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ZUIDERDAM: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

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24-Day Classical Worlds, Eastern and Western Mediterranean

 

 

The Good. Flight over was long, uncomfortable and boring (boring is a good thing when flying!). Arrival at Marco Polo Airport in Venice was very smooth. HAL people were there to assist and to bus us to the ship. Embarkation was quick and easy. We were delighted with our cabin choice (and many thanks to Candy, the Zuiderdam Princess for all her helpful information). We were jet lagged out of our minds but we expected that. Unhappily I picked up a nasty respiratory infection on the ship and Dave soon joined me in my misery. Visited Sick Bay twice, Dave once, and we were delighted with the care we received. The service was outstanding in all areas! The food in the Dining Room and in the Lido was very good. I think their coffee is awful but for a small amount of money one can get wonderful coffee in the Explorations Cafe. We enjoyed all the ports except maybe Catania. A trip like this requires a whole lot of preparation in order to get the most out of it. We were fortunate to be in several small private tours of eight. The entertainment was Fantastic -- especially Sallie Jones. The ship was spotless and we made some wonderful new friends. We were most fortunate to have a first-rate port lecturer on board. He played Andrea Bocelli's Time To Say Good-By as we sailed out of Venice. Don't you just love it?:)

 

 

The Bad. Chairs! The chairs in the Lido are just too heavy and bulky to manage. The dining room chairs are not much better. I heard nothing but negative about the chairs in the screening room. The chairs in the Exploration Lounge defy good posture. Think of a semi-recliner...the couches are just fine. I was very disturbed to find the Explorations Cafe and Library sharing space with the Crows Nest. I do wonder what genius thought that one up. It's just plain stupid. JMHO. Both facilities are reduced in area and there are fewer books as well. When there is a concert in the (now smaller) Crows Nest, it disturbs those in the Library and vice versa. Did I mention the coffee is bad in the Lido and dining room but wonderful in the Explorations Cafe?

 

 

The Ugly. Lifeboat drill. We were appalled to see the Officer of the Deck walk by and only give a passing glance to those in the front rows. No one bothered to check the back four or five rows to see if life jackets were on properly ... they were not!! This is both ugly and frightening. A disaster waiting to happen..

 

 

The itinerary was so exotic -- loved it! All in all, this was the trip of a lifetime! We made some terrific new friends. We learned that we much prefer the smaller ships like the Ryndam and her sisters. We now know that we might prefer AUWD.

 

Cheers,

Karen

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Welcome Home!!

 

Lifeboat drill -- know what you mean -- we have also seen many people wearing their life jackets wrong -- and no one said said anything to them.

 

Glad you had a wonderful cruise.

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Welcome Home!!

 

Lifeboat drill -- know what you mean -- we have also seen many people wearing their life jackets wrong -- and no one said said anything to them.

 

Glad you had a wonderful cruise.

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Karen, thanks for taking the time and effort to write a review!

Just a heads up, that's not the "Officer of the Deck" you're seeing at the lifeboat drill. There is such a thing as an "Officer of the Watch" who you sometimes hear make PA announcements re: upcoming crew drills, explain alarms, medical emergency responses, etc. He/she is one of the navigation officers responsible for a "watch" on the ship's bridge.

The individual in charge of the lifeboat drill however, and also the 2nd in overall command of the ship, is the Chief Officer. You might see him pass by the various lifebaot stations - count the stripes;) Having said that, the officers you usually see with portable radios in hand while the drill is in progress are 3rd or 4th officers (one-stripers) whose job it is to report the status of each lifeboat station (Ready - Not Ready - Passengers Not paying attention whatsoever - Laughing - Joking & Coking - BS'ing - Carrying on - Blowing their vest whistles, etc) to the Chief Officer. Vista-class ships have eight (8) lifeboat stations on port and another eight on starboard side and each lifeboat holds up to 150 persons.

Even though I've seen them do it at times, it's not their (the chief officer and/or the 3rd and 4th officers you see during the drill) responsibility to check each and every assembled passenger to see if they have their vests on correctly. That job, besides taking roll, falls under the responsibility of the lifeboat commander and his (usually) two assistants. Those assistants, accompanied by verbal instructions via the PA by the cruise director, perform a demo on how to properly put on a vest at every drill. Assembled passengers are requested (more than once) to remain quiet and pay attention.

You're correct! I see several nice folks at every drill I have attended who come walking up to their (if they pay attention) lifeboat station while wearing their life vests improperly in every which way you can imagine (inside out, unbuckled, trailing straps behind them, arms not through those straps, carrying the vest in their arms/hands, draped over their shoulders, you name it). Instructions on how to properly wear the vest are posted on each cabin door as well as in a booklet every pax receives nowadays entitled "From the Captain; Your Health, Your Safety, Your Security, Our Environment". It doesn't take a Harvard-graduate from Illinois;) to comprehend that process. It just takes all of five minutes of concentration for the average "Joe Q sick-pack" and/or "John the plumber";) to be able to put that bad boy on correctly.

Now, for the folks who just can't seem to get it right (and there are obvious excuses), yes, the boat commander and his/her assistants are responsbile to show them the light, the bright light, the guiding light. I have seen them do that and that includes the folks in the back rows. It would help greatly if all of us happy passengers, anxiously awaiting to get our cruise started, would take the 15-25 minute drill serious.

Sorry for being long-winded! This is a pet-peeve of mine

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We were last on the Zuiderdam December 2007. I did not put my life vest on correctly (shame on me) and one of the people in charge of our group re-tied my straps for me. I was impressed that he noticed and did something about it. So it probably depends on who you have in charge of your lifeboat.

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Hi Copper

 

Thanks for the clarification on muster drill people. I've tried to help a few fellow passengers, but you know what? Some of them would drown!:eek:

 

It took Dave and me more than one muster drill to get our lifejackets on properly.

 

Cheers,

Karen

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Karen, thanks for taking the time and effort to write a review!

 

Just a heads up, that's not the "Officer of the Deck" you're seeing at the lifeboat drill. There is such a thing as an "Officer of the Watch" who you sometimes hear make PA announcements re: upcoming crew drills, explain alarms, medical emergency responses, etc. He/she is one of the navigation officers responsible for a "watch" on the ship's bridge.

 

The individual in charge of the lifeboat drill however, and also the 2nd in overall command of the ship, is the Chief Officer. You might see him pass by the various lifebaot stations - count the stripes;) Having said that, the officers you usually see with portable radios in hand while the drill is in progress are 3rd or 4th officers (one-stripers) whose job it is to report the status of each lifeboat station (Ready - Not Ready - Passengers Not paying attention whatsoever - Laughing - Joking & Coking - BS'ing - Carrying on - Blowing their vest whistles, etc) to the Chief Officer. Vista-class ships have eight (8) lifeboat stations on port and another eight on starboard side and each lifeboat holds up to 150 persons.

 

Even though I've seen them do it at times, it's not their (the chief officer and/or the 3rd and 4th officers you see during the drill) responsibility to check each and every assembled passenger to see if they have their vests on correctly. That job, besides taking roll, falls under the responsibility of the lifeboat commander and his (usually) two assistants. Those assistants, accompanied by verbal instructions via the PA by the cruise director, perform a demo on how to properly put on a vest at every drill. Assembled passengers are requested (more than once) to remain quiet and pay attention.

 

You're correct! I see several nice folks at every drill I have attended who come walking up to their (if they pay attention) lifeboat station while wearing their life vests improperly in every which way you can imagine (inside out, unbuckled, trailing straps behind them, arms not through those straps, carrying the vest in their arms/hands, draped over their shoulders, you name it). Instructions on how to properly wear the vest are posted on each cabin door as well as in a booklet every pax receives nowadays entitled "From the Captain; Your Health, Your Safety, Your Security, Our Environment". It doesn't take a Harvard-graduate from Illinois;) to comprehend that process. It just takes all of five minutes of concentration for the average "Joe Q sick-pack" and/or "John the plumber";) to be able to put that bad boy on correctly.

 

Now, for the folks who just can't seem to get it right (and there are obvious excuses), yes, the boat commander and his/her assistants are responsbile to show them the light, the bright light, the guiding light. I have seen them do that and that includes the folks in the back rows. It would help greatly if all of us happy passengers, anxiously awaiting to get our cruise started, would take the 15-25 minute drill serious.

 

Sorry for being long-winded! This is a pet-peeve of mine

 

 

How about your average hockey mom? Sorry, I couldn't resist.:D

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Yes John, the Safety drill is alos a hot button with me.

 

The concept of lifeboat drills varies cruise line to cruise line. Some gather people in the show lounge and give a very brief talk, competing with the chit-chat and cocktails, in the audiance. No one even notices if you are carrying your life vest.

 

HAL makes a subtantial effort to do better.

 

I'm not sure what is practical, given the situation. From a safety standpoint, giving everyone who needs it, one- on -one attention and instruction on how to put the blasted thing on, is probably the best way.

 

But then, the drill would go on for hours and hours.

 

Maybe there needs to be a " no soup for you" thing for those who refuse or are unable to take responsibility for thier own safety aand an opportunity for them to practice, till they get it right.

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Welcome Home,

 

I am so glad your trip was so good you thought it might be the trip of a lifetime.

 

We had a funny moment during the lifeboat drill. We observed an officer speak in hushed tones to another and although I didn't hear all of the words some of them were, "It's not on the ship, it has been missing since drydock." My imaginative yet sleep deprived mind went into overdrive as to what might was missing!

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Did I mention the coffee is bad in the Lido and dining room but wonderful in the Explorations Cafe?

 

Don't you have to pay extra for everything in the Explorations Cafe? If that is the case, it is the classic example of the fact that money talks!! :D

 

Regarding the numerous comments on the muster drill, I personally enjoy the process. It reminds me of the fact that we are actually on a ship, not just at some all-inclusive resort... part of the adventure, as far as I'm concerned. But yes, I would wonder what was missing as well!

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You mention that a lot of people did not have their vests on properly....

 

Did you take the time to politely show that individual how to put the vest on. It is not possible for the crew to do everything for us. They must assume that we are reasonably literate and have read the directions in the room or watched the video on TV.

 

If someone does not take the time to learn to put it on properly they are the ones that will suffer in case of an emergency, not the people who have taken the time to learn to do it properly.

 

In all our cruising we have only missed this drill once. That was because Ruth was sick and I called the bridge to notify them why we would not be at the drill and they were welcome to have someone stop by the next day if them demed it necessary.

 

Ruth & Jim

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Don't you have to pay extra for everything in the Explorations Cafe? If that is the case, it is the classic example of the fact that money talks!! :D

 

Regarding the numerous comments on the muster drill, I personally enjoy the process. It reminds me of the fact that we are actually on a ship, not just at some all-inclusive resort... part of the adventure, as far as I'm concerned. But yes, I would wonder what was missing as well!

 

Hi. You are spot on regarding the extra for coffee comment. As to the muster drill, I also enjoy it because I take personal satisfaction in being as prepared as possible.

 

Cheers,

Karen

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You mention that a lot of people did not have their vests on properly....

 

Did you take the time to politely show that individual how to put the vest on. It is not possible for the crew to do everything for us. They must assume that we are reasonably literate and have read the directions in the room or watched the video on TV.

 

If someone does not take the time to learn to put it on properly they are the ones that will suffer in case of an emergency, not the people who have taken the time to learn to do it properly.

 

In all our cruising we have only missed this drill once. That was because Ruth was sick and I called the bridge to notify them why we would not be at the drill and they were welcome to have someone stop by the next day if them demed it necessary.

 

Ruth & Jim

 

Hi Jim,

 

Nice to hear from you. My best to Ruth.

 

And, yes, of course we try to help those around us. The only way Dave and I learned was from our fellow muster passengers. The cabin info wasn't quite enough for us. Last time out, we were proud to have done the straps properly. NOT. Somehow we missed the crease. :rolleyes: The crew can't do everything but they do need to do a better job of supervising before dismissing us.

 

Cheers,

Karen

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Gosh....I keep hearing about the terrible coffee on HAL ships. My DH and I were on the "O" last month and I came psychologically prepared to hate the coffee. Well, I found the coffee to be rather good. I am a coffee snob too. I typically have hand ground espresso each morning with cream. When I first boarded for lunch in the Lido, I ordered tea, as I was too afraid to try the coffee. My DH braced himself for the coffee and gave it a try and after I took a sip of his....well, I just don't understand all the crying I hear over the coffee. It's just not that bad folks. We started ordering coffee for 4 each morning and they would bring us two large pots which we drank entirely and enjoyed to the last drop. You should try drinking the hospital coffee that I spent most of my career drinking. Now THAT's bad coffee.

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Gosh....I keep hearing about the terrible coffee on HAL ships. My DH and I were on the "O" last month and I came psychologically prepared to hate the coffee. Well, I found the coffee to be rather good. I am a coffee snob too. I typically have hand ground espresso each morning with cream. When I first boarded for lunch in the Lido, I ordered tea, as I was too afraid to try the coffee. My DH braced himself for the coffee and gave it a try and after I took a sip of his....well, I just don't understand all the crying I hear over the coffee. It's just not that bad folks. We started ordering coffee for 4 each morning and they would bring us two large pots which we drank entirely and enjoyed to the last drop. You should try drinking the hospital coffee that I spent most of my career drinking. Now THAT's bad coffee.

 

Hello Sleeplady,

 

Funny you should mention the coffee room service brings for breakfast. Now that WAS good coffee. I'm thinking that it wasn't that I found it bad; rather, I found it so very weak! Coffee is such a personal preference thing, isn't it?

 

 

Cheers,

Karen

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Well, I found the coffee to be rather good. I am a coffee snob too.

 

The coffee is substantially better than it used to be, back when. Coffee, like everything else, is subjective. All that matters is if you like it, or not.

 

Speaking of coffee, anyone price it lately?

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We were last on the Zuiderdam December 2007. I did not put my life vest on correctly (shame on me) and one of the people in charge of our group re-tied my straps for me. I was impressed that he noticed and did something about it. So it probably depends on who you have in charge of your lifeboat.

 

Exact same thing has happened to me. I was impressed.

 

My one recent Princess cruise (2005) had life vests without straps. I think they were heavy duty velcro flaps or something or may even have been a hook-n-eye type assemblage. Either way, they were much easier to use.

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I am glad that the service was good and responsive to your needs (except for the lifeboat drill)...I am especially happy since I will be on the Z in mid November...I have not had any problem with the coffee either not the best but no where near the worst...

 

The three HAL cruises I have been on, the staff were very concerned with safety and helped individuals tie their straps appropriately... even when we were all standing like sardines in a sauna... more concerning to me is after the drill everybody is taking to the stairs having untied their strings are likely to trip themselves or others...

 

Glad you had a nice cruise...DB

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To me the Lido and DR are like Dunkin coffee. Whereas the premium brands (Starbucks) are serves at the $$ cafes and Neptune aboard the HAL Ships!! :)

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As many as I read this post I begin to regret to have bought a coffee card at Exploration coffee. :(

Did someone remember which kind of coffee. Somebody said Starbuck, is it real.?

Fresh brew coffee ?

Did my card can be use another place in the paquebot ?

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Good overview of the cruise we enjoyed with you! I agree with all your observations.

 

However, OUR lifeboat crew was great...never let a strap get by them that wasn't correctly done...this has been our previous experience for most the sailings, too. However, we had friends on the "old Prinsendam" that had to abandon ship in the middle of the night in the northern waters off AK, so they impressed on us the importance of being prepared, which includes knowing where your pants are in the middle of the night!...in the dark! :D

 

Jan

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