I've only been on 2 cruises, and the Zuiderdam was the second. The first cruise was HAL's Rotterdam. The excellence on that cruise, ship, staff, etc. spoiled me quickly and created instand cruise addicts out of my wife and I. We had a great time on the Zuiderdam, but it didn't measure up to Rotterdam. We do extensive reading on Cruise Critic, Cruise Mates, and this board. Overall, based on my reading, and prior experience with HAL, I don't think the Zuiderdam experience is totally relevant to HAL's reputation. We like HAL, and Zuiderdam didn't turn us off on HAL. As a matter of fact, we have 2 more cruises booked on HAL right now (Veendam and Ryndam). With my limited experience, I am a HAL loyalist of sorts. Don't let what happened on the Big Z cause you to avoid HAL's other ships.
Regarding the vibration - I certainly agree with you. On the first night of the cruise, at the beginning of late seating (roughly 8:15PM), the steward was leading us all over the place looking for table 196. In doing so, we ended up in the aft section of the lower level, at the tables along the windows. I specifically recall being at #194, among others while they were trying to find our table. The stewards couldn't find our table, which resulted in our tour of the lower level dining room. The vibration and noise along that area of the aft dining room was awful. We even mentioned to each other that if our table was in this area, we were in big trouble. The rumbling noise I heard, and vibration that I could feel just standing there was bad and FAR exceeded the vibration level that I felt on the Rotterdam in the same area (besides, I expect some vibration and a little noise, since this is a big machine pushing us through the waters). We ended up being lucky, because table 196 (ours) was in the forward area of the dining room, just inside the door. At that location, it was quiet with no vibration noticed. Some folks will argue that this vibration isn't even there, yet many, many people have reported it. Further, HAL themselves acknowledge the problem, worked at avoiding it on the Oosterdam, and plan on fixing it on the Zuiderdam. I was sitting next to a HAL sales rep who was taking the cruise, and he was explaining some of this to a concerned passenger. If the problem doesn't exist, why does HAL admit it, and why are they going to the expense of taking the ship out of service for a week to fix it? It has been said, and I believe the posters, that the Capt. slows the ship during dinner to cut back on the vibration. I'd hate to experience what I felt if the ship was at top speed, if it wasn't. Could it be that some folks who didn't experience the vibration were in the early seating and things were indeed different (better) at that time, perhaps due to a slower speed at that time? That's a possibility. I don't think anyone is less than truthful when they say they didn't experience vibration. It's just that THEY didn't EXPERIENCE the vibration. Bottom line: The vibration is most certainly there, and it's bad, and they plan to fix it.
The vibration problem, and other various issues ,both postive and negative, reported by all of us posters are just reports on our own experiences with our personal environment on the ship. Reports on bad service varies because different posters had different staff waiting on them. Problems with rooms vary as much as the rooms and room stewards do. If someone happens to have great staff waiting on them in the dining room, and attending their rooms, they will have positive views. If yet another person has bad luck and ends up with inefficient staff involved with their room and table, things can be very bad for them and result in a very poor review. Some things we write about, such as food and entertainment, are indeed subjective opinions based on our own tastes and preferences. We all need to keep these things in mind and not consider someone else wrong because they saw, smelled, felt, or heard something different.
Just came back from a walk to the cruise terminal here in SF to see the Zaandam and Island Princess today (That's a pretty ship w/ all the blue glass and the neat funnel!!!)
Comparing Zaandam (which my boss is booked on in two weeks) to Oosterdam (which I am booked on in Feb) it occured to me the probable reason Zuiderdam has such issues w/ vibrations in the lower dining room - the dining room on Vista Class is an entire deck lower than in the other HAL ships! It's no wonder there are vibration issues being that much closer to the engines!
So unless HAL moves the Vista Dining Room up a deck, or installs really big rubber engine/pod mounts (both fairly unlikely...) or discovers that the design of the propellers causes cavitation at high speeds and replaces them w/ a new design (that's what solved Normandie's vibration in the late 30's) - there will probably always be vibration in the lower dining room when the engines are running at full clip.
Brian - Good points indeed. I wasn't able to hear all of the conversation, but the HAL rep on the ship was talking about some experimental system whereby air is forced into the propeller area. Somehow, the air causes vibrations caused by cavitation to move away from the ship. Sounds weird for sure, but there must be something to it. He was saying that the US Navy was trying that on subs since the cavitation gives away their position to the enemy (if nothing else does). I don't know if this is what they have in mind or not, just something I heard a partial discussion about. Sounds interesting in any instance.
If anyone is interested in learning about the Azipod propulsion systems, go to Google and enter - Azipod Proplulsion System. There will be enough articles to keep you busy for a long while. They are said to virtually eliminated ship board vibration and noise. Back in '98 Carnival had some trouble with bearings on Azipods. I didn't see anything relating to Azipod problems on the Big Z. Another interesting tid-bit, is that the MS Amsterdam has Azipods, being the first HAL ship to have them.
My wife and I just came back from a Western Carribean Cruise on the Zuiderdam. It was my first so I don't have a lot to compare it against. We spoke to a number of vertan crusiers while on board and about 80% of them siad that the Zui was the best ship they had been on. If you want a relaxing cruise this is a great ship. The mainly older crowd consists of a lot of retirees. No late parties or drunken revelry here which is just fine with us. But there was a good smattering of young mid 30 to early forties people as well. the service was amazing. Did not meet with any rudeness or indifference from the Indonesion or Filipino staff. They were exteremely friendly and helpful. We felt like royalty. It was only he American and Dutch staff who ran the shore excursion desk and were the officers who tended to be more aloof. Teh food was great. I think the staff was a bit overworked. But they always had big smiles and were in a great mood. This is quite an acomplishment considering that they work 20 hour days seven days a week.
As for the sewage odors. Smelled none except when walking past one cabin probably resulting from a passenger who left his bathroom door open.
The ship is big and we got lost early on quite a bit. The directions on the ship were not that helpful.
Vibrations were definetly noticeble. Anyone who says otherwise must have spent most of there time in the upper forward decks. The closer one got to the lower aft dining room the more noticeable it got. When the ship was using its side thrusters or going at full speed the ship virbrated. Our table was right at the back on the lowere level and it the virbation could be felt and heard above our conversations. We didn't mind too much however since the view out of the back window where we were eating was always spectatular with the wake of the boat often set against a sunset - a great way to end the day. We also noticed some faint vibrations in our cabin which was on the fifth deck halway between midship and aft and also in the queens lounge which was mid ship. One other curious thing we felt was the boat tended to rock side to side in absolutely calm waters. I can only guess that the ship didn't take on enough ballast so it could cruise faster while riding higher in the water.
The choice of food was overwhelming and catered to a wide variety of tastes. The quality seemed to improve as the week progressed. There are plenty of opportunities for strolling the decks either on the promendae deck on level 3 or the top observation deck. The lounges were largely empty past 11:00 o'clock. We never felt crowded except during the tendering process.
I didn't care too much for the shows. he quality was OK but I not much of a show person.. The juggler/comedian was very good. The standup comic was good. The ventroliquist just transferred from an Alaskan cruise ship and gave us all his material from Alaska - jokes about bears and glaciers. The dancers and singers were good if that is what you like.
Overall it was agreat experience and I couldn't beat he price. Paid $699 for a verandah cabin. There was no
And "Luv the sun" is now HOOKED on cruising! [laughing!] I'm SO glad you had a marvelous time- because that is what cruising is all about; a TOTAL sea experience! The Indonesian and Filipino crew will ALWAYS treat you well- They are one of the MAIN assets of HAL -and most experienced cruise tell HAL that OVER ANDOVER AND OVER! They are a WONDERFUL group of human beings.....I can specifically name you at LEAST a dozen who have made all our cruises extraordinary [ probably MORE] and we hear from a few periodically; they became friends! You did pay a good price- but what you eventually find out is- You can't even PLACE a price in the cruise experience! Now that we are retired -we cruise at LEAST 2 months a year; no more sweaters at Christmas - just sign me up for another week! ! Welcome to MY world!
Looks like the answer to the title of this string is "NO." Early reviews from Oosterdam cruisers are positive with no reports of the the kind of problems experienced on the Zuiderdam. Lynn has posted on this site a particularly scathing review of the "Z" , suggesting it continues to be a troubled ship. It looks like HAL has learned from its Zuiderdam experience. If anyone comes across more reviews of the Oosterdam I'd appreciate it if they'd post the links on this board.