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TylerRose

Zuiderdams challenges for the past HAL cruiser

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We've just returned from 7 days Zuiderdam 8/7-8/14/04: Suites 7079 & 7081.

We learned more on this ship than any other cruise we've been on.

Cruising in the Carribean during Hurricane season ya have to go with the flow, so to speak.

The Zuiderdam is the stablest ship I have ever been on. I barely new we were between two Hurricanes, YES, the port cancellations and alterations in schedule were constant reminders, but her crew is top notch on every level and handled it with a level of professionalism that ended all concerns. For those of you wondering, we literally were altered to travel in front of the storm. We had NO RAIN, except FT Lauderdale departure. Humidity and heat were intense, but NO CHOP, NO SWELLS, NO VIBRATION.So, we never quite made it to the Carribean... unless your heart was set on that "one" excursion, or port, you just went with the flow.

Bigger Newer ships have a bigger entertainment budget! The shows are very professional, and the stage compares to a Los Vegas review! They are not to be missed! The Zuiderdam cast had 8 Dancers, 4 vocalists, and they also danced. The Vista Lounge has every Gadget built in that space, and weight allowed and they use every special effect to its fullest! The shows were our favorite part the days activites. The lounges are all wonderful, and the Spa, though I never used it looks amazing.

Suite life.

This is a very touchy subject for it has been a year since our last HAL cruise and I do not know if all the changes we experienced were only on the Zuiderdam or if they have sadly been implemented throughout the line.

NO More breakfast and lunch available in alternative restaurant. AND THE STAFF IS BITTER. We had three different Odessy staff members vent how they resented their reassignments throughout the ship to meet the 11 hour minimum requirments.

The Neptune lounge has "Snacks available" during its open hours. But pampering like on the other ships, or as HAL suite life was previously... we never found it!

Our rooms were large and lovely, most comfortable matress and duvet I have ever had on a vacation. BUT our steward never got to our cabin before we returned from lunch. No internet access in cabin as we had on the Prinsemdam. No Captains Luncheon, or dinner, just a Bruch buffet in the Crows nest after the Mariners reception.

Rooms are large with DVD players, but those traveling with children, please know there is NO privacy, the curtain the other ships provide was not on the Zuiderdam.

Number of passengers onboard and ships size DO MAKE A DIFFERENCE.

This ship is So big that one hand often did not know what the other was doing!

HAL charged me for a cabana that I booked last June for Half Moon Cay and later sold it to someone else. The Neptune Lounge "Appologized" and offered no other compensation. I am still waiting to hear from HAL or Shore Excursions. We booked the Cabana for my MIL who is in a wheelchair. She could not go to HMC now and I stayed behind. That Said, HAL chose that day to shut down the air conditioners for routine maintanence. Now it only lasted a few hours but it was not comfortable.

In Nassau, a rescheduled substitute port All water excursions had to be cancelled due to weather. We were not informed of change until we were wandering dock side searching for our excursion and approached the Excursions operators! Announcments overhead, or at the bear minimum, a sign, would have been appreciated.

I have Printed letters sent out in mass appologizing for all the toilet problems, air conditioning problems, and schedule changes. Often there was a reiteration of the same issue with a conflicting solution... confusing at best.

Being Handicapped is always a challenge in life. Luckily we live in a society that has grown increasingly aware of the needs of its aging population. That said, My MIL endured a week of minamal accessability at best. The Vista lounge is differcult to access near the front and her severly limited vision requires she be as close as possable. This was aggrevated by kids saving seats with clothing and running unsupervised throughout preshow and DURING THE SHOW. Not enough space exists between tables in Dining room for easy access and the Lido was nearly impossable for her. Eager kids in a rush to get "somewhere" stepped over her, banged into her, and she felt there was a general rudeness to her wheel chairs presence.

Club HAL ran 9-12, 2-5, 7-10, and even had extended hours for Group Baby sitting. Amy who runs it is wonderful.That said, my son's age put him in one of those gaps and he felt too old for his group and too young for the next. On day 3 he was bit HARD by another boy who wanted access to a video machine he was playing! That was the end of him and CLUB HAL.He kept with us mostly the rest of the trip, uncomfortable he might be bullied again.

My daughter had fun in TEEN HAL, but reported back there was underage drinking when older teens were no being closely supervised and 18 year olds were near!

Our reason for not ever exposing the kids to this trip again is primarily that. Too much partying by adults, who are entitlled to do so, but we don't want them following suit. The Carribean is a party crowd, but not an educatuional opportunity like Alaska and Europe.

Dresscodes: We cruise HAL because of its ambiance. Forgive me but there is no other way of putting it. The Vista lounge lacks it. This one has nothing to do with suites... just mutual respect of fellow passengers, Cruise requested formalites, and amenities.

There were 440 kids on board, and while HAL has greatly extended CLUB HAL hours, too many avoided it and ran loose. It is very hard for me as a parent to enforce dress code on formal night and respect of proper behavior through the courses when the kids at the next table are wearing kackis and a button down. Another night the folks at the table next to us were throwing a tantrum over not being able to get more lobster tails. Dresscodes got worse the second formal night when many who had dressed decided not to bother since they felt overdresssed the first night. We saw shorts jeans, and bathing suits in the Vista at dinner time on casual night!

HALS new Tipping Policy of $10 per day per person: The less visable employees love it, the visable ones never stopped complaining they were being short changed. It must be a very recent change because it was definately a hot topic among the staff complaining and those we have tipped additionally lost that tip do to our enduring their repeated complaints.

The Odessy restaurant is superb and worth the extra $20 although that charge too was new to us as well.

Reality is, August is just TOO HOT and TOO CLOSE TO PEEK HURRICANE SEASON to cruise the Carribean... and for our family, too casual and "Carnival like".

Yes, we'll be back on HAL again. But somewhere colder, educational, environmentally beneficial, and more elegant.

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Tyler Rose-

 

Thank you for posting about your Zuiderdam experience. I'm sorry it was not a better one for you and your family. We encountered many of the same problems with the kids when we were on board last summer - EXCEPT the underage drinking. That is an issue that should be addressed as soon as possible, IMO! I was amazed at how many parents just turned their kids loose - didn't bother to supervise them at all - and how wild they seemed to be.

 

It is disheartening to hear that the kids on your cruise appeared to behave no better than those on ours, especially with such a lack of respect for your MIL.

 

We also found the Caribbean to be too hot & humid last August - fortunately we had no hurricanes to contend with.

 

We ended up booking the Maasdam the following April and had a wonderful time. I hope your next cruise is better too.

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hi:) never having sailed HAL, thanks for all the insight.....and I am sorry your son was bit:mad: ....did you speak to the Supervisor of the Children's program?

 

I guess the middle of August is still vacation time around the entire country...so that is probably an average amount of kids, though of course how they are raised makes a difference....doesn't sound as if many of them had any manners:(

 

I am glad to read how much you enjoyed the entertainment:) ...sounds like that was a positive during your week.

 

I am a bit surprised that the crew complained about the tipping policy in front of you..If I complained about my job in front of my customers...I would be out of a job.

Did you say anything to anyone about that?

 

Thanks again for your insights.....I am sailing the Z next month...hoping I have a good week.

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I believe you did a fine job of explaining yourself and your experience - thank you so much for your honest review.

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Thank you so much for your review. I appreciate your posting it.

 

 

Sorry your cruise was not all you hoped it would be.

 

As to privacy in the Suite....there is no privacy curtain in any of the "S"suites on any of the ships. The only curtains is a very small stretch that extends across the entranceway to the suite.....from the wall over to the bar/buffet top. Those sleeping on the pull out couch and those sleeping in the bed are all in the same room in all of the "S" suites. There is also a small curtain which separates the dressing room from the bed area.

 

 

Welcome back. Hope your next cruise is more to your liking.

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Thank you for your review. Some of your complaints are the reasons why we never cruise in summer time. HOT humid weather, hundreds of kids and hurricane season.... I guess the three Hs! It`s hard I know when you have school age children to cruise at a quieter time and I do sympathise with you....jean :cool:

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Hi Steve:) Good to see you again! Thanks:D

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Thanks for your frank post. I do hope you commented to staff about the biting boy. That's inexcuseable, IMO. Also, I agree with Lois that employees complaining about their jobs in front of customers is a real no-no. They were being self-serving, and apparently trying to bring you into their beefs with management. That's NOT the way to treat a guest. I expect better than that on my upcoming Prinsendam cruise.

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I don't have a problem with the crew talking about some of the changes & problems.

 

We have gotten to know many of the HAL crew members over the years and several of them we are still in contact with via e-mail.

 

Most of the crew we speak to are not running around volunteering or complaining - they are merely responding to our requests about the changes - I've never had a conversation with a HAL crew member in which the crew member showed any disrepect toward HAL - they merely have answered our questions honestly, as we have a sincere desire to know how HAL's changes affect them.

 

IMO, they are HAL's greatest assets and we like to know how they feel. :)

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TylerRose-

 

Thank you for your comments!! I have been resistent to the larger Vista ships for many of the reasons you mentioned, ie, the larger size and the lack of intimacy of the "S" ships. HAL has appeared to appeal to a new "class" of passenger, families that used to cruise on other cruise lines with much less formal dress codes. Frankly 440 children is alot and after sailing Disney with 1100 children (yep you read that right) I vowed never to cruise with that many kids again, although Disney was totally equipped to handle that amount. All the little ones (toddlers) made me nervous, it had been years since I had to "look down" every time I took a step to avoid a toddling child!

I am shocked about the problem with the Cabana! :eek: The fact they "sold" the cabana to someone else and then failed to make it right is terrible! I have a letter from HAL showing that I have reserved and paid for the orange cabana for our December cruise. It will come with me on the cruise. To be told it was "sold" to someone else wouldn't be acceptable, I paid for it first and have the receipt acknowledging HAL's contractual obligation! I would recommend that anyone who books a cabana be sure they get a letter stating that the cabana was reserved and paid for.:cool:

I so appreciated your review of the Prinsendam, I have read it a couple of times as reviews on that ship are not readily available. I hope the "Z" didn't turn you off to HAL completely!:cool:

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HAL or any cruise line for that matter needs to start clamping down on the PARENTS of children who misbehave or cause problems during a cruise. Wouldn't it be common practise for some disciplinary action to be taken against an adult who is being a trouble maker on a ship instead of letting it go on and on? Since most of these children are apparently not able to make good judgement calls themselves, the responsibility must rest with the parent(s).

 

The common problem with trouble maker kids nowadays is they have no guidance from adults on how to act appropriately. Parents seem to feel that as long as someone else is looking after their children, why should they bother putting forth an effort. Being an elementary school teacher, I see this day in and day out and it sickens me. In the case of some kids, I have to wonder what jail cell they will end up in when they reach adulthood themselves.

 

TylerRose, as for the kid who bit your child, not only should HAL be held accountable but so should the parents of the biter. The biting is obviously a behaviour that has not been punished sufficiently by the parents in question or it would not be happening.

 

I think Holland America needs to take a closer look at their decision to cater to a younger, more family orientated crowd on their sailings. (Time to get off my soapbox now...)

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Thanks for taking the time to write your review. It was honest and I enjoyed reading it. Hope your next cruise is better.

 

Not getting your cabana was not right and the entire thing should have been handled better.

We ordered a package once that I am sure went through Ship Services and we were charged for it but did not receive the package. We were not happy about the way it was handled at the front desk.

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Tyler Rose

Thank your for posting your review and explaining your comments from another thread.

You shouldn't have been surprised that there wasn't a suite dinner - never had them on 7 day cruises - only 10 day cruises - and they were stopped in the spring of 2003. The captain's sit-down suite luncheons were also stopped by the time we got on the Ansterdam in the fall of 2002. We have all been talking about the suite luncheon being replaced by the suite buffet in the Crow's nest.

We have done suite on HAL for years and on the older ships there was never a curtain separating the seating area from the bedroom area. The only curtains we had was when you entered the room to keep people from looking into the room and the one separating the bedroom from the dressing room.

We have all been talking about the $10 per person automatic tipping that was added to your account beginning this past May.

Also we all have been talking about the Pinnacle Grill charge of $20 per person since the spring of 2003.

So a lot of the things you mentioned should not have been a surprise to you if you had been reading these boards.

We have been on the Oosterdam - had no problem with children - but then we cruised on her in Feb/Mar. I don't think she is large at all. We have been on the Grand Princess which is larger. And we look forward to being on the Westerdam.

I do thank you again for posting your review and your insights.

Sorry if I am sounding a little negative about your cruise experience but I just thought I would point out a few things.

No offense.

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Thank you for review.:)

 

Now I will be aware of how much "freedom" my 12 years old should get. I certainly don't want him to be exposed to underage drinking.

 

I am glad he will find enough kids to be friend with, although I noticed (on Century) that he is not a big fan of kids programs. He mostly used the club to find other kids to play with.

 

1) Question for cruisers who sailed Caribbeans in July and August. How much more humid is August than July. (Important to me because we sailed in July and weren't really troubled by humidity).

 

2) Does HAL has something (like pizza party) scheduled for the kids during the formal nights? (It was really helpfull on Celebrity)

 

Thank you again.

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Thanks, Tyler Rose. You had an interesting time of it. Sorry about the difficulties with your MIL. My mother is also in a wheel chair and the challenges of getting about with her, even in her own community, are always present.

I learned a long time ago that a Caribbean Cruise - on any ship - is no place for a quiet, restful vacation in the summertime. The difference in being there in August as opposed to when schools are in session is amazing. It's hard to maintain decorum with 400 about...especially when their parents are not paying any attention to them.

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Tatka...your question about the weather and humidity....it can vary, that is an honest assessment.

I live in North Florida......we are the "capital of humidity":eek: ....I bet the Caribbean is not as humid........

You might get a good breeze and it won't feel so "close"...........or it might be a week where Mother Nature decides to "strut her stuff"........and it feels excessive...

It really just depends.......I know you sail next week...hopefully you will have a wonderful week.

Oh, from chatting with you on here......I am sure your 12 year old knows manners:) ....he has a wonderful Mom!

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Tyler Rose, I'm sorry you encountered some disappointments in your cruise. Some of them I can understand well; they are similar to what we encountered on the Norwegian Dawn this past spring. A BIG ship, lots of children on board, a "casual" dress code that sometimes bordered on sloppy, and a party atomsphere in which buckets of beer figured prominently. (We still had a good time - probably because we didn't expect it to be the same kind of experience we have had on HAL. )

 

And we can certainly identify with the difficulties encountered by a family member in a wheelchair. We didn't run into inconsiderate passengers, but some areas of the ship did present some accessability challenges when my brother-in-law was in his chair.

 

I hope your next cruise more closely meets your expectations. (And as an aside, I also hope you don't entirely rule out the Caribbean as an educational opportunity for your kids. I find the rich history, tropical vegetation, varied geography, and diverse cultures of the islands to be quite fascinating.) Enjoy your next cruise, wherever and on whatever ship it may be!

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I am so sorry you were disappointed. We were really lucky, I guess, in our cruise on the Zui last Aug. Most people at least attempted to abide by the dress code in the DR-many changed later unfortunately- and the kids onboard were well-behaved. I didn't spend much time by the pool so can't vouch for them there. Hope your next cruise is better. And I agree HAL treated you very shabbily.

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Tatka...your question about the weather and humidity....it can vary, that is an honest assessment.

I live in North Florida......we are the "capital of humidity":eek: ....I bet the Caribbean is not as humid........

You might get a good breeze and it won't feel so "close"...........or it might be a week where Mother Nature decides to "strut her stuff"........and it feels excessive...

It really just depends.......I know you sail next week...hopefully you will have a wonderful week.

Oh, from chatting with you on here......I am sure your 12 year old knows manners:) ....he has a wonderful Mom!

Thank you Lois for information! (and compliment ;) )

 

We will do our cruise and then hope for a good weather for yours. :)

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I thought the weather last week was perfect. It was a little hot in Cozumel but then I am from Georgia and guess I am used to it!! That was the only day I felt the humidity. The day we went to Half Moon Cay was 80. I think the weather in September should be perfect.

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Thank you for taking the time to write your review of Zuiderdam.

 

Many of us in the cruise business believe that some if not all of the Vista Class ships will end up in the short cruise market. (3 , 4, and 5 days).

 

These ships were not built for longer cruises as the cabin storage space is minimal. Even in the deluxe suites the drawer space is at a premium.

 

I've not sailed on Westerdam yet but have sailed on both Zuiderdam and Oosterdam. I would not sail on Zuiderdam again and would only sail on Oosterdam if I could budge for all of my dinner meals to be in the Pinnacle Grill. The main dining room is too big and too noisy for my taste.

 

Part of the romance of Holland America has always been that the ships were roomy and held less passengers than other cruise lines. That is not the case on the Vista Class ships.

 

I am a major fan of the "S" class ships (Statendam, Maasdam, Ryndam and Veendam) and love Rotterdam, Volendam, Amsterdam and Zaandam.

 

You face a difficult problem when sailing with children. I agree that Alaska or Europe cruises will be better for them than the Caribbean.

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Those that can afford suite cruising should try Celebrity. They do a wonderful job with all their perks and they make you feel special.

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Wow, were we on the same Z cruise as you? Yes, we were. Amazing how experiences can be so different. I too, stayed on board when the maintenance on the AC was being done, I noticed no drop in temp at all. We resided in cabin 6051. Perhaps it was the floor we were on? This was my hubby and I's first cruise and I must say I am completely floored you overheard employees speaking about how they were shortchanged! I was floored at how those employees keep a happy face on ALL THE TIME, week after week. Always saying good morning/afternoon/evening, always willing to small chat or ask you how your day is going. The only person on the ship we encountered as being a bit lacking in personality was our dining room server- Zega. He was efficient by all means, but never once offered any chat. I didn't notice the plethora of children running about either. Being eager to go on a trip without my own children, I certainly would have been annoyed if this had been a fact. For the most part, children on the ship were well behaved and supervised. My hubby and I made many many rounds about the ship, too.

 

Although I suffered with motion sickness (even drugged) I would recommend this ship to anyone! The people were awesome, events flowed smoothly and I felt pampered! Maybe my view of the Z is prejudiced from being a first time cruiser? I didn't have anything to compare it to and we certainly didn't take for granted the awesome spoiled feeling we got..

 

Cheers!

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Tyler Rose

 

 

You shouldn't have been surprised that there wasn't a suite dinner - never had them on 7 day cruises - only 10 day cruises - and they were stopped in the spring of 2003. The captain's sit-down suite luncheons were also stopped by the time we got on the Ansterdam in the fall of 2002. We have all been talking about the suite luncheon being replaced by the suite buffet in the Crow's nest.

 

We have done suite on HAL for years and on the older ships there was never a curtain separating the seating area from the bedroom area. The only curtains we had was when you entered the room to keep people from looking into the room and the one separating the bedroom from the dressing room.

 

We have all been talking about the $10 per person automatic tipping that was added to your account beginning this past May.

 

Also we all have been talking about the Pinnacle Grill charge of $20 per person since the spring of 2003.

 

So a lot of the things you mentioned should not have been a surprise to you if you had been reading these boards.

 

You got me, the Zuiderdam whiners brought me down last year so I stayed away from the board a VERY long time. Alas... Now I am one of them.

Just for the record, We cruised on the Prinsendam July 2003. There was a curtain seperating the "Bedroom" area and "Living room area". We had a suite luncheon, and a suite dinner. Captain Bos was a delight, and an active participant in everyone's cruise... Not just the photo opts.

Yes, if I had read CC more often in the past 8 months I would not have been so shocked, you are correct.

But reality is, August 7-14, 2004 on board Zuiderdam were a gang of cruisers unlike any HAL cruisers I have cruised with in the past.

The cause: That week, The ship, The Caribbean, Playing Chicken with Hurricane Charley... I'll Never know.

But as a mother first, a caregiver of a legally Blind, wheel chair needed MIL second,, and as a Mariner third... We won't cruise her again, and if it had been our first Hal cruise... it would be the last.

What was good was exceptional... but the gaps were huge.

Club Hal took the 13 year old biter out of teen group and demoted him to 9-12's for behavior... Not a solution I was content with.

Half moon Cay was a tender nightmare for anyone with any sort of disabilty that day and would have been a problem for my MIL reguardless, but the cabana doublebooked exaserbated tensions to a already complicated MIL/DIL dynamic I did not appreciate coping with when I was suppose to be on vacation.

Also, let me clarify, my 13 year old did not drink the beer being passed around (She says)... the real problems were with the older teens, probably not involved with teen HAL, to them the cruise ship was one big pasture party.

And lastly, HAL has signs up all over this ship requesting kids use the Lido pool, and the AFT pool is for exclusive use of adults 3-5 pm, and no kids in vista lounge without an adult or in the first three rows... they simply chose not to enforce any of those rules our week... and neither did those kids parents.

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