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gjkov

Our Virgin Voyage on Zuiderdam

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My DH and I just arrived home from our first HAL cruise, Quebec City to Fort Lauderdale on Zuiderdam. We’ve been land travelers for many years, and only recently started cruising. This is cruise #3...the first a multigenerational Alaska Cruise on Royal Caribbean and the second a transatlantic on Regent. Obviously two very different experiences, but both good for the audiences we were traveling with. The HAL cruise added a new dimension to our cruise experiences.

 

All in all we had a very good time. It was difficult not to compare the cruise lines and respective experiences at least a little, but we tried to look at the new cruise line and ship for their own merits.

 

The service was excellent...from start to finish...in every venue! The crew appeared to be genuinely happy to be there and their inevitable response of “my pleasure” seemed genuine. A number of crew members (beyond our cabin stewards and MDR waiters) got to know our names and greeted us warmly whenever we saw them. That made for a more personal experience.

 

Our Signature Suite was lovely, spacious, well appointed and always taken care of by our wonderful stewards. We were especially impressed by the number of outlets and USB ports. More than enough for our purposes. The separate shower was pretty tight, but tub shower was nice. We both liked the double sinks, bath amenities and huge bath towels! I liked the vanity for doing my hair and make up. The balcony was very spacious, though the weather was too cool most of the trip to make much use of it.

 

The food ranged from acceptable to very good. We enjoyed the dinner experience in the dining room most evenings, but were happy there was a casual venue at the Lido, on a couple nights we just felt like having a quick bite. We enjoyed coffee and fruit each morning in our room, followed by breakfast some days at the Lido and others in the dining room. Both were good, with plenty of choices. Lunch was either at Lido or Dive In. The burgers at DI were amazing! And the salad bar was fresh, with so many delicious choices. I also loved the made to order pasta and DH enjoyed the carved meats. We both loved all the delicious breads!

 

If we had one food complaint it would be the temperature of food in the dining room at times. It wasn’t always as hot as it should be. One thing I liked very much was the crew in Lido serving most of the food. Many less hands handling utensils! And much of what was self serve was already plated. 

 

Entertainment was quite good, with many different venues for different tastes. We most enjoyed Lincoln Center Stage and Billboard Onboard. Excellent musicians in both! The main stage shows were hit or miss for us. We loved the Planet Earth production! The Zuiderdam dancers/singers were sometimes very good, sometimes a little off.

 

We enjoyed some movies and especially the BBC Planet Earth documentaries. The screening room was great! But you needed to arrive early because it usually filled up. We missed having a lecturer....DH especially likes that.

 

The interdenominational church service on a Sunday at sea was so well attended we had to bring in more chairs. Two ministers on board did a great job with the service.

 

I’ve read comments from those who don’t like the changes in the Crow’s Nest. But we thought it was a warm and inviting space, though it could get very crowded on sea days. But since there were so many public spaces, we never lacked for a place to sit, read or just watch the world go by. The interactive maps in Explorer were fun and we often saw them being used.

 

Gale force winds forced us to miss the port at Charlottetown PEI, which was disappointing. But we appreciated that the captain put the safety of the passengers first. We liked his daily reports but appreciated that there were not announcements continuously throughout the day like there were on Royal Caribbean. We enjoyed a Q and A with the captain as well as a couple personal interactions and found him friendly, humorous and above all, capable.

 

The cruise director Sabine was very personable and approachable. And her staff seemed to follow her lead.

 

We took a few HAL excursions and did our own thing in a couple other ports. The excursions were very well done, with excellent guides. Perhaps we were fortunate in that regard. I’d highly recommend “Intimate Look at Acadia National Park” in Bar Harbor.

We appreciated that there was generally some form of shuttle transportation in most ports for those who wanted to explore on their own. 

 

Based on this experience we wouldn’t hesitate to sail HAL again.

 

Judy 

 

 

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HAL doing what HAL does best continues to hit all the right notes. Thank you for your careful review and welcome to the wonderful exploration of the world HAL continues to offer - and always remains a gracious cocoon which to return to, again and again. We agree - we think HAL crews have to be the envy of the cruise industry - careful selection, training and apparently retention as well. 

Edited by OlsSalt

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Good to hear you enjoyed your Zuiderdam cruise.  We were on the Zuiderdam NY to Quebec in September and loved it.  We too liked the captain and his sense of humour.  It was our first cruise on the Z although our tenth HAL cruise and it sat up there with the best.

Ozcruizer

4starMariner.png

Edited by ozcruizer
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Thank you for taking the time to report on your experience. Welcome to HAL!

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Thanks for the review 🙂

 

Love the title of your thread too 😉

 

Glad to hear that your experience was a good one overall and you enjoyed your cruise.

 

Welcome home.

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Thank you for your review.  HAL's crew is the best we have encountered.

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We’ve been impressed with the cruises we’ve had on HAL. I’m going to be on the Zuiderdam next summer and it sounds like I won’t be disappointed. The only thing I’ll miss is the New York Pizza but I do love a Dive In burger for lunch once or twice on a cruise!

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As I pulled a laundry mark tag off a T-shirt that I missed on the ship I thought I’d like to add a thought to my review about the laundry service on Zuiderdam. It was wonderful and at $77 for unlimited laundry the entire, was an incredible bargain! I sent out laundry nearly everyday and it was always returned by the next day (a couple times later the same day). But I told DH to not get too used to such beautifully pressed shirts because that would not continue beyond the ship. Knowing what I do now, I would certainly scale back my incessant overpacking. 

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On ‎10‎/‎25‎/‎2018 at 10:47 PM, ozcruizer said:

Good to hear you enjoyed your Zuiderdam cruise.  We were on the Zuiderdam NY to Quebec in September and loved it.  We too liked the captain and his sense of humour.  It was our first cruise on the Z although our tenth HAL cruise and it sat up there with the best.

Ozcruizer

4starMariner.png

So happy you enjoyed your first cruise with HA.  I believe OlsSalt said it best in his post.  Service is this line's strong asset and keeps us coming back for more and more.  We've sailed on Z twice and loved both times.  Of course, there's a running joke in our household as to which HA cruise has been our favorite.  Answer: "The one I'm on now!"  

 

When we aren't on a cruise, then it becomes a toss-up for all the reasons that you've listed in your review as well as for OlsSalt's comment.  The minute we step aboard a HA ship, we feel we've come home.  It's a fabulous feeling, and we know we are fortunate to be able to cruise and to sample some wonderful new experiences.

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