June 2015 - Zuiderdam to Europe - Mediterranean
1) The Vista dining room was closed every day for lunch, except for one port day when it was open from noon-1pm. This means they were open for lunch 1 out of 11 days. This has never happened on any cruise with any other line.
2) The air conditioning did not work well in the public spaces. It was hot in Vista dining, Pinnacle specialty restaurant, Lido Cafeteria, Atrium bar, Vista Lounge, Ocean Bar. Luckily the A/C worked well in the cabins. We have travelled in the summer in hot climates (Caribbean, Mediterranean, Galapagos, French Polynesia) and have never had this problem before.
3) At 3 am, one night, paint vapors were pumped into our room via the A/C. We awoke in the middle of the night nauseated, with burning eyes, and a headache. Never before have we had noxious fumes in our cabin. The front desk attempted to compensate us for this. The bottle of wine ended up being poured down the sink. We used the $20 credit in the Pinnacle grill. That being said, I would have much preferred a better night’s sleep that evening. Not to mention, there is the medical risk Holland America runs by pumping noxious vapors into passenger’s quarters. It could trigger an asthma attack in somebody with sensitivities. It also is not very healthy for the liver.
4) Our toilet stopped working. We have never had this happen before. It took 3 phone calls and 2 hours before it was fixed.
5) We had to wait for 30-40 minutes to board a tender because there were only 3 tenders operating at a given time, and at least one of them, if not two, was dedicated to transporting only passengers that had booked excursions through Holland America. One of the tenders stopped working in the middle of transporting passengers from shore to ship (lifeboat number 15). Lucky for us, it was the one that left before the one we got on. We saw the stranded passengers and life boat. It is not comforting to see lifeboats malfunctioning. No one could tell us why only a small number of tenders were operating despite our queries.
6) The last 4 days of the trip there was a locust infestation of the ship. We couldn’t sit comfortably on our veranda without their company. We do not like bugs, and these were approximately 5 inch grasshoppers. We refused to go out on our veranda with these huge insects. We do not know where they came from, but nobody seemed to take the time to get rid of them.
7) Something needs to be done about the Santorini port visit. We waited from 3 to 4 pm in line, in a very hot temperature without shade, to get to the cable car for the return trip. By the time we got back to the ship, it was 4:20pm. We also had to wait in line for a tender once we reached the dock. We were not the only ones who had this long wait. Others reported waiting even longer than we did.
8) The food was of variable quality, more often not tasty. We even ate at the Pinnacle grill. The fish was dry and the vegetables were overcooked and mushy. On every other ship that we have eaten at a specialty restaurant, the food has been a cut above the food served in the dining room. This meal in this specialty restaurant was actually worse in terms of the food than in the Vista dining room. A real disappointment.
9) We purchased the unlimited internet. It was not only slow, as expected, but kicked us off ever 15-20 minutes, requiring us to log in again. We had also planned on checking emails before disembarkation. At 6:30, we were unhappy to discover that our account was already disabled. We had been told that we would be able to access the internet until we had disembarked.
The SINGLE positive remark we have about this ship has to do with the positive attitude of the predominantly Filipino and Indonesian crew (front desk, wait staff, cabin stewards) who did their best to make a bad situation better. Eleven days is a long time to cruise under these conditions.
Although we may cruise with Holland America in the future, we will NEVER sail with Zuiderdam. We have already recommended to our travel agent that she avoid this particular ship for any of her customers. Needless to say, we will also recommend that any friends who plan on cruising with Holland America, not to travel on the Zuiderdam, no matter how tempting the fare or the itinerary.