Zuiderdam Cruise Review by ValGio
- Sail Date: January 2018
- Destination: Panama Canal & Central America
- Cabin Type: Deluxe Ocean-View Verandah Stateroom
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.
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