I have only cruised on Celebrity in the past and really enjoyed it but booked on HAL this time (Zuiderdam 5/22) because of ship available / dates / ... Zuiderdam and HAL in general are getting horrible reviews on other sites. Shall I reconsider??? I don't think it is too late to cancel without penalty. And here I was really excited and now I am not so sure. Help!
Oh goodness. HAL is fantastic. I have been on the Zuiderdam twice and plan another cruise of her in September. I think you will really enjoy the Zuiderdam. I have talked to many others on HAL cruises who have been on Celebrity and they have told me they are very similar. Try it, you'll like it.
We've been on the "Z" and has an awesome time................don't rely too much with people who enjoy whining about the little things. There will always be people who will love to complain about each and every little thing.
HAL is wonderful and the Zuiderdam and the Oosterdam are fine ships with a great crew and great service.
There are PLENTY of GOOD reviews of the Zuiderdam as well, think about that.
In my opinion, there's no such thing as a bad cruise, just bad travelers!
Here is a review I wrote about my Zuiderdam Cruise:
This is a review of my cruise on the HAL Zuiderdam on 3/13/04. I was traveling with my 10 year old daughter. This was an Eastern Caribbean cruise departing from Fort Lauderdale. Embarkation was a breeze. The lines looked long, but we were processed and on board the ship in under a half an hour. We boarded about noon and headed up to the Lido dining room to grab a bite of lunch. First impressions of the Lido were very good.rather than one long buffet line, there were several "stations" offering Chinese, Italian, a deli, and a "Bistro" line for the other food. This worked quite well to keep crowds to a minimum, however, as the cruise progressed, I did notice some room for improvements. More on that later. We ate on the aft deck by the pool. Although it was a bit windy, it made for a very relaxing start to the trip. The lifeboat drill was much more thorough than the one we experienced on Celebrity. HAL also had a wristband (or ankle band) for kids under 13 to wear that would identify their lifeboat stations so that they could be reunited with their parents in the event of an emergency. While I thought this was kind of a nice thought, my daughter thought otherwise, since she was the one having to wear the band.
The ship - I didn't know what to expect - but I found that the colors were quite nice. The ship was large, but pretty easy to navigate. The directory posted at most elevators (all except the outside elevators) made finding things easy. The elevators (with the exception of the midship center elevators) were quick to respond and very fast between floors. The interiors of most elevators had a suede type of fabric that many seemed to enjoy writing things on. Unfortunately on a couple of elevators, someone decided to leave a more "permanent" mark by scratching the fabric. The outside promenade deck was very nice to walk - 3 times around the ship was a mile, and you were somewhat protected by the winds. The observation deck was okay, but often times rather windy.
The cabin - It seems like everybody writes about the suite or verandah room that they had. This is a report from one in "steerage" - a main deck inside stateroom. I have to say that I was impressed. I was in a category K stateroom - main deck aft. The room was remarkably roomy, with two beds, a writing desk, a sofa and a nice sized bathroom. Noise was not a problem at all.and I was somewhat concerned because of the vibration stories I heard. This room was quiet - and motion was barely noticeable (we had a couple of days with "rough" seas).
Dining - There were 2 early seatings and two late seatings in the main dining room, we were in the second early seating (6:15). This worked out well for us. Originally, my mother and sister were to join us on this trip, but my mother was taken ill a week before the cruise and the doctor orders were "no travel". So they cancelled. There were still two empty seats at our table for them. The second night, when going to the dining room, we noticed that a completely different group was sitting at our table, so I spoke to the maitre'd about this. Apparently, they received the notice that my sister (who shares my daughters name) had cancelled. So they thought it was us. We were given a new table rather quickly, and the maitre'd seemed to be servicing our table a bit more than the others. All in all, this "mistake" was handled very well. I can only compare service to my only other cruise, on Celebrity - the nod for food and service has to go to Celebrity in this case. While the food was good, I did not feel that it measured up to what we were served on Celebrity. Service also seemed to be a step behind Celebrity, although good, there were enough "little things", like the waiter remembering your name, that stood out. With one big exception.there was a waiter who worked the breakfast buffet line named Imam, or as most cruisers called him, "hunky dory". This gentleman made it a point to ask the names of everyone who came through his line. After that, he never missed addressing you by name whenever he saw you. He was given the moniker "hunky dory" because he'd wish everyone a "hunky dory day". Even in the main dining room, while having a cup of coffee with a friend at his table (neither of us had Imam as our waiter), he asked "Can I get you another cup of coffee, Joe?". HAL should realize what a jewel they have in this man. A note here about vibrations in the dining room. Some other posts indicated a "horrible" vibration in the main dining room. While I did notice a slight vibration, "horrid" is not the word I would use to describe it. It was noticeable, but not overwhelming.
Club HAL - My daughter can be a bit shy at first, but I coaxed her up to Club HAL Sunday evening. She asked me to come get her in a half an hour. When I returned, she asked me to come back later. From that point on, I had a rough time keeping track of her.she was having the time of her life. The Club HAL staff was great - she met about 10 new friends her age, and they kept busy. Club HAL allows you to either have your child to come and go on their own (which I did), or they require that someone sign them in and out. They provide a "CD" packet with activities for the childs age group - kids 5 to 9, "tweens" from 10 to 13, and teens from 14-17. It was VERY well organized, and my daughter looked forward to "planning" her days on the Club HAL activities.
Shows - We attended shows four of the seven nights. All were quite enjoyable, and suitable for adults and kids.
Miscellaneous - There were bars everywhere, and the only thing that bothered me was that HAL didn't include a 15% gratuity for the wait staff. I don't carry cash with me on the ship and I felt bad that I couldn't give the waiter a tip on my room charge. From what I read, HAL will be changing this in May. It's for the better, in my opinion.
Room for Improvement - I found only two areas that I felt had any need for improvement . First, the Lido for breakfast. I am an early riser, so these weren't problems for me - but my daughter woke at about 10:00 on our at sea days, and one half of the Lido was closed down - making for a rather long line on the other side to get breakfast. They should leave both sides open for a little longer. The second area was with the "Baked Alaska Parade". I had the "late-early" seating (6:15) in the main dining room. "parade" began about 6:45.the upper restaurant diners were most likely finished, but those of us in the later seating were still working on salads or entrees.certainly nowhere near finished eating, when the lights were dimmed and we were encouraged to clap along to the music as the baked Alaska was paraded. I'd suggest combining the seatings for that night - it just felt out of place to be doing this while many guests were still eating.
All in all, this was a great cruise. The ship is very nice, the service was good, the itinerary was wonderful. I am sorely tempted to take this ship again in the near future. Out of 5 stars, I'd give it 4 and a half.
My wife and I have been on 16 cruises, including three on Celebrity and four on HAL.
We think HAL and Celebrity are the best of the mass-marketed lines.
Currently we favor HAL because of the friendly, accommodating crews, the good food, the large cabins, the interesting itineraries etc.
But most of all we like the ambience we have enjoyed on all of our HAL cruises. Until that changes, we will be sticking with HAL.
Many HAL "Old Timers" seem to be put off by the new Vista-Class ships (Zuiderdam, Oosterdam, Westerdam) which are a bit larger than the older ships, which we also like. But we have found that the newer ships can also provide a wonderful cruise experience..
No cruise will ever be "perfectly perfect " but HAL seems to strive to exceed your expectations!
My first cruise was earlier this month on the Oosterdam. I would definitely book again with HAL on any of their ships based on our wonderful experience.
I'm sure many people have had great experiences with HAL whatever ship but just haven't written a review for whatever reason. Maybe they have no idea about these websites available for sharing information whether good or bad. And like a previous poster stated there are always the whiners no matter what.
Judge from the positive posters here. Don't cancel and have yourself a great time!
Hi All -
Thanks for the good news. For the person who asked, I have mostly been reading bad reviews on cruisecritic. And for the person who talked about whining about the little things and there are no bad cruises, just bad cruisers, well said!
Mostly people are complaining about the colors (good grief!) and about the loud music and the style of music (pop, teenager stuff, which I have to say would bother me) but do say the food is still good. Some complaints that the layout of the ship is wasteful and limiting. Lots of complaints about ill behaved children but I think they were cruising over spring break / easter.
I am particularly nervous I guess because I have always cruised with my husband and we go with the flow, but this time I am traveling with a friend who has never cruised before - Mom's getaway! But maybe that is even better, she will have nothing to compare!
Thanks again and happy cruising!
There seemed to be a lot of complaints of Sewage smells and heavy vibrations aft when the Z was first launched, however lately these type of complaints seemed to have lessened so my guess is they've solved the problems.
I never pay attention to complaints I read about colors or towel animals, booze smuggling, etc.
We've sailed on the HAL Zaandam and the Celebrity Mercury and loved both cruises. I probably rate the Celebrity service a bit higher on our trips.
If I could spin this thread of a little bit. Since I spotted several in here that have crused Zandaam in the past I would be interested in their remarks. There must be a batch of you out there that have an opinion that just never got around to doing the review they planned on.
In answer to JoeK's message. We loved the Zaandam. She was a beutiful ship with great service. We had an "S" suite and since we haven't had that type of suite on other ships I can't compare. But "S" suites are awsome!
We had no complaints about food, vibrations, sewage smell, service etc. Since it was an Alaskan cruise we never had the lounge hog problems at the pool either. I never saw one passenger at the aft pool.
My only negative about the ship, and this is really nit-picking, I didn't like the silly organ in the atrium area. Took up a lot of room, only played once that I heard, and didn't really add to the ship at all. But again, it was no big deal. I'm sure many loved it.
I mention in an above message that I thought the service on the Mercury was better. Maybe "friendlier" is the better word. We had no service problems or surly crew members on the Zaandam at all. But we did notice that we got hellos and smiles from virtually every crewmember we encountered on the Mercury, including the employees vacuuming and cleaning the public areas. It was a nice extra touch.