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Joel Sasser

Age: 52

Occupation:Professional

Number of Cruises: 3

Cruise Line: Holland America

Ship: Zuiderdam

Sailing Date: August 28th, 2004

Itinerary: Eastern Caribbean


After a great mediterranean cruise on NCL and a wonderful western carribean cruise on RCL, we decided to take a "step up" and take a Holland America cruise. We arrived in Ft. Lauderdale and the boarding process was fairly smooth (about an hour). We found our room 5185 on the rear of the ship and were quite pleased with the large private veranda, larger stateroom and a bathtub.

Our first sign of trouble was when our luggage had not shown up by 6PM. Attempting to ask our cabin steward, we found that he spoke no English at all. After finally going to the front office because we could not get anyone to answer at the front desk, we found our luggage ourselves in lost and found and brought it up through the ship ourselves.

Our first night at the late dinner seating was very disappointing. The food was just terrible and everyone at our table was commenting on their meals. I am not one to ever send back meals however a piece of red snapper was so tough, I could not cut it with a fork to eat it. The ship has a "food court" type set up called the Lido. It features different cuisines, served cafeteria style. While nothing was actually horrible, nothing was very good either. It appeard to me that the ship had a hard time keeping cold things very cold (milk, butter, yogurt, etc), which concerned me somewhat. There is a private restaurant called the Pinacle at Oddessy that features Sterling beef and regional northwest cuisine. The food in the restaurant was well worth it and excellent, despite the $20.00 per person surcharge.

The staff was the least friendly of any line I've been on (two others). I suspect that it has to do with the fact that tips are deducted from passengers accounts at the end of the cruise and consequently they don't have an immediate incentive to provide good service. Nobody was ever rude, but nobody was very friendly either with the exception of a two very pleasant and memorable staff members. We purchased a "soda card" upon embarkation for $35.00. It allows you unlimited fountain soda's for the cruise. We both found that once a waiter was aware you were using a soda card instead of paying for a drink, they avoided you.

The swimming pools were filthy. They were often oil covered by late afternoon and very unpleasant.

The entertainment was very hoo-hum. Our first night was a comedian, night two a juggler, night three a majician. Very amateurish and a number of guests remarked that it was rather boring.

The ship is clean and quite attractive although the air conditioning does not keep it nearly cool enough. Our cabin on the rear of the ship received a lot of sun due to the step back design of the ship and our room was never cool enough. Although our large veranda was great at night, it became so hot during the day that it was unusable and contributed to the overheating of the room. A side balcony though smaller would be nicer.

I cannot comment much on ports. Half Moon Cay was quite nice to swim and the staff did a very nice bbq. We were caught in hurricane Danial for the rest of the rest of the trip and stayed at sea and extra three days hiding from it. You can't blame the ship for the weather of course but the lack of information on the hurricane had MANY passengers ready to mutiny. It appeared as though the ship was actually witholding any news of the storm. They even took CNN off of the air and only allowed us CNN from Europe!

Sadly, I would not choose Holland America again. Instead of being a step up for us, it was several steps down.
 

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