February 08, 2004 – February 15, 2004
Voyage Number 26
Deluxe Veranda Suite
We sailed on the ms Zuiderdam’s 13th voyage last February and although there were some issues that caused us some concern, it was a totally enjoyable cruise. The mean spirited reviews I’ve read of her are totally and completely exaggerated and unfair. A good time was had by all of us in spite of a few minor glitches the crew had getting used to their new ship.
Our cruise last week on her sister, the ms Oosterdam was by far the best cruise experience we’ve had.
Where do I begin?
We stayed at the Hyatt Regency Pier 66 for 2 nights to relax before our cruise and we highly recommend you do this. The hotel is great with rooms with marina views and a lovely pool. The hotel is only minutes from Port Everglades and you can purchase this Pre Cruise package via HAL. It is well the worth the money in order to get yourself nice and relaxed for the cruise. Transportation from the airport and from the hotel to the ship was included.
Since we had a Deluxe Veranda Suite, Embarkation was a breeze. We had our own area to check in, no line, no waiting. We simply walked up to the counter, provided the agent with our documents, received our boarding cards, went through security and were on the ship within 15 minutes. This was our second cruise with HAL’s Deluxe Veranda Suite and it is truly a treat. Very spacious, nicely decorated, a changing area, and large bathroom with whirlpool tub and shower stall. Cannot say enough about how much we loved sitting on the veranda, which was huge, as we enjoyed our morning coffee. We will never book any other type of cabin and it is money well spent.
All guests in Suites enjoy the compliments of the Neptune lounge. A wonderful perk which included coffee/tea service all day, drinks, snacks, finger sandwiches, etc. Arlene who works there is a sweet, lovely person who will help you with anything you need. As a matter of fact, Arlene remembered us from when we were on the Zuiderdam last year and was happy to see us again. Rudy, our cabin steward, was fantastic and he couldn’t do enough for us.
The ship is beautiful and the décor is noticeably toned down from that of the Zuiderdam. The decks/halls are easy to maneuver and well lit. Comments of halls being dark and uneasy to find your way around is nonsense.
The food on the Lido was delicious and the service was terrific. The choices were well varied and the desserts were yummy.
We were 2nd seating on deck 3 of the Vista dining room, table 59, right along the windows directly on the stern. If you read negative comments about people moaning about vibrations, think to yourself for just one-minute…………….you’re sitting above the massive engines, and you wonder why the room might vibrate for a moment or two? Give me a break! There was little or no vibrations, certainly not enough to notice, let along ruin a truly wonderful dining experience every evening. Our waiter Mahrub and our busboy, Yudi, were EXCEPTIONAL. The food was excellent and the portions were in perfect amounts. Some appetizers/meals were so good; we had second portions that were delivered immediately.
The ports of call were fun but since everyone can differ on them, I’ll only speak of the lovely, fantastic, wonderful, beautiful, dreamy, Half Moon Cay.
Instead of being in the cold snow and ice of Connecticut on Valentines Day, we were on one of the most beautiful beaches we’ve ever seen with soft white sand, in the warm sun, swimming in crystal clear water. This port of call is the one reason why we wouldn’t sail with anyone else but HAL and if you haven’t sailed HAL, you should consider it so you can visit this private island paradise. This was our 2nd visit there and cannot wait until the 3rd, and the 4th and the………….you get the picture.
The nit picky, moaning, whiny reviews I’ve read of HAL ships are so unfair and it bothers me that some people can be so mean. HAL is an excellent cruise line and after the fabulous time we had on the Oosterdam was not in our imaginations.
Yes, the average age of the passengers was around 60, (our group of 6 ranged from 20 something to 50 something) but we met sincerely nice, friendly people who were there for the same reason we were..... to have fun, relax, and have a good time, and guess what? WE HAD AN AWESOME TIME!! This ms geritol stuff is nonsense and totally uncalled for. If you want to go on vacation on a “party” ship with hundreds of drunken slobs, then maybe HAL isn’t the line for you.
When we were in St.Marten, there were 5 other cruise ships in port. When we were walking back to the “O dam” we were stopped by many passengers from other ships to ask us how we liked HAL and the Oosterdam…………of course we told them it was fantastic and you know what they told us about their ships? Lets just say that they were very jealous of us as we walked up the gangway of the “O dam” and onto such a beautiful ship. Anyone who has booked this ship will have a terrific time and if you don’t we can only say that it would be your own fault. We will definitely be booking our next cruise with HAL and will sail with no one else.
Thanks for the fantastic review of the O'dam. I am booked for a cruise on this ship March 14th. I have been on the Zuiderdam twice and found it to be fantastic. I look forward to the O'dam. My fave by far so far is the Veendam though. Thanks again.
Thank you for taking the time to write such a nice review. We're sailing on the Oosterdam on April 4th and can't wait. Last year we took our first cruises on the Veendam in April and the Ryndam to Mexico in November. We're two guys in our forties and always book the deluxe S class suites and just love them!! I share your observations about fellow passengers, as we made some wonderful friends of all ages.
Nice to hear an adult, tolerant and realistic cruise review. I have sailed on many lines and feel there is no bad cruise, maybe lesser degrees of good. All ships please some people. Not all people can be always pleased. It is a compromise, and compromise is part of society, culture and civilization.
I lived and worked aboard an array of ships and traveled worldwide for nearly 13 years. I loved the ships, I loved the crew and always found a few passengers a joy to spend time with. I must admit my retirement from the industry was due to years of hateful, viscious people and the poison pen they left on the comments cards. True, constructive criticism does tailor the product, but I was amazed at the selfish, childish moaning people went on about. Mostly it was targeted in a personal way. I often read downright cruel comments aimed at a staff member's weight, teeth or was caught at a single moment when a smile was not pasted to his / her face. The anonymous critique process so many ships utilize can certainly encourage this...and so can these message boards. I have faith most people can see through those who need to vent.
I still travel 3-4 voyages a year. I am a single professional in my early 40's. I keep quiet my industry affinity and am still amazed by the wonderful products cruising has to offer and secretly have wanted to push a few people overboard. I enjoy Holland America for the traditional flavor, low desity ships and quiet enviroment (I call it restful, peaceful & luxurious rather than 'boring'). That is what appeals to me for most voyages. I am well aware of the mature clientel and the idiocyncracies that go with it. I hope I will still be cruising when I am a senior and will be able to manage my frailties aboard ship.
For those who criticize inherent attributes of a ship (vibrations, noises, movement, etc)...I see those people as not valuable sources of information. If you don't like duck...don't order duck! For those poor soles who booked a cruise aboard a product not aimed to their tastes, I say get a new TA, use the extensive information, reviews, message boards, word of mouth (and consider the source) to determine which product is best for you. Price alone should not drive selection. If you buy a car, want a Mercedes, and settle for a Chevy sticker....you are likely to be disappointed.
I am thrilled there are so many choices in the cruise industry. It allows to me seek the attributes I prefer and still have a variety to keep each voyage reminding of my first cruise oh so long ago. In some ways, the industry caters to, and cultures the critics. Complain, get a bottle of wine, moan and get a complimentary tour, get nasty, a credit on your bill. Wrongs should be righted, but our society, in my humble opinion has evolved into consumer vigilanties who expect a personailzed, custom made nirvana. If that were possible, I suspect that place would be a lonely place as we all have a different idea of what that place is. BUT, if anything out there comes close to that place, I'll plop my dollars down on a cruise....
Yes, the Chocolate Extravaganza was GREAT, but.....we did have to do some time in a very long line. Well worth the wait......so many desserts and so little time.
We didn't feel the need for the Pinnacle Grill since the Dining room was so good with the food and the great service. We did go to see Arlene in the Neptune lounge one day to see if there was tables avail in the Pinnacle, but they were completely booked. From what we heard from the other passengers, it was great and worth the extra $$
Tipping Policy........Don't sweat it. IF you feel your waiter/busboy/cabin steward did a good job, then tip them. I really don't understand all this so-called confusion over such a simple thing. There's nothing in writing that you have to do anything. We appreciated all the hard work those guys did and we tipped them well. Does that mean the next person does? no. Does that mean you have to tip more than the next guy? no. Does the service merit some recognition? probably. Does that mean that you have to tip? no, not at all. Its whatever you feel like doing. I can tell you that no one is going to look at you funny if you don't tip the waiter/cabin steward, there's no pressure to do anything that you don't want to do.
Answer this, do you tip the Skycap at the airport when you check in your bags? Do you tip a bellboy at a hotel when he takes care of your bags? Do you tip your bartender when you get your drinks? How about a waiter at a restaurant, do you tip them? If you said yes to any of these examples, then you might consider tipping for what I'm sure will be great, attentive service on the O'dam.
I don't mean to sound sacarsitic or rude, reallly I don't and I hope that I don't come off that way, its just that I don't understand why there seems to be so much concern over what I feel is a non-issue.
Do what you want to do, that's the Holland America policy, at least that's the way that WE understood it to be.
For clarification purposes, this will be our seventh sailing on HAL, and we have always followed the traditional concept of tipping.
My question about the new tipping policy resulted from a notification from HAL that they were initiating a new policy of adding a set percentage to your bill for gratuities. I had been wondering how this new approach was working out.
Thanks again for your information, I'm certain that the Oosterdam will follow the HAL tradition of being a class act.
Just back from the Oosterdam Feb22. I agree with Woodburykt 100%. I couldn't have said it any better. We had a wonderful time on our cruise to the western caribbean. Can't say enough about the food, service, shore excursions, pinnacle grill. It was all fantastic. I'll have to admit after reading the other reviews before I left I was skeptical about the cruise. Boy oh boy what a pleasant surprise. The cabin stewart was fantastic,also, the waiters in the bars, and dining areas were friendly and very pleasant. What a lovely trip. We will for sure be cruising on the Oosterdam again. I hope very soon!!!!
Sounds like you had a good time.
We are going on a 2 week cruise on the O 4/11. May I ask if the duty free shop allowed you to purchase alcohol and bring it back to your cabin? Also, were you allowed to bring it on the ship when you were able to board?
You will not be allowed to bring liquor back to your room from the duty free shop on board ;however you may bring wine and beer with your carry on baggage. As for booze would suggest you pack in your checked baggage in bubble wrap and we also bring our own mix.Once we get to our first port I buy our wine for the next sea days.
so glad to find this thread. we're on the "O" mar.14th also. looking forward to half moon cay, rented a cabana. does anyone know what the formal nights are, & what they're serving in the dining room for dinner. booked the pinnacle grill for the 19th but my son doesn't want to miss lobster in the dining room.
Pepper,The formal nights are usually the nites at sea and the lobster will be the last formal nite.You will love Half Moon Cay which is the best of all beaches in the Bahamas.In addition you will love the food and service in the Pinnacle.Try the crab cakes as appetizer and they have a 24oz Porterhouse steak .Out of this world.
hi big apple,
thanks for the info. we're doing the pinnacle on the 2nd.formal night, i'm going to miss the lobster. i've had the porterhouse on the carnival legend's restr. i forgot the name but remember it was the best we ever had & we're from the east coast & do new york a lot. we're really looking forward to half moon cay & the cabana.
I was just wondering why you would go to the Pinnacle on a formal night when the food in the dining room is so special. We like to go on a night when nothing in the dining room is WOW. Not second-guessing or criticizing, just wondering why? Have a good cruise!