The Zuiderdam is a departure from the traditional HAL ships. Decor is more colorful than the traditional ships. It is a nice change. Embarkation and disembarkation were well managed. Even though the cruise ticket indicated boarding at 3:00 PM, actual boarding began at about 1:00 PM. We had lots of time to go to our stateroom and then to the Lido restaurant, which was serving wonderful food. Food service was excellent with fine choices of well-prepared food in the main dining room, a fine selection in the Lido, the Odessey alternative restaurant and the Grill near the pool. Dining room tables were extremely small and crowded. Service was excellent, however. Our veranda stateroom was smaller than we had expected, but once we got our act together, we were comfortable moving around in the room. The verandah was private and enjoyable. Our room steward did an excellent job of cleaning and responding to our needs. Entertainment was a variety, some of which we did not enjoy, such as the singers and dancers....too much sound volume which hurt our ears and too glitzy a show with lights shining into the audience which hurt our eyes. The mandatory lifeboat drill was a joke. We were told to remain quiet while the role of cabins was called. Everyone talked, laughed and carried on so that the cabin numbers could not be heard. The leader of our boat drill could not be heard and he made no effort to tell our group to "shut up." This was our 14 cruise, the fifth on HAL. Overall, we still like HAL the best and will return for another cruise.
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