Room was hot from day one. Desk kept making excuses. First said temp was within range. Then said would be fixed after next port stop. Talked to other people on ship, and found others had same problem during whole 10 day cruise to Panama. Happening on decks 5,7,8,1 that I know about. Some people got compensated from $100 to $800. Others did not get compensated. Guess it depended on how loud you yelled. Desk kept lying about problem, at least they could do was admit it was a problem they couldn't fix and compensate everyone. But they kept on denying the problem even though most passengers knew it was ship wide.
TAKE CARE before reserving on Zuiderdam or any other Holland America Cruise ships. We traveled as a group of 6 (my family of four with teenage children and my parents). The Zuiderdam has poorly trained staff, extremely uneven quality of dining, and poor services (shore excursions and spa for instance).
Our problems started at arrival. Our family of four received a room which had not been cleaned. Dirty towels and partially eaten food were in the cupboards, food bits and a variety of sundries (including sweatbands) were on the floor, the bed whilst made had sheets that clearly had been used. We complained to the steward who cleaned the closets but did not vacuum and also did not change the sheets. We complained to the front office at dinner after which the sheets were changed. The room was not vacuumed until the second day.
Dinner service was uneven. In the 'set time' dining the tables are jammed full (3rd floor). The 'reserve as you go' dining room is far more spacious (but fewer tables). The 'buffet' on the Lido Deck is almost inedible and the strong smell of cooking food lingers throughout theLido area including the pool. As far as dinner service, the portions were very small (for example: a 'caprese' salad contained one-half of a cherry tomato and one piece of mozzarella; a strawberry desert contained two 1/4 strawberry portions). The quality of food varied from night to night with some dishes exceeding expectations but an equal number far below expectation.
We tried to use the spa services and made reservations. When we arrived for the services we waited (twice), in both instances there was a failure to communicate between the front desk and service deliverer (pedicurist). After 20 minutes wait both times we were offered only the opportunity to reschedule. No explanation was given. We went to the front desk to complain and try to understand but were told that the only responsible 'persons' were the spa management.
We bought the 'enhanced' spa package consisting of access to a warm whirpool and thermal suites. This was billed as an exclusive service that would not be crowded. We were unable to use the 'thermal suites' at most times due to the number of guests who had been sold the service. The whirlpool area had an all glass enclosure allowing light but the blinds were drawn making the space shadowy and dark, not at all pleasant to use.
We booked a shore excursion to St. John's for snorkeling. The shore excursion was canceled due to 'beach inundation' at the last minute (approx. 11:00) before departure with no alternatives given (or available). We checked on surfforecaster.com and called friends who we were to meet on St. John's and both sources indicated that the snorkeling beach was not inundated (some swell but passable conditions). When we confronted the Front Office, the assistant refused to inform a manager of our complaint because "the manager on duty cannot help you and they don't want us to repeat our story". He offered instead that we could 'make an appointment' with someone else and write our complaint.
This last problem sums up our experience. The Zuiderdam has unresponsive staff who are not trained to address complaints or react. It provides uneven service levels that can impact vacation and the whole atmosphere seems that one should have limited expectations.
My parents who have been on over 50 cruises over the past twenty years felt that the Zuiderdam quality of food and service was the lowest they had ever seen. Their comment, "Holland America had a reputation of being a well-oiled machine and this is a complete surprise," sums up our family experience.
If you consider the Zuiderdam look elsewhere. There must be another boat and another line that will care more about your experience.
Ship very old and worn. Poor service throughout, especially Lido restaurant. Very disappointing. Many crew members could not speak English and could not give directions on ship. Our room was left open by room steward. Food was of poor quality. Pinnacle Restaurant was good but was $50 extra dollars.
This was my 13th cruise, 4th on HAL. While I've not superstitious, perhaps I should have been. Embarkation was very smooth and things were fine, until we got to our stateroom. The refrigerator did not work and although checked twice by maintenance, was never fixed. Also, the light on the cosmetic mirror was out, the shower curtain was about a foot short and some of the drapery hooks were broken. The toilet stopped working the 2nd day, but was quickly fixed. However, it seemed the vacuum system had several hiccups during the two weeks. Taken separately, these are small concerns. Taken together, it adds up to lack of maintenance oversight.
We also had issues with the liquor bottle service. There was complete inconsistency in ordering. I wanted to upgrade the scotch from Cutty Sark to a single malt (the answer was no) and they finally agreed to JW Red at no upcharge. Our traveling companions next door wanted to upgrade from Bacardi Light to Bacardi Gold (sold at the same price in the bars) and were told no, period. If HAL is going to offer a bottle service, why make it difficultand not customer friendly?
As to the cruise itself, it was fine, except for the dreaded Novovirus (see end of review). The ship is still in good shape, the staff was very friendly and the entertainment (HalCats & Daryl @ the piano bar) were great. Cruise Director Gene was very friendly and always visible.
Ports: I'm not going to review any ports, except Puerto Chiapas, Mex.: I ask, WHY? this place is a complete waste of time. The town is about a half-hour bus ride from the port and there is nothing there. The ship offered two tours.
Food: typically good HAL fare. Salad choices were strange, but soups and appetizers were inspried. Except for one night when they couldn't seem to cook a steak correctly, entrees were usually well prepared. I don't do dessert, but they looked pretty good.
Disembarkation in San Diego (the ship continued on to Vancouver) was a mess. A few hundred passengers had chosen the expidited program to take their own luggage and HAL completely botched it, leaving most of us queued in the passageway for about a hour after the announcement. I'm 59 and well below the median age on the ship. Imagine a bunch of seniors jammed together and trying to negotiate a couple of narrow ramps with 50 lb. suitcases!
Now the dreaded Novovirus: more than 200 people came down with it. While HAL continues to blame the passengers, I think the cruiseline is more to blame. According to several blogs, HAL has had more breakouts than any other cruiseline. It's either the crew or a sanitation problem and it wasn't the first time on the Zuiderdam.
In summary, while HAL continues to run a class operation and I like the basic ship design and itineraries, the Novovirus problem (and the way they handle it) has me looking at other lines in the near future.
This was our fifth cruise with HAL, so we had no surprises that we experienced. Our itinerary was Half Moon Cay, Aruba, Curaco, Panama (not going through the canal, but in and out of the Atlantic side) and Costa Rica. It was a 10 day cruise.
Check in was easy, and pleasant. We were able to have lunch on board, and since our cabins were not ready yet, we walked around the ship to get oriented to it.
Our cabin was facing the stern, which initially sounded pretty "blah," but it was very comfortable and gave us a new perspective of where we were! We only had to walk down two flights of stairs to the dining room which was convenient.
The ship holds about 1,900 passengers, and is very comfortable. We had an older crowd on board, since it was a longer cruise, and we opted to eat upstairs on the Lido Deck at the buffet, since the food was basically the same as the main restaurant downstairs, and the dress upstairs was more casual.
In terms of destinations, we had been to the Half Moon Cay before, and took advantageof the beach and did a waaverunner tour, which was fun. We had been to Aruba and Curaco before, and elected not to take any tours there, but walked around town and did some minor shopping. The prices in Aruba on watches were very attractive, and I ended up with a Tag costing about 42% less then in the US. The store was Little Switzerland which we've shopped in many times before (not on the "recommended" list that the cruise line talks about).
We had a lecturer on board who lived in Panama, and talked about the history of the Canal, which was a real educaation. We arrived in Panama around 5:30 AM and everyone was up on deck for the arrival. There's very tasty Panama rolls for breakfast that were served, along with hot chocolate, which hit the spot. To see the GE tugs pull ships through the locks is certainly amazing. We had about three feet of clearence on both sides of the locks, but it all went very smoothly, and it was just fascinating to watch it from our stateroom.
Costa Rica was tropical. We opted to take an off-road trip, which was a lot of fun. We rode in a huge GMC van that held 50 or so passengers, and the trip was fascinating. The driver and host did a great job, and answered any and all questions that were thrown at them. The scenery was beautiful, and even though we were in a rain forest, it didn't rain during our trip. We had a stop half-way through the trip, and it was very enjoyable for everyone.
We love cruising for many reasons, and met some very nice friends from Canada who played Trivia with us. The service is still very good, and the entire trip was "low key" in that nightlife was pretty minimal, but certainly adequate. The staff is there to serve and please the customers, and I feel that once agin they've achieved their goal.
This was our 6th cruise, our first with HAL. We chose this trip because of the itinerary and length of cruise. We flew in from Canada with friends and arrived early enough to make the 11:30 am boarding. We were all held back until about 1pm and were given literature on illness on the previous cruise. We were given the option to change our cruise to another date at check in. We were also reminded to wash our hands often, and to use the Purell stations throughout the ship. This caused us some anxiety, of course. We work and dont have the flexibility to change our plans, so that wasn't an option. So we forged ahead. In retrospect, we now appreciate the heads up.
We boarded and were sent to the Lido until our cabins were ready. By then we had a wonderful lunch, a couple of mohitos, and were ready to holiday.
We ate in the dining room "As You Wish" dining a couple of times. We found the key was to arrive early and we easily got a table for 4. We enjoyed our dinners there, and also optedfor dinner in the Lido, which suited us well. We had two lunches in the Pinnacle -- one alone, and one with our friends, and they won (in the Marriage Game) a Pinnacle dinner as well. Each time the service and food were exceptional.
We loved the entertainment each night. We didn't spend much time in the casino as we found it smokey, so we used our gambling money for spa services instead.
We had VF verandah cabins on 5 and had no obstructions from life boats. In fact, we had great seats in the shade for our trip though the Panama Canal. We used our verandahs a lot. I like to have my coffee out there, and I also like to spend some alone time in the afternoons there.
We went to afternoon tea once and thoroughly enjoyed that. Met some great people. We got pics taken each formal night, as a couple, and then with our friends. By the end of the cruise we had lots of choices to pick from and split a package (buy 3 and get one free) with our friends. So we each came home with the best couple shot and the best group shot. Good strategy.
We loved the food and the choices at each meal. We took in as many activities as our time and energy allowed. We enjoyed Richard's seminars. Some of us did a wine tasting which was fun. We met many Canadians and some even from our home town.
We loved our beds, the linens and the Elemis bath products in our cabins. The service was the best we have had. We never felt crowded or rushed and had fun.
A couple of us used the internet to keep in touch with family situations at home. We felt it was a little slower and a little more expensive than what we have used on other lines. So we used it prudently.
It was a great vacation with a great cruise line, on a wonderful ship, and with the best service we have had so far. Yes, we would recommend it and would sail with HAL again.
This was our second cruise on this wonderful ship. The first was April 2, 2005, and a reveiw I posted is still here. I have not changed my mind at all to differ much from the previous reveiw. HAL is still our favorite line for cruising.
Embarkation is still the classiest, fastest we have seen of all four lines we have tried.
The ship is in fine shape and kept that way, with a fine crew of maintenance people.
The ship's crew in all is friendly and helpful in every department.
The food is always excellent, and presentation and service is great.
The passengers are older than on other lines, but usually showing more class than on other lines. I do not know if people are more stressed in this time frame, but there were a few problem passengers the crew had to deal with. Please people try to act and treat all on board with more empathy for others. This is a vacation. It is for fun for all! All things can not be perfect, but your attitudes and actions can be if you try harder. And for sure guys, please wash yourhands after using the bathroom. I still saw several fellows that did not wash. How discourteous and filthy is that!
Still I have to say if you have a bad time on any cruise it is your own fault. A cruise is the best vacation anyone can take for the price per day. So take a cruise for yourself and have the time of your life.
About Us Jim (66) and I (61) have taken 24 cruises, mostly on HAL. We cruise with HAL largely because of the excellent service, but also to enjoy their generously appointed cabins. We love lazy sea days and usually sleep late and close the casino at night.
Overview This was our tenth cruise on our favorite ship; our first 10-day and our first Panama Canal. We hadn't been on a cruise since March, and this one was well-deserved. As the ship itself is our destination, we won't have any comments about shore excursions.
Service Service, as always, was exemplary. Captain van den Berg found us the calmest waters and even docked ahead of schedule a time or two.
Hotel Manager Mark Pells runs a fine hotel, and all services ran smoothly. Mr. Pells graciously attended our Meet 'n' Greet, which was held in a private section on the port side of the Crow's Nest. It was originally set up with a table for cookies and coffee, but Beverage Manager Mr. Daniela pulled it all out and they served champagne, Mimosas, Bloody Marys and juice, and walked around with trays of pastries, all courtesyof Mr. Pells. He filled us in on the itinerary and answered a few questions, then introduced the Panama Tour Guide Richard Ditrich, and Cruise Director Jesse. He is probably the most accessible Hotel Manager we've ever met, and it is clear that he is well respected by his dedicated and professional crew.
Most notable staff/crew:Captain Dirk van den Berg Hotel Manager Mark Pells Cruise Director Jesse "Yessie" Higley Concierges Kate and Bong DR Manager Mr. Sanjay Nariani DR Supervisor Arpad Plavecz DR Supervisor Mr. Leo
We found a few nice surprises! The physical changes to the ship are beautiful. At first I balked at the demise of our beautiful Oak Room, but once I experienced the Explorations Cafe, it grew on me. This combination library/internet center/coffee bar is beautifully designed to flow easily into what's left of the Crow's Nest. Every time I visited, it seemed to be better utilized than the old locations were. There is a sliding wooden panel which is pulled close to separate it from the Crow's Nest when in use for private functions. The old Internet Center is now a screening room; the old library is now Mirebella, an upscale gem boutique; the Windstar Cafe is now the new Pinnacle Lounge, a beautiful bar and comfortable seating area attended by the amiable Mark the Shark.
Embarkation I think HAL has the very best embarkation procedure of all. There are very short waits for check-in, and we were aboard in about 15 minutes.
Cabin We were upgraded from SS8099 to SA7061, a Deluxe Suite directly across from the Concierges in the Neptune Lounge. This is the best location we have ever had, and we did not hear any noise from the Lounge entrance at all. This suite was outstanding! Huge (510 total square feet), comfortable room, spacious veranda with two chairs and ottomans and a little dining table and 4 small chairs. Plenty for two. The bathroom had a jacuzzi tub, separate shower and double sink with two corner medicine cabinets and storage shelf below. A generous variety of Elemis products was provided, and refilled daily as needed. There was also an umbrella, laundry basket (service is free in full suites) and 2 fluffy cotton robes and slippers. The dressing room had a built-in dressing table with 3 drawers, hair dryer and lighted magnifying makeup mirror (1X/5X), 3 closets with mirrored doors and a safe (3 more closets are in the hall by the door). In the sitting area were a large couch, two occasional chairs and coffee table, desk with flat screen TV, cooler with loaded minibar and CD/DVD player, binoculars, data port, 2 telephones with voice mail and wake-up service, and a wall of mirrors behind the bed, making the room look much larger. Our cabin steward Muc served us well, working around our odd sleeping habits and provided plenty of ice and towels on request.
We found the usual bottle of champagne from Captain van den Berg and Hotel Manager Mark Pells, a packet from the Concierges with a list of the services they provide, our custom-printed letterhead, post cards & pen. We have stayed in this Cat suite many times, so were not surprised by the clean, well-kept and recently upgraded condition. The only change since our last cruise was the flat screen TV. Everything else seemed 'like home.'
Dining As You Wish Dining is here to stay. Although there is overwhelming support for Traditional (fixed) seating, HAL is holding on tightly to this more flexible dining plan. AYWD allows you to appear at the Vista Dining Room at any time and be seated either alone or with other passengers. I personally do not care to repeat the same cruise talk with new tablemates every night. I like having my iced tea or pretend wine waiting for me when I'm seated, refills without asking, or having my plate removed without waiting for everyone else to finish the course.
On the first night, when there is only one Showroom show, seating in AYWD is difficult to coordinate, so the wait may be longer than other nights. After that, the wait should be no more than a few minutes.
Don't misunderstand -- we had excellent service by all dining room attendants, but, except for the Supervisors, they were different every night. If you 'click' with a waiter at the beginning, you can make a standing reservation at his table for a certain time every night. We tried to ask for Hunky Dory's table, but he was so popular he was completely booked.
Ship's Facilities I have reviewed this ship many times before, so I will not write about everything.
Internet Café: I have no idea how I managed to use up 100 minutes of internet in 3 days. I frequently have many windows open, and even though I logged out of one, the others may have stayed connected. What I need is a (complimentary) unlimited plan.
Staff The Officers, Staff and Crew on this ship offer the highest level of service we have ever seen. They are professional, yet personable, and easily accessible.
Excursions This is my stock advice. I print it with every review. If you haven't already booked online, when you arrive at your cabin you will find a Shore Excursions brochure listing the various activities available shoreside. You may fill out the order form at your leisure and deposit it in the Express Drop Box at the Shore Excursions Desk. Please keep in mind that the most popular trips sell out very fast. If you are traveling with friends and want to go together, put all the tickets on one room card. One time we ordered separately and one couple got the tickets and one couple didn't.
Other Stuff Paul Tanner's show was SRO, and we were lucky to be able to stand up against the wall in the balcony. What a great singer!
At the Mariners' Award Ceremony we received our copper medallions. There were also some silvers and a platinum award. Cocktails and elaborate hors d'oeuvres were served, after which we proceeded to the Vista Dining Room for a lovely luncheon. There are so many Mariners now that the luncheon is divided into two separate seatings on different days.
The Panama Canal The Hotel Manager opened the bow and served Panama Rolls (yum) and offered Mimosas, Champagne and juices. Even though it was drizzling, we enjoyed Richard's history lesson over the PA while we entered the locks. Instead of Colon, we stopped on the dock at Cristobal, which seemed to go on forever. There were many booths with local handicrafts and a great band playing American hits in the local steel drum fashion. The half-naked native Panamanians kind of surprised me, but I guess it's part of the culture.
Thanksgiving Day was by far our BEST sea day ever! We spent a lazy morning getting ready for the sumptuous feast in the Pinnacle hosted by Hotel Manager Mark Pells. He served a lovely Champagne Luncheon with a special dessert -- ice cream in a crunchy shell, fresh strawberries and blueberries topped with strawberry sauce. Devine!
Our friends wanted to have dinner in the Lido, which was not nearly as special as the dining room. The food was the same as in the dining room, but although the service was faster, it was too casual for me. I missed the linen tablecloths, and the room just didn't 'feel' special. I spent the next hour tracking down my favorites to give them their 'above and beyond' tips, and take the last few photos of my vacation family.
Debarkation We had Pink/1 tags, and should have been first off after the wheelchair pax, but at 8:15 we went down to get in line. There were hundreds of people there, but the elevator left us at the head of the line, so we stayed there.
Someone came through and asked everybody ELSE to step aside so they could proceed, and it looked like the Red Sea parting. I think we got off at about 9:00 and found a porter right away who went all the way to the far corner to find our bags, and had us through Customs in about 5 minutes.
Once outside, they told us about the taxi strike, and a very aggressive East Indian van driver offered us a ride for $11 each, so we jumped in. At the airport, he left our bags at the curb, but not at the end of the curbside checkin line that already had 50+ people in it. We got another porter to take the bags inside, and the line there was even longer. I told him my flight was at 10:05, so he took the luggage to the head of the line for luggage tags and found the biggest one was 4 pounds overweight, so he had to charge me for that, and another charge for the 5th bag. I gave him $35 and he sent them through.
He then took us to the front of the Security line (jumping about 100 people) and we had to run to the gate. I paid for priority boarding, so we got right on the half-boarded plane, picked very good seats (first come, first served on Southwest) and departed on time. Whew! If it hadn't been for this wonderful porter, we never would have made that flight.
After we got to Jacksonville, we were so tired we checked back into the hotel and slept for 3 hours. Once on the road, the construction backed us up for about 1-1/2 hours, but we finally got home at about 8:00. We left the puppy at Doggy Sleepover Camp for one more night and made an admirable attempt at unpacking and laundry, but honestly we (I) took 2 days to finish.
Regarding the debarkation, it's annoying when SO many things go wrong. I'm just grateful it happened at the end of the cruise instead of the beginning. Since it was too late to mention this fiasco on our comment cards, I emailed this info to Mark, hoping they can make some adjustments to make certain the early fliers GET OFF EARLY!
Final Thoughts HAL's ms Zuiderdam, whenever she's in the Caribbean, is our ship of choice. We enjoy seeing our 'family' and spending time in her beautiful public areas and generous private accommodations. The passenger mix is right for us -- no uncontrolled children, no trouble finding a chaise at the pool, no pressure to drink all day. It's harder to sail the Zuiderdam now that she's not in the Caribbean in the summer, but we can be patient. One day we may even bite the bullet and actually try an Alaskan cruise.
See you around someday, maybe, on some "dam" ship!
The Ship We had a cabin with a veranda on deck 8 which was comfortable, not spacious, but with good closet and drawer space. The beds were comfortable, our cabin steward was excellent, the food was generally very good with a wide selection for dinner, the dining service was very good, and we enjoyed most of the entertainment. The ship has two pools, which at some of the peak times were insufficient to handle all of the interested passengers. But most of time, there were enough chairs. I suggest that ship excursions be booked before hand online, as the ship's desk had a long line the first couple of days. Also, bring something warm as the air conditioning in the public areas was on high, and it was uncomfortably cold in the hallways, lounges, dining areas, etc. Each cabin has a thermostat, so it was not a problem there.
Grand Turk We spent several hours at the complex by the ship. A very nice beach, lots of lounge chairs, and shade if desired. There is also a huge pool behind Margaritaville which was very nice. An added plus was there wasa good band at the pool. We did not go into town, but the couple that we were traveling with did. Their comment was it was not much. We did not snorkel or dive, but heard that it is quite good there. Our friends had sticker shock when they got the bill for two margaritas at Margaritaville, so be prepared if you order a drink.
Tortola We were tendered in as there were 4 ships in port when we arrived. This process took about an hour, but was handled efficiently by the staff. We opted for a local tour of the island in an open air bus, of which there were many waiting, for $20 per person. We had some very good views of the island and the tour lasted about 2 hours. The roads are narrow, bumpy, and with lots of curves. We returned in late afternoon, during which time the ship had docked. That evening, there was a Caribbean BBQ buffet on the pool deck, which was very good.
St. Thomas It is necessary to get a green card and immigration ID. This was required of every passenger on board, regardless if you were getting off the ship or not. This was done by decks, and the first announcement over the loud speaker was at 7 AM. Once our deck was called, it was a very fast process. We left the ship mid morning and took a taxi ($4 per person) to town as the ship docked away from the downtown area. In addition to the hundreds of shops, there was an open air market, mostly clothing and costume jewelry. Since there were 5 or 6 ships in port, the downtown was very busy and crowded. There were a lot of open air tour taxies, and we took a tour of the island for $25 per person. Again, lots of nice views of the island, and much smoother roads. We stopped at Coki beach for a break. Typical clear blue water, nice beach but not too large, and very crowded. The van took us back to the ship, so we did not need a taxi on return. There were also tours that included beach time as well.
Half Moon Cay It was as nice as many other reviews said it would be. We were the only ship in port and were tendered in and out. The beach and water are great, with plenty of lounge chairs. We had prearranged to rent a clam shell, and got another when we got to the beach, after being told aboard ship that they were all sold out. Additionally, there is some shade available and a few hammocks. Good swimming, shallow water. Did not snorkel, but it looked like there was not much to see in the snorkel area. They handled the BBQ lunch very well, and there were sufficient facilities for the large crowd. The food was good; hamburgers, hot dogs, steak sandwiches, ribs, chicken, salads and soft drinks.
Overall, we were pleased with our trip. The Zuiderdam is supposed to be retrofit within the next few weeks, and we heard that they were going to add about 100 rooms.
We took our trip just last week. I will make this brief and to the point. All opinions our mine and only mine. My husband and I have taken 9 other cruises on various lines and we had never taken Holland-America, so we thought "why not?"
Embarkation This was fairly easy and very quick. It was well orchestrated by the employees who work for HAL. Good job.
Once onboard (at 12:30 pm) we went to our cabin hoping it would be ready. It wasn't until 1:30 pm. So we went to the Lido Buffet to get lunch. The first time we saw it we were impressed with so many stations. The salad line of course was the longest, however, there is a Deli area, Chinese, Italian and the Bistro which serves everything else. The food was good but as the cruise went on we found it to be just so-so. Wish we would've eaten in the Dining Room because the food there was a step above (not much though).
Cabin The bed is the "Best" -- better than all the other ships we've sailed on. I especially enjoyed the bathtub.I actually took a couple of bubble baths. Although not a full bathtub (I'm 5' 3") it worked. Toilet needed fixing a couple of times, however, the maintenance person came in a timely manner.
Entertainment EXCELLENT! -- Especially Joel Mason who impersonated Elton John.
Vista Theatre Poor design and it didn't hold that many people, especially on the first floor. On the second floor there were columns that blocked your view of the show.
Drinks Very expensive. My husband had 4 martinis at $8.00 each.
The Ship I felt that the design was poor. There were bars and dancing areas hidden. The outside pool was aft and it wasn't a very large area for all the "fun activities" that happened during the day. There was also an inside pool which was larger, but it should've been outside! The hallway floor to our room was very "lumpy." The padding needs to be replaced. The colors of the ship were pink, orange, blue and turquoise. I didn't quite figure out what the theme was.
Summary My husband and I probably won't take another Holland-America cruise because of the "age" of the passengers. The average seemed to be in their mid to late 70's. They would cut into buffet lines, take over all the window tables in the Lido and "stay" there for hours, and they also would congregate themselves in the middle of the hallways. I also found out that Carnival owns HAL and that was a turn off to us because we had taken one Carnival cruise a few years ago and vowed never to do so again.
I hope this helps you understand "my" view of this ship. Any questions you can email me.