HAL's New Vista class ships -What do you think?



What do you all think of this new ship and what it will offer HAL guests old and new?

"When Holland America's elegant ms Zuiderdam begins her inaugural season in the winter of 2002, all eyes will be upon her. For she will be the first of a new class of cruise ships aptly called the Vista Series - forward-looking in both design and spirit. On board, l,848 pampered guests will enjoy more space per person than any other ship in a fleet already known for its stylish, spacious comfort. Plus, more outside staterooms with ocean views and private verandahs. More convenience, including Internet/E-mail data ports in every stateroom. And more delight: expanded spa facilities, three sparkling pools, and blissful 7-day cruises through the Eastern Caribbean. "

ms Zuiderdam Ship Facts

Year Introduced: 2002
Gross Tonnage: 85,000 grt.
Length: 951 feet
Beam: 105.8 feet
Maximum Speed: 24 knots (service at 22 knots)
Ship's Registry: The Netherlands
Passenger capacity: 1,848

Passenger Accommodations:
Penthouse Verandah Suite: 2
Deluxe Verandah Suite: 60
Superior Verandah Suite: 100
Deluxe Verandah Outside: 461
Standard Outside: 165
Standard Inside: 136
Total Number of Staterooms: 924

Public Rooms:
Crow's Nest: 270
Smokers Room: 26
Golf Simulator Room: 8
Children's Playroom: 61
Lido Restaurant: 446
Concierge Lounge: 25
Main Show Lounge: 867
Meeting Rooms: 90
Internet Cafe: 24
Coffee Corner: 28
Piano Bar: 70
Sports Bar: 42
Casino: 200
Disco: 80
Alternative Theater: 170
Alternative Restaurant: 130
16-Hour Café: 62
Explorers Lounge: 74
Main Dining Room: 1,045
Casino: Blackjack tables; slot machines; dice table; roulette table; stud poker
Spa Facilities: Gymnasium fitness center; dual saunas; loofa scrub room; massage rooms; beauty salon/barber shop; tennis practice courts.

Premium cruise ships offering the ambience and greater intimacy not found on megaships.

Space ratio of 46, even greater than spacious existing ships of the fleet.
Exterior elevators, vertically transversing 10 decks and providing panoramic views from either side of the ship.

Spacious staterooms, nearly 85% of which will feature an ocean view.
67% of all staterooms have verandahs.

Wide variety of accommodation categories, with more categories featuring verandahs.
A new "cabaret-style" show lounge, complementing a three-level main show lounge.
Expanded spa facilities.
Internet café and coffee corner.
Internet/e-mail dataports in all staterooms.
Extensive Club HAL children's facility, with indoor and outdoor areas.
Concierge lounge for the exclusive use of suite guests.
Dining options, including a two-level main dining room, a casual "round-the-clock" cafe, and an alternative restaurant.
Two interior promenade decks.
A covered exterior promenade deck encircling the ship.
Large Lido swimming pool beneath a retractable magradome.
Azipod propulsion system.
A new disco and the signature "Crow's Nest" observation lounge/nightclub.
Extensive multi-million-dollar art collection.
New facilities for the physically challenged:
-- A total of 28 wheelchair-accessible staterooms in various categories.
-- Dedicated elevator for wheelchair users, to assist with tender embarkation.
-- 2 tenders equipped with wheelchair-accessible platforms
-- Accessible areas at the bar counter and other public desks, wherever possible.
-- All public rooms accessible.


Ooops...I should have waited to post my response to your question here, John. I already wrote on the "Community Board" thread.

But to sum it up...time will tell. We are booked for back-to-backs in April and are hoping the crew will be able to maintain the same high level of service and the same friendliness on the new, much larger ships. The crew interaction is one of the major things that brings us back time and again to HAL. Without that same atmosphere and wonderful service, IMO it won't matter how beautiful the ship is or how many choices it offers...HAL will "lose it's identity" and not be the cruise line we love.


Just another me too ship that looks like the new Carnivore, Celebrity Milie, and RCI Radiance class ships. Ships now are so dull. You see one, you've seen them all.

Benjamin Smith

I agree with Stargazer. The new HAL ships sound like a mix between Carnival Spirit/Costa Atlantica and the Celebrity Millennium ships. A ship gets a certain size and intimacy is sacrificed. I also don't like so much emphasis on "do you own thing" in cruising, I like the more traditional approach of HAL and Celebrity. The rows of balconies make all of the new ships look like floating motels.

I like the HAL Statendam class ships and the Rotterdam ships are just a bit bigger. The Vista class doesn't excite me much, and I wonder why HAL would order 5 of them before seeing how the first of the series is received. I think HAL is trying to bring non-HAL cruisers in, and that will affect the type of cruise experienced onboard.

I tihnk lines should have as many ships as they have loyal customers. I think both HAL and Celebrity are trying to expand too much (led by their parent companies), and it'll affect the quality of their products.

Larry Diamond

Jan. 11, 2003 I will sail the HAL Zuiderdam, and I am expecting the same type of service that I have received on other Hal ships. I don't expect the reputation of HAL service will be any different on this ship as with any other ship in the HAL fleet, regardless of size.


I agree with Larry. I think HAL has been at it long enough to have thought out the whole ship, and what passengers have been asking for on their survey cards.
Benjamin, what would these non-HAL cruisers personally do to alter your cruise experience? Also, maybe HAL has more loyal customers than ships and thats why they are building more?

Benjamin Smith

I think anyone going on a HAL ship should expect a fairly traditional and quiet cruise. I think behavior of pax should be altered to the environment the cruise line is interested in maintaining. If people choose for deals or itineraries and not for lines sometimes problems can be created. Those sailing HAL should not expect the wait staff to sing and dance, hairy chess and sexy legs contests, and other such attractions. Some people treat every line the same as some things that are OK on some lines are inappropriate on others. It isn't my cruise experience I'm worried about, it is more the whole cruising community onboard the entire fleet of ships and how HAL lovers are affected. If I want line X I go to line X. If I want line Z I go to line Z.

I don't think the lines need as many new ships as they are ordering, I think the expansion is forced. HAL's not alone, too many new and too similar ships (across the lines) are being introduced to the cruising public.

As far as the Vista class I think it is much wiser to build one, test it, see what suggestion the repeat cruisers have and I would weigh them more than the occasional HAL cruiser or the new-to-HAL cruiser, and then incorporate suggestions into the new ships. Some public areas may need to be larger, smaller, in a different location, etc. Also, what type of mechanical issues will the ship have? Celebrity's first Millie class ships spent too much time out of service with mechanical problems. Also, now Celebrity has found out that their aqua spa is not in a good location, that their Michael's Clubs aren't producing much revenue and all 4 ships now will have to be refigured. If they had brought these ships in at a much more sensible schedule that would not have to retrofit the ships and looked into the mechanical problems so that so many cruises would not have been cancelled.

Mostly what I don't like is the cruise industry marketing the new. Ships can be refurbished, alterations can be made, but it seems to me the industry is interested in attracting new passengers with spanking brand new ships. Now, ships 6 years in service are considered "older" ships which is ludicrous. Ships used to be built to sail for 30 plus years, now after 15 years they are retired and are becoming obsolete at around 8 years in service. I don't see how this industry can continue at this unprecedented rate of introduction of new ships. And, where new ships used to be an event, it is now a nonevent, just so, which line is introducing how many new ships this year. And, they are all getting bigger, what mainstream line is producing a ship under 80,000 tons? It used to be HAL. Now it is none of them. While the new ships claim they are big to provide choice for passengers where is the choice to sail on something Statendam class? My worry is once these ships are retired, and the Statendam is about 10 years in service now, and the Veendam 6 or so years, will there be this choice for medium-sized ships in the mainstream market?

Lady Jag(Bobbie)

Thank goodness!! (in response to Benjamin's first paragraph above!) How will we ever survive without hairy chest contests, etc.? :grin :lol

We've been wanting to try HAL for quite awhile, but haven't really felt like we'd feel comfortable on one of their ships until now. The Zuiderdam looks like it's right up our alley - sophisticated yet casual, fun yet quiet and with all the ammenities we look for. According to the TA's promo brochure letter, HAL is targeting our age and socio-economic market and in our opinion, they've done it well so far, but time will tell - less than 9 months to the Zuiderdam! :dance


I have a feeling many will be pleasantly suprised. I was given a brochure with deck plans of this new ship. I've been on two Carnival Spirit Class ships and the Millenium. They are all different and this ship is just as different as the others. I can see the similiarities that many point out... at first site it does look as they are copies in design. I think this is where it ends. Maybe it is because we are all cruising more and they are building so many of each class so quickly that we feel over exposed. I know I really enjoyed the ships I mentioned above that are around this same size. It does have a very intimate feeling when in this 75-90k GRT's. In the end, It will ofcourse come down to each persons opinion and I think many as before will try and like it. :)

Its the details that seperate these classes from another and a hull design from the rest of the ship. You can't see these from a drawing.


Barring any unforeseen change in my plans, I'll be sailing a preview cruise in December prior to Zuiderdam's December 14th inaugural. I'll be glad to post a review.
I have a brochure full of artists' renderings (not the regular brochure), and she appears to be quite nice. Quite frankly, I hadn't been overly impressed until I saw this particular brochure - then proceeded to book a penthouse suite next year. What can I say - HAL's penthouse suites are VERY addictive. ;)

As many know, Carnival Corporation placed a large order for a number of the same "bottoms" to be divided among Carnival, Holland America and Costa. HAL is slated to receive 5 Vista-Class ships - Zuiderdam, Oosterdam, Westerdam, Noordam and ?-dam.

I, personally, feel that it will take awhile for all the "beds" of the newbuilds to be absorbed, which may continue to keep fares depressed.

In 1997, I had a most interesting technical conversation that lasted several hours with a ship's Master (line and captain will remain unnamed). Our conversation can be summed up by saying that ships (which, essentially, are mostly assembled in prefabricated sections) are being cranked out too quickly - the main reason for delayed inaugurals and technical problems requiring unsheduled drydocks or wetdocks. And, at that time, the world situation/terrorism and the economic downturn weren't considerations to be factored in.


I had an e-mail from a friend of ours who is in Venice with the ZU now...part of the "take out team". He said he thinks the decorating may be the most beautiful yet of any HAL ships. He's a very elegant gentleman with exquisite taste, so this is high praise.

I, too, have the brochure Maven referred to and it is extremely well done IMO and makes me so eager to board her and "see for myself" LOL (We better like her as we have two sets of back-to-backs booked on her already---how's that for faith in HAL?)


Cunard is taking one of the ships, unfortunately. I would rather Cunard build something unique, as they are with the QM2 than take a cookie cutter ship that HAL will have 4 just like it (only with a different funnel). But also unfortunately, Carnival owns Cunard AND HAL.


Carnival and Costa are building ships with exactly the same hull as the Vista-class ships. A 'blanket' order was given by Carnival Corporation for a number of ships with these same bottoms - the fitting out to the specifications of each line will make the difference.

Cunard has had a hodge-podge of ships since they panicked in the late 1960's, and sold off their fleet. Their purchase by Trafalgar House was a disaster, and hated by Cunard through the years. Say what you will about Carnival, but they have infused plenty of badly-needed funds into Cunard, in an effort to restore them to their former glory.


Well from what I have seen in pictures, Cunard's "Vista Class" ship and the HAL "Vista Class" ships look *exactly* the same on the outside (with the exception of Cunards funnel). Yes, I'm sure they will have different carpets and walls painted different colors, but i'll bet my bottom dollar that the layout on the inside will be the same as well. It's all about corporate economy these days, and it's all really unfortunate to my mind. This is why I hate Carnival owning all these lines. "Blanket Orders" for ships that all are cookie cutters of each other distributed amongst all the different lines Carnival owns. Now they are set to take over P&O Princess. Ugh!!! Right now Cunard has a fleet (counting the new QM2) of three completely unique ships, the Caronia (well, I don't know what happened to it's origianal twin, the Sagafjord), the QE2, and the QM2). Plus, all three of these ships *look* like *liners*. The "Vista Class" ships are the same old horrible ugly modern day cruise ship design: boxy (what ever happened to the graceful rounded curved "spoon" stern, or the concept of "tumble home"?), prefabricated, jagged edged, just well *ugly*. I'm an Ocean Liner buff (love the 1930's, you know, the Normandie, which is my all time favorite, the Queen Mary, Queen Elizabeth, Bremen, Europa, Rex, etc. etc.), so if you understand that, you can probably understand why I feel the way I do (don't even get me started on what they are *naming* ships these days Ugh! RCI is one of the worst offenders, Cunard and HAL, the best at naming)...I'm just a traditionalist. You'd have to *pay* me to get on an actual Carnival Line ship (ugly ships that are gaudy floating Las Vegas hotels) and RCI? Please!!! Roller Blading and Rock Climbing? Am I on a ship or am I at the Chelsea Piers Sports Club? Well, I've gone on quite a bit here, but I'm sure it's crystal clear where my point of view comes from......


Well, KDS, I actually grew up sailing the old liners...and, specifically, RMS Queen Elizabeth more than any others. She's my all-time favorite. For many years, we made 4 crossings a year on her. Also sailed on, or visited, many, many of the liners of the golden age of trans-Atlantic crossings. In fact, several years ago, I was videotaped for about two hours by CBS for a documentary they produced for the Discovery Channel called "Superliners". Unfortunately, the producer later decided to change the focus of the show from the perspective of the seasoned traveller to a more technical concentration on the ships' "hardware". But I'm still in there from time to time.

For those of us who knew intimately, and loved, the old superliners, QE2 was a huge disappointment, especially in her early years. I first sailed her in 1969. Compared to most (not all) ships nowadays, she has come up a notch. ;)

There ARE ships currently that are beautiful and offer excellent service. Unfortunately, if we sit and dwell on the past, glorious liners that no longer exist, those of us who actually EXPERIENCED them will continue to have nothing but memories. RMS Queen Mary in Long Beach is a heartbreak to me. If we pick and choose carefully from among today's ships, we can, indeed, find some nice ones even though the exteriors no longer have those beautiful, classic lines.

As for Vistafjord (now Caronia) and Sagafjord (now Saga Rose), allow me to make a correction. They are not twins - similar, but not twins. Vistafjord started service after Sagafjord, and she's somewhat larger. The NAC Officers who still were in command of the ships in the 1980's/1990's were NOT at all happy when Cunard took them over. Cunard took a terrible nose dive after Trafalgar House acquired them. Carnival Corp. saved Cunard from extinction.

My family and I always sailed in First Class. IMHO, the major improvement nowadays over the beautiful liners that we loved is the fact that (except for Cunard's dining separation according to cabin selection) the passenger sailing in the minimum catagory cabin has complete run of the ship and is not prevented from using any area accessible to passengers. The accommodations, small as they might be on some ships, are FAR superior to Tourist (Third) Class and Cabin Class accommodations on the older ships, where toilets and baths were shared. And what were Transatlantic Class cabins, especially on Deck 5 on QE2 (and comparable on Norway), were miserable accommodations...and to this day, need to be chosen carefully.

We each have our favorite ships and cruise lines, and another nice aspect of sailing nowadays is that there's a ship and a lifestyle aboard ship that suits everyone - and while some ships/cruise lines may not exactly be my cup of tea, I never criticize those who preferences are different from mine. I don't want to be criticized for my choice of cabin or ship, nor would I criticize someone whose choices are diametrically opposed to mine. We go aboard ship to savor the experience, whatever it may be.


Well, all you say is true, in regards to even the lowest grade cabins being better than the lowest grade cabins on the liners of yesteryear. I was indeed also aware of the shared bath situation in third and even second class on the those storied ships. However, I do like the idea of the seperate restaurants on QE2 and QM2 (though QM2's arrangement is better). It's a link to the traditional past. As for different lines and styles, yes I suppose there is a line for everyone, but you'll never catch me on Carnival or RCI (once again, roller blading? rock climbing? Nooooo....) You also won't catch me in those forums either, becuase if I have nothing nice to say, I'm not going to go in there and say not nice things....

Tell me what was dissapointing about the QE2 to your family when she debuted? I know that when Cunard built her they built her with both crossing *and* cruising in mind....did that have anything to do with it? I know that from an aesthetic point of view, the funnel was originally not the traditional red and black, and it is my opinion it looked real ugly. Thank goodness they got back to more traditional looks in that department. I also know the ship suffered technical problems. Well, I'd really love to hear of your experiences. Have you seen A&E's "Floating Palaces"??? So excellent!!!!! Pity the producers descision to change the focus. Such a program doesn't really capture the personality and life of the ships, which is what made them the legends they are. Bad descision on his or her part.....




I so enjoyed reading your post, Maven. I always relih when you share some of your many memories of the glory days of cruising. Please.....more of the above.....

Does Discovery ever rerun the documentary? I'd love to see it.



I hope I won't be boring anyone because I've said some of this before....

My first ocean voyage was 52 years ago. I'm a "ship" person. I was blessed growing up with luxury ships, and I still prefer the luxury/upscale ships. However, since I am now a travel agent, I find it wise to know the ships that Clients enjoy, and I've cruised on a wide variety of ships that would not necessarily be my personal first choice. But, this has broadened my horizons...and my overall enjoyment of sailing.

Forgive me for sounding like I'm lecturing, but "never say never". I had two excellent lessons this year.

The first one - since our Agency had a group on Star Princess to the Mexican Riviera early this past Spring, I decided I should try her even though I would never want to sail on one of "those mega-ships". I don't like crowds on ships, and I went on board against my better judgement. To rub salt into the wound, I had Clients sailing from the same port that day on Crystal Symphony...and I longed to be on that ship. I had tears in my eyes as I watched Symphony sail. But...I had to admit that I had a beautiful suite on Star Princess--very tastefully decorated, spacious and comfortable. I saw some of her standard cabins and balcony cabins, and they, too, were very nice. By the first night, I had grown to LOVE Star Princess. Beautiful marbles, mosaics, woods, murals throughout the ship and, despite 2600 passengers, NO crowds anywhere. Service was outstanding, cuisine was excellent, the ship was well laid-out. I was most impressed by "Personal Choice" dining. I admitted that I was completely wrong in my attitude, and very glad that I tried her. I'm looking forward to sailing on her again, and I am proud to have a group on her in New Zealand/Australia in 2004 - all of my Clients in that group are Holland America and Crystal people. That's how much confidence I have in the product.

Second lesson - last month. I love Holland America, and find them second only to Crystal Cruises in some things, and on a par with them in others. On HAL, I choose the Penthouse Suite or the full Suite. I admit to being spoiled by these outstanding accommodations. Not only are they comfortable, but they have huge verandahs. I couldn't really understand why anyone with these accommodations would want to bother with the Neptune Lounge - HAL's Concierge lounge for Suite and Penthouse Suite guests. The lounge is in the interior of the ship - who would want to spend time there? WRONG. Ryndam (and Statendam) just added a Neptune Lounge (Rotterdam and Amsterdam already have it), and I was aboard Ryndam. I found myself having breakfast, lunch and snacks in the Lounge (enough food for me!), and only twice ventured beyond that for food during the day. The Concierge was MOST helpful in everything. I now welcome the Neptune Lounge concept. Holland America also added an alternative restaurant (Pinnacle Grill) on Ryndam and Statendam, with an extra $15 per person charge for dining there. Who would want to spend the $$, thought I, when the alternative dining venues (Marco Polo on Volendam/Zaandam and Odyssey on Rotterdam/Amsterdam) carried no surcharge? Nevertheless, I booked a reservation for my friends and me. It was one of the most outstanding culinary experiences of our lives, and well worth the $15...and more! We returned a second night. Now, I would urge anyone sailing on Ryndam or Statendam to try the Pinnacle Grill.

Even though I probably have more crossings and cruises under my belt than anyone else on Cruise @ddicts, I can still learn. ;)

Now, to answer your question about QE2. It was a combination of many things - design and service. Cunard was in deep financial trouble in the 1960's as the jet gained popularity over ships crossing the Atlantic, and they sold off their fleet at an alarming rate. It was a heartbreak to see RMS Queen Mary sail out of New York on her last voyage, and an even greater heartbreak for my parents and me to see our beloved RMS Queen Elizabeth depart a year later. We were accustomed to an extraordinarily high level of service...and the Cunard name carried a certain mystique that was synonymous with an outstanding seafaring tradition. Fine officers; crew members who had been with Cunard for generations and PROUD to trace decades of service on the ships. As the fleet shrank, instead of keeping those loyal employes, Cunard dismissed them as redundant and when QE2 appeared on the scene, except for some of the officers and VERY few of the crew, Cunard hired all new personnel who didn't know bow from stern, port from starboard. Instead of the neat, crisp uniforms (often with white gloves) that the stewards wore in the dining rooms, they and the cabin stewards now wore white turtleneck tee-shirts that made them look like they just emerged from a gym! :( Service was terrible and food was mediocre. In First Class, once you left the dining room at night (First and Transatlantic classes were separated, including the public rooms), you couldn't even get a cup of coffee. The few stewards who were left from the former Queens had tears in their eyes as they had to keep saying "no" to service that was formerly offered.

As for design, building QE2 at Clydebank turned into a nightmare - one of the crises that hastened the demise of shipbuilding there. Lots of sabotage during her construction. But Cunard kept changing plans for her, too - single class ship, three class ship, two class ship. They finally settled on two classes - there was an infamous set of stairs in First Class that literally led up to...a wall. That's now hidden in crew's quarters or, perhaps, done away with completely during one of her refits. At night in First Class, they would be vacuuming carpets with L-O-N-G extension cords hanging from one deck to another. They forgot to put enough electrical outlets along the corridors. Air conditioning early on was totally inadequate - the designers had not taken the humidity into account when designing the system and it was unable to cool the ship properly. Cunard filed a multi-million pound suit and it was later corrected. Great - you're at sea and some genius forgot about salt air and humidity. The late night dance venue was known as the Q4 Room (she was designated Q4 in the shipyard)--supposedly with latest state-of-the-art disco equipment. The ship vibrated so badly that the equipment was useless. :( Oh...to start the voyage, she arrived late in NYC, so we boarded late. She had lost power at sea for a few hours enroute to New York. We're sitting at the dock...and the lights go out. She lost power again! We had a cold dinner by candlelight while still dockside, unable to sail. I believe we were 6 hours late throwing off our lines.

My last voyage on QE2 was in 1990 - Cunard's 150th Anniversary cruise. In 16 days, I came down with a "gastrointestinal virus" (read: food poisoning) twice, and lost 10 pounds. I said "that's it". But I would like to try QM2. ;)

Yes, I saw A&E's "Floating Palaces" and have the video...but haven't watched it in a number of years.


Sail - thank you.

I believe Discovery Channel does do reruns occasionally. The show is called "Superliners". Don't blink, though, because they really did a hatchet job in editing those of us who were interviewed as "veterans". :(