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  #1  
Old September 18th, 2004, 04:50 PM
voyeurism26 voyeurism26 is offline
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Cool Just Back From The Zuiderdam

Were Back....

Embarkation: The embarkation was a breeze, we arrived at the port at 1:11pm and by 1:45pm we were in our cabins...HAL gets an A++ for the smoothest embarkation process that I have experience from HAL from the past and from other cruiselines.

Now, at this point I don't want to compare HAL with other cruiselines because every line and ship is different so please forgive me if I mention other cruise ships and cruise lines as I give my review, I will do my best not to compare.

Our cabin number was 5128 on the Veranda Deck...although last year we had a Cat. SS (suite 8047) this year due to price we decided to "slum" and take the regular veranda cabin. The cabin was smaller then other veranda's I had in the past...and I do admit that draw space is an issue. We packed lighter this year but found draw space was an issue...but we did figure out the space and found the solution to our problem. The cabin was clean and well planned out for the space of the cabin with the exception to the draw space. The beds were comfortable and the A/C worked great! Like in the past, the cabin steward always came to our cabin and introduced him or herself but this time it took serval day's for our cabin stewart to appear and say "Hello".

Since we were travelling in the heart of Hurricane season and this year happens to be the worse season for Hurricane activities our itenarary changed several times to avoid Tropical storm/Huricane Jeanne. This is a gamble all of us has to take when you travel during Huricane season, since the storm of Jeanne was present in the Eastern Carb. the Captain changed our trip. I can't blame HAL nor the Captain for the Weather. This just gave me more time onboard the ship.

Service: I think since the staff already knows they are getting there tips, they don't seem to work to try to increase there tip. I understand that if you tip extra an individual they can not keep that tip so this discourages them to give better service. The staff seem to be to mechanical, just going through the motions and seem to be over being on the ship. Not one of the staff memebers took the extra effort to give extra service. Most of the staff memebers seem to be tired and not happy and seem to be overworked and just do what they are told. It kind of sadden me when an officer was talking to a staff member and it seem the officer was talking down to the indo staff worker and the staff worker just bowed his head and said "yes, sir". It was a pitty how they are treated onboard the ship and this may have caused the lack in service or the decline in service in a combo of Officers talking down to them and tipping policy. It seems to me that the staff rather work for a salary and try to earn there tip and keep there own money.

Food: What the hell happen to the food on HAL? I found that the food in the dinning room and on the lido deck has gotten worse over the years. Steaks got smaller, soups have NO taste, the escargot was not as good, cookies to stale, no shrimp cocktail...the only shrimp cocktail was on the lido deck for dinner but the shrimp was more like bait. The only exception was the Odyssey/Pinacle grill, the service and the steaks were out of this world and the attention to detail was remarkable. The service in the dinning room was as slow as the slowest boat coming from China, and the dinning room was not even busy. I also found the four seating times was great until it came time for the Captains farewell dinner and the waitstaff has to dance around the dinning room with the baked alaska, the upstair dinning room opens and seats at 8:15pm and the downstair dinning room opens and seats at 8:30pm...when the upstairs dinning room is finished with dinner and we just get started with dinner, the lights go out and they start dancing in the dinning room with the backed alaska while I am trying to eat my lobster. This was very tacky and uncalled for and shame on HAL for this type of situation. This turned me off and made my dinning experience with my friends/table mates unsatisfying.

The Dessert Buffet: Is it me or the Buffet each year gets smaller and smaller. This year the buffet was the smallest I've seen with limited selection and the same items just spread out more. How many chocolate cover strawberries can they display and spread out? What happen to the good ol'days when the buffet was at midnight and they had a larger variety of desserts and took more pride in there creations?

Overall Food: lacked in some area's such as the dinning room, cuts of beef were not up to par, soups were not as tasty salads in the dinning room served at room tempature. In the Lido, the eggs were awful with the exception of the omlett station...not as thrilling as years past. Portions were cut down and quality control with food was an issue.

Spa: Years past a half body massage cost $65 for 40mins. I ask the price at the spa and I was told it was $65 for a half body massage. I did not think to ask how many minutes because of my past experience. Instead of 40mins its the same price put now its 20mins with a selling pitch to buy the spa products. What a rip off!!!!!

Entertainment: Comedian-Bad, Elton John impersonator-Bad, the shows-Good

The Cruise Director and his staff: Boring, since we had more time on the ship you would think they would be more energized and excite the crowd...NOPE! boring. Mind you I am not into the rock climbing nor the carnivor (carnival) type cruises...but this cruise director and its staff lacked in any type of entertainment.

Cabin Stewart: I don't even know his name...no proper introduction who the hell was this guy coming and going in & out of my cabin all week?

The Shore Excursion Desk: If anytime you needed to have the shore excursion desk to be open, this is the week they should have had it open. Let me see here, many excursions were cancelled many guest had questions. Shore excursion desk is only open 2 hours for the whole day...wow! that is great customer service...I didn't want to have the shore excursion folks work to hard..perhaps they were being entertained by the cruise director and his staff.

Bars and Lounges: The drinks went up in price but I do admit the pour of liqeur is much better. The service in the lounges were great...no problem! This staff had some personality...but what got me is when I asked our server to bring some nuts or pretzels to the table we were told its locked away and can't be served. Now, I thought I was a paying guest...wouldn't you think Nuts and/or pretzels should be offered...perhaps we will eat the nuts and/or pretzels and become more thirsty and order another round of drinks...but that would be too easy and makes too much sense...the company rather lock the nuts and pretzels away to save money and control the food costs. Can you imagine everyone on the ship eating nuts and pretzels and ordering more drinks?

I just found that HAL IMO has been cutting back. I kind of realized it last year but this year has really hit me in regards to cutting back and becoming more like a "commercial ship to the masses" compared to the HAL that gave great service and great food. Here I go and compare...last year we took celebrity and found the service and the food to be much better and it seem that celebrity is what HAL use to be. Oh! one last comment PRICE.

We booked 8 months ago for a Cat. BB Veranda cabin the price 8 months ago cost use approx. $1900 then the price went down and the HAL made the adjustment in price and we saved about $400 total. We wanted to upgrade because friends of ours that was sailing on the same ship with the same CAT. BB/veranda cabin got a call from HAL for an upgrade for only $100 per person and they happen to been upgraded to a Cat. S and they ended up in our old cabin 8047 which we had last year. I called up HAL and was told that there is no more cabins to upgrade, but once we get on the ship go to the front office and inquire about an upgrade. Once we got on the ship, I went to the front desk and I was told that some guest cancelled in the last few days and some Cat. S and Cat. SS has opened up and are available. We were told if we wanted to upgrade for the CAT.S cabin it will cost us an additional $980.00 for both...if we wanted to upgrade to the CAT. S it would cost us $1860 for the both of us. I could not believe that HAL already made the money on those cabins and they couldn't at least give us a break or anyone else a break on those cabins...it really didn't bother me until I met a couple and they were proud of the fact and bragging about the upgrade they got for $400 for the two to a CAT. S cabin and to boot they ended up paying less then us. I am tired of the price game HAL does..and yes comparing it to celebrity they don't play the price game.

Overall, the ship is clean. The toilets don't smell. The vibration is gone. The A/C works great...but don't expect the luxury that goes along with cruising. Will I travel on HAL again...YES! I am still loyal but I think its not about the "Vista Class" I think I am going back to basics and staying with the older ships that HAL has to offer (Maasdam, Veendam, Rotterdam, Zyndam etc.) that made HAL a great cruies company. We realize that the vista class ships are not for us, and if the older ships are not up to par then unfortunetly we will be going on other lines.

I hope to hear other reviews regarding the ship and finding out what others thought. On a further note, I will not answer anyone with "Sarcastic Remarks", "Nasty Replies" or Being "Bashed" I will not respond nor acknowledge your reply.

-V26
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  #2  
Old September 18th, 2004, 05:00 PM
michmike michmike is offline
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other than that, how did you enjoy the play, Mrs Lincoln?? *S*
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Old September 18th, 2004, 05:25 PM
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V26
What did you think about the Z's size and layout?

Glad you had a nice cruise nonetheless.
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Old September 18th, 2004, 06:01 PM
voyeurism26 voyeurism26 is offline
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Default Size and Layout

Spot~

The layout and the size did not bother me. I think the ship is well planned out and the decor was too my liking but this can be subjective to anyone's taste.

The lido pool was great! The water was very refreshing...we did have some hot sunny days...the Captain took the ship far out into the atlantic away from any storm so the sun was shinning and we found the pool to be very refreshing and I met Lois and others from the board and talked to many guests, which was great!

-V26
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Old September 18th, 2004, 06:37 PM
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Voyeurism, thanks for taking the time to post such a thorough review. DW and I cruise on the Zuiderdam Oct 16, Western itinerary (amended I presume to substitute Costa Maya for Grand Cayman.) We cruised on her last year on the Eastern itinerary and enjoyed it very much. We don't have many cruises to compare it to, however, as we have only been on a couple of other cruises.

You mention many things I hadn't heard before, at least not in such detail. I am getting the sense that HAL is struggling - with its identity as well as with its bottom line.

I am interested in hearing responses to your complaints from other recent Zuiderdam cruisers.

Interesting board name, btw. I presume "voyeurism" is combined from "voyager", "european", and "tourism"
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Old September 18th, 2004, 06:37 PM
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peaches from georgia peaches from georgia is offline
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Question New Itinerary

Could you tell us, please, what changes were made to the itinerary because of the hurricane and what ports you ended up visiting?
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Old September 18th, 2004, 06:52 PM
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Welcome Back. Thank you for all your comments. I appreciate your taking the time to make such an inclusive post.


We shall be on Zuiderdam in a few weeks and shall compare to our experiences we had on four ZUDM cruises last year.
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Old September 18th, 2004, 07:11 PM
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I am sorry to hear of your disappointment with the cruise and it's staff. We were prepared for the worst on our Ryndam cruise in July but where so pleasantly surprised with the cruise. Our stewards ( we did a B2B) introduced themselves and the staff in the dining room, though working extra tables, were very friendly and tried very very hard. I have not cruised on a Vista class ship yet, and I have to wonder if they are are a bit different than HAL's S class ships, with new staff and more people to keep happy.
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Old September 18th, 2004, 08:24 PM
Mary Ellen Mary Ellen is offline
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I'd also like to know what your itinerary ended up being. Our neighbors were on the CP that followed you for 2 days and they are curious where you ended up - that they did not.

They docked in Montego Bay - but no shore excursions, due to the devastation and their only other port was Nassau - with six other ships, and very crowded. Princess didn't even refund their unused port taxes. They were also disappointed with the crew attitude on the CP.
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Old September 18th, 2004, 08:54 PM
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Who was your CD and Captain on your cruise?
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Old September 18th, 2004, 08:58 PM
Lauraally Lauraally is offline
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Question Clarity of the Water??

voyeurism26:

We leave next Sat. for the Eastern tour and we love the water, particularly snorkeling. Is the water clear enough to see anything? Or, should we save our money and do something else? I haven't booked anything becasue of all of the storms.

So the vibration is gone? That's great news. Our cabin is in the very back of the ship, on the Veranda deck. It's in the very back of the ship and I've been concerend from other posts that it might bother me as I have a tendancy to get motion sick.

Last edited by Lauraally; September 18th, 2004 at 09:05 PM.
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Old September 18th, 2004, 10:23 PM
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Hi V26 it was nice to meet you!

Change of Itinerary for this cruise.....we went to Nassau....and St Martin....and had 5 sea days.......

The CD was Dane Butcher....Cannot recall the Captain's name...I don't have any paper work with me with his name on it, sorry.
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Old September 18th, 2004, 10:53 PM
LSUNizz LSUNizz is offline
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Default Zuiderdam cruiser

I was also a cruiser on the Sept. 11 "mystery cruise" . We were originally going to stop in Nassau, HMC, Tortola and St. Thomas. First, because of Frances HMC was cancelled and San Juan was added. Well due to the appearance of lovely Jeanne our itenerary was alterted again. We stopped first in Nassau, then a day at sean to Tortola. Our stay in Tortola was cut short and the captain took us to the south caribbean to avoid the oncoming storm. Due to the development of Jeanne the port of St. Thomas was closed so we subbed St. Martin. San Juan was also cancelled due to the fact that the ship needed extra time to sail around Jeanne. Kinda of a bummer, but I completely understood the decision. Back in 1995 I was stuck on a ship that got caught in the edge of a fastly developing tropical storm and it was no fun. Lots of sick people. HAL made the right decision in my opinion.

Now on to my review of the ship...

Layout. I thought the layout of the ship was confusing. There are alot of small rooms all around ship. If you are interested in finding a quiet nook to read a book this ship is for you. If you are like my wife and I and like large open layouts with larger public rooms the Z is not your ship. Sometimes it can be hard to find certain places because of the winding halls and closed spacing. The glass elevators are nice. It actually makes riding the elevator fun if there is such a thing. The elevators are also plentiful and fast. Good thing because there are a bunch of wheelchairs to transport. We had a category BB room and found it to be pretty nice. The bed was very comfortable and the A/C worked good. Almost too good. It got pretty cold in there on a couple of nights.

Service. I agree with almost everything that voyeur said. The service on the ship overall was average at best. The dining room staff was by far the worst. The service was slow. Plates were left dirty in front of us for quite some time. Our waiter actually FORGOT to take my order on the last day. I had to call him back over after he took an order on another table. When he realized it he kind of laughed it off and non chalantly took my order. That wasn't an isolated incident as the waiter forgot to serve someone at my table baked alaska after going around the table. It took about 5 minutes to get him a serving. My wife's drinks were forgotton several times over the week although my drink service in the dining room was great. The overall morale of the staff seems rather poor. Everyone is just going through the motions. Our waiter never formally introduced himself nor ever had any conversation with the table. I was also never met our cabin steward. I never found out either of their names.

Food. The food on this ship was very average. Some meals were good while other were just alright. I enjoyed the omlett station in the morning. Most of the beef cuts were just ok. My wife found that the shrimp that she had on a couple of nights in the dining room were tough and rubbery.

Entertainment. Overall the entertainment was pretty good. We enjoyed the variety performance of Edge and the magic of James Cielan. The comedian, whose name I can't remember, was bad. His showtime performance was boring. Too many corny one liners, the kind that you guess the punchline before it comes. His adult show was so poor that we and several other couples walked out after about 10 minutes. The casino was nice although we didn't win anything. Again the staff in this area as with all other areas seemed to be going through the motions. I entered the blackjack tourney in the casino and of course didn't win. My tablemate and I figured out that since there were like 125 players each in for $20 and they prize was $500 total that HAL made around 2 grand on this tourney. That was sorta poor.

Shore excursions. We went on our own for all three ports. The HAL excursion to the Baths in Virgin Gorda is around $70 per person. If you take a cab ($5) or walk over to the Road Town ferry dock you can hop a ferry to virgin gorda for around $25 per person which includes ground transport to the baths on the other side. We used Speedy's Ferry which was great. The staff on the ferry were much friendlier than the cruise ship staff. They actually struck up a conversation with several of the passengers and seemed to be happy to talk. The baths entry fee is like $3 per person. In other words you can save around $40 per person if you do it yourself. The baths were great. I would definitely recommend this excursion.

Embark/Debark. Both the embark and debark process was great especially the organization and coordination of the debarkation process. We got stuck with a number 30 which as you can imagine is pretty far down the list. The debark started at 8:30 and we were in a cab on the way to the airport by 9:45. The best I've seen so far.

This was our first HAL trip and probably our last for a while. We are a couple in our 20's and found the mean age to be a little to high for us although we met some great younger people on the ship including our tablemates. We have been on Carnival and RCL and found HAL's service to be the worst. We took a cruise on a carnival rusty bucket called the Jubilee about 2 years ago and although the ship was older the energy and friendliness of the staff made for a lot more relaxed atmosphere. Overall we still had a great time since we were on a cruise and that is by far better than work. All of the ports that we visited were fun even though mother nature didn't cooperate. We met some really fun people that we will probably keep in touch with and I won second in the basketball contest. Overall a fun week, but with a little better morale by the staff the cruise had potential but fell short.

Last edited by LSUNizz; September 18th, 2004 at 11:19 PM. Reason: add
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Old September 18th, 2004, 11:19 PM
Lauraally Lauraally is offline
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Question LSUNizz

We leave next Sat. for the Eastern tour and we love the water, particularly snorkeling. Is the water clear enough to see anything? Or, should we save our money and do something else? I haven't booked anything becasue of all of the storms.
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Old September 18th, 2004, 11:30 PM
LSUNizz LSUNizz is offline
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We didn't snorkel in Nassau or St. Martin. We did snorkel in Virgin Gorda and the water was perfect. Nice and clear as Caribbean water should be. The snorkeling at the baths and the adjacent devil's cove was excellent. The water in Nassau looking fine as well although there was some notice that a storm had passed. By the time you cruise the water should be just fine unless another 'cane comes through . All in all you'll have a wonderful time as all cruisers do. Have fun. Any other questions feel free to ask...
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Old September 19th, 2004, 03:17 AM
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Wow as someone who cruised at the beginning of this hurricane run, we got chased by Charlie, as I'm reading this to me it sounds like the whole ship is exhausted from these huricanes too. I'm not making excuses but keep in mind that the crew and staff have been working their behinds off more than normal for the last month, so maybe they are just worn out. When we sailed everything was alot different, first week was hurricane Charley, second week it was the next one, and so on. Also the shore excursion office was not open much on our cruise, we were told because they were all on the phone trying to get us excursions at the new ports, but everytime we called on the phone someone answered and answered our concerns. Again I'm not making excuses for them either, I just thought maybe that was why they weren't open is all
Now if these darn hurricanes would just go away, we would all breath easier.
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Old September 19th, 2004, 05:45 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ziggy7
I'm not making excuses but keep in mind that the crew and staff have been working their behinds off more than normal for the last month, so maybe they are just worn out.
I'm glad you said that, Ziggy ... because I'm thinking the same thing. Some of the things in the two reviews posted above ... it's hard to believe that I was actually on the same ship!

I was on the Z from 8-28 through 9-11 and had almost an entirely different experience. Since I never did a formal review, I'll post some random thoughts here.

Food -- Yes, some of the meals served in the dining room left a bit to be desired (prime rib was more fat than anything else), soup wasn't as hot as I would like it, etc. However, I have to remember that they are serving a large number of people and this is not a high-scale dining experience. I think the food was adequate and I particularly liked the breakfasts in the Lido.

Food Service -- This is where I had an entirely different experience. Our dining staff promptly introduced themselves the first night. They always held our chairs out and seated us.

I was traveling the first leg of the trip with two friends from Chicago. We were seated at a table for six, along with another threesome who were traveling together. Except for one night, they never bothered to show again. Guess maybe they didn't like us? The staff got to know our names, and my traveling companions always liked a drink before dinner. After the first night, their favorite drinks were always presented to them without them having to bother repeating the order.

Special requests, like extra desserts were cheerfully honored and the service was reasonably brisk. With the exception of 9-5 ... the last night of the first (extended) cruise, we were always out of the dining room with plenty of time to relax in one of the lounges before taking in the late show. On 9-5 it seemed service was slow, and for a while it appeared that we weren't going to get dessert. Apparently they had some sort of "technical" problem in the kitchen. A power failure maybe? Also, we did run out of a few things ... like lettuce ... towards the end of the first cruise. So they had to improvise with some sort of a bean salad during the last night's dinner. But, that is certainly understandable since lettuce only keeps so long, and I think I would prefer to have no salad than one with moldy lettuce.

The second week (5-day cruise) was a bit different. My companions had departed the ship and I was seated at a different table. Apparently, they seated all solo travelers at this table and the only problem was that everyone was ancient! I have nothing against older people ... hell, my dad who lives with me is 90 ... but these people I had nothing in common with. Two were hard of hearing and one was blind. It was sometimes difficult to keep a conversation going. But, this was really no problem as I only dined in the main dining room twice during this second leg of the cruise. I ate with friends (thanks Obobber!) two nights in the Odessey Restaurant and on another night I got back to the ship after dinner from Cozumel.

On one of the two nights I dined in the main dining room, I was treated to an unusual dining experience. The matre de put the hotel manager and the onboard comediene (Judy Barr) at our table for one night. The conversation flowed wonderfully that night and dinner was a truly memorable experience. Julie Barr is hysterical ... especially her late night show.

As for the Odessey Restaurant ... I'm in full agreement with the opinions of just about everyone else on this subject. The food and the service is to die for. When I first heard about the specialty restaurants on HAL's ships, I always thought ... why in hell would anyone pay a cover charge to eat when they could eat for nothing anywhere else? Now, I understand. The food is clearly exceptional and on both of my visits there, it was prepared exactly to my liking. I had prime rib both times and can't honestly say that I've had anything better in the local restaurants (Outback, McCormick & Schmicks, etc.) here in Philly. I've heard their desserts are the best too, but I can't comment on them. Sadly, I was way to full to even think about the dessert selection.

In fact, the portions were so generous that I could in no way even hope to finish them. Since they didn't offer a variety of cut sizes on the prime rib, I specifically asked my waiter to make sure I got a petite cut so that I wouldn't waste good food. I just don't have that big an apetite and always take a doggie bag here at home. Of course, I can't do that on a ship, so I wanted to make sure the cut was something I could eat. While they probably brought me what they considered a small cut, it was still way too big for me to finish. Dessert would have been an impossibility. I'll definitely be going back to the Odessey on my next cruise on the Z or any other HAL ships.

Entertainment -- I really can't comment on the review presented for this area. Apparently, Julie Barr must have left the ship because this male commediene was not there on my sailing. We had Joel Mason (Elton John Impersonator), Bob Brizendine (a magician and commediene), Edge (juggling and manipulation act) and Julie Barr (a commediene) on our sailing. Bob Brizendine left the ship on 9-6, at the end of the first sailing. Julie Barr's shows ... both regular at late night adults only were absolutely hysterical. I'm known for liking "off-color" jokes and I swear, I almost wet myself during her late night appearances over both weeks. Bob Brizendine was excellent, though I'm not much for magicians. His sense of humor, though, made his shows good for me. Edge ... again, I'm not into juggling and that sort of thing, so it was probably his shows that I least liked. Joel Mason ... need I say anything? His reputation on this board is well-deserved. His shows were excellent and he's a really nice person to boot.

The thing that impressed me most about all of these entertainers was how they pitched in to keep the passengers happy when our cruise was extended for two extra days, and we would up with four sea days in a row. They all gave extra shows ... doing coffee chats, "up close" type shows and afternoon performances in order to keep the days moving along and the passengers happy. I would imagine much of the material in those extra shows was created on the fly, and I doubt their contracts required them to do extra performances. Yet they did them willingly, and I think that says a lot about their professionalism.

I've heard criticism on these boards of the cruise director, Dane Butcher ... and maybe some of it is deserved. I'll be honest ... I don't have enough experience with cruising to know what makes a good cruise director from a bad one. But, I will say this ... he obviously had to scurry to come up with a lot of extra activities to fill so many unexpected sea days, and I think he did his job very well. It's easy to do a job like that when everything goes according to plan. You have the luxury of leisurely planning out each day ... and since you have a basic format for the planned sea days, they are not hard to fill. But in this case, we had a boatload of passengers who were probably not happy having four sea days in a row ... missing a port they were counting on visiting (Nassau) and then having their cruise extended two days beyond when it should have been over. The cruise director and his staff had to have been stretched to the limit ... by their boss in Seattle, as well as by the Captain and his officers ... to keep these passengers engaged and happy! I think Dane Butcher rose to the occasion and showed creativity in accomplishing this. He scheduled some almost never-before-tried things ... such as the "behind the scenes" tour of the crew areas, the coffee chat with Julie Barr, Up Close Magic with Bob Brizendine, Matinee Performance with Joel Mason at the Piano ... and the list goes on. I was more than satisfied with the entertainment and activities during this 14-day cruise.

Cabin -- I was perfectly happy with my cabin and felt I got more than I paid for. I had an inside cabin on the Veranda deck ... 5022. Almost immediately upon going there on the first day, my cabin steward ... Eku ... introduced himself. I immediately noticed there was no ashtray in the cabin and requested one. Within less than a minute or so, I had one. The mini bar was also unlocked within five minutes after my arriving in the stateroom.

I am the type of person who does not like to be bothered when I am in my room. Eku seemed to know that without my having to articulate it. I rarely saw him ... unless I called for him. Yet each morning when I returned to the cabin after my coffee and cigarette up on the Lido deck, my bed was made up and the cabin was tidy. After the first night ... when he knocked before I had left for dinner ... Eku learned that I went to second seating in the dining room and never bothered me again. Yet the cabin was always neat again ... with the bed usually having to be made again from my late afternoon nap ... when I returned around midnight.

I was impressed with Eku's service and tipped him extra accordingly at the end of each of these b2b cruises. By the way, I don't think they have to turn in any extra cash you give them ... as long as you don't take the auto tip off of your bill.

(Continued) ...
__________________
Past Cruises:

HAL Rotterdam - 3/3 to 3/13/04 - Panama Canal Cruise with the Maui Writers' Conference at Sea
HAL Zuiderdam - 8/28 to 9/11/04 - Caribbean b2b (Eastern and Western) "Hurricane Francis Cruise"
Sun Princess - 1/8 to 1/18/05 - Eastern Caribbean "CCers Unite!" Cruise
Island Princess Hawaii Cruise -- 4/19 to 5/4/05 - "Princess Lacka Nookie Nookie's Maiden Race Cruise!"
Celebrity Zenith - "Cruise University" 5-day Western Caribbean -- 12/12 to 12/17/05
HAL Amsterdam 30-day Hawaii/South Pacific Cruise -- 1/6 to 2/5/06 - My "Dream Cruise of a Lifetime"
HAL Amsterdam 13-day Panama Canal Cruise -- 10/17 to 10/30/06 - My "R & R Discovery Cruise!"
HAL Veendam 18-day TransAtlantic Sailing -- 4/1 to 4/19/07 - My "Rita Becomes a Lush" Cruise
Cunard's QE2 6-day "Crossing the Pond" ... Southampton to New York City -- 4/21 to 4/27/07
Carnival Paradise 4-day Mexico Sailing -- 9/15 to 9/19/08 - the "Battlestar Galactica Fans Reunion at Sea or Let's Make Richard Hatch Rich" Cruise
HAL Statendam 35-day Hawaii/South Pacific -- 9/20 to 10/25/08 - "the Absolute Best Cruise of my Life"

Future Cruises:

HAL Zaandam 19-day Hawaii Sailing -- 10/4 to 10/23/09
HAL Rotterdam 33-day Hawaii/South Pacific Sailing -- 3/8 to 4/10/2010
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  #18  
Old September 19th, 2004, 05:47 AM
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kryos kryos is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ziggy7
I'm not making excuses but keep in mind that the crew and staff have been working their behinds off more than normal for the last month, so maybe they are just worn out.
(Continued ... )

Lounges: My experience is entirely different that that recounted in the review at the top of this thread. I never had any problems getting "munchies" in the lounges. In fact, during the second week of my cruise, I began visiting the Explorer's lounge on a pretty regular basis with two "smoke buddies" I had met up with during the cruise. The waiter always brought over munchies, and on some occasions (like before the dinner hour) even a plate of hot orderves (sp?). I'm surprised that the poster was told that the munchies were "locked up?" What kind of crap is that?

Captain and Ship's Officers: The Captain on our sailing was Hans van Biljouw and I can honestly say that despite the hurricane threat throughout this cruise, I never felt in the slightest bit of danger, nor the slightest bit uncomfortable. The captain and his staff obviously were keeping us far out of harm's way. We rarely even had choppy seas ... in fact, I was somewhat disappointed in that. I like a bit of motion to rock me to sleep at night, and I rarely got it. We were in seas that calm.

Some people were annoyed at having to miss ports ... and people were certainly greatly inconvenienced with having to juggle their travel plans due to the extended voyage that first week ... but my feeling is that when you sail during hurricane season, those are some of the things that you have to realize can happen. I wasn't happy either ... my shore excursions in both Tortola and St. Thomas were cancelled, and we missed the Nassau port altogether. But, I resolved to enjoy the hell out of my vacation anyway ... and to find other things to do.

I felt very comfortable and safe throughout that cruise, and think most of the other passengers did too. A large part of the credit for that goes to Captain Biljouw and his staff.

Guest Relations/Front Office Staff: This is HAL's weak link, in my opinion. While I was happy that we were kept reasonably informed about the hurricane's progress via periodic announcements over the pa by the captain and the navigator, as well as a large wall display at the front office area depicting the hurricane's progress, there were plenty of other things that could have been done to add to the passengers' comfort and well-being. Some free phone and internet time would have been a great place to start. Passengers were spending a fortune calling their families and trying to make alternate air arrangements. The internet center was often standing room only as people frantically tried to go onto their airlines' web sites to see if their flights were cancelled and to make alternate arrangements. Unless you were booked for your air through HAL, they were offering no assistance whatsoever. Passengers were basically on their own in this regard and I think that showed a lack of customer relations skills.

Also, another thing that I could not for the life of me understand ... and frankly was shocked about ... was the front desk staff's absolute refusal to "negotiate" with passengers regarding staying on for the shortened five-day cruise that began on 9-6. When I found out how few people were actually onboard that second week, I was absolutely floored with this attitude. The Guest Relations Desk seemed to take the stance that these are the prices ... no "wiggle" room allowed. As a result, I know of several instances where passengers chose to debark the ship on 9/6 when they would have gladly stayed on if they could have gotten a more beneficial deal. For example, the two friends I traveled with were staying in a balcony stateroom. When HAL first offered the deal to stay on, based on a sailing date of Sunday, they were thinking about it. When the sail date was moved to Monday, they said it was no longer worth it. However, if HAL would let them keep their stateroom for the second five-day sailing, at a two-for-one rate, they would definitely do it. The woman at Guest Relations almost laughed in their faces when they proposed it.

My two "smoke buddies" were in a deluxe veranda suite the first sailing and were going to keep it and stay on for the second sailing when HAL offered the discounted rate. However, when the sail date was pushed back to Monday night from Sunday, they did the math and found that they would actually be paying more per day for the suite than they paid for it originally. They spoke to the front desk about it ... asking if the rate was going to be further discounted now that the number of nights was one less. They were flatly told no ... that the original rate would stand. They ended up moving into a regular balcony cabin for the second sailing. This kind of soured them on HAL ... unnecessarily.

With so few passengers onboard, I'm surprised it was even worth it for HAL to sail for that second week. Surely, it would have made better financial sense to reduce prices, offer upgrades, two-for-one deals, etc. ... just to have more passengers onboard spending money in the bars, the shops and the casino? And then that notice placed at the front desk ... saying that no free upgrades would be offered that second week in the interest of fairness to all passengers ... that really insulted some people ... and really wasn't necessary.

But, other than HAL's handling of the delays caused by Hurricane Frances, and their guest relations skills as a result of it, I think they did a good job of keeping passengers happy despite all the additional days at sea. Hopefully, HAL will learn something from this 8-28 cruise and make some policy changes as a result of it. Surely, they lost a bundle on that shortened 9-4 cruise where they actually had more staff onboard than passengers. Surely they knew they were getting cancellations up the wazoo for that cruise, and enticing more passengers from the 8-28 cruise to stay onboard would have helped their bottom line considerably.

Sorry for the length of this ... I guess the above reviews just got me thinking ...

Blue skies ...

--rita
__________________
Past Cruises:

HAL Rotterdam - 3/3 to 3/13/04 - Panama Canal Cruise with the Maui Writers' Conference at Sea
HAL Zuiderdam - 8/28 to 9/11/04 - Caribbean b2b (Eastern and Western) "Hurricane Francis Cruise"
Sun Princess - 1/8 to 1/18/05 - Eastern Caribbean "CCers Unite!" Cruise
Island Princess Hawaii Cruise -- 4/19 to 5/4/05 - "Princess Lacka Nookie Nookie's Maiden Race Cruise!"
Celebrity Zenith - "Cruise University" 5-day Western Caribbean -- 12/12 to 12/17/05
HAL Amsterdam 30-day Hawaii/South Pacific Cruise -- 1/6 to 2/5/06 - My "Dream Cruise of a Lifetime"
HAL Amsterdam 13-day Panama Canal Cruise -- 10/17 to 10/30/06 - My "R & R Discovery Cruise!"
HAL Veendam 18-day TransAtlantic Sailing -- 4/1 to 4/19/07 - My "Rita Becomes a Lush" Cruise
Cunard's QE2 6-day "Crossing the Pond" ... Southampton to New York City -- 4/21 to 4/27/07
Carnival Paradise 4-day Mexico Sailing -- 9/15 to 9/19/08 - the "Battlestar Galactica Fans Reunion at Sea or Let's Make Richard Hatch Rich" Cruise
HAL Statendam 35-day Hawaii/South Pacific -- 9/20 to 10/25/08 - "the Absolute Best Cruise of my Life"

Future Cruises:

HAL Zaandam 19-day Hawaii Sailing -- 10/4 to 10/23/09
HAL Rotterdam 33-day Hawaii/South Pacific Sailing -- 3/8 to 4/10/2010
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  #19  
Old September 19th, 2004, 05:49 AM
kryos's Avatar
kryos kryos is offline
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Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 11,051
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dutchman
Who was your CD and Captain on your cruise?
Captain -- Hans van Biljouw

Cruise Director -- Dane Butcher

Blue skies ...

--rita
__________________
Past Cruises:

HAL Rotterdam - 3/3 to 3/13/04 - Panama Canal Cruise with the Maui Writers' Conference at Sea
HAL Zuiderdam - 8/28 to 9/11/04 - Caribbean b2b (Eastern and Western) "Hurricane Francis Cruise"
Sun Princess - 1/8 to 1/18/05 - Eastern Caribbean "CCers Unite!" Cruise
Island Princess Hawaii Cruise -- 4/19 to 5/4/05 - "Princess Lacka Nookie Nookie's Maiden Race Cruise!"
Celebrity Zenith - "Cruise University" 5-day Western Caribbean -- 12/12 to 12/17/05
HAL Amsterdam 30-day Hawaii/South Pacific Cruise -- 1/6 to 2/5/06 - My "Dream Cruise of a Lifetime"
HAL Amsterdam 13-day Panama Canal Cruise -- 10/17 to 10/30/06 - My "R & R Discovery Cruise!"
HAL Veendam 18-day TransAtlantic Sailing -- 4/1 to 4/19/07 - My "Rita Becomes a Lush" Cruise
Cunard's QE2 6-day "Crossing the Pond" ... Southampton to New York City -- 4/21 to 4/27/07
Carnival Paradise 4-day Mexico Sailing -- 9/15 to 9/19/08 - the "Battlestar Galactica Fans Reunion at Sea or Let's Make Richard Hatch Rich" Cruise
HAL Statendam 35-day Hawaii/South Pacific -- 9/20 to 10/25/08 - "the Absolute Best Cruise of my Life"

Future Cruises:

HAL Zaandam 19-day Hawaii Sailing -- 10/4 to 10/23/09
HAL Rotterdam 33-day Hawaii/South Pacific Sailing -- 3/8 to 4/10/2010
Reply With Quote

  #20  
Old September 19th, 2004, 09:00 AM
MandyGirl's Avatar
MandyGirl MandyGirl is offline
Cool Cruiser
 
Join Date: Nov 2000
Posts: 2,391
Default

Thank you all for sharing your thoughts and experiences! I appreciate the time you spent to communicate them here.
__________________
Upcoming: 05/14 Carnival Dream , 08/14 Norwegian Star - Baltics , 09/14 Westbound Transatlantic on Disney Magic BCN-SJU
Previous: 12/13 Disney Magic Bahamas, 11/13 Caribbean Princess, 06/13 NCL Spirit Barcelona to Venice with Turkey and Croatia,
05/13 Disney Eastbound Transatlantic ,
11/12 - Disney Western Caribbean,
09/11 - Disney Westbound TransAtlantic, 03/09 - Celebrity Southern Caribbean
03/06 - Celebrity Infinity Eastern Caribbean , 06/05 - NCL Sun Alaska
11/04 - HAL ms Zuiderdam Eastern Caribbean , 11/03 - HAL ms Maasdam Western Caribbean
03/2003 S/S Norway E. Caribbean Wedding Cruise ~ Married on the beach on St John, USVI!
12/01 - Celebrity Galaxy Southern Caribbean , 12/00 - NCL Sky Western Caribbean
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