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Zuiderdam - Post one - the Bad Stuff

Discussion in 'Holland America Line' started by coolgirl, Jan 6, 2003.

  1. coolgirl

    coolgirl Guest

    Well I am back from the cruise and do not have good things to report. All of the complaints by prior cruisers were correct. While this was my first HAL cruise many who were more experienced were even more upset as this was not near HAL's traditional white glove service. Specifically - here are my critical comments about the ship and the service - the good ones will come in the next post:

    1. The attitude of the staff in general was poor. Even the officers seem unconcerned with the passengers issues or requests. Most avoided eye contact so as not to have to speak to passengers. Others did things like cut in line for food in front of passengers who had been waiting a long time. Very unprofessional behavior across the board.

    2. The language barrier wit the majority of the staff was significant. FOr example, when I asked how a dish in the dinning room was made or if an ingrediant could be excluded the waiter just stared at me - (this happened repeatedly).

    3. We had to search for the wine steward and wine list every evening

    4. My water was never refilled until I requested a refill and wait staff often took my dishes before I was finished. The food was hit or miss - some was very good but some was VERY bad. This was particularly true with the various cuts of meat.

    5. No one directed us to our cabin - the Staff stood around the elevator doors talking to each other and when I approached they seem bothered to be interupted and pointed down the hall. I am not sure they even understood what I was asking them.

    6. No one ever offered to bring me a drink in the casino and even the dealers had trouble tracking down wait staff. I felt a bit angry having to fight to buy a drink.

    7. The Hotel manager rudely told me the reason there were no college football bowl games broadcast on the ship was because the company did not want to pay the $10,000 it would have cost. (That would have been a drop in the bucket in the drink prices they could have collected!)

    8. It was clear that corners had been cut across the board. The tile in the bathroom was already chipping, things did not look new - I almost wondered if they had used recycled materials from other old ships.

    9. The ship is unbeleivable noisy. At the aft of the ship there is a large thudding noise which gets louder as the ship goes faster. If it is at full speed you must almost shout to be heard at the very aft tables in the dinning room. The clatter of the china makes a terrible noise as well.

    10. The boat rocks more than any cruise ship I have been on and the waters were pretty calm during my cruise. (Take motion sickness medicine if you are at all prone to problems)

    11. While some did not like the ports of call I did - Guatemaula, Cozamel, Key West and Half Moon Cay.

    12. The shore excursion staff was not knowledgable and did not even know about thier own excursions so as to answer questions about HAL trips ashore.

    13. Many of the public restrooms stunk to high heaven and often were out of order. I referred to one stretch of hallway as the Stinky Hall.

    These are my general complaints - and seem to be those of others I spoke to as well.

    However, this cruise had many good points which I will detail in my next post.
  2. SueClark

    SueClark Guest

    Please post the rest soon. It is very interesting to get everyone's opinions. We are booked on her 2/1/03 and I really need to hear more of the good stuff.

  3. sail7seas

    sail7seas Guest

    Those are many of the reasons why we always wait until a ship has been sailing AT LEAST 4-5 months before we book her.

    The crew has to learn a new ship and get used to working with each other....the kitchen has to get into its rhythmn and the plumbers have to do their work. etc etc

    It seems the ship was not ready for passengers and the early bookers did not get the usual HAL product.
  4. Lady Jag

    Lady Jag Guest

    That's exactly what I think the problem is too, sail7seas. I'm hoping it's because coolgirl was on one of the first sailings. If things don't get ironed out, we'll cancel our Zuiderdam cruise. But, then again, everyone complained about the Radiance of the Seas being so terrible at first and 7 months later we went on her and had the best cruise of our lives. Anxiously looking forward to the good points, if there were any.....
  5. cruisernh

    cruisernh Guest

    I am hoping for the issues to be ironed out but since this is our first HAL cruise we won't know what really to expect for service. We are going on the Z in April. As long as it is warm and my balcony has a lounge chair I am SET!
  6. SueClark

    SueClark Guest

    The second part of this review is up on the Cruise Critic board. - Just in case you can't wait for it to be posted here.

  7. ANSalberg

    ANSalberg Guest

    After having been on several [5] HAL ships - MANY of them have very similar layouts - We found we acclimated ourselves EASILY to the Volendam because we had been on the Zaandam. I'm sure it is that way with the workers too- getting from point A to point B is relatively easy almost immediately....But the design of the Zuiderdam is TOTALLY different so switching from one ship to another can't have been THAT easy. Now- next summer -between Zuiderdam and Oosterdam should be easier -because they are identical.....Anne:daisy:usa:CO
  8. E.Smith

    E.Smith Guest

    i am sorry you had a bad trip.I have sailed on Hal 5 times and always injoyed them never had a bad experience.I am going on the 25th and looking forword to it.I am going to call Hal to ask about points you made.I am a mariner thay will anser me and i will reply.
  9. Debbie Mumaw

    Debbie Mumaw Guest

    I have to say, we just returned from the Maasdam, our first HAL cruise and probably our last. While nothing was really bad, it also wasn't great! We expected lots more from this ship. We traveled with another couple who had only done Carnival cruises and we had only done RCCL before so we expected maybe too much after all we had heard. The service was far below what we had received on either other line. The food didn't even compare to Carnival or RCCL. We did fall in love with some of the staff though. Armando and Richel in the Explorer Lounge were out of this world, we loved them and hated to leave. Our room steward was very good and so was Juliet in the Java Cafe. We never once had anyone approach us in the Lido and ask if we needed anything, offer to carry our tray or clean dirty dishes off our tables. Couldn't get anyone to get us drinks by the pool for hours at a time.
  10. sail7seas

    sail7seas Guest

    Whoa.......sounds like Maasdam has slipped ALOT. I do know that some of the senior crew that was on Maasdam is now on other ships and it appears to be showing. Hopefully, their replacements will get Maasdam back to where she has been. Sure goes to show what a major difference it makes who are the Senior Officers!

    (Debbie---you are not the first person who made these observations and I know you are correct).

    It does break my heart a bit to hear what is going on there. as I have loved that ship for a long time.
  11. Debbie Mumaw

    Debbie Mumaw Guest

    sail, we had a wonderful time nevertheless. Like I said, some of the crew were so special it was hard not to love them. We were just surprised at how much they let slide. We had asked for cappuccino in our suite and were told no, we understood. I asked for caesar salad one night at dinner and was told "only on formal nights". Our friend called and asked for their ice bucket to be refilled, they were asked to wait until their room was cleaned that night! They said, "We need ice now." It was brought to them then but we thought it was strange to be said no to so often. Minor things to be sure, none that made the cruise bad just puzzling since HAL is so famous for their extraordinary service. The other thing we found strange was that they called colors and numbers for disembarkation and when we all got downstairs the doors were still closed so people trying to come down the escalators or elevators couldn't get out. It stayed like this for almost 15 minutes, then someone finally came and opened the doors. I am claustrophobic so the bottleneck was really starting to bother me, we couldn't move and everyone already down there was getting angry every time someone new came down the escalator. Felt like they were trying to break the line, but they couldn't go anywhere else once they got down there!
  12. sail7seas

    sail7seas Guest

    "Little things" add up...When you are repeatedly disappointed or less than satisfied, it makes for less than an ideal vacation. None of the requests you mentioned above seem, to me, to be out of order or extraordinary. They seem to be rather routine things people always ask for. I know they would have cheerfully been fulfilled....in the past.

    But....the mess at disembarkation may not have been Maasdam's fault. Immigration Officials may have given the okay to start calling numbers and then withdrew that approval. They completely control disembarkation commencement and when the doors can be opened. We have seen nightmare scenarios and have later learned "what the rest of the story" was and ship's personnel were just as disturbed about the chaos as were all the pax.
  13. Debbie Mumaw

    Debbie Mumaw Guest

    I think you are right about disembarkation. A HAL employee showed up after about 15 minutes and opened the door. I am not sure what happened but I don't really believe it was HAL's fault. The only real problem was impatient people. Sometimes people just want to complain. Like I said, the people who took the escalator down were not well accepted by the others already down there, however, they couldn't do anything about it once they got on the escalator. We couldn't move at all. There were several less than friendly comments made about breaking line etc. I thought that was uncalled for but it takes so little to get some people started!
  14. Mrs. B

    Mrs. B Guest

    My husband and I are sailing on Feb. 8th. Someone please tell me the problems have been worked on the Zuiderdam. I am mostly concerned with the thudding, shaking and rocking. Does anyone know if this has been repaired??
  15. Phyllis Fox

    Phyllis Fox Guest

    We sailed on the Rotterdam (Panama Canal) one year ago and we experienced the same problems as you. Will never sail HAL again.
  16. Polly

    Polly Guest

    Well, I have good things to day. I posted this on another message board, but seems like some would like to hear something more positive here.

    Zuiderdam Cruise: Jan. 11–18, 2003 New ship, December 2002/Note: Opinions, not a review, as we are not qualified with so few cruises in our past.

    Our cruise started with an overnight stay in Ft. Lauderdale, as we had friends in the area, so booked our own airfareâ€â€nonstop and cheaper too! I have two cruises behind me and hubby had none. He was very excited about his first cruise and afterwards thought it was wonderfulâ€â€he didn’t want it to end, nor did I. While these are our opinions/thoughts, others may have different feelings. But I hope everyone who sails on her will find his experience as wonderful as we did.

    Embarkation was smooth. Our friends dropped us off at the dock about 2 p.m. Our bags were immediately taken and we entered the terminal to get processed. It took less than an hour. We were then given a number to board the ship. But, there was no wait; we walked right on. There were people to point you towards your cabin, but not individual escorts. This didn’t bother me. Finding your room is simple. We got upgraded from Cat G to Cat. D, (an outside cabin with a full view (but not floor length window) from an outside with partial view (obstructed by a lifeboat) so that was a nice surprise. It was also on the main deck opposed to Deck 4. Very nice location near the front desk and the atrium. At 194 sq. feet, it looked just like pictures we had seen before, and roomier than we expected. The bathroom was nice; plenty of room to store things, including a medicine cabinetâ€â€the shower/tub worked fineâ€â€very good water pressure and plenty of hot water. The hairdryer was permanently positioned in the room, not the bathroom, but that was fine with me, as I could sit and use the dryer while hubby was in the shower. The bed was fine; double pillows, and situated right in front of the window so we could turn around and sit up and watch in the evening and morning water and skylights when we went to bed. You had your own thermostat. We hardly changed it all week. The temperature was very constant. Our cabin steward Imat was nice. Everything was always in place and replaced as needed. We didn’t have one complaint or missing item that we had to ask for. Each night you get a program of the next day’s activities, as well as the dress code for the dining room. Oh, yes, the room had a mini bar that is replenished as you use it. At charge of course. I could have liked a daily TV accounting of our expenses as some ships have. A friend said this was possible on the Carnival Victory. I think it is a nice touch so you can keep track. We saved all of our receipts and compared them with the totals we got the night before last. You then get another one the last night. Everything checked out fine.

    The ship itself is big and beautiful. If you’re looking for a fancy Atrium 5 to 10 decks high, you won’t find it here. It is just 3 decks high, very nice and elegant though with a rotating $400,000 crystal seahorse at the top. It overlooks the Atrium bar on deck 1. The entire ship is designed with art of many formsâ€â€sculpture paintings, glassware, and flowersâ€â€all beautiful to look at. Colors of carpets and window treatments are bolds in turquoise, blues, reds, pinks, oranges, yellows, and purples. Some have said it is gaudy. We loved it all. Simple, ordinary designs and colors would have been boring.

    The ship is easy to navigate, as there are ship maps and signs posted by the elevators/stairways. Taking an elevator never had much of a wait nor were they ever crowded. And speaking of crowding, sometimes we felt like we were the only people on the ship; there were few walkers at night on deck 3 on which you can completely encircle the ship. Even within the ship we never felt overcrowded in the leastâ€â€often wondered where all the people were. And it was almost a full ship; one source said just 100 short.

    I guess a lot of them were on the Lido deck which is the buffet deck and pool deck. While we had a few breakfasts there, we opted to have most of our meals in the main dining room. So, we can’t give a fair opinion on the buffet food. I must say the food looked good, but the lines were long, and it seemed to me if you did the buffets, by the time you got your food, beverages, etc. and been seated, some would have started to cool. It is just not our thing. But I must say there were always plenty of people doing just that so the food must have been good. Much of it was the same thing we got in the dining room anyway. We like the seating, service, the no-waiting, and hot food that the main dining room provides. Some like the casualty and flexibility of buffet eating. We had the early seating, which gave us plenty of time after to see the shows, visit the lounges, and partake in other activities. We did use the Lido for the ice cream bar, desserts (always plentiful but closed after a certain hour), coffee, and pizza on occasion. One disappointment was the ice cream bar. There were a few ice cream, yogurt choices, and a couple of containers of toppings, one was a watery caramel and the other looked like berry. Then there was a brown plastic bottle of Hershey’s chocolate. Yes, the kind you find in the supermarket. That was a bit tacky to me. It was right out there in the bottle; I would have preferred a nice thick fudge topping, or caramel one. There were some sprinkles and jimmies and a couple of alcoholic cordials to put on top also. Still it was fine. Since there is no midnight buffet on Zuiderdam, you may be out of luck when late night hunger hits you. There is 24-hour room service too, but we never got to that point.

    Main dining room food was excellent in our opinion; we ate there every night but one. There are numerous menu choices and we tried many; were never disappointed and had clean plates every night! Service was fine, not like I remember 10 years ago, but no complaints there. I think the passenger has to put the servers at ease, as many of them seem very quiet, but the crew was always smiling and doing their job, that is for sure.

    One night we paid the extra $20 per person in the Odyssey restaurant. No regrets there. It was the most wonderful, elegant meal we have had anywhere, service was very good; food was excellent and presented very nicely, beautiful crystal and china was everywhere. There were about 8-10 main course selections. We had filet mignon and it was perfectâ€â€very big, as we chose the Odyssey cut, rather than the smaller cut. We also ordered a bottle of wine there. It was just a very nice couple of hours and a leisurely meal. Next time we might do it a second night.

    There are afternoon teas, consisting of tea and desserts, little sandwiches. We went to a couple of them, one of which was the dessert extravaganza (afternoon also), in which the cooks made a lot of desserts, nice ones at that. There was one ice carving, the only one I saw on the ship, but it was nothing like midnight buffets I’ve seen in the past. Holland America is supposed to have a Dutch Chocolate Extravaganza one day. I thought it would be a midnight gala with carvings, the works, and all chocolate. I never did see it on this trip. I forgot to ask, but am thinking this particular afternoon tea was it. So, if that was it I am disappointed, as I was looking forward to totally going nuts on chocolate. Someone out there, help. Did we miss it?

    The lounges were all nice. We preferred the Ocean Bar, Crow’s Nest, Explorer’s Bar, but visited them all. Missed a drink only in the Sports Bar. We used them during the day and early evening mostly before there were too many smokers. What would be nice are smoke-free bars. I know Carnival has one totally smoke free ship. Ditto for the casinoâ€â€smoky. But, you have choices; you visit places when it is less smoky. And we did. There was never a problem finding a place that we were happy at. We saw pool parties going on, games, etc, but didn’t partake in them. We were too busy exploring. Queen’s Lounge had game shows, dancing, entertainment, other things going on. Movies too. It is a smallish lounge, but adequate for these smaller shows. But not for movies. This was the worse spot, as the screen was down to the floor, and anyone sitting behind another had a very obstructed view, as there was only one level of chairs. The chairs were movable, and people were constantly moving them to try to see. A tiered floor plan would help. But, since it is a multipurpose room, considerations have to be made for different activities being held there

    Entertainment is top notch. The dance troupe that performed 3 nights was superb. We spoke to 2 of the kids when we spotted them on the ship one day in normal everyday clothes, etc. Nice kids. So much energy. They came from CA and signed up for a 6-month stint. They are wonderful. The pianists, comedian/magician, comedian/juggler of other nights were fantastic as well. Everyone seemed to have fun, both the performers and the audience. Highly recommended. We didn’t miss one show. The crew also puts on a show one night. All the shows last less than an hour, so there is plenty of time for other things. They sure pack a lot into the timeslot allowed.

    We used the gym (treadmills) a few mornings that we didn’t go ashore. There are plenty of machines/equipment of all types, plus free classes. Cycling and Pilates are extra. The spa was great but extra and expensive, so did not use any services there. The large hydrotherapy pool was partially not functioning, so it was free all week to whoever wanted to use it. That was nice, but since only part of it worked you had to wait your turn to "get to the bubbles" Still, the warm water felt good.

    Other things to mention. Pools are nice; there is a library, internet center (fee), coffee bar (extra, but very reasonably priced coffee drinks); sports deck (11) for basketball, volleyball, badminton; never saw anyone use it, but know there were scheduled activities for these things as well. Deck 10 was Observation deck (views on both front and rear of ship) and this is where the kids club is located as well (indoors). No knowledge of that, but we only saw kids in it once or twice. Shopping area consists of about 4-5 rooms all together. Something different each night is on clearance or special so don’t buy the first day! Last night was clearance on t-shirts, but I didn’t look closely enough; the one I bought had a crooked emblem on it.

    W saw few children running about anywhere. When we did see them, they were generally well behaved and with their families. Saw a few very young families as well. Yes, I guess older couples seem to be in the majority, as most HAL ships are. There were young couples and singles as well, but, we get along with anyone, and there was plenty of mix for everyone to mingle if they wished, or enjoy the time together alone. To me, on a ship, everyone is out to have an enjoyable time and we’re all the "same age". However, they need to get more young people on the ship. That would be wonderful, as there is a disco that was almost bare. Perhaps their reputation of being for an older crowd will be hard to change. Hopefully word of mouth will help change that! We are young 50s and we were up late every night having a blast!

    I won’t go deeply into ports of call, or make recommendations, but we did choose to go on our own after reading books prior to the cruise, for flexibility as well as expense. I will just tell what we did.

    In Nassau, we just did a horse surrey ride through town for about a half hour, then walked around on our ownâ€â€shopped, walked a lot and had a few beers. It was fun.

    St. Kitts was beautiful. We hired a cab driver along with a few other couples and did a 3-hour tour of the island with a stop at Brimstone Hill Fortress (which we wanted to see) and Caribelle Batik. He then dropped us at the shopping area near the dock. For this it was $11 each plus $4 admission to Brimstone Hill. Saw a lot of the island in the ride too.

    In my plan to do St. Thomas, St. John: I had to change it. It took forever to get off the ship; I still don’t know why, but it was way too long. Immigration? Customs? We got numbers, and I guess they let people going on excursions off first. By the time we did get off, I thought there would not be enough time to go to St. Johns and do St. Thomas as I planned so rather than take the chance, we opted to go to Sapphire Beach and relax. It was wonderful, and by hiring our own cab driver got to see much of the island just by driving to the beach (I purposely found a far one to do just that). It was on the far end of the island, so we got good views on the ride and a great beach at a private resort, open to the public, no fee, and $5 an hour for snorkeling. The snorkeling was great for right on-the-beach snorkeling. We saw hundreds of KINDs of fish. The hotel was cooking out lunchâ€â€burgers, hot dogs and chicken sandwich plates for $6, and $2 beers. Weather was perfect.

    BTW it was perfect all week, from 80 to 85 or so. Sun almost all the time. It rained one day on ship for about 15 minutes. What more can you ask for?

    Finally Half Moon Cay. What can I say? It was perfect. It was a great relaxing day before the end of the cruise. (Most visit Half Moon first, then Nassau last, but we chose this one for a nice ending to it all.) Hammocks, chairs, beach, powdery sand, walks on the beach, and barbecue lunch. This private island is beautiful. We had fun in the outside bars too, watching all the activity from our barstool. While many watersports/boats are available for extra cost, we only rented rafts and snorkeling gear. Snorkeling was good when you went way out to the rocks that hang out, but more varieties of fish were seen in St. Thomas at Sapphire Beach.

    Would we sail the Zuiderdam again? Definitely. But with a different itinerary. I would do St. Thomas again, only to get to St. Johns, but Nassau and St. Kitts were seen and done with. We found the ship wonderful in every way. Never a dull moment or lack of things to do. The few petty things we did find (as mentioned above) did not take away from our enjoyment at all. A cruise is what you make of it. Where else can you get so much for what a hotel room at a nice resort would cost alone? We had the week of our lives in every way. But I sure would like to know where that Dutch Chocolate Extravaganza is? I’ll be sure to write Holland America about it. If it was there and we missed it, then we didn’t read our daily paper thoroughly enough, but I think what I was expecting was just not what it was meant to be.
  17. WE STILL EMBRACE THE NOTION THAT OUR 2/22/03 CRUISE WILL BE EVEN BETTER THAN WE IMAGINED---lots of YOUNG PEOPLE on a fully chartered boat with entertainment we enjoyed just 4 months ago in Provincetown! --Rob (of Rob-Roy)
  18. Mau

    Mau Guest

    Robert - You go Guy, Your trip will be fabulous.

    For those who don't know, you can do your Immigration forms on-line via the HAL website and then use an express check-in. This should save lots of time at embarkation and reduce complaints about line-ups and wait. You can also book shore excursions this way.

    Sounds like you are determined to have fun Rob and I hope you do. I sail on Apr 5th.

  19. Suki

    Suki Guest

    Zuiderdam - Post one - the Bad Stuff
    Author: coolgirl 
    Date:   01-06-03 16:32

    Back then you said, ".........critical comments about the ship and the service - the good ones will come in the next post..........."

    Did you post under another heading? Can't find anything??????????????????

    LMSMINK Guest

    We just returned from Zuiderdam today and I CAN'T AGREE WITH YOU MORE about this ship. If it weren't for the couple we were traveling with, who were wonderful, we would have gotten off at St. Kitts and flown home. As a veteran of over 60 cruises, 5 of which were on HAL, I'd rate this as a minus ZERO.

    We had a balcony cabin on Deck 7 at the back of the ship. A wonderful, extra deep balcony that was totally unuseable. It was a big trash recepticle for ash trays, soda and beer cans, straws, used towels and anything else floating down from the Lido deck. The first day I sat outside with a book to enjoy a lovely afternoon at sea, and after about 10 minutes a beer can (with beer) came crashing down on the deck, followed by an ash tray full of butts! And that ended the balcony use. We reported it to the hotel manager and got a "sorry" and a bottle of wine!

    Also, embarkation was a nightmare. It took over 3 hours from the time we arrived at the port. And we didn't sail until 11:30 pm because of a broken on the prop that they couldn't get fixed. That cut our time in Nassau down by a few hours.

    Debarkation was almost as bad.........Oh, so slow! (We just went on RCCL's new Navigator of the Seas in February and were off the ship before 9.) Today it was 10:15 before our feet touched terra firma.

    Needless to say, a letter is going to the home office on Monday...............

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