5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2018
had nothing to do and wanted to get away from family for thanksgiving, so took son on a cruise. getting on was a breeze and a lot of very friendly people were at the cruise port to check us in. you ain't gonna travel with the ... Read More
had nothing to do and wanted to get away from family for thanksgiving, so took son on a cruise. getting on was a breeze and a lot of very friendly people were at the cruise port to check us in. you ain't gonna travel with the people in the sales brochure. granted, for these prices you get what you pay for. baby with no diaper in pool, 600 slow moving scooters, smart casual(if adhered to) means a clean t shirt with no relish stains from mcdonalds. if i spent many thousands on this cruise expecting gentrified shipmates i probably would have escaped in aruba. we coined the daily movement at the lido restaurant as the lido shuffle, an odd quarter step dance moving aimlessly, constantly changing direction but moving very slowly. not that most guest were not kind and mostly friendly, as was the crew. always ate in the dining room for dinner which was was not as bad as some people have written.. son had steak every night and it was not bad. very friendly staff exect for a few. colon is horrible. limon is horrible. if you tend to adhere to contract terms you will probably be frustrated. twice we have waited for stragglers getting to the boat very late after stated departure times despite the clearly stated terms otherwise. the boat is a very nice size and i wish they would keep the ship in good repair. on my balcony the varnish is gone from the railing and there is a massive amount of rust showing on various surfaces. the panama canal portion is a joke. you go through, park about 1000 yards in, then return to colon to pick up the excursion crowd. it would be nice if they would clearly state this..... i half expected to cruise the lake a little and look at some monkeys. i honestly don't know how people can drink and gamble all day on these things. if you don't spend your kids' birthright on these vices i think 11 days is a little long Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: November 2018
We chose this cruise because of the Panama Canal partial passage.Getting on ,and back of the ship was handled efficiently. Food was reasonable. Our biggest ,and nastiest , problem was a liquid that kept coming up from the grout lines in ... Read More
We chose this cruise because of the Panama Canal partial passage.Getting on ,and back of the ship was handled efficiently. Food was reasonable. Our biggest ,and nastiest , problem was a liquid that kept coming up from the grout lines in the tile floor from the Lido buffet restaurant the first few days on the cruise.It was not adequately kept clean for quite a while.Cabin was sufficient and kept clean.Shows were good, especially the Steel band from Trinidad.Ship is clearly dated, lots of fogged up windows because of cracked panes and broken seals between panes.Crew were friendly and efficient. I would not cruise with HAL again, I had really expected a better experience. I would not recommend this cruise if you have young children, I believe the average age of the passengers was at least 65 years.The choice of shore excursions was extensive. I recommend the Canal experience excursion where you are taken by bus towards the Pacific Ocean and then go by boat through the locks on that side. It is pricey but I guess it is not cheap to go through the locks. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: November 2018
The ship, unfortunately, was showing its age. Buckets were set up in different common areas so liquid that was dripping from ceiling could be collected most of the trip. In the Lido buffet area, liquid was coming up from the floor tiles ... Read More
The ship, unfortunately, was showing its age. Buckets were set up in different common areas so liquid that was dripping from ceiling could be collected most of the trip. In the Lido buffet area, liquid was coming up from the floor tiles and being mopped almost the entire trip. Last two days of the cruise, the ship had a problem with one of the azipods and had to max out the other to get to port on time, which caused an annoying vibration for the rest of the trip. Arrived at port over late 3 hours because of the azipod issue, causing some people to miss their flights Can't say enough about the crew, always cheerful and ready to help. Cabins were nice and kept very clean. Been on Holland America before, but on this cruise talent was not as good. BB King lounge was more like a high school band (singer had great pipes though). Main stage acts, half were very good, others were mediocre at best (Other people seemed to enjoy and would disagree with us). Food was varied and again, unbelievable service in dining and lounge areas. I like Holland America and will cruise again with them, everybody has a bad day now and then. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2018
We are prior HAL passengers although it's been several years since we cruised with them. We were anxious to take the Zuiderdam through the S. Caribbean, particularly because of her itinerary. We were not disappointed. Our experince ... Read More
We are prior HAL passengers although it's been several years since we cruised with them. We were anxious to take the Zuiderdam through the S. Caribbean, particularly because of her itinerary. We were not disappointed. Our experince with Zuiderdam was, for the most part consistent with the other HAL cruises we have taken in the past. Here are our impressions from this cruise: The good: Like all HAL ships we have been on, Zuiderdam was spotless. The crew was constantly cleaning, polishing, scraping, painting and in general keeping her in tip top shape. Everything, including our bathroom (including tub!) was without flaw. Personnel: True to HAL's legacy, I don't believe you can find a surly crew member. No matter what crew person you ran into, in the corridors or wherever produced a giant smile and a pleasant "Good morning". The majority of service personnel are Indonesian or Filipino and are products of HAL's own training facilities in these countries, and it shows. They seem to take a pride in their work that I haven't seen reflected in some other lines. Our cabin stewards were always prompt, cheerful and adjusted very well to our particular schedule of when we were "in" and when we were "out". They did an exceptional job. We had dinner in the regular Dining Room, The choice of food was outstanding and the quality was excellent. Prime Rib, Rack of Lamb and NY Strip Steak were some of the daily offerings. For formal night we were treated to a Surf and Turf that was genuine Filet Mignon with Lobster Tail, I'm still savoring it. Breakfast and lunch was half and half room service (a real treat) and the Cafeteria. Lunch at the Cafeteria was just like it sounds - it's real old school where you get in one long line and the personnel serve you according to your selections. We found the lunch selections to be fairly weak - however there are always other choices like Pasta and Pizza, Oriental and a variety of sandwiches which were excellent. The bad: One unpleasant (and very unusual surprise, particularly for HAL) was the mandatory life boat drill on the afternoon of embarkation. We have been on 23 cruises, 4 of which were with other HAL ships and we have never seen anything as disorganized and unproductive as this drill. We wandered around until finally being corralled on deck (in the Ft, Lauderdale sun at 4:00) which a few crew members shuffled from here to there and back, trying to account for each passenger. Unlike ANY other ship on which we have travelled there was an almost complete lack of instructions from the bridge as to what, when, or where, Finally it appeared we had finished and we all wandered back to our cabins, little the wiser for what to do in case of an emergency. This is so atypical of HAL that I feel constrained to comment on it on the chance that someone from HAL reads these reviews. In general, it is an excellent ship, small and therefore not crowded at any time. There are hardly any waits for anything and embarking or debarking at ports of call was very easy. One comment on the itinerary: the ship stopped at Cartagena, Colombia, a stop which many travelers had not previously visited. Nonetheless, we were only offered a five-hour stay, which was not nearly enough to see all that this colonial walled city had to offer, By the same token we rushed to Curacao which, being Sunday, was totally and definitively shut down. Nonetheless we stayed there all day until 11PM! It seems that the schedule planning could use some reworking. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2018
This is my second Holland America cruise. The first was last year to Alaska, and it was so much fun I wanted to take another Holland America cruise. I wanted to go to the Panama Canal, so this cruise offered the chance to do both. I ... Read More
This is my second Holland America cruise. The first was last year to Alaska, and it was so much fun I wanted to take another Holland America cruise. I wanted to go to the Panama Canal, so this cruise offered the chance to do both. I made an excellent decision. First...I could not disagree more with those who say the food was not good. I thought it was excellent. Not only did I think it was excellent, but every night I sat at a table with 5 to 9 different people, and every single night every single person at the table raved about how good their dinner was. I don't know where the people who complained about the food were, but in 11 nights of sitting with different people, I never heard 1, not 1, complaint about the food. Second...the ship was spotless! The wonderful, friendly crew were out every night, and often during the day polishing and cleaning. I received a last minute upgrade from an ocean view to a balcony and it was wonderful. Loved it! Third, the ports...I booked 5 excursions through HAL. They were a little pricey, but they offered everything they promised. The Stingray experience at Half Moon Cay, the sailing/snorkeling cruise at Aruba, the horse drawn carriage ride in Cartegena, the Embrera Indian village at the Panama Canal, and the arial tram tour through the canopy in Costa Rica. READ the tour descriptions...if you want animals don't book a tour that does not promise animals! My favorite tour, however, was not a HAL tour. I booked the Shete Boka/snorkeling tour from Curacao Actief through tripadvisor and it was amazing...we had a small group and actually ended up snorkeling with about 100 turtles! Fourth...this cruise was during October...school was in session! I don't know how many families with children cruise HAL during school breaks, but there was only a few children that I saw on this cruise, and most of them appeared to be preschool. Don't expect a lot of children's activities. Also, most of the other cruisers said that they choose HAL because there are not usually a lot of children. Fifth...onboard activities. I would take another cruise just to be able to enjoy the wonderful Lincoln Center Stage performance. A delightful piano/string quintet that performed 2 or 3 concerts every day. This is a program offered between HAL and Lincoln Center and it is fantastic. I loved the piano/singer duet who played and entertained every night and the BBC earth movies offered daily. The best evening show was definitely the steel band, Magic. The others were not earthshaking. Sixth...embarkation and disembarkation were handled very efficiently with very few delays. It is hard to load 1800 people on and off a ship at one time...some people seemed not to understand that there is going to be a wait. Patience is recommended. HAL did everything possible to keep everything organized from having luggage delivered directly to staterooms, having the rooms ready for occupancy immediately upon boarding, delivering luggage to staterooms expeditiously, having assigned disembarkation group codes with approximate times to expect to disembark, having luggage sorted into groups to make picking it up and taking it through customs as easy as possible. All in all, HAL offers a laid back, relaxing cruise experience. It does not brand itself as a PARTY cruise, and those who choose to cruise on HAL are glad it does not. My only real complaint was the America's Text Kitchen. It was fine to watch the different foods prepared, but it seems silly to sit and watch a food demo and not get to sample what was prepared. You may as well just watch it on TV. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2018
We went on this cruise - Fort Lauderdale to Half Moon Cay, Aruba, Curacao, Cartagena, Panama Canal (+Colon), Puerto Limon Costa Rica & back to Fort Lauderdale - to spend time with some American friends too unwell to do a conventional ... Read More
We went on this cruise - Fort Lauderdale to Half Moon Cay, Aruba, Curacao, Cartagena, Panama Canal (+Colon), Puerto Limon Costa Rica & back to Fort Lauderdale - to spend time with some American friends too unwell to do a conventional tour or long-haul trip with us. The ship was mid-sized - just under 2000 people - and didn't feel particularly crowded, though the demographic was definitely ‘older’. It was also very stable - the only time we felt even a mild pitch was on the last sea day. The staff were almost without exception really friendly and helpful, and the service overall was very good. Our verandah cabin on deck 6 was comfortable if a little cramped, and they'd used the space well; under-bed stowage was particularly useful. The food in the main dining room was generally good, with 1 or 2 exceptions, and the waiters particularly friendly. We also found the crew - the Captain and his officers - friendlier, more engaging & more in evidence than on other cruises we've been on. We ate dinner only once outside the main dining room, and the experience was not good. We booked "Rudi's Sel de Mer", a pop-up seafood restaurant in their Pinnacle Grill, at an extra $45 a head. The food was just OK - the bouillabaisse came in a plastic bag(?!), cut open at the table, the lobster tails were pleasant but unexceptional and the desserts reasonable, but the wine list was very limited and fiendishly expensive, the service slow and poor and the food lukewarm. Getting things like bread on the table seemed to be an almost-impossible feat for them. This was poor value for the $45 supplement, & having experienced the service in what was effectively the Pinnacle Grill, we didn't go back. The Lido buffet restaurant was a scrum at breakfast & lunch - inadequate seating and often long lines at the counters. The breakfast servery seemed rather bizarre - if you want just oatmeal, or just (pre-prepared) bacon & scrambled egg, or a specially-prepared omelette or made-to-order waffles, you join the same line. At lunch, we often managed to grab a table by the front pool & then go into the Lido & come back with food. The Asian options were often good, but I didn't try too many others as the lines were ridiculously long. Drink prices were - as you'd expect - high, and the spa prices astronomical. BEWARE - they have 'info sessions' about pain management, which are simply sales pitches for you to buy over-priced treatments or products. A 'personal trainer' from the gym is pitching GoodFeet orthotics. DON'T BUY FROM HIM! He'll tell you that his $199 price is up to $100 cheaper than elsewhere, & that his products will last for 10-15 years. These statements are UNTRUE; we visited a GoodFeet store in Delray Beach after the cruise & discovered that the orthotics he sells are the cheapest in their range, cost the same $199 and last for 2 years at most. If you're interested and live in the 'States, buy them back home, where you'll get a much better service. And don't do the acupuncture. I went for what I understood would be a 'consultation', which anywhere else would be a free-of-charge precursor to actual treatment, while they understood your issues and planned the sessions for you. Next thing I knew, I was on the couch with a load of needles in me, wired up to electricity. The 'therapist' then LEFT THE ROOM - just as my thigh muscle started to go into spasm! And they wanted to charge me $169 for this. AVOID! I've had great acupuncture (which this wasn't) for much, much less. The entertainment was a bit mixed. The 2 pianists at Billboard Onboard (especially Noah, the younger one) were astoundingly good. The bar pianists and the Mainstage dancers were also excellent, what we heard of BB King's All Stars was good, the Island Magic steel band were great and America's Test Kitchen was fun (but very over-subscribed, so arrive early). The Mainstage singers, however, were frequently off-key & the acrobats from Cirque du Soleil did a lot more posturing than actual acrobatics. And we were on board at Halloween, which the ship celebrated by doing - NOTHING! Hardly anyone dressed up, & it was a real disappointment. The EXC excursions were a mixed bag. The Monkey Watch at Gatun Lake seems to have been the best Panama excursion, with a great experience of the Canal & the wildlife. AVOID the one that takes you on through the locks to Panama City - you wait for hours in a small boat shadowing a bigger vessel through the locks, and frankly you see enough of the locks on the journey from the Caribbean to Gatun Lake. (This trip arrived back at the ship over an hour after we should have departed!) The Veragua Rainforest & Tortuguero Canals trip in Costa Rica is good, though the canals themselves are rather disappointing. The Cartagena Sightseeing trip is a waste of time & money if you want to see the World Heritage Old City; you seem to go everywhere BUT this part of town. The 'Eco tour' at Half-Moon Cay was a disappointment - snorkelling may be a better option - and the Aruba snorkelling trip was mediocre. We liked the Curacao 'Beach Express' - the beach was nice, the snorkelling better than in Aruba, and the trip was about the right length. The ship was in Curacao on a Sunday, so virtually EVERYTHING in the historic town was closed - even Diamonds International! Overall this trip suited us well. Our American friends enjoyed the cruise, were able to do everything with us and it wasn't too tiring for them. Embarkation & disembarkation were reasonably straightforward, despite the very hostile security people around the port area. We got to visit 2 places - Colombia and Panama - we'd never been to before, although our time in Cartagena was disappointing. HAL is one of the better cruise lines we've used, though (like the others) the most important piece of equipment on board seems to be the giant vacuum cleaner that sucks additional money from passengers. (For example, the wi-fi was outrageously expensive). Would we cruise with them again? Maybe, but it's a big old World and cruising only gives you a fleeting glimpse of some fascinating places, so it'll be a few years before we cruise again. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2018
This 11 day cruise served up an excellent itinerary of ports that were mostly new to us. Zuiderdam is classy and easy to get around on. No place ever felt too busy or crowded, even the pool deck. This seemed like an adults-only cruise, ... Read More
This 11 day cruise served up an excellent itinerary of ports that were mostly new to us. Zuiderdam is classy and easy to get around on. No place ever felt too busy or crowded, even the pool deck. This seemed like an adults-only cruise, mainly because of the time of year and itinerary. There were probably only a dozen children on board. Embarkation was easy, even though we had made a last minute upgrade the night before. We enjoyed our set dining at a table of 8. Dinner conversation with our new cruise friends was lively and entertaining as we shared the day's adventures. Service at dinner was impeccable and the wine sommelier Edison was quick to learn our preferences and to make very good suggestions. Dinner choices were varied and appealed to both of us as well as the table. The appetizers were particularly good. Some chose from the always on offer classic menu that included American standards. We enjoyed BB King Blues after dinner several nights, as well as the steel drum classical band which seemed to be a hit with the audience. Our cabin was carefully tended to and as requested, we had ice provided at least twice a day. We usually ordered coffee and juice the night before and it was always delivered promptly at the requested time. The excursions were mostly a lot of fun and provided a taste of each port. Half Moon Cay is delightful and offers the best of the Bahamas for a quick stop. The beach and water are exquisite and the food, provided by the ship was quite good for a beach buffet. We especially liked the Tortuega Canals excursion (we saw sloths and monkeys!) in Costa Rica and the City Highlights (with less shopping) in Cartagenia. Both times the guides demonstrated great pride in their countries and offered a good combination of interesting facts and historical background. The Panama Canal excursion on the boat to the Pacific was quite expensive and as such, disappointing. The boat itself is kind of run down with uncomfortable metal chairs and doesn't offer much in the way of shade or A/C. Lunch was pitiful -- I hadn't anticipated much based on the reviews I'd seen, but this was likely the worst meal I've ever had anywhere. Fortunately there were plenty of cold drinks and cheap beer. We tried not to let this get us down and parked near the back of the boat for a good view of the canal behind us. There was no viewing area at the front. We did make comments to the EXC staff on board Zuiderdam as well as Guest Services. In all, we enjoyed our Panama Canal adventure. We are glad that we picked this itinerary and liked the sea days in between to rest up. We also appreciate that HAL offers daily mass and participated a few times. Disembarkation was quick and we took the HAL bus to the airport in plenty of time for our flight home. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2018
This titillating riposte reflects actual not third person account on our hot hot hot partial Panama Canal cruise 1...Did not need to fill out health form prior to getting on ship?? 2...Zdam book exchange doing well. Located in ... Read More
This titillating riposte reflects actual not third person account on our hot hot hot partial Panama Canal cruise 1...Did not need to fill out health form prior to getting on ship?? 2...Zdam book exchange doing well. Located in portside hallway behind Crows Nest bar/coffee locale. Please frequent it. 3...Future Cruise Desk and Excursion Desk on Starboard side of Crows Nest 4...Capt.Wouter's welcome aboard with sparkling wine speech was mercifully short. He was the only body on stage 5...Two main stage shows were movies already available on your room's tv (Oceans 8 and BBCEarth 2) 6...Oprah merchandise only offerred on 1 small table in Signature Stores 7...Bought 11 day internet package for $149. Email 24 hrs a day. Speed was decent too 8...Took HAL's HoHo bus around Cartegena, Columbia which has a population of 617,000. There are that many vehicles and persistent hawkish vendors all selling the same thing. 9...82 padded chaise loungers on the wide promenade deck HMC, Aruba, Curacao and Colon port side faced town We cruised 3200 miles, ate 35,000 eggs and burned 312,000 galons of fuel Enjoy your cruise Bob Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2018
There is a cruise vacation out there designed for sedentary people - the Zuiderdam to the Panama Canal. If you want to go, you should know that most of the good times will be experienced from a chair. No games on the private island, no ... Read More
There is a cruise vacation out there designed for sedentary people - the Zuiderdam to the Panama Canal. If you want to go, you should know that most of the good times will be experienced from a chair. No games on the private island, no band around the pool, little dancing, not even many slot machine players. Hardly anybody out after 9 pm, even though the late shows in the theater don't start until 10pm. And while the very good BB King Rhythm and Blues band was going strong until late just about every night, their audiences were small. My wife and I took this cruise because of the Panama Canal. We considered a trans-canal trip. But at the time I booked, their prices were going up. So we decided to jump in three months earlier than I have ever booked a cruise. I joke that the ship required me to show my grey hair before letting me onboard. But there were only five children on the ship. And one lady who said that her dark hair came out of a bottle. Everybody else - shades of gray. One of the strange things was the folks with walkers who step out in front of people in crowded hallways. There were lots of walkers on the ship. But not all their drivers were so rude. I don't see carelessness like this in the midwest, even with able bodied folks who want to walk quickly. Avoiding running over them on the ship kept me on my toes. I was expecting great food. It was not to be. Breakfast was fine. Other than that, the food in the main dining rooms was poor to middling. Toughest prime rib I've ever tried to cut. My waiter tried to give food advice, and I should have listened to him. The buffet restaurant was horrible, except for the Asian station which had some tasty Thai dishes. For some strange reason the whole buffet area was crowded at every meal. Speaking of pools. They are deserted on this ship. The mid-ship pool has a roof that was generally closed, and which made the area feel like a sauna (as if the tropics needs more heat and humidity). The rear pool was nice for relaxing, except for the clouds of cigar and cigarette smoke that waft across the waters from the smoking section. Our room steward did a good job cleaning up. But after opening the room door several days while we were dressing for dinner, he really should have learned to check the time. The waiters were okay. The assistant waiter was my favorite employee, but unfortunately his main job was to carry food from the kitchen to the wait station. Zuiderdam, if you are reading this, you need to promote Jaja. I don't go out to bars very often, but the bars on the ship were a lot of fun (though of course, sitting down fun.) Happy hour, one at 4:00 and another at 9 pm, had a buy one get one for $2. There was a wine tasting with an inexpensive glass of wine at 5:00. The hors d'ouevres were always interesting. The customers at the bars were the friendliest people on the ship. Yuliya the lady from the deck 1 bar and also the disco person, always had a story about hors d'ouevres; and she was one of the most genuinely happy and friendly people on the ship. Most of the entertainment in the main theater was uninspired. The ship dancers were a big exception - they were really good. And the highly entertaining steel drum band Island Magic played some excellent classical music (and other unexpected genres.) On the other hand, there were some acrobat/dancers who looked like they should have been on Ed Sullivan in 1965 (I see Topo Gigio every time I think about them.) The poorest evening consisted of some old movie. There was a comedian and a magician. The first night was an introduction to entertainment. And there must have been one other night that was even more forgettable. The ship had several other venues. The already mentioned talented BB King band put on a great show almost every night. There was also a piano/string quintet that was quite good. I really enjoyed the cooking demonstrations; they were full of information. Didn't see any of the Oprah shows, and cannot even imagine what they were about. There was a dueling piano show in the casino. And the casino itself was smoke-free, small, and uncrowded. I've got to tell you about the process of going through the Caribbean locks in the canal. Previously, we had been told to be at the front viewing room at 5 am. Then the schedule was changed to 6. I was there, ready to go, coffee and Panama roll in hand. And the windows were so dirty and foggy that they were hard to see through. But a narrator from off the ship came on to describe what we should have been seeing. His first revelation - the ocean is at sea level. It got no better from there. I went to an outside viewing area at the front of the ship, which was already full of passengers. I waited at the side for about an hour, until ship security ran off a bunch of us. Finally went back to my cabin and sat comfortably on the balcony, while the ship just sat in the lower canal. When the ship started moving, I checked out the view again from deck 3. There was nothing much to see; you had to be standing at the very front of deck 4 to even see the lock doors. I could see nothing other than the lock walls slowly sinking. The Zuiderdam cleared the locks about 10:00. We took a really unusual excursion on the canal. The best thing was that we could actually see the workings of the locks. The boat was running late because we kept having to wait for a container ship to catch up and join us in the locks. In the second to last lock, one of the gates opened and we got through, but had to wait for the container ship to get through. After about an hour, the stuck gate opened. The ferry was two hours late by this time, and the passengers got an outstanding sunset cruise in the Pacific Ocean. The private island had a great beach, but it was disappointing that the ship didn't even put up a volleyball net. Went to an Aruba beach that was pretty dirty, but we made up for that experience by having a great seafood dinner at a restaurant near the cruise port. No other excursions. We had a great time walking around Curacao. In Cartagena the heat was so oppresive and taxi drivers so irritating that we refused to leave the port; but that was okay because a small zoo with birds, monkeys and an anteater at the end of the dock was fascinating (I let a parrot climb on my arm, where he proceeded to dismantle my watch). At Puerto Limon, the ship people tried to scare us into not walking around town - we did so anyway, and it was interesting and safe though rather decrepit; we found a vendor selling fresh made empanadas, a park with a sloth high in a tree, a pretty beach, and the best straw-market of the cruise. I wasn't going to rate the exercise facilities. Then I remembered all those walks around the ship on the third deck. It was great. Never windy. Lots of people out walking. There is a running track on the tenth deck, but it is too short to enjoy anything except the act of running. Embarkation was weird. I had gotten an upgrade a couple of days before the cruise was due to leave. The staff on shore didn't seem to know about it, and wanted to give me the old room. Still, got it straightened out and we boarded the ship in plenty of time. Debarkation was great - we were off the ship maybe ten minutes after what had been predicted. Customs didn't even ask what we were carrying. Other non-cruise stuff. Before the cruise, we stayed at the Ramada Inn Airport - Cruiseport; it is a very clean, classic Florida motel from the 1960s, with impeccable shuttles running from the airport and to the cruise port. After the cruise, we rented a car from Enterprise, who seem no longer to claim that "we'll pick you up", at least not at Port Everglades. Drove down to Homestead to the world's best tropical fruit stand - Richard Is Here. Stayed in the downtown Ramada Inn in Fort Lauderdale, which was every bit as funky Florida as the first one. But like a reminder that nothing is perfect, we ended up enduring four hours on the torture devices that American Airline calls seats. The ports were by far the best part of the cruise. Although having cruised in the Caribbean many times, each of these ports was new to me. I would go back to any of them. Considering that I have paid less for a seven day cruise than what the taxes cost on the Panama Canal cruise, I probably won't cruise through the canal again. And if HAL wants me to go on another of their cruises, they will have to convince me that they have improved their food a whole lot. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2018
We went early and explore Quebec City before the cruise. Our hotel-Hotel Le Priori was centrally located and we walked everywhere. Go the the L'Oriyin restaurant which offered organic and local food. The pier was just two blocks ... Read More
We went early and explore Quebec City before the cruise. Our hotel-Hotel Le Priori was centrally located and we walked everywhere. Go the the L'Oriyin restaurant which offered organic and local food. The pier was just two blocks away from our hotel and we walked to the ship on embarkation day. The ship was nice and clean with lots of space for quiet reading and sitting. However, there were not too many things to do in the evening! You can sit and listen to music, but no places to go if you want to go dancing or stay up late. BB Kings was very loud! We went a few times just for something to do, but ended up with headaches each time. The two gentlemen playing at the Bill Board were good, but you just sit around a large area and listen. Crow's nest used to be a nice place to go to for good music and late night drinks. Crow's Nest is now centrally located for people wanting to sit, drink coffee, read and do puzzles. We go up there for the happy hours. So the ship did not offer too much choices for people to choose from in the late evening other than casino. We watched a lot of shows and movies on the TV. Thank goodness we booked a balcony on deck six. At least we could go out and sit when the weather was nice. The shows on board the ship were goods and the staff friendly. Everyone in the dining room were excellent and tried hard to accommodate. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2018
Booked this cruise because of the itinerary. I live in Florida and look forward to seeing the change of seasons. This fall cruise from Quebec to Ft.. Lauderdale had lots of change of scenery and weather. I was unprepared for the ... Read More
Booked this cruise because of the itinerary. I live in Florida and look forward to seeing the change of seasons. This fall cruise from Quebec to Ft.. Lauderdale had lots of change of scenery and weather. I was unprepared for the snow that fell in Quebec during October; however, it was light and delightful for this Floridian. From snow to the shores of Florida -- lots of change of weather and temperature. Before boarding the cruise we spent two days in Quebec City in the "Old Town". Our hotel was charming in this quaint walled city. While rain hampered our touring, the charm of the this city and it's fine restaurants made up for the weather. We toured the town in horse carriage -- way to go! After boarding the ship, our first excursion was a boat trip up the Sagenay Fiords. Learned a lot about the area and enjoyed the colorful scenery during this day long trip. We sailed into a storm and took refuge for a day and then proceeded to Bar Harbor Maine. I love this tourist town. Many delightful shops and restaurants and lots of fall color.. I am disabled and travel with a scooter. Holland America ships are well equipped to handle my needs. Holland America ships mid-sized and afford me access to all areas. The food in the dining room is exceptional. One of the best things about this line, is their staff. They are so very friendly and accommodating. I appreciate the ease of boarding the disembarking. Holland America has managed to make this process easier. Since I spend time in the casino, I do wish that they would do something to enhance this experience. Lively casinos are more fun. While the tours are good and cater well to the handicapped, the on board staff always has a long line waiting to get information and their hours are short. I would recommend making arrangements prior to boarding. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2018
This is a great cruise itinerary. I highly recommend it, even though rough seas kept us from visiting Prince Edward Island. Of course, the staff on the ship are great. Cruise ship staff never cease to amaze me. We like this size ... Read More
This is a great cruise itinerary. I highly recommend it, even though rough seas kept us from visiting Prince Edward Island. Of course, the staff on the ship are great. Cruise ship staff never cease to amaze me. We like this size ship; not super small, but not huge. The food was wonderful. I love the big salad bowls in the Lido. We had friendly and attentive staff in the dining room. We were very satisfied with the menu choices and presentation. There was plenty to do on board. One of our favorites is BBC Earth life, with the ship musicians. We always enjoy the B.B. King’s All Stars on this size ship. We also spent a lot of time in the Crow’s Nest. Rocki was our favorite drink server, very thoughtful and attentive, and so funny. There were dueling pianos in the piano bar, which I thought was pretty neat. All common spaces were well-kept and inviting. We had rooms on the top deck, close to the Crow’s Nest. It was a great location, easy to step out onto the sports deck to watch for wildlife. Our room stewards were very friendly and did a great job of keeping our room in good order. We even had a little window so we could peek out and check the weather. We did experience one disappointment. One night there was a staff party right above our heads in the Retreat until almost 2:00 a.m. We reported it to the customer service desk in the a.m., and called them back later in the day because there seemed to be no follow-up to our complaint. We then received a plate of over-ripe chocolate covered strawberries as an apology. They were barely edible. Since returning home, we contacted Holland America to let them know we were dissatisfied with the response we got on the ship. They did come through with some on-board credit for our next cruise. Read Less
Sail Date: September 2018
We chose this cruise because we wanted to explore New York for 3 days prior to embarking on our cruise. Embarkation did not go smoothly as we had to utilize Brooklyn Terminal instead of the original Manhatten terminal as the Zuiderdam had ... Read More
We chose this cruise because we wanted to explore New York for 3 days prior to embarking on our cruise. Embarkation did not go smoothly as we had to utilize Brooklyn Terminal instead of the original Manhatten terminal as the Zuiderdam had sustained some damage and had to be repaired in the Brooklyn Terminal. This made our cab fare more from our hotel where we stayed for 3 nights to the terminal as we had preplanned our hotel bearing in mind we were going to sail out of Manhatten. We were promised an upgrade to an ocean view cabin when we booked our cruise. That never happened despite many visits to Customer Service. Holland America staff were hard to deal with. There were no laundry coin- a-matic machines, so laundry was taken away from your cabin and washed and returned to your cabin for an additional cost dependent on how many bags you had! With respect to dining, food was very good; however, they would not allow us to put our filled plates on a tray, we had to carry our food in our hands and at times this was awkward as other people were doing the same thing till they reached a table to sit down. This was in the Lido room where there is no service at tables except for beverages. In the other dining rooms where we were served by waiters, service was very good and the food was excellent. Entertainment was o.k., have seen better on other cruiseships. Their excursion fares are very pricey! We took mini buses and cabs to see the tourist attractions and saved a lot of money. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: September 2018
We picked this NYC to Quebec cruise to see New England and Canadian Fall colours but we picked to early in the season to do that. Pre cruised 4 days in NYC and post cruised with 2 day stays in each of Quebec, Montreal and Toronto. ... Read More
We picked this NYC to Quebec cruise to see New England and Canadian Fall colours but we picked to early in the season to do that. Pre cruised 4 days in NYC and post cruised with 2 day stays in each of Quebec, Montreal and Toronto. Departure was relocated from Manhattan to Brooklyn due to damage at Manhattan terminal so was pretty disorganise ashore and messed up transfers. Holland America was it's usual warm, friendly, welcoming way. Cabins ready early so once aboard the relaxation commenced. Much appreciated after the bustle of NYC. Did a walking tour of the Freedom Trail in Boston. Interesting insight into early US history. Bar Harbour is a pretty, friendly little town very easy to explore at your own pace. The Halifax Waterfront is also very interesting and suited to some easy walking. Sydney NS we did a small group tour with Blue Thistle, the highlight being the scenery and the Alexander Graham Bell museum. What a brilliant man. The weather was so foul in Charlottetown that we stayed aboard. That's not a problem on HAL because they do maintain activities and services aboard so it is quite enjoyable. In Saquenay we did the Le Fabuleus Culture show which is an amusing and well staged production in a theatrical hall. Well worth the visit. Quebec is of course one of the most beautiful and historic cities in North America and the mix of French and Canadian makes it a relaxing change from the hassle and bustle of the US. Our onward stays in Canada included Niagara etc and was very a pleasant experience. A good move with HAL is to pre-order a wine selection for the dining room and a bottle of something for an evening drink or nightcap to the cabin. Works out well if you are mainly interested in wine with your meals and the sommelier will keep half bottles for you from meal to meal. Entertainment in the Shows is about what you expect aboard shipe but HAL does provide a very high standard in the Blues Club and other venues round the ship Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2018
We've been on about 5 cruises with HAL because we feel they offer good value for the price as well as good service, food and itineraries. This time we were very disappointed in our cabin which was supposed to be only partially ... Read More
We've been on about 5 cruises with HAL because we feel they offer good value for the price as well as good service, food and itineraries. This time we were very disappointed in our cabin which was supposed to be only partially obstructed but turned out to be fully obstructed by machinery and a tender boat. We were also very disappointed with the food quality which we would rate mediocre at best. To add insult, we saw a rat running on the Lido Deck where the food buffet is set up. Unfortunately we could not recommend the itinerary either as most of the ports in Canada were quite boring and the optional tours were pretty lame unless you are a fan of Anne of Green Gables or Alexander Graham Bell. With the exception of Quebec City, Boston and Bar Harbor, the rest of the itinerary is a snooze. The Zuiderdam, like many of HAL's ships, is beginning to show it's age. On a bright note, the service by staff onboard was very good and the nightly entertainment was also quite good. Sorry to say we will probably be looking at other cruise lines for our next adventure. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2018
All in all, this turned out to be a pretty good cruise. The itinerary got changed around a bit for a number of reasons. We had bad weather in the Labrador Sea which caused us to miss two port calls, also, on the way to St. John’s , we ... Read More
All in all, this turned out to be a pretty good cruise. The itinerary got changed around a bit for a number of reasons. We had bad weather in the Labrador Sea which caused us to miss two port calls, also, on the way to St. John’s , we needed to double back and assist in the search efforts for a person who went missing from another cruise ship that was in our area so we missed that port and finally, the dock in Manhattan suffered damage by another cruise ship so we couldn’t use it and had to dock in Brooklyn instead. Throughout it all, the Captain kept us informed and up to date on everything. The crew (especially John Clelford the CD and his assistant Liz) was fantastic and always came up with extra events and activities to fill the additional sea time. At one point, a group of officers came around the Lido Pool handing out chocolate covered bananas to make up for all the inconveniences. None of these issues were in any way HAL’s fault but as a gesture of good will, all passengers were given $50.00 OBC and 15% of what you paid for this cruise as a Future Cruise Credit! Again, none of these problems were the fault of HAL at all. In my book, that is going above and beyond. There was always a welcome back tent set up on the pier when we came back from shore visits. They served hot cocoa and chicken soup. When you got back onboard the ship, there was a person handing out warm cloths to wash your face and hands with. It was a very nice touch! We decided to get a monogramed bathrobe towards the end of the cruise…even though we ordered it with well less than the “Please allow 48 hours” time frame the ship requests, the Front Desk went above and beyond to make sure we received it in time. There was even a luggage scale set up by the front desk on the last night. We saw many whales, porpoise and icebergs. We never did see the Northern Lights but there was a phone tree set up so that if they were spotted, you would get a call. Embarkation was pretty smooth. We entered the building at 11am and were on the ship at 12 noon. The luggage was not in the cabin yet but it showed up within the next hour or so. The ship was in very good condition. The carpets in the areas outside of the elevators looked like they were brand new. Of course, there was the normal wear and tear that you could find if you looked for it but the crew was always working on fixing and cleaning things. We had a Signature Suite on deck six port side which turned out to be a very good side for this cruise. Not the least of which, you get to see Lady Liberty from your veranda during the sail in to NYC. Also, we seemed to get a lot of sun and other good scenery on that side. One drawback though was that the port side was where the tenders were lowered and recovered so it was a little noisy during those brief times. Our cabin stewards were very good and super attentive especially considering how many cabins they are in charge of. One thing though, our flowers disappeared after the first day and it took me two days to finally get them replaced. I never did figure out what happened. One night we came back from dinner a little early and our steward was right in the middle of our turn down service and he gave us a quick lesson on how to make a towel animal. That was a lot of fun! Speaking of towel animals, on one of the sea days there was a “towel folding class” being held out on the Lido deck and the entire area around the pool was absolutely filled with various towel creations, some I had never even seen before. It was very neat and fun. There were even towel animals hanging by all the tables near the windows. As far as the art work on board, to me it seems like a mish-mash. I never could detect any kind of rhyme or reason or theme to it. The art gallery is still there but now they aren’t hawking auctions all day long. They had a very knowledgeable person who worked there who did trivia events, art lectures and other fun things. I learned a lot and never felt pressured to buy anything. The entire ship, including the Casino, is non-smoking except for the area back by the Sea-View pool bar. I know this because I had a cigar I wanted to smoke so I called the Front Desk and asked. The cigar was great and no one bothered me. They turned most of the former Crow's Nest area into a revenue generating area now. The Future Cruise Consultant and the Shore Excursions (EXEC) are up there now where the Explorations Café once was. They seem to get ALOT more business with the new location. Usable space in the Crow's Nest just for "hanging out" has been drastically reduced. The very large table style computer screens are really only suitable for their intended purpose, which is to scan the world ala Google Maps style. They really don't work for anything else like card playing, board games etc. I have to admit tho...it was fun showing our newly met friends THE ACTUAL STREET we live on and them doing the same. Also, the map screens came in handy when we had to change piers in NYC because of damage to the original pier. We used the screens to see where we would actually be docking and realized we would still sail past Lady Liberty, which was a relief. The "book exchange" shelves on the port side as you entered had a few books in them but it seemed that they were all in a foreign language. The books on the other side were mostly travel books etc. The two big screens that are now placed front and center in the space do show some interesting information i.e. engine room stats, water temp, position etc. but they further reduce the previously available space for "hanging out". The "Captains Corner" area on the port side was filled with rows and rows of folding chairs and the only events that were held there that I know of were pseudo trivia events designed to whet your appetite for other cruises. The whole Crow's Nest area is still a quiet place to grab a chair and watch the world go by...IF you get there early. With all the reduced space just for "hanging out", seats go early, VERY EARLY. Bottom line: I can see where it works good for HAL but not so much for the people who liked it as it was before. The new Gallery Bar is a HUGE improvement over the old Northern Lights "Disco". The new space is very cozy and elegant with beautiful and interesting art and very inviting furnishings. Some sofas had white pillows! A lot of events and meets were held there during our cruise in contrast with the old, dark, Northern Lights that was only used for bar crawls etc. The "Sports Bar" and "Piano Bar" are now gone and the space has been opened up into the "Billboard Onboard" area. During our cruise, there were two guys who played duets together most nights. I'm not sure what "dueling pianos" are but these guys just played the same songs together. You got to sit close and request songs but were not really encouraged to "sing along" like the old Piano Bar was designed to do. It was OK but to tell you the truth, I like the old Piano Bar concept MUCH better because it was more intimate and crowd participation focused. The Lincoln Center Stage was up and running. Let me just say...I used to really enjoy the Adagio duo while having a before dinner cocktail. I would actually make a point of getting ready early and going down there to have a drink and listen to Adagio while I waited for the rest of my party to join me. I never did that with Lincoln Center Stage once on this entire 20 day cruise. Don't get me wrong, they are very talented musicians but now it seems more like an "event" that you need to schedule instead of just entertainment to watch while you are waiting for your table to get ready. In fact, during "show times", the ship actually puts out signs telling people to be quite because "A Performance is in Progress". So you come out of the MDR, just having had a great dinner with new (and old) friends, yukking it up with the "Yum Yum" man, in a great mood and you get hit in the face with the sign that says "Quiet, Performance in Progress". Total buzz kill! You want to hear something really funny? One time we came out of the MDR and were talking normally and some do-gooder who was there waiting to get into the MDR gave us the "shoosh" sign (index finger vertically over pursed lips). What this person didn't realize was, the actual musicians were ON BREAK and what we were hearing was A RECORDING! The Navigator app worked well but we didn’t find it that useful other than to check our on board account. As far as daily activities go, I preferred to carry around the paper “When and Where” instead of using the app. We did use the messenger feature a couple of times. All in all, I think it’s a good thing but we didn’t use it much. We went to quite a few of the Mainstage shows at night. Most were pretty good. The Zuiderdam singers and dancers are very talented and personable. The guest entertainers were very good also in particular a foursome of young women from the UK who have amazing voices and did shows on two different days. They are called The IDA Girls and if you get a chance to see them you should do it! On a lot of days the Mainstage was used to show the daily movie and the Screening Room was used to show various BBC Earth films. At night, the big screen movie was then shown in the Screening Room. There were plenty of movies on the in-house movie system and new ones were added all the time. The BBKing’s group was very good too like always but we never seemed to spend much time in there for some reason. A lot of times when we went in there it was pretty empty. I felt bad for the performers because they were really good but the crowds just weren’t there. In contrast, every time we went by the Queen’s Lounge (same venue) during an “America’s Test Kitchen” demonstration, it was packed! The scenic narration and cultural talks before port visits and during sail aways were very good and informative. The Military Meet was held in the Gallery Bar and was very well attended There was coffee and cookies available and as a bonus, one of the ship’s Engineering Officers who was also a military veteran attended the gathering and was a great source of amusing stories. Overall, the food was very good on this cruise. We ate several times in the MDR with anytime dining and never had to wait very long at all. We always said we would share a table so that helps with the wait times. We had three Gala nights on this cruise and two were surf and turf. The lobster and steak were very good. Most people were dressed up pretty nice for Gala nights and the Dining Room Manager did a good job sitting people together who were dressed similarly. (IE suits with suits, casual with casual etc.) We did one afternoon tea and it too was enjoyable. We ate several meals in the Lido. The soups were consistently delicious! The service in the Lido was very good and the people who work there are very friendly and nice. Tables were tough to find at certain times but most people were willing to share their table if there was room. On the last night of the cruise the Lido served a dish called “Lobster Mac & Cheese”. Sounds good right? It was horrible! Nobody at our table liked it. I’m not sure what went wrong with that one but it was definitely a miss. Made to order pasta, omelets, salads and sandwiches were all good. We ordered room service breakfast several times and it always showed up right on time and correct. I love that they use the MDR china for the room service, it’s a nice touch. One thing though, occasionally when we ordered cereal and milk, the milk came in those little boxes with the straws. It’s very difficult trying to get milk into your cereal bowl from those little boxes! We ate at the Canelleto for the first time on this cruise. What a delight! The food was superb and the service was exceptional. It was well worth the upcharge. We ate at the Pinnacle Grill one night. We have eaten in the Pinnacle Grill on several different ships so I’m going to be a little critical here. The past few times I have not really felt that the experience was worth the upcharge of $35.00. This occasion was no different. When we were seated, I noticed a whole bunch of salt or something similar all over my seat, I actually had to get up and brush it all off. The menu was stained and actually torn in the corner. Never saw that in the MDR. The food was very good and so was the service but again, I don’t believe that the whole experience is worth the extra $35.00 It was a better value when it was only $20.00. We went to afternoon tea one time and it was a lot of fun. We also attended the Mariner Brunch and although the food was good I never saw any officers there. I heard that the Captain did welcome the guests but we never saw him at the Mariner’s Brunch. As a side note, we did see the Captain out and about several times during this cruise and he was very good about keeping us up to date on things. There were two scheduled happy hours every day on this 20 day cruise AND, every day at the Lido Pool area, they were selling Bud, Michelob, and Coors buy one at regular price and get a second one for $2.00. all day every day. It was unadvertised except for the servers who would tout it. They were 16oz. cans. A pretty good deal. The Dive-In was very good as was the Taco Bar that was set up by the Lido Pool every day. Disembarkation was held up slightly for some reason. There were rumors going around that it had something to do with the Stevedore Union. Once we got off the ship, getting our luggage and getting through customs was pretty easy. We did get off in time to make it to our tour bus and take our ship sponsored tour of lower Manhattan. This was a great tour and it included a transfer to Newark airport. It was a great way to end a great cruise! Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2018
We are definitely not going on HAL cruises again , neither recommending HAl to my friends. This cruise has been a big disappointment to us, and from what I've heard around, to other travelers, as well. The main reason for us to ... Read More
We are definitely not going on HAL cruises again , neither recommending HAl to my friends. This cruise has been a big disappointment to us, and from what I've heard around, to other travelers, as well. The main reason for us to choose this cruise was its itinerary, but 3 out of the 10 stops were canceled. Sure one cannot fight weather conditions, but I do have my doubts about how necessary was the cancelation of St. John's. The alternative entertainmet activities offered to us ,in place of visiting St. John's and during the 3 days we were detained on board and in Akureyri , were miserable :A ping pong game, a lecture and a large screen movie ?! The stop in Djupivogur was added without prior notice, so the only available excursions were with the ship's EXC, for outrageous prices of around 300$ per person. One lady on board said that everything on the cruise seems "nickeled & dimed". She also spoke about the crew selling water in the gangways , and said that in her opinion , when a person buys an excursion for 250$, he expects to get a complimentary bottle of water. In the pier change one can see another example of this "nickeled & dimed" approach. The change created a problem to many guests that planned on arriving to Manhattan. HAL felt obliged only to guests with transfers booked through HA, as it was written in the notice: "guest with independent arrangements will need to plan accordingly" In my opinion a respectable company should have taken care to bring everybody, who needed, to Manhattan. When HAL finely organized bus shuttles t Manhattan the charges were 30 $ per person. We paid for a taxi to Midtown Manhattan 42$ (tip included)! Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: August 2018
Have recently arrived back in Australia following the Viking Passage cruise on Zuiderdam. I was slightly anxious about a cruise of this length as our first cruise, but totally enjoyed the experience and my husband and I are already ... Read More
Have recently arrived back in Australia following the Viking Passage cruise on Zuiderdam. I was slightly anxious about a cruise of this length as our first cruise, but totally enjoyed the experience and my husband and I are already talking about where we will cruise next. I was pleasantly surprised by the size of our stateroom - we had a large inside room on main deck and we would happily book this type of room again, although the lack of natural light did mean that I was never quite sure if I should be getting up or staying put in the mornings!! I found that sea days have a particular appeal, especially when I had the opportunity to see whales (from a distance) and dolphins (quite close to the ship) and many icebergs over the course of a couple of days. I particularly enjoyed the mainstage shows each evening and thought the Lincoln Centre Stage performers were exceptional. The dining options were quite good, however we found that we did prefer the casual dining in the Lido over the main dining room, mostly because of the lack of tables for two in the dining room. However, I must commend the helpfulness and friendliness of all the food and drink service staff. I did have some concerns with the laundry service as on the majority of occasions we had some problems including items missing or damaged. One time we received an item that was not ours, so returned that via our fabulous cabin steward. On all but one occasion these problems were addressed, however it was slightly disappointing that I needed to regularly contact guest services about our laundry. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2018
We chose this cruise purely for the itinerary, and knew nothing about Holland America. But so glad we took a chance! Friendliest crew we have ever met on a cruise- ok. we didn't meet our cabin steward till the second day, but no ... Read More
We chose this cruise purely for the itinerary, and knew nothing about Holland America. But so glad we took a chance! Friendliest crew we have ever met on a cruise- ok. we didn't meet our cabin steward till the second day, but no problem. Lots of things on this ship that we felt were done very well. We loved the system with sunbeds- no need for pool towels in our room- they're already rolled up and ready to use on the beds. Great retractable roof over the pool, and we were always able to get a bed there when we wanted one. Food in the Lido and restaurant was generally of a high quality- I loved the make your own salads in the Lido. Although the ship was full, it never seemed crowded anywhere. Evenings meals we had in the restaurant. We generally went down about 7, asked for a table for two, maybe had to wait 10 minutes, then straight in. Maitre d always very accommodating, as were all of the staff. Our cabin was on Rotterdam deck., towards the rear of the ship. Very comfortable, very quiet. Entertainment in the evening was ok. We enjoyed B B Kings, Trivia quizzes ( met some great people) and some of the entertainment in the theatre. Billboard wasn't for us, although they were very popular. Daytime activities on sea days we found to be very limited, but that's no different from most cruise ships we've been on. Gave me time to catch up with reading! The Crows nest area we found to have a bit of a strange layout. No library on board this ship, which was a first for us- books available to read in the Crows Nest, but we didn't find it a particulary inviting area. We did four shore excursions through Holland America- no problems with any of them, except for the price! Would recommend that people checked out independent tour operators for all the ports- we booked with Travelling Viking in Akeyuri prior to cruise. Prompt pick up at11 in a mini bus, great tour guide, and a lot less than Holland America wanted for simoilar tour. Embarkation and disembarkation very well organised- had to wait a while for coach to come to airport to pick us up for transfer to ship, but because we were the last transfer, went straight onto ship . Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2018
Cruised with HAL before and found them good, same service etc on this cruise. I didn’t book the drinks package and found it was cheaper to pay as you go especially as the cruise had happy hour a few times each day. (Buy one and get ... Read More
Cruised with HAL before and found them good, same service etc on this cruise. I didn’t book the drinks package and found it was cheaper to pay as you go especially as the cruise had happy hour a few times each day. (Buy one and get another for 2$) The entertainment was good from the main dancers and singers but the comedian was awful. The group ‘Five o’clock somewhere’ where good singers but didn’t really like their quirky act. The B.B. kings were great but it was the same show each night I enjoyed the Lincoln centre stage The billboard on board see,ed to be popular but I only went on one occasion The trivia was good fun and good way to meet people The food in the dining room was a little cold on some occasions Overall the food was excellent I didn’t go on any of the HAL excursions Tallin This is an easy city to do on your own - it has a free walking tour from the main tourist office at Niguliste at noon for 2 hours, although the town is pretty compact so you could easily walk about on your own. It is about 5/10 minute walk from terminal The small train that goes around the city does not have commentary St. Petersburg I completed a 2 day tour with SPB who were half the price of HAL with the same itinerary. The hermitage was packed and very uncomfortable to tour. Helsinki This is a large city, you are given a map by the tourist office on arrival, if you ask them to show you were your location and follow the sea this will take you to senate square etc. About another half hour walking will take you to the rock church and sibilieus monument. There is a shuttle bus service for about £10 Euro return. Stockholm I did the hop on hop off bus tour which was good, you could equally do the hop on hop off boat tour which will take you to the same sights or just take the ferry to all the sights which would be slightly cheaper. I went to Glama Stan to see the palace etc. Rostock The ship supplied a shuttle bus to this small town for free, easy to get around to see the huge clock in the main church. Kiel I did a free walking tour from the port at 0930 for 2 hours this was by Maggie and very good, it is also a small town and easy to get around, only about 5 minute walk to centre of town Copenhagen I got air luggage to take my case to the airport £15 Euro and then caught the number 27 bus into the little mermaid then walked into town. There is a bus number 11 takes you around all the sights but this an easy city to manage on foot. Went to Rosenberg castle to see the changing of the guard at 1130 hours I booked a city pass ticket for public transport for 80 DEK which got me the train from central station to the airport as well, you can buy this ticket from outside the terminal but I got it online. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2018
This was our second time on Zuiderdam, and the dry dock has definitely freshened its appearance. We did a 10 day Baltic cruise during the height of a record setting heat wave, but the ship was always cool and comfortable and in top ... Read More
This was our second time on Zuiderdam, and the dry dock has definitely freshened its appearance. We did a 10 day Baltic cruise during the height of a record setting heat wave, but the ship was always cool and comfortable and in top condition. The Good: Very comfortable suite with great bed, nice veranda furniture, spacious dual sink. Music walk concept provided a variety of music by excellent performers. Specialty dining was very good. Staff at every level was first rate and helpful. Shore excursions were well run with interesting itineraries. Bar drinks were reasonably priced. Shops were well stocked with some designer items (Nautica, Tommy Bahama). The bad (or less than perfect): Main Dining room food was inconsistent from very good to so-so, and there were a few instances of overcooked entrees. Breakfast servings were not always as hot as they should be. Lido actually did a better breakfast, especially the omelet bar. The cabin had a great Samsung 50in TV but very little to watch, either live or on demand. Internet service was so slow as to be almost worthless. Bottled water was overpriced. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2018
We chose this Baltic cruise because we liked the 10 day itinerary, with only 2 sea days and starting and ending in Copenhagen. We thought our balcony room was in excellent condition, with fresh paint, nice bedding and carpeting and a ... Read More
We chose this Baltic cruise because we liked the 10 day itinerary, with only 2 sea days and starting and ending in Copenhagen. We thought our balcony room was in excellent condition, with fresh paint, nice bedding and carpeting and a sofa bed in good condition. In the public areas everything had been redone with blue and teal furnishings, and it all looked nice. The ship is older with not a lot of razzmatazz but we knew this ahead of time. The entertainment was mediocre at best-we liked the Billboard piano hits the best, the BBKing music was always too loud to enjoy, and the main stage events were mostly acceptable if unexciting. We enjoyed an American Test Kitchen event and went to a wine tasting. Other than that we did not pursue any onboard activities. We like the open promenade on deck 3 for walking around the outside of the ship. The food in the main dining room was just average, with a couple of good meals mixed with some rather poor options. We had two meals in the Pinnalce Grill with one halibut dinner and one steak dinner that were good but nothing especially memorable. The Cannaletto was the highlight-both our dinners there were delicious and the service was excellent. The lido breakfast and lunch were both nice. Overall I think the food is cruise ship average. Given the reputation for service on HAL we were disappointed. Our room steward twice left dirty dishes/bottles in the room. The wait staff often rushed us, hurrying us to take our orders. The wine steward was slow, and complained about having to check for our open bottle in the dining room At the Pinnacle Grill they twice sat us at terrible tables (which we requested to be changed) even though good tables were very much available. We reserved 6 pm dining over a year earlier but they gave us 8pm dining. We asked to be switched to open dining on the first night in the dining room and they said they would do that. Each time we went to the main dining room they said we had an 8 pm reservation and we had to explain the situation again. Overall, I recommend this cruise for the itinerary, and for those who are not concerned about having a new ship with lots of entertainment options, but will be content with pleasant cabins and a low key atmoshphere. Read Less
12 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2018
We have been cruising on Holland America now for a number of years and have been on a number of ships cruising North America and all over Europe. This particular cruise departing Copenhagen and visiting Norway, Iceland, Lerwick UK and ... Read More
We have been cruising on Holland America now for a number of years and have been on a number of ships cruising North America and all over Europe. This particular cruise departing Copenhagen and visiting Norway, Iceland, Lerwick UK and the Faroe Islands was overall good but with some negatives as all cruises have. We sailed on the second half of the 24 day cruise called the ""Northern Isles Enchantment Cruise”. which already had some passengers onboard from the Baltic Sea part. The transfer from Copenhagen airport was fine with a 1 ½ hour tour of the city prior to arriving at the cruise terminal where the embarkation was a little chaotic which seems to be the norm lately. The PA system at the terminal was not functioning properly and it was difficult to understand the boarding instructions. Once onboard we noticed that the Zuiderdam was recently renovated and all of the public areas were updated to include our Signature Verandah Suite which was both spacious and comfortable. Our cabin steward quickly appeared to introduce himself and offer any assistance that he could. He did a very good job of locating and delivering our luggage which took some time as apparently it was misdirected. The encountered staff members were very friendly and professional with the exception of 2 or 3 members at the gangway entrance who seemed to be a little frazzled with the new passenger arrivals and were a little snippy with directions. After settling in to our cabin we went to the main dining room to make our “Open Dining” reservation and quickly found out that the dining room scheduling desk on Deck 2 was preferable to making reservations than the reservation telephone number as the representatives weren’t all that accommodating or informed. The overall food in the dining room was fair with some hits and some misses as should be expected. We did notice a slight decline in food quality from previous years. One point to make is to order any breakfast eggs “well done” as other Cruise Critic reviewers have noted that the eggs are served watery and undone both in the dining room and with room service as well. The Pinnacle Grill was fabulous and the Canaletto Restaurant not so much as the food quality decline was very evident. The Lido at lunch was extremely crowded with the seating limited. On the last sea day before leaving we just handed our full plates to a steward to throw away as there wasn’t even any shared seating available to include in the adjacent pool areas. We ended up waiting a half hour and picked up two chicken sandwiches from the Dine In Grill and sat at the outdoor pool lip/bench area with the food in our laps. The overall entertainment was not of any interest to us as we only enjoyed 3 of the 14 nights in the Main Stage and ended up leaving after a few minutes for the 11 performances that we didn’t care for. The “Billboard Onboard” piano/singers were fantastic but the BB King Band was not as they were way too loud for the small room and not up to the standard of other BB King Bands that we enjoyed on previous cruises. The America’s Test Kitchen activities were very entertaining and fun to attend. We purchased 3 excursions and were disappointed a bit with all of them as there were many glitches obviously with the contractors and a lack of communication with the ship. A point to make is that when trying to review the excursions on the Holland America web site the review option seems to have disappeared. Maybe I am doing something wrong and looking in the wrong place. Guest Services appeared to be “Out of the Loop” on many occasions with inaccurate information being distributed to us often with a later correction. On the plus side our final invoice was correct and billed to our credit card. The Captain was always visible around ship and gangways and was seen interacting both with the staff and passengers. There were many passengers that were coughing and sneezing all over and for the most part the personal hygiene/health habits left a bit to be desired to say the least. All in all a “fair” cruise experience with some pluses and some minuses and the cruise was nothing special. Read Less
13 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2018
We left on the Zuiderdam’s July 7, 2018 sailing for a two week cruise from Copenhagen, Denmark visiting Norway, Iceland, The Faroe Islands and the Shetland Islands. We flew a day in advance so as to make certain we would feel refreshed ... Read More
We left on the Zuiderdam’s July 7, 2018 sailing for a two week cruise from Copenhagen, Denmark visiting Norway, Iceland, The Faroe Islands and the Shetland Islands. We flew a day in advance so as to make certain we would feel refreshed for boarding. We stayed at the Clarion Airport hotel which was an easy walk with luggage from the airport. We checked in and walked half way between the hotel and the airport and took the metro to the city center our first afternoon. From there we did a boat ride through / around downtown. We left for the airport check in the next morning around 10:45 am. Boarding the bus was straightforward and we arrived at the pier around 11:30 am. The check in process was also smooth. We were on the ship within half an hour. The cabins were available by the time we got on (noonish). The weather was warm and we had specifically packed our bathing suits for the pool. Excellent check in experience. The ship is looking a little worn. The benches in the hallway by the elevators are just pure ugly and chipped. The corridor artwork is also old and outdated. As far as maintenance, there were a few issues. Some of the arrows above the elevators are burnt out. You cannot tell if the elevator is headed up or down. The reading light by my bed was also burnt out. The wooden door that covers the mini fridge had screws that had been pulled out from the frame. Also, during the voyage, maintenance staff were sanding down the metal door frames to each cabin and repainting them. The screeching from the sanding was annoying and I had to request that they stop so I could take an afternoon nap. They obliged. (It seems to me that since this ship just recently came out of dry dock, that would have been the place and time to address these issues.) In terms of entertainment, I did go to the shows featuring various headliners. In the main show lounge, there was a pianist who was rather showy. Also there was a couple who did Cirque du Soleil style entertainment including the ropes/ acrobatic style high wire movements. There was a rather showy violinist from Iceland. But, one or two songs from her were sufficient. Also, all of the instrumentalists gathered for a BBC multimedia presentation. This was the highlight in the main show lounge. Besides the main show lounge, there was ‘The Lincoln Center’ featuring two violinists, a violist, a cellist and a pianist. Unbelievable talent here. They performed at least once if not twice a day. Also, there was the B.B. King Blues Club featuring a group of talented musicians performing appropriately named style of music. Also, there was the Billboard lounge. Here, there were two pianists who did not receive enough recognition. They were incredible. In summary, the entertainment onboard was tops. The gymnasium was small, in comparison to other ships. The treadmills were often all in use, especially at opening time, 7:00 am. The resistance equipment was minimal. There was a trainer on board who did classes throughout the day. If you like to watch TV during your time on the treadmill, as do I, you need to ask for the TVs to be turned on. The sound was minimal, but you can ask to have the dialogue text option turned on. The service desk did a good job, although this part of the ship is also small so the lines can get long to speak with one of the few representatives. A plus here is that they will exchange currency for you. Right next to the service desk is a single kiosk to print out current bills throughout the voyage. (Being able to review charges is not possible from the stateroom.) The shore excursion office, the future cruise booking office and the library have been moved up to Deck 10 in the Crow’s Nest. The size of the future cruise booking office is the size of a large closet. I consider this to be a shame. These offices should be centrally located and closer to the service desk. During this sailing, there was flooding from above. Carpet dryers and shop vacs were all over deck 10 forward to dry this space. I used to enjoy listening to music up here in the past, but the room is no longer set up in this way. Speaking about the future cruise booking office, I asked for an atlas for next year, specifically one with deck plans. Apparently HAL no longer considers printing deck plans in their promotional literature important. Here, I highly disagree with this decision. In addition, I had a couple of run-ins with the shore excursion manager, Reanetse Atema. This was by far the low point of the cruise. (Don’t be surprised by what the shore excursion office won’t be willing to do / discuss). Dining in the main dining room was a bit of a letdown. We had open seating and in order to get a table within a reasonable time frame, without making reservations for a specific evening, in advance, showing up before 6:00 pm was important. That seemed to be the time when the lines began. I find having opening seating and needing to reserve for a specific time to be a bit contradictory. But HAL is not the only company who follows this type of policy. With respect to the food, I had some disappointments as well. The baked potatoes were white potatoes, not baker potatoes. That was disappointing. The Caesar salads were soggy. The dressing was not seasoned with anchovy paste, but rather a single anchovy was placed on top of the salads. The crème brulee was flavorless. The everyday sirloin steak was so so. Otherwise the food was acceptable. Dining in the ‘market place’ lido buffet was great. Breakfast and lunch choices were plentiful. As an aside about space in the lido buffet, I noticed there were no identified areas as ‘reserved for the handicapped’. There were multiple passengers in motorized scooters who would have to navigate the close tables in order to eat here. Although the ship has rooms that are handicapped accessible, more attention needs to be given to other public spaces onboard. We ate in the specialty dining area 4 times. Three times, the room was noted to be the Pinnacle Grill. The 4th time, the same space was noted to be Rudi’s sel de mer. Each night the service and the meals were excellent. The lobster bisque was one of my favorite dishes. I had lobster one night, a pork chop another night, a filet mignon a third night then had Alaskan crab another. Remarkable dining here. There was one other spot noted for specialty dining called Canaletto. This Italian dining venue was actually part of the Lido Market Place. I ate in this venue two summers ago on the Koningsdam and swore I would not return here. Only the Lido Bar and the Ocean Bar on deck 3 offered drink specials (basically 2 for 1) from 4:00-6:00 pm every night except for the first night. Space was tight here during these times especially on dress up nights. Drinks were good and reasonably priced during these hours. I was disappointed that this offer was not available across other bars on the ship. Nevertheless, thanks to Nice and Albert for your service. In summary, weather or not I sail with HAL again will depend upon a response to a letter I wrote to President Orland Ashford regarding the shore excursions office. I am a 3 star mariner with HAL and have sailed with them since 1968. Shore excursions: Our first port Bergen. We were on a bus ride to see the general area of Bergen. That trip was O.K. What was better was strolling the main road for souvenirs, including wool sweaters, and stopping for a beer. Also, there is a Star bucks here that has free WiWi. So, if you are not up to spending $20.00 a day for a WiFi connection on the ship, this is the location to head for. Port two was Alesund. We did a great boat ride through the fjord. This provided us wonderful views of the area. We highly enjoyed this experience. The third port was Seydisfjordur. We payed $70.00 for this tour. It was a walking tour through the town. We chose this tour because we did not know where the town was in relation to the pier. After all is said and done, I would recommend getting off the ship and walking the town independently. The pier is at the base of the town. No need to spend the money. Also, in hindsight, I would suggest that HAL remove this port as there is really nothing here. Or, if not, I would recommend staying onboard. Port four was Akureyri. Once off the ship we boarded a bus to Myvatn Nature baths. This location is not as popular as the geothermal baths in Reykjavik, but as enjoyable without the hype. It was part of a combo tour visiting a ‘falls’ on the way. I would recommend, for sure. This was booked directly the HAL. Port five was Isafjordur. From this location we boarded a boat to take us to the now non-existent town of Hesteyri. I would say skip this tour as well. It was an hour’s boat ride in each direction to walk in the fields with a talk about the way this town used to be. There is currently one family living in this town. They provided us with some sweet bakery delights and coffee before our return back to the ship. Port six was day one in Reykjavik. Here we boarded a bus for the ‘Golden Circle day trip’ featuring Thingvelir, Gullfoss waterfall and the viewing of a Geysir. I had some issues on this trip. The bus itself was old with broken reclining levers, no seat head rest covers and most importantly inoperable seatbelts. We were told to wear seat belts and that we could be individually fined for not wearing them. But many, including several senior citizens, could not wear them due to the condition of the bus. The tour itself was fine. The problem was with the tour operator. I sent a letter to the HAL president about this experience. Port seven was also Reykjavik – day two. Although the Blue Lagoon is a highlight from my trip – 2nd time to a geothermal bath, the operator was once again a problem. The bus was not air conditioned so the escape hatches need to be opened. One person was not on the bus at departure time, so a bus full of people needed to wait 50 minutes before returning to the ship. After pre-showing we had about an hour of time in the lagoon. We were treated to a silica mask and a drink. This was certainly a novelty. Had the tour operator returned on time and the bus had air flow, I would have rated this activity as a 5 star opportunity. This also entailed writing a letter to the HAL president about this experience. Port eight was Torshavn, Faroe Islands. From this port, we traveled by bus to Gjogv. At this site we had a midday snack of cold pancakes and instant coffee. From this restaurant, we walked down the hill to Gjaar church. It was nice but not impressive. I cannot imagine living her in the winter. Port nine was Lerwick, Scotland. This was a tender port. We boarded a bus to take us to Scalloway Castle, the Scalloway musem and to see some Shetland ponies. The castle was small and not impressive. Same can be said for the museum. Seeing the size of the Shetland ponies was impressive. PS, downtown Lerwick has some wonderful souvenir shops. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2018
We chose this cruise for its terrific itinerary. It did not disappoint. From Bergen and Alesund and the fjords of Norway to the tiny towns of Iceland and the lovely little city of Reykjavik, we had something to look forward to at every ... Read More
We chose this cruise for its terrific itinerary. It did not disappoint. From Bergen and Alesund and the fjords of Norway to the tiny towns of Iceland and the lovely little city of Reykjavik, we had something to look forward to at every port. Having the Faroe and Shetland Islands added was simply a bonus. The Zuiderdam was clean, beautifully maintained and as stable in the swells as one could hope for. The crew was outstanding, from the Captain, who was visible and approachable throughout the cruise, to the men who polished brass every single day! Our balcony cabin was standard, but again, cared for quickly and with pride by our stewards. We never wanted for anything. We enjoyed the Explorations Lounge on Deck 10 for scenic sailing. Dual pianists in Billboard Onboard were beyond fantastic. It was our go to evening destination! Mainstage entertainment incorporating BBC photography was a treat. I enjoyed America's Test Kitchen and pickleball; my husband visited the fitness center on each sea day while I walked the deck. There was enough variety on the Lido buffets to more than satisfy us for breakfast. The Dive In for burgers and hot dogs was an excellent lunch choice along with the taco bar. Dinners in the Main Dining Room were not always exceptional although food was always beautifully presented. The Pinnacle Grill was disappointing,, again service was lovely. Embarkation and debarkation in Copenhagen were smooth. Three ports were tender ports; the transfers were efficient and well organized. We never had to wait for a tender either leaving or returning to the ship.. We opted to do our own thing ashore - sometimes with fellow travelers whom we had met through our Cruise Critic Roll Call. We also had researched local websites extensively. We liked that we could move at our own pace; Port calls were long enough that we were able to get a real feel for each place. 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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