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This is the review of our Panama Cruise on Holland America's Zuiderdam on 3-9-2009. This cruise consists of myself, my partner, we are celebrating our 20th anniversary, and our best friends, we are all in our mid forties. We live about a mile apart in Seattle. My folks and In-laws who love getting together, live close by to each other in San Francisco. Sunday March 8th as we headed to the airport in Seattle our folks made their way to the San Francisco airport, our flight left at 9:05 am and the folks left at 9:30 am and we landed about 5 minutes of each other in Dallas and all eight of us proceeded to get on the same flight to Ft. Lauderdale an hour later. After we landed we had plans to stay at the Comfort Inn on Stirling Ave, we called for the free shuttle and they came to pick us up. The hotel was ok nothing special that is for sure, you do get a free breakfast which consisted of coffee, juice, muffins, cereal, fruit and waffles, the shuttle the next day was so over booked we could not even get on a shuttle until close to 1:30p.m. Checkout was 11:00 and was told we could wait in the lobby until then, we all decided to make other arrangements and called EZ Limo. They were more than happy to pick us up and take us to the cruise port, service was great and was worth every penny. They charged 10.00 a couple and handled all the bags and the gentlemen was very nice and personable, we were picked up at 10:45 and were at the port by 11:00. Embarkation: About as smooth as can be, Hal has this down to a science. We arrived at the port to awaiting porters who took all our bags and pointed us in the right direction. We all checked in and headed for the room upstairs to wait until 11:30 to board, were we went thru security and had our pictures taken and was up the gangway in no time. What a great feeling it is crossing over and stepping foot on the Zuiderdam, it felt so good. This was our first time on the Zuiderdam and what a beauty she is, having been on the Oosterdam i knew where everything was but the decor was different. I really liked it, was very subdued, nothing to much over the top, except those hideous benches next to the elevator's, other than that, I love this ship. We were directed up to the Lido for lunch but we knew better and headed to the dining room instead. Lunch was very good, we were all sitting there with big smiles on our faces and I was thinking, wow, had we taken the 1:30 shuttle we would still be sitting in the hotel lobby. It was only 12:00 now and we were already onboard and having lunch. Thank you again EZ Limo. Public Rooms: All the Public areas are very nice and clean, i did not notice much wear and tear as others have posted, this is a floating hotel that is being used 24-7-365 days, there is bound to be some wear and tear but I did not notice anything that stood out. We were given the green light for our rooms around 1:15 and proceeded to make our way to 6099 which is an SY suite, WOW, what a great space, we usually get a Veranda but we were all able to upgrade to the SY prior to the final payment for cheaper than what we paid for the Veranda, too good to pass up. All our rooms were were together. There was more than enough space for everything, we got our luggage about 2:00 and was totally unpacked by 3:00. We never even used most of the drawers as their was plenty of space in the closets and shelves. We met both of our room stewards, Lou & Agusto, these guys were top notch, the best we have ever had. Whatever we needed they took care of with smiles on their faces. They learned our names by that first day, HAL should be proud they work for them. The rooms were all spotless, thankfully Lou & Agusto were responsible for all four cabins, everyone agreed they were the best. After we did the Muster Drill (Boring but important) we headed up to the seaview pool for a sailaway drink and enjoyed the music, then we all headed back upto the rooms to dress for early traditional seating at 5:45 A little early for us but with the four folks from 66-76 you get the picture. We met our dining stewards Gede and his partner in crime Punia, both were fantastic, we got great stories and great service from both. We had brought on board a case of wine and our wine steward was Lyn, she was wonderful and very funny. We lucked out this cruise with great cabin and dining stewards. We normally ate most meals of breakfast and dinner in the main dining room as its less crowded and the food is really good. We did eat most lunches in the lido and was never disappointed, saw and spoke to Hunky Dory, great guy. The Pasta Bar was my favorite, really good pasta and sauces. Terrace grill is also very good as well, had a good bratwurst one day and a good cheeseburger the next. Made reservations in the Spa for a mani and pedi compliments of our friends Samantha & Bob. Kris & I both really enjoyed them, having only done this once before, we also made reservations for massages later in the cruise, they turned out to be wonderful. I had made arrangements with Becky (Great,Thank You) from the HAL Seattle office to set up a Cruise Critic Meet & Greet the third day out, a sea day. Hal did a great job setting up the refreshments of coffee/tea & water as well as cookies and brownies, was a small crowd but met some really really nice folks, Sheila & Chris from Toronto, Linda & Santi from Yalaha, Florida and Brad & Debbie thanks again. Folks went to a few shows, us youngsters would either go to the spa hydro pool or themal chairs or to the casino, I did very well thank you. Disembarkation was also a breeze, we all headed for the airport and we all had the same flight to Dallas and we separated to our respective cites, with some tears from the moms. This was a Fantastic cruise, we all had a great time, yes there were small things that happened but you know you cant sweat the small things and there was no way i was going to let the small things hamper my vacation in any way. I will continue to sail with HAL, looking forward to sailing on her other ships as well, sorry this is so long but you get alot done in 10 days of cruising if anyone has any questions, please, feel free to email me at seamars1@aol.com.......until next time, Bigjohn42

A Dream Cruise Come True, Cruising With My Family & Friends

Zuiderdam Cruise Review by bigjohn42

Trip Details
This is the review of our Panama Cruise on Holland America's Zuiderdam on 3-9-2009. This cruise consists of myself, my partner, we are celebrating our 20th anniversary, and our best friends, we are all in our mid forties. We live about a mile apart in Seattle. My folks and In-laws who love getting together, live close by to each other in San Francisco. Sunday March 8th as we headed to the airport in Seattle our folks made their way to the San Francisco airport, our flight left at 9:05 am and the folks left at 9:30 am and we landed about 5 minutes of each other in Dallas and all eight of us proceeded to get on the same flight to Ft. Lauderdale an hour later. After we landed we had plans to stay at the Comfort Inn on Stirling Ave, we called for the free shuttle and they came to pick us up. The hotel was ok nothing special that is for sure, you do get a free breakfast which consisted of coffee, juice, muffins, cereal, fruit and waffles, the shuttle the next day was so over booked we could not even get on a shuttle until close to 1:30p.m. Checkout was 11:00 and was told we could wait in the lobby until then, we all decided to make other arrangements and called EZ Limo. They were more than happy to pick us up and take us to the cruise port, service was great and was worth every penny. They charged 10.00 a couple and handled all the bags and the gentlemen was very nice and personable, we were picked up at 10:45 and were at the port by 11:00. Embarkation: About as smooth as can be, Hal has this down to a science. We arrived at the port to awaiting porters who took all our bags and pointed us in the right direction. We all checked in and headed for the room upstairs to wait until 11:30 to board, were we went thru security and had our pictures taken and was up the gangway in no time. What a great feeling it is crossing over and stepping foot on the Zuiderdam, it felt so good. This was our first time on the Zuiderdam and what a beauty she is, having been on the Oosterdam i knew where everything was but the decor was different. I really liked it, was very subdued, nothing to much over the top, except those hideous benches next to the elevator's, other than that, I love this ship. We were directed up to the Lido for lunch but we knew better and headed to the dining room instead. Lunch was very good, we were all sitting there with big smiles on our faces and I was thinking, wow, had we taken the 1:30 shuttle we would still be sitting in the hotel lobby. It was only 12:00 now and we were already onboard and having lunch. Thank you again EZ Limo. Public Rooms: All the Public areas are very nice and clean, i did not notice much wear and tear as others have posted, this is a floating hotel that is being used 24-7-365 days, there is bound to be some wear and tear but I did not notice anything that stood out. We were given the green light for our rooms around 1:15 and proceeded to make our way to 6099 which is an SY suite, WOW, what a great space, we usually get a Veranda but we were all able to upgrade to the SY prior to the final payment for cheaper than what we paid for the Veranda, too good to pass up. All our rooms were were together. There was more than enough space for everything, we got our luggage about 2:00 and was totally unpacked by 3:00. We never even used most of the drawers as their was plenty of space in the closets and shelves. We met both of our room stewards, Lou & Agusto, these guys were top notch, the best we have ever had. Whatever we needed they took care of with smiles on their faces. They learned our names by that first day, HAL should be proud they work for them. The rooms were all spotless, thankfully Lou & Agusto were responsible for all four cabins, everyone agreed they were the best. After we did the Muster Drill (Boring but important) we headed up to the seaview pool for a sailaway drink and enjoyed the music, then we all headed back upto the rooms to dress for early traditional seating at 5:45 A little early for us but with the four folks from 66-76 you get the picture. We met our dining stewards Gede and his partner in crime Punia, both were fantastic, we got great stories and great service from both. We had brought on board a case of wine and our wine steward was Lyn, she was wonderful and very funny. We lucked out this cruise with great cabin and dining stewards. We normally ate most meals of breakfast and dinner in the main dining room as its less crowded and the food is really good. We did eat most lunches in the lido and was never disappointed, saw and spoke to Hunky Dory, great guy. The Pasta Bar was my favorite, really good pasta and sauces. Terrace grill is also very good as well, had a good bratwurst one day and a good cheeseburger the next. Made reservations in the Spa for a mani and pedi compliments of our friends Samantha & Bob. Kris & I both really enjoyed them, having only done this once before, we also made reservations for massages later in the cruise, they turned out to be wonderful. I had made arrangements with Becky (Great,Thank You) from the HAL Seattle office to set up a Cruise Critic Meet & Greet the third day out, a sea day. Hal did a great job setting up the refreshments of coffee/tea & water as well as cookies and brownies, was a small crowd but met some really really nice folks, Sheila & Chris from Toronto, Linda & Santi from Yalaha, Florida and Brad & Debbie thanks again. Folks went to a few shows, us youngsters would either go to the spa hydro pool or themal chairs or to the casino, I did very well thank you. Disembarkation was also a breeze, we all headed for the airport and we all had the same flight to Dallas and we separated to our respective cites, with some tears from the moms. This was a Fantastic cruise, we all had a great time, yes there were small things that happened but you know you cant sweat the small things and there was no way i was going to let the small things hamper my vacation in any way. I will continue to sail with HAL, looking forward to sailing on her other ships as well, sorry this is so long but you get alot done in 10 days of cruising if anyone has any questions, please, feel free to email me at seamars1@aol.com.......until next time, Bigjohn42
bigjohn42’s Full Rating Summary
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Cabin Review

Signature Superior Verandah Suite
Cabin SS 6099
We Stayed in an SY Suite 6099, was very spacious, had more room than we needed, never even used the drawers, used the shelves in closet. We were just shy of mid-ship portside on the 6th level/upper veranda. Bathroom was also very large, had two sinks, whirlpool tub/shower along with an addional shower stall. Large Blacony as well, had two chairs and a table as well as two lounge chairs. Very quite room, never heard any neighbors, there were no rooms across the hall from us, and very rarely ever heard anyone in the hallway, overall a great location and room, would reserve again in a heart beat.
Upper Verandah Deck Inside Cabins, Outside Cabins, Balcony Cabins, Suite Cabins

Port & Shore Excursion Reviews

  • Aruba
    Fisrt time to this island as well, there is more going on here than I thought there would be, it's a very busy and populated island. We did the HAL shore exscurion, Trip to Paradise where we loaded onto a bus for a short ride to the coast to board a small boat to take us to Depalm Island, everything was included in the price, we snorkled and saw tons of beautiful fish, including the very large and colorful Blue Parrot fish, enjoyed this very much. Afterwards had a lunch of hot dogs and fries and the local beer made just a few short miles away called Balashi beer, was a light beer but very good and hit the spot after being in the water so long. Overall had a great time and would do it again, was very relaxing. Went into town afterwards and enjoyed the local market as opposed to the more commercial stores.
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  • Colon (Cristobal)
    The big day, Panama Canal. Woke up around 6:00a.m. to not a cloud in the sky. The captain said earlier the night before we would be entering a little later than usual, was able to watch the whole transit from the Promenade deck as the bow of the ship was too packed, good thing, there was nobody else really around. I spoke to a waiter from the dining room who was manning a table full of Panama rolls, guava juice and mimosa's. We spoke for some time and was a really interesting conversation. I had nothing planned but to spend the late morning and early afternoon in the crows nest. My partner went Kayaking thru the water ways and tributaries and our friends did the Eco Cruise, both HAL excursions and both said they had a great time and would do again in a heartbeat. The folks and in-laws kinda just wandered the decks checking everything out. Just watching the working of the Panama Canal was fascinating and enjoyed every minute of it. We did go ashore in Cristobal to the warehouse building that was on the pier, to buy local art and get some local beers. Found a tremendous amount of items from the Embera Indian Tribe, bought a couple wood carvings and small weaved baskets and wall hangings, just beautiful pieces and very reasonably priced.
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  • Curacao
    WOW, What a beautiful island, did not have a shore excursion here as just wanted to check out the floating market and have a nice relaxing time for shopping for local art and a local lunch, we found both. Had a great time and found many nice things/gifts, including my Panama Hat made in Ecuador, I have been wanting one for some time. I found the locals to be very nice and always very helpful.
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  • Puerto Limon
    What a beautiful day in Puerto Limon, clear as a bell and very hot & humid, I enjoyed it very much. All eight of us did the Eco-train, Del Monte Banana Plantation and the Tortuguero Jungle Canals. Everyone enjoyed it all but could have done without the train, it was very old, very stuffy, no A/C, you went up the track very slowly to look at very small Monkeys/Sloths in the trees that were very hard to see in the first place, we then stopped and went backwards back to where the buses were. We then got to the canals were there was cold bottled water, fruit juices and beer to drink and fresh fruit, bananas, watermelon, pineapple and then a small shop to buy local art and great smelling coffee, I bought five bags.
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