Bartender in the Sports Bar could have smiled once in a while. And the drink cards were confusing...we got different answers every time we used them. But the hotel manager took note of all the issues, and I can guarantee you that he WILL have them resolved! There was a group of teens who were VERY disruptive...and who severely damaged one of the elevators and other property (they broke several chairs, etc.). They hung out in the halls, drinking and smoking (not tobacco), and were just plain disgusting. Parents, please have better oversight of your children. There were many other teens whose parents wouldn't allow them to use the Loft area due to this disruptive group. And that was a loss for them. Our Nephews included. They just didn't want to be anywhere near these kids. (it was a Holiday week and Spring Break, so there were more kids than usual on the cruise). We were so very impressed with Simon (hotel manager). He connected with the passengers...and staff. And his focus was on making the Zuiderdam the best in the industry. I do a lot of leadership development...and I can tell you that he is a good leader...and as a result, the staff are positive and happy...which translates to excellent customer service. You won't be disappointed on a cruise with HAL. We're booked again for February (Southern Caribbean) and also booked a future cruise while on board for $100 deposit each. (good for four years). So we're thinking that it would be fun to cruise next December in the Mexican Riviera to celebrate my 60th birthday. Hope this post helps future cruisers. Please post specific questions. And if I can't answer, I know our CC group members will know the answer! Read Less
Sail Date: November 2004
* This review represents only our own personal opinions of our cruise. * Background: This was the fifth 7-night Caribbean cruise for my husband and I within the past four years on a variety of ships: NCL Sky (2000), Celebrity Galaxy ... Read More
* This review represents only our own personal opinions of our cruise. * Background: This was the fifth 7-night Caribbean cruise for my husband and I within the past four years on a variety of ships: NCL Sky (2000), Celebrity Galaxy (2001), NCL S/S Norway (2003), HAL Maasdam (2003), and HAL Zuiderdam (2004). We are ages 30/32 and traveled alone. This was our second cruise on HAL, with both of our HAL cruises being Thanksgiving week. Passenger count: 2,072 according to the Cruise Log provided by HAL at the end of our cruise. Club HAL staff shared with us they had 350 for Club HAL. Booking was made almost six months in advance via an online agency for this Thanksgiving week cruise out of Fort Lauderdale. Overall Thoughts: As one person in our Cruise Critic group put it, "It's like my Nissan Altima. Nothing really wrong with it but nothing really special about it either." I think she hit the nail on the head. Compared to our HAL Maasdam cruise the previous Thanksgiving, this was not the same "wow" experience we experienced on Maasdam. Crazy colors, not as many fresh flowers everywhere, steward not as friendly or giving 110% like previously, no more Java Cafe for yummy hot chocolate, saw more jeans in the dining room for dinner as well as bellybutton rings (at least cover your belly for dinner!), more announcements that you can hear just fine while napping in your stateroom, etc. It was a good cruise and we loved our ports of call, but the ship layout/colors, steward, and multiple itinerary changes created by HAL just didn't have us walking away this time with that "wow, what a great cruise" feeling. However, this was the most friendly Captain we have ever had- Captain John Scott. We certainly enjoyed our conversations with him. Also, our dinner waiter, Nana, was the best ever! Every meal was fantastic, he always had a smile, greeted us by name, and was just awesome. And again, it was still a GOOD cruise, just not a "WOW" cruise like HAL Maasdam the previous Thanksgiving (before automatic tipping was instituted). Would we book with HAL again? Yes, provided the price is right. However, the Mariner's Club benefits are not that great at all in our opinion - at least NCL offers 20% off on drinks in one of their lounge areas onboard. Pre-Planning: I made Pinnacle reservations over the phone with Ship Services for $10 pp the first night. I also asked if we could request a particular area of the dining room for our normal dining, and was told "no." That was interesting since others on various message boards have been able to make requests in the past, even for specific tables. The port times were changing and not being advertised in advance for St. Thomas and Tortola, so that caused some stress trying to get our private shore excursions straight (excursions not offered by HAL). We finally determined we would get there when we get there, which turned out exactly to be the case. The number one reason we booked this cruise was for the extended time in St. Thomas so that we could return to our wedding beach on St. John and not be rushed with the day - we wanted to fully enjoy an entire day on St. John. The number two reason we booked this was a combination of price and our very positive experience on HAL Maasdam the previous Thanksgiving. Pre-Cruise Transportation and Lodging: After terrific flights on Southwest Airlines, we stayed at the Renaissance on 17th one night before embarking on the Zuiderdam. No free shuttle was provided, but we paid approximately $10 for the taxi from FLL to the hotel and another $10 for the taxi to the cruise port. Dinner was at a favorite of ours, Durty Harry's (near the Embassy Suites). The room was clean, comfortable, and in a good location. We picked up bottled water at Walgreen's across the street and Curt went one block away to get breakfast for us at Einstein Bagels. The line was well out the door. Embarkation: Wearing my digital watch, I tend to notice exact times (especially since I'm a fairly analytical person). We arrived at the port at 11:03, the porter took our bags, and we headed to the other end of the building to get at the end of the already long line. At about 11:15, it started moving. By 11:45 we were boarding the ship (no waiting after processing the paperwork). However, I was not wearing the Mariner buttons but had them in our leather wallet provided by HAL. I was told to just carry the leather HAL wallet through the metal detector, but it kept going off. I finally recalled those dam buttons and that solved the problem. Upon embarkation, we grabbed a table by the Lido pool midship and took turns grabbing lunch. The only thing that appealed to either of us was prime rib followed by ice cream at the ice cream bar. Sailaway: We met our fellow Cruise Critics at the aft pool bar, where I enjoyed a Kahlua Colada. This was our first time to ever do sailaway from the aft of the ship. I don't recall hearing a band there. Cabin 8049 (category I - inside): At 203 square feet, this was the largest inside cabin we have ever had! Storage was plentiful and two electrical outlets were provided by the mirror at the foot of the bed. A large couch was firm, but we never sat on it to relax, nor did we sit in the sturdy chair. An electronic safe (4-digit code) was provided in the closet, and there were two drawers in the nightstand that locked with a key (we didn't use it). There was a locked cabinet under the tv area that we finally asked about later in the week, and learned it was a minibar. I guess you had to ask for the key had you wanted to partake in that. However, having access to the fridge would have been nice. We could never hear our neighbors on the side, but did hear people going down the hall at all hours. One lady thought it would be good to teach her daughter the numbers on the cabin door 8 0 4 3 every single time they arrived - it did not matter what time of day or night it was. However, the cabin location was good - being between two sets of stairs/elevators and only one deck from the Lido deck. The cabin was attended to twice daily, with the focus primarily on the bed-making and bathroom. Our steward never greeted us by name on this cruise, which was totally different from our HAL Maasdam cruise one year prior. One thing to note: On embarkation day, the carpet outside our cabin in the hallway was ripped up on both sides of our door. The crew was putting down some black tar-looking stuff, apparently to fill in "craters" in the floor. Close to lifeboat drill time, the carpet was tacked back down. Dining: We were assigned table 77 for two along the rail for the 8:00 upstairs dining time. We were granted our dining time and table-size preferences. Our waiter, Nana, was the best waiter we have experienced on our five cruises. He always greeted us by name and was such a hard worker. Meals were always excellent for dinner. Breakfast and lunch were normally on the Lido deck and were just fine, but dinner was always excellent. Our dinner at the Pinnacle was well worth the $10 pp on embarkation night, and the volcano cake was even better this year than on Maasdam last year. Shows: We attended only one show, the magician, and he was awesome! The other show we attended was the adult R-rated comedian in the Queen's Lounge. If you get jokes forwarded to you via email on the internet, you probably knew her punchlines as soon as she says the first sentence. What really surprised me was the number of children at this performance, even though it was rated "R" and advertised that way. Parents had their children next to them, and they were obviously children by their looks and Club HAL bracelets. One kid told her dad she felt bad, so he started walking her out (we were standing in the very back right behind them). Next thing we knew, she had fainted before making it to the door and was on the ground. I tapped the mother on the shoulder to ask if that had been her daughter, she said yes, so I let her know she had just fainted. She left to join them. Beverages on board: The one time we visited the Crow's Nest for predinner drinks, we were very disappointed in the lack of service. After waiting in chairs for half an hour around 5:00, I finally went to the bar to order a drink. I don't know if it is because of the new automatic tipping or what, but last year on Maasdam, as soon as we would sit down in the Crow's Nest we'd have someone taking our drink order and bringing hors d'oeuvres. The Crow's Nest service this year on Zuiderdam was sorely lacking, and we did not return there for drinks. (It wasn't even crowded that afternoon.) We did return three other times wanting to just sit and look out the windows, but it was reserved for various private functions. The Ocean Bar was our Cruise Critic meeting point each night. Most of us would have one predinner cocktail. Service was much better here, but we were not sitting at the bar rather near the piano. The drinks of the day seemed to have no kick, especially for someone who goes night-night after just two drinks (I don't drink a lot at all). I usually notice it any time I have a drink, but the drinks on Zuiderdam just didn't have that punch. Others in our group noticed the same thing, and we had about a dozen who met nightly. Our total bar bill came to $90 for the week, including the wines we had at dinner - so one can see this was not a big expense. Drinks of the day cost $3.75, Cosmos and other drinks cost $5.95, and wines by the glass varied. The corkage fee totaled $15.00 including the automatic 15% tip (brought a special bottle from home). The Cosmos were terrific and were mixed just right in my opinion. Sea Day Activities: Compared to NCL and Celebrity, HAL has fewer activities and more time to just relax. We participated in afternoon tea, aviator's meeting, various board game competitions in the piano bar, and one win-a-cruise Bingo ($10 for one game, $20 for three). The Bingo was the extent of our gambling, especially since we are headed to Bellagio the following month. We also enjoyed playing dominoes that we had brought from home and watching the shipbuilding trials. We did not watch any of the movies onboard. However, we played shuffleboard with the sounds of Madonna, Dave Matthews Band, and other '80s/'90s/today music blaring from the nearby speakers (never heard that mix of music on Maasdam last year). Club HAL would lead the kids around the ship, and some kids thought the pucks on the shuffleboard were for kicking, but that was okay - Curt was beating me anyway and I could use a "startover." We enjoyed one afternoon in the aft hot tubs but noticed that the aft pool did not enforce the adult swim time 3:00-5:00. Spa: After taking the spa tour on embarkation day I inquired about the week pass they were selling for the hydrotherapy pool and thermal suite. They said they sell only 35 for the week and had only 6 left to sell. Since it was not even 4:00, they said they expected to sell out soon. If they sell out, then day passes are not offered. Ironically, a few days later, I inquired about a day pass for my husband and I, and was told no problem. Either they didn't sell the 35 week passes or they didn't stick to the limit of only 35 total. We had 2072 passengers onboard. The spa services were more pricey than the spas I use locally in Dallas (Four Seasons, Grand Spa, etc) so I opted not to utilize the spa services onboard the Zuiderdam. However, the daily specials, especially toward the end of the week for facials, looked appealing! Disembarkation: We were group number one (going standby for a 10:50 flight) and were called at 9:00. Before we even made it from the Lido to our cabin to grab our carry on in our cabin one deck below, they had already called groups 2, 3, 4, and 5. Of course when making it to the appropriate deck it was a madhouse of passengers waiting to get off. The man behind us said he was a Suite and gets to go to the front of the line. I thought they got priority disembarkation (which is why they called S very first) as opposed to cutting in the line of passengers who were also called. Since he had only twenty people ahead of him, I suggested it might just be easier to wait since we were all packed like sardines and nobody could hardly move anyway. I don't understand why HAL calls multiple groups at one time. That day, they were called S, 1, 2 and then 3, 4, 5 just a couple minutes later. Regardless, we were at the airport by 9:40 in line (after a $10 cab ride) and received boarding passes at 10:03. Of course you always have airport passengers complaining that the check-in line takes too long, but if someone expects an empty airport in Fort Lauderdale on the weekend after Thanksgiving, especially when all the cruise ship passengers arrive, they need to start using just a little common sense. Weekends in any airport near a cruise port are hectic, not to mention the busiest travel weekend of the year (Thanksgiving weekend). Ports: Half Moon Cay: Sunday, scheduled 8:00-4:00. Disembarked around 8:25 (first nonsuite/nonexcursion group), all aboard by 3:30. We arrived in the Queen's Lounge at 7:35 to wait in line for tickets. Instead, they had us sit in chairs so when ticket distribution time came, it really didn't matter how long you were there because they were just randomly distributed. The lady working it seemed to have no clue, as she was part of Club HAL and said she was just helping out today. At 8:15, the cruise director came in wondering why nobody had been boarding except excursions and suites (who had priority). Apparently there had been a miscommunication so we all received tender tickets and proceeded to the gangway. We were all set up in our $9 clamshell by 9:00 near the last three cabanas. We enjoyed a long walk to the end of the beach to the rocky area, where we saw debris that had not been cleaned up since the September hurricane. We also stopped to watch the horseback riding, which seemed to spend about five minutes in water. The vegetation was growing back from being damaged by the saltwater with the hurricane. Upon returning to our clamshell, we relaxed in hammocks that were right there and did a little swimming. By lunch, the beach was filling up. A group of passengers arrived, squealing with delight that they had found hammocks. Of course they just threw their flipflops in the hammocks and left, and at the time we left later in the afternoon, they had never returned. Nice of them to be "hammock-hogs" just like "deckchair hogs" you see onboard. Zero consideration for other passengers who might want to enjoy the hammock during the hours they had them "reserved." We observed many passengers during the week onboard with this "me me me" attitude- much more than on previous cruises. St. Thomas: Tuesday, scheduled 8:00 a.m. - 11:00 p.m. (changed in October to 8:00 a.m. - 9:00 p.m.). Disembarked around 8:15 a.m., all aboard by 8:30 p.m. According to vinow.com we were to be at Crown Bay (five ships in port total). Upon Saturday's embarkation, we learned that we would be tendering. However, on Monday while at sea we learned we would indeed be at Crown Bay. Fortunately we did arrive on Tuesday (versus Wednesday) as several previous Zuiderdam had experienced unannounced port swapping with St. Thomas and Tortola for Tuesday/Wednesday. After clearing immigration at 7:35, we dropped our passports off in our safe and proceeded to the gangway. We were told to go up a deck (a large group of us) to wait for the announcement. Every five minutes someone would go down the stairs to double-check. At 8:15, we noticed others were disembarking via elevators and it was indeed clear for everyone to get off the ship, but the dozens of us waiting up one deck at the top of the stairs as instructed had been neglected in being told. We disembarked and immediately found the taxi dispatcher to get transportation to Red Hook. After being moved to four different taxis (drivers don't like making this run) we were finally on the road at 8:25. We just barely made the 9:00 ferry. Remember: you are on island time. Things don't move as fast even if you have a ferry you are wanting to make. Taxi cost $9 each and ferry cost $3 each. Upon arrival in Cruz Bay, we met Chef Mulcare on the dock to pick up our wedding cake (same cake but smaller version of the one we had in March 2003 for our St. John wedding while on a cruise). We then turned right to walk along the beach to Noah's Dinghies, where we rented a twelve-foot bright yellow dinghy with a 15 hp motor for the day. This enabled us to visit our wedding beach (Hawksnest), snorkel at Waterlemon Cay, walk along Cinnamon beach, have lunch at Trunk Bay, and relax on Honeymoon Beach before returning the dinghy later that afternoon. We did some quick window shopping (on a quest for earrings) but ended up making the second 5:00 ferry. Yes, there IS a rush hour in St John. We were amazed at the way people just walked to the front of the ferry line as if it didn't even exist. Once in Red Hook, we got a cab back to Crown Bay, going a different routing to get there due to traffic in the Havensight direction. The passengers already in the van were discontent that they had made the first 5:00 ferry but the driver refused to leave until the van was completely full, waiting on the second 5:00 ferry. Although we had been told the shops in St. Thomas stay open late when a ship is in port, we had called some that we knew we wanted to visit (such as the jewelry store where we had bought our wedding bands in 2002) and were told they were closing at 5:00. Therefore, we went straight back to the ship for our 9:00 departure, opting not to have dinner in town. Tortola: Wednesday, scheduled 7:00 - 6:00 (embarkation day schedule now showed 7:00 - 5:00). Disembarked around 8:25 (safely docked alongside 7:58 according to Cruise Log, announcement made we could disembark at 8:15), all aboard by 4:30. Having prebooked with Patouche charters, we were to check in between 8:30 - 8:45. We made it there at 8:55. I am not sure why disembarkation was an hour late, but it certainly made for a rushed experience walking to Patouche (down past the ferry dock and hospital). We had an absolutely wonderful day with Patouche on Shamwari. Shamwari is 48' and they take no more than 16 passengers. We snorkeled and toured the Baths and also snorkeled at Haulover Bay at a different island. Upon our return at 4:10, Julie hopped in her van to drive us back to make our all aboard time of 4:30. Again, knocking off an hour of each end of our day by HAL caused a rush with this charter. I wish HAL would have stuck to the original schedule advertised. I'm not sure why we arrived an hour late from St. Thomas (it's not that far away) but at least we were given a heads-up on embarkation day that we would be leaving Tortola early. That allowed me the opportunity to use HAL's internet cafe and email Patouche to let them know of this change - and to re-verify we would definitely be back on time. The late arrival came as a surprise, but of course I realize a ship can change an itinerary at any time for any reason at all. In port, there was one other HAL ship docked next to us. It was there when we arrived and it departed thirty minutes before we did. Nassau: Friday, scheduled 12:00 - 7:00. Disembarked around 12:20 (one of the first to disembark), all aboard by 6:30. We had booked the Dolphin Swim through Dolphin Encounters of Blue Lagoon independently. HAL did not offer the swim but only the encounter for Nassau, which I was not interested in. By booking independently, I was also able to book my husband as an observer for $20, enabling him to take over 100 digital pictures. We took a cab to Paradise Ferry Terminal ($10 plus $1 toll) and checked in around 1:00. Our ferry was scheduled for 1:30 but ran a little late, so we all arrived just a little late for the 2:00 program (but we were all on the ferry). After an introduction to the program, we put on wetsuits and life jackets. We were placed on three platforms with ten participants each. The program consisted of two parts. Part One: All participants in the water for several "swim bys," petting, kisses, hugs, and dancing. Part Two: The swim. Adults had two dolphins propelling them through the water while kids had just one. This was awesome and happened so fast! After a warm shower, changing clothes, and purchasing a couple photographs (4x6 for $14, picture magnet for $8), we were on the 4:00 ferry back. The first ferry stop was at the ferry terminal, and cruise ship passengers were instructed to stay onboard, as the ferry would take us directly back to the cruise ship dock. We did some quick power shopping and purchased the earrings we were after on this trip. This was the only day we had time to shop due to booking ourselves with excursions and times in port being shortened by HAL. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2003
After 23 cruises over the same amount of years I found the MS Zuiderdam a wonderful surprise. Everything worked as it should from embarkation to disembarkation. The ship is new and the crew is geared towards pleasing ALL its passengers. It ... Read More
After 23 cruises over the same amount of years I found the MS Zuiderdam a wonderful surprise. Everything worked as it should from embarkation to disembarkation. The ship is new and the crew is geared towards pleasing ALL its passengers. It is the only cruise I have ever been on that I found very little to complain about. This was the Eastern Caribbean cruise with ports of call including Half Moon Cay, St. Marten, St. Thomas, and Nassau. I found NONE of the problems reported in previous reviews of this ship. There was NO sewage odor, vibration in the dining room was as expected while being on a ship over her screws, the entire staff was pleasant and eager to please. The food was very good. We did not try the Odyssey speciality restaurant but heard the prime rib there was to kill for. The shows were OK but not exceptional and the normal day to day shipboard activities were what one would expect. One of the nicest things was no one on the staff was hawking drinks or any other profit oriented endeavor. I thought the no tipping policy was a refreshing change and found the staff worked harder that those lines which demand x amount of dollars per day per person and especially those which automatically place said charges on your bill. Therefore it was nice to compensate those who treated you well accordingly. We had a class SS cabin (6063) and found it perfect. It is midships, starboard and a little forward. I found it well laid out and the only complaint was that as on most ships there are not enough electrical outlets. I knew this in advance so we brought along a power strip and that solved the problem. The only disappointment on the cruise was the fact that there was no engine room or bridge tour. Holland America's corporate office indicated that there would be and to sign up at the front desk. The front desk personnel responded to my request "Oh no, that is impossible, because of 911". Well excuse me, I don't buy into that. As far as I am concerned they could make a profit center out of those locations and charge say $ 100.00 and take small parties well guarded to secure areas. So that is my opinion of the Zuiderdam. I highly recommend her and Holland America. Read Less
Sail Date: August 2003
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 ... Read More
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 on 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 ads 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, Read Less
Sail Date: August 2003
Well...I am finally getting settled and my wife, daughter and I wish we were still on board. The ship was great, the weather fantastic. A little boring background first: H 41, W 40, D11, professional, Manhattanites originally now live on ... Read More
Well...I am finally getting settled and my wife, daughter and I wish we were still on board. The ship was great, the weather fantastic. A little boring background first: H 41, W 40, D11, professional, Manhattanites originally now live on Long Island. About 30 cruises on all the major lines and ships and a few minor lines. Now the important stuff for those ready to travel or planning to do so on the Zuiderdam: Friday 8/15: Left JFK in the middle of the blackout via Jet Blue. Our flight was one of the few not cancelled. Lucky!!! Stayed at the Westin Diplomatin Hollywood. Beautiful new hotel about 1 year old which replaced the old diplomat I stayed at when I was young. Great beach and pool. Went to sleep ealry because we were exhausted from the whole blackout/flight/etc. Saturday 8/16: Limo to Zuiderdam around 11am. Got to pier and checked bags. Gave a $20 tip. I am a generous tipper but find I get better service. 5 bags so $10 would have probably been ok also. Went inside and found a small handful of people checking in. Only maybe 5 or so families in each of many lines. We went ot the Deluxe Veranda Suite line where there were two lines with about 1 or two families ahead of us. We had a category S on Rotterdam (7) Deck a few doors down from the Neptune Lounge. They gave us the Bahamas Immigration forms to fill out as we waited on line. This was for the Half Moon Key visit. We later received a second set of Immigration forms for Nassau later in the week. Check in was a breeze. We registered our credit card., took security photo for cabin key. Off we went through security and xray and up to the terminal waiting area. We were given little gold sticy stars to id us as suite guests so when we got up to the waiting area we were able to get our embarcation photo taken and board immediately. Aboard ship we were directed by many ushers/staff to the Neptune lounge where we dropped off one unimportant carry-on and went to the Lido on Deck 9 for lunch. We could have eaten in the Neptune but wanted to explore. Went back to the Neptune around 1:15 and at 1:30 we were told by Jig the concierge that our stateroom was ready. It was beautiful. Well furnished and we had no problems with storage space for 5 huge suitcases and 3 humans! No smells, no dirt, no problems. Our steward Slammet introduced himself and after that we went to the life boat drill at 4:15 which was short and sweet and enjoyable. Then we sailed at 5. Only other major ship in port was the Century and as we sailed out of the port past a few apt buildings, someone had a HAL flag flying from their balcony! Dinner that night was 2nd seating table for 4 (3 of us though)number 86 on the upper level of the Vista (Deck 3). Our waiters Tagel and Agus were great. They remembered our names by Sunday night and I never had problems ordering a second appetizer or entree or dessert. My daughter would eat a combo of the childrens menu and parts of the adult menu with no problem. The wine steward Ronald was fantastic. We are not big drinkers but he had a scotch and soda for me every night and new when to bring me the second one without asking (I stop at drink 2!). On formal night, he chilled the champagne given to us by HAL in out suite and served it to perfection. Let me add that he was personable and spoke with us a for a few minutes each night without being intrusive but at a level of comfort. Prior to dinner each night, there was the doorman Raymond (aka) Yum Yum Man who played musical chimes to announce dinner and then dispensed after dinner mints. He remembered our names right away and was so much fun that some kids were crying at the end of the cruise! All the dinners were excellent. We chose to eat in the Odyssey Tuesday night which coincidentally was Dutch Night. The Odyssey was great and I thought the steaks were almost as good as Peter Luger for my fellow NY'ers! Let me add that so as not to bore you I will not discuss the ports which were fine but rather concentrate on the ship. Entertainment: Not the best but I have seen far worse. Paul Tanner, a singer/impressionist was enjoyable as well as a comedian. Did not see all the shows. We did not attend the CC get together because my wife wanted to go to the Art Auction monday. Thought the prices were a little too high after they sold one painting for $9000.00. I have spent money on art but $500 and not more than $1000 is my cruise ship limit. Pools were busy. The rear pool was fine. A few wild kids jumping into the mid ship pool but a few times people asked them to stop and they did! No major cause for concern! About half the ship wore tuxedos and about 40 percent of the rest wore suits on formal nights. I wore a tux the first formal and a suit teh second time around. Another suit on Wednesady which was informal night. All the rest were casual. Ate in the Odyssey for breakfast once and the Lido once. The remainder days in the Vista. We thought the Vista was a little to harried for breakfast and liked the quiet of the Vista for breakfast. Ate in the Lido for lunch every day and while busy, we always found a table. Enjoyed the Pasta and Taco bars which were open from 11am until 5pm. Disembarkation: Although we made our own air arrangements, we purchase HAL ship to airport transfers on 8/23 so we did not get the S tag to leave as soon as the ship was cleared (about 9:15) We were called right after that (about 9:30) and by 10 or so were at the airport. Checked in and the rest is history. Comments: -Never smelled anything other than food. -Enough bathrooms all in working order. Only time they were closed was for cleaning. -Dining Room vibration noticeable in the after of the Vista lower level. More pronounced than on some ships but no worse than on some others so for newbies it may be an issue but it did not bother us. -Decor of the ship..I can't understand why anyone would let this ruin theer vacation because it was fun, bright and cheerful. -Fellow passengers..many repeaters few first timers to cruising but most were on other lines before. Afew hated HAL. One was quite a "large" lady (politically correct!) who complained about the food while piling her plate at the Lido. Another one said the ship did not have enough activities but her only otehr crusie was on Carnival!. Another couple said the staff did not speak english well enough but everyone we spoke with had no trouble understanding us. I doid observe many people who were polite to their fellow passengers treating the staff terribly. That may account for the negative response from the staff. These people are humans and should be treated with the same respect we expect. The doorman turned away people who were not properly dressed (tanktops, etc). One man came to breakfast in his bathrobe! He did not get in. The best was one man who ordered eggs benedict and wanted extra hollandaise sauce with 6 (not 5, not 7) jellies on the side. The type of orders and "demands" were so pathetic and "diva" like that I give the staff credit for dealing with all of us! Tipping: I was very generous because I felt they deserved every penny. Well, that's all for now. If you have specfic questions, ask and I will try to answer. I will be on the boards regularly for teh next week or so but then reality will set-in and I will have to concentrate on work so as to pay for the next cruise. By the way, no qualms about sailing HAL again. All the best to everyone and smooth sailin! All The Best To All Sailing With Us! Read Less
Sail Date: July 2003
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 ... Read More
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 on 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 Maarteen 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 ads 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, 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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