I recently returned from 3 weeks on the new Zuiderdam and found the ship to be great! Yes, it’s a departure from the HAL norm – bigger, brighter colors, but it’s designed for Carib/Alaska 7 day cruises and is trying to attract more younger clientele. My first week, they had over 250 kids on board (spring break) but they were rarely intrusive (except for the last day). I talked with a HAL rep who told me that the Oosterdam will have more subdued décor.
First I’ll address the “odors problem:” THERE WERE ODORS EVERYWHERE!! The Windjammer café always smelled like bread/cookies/coffee! The Lido restaurant smelled like Italian or Chinese or American food!! The grill area smelled like tacos and burgers!! The mid-ship pool smelled like a swimming area!! Some of the bathrooms smelled like they’d been used and cleaned!! And the promenade deck smelled like the ocean!! TERRIBLE!! Can’t they remove these odors?? And a lot of the women smelled like perfume at night!! Puhleeze!!
Itinerary – I won’t go into it – there are plenty of reviews about locales elsewhere…
The Pros: Many familiar friendly faces from Maasdam in the bars/crew/staff. The first week I was in a cat. A cabin and it had plenty of space. Well kept by Herudiante. Some of the storage areas are hidden (under the bed and under the loveseat). Bathroom had plenty of space and never had toilet problems. The second week I was in a Penthouse suite (also with Herudiante doing the housekeeping), and it has some glitches. My main complaint was that the lighting was either “on” and very bright, or “off” – no smaller lamps for the beds. The TV system in the bedroom doesn’t work very well – it’s IR sensor is below the cabinet molding so didn’t work well. The tv/stereo system in the living room sounded very good, once I figured out how to use it – quite complex. TV was pretty poor – CNN-financial/ESPN/TNT and the local movie/info channels. The bathroom in the PH suite was magnificent – big as the whole Cat A cabin! The shower (with Plexiglas door) had sprayers/spigots everywhere with strange devices I was afraid to try. Strong water pressure. The tub – wow – could seat 3 easily – 6 whirlpool jets and lighted under water! With a REMOTE CONTROL!?! It took me 2 days to figure out how all the controls worked. But it is a little tall to get in to & out of…
Gold plated twin sinks and faucets in the main part, another in the toilet/bidet ROOM, another in the guest bathroom. Closet space – tremendous. Bed – King-size, but solid to the floor – no storage space for luggage underneath. Oh, yeah – almost forgot the ELECTRIC Curtains in all rooms. Two writing desks, makeup table (well lit – like I needed it). Beautiful artwork including 19th century bronze statue (perfect for holding Mardi gras beads) and 19th century oil painting. The verandah – again huge – 4 chaise lounge chairs, 2 easy chairs, dining table, and whirlpool. THIS whirlpool is quite tiny – good for one – too shallow. Nice wooden ceiling and dividers on the verandah. The entertainment – Paul Pappas (main stage pianist) is a good technician, but not very big on feeling. The Las Vegas-style shows are great. Didn’t see others. In the Piano lounge, Matt Newbold is a refreshingly different act for HAL – young, fun, great Billy Joel/Elton John stylist and sing-along stuff, no matter what the Captain’s wife thinks (a long ugly story for a later date). Bar service was good and they usually remembered what I wanted after the first order, and knew me by name. One SUPER staff guy – Mark Dirk Zeller – the Bar Manager – super! The first day I asked him if they had Bacardi “O” orange flavored – he said no, no one had asked for it before. The next day, he went in to town and bought 10 bottles of it, of his own money, and at noon, proudly told me that the bars NOW had Bacardi O!! – Now THAT’S SERVICE!! Food at the Odyssey was superb. Believe it or not, I never ate in the main restaurant – it was either Odyssey or Lido – the first night I went to the main restaurant and saw my tablemates and decided against it – sorry, I know that’s judgmental of me, but I’ll just leave it at that – nothing racial, nothing ageist, they just looked unfriendly. Lido food was great, minimal lines, no trouble getting a table. Leaving the ship on the last day, since I had a suite – I was off the ship and out the door with my luggage by 8:05 a.m.!!! Lots of little innovative things everywhere.
The cons: just a few… PH suite problems mentioned above. Staff was undermanned (Hotel manager told me that they were having huge problems getting people from S.E. Asia their work visas so were almost 150 undermanned). The Queen’s lounge really needs to be re-done for sight-lines – it just doesn’t work. A little crowded in the Ocean Bar and Piano Lounge at certain times. The crow’s nest was highly underused and almost seems too large, with weird separate rooms. One person told me he’d gotten the Norwalk virus and the Doctor was rather surly with him, telling him it couldn’t possibly be virus and he couldn’t possibly have gotten it on the ship. I got a little bug a couple days later, but don’t think it was Norwalk. I saw the doctor (a new one) and had no trouble, but it cost $150 including 5 pills. Public bathrooms – WAY TOO FEW! But the same HAL rep said they’re already adding more to the Oosterdam (possible reason for it’s delay?)
All in all, IMHO, it’s a fabulous ship and I’d gladly sail on her again.
Long time HAL folks – realize it’s not your grandma’s HAL ship, but their old ships aren’t all disappearing immediately so you still have the options…
I didn't see or hear of anyone else getting sick with anything (well - there was one guy with a black eye)...
In my case, I usually get a case of "cruise-crud" due to severe change in climate (from Arctic to tropics) on every cruise...
Sorry to bug you, but was just wondering where you stayed your 3rd week? still in the PH or did you move to a different cabin. Also if you have stayed in the PH on the other HAL ships, how do you like the new layout?
I was in the PH for the last 2 weeks. The layout was great, but there seemed to be a lot of wasted space or overkill - especially in the area of the Butler's pantry - guess I could have stored my luggage in there - didn't get used too much, but it might, if you do a couple dinners ensuite.
The other thing I think they could do without was the outdoor "hot-tub" - too small to really appreciate.
I haven't stayed on any other HAL PH's, but this one is quite a lot bigger, at least by Sq. Footage.
They're double doors, locking, and they weigh a ton. When open, they blend into the walls seemlessly. Herudiante (the steward) likes to close and latch the left door, leaving the right door open, when doing the turn-down service at night. The latch is hidden near the top of the doorjamb.
There's also a door from the foyer into the dining room (useless IMHO), door seperating the toilet/bidet room from the sink/tub/shower room in the main bath (but no door enclosing the closet from the bathroom), door seperating the toilet (no bidet) room from the sink room in the guest bathroom, door into the butler's pantry, double sliding doors onto the verandah from the dining room.
Wonder why they didn't do the PH lighting like on the Amsterdam. Every room had dimmer switches so you could really have mood lighting depending on what you need and want. We really loved the PH on the Amsterdam and I think the lighting was great.
My husband and I are thinking of a Caribbean cruise for our June 15 wedding anniversay. We are deciding between the Grand Princess, Explorer of the Seas or the Zuiderdam? We are BIG Celebrity fans. Just cruised on the Millie in Feb.
Would you say the Zuiderdam is the best of these three?
We have never cruised on HAL before. But have cruised on Princess, RCCL and Norwegian.
I've been on Ocean Princess, QE2, Crystal Harmony, several Carnivores, HAL Maasdam, NCL Wind, but never Celebrity or RCCL. NCL and Carnivore are the least classy, Crystal was the best (food/service/cabin/ ship overall), but more expensive. QE2 was ok. Ocean Princess was nice. I think HAL has slightly better service than Princess. Food was very good on HAL. Explorer has more to do on the ship, but of the 3, I'd do Zuiderdam again in a heart beat.
My next one, though, is the Queen Mary 2, then probably a Radisson Paul Gaugin in Tahiti.