3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2018
We took this 11 day cruise because of excellent experience on the Westerdam a few years ago. This was our "bucket list" trip through part of the Panama Canal. Unfortunately, this is one of the oldest ships in the HA fleet and ... Read More
We took this 11 day cruise because of excellent experience on the Westerdam a few years ago. This was our "bucket list" trip through part of the Panama Canal. Unfortunately, this is one of the oldest ships in the HA fleet and most passengers complained of the motion sickness which has never bothered us on several cruises before. We observed that by the end of the trip there were at least 20 passengers wearing leg braces due to falls. Remember this cruise caters to mostly 60+ passengers. Perhaps the stabilizers were not functioning properly, but the ship constantly swayed so much that it caused the beds to actually twist while we were sleeping and the walls squeaked. This ship suffers from metal fatigue and many other shortcomings in spite of a muti-million dollar partial upgrade. Many corridors had dryers running the entire trip due to plumbing overflows. We were waiting to enter a theatre and water was dripping on us. We could not use the entire Promenade deck for a daily walk because part was always under maintenance. There have been many cutbacks since our last fabulous cruise with HA. For example, stop in Half Moon Cay was a full day now a half day, gone are the live bands on the pirate ship. No more champagne greeting when embarking except a glass of juice. Breakfast menu in the room cutback on the variety with charges for some items. Parade of staff in the dining room - gone. Lower quality of entertainment overall although we enjoined a few entertainers in the theatre very much. The 10th floor entertainment lounge gone and converted to a high pitch sales lounge for future cruises. There are many more shortcomings which are too numerous to mention. Food quality and variety was generally very good. It seems HA charges for just about everything extra. All the shops on board are boring strictly jewelry and clothing mostly for women. The Microsoft courses were excellent. I should mention we were charged $130US extra after disembarkation when we arrived home. HA accused us of taking the bath robes and towels that were left in the bathroom. It took almost 8 weeks and 3 calls before we were reimbursed. Apparently, this is not an uncommon practice these days. We recommend if you insist on taking HA cruise don't go use this ship. It should be sold off. Read Less
11 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2018
We chose this cruise because we knew the Panama Canal is not something that many people get to see. We weren't disappointed in the cruise. She may have a few scratches here and there, but the ship is in great condition with cleaning ... Read More
We chose this cruise because we knew the Panama Canal is not something that many people get to see. We weren't disappointed in the cruise. She may have a few scratches here and there, but the ship is in great condition with cleaning and repair on-going but not in passengers' way. Weather was wonderful--not too hot or humid. Everyone said we had the best weather in the last couple of months. We were pleasantly surprised by the food. It was wonderful in all the venues. We only ate in the dining room twice because we prefer less time spent on dining and not dressing up every night. The Dive In had perfect hamburgers and chicken sandwiches. There was a taco bar that we used several times for taco salads. We got the salad bowl and lettuces from the Lido buffet. We also appreciated that there are servers--not everyone handles the utensils at the different areas. The quality was quite good as was the variety. I think I saw more actual variety at breakfast than I have on any other line I've sailed with. And, the Lido manager brought me a cherry crisp that I had seen on the dining room menu! Pasta bar was great. Many kinds of pasta and add ins were available. We had room 6129 on the Upper Verandah deck. Andri and his assistant did a wonderful job of cleaning, bringing ice, setting a mood for evening after dinner, and making towel animals. Zuiderdam is on the smaller side with 1800 passengers on our trip. I wasn't sure about the arrangement of the decks when I got on and started looking around. Guest services is on deck 1. But it all turned out well. We could get around quickly. I always like a promenade deck that goes all the way around. It was particularly nice for Canal viewing. The entertainment was amazing. I think it's best total package I've ever seen for entertainment. BB King's Blues Club, Billboard Onboard, comedian, classical entertainment, dancers and musicians, especially Steel Drum Island Magic, were all top notch as evidenced by the large audiences for each. America's Test Kitchen was interesting. The lecturers brought onboard for the ports and the Panama Canal were very informative. I'm not at all including the shopping guide. That, to me, is always a waste. All they want to sell is jewelry. Zuiderdam has a Navigator app for your phone to use. It's very handy to get around the ship, schedule your activities, and contact your family. I do wish it would ding though when you have a text. We booked all tours through Holland simply because I like the convenience and they cover what most all the tours do although with a bit more expense. For Bonaire and Curacao, the shopping areas closed early so there wasn't much time for browsing. A bit more time in port would be good. Bonaire was interesting for the salt flats and slave huts. I thought we would stop to see flamingos, but we didn't. We saw some but at a distance. Curacao is a beautiful area. Be sure to see the Kukunu Museum. The guides do a super job of showing you how the island functioned years ago. The town is beautiful. Be sure to go across or at least see the swinging bridge. Free wi-fi is hard to come by. We chose to stay on board at the Panama Canal. The long tours were more than we wanted to do this time, but I think we will make another trip and see the other side of Costa Rica. One tour was 3 hours late returning because the canal doesn't work on strict timing. All the deck areas were open to accommodate everyone who wanted to see what was going on. We got to see the sun come up over the canal. You'll want to get up early! I got off in Colon and walked about 3 blocks through a chain link tunnel to the "mall". There was a military helicopeter and a large police presence there. You'll want to stay onboard I think. Costa Rica was beautiful--another reason to go back so that we can see more of the island. We did the Rainforest Preserve. The rainforest is the most magnificent thing I've ever seen. I love the desert, beach and mountains, but the forest has to be seen to be believed. We did not see many animals which was a bit of a disappointment, another reason to go back. Be prepared to walk whichever tour you take. There's a great market at the port with many booths and crafts people. For sea days, there were many new movies in the room. There were many activities to attend and lots of deck chairs all over the ship to relax in. Shopping was all high end except for small things in the shop that sells candy, t shirts, etc. Why is there always so much high end shopping? Embarkation was pretty smooth. Rooms were ready by 12:30. We got on at 11:30 and had lunch. Debarkation was easy too. We paid $25 for Holland to collect our bags and get them to the airport and print our boarding passes. It was worth it. Hassle-free trip to the airport. Customs was 45 minutes--a long wait. If I could have gotten the Mobile Passport to work, we could have saved a lot of time. I'm not sure what the issue was. We will definitely choose Holland again. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2018
My only cruise experience was with Renaissance back in the 90s and I hated it. Decided to try again, and my sister and husband are 4 star mariner and loves HAL, so we went along. Also decided to go with the Neptune level to increase the ... Read More
My only cruise experience was with Renaissance back in the 90s and I hated it. Decided to try again, and my sister and husband are 4 star mariner and loves HAL, so we went along. Also decided to go with the Neptune level to increase the potential for a great cruise. It worked! (this ship has 1900 passengers, the Renaissance had about 300, so it was a large ship to us) Our suite was very roomy, 500+ sq. ft. with huge balcony on deck 7. We did not see wear on the ship as other reviewers have mentioned, everything looked really nice, with great decor. I love the fact that we unpacked once and did not live out of a suitcase. We left port late March, and unlike the January cruisers, we had perfect weather. I saw rain for 20 minutes max, the whole cruise. Cartegena was hot but the humidity was not bad anywhere. We took a tour through Expedia in Cartegena that was excellent, through the city, down streets full of street art, to the church on the hill, and through the old city. Our guide took us where we wanted to go and didn't lead us to emerald stores like many others. In the Panama canal we stayed on board, having read reviews before we left of the heat, slow buses and long days on shore excursions. Talking to others afterwards, that had taken those tours, they were sorry they had done so. You could see from the bow, stern and from our balcony everything you could want to see, how the locks worked, while waving at sailors on the sand dredging ship in the next lock. The service aboard was great, from the cabin stewards to the waiters. We also left some money for our cabin stewards the second day and the last day, which probably gave us an extra bit of service. That was in addition to the daily charges. I would say the only negative was some of the food in the dining room was bland. The soups were uninspiring and the lasagna I had one night had maybe a tablespoon of tomato sauce on it. We ate many meals in Canaletto and Pinnacle restaurants, and the food was a step up. The Lido was also good, and they have two salad bars that one reviewer here must not have seen. Also the casino was pretty large for a ship, IMHO. We didn't attend many of the entertainment nights or classes, but may do so the next cruise. We did get hooked on Downton Abbey which was one of many many shows and movies available on our huge TV, on demand. Overall a great cruise, we think HAL is tops and the ship was beautiful. Of course had we had 20 foot seas, I might not be so pleased. We will continue booking excursions ahead of time through the internet (not with HAL). And we will be sailing again with HAL. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2018
I chose this cruise to reconnect with one of the world's major sights and to see the new locks which were not there in 2004 when I last visited. I also have never been to Cartagena, Colombia and heard nice things about Old Town ... Read More
I chose this cruise to reconnect with one of the world's major sights and to see the new locks which were not there in 2004 when I last visited. I also have never been to Cartagena, Colombia and heard nice things about Old Town which was a wonderful experience. In addition Curacao was a great place to visit. I could skip Colon, Panama and the town of Puerto Limon, Costa Rica. The ship itself is showing its age, but overall it was pleasant. There were five sea days, but there was not enough on board activity to keep me occupied. The staff were so polite and friendly. Now that I am a widower and travel alone I look forward to socializing with others, but I did not find much in the way of solo get togethers. Two bars, however, had a special each afternoon where your second drink was only two dollars and this allowed for social contact. I had an inside cabin which was plenty big for me as a single traveler. It was comfortable and was kept very clean by my attendant. I mentioned to my table mates one night that my birthday was the next and they informed the waiters which got me a sing along and a lovely cake the next night. Comedians on other ships that I have been on described the average age of Holland America passengers as in the early one hundreds, but I found a good age mix among the passengers. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2018
Holland never disappoints and this cruise proved it again. We were a little worried having read some negative things about the Zuiderdam recently. No idea what those folks were talking about. The ship came out of dry dock this year and it ... Read More
Holland never disappoints and this cruise proved it again. We were a little worried having read some negative things about the Zuiderdam recently. No idea what those folks were talking about. The ship came out of dry dock this year and it is beautiful! The stateroom was terrific; the bathroom actually beautiful! The entire ship looked good - we didn't seen anything that needed maintenance. The food was the best we have had so far on Holland. Crew was wonderful, Lido was full of friendly and efficient staff and even more choices than before. The only complaint we have is that the library has been mostly dismantled in favor of putting the excursions desk up at Crow's Nest. Not cool. Also that moved the coffee over into the bar area, also not really appreciated. But, those were small things in comparison to the great time we had. Oh, and the pop up Sel De Mar dinner was fabulous! Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2018
This was our first time on HAL, having been on Norwegian and RCCL recently. The majority of the passengers were our age, 60s. Not a great spot for teens or kids, but sure didn't miss them. Other passengers were so polite and well ... Read More
This was our first time on HAL, having been on Norwegian and RCCL recently. The majority of the passengers were our age, 60s. Not a great spot for teens or kids, but sure didn't miss them. Other passengers were so polite and well mannered. It was such a pleasure. Our verandah cabin was smaller than the other 2 lines, and very brown - curtains, couch, rug, walls, just kind of monotone. The cabin was kept immaculate, but the verandah was never cleaned. I did not like stepping in and out of the bathtub. Who needs it? A walk in shower would have been nice. I did not like the door onto the verandah instead of sliders, though they have thus solved the problem of people leaving their door open. I liked that the muster was where your actual lifeboat is. I did not like the other 2 lines where you met in a common room and then proceeded to the boat, though you did not practice that part. The chances of everyone not running up on deck in a real emergency would be slim. At least now you know where your lifeboat is. We ate at the early seating in the MDR every night. I thought the food very good. They do skimp on some of the more expensive ingredients, like the seafood macaroni was cheese macaroni and 2 mussels and 2 shrimp on top. One of the Gala nights they did have surf and turf for no extra charge. The desserts were a cut above the other 2 lines. The buffet was also good, where we ate most of the breakfasts and lunches. The tea at 3 was a real treat, though we only went twice, being so well fed at meals. The entertainment was fair to good. The ship's troupe sang and danced their hearts out, but the material they had to work with was not very good. Best was Island Magic Steel Band; they were unexpected and original. Lance who gave the port talks was great - informative whether you were on one of their tours or not, good slides, easy to listen to. And he didn't try to sell you anything. The staff was always polite and cheery. Being a bit disabled, I did have trouble on the tenders going to Half Moon Cay. The one over was bigger, you got on with a gangplank, fine, but over at the island you had to go down 8 steps to disembark. No mention was made, though I was using a rollator. Coming back was one of the lifeboats, and the seas were rougher and it required leaping over a foot of ocean with both vessels going up and down and no railings. A crew member said he was up to me holding on to him and luckily he was sturdy. Otherwise the buses and Costa Rican canal/train tour were quite doable I also had some trouble with the pools. Be aware there are not steps in and out, kind of like a ladder step. The aft outdoor pool required sitting on a ledge and swinging your body over it to even get in the pool area. Odd set up for so many oldsters and may be why so few people used the pool. I did see a crew member, by the way, removing towels from the lounge chairs mid afternoon one day. On the whole it was an interesting way to see the Panama Canal and we were well taken care of. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2018
A few random observations about our rent cruise. Embarkation: Process was slowed by some kind of drill aboard ship. the waiting area at Ft. Lauderdale was therefore jammed and seats hard to find when DW and I arrived. Once boarding ... Read More
A few random observations about our rent cruise. Embarkation: Process was slowed by some kind of drill aboard ship. the waiting area at Ft. Lauderdale was therefore jammed and seats hard to find when DW and I arrived. Once boarding began the process was slow but smooth but the sudden onrush led to tremendous crowing at the Lido. Cabin: Our cabin was clean spacious and filled the bill. No complaints. Some rust on the verandah as others have noted but who cares when the view and weather are great. Dining: We found the service in the MDR to be very good and the food well prepared and interesting. Our waiters were very attentive and we found the number of staff to be an increase over recent HAL sailings. Entertainment: The BB King band was excellent as were the two young performers in the dueling piano bar. These two pianists seemed somewhat limited in their repertoire and amusingly had never heard of Neil Sedaka when one of his songs was requested. To their credit they came back the next performance playing and singing " Calendar Girl" which pleased their nightly overflow crowd. Ports: Took tours in Aruba, Curacao and Panama. The two islands were very alike with a lot of cacti and waves crashing into inlets. Some minor cave explorations. Overall just a good look at the islands for first timers. The entry into the Panama Canal and movement to the Gatun Lake was excellent. We when ashore from the lake with a tour that took us to the Pacific side of the canal and a visit to Miraflores locks. Well worth the trip. We also toured old Panama city where restoration of the historic area is taking place despite some opposition from the residents who fear being displace by gentrification. As we proceeded towards our bus and were passing the Presidential palace a motorcade of official vehicles appeared with lots of security. The window of one of the vehicles opened and our guide shouted "that's the President". Indeed it was Mr. Juan Varela the president of Panama who waved to us and then spoke with our guide. As a result we were permitted (rare) entry to the palace grounds and into the foyer of the Palace where we could take photos. A real unusual end to our tour of Panama Fellow passengers: We made friends with several fellow passengers who we joined for trivia, drinks etc. As usual with the vast majority of HAL guests they were bright, entertaining and good company. Disembarkation: A very smooth process that was well handled. Overall a very good ship and itinerary that we can recommend to anyone considering this area foer a future cruise. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2018
This was a bucket list trip for my husband but I was worried that we could be happy on a ship for ten days. We had also never sailed Holland America so for a treat we booked a signature suite. The ship had just come from dry dock and it ... Read More
This was a bucket list trip for my husband but I was worried that we could be happy on a ship for ten days. We had also never sailed Holland America so for a treat we booked a signature suite. The ship had just come from dry dock and it was beautiful and the cabin was terrific. Just a side note to Holland America who thought it was a good idea to put the tv over the couch? On the plus side the tv had a lot of tv shows and movies to watch. Have since done Royal Caribbean and Holland was better in every way including food and entertainment. We flew into Fort Lauderdale and stayed at the Hilton. Not our best Hilton as they were having air conditioner problems. We took a cab to the 15th street fisheries to eat upstairs and it was quiet, probably better in the more casual restaurant downstairs. Embarkation and debarkation very easy. Buffet was the best ever and we have sailed RC , Carnival, and Celebrity. We ate lunch that first day in the main dining room. Great food there too. The dueling pianos were great and the singers in the Blues Club were so talented. Half moon cay was ok, not beach people, so we should have done an excursion. Aruba was fun since we were there for so long really felt like we got to know the island. We did a ship's excursion around the island, ate at the Iguana Joe's restaurant, and visited the casino. We were probably the last people back. In Curaçao we took the train through town but we should have done a longer excursion to get a better feel of the island. In Panama Canal we stayed on the ship and it was great but I wish we could have done an excursion, nothing offered that seemed interesting. The port of Colon was terrible. Costa Rica was my reason for the trip and we did the Canal boat excursion. We saw monkeys and sloths. Limon did not seem safe so maybe not the best introduction to Costa Rica. All in all a great trip, great weather, and we did ten days with no problem! Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: March 2018
I was disappointed in the quality of this cruise. I felt the dining experience to be sub par and the center stage entertainment to be not nearly as good as other cruise lines I’ve been on. Parts of the ship were very cold while other ... Read More
I was disappointed in the quality of this cruise. I felt the dining experience to be sub par and the center stage entertainment to be not nearly as good as other cruise lines I’ve been on. Parts of the ship were very cold while other parts too warm. Several of the bars ran out of lite beer 3days before the end date of the cruise and there was an area on the second deck that had a horrible odor. Personally I would not travel with Holland America again. Maybe it was this particular ship that was the problem, but I wouldn’t be inclined to take a chance again. It’s an expensive trial and error way to travel. The shore excursions were fun for the most part and going through the locks at the Panama Canal was extraordinary. However the cost for the drink package was way out of line....especially since both people in the cabin had to purchase the drink package in order for one person to get it. I don’t drink much at all and no way would I ever consume over $500 in drinks so my husband could not get the drink package either. Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2018
We had done a HAL Southern Caribbean cruise a number of years ago, and enjoyed it; we wanted to go someplace warm and when I saw that Cartagena was on our itinerary, we decided to book. I had really not wanted to do this cruise; it ... Read More
We had done a HAL Southern Caribbean cruise a number of years ago, and enjoyed it; we wanted to go someplace warm and when I saw that Cartagena was on our itinerary, we decided to book. I had really not wanted to do this cruise; it was a concession to my husband who wanted a change from 5th wheel camping. Here's why: we had been on a few RCCL cruises, one of which was a disaster due to the X-rated cruise director and RCCL's ugly customer service people. Then we took an MSC cruise from Southampton, which was bad in so many ways that I really never wanted to take another cruise. Add to that a bunch of negative discussion about the new Explorer Lounge/aka Crow's Nest, and I was filled with trepidation. I'm happy to say that I've never been so wrong! We just had the best time from the minute we stepped on that ship. HAL is a great cruise line in so many ways. The Zuiderdam is really gracious. I really iked the Explorer Lounge/Crows Nest. The interactive tabes had a lot of good information about each port on the cruise, but short so you couldn't get bored. The combined coffee shop/bar was fine - not really too busy to get what you wanted. A couple of things I mentioned on my feedback were that the navigation screens blocked prime viewing real estate and those little stool-like things by the interactive tables were downright uncomfortable; it's better to stand! The regular chairs were comfortable but the couch didn't fit me at 5'1" or my husgand at 6'. However, it was great and a lot of people must have thought so too, because it was always busy. The library was a big issue on the forum board, and I'll agree to an extent. Do we need 20K books on a ship in the age of Kindle? I don't think so; but perhaps a few works of fiction and a small book exchange area would be welcomed. We took 2 ship tours, both excellent (Colonia Panama and Miraflores Locks and Tayurtic Hacienda in Costa Rica). I posted detailed reviews of those on the HAL webpage. The food was good and varied. I loved the Pasta bar in the Lido, and loved the Asian lunch bar too. Service was excellent; they hire and train great people. We enjoyed the open seating in the dining room and never had to wait more than a few minutes. The entertainment was so great. We had to excellend comics, David Pengelly and Dan Chopin. There was an illusionist that everyone loved, 3 performances by the Holland American Singers & Dancers, and the magnificent Island Magic Steel Drum band. (It's worth taking the cruise just to hear them). The only disappointment was that one evening was dedicated to streaming the Oscars. I so don't care so we skipped that. Others said the same thing. Although I'm a heavy Windows user, i took advantage of the Microsoft Windows classes and learned some useful tips every time, and even was able to get into some apps that I hadn't had a reason to explore before. The facilitator was excellent and patient; with systems, there are inevitably people getting lost. (I've trained systems, and know that not everyone can handle it like she does.) She offered everything from Windows 10 Essentials to photo apps and security. She also had a handout with navigational instructions after each class. Something I LOVED but was unable to take full advantage of is the HAL Navigator app which is free. If only my husband hadn't been so last-century and refused to let me download it for him, I would have been saved a lot of frustration trying to find him!! This app shows you the entertainments of the day, dining menus, events around the ship (letting you build an 'itinerary) and best of all, a chat function with other ship people you add (hence my frustration with my husband.) The steps they have taken to modernize are good - change is inevitable in any area of life, and they did it graciously, IMHO. The TV/Movie selection in our rooms was way more extensive than I'd dreamed it would be, and they had some excellent documentaries on Panama that I'd never seen. Embarkation and disembarkation we both easy. On my last cruise (MSC), the disembarkation was a nightmare, so I was prepared. This was such a non-event. Quick Hint - this is not ship related: download the Mobile Pass app (which you'll see advertised in the waiting room for embarcation). We flew through customs on the way out - there was a special line for Mobile Pass people and few were in it. I can't say enough good about Holland America and the advantages of a small ship. For some people, rock climbing is important, but we're a little past that kind of excitement and aren't looking for that kind of ship and the inevitable large number of passengers. There is plenty of social interaction, intellectual stimulation, and relaxation to be had on the Zuiderdam. Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2018
Three couples chose this cruise because it went to the Panama Canal. I have never been on Holland and didn't know much about them, (found out later they are part of the Carnival/Princess lines of which I am NOT a fan but by then it ... Read More
Three couples chose this cruise because it went to the Panama Canal. I have never been on Holland and didn't know much about them, (found out later they are part of the Carnival/Princess lines of which I am NOT a fan but by then it was too late). This ship and the line were outstanding! We are retired, in our 60's and this was the perfect choice for us. No KIDS, you could get in the hot tubs, no belly flop or newlywed games but still perfect for all of us. Very classy entertainment of all types, every venue and show was outstanding. The ship is beautiful, very stately and in great shape. The food was just fair although the Lido does an excellent job in their serving and preparation. The dining rooms are nice because they don't hoard people at the same time, the anytime dining is very fluid and you can always get a table. The food in the dining rooms was usually lukewarm, it might have been our waiter. There are two speciality restaurants and our travel agent treated us to both. The Italian one was outstanding, our best meal. The steak house had cronic service issues. It was so bad they invited us back again as their guests but unfortunately the service was not much better - it took over 3 hours to eat and we left before desert so we could go to the show. The cabins are lovely - we booked early and chose inside cabins on deck 6 mid ship - 6081, 6071 and 6067 - each was perfect, larger than expected, great location and we loved them. I am not a sit on the veranda kind of cruiser, I like to get up and out and we would go directly upstairs to deck 9 and sat outside. There are two nice pools, one covered. My husband smokes cigars and there is a nice smoking section on deck 9 and it was a great social gathering spot. As I said, the entertainment was great. This was the longest cruise we ever took, might not do another this long but it takes a while to get to the Panama Canal and it was worth it! We took the tour through the other 3 locks and I highly recommend it. Don't sit on the ship that day, the port of Colon is just plain dangerous and you came all that way take the trip through the locks. It is a once in a lifetime experience. We went to the rainforest in Costa Rica, it was so - so there might be other better excursions and we did the hop on -hop off in Cartagena - not necessary the only thing to see their is the Wall city and that is great - don't miss it. Nothing else to see in that city. Half Moon Cay was great, and Aruba has really deteriorated over the years and Curacao is nice. The itinerary was almost perfect - some stops, some days at sea, just right. Our weather was perfect and that adds to the experience. Some of the other poor reviews were I am sure due to the weather. If ours had not been as nice for the entire 11 days it might have been a different experience. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2018
This was our sixth HAL cruise and it didn't disappoint, just like all the others. The ship is 16 years old, but I understand it has just returned from a re-fit in drydock. The interior looked brand-new. You coulda said the ship was 16 ... Read More
This was our sixth HAL cruise and it didn't disappoint, just like all the others. The ship is 16 years old, but I understand it has just returned from a re-fit in drydock. The interior looked brand-new. You coulda said the ship was 16 weeks old and I woulda believed it. It seemed everything was new - carpeting, furniture, facilities, new layouts of many public rooms. We were on an Alaska cruise last summer on her sister ship, the Noordam. We could see the differences with the new layouts. The crew was uniformly excellent, pleasant, helpful and seemed to be enjoying their jobs. We always chose the open seating in the dining room so as to meet new people. This is almost the highlight of the day. We ate in the Canalotto Italian restaurant 3 times as we enjoyed it so much. This cruise went from Ft. Lauderdale to Half Moon Bay, Aruba, Curacao, Cartigena, Panama Canal, Puerto Limon and back to Ft. Lauderdale. Read Less
14 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2018
Overall we had an excellent time on this cruise. It was our first Holland America cruise and they did not disappoint. The ship is older (built in 2002), but it is in very good condition and obviously recently refurbished. It is not as big ... Read More
Overall we had an excellent time on this cruise. It was our first Holland America cruise and they did not disappoint. The ship is older (built in 2002), but it is in very good condition and obviously recently refurbished. It is not as big as the newer mega-ships, but we thought this was actually a good thing. Embarkation and disembarkation were both easy and relatively quick (probably waited 30-45 minutes for each). We were thrilled to be able to wait in our room for disembarkation. The average age for this cruise was older than we had experienced on any previous cruises (someone said the average age was 74 but I can't definitively confirm that). It was obvious, however, that we were in the youngest 10% onboard (we are in our mid 50s). Although we thought this could be an issue when we boarded, it actually ended up having a lot of advantages. There was not any crazy partying during the cruise. The pools were usually almost empty and we had a pool to ourselves quite frequently. Lounge chairs were always available and there wasn't any crazy "saving" of chairs that we've had on past cruises. The older cruisers ate early so if we dined after 7:30pm neither the dining room or buffet were crowded at all. Stairways were also virtually empty (everyone took the elevators). Also, after the first day, the fitness center was not crowded at all. We did have to be patient quite a lot with slower individuals and many people with scooters, wheelchairs and walkers. The itinerary was great (and that's why we took this particular cruise). All of the ports were great. Since the ship does not transit the entire Panama canal, we highly recommend taking a tour that does so. You must book that tour through the cruise excursions. We were lucky to have fantastic weather (sunny and 80s every day except for one). The captain said it was the best weather in over 2 months. I'm sure this helped us have a great time. The food was good and was similar to what I've experienced on other cruises. We mostly ate at the buffet as we find that you have to commit too much time to a dining room meal. We thought the mainstage entertainment was average and so we didn't go much. However, the BB King All Stars were EXCELLENT. We wished we would have had more time to watch them each night. The quality of those musicians was the best I've ever seen on a cruise. Service was great - typical for a cruise ship. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2018
I was fortunate enough to cruise many times with my late husband but never got the opportunity to cruise to the Panama Canal. After much discussion, my cousin from Sarasota and my cousins from New Jersey decided on Holland America's ... Read More
I was fortunate enough to cruise many times with my late husband but never got the opportunity to cruise to the Panama Canal. After much discussion, my cousin from Sarasota and my cousins from New Jersey decided on Holland America's Zuiderdam to fulfill that bucket list wish! We were all very pleased with the smaller size of the ship. Easy to navigate with no long lines of passengers waiting for elevators or in the Lido buffet line. Thought the food served in the MDR, Lido and specialty restaurants to be very good with lots of choices daily. I must comment on the excellent service by all staff and crew members. They work hard to keep the ship clean and tidy. We even got our chipped bathtub replaced early in the week while we were on a tour. Enjoyed the entertainment in the Main Show Room by the ship's talented singers and dancers, but for me the main attraction was the nightly performances in the Billboard Onboard Piano Bar by Danny and Ian. They played 3 shows a night, the last one being an all request show, and I never missed one! Very talented pair! Took one independent tour in Aruba with Fantasy Tours and was taken to all the island's highlights for a reasonable price. Ship tours included Curacao, Cartagena, the New Canal Locks and the Hacienda tour in Costa Rica. Enjoyed them very much. Would definitely recommend this ship and itinerary. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2018
This was our first cruise on HAL, chosen for the date and itinerary. We're not yet loyal to any particular cruise line, but we tend to favor Celebrity. HAL is now a close runner-up! We thoroughly enjoyed the elegance of the Zuiderdam, ... Read More
This was our first cruise on HAL, chosen for the date and itinerary. We're not yet loyal to any particular cruise line, but we tend to favor Celebrity. HAL is now a close runner-up! We thoroughly enjoyed the elegance of the Zuiderdam, and are grateful for the mature, drama-free cohort that tends to cruise HAL. At 49 and 51, we soon realized that most of the folks that we ended up hitting it off with were at least 10 years older than us. There were maybe 6 children total on the entire cruise. As parents of two teenagers, we have to advise parents to not bring your kids on HAL! It seems to me that there was very little to entertain them, not the least of which was other children. OTOH, if you like to cruise child-free, you should definitely consider HAL! What we love about Zuiderdam is its coziness. It's hard to explain what that means, but it's the idea that, while being a smaller mid-size ship, there were places that we discovered halfway in on the 11-night cruise that we had no idea were there. Like the Ocean Bar, which we never did have a chance to enjoy. And the Gallery Bar, which is a beautiful gem of a place. We spent much of our free time in the Explorer's Lounge (aka Crow's Nest), playing various board games and drinking adult coffee beverages. Ironic story: one day we were playing a game up there, and a couple came in. The wife quickly realized what a nice location it was, and proceeded to berate her husband for not telling her about this wonderful area on the ship. It was funny, and sad, and annoying. No wonder he wanted to keep it to himself! Our favorite excursion: zip-lining in Costa Rica. The excursion company for this was fantastic. I've compared stories of zip-lining with others, and was appalled by their safety concerns. We did 11 zips, starting small and working our way up. They were very safety-conscious, and I think we all felt well taken care off. We had a perfectly-sized group of about a dozen people, and by the end we were all eager to do more! The dining was very good, and the menu choices ranged from dependable to daring, and always tasty. We dined in the Pinnacle Grill three times, and Canaletto once. I do wish they had a dining package for 2x in Canaletto, and have suggested that to HAL. I thought I'd miss having more restaurant choices on an 11 night cruise, but truly I didn't. One of the best things we have every done on a cruise was to buy the $250 per couple access to the Greenhouse Spa therapy pool and Persian lounge with saunas. We were all about the therapy pool, and wish we'd had more time to use it! DO IT! A cruise is what you make of it. This was only the second two-week vacation I've had in my 15 years of owning my own business. I know it was perfect, because by the time it was over I was missing my kids and ready to get back to work. Thank you, Zuiderdam, your crew and guests, and Central America, for a most wonderful vacation! Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2018
My wife and i had the panama canal cruise on our bucket list for sometime, so decided to finally take the plunge along with 2 other couples. The ship showed signs of its age, even though we were told it had recently been in for retro fit. ... Read More
My wife and i had the panama canal cruise on our bucket list for sometime, so decided to finally take the plunge along with 2 other couples. The ship showed signs of its age, even though we were told it had recently been in for retro fit. Some the carpets were worn, and also we had concerns about coming upon water in hall ways and dryers being used to cleanup wet areas. We encounterd a storm that lasted about 18 hours as the ship was hit by high seas and strong winds, to the point that they had to close all outside doors, we were almost thrown out our bed during the night and could feel the whole ship vibrating. The staff tried their best to make us comfortable as possible.our friends had problems with their toilets, and there seem to be many other passengers complaining about the same problem, we were luck and didn't encounter any problems with our cabin. Found the ship small and with limited entertainment, with only the bb king all stars being the major drawing card (they were great), the casino was small, as was the shopping area. The diningroom was the standout, as we eat there for breakfast and dinner, and were treated to great service and food. We find the excursions ok but had one of our main ones cancelled due to a festival. The pool ares were small with one being in an area with a covered roof that was suppose to be retractable, but wasn't functioning properly. Also they were doing repairs to the ship while at sea, painting and in doing so cutting down on the promenade deck walking area, and this went on the whole cruise. We will not cruise with hal again! Also 4 of our group came down with the flu and contracted pneumonia and are still in recovery, not saying they got it on shipboard, but seemed that a large number of passenger had same symptoms. Read Less
11 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2018
Our first cruise ever was on the MS Zuiderdam from Jan 7, 2018 to Jan 17, 2018. It was an initiation for sure! The weather was not the greatest to start with and progressively worsened throughout the cruise. After our second last stop in ... Read More
Our first cruise ever was on the MS Zuiderdam from Jan 7, 2018 to Jan 17, 2018. It was an initiation for sure! The weather was not the greatest to start with and progressively worsened throughout the cruise. After our second last stop in Colon, Panama the weather really turned nasty and the ship truly started to rock. The weather was so bad, that the captain decided that it was unsafe to dock at our last port of call Puerto Limon, Costa Rica. So we proceeded back to Ft. Lauderdale and spent the last part of our cruise on rough seas for 3 days. It was not much fun! To be fair, the weather was not Holland America’s fault and we and they attempted to make the best of an unfortunate situation. For the most part, we did enjoy our cruise especially the stops at Half Moon Cay, Aruba and Curacao. However, the cruise through the Panama Canal was boring and if you did not partake of one of the many day excursions offered through EXC Tours then you were not allowed to disembark from the ship at Gatun Lake (there was absolutely nothing there). Some of these tours were expensive and exceeded on average 5.5 hours in time. Passengers who took the tours were picked up at Colon when the ship docked but were warned that the ship could be late because their return time through the canal was controlled by the Panama Canal Authority. They were told to stay within the terminal facilities until the ship’s return for the safety reasons as elaborated below. When the ship did return to Colon, we were allowed to disembark but were warned to stay inside the terminal premises as it was considered unsafe to venture past the terminal facilities. The shopping within the terminal facilities was somewhat limited and there was not much else to do but return to the ship and await departure. Personally, I would find another more inviting and safer port of call. Overall, staff and crew on the MS Zuiderdam were very organized, efficient, friendly and courteous. The embarkation and disembarkation were systematic and well controlled. Our room stewards Nugi and Chris were amazing and were always present should you require some assistance. Their positive vibes were constantly evident even when the last part of our cruise was not the best. I truly wanted to thank them in this review. Servers that also came to our attention were Joel and John Patrick who provided excellent and attentive service - again, making this a somewhat more relaxing cruise. Overall though, I am not sure that I would recommend this cruise for everyone. If the weather was inclement as it was for us, then the alternatives were small to nil with the exception of returning to Ft. Lauderdale. Would we go on a cruise again? – most certainly!! Sometimes you just have to rock and roll with the flow. Read Less
9 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2018
10 day Panama Canal cruise Good: - Housekeeping services. Cordial and kept the room clean and neat. Every time we came back to the room, the bed was made. Every evening they left a nice towel animal. - Ice cream. The ice cream ... Read More
10 day Panama Canal cruise Good: - Housekeeping services. Cordial and kept the room clean and neat. Every time we came back to the room, the bed was made. Every evening they left a nice towel animal. - Ice cream. The ice cream staff is very friendly, and they offer a good selection of ice creams and toppings. - French Fries. They are crispy and freshly cooked. Sadly, this was the highlight of the food onboard. - Buffet is not self-service, which is quite good to prevent food contamination. Average: - Photography. We booked a session for the black-and-white photos. (+)Photos are really good, although very (-)expensive. Photographers throughout the cruise, in the evenings, are hard to find. A large group was waiting to take a group photo in the main stairs, and the photographer was no where to be found. They asked me to take their picture in an iphone. We did take a picture a few days earlier at the stairs and had a good experience. - Pool/Jacuzzi. (+)Pool was not packed, quite enjoyable. (-)Jacuzzis were NEVER HOT. I asked one of the guys handling the towels how to increase the temperature, and he looked at me perplexed. Did not answer or acknowledge my question. After a few minutes he came back saying he informed someone else, and that it was going to be turned on in a few minutes... nothing happened. - Stateroom. (-)Smaller in comparison to Royal Caribbean, but the bathroom is more spacious (+) and has a small bathtub! - Entertainment. Magician show was good (+), but comedy shows did not cater to different age groups(-). Music scene was somewhat repetitive and had very few songs beyond 2000's. Bad: - When cruising on the Canal, a few fellow cruisers used their iPads to take pictures of the canal. Let me explain: they placed SEVERAL iPads in front of the glass, blocking everyone behind them to see. One woman placed FOUR iPads (she was in a group with family members, why they couldn't share the video from one ipad?). As in, they just left the iPads standing there for HOURS. Other people were hogging the space in front of the glass, did not let other cruisers to get close to the glass. Pretty sure people's vacations got ruined because of this. The cruise line should have placed a moderator to prevent such behavior. The crew are very hands-off when it comes to moderating passenger behavior. Worst (Really Bad) - Food. Selection is similar every day. Not a great fresh selection of entrees. Main dinning room often offers the SAME items available at the Lido restaurant. Appetizers and soups are disappointing. Most soups are just water with a bit of flavor. Most breads are hard to bite. Most food is bland, not appealing to different demographics (except the Asian station, which is bland too). - Dining service: Dive-In (hotdog and burger) service is terrible. I was ignored when it was my turn in the line, then harshly handed out a pager. After a few minutes waiting I was told to move and wait somewhere else. I did not move. The line kept increasing (they were very slow to take the orders) and the staff kept with a slow peace, and one of the cooks took a phone call! In all, it took 30 minutes just to get a burger and fries.(**) We got a Soda card, and EVERY TIME we wanted to use it, the waiter would come back with the sodas when we were about to finish our food. This happened in both the Lido and Main Dinning room. Food service in the Main Dining room was too slow (waiters looked overworked and tired). On the first day, it took 1 hour to get the entree, we left after 1.5 hours without dessert (we got tired of waiting). - Room service (Dining). What room service? We had to call, several times, guest services because room service did not answer our call and placed us on hold. The second night we thought they were busy, so we waited 20 minutes on the line before hanging up. The issue kept repeating so we resorted to call guest services instead. ** Due to the poor service in many areas, we chose to reduce the "Hotel-Service" charge. It is $15 per day per person. Instead we left cash for the housekeeping guys. My conclusion: Cruise + airfare + activities total was around $5,500. After traveling on Carnival and Royal several times, we wanted a more "refined" experience. Not worth paying double than what we had paid in the past for a similar stateroom. To top it off (not Holland America's fault): The weather was bad. Ship rocked most nights, even when the weather was Ok. We skipped the Costa Rica stop due to weather. Read Less
14 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2018
We chose this Panama Canal cruise because it traversed the "Old Gatun Locks" and were able to get an aft balcony cabin. Here is our honest review: REVIEW 10 Day Sunfarer Cruise Zuiderdam, Holland America Line ... Read More
We chose this Panama Canal cruise because it traversed the "Old Gatun Locks" and were able to get an aft balcony cabin. Here is our honest review: REVIEW 10 Day Sunfarer Cruise Zuiderdam, Holland America Line January 7 to 17, 2018 EMBARKATION: Well organized. After waiting in line, there are plenty of seats to await being called to embark. Total process about 1 ½ hours. SMOKERS BEWARE: There is no smoking area in the embarkation terminal, and smoking is not allowed on the ship until it sails. So many people will have to wait 5-6 hours. SHIP: The Zuiderdam was refurbished. Our cabin (8141- aft) was spacious, immaculately clean. King bed, large flat screen tv on wall at base of bed, a loveseat, table which could be lowered and raised, a vanity, full bathroom with tub and shower. Balcony was deep, with aft view. Two chairs with ottomans and two small side tables. Complimentary robes. Three closets. No smoking allowed on balconies. E cigarettes allowed in the cabin, but not on the balcony. At the time of booking, Zuiderdam had a smoking policy which allowed smoking in the casino. They changed this policy sometime between dry dock and our embarkation. There are mixed opinions as to when this policy changed. Our cabin tv information stated smoking was allowed in the casino, and all literature stated the same. The approximately 400 smokers were relegated to a small area on Aft deck 9 outside for the only smoking area on the ship. During peak hours there weren’t enough tables and chairs to accommodate everyone. We were not allowed to smoke at the bar adjacent to the table area. Our weather was rainy with rough seas for this trip, certainly not HAL’s fault, but this change was ridiculously cruel, thoughtless and demeaning. We felt like we were no better than steerage. I especially note the formal nights where we went outside and came back with windblown wet hair, wet feet and shoes, etc. Needless to say, everyone was extremely upset. People complained continually with no resolution. When I lodged my formal complaint, the manager of customer services did not even know the policy, nor did a ship officer! The manager told me there would be dedicated casino nights but when I asked for clarification, she came back to me and told me there were none and she was wrong! They hadn’t even bothered to change the information on the TV!!! Gambling is my favorite past time on the ship. I usually gamble 8-10 hours per day while at sea. Many of the other smoking passengers were gamblers as well. The casino is located on forward deck 2. To have a smoke, we needed to go to Aft deck 9 outside. As a result, most of us gambled for an hour or less and left to smoke. But we were all so disgusted, we didn’t return back. It was so inconvenient and really ruined the vacation. The casino most times only had one blackjack table manned and sometimes two because there were so few gamblers. Guarantee HAL lost a LOT of money for this change in policy. But obviously, they don’t care. The dueling piano entertainment was adjacent to the casino. At one point while at the blackjack table, I was covering my ears because the off key female singer, screeching out her tune was so bad! The dining room was beautifully refurbished. We had the late seating, deck 3. Let me first say WE ARE NOT FUSSY EATERS, but we do like good food. The food was marginal. Hit or miss. They offered prime rib three times and filet mignon twice, including surf and turf. This was generous. But the quality of the meat was poor, our medium rare filet mignon was so tough, we had difficulty cutting it with the steak knives! We sent it back and the next filets were a bit better, but NOT tender. On night two, I was queasy and asked if I could have chicken noodle soup. This was an issue. I was told they didn’t have any but the waiter said he would see what he could do. He did bring some bouillon to me saying this was all they had…I came to realize it could be ordered anytime on the room service menu though. If room service has it then why can’t the dining room find it? The ship ran out of lemons on day two, and limes by day 4. We were told more would be available when we docked in Aruba. But there was an embargo taking place with Venezuela, so that didn’t work out. Tortilla soup…..their version…beef bouillon with some cilantro leaves, a piece of chicken and two match stick sized tortilla strips….you have to be joking!! The brisket was so tough it was inedible and obviously they did not know how to slow cook it. On day three, I ordered the roast chicken. The waiter apologized for the delay (it took an hour for this entrée to arrive), and when it did, it could not be identified. To describe it…it was small oval shaped, relatively flat, with a pinky sized appendage rising up from the middle of the meat. We joked that it might be pigeon, or maybe seagull. The waiter asked me to turn it over and he didn’t know what it was either. The next night we were told it was the first part of the leg from the shoulder and I guess the back of the chicken. Not good. Potato choices were good on day one and the last night. Never saw a baked potato. We were told some food pallets did not make it onto the ship in Ft Lauderdale….guess that included potatoes and vegetables. Vegetables were offered in the lido consisting of mostly squash and carrots. I never saw green beans, corn, peas, broccoli, cauliflower offered individually. The aft pool was drained around day 4 for a leak, so it was not available. There was a smoke fire on day 5 knocking out tv throughout the ship and forward and rear cameras. So we were “ in the dark” about weather and news and tv shows for the balance of the trip. Wouldn’t be so bad, except Costa Rica was eliminated due to weather and rather than taking us to another island as previous cruises have done, this captain elected to slow the ship down and stay at sea for an extra day. So those of us who wanted to experience the Panama Canal both ways were on the ship from day 4 to day 10. With no TV, no considerations from the Captain, minimal entertainment, nothing to do except smoke and gamble, this was not fun. The spa was great! Best massage ever! I highly recommend if you decide to chance this ship and cruise line. After having cruised four other cruise lines, I can emphatically say I will not cruise Holland America again. Read Less
14 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2018
Background: We're 57 and 62, cruised mostly on Celebrity and sometimes Princess. We've done the partial Panama Canal transit on Princess a few times and love the Canal experience. Schedule conflicts meant we couldn't cruise ... Read More
Background: We're 57 and 62, cruised mostly on Celebrity and sometimes Princess. We've done the partial Panama Canal transit on Princess a few times and love the Canal experience. Schedule conflicts meant we couldn't cruise Celebrity this January, so we decided to try Holland America. Pre-cruise: stayed one night at the Embassy Suites 17th St. using HHonors points. This is our usual pre-cruise hotel; love the nearby shops and restaurants and the ability to walk down to the 17th St bridge to view the harbor. The Embassy has consistently excellent service and is kept very clean; the suite furnishings are getting shop-worn and need replacement. For us the good outweighs the bad, since it's a free night with points, but I probably would choose another property if we couldn't use points. This was a Sunday departure and the hotel was very busy both Saturday and Sunday. We used the port transfer service for $9 each; you can charge it to the room or pay in cash. Took about 45 minutes from the time we checked out to the time we arrived at the terminal, around 11:30 AM. Embarkation: Zuiderdam was at terminal 21 since Eurodam was at 26. This area of the port is a lot less congested at the moment due to terminals 22/24 and 25 being empty space (eventually to be a new terminal 25.) Dropping the bags and getting through security on the street level went quickly; check-in desks are on the second floor. At 11:30 embarkation hadn't yet started and the main waiting area was almost full; they did have coffee, water and pastries available. Check-in took about 20 minutes; we got a boarding group number and by that time they'd started moving people onboard. We waited only another 10 minutes and were informed on boarding that cabins were already available so we could drop the luggage right away, which made us happy. We went to make a 1st-night reservation at Canaletto and found it was 25% off. Pinnacle would also have been 25% off the first night. Muster drill: unlike Princess and Celebrity, HAL still has you go outside to your assigned lifeboat station. Although we weren't thrilled initially, mostly because it was 50 degrees in Fort Lauderdale that day, this actually proved to be a much faster, much less painful experience than mustering on Celebrity. You walk without a life jacket directly to the area underneath your assigned boat, have your card scanned, wait for stragglers to be identified by shout outs, listen to 10 minutes of instructions and you're done. Our favorite muster drill, ever. Cabin: We splurged a bit this year and booked a Signature Suite, cabin 8094. It was port side, forward of the aft elevators, and the veranda was on the angle where the cabins bump out at the aft end of the ship. That gave the cabin a little extra space and gave us both a side and a forward view on the veranda, which was mostly covered except for a small section. Except for one year on Celebrity where the Upgrade Fairy bestowed us with a Royal Suite, this was easily the most comfortable, spacious cabin we've ever booked. It had oodles of space, a huge bathroom compared to what we're used to, more storage space than we could use, and we are basically spoiled for life now. What we didn't love so much: it's underneath the Lido Market (buffet) in an area where they roll service carts around both early AM and late PM; I wasn't bothered by it but hubby was. There is also a crew door directly across the hall from this cabin, and the door slammed as crew came and went. Some of them were pretty good about not letting it slam; others, not so good. And, although we loved the veranda angle on nice weather days, we had a lot of really terrible weather days on this cruise, including very heavy seas. The exposure meant that salt spray and sometimes rain coated most of the veranda. On the crappy days we could be out there, on the piece that faced sideways, but we agreed that having the angle wasn't a plus on a cruise with only 2 or 3 nice sunny Caribbean days. All that said, we did love the extra space, the couch, the comfortable beds, the dual sinks, the whirlpool tub, being able to walk around the bed without turning sideways, the USB ports by the beds, the spacious, lighted closets, the many drawers and shelves, the expansive desk area and also the proximity to the aft stairs and elevators. Entertainment: My classical musician husband was in heaven with Lincoln Center Stage, featuring 45 minute concerts of real classical music by a very respectable piano quintet. They also played some lighter programs including movie music, Latin-influenced music, and "Bernstein to Buble". The venue is kind of odd, being largely in a heavy traffic pattern near the "anytime" dining room. But we really enjoyed having a high-quality classical music option and the shows were mostly packed. BB King's featured a 5-piece live band with 2 singers, playing mostly Motown and music of the 70's with a few jazz standards and rock tunes. They also played really well and were engaging, interacting with the audience and encouraging dancing. The only drawback here was the volume level; the venue is too small for a live band of that size and we found the sound level painful, so we typically caught a few numbers and split. They usually played three 45 minute shows a night and in a 10 day cruise, after a few shows you pretty much knew the playlist. Billboard Onboard was wildly popular; two pianists/singers did various themed shows with music from the 60s, 70s, 80s, British Invasion, and several "all request" shows. It was standing room only at the later shows every night. Several specialty acts were good - comedian Jimmy Carroll one night ("clean comedy") and an outstanding steel drum band, Island Magic that played everything from the William Tell Overture to music from Cats. They are evidently a fixture on HAL because at a daytime meet-and-greet a number of passengers said they picked the cruise specifically to see Island Magic. Not sure I'd go that far, but we really loved their show. Another night the main stage featured a movie, Victoria and Abdul, and on another there was a nature film with live music accompaniment which we were sorry to miss. Daytime entertainment was scarce; there did not appear to be an “activities staff” and it was a much quieter atmosphere than our previous cruises, which we’re fine with. There were a few fitness activities, spa “seminars” and some bar and alcohol-related demos and tastings, and some shop and shore excursion-sponsored talks. There was also a daily movie shown in the small cinema. Fitness Center: nice selection of machines, all in good condition. Treadmills, a few ellipticals, several upright and recumbent bikes, a couple of rowing machines all facing forward with a nice view. Usual weight machines, plus a free weight area with benches and a small floor area. There were spinning, Pilates, yoga classes available, some free and some with a fee. There's a water fountain and a cooler of cold towels, along with larger dry gym towels. The only issue was with 15 foot waves, there was too much motion in the fitness center (it's high up in the bow) for me to use the cardio equipment about half the time. But on port days it was fine, and was rarely busy. Food: a very subjective subject but in general we thought it equaled or exceeded Celebrity's in many ways. Main Dining Room dinner menus weren't extensive, but we were never disappointed with a choice, and we found the soups, salads and desserts especially good. Breads and pastries were also excellent. We had breakfast and lunch at the Lido Market buffet daily and loved the fact that most choices were served in individual plates or containers, eliminating shared utensils and the health concerns around self-service. It did mean juggling a number of smaller plates instead of one large plate, but we liked the concept. We typically ate earlier than most - 7AM and noon - and rarely had trouble finding a table. Loved the orchids, cloth napkins and silverware at each table, and also loved how each section had a regular staff person serving beverages and assisting with anything we needed, including finding seats on sea days. Loved the Cannonball burgers at the Dive In, especially the fact that burgers are cooked to order instead of sitting in a tray. Just like Celebrity, they seemed to have frequent mechanical issues with their soft serve ice cream machines, but also had a different hard ice cream selection available daily (and also bread pudding, served by the ice cream guy.) We did notice that one side of the buffet typically had one flavor and the other side a different flavor, so it pays to walk around. Loved the pre-made sandwiches for a quick grab-and-go lunch. The made to order Oriental Tuna Salad was a treat, as was the fresh sushi rolls, and they made a mean pulled pork sandwich. We tried Canaletto and liked the food, and eating at a "restaurant" carved out of a section of the Lido market wasn't as weird as we expected. Although the menu suggests sharing two small plates and one main per person, the wait staff clearly did NOT expect anyone to order that way and recommended a starter and a main each, and a shared pasta which worked nicely. Food quality was good, not great, and the location seemed to require running the food up from a distant galley - service was really slow. But it was a nice change, and they offered 25% discount the first night of the cruise. A note about As You Wish dining: everyone wanted to eat between 6 and 7. That's not physically possible, and even with pagers, the second night they actually ran out of pagers and started suggesting eating in the Lido or at a specialty restaurant. Consequently there were a lot of unhappy people. The key to making this work seems to be making a reservation directly with one of the managers, who can look at the computer to see where the openings are and who have more discretion than the people taking phone reservations. We stopped at the desk on our way out the 3rd evening, had a pleasant chat with one of the managers who helped us book the remainder of our dinners at the same table and same time. We had to take an earlier time than we'd hoped, but having a reservation was better (for us) than facing an uncertain wait time every night. Arriving before 5:45 or after 7:45, on this cruise anyway, would not have required a wait. Between those times really required a reservation, for a table for 2. (That's been our experience on Celebrity and Princess as well; we wondered if it would be any different on HAL, and it wasn't.) Service: Absolutely first-rate. The entire crew was smiling, eager to please and unfailingly polite. We’ve had mostly excellent service on both Celebrity and Princess, but we were blown away by the Zuiderdam crew. Did everyone get everything right? Of course not. But they genuinely cared about getting it right, so even when something went awry, it was immediately corrected with an apology. We absolutely loved the crew, who have now set the bar pretty high for others to match. Ports: Half Moon Cay was nice; rained in the morning and weather was mostly cloudy after that, but we got a little sun and enjoyed the sugar-soft sand and clear water. Had no trouble finding chairs; there are literally a thousand of them in various locations, both in shade and sun. Aruba, we basically skipped. We arrived in the afternoon and unfortunately got the dock furthest away, which required a shuttle bus to get to the main terminal area. We chose to just stay onboard and enjoy the uncrowded pool. In Curacao we just wandered around the shops a bit; this was the warmest, nicest day of the cruise.The "downtown" area is very safe and walkable, and the pontoon bridge is interesting. The Panama Canal, the main event, did not disappoint. We mostly stayed on our veranda during the first transit, then stayed onboard for the return transit and went to the bow, which they opened for the day, until a thunderstorm chased us inside. There was narration both ways, and plenty of opportunity to see the locks from all vantage points. The Crow's Nest was very popular in the early morning, and they served coffee and Panama Rolls (sort of like cheese danish) all morning. We didn't go ashore in Colon, although there did appear to be some shops and bars in the port area and some people did. Unfortunately we skipped Costa Rica due to 60 mph winds and heavy seas, and we ended up with 3 very rough sea days to wrap up the cruise. Overall, except for the weather, we had a fantastic cruise. HAL compared very favorably with Celebrity, and in some ways we liked this cruise better than our past few on Equinox. We'll definitely cruise HAL again, and loved the Zuiderdam and its crew. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: January 2018
We heard that holland was the finest cruise line with the best destinations Room staff were excellent! Food quality was good, but slightly on the exquisite side, that being said it was presented extremely poor, cold food was served ... Read More
We heard that holland was the finest cruise line with the best destinations Room staff were excellent! Food quality was good, but slightly on the exquisite side, that being said it was presented extremely poor, cold food was served hot and hot food was served cold, wait staffed in fine dining was short on staff causing poor service, I don’t blame servers I blame mgt. several nights at dinner we had to ask for water or tea more than 3 times. Buffet was exceptable but changing entire menus between and closing the entire buffet at once left people without access to food because there was not enough seating at each meal time leaving people to wait. Room service was acceptable but once again poorly served, cold food was hot and hot food was cold. Weather was not perfect but the boat seemed to be very unsteady in moderate wave action Engine was very noisy and vibrating even on the 8 th floor we were on. I saved the worst for last, on day 7 we ran into bad weather coming out of the canal causing the pool to overflow and flood our room, poor response from the crew about cleaning our rooms and several others, took all day to clean our room, which meant we had to find a place to hangout. They offered us Nothing ie. drinks and only offered a 150.00 credit, we complained and they gave us only $200 total for 2, lots of unhappy customers we talked to, would have been nice to know that 90% of the people were over the age of 65 Ps Aruba is not the vacating paradise it is made out to be, seemed very wore out, disapointing Read Less
9 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2017
We choose this cruise for its itinerary and went as a large group of friends and couples. Everyone observed the ship's poor condition; filthy deck chairs, worn-out brown carpeting, rusting rails, stains on every cushion, it was just ... Read More
We choose this cruise for its itinerary and went as a large group of friends and couples. Everyone observed the ship's poor condition; filthy deck chairs, worn-out brown carpeting, rusting rails, stains on every cushion, it was just plain disgusting down to the hairs we found in our dining napkins. The Zuiderdam should be scrapped as there seems little that is salvageable. Even the pool deck has a big old dirty sculpture of a bear hanging over the pool! What's the point? Vacations are meant to be spent in pleasant surroundings, unfortunately, the sights and odours of the ship were anything but that. The Lido restaurant had dried food stuck to the chairs for days. It had leaks from the ceiling. Not very appetizing. Embarkation took almost an hour and getting off the ship was a two hour ordeal. On the positive side we enjoyed every moment off the ship, particularly Cartagena, Columbia. Why was this port only given a short morning stop? Again, little consideration for the paying customer. The crew, particularly in the dining room, tried their hardest and we appreciated their efforts. But the Zuiderdam, never again! Read Less
10 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2017
After recently sailing on both the Westerdam and the Noordam, the Zuiderdam was a bit of a disappointment. The ship had only recently come out of dry dock, but clearly there is a LOT more updating to accomplish. While the Gallery Bar, Lido ... Read More
After recently sailing on both the Westerdam and the Noordam, the Zuiderdam was a bit of a disappointment. The ship had only recently come out of dry dock, but clearly there is a LOT more updating to accomplish. While the Gallery Bar, Lido and Crow’s Nest were spiffy and polished, the ship was dated and shabby in many places, particularly our cabin (4174), as well as both the Ocean and Pinnacle Bar, and most public bathrooms on the ship. Also, the Zuiderdam was just not as well run as the Westerdam or the Noordam. That being said, we had a wonderful cruise director (Saul Orr) and a great time on all the shore excursions we took in Aruba, Curacao, Cartagena and Panama. The Panama Canal was worth seeing, and the doomed rail car to the Miraflores Locks was well worth the cost and time involved. The food was uniformly good and the service by both our cabin stewards and wait staff was excellent, which is what we expect of Holland America. 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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