Chose the transatlantic to relax and recharge- unlike many of the people on this cruise I am not retired and work very hard each year to go on a long cruise. We chose the Zuiderdam because we are three star mariners and have sailed it twice before. We picked this particular itinerary because of the stop in Cherbourg and the ability to visit the D-Day beaches and memorials. We flew in the day before and stayed at the Hyatt Place near the port -- a nice hotel with shuttle from the airport and to the ship, Embarkation was uneventful and pretty quick. Our Signature Suite (8090) was ready as soon as we got on board (about 1150). We dropped our bags and had lunch in the Main Dining room -- much more civilized than the Lido buffet. Our muster drill was also uneventful and the crew used scanners to check us off.
All the ports are great -- We basically went into each town and had a local lunch with a nice bottle of wine -- our private Cherbourg tour to the D-Day sites was absolutely outstanding.
Overall the crew was excellent, the food in the main dining room, Pinnacle and Canaletto was excellent. Our room steward met our every need.
The one downer was the reconstruction of the ship during the entire cruise that made relaxing in the Lido Pool area or our room Balcony. I realize that ship maintenance has to be done but the crew beat and banged on the Lido Pool roof for a solid 17 days making it a very noisy and unusable. Tried to use my balcony to relax and because the ship thought it was necessary to repaint all of the ladders on the port side promenade deck by first grinding off all the old paint and beating the rust off -- for the whole 17 days. I did express my frustration to the front desk and through a "how are we doing card" and was offered a dinner in the Canaletto -- did not want anything but silence -- they could have even worked mostly during port days but no had to do it during our six day crossing and all the other sea days as well.
I like HAL but will be re-evaluating my future cruises -- these old ships needing all this maintenance will detract from my enjoyment.