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Bad service and experince on the Zuiderdam

Discussion in 'Holland America Line' started by elise_0125, Jun 6, 2005.

  1. elise_0125

    elise_0125 Guest

    Wow! What a disappointing time my spouse and I had on the Zuiderdam. We just returned from an Eastern Caribbean cruise (5/28 to 6/4).

    Both my spouse and I are ardent cruisers, having on Carnival, NCL, RCL, Princess and Celebrity, and always wanted to cruise with HAL. Since we had never been to Tortola (nor Half Moon Cay), we decided to cruise on the Zuiderdam vs. sailing again with Princess on the Caribbean Princess, as this was the only time we could get away . What a poor decision.

    Here is a list of things that soured both of us on this ship. I was wondering if this was true with all of HAL (since it is owned by Carnival). Both of us had a similar experience on Carnival:

    1. Air conditioning too low in stateroom.

    2. Late seating dining room (upper) extremely poor service even after complaining numerous times to the Maitre D'.

    3. Food very average -- RCL and Princess have much better quality.

    4. Map on wall indicating ship's position indicated the intinerary for the Western Caribbean. (This was an EASTERN Caribbean cruise).

    5. Inexperienced wine stewards -- more like drink runners vs. sommaliers.

    6. Upon arriving on board, both my spouse and I went to the Dining Room Maitre D' to see about getting both a time change and table change. We waited 1 hour to speak to him only to find out that neither was possible. Perhaps a sign posted would have alerted us (as well as the 1 wait) to this and we would not have wasted our time. Also, when we finally got to speak to the Maitre D', it seemed like it was a bargaining session (i.e. "Would you take an upstairs for 10 vs. a downstairs for 8 at an earlier time -- if I have it?).

    7. Photographers never showed up during late seating dinner. Pix also were really bad during port visits. (My spouse and I always buy them, but this time we passed).

    8. Room service always forgetting something on our order -- (i.e. -- Coffee pots or creamers).

    9. 1 and 1/2 hr late leaving Fort Lauderdale. This was communicated to the ship by the Captain as a "Coast Guard infraction." Hummm -- I wonder????

    10. During the Dolphin Encounter shore excursion, no shuttle van was available to get us back to the ship from where the Dophin Encounter boat returned us in Nassau. This caused the both of us to be the VERY LAST TWO to board the ship before it left. No shore excursion desk attendant was around to see if we needed help, or to speak with.

    11. Clocks around the pool were at different times -- all wrong times!

    12. Hamburger meat on Half Moon Cay was undercooked. Also, water tanks in the picnic area needed to be refilled more promptly.

    13. Numerous times during dinner, needed to ask for forks and water refills.

    I can go on and on, but you get the message -- this was a very bad cruise with extremely bad service. Is that true with the rest of HAL?

  2. ShipMaven

    ShipMaven Guest

    I'm sorry you had such a poor experience.

    One thing, especially, puzzles me...

    >> 1 and 1/2 hr late leaving Fort Lauderdale. This was communicated to the ship by the Captain as a "Coast Guard infraction." Hummm -- I wonder????

    Why would this be a Coast Guard infraction and, if it were, how would you know it? Ships are routinely delayed at departure because of delays in incoming flights (for one reason). This was communicated by WHICH Captain?!?

    Also, was the Dolphin Encounter excursion booked through the ship, or independently? Did you show up on time for the return shuttle?
  3. Cruzman

    Cruzman Guest

    ShipMaven, methinks you are treading very litely here, but you are trying hard to be diplomatic! Can I weigh in here? Air conditioning too low in the cabin? Ever consider adjusting the thermostat? Photographer complaints? Jeesh! Incorrect progress map??? Are we perhaps looking to find something about which a complaint can be raised? Incorrect clocks, all wrong; I never notice the clocks, I use my watch if I wish to know the time. Guess I've said enough, but my attitude shines through!
  4. ShipMaven

    ShipMaven Guest

    Cruzman - was it THAT transparent? :grin Yes indeed, I was trying to be diplomatic. :angel
  5. Elise 0125,
    I'm so sorry to hear of your disappointment on a much-anticipated first HAL cruise. I'm sure I am by no means the HAL authority as I've only sailed with them three times (vs. the many, many that I know ShipMaven has sailed and others as well). I've never been on the Zuiderdam, but I am curious about some of your complaints.
    Perhaps once you were disappointed that the ship left port 1 1/2 hours late (surprised that you've never seen such a thing before if you are an experienced cruiser as you say), you were finding other minor things just too much to bear.
    I would not be bothered to the point of saying it soured me on a particular ship if clocks were off or the map was showing the wrong itinerary. Sure, those are inconveniences, but such a small part of a cruise for me that I would not let it affect my entire cruise, especially without asking if someone would take a look at it and adjust it (which I am not sure if you did or did not do).
    I think a lot of it comes down to preferences. We recently took our first Princess cruise just to check out something different, much as you have done. For the first 24 hours it was something like culture shock to us! The crew were different, the ship was different, even the fellow pax were different! Eventually we became accustomed to the differences and tried to appreciate the ship for what it was. The one thing that stuck out for us and continues to be a memory of my cruise was the food. I felt it was a much lower quality than the food on our 3 HAL sailings. The Princess food was quite underseasoned to our tastes.

    I guess that shows (at least to me) that it is all a matter of taste in many areas that will make a cruise line right or wrong for each individual.
    Hope your next cruising experience is more to your liking.

    p.s. I'm probably reading it wrong, but when the OP says the captain reported a coast guard whatever, I assumed she meant that the Coast Guard held them up, not complained about an infraction because they sailed away late. ???
  6. sail7seas

    sail7seas Guest

    Sorry for your disappointment.

    Just as a point of interest.....Princess is also owned by Carnival. Carnvial purchased HAL over 14+ years ago. Not a new purchase such as is the case with Princess. You may be aware that Carnival, Seabourn, Costa, Cunard, HAL, Windstar and Princess are all among the "Carnival Family of Ships".
    They do not YET own RCI and Celebrity.....wonder if that could happen sometime soon? No, I doubt it.

    Also...air conditioning in your cabin is totally adjustable by you at the thermostat. If it was not operating properly, I'm sure a word to your steward would have gotten repairs arranged.

    Captain John Scott was the Master on your cruise. Did he personally pass along this information about Coast Guard infractions to you? I'm intrigued with this issue you have presented. How did you hear about it? Please share more details. I, for one, am interested. Captain Scott is more than able....as are all HAL Captains. We've had the pleasure of sailing with he (and his wife) on several occasions.

    Hopefully, your next cruise will be more to you liking.
  7. Frank Black

    Frank Black Guest

    Frankly, most complaints are minor and none of it sounds too bad, and is indicative of many cruises. As a point of information, whenever we are seated in the upper floor of a dining room service has been slower than when seated on the main floor. But I was on the Oosterdam in March and sat upstairs. Service was fine.
  8. Judi

    Judi Guest


    First of all, I notice this is your first post on Cruise @ddicts, so welcome aboard!

    Now, if I may, I'd like to address some of your issues. I've never sailed on the Volendam, but I can't believe it's that much different than other HAL ships, so:

    1) Air conditioning too low in stateroom.. There is an thermostat on the wall of every cabin which will adjust the temperature. If that fails, place a call. We've done this on many of our cruises because we like our cabin ice cold. There's a second adjustment that one of the crew can make which can also solve your problem

    3) Food very average -- RCL and Princess have much better quality. Food, as we all know, is subjective. My Husband prefers Princess food over any other line, while I'm happy with all cruise lines' food.

    4) Map on wall indicating ship's position indicated the intinerary for the Western Caribbean. (This was an EASTERN Caribbean cruise). Did you mention this to the Front Desk? I suspect someone merely forgot to "flip the switch."

    5) Inexperienced wine stewards -- more like drink runners vs. sommaliers.
    I couldn't begin to address this one, because we always know what we want before we order, so we don't need any help.

    7) Photographers never showed up during late seating dinner. Pix also were really bad during port visits. (My spouse and I always buy them, but this time we passed). Again, I can't really address this one as we seem to come from opposite sides of the spectrum. We have never had the pleasant experience of the photographer never showing up at dinner and we normally don't get off until everyone else is off. In plain words, we don't particularly care to have our picture taken.

    9) 1 and 1/2 hr late leaving Fort Lauderdale. This was communicated to the ship by the Captain as a "Coast Guard infraction." Hummm -- I wonder???? There can be many reasons for a ship being late leaving port, but I cannot believe that a Captain would announce to the entire ship that it was because of a "Coast Guard infraction." Perhaps you misunderstood him?

    11) Clocks around the pool were at different times -- all wrong times! When I need to be somewhere at a certain time, I wear my watch. When I don't need to be anywhere in particular when I'm on vacation, I don't really care what the time is.

    13) Numerous times during dinner, needed to ask for forks and water refills. We have never had either one of these problems on HAL.

    It's a shame you had such a bad experience for your first time on HAL, so perhaps you'd be better sticking to the lines that you consider "tried and true." After all, vacations cost too much money to waste on a line on which you're soured.
  9. Judi

    Judi Guest

    Re: Bad service ....OOPS!

    I meant I had never had sailed on the Zuiderdam.

    Chalk it up to drugs....from the Dentist! ;)
  10. elise_0125

    elise_0125 Guest

    Re: Bad service and experience on the Zuiderdam


    This is a clarification to the post I made earlier:

    Delay in Ft. Lauderdale sailing -- Yes. Indeed it was Capt. Scott who passed the word about the Coast Guard infraction. My spouse (who was in the Navy) said that whenever the Coast Guard "shuts you down" is quite serious. Several times on prior cruises (usually in the Winter months) we have been delayed from sailing before, usually due to inclement weather from travelers from Northern climes. This makes you wonder if it was something along the lines of mechanical, environmental, etc.

    Clocks on the ship and erroroneous readings on ship's position -- I do carry a watch, but expected more from a ship with a reputation "above" the rest. Also, why should I be bothered by having to tell someone to do their job by noticing a map the size of an entire wall in a very highly trafficed area that it is wrong. Isn't that what I PAID someone else to do?

    A/C too low in the cabin. Now, let's be serious. Don't you THINK we both: (a) lowered the termostat to the point of breaking it; and (b) Let the cabin steward know? After calling twice (after initially alerting the cabin steward), we were finally brought a "fan". So, whoever said that an engineer would come to the room is possibly confusing HAL with some other cruise line. This was not how we were handled.

    Also, correct me if I am wrong, but isn't Princess owned by P&O Lines, and NOT Carnival? Even so, the food and service was better on Princess, RCL and Celebrity. HAL as far as what we experienced ranks around NCL and bit above Carnival.

    Another note about the food -- During lunch on Half Moon Cay, they ran out of water in the water tanks that the stewards were pouring during the lunch barbeque. It took an unbelievably long time to refill the water. And once they did, the lines were so long, that we had to wait for another water run to arrive. Once we sat down to eat, the we found the hamburger meat to be undercooked and raw!

    Also, regarding the Dolphin Encounter -- Yes, we booked with HAL. (Always book through the cuirse line, just-in-case). My question is -- Couldn't they look after their folks who needed to walk from where the boat from the dolphin encounter lets you off and to the ship? How about providing a shuttle or ride on a golf cart or even docking the dolphin boat NEXT to the ship? Walking past three cruise ship berths and being the last two on the ship caused us to rush and be extremely stressed that we might miss the ship sailing. Also, being this was the last night, we had a choice -- either shower before dinner or see the late seating's show all wet and yucky. Obvioulsy, we opted for the former and not the latter. Folks at our dinner table said we didn't miss much as overall, they overly disappointed with the entertainment thoughout the week.

    All in all, I don't want to sound like a complainer of nit picker, but our expectation was that HAL was SUPPOSED TO BE a cut ABOVE the other cruise lines. This cruise had too many "issues" to cast it in a favorable light, no less recommend it to my friends and acquaintances.

    Net, net, this cruise was poorly run, and the quality was sub-par with their competitors.

    My last question -- Is EVERY ship in the HAL fleet like this?

    Thanks everybody.....Elise
  11. elise 0125

    We did back-to-back cruises on the Zuiderdam May 7 & 14. I wrote 2 reports on Cruise Critic - they are slowly sinking to a different page.

    We found the food to be very good and the service for us was excellent.

    In my report I made note about the the ship having a lot of clocks and very few of them had the correct time.

    The electonic - it is programmed for the Western cruise but even that is wrong as it had us going in reverse. Inorder to see the correct map working, you had to go "fleet" and then puch Zuiderdam. That always gave the correct information.

    It has been a rare occassion that we have left Ft Lauderdale on time. The Princess ships and RCI always get the go ahead from the harbor master to be among the first out of the port. There have been times when there were 11 ships in port and we were #9 on the list to leave - it was over 2 hours before we left the harbor.

    I listed a lot of negatives on my report and got flammed. But that didn't stop us from having a good time. We have sailed many, many times on HAL - our choice of cruise line for the past few years. We found that the Zuiderdam has been abused by her passengers. She isn't even 3 years old. We have been on older ships and didn't see any in her condition.

    If you try one of the R or S class ships, you will probably want to sail HAL again.
  12. sail7seas

    sail7seas Guest

    You asked to be corrected if you are wrong.
    Kindly accept my correcting you.
    Carnival bought Princess about 1 1/2 to 2 years ago. Carnival owns Princess.
  13. sail7seas

    sail7seas Guest

    In your opinion, of course.

    Food is so subjective. We have enjoyed five cruises on Zuiderdam and enjoyed every dinner we were served. That is not to say that it is the finest food we have ever enjoyed anywhere or even more specifically on an HAL ship, but we enjoyed the food....most particularly we enjoyed lunch in Lido. We thought it very good. We always had Room Service for breakfast.
  14. "Wow! What a disappointing time my spouse and I had on the Zuiderdam. We just returned from an Eastern Caribbean cruise (5/28 to 6/4)".

    Thank you elise 0125

    I have found over the years on the few cruises that we have taken, that HAL has gone downhill somewhat, but at the same time most of the Mainline company's have done the same, so if you want that extra touch, change lines to you find the one you like.
    Next, I hope that you and your T/A has informed HAL of all your problems, with names and dates, so they can be addressed by the right people, so this will not happen in the future.

  15. scubachic

    scubachic Guest

  16. elo13

    elo13 Guest

    An even dozen HAL cruises since 1995 (first on the old Westerdam). Yes, a little bit of deterioration in the service level - but not much. But something KrazyKruisers said (above) - we've never been on one of the Vista Class ships, and prefer not to (in our view, bigger is not necessarily better), but we've been on three of the S's (sorry Veendam, we'll get to you), the Rot VI (three times) and the Amsterdam, and the Prinsendam (three times). Maybe it is the V-class ships. The Zuiderdam got clobbered in this and other chat rooms when she first came out, if I remember correctly. I really don't know, but I do know this - we are very fond of HAL food (way better than RCL or NCL for sure, on a par with our only Celebrity cruise, and almost as good as grill on QM2). So that comment really surprises me. We've never been on Princess. We'll be on Rotterdam on January 28th, and Prinsendam next fall, and we'll be watching.
    My advice, FWIW, don't give up on HAL.
  17. jas2

    jas2 Guest

    Everything is a matter of opinion. I was on the Zuiderdam last year, and while it wasn't my best cruise or my favorite ship, I didn't let it spoil my vacation. I was afterall on a ship and not sitting at work so how bad could it be? What the Zuiderdam did well, they did VERY well (shows, private island). What they didn't do so well, what did it matter? I didn't have to cook, clean, make my bed, do dishes, or go to work for 2 weeks, so I was happy. Even though I probably wouldn't sail the Zuiderdam again, I don't rememer anything except the good things about the trip. The things that bothered me are long gone from my memory. Life's too short to waste time on negative thoughts for too long.
  18. ShipMaven

    ShipMaven Guest

    I like your attitude, Janine! :thumb

    Not every ship is always going to be perfect, but it's nice to go aboard with an open mind, and look at the proverbial glass as being half-full instead of half-empty.
  19. tjsalyer

    tjsalyer Guest

    I was on the Zuiderdam that week also and had a wonderful time. I did notice that they had issue with water at BBQ at Half Moon Cay. I just assumed that because it was blazingly hot they were having trouble keeping up(ice was melting too rapidly). I just waited about 5 minutes and had no trouble getting water. We luckily had fantastic service in the upper dining room and found the ship to be very appealing. I live in Ft. Lauderdale and love to go watch the ships sail out in season, and more often than not they are delayed for some reason. I heard the Captain mention a delay, but paid no attention to why. We had great weather and a wonderful guest entertainer (Alfreda Gerald). Our cruise director was in his first week and thought he did a fine job. We love the design and layout of the Vista class ships. My review is posted under Tim S.
    I'm sorry to hear you didn't have a good time.
  20. Wow! It's quite interesting to see how opinions can differ so greatly over the same experience. I think that it is a shame that you had such an unpleasant experience with HAL. I am leaving for my 3rd HAL cruise. All three cruises have and will be on the Zuiderdam. I did a 7 day October 2004 sailing as well as a 9 day 2004 New Year's cruise. We are leaving on the 10th of September for yet another 7 day on the Z-Dam. I have loved every minute of my time with HAL. I have received excellent service and felt very well informed and taken care of at all times. I think that it ultimately relies on the attitude of the cruiser as to how the vacation will go. If you are looking for things to be wrong, then you will certainly find them. An open and fun attitude goes a long way toward the enjoyment of a cruise. There is no true perfection in life. Ships are run by human beings who are variyingly flawed. If you don't like HAL, as others have said, I would probably stick with which ever line you feel most caters to you needs. Good luck with future ventures and happy sailings!!!

    Zuiderdam 7 day Eastern Caribbean October 2004
    Zuiderdam 9 day New Year's cruise exotic Western Caribbean December 2004
    Zuiderdam 7 day Western Caribbean September 2005
    Carnival Valor 8 day Western Caribbean February 2006

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