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cooldaddyd

Review from Zuiderdam 12/11 sailing

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I submitted this to the review queue as well but wanted to share with you all our thoughts about the Zuiderdam.

 

My wife and I have completed over twenty cruises. In most instances we take our children as we did this year. Our daughter is now 24 our son 13. Another couple joined us, however, without their children. Both couples are "forty something" professionals , ie. professor, corporate director, journalist, administrator.

We chose the Zuiderdam because of the price! We previously had excellent cruises with Holland America and despite the negative comments about the Zuiderdam, the deal for an S catgegory deluxe verandah suite on the December 11th, 2004 sailing was too good to pass up.

 

In my opinion the Zuiderdam gets an undeserved bad rap. Keep in mind, however, I am speaking from the perspective of the S category. I am though comparing apples to apples or should I say suite to suite, as we regularly book suites when we cruise.

 

The Zuiderdam's suite accomodations and service is on par with Celebrity, better than Royal Carribbean and light years ahead of Princess which in my opinion has no suite service, only suite accomodations.

 

At the top of Zuiderdam's suite service is the Neptune Lounge. We were directly across from the Neptune which for us was the perfect position. "Goldie" the concierge was exceptionally efficient and gracious and took care of every hiccup (and there were serveral) we experienced during the seven days. The constant flow of hors d'oeuvres and beverages was excellent.

 

 

 

The S category rooms are smaller than on the Maasdam and Veendam but were more tastefully appointed. We truly had the sense we were in a luxury (as in a true four star) hotel room. The cabin steward was adequate, taking care of the basics, and for a $20 tip added a chaise lounge to our balcony. No chaise was no problem for my wife , but, I thought it a disgrace that Holland would think chairs and ottomans are appropriate. This is a cruise ship balcony afterall, not a Marriott overlooking a local park.

 

I would definitely say Celebrity’s stewards/butlers are much more attentive and I have yet to be told as I have been on Carnival Corp ships to call room service myself to get a pitcher of ice water. (even then it was delivered in a coffee thermos.) This was previously not the attitude before Carnival Corps implemented automatic gratuities on its Holland America division. It is a small issue in the scheme of things but they add up. I also have to add that it is clear the number of service staff per cabins has

 

significantly decreased in just the past year. The Veendam, which we sailed in December 2003, had far more visible staff. At peak times the Zuiderdam’s halls were simply bare of staff.

 

 

 

The usual warm snacks served in-suitebefore dinner were a nice touch as always, as were all of the standard suite ammenities. Now on to the food.

 

S CATEGORY SUITES

 

HITS: Neptune Lounge (everything about it including the chocolate covered whole macadamia nuts, fresh squeezed orange juice, top notch concierge service); Sensational beds/linens,; suite ammenities, unlimited laundry/dry cleaning service, cd & seperate dvd players with stereo speakers

 

MISSES: No chaise lounge on balcony; no wetbar nor sink outside of bathroom; no special toiletries; no complimentary spa basics (i.e. thermal pool) ; conventional service

 

 

 

The DINING ROOM is nicely decorated, albeit the wild colors of the new millennium, it was done to such an extravagance that it was a very cool room. Our waiter was quiet, unbotrusive and efficient. We are not fans of having the waiter become our dinnertime entertainment nor our new best friend.

 

The food was above average but not great. There were certain items that did hit the mark such as the crab dip appetizer, the key lime pie, hazlenut crusted halibut and a few other seclections. One tip, on lobster night, order both the lobster and pasta entrees and then have them place the lobster tails on the pasta. It is how it should have been presented in the first place.

 

We bring our own wine so can't say much about the wine selection except that from what I saw it was limited and overpriced. (WEIN)

 

The Lido is where the Zuideram, but most likely Holland management, is now stumbling. Gone are the waiters to take your tray and help you locate a table. Gone are the endless desserts, especially the cheesecakes! The bread pudding is now relegated to curdle in a steampan next to the kitchen door. In fact the desserts are now for the most part the same... day in day out. On one day and one day only there was a limited serving of a pumpkin cheesecake. It was divine. On another day there was a lemon square with blueberries. When you see these stock up... you won't see them again. From here out the cheesecake offered will be plain, no toppings or flavors and it will be by the slice on request between 6:30pm and 8:30pm end of story! And no... I wasn't the only cheesecakeaholic who was quite irked.

 

The salad bar has been diminished, the pasta station is excellent when it operates. The pizza is still good, the new sandwich station is also excellent. I had the grilled cuban pork on focaccia... very good. The bistro selections were o.k.

 

The big plus to dining on the Zuiderdam is the Pinnacle Grill. It is right up there with the Olympic on the Millennium, it is better than Chops on RCCL and that Italian alternative on Princess isn't even in the same league. We had a major issue at the Pinnacle on our first night. My wife's steak (requested well done) came back hard as a brick. I know steak aficianados might say 'what do you expect' but we have ordered enough well done steaks to know that should not be the case. The chef who was quite embarrassed agreed, the headwaiter refunded her dinner and our second night made sure all was well. My wife ordered on the second night the signature chicken dish which she described as sublime. So are the crab cakes. We raved about them so much that the chef had the concierge slip the recipe under our door. A very nice touch of service.

 

The restaurant is elegantly furnished with diamond tufted pewter chairs on marble floors with bulgari chargers and bread plates. The service is understated but extremely well done. Don't expect the flare and dazzle Celebrity delivers. Both lines do alternative dining well, just with different styles... and with different prices.

 

Room service needs servicing. Orders are seldom right no matter the amount of tipping. I must say it is prompt and the person taking the order is intelligible as is often not the case on Celebrity and never on RCCL or Princess.

 

 

 

 

 

DINING

 

HITS: Dining room decor/furnishings; service; overall food/presentation/ambiance; Pinnacle Grill; Sandwich station in the Lido; Pasta station in the Lido

 

MISSES: Desserts (not in quality but quantity); no cheesecake on the menu (isn't this a cruise ship?); Only one type of cheesecake (plain) offered in Lido (again, isn't this a cruise ship?); Lido restaurant service; Lido restaurant staff; Dining room wine selections; martinis (almost forgot, they are weak and dreadful); room service accuracy

 

 

 

 

 

Entertainment, no matter the ship, has been and seems always will be Holland's downfall. It is abysmal. The magician was the only tolerable performance. The piano bar is a nice retreat, the violinist in the queen's lounge is a soothing spot for a moment after dinner. The northern light's disco was fun for a dance or two and was amazingly smoke free (not by ship policy).

 

ENTERTRAINMENT:

 

HITS: None

 

MISSES: All

 

.... more to follow

 

 

 

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I agree with your review so far. I also was in an S suite aft....just at the end of the hallway from you actually. ..on the same sailing. I had the same problem at the Pinnacle....rock hard steak X 2 and we both ordered medium well. You are very fortunate.....no refunds for our party.

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