Zuiderdam Cruise Review by swimbrett
- Sail Date: December 2003
- Destination: Eastern Caribbean
The Zuiderdam is about one (1) years old, but came across as a much older ship. The vessel was cheaply built (Tinny was the word used by others) and it was apparent from the start that the crew was having a hard time keeping up with all of the repair requirements which were extensive. The ship was just put into an emergency drydock for 2 days prior to this cruise at Newport News, Virginia but several of the crew members told me that few of the problems were fixed. The problems included broken public bathrooms; paint scraping above and below the surface; broken Yogurt and drink machines (Constantly); electrical problems in the private suites and problems with getting hot water. Virtually everyone on the ship encountered these problems. In addition the ship was poorly designed and poorly built. The architect built a ship that looked like it was made for the 1950's with tacky colors and design. None of the fine art work or teak work was showing on this ship which are a trade mark of Holland America. All of these problems were compounding by the fact that the crew did not clean the boat in the public areas and we found constantly dirty balconies, carpets, bathrooms, and other common areas. Other ships you constantly see the staff painting and cleaning and this was never apparent on this ship. The two swimming pools were the smallest in the industry making the 2 hours set aside for laps every day a matter for jokes. The spa pool was an extra $ 11.00 per day compared to being free on Celebrity. In the private cabins their was inadequate drawer space and the beds were hard as rocks. The bathrooms were made cheaply with a plastic shower curtain instead of glass. No bathrobes were offered which has become a standard with comparable rated cruise lines.
For those that like to workout in the Gym and spa this also left a lot to be desired. The equipment was very basic and limited compared with similar sized ships. I think this was partly due to the very old crowd that normally cruises on Holland America. Walkers and wheel chairs were everywhere blocking anyone who wanted to walk quickly. To Holland America's credit they do work hard to please these customers, but this also scares away younger cruises below 70. This was definitely a cruise for the 75/90 crowd.
On the positive side the ship provided some great entertainment with a very fine comedian (Tom Drake); an excellent singer (Claude Eric); and two very good production shows with a great cast of dancers and singers with excellent costumes. These shows ranked right up with the best we have seen on cruises.
The food was very good and hot, but the service was inconsistent. We ate at the early seating at 6:15 pm since the late seating at 8:30 pm was much to late considering some people took almost 2 hours to be served at dinner! Some nights the service was fast at dinner and other nights our servers seem to just disappear. We liked the fresh squeezed orange juice every morning and the place settings at each table in the upstairs Lido Restaurant was very nice. I also liked that you could get a snack almost anytime in this restaurant and their was a nice ice cream bar with a variety of flavors at no extra charge. The ship provided fresh fruit in our balcony stateroom which was a nice touch and a daily limited newspaper was delivered to your cabin every morning. All public bathrooms had cloth towels in plentiful supply at all times which is not always the case with other cruise lines.
During days at sea we were often bored during the afternoons. Holland America has very little in the way of exciting activities unless you consider playing cards and bingo as enough. Myself and my wife both read 2 books since we had so little alternate stimulation and even the movie theatre broke down twice during the voyage.
Overall the good food and entertainment could not overcome the poor design and condition of the ship. We heard this loud and clear from the other passengers including one couple who were veterans of 35 cruises with Holland American. The notoriously famous large cabins were non existing on these new class of ships of Holland America and we frankly thought out loud that the changes were a result of Carnivilization of the fleet. In other words maximum the profit of carnival at the expense of a quality cruise. I would say that better then 70% of the passengers on this cruise said 'Never again' on this ship or Holland American.
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