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WJBonds

Zuiderdam11/27 - my thoughts pt.2

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Although there does not seem to be much interest in part 1 of my "review", I will indulge myself and continue.

 

Service in the ship that was of a personal nature (i.e. our dining waiter and busboy and our room steward) was excellent. All tried to give top service while being cheery and without being overly familiar.

 

The Dining room meals, for the most part, are abysmal. HAL does not seem to realize that formality does not equal quality. Meatballs eaten in a Tuxedo are still meatballs. It's kind of like putting lipstick on a pig. The waitstaff tried, but the kitchen is lacking. Limited choices of low end food. On our 1st night aboard, the special was steak au poivre. When it came to the table, it looked like it had been steamed. (Actually, it tasted pretty good, it just looked awful.) My wife asked if she could start with a plain lettuce and tomato salad. The answer was no. The waiter was polite and friendly but said he needed a days notice to get a plain salad.

 

As I said, our waiter was very friendly and tried his best, but never once did he offer us anything extra. Not once did he ask if I wanted a second entre or an extra dessert.

 

The maitre'd also was friendly, coming by to say hello every evening. But, like the waiter, he never asked us if we wanted anything special or extra.

 

The Pinnacle grill is a much better choice. A "steakhouse", not up to the best restaurant standards, but still very good. The meat was done perfectly, but the sides were limited and served cold.

 

Nevertheless, service in the grill was wonderful and we had a very good time.

 

I tried to watch all of the shows, but the grand productions were awful. At the conclusion of the 1st night's show, no one applauded. I felt terrible for the cast and crew. They tried their best and were very talented, but the show was simply terrible. Subsequent performances were better, but still lacking.

 

The onboard comic, Julie Barr, did an awful 1st performance but redeemed herself later in the week. She did an "adults only" show in the Queens room that had everyone in stitches. All of the old, risque humor you ever heard in a 1 hour package.

 

For the 1st time in my cruising history, I booked no ship's tours. (Perhaps I'm geeting jaded.) I did however rent the Blue Cabana on Half Moon Cay, and I must say that was terrific. Recently redone it was the perfect way to spend an afternoon. What could be better than spending a day at a beautiful beach in a private, air-conditioned, cabana. The beach barbecue on HMC was also disappointing. Hamburgers, ribs, chicken and little else.

 

By the way, my cabana steward on the island was also useless. When we arrived, he introduced himself, showed us the refrigerator, and disappeared. I never saw him again and we were there all day. Could not even find him to give a small gratuity - he just was gone.

 

The "Suite" perks have been reduced over the years. Basically, we received a bottle of champagne and unlimited laundry. We were also invited to 2 cocktail parties and a special brunch. These were very all very nice, but nothing you couldn't live without. If, you have the need to feel like a VIP, than these private functions will have you very happy.

 

At cruise end, the disembarkation proceedure was the best I've ever experienced. They allow room service breakfast and allow you to stay in your room until they are ready for you to leave the ship. A wonderful disembarkation process.

 

I guess that's about all I have to say at this point. But, I'd be glad to answer any questions while the cruise is still fresh in my mind.

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Sounds like there are quite a few useless staff onboard. Is this a pre-requisite to HAL employment, now?

 

Did the positives outweigh the negatives on your cruise, overall? Would you cruise again on the Zuiderdam?

 

Joni

 

PS Did you applaud the first night's show?

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WJBonds, thanks for the thoughtful review. Every bit of info and opinion about your cruise experience is welcome. We are booked on the Zui in Feb. I get the impression that not many people are and that may be why you are not getting much response. But thank you again for taking the time. We appreciate it! Marilyn and Larry Magee

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Thanks for taking the time to write what seems to me to be a fair and balanced review. Still, I am discouraged.

 

After my far less than perfect cruise in September on NCL's Pride of Aloha, I was looking forward to something similar to the Celebrity cruises I have wandered from.

 

My Dec 30 cruise on the Zuiderdam will be my first on HAL, and I hope that they try to win me as a repeat customer. Given your experience, however, I have some reservations.

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I agree with your assessment of the food quality in the dining rooms based on our experience in July. Our waiters were basically order takers and served like robots. However, I thought entertainment was pretty good but singers/dancers were not up to quality of NCL.

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Thanks for your review. Apprecitate your posting it.

 

I wonder if there is a new Chef aboard Zuiderdam since we were there in October. Ex Chef Franz was aboard and we enjoyed most of our dinners. (Of course, we all realize how subjective food tastes are). Do you know if Chef Franz is still aboard?

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The positives certainly outweigned the negatives. As I said in the beginning of my review - the complaints are nit-picks. I had a wonderful time.

 

Would I sail on the Zuiderdam again? Certainly, if value and convenience were there, I would not hesitate to sail on her in the future.

 

And, yes I did applaud the 1st night's show. (Felt really bad for the cast and crew)

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The positives certainly outweigned the negatives. As I said in the beginning of my review - the complaints are nit-picks. I had a wonderful time.

 

Would I sail on the Zuiderdam again? Certainly, if value and convenience were there, I would not hesitate to sail on her in the future.

 

And, yes I did applaud the 1st night's show. (Felt really bad for the cast and crew)

 

I would not consider poor food a nit-pick.

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I'm not putting down the question that asks "did the positives outweigh the negatives", but isn't a cruise supposed to be more than that?? I know I expect more, much more- I want very few negatives, all minor, and the vast majority positives!

 

I read that so often here. Someone will review and have a long list of disappointments, but will end saying something that they still had a good time. Then everyone will say "Glad you had a great cruise". Didn't sound "great" to me with all those negatives. Am I expecting too much? :eek:

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"The Dining room meals, for the most part, are abysmal."

 

Wow, either the quality of the food has gone down recently or you're extremely picky! I was on the Z back in May and thought the food was pretty darn good, even at the barbeque on HMC.

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After reading all these discouraging threads about the food and service on HAL ships, I have sent an e-mail to HAL asking if they are addressing these issues. I'll keep everyone posted when and if I hear from them. Stay tuned......

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I agree with your assessment of the food quality in the dining rooms based on our experience in July. Our waiters were basically order takers and served like robots. However, I thought entertainment was pretty good but singers/dancers were not up to quality of NCL.

 

 

On our cruise on the Zui last April we had the distinct pleasure of having 'Hunky Dory' (Imam) as our waiter, who is one of the most pleasurable and positive gentlemen you could ever have as a waiter. Unfortunately, even ol Hunky was truly pressed with his duties so significantly that he couldn't stop and chat or interact the way we have been accustomed to on previous HAL cruises. This is a problem and HAL needs to fix it or they will be reinventing the wheel all over again through *another* re-branding, re-market niche -ing campaign when they lose their base to Celebrity and other higher priced lines such as Crystal and Radisson. 'Fifty is the new thirty' might be catchy, but it doesn't mean that service and food quality levels should drop to unacceptable levels.

 

WJbonds stated in his original post ,"Meatballs eaten in a Tuxedo are still meatballs. It's kind of like putting lipstick on a pig. The waitstaff tried, but the kitchen is lacking. Limited choices of low end food."

 

-This is possibly the most on target statement that I have seen as of yet to describe what has been happening both at HAL and Princess gradually over the past two years. It seems as if these cruiselines are taking their 'premium' cruise product designation to casually and believe that they can:

 

a. Lower standards of food quality in the dining room

b. Short - staff the dining rooms

c. designate auto-tipping to make the recourse for bad service difficult

 

Instead of improving the service levels and bringing food quality back to 'premium' levels, Princess and HAL give us:

 

HAL

a. Nice china in the SOE improvements

b. Fee based sauna, steam and therapy pools

c. Fee based coffee

d. Fee based alternative dining

e. Kiddie wonderland water parks

 

Princess

a. Fee based alternative dining

b. Movies Under the Stars (MUTS)

c. Fee based Ice Cream and Coffee

d. Putting Greens and virtual reality centers

 

So, instead of fixing what is seriously broken, they think that somehow the non-essential elements of the cruise will keep us coming back *and* will attract new customers? I mean, if I want so-so service, bland food and fee based dining on a big ship, I can cruise RCI for less $$$. What separates HAL with their Zuiderdam product?

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We were in Zuiderdam last 2 sailings in Oct,And agree the food and service were disapointing.But we did have a good cruise dispite of the dining room.And yes it was chef Franz.I did notice the Prime Rib and the Lobster were different from one week to the other.We did a eastern one week and a western the other maybe that made a difference. TOM

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Hate to be disagreeable, but you can actually cruise HAL for less than RCCL now. I have priced Zuiderdam and Voyager for April of 2005. I can cruise in a HAL balcony for the same price as a RCCL promenade room.

 

 

I jumped ship and am trying HAL!

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Hate to be disagreeable, but you can actually cruise HAL for less than RCCL now. I have priced Zuiderdam and Voyager for April of 2005. I can cruise in a HAL balcony for the same price as a RCCL promenade room.

 

Which is exactly the reason the food and service have gone down, no?

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After reading all these discouraging threads about the food and service on HAL ships, I have sent an e-mail to HAL asking if they are addressing these issues. I'll keep everyone posted when and if I hear from them. Stay tuned......
Doone,

 

Good idea, but I think you'll get a response that states that "feedback from our passengers indicate a high level of satisfaction with our product", assuming you get a response at all.

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Hate to be disagreeable, but you can actually cruise HAL for less than RCCL now. I have priced Zuiderdam and Voyager for April of 2005. I can cruise in a HAL balcony for the same price as a RCCL promenade room.

 

 

I jumped ship and am trying HAL!

I can only speak of prices through the online TA I use. A category VB balcony is costing us $900 per person. Princess, Celebrity and RCI were each a minimum of $200 per person more (and some instances more than that). Can't expect caviar at McDonald's prices.

 

I have to admit, price is a consideration. If the Zuiderdam were the same price as one of the other cruises I would probably be on a different ship.

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Ocrone, your right, not sure if I'll get a response or not, I'll let you all know when and if I do.

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It's not that I'm extremely picky, but I do know the difference between fine quality food and mass produced catering.

 

When I was on Crystal, the food was fabulous - the trip also cost 3x as much as the Zuiderdam. As good as that food was, it wasn't worth the difference in cost.

 

So, I go on mass market cruises (Princess, X, HAL, and RCCL) knowing (kind of) what to expect.

 

It just seems that there is no longer any real value to the mass market lines. You pay a little and get a little.

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Hate to be disagreeable, but you can actually cruise HAL for less than RCCL now. I have priced Zuiderdam and Voyager for April of 2005. I can cruise in a HAL balcony for the same price as a RCCL promenade room.

 

 

I jumped ship and am trying HAL!

 

Appgrad:

 

Prices of individual cruises according to itinerary and demand and vary greatly. It is true that the prices of the Zuiderdam and others that are doing 7-day itineraries are offering low prices currently to fill their massive Vista class ships - no doubt about it. But, IMHO, I think that HAL made a miss-step in taking away the elements that made HAL so incredibly intimate and special to so many of us. They have more cabins than their current market draw can bring in. The question should be, will the young folks that love all of the choices of fun-fun-fun on the big Voyager class vessels come over and stay with the Vista class ships? Secondly, since when has HAL started to consider themselves as a competitor RCI? Doesn't this put them in direct competition with other WLC Lines like Carnival and Princess that *are* in position to compete directly with RCI? Lastly, what exactly is the big difference between the Zuiderdam and, let's say, the Coral Princess or the Carnival Pride? Is this the way that HAL should go?

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I was completely surprised when HAL was cheaper than RCCL. I always thought it would be too expensive for me. All the "extras" on RCCL Voyager-esque ships are nice, but we NEVER used any of them in the two times we were on RCCL.

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I have a cruise booked on the ZUI in April and have been reading these boards for 4 months and became increasingly concerned over issues with service, food, etc., on the ZUI. I e-mailed HAL 11/26/04 and I will share part of their response with you all:

 

After researching your concernes with our Customer Relations Department, we were not able to locate any significant problems reported in recent history. On every cruise small issues may arise from time to time, these troubles are dealt with in the most expeditious manor (their spelling, not mine) to insure that even the smallest encroachment to the passengers comfort and satisfaction is quelled. However, on occasion it may happen that a passenger ends up very unhappy with their experience and in many cases they can find places, like cruise message boards, to voice their dissatisfaction.

 

There was more - about how HAL is rated the best premium cruise line in the world by many of the most respected travel critics, year after year.

 

Did this reply do anything to settle my concerns? Absolutely not - I sent my original e-mail after I had a discussion with Customer Relations on the phone addressing some concerns that we have with our upcoming trip and was told by them there are "no problems whatsover" with service, food, etc., on the Zuiderdam.

 

We are not new cruisers (NCL, RCCI) having cruised for 20 years and I know "stuff" happens but the number of postings about problems on this ship have us concerned. :eek:

 

Lin

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"On every cruise small issues may arise from time to time, these troubles are dealt with in the most expeditious manor (their spelling, not mine) to insure that even the smallest encroachment to the passengers comfort and satisfaction is quelled.

Well, I guess it's nice that they "quell" even the smallest "encroachment". I wonder which of my dictionary's two definitions they were thinking of:

  1. To put down forcibly; suppress: Police quelled the riot.
  2. To pacify; quiet: finally quelled the children's fears.

Could be they're talking about those small children who run into you at the elevators. Or maybe they refer to the people gathered at the purser's desk to remove the auto-tips!

 

:rolleyes: -dave

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Well, I guess it's nice that they "quell" even the smallest "encroachment". I wonder which of my dictionary's two definitions they were thinking of:

  1. To put down forcibly; suppress: Police quelled the riot.
  2. To pacify; quiet: finally quelled the children's fears.

Could be they're talking about those small children who run into you at the elevators. Or maybe they refer to the people gathered at the purser's desk to remove the auto-tips!

 

:rolleyes: -dave

 

This sort of non-answer from a company supposedly concerned with hospitality. "No one else has complained, so why should I listen to you" is bascially the answer that is being thrown at customers with real concerns and real money...

 

I received the same treatment while on the Zuiderdam this past April. It lead me to enter the Hotel Manager's office, unannounced, with my gripes and with the names of the gals at the front desk who never forwarded my messages to him. Unfortunately, I received the same "well, overall every one else seems to to be pleased with the product. The Zuiderdam is the future of our company." - Once again, a non-answer to my questions...

 

HAL was my favorite cruise line only a short time ago; the memories of my first cruise on the Rotterdam VI are beginning to fade...

 

Why can't HAL just do what it did so well for so many years?

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