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Old January 18th, 2008, 01:04 AM
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Zuiderdam – review/summary

As this cruise nears its completion it’s probably the time to attempt to reflect and summarize my thoughts about the Zuiderdam. I don’t believe a full review will be forthcoming because it would lose its relevancy once the refit work of the dry dock is completed.

I will say that the onboard experience was a good one. The Filipino and Indonesian crew are the staples of staffing on Holland America ships, and on the Z they represent that tradition very well. They are friendly, and generally do their very best to assure the guests are happy with their service.

At times, and in certain areas, they did seem to be under staffed. For example, we often took our breakfast outdoors to the aft Sea View Pool area. Many mornings breakfast trays could sit on tables for extended periods of time before being picked up and the tables cleaned and cleared. Even bar service on the pool decks seemed to be slow, and it appeared to be a staff shortage issue. After having been in the bar business for over 30 years it’s relatively easy to spot which are personnel problems, and which are lack of personnel problems.

As discussed the ship has some areas where she appears worn and a bit neglected. But she has an excellent layout which results in very good traffic flow. By the nature of the layout, and the size of the ship, you’ll find yourself running into people you’ve met and seen during the cruise quite regularly, without having to arrange meetings. This helps make it quite a social ship.

One area that stands out for its rather ill conceived design is the main showroom. On the lower level there are simply too many poles (support beams) which disturb the site lines for all acts using the stage that aren’t standing in one place. Therefore the best site lines are from the seats above on Deck 3, but then the distance to the stage, on Deck 1 is a bit of hindrance.

There a problem that this ship shares with all the ships I have sailed on the last several years; and that is the amount of junk mail being delivered to the cabins daily. It’s bad enough these days to battle SPAM emails coming into your home computers. But to face the paper equivalent bombarding you in your cabin is truly bothersome. It seems as though we are getting more advertising delivered than we are information. In the confines of a small space of a cruise ship cabin the problem gets more exasperating.

Tomorrow’s report will cover the 10th anniversary celebrations of Half Moon Cay, with HAL CEO Stein Kruse, and the Prime Minister of the Bahamas…. as well a report of the state of the island today.

On Saturday we arrive back in Ft. Lauderdale where this little adventure began, then we’ll transport down to Miami to board the Carnival Freedom.

I’ll be beginning anew on Saturday night posting a daily blog from that cruise. I hope that all of you will come on over to the Carnival message board to cruise along and follow our antics from that cruise. I think even devoted HAL passengers will find some interesting similarities, differences, and comparisons in those reports.

In the meantime do be sure to come back here to hear all about Half Moon Cay tomorrow!!
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