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WJBonds

Zuiderdam11/27 - my thoughts pt.2

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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...

I think you did get an answer, uncialman. What you see is what you get- take it or leave it. :(

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I think you did get an answer, uncialman. What you see is what you get- take it or leave it. :(

 

Sadly, you are right.

 

It's really amazing to me the kind of arrogance HAL is displaying with their loyal customers. I mean, I'm just not accustomed to that kind of pompous behavior from anyone in the guest-services area of any ship or decent hotel. Gosh, even on RCI I usually get a "let me see how I can find a solution to your problem" kind of attitude from the staff and management (on shore and on ship). With HAL, it seems to be "Let me try to convince you that you are having a HALlucination."

 

I remember fondly the HAL where when there was a problem, the staff owned it. I remember Seattle being incredibly helpful and full of problem solvers. I remember my cruises onboard HAL's fleet, even while escorting large groups, being the most relaxing and enjoyable of all of our cruises.

 

I don't want to throw my hands up and say "oh well." I really hope they realize that they are making some huge mistakes.

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As many of you probably remember I posted my review of the Zuiderdam and fueled a fire of sorts. I can tell you I immediately wrote HAL among others involved in my on board fire and sewage issue let alone a few other incidents..I sent it registerd mail and got the reciept back....Have I heard from HAL???Nope, not one phone call, word or e-mail...So as for their generic blanket statement that they have "quelled" (thanks BTW dakrewser for the definition) they haven't quelled me, nor will they until I reach some kind of satisfaction....I am hoping my credit card company and them have a nice row at it...I'll keep you posted.

 

I also got the names of the front desk girls who did not let Peter Fealy, hotel manager, invisible man....know of my concerns....

 

I am sorry HAL has decided to replace it's wonderful service...I only wish I had the opportunity to enjoy it as many of you Mariners had in the past...

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my husband and i were on this cruise- also in a suite. I must have been on a different ship!- I think for the money, it cannot be beaten. the ship is beautiful and the entertainment was very good for a cruise ship. Granted, the food in the dining room is not first class, but it is not that bad either. Whenever I wanted something different to that on the menu, it did not seem to be a problem getting it. The priviliges offered to suite customers were great. A cruise is what you make it, in my opinion it was worth every cent.

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my husband and i were on this cruise- also in a suite. I must have been on a different ship!- I think for the money, it cannot be beaten. the ship is beautiful and the entertainment was very good for a cruise ship. Granted, the food in the dining room is not first class, but it is not that bad either. Whenever I wanted something different to that on the menu, it did not seem to be a problem getting it. The priviliges offered to suite customers were great. A cruise is what you make it, in my opinion it was worth every cent.

 

 

Amber,

 

I would never want to doubt your perception or the great experience that you had on the Zuiderdam. I think the majority of us are rather dissapointed in the fact that in almost every major category (food, service, ship design etc) the Zuiderdam falls far short of the previously consistent and pristine levels of the Holland America product. In this sense, a cruise is *not* necessarily what you make it, it is what is presented to the customer who is paying for the experience. If a customer is expecting the kind of service, food and ambiance on the Zuiderdam that they encountered on the Rotterdam just 2 years previously, they will be somewhat dissapointed (and hence, the negative reviews). However, there are many folks who are cruising for the first time with HAL on the Zuiderdam that enjoy her in comparison to Carnivore or other lines - and I'm glad they have come over.

 

The problem that I have is that the HAL experience is becoming a carbon copy of every other standardized cruise product (Princess, RCI etc) and that the Zuiderdam product can't be distinguished from those other lines as clearly. If I want a big, noisy, crowded, kiddie-filled, nickle-and-dimed cruise vacation, I can easily find it on other lines. If I want a quiet, intimate, relaxing cruise with superior service, it *used* to be with HAL - but not so with the Zuiderdam.

 

Please understand, my very best cruise experiences have been with Holland America: I would just like to make some more glorious memories aboard her fleet.

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Thank you for your review, WJBonds. It certainly has sparked quite a debate!:) It seems to me that at least on these boards people have been consistently disappointed in HAL's service and food over the past several months. I also believe that for the most part they are overlooking it and being quite supportive of HAL.

 

My experience on the Oosterdam was similar and I can't believe HAL can say they've had no complaints. Are they reading the questionnaires? I applauded all their efforts, but made sure it was clear that there was a definite decline in service. Personally, I've never felt that their food was very good so that was not new to me. However, I loved the Pinnacle! Next time I might just add $40 a day to my cruise and simply eat there:) .

 

HAL excels in many areas so much of my loyalty lies with this line, but food and service are pretty important items for me.

 

I don't find HAL any cheaper certainly than Celebrity. In comparable staterooms, I could not duplicate our upcoming Panama Canal cruise on HAL so we booked the Summit.

 

I can remember when Holland America was the creme de la creme! If someone said they were sailing on a HAL ship, there would be a moment of silence ... sort of like when E.F. Hutton talks;).

 

Hopefully they are addressing these problems "behind the scenes" and we'll just have to see what happens over the course of time.

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my husband and i were on this cruise- also in a suite. I must have been on a different ship!- I think for the money, it cannot be beaten. the ship is beautiful and the entertainment was very good for a cruise ship. Granted, the food in the dining room is not first class, but it is not that bad either. Whenever I wanted something different to that on the menu, it did not seem to be a problem getting it. The priviliges offered to suite customers were great. A cruise is what you make it, in my opinion it was worth every cent.

 

You don't book a cruise with the attitude that a cruise is what you make it. What you meant to say is that you made the best you could out of a bad or not great situation. That is not the attitude I have when I book a cruise. Of course it's better than being at work, but so is staying home, going to a different restaurant each night, going to Atlantic City to gamble, going to shows in Philadelphia, visiting Longwood gardens, etc. And most people book HAL because they want something better than Carnival.

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WJBonds

Thank you for the great review

Quick question the cabana at 1/2 moon cay is the rate for the cabana or is it per person?

Thanks in advance

I know you weren't asking me, but the price of $219 is for the cabana for up to 4 people. Any additional people over that is about $45 per person. When 2 couples do it together it's really worth it. We loved it!!

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I agree. The $ 219 for the cabana was money VERY well spent. Perhaps the highlight of the cruise.

 

In addition to the cabana, there are several butler and lunch packages that you can add.

 

Friends of ours were in the Pink Cabana with the full luncheon package. They were served fillet mignon by butlers in formal dress. In addition, the chef had discussed their menu with them the evening before and came by to check up and see if everything was ok.

 

I can assure you - everything was great.

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I was surprised at how cocky and surprised Mark Pell, our hotel manager on the 11/27 sailing of Zui was. I went to a "behind the scenes" talk with him and Dane Butcher. A woman got very angry and several others echoed her comments on service. Mark Pell said he heard of no issues at all on the sailing. I know for a fact that there were because I complained.

 

I got very sick and tired of him and Dane Butcher shooting their mouths off about how grateful everyone should be to the staff on the ship. How dare you tell me how to appreciate service. It was my pleasure to reduce the tip.

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Thanks for taking the time to write a review. I enjoyed reading it. I don't think you nit picked, I think it was a fair and balanced review.:)

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I was surprised at how cocky and surprised Mark Pell, our hotel manager on the 11/27 sailing of Zui was. I went to a "behind the scenes" talk with him and Dane Butcher. A woman got very angry and several others echoed her comments on service. Mark Pell said he heard of no issues at all on the sailing. I know for a fact that there were because I complained.

 

I got very sick and tired of him and Dane Butcher shooting their mouths off about how grateful everyone should be to the staff on the ship. How dare you tell me how to appreciate service. It was my pleasure to reduce the tip.

 

Snippy,

 

Was this during the obligatory agent talk on the last full day of the cruise or was it during the Mariner function? While on the Zuiderdam last April, they had announced that they no longer would hold agent talks.

 

Lemmeee know!

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Snippy and Uncialman.....

 

 

Are you both Travel Agents? If you do not care to respond fine but I think it more 'fair and balanced' if you identify yourselves as such if, indeed, you are.

 

Thank you.

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[b]After reading quite vocal complaints time and again, I ask myself:[/b]

[b]If everything has gotten so bad on HAL (which I do not think is the case), how in the world do those who think it's so horrible explain their profits keep increasing? The number of cruises they sell each year increases? The number of repeaters keeps getting larger? [/b]

[b]Seems to be a contradiction here, doesn't there?[/b]

[b](I also do not agree with statements that 'most' Zuiderdam cruisers are complaining. Some are/were not satisified. But Most? I'm one cruiser who has returned for five Zuiderdam cruises and would go again without hesitation. How is it possible that we got dinners that, for the most part, compare favorably with others we have had on HAL in the past? [yes....I have seen some changes that I don't care for but nothing that would qualify for the descriptions offered here.] How is that DH and I had wonderful service in the dining room? Can't just be us. I doubt anyone stood at the assignment list and said let's make sure that 'sails' and her husband always have the best dining stewards!)[/b]

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[quote name='sail7seas'][b]After reading quite vocal complaints time and again, I ask myself:[/b]

[b]If everything has gotten so bad on HAL (which I do not think is the case), how in the world do those who think it's so horrible explain their profits keep increasing? The number of cruises they sell each year increases? The number of repeaters keeps getting larger? [/b][/QUOTE]

Well, I'm no expert, but I would think that it's because:

1. Cruising prices have dropped tremendously in recent past, enabling more people to cruise, and resulting in the building of larger ships, with more empty cabins, which brings down prices even more so more people can book, etc. etc. and around and around...

2. Profits increase because, according to some seasoned Mariners, quality of food (and therefore probably cost) and wages/benefits to crew have been reduced, raising profit margins. No flames, please, this is what I've gathered from reading these many threads.

Nikki

PS BTW, I loved my Zuiderdam cruise and would return to HAL in a heartbeat. Maybe one of the smaller S class ships next time, but I'll be back!! :D

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[quote name='sail7seas'][b]Snippy and Uncialman.....[/b]


[b]Are you both Travel Agents? If you do not care to respond fine but I think it more 'fair and balanced' if you identify yourselves as such if, indeed, you are.[/b]

[b]Thank you.[/b][/QUOTE]

Hey S7S,

I have have publically stated (on other threads that you have posted on as well) [url]http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=107165[/url] that I own a large agency that is mainly concerned with group/escort cruise travel. Although I am an agency owner, I come to this thread with the concerns of someone who just plain loves cruising as well. I also respect the guidelines of this board and never in any way do I want to violate any of the listed policies.

In the past, I formerly used my real name in my posts, but had to stop doing so after my review of a certain ship that we have been discussing was viewed by my District Sales Manager at HAL and I was threatened with the loss of my favored agency status (you were interacting with me on this particular thread).

I have been on this board for four years and love to talk cruising;especially when it concerns my favorite premium cruise line, HAL. As I have many, many times in the past identified my self as an agency owner, I don't state so in *every thread* that I post in. That being said, the fact of my ownership does not effect in any way my opinion of HAL from a cruisers standpoint: when I speak from a professional standpoint, I almost always state so. Otherwise, I speak from the perspective of someone who loves cruising. So, in effect, I think that I try to be as fair, balanced and unbiased as I could possibly be.

I love HAL,have been a personal HAL loyalist, and I have stated so many times in the past. Not just for me personally, but also for my clients that love a traditional, quiet, reserved, relaxed, luxurious, premium cruise experience. As I have stated in other threads, when my wife and I want to cruise by ourselves, it is almost always with HAL. However, the last 2 cruises with HAL have been somewhat enlightening as to the strategy and plans of the company in the future: mass-market appeal. Thus my frustration when I see that the company is not actively doing anything to 'right' the Cruise Line that I hold so dear to my heart.

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[quote name='sail7seas']
[b]If everything has gotten so bad on HAL (which I do not think is the case), how in the world do those who think it's so horrible explain their profits keep increasing? The number of cruises they sell each year increases? The number of repeaters keeps getting larger? [/b]

[b]Seems to be a contradiction here, doesn't there?[/b]

[/QUOTE]CCL owns many cruise lines. Do you have the breakdown of how profitable Hal is?
[quote name='divinggirl']
2. Profits increase because, according to some seasoned Mariners, quality of food (and therefore probably cost) and wages/benefits to crew have been reduced, raising profit margins.[/quote]This certainly would raise profits.

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[font=Franklin Gothic Medium][color=navy]Sail, I just want to acknowledge that Uncialman has always identified himself as an agent. I don't know who Skippy is.[/color][/font]

[font=Franklin Gothic Medium][color=navy]I've not been on the Zuiderdam so I can't speak for the food on that ship, but the food on the Oosterdam was barely average. That is not to say there were not a couple of excellent dishes because there were, but overall it was average. I consider myself pretty much of a gourmet when it comes to food. I admit I'm quite fussy. I'm one of those people who would rather cook a meal at home than to go to a restaurant just to go out. I hope you know by now that I agree with you on almost everything most of the time, but on the preparation of the food on HAL, I just have to respectfully disagree.[/color][/font]

[font=Franklin Gothic Medium][color=navy]That said, the Pinnacle was extraordinary. And I thought the Lido had superb food. The pasta there was far superior to the mush I got in the dining room.[/color][/font]

[font=Franklin Gothic Medium][color=navy]As to service, I wouldn't agree or disagree because I think that's very subjective. As I have said in the past, there was nothing wrong with the service on our ship. Truthfully I'm very low maintenance when it comes to service. I think they try really hard and are terribly sweet. But they seemed sad to me ... like they really didn't want to be there. And I have to say that at least on our ship I ran into many people who felt the same way.[/color][/font]

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[quote name='sail7seas'][b]After reading quite vocal complaints time and again, I ask myself:[/b]

[b]If everything has gotten so bad on HAL (which I do not think is the case), how in the world do those who think it's so horrible explain their profits keep increasing? The number of cruises they sell each year increases? The number of repeaters keeps getting larger? [/b]

[b]Seems to be a contradiction here, doesn't there?[/b]

[b](I also do not agree with statements that 'most' Zuiderdam cruisers are complaining. Some are/were not satisified. But Most? I'm one cruiser who has returned for five Zuiderdam cruises and would go again without hesitation. How is it possible that we got dinners that, for the most part, compare favorably with others we have had on HAL in the past? [yes....I have seen some changes that I don't care for but nothing that would qualify for the descriptions offered here.] How is that DH and I had wonderful service in the dining room? Can't just be us. I doubt anyone stood at the assignment list and said let's make sure that 'sails' and her husband always have the best dining stewards!)[/b][/QUOTE]

Well, I think that there are a number of things that assumed in your observation that probably need to be understood:

1. The industry as a whole is growing rapidly and millions more are cruising now than just a few years ago
2. One of the reasons is that TA's don't make any serious commission on air anymore and are focusing on the sea/tour side of the travel industry.
3. HAL has a lot more ships than in years past to accomodate the growing market and has increased capacity and revenue producing / ancilary income streams on their ships (fee based coffees, alt. dining, Greenhouse spa etc).
4. HAL has seriously cut back on costs aboard their vessels in both service and food

Many of us who have been HAL devotees have noticed the changes, especially those of us who originally fell in love with HAL because of the stark contrast between HAL and other contemporary lines. The changes are most evident in the Vista class ships - where it isn't just cutbacks that are noticeable but a whole new ambiance and re-branding HAL are being introduced. Some folks don't mind the changes, but some of us do.

The question is, where will HAL be 10 years from now after all of her re-branding efforts are realized and she fully distinguishes herself from her previous way of presenting a traditional, premium cruise product? In fact, how will she distinguish herself from all other cruiselines in the contemporary market (Princess, Costa, Carnivore, RCI, NCL)? I ask this because what I see happening with HAL is that she is losing her identity and turning into 'just another cruise' product.

I mean, ask yourself: self, what was it that originally attracted me to HAL?
For me it was :

1. Incredible, attentive service
2. Relaxed and sophisticated ambiance
3. Great Food and phenomenal service in the dining room
4. Intimate, quiet, romantic ships
5. Larger than industry standard staterooms
6. X-tras such as free alternative dining and specialty coffees
7. A Classic, traditional cruise feeling throughout the ship
8. A classic resort or 5-star hotel tipping policy

And, to be truthful, almost all of those items have been sacrificed in the re-branding and Zuiderdam.

Now, I understand that you might think I'm just full of hot air, but I'll tell you, when I get back *MY* comment cards from cruisers that are in my groups, I can tell you what they do and don't appreciate. Thus far, the group that we had on the Zuiderdam (I didn't accompany this group, one of my employees did), the ratings from this 'HAL savy' group were quite dissapointing. In fact, they were quite similar to the opinions of my wife and I when we had cruised her just months before.

If you have had a great experience on the Zuiderdam, I'm really happy that you did. What is obvious is that there is a larger than normal group that is not pleased with the product. In my opinion, she simply isn't up to previous HAL standards. It does appear, however, that HAL standards are changing...

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[quote name='uncialman']Hey S7S,

I have have publically stated (on other threads that you have posted on as well) [url="http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=107165"]http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=107165[/url] that I own a large agency that is mainly concerned with group/escort cruise travel. Although I am an agency owner, I come to this thread with the concerns of someone who just plain loves cruising as well. I also respect the guidelines of this board and never in any way do I want to violate any of the listed policies.

In the past, I formerly used my real name in my posts, but had to stop doing so after my review of a certain ship that we have been discussing was viewed by my District Sales Manager at HAL and I was threatened with the loss of my favored agency status (you were interacting with me on this particular thread).

I have been on this board for four years and love to talk cruising;especially when it concerns my favorite premium cruise line, HAL. As I have many, many times in the past identified my self as an agency owner, I don't state so in *every thread* that I post in. That being said, the fact of my ownership does not effect in any way my opinion of HAL from a cruisers standpoint: when I speak from a professional standpoint, I almost always state so. Otherwise, I speak from the perspective of someone who loves cruising. So, in effect, I think that I try to be as fair, balanced and unbiased as I could possibly be.

I love HAL,have been a personal HAL loyalist, and I have stated so many times in the past. Not just for me personally, but also for my clients that love a traditional, quiet, reserved, relaxed, luxurious, premium cruise experience. As I have stated in other threads, when my wife and I want to cruise by ourselves, it is almost always with HAL. However, the last 2 cruises with HAL have been somewhat enlightening as to the strategy and plans of the company in the future: mass-market appeal. Thus my frustration when I see that the company is not actively doing anything to 'right' the Cruise Line that I hold so dear to my heart.[/QUOTE]


[b]Thanks, Uncialman. [/b]

[b]I don't think (and hope I did not imply) there was any inpropriety about anything anyone wrote. [/b]

[b] I did not recall that you had told us in the past you are a TA. I remember 'someone' spoke of groups but I did not recall it was you. I know that, personally, I read a post with a different 'eye' when I know it is written by a travel professional. I do not take it any more or any less seriously but do evaluate it in a different way.[/b]

[b]I enjoy what you have posted. I don't agree with much of it but so what......I still appreciate your posts.[/b]

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[quote name='sail7seas'][b]Thanks, Uncialman. [/b]

[b]I don't think (and hope I did not imply) there was any inpropriety about anything anyone wrote. [/b]

[b] I did not recall that you had told us in the past you are a TA. I remember 'someone' spoke of groups but I did not recall it was you. I know that, personally, I read a post with a different 'eye' when I know it is written by a travel professional. I do not take it any more or any less seriously but do evaluate it in a different way.[/b]

[b]I enjoy what you have posted. I don't agree with much of it but so what......I still appreciate your posts.[/b][/QUOTE]

And I appreciate you...:D

I'm glad that we can disagree on something stupid like a cruiseship and not get ugly about it.

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Well, our one and only Vista class voyage (Zuiderdam 8/2003) was less than stellar. Both DH & I found the food adequate, but nothing to write home about, certainly not the caliber of what we had come to expect on HAL.

The D/R service was non-existent for us. The Pinnacle Grill 2 1/2 hour fiasco was horrible - cold food, giving our wine to the wrong table, etc. - no apologies, no offer to correct, nothing but attitude.

We said "never again" for Vista... and now here we go, giving Vista another try on the new Noordam. I've heard better reviews of the Oosterdam and Westerdam, but I admit to being a bit worried and I really hope we will not be disappointed.

If it doesn't measure up - I will have a hard time convincing myself to spend my hard earned money on another Vista class cruise.

Vista may be HAL's future, but in my mind, HAL needs to make a lot more improvements before I can consider Vista MY future.

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[quote name='sail7seas']
How is that DH and I had wonderful service in the dining room? Can't just be us. I doubt anyone stood at the assignment list and said let's make sure that 'sails' and her husband always have the best dining stewards!)[/b][/QUOTE]


Sail, Remember a particular crime show where all next shift is mustered, uniforms and haircuts checked, etc., and the sgt tell them "be careful out there" or something like that.

Don't you think it's just possible that HAL holds a similar muster and tells all "be nice to everyone out there, especially since Sail is with us again".

Just a thought....

Happy cruising.....

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