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drdaddy

Short review of Zuiderdam 8/28 - 9/7

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This is a shortened version of my review of Zuiderdam of what should have been a "memorable" trip. Unfortunately, due to some very poor decisions made by the corporate office of HAL, the trip was memorable for the wrong reasons. I do not plan to cruise with HAL again even though Zuiderdam is a wonderful ship and I am going to hit some of the points of the ship and some of the points brought up here before. I apologize for being negative about the trip but I can say the ship is great. But when a cruise line PUTS you INTO harm's way without regard to what is imminent, I cannot tolerate that. EVERY other ship in the Eastern Caribbean went elsewhere at least for a major part of their cruise except for Zuiderdam. So, although we were safe throughout the 9 days, we did not enjoy the numerous sea days. Some of our fellow cruisers have already posted and they were able to make the most out the trip. For this I am glad but we could not reconcile ourselves to what amounted to one nice day and one shopping day. Sorry I feel this way. I realize now that everyone deals with things differently. I actually started making extensive notes until Monday evening when I realized what was going to be happening and then I just stopped for I knew I did not want to remember this trip any longer. I do want to give back to this board at least something because we did get loads of info and was even able to save some money because of the board. I offer these few bits to you that will find HAL to be a cruise line you can deal with.

 

Zuiderdam is a beautiful ship. Check in was easy although there was a pretty long line at 11:30. The line for web based forms was about the same size as the other line and seemed to move pretty well. They seemed to have good control over it. They gave us a number to wait to enter the ship. We had number 12 and they called number 8. There was nobody in the waiting room so we just went on. No problem there. Silly system. A crew member walked us to a set of elevators to go up to the Lido but just left us there and we ended up by our cabin and the door was open so we went in. The room was completely prepared, very clean, very nice and a nice surprise. We had 4083 which was a "fully obstructed view". The lifeboat wasn't there so we got a look without the boat. Very large floor to ceiling window. When the lifeboat returned, the lighting level was fine and I was able to see well over the boat. Wife had to stand on the bed, however. This was forward of the glass elevators so the boats were the smaller variety. The larger ones that they also use for tendering are aft so the view might not be good. We would definitely do that cabin again. Bed was comfy, the closets/drawers combo worked out fine for 2. There are drawers under the beds but that is where the steward puts the bedspread. Our Steward was Hie (really a longer name but I can't spell it) and was outstanding.

 

The Lido buffet is very nice but IS a little limited in it's hot entrees. The pizza was good, the wok is VERY spicey but good and the Deli more than passable. The iced tea there is the syrup kind (until the last two days). The iced tea in the Pinnacle and the Vista dining room is real tea. The Pinnacle's food was as good as everyone says. The Porterhouse was as good as any restaurant we have been, including the Palm, Morton's, N9NE in Vegas, and Emeril's. The service was NOT top notch. Not sure why. Maybe because it was the first night at the reduced charge? The Vista dining room is a very pleasant and comfortable room. If you know where you want to be and know the table number and write a nice email to ship's services, they will try to give you what you want. We got our second choice which was great. The food is very good, not great, and the portions are a little small. Our waiter was Muthadi and asst was Roy. Zain was the hardest working head waiter I have ever seen. Never a question about trying different dishes, even to the point of getting a third plate for the lobster tails (NO TURF this trip, btw) and the prawns. Weird though that the sides were lacking in substance. Desserts were always good.

 

Entertainment was OK for the shows. The individual entertainers were great! Julie Barr, comedienne, Edge, manipulative juggling or something like that, Bob Brimsodine (I think), comedy magician, and YES, Joel Mason was back. Because of all youse guys, I sat with my wife in the first row because she loves Elton so much and BOY did I pay for that one! Joel just picked me out and didn't let up. But it was good natured and fun. He asked what I did for a living and I said "Eye doctor" (hence the handle) and he had nothing for that as a comeback so he just continued playing. Very good show. I did not like Dane Butcher or his staff at all. They never seemed to be around except when they were doing an official activity. On other ships, the CD was always around and never appeared aloof for any passenger.

 

Half Moon Cay was all it could be. I just pray it is still there for the rest of you. If you want a nice spot, go to the first area by the rentals, turn left, and there was two hammocks and a shady area. PROTECT YOUR AREA because people are like hungry hyenas and wil NOT respect your stuff if you leave it allow. This is a prime area and the only really shady spot. We had a clamshell and they ARE stuffy, depending on the temps and the wind direction. A previos thread mentioned that there are no fish for snorkeling at HMC. WRONG! Hey folks, this is not Disney World. You have to look for them. I did find many specimens, including a huge French Angel. They have some artificial reefs and there were tons of schools of fish at the very far area of rocks. The water is not deep at all. Lovely day.

 

The rest of the trip I will leave for my mates to let you know about. The prices in St. Thomas are not as good as they used to be. The items my wife looked at (Clinique, etc.) were cheaper on the ship! Believe it or not. Some other items were cheaper in the states if you are a shopper.

 

There is artwork galore on this ship. They are always cleaning and spiffing up. The service in the Lido and bars were great. The music was for all tastes. The teak decks and chairs were real nice. There were no smells. The a/c WAS a problem in Lauderdale in the Lido and the cabin but as soon as the ship started moving, cooled down quickly. Lido was still warm in spots but we froze that first night in the room. Very comfortable thereafter. The casino staff were super and very friendly and helpful. Had a few winning sessions but the losing ones put me in the red for a net loss. But still gambled a lot. All games were $5 minimums (there are a few $10 mins at BJ). Craps was very busy but only open at night. 3 card poker! On a ship? Never could get a seat night there. Let it ride and Caribbean stud were not as busy. They even had nickel slots! Very impressive but the room is a little small.

 

Gee, that turned out longer than I thought.

 

Oh well, if only this ship was built for a different company. I would like to sail her again.

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This is a shortened version of my review of Zuiderdam of what should have been a "memorable" trip. Unfortunately, due to some very poor decisions made by the corporate office of HAL, the trip was memorable for the wrong reasons. I do not plan to cruise with HAL again even though Zuiderdam is a wonderful ship and I am going to hit some of the points of the ship and some of the points brought up here before. I apologize for being negative about the trip but I can say the ship is great. But when a cruise line PUTS you INTO harm's way without regard to what is imminent, I cannot tolerate that. EVERY other ship in the Eastern Caribbean went elsewhere at least for a major part of their cruise except for Zuiderdam.

What do you mean by "in harm's way?" Certainly no one else posted anything remotely like that. And where did you hear that "Every other ship" went "elsewhere"? Heck, YOU went elsewhere! Cuba isn't exactly Eastern Caribbean!

 

What was it you expected the line to do??

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I think I know what was meant by "harms way". I think almost every other cruise line changed their itinerary knowing that the hurricane was going to affect the eastern. When we arrived at Tortola, the locals were surprised we were there. Our taxi driver said he did not expect any ships that day and it caught the merchants completely by surprise. The only other ship I saw at port in St Thomas was the Navigator of the Sea. I agree, I think the corporate office made a mistake by not letting us go to other ports.

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I am sorry your cruise wasn't all you expected, but I don't believe its the corporate offices who handle situations like that, I believe its the call of the Captain. I am sure someone here will correct me if I am wrong.

 

You have to remember one thing, if you are going to sail during hurricane season, you need to know this type of thing can happen, that's why I don't sail this time of year.

 

Please give HAL another try and perhaps sail during the winter months, I like March, to be sure your cruise won't be interrupted by hurricanes.

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According to each of the captains announcements, he was following the calls of the corporate office in Seattle. He made that very clear.

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The corporate office keeps in contact with the captain concerning the weather among others.

The corporate office makes the final decision.

Sorry about your cruise - but do give HAL another chance - just don't cruise during hurricane season.

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We also were on this sailing and saw things differently. Onboard, we didn't find anyone we talked to had complaints. It certainly beat staying in a hotel or shelter and I agree with the poster who said the Captain prefaced every statemtent by saying the decisions came from Seattle. That being said, I seriously doubt you can just whip into any port without consideration from that particular island's government. We spoke with someone at the airport whose ship had put into Cozumel and there were already 7 ships in port! That would not be our idea of a good day. Even the 2 large ships in St. Thomas made the streets very crowded. I'm glad DrDaddy enjoyed the ship so much. We also found everything as shipshape as last year. We had Zain for our head waiter last year and he is terrific.

I think the entertainers couldn't be praised and thanked enough. They went out of their way to put together shows on the fly, improvising as they went, and everything turned out to be very professional. We went to an afternoon show by the magician where he told us he had a wife and toddler living in Ft. Lauderdale. The poor man must have been frantic but "the show goes on". Could Seattle have handled things better? Maybe, but this has apparently not happened to this extent before so everyone was "winging it" I'm sure Seattle was more concerned with the passengers comfort and safety than with how many ports we pulled into. Most hurricanes travel very swiftly, especially over land, and I imagine HAL was trying to get us to complete as much of our itinerary as possible. I'm sure there would have been just as many complaints had we done a Western itinerary.

I'm certainly not flaming DrDaddy at all. His opinion is valid and well stated. I'd just love him to give HAL another try. I dount we'll sail in hurricane season again. We didn't mind the extra sea days but the trip home was VERY frazzeling!

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We loved the trip. I've already don't the western, and wasn't interested in doing it again (never mind the other 7 ships in port!). I was glad to have seen the two eastern ports that we saw (only missed ONE port), and to have had a couple of extra sea days.

 

I do feel bad for the folks that really had to get back to work right away on Tuesday morning. I am fortunate in that I didn't have that pressure.

 

I don't think that Captian Hans deserves any special credit for keeping the ship safe-the computer says where the hurricane is going to be, and another computer will drive the ship away from it. What he does deserve credit for is promoting an atmosphere amongst the crew on the ship that prompted them to slug it out and keep us entertained. Kinda sounds like we are a bunch of two-year-olds, and we are stuck with our babysitter for another few hours.

 

Yep, if they would have don't the western, there would have been at least ONE more complaint...ours.

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"Eye Doctor",

 

Glad you liked the Zuiderdam, but : You said you were put in "Harms way" but were "safe throughout the 9 days."

 

Do I need an eye exam?

 

(Next time, whatever ship you sail on, remember hurricane season runs from June through November.)

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I really did not plan on responding at all but I guess I should. You guys haven't been too bad at least.

 

When I said we were put in harm's way, here is the scenario. We went to HMC and had a great day there. After leaving there, we sailed Southeast. The hurricane was moving Northwest. Do you get the idea? We had to divert south around Haiti and the Dominican Republic to get to Tortola because the hurricane just happened to be right there! Of course we were kept safe. But we didn't need to be anywhere near the 'cane in the first place. I knew a week before we left that this was going to be a problem. Every computer model and NWS forecast said that this storm will hit BVI and USVI and the Bahamas. I can read and look at the same forecasts that the TV newscasters can. I just feel that because HAL is in Seatlle, they did not pay any attention to that until they had to. Nobody from the crew even acknowledged that there was a storm until Monday.

 

Thanks for backing me up, Dexter. Every time the Captain spoke, it was "this is the decision of the company. So just enjoy this beautiful sea day on the beautiful MS Zuiderdam".

 

I know the hurricane season. I live in South Florida. I guess we should get remarried and celebrate our anniversary at a different time of year! ;-) Actually, we probably will NOT travel again at this time anymore. We have done it a few times and have been pretty lucky. At least if you discount the fact that we were on a Trans-Atlantic westbound when those maniacs decided to bomb NYC with a couple of airplanes. Maybe we should be getting that message.

 

And as was mentioned, the entertainers were real troupers. That was greatly appreciated

 

Ok, I'm done

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I don't think that Captian Hans deserves any special credit for keeping the ship safe-the computer says where the hurricane is going to be, and another computer will drive the ship away from it.

Um, no. There are no "automatic decision making computers" sailing crusie ships. The captain still gives commands about direction and speed, although he may use computer-aided navigation devices to help him decide......

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I have to agree with drdaddy. My husband and I will not sail with HAL again. I think the food was better on Princess and the entertainment was better on the Conquest. The cruise was okay. At least, it was better than being at work.

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Little Bit,

 

I think I will go with you, but at the OTHER times of year you went before!

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Do people realize how long the hurricane season is? Guess the cruiselines should shut down for those months.

 

Mrs. Dexter (the one laughing at Dexter when he was strip-searched at the airport) Oh that was priceless!

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. I apologize for being negative about the trip but I can say the ship is great. But when a cruise line PUTS you INTO harm's way without regard to what is imminent, I cannot tolerate that. EVERY other ship in the Eastern Caribbean went elsewhere at least for a major part of their cruise except for Zuiderdam. So, although we were safe throughout the 9 days, we did not enjoy the numerous sea days. Some of our fellow cruisers have already posted and they were able to make the most out the trip. For this I am glad but we could not reconcile ourselves to what amounted to one nice day and one shopping day. Sorry I feel this way. I realize now that everyone deals with things differently.

No need to apologize for your opinions and feelings. Everyone is entitled to their own thoughts. Thanks for posting !!!

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drdaddy,

 

Hubby and I are planning another cruise for next year (April 16, 2005) for the southern caribbean on Celebrity. :D I hope this one is better.

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No need to apologize for your opinions and feelings. Everyone is entitled to their own thoughts. Thanks for posting !!!

For a change I am in total agreement with Superstein!:eek::p You are absolutely entitled to your opinions. Glad you loved the Ship. Frankly, at times we find the decisions coming out of HAL Seattle mindboggling, but on each cruise we ail on their ships, the Crew makes the trip wonderful for us!!!!:cool:

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drdaddy,

 

Hubby and I are planning another cruise for next year (April 16, 2005) for the southern caribbean on Celebrity. :D I hope this one is better.

On Constellation? Very nice ship...You'll like it although if you are looking for "Carnival" type entertaiment you might be disappointed as I thought HAL shows were slightly netter than on X but you didn't like them.

 

Food will probably better than on any cruise lines you sailed tho. ;)

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Not to discount the Dr's opinion, but I guess I'm still not understanding...

 

The captain changed course to go around a storm. If the ship experienced no rough seas or rain, how was the ship or it's passengers ever in harm's way?

 

Sounds to me like the captain was doing his job rather well - by keeping to the predetermined port schedule as much as possible and also maintaining a safe distance from a bad storm.

 

The glass is half full/The glass is half empty...

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I am sorry your cruise wasn't all you expected, but I don't believe its the corporate offices who handle situations like that, I believe its the call of the Captain. I am sure someone here will correct me if I am wrong.

 

You have to remember one thing, if you are going to sail during hurricane season, you need to know this type of thing can happen, that's why I don't sail this time of year.

I can understand to some extent where Dexter is coming from. He signed on for a port-intensive cruise, and ended up with one overloaded with sea days ... thus being disappointed.

 

I don't, however, feel HAL put me in harm's way. Quite the contrary. I think those extra sea days taxed HAL's staff to the max, especially the entertainment staff. Julie Barr sat at our table one night during the 9/4 cruise ... I believe it was Tuesday night. She told us how the cruise director's staff were pulling their hair out trying to keep the passengers entertained with new and unique activities ... some things never tried before. While I would have preferred the ports originally scheduled, and the shore excursions I originally planned (all of my excursions other than HMC were cancelled for the first cruise) ... I enjoyed many of the extra activities that were staged during those extra sea days ... such as the "behind the scenes tour" of the crew areas. That was something that was truly a rarity.

 

However, I was still disappointed in not getting to follow an itinerary that involved port stops in calm areas, but when one cruises during hurricane season, one has to roll with the punches ... at least that's my philosophy. So, I tried to make the best of things ... and all in all I feel I got my money's worth.

 

Now, the question is ... would I sail the Zuiderdam again? Probably ... but I doubt I'll ever do it again during "high" season or during hurricane season. It's just not worth the reduced prices ... at least in my opinion.

 

The major issue I had with the cruise had nothing to do with the port cancellations or the extra sea days. It had to do with the sheer number of people onboard that first week. There were over 400 children, and while I experienced no problems with them, they were surely visible ... congregating in the pool area, running around in the Lido ... and doing all those things that normal children do.

 

Also, just the sheer numbers of people ... the difficulty of finding a spot out on the Lido deck to sit and enjoy a cigarette, the crowded dining room, the impossibility of getting a table to park your tray at in the Lido ... the lines for the tender, etc., etc. These things definitely detracted from the pleasure of my cruise experience.

 

The second week ... when there were only about 650 passengers onboard ... now that was heaven ... but still a bit too much to the other extreme. Sometimes I wondered if I was on a ghost ship. :)

 

So, I think in the future when I want a Carribean cruise, I'll choose one in the early winter months ... when children are in school ... and the ship will have a moderate number of passengers.

 

Blue skies ...

 

--rita

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I think I know what was meant by "harms way". I think almost every other cruise line changed their itinerary knowing that the hurricane was going to affect the eastern. When we arrived at Tortola, the locals were surprised we were there. Our taxi driver said he did not expect any ships that day and it caught the merchants completely by surprise. The only other ship I saw at port in St Thomas was the Navigator of the Sea. I agree, I think the corporate office made a mistake by not letting us go to other ports.

My take on it is that we only missed one port on the 8-28 itinerary. That was Nassau. Water-based shore excursions were cancelled in St. Thomas and Tortola, and we did have some rain while on one of those islands, but otherwise ... we did get to stop there and stay for the stated time. There was plenty to do ... as long as the activity didn't involve being on a boat (which as luck would have it, all mine did).

 

The sailing that got "jacked around" port-wise was actually the 9-4 (or actually 9-6 sailing). Two of the ports on that sailing were totally eliminated (Key West and Half Moon Cay). HAL had originally added Ocho Rios, Jamaca to make up for Half Moon Cay, but that was when the 9-4 sailing was to have gone out on 9-5. When another day was lost, that extra port had to be cancelled.

 

So, I really don't see where we lost that many ports on the 8-28 sailing.

 

Blue skies ...

 

--rita

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Thank you for a well thought out review. I'm sorry HAL disappointed you but I'm glad the ship itself was enjoyable.

We are looking forward to our upcoming vacation on "Z". Our only expectations are for a clean cabin, good food, and beautiful weather.

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Rita,

 

I feel guilty not responding. You spent so much of your time writing to the board while on the ship, I guess I can write a little more.

 

You are such an optimist. I am actually envious because you have had such a good outlook on this cruise. It is just that I did not find such various things to do while at sea. And I do not think that our stop at Tortola was so nice, with 1 out of the 2 stores closed and all shore activities stopped. And what about that downpour of rain? Did you find that country to be worthwhile. We did not. I also did not spend all that money to shop in St. Thomas when the prices on board were actually better in some cases and better in the states if you know where to go. I am not a sun worshipper so maybe that is why I feel this way about the extra sea days. I am sure that if we were able to do the shore activities (3 days of snorkeling scheduled, none accomplished), I would have enjoyed those sea days.

 

I also did not think the kids were that bad! And if some of you followed our thread on the roll call board, that is pretty magnanimous (sp?) of me. LOL!!! There were just a few who got a little annoying playing that Marco Polo game and a few teens who always seemed to be around the adults. Not as bad as I thought it would be. It certainly did not seem like 400 to me at all.

 

I also agree that the entertainers went out their way make things bearable. They were great. And the extra tour was really terrific. And I did not find the tender thing a problem either. The only place the smoking was a problem was in the casino.

 

Isn't it amazing how experiences can be perceived differently? I guess it is really the state of mind and the expectations.

 

Hey, at least I am able to see both sides of the coin, at least little.

 

Rita, I am truly glad you had the great time you did. I really wanted to agree.

 

Spot, yes, the ship is great, we had a great cabin and more than decent food. The weather is unpredictable.

 

I guess we probably will not cruise during this time either any longer. The only problem with that is the even in the Caribbean, the water can get a little cool and a little rough during the winter. But for y'all from Canada and the Midwest, I am sure it will be no problem.

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You are such an optimist. I am actually envious because you have had such a good outlook on this cruise.

I am truly sorry that you did not enjoy the cruise as much as I did. I guess my outlook comes from simple practicality. I'm on a beautiful ship, having all my needs taken care of ... there is nothing I can do about the weather or missed ports and excursions, so why not just focus on the positive. I'm spending four days in a row at sea, can enjoy watching the ocean and partaking in those extra activities that I think I may enjoy, and best of all ... I can take those luxurious afternoon naps I love without feeling guilty that I should be off the ship and exploring whatever port we are docked at.

 

As for the children ... I didn't find them to be acting badly. They were just being normal children ... in very large numbers. :)

 

But, like you ... I think I'll do my future Caribbean cruising when the hurricanes are not around. :)

 

Blue skies ...

 

--rita

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