We are a semi-retired couple of 56 and 59 years. We have cruised on Carnival 3 times, twice on the Pride and once on the Spirit. Carnival cruises were all to Mexico in the last 3 or 4 years. We have cruised on the Sun Princess once, last year to The Alaskan Inside Passage. This Cruise on the Zaandam was to the Alaskan Inside Passage.
Rooms: Spirit/Pride has the biggest room, followed close by the Zaandam with the Sun Princess bringing up the rear. My wife says Hal has more storage space, but it is a little tighter.
Ships spaces: Generally we found the Princess needed more. The Spirit/Pride had plenty, but the Zaandam takes the prize here. There is seating every where. My wife’s favorite was the Crows Nest. It is located on Deck 9 on the bow. The views from here are breath taking.
Food: We generally eat on the lido deck very seldom. However the Spirit/pride would take it here. Their food is hot and served quickly, seating is easier to find. Seating on the Sun and Zaandam were next to impossible to find. Food on the Sun was hot, not so on the Zaandam. (By the way I grew up on buffet food, my parents owned a buffet. I know what hot fresh food is.) The Sun is faster than the Zaandam in serving; the Zaandam just needs a couple more servers. An example of this is the Omelets. On the Spirit and Sun the cook preparing dishes for 3-4 people at a time. On the Zaandam the cook had 3 skillets not in use, he just worked on one omelet at a time, and this slowed the line to a crawl!!
The main dining Room I will give to the Spirit again Good service, better Choices, and HOT food and cold salads. The Sun would be second as it was very close to the Spirit. The Zaandam served cool food and limp salads. The server was great, but the food was poor. The three cuts of meat I had were all tough and chewy. Never had anything like that before on a cruise ship.
The bar servers (we drink Coke) were great on the Spirit and the Sun. After the first night our sodas were had the table. The Zaandam’s server was different every night he would try to serve us a drink or wine. We would tell him we wanted a soda, and we would see him about half a meal later.
Cabin Steward. Sun and Spirit was great, friendly fast service, never a problem. The Zaandam was poor. We were not serviced on the first day and the 5th day... until we called and requested it after our evening meal. The service the rest of the time was very poor. My wife had a soda glass with about a ½ inch in the glass. It was there 6 days before we removed it.
Other thoughts. Our cabin toilet was broken. It worked off and on (mostly off) for the first 5 days. I felt they could have fixed it quicker. We had requested a table to two. We got a table for six. It was very hard to get changed.
We always tip extra to those that serve us. Only the Waiter on the Zaandam got extra. We were really tempted to reduce the amounts we paid to the Cabin Steward but did not.
We plan on taking another HAL Cruise sometime. We are hoping the food and the service we received are not the norm.
We usually buy soda cards. They are not worth it on Hal. On Carnival and Princess the card is good for unlimited drinks. On Hal it is good for 20 small glass of soda. It is cheaper to buy the soda by the card on HAL.
Forgot to say. Our TA had arranged for a nice tray of food to be sent to our room (on the Zaandam ). The food was hard and old. Some of the fish was slimmy.
we told the front office about it and a fresh try was sent to us.
The first tray looked like it had been made a day or two earlier.
Our TA does this on every cruise. On the Carnival and Princess the tray was fresh.
Thank you for your review. I agree that HAL is not on par with Princess or Carnival where the food is concerned. I had excellent service on HAL, however, where the cabin steward was concerned. Princess is our favorite line, so far, but we enjoyed Carnival, Royal, Costa, and NCL as well. HAL the ship was immaculate and the crew was great, but the food was not that good. I can't say that another ship would be better on HAL, but some friends of mine recently did the Panama Canal Cruise on HAL and loved it. If you cruise Princess again, try the Sea, Caribbean or Grand. We're scheduled for the Emerald in November, Lord willing and will post a review on her. I'm really excited, she's a sister to the Crown. Best wishes!
I think my wife is checking into an Princess Island cruise...maybe to Hawaii.. with have to check with the boss on that.
Another thing HAL did was lost a piece of luguage for a day. Seems like all the things that could go wrong went wrong for us.
On the bright side Vancouver port is a breeze coming ang going, the best port we have been to.
My wife had sent a letter to HAL with the above complaint. She did not ask for anything, just stated a few facts.
We got a call from them a couple of weeks ago. Chris wanted to go over a few items, and check them out. In the letter and talking to him we told it did not ruin the cruise, but it did not make it a cruise to remember.
Today we got a letter from them, We are getting $200.00 on board credit, and a two cat upgrade.
I think that is a very nice offer.