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Just returned from Zaandam cruise


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Had a great time (in fact, going again on 12/11 - love the Z).


ship missed Ocho Rios because she was called upon by the coastguard to conduct a search mission; this occured not long after we left Georgetown. about 3am found 3 cuban refugees on a homemade raft; supposedly they had been at sea for many days; they were taken to sick bay. 7 hrs were lost during the search, therefore no time for O.R. (personally i think all ships should boycott Jamaica until they fix their crime problem, but that's just me.) the Bahamian government refused to accept the refugees from Half Moon Cay, so they were removed from the ship at about 10pm on friday nite when a u.s. coastguard boat pulled along side & made the transfer. the 3 were to be "processed" in Miami.


so we had 3 days at sea instead of 2 (we received port charges refunds); seas were rough & very unpleasant for some on the ship (imagine how the Cubans felt). naturally there were some complaints about missing Jamaica & the extra sea day - possibly the complainers thought the refugees should have been more gracious & stayed on their raft....or possibly they thought HAL should guarrantee a smoother ride....better yet a partial refund.


anyway, here are some comments i have which are based on what i have read on this board:


1. yes, meatloaf is on the menu. ordered it along with mashed potatoes & gravy - yum, yum (but then I'm just a hick from Indiana). enjoyed it so very much....afterall, i didn't shop for it, cook it, or clean up after it - sounds like a good meal to me!


2. dh & i cruise numerous times a year. don't eat in the dining room anymore. haven't liked the service for some time; so don't know if it is better or worse. that's one of our reasons for sailing hal; have a buffet for all meals; buffet offers most of what is available in the dining room & if we want something not offered, we can order it from room service - great! service in the lido seemed the same to me. we rarely have been offered assistance with our trays or offered water, tea, or coffee - but that is not a problem for us - we are at a buffet. so, this time the service was exactly the same. also not a problem for us that we are not "luxury" dining; can do that as we want on land.


3. the staff was still as wonderfully pleasant as they have always been to us - what a treasure hal has in its staff! we left the auto tip on & love the convenience & tipped our cabin steward extra - he was too good for words. as discussed on this board, the auto tip may not be "fair", tipping may be an American mistake, etc., etc. however, our tipping was based solely on our interactions with real hard working people, not policy, so it makes sense to me.


4. embarkation & disembarkation was a breeze - which is all we have ever experienced with hal.


5. the ship was spotless, but then we didn't do an actual inspection.


6. we love the bright carpet & love the massive organ.


7. was on the Maasdam in July - got half of a lobster tail (actually got 4 halves because that is what I ordered! so splitting them in half is not really a problem.) however on the Z got whole lobster tails (2, dh got 4).


8. this is serious - did not have escargot on lobster night!! my dh loves it!! (maybe we should not sail hal!!! - NOT!)


9. desserts are not as good a quality as in the past. used to have whole cakes, such as carrot cake, chocolate cake, etc on the dessert buffet. now have the cheap stuff like at a Ponderosa buffet (not knocking P., the price is cheap!). but naturally we got enough to eat - just meant we had to eat more ice cream & cookies - such a sacrifice!


10. have been to the islands so much that we don't do tours any more. we love to walk so we do that on our own - which we did at georgetown & cozamel.


11. never took the tender to h.m.c. (hate those tenders) because we can do a caribbean visit if we want. but did so this time because of the comments on this board. we enjoyed, got in the water - love that caribbean water. the water was cold (never could get my shoulders in) - i think it is highly disappointing that hal did not have it heated. were pleased at the large number of lounge chairs available (for free). went back to the lido for lunch (would have ate on the island but they didn't have bbq pork ribs, didn't want hamburgs, hot dogs).


12. our cabin was outside on the lower promenade, where we always get - our favorite spot is sitting outside on that deck. didn't get quite enough of that because of the wind & rolling seas, but then we will be back soon.


13. went to the movies twice - both times theatre was full. will be too bad if the movies are no more.


14. did our review at the end of the cruise & dropped it in the slot. rated everything very high, gave a few comments. hope the high rating helps the staff - as i've always said - hope their bosses "say it with money"!


oh well - back to reality - wintering in florida in the disney area - such is life! anyone have any questions, let me know.

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oops, forgot an item that is discussed frequently regarding hal:


15. the ship was full of "old" people. some actually had the nerve to bring wheelchairs, walkers, canes - can you imagine! so, we suffered in the wonderful calmness & quiet. another reason why lately we are only sailing on hal --- not for the "old" people, but the quiet! but then again, maybe we need to rethink hal - afterall, don't forget the rough seas, the missed port, the cold caribbean water & the horror of meatloaf!


but since we all should make lemonade when given lemons, we forced ourselves to converse with "them". don't want to impose my suggestion on anyone who is prone to avoid old people, but amazingly i've had some very interesting conversations with old people during my travels - met a scientist who worked on the atom bomb project with oppenheimer (sp?) during ww2 (& no, he doesn't feel guilty for his role in creating the atom bomb that killed so many), a lovely couple who lived for a year in italy in order to experience another culture (want to do that one day), grandparents with their son's family who live in new zealand (we still email), a woman who works for the u.n., a very nice scottish couple who think tipping is such a silly American nuisance, and on & on. amazing how old people were once & sometimes still are real people with interesting lives - amazing!

that's all i can think of regarding our trip - but really there is so much more, it's in there somewhere - i'm just having a senior moment!! hehehe

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Thanks for your review. Happy you enjoyed another HAL cruise and one aboard Zuiderdam.



We have had some wonderful cruises on Zuiderdam, including last month. I'd be happy to return to her anytime BUT only if they recitfy this business about NO PORK RIBS in the lunch at HMC. What's up with that???

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sorry if i mislead some of you, but we were on the zaandam, not the zuiderdam. i though "zui" was abbrev. for zuiderdam & "z" for zaandam...? anyway, haven't been on the zui. prefer the smaller ships, but who knows - maybe one day. happy sailings all.

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We will be on the Zuiderdam this May.


But since prok ribs are a no-no for DH - no big there. He cheats a lot on other food items so he can afford to miss them.

:) I hear you KK. I play it straight and narrow so I can cheat on the ribs!! I'd rather eat fish in the dining room every night and have my one lunch of ribs per cruise. :) If I'd been really careful all cruise waiting for my ribs at HMC I would have been so bummed!!! :)

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I don't think we'll be getting any omega 3's at HMC.


I LOVED when we had the salmon from the grill on Maasdam this summer on our Canada/New England cruise. They set up the grills at Lido pool one lunch time and it was soooo good.

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While DH enjoyed a large piece of prime rib, our friend Ed had the same, his wife Fran had baked stuffed shrimp and I was disgustingly disciplined and enjoyed a nice grilled chicken breast with sauteed red pepper, mushrooms and artichoke hearts.....hold the sauce please. We all enjoyed our meals. :)



I would be very happy if HAL Chefs would add some sort of interesting chicken vegetable grill type entrees to the menu. The sauce could be added to those who want it and held for folks like me.


Seeing as we have heard increasing talk about changes to the menus, I hope there are more to come. The menus on HAL have gotten tired IMO and are more than ready for a change.


Wouldn't it be great if they sent out an e-mail survey seeking suggestions for what we'd like to see added/omitted?

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Getting away from food and back to the thread subject..review of the Zaandam, thank you for your honest review. We have sailed 4 times on the Zaandam and will be on for BtoBs Dec. 11th and Dec 18th. Can you answer a couple of questions for me, What are the names of the groups playing in the Ocean Bar and the Crows Nest? Is Sonia Marie still playing in the piano bar? Do you remember any names of the bartenders? I`m sure some of the same ones we had in Ap/May are still onboard. Hope to bump into you in December....jean :cool:

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Glad you injoyed yourself, we are on the Zaandam, Western cruise Dec. 4th, I see you didn't eat in main dinning but wonder if you can tell me in what order casual, informal, and formal nights were, on your cruise and, if any, what night was dutch night? I still don't know if they have reverted back to our original itinerary Cozumel, Ocho Rios, Grand Caymons, the last I heard we lost Georgetown and were having a extra sea day.

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thanks to everyone for their responses. some had questions:


houchin -


1. sun. & thurs were the formals nites; sorry don't remember which were the informal.


2. did not see any mention of dutch nite (may have been, but didn't notice). we did look at the dinner menu every day for the dining room (just in case they were having something we wanted that was not on the buffet) & read the daily activities paper, but did not see dutch nite mentioned. didn't see anyone wearing the hats either.


3. we also were advised before our cruise that georgetown was a lost stop; because of the severe storm damage to the island. however, we did dock there; the island was prepared once again to receive ships. carnival & disney were also there. was advised the island had severe damage & indeed we did see some remaining. however, the damage did not seem any worse than here (florida disney area). even so, i can imagine the small island was too damaged for thousands of more people. before we got off of the ship, we were advised that there would not be any rental cars or scooters available; all are being used by the residents who lost their vehicles in the storm. also the island tour was not available from the ship - don't know why since it was available on the island for $15.


Jean/Elmorejj - sorry i can't give you any info on the bars & bartenders - we don't do alcohol & therefore don't do bars (except the crows nest view when we leave a port). glad you enjoy the Zaandam - she is our favorite. we've never done a back to back; sounds great. however, we probably never should do it - we would eat so much that they would have to roll us off the ship!


Everyone regarding the BBQ ribs - although there were no pork or beef ribs on the hmc, there were lamb ribs. Pork ribs were served at the pool side BBQ one evening (the inside lido pool). don't remember which evening. the pork ribs were excellent - absolutely yummy; also served steaks, hamburgers, hot dogs, pork chops (looked smoked), chicken, plus salads, etc. that nite, no lido buffet of course.


miss the ship already. had to make my own bed this morning, stepped on the scales & discovered I had brought back quite a bit of the ship food, so I got lousy bran flakes with skim milk for breakfast & exercised for an hour & a half. looks like lien cuisine for lunch. gotta take off this extra weight so i can enjoy putting all it back on in december!


what a life!!!

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Thanks so much for the review....DH and I are sailing on the Zaandam next Saturday. I really appreciated reading a current review and it sounds like you had a grand time. This our first HAL cruise, but our 8th cruise total, and we are looking forward to experiencing a different cruise line (have previously sailed with Norwegian, Royal Caribbean, and Carnival -- loved them all!). I just posted a thread that our itinerary has been changed back to include Grand Cayman. Sorry about the Jamaica stop being cancelled, but for humanitarian reasons I would forego the stop.

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twoatsea .... Enjoyed reading your review!


Do you really never eat in the main dining room any more? :confused: Gosh, has the service become that bad ....?


Thanks again for your time to tell us about the cruise!


Happy Sailing! OCruisers :)

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Hi twoatsea,


Thanks for the review. We really enjoyed the Zaandam last year.


Question: You said you were in an outside on the lower promenade. We have a "C" on Volendam next week. How were the cabins? Were they a bit smaller? Did you have window privacy? What about noise from the deck? We are port/forward. I'd like to have your opinion about the location. Thanks.

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Thanks so much for taking the time to post your review of the Zaandam. 'Good idea to mention conversing with "seniors" - we've tried it and also ENJOY IT!

We have met the most interesting and FUN people while visiting on cruise ships.


'Hope to see you on the 12/11 sailing!! We're on the lower prom deck, too, as HAL has just advised us of the upgrade to an outside, obstructed view cabin #3397!


Until the 11th! melissa

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Thanks for your review! I just read two reviews from Oct. sailings & they were VERY negative so I was concerned about the staff but your review gives me new hope! We are leaving this Sat. on the Zaandam..wonder if G.C. really has been added back on & if I should try to re-book Capt. Marvins:rolleyes: We're taking the in-laws (their first cruise..however they did grow up in Brazil & sailed to boarding schools in England during the school terms but I don't think they were anything like the ships today!) My mother-in-law loves to dance, especially disco, does the Crow's nest have that or is it more.. uh hmm..reserved? Oh, also did they have the yummy Bread Pudding in the Lido??? On the Zui it was near the drink station. Thanks! Susan

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thanks again for your comments & questions. love to talk about our cruise. we love the zaandam, but you know when i get to thinking about it, i couldn't think of any reason why we love it any better than we loved the maasdam, volendam & veendam! i think we just think we like it better, but maybe it is only because port canaveral is so great - easy & quick to get to for us (only 45 minute drive).


anyway, i'll try to answer some questions:


OCruisers - that's right - we NEVER go to the dining room to eat (not on the last 3-4 cruises). can't really say if the service has gotten that bad because we don't go there. Now, why - it's hard to put into words, but here goes - we are not demanding people; normally we get stepped on because we will not speak up, especially during dining (ruins a good meal to discuss a negative issue). however, when we dine, if we need/want something, we want it expeditiously. so when we don't get it, we are, or depending on the situation, may be disappointed with the occasion. for example, i drink an inordinate amount of water with my meals (not diabetic, been tested). to eat my meal without adequate water is not enjoyable for me. most of the time the dining room staff does not have the time to keep up with me. another example, if i am eating lobster & don't have enough melted butter & can't get it before my lobster cools, that was not an enjoyable meal. i hope you get the drift. also do not care for 2 hour meals when the 2 hours are caused solely by slow service, not my request to linger. we also like the lido because we can see the food before deciding - usually can tell in advance what we will like & if we don't like, can immediately get something else. the lido is not a food choice sacrifice because we can get almost the same dishes as in the dining room & if something is missing, such as lobster, we can get it via room service. we've met some very nice people in the dining room, but also in the lido. the big plus is that the lido is so much more relaxing!


MaryBeach - i think we were in 3370 on the maasdam in July; we were in cabin 3372 on the zaandam 11/6; & will be in 3370 on 12/11. that is located port center (evens portside; odds starboard). no noise noticed from the outside deck at all, but we think the galley was above us & we did hear some noise above - but it wasn't a problem. regarding window privacy, some windows offer more privacy than others. one of us always goes outside & checks the window while the other one stays inside & waves arms wildly - never have been able to see inside. however, we have noticed other windows that were revealing. regarding "cabin smaller" - sorry, but smaller than what? we've never had a suite; have had a verandah; have had inside. seems to me they are all about the same. i think hal has great cabins (although i loved the fridge on celebrity when we only had an inside cabin!). regarding location - we obviously love the location, how could anyone tell (LOL) - we walk a lot & love to sit on the deck chairs & read, nap, or watch the sea - therefore it is so convenient. also love watching the activity on deck while they cannot see us (always get someone who puts their face up to the window trying to see in & they don't realize we are staring back & laughing! what a hoot!)


Susan - regarding the bread pudding - yes, enjoy! it is located on the port side by the dessert table. regarding the zaandam negatives - i'm very interested on what the negatives were that you read? if it was regarding the staff, we have never had a negative experience with any hal staff member (princess, yes). however, our motto is - smile, it disorients others! only kidding, but seriously, our daily plan of action is to smile to others, give a greeting even when not acknowledged in return, & when we talk to others, we always sincerely ask about them - not talk about ourselves (unless they express interest or the conversation goes in that direction). we say thank you for every thing done for us, even every plate or spoon removed from our table. if we have a problem (can only remember one) we quitely inquire as to how it can be resolved, making sure that we are discussing the problem with the staff member who is authorized to make a decision. if it cannot be or is not resolved to our satisfaction, we do not play 2 year old at walmart lying on the floor kicking our feet (sit across from the front office sometimes & watch some adults become 2 year olds - especially when a port is cancelled). somehow we've become wise enough to know that we can't always get what we want. i find it hard to believe (or i wonder about their people skills) when anyone says they have had difficulty with several or many hal staff members.


Melissa - you lucky duck! we paid for our low prom cabin - good for you! hope you enjoy the location as much as we do. as i said we will be in cabin 3370. hope to see you on board too! we are julie & don. we could be in our cabin at 1:30 if you think you will be there then??


isn't cruising grand!

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Twoatsea....thanks for the reply. I did mean C on the Z as opposed to the D or Es. I've had each of them and wondered if the deck diagram was an optical illusion. We will try the arm waving wildly thingy. He's taller, so he gets to do the aerobics.


Oh, BTW, I must mention the philosophy of the customer service and/or salesperson. Methinks they know about taking the HEAT from the textbooks? It works both ways doesn't it, twoatsea. Best is, you can say anything to them as long as you are smiling. I also chalk it up to good (southern) raisin' and just a small amount of manners. And, as my grandma always said, you can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar. Now, about that velvet hammer! ;)

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