October 2015 - 7 Night Aegean Explorer (Athens To Rome) Cruise on Zuiderdam
Not all I expected
Zuiderdam is a lovely ship, extremely clean and itinerary was great. We experienced a terribly long wait boarding in Athens and the usual non-existent services disembarking in Civitavecchia. Neither was a problem caused by HAL. However, in Greece, the only thing they did was hand out bottled water! We missed lunch. Although they did extend hours, we never heard any announcement.
In Civitavecchia, there are absolutely no terminal facilities. You are very efficiently handed through customs and reunited with your baggage. Then you are dumped on a sidewalk to wait for your ride. We got there at 8:30 and weren't due to be picked up until 9:00. Others who got off with us had pickup times of 10:30! There are no chairs, no water, no toilets. Given the way shipside is handled during a port stop, HAL could have provided a shelter, chairs, water. Bathrooms are a problem all the cruise lines ought to address with the port!
We chose this trip for itinerary which was great! We have cruised many different lines but this was our first HAL since 1982. We had heard such great things about them that we had high expectations. Sad to say that they were not met. The entertainment was meager compared to other lines. Food was okay. PInnacle Steakhouse, highly rated by many, was nothing superior to Cagney's on another line. In fact I liked the other line better. Wine selection was good but it was difficult to get the wine steward (read as waiter who took the beverage order, etc.)
Anyway, we would do HAL again if price/itinerary warranted it. If another line had a better deal, we would opt for the other line.