This was our seventh cruise in nine years. This was our third HAL cruise in three years. We previously sailed this same cruise in 2000 on the Maasdam. We cruised on the Veendam to Alaska last year. Embarkation for HAL was as usual, efficient, prompt, and courteous. Food on the Zuiderdam was good, but not the quality as on the Maasdam or the Veendam. The first two nights took an hour to get our appetizers. Our waiter said that there was no power for the grills in the kitchen. We had no grilled foods for appetizers the first two nights. We always get late seating for dinner, we were late for the show in the Vista Lounge both nights about twenty minutes. They actually held the shows about fifteen minutes because people were still in the dining room. Our waiter and his assistant and his supervisor were very concerned about the service, they knew it was very slow. They tried very hard to get the food out to us quicker, but they seemed to be over worked. They never had any time to talk to us. We are used to getting to know our servers. The supervisor even took orders for dessert, etc. These guys usually don't fill glasses, they watch and talk. Our section must have been short one or two waiters. We really were disappointed that our waiters had no time to talk to us. The service got quicker as the week went on. Entertainment on the Zuiderdam was the best that we have seen on HAL. We went to the Vista Lounge every night. The entertainment in the other lounges was also very good. Our children are too old for the kids' programs. There was a ten year old girl at our table that seemed to like the club HAL program. Another major problem for the Zuiderdam is the size of the inside cabins. We cruise almost every year and don't stay in the cabin very much. We usually book inside cabins for this reason. We were shocked when we saw the size of our cabins. We booked three cabins this trip. They must be 40-50% smaller than the cabins on the Maasdam or the Veendam. This ship has about 75-80% veranda cabins. They appear to be larger, but the people that I talked to that had been on HAL's other ships complained about storage space in the veranda cabins on the Zuiderdam. Overall, the Zuiderdam has about 50% more passengers than her sister ships with the about the same size pools, hot tubs, lido restaurant, photo area, shops, casino, etc. The lines are much longer, the crouds much more impatient, the staff much more overworked. The Zuiderdam has a lot of problems. I hope that HAL can fix most of these problems because they are building three more "Vista Class" ships. My suggestion is to avoid these ships until you hear more favorable reviews on these ships.
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