Sail Date: December 2011
This is the first disappointing cruise experience I have had with Holland America Line. I used to be a loyal HAL cruiser. I am now three star mariner. This may have been my last cruise with HAL unless it was on their newer ships, ... Read More
This is the first disappointing cruise experience I have had with Holland America Line. I used to be a loyal HAL cruiser. I am now three star mariner. This may have been my last cruise with HAL unless it was on their newer ships, Eurodam or Niew Amsterdam. The Zuiderdam is in horrible condition. It has not been well maintained. Everywhere you looked, something needed fixed. There were tears in the carpet, tears in the cushions on the deck chars, tears in the upolstry on lounge chairs in the Crow's Nest. There was painting that needed to be done. The brass was scraped in the elevators. Certain things were broken or damaged to the point of being unusable. There was supposed to be a chair at the makup table in my room. It was not there and never provided. I believe that HAL is simply not spending the necessary funds to properly maintain their fleet, as I heard other guests comment that Ryndam is falling apart as well. This ship is now 10 years old, and it looks like it is about 30 years old. It needs to go to dry dock. The ship's condition gave this cruise a black eye for me. HAL claims a 5 star cruise experience. Zuiderdam is in about 2 star condition. On to other aspects of the cruise: The itinerary was fabulous. It was very exotic and included Costa Rica, Curacao, Bonaire and Aruba. People couldn't wait to get off this ship and onto shore. I had a nice time while in port. I wish I could have stayed on one the islands/countries we visited rather than return to this dump of a cruise ship. The food was very good. I would say the dining deserves a 4 star rating. We dined in Pinnacle grill. It was the same food, with a little better presentation, served in the main dining room. Don't waste the extra money. The night we booked in Pinnacle, they had lobster tail in the main dining room and, of course, you could order multiple entress (tails). You would have to pay double in Pinnacle for that. Stay in the main dining room. Hopefully, you won't be booked on Zuiderdam, but if you go on one of their newer ships this should be a standard comment and would apply as well. The crew was up to HAL standards. My cabin steward and my waiter were excellent. So were the bartenders. I felt bad for them as they constantly had to make excuses for Zuiderdam's condition for the company. One crew member told me that rain water drops were coming in the Northern Lights one night. They told the passengers " do not worry if the rain comes down from up above, you must worry if it comes up from below, that means that the ship is sinking." The entertainment stunk. There was not enough variety. Usually you have a rock band and some other musical genre to choose from. Many lounges were deserted with no entertainment. This might have to do with HALs older crowd. The casino is terrible. People were losing lots of money, which is normal in a casino, but not one light went off on any of the slots the entire cruise while I was in there. You could drop 5000 in seconds and not even $500. I guess thet have to be greedy and make as much money as possible because they know you won't be returning. Fortunately, I met another single on this cruise and we spent time sitting on by balcony talking and pounding beers and looking at the beautiful sea. That made the cruise and helped us to pass time. Had we not met, I would have hated this cruise. Fortunately, for HAL, a fellow passenger helped my perspective. Disembarkation was a disaster. We stood in line for hours. HAL broke my mother's handle on her luggage. Please don't choose Zuiderdam if you must sail with HAL. Go on Eurodam. Zuiderdam is barely servicable in her current condition. My next cruise I will be returning to Celebrity. That is truly 5 star. In fact, I have had better cruises with Carnival, and Carnival cruise ships are in much better condition than this one. I am really down on HAL after this. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2011
In this review, my family and I cruised on the Holland America Zuiderdam for the Panama Canal/Souther Caribbean 10 day cruise. The cruise visited Half Moon Cay (private island in the Bahamas), Curacao, Bonaire, Panama Canal/Colon, Panama, ... Read More
In this review, my family and I cruised on the Holland America Zuiderdam for the Panama Canal/Souther Caribbean 10 day cruise. The cruise visited Half Moon Cay (private island in the Bahamas), Curacao, Bonaire, Panama Canal/Colon, Panama, and Puerto Limon, Costa Rica. This was my second time on Holland America and my first time going to the Southern Caribbean as well as the Panama Canal. My last time on Holland was the Veendam for an Alaskan cruise. From my previous experience, I enjoyed the excellent service and fine cuisine. However, this time, I had some concerns with the Holland America service as well as the cleanliness of the ship. Otherwise, I had a great time with the Zuiderdam. Check-in Check-in was good but there was one thing that bugged me. For some reason, when you enter the terminal in Fort Lauderdale, there is someone to check what kind of cabin you are in as well as the Mariner status. This created congestion. The person in front of me was not only a 4 Star Mariner but staying in a suite. Therefore, she was handed a special badge to let her use the priority check-in as well as board whenever she wanted. I think that they should have just given her the badge at the priority check-in counter. Otherwise, the check-in process was pretty smooth. The Ship This was one of my biggest complaints. The Zuiderdam, even though it is 10 years old, looks like a cheap 1990s design. Also, because the ship uses a dark red color theme, it makes most of the areas darker than it should be. The ship look tired as well and in desperate need of a refurbishment. There were also areas that seemed dirty. I also found that the layout of the ship was okay, but not great. The Cabin I was book in a deluxe veranda on deck 6. The room had the basic touches but nothing really stood out. There was a small flat screen TV with a DVD player that I liked. I also enjoyed a small tub in the bathroom. The veranda was great for which I spent much of our time there, especially when we visited the Panama Canal. However my biggest complaint was that our neighbors used their balconies to smoke. Unlike other cruise lines like Celebrity, guests can smoke on their balconies. Continuing on my tirade about cleanliness, our room had many areas that were dirty. The bed had unusual stains on the sheets as well as the pillow. The pillow also had an unusual odor. The cups in the bathroom looked like it was not cleaned. Food The food on Holland America was great. However, most of the meats had too much fat on it and I ended up eating only a couple of ounces. This was evident in the Vista Dining Room. I also enjoyed the Pinnacle Grill but the service was okay and the food was nothing much to say about. However on the "Le Cirque" night, the food was excellent and seemed like the ship was saving the best food for the "Le Cirque" night. The Lido Restaurant was good as well but breakfast options were good but were a little bit boring after a while. The lunch buffet was good and did not see anything repeated. I loved the Indonesian buffet as well as other speciality lunch buffets. However, the desserts on the cruise seemed like it was pre-made from a supermarket chain. I also dined at the Italian restaurant, Canaletto. I enjoyed it and it seemed too good to be true that it was complimentary. My main complaint about the food was the presentation. To me it was very sloppy. Whoever cleaned the side of the plate seem to use a dirty cloth. Another complaint I had was when I went to the Mariner brunch. I ordered a salad and the salad had a small insect. I informed my waiter and he just apologized and did nothing else. I was expecting him to ask me if I wanted something else but nothing came out. Furthermore, the service was not as great as other cruises I been on. My family chose "As you Wish" dining so we got a different waiter each night. Some of the waiters forgot our drink orders or served the wrong food to the wrong person. Also, it seemed as if the waiters had a chip on their shoulder or something. They also seemed rushed. Entertainment Entertainment on Holland was okay. The entertainment on Holland is not as great as entertainment on other ships like NCL. All the shows seem to lack a cohesive theme and seemed amateurish. Also, it seemed to target an older audience, since most of the ship had older passengers, so there was nothing new or current with all the shows. There was also an impersonator and singer, Jeff Trachta, of the "Bold and the Beautiful" fame. He was the best as he knew how to put on a show. There was also a comedian/writer, Marty Brill or Krill. He was an older man that to me was not funny and in fact only targeted the older audience. The last performer was Jeff Peterson, the magician with the dog. He was great too but everyone was really there for the dog. Activities on board On sea days, Holland kept me busy. I went to many of the cooking demonstrations and enjoyed it. Anise, the party planner, was brand new and looked very young. She was very nice and always had a smile on. I also went to trivia sessions conducted by the young cruise director (more on him below). I did not use the spas or go the technology sessions but it was great that Holland did not charge for technology lessons. I know that Celebrity charges guests on "how to use iTunes" which is very absurd. Staff The staff on the ship were generally nice and helpful. However, it seems as if Holland have not trained their staff to say "hello's" and "good mornings" when guests pass by. The cruise director, Jason Venner, had good presentation and personality. Unlike other cruise lines like Celebrity, he was involved in almost every activity, including conducting trivia sessions. He was not cold and and pretentious like Celebrity and did not rely on his CD staff to do everything. Furthermore, his CD staff was friendly and approachable. Fellow Cruisers Most of the cruisers on this ship were older guests. Some joked that it was a "floating senior citizen center" and was much cheaper than going to a senior citizen home on land. One of my complaints was that these older guests were very slow and seemed to be absent minded. I understand that they cannot go as fast but should be considerate of the other guests. Final words On a fine note, I praised Holland not for pushing or pressuring guests to buy things. I know on my previous cruise with Celebrity, there was a big push to buy wine, cookbooks, and other Celebrity items. There was a cookbook for sale but there was no pressure to buy it. In fact, one guest asked Anise, the party planner, where to buy it and she did not know herself. I was expecting her to make a sale on the spot. One thing that bugged me was the ship was at the port, there was a rush and crowd to leave the ship. I was especially concerned in Curacao as I had a tour. I left 20 minutes before and was ten minutes late. Luckily there were others that were late as well. I thought that Holland could have handled the situation better. Overall, I had a great cruise with the Holland America Zuiderdam. However, they need to reposition to a more modern image. The ship is not in bad shape it's just it looks very old, dated, and dark. They also need to work on their cleanness. My cabin steward should have noticed the stains and should have prevented me from seeing it. There also needs to be better training to handle my "insect" situation as I was not satisfied about my response. Otherwise, I enjoyed seeing the Panama Canal and hope to see more of Holland America. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2011
We arrived at the port around 1:00 and waited only a couple of minutes to board. Our room was ready so we went directly to it to put some things in the safe. We had a huge inside cabin on Main deck. We rarely cruise in balcony cabins ... Read More
We arrived at the port around 1:00 and waited only a couple of minutes to board. Our room was ready so we went directly to it to put some things in the safe. We had a huge inside cabin on Main deck. We rarely cruise in balcony cabins anymore since we never use the balcony and find that we sleep better in an inside. After reading some of the reviews we were concerned that the ship would be in poor shape. Well, either we aren't that fussy or some of the others have impossibly high standards. We did notice some of the carpet was worn on the stairs leading to the dining room (my suggestion is to take the elevator to avoid the stairs if that will ruin your cruise) but other than that the ship looked great including the pool area. All the hot tubs were open every day. We have never seen so much cleaning going on -- the ship was spotless. We enjoyed our sea days. We did not have a problem finding lounges or a table and chairs. One thing we did notice is that a lot of passengers leave their towels on the chairs even if they aren't coming back. The pool attendants tried to keep up with this. There are a lot of events happening every day. I attended several digital camera workshops and learned some new things. The teacher was a young woman named Molly. She did an excellent job explaining and demonstrating how to organize and edit our photos. I now know how to remove wrinkles making everyone in my photos look wrinkle free! The food was above average. We ate breakfast and lunch in Lido and had anytime seating in the MDR for dinner. I am a picky eater and I could find something that I liked on the menu each night in the MDR. The service was excellent in both the Lido and the MDR. Someone on the staff was always willing to assist you. Ice cream was available all day and into the evening. The staff was very friendly. It seemed that every staff member we saw smiled and said hello. We did have to go to the front desk for an issue with our TV. They resolved it promptly and sent a plate of chocolate strawberries to make up for the issue (totally unnecessary but the strawberries were delicious). Every time we passed the desk (which was at least once a day since we were on Main deck) they greeted us by name. The officers including the captain were out and about on deck. The hotel manager spoke to us several times during the cruise making sure we were enjoying ourselves. The cruise director, Jason, was outstanding. Probably the most visible cruise director we have ever had on a cruise. His staff is young and energetic. We even managed to fit in a movie in the screening room -- they have really comfortable seating. We really enjoyed the entertainment. There were several production shows, a magician, Marty Brill, a comedian who did one of the funniest routines we had ever heard about someone learning English, and another comedian. We also had the pleasure of watching Island Magic, the steel drum band, perform a few times and listening to guitarist, Stephanie Johnson several evenings in the Crow's Nest. We have been on HAL before for New Year's Eve and love it. There were numerous places you could celebrate but we chose to be in the main lounge. It was crowded but fun with a good mix of music, a countdown to New Year's and the balloon drop. We had a little rain on the first day when we visited Half Moon Cay. But, we didn't let it interfere with our having a good time. We were off the ship early and we able to find a shaded area under a thatched roof near the lifeguard stand. We walked around, swam and enjoyed the barbeque. We didn't do much in Curacao. It isn't our favorite port. We did get off the ship and look at some of the shops but that was it. It was the day before New Year's Eve and many people were setting off firecrackers -- lots of noise. Later in the evening prior to our leaving we were able to see a lot of very pretty fireworks from the ship's decks. In Bonaire, we took the water taxi to Klein. We walked down to the pier and booked with a vendor rather than booking with the ship. It cost $15 round trip. Our cousins, at our suggestion, booked with Woodwind (we have gone with them twice previously). They were amazed at how great the snorkeling was. The snorkeling on the side of Klein where the water taxi drops you off is not as good as where you go with Woodwind. But, it was a great beach day and we enjoyed it and would do it again. Going through the Panama Canal was very interesting. We took most people's advice and got up early to be on deck when we entered the canal. We were glad we did. It was beautiful and very interesting. It was very crowded on the bow so we went up one deck and watched from there. Then, later, when most people had lost interest we went down the bow. Don't miss the special rolls and coffee that they serve when entering the canal. We got off the ship when it docked in Colon. We followed the ship's advice and stayed in the port area. There are a few shops including a very good market where we bought some local beer and candy. Lots of people were buying wine to bring on the ship. It seemed as if the entire crew was in the market buying personal food supplies. In Costa Rica, my husband and his cousin went zip lining. They booked through the ship -- the 3 hour tour. My husband had been before and said that this zip line was much better than the one he had gone on previously. When he returned we walked around town. There is a little market right by the port and if you go out onto the street there are many shops. It is very laid back and we enjoyed walking around looking at the old architecture. We found a supermarket a couple of blocks from the ship and bought coffee there. They had the same brands they were selling at the market at the pier but much cheaper. We really had a great cruise and are already booked on the Noordam for next New Year's Eve. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2011
My husband, my father, and I recently returned from the 11-day partial Panama Canal cruise (Dec 5-16) on the Zuiderdam. We had a great time. We stayed at the Fort Lauderdale Embassy Suites on 17th Street the night before the cruise. ... Read More
My husband, my father, and I recently returned from the 11-day partial Panama Canal cruise (Dec 5-16) on the Zuiderdam. We had a great time. We stayed at the Fort Lauderdale Embassy Suites on 17th Street the night before the cruise. They were great. The very accommodating gentleman that checked us in was able to give us a room on the 12th floor with a view of the cruise port. We spent our first night watching the exodus of ships leaving the port. It certainly helped build our excitement. I selected this hotel because I wanted to be within walking distance of a grocery store and a restaurant. The hotel provided a very good breakfast. We took a taxi the next morning leaving at 11 am to the port -- excellent result. Check-in at the port was quick. There were only 2 cruise ships in port. I didn't pay attention to the time it took to get on board, but we didn't really wait in lines. Everything moved fairly quickly. Our room wasn't quite ready -- but we were free to walk the ship. As the others went to the Lido for a quick snack, I went to register for the behind-the-scenes ships tour. This tour was scheduled for the last sea day. It wasn't long before we tried the room again. It was ready. Our room was exactly as we expected -- very clean and neat and everything worked. We loved the extra room on the aft balcony. Our stewards (Ali and Guptain) introduced themselves. We were very happy with their work throughout the week, and we always had ice and towels, which were our major requests. I will say all the stewards on our deck worked constantly. If they were not in a cabin, they attending to general cleaning. We used the unlimited laundry almost every day. This is one of the best services HAL provides. We were able to pack light, stay clean, and come home with most of our clothes ready to put away. We decided very early in our cruise planning that we would eat most of our meals in the Lido. We just like the informal atmosphere better. We did try breakfast in the Pinnacle Grill one morning (this was included with our cabin), but we decided there was too much service and attention. We could not relax and felt we needed to perform a certain role. We enjoyed almost all the food we ate. We did not have problems with the portions -- and frequently I requested smaller portions. We were able to plan most meals in such a way we avoided the heaviest traffic. We ate and ate and ate. Near the end of the cruise, we were skipping meals. You can only eat so much. We missed the Desert Extravaganza as I took a nap that lasted until the next morning. I ordered room service one morning because I wanted to sleep in a bit. It was exactly what I ordered and came exactly at the right time. It was such a treat! A few times, I picked up lunch in the Neptune Lounge as they had some of the best snacks. I just loved the little beef things! Early in the cruise, the Cruise Director, Jason Venner, said in one of his talks -- "This is your cruise; make it as much or as little as you like." I appreciated his words as they validated our approach to this cruise. We hid out on formal nights, which meant we stayed away from decks 2 and 3 and out of the Crows Nest. I think we were successful in not offending those who favor the more traditional experience. Most nights around 6 pm -- I went to the thermal spa. This was a good time since many times I was alone in the hydra-pool. We went to 4 shows. Jeff Trachta with his impressions was excellent. Our next show was a musical night by a young gentleman, Craig Richard. He is a very talented man, but he needs help developing a professional "show". We didn't want to be rude and leave mid-show -- but it was painful to stay. We also saw Jeff Neese and Jeff Peterson. Very good shows. We saw the movie "The Help" in the Vista Lounge one day. I've wanted to see the movie, and the setting was very comfortable. I sat in on a couple of the cooking demonstrations. My husband tried the acupuncture one day, and he is interested in learning more. We had not been to the ports on this cruise, so each was new to us. Enjoyable, but we aren't anxious to return as there are so many places we haven't seen. Half Moon Cay is just beautiful. We were able to enjoy the day just using the facilities that are available to all. The loungers are plentiful and comfortable. If you need shade, there is some available. We loved the Panama Canal, and while we had read several books preparing for our trip, we still have questions to research. We enjoyed the behind-the-scene ship's tour. It is not something you would do twice, but it was very informative to us as fairly new cruisers. We met the captain, Christopher Turner, and Hotel Manager, Cornelis Van Santen, a couple of times. They are both very gracious gentlemen. We had a couple of issues. By the end of the cruise, I was tired of all the wheelchairs, scooters, walkers, canes, etc. I try to respect my elders, but they were beginning to get on my last nerve. Very few would thank you for holding a door or stepping to the side to give them room. And, if you didn't step aside, they would run you down. I can't tell you how many times I had to move for reversing scooters. And grumpy -- goodness. At 58, I felt like I was one of the youngest passengers on the ship. Our other issue was our room keys. In 11 days -- I must have had 10 room keys. I still don't know if it was me or the lock mechanism on the door. My husband and father did better -- maybe 5 or 6 each. It got to the point I was embarrassed to knock on the door of the Neptune Lounge (remember the key didn't work), but Kresta would always smile, apologize, and fix. She is a true asset to Holland America. Wonderful young lady! We used the Luggage Direct service at the end of the cruise. We set our bags out before going to bed, and they made it home before we saw them again. We also used the HAL transfer to the airport. We left the ship around 7:30 am and we were probably at the airport before 8:30 am. Overall, a very nice trip. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2011
This was my 5th cruise with Holland America and the most disappointing experience ever. Embarkation was very efficient but when we arrived to the stateroom, there was a large fan being used to dry the carpet. I later received a call ... Read More
This was my 5th cruise with Holland America and the most disappointing experience ever. Embarkation was very efficient but when we arrived to the stateroom, there was a large fan being used to dry the carpet. I later received a call explaining there had been an air conditioning leak in the ceiling. I was promised the fan would be removed during dinner. Shortly thereafter, the "We Are Sorry for the Inconvenience" bottle of wine arrived (I don't drink). I tripped over this large fan while trying to unpack and it was so loud we could not stay in the room. We went to dinner and did not return until 10:15 PM. The cabin steward had serviced the room but the fan was still blowing. I called the front desk for assistance and it took them an additional 30 minutes to come to the room. The attendant seemed puzzled and confused as to what to do with the fan. Additionally, the carpet was still wet. Overall, the cabin showed many signs of aging. The carpet was stained; deck chairs on the verandah were worn and the furniture in the room was in poor condition. We bought the Thermal Spa package only to learn that part of the equipment in the thermal pool was out of order. This information was carefully omitted during the sales pitch. The equipment was out of order for the duration of the cruise. Additionally, there were no less than three pieces of equipment that were out of order in the gym. Deck chairs were in short supply as the ship was over normal capacity. I have never experienced this on any of the other HAL ships. Food service was hit and miss in the main dining room. The service lacked attention to detail. On the first day of the cruise at the Mariner Welcome Aboard luncheon, my food was brought in reverse order. Other guests at the table had to remind the server about their food. Even though we had the late seating, I had to beg for iced tea at every meal. Entertainment was typical and not exciting or innovative. This ship needs a major refurbishment as there are signs of aging throughout the ship. It is one step up from a rust bucket.This cruising experience tarnished my believe about Holland America being a premium class cruise line and I am hesitant to recommend them or plan future cruises with Holland America. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2011
First time with HALL. First for the good stuff. We cruise mostly with Princess, so we thought just for the adventure of it we'd try HAL. We had done all these ports before so the idea was just to get away for New Years and have some ... Read More
First time with HALL. First for the good stuff. We cruise mostly with Princess, so we thought just for the adventure of it we'd try HAL. We had done all these ports before so the idea was just to get away for New Years and have some fun. Embarkation was a breeze. We flew into Miami because it was the only direct non stop flight we could get from Toronto. We took a taxi after our 9:45 am arrival. That took about 45 minutes and cost us $75 dollars US including tip. We could have taken an airport shuttle for $30 dollars per person but cab was faster. We had about a 15 minute wait at the terminal and then we were in our cabin by 1:00pm. Our travel agent, Blake, had sent flowers, chocolate covered strawberries and a bottle of champagne. We were delighted with that nice surprise. He said he would look after us and with Vacations To Go, they keep their word:) We found the welcome on board wonderful. Just as if it was the first time they were doing that cruise, not as though they were bored to death to be doing it all over again. Everyone we encountered was very friendly and accommodating, not just that day but the whole trip. The ship was spotless and so was our cabin everyday. We chose our balcony location because we wanted to be port side which I always like and fore because through past experience I find to be relatively stable if you encounter choppy seas. Also when we did the Panama Canal years ago we only had a window and it was such fun to travel through on our own balcony. Well worth the extra cost. The private island was our first stop. Half Moon Key in the Bahamas is simply gorgeous. Not hard to see why it has won awards. I have been to Nassau etc., many times and have never seen water so clear or sand so silky. The whole island was spotless and the food was good at the barbecue. We were glad though that we rented one of the canvas shelters as the wind was quite fresh that day. Tendering was done by their own tender boats from the island, not the ship tenders and was much more pleasant. We had not known what to expect in regards to the appearance of the ship etc., because in a lot of reviews we had read that it needed a makeover. I was able to find some places where there was a small tear in the carpet or a bit of trim coming undone. That was with really hunting for it. I just found the decor a bit drab but the upholstery looked in good shape. We loved the fact that they had hand sanitizers everywhere and encouraged people to use them and they did. I was on the Carnival Victory this past September and had a hard time finding one and I came home with a terrible bug of some kind. We found the food to be good...period. Not amazing or incredible, just good. Which is fine. We paid extra to eat in Pinnacles one evening and that was really good. We both had steak and they were cooked to perfection and very tasty. The "big" dessert on the ship was Baked Alaska which was a bit of a let down. To much cake inside and puffy cream on the outside, not real meringue. We were a bit disappointed that there was nowhere that was quiet to sit in the evening and have a specialty coffee and liquor. They stop serving coffee in the Observation deck at 9pm and instead open the bar, but they had a solo singer up there that literally screamed her way through every song. Normally we don't care for the on board entertainment, but we went to every show and found them to be excellent. There was a comedian/impressionist that was hilarious, also the Steele drum group were incredible. They played songs from Broadway shows and classical music which was not at all what we expected and they got a standing ovation. There was a $11.00 per person daily cabin charge and 15% on all alcohol and that was a big added expense. The wine was more expensive than we have found on other ships. Make sure you take that into consideration when you are figuring out your budget. We liked the two for one happy hour, but the wine sampling was a bit of a waste. It only went from 5 to 6pm and since we were seated at 5:30 dinner, it gave us no time to partake in that. Overall a good cruise. Would we travel with HAL again? I doubt it. We still prefer Princess. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2011
This was a repeat of the trip we did last December to the Panama Canal except this was an 11 day instead of a 10 day. We made an additional stop at Bonaire on this trip. We flew down the day before (Sunday) and stayed at the Residence ... Read More
This was a repeat of the trip we did last December to the Panama Canal except this was an 11 day instead of a 10 day. We made an additional stop at Bonaire on this trip. We flew down the day before (Sunday) and stayed at the Residence Inn in Weston. This is outside of Fort Lauderdale and we like the area and shopping there. We also go to one of favorite restaurants Tarantella. Great food and service and very reasonable. We always rent a car so we don't have any problems getting around. After a relaxing night, we got up the next morning had their complimentary breakfast, did a little repacking and headed for the port about 10:30. I dropped off the luggage then dropped off my wife and DD while I returned the rental car. If you are not aware, Hertz does not have a shuttle back to the port. They were nice enough to give me a ride over. Went in and registered which was a snap and then had to wait about 20 minutes before we could board. We had to wait a little longer since my wife required a wheel chair. We had rented one, but it was in the room and we couldn't get to it so we used one of the complementary ones from the ship. We went directly to the Lido. We were also waiting for some friends who were going to join us. Since they live in FL, they were driving in the morning of the sailing. After they arrived we all ate lunch and got ready for a relaxing vacation. As we were walking through the Lido we ran into a couple that we had met when we were on the Eurodam three years ago. The funny part was they came to our renewal of our vows that year and this year we were celebrating our 40th anniversary and renewing our vows again. Guess we won't see them until we renew them again! We really enjoyed ourselves on this cruise. You cannot get better service than we had on this ship. Everyone was willing to help and do anything they could to help you. Herman and Superman in the dining room were great. Even though we had As You Wish dining, we found these two and really liked them so we reserved the table every night except when we were eating in one of the other restaurants. It was table 141, the same table we had last year! We always went to the Pinnacle Bar for a drink or two before dinner. There we had Don the Bartender and Ryan the server. They were wonderful and make some really good drinks. Every night if we were not finished with our drinks Ryan would pick them up and carry them to our table in the dining room-- talk about service. Ryan also worked out on the Lido Pool during the day. He would always find us and take care of us. One day my wife didn't know what she wanted, something cold, chocolate, no coffee or alcohol. Ryan disappeared for a bit and came back with a "special" drink for her. He had gone up to the crow's nest and made this for her. He also brought her back 2 brownies in case she was hungry! We gave him a very nice tip at the end of the cruise, he was well worth it. We had reserved a SS suite (8068) for the cruise since this was a special occasion of celebrating our anniversary. We usually get a regular balcony. We had had an SS on the Eurodam and loved the extra room. Well much to our dismay the rooms on the Zuiderdam are much smaller than on the Eurodam. We were a little disappointed with that, but that was my fault I should have done more research on the Cruise Critic before I reserved the room. Many people have talked about the air conditioning in their room. We never had a problem, in fact we never had it turned up full blast, and I like it cold in the room. The room location was great, we were close to everything. We did not go to any of the shows except one since this was our 38th cruise they all look the same. The only one we did go to was the Steel Drum group. They were fantastic. Ports: Private Island -- beautiful as ever, nice relaxing day Aruba -- We just walked around there, had been there many times before so didn't do anything exciting. DW and DD bought some jewelry. Curacao -- Once again been there numerous times so just relaxed and walked around. It is a beautiful place. DD went swimming with the Dolphins. She did the deluxe session where they got to hold on to the dolphin's fin and go for a ride and a number of other things. She loved it. We also did our renewal of our vows that evening. Capt. Turner did a great job. There were ourselves, our friends who were also renewing their vows and one other couple. He made each of us feel very special. This was his last voyage until March and will be the first time he will be home for the holidays in many years. Bonaire -- never been there before. It is really a quaint island with a lot of unspoiled charm. People are wonderful. Panama Canal -- Great experience again. At least this time it wasn't storming like it was last year. We stayed on the ship both ways. Colon Panama -- not the greatest place we have been. They warn you over and over on the ship not to go past the terminal; it is not a safe place. The Panama Canal was great again -- not that it changes! Limon, Costa Rica -- Last year DD did zip lining over the rain forest and loved it. This year she talked me into doing it. I am in my 60's and by no means athletic. I am so glad she did after the first platform the fear is gone and it is a great experience. Can't wait to do it again sometime. Ship Condition: Yes the ship is getting a little tired and needs some tender loving care, but nothing that would ruin someone's vacation -- except for the non-working public bathrooms. More and more were out of order as the days went on. By the end of the cruise at least 60% of the public bathrooms were out of order. From reading Cruise Critic this did not just happen on our trip, but has been an on-going problem which they are not fixing. I have written to HAL regarding this, and I am sure I will get one of those nice form letters back, but as I told them, I will not cruise on this ship again until they bring it up to standard which would mean dry dock and that is not scheduled for another year. There is really no excuse for this. My wife is handicapped and many times it was very difficult for her to find a working bathroom and ended up going back to our room. Food: All the food was excellent. We ate most of our dinners in the dining room, twice in the Pinnacle which was excellent, once in Canneltos which was also very good, and once in the Lido. We did not care for the Lido for dinner. It was fine for breakfast and lunch but not for dinner. Service was always great. In the dining room one night my DW asked when they were going to have bread sticks. Our waiter said that was a special order. Well from that night on we had bread sticks at our table. As I said before they couldn't do enough for you. Overall we had a very good time, the weather was great, we were relaxed, had great food and met some great people. Now if they could just clear up the problems of the bathrooms we would go back immediately. Instead sorry to say we have booked a 14 day cruise on another line for next Dec. Since we have cruised so much ports are not that important to us, but the ship and service are. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2011
We couldn't have asked for more from our most recent cruise with HAL Zuiderdam. As a young couple we have been on ships before that I would call "geriatric" in nature. Being that it was a holiday cruise the average age was a ... Read More
We couldn't have asked for more from our most recent cruise with HAL Zuiderdam. As a young couple we have been on ships before that I would call "geriatric" in nature. Being that it was a holiday cruise the average age was a lot younger. The ship had an energetic atmosphere and a lot of fun things to do and watch. I've read a lot of negative reviews about the Zuiderdam on here, sanitation, pools, state of the ship, etc. I would have to say that for the most part your experience is your attitude and what you make of it. Are the carpets on the stairs worn? Yes. But does that effect the quality of the food or the friendliness of the staff or the ports of call? No. So why does that matter? In fact, I didn't even notice it until someone mentioned it in passing on our second last day. I was too busy running up and down them to activities to notice. As for the pools, they were clean and cool... perfect for the hot, humid weather we got in Panama and the Caribbean. The best time of day to go is around 5 when everyone is eating or getting ready to eat and the sun is setting. It's not too hot and there is plenty of room in the pools and by the deck. There was often entertainment on the deck, whether it was the HALcats or the solo guitarist, DJ Mario with pool games or line dancing. There were several barbecues, the dessert extravaganza and a late night pool party. The cleanliness of the ship was above our previous experiences. Measures are in place to ensure no one serves themselves for the first 48 hours and there are hand sanitizing stations everywhere. This is the first cruise I have gone on without catching my usual cruise cough. The staff are always scrubbing and cleaning and wiping and vacuuming. So impressive. My husband and I took advantage of all the activities and game shows. We had a blast either participating or observing and laughed a lot and met wonderful people. We didn't have assigned seating and even on nights when the reservation desk said the dining room was full, there were always tables available for walk-up guests with no wait. The food was excellent all over the ship and we especially loved the ice cream bar and waffle cones. If there is ever frozen watermelon pie on the menu, order 2! The entertainment for the most part was great. We loved the comedian and the juggler/comedian. We enjoyed the steel drum band and the dancers. The magician was corny and did tricks we saw several times before but his dog stole the show! We loved the explorer's lounge with the crossword puzzle tables and chess, scrabble, sudoku, trivia, etc. It was a wonderful place to relax. Cruise director Jason was younger than most we've seen and had a lot of humour and energy. He always started shows with funny stories from the day before. Travel guide Brett was awesome. (I have a tiny crush but my husband is well aware! lol) His presentations prepared us for the ports and he had a few awesome inside tips that helped us find a rental vehicle and see things we wouldn't have normally. The ports were awesome! If you stop in Gatun Lake, Panama, please visit the tribal village. It was an experience of a lifetime and the lovely people who live there will steal your hearts and you will want to take all of the kids home with you! What a wonderful experience and they were so welcoming and gracious. LOVED IT! It was truly the highlight of our trip. I can't say enough positive things about our cabin stewards and the staff on the ship. We didn't pass one staff member the entire time who didn't say good morning or good afternoon with a hug smile. It was so great getting to know them and interact and have them be a part of our holiday. As a tip, we were on the seventh floor and it was perfect. It wasn't noisy, only two floors to the lido deck, food, pools, etc. and it wasn't as rocky in the rough seas as it was in other parts of the ship. The swaying was slight and put me to sleep quickly most nights. Everything about our trip was amazing and we had the best, best time. Can't say the same for our trips to and from the Ft. Lauderdale seaport (shady cab drivers, etc.) but our cruise experience was perfect! Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: December 2011
This was our first HAL cruise. Previously we have cruised on 4 times on Celebrity and once on NCL. We chose it for the itinerary -- Panama Canal -- and we wanted to be away for New Years. We had also heard good things about HAL from others ... Read More
This was our first HAL cruise. Previously we have cruised on 4 times on Celebrity and once on NCL. We chose it for the itinerary -- Panama Canal -- and we wanted to be away for New Years. We had also heard good things about HAL from others who had cruised on the line. We flew in the day before and stayed at the Marriot Courtyard in Dania Beach since they had an airport shuttle and a cruise shuttle the next day included in their room rates. The hotel was fine, and there was a seafood restaurant in easy walking distance for dinner. We got to the port at around 1 PM and were in our stateroom in maybe half an hour. Boarding was easy and efficient. Our stateroom was clean and the crew everywhere was cheerful and helpful. We had a VA balcony cabin on deck 8 towards the front of the ship with amazing views. We were extremely happy with it as we had booked a balcony guarantee cabin. There have been some negative comments on the condition of the ship -- ignore them. There was always some maintenance, cleaning, painting, and whatever going on. Yes, there were some dings and dents in the walls at spots, and maybe the carpet was worn in a couple of extremely high traffic areas. If that is what ruins your vacation, then stay home. The food was good, generally well-prepared, and the variety made sure everyone in our party had something they liked. I would like to commend the restaurant staff for handling food allergies well. One person in our party has a serious allergy -- she received the next day's menu everyday at dinner. She could order whatever she wanted and they would prepare her dinner separately to make sure nothing on the plate would cause her distress. We frequently travel together, and we were very happy not to worry about her finding something she could eat. We never got to the Pinnacle Grill because there was always something on the next day's menu that we wanted! You can also get the specialty coffees at no extra charge in the Dining Room with your dinner. There is a charge for them when you order them at the Crows Nest coffee bar. The Lido buffet was the low point in the food service. It was more cafeteria-style than buffet and at times the lines were long because there was no way to just grab one thing from a station without going through then entire section because someone had to serve most of it. There were many items that should have been cafeteria-style that were not. The Philippine-style buffet on the last sea day was very good, but the line was terrible because the last item on the line was cooking too slowly and held up everything else. Overall, the food was good but we often chose lunch by what had the shortest lines. On the itinerary: we wanted to see the Panama Canal and everything else was additional. We took the excursion on the ferry that takes you through all of the locks to Pacific. DO NOT MISS THIS. Yes, it was very hot, and the excursion was expensive -- but isn't this why you took this particular cruise? Half Moon Cay was a pleasant beach stop. I would have liked to have gotten to Curacao earlier. Most museums closed early since it seems that the day before New Years eve is a holiday so most of what we wanted to see wasn't open. There were 100,000 firecrackers going off in the streets in the afternoon -- we know this number because we happened upon the shipping container in one of the squares! We also stumbled on a beer and drum band street party that was fun. The Postal museum is listed on line as a point to see because of the age of the building. They are wrong, the age of the building is significant, but the man running the place is really worth the trip! He was closing when we found the place but let us in because we were really interested. Between his limited English and our total lack of Dutch we found out about history, renovating classic buildings, and traveling the world looking for funky stamps. Bonaire is snorkel heaven -- need I say more? Costa Rica was more interesting than I expected. We hired a local tour guide off the ship who was a fabulous ambassador for his country. I could see going there for vacation. We went to a beach, took a ride through the canals seeing birds, sloths, a very cool red and yellow crab, and other local fauna, saw a banana plantation, and ate some of the best pineapple I have ever had. New Years Eve countdown in the Vista Lounge was fun and lively. But there was not too much going on after around 1:30 AM. The entertainment was typical. I rarely care for the shows on cruise ships. I personally am partial to a bar with some good live music. The solo guitarist was good and the house pop band HALcats (very cute) were fun to listen to. I also liked the Steel drum band. My biggest complaint is that there was very little to do after 11 PM. There was just the casino and Northern lights which is a small DJ bar. It was just too close and hot most of the time. Maybe they could keep one lounge open later. We were at last call for one of the lounges every night. We knew this would be an early ship ahead of time, but it was still a surprise when we would get to a lounge after main dinner seating (around 9:30 -- 10:00), sit down listen to some music and chat a bit, and by the time we are ready for maybe a second drink, the bar is closing up. I know some people have had some problem with the front desk, but we never saw it. My key card suddenly stopped working after a few days and we had a question about our bill and both instances were handled quickly and cheerfully. The biggest problems we saw was that one elevator was always out of service -- they never seemed to have every elevator on the ship working. Some of the public rest rooms were taken in and out of service for short periods of time. Overall, we really enjoyed the cruise. We would definitely take another HAL cruise, and would also return to Zuiderdam.   Read Less
Sail Date: December 2011
If you ever have the chance to have Jason Venner as your Cruise Director, count your blessings. What a treat to not have to hear endless announcements about bingo and other trivia. His sense of humour was great and he was actually better ... Read More
If you ever have the chance to have Jason Venner as your Cruise Director, count your blessings. What a treat to not have to hear endless announcements about bingo and other trivia. His sense of humour was great and he was actually better than the comedian hired to entertain us. The food was good but not out of this world. I would skip the Mahi Mahi as it was definitely the worst thing that we ate while on the cruise. Dry and tasteless. We enjoyed the desserts each night much to our waistlines disgust. The Surf and Turf dinners were very enjoyable. The only problem I had with the menu particularly on the Lido deck was if the desserts had nuts in them. I asked the staff and they did not know. The service you receive in the dining room is fantastic. We were well looked after and met lots of interesting people when we shared tables. Our room steward was excellent as well. No complaints there. The one port we were disappointed with was Curacao. We could have spent less time there and more time in Bonaire. Curacao has become too commercialized and has lost its quaintness. Both of our young adults we had with us did not like Curacao, but enjoyed all the other ports. The guest speaker they had for the Panama Canal partial transit was great. Easy to understand. The problem was if you were at the front of the ship the loud speakers did not carry the sound very well, so you could not hear what you were being told. We lucked out and had sunshine for the transit. Entertainment was hit or miss. The dancer/singers varied from night to night. Some of the songs simply did not suit the singers voices and they had the volume turned up so loud, it detracted from their talent. The comedian could have stayed home. His jokes were for the plus 80 age range and he needs a severe overhaul of his repertoire. The magician/comedian was good. The Island Steel Band was the highlight of the entertainment offered. They got standing ovations every time they performed. Jeff Trackoff(sp?), the impressionist was excellent as well. His message was well presented. Trivia was good. The ship needs some tender loving care. The carpets are shot, particularly the ones on the stairs. The ones by the dining room are almost thread bare. There were noticeable scratches and dents all over the ship. The ship was kept spotlessly clean. Fix the shuffleboard please. The wood is so rough you can barely shoot the pucks down the game. The ping pong bats need to be replaced as well. It would be nice to have one pool adults only so that children whose parents are not supervising them could do their cannonballs into one pool only. The New Year's Eve party was nice. I admired the camera man for how he handled the few children that were trying to hog all the attention and get in his way.Watch out for the steps coming from the Observation Deck to the Lido Deck. Very slippery. Brett, the ports speaker was very informative and a pleasure to listen to. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2011
We 3 adults cruised on the Holland America Zuiderdam for the Panama Canal/Southern Caribbean 10 day cruise. The cruise visited Costa Rica (Puerto Limon), Panama Canal (Gatun Lake and Colon), Aruba, Bonaire, Half Moon Cay and back to Fort ... Read More
We 3 adults cruised on the Holland America Zuiderdam for the Panama Canal/Southern Caribbean 10 day cruise. The cruise visited Costa Rica (Puerto Limon), Panama Canal (Gatun Lake and Colon), Aruba, Bonaire, Half Moon Cay and back to Fort Lauderdale. We flew into Ft Lauderdale the evening prior to the cruise and arrived late that evening. We stayed the night at Homewood Suites Ft Lauderdale. We were too late for their dining room and there are no nearby restaurants. We were prepared for this so it was not a problem. This hotel is adequate for an overnight stay, has a shuttle from the airport and supplies an excellent cooked breakfast. The hotel was clean and friendly, good value though you have to pay for the shuttle to the port. Would stay there again. Embarkation was easy as we arrived early, latecomers had extended waits. Transfer of luggage was simple(and quick)and they allow you to take wine on board. We stayed in a Superior Verandah Suite (cat SY) (6066) which had a large Queen bed (which could be 2 singles)and an excellent Single bed (from sofa)and plenty of space. It had both a shower and bath, good plentiful supplies of body wash,shampoo & conditioner (no need to bring your own - unless you have special hair). Excellent balcony that only became unusable in severe weather. Wonderful sunrises from this cabin on the way South. I guess it would be the same for sunsets on the reverse itinerary, but you would obviously have to be on the other side of the boat. The balcony was spacious for all 3 of us to be on it at the same time - with coffee or tea or wine - depending on the time of day. Many critics have complained that the ship is "garish" and has old paintwork - pay no attention to them - I did not find this to be the case. The decor may not be your taste but look at the pictures on line - I liked it. The paint may be "tired" but on the whole ship looked very nice and was clean. Fellow Passengers - were from all walks of life and several countries. This ship was NOT full of oldies and walking frames. Most were middle aged or retired + some children. An enjoyable group. Dining - we mainly used the Lido Restaurant which is self service and at busy times had long lines. The food was excellent and varied. We used the Vista dining room on many evenings. We did not book in advance and it you were seated fairly quickly in spite of the ship being full. It was unusual to have to wait as long as half an hour, in that case they sent you off and gave you a time to come back. My only misgiving was being seated right at the stern in really rough weather. It was noisy (engines) and bumpy - we felt unwell and were moved further forward. You could choose whether to join a group or have your own table. Service and food were excellent - we never left hungry! When we had an early start we booked an in-room breakfast. It always arrived on time - though there was an occasional minor error in the order. The system worked well. Excursions The ship recommended excursions were quite expensive, however they were very enjoyable. Costa Rica. We were not enamoured with HA's offerings so went with William to the Tortuguero Wildlife Tour. The main complaint about the ship's tours is that they are expensive and take you in large boats. This tour costs just as much and goes for just as long - but in a small boat (just the 3 of us)- brilliant. At Panama 2 of us took the "The Canal Experience to Colon". Absolutely brilliant especially for those who are amazed at the engineering and want to say that they have traversed the canal. It poured with rain when we went but that did not diminish the experience. Views were much of what you would expect on a canal - not brilliant! 1 of us took the "Authentic Embera Indian Village to Colon". We read up on this extensively before embarking on this trip. A zoom up the river in a real dugout canoe followed by an "authentic" village - amazing experience for those who prefer people and cultures to mechanical marvels. (I hear a boy /girl division here). It seems that villages near the port are less authentic and the ones further away are more so. Holland America probably uses the furthest available. All were impressed. In Bonaire we took the "Mangrove Boating Eco-Adventure", basically we thought we might see some wildlife - all we saw were mangroves. I guess you can't complain seeing that "mangrove" is in the title, but "adventure" is really a misnomer - boring In Aruba we just meandered about but took a local trip around the island which was great and only $20 each. If you snorkel or dive the last 2 destinations were wonderful (according to guests we spoke to) Half Moon Cay - just a beach but with Holland America standards of cleanliness and dining. Actually went to the rest room in bare feet and felt I didn't have to sanitise my whole body afterwards. Hired a clam-shell which was essential for sun and/or rain. Extremely relaxing and didn't feel crowded. Disembarkation We had a plane to catch so we took the early shift. Though you take you own cases down everything went smoothly. In future we would pay for the advanced disembarkation package to the airport. Seems much simpler and worth the money. We didn't do this as we applied too late. Needs thinking of as you embark! Happy Cruising Fenix Read Less
Sail Date: November 2011
Our party of 12(experienced cruisers) embarked from Ft. Lauderdale on the Zuiderdam Nov. 25th. We drove from the Clearwater area and used the pier parking garage ($15/day). Boarding the ship was a snap and we were in the Lido within a half ... Read More
Our party of 12(experienced cruisers) embarked from Ft. Lauderdale on the Zuiderdam Nov. 25th. We drove from the Clearwater area and used the pier parking garage ($15/day). Boarding the ship was a snap and we were in the Lido within a half hour of parking. All the luggage arrived safely and was in our rooms by the time we finished lunch. The rooms were all very clean and gift cards from our TA and ship info were awaiting us. We did notice that the ship needs freshening up but it did not detract from our cruise. The ship is easy to maneuver and, as we were on the 4th floor, under the Crows Nest and over the theater, it seemed we didn't have to walk a lot, though we all took the stairs instead of the elevator to offset weight gains! In Puerto Limon we went ziplining, visited the canals and a banana plantation with Eduardo of Lucky Tours....highly recommend, full day for $85. We stayed on board as we transited the canal as there was enough to see and hear to keep our attention without leaving the ship on the offered excursions. In Bonaire we went off the ship and walked around the town. Found a bar on the main street that had free Wi-Fi with the purchase of a coke. In Aruba we got a tour off the pier with "Liedy" a wonderful Arubian woman who showed us the island and made us laugh for 2 hours all for the grand price of $20 per person. We rented the clamshells for the lounge chairs on Half Moon Cay for $15 (for 2 people) and enjoyed a wonderful, relaxing day on the beach. Food. Having cruised on many Holland America ships I have to say the food was not as good as we have had but it was fine. The Lido was repetitious and the dining room was hit or miss at times BUT for the most part we all were satisfied with the food. We did eat in the Pinnacle and enjoyed it very much. Entertainment. The Island Magic Steel Drum band was about the best act we have ever seen!!!! The magician, comedian and singer were entertaining and kept our attention. The cruise director, Jason, was most personable and funny, a real delight. There was a problem with a couple of life boats making noises because of wind/loose ropes, but the front desk took care of it immeadiately and sent up a bottle of wine and homemade chocolates. All agreed it was a wonderful cruise and we could all recommend it. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2011
My husband and I along with our friends decided to celebrate the two birthdays on the Zuiderdam this year. My husband's birthday on Nov. 17th and our friends' birthday on Nov. 22nd. We arrived in Fort Lauderdale on Nov. 13th ... Read More
My husband and I along with our friends decided to celebrate the two birthdays on the Zuiderdam this year. My husband's birthday on Nov. 17th and our friends' birthday on Nov. 22nd. We arrived in Fort Lauderdale on Nov. 13th and stayed overnight at the Fairfield Inn (run by the Marriott Hotel). Wonderful and very clean. Next morning we arrived for embarkation and had to wait an hour and a half. Once we were on board, we went to the Lido for lunch and at 1:30 were in our room. After 2:00, our luggage arrived. Loved our veranda - clean and spacious for us. Our luggage was stored underneath the bed. We don't participate in activities - just love to read and listen to talks in the Vista Lounge. No complaints about the service. Our room stewards were simply wonderful - always working very hard and keeping our rooms spotless. In the Dining Room we were always served with a smile and the food was delicious. Lido - great variety from salads, main course and desserts.Port and Shore Excursions: Nov. 15th - Half Moon Cays - we took a tender to the beautiful island and walked around - then had a great barbecue lunch. Nov. 16th - At sea - had breakfast in our room and read and relaxed. Nov. 17th - Aruba - did not take a tour but walked around and did some shopping. Had a nice cold drink and relaxed. Nov. 18th - Bonaire - took a City Highlight tour and enjoyed it very much. Nov. 19th - Curacao - tour of the Caves and walking city tour. Caves very interesting - had cute little bats flying around - very harmless. Didn't complete the tour because it was raining or should I say pouring. Returned to the ship, dried off and when the rain stopped, we went on our own walking tour. Lovely place. Nov. 20th - At Sea - breakfast in our room - read and relaxed. Nov. 21st - Panama Canal (Gatun Lake) - Had breakfast by the pool and relaxed.Did not take any tours as we had been here in 1983. Nov 22nd - Costa Rica - our favorite tour taken was the Eco Train, Pontoon Boat and Bus. A five hour tour that lasted 6 and a half hours. Excellent tour, we would highly recommend this. Entertainment - enjoyed the energetic dances,singers were wonderful as were the comedians, Island Magic Steel Drums and magician. Disembarkation - Was just a bit disorganized - instead of disembarking at 8:30, we were off the ship at 9:00 - no problems locating our luggage and breezed through Customs. Our bus was waiting for us (we took a tour of Fort Lauderdale) and enjoyed it very much. This was our third cruise with Holland America and we will definitely be booking another one within a year. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2011
Nice itinerary, deluxe decoration, delicious food at Vista Restaurant, friendly restaurant & stateroom staff. A nightmare dealing with the Front Desk, confusing information about credit card deposits. One authorization signed at the ... Read More
Nice itinerary, deluxe decoration, delicious food at Vista Restaurant, friendly restaurant & stateroom staff. A nightmare dealing with the Front Desk, confusing information about credit card deposits. One authorization signed at the Front Desk was stated on my Visa account under an unknown name different from Zuiderdam or HAL. On board credit was blocked without previous notice. Badly maintained exterior surfaces, worn-out sunbeds. Smoking permitted in staterooms and verandas. Passengers in the stateroom adjacent to ours where heavy smokers, smoke smell came both through the aisle and the veranda. Impossible to have breakfast or just sit down in our veranda since those early smoking birds were sitting there from dawn to dusk. The A/C in the stateroom cannot be turned off or at least reduce the vent power. Located right above our bed, we could feel the air blowing over our face the whole night long. Some sailing nights with rough sea we were several times awakened by the sound of creaking panels. We called maintenance and they put some wooden plugs in the angle between the wall and the ceiling During formal dressing nights, those wearing casual were forced to have dinner before 8 PM in Lido Restaurant while more elegant passengers could enjoy dinner at Vista Restaurant till 9,30 PM.WARNING: at every port of call we were told to carry the ship card and a photo ID. WARNING!!. Our passport weren't stamped at any port of call. The Shore Excursions Department informed all passengers to disembark carrying the ship card and a photo ID (not necessarily the passport). In Puerto Limón we took a taxi to Cahuita Park. On the way back we were stopped at a police control. The police required us to show our passports as the ONLY LEGAL ID for tourist in Costa Rica. They also wanted to confirm our date of entrance in the country. The taxi driver solved the situation and we could return to the ship. While the ship was being maneuvered through the chambers of Gatun Locks, passengers who had booked tours were 'locked' inside the ship's theater for 50 minutes as a pre disembarking procedure, preventing them from watching one of the most interesting parts of the trip. I would book another cruise with Holland America just if the selected route is not operated by any other Cruise Line Read Less
Sail Date: November 2011
We chose the Zuiderdam because we were traveling with others. This particular ship attracted an older crowd. We found ourselves in an un-airconditioned cabin and after many complaints and aggravation we finally were placed in a cabin with ... Read More
We chose the Zuiderdam because we were traveling with others. This particular ship attracted an older crowd. We found ourselves in an un-airconditioned cabin and after many complaints and aggravation we finally were placed in a cabin with working a/c. We did not spend one night without air but were moving our stuff at midnight by ourselves. I later learned that we were not the only ones with this problem but other passengers were without air for two days. The other complaint I have is the pools. The water was dirty in both pools and the water was as hot as the hot tubs. It had a constant layer of film and scum on top of the pools looking like a breeding ground for germs. There was only one working pool shower for two pools and two thousand people. I have been on ships where they pump in the sea water to change the water and refresh it. The Lido pool offers comfy lounges but they only set up about 30 chairs. The sea view pool had more lounges but not all of them are set up there were stacks of chaises on the tenth deck tied together and unused. There were no pool personnel to move the chairs etc, but there were plenty of bar personnel to assist with a cocktail. Ask for water and it would be as if you spoke an alien tongue. The staff on a whole were cordial and the food was very good. I just feel that the ship needed to be overhauled. It was dated. Life on board was very mellow, very little of the cruise director trying to get the group moving there was some live music poolside and not too many outdoor activities. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2011
We flew from Denver to Ft Lauderdale a day early, and stayed at the Hilton Marina. We were able get a Holland America shuttle to the pier without a reservation. Since we were in a mini-suite, we got priority boarding, which was very nice. ... Read More
We flew from Denver to Ft Lauderdale a day early, and stayed at the Hilton Marina. We were able get a Holland America shuttle to the pier without a reservation. Since we were in a mini-suite, we got priority boarding, which was very nice. Our first port of call was Holland America's private Half Moon Cay. We elected to stay aboard ship and wished we had gone ashore when was all said and done. It was hot and humid, so the air conditioning was nice. The next day was a sea day on our way to Oranjustad, Aruba. Our excursion was a combination sea/shore tour. We had a boat ride out to a "submarine" where we boarded and viewed a sunken German ship and lots of fish and scuba divers - neat. We then boarded a bus for an island tour. Saw the California Light House, named for the California which sank right off the shore. It wasw also one of the ships to go to the distress call of the Titanic. Went to a beautiful garden and a fallen natural bridge, where we build carin to add to the hundreds made on rocks along the shore. Kralendijk, Bonaire was our next port. We walked around the port town and tourist areas. Had fun watching dolphin and pilican around the dock, as well a fishes. Pretty little town and beautiful blue water. Williemstad, Curacao came next. Loved the Dutch building, all painted in bright colors. Neat local art painted on the fence by the dock. To make up for the cancelled dolphin swin in Tahiti, we booked a dolphin swim in Curacao. Another item checked off the bucket list! And, was it ever fun. 8 people in our group, and 4 at a time would get in with the 2 dolphin. Got pulled through the water, gave them hand signals to dance and sing, and got to touch them all we wanted. A great experience and lots of big smiles. Another sea day while on our way to the Panama Canal. We arrived just before sunrise the next morning. Lots of activity, getting into line to enter the Gatum locks. Mules getting ready to hook up to our ship and getting pulled into the first of 3 locks on the way to Gatum Lake. What an experience! We did not want to transit the canal, as we did not want to visit all the Mexican ports on such a cruise. Just going through the locks was enough for us. We got off the ship in Lake Gatun for our excursion - a boat ride around Lake Gatun and seeing sloth and monkeys and birds. We stopped at the locks and were feet from the ships going through - very interesting. We met the ship back in Colon, Panama for our trip to Costa Rica. Pat had hit her head on the boat roof support on Lake Gatun and went right to bed with a really good headache when we got back to the ship. Puerto Limon, Costa Rica. Pat was still not feeling well this morning, so did not go on the shore excursion. A pity, as it was really cool! A bus ride to the Tortuguero Canals. A fruit breakfast before boarding boats. Talk about animals and birds - howler and white faced capucian monkeys, sloths galore, momma and children camin, iguana, blue and white heron, to name but a few. Flowers and vines and trees all over. We stopped at a Del Monte banana farm and processing plant. Interesting tour and the banana heart is a beautiful flower. Pat was most disappointed to have missed the excursion! We had 2 sea days on the way back to Ft Lauderdale and our flight back to Denver. We are not into Caribbean cruises, but this proved to be a great cruise with very interesting ports of call and we were very glad we had done it.   Read Less
Sail Date: November 2011
Zuiderdam review 11/25 -â€" 12/5/2011 Cabin : SA7076 Cabin is very nice in very good shape approx 500sq ft including balcony, room stewards were outstanding kept room in perfect shape and ice bucket filled. This is a deluxe ... Read More
Zuiderdam review 11/25 -â€" 12/5/2011 Cabin : SA7076 Cabin is very nice in very good shape approx 500sq ft including balcony, room stewards were outstanding kept room in perfect shape and ice bucket filled. This is a deluxe veranda suite ( 1st time in this category) perks were cocktail party with ships officer- this was very nice ship's captain came over to introduce himself, Neptune lounge -â€" do not understand why people make a big deal of this place, snacks available and cookies etc, concierge is there- was not impressed, breakfast at the Pinnacle which was very nice and free dry cleaning and laundry ( we thought they did a excellent job , get the laundry approx 24 hours later.) Ship was in very good shape, no complaints, only problem was many of the pool chairs at the ocean view pool were broke. Dinning: Food and service in MDR was very good in general ( hard to get a 2nd cup of coffee ) Pinnacle was excellent, had dinner there 3 times including Le Circe night, also enjoyed there Italian restaurant, lido was ok, pizza was better than I thought it would be. Entertainment : I thought this was excellent, very good shows in theater, piano player was also very good along with singer and band in Queens lounge and the singer guitar player in crows nest and by the pool. Really enjoyed the Trivia , played it twice most days and won 4 or 5 times. Ports: Aruba, Bonaire, Panama Canal/Colon, Costa Rica and Half moon key. Did have a few problems with staff not understanding English. My only big complaint was we asked for some better wine glasses in MDR and were told if they gave them to us everyone would want them ,( we had done this in the past any never had a problem, I know this is a minor point, but this may have me go with another cruise line next cruise.) This was my 54th cruise and 5th on Hal. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: November 2011
I heard lots of complaints about the lack of the Wow factor however the service, food,shows and ports of call more than made up for it. We stayed at the Holiday Inn Express on the State rd. It took 10 minutes to get to the port and thanks ... Read More
I heard lots of complaints about the lack of the Wow factor however the service, food,shows and ports of call more than made up for it. We stayed at the Holiday Inn Express on the State rd. It took 10 minutes to get to the port and thanks to All Star transport, we were picked up after the cruise within 5 minutes of our call. You need to be aware of the port charges (if not included in your charge) We paid over $500. each in port fees and taxes-quite a chunk. In addition there is a service charge of $11.00 per day per person-not a huge amount but it adds up. If you drink don't expect a hefty one. They carefully measure each drink to the tune of 4 to 6.50 each with a 15% gratuity added on. You are not permitted to carry on hard liquer but can take as much wine as you wish. The excurisions were good but for me I chose to stay on board during the actual canal trip. We actually saw more on the way out so we're glad we did it. We would do it again and loved the experience. The low point of course was deimbarkation which is always the case. Long lines, finding the luggage and getting your transportaion-however this one was well organized and efficient. Do at least one dinner in the Pinnicle and one in the Italian(free) restaurant. Our favorite was the zip line in Costa Rica. No matter what age you are you will love it. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2011
We had a wonderful time on the Zuiderdam. We had no trouble at all getting checked in and were pleasingly surprised when we were allowed to drop our luggage into our cabin upon arrival. Also we were able to have a nice relaxing sit down ... Read More
We had a wonderful time on the Zuiderdam. We had no trouble at all getting checked in and were pleasingly surprised when we were allowed to drop our luggage into our cabin upon arrival. Also we were able to have a nice relaxing sit down lunch where we shared the company of 4 other cruisers who we found so much in common and made plans to get together later. We attended the lifeboat drill which was mandatory but found it odd that they did not take our attendance. Immediately following we had our Cruise Critic Sail Away party hosted by Bruce, our Meet and Greet planner. As promised Bruce honored our participation in our Roll Call's thread by treating us to a sail away cocktail of our choice for entering the 500th and 1000th post. The first evening we had the pleasure of meeting our Cruise Director, Jason. He was excellent, and we looked forward to every time Jason was on stage. This young man is destined for great things. He is so polished and quick witted, I think he has a future as a late night talk show host. He reminds me of a young Johnny Carson. The cruise staff, dancers, singers, magicians, comedians and musicians were all amazing and we looked forward to every performance. The cruise staff kept us busy every sea day and if you would rather relax you could. The computer lectures were well done and Molly, although it was only her second time teaching the Windows 7 classes, did a fabulous job and was able to open the minds of all who attended to how easy this technology was. The trivia that was held 2 or 3 times a day by Jason and his cruise staff were fun and we looked forward to seeing the answers to the daily quiz that Casey, the librarian, posted every day. Casey did a great job. We learned a lot. Jason was an excellent dance instructor. He has such a great personality and is a real people person. One of the cruiser's who was obviously challenged was placed in the spotlight more than once by Jason, and through his words this lovely lady was made to feel extra special. She really enjoyed her cruise. Jason has a natural wit and I know one day he will have his own talk show on TV. The Panama Canal passage was very interesting. It was a little difficult to get a good seat. It was very crowded. It was a little difficult as well to hear the person who was doing the commentary depending where you were in the ship. The food in the Main Dining room was good. Service was always slow. It took 1 1/2 to 2 hours to be served your meal. The last evening was the only time we had faster service and were out in one hour. However, the food that was served on the last night was not as good as the other nights and we had less of a choice for appetizers, salad and dessert. In fact we went up to the buffet to see if there was anything more appetizing. The buffet always seemed to be closed whenever we went up in the evenings. In the day time we had better luck. The air conditioning on the ship needs to be balanced. The Theater and the screening room were freezing where other areas were warm. The elevator banks need to be set so that when you press up on one bank of elevators it also sets off the additional elevators on the sides. It was very difficult to catch an elevator with having to run from one side of the ship to the other to press 3 sets of buttons. Our room stewards Willie and Bang Bang were fantastic. The room was always spotless. Every day they put a fresh bowl of fruit for us to nibble on. They made amazing towel animals, some I had never seen before. The best one was monkey hanging from a hanger. Although they did a great job we hardly ever saw them. They tried to perform their magic when ever we were out of the cabin, which was often. We had an inside cabin and it was very spacious. The bed was wonderful and the linens were very soft as were the towels. The debarkation went very smoothly. We were able to get room service in our cabin at 8:30 AM. We were permitted to wait in our cabin until our group was called at around 9:30AM. Going through customs was a snap. The terminal was air conditioned and the line moved smoothly. We would definitely cruise HAL again. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2011
Dam good ship -â€" we had a great time and thoroughly enjoyed the trip. Our room stewards -â€" Sonny and Putu were excellent, as were our waiters -â€" Henry and Roni. As others have commented, it appears HAL has ... Read More
Dam good ship -â€" we had a great time and thoroughly enjoyed the trip. Our room stewards -â€" Sonny and Putu were excellent, as were our waiters -â€" Henry and Roni. As others have commented, it appears HAL has reduced the staffing but the crewmembers always have smiles on their faces, but there doesn't appear to be time for the extra conversations, etc. I don't know how they maintain such a positive attitude working 12 hours a day, seven days a week for nine months. The ship was very clean and all areas were in good repair. (Could we find problem areas -â€" sure, but why look for them.) Air conditioning and plumbing worked well and we only smelled smoke in the smoking areas. We enjoyed the extra cabin and veranda space that comes with an SY cabin. It really is an ideal size for a cruise. Had breakfast in the room each day with selections from the very complete menu. Took leave of the main dining one night (Master Chef's Dinner) for Canaletto, which was OK, but not great. Shows were excellent with the exception of the comic (Jeff Nease) who was poor. Haven't heard so many old jokes in years. DW enjoyed the cooking classes -â€" just like I need more great ship recipes made with lots of butter and cream. HEADS UP -â€" if you want to do any of the extra cost cooking classes or the behind the scenes ship's tour -â€" sign up when you board. They are unadvertised, but sell out quickly. Shows how many people read these boards. The cons -â€" Front desk is friendly and tries to be helpful, but the bookkeeping staff can only be described as inept. Eventually the charges came off, but I got to know the desk staff well. Keep track of your receipts and ask for print outs of your bill, otherwise you will be overcharged. Did not see a sommelier in the dining room -â€" I think they have been replaced by bar waiters who will serve you wine, mixed drinks, etc. The dining room is now pushing bottled water for $2/liter. The officers seemed to be content to come out when required for social events, but otherwise were never seen except for Captain Turner. This is in contrast to Celebrity where they are visible and accessible. Previous posters have commented on a sewage smell -â€" we passed it in the vicinity of cabin 6060. Tours -â€" Did independent tours in the ABC islands. Bully the taxi driver is outstanding as reported in other CC and TripAdvisor posts. Truly superb snorkeling with Woodwind Bonaire. Took a good local tour in Curacao. We did the Sea-to-Sea ship's tour on a small ferry boat through the Panama Canal to the Pacific and the Rainforest tram tour in Costa Rica. Both were excellent and met expectations and served delightful meals with no intestinal distress afterwards. Summary - Would we cruise with HAL again? Absolutely, they offer a good product with many different itineraries. However, we have booked our next three cruises on Celebrity. The ships are fresher, seem more roomy -â€" even with 50% more passengers, most of the ship is non-smoking, and there are more options for things to do. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2011
The cruise destinations to the Panama Canal (history), Costa Rica (rainforest), Aruba (snorkeling), Bonaire (more snorkeling) and Bahamas were amazing and made the cruise for my wife and I. However, there were several HAL service-related ... Read More
The cruise destinations to the Panama Canal (history), Costa Rica (rainforest), Aruba (snorkeling), Bonaire (more snorkeling) and Bahamas were amazing and made the cruise for my wife and I. However, there were several HAL service-related issues that detracted from the overall cruise experience. There were also differences in approach that I found disappointing with HAL from other cruise lines. In this review, I will first list the significant positives and negatives experienced on the HAL Zuiderdam (and leave the adequate cruise items unmentioned). * Positives: - The food on the Zuiderdam was excellent - above average for a cruise ship with only one meal that was sub-standard. The HAL staff quickly offered to swap that one meal out for a better one so no issues here. - Lifestyle staff were quite fun and I enjoyed activities on sea day. I especially liked the aqua aerobics classes but there were many classes to appeal to differing tastes. - Our cabin stewards and dining staff were always courteous and helpful and acted professionally. No issues with anyone we came into contact (so excellent quality control staffing). - The Historical talks lead by the Excursions team were exceptional -â€" best sessions I've ever had onboard any ship. The presenter was knowledgeable and excited to prepare cruisers for their upcoming shore visits. The detailed presentations on technical and historical aspects of the Panama Canal were the best. - HAL excursions were reasonably priced and well executed (particularly the full transit excursion through the Panama Canal). * Negatives: - The food service was very slow. While they have implemented "Dine as you Wish" cruise dining (where the allow people to eat in the main dining area whenever they want), there were long lines and slow service for any time that my wife and I selected during the 10-day cruise. I suspect this issue is that the galley (kitchen) of the Zuiderdam was designed for banquet seating and not restaurant-style dining (Dine as you Wish) which requires a different galley configuration. Regardless of the issue, the wait time for dining every night was significant and discouraging. - Sanitation for boarding the vessel and before dining was inadequate. I regularly use hand sanitizers but there was not one insisting that everyone sanitize before coming onboard (so germs from airports, hotel lobbies, cabs were untreated). There were no HAL staff members insisting before entering dining areas that hand sanitizers are used (at least for the first few days). - Decorations and designs within the ship were rather old with worn carpeting around stairwells and meeting areas. My wife hated to be in our cabin since the yellow colors and old designs were depressing to her. - Air condition in our cabin (Port side, Forward, Interior Cabin) was inadequate and barely able to keep up in the Caribbean temperatures in December. We had the thermostat set at the maximum cold value for most of the cruise. If you take the Zuiderdam during September or October, it must be unbearably hot. Repairman were everywhere dealing with engineering issues on this ship. - Entertainment was unimaginative with just random dancing set to music appealing to older Americans (65 and older). The externally contracted steel drum band and the comic were excellent but overall, the ship's entertainment was disappointing as compared with other cruise lines. The HALcats (a band in a smaller bar setting) was good except the bass player who frequently played wrong notes (with other band members grimacing with each mistake). HAL Entertainment should have vetted this new performer for his musical abilities or adequately trained him prior to the sailing (quality control issue). - Senior HAL management was not present around the ship as with other cruise lines. There were several lower level supervisors and managers but senior leadership was rarely accessible and never seemed to be around for minor or major concerns. - An issue with the Internet Cafe (no connectivity for the last three-days for Mac and iPhone users) went unresolved. When I asked for a partial refund of my unused Internet minutes that I paid for, I was told "No" by several staff despite my inability to upload photos from my iPhone to social media sites (my reason for getting the larger plan). No support for cruisers by HAL management when an honest issue exists with a vendor onboard ship. Just heard that they're a vendor -â€" nothing we can do. Disappointing that HAL management does not take responsibility for vendors that allow onboard their vessels. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2011
Zuiderdam Panama Canal Cruise Nov 14 to 25 We showed up at 11:00 AM check in at Port Everglades only to find check in had been delayed two hours for a Super Cleaning. It seemed they had a couple of food sickness problems on the cruise ... Read More
Zuiderdam Panama Canal Cruise Nov 14 to 25 We showed up at 11:00 AM check in at Port Everglades only to find check in had been delayed two hours for a Super Cleaning. It seemed they had a couple of food sickness problems on the cruise they just completed. When we got there the line filled the front of the terminal and wrapped around both sides. When the line started it moved quickly and we were in our room about 2:30 PM. We had a VF category verandah cabin. It was fair sized and laid out well. The bathroom had a shower tub and was appointed well. My only complaint would be that in the entry way were the closet and bathroom doors and the area was crowded if one party was using the closet and the other coming out of the bathroom. The balcony was great with adequate room for two. Our last trip was on the brand new Oasis of the Seas. The Zuiderdam was a bit smaller and older. While some of the decorations looked dated the ship was in great shape. I had heard reports it was a little tired but I was very happy with its condition. The food in the Main Dinning room was a cut above the Oasis and the service was a little better also. The Passengers on the Zuiderdam were a little older than other Cruise lines but were engaging and active. Microsoft has a Digital Workshop that explains how to use their software (Window's Live Essentials) to edit digital photos. The have about 10 different classes and repeat several of them. They are always filled and it is hard to get a seat with a computer. The entertainment was good they had a Comedian, Magician, Steel Drum Band and three production shows with the Cruise Lines dancer and singers. The production shows were on par or above most Cruise Lines. After the show they had entertainment in the Queens Lounge Natalie ant the Hellcats. They were very good and encouraged the crowd to dance. There were a lot of good dancers that took advantage. They had a Piano Bar, In the Crows Nest they had a Singer Guitarist that was very good. They also had a group of Violinist in one of the Lounges and a few Lounges where you could converse with fellow cruisers. The ports on this trip were great. The first was Aruba it is an easy and island to shop and tour. We went to Palm Beach for a swim and spent some time downtown. We did not set sail until 11:00PM if you wanted to enjoy the night life. Bonaire was the next Island. The dock runs parallel to their picturesque Main Street our balcony was on that side so it was like a front porch with a great view. Bonaire had a nice shopping area with pleasant clerks. As you step off the ship straight ahead is the best Straw Market I have seen in the Caribbean . While it wasn't huge it had a large percentage of booths that were manned by the artist who often work at their craft at the booth. Curacao was the last of the ABC islands we visited. It was another great port. The ship docked in Pondo section of Curacao and to get to Williamstead you had to take the ferry of a pontoon bridge known formally as the Queen Emma footbridge and informally as the Swinging Old lady. The Bridge swings with the help of tug boats to let ships into the inner harbor. The day we were there it was St Nicks day. That day there is a carnival with the children getting candy at the end. The area next to the swing bridge was mobbed with locals. Traffic was jammed in the Pondo area. Though the ship we took a trolley ride through Williamstead .It was a interesting but basic tour of the downtown. After a couple of sea days we entered the Panama Canal this was for me the Crown Jewel of the trip. We got to experience the locks up into Gatun Lake on the ship. It was well narrated and took a about two hours. We had breakfast on our balcony while we headed to the locks. We enjoyed the first lock in on our balcony the next two at the bow of the ship. Once in Gatun Lake we tendered to the Gutan Yacht Club where we boarded busses to take us to a ferry that took us to the lock on the Pacific side. The experience in the ferry was a great experience because the action of the locks were more pronounced. AND WE GOT TO TOUCH THE WALL!! Don't ask me why but it was a great moment. I had spent part of the fall studying all about the locks and its history along with several good talks on the ship. It was great to see everything in real life. After the locks the ferry took us into the Pacific to a dock to meet the bus. On the way we got a great view of the Panama City skyline. It was impressive to see what a modern looking city it was. The bus took us to Colon on the Atlantic Side to meet the Ship as it had gone back through the locks while we were on the four hour trip. Our final port was Puerto Limon Costa Rica. We did the shopping thing. It is a big port city and does not have a real comfortable feel to it. A couple of hours was enough. After two and a half sea days we arrived at Ft Lauderdale. We had chose baggage direct. It was our fist time doing so. It was great just taking carryons to the airport and not have to worry about the luggage. It was even better when we got to Manchester Airport and found our bags on the carousals. This was a great cruise. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2011
We began our trip with a two and a half hour drive from Cape Coral.Drove right to the pier unloaded the luggage ,parked the van and joined the line to check in.It was one fifteen and the lines moved quickly.Up to the Lido Deck for a light ... Read More
We began our trip with a two and a half hour drive from Cape Coral.Drove right to the pier unloaded the luggage ,parked the van and joined the line to check in.It was one fifteen and the lines moved quickly.Up to the Lido Deck for a light lunch and then to our room.The luggage was there and we unpacked.Went on deck nine and viewed Ft. Laud.After life boat drill returned to very warm room.Went to service desk and explained about warm room and that the bed should have been set up as twins,my sister is with me.At 8:30 stopped at desk again and was told it was a technical problem,beds still not changed.At 11:00 took my pillow with me down to the desk and said I was sleeping there .The sweat was dripping from my head.Was offered a fan and told someone would seperate the beds.We had the fan for the entire cruise.A crewman came to the room on Thursday and removed both panels in the ceiling and siad thats the best we would get. The room itself did not seem too clean from the beginning,but I put it down to the age of the ship.The bathroom floor appeared dirty but i thought it was worn.It bothered me for days and I finally wet a tissue,put soap on it and rubbed the floor.Like magic it was clean.I took pictures and showed them to the service desk,a supervisor was sent to the room and told me she would have it cleaned.The room was never dirty again and the bathroom floor looked like new.On Friday we were offered a change of room. The men and women at the service desk were always polite and tried to be helpful,but they could not cool or clean our room.And yes our door to the veranda was always closed and the drapes drawn. We attended all of the shows and enjoyed them.The singers and dancers give a great show.The Island Magic steel band played to a standing rooom crowd.In Costa Rica we took the Ariel Tram through the rain forest,the monkeys were in the trees and moved right over us.This was worthwile.In Panama we rode the Dome Car Train to the Pacific.Our Guide made the trip with her talks.on the wayback we were all tired and we were seeing the same thing,a lot of napping was done. We enjoyed the food in all the restaurants,and our group included some picky eaters,everyone was satisfied.The service of all the crew and the good food makes me feel bad about the room conditions.We have sailed on H.A. more than fifty days and have another trip set for March.The Ship appears in need of an overhaul.There were many public restrooms with out of order signs and a very bad odor on the third deck midships. We walked of the ship with no problems in less than a half hour.I like cruising and feel bad about this review as I sailed this same ship last Nov.and loved everything.Thats why our friends sailed this time.They did not have similar problems Read Less
Sail Date: October 2011
11 days is not enough. We had a wonderful time and were sorry to return home. Some high points: The food was excellent with too many good choices. The cabin stewards were wonderful, ensuring that we had what we needed at all times. ... Read More
11 days is not enough. We had a wonderful time and were sorry to return home. Some high points: The food was excellent with too many good choices. The cabin stewards were wonderful, ensuring that we had what we needed at all times. Our cabin was clean, peaceful and a great place to hang out on the balcony to read. We found some great books to read in the Explorations cafe and some comfy lounges to relax and enjoy them in. The piano bar was great. Diane, the pianist, had an unusually broad range of musical knowledge and had a great attitude. The Pinnacle grill was excellent and worth the price. The photographers accepted gracefully that you did not want a picture, unlike other lines that chase you down. Some low points: Was this cruise an AARP special of the month? I have never seen so many varieties of wheeled contraptions in one spot in my life. They were parked everywhere - in hallways, outside elevators, and lined up in the theater & restaurants. HAL usually attracts an older crowd but this cruise was way over the top. We have not been on cruises where the majority were senior seniors on a HAL cruise before. I am talking 80 and 90 year olds. Some of the older crowd was quite rude in the Lido buffet,cutting in front of you because they want their lunch NOW or sticking their canes out to the side so that you can't walk past them. Are they afraid the food will run out? I was shocked at their attitudes. The comedians were not funny to us. One was obnoxious and the other was pleasant, but we are just not into ventriloquists. Fortunately there were many other entertainment choices. The temperature in the Lido was oven like. It was better towards the middle of the room but at times just too uncomfortable to stay and eat. Despite this, some of the older crowd was still wrapped up in sweaters. While the piano bar was wonderful, the skewed age demographics had us hearing music of the 20s, 30s, & 40s repeatedly with an occasional tune from the 50s, 60s or 70s.(Which are still old!) I do like some of the old standards, but would have preferred a more equitable mix of decades. Perhaps on the next cruise with a more balanced age distribution. Embarkation was a bit bottle necked. I understand that they want to have everyone go directly to the cabins, but we ended up getting assigned group numbers after check in and sitting in a holding area for a half hour. Despite these minor annoyances, it was a great trip. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2011
Started our curise with a 2 day stay in Hallandale. Weather was great and Hampton Inn was more than adequate. Free breakfast every morning. Embarkation was fast and organized. Rooms were ready and luggage arrived within a short time ... Read More
Started our curise with a 2 day stay in Hallandale. Weather was great and Hampton Inn was more than adequate. Free breakfast every morning. Embarkation was fast and organized. Rooms were ready and luggage arrived within a short time after we got to cabin. Superior cabins are large and roomy. Only problem was the air conditioning. It took me meeting up with Chief Engineer in elevator for someone to finally figure out that the vents were closed in our cabin. Good thing we had bad weather first 2 nights so it wasn't as hot as it could have been. Cabin crew was one of the greatest, they looked after your every need and made sure things were the way you wanted them in your cabin everyday. No need to ask them twice. Food, I do not know what people are complaining about, the selection was diversified and every meal was cooked to perfection. If you thought the meal wasn't enough just ask for more. I always order 2 dinners and I share the second one with the table. Why deprive yourself of something good. The waiters made sure they knew everyones name and how we liked our meals cooked. Must eat the ice cream. They make their own on the ship. Lido deck has at least four flavors everyday. I would skip lunch just to have a cone. Do try the frankfurters they are good also. Like the way they handle the buffet. Using the staff to fill your dish makes things go much more smoothly. Also try the italian restaurant. Food was good there too. Entertainment was good and they have 2 shows nightly not like some lines that only have one. Plenty to do on the ship sea days. Ladies do go to the culinary sessions learn some great recipes. Afternoon tea is always a surpise on this ship try it. Excursions, well can be disappointing in Panama, going thru the locks is the highlight. Costa Rica, the eco cruise was enjoyable saw sloths, lots of bird species and were treated to a troop of howling monkeys on the move. Half Moon Cays is beautiful a must do. We rented the cabana, good move when its 90 degrees. Can't figure out what the passengers mean by too much smoking, never smelled smoke, only place saw people smoking was casino and at seaview pool. Never smelled smoke from someones balcony and sit out there all the time. Holland America does an excellant job, yes the ship is a little old but you really need to look for it. My cabin was in excellant condition didn't see any worn carpeting or dirt, what can I say. I was happy Read Less
Zuiderdam Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 4.2
Dining 3.5 4.1
Entertainment 4.5 3.7
Public Rooms 3.5 4.1
Fitness Recreation 4.0 3.7
Family 2.0 3.7
Shore Excursion 5.0 3.8
Enrichment 5.0 3.6
Service 4.0 4.4
Value For Money 4.5 3.8
Rates 4.0 4.1

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