I've been on 3 other cruises prior to going on the MS Zaandam. I was very disappointed with the "5-star" cruise and could not wait to get home. Something that is very unusual for me since I love the Caribbean. The Good: Embarkation and Disembarkation were actually the smoothest that I have ever experienced. It might be the timing that I arrived and the location of my room, but overall it was the smoothest process I've ever experienced in all my cruising. The crew members were very patient with my group getting our paperwork together and were quite helpful. Another positive was the layout of my room. I've always had a room with a balcony so my bed was generally in the center of the room. This time, I could only afford the room with a window, afterall it is a "5-star" cruise. The arrangement of the room, with the beds under the window, the room seemed more spacious. The closets were amazing. These were the biggest storage I've ever experienced, we were even able to put our luggage away so we weren't stepping all over them. The Bad: After reading the reviews of other cruisers, it dawned on me that it wasn't my imagination that the cabin steward, waiters, etc did not introduce themselves to us. Considering they were going to be our stewards, waiters, etc for the next 7 days I find that very impersonal and dare I say, cold. The other cruises I've experienced I still remember their names and they knew my likes and dislikes by the 2nd day. It makes sense to me that HAL incorporates an automatic $10 gratuity to your cabin bill unlike other cruises where they leave you envelopes and "suggested" amounts for each member of your "comfort team." This guarantees that the team gets a gratuity since in all reality, they may not deserve as much or even any. I understand that they did work all week to make my stay comfortable, but gratuity is defined as "something given voluntarily or beyond obligation usually for some service." Adding a mandatory $10 a day is not voluntary, especially if I don't feel they deserve it. Basically they did their job, what they are paid for, even if minimum wage. But a tip or gratuity is deserved if the person does something above the ordinary, not something extravagant, but something.. be friendly or something....take the mildew out of my bathroom... have you heard of Tilex? One night I accidentally spilled my coke in my bed. I apologized to my cabin steward and asked if he could possibly change my bed. He told me no. I thought that was special. I even offered to change it myself, if they gave me the linens.. still told no. Another Bad - I don't think I need to expand too much on this, because apparently many others wrote in detail about this... the variety and quality of food was not up to par nor were the hours of operation. Cruise lines are known for making you fatter and overstuff you with food. Not a problem here... Another Bad - Another thing I don't need to say much on because it was mentioned on other reviews.. but the average age of the guests was about 85 and HAL catered to them. Going to bed by 10:30 out of sheer boredom while on vacation is pretty sad. Another Bad - not sure what caused this because I've traveled on bigger waves, but every time we were not anchored, our ship rocked out of control. I'm surprised all the seniors didn't get sick, but if they did I hope they didn't get sick on their bed because they won't change the sheets. Last Bad to mention, there are sooo many but I don't have the time....there were too many "no's" told to the guests and dissatisfied cruisers that by Wednesday most people at the pools and bars were complaining about the cruise and swore never to cruise with HAL again. The UGLY: I have severe allergies (hospitalization, turn blue, get oxygen...bad) to foods which I told the travel agent and even called HAL prior to let them know. To have my waiter chuckle and shrug his shoulders when I asked what was in a dessert made me quite angry. Luckily I had a head waiter help out and make sure I'm good. REAL UGLY - I was on deck 2. I thought that the noise that I heard at 5 AM were the insane jogging, but it dawned on me that it was very centralized. It turns out that HAL does "moderate" cleaning at 5 AM. At 5:15 AM I called the front desk to ask them what they were doing outside my window at 5:15 AM. I was told (very politely) that they were doing "moderate cleaning" and then asked "can you hear that?" So my reply was, "If I couldn't hear it, would I be calling?" Why 5 AM? Aren't I on vacation? INCREDIBLY UGLY - Lobster is usually the meal that most cruisers look forward to. I, like my roommate, starved myself for the fabulous lobster meal. The lobsters were tiny and also was the night of the "Baked Alaska" presentation. So our waiter became MIA. On other cruise lines my waiter generally comes up and says, I have to do this parade thing, is everything ok before I go... well not our waiter. So by the time he came back to our table we were famished for more food. His response, the kitchen is closed. Well we are the first seating so we knew that they would have to open up again, so I went over his head to the head waiter. We eventually got our food and had to ask another waiter to serve us dessert. Later that evening we found out that they ran out of lobster and the second seating didn't get any at all.....HOW AWFUL!!!!! Like I mentioned above, there are so many things that went wrong with this cruise. Unfortunately if you just isolated one thing it was an oops, but unfortunately there were sooo many. So by day 3 me, along with other cruisers, were fed up and unfortunately some were taking it out on every crew member they encountered. I kept reminding my group that there are about 25% of the crew that weren't that good, but that 25% made it horrible for the other 75% and everyone had to suffer. I wish HAL and other future cruisers of HAL good luck. I will never sail with them ever again, even if it were free. If it weren't for the people I was with, it was the most miserable vacation I've ever spent.

Zaandam - Western Caribbean

Zaandam Cruise Review by mb87

Trip Details
I've been on 3 other cruises prior to going on the MS Zaandam. I was very disappointed with the "5-star" cruise and could not wait to get home. Something that is very unusual for me since I love the Caribbean.
The Good: Embarkation and Disembarkation were actually the smoothest that I have ever experienced. It might be the timing that I arrived and the location of my room, but overall it was the smoothest process I've ever experienced in all my cruising. The crew members were very patient with my group getting our paperwork together and were quite helpful.
Another positive was the layout of my room. I've always had a room with a balcony so my bed was generally in the center of the room. This time, I could only afford the room with a window, afterall it is a "5-star" cruise. The arrangement of the room, with the beds under the window, the room seemed more spacious. The closets were amazing. These were the biggest storage I've ever experienced, we were even able to put our luggage away so we weren't stepping all over them.
The Bad: After reading the reviews of other cruisers, it dawned on me that it wasn't my imagination that the cabin steward, waiters, etc did not introduce themselves to us. Considering they were going to be our stewards, waiters, etc for the next 7 days I find that very impersonal and dare I say, cold. The other cruises I've experienced I still remember their names and they knew my likes and dislikes by the 2nd day. It makes sense to me that HAL incorporates an automatic $10 gratuity to your cabin bill unlike other cruises where they leave you envelopes and "suggested" amounts for each member of your "comfort team." This guarantees that the team gets a gratuity since in all reality, they may not deserve as much or even any. I understand that they did work all week to make my stay comfortable, but gratuity is defined as "something given voluntarily or beyond obligation usually for some service." Adding a mandatory $10 a day is not voluntary, especially if I don't feel they deserve it. Basically they did their job, what they are paid for, even if minimum wage. But a tip or gratuity is deserved if the person does something above the ordinary, not something extravagant, but something.. be friendly or something....take the mildew out of my bathroom... have you heard of Tilex? One night I accidentally spilled my coke in my bed. I apologized to my cabin steward and asked if he could possibly change my bed. He told me no. I thought that was special. I even offered to change it myself, if they gave me the linens.. still told no.
Another Bad - I don't think I need to expand too much on this, because apparently many others wrote in detail about this... the variety and quality of food was not up to par nor were the hours of operation. Cruise lines are known for making you fatter and overstuff you with food. Not a problem here...
Another Bad - Another thing I don't need to say much on because it was mentioned on other reviews.. but the average age of the guests was about 85 and HAL catered to them. Going to bed by 10:30 out of sheer boredom while on vacation is pretty sad.
Another Bad - not sure what caused this because I've traveled on bigger waves, but every time we were not anchored, our ship rocked out of control. I'm surprised all the seniors didn't get sick, but if they did I hope they didn't get sick on their bed because they won't change the sheets.
Last Bad to mention, there are sooo many but I don't have the time....there were too many "no's" told to the guests and dissatisfied cruisers that by Wednesday most people at the pools and bars were complaining about the cruise and swore never to cruise with HAL again.
The UGLY: I have severe allergies (hospitalization, turn blue, get oxygen...bad) to foods which I told the travel agent and even called HAL prior to let them know. To have my waiter chuckle and shrug his shoulders when I asked what was in a dessert made me quite angry. Luckily I had a head waiter help out and make sure I'm good.
REAL UGLY - I was on deck 2. I thought that the noise that I heard at 5 AM were the insane jogging, but it dawned on me that it was very centralized. It turns out that HAL does "moderate" cleaning at 5 AM. At 5:15 AM I called the front desk to ask them what they were doing outside my window at 5:15 AM. I was told (very politely) that they were doing "moderate cleaning" and then asked "can you hear that?" So my reply was, "If I couldn't hear it, would I be calling?" Why 5 AM? Aren't I on vacation?
INCREDIBLY UGLY - Lobster is usually the meal that most cruisers look forward to. I, like my roommate, starved myself for the fabulous lobster meal. The lobsters were tiny and also was the night of the "Baked Alaska" presentation. So our waiter became MIA. On other cruise lines my waiter generally comes up and says, I have to do this parade thing, is everything ok before I go... well not our waiter. So by the time he came back to our table we were famished for more food. His response, the kitchen is closed. Well we are the first seating so we knew that they would have to open up again, so I went over his head to the head waiter. We eventually got our food and had to ask another waiter to serve us dessert. Later that evening we found out that they ran out of lobster and the second seating didn't get any at all.....HOW AWFUL!!!!!
Like I mentioned above, there are so many things that went wrong with this cruise. Unfortunately if you just isolated one thing it was an oops, but unfortunately there were sooo many. So by day 3 me, along with other cruisers, were fed up and unfortunately some were taking it out on every crew member they encountered. I kept reminding my group that there are about 25% of the crew that weren't that good, but that 25% made it horrible for the other 75% and everyone had to suffer.
I wish HAL and other future cruisers of HAL good luck. I will never sail with them ever again, even if it were free. If it weren't for the people I was with, it was the most miserable vacation I've ever spent.
mb87’s Full Rating Summary
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