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This is my sixth cruise and it was somewhere in the middle (QM2 at the top and NCL America at the bottom)of the rankings. My wife wanted to cruise HAL this time as she had heard wonderful things about the line so when out travel agent found this cruise at a good price we jumped at it. I found the embarkation quick and simple (don't bother with HAL transfers as it is only 10 dollars for a cab ride to the port), we were on the ship in less than half an hour. Our cabin wasn't ready yet so we were guided to the main dining room for a nice sit down lunch. This is the first time I wasn't guided to the buffet upon embarkation and it was nice. The cabin was an inside and of adequate size but a word of warning, if you are assigned to cabin 8118 there is a machine room behind it and every so often something would swing and hit the wall making a loud bang. Our steward couldn't find the offending equipment during the entire cruise and with a full ship we didn't have an opportunity to change cabins. Fortunately both my wife and I wear ear plugs while sleeping so we were able to tolerate it, but it did get annoying as it was very random and obtrusive. The ship was nice and the meals were very good in the dining room. We tend not to eat in the buffet if at all possible as I like to be served while on vacation. When we did go there (when arriving back after a tour or for a snack after the shows in the evening) we were quite disappointed. It really isn't a buffet but more of a cafeteria. I don't know if it was because of the Norwalk virus that was on the ship a couple of months before but you were not permitted to serve yourself. This included cold drinks or tea. It caused long line ups as people were trying to tell the staff what they wanted but the staff couldn't read the persons mind about quantity or exactly what the patron wanted with the entree which caused a lot of back and forth talk until the order was right. All the while everyone else had to wait their turn for the only person behind the counter to finish serving each one individually. You have to line up and proceed past every station until you get to what you want. I found it infuriating sometimes as it will take you half an hour or more if you are going for a full meal or just a piece of toast. It all takes the same. The other thing that needs to be addressed is the fact that the buffet is only open at specific times of the day. If you feel like a snack after the show I hope you enjoy pizza. It is the only thing open from 7:30 till 11pm. My wife and I sometimes enjoy a little cheese and crackers or fruit or anything but pizza for a snack. The buffet has food at 11 but the ship clientele is much older that the average and most have gone to sleep (myself included) long before then. The shows onboard are of normal cruise ship quality. Nothing bad but nothing great either. The staff was excellent, very attentive and helpful on most occasions. I can honestly say that if my worst cruise experience had staff like those on HAL, it would have been one of the best. All in all it was a nice vacation, nothing spectacular but nothing horrible. Would I cruise on HAl or the Zuiderdam again? If the price was right, most defiantly. Would I seek out cruises specifically on HAL? No, it was about average for a cruise. PS you will be amazed at the memory of Hunky Dory, this guy is wasting his talent handing out trays on a cruise ship.

Decided to give HAL a try

Zuiderdam Cruise Review by cb1968

Trip Details
This is my sixth cruise and it was somewhere in the middle (QM2 at the top and NCL America at the bottom)of the rankings. My wife wanted to cruise HAL this time as she had heard wonderful things about the line so when out travel agent found this cruise at a good price we jumped at it. I found the embarkation quick and simple (don't bother with HAL transfers as it is only 10 dollars for a cab ride to the port), we were on the ship in less than half an hour. Our cabin wasn't ready yet so we were guided to the main dining room for a nice sit down lunch. This is the first time I wasn't guided to the buffet upon embarkation and it was nice. The cabin was an inside and of adequate size but a word of warning, if you are assigned to cabin 8118 there is a machine room behind it and every so often something would swing and hit the wall making a loud bang. Our steward couldn't find the offending equipment during the entire cruise and with a full ship we didn't have an opportunity to change cabins. Fortunately both my wife and I wear ear plugs while sleeping so we were able to tolerate it, but it did get annoying as it was very random and obtrusive. The ship was nice and the meals were very good in the dining room. We tend not to eat in the buffet if at all possible as I like to be served while on vacation. When we did go there (when arriving back after a tour or for a snack after the shows in the evening) we were quite disappointed. It really isn't a buffet but more of a cafeteria. I don't know if it was because of the Norwalk virus that was on the ship a couple of months before but you were not permitted to serve yourself. This included cold drinks or tea. It caused long line ups as people were trying to tell the staff what they wanted but the staff couldn't read the persons mind about quantity or exactly what the patron wanted with the entree which caused a lot of back and forth talk until the order was right. All the while everyone else had to wait their turn for the only person behind the counter to finish serving each one individually. You have to line up and proceed past every station until you get to what you want. I found it infuriating sometimes as it will take you half an hour or more if you are going for a full meal or just a piece of toast. It all takes the same. The other thing that needs to be addressed is the fact that the buffet is only open at specific times of the day. If you feel like a snack after the show I hope you enjoy pizza. It is the only thing open from 7:30 till 11pm. My wife and I sometimes enjoy a little cheese and crackers or fruit or anything but pizza for a snack. The buffet has food at 11 but the ship clientele is much older that the average and most have gone to sleep (myself included) long before then. The shows onboard are of normal cruise ship quality. Nothing bad but nothing great either. The staff was excellent, very attentive and helpful on most occasions. I can honestly say that if my worst cruise experience had staff like those on HAL, it would have been one of the best. All in all it was a nice vacation, nothing spectacular but nothing horrible. Would I cruise on HAl or the Zuiderdam again? If the price was right, most defiantly. Would I seek out cruises specifically on HAL? No, it was about average for a cruise.
PS you will be amazed at the memory of Hunky Dory, this guy is wasting his talent handing out trays on a cruise ship.
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Cabin Review

Cabin 8118
Cabin 8118
Not bad, small but comfortable. A few marks on the walls and the refrigerator was almost useless as it was full of mini bar beverages and wasn't cold. Asked and had the contents removed so I could put my own stuff inside but drinks were never cold. Just use the ice provided. Occasional unknown banging on the closet wall from something in the mechanical room next door. Noise was never identified or corrected.
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Port & Shore Excursion Reviews

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