This was our fourth HAL cruise and the first on the Zuiderdam. We enjoy the HAL line as we enjoy the smaller ships and the traditional, classic touches. This trip originated in Barcelona where we had an overnight on the ship and we disembarked in Rome. There were others who remained for another 11 days travel to Venice. We stayed an extra night in Barcelona at the Petit Palace just off of Las Ramblas, and couldn't have been more satisfied with the accomodations. Getting on the ship was the easiest we have ever done. As the ship was docked overnight, people came onboard throughout the day. We were the only people in the vast terminal. We, my husband and I traveled with my sister and brother-in-law.
The ship is NOT brand new, and for those who expect a brand new ship will be disappointed. What it is is a lovely, refined, elegant vessel. Our room, 8143 was a rear-facing veranda. We enjoyed the veranda thoroughly and the foot traffic on the end was minimal. However, the room was just below an active Lido deck when chairs and tables were being moved (loudly) during the night and early morning. The room was spacious enough with many thoughtful touches. The curtain between the bathroom area and bedroom area keeps the bedroom area dark when the bathroom door is opened during the night. Fruit and ice and regularly replenished. The bed was soooo comfortable, and the room was kept spotless. HAL is one line that provides robes for its guests.
The activities on the ship were not as plentiful as other sailings we've been on, but what we attended was great. KK, the destination specialist, is a treasure. We attended her presentations on the ports of call (there were only 2 sea days on an 11 day voyage) and found her expertise to be invaluable. She also found information for us about a location we wanted to see in Livorno and allowed us to use the ship phone to arrange the visit. Do not miss her talks. We also attended the culinary shows as well as trivia games and enjoyed those too. What really impressed us though was the Adaggio Duet, Evgenia and Dimitrov. We went EVERY night following dinner to the Explorer Lounge to enjoy their amazing talent. We weren't the only ones enjoying their shows and their repertoire and abilities. We decided many evenings to stay there rather than go to the main shows. It couldn't be better. The bar steward in the Explorer Lounge, Armin Lavador was a standout among a wonderful crew. We enjoyed talking with him and hope HAL knows what a great team they have there.