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This Baltic Cruise was our first HAL experience. The ship was, for the most part, beautiful, well appointed and spacious. Our cabin, located forward deck 8 was spacious but definitely in need of a face lift. Walls were damaged in two areas and deck chairs worn with cigarette burn holes on one of them. This lack of attention to detail could be much improved. Overall, our dining experiences in both the main dining room and at Pinnacle Grille were good. Our waiter Aris in the main dining room and our wine steward Jude took exceptional care of us whenever we were in their charge. As for Pinnacle Grille, this was by far the best meal of the trip, my only issue is that you shouldn’t have to pay such high prices to get such quality food, this should be HAL’s norm. Since we had on-board credit, we joined the spa for the pool. The main problem here was they did not keep the spa pool filled high enough so the jacuzzi jets were not as effective as they were designed to be. Despite making staff aware of this issue, it was rarely resolved in a timely manner. Again, attention to detail was lacking. The most upsetting and distressing part of this cruise involved the debarkation instructions given to all passengers who did not have HAL excursions booked for St. Petersburg. We had booked our tours through Alla. The night before arrival in St. Petersburg, HAL instructed all non-HAL excursion passengers to remain on board for an additional 90 minutes because of a ‘new policy from The Port of St. Petersburg’. This was extremely distressing for us as we were to meet our tour at a specific time and this was either going to make us miss our excursion or miss an hour of our tour. While waiting in our cabin we looked over our balcony and noticed a steady stream of people exciting the ship. We decided to take our chances and exited the ship without incident. After going through Russian customs, we learned they knew nothing about this directive and that HAL was giving false and misleading debarkation information to its passengers. Many, many passengers were extremely upset about this as it would cost an hour off previously reserved tour time and some passengers could miss their tours entirely. We went to Guest Relations about it, asked to see the ‘policy’ and were told it was an email from the port authority, they could not show us the email either. Apparently, many of the other cruise lines are doing this as well, hoping you panic and sign onto their excursions at the last minute which many people did. The public areas were attractive, the fitness center updated with good equipment. The casino was small, I did not see many people winning. The entertainment was good but we only went to one show. Overall, based on the false information given to passengers about debarkation in St. Petersburg, I will never be able to trust HAL and will most likely not cruise with them again.

Baltic 10 day HAL on Zuiderdam

Zuiderdam Cruise Review by bpolsky

4 people found this helpful
Trip Details
  • Sail Date: May 2018
  • Destination: Baltic Sea
  • Cabin Type: Deluxe Ocean-View Verandah Stateroom
This Baltic Cruise was our first HAL experience. The ship was, for the most part, beautiful, well appointed and spacious. Our cabin, located forward deck 8 was spacious but definitely in need of a face lift. Walls were damaged in two areas and deck chairs worn with cigarette burn holes on one of them. This lack of attention to detail could be much improved.

Overall, our dining experiences in both the main dining room and at Pinnacle Grille were good. Our waiter Aris in the main dining room and our wine steward Jude took exceptional care of us whenever we were in their charge. As for Pinnacle Grille, this was by far the best meal of the trip, my only issue is that you shouldn’t have to pay such high prices to get such quality food, this should be HAL’s norm.

Since we had on-board credit, we joined the spa for the pool. The main problem here was they did not keep the spa pool filled high enough so the jacuzzi jets were not as effective as they were designed to be. Despite making staff aware of this issue, it was rarely resolved in a timely manner. Again, attention to detail was lacking.

The most upsetting and distressing part of this cruise involved the debarkation instructions given to all passengers who did not have HAL excursions booked for St. Petersburg. We had booked our tours through Alla. The night before arrival in St. Petersburg, HAL instructed all non-HAL excursion passengers to remain on board for an additional 90 minutes because of a ‘new policy from The Port of St. Petersburg’. This was extremely distressing for us as we were to meet our tour at a specific time and this was either going to make us miss our excursion or miss an hour of our tour. While waiting in our cabin we looked over our balcony and noticed a steady stream of people exciting the ship. We decided to take our chances and exited the ship without incident. After going through Russian customs, we learned they knew nothing about this directive and that HAL was giving false and misleading debarkation information to its passengers. Many, many passengers were extremely upset about this as it would cost an hour off previously reserved tour time and some passengers could miss their tours entirely. We went to Guest Relations about it, asked to see the ‘policy’ and were told it was an email from the port authority, they could not show us the email either. Apparently, many of the other cruise lines are doing this as well, hoping you panic and sign onto their excursions at the last minute which many people did.

The public areas were attractive, the fitness center updated with good equipment. The casino was small, I did not see many people winning. The entertainment was good but we only went to one show.

Overall, based on the false information given to passengers about debarkation in St. Petersburg, I will never be able to trust HAL and will most likely not cruise with them again.
bpolsky’s Full Rating Summary
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