Wow, Steve David - Thank you for the comprehensive and well-rounded review. You did an excellent job of sharing both the pros and cons and seemed to provide and honest and fair assessment of your cruise on the Zuiderdam. I particularly enjoyed your creative use of your veranda. Thanks again for sharing your insights and opinions. I hope you have submitted this to our parent site CruiseReviews.com for posting!
We really enjoyed your review. We are looking forward to another HAL cruise in December and about to embark on an NCL one.
We went on a Princess, 15 day to Hawaii, last December and were REALLY disappointed after HAL. We had small holes in our pillowcases, sheets and towels very often, and it was a new ship!
The Vista Buffet was really dirty, not just a bit, but so unclean people were constantly complaining at the front desk. I could go on and on, but if we were to judge Princess from that one cruise,we'd never again cruise Princess.
One thing we really enjoyed was the anytime dining..........and the entertainment was outstanding.
Cleanliness and food are important to us and Princess just didn't compare, however.
Well you definetly will get back some honest feedback from me because I got back from it yesterday.
EMBARKATION:Well if your mother is in a wheelchair or is handicapped they have a disabled line and they also have wheelchairs available for embarking. If your mother is not in a wheelchair be there early. The lines go very slowly and when a thousand people are on line it could seriously turn ugly. The lines are split into to aisles. One for forms that were printed off the website, the other for people who used the original form. Both aisles get longer and shorter ,so if you want fill out both forms ,so you can jump on the shorter line. When you get to the front desk they will give you a key card, DO NOT LOSE IT! This is your boarding pass AND room key. Then they will take a picture of you to store in the card ,so when they swipe it when you get on and off the ship that you do not need photo identification. Then you walk upstairs where they take yet another picture of you ,but this time this one will be on display in the photo gallery on the ship ,so you can purchase it (Hint: Look your best)Then once your on the ship you swipe your card and either by elevator or by stairs (You're on the 2nd floor) you go to the 9th floor for a welcome lunch. Don't worry they have plenty elevators with ususally at least 4-6 in each area. The Lido Restaurant offers Italian, the Wok, the Bistro, and the Deli for lunch. You may have to do some searching for a table.
YOUR ROOM: Well don't over pack because the room even if you went out of your way is pretty small. I got a verandah ,so it seemed larger. You also have a room steward who is absolutley exceptional. When you go to Breakfast and come back the bed is made. When you go to dinner and come back your bed is ready to sleep on.
DINNER: You can go to three places for dinner, the Vista which has the elegance (on your room card/boarding pass it tells you what level you are on and what time. Be pretty prompt. Then there is the lido for days that you are too tired to dress up. If you think about it, the Vista and the Lido have the exact same food ,but the Vista's food is well decorated. On the days that you are at sea it is formal night. They tell you tuxedo's are appreciated ,but not many men wear them. You could bring both and if you have a dinner before you sneak down and see what they are wearing. For women basically a dress or nice skirt and blouse. All food is basically the same. The Pinnacle Grill has a "nominal fee" to attend. I should seriously not encorage it even though I never went there.
DAYS AT SEA: There is always plenty to do on the ship ,so look at the little pamphlet that you get at night to make a schedule for yourself. The ship has 2 pools. They are not exactly big ,but many adults don't even get in them.
PORTS: There is lots of shopping to do at port and if you want an excursion go to the first level Shore Excursion Desk where they help you find a tour suitable for you. Make sure there is enough time for you to go shopping! Be on board like an hour before all aboard because when they blew that horn you could see hundreds of people start running from every direction.
AGE GROUPS: There is usually enough kids on the boat and their is plenty sampling from old to just married to in between.
If you are over the age of 10 and not yet 13 do not attend CLUB HAL unless you want to sit in a circle clapping.
DISEMBARKATION: Well this part is a pain in the neck. They tell you one thing and you do that and then something else happens. We had to eat breakfast before 8.30 is what they said. We did ,so and we did not disembark until like 10! So everyone was standing around bored to death. Then getting your luggage and going through customes is SOOOOOOOOo annoying. If you are a U.S. citizen it may be faster or slower mattering on how many people are foreign. You know that little tag they gave you, keep it! They call you by that tag and that is how you find your luggage! Getting to the Airport: Is a long sensless thing. You must do it ,but you will not enjoy it AT ALL!
Totally disagree about Club HAL. My 12 year old did far more than sit in a circle and clapped hands. I had all I could do to find her as she met many friends and enjoyed Club HAL and its variety of activites a great deal. Michelle Davey runs a terrific program.
I sailed on the Zuiderdam this past July (age 34) and loved it !!!!! So much, i just booked another on the Oosterdam to Alaska.
Tips - Get a verandah cabin, it's well worth it. As well, depending your ages, the first day pay $125.00 per person for the Hydro Therapy Pool and the Thermal Suite.
They may seem expensive, however, they are well worth the money. Especially if you are going on the cruise to relax. The Hydro Therapy Pool is not part of the main pool, it's quiet, and key card access only.
Have fun !!!!
Grand Princess 12/05
HAL Zuiderdam 07/05
Caribbean Princess 08/04