Zuiderdam 6/28--7/5 Opinion



Hi Everybody!
It wasn't the best cruise I've been on--or for that matter the worst either. I can say I never want to go on the Zuiderdam again, and have my doubts about HAL from this cruise--being this was our first time with HAL. It certainly did have that Carnival feel to me. I know from previous postings this is something HAL is doing different to try to lure a younger crowd....they sure got them on this cruise....lol. We would still really have to think long and hard before we'd book another HAL cruise.
To start off boarding the ship really went quite smooth for us. Not much of a wait in line and we went quickly on to the ship. Had to sit up on the Lido deck till our rooms were ready at 1:45. It was nice as we were hungry, but it was very, very crowded. Got to the 4 deck and were escorted to our cabin. We LOVED the cabin, it was bigger than what we're used to and had a balcony. We usually take inside cabins as we live right on the water in FL. This cabin was a really nice change for us, and was only a couple of hundred dollars more than our original N inside guarantee.
We went down to see the Matre'd to change our table as we requested a table for 2 or 6 in the front upper level and got a table for 4 back lower level. She was rude to us and said we would HAVE to take that table and that was it -- period. We never encountered this problem before on all the other lines we've cruised on, they at least try to accommodate us. I complained at the main office about her. Later we came down to dinner and were able to see our table, which we didn't like and went back to her again. This time she gave us a table in the upper front for 6 people, maybe they told her of our complaint ;~). In our opinion the dining room food was nothing to rave about. We did hear the vibrations in the lower dining room, but it was not too bad to us; we could have lived with it. It was much, much worse in the dining room on our Celebrity Century sailing in '96.
Key West was nice as we hadn't been there it years--but HOT!! Will never book a cruise again this time of year!! We usually go in May or October when cooler and far less children. I understand there were over 400 children on this sailing, they were even in the jam-packed ADULT ONLY pool when we were there. If it's peace and quiet you crave go to the Observation deck (10) it's wonderful. They even have showers there to cool you off and comfy chairs, a really nice touch.
The next night for dinner was Dutch night and we ate in the Odyssey specialty restaurant. The food on that nights menu didn't sound appealing to us at all. We loved the Odyssey and felt it was worth every penny of $20 pp. We did tip the waiter extra too. The filet minion you could cut with a fork, crab cakes were the size of 2 quarters tho, very disappointing, as were the scalloped potatoes. The rest of the sides were excellent. I ordered the Baked Alaska and the size was enough for 3 people, they flamed it table side. The entire serving experience was top notch. We went back on the last night, again with excellent food only this time ordered the Volcano desert--if you're a chocolate lover, it's to die for! As far as we're concerned we should have eaten there every night. We really don't drink or gamble that much and we found this to be one of the nicer things on that ship.
I have really seen much better shows on the other cruise lines. I like big Broadway production shows with lots of fancy costumes....didn't see any on the 2 productions they did have on board. The one night we saw the piano player (I Love piano music) we thought we would get nice relaxing music -- nearly got blasted out of our seats at the Vista lounge....LOL We understand he played another day classical music; but we didn't attend. The one night I played in the casino I found it too smokey for me and had to leave. I did manage to get in a lot of reading as I found not much else to do. We're not into rock climbing, but it would have been nice to have a cooking demonstration or something other than drinking, casino or bingo to keep you occupied. Our cabin steward was very nice & friendly to us and kept our room spotless. Maybe the tip we gave him at the start of our cruise helped...lol.
Cruisecritics.com managed to all meet in the Explorers lounge on Monday and it was so nice putting faces to e-mail names. Kudos to Eileen as she did a great organized job!!
Hubby wasn't feeling that great while on board, he had this persistent cough that seemed to get worse as the cruise progressed. The last formal night in the dining room he started choking on something and I rushed him outside the dining room. Finally-- a captain came to us and asked if he should call the infirmary, I said yes. He then handed the phone to me and I spoke with someone who proceeded to tell me just what the prices they would charge us to OPEN the infirmary ($100) & then for the doctor to see him ($75) by the way it was about 6:45pm. I was under the impression the infirmary would ALWAYS be open with 1800 on board. I would have hated to have someone with a heart attack and have them start telling the family the prices, not a good feeling that's for sure! When we were on Celebrity & Princess and unfortunately had to use the infirmary; it certainly wasn't handled like HAL did to me. Not even a call or note the next day just to see how he might be feeling. Fortunately my hubby was all right and didn't need the infirmary, but it left a bitter taste of HAL with us overall.
We too waited for the chocolate buffet for 10 minutes after it should have opened. The two entrances were jammed in with all the people; we decided to forget it and went to our cabin. I heard some of the reviews--I understand we didn't miss a thing...lol. The folk dancing tour we took in Cozumel was nice and the combined land & Nautilus tour was nice in Grand Cayman and worth the money, in my opinion. There was a definite sewage smell by the bathrooms near the Queens Lounge; that is really the only place we did smell it tho. The cloth towels throughout the ladies rooms were a really nice thouch. The flowers on the ship were the most beautiful that I have ever seen aboard any ship. Half Moon Key is also the most beautiful ship island I have ever been on, HAL has really done and outstanding job there. The first day tendering was a disaster in my opinion. Waited 45 minutes in the lounge for the tender, fortunately left early enough for my tour at 12:15. HAL sure needs better organization there. Got much smarter for Half Moon Key tender and we were on the first tender out at 8am. Got to the Vista lounge at 7:45 am and there were only 10-15 there. Were the first to arrive on the island, got a cabana & float--no problem. By 9:30am every cabana was taken & no floats left. With all the extra beach on the island HAL could have put out many more cabanas and had more floats. We were the only ship there, wonder what they do when they have more than one?? On our last morning we walked out of our cabin at 7am to have breakfast in the dinning room, but we got the feeling we were pushed to get out of there right away on our last day. We had breakfast in the dining room almost every day; very slow in service during the other days. (didn't mind the slow service----breakfast was GREAT!) Never ate lunch at all, as we eat a big breakfast. Was very disappointed with afternoon teas, certainly can't hold a candle to the Princess tea time. I'm not really crazy for tea; but just love it on board Princess tho. I guess I was expecting the same thing on HAL.....wrong! We found the string quartet in Explorers lounge every evening to be nice & relaxing for us, with a nice mix of music.
We had no problems what so ever disembarking, live just 10 miles from Port Everglades and brought a good book to relax in the Vista lounge while waiting to disembark. They called our number around 10am, but we waited till the last ones off (10:45 approx.) Had no long lines or any trouble finding our luggage; found a taxi right away and were on our way home in no time. Hopefully, they will work out the problems for future cruisers.
I'm going with my Mom on Sept 21 with the Grand Princess (my 3rd time) for her 80th birthday and can't wait!! I love the cruise line. Hope this was of help to you who have reservations on the Zuiderdam for future sailing. As I said wouldn't go on Zuiderdam again, not the best and not the worst cruise for us.

Marion Paris

Thanks for the information. We are sailing on the "Z" next weekend.

So much negative and positive comments on all the boards I am eager to check her out myself and add my two $$.

HAL droped the price of the cabins for our cruise and I was not able to get my cabin upgraded and pay the additional $50pp to go from an inside to a balcony cabin. That really P _ _ _ _ D me off. Celebrity always gave us the discounted rate, even after we were paid in full. HAL did move us to an outside cabin at no additional cost - BUT not what I wanted - I was more than willing to pay the additional $$ for the balcony cabin. Oh well, live and learn. Evidentally HAL does not give credits or discounts to passengers who are already booked, the great rates are just for new bookings!!!!!

Anyone else have this kind of experience with HAL. This is our first HAL cruise and already I don't like how they do things. I will keep an open mind and plan to have a great cruise.

There is no such thing as a bad cruise - just a better cruise.

Thanks again


Sometimes there is a large disconnect between what the Home Office of Cruiselines do (are like toward passengers) and how the crews on the ships treat passengers.

Sometimes you wonder if it is indeed the same company.

Seattle makes the decisions; the crews on the ships have to do cope with those decisions.

To board the ship angry with the decision makers in Seattle, deprives you of the opportunity to fully appreciate and enjoy the wonderful crew aboard the ship.

What is done is done; the decision Seattle made is not to your liking and I understand your displeasure with their policy. Nevertheless, that is their policy. After final payment, they most often deny the benefit of future promos or price reductions to pax who have made their final payment. The benefit accrues only to new bookers (in most cases). It is known that is their policy and not many folks like it. Why would we?
But, they do not keep it a secret. That is their published policy.

But....If I may so bold as to offer you advice; put it away. Board the ship expecting to be treated like a guest, not a customer. HAL crews are fabulous (in my very jaded opinion :) To board with a preconceived notion of not liking HAL serves only to set you up for unhappiness aboard. Why cheat yourself of the opportunity to have a wonderful time?

Hope you have a wonderful cruise. :wave

Marion Paris

Yes, I fully agree, thats why I said "I will keep an open mind and plan to have a great cruise." :jump

I was just wondering if there were more people who have had the same experience. As mentioned, this is our first HAL experience so I am learning as I go.

Seven days and counting - how exciting.

Sail7Seas this is your second time on Zuiderdam, correct:? If it was good enough to bring you back again I am certain we will have a wonderful cruise.


Yes, Marion, this will be our second time on Zuiderdam. We totally enjoyed our b-to-b's in April. (Admittedly, we did not expect to particularly like this ship). We had already booked our upcoming set of b-to-b's before we cruised in April BUT we had not made final payment and there would have been no cancellation penalty had we chosen to cancel this second set of cruises. IF we were not booked for these cruises, we would have booked ASAP upon returning in April. We had a GREAT time aboard.

I hope you enjoy the ship as much as we do.


As always....I love to read sail7seas! Cruising the Z June 12, 2004.