Sail Date: September 2015
We chose this cruise for the itinerary, taking us from Venice, through the Greek Isles, ending in Turkey. This was a perfect follow-up to our 1-month driving trip through Croatia, Montenegro, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Slovenia, and finally to ... Read More
We chose this cruise for the itinerary, taking us from Venice, through the Greek Isles, ending in Turkey. This was a perfect follow-up to our 1-month driving trip through Croatia, Montenegro, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Slovenia, and finally to Venice where we met our ship. We were tired and ready to let someone else do the driving, food service, laundry, and decision-making. Though we travel extensively, we don't usually take cruises unless there is some particular advantage to doing so. For this itinerary through the islands, a cruise seemed like a good choice. Embarkation in Venice was a bit convoluted and slow in comparison to other cruises (Celebrity, Viking) we have taken, but uneventful. Our first impression of the Zuiderdam was that this was an older ship, a little garish in decor, not as light and open as many, but generally clean and OK. Our veranda cabin was fine, if a bit tired and worn...but so were we so we didn't mind. The cabin and restaurant staff were friendly, helpful and efficient; and so patient and polite even with guests who were demanding and rude to them. We chose to eat in the main dining room and found the food and service very good, though the food choices were not great on the last few nights. We were pleasantly surprised since others had described HAL food as rather bland and geriatric. We liked the flexible dining hours and location since it gave us a chance to enjoy the company of new people or repeat with those we hit it off with if we chose, as well as allowing flexibility in timing. The entertainment was "meh" and we skipped it after the first few torturous evenings. No problem....Shipboard activities and entertainment are far down on the list of priorities for us. The movie theatre was nice. We also enjoyed the extensive library and good selection of board games for days at sea. Although we are a hetero married couple, we were glad to see that they offered LGBT and Singles activities for others. We skipped the casino, bars, bad art auctions, group games, and photo sessions. The lessons and lectures on the ports were good when we could go. My husband found the tour of the ship bridge interesting. We did not use the ship tours. We only booked one private tour, in Ephesus, Turkey. We find it more fun to explore on our own and not be subjected to surprise "shopping opportunities" at factories and stores as part of a tour. We were happy to find that Holland America was not withholding or stingy with port info for those who choose to visit ports on our own, as some ships have been...very accommodating and low pressure. Disembarkation was smooth. Since we use a cruise mainly as a vehicle for itineraries that would be difficult to drive, yes, we might possibly use HAL if the itinerary was right. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2015
This was my first cruise on HAL, after having cruised with Oceania, Princess, Celebrity, Norwegian, and Royal Caribbean. It may not be my last, but were I to do this again, it's not going to be on the Zuiderdam, which needs to go into ... Read More
This was my first cruise on HAL, after having cruised with Oceania, Princess, Celebrity, Norwegian, and Royal Caribbean. It may not be my last, but were I to do this again, it's not going to be on the Zuiderdam, which needs to go into dry dock in a bad way. Yes, I know it was just there in April, but interior decoration was apparently not on the list. We had cabins 4166 and 4170 (originally booked 4164, but that disappeared somehow, thanks HAL). The bathrooms were standard inserts; the balcony of 4166 was, as other CC's have noted, extremely spacious. The rooms, however. . . I nearly cried. No kidding. The carpet was a dingy brown stripe; the walls had extra screw anchors where apparently one larger picture had once hung and been replaced by a smaller one; the curtains, greenish, matched nothing; and--borrowing Terry Pratchett's apt description of the Octavo--the tiny reddish sofa might charitably be described as "'slightly foxed', although it would be more honest to admit that it looked as though it had been badgered, wolved, and possibly beared as well." Peeked into some interior cabins, and they looked reasonably spacious and well-appointed in comparison: none of the thrift shop ambiance of 4166 and 4170. The corridor art on 4 consisted of prints of old Dutch masters' florals, looking so flat that their original artists would cry to see the indignities wrought upon their original oiled depths by modern technology (or cheap paper). That being said, the linens were clean and the room stewards attentive, providing the towel animals without which, IMHO, no cruise ship has the right to describe itself as such. I'm still not entirely sure what two of them were, but I sincerely appreciated the effort. At least four of the passenger cabin decks looked exactly alike, amounting in no small amount of confusion since they're not particularly clearly marked and bear the same colors and furnishings. MIddle decks had a decidedly 80s vibe, reinforced by the 80s music that seemed somewhat ubiquitous in some of the lounges. However, the public rooms at the top of the ship were certainly nice enough; the pool polar bear, who looked decidedly grubby when we arrived, was freshened up by the second day. The food was absolutely great in both variety and taste. The buffet at the top of the ship had a mindbogglingly generous selection of dishes for each meal; the dining room so well prepared a variety of perfectly done selections that I truly believe it could easily nudge Celebrity out of its top "foodie cruise" position. We didn't take the shore excursions offered by the ship: this was our second time on this cruise itinerary, (the first on RC), so we took advantage of the hop-on hop-off buses to revisit favorite places (about 20 euros) in Athens right outside the port gates (they're offered also in Istanbul) and private tour arrangements, which were (oddly) significantly less expensive. I recommend getting the Museum card in Istanbul, BTW, which is about 85 TL (maybe $30) and allows you to skip any lines at most major attractions. We did the drinks package on the ship, but I don't recommend it. The package is limited to drinks under $8, which limits options, and frankly, unless you really put your liver (and tastebuds) at risk, there's no advantage in it (my husband did the math, bless his sodden little soul). The entertainment options were variable; the singers were unobjectionable but the stage sets non-existent. One night there was a comedian who described himself as "cheeky" and I thought that was only true in the sense that he was a bit of a donkey's rump--jokes recycled from Daingerfield, lot of fat jokes, ugly wife jokes-meh. Disembarkation was one of the better experiences I've had on any line: you could stay in your cabin until your number was up--no more hovering around impromptu lounges with stale croissants, or the herds of passengers aimlessly milling about the public areas. All in all, the cruise had ups and downs, but the room itself was so soul-crushingly disappointing that I don't think I'd be up for another Z cruise. Would definitely give HAL another chance, though. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2015
My wife and I have cruised many times and this itinerary was the second time for my wife. Everything about this cruise was wonderfu, from start to finish. Food: We had early seating door dinner in the Vista dining and joined a table ... Read More
My wife and I have cruised many times and this itinerary was the second time for my wife. Everything about this cruise was wonderfu, from start to finish. Food: We had early seating door dinner in the Vista dining and joined a table for six. We met two other wonderful couples. We enjoyed our meals so much we didn't even bother to book any meals in the specialty restaurants although we heard they were excellent. Lido restaurant had excellent made to order and ready made items that we enjoyed for breakfast and lunch. Service: All service areas were excellent from meal service to cabin service, and the destinations specialist, KK, was extremely knowledgeable and helpful. Everything about this cruise was 5 Star! Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: September 2015
We cruised with another couple on Holland America for the first time this past September. We had read that the Zuiderdam had had a major face life last spring, but it must have been for the public areas, not the staterooms. The staterooms ... Read More
We cruised with another couple on Holland America for the first time this past September. We had read that the Zuiderdam had had a major face life last spring, but it must have been for the public areas, not the staterooms. The staterooms appear to be circa 1980s? Don't get me wrong - our suite had LOTS of room and the bathroom was the largest I have seen on a ship - double sinks, separate shower from the jetted tub. Very nice! The room though, was obviously older with dated tile needing some caulking and the color scheme was definitely not current. They swapped out the balcony furniture during the cruise - the new furniture was much nicer! The cruise itself was wonderful. The staff could not have been friendlier or more helpful. We started to wonder if they ever had a bad day! Always a smile on their face! We embarked from Venice (spent two days there before the cruise) and had stops in Olympia, Athens, Mykonos, Santorini, Rhodes, Naplion, Ephesus, Naples, and Rome! Each stop was unique and amazing! The process for boarding the ship the first day is much smoother than some of our previous cruises on different cruise lines. Same with disembarking at the end of the cruise. They know their stuff! We enjoyed the special guests (singer and a comic/magician) they had in the Lounge during the cruise. Both brought a lot of energy to the stage and the audience was delighted! The Zuiderdam singers and dancers were not exceptional however. (Reminded us of our kids' high school show choir.) We also enjoyed a couples massage and a "gambling lesson" as part of a package our kids bought us for our anniversary. We did these on our "at sea" day which was perfect. I had read reviews about the dining onboard the Zuiderdam and had been a bit concerned. Turns out I had no reason to be concerned. Every meal was delicious and served by a friendly staff. We chose the open dining option and had different servers every night. All were professional and very friendly. They always had plenty of delicious selections each evening and so no one at our table had any problem getting something they really liked. The biggest con was their alcohol policy. You are limited to bringing two bottles onboard and those are subject to a corking fee. Whenever you order a drink of any kind, there are added hidden charges that bring the cost of the drink up to a ridiculous amount, Happy Hour seems like a deal until you see all the fees added per drink. Would rather they be included in the price so there are no surprises when you get the bill. Part of the package we had included dinner in the acclaimed Pinnacle Grill. The meal was paid for so we ordered two rather inexpensive glasses of wine. We thought the bill would be around $30.... It was $54 after the fees were added! And to be honest, the meals in the dining room were equally as good as the Pinnacle Grill. Would stick to the dining room in the future. Full disclosure- did not know that the dining room was serving surf and turf (lobster tail) the night we had reservations for the Pinnacle Grill.....Would definitely have changed our reservations! Loved the cruise and loved the itinerary. Only thing I wish was different - would have loved to have spent an evening in Mykonos or Santorini.....would imagine watching the sun set over either place would have been magnificent......would have loved to have been on a beach in Greece at sunset. We were always at sea by then. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2015
First time with Holland America, although my 7th cruise. Had a Signature Suite for 3 of us. Plenty of room and closet space. Embarcation was easy. Room steward was great. I requested ice one day and for the rest of the trip had ice ... Read More
First time with Holland America, although my 7th cruise. Had a Signature Suite for 3 of us. Plenty of room and closet space. Embarcation was easy. Room steward was great. I requested ice one day and for the rest of the trip had ice in the bucket. Had slippers and robes also. Bathroom was huge, 2 sinks, whirlpool bathtub and a separate shower. Also had a large section under the sinks to put things plus 2 medicine cabinets. Had fresh fruit everyday. The balcony was large, while we were on the cruise we received new balcony furniture. All 3 of us could be out there with room to spare. I thought the food was wonderful. Went to the Pinnacle Dining Room one night and the food was great. Had hand packed ice cream everyday with a sugar free option. Lido buffet was always good. Had a coffee bar which was extra but pretty reasonable. You could get breakfast items there in the morning and little sandwiches at lunch. Music on board was great. Went to BB King's almost every night. Enjoyed the comediennes on board. Wanted to take in one of the computer classes but space was really limited so never got the opportunity. They need to offer them more often. There were a couple of times that some of the toilets wouldn't flush in the public restrooms which was annoying as you had to wait or find a different restroom Took in a couple of movies which was fun. They had free popcorn. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: August 2015
I am writing this review to alert to how Fantastic and supportive Holland America Zuiderdam Customer Service Manager and Corfu Port cruise Agency Team dealt with my unfortunate experience of missing the ship! It is possibly ... Read More
I am writing this review to alert to how Fantastic and supportive Holland America Zuiderdam Customer Service Manager and Corfu Port cruise Agency Team dealt with my unfortunate experience of missing the ship! It is possibly everybody's worst nightmare & curiosity of what would happen. Trust me, I too have commented on crazy " people leaving it so late" rushing back onto cruise ships but as I now know there are some circumstances when it can and does apparently happen quite a lot. I cannot explain the sheer panic, stress and anxiety it feels like to have been assuming you were on time and when you arrive back at the Port your ship has in fact left with all your family group of husband and other 6 family passengers! and you are stood in what you have on and a beach bag, no passport or money!! But I was unaware that every cruise ship has a Team of Agents at every Port who will provide support should this happen! Apparently my husband was alerted that I had not returned as the ship was leaving the dock and the cruise staff managed to throw my passport onto the port and the agent caught it just as it avoided falling into the sea! Imagine his distress, waiting for 3 hours to hear from the Port agent that I had been found and was safe and alive! The cruise staff were supporting my husband re best option for me to catch up with ship, so I had a day and a half stressful wait to find out what if any option was available. Eventually the Agent came to the hotel and informed me things were booked and my husband had paid for costs and I could catch up with the ship ,which was to be 3 days later in Dubrovnik. So additional costs were to be 700 euros for 2 flights and 400 euros for hotel in Cofu!! it was the longest 4 days evverr!! It was not an experience either of us would ever wish to happen to anyone but we were so grateful and cannot Thank HAL Customer services manager Rosa and the Port Agency team enough, hence the 5 stars!! About the ship- yes it is an older but more traditional ship but the food was the best we have ever experienced and been on 15 different ships and cruise lines! Also the staff at the different bars were so attentive and friendly, particularly at the Adults pool bar, the Pinnacle bar and Sports bar!! We traveled in a party of 8 ages 45 - 80 years, 4 couples so we enjoyed our own company and had fun amongst ourselves, we particularly enjoyed the BB's lounge. However, we did feel the entertainment in general let the ship down. Come on Entertainment Team, Karaoke nights in The Library ! REALLY!!! We really liked our cabin, spacious with big bathroom, but we did not really have the time to enjoy the balcony as the cruise was port intensive so busy times! We decided as in a large group to pay the $45 dollars per person per day All Inc drinks package, where you are allowed 15 drinks but did not feel it was beneficial, more so because it was a med and port intensive cruise, only 1 sea day! Apart from the entertainment we would definitely do HAL the food was Amazing quality! Read Less
Sail Date: June 2015
I hadn't inquired as to the size of the ship, so this is on me. I'm used to the smaller ships. Too many people. I'd meet lovely people and then never see them again. I was berthed in the rear of the ship, and was ... Read More
I hadn't inquired as to the size of the ship, so this is on me. I'm used to the smaller ships. Too many people. I'd meet lovely people and then never see them again. I was berthed in the rear of the ship, and was exhausted by the time I reached the front to disembark. The Exploration Cafe (at first, I couldn't find the library--then was told that it is all part of a larger whole) could only be reached by the front elevators. Front desk by the middle elevators. So from now on I'll stick to The Rotterdam, Prinsendam and Amsterdam. That said, the staff and crew were (as always on HAL) outstanding. The food very very good--just don't order the short ribs with bloodwurst. I'm a 5-star Mariner, and took advantage of the free laundry. My things came back within 14 hours. So, if you want a mid-size ship, this is for you--just don't book a cabin in the rear. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: June 2015
As others have pointed out, the ship is not new, but there are just so many pluses about this ship, the little bit of rust just didn't deter me from thoroughly enjoying this cruise. After a week in bleak and cold England at my ... Read More
As others have pointed out, the ship is not new, but there are just so many pluses about this ship, the little bit of rust just didn't deter me from thoroughly enjoying this cruise. After a week in bleak and cold England at my niece's wedding, I was ready for 11 days of sunshine and heat, and it started out very hot in Venice. I did a walk around Venice early the morning the day the ship was departing, one hour from the Piazzale Roma to St. Mark's Square and about 30 minutes back. The best part is getting lost! The most wonderful about the ship is the staff. I was traveling solo, a 50s something woman, and the staff just couldn't have been nicer. The dining room manager knew my name and cabin number from day one and greeted me with a big smile. I was with the same waiter the entire trip. I did not have a reservation so just showed up at 5:30 each evening to get the same table. Food was beyond wonderful. I ordered room service breakfast everyday and was very happy. The one place I really don't love is the Lido on any ship, so I avoided it as much as possible. Just did a few lunches there. Used the hair salon twice for nails and a touch up of color. Was happy with that. The room - loved my balcony cabin front of the ship on deck 6. For one person, it was really big with a nice sized balcony. It was so quiet in that location. The only downside was the neighbor next door who smoked these little brown cigarettes that smelled like cigars. Whenever she was out there, I just had to go inside. But it wasn't a huge deal. I was really impressed by the dry dock improvements, the fab captain and again the staff. I went on an excursion to every port with the ship. Kind of wish I hadn't as the one thing you can count on with the bus tours is the guides feel they have to talk nonstop. I could have used a break from that a day or two, but since most of our ports were in Greece and their economic situation being so precarious, I decided to play it safe. Also since I was traveling alone, I thought it was safer. Only bummer was HAL put me on the wrong tour bus for one tour and I ended up back in Oia on Santorini, instead of seeing the Hidden Villages. Oia was nuts with tour buses, ATV, mopeds and people walking about. Other than that snafu which the Shore Excursion manager did refund ... took three attempts to get that straightened out, but the rest of the cruise was pure Heaven. Looking to do another Zuiderdam cruise next year! Read Less
Sail Date: June 2015
My husband and I took our 3 sons (ages 23, 20 and 13) for their first trip to Europe. We specifically picked this cruise for the great ports of call. We are very familiar with HAL and know that it is not the line you go on for all the ... Read More
My husband and I took our 3 sons (ages 23, 20 and 13) for their first trip to Europe. We specifically picked this cruise for the great ports of call. We are very familiar with HAL and know that it is not the line you go on for all the bells and whistles to keep people entertained every minute. On a European cruise where you are in a different port of call every day that is not what you want. I knew the ship had recently been in dry dock and I thought the public areas looked good. We had 2 SS cabins on the Navigation deck. Our cabin-8053 had toilet problems for the first 3 days, but the ship was very good about following through and making sure it was fixed. We ended up getting a $300 cabin credit to apologize for the problems. The size of the SS cabin was great-especially for 3 large boys! They loved that they had 2 sinks and a tub and shower so that 2 showers could be going at the same time if necessary. I loved the size of the balcony. We were perfectly midship and I loved to go out with my kindle and a glass of wine. We had the signature drink package as part of Explore4 promotion. I really enjoyed it-it was nice to be able to get a specialty coffee or glass of wine and not think about the price. It is annoying that you can't put it toward a higher level quality of wine or a bottle. The entertainment on the ship was lacking. The singers and dancers were OK, but the shows were stale and boring. We went to 1 show that billed itself as a night of "classic hits" and these classics ended up being from the 1940's and 50s. We enjoyed all the trivia and especially the movie/music trivia where they showed clips and played bits of songs. We hit them all however and made friends. My 13 year old really enjoyed the LOFT program. There were about 55 teenagers on board and they really had a good time together. Food on the Lido deck was consistently good. Everyone loved the Dive-In Burgers and Hot Dogs! Best deal on the ship was the $99 for unlimited laundry! I think we used it every day. Wifi was slow, but OK. We just signed up for unlimited with 1 device and split it amongst the family. We made good use of that $249! The gym needs more elliptical machines with TVs. The equipment could use an update. Not much in terms of TV viewing. And the TVs in the room are small flat screens. They definitely could use a larger size for more comfortable viewing. Overall, it was a great family cruise, with great ports. As expected. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: April 2015
We have sailed with HAL 4 other times and have not been disappointed. Our cabin was great, well kept, the furnishings were very comfortable. If you expect zip lines and water slides this is not the ship. If you want pampered service, ... Read More
We have sailed with HAL 4 other times and have not been disappointed. Our cabin was great, well kept, the furnishings were very comfortable. If you expect zip lines and water slides this is not the ship. If you want pampered service, excellent food and a relaxing vacation this is the cruise line. The entertainment is varied and you can always find something to do. The staff make this cruise line! Everyone has a smile and will do anything for the passengers. The food is excellent in all venues. Will be sailing on HAL again! Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2015
This was our first cruise ship experience, and we won't be traveling on Holland America any time soon. At the outset I should note we've got years of travel experience internationally - from our first trip from the US to ... Read More
This was our first cruise ship experience, and we won't be traveling on Holland America any time soon. At the outset I should note we've got years of travel experience internationally - from our first trip from the US to Mainland China in 1984.  We're very familiar how the hospitality industry SHOULD work.  HAL is the kind of organization that stinks from the head down, with policies and employee attitudes that are clearly reflective of senior management. The first overall issue with HAL is their attitude towards "Customer Service".  There is none.  We had emails with HAL months before the cruise that guaranteed certain amenities to be provided.  One example was the "VIP Package".  An in-cabin bottle of wine, flowers, and other amenities that were never received.  When we inquired with the front desk about it (including their reviewing the email we received), they refused to act on it saying only "they would need a response from their head office (which of course is closed on US weekends and holidays).  I've never heard of customer service people that weren't empowered by management to take action on behalf of the customer.     This ship itself is at the end of its useful life.  We had plumbing and water issues, elevators stalled for no reason, and huge rusted areas inside the ship were visible when ceiling panels were removed to fix some problem during the cruise.  Judging from the long lines at the front desk and other passenger comments, these issues were endemic to many of the passengers.  We ourselves experienced all of these issues (on deck 6 in a highly upgraded "Signature Suite" cabin). The Zuiderdam had just left drydock, where apparently the primary concern was building more expensive cabins at the back of the ship.  The captain made a big deal about this "$39M upgrade", but it was largely spent in an attempt to jam MORE suckers into higher-end cabins, instead of items that it is sorely in need of fixing.  The tender boat dock was covered in rust, and the handrail was almost rusted through!   The air conditioning on the ship is useless as well, and complaints about it are routinely ignored.  And our decrepit balcony furniture (one chair too unsafe to sit in) showed how inattentive to the ship's maintenance the company is.  If this is the quality of care and maintenance on the OUTSIDE, VISIBLE part of the ship, what's going on in the kitchens and engine room?? We are at the younger end of the cruising crowd, and were able to organize non-HAL shore excursions everywhere.  In most cases the same experience as those who purchased the HAL excursions, but 2/3 less cost.  Sadly however like the airlines, the cruise experience is filled with sneaky tricks that HAL uses to charge you for what you might think is included.   One egregious example is the "$50 per day drink package".  The fine print on this little gem excludes all branded wine and many beers, as their is a "maximum drink price" of $7 for inclusion in the package.  Essentially the passengers who drink themselves into a stupor on lousy beer at the buffet can get hammered, and the upscale passenger in the dining room gets hosed.  Get a reduction in the price of the cruise and pass on the drink package is our recommendation.  And while the cruise lines will not allow off-ship wine onboard, you can load up on soft drinks at nearly every port at half the price or less. And on arrival into Citvitavececchia, we were told by the destinations specialist (who never would tell anyone her real name) that "there are almost no taxis and the train station is a dangerous walk and not recommended" - all in an attempt to sell us transport into Rome at twice the price of the competition. I again note that we've attempted to discuss these issues with the so-called onboard management.  They refuse to come out of their offices for ANYONE - we saw passengers angry at minibar charges and other billing errors demand to see a manager and refused.  Over the years we've had our share of hotel difficulties, and have never been refused the step of speaking to management, who were almost always able to correct the issue.   Much of the staff (mostly indonesian and filipino) were polite and responsive, but did not exude any particular happiness or enthusiasm for their jobs.  We had one barman at the Lido Pool deck who never smiled, rarely greeted anyone, and never proffered a hello or thank you.  Perhaps someone that should be in the kitchen instead of serving the public directly.   The main dining room was very will run, and the food generally interesting and tasty.  It's a difficult task to feed some 2000 passengers a cruise dining experience everyday, but we were generally satisfied with their result.  The waiters here went the extra mile to ingratiate themselves with the passengers.  The portions we found very reasonable size, and we didn't experience the cruise ship "bloat" that many have.  Of course with the average cruise ship passenger moving "downscale" from the past, we would guess several hundred preferred the fast-food but all-you-can-eat environment of the Lido Grill (aka "hillbilly") deck.  If dining room staff were a little more aggressive in discouraging passengers who don't even own any "smart casual" dress from the dining room, it would be more pleasant for everyone. We don't see the reason that the ship can't have a 7/11 type store onboard for passengers to get bottled soft drinks and other amenities.  The bottled water in the rooms was marked at $3.50 a bottle!  While the tap water seemed perfectly fine to drink, this seemed another petty attempt to slug us for a few more bucks (and the $3.50 doesn't apply to the drink package!) The Zuiderdam is a technology joke, which I would suspect is a major stumbling block for marketing to younger people.  The in-house TV system was just crap, with bad pictures on the world's cheapest cabin-installed TV's.  And while we had a DVD player included, it wasn't connected properly and the DVD's (get them at the front desk) were mostly scratched, unplayable, and useless.  Satellite TV was available and that was fine,  but the biggest issue these cruise lines need to face up to is internet access.  It's currently an overpriced, gouge-you-for-dollars joke.  I routinely ran speed tests on the connection and it was about 1/3 the speed of when I was using an analog MODEM. And at $249 for 10 days of connectivity (which quits after an hour and requires a complex rebooting to restart), someone's getting filthy rich on this gouge.  The internet provider Harris Corp claims that HAL isn't providing enough bandwidth for the demand (no kidding), but clearly the bandwidth is available to meet the demand.  And it's not like these issues aren't well known - with so many tourists shooting photos on their iPhones, these devices are set to sync to the cloud when connected and most don't know they should or ever CAN disable this feature.  The result is a completely unusable system.   We understand other cruise companies are doing better (as are the airlines, where I routinely can get an over-the-ocean satellite connection at 2MB+ along with all my fellow passengers).  But HAL will drive away potential passengers with this major shortcoming.  The internet is no longer a "luxury", but a mainstream requirement.  Many of the passengers who were loathe to be raped by HAL for this service on-board could be seen jamming cafes around the ports with their devices, trying to just get a bit of communication. All in all, we liked the idea of the cruising experience. As people who've driven for weeks around Europe with the incessant check-in, check-out of hotels that such travel requires, it was nice to be based on one location for 11 days. But this isn't the kind of ship we had in mind. Perhaps others are better. We're willing to find out. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2015
This was our first time with HAL and we loved it! Our cabin, 6132 was in the rear of the ship and near the elevators. Perfect location. It was quiet and while we did feel the gentle rocking of the ship at night, there was not excessive ... Read More
This was our first time with HAL and we loved it! Our cabin, 6132 was in the rear of the ship and near the elevators. Perfect location. It was quiet and while we did feel the gentle rocking of the ship at night, there was not excessive motion. It was our first balcony room and we are spoiled now. Our room stewards were wonderful. We chose open seating for meals because we don't like dressing for dinner every night. The Lido was a good choice for us but we did wish there was more variety of foods for supper. The lunch had a deli, Asian, Italian, Mexican bar, hamburgers, salad bar, and the hot food. At supper, only Italian and the hot bar. We discovered too late that the Dive Inn burgers was open until 5 if we didn't like the menu. The formal nights we went to the Vista DR and got seated right away. The service was great and the food was excellent. We went to the show room most evenings and found the entertainment to be mostly good. The Chapman brothers were the highlight for us. We also spent time in the BB King Blues Club and really enjoyed the all star band. I found the ports to be all I had hoped for and more. After an exhausting day of touring, I couldn't wait for the next site. St. Tropez was the only port that was a little disappointing but it was a quaint small village with a Citadel and lots of shops. We didn't do any tours from there so we just hung out on the ship most of the day. I felt in awe everywhere we went. To be walking on 2500 year old roads and be drinking coffee in a 800 year old village and walking through 1500 year old churches is just phenomenal, bringing history to life was a dream come true. We did not have enough time in Rome but thanks to HAL granting permission for our tour to stay an extra hour, we were able to see the Vatican. The Pope was in the square speaking when we arrived (an added surprise) so the Sistene Chapel and the church was closed until 1. Thank you, HAL! I had a problem with allergies pretty much the whole cruise. I initially thought it was started by the flowering trees in Greece but I think there was something on the ship I reacted to. Someone suggested it was from the new carpets/paint. The fog machine in the shows always started me coughing. I finally made a visit to the Medical Center and found it to be very nice. Other cruises I've been on, the Dr.'s office has been hard to find and not well organized. We only took 3 HAL excursions but the process was very organized. We booked private tours with other on CC and had some ports we just walked on our own. I have learned that a tour is valuable if you want to know anything about what you are seeing. I think I will always book something in advance in the future. I have a couple of insights for you. Don't get the internet from the ship. Everyone was complaining about how slow it was and it was taking 15 min of their time to just check email. I had arranged for global data with Verizon thinking that I could use WiFi in ports. I found it was not as plentiful as I thought so ended up using my data and went over my 100 MB 3 times. I spent the same $100 on my data but I could access it wherever I wanted, not just on the ship. The 2nd thing is laundry. It was $30 for all you could get in a small bag. We did it 3 times. They had a $99 unlimited that I should have done if it covered our whole 22 days. Also, we had the promotion beverage package which was $100/day per cabin (drinks under $7 Each). We never drank anywhere near that much even with coffees, soft drinks, and smoothies. We would not pay for the package. Also, we felt the mixed drinks were very weak. I even wondered if there was any alcohol in them sometimes. We are very happy we chose this trip. People ask what my favorite thing was and I can not answer because it was all one big favorite thing Read Less
Sail Date: April 2015
This was our first cruise ship experience, and we won't be traveling on Holland America any time soon. At the outset I should note we've got years of travel experience internationally - from our first trip from the US to ... Read More
This was our first cruise ship experience, and we won't be traveling on Holland America any time soon. At the outset I should note we've got years of travel experience internationally - from our first trip from the US to Mainland China in 1984. We're very familiar how the hospitality industry SHOULD work. HAL is the kind of organization that stinks from the head down, with policies and employee attitudes that are clearly reflective of senior management. The first overall issue with HAL is their attitude towards "Customer Service". There is none. We had emails with HAL months before the cruise that guaranteed certain amenities to be provided. One example was the "VIP Package". An in-cabin bottle of wine, flowers, and other amenities that were never received. When we inquired with the front desk about it (including their reviewing the email we received), they refused to act on it saying only "they would need a response from their head office (which of course is closed on US weekends and holidays). I've never heard of customer service people that weren't empowered by management to take action on behalf of the customer. This ship itself is at the end of its useful life. We had plumbing and water issues, elevators stalled for no reason, and huge rusted areas inside the ship were visible when ceiling panels were removed to fix some problem during the cruise. Judging from the long lines at the front desk and other passenger comments, these issues were endemic to many of the passengers. We ourselves experienced all of these issues (on deck 6 in a highly upgraded "Signature Suite" cabin). The Zuiderdam had just left drydock, where apparently the primary concern was building more expensive cabins at the back of the ship. The air conditioning on the ship is useless as well, and complaints about it are routinely ignored. And our decrepit balcony furniture (one chair too unsafe to sit in) showed how inattentive to the ship's maintenance the company is. We are at the younger end of the cruising crowd, and were able to organize non-HAL shore excursions everywhere. In most cases the same experience as those who purchased the HAL excursions, but 2/3 less cost. Sadly however like the airlines, the cruise experience is filled with sneaky tricks that HAL uses to charge you for what you might think is included. One egregious example is the "$50 per day drink package". The fine print on this little gem excludes all branded wine and many beers, as their is a "maximum drink price" of $7 for inclusion in the package. Essentially the passengers who drink lousy beer in the buffet can get hammered, and the upscale passenger in the dining room gets hosed. Get a reduction in the price of the cruise and pass on the drink package is our recommendation. And while the cruise lines will not allow off-ship wine onboard, you can load up on soft drinks at nearly every port at half the price or less. I again note that we've attempted to discuss these issues with the so-called onboard management. They refuse to come out of their offices for ANYONE - we saw passengers angry at minibar charges and other billing errors demand to see a manager and refused. Over the years we've had our share of hotel difficulties, and have never been refused the step of speaking to management, who were almost always able to correct the issue. Much of the staff (mostly indonesian and filipino) were polite and responsive, but did not exude any particular happiness or enthusiasm for their jobs. We had one barman at the Lido Pool deck who never smiled, rarely greeted anyone, and never proffered a hello or thank you. Perhaps someone that should be in the kitchen instead of serving the public directly. The main dining room was very will run, and the food generally interesting and tasty. It's a difficult task to feed some 2000 passengers a cruise dining experience everyday, but we were generally satisfied with their result. The waiters here went the extra mile to ingratiate themselves with the passengers. The portions we found very reasonable size, and we didn't experience the cruise ship "bloat" that many have. Of course with the average cruise ship passenger moving "downscale" from the past, we would guess several hundred preferred the fast-food but all-you-can-eat environment of the Lido Grill (aka "hillbilly") deck. If dining room staff were a little more aggressive in discouraging passengers who don't even own any "smart casual" dress from the dining room, it would be more pleasant for everyone. We don't see the reason that the ship can't have a 7/11 type store onboard for passengers to get bottled soft drinks and other amenities. The bottled water in the rooms was marked at $3.50 a bottle! While the tap water seemed perfectly fine to drink, this seemed another petty attempt to slug us for a few more bucks (and the $3.50 doesn't apply to the drink package!) A nice touch was the short talks about the upcoming ports, and an orientation of what was worthwhile to see and do. This particular cruise was in large part Americans, along with a large number of Australians. While I found these lectures from "K.K." (who apparently is not keen on revealing her actual name) informative, I found some of her political and social commentary distasteful and insensitive - as did others sitting around us. The Zuiderdam is a technology joke, which I would suspect is a major stumbling block for marketing to younger people. The in-house TV system was just crap, with bad pictures on the world's cheapest cabin-installed TV's. And while we had a DVD player included, it wasn't connected properly and the DVD's (get them at the front desk) were mostly scratched, unplayable, and useless. Satellite TV was available and that was fine, but the biggest issue these cruise lines need to face up to is internet access. It's currently an overpriced, gouge-you-for-dollars joke. I routinely ran speed tests on the connection and it was about 1/3 the speed of when I was using an analog MODEM. And at $249 for 10 days of connectivity (which quits after an hour and requires a complex rebooting to restart), someone's getting filthy rich on this gouge. The internet provider Harris Corp claims that HAL isn't providing enough bandwidth for the demand (no kidding), but clearly the bandwidth is available to meet the demand. And it's not like these issues aren't well known - with so many tourists shooting photos on their iPhones, these devices are set to sync to the cloud when connected and most don't know they should or ever CAN disable this feature. The result is a completely unusable system. We understand other cruise companies are doing better (as are the airlines, where I routinely can get an over-the-ocean satellite connection at 2MB+ along with all my fellow passengers). But HAL will drive away potential passengers with this major shortcoming. The internet is no longer a "luxury", but a mainstream requirement. Many of the passengers who were loathe to be raped by HAL for this service on-board could be seen jamming cafes around the ports with their devices, trying to just get a bit of communication. With a few days to go we may have additional comments as we get closer to disembarkation. But we're quite sure we won't be on a Holland America cruise ship again. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2015
This was our 5th HAL cruise in a row. The previous ones were on the Rotterdam and Ryndam, I was a bit hesitant about a Vista Class ship, it being a lot bigger. The Zuiderdam turned out to be a great ship, although a lot more pax on board ... Read More
This was our 5th HAL cruise in a row. The previous ones were on the Rotterdam and Ryndam, I was a bit hesitant about a Vista Class ship, it being a lot bigger. The Zuiderdam turned out to be a great ship, although a lot more pax on board than the on the Rotterdam and Ryndam , it was felt never crowded or busy. Our cruise was the second one after the early april drydock, apart from some construction going on on deck 10, the ship was in a perfect condition. Freshly painted, lost of new carpets and all new chairs in the MDR. There were some issues on the first voyage after drydock but they seem to be fixed on our cruise, apart from some public toilets not working. Embarkation in Venice and disembarkation in Civitavecchia went as smooth as ever. In Venice we took the Alilaguna Blue line boat to the pier. No problem whatsoever, the crew takes care of the luggage . Just make sure you have a ticket , they don't sell any on the boat. From San Marco to the pier is about 25 minutes. After disemabarkation we took a train from Civitavecchia to Rome, train station is a 20 minute walk. Luckily we had booked first class on the express train to Rome otherwise finding a spot and space for the luggage would not have been easy. There were 5 ships in port and the train station and platforms were packed. We had dinner in the Pinnacle once, not as good as on the Ryn- and Rotterdam. Dinner in the MDR was better than on the other ships. Menu's were varied , service perfect and we never had to wait with our open seating option. We usually came to the MDR between 6 and 7 pm. We also had breakfast in the MDR, only once was our order a bit messed up, but promptly corrected. Since the weather during the whole trip was sunny and warm, lots of people were on deck. There were always enough deck chairs and towels even though part of deck 10 was closed. If you would believe the weather forecast given by HAL , you would always dress too warm. On every day there were off by at least 7 degrees centigrade. I checked the local forecast everyday online. HAL finally did away with the Hal-cats and entermaint was more varied. The best ones as far as we are concerned , were Adagio , playing every night in the Explorers Lounge . They were colleagues from a music academy in Rumania and played a wide range of tunes from classical to film music on the violin and piano. Judging from the amount of people who came to see the show every night we weren't the only ones. Average age onboard was lower than on other trips ( I guess about 55-65 avg.) and nationalities mainly USA, Canada, Australia and about 130 Dutch . So a nice mix. Ports on this trip were Venice, Katakolon, Nafplion, Pireaus, Kusadasi, Mykonos, Rhodes, Santorini, Naples and Rome. All ports had something to offer, some more than others. Santorini is impressive as you sail into the caldera of the volcano. Katakolon, Nafplion, Piraeus and Kusadasi are perfect ports for visiting Greek and Turkish archelogical sites. Except for a HAL tour to the top of the Vesuvius in Naples we organised the tours ourselves, sometimes with a little help from other CC members. All in all, as the old HAL saying goes : "It is good to be on a well run ship" and that certainly was true for this trip thanks to a wonderful staff !! Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: April 2015
We were on the Zuiderdam for a 22 day Venice to Rome to Barcelona vacation. Very port intensive, but most of the ports were wonderful. First part was Greece and Greek isles; second part was Italy, France and Spain. Ship was extremely ... Read More
We were on the Zuiderdam for a 22 day Venice to Rome to Barcelona vacation. Very port intensive, but most of the ports were wonderful. First part was Greece and Greek isles; second part was Italy, France and Spain. Ship was extremely comfortable and convenient. Crew was exceptionally friendly and helpful. Cabin (6041) was above average in space and storage. We never felt crowded. The elevators came as soon as you pressed the button! I think the highlight, and the reason we selected this cruise, was the ports of call. It was very port-intensive and we began looking forward to the few sea days. There were a lot of different ship activities for different interests, but we found that they often overlapped/conflicted. Most of the guest entertainers were great, but the resident singers and dancers were only a B, at best. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: April 2015
If I were a first time cruiser I might have thought our 22 day Mediteranian cruise on the Zuiderdam was wonderful. We have been cruising with Holland America for more than 20 years and just within the past five years there have been what ... Read More
If I were a first time cruiser I might have thought our 22 day Mediteranian cruise on the Zuiderdam was wonderful. We have been cruising with Holland America for more than 20 years and just within the past five years there have been what must be systemic changes throughout the cruise line to cut costs and increase profits at the expense of the sailing passenger. Gone are the days of free water and sodas, midnight buffets, first class entertainment, desert night, ice carvings, fruit carvings and the list goes on. Beyond that the food, that used to be so good each guest was given a souvenier menu to take home for each night is a distant memory. The food throughout the ship excepting the Pinnacle Grill is average and repetitive at best. Service, due to personnel cutbacks is again a shadow of its former self. Shore excursions were fine, but vastly overpriced and while disembarkation itself went well it was not thel case after you were off the ship and had made arrangements to have Holland America get you to the airport. Yes we were taken to the airport in a timely fashion, but once there didn't see any signs for American Airlines. The HA rep said all would be explained once we got off the bus. Got off the bus and were told all would be explained inside. No one inside. Passengers were bouncing around like pinballs trying to figure out where to go. Bottom line is that these problems do not appear to be exlusive to Holland America so we will not be cruising again. Read Less
9 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2015
From an experienced cruise traveler: STAY AWAY FROM THIS CRUISE LINE Worst cruise ever. The ship was being repaired while sailing. Huge amount of noise. Debris falling on the balcony. Top deck not accessible. Any-time dining ... Read More
From an experienced cruise traveler: STAY AWAY FROM THIS CRUISE LINE Worst cruise ever. The ship was being repaired while sailing. Huge amount of noise. Debris falling on the balcony. Top deck not accessible. Any-time dining restaurant: Running out of food items. Running out of WATER!! Very limited service hours. Scarce number of table attendants. Not enough tables for the number of guests. Entertainment: Very poor quality, not even close to other cruise companies. Very limited number of guest-participation games/contests/shows. Gives you a lot of time to spend in the cabin to think what a mistake you made! Chaotic disembarkation. As a result, many guests missed their flights or train rides. UNBELIEVABLE!! Holland America was contacted for a partial refund due to delivering a one-star trip, when they advertise it as a four/five star cruise. Their response was impersonal and, of course, declining to even discuss the situation... Read Less
Sail Date: April 2015
This company understaffs their ships. Not enough crew members to serve the passengers properly. The ship sailed before dry dock repairs were completed (we found that after the ship left port!). Repairs were done while sailing. Loud ... Read More
This company understaffs their ships. Not enough crew members to serve the passengers properly. The ship sailed before dry dock repairs were completed (we found that after the ship left port!). Repairs were done while sailing. Loud noises. Debris falling in balconies. No access to top deck. Limited view balcony not disclosed at time of booking, but charged full price. Any-time dining restaurant running out of food items! Running out of WATER!! Very limited food serving hours. Only two attendants for roughly one hundred and fifty restaurant chairs. The entertainment was worse than a two-star experience. Contacted the company for a partial refund, well deserved, but were given lame excuses, no refund. Seriously, try other cruise companies!!! Read Less
Sail Date: October 2008
It has been just a week since we disembarked the Zuiderdam in Ft. Lauderdale. We are still working our way back to reality - even though, some days, we would rather not. After having spent four glorious days in Venice we arrived at the ... Read More
It has been just a week since we disembarked the Zuiderdam in Ft. Lauderdale. We are still working our way back to reality - even though, some days, we would rather not. After having spent four glorious days in Venice we arrived at the cruise terminal to unbelievably long lines for check-in. This was not a good way to begin our voyage but, as it turns out, it was definitely the worst part of the whole trip. We have done a fair amount of cruising and love life on board and were not disappointed. As we have come to expect on HAL ships, the crew was phenomenal. They work so very hard and really got put to the test this time because of the arrival of the "norovirus". The ship was on "code red" for most of the trip and this certainly led to a few inconveniences for all of us but it meant extra work for all of the crew - which they did and still continued to smile! This is the first time we had "As you Like" dining. We were not sure how it would work out but it was fine. We found a window table that we really liked and made a reservation each night for that particular table. After being there a couple of nights the dining room stewards knew, ahead of time, what we liked and would bring things without being asked. We also like to dance and enjoyed the trio that was playing in the Ocean Bar each night, as well as the ship's band that played on several different occasions. The entertainment was good. We particularly enjoyed the individual artists that entertained during the cruise. The ship's singers and dancers were quite good and the costuming has improved greatly over some we have seen, on earlier cruises. Since we were onboard for Election Day, there was mock election onboard - a nice touch for us political junkies. All in all it was a wonderful cruise ! Ahhhh - sweet memories! Read Less
Sail Date: October 2008
Sailing out of Venice is one of the most exciting and beautiful "sail outs" in all of cruisingdom and ours on the Zuiderdam October 23, 2008 was no exception. We had arranged to have our first Cruise Critic Board member ... Read More
Sailing out of Venice is one of the most exciting and beautiful "sail outs" in all of cruisingdom and ours on the Zuiderdam October 23, 2008 was no exception. We had arranged to have our first Cruise Critic Board member "Meet and Greet" during the sailaway and were all gathered in the Crows Nest meeting one another in person for the first time and watching Venice slide by when Mark Pells, the Hotel Manager, welcomed us and announced that the bar was open and he was treating! That was only the beginning of Mark's generosity. He also gave us a Mimosa and Champagne party AND a delicious luncheon in the Pinnacle Grill. His warm hospitality was exhibited by the entire crew of this remarkable ship. Our cruise continued through fabulous ports (Dubrovnik, Corfu, Messina, Civitavecchia, Cartegena, Cadiz, and Funchal) before sailing for Half Moon Cay (changed to Nassau) and Ft. Lauderdale. Several days into the cruise we became aware that the Noro Virus was also aboard and I must say here that I cannot praise the crew of the Zuiderdam enough even though both my husband and I caught the bug. The Medical Staff were compassionate, thorough and effective in treating us and making us comfortable but even more amazing was the entire ship's compliment as they fought this contagious bug. In spite of doubling their chores, the crew continued to smile and jump to do even small services, anything to make a passenger's day happier. The heroic and continuous cleaning were truly impressive. A friend of ours suggested that they also place Purell in the elevators. Not only did that happen right away, our friend received flowers and chocolates in her cabin for having made a good suggestion. Only about 282 people fell ill out of well over 2000 folks aboard. This is a remarkably low number when you consider we were all in a highly enclosed environment together for 17 nights. Many many thanks to HAL! Read Less
Sail Date: October 2008
Sanitation: poor. We departed Venice on Oct. 23, 2008, for the 17-day cruise and it wasn't until Oct. 27 that passengers were notified the GI virus had infected passengers on the preceding cruise. By that time the virus was ... Read More
Sanitation: poor. We departed Venice on Oct. 23, 2008, for the 17-day cruise and it wasn't until Oct. 27 that passengers were notified the GI virus had infected passengers on the preceding cruise. By that time the virus was spreading on our cruise and hundreds of passengers became ill. The extensive but belated efforts to encourage hand washing should have been initiated the first day we boarded and passengers should have been IMMEDIATELY informed of the virus danger. Being sick or weak from the illness for nearly one-third of the cruise took much of the enjoyment out of our trip. And it was insulting to hear the repeated announcements that such shipboard virus outbreaks are common. They are not, and this was the first cruise we have been on where there was such an outbreak. It was amusing that we were diverted from our scheduled port stop at Half Moon Cay because another Holland America ship was there, and instead docked at Nassau, where four or five cruise ships from other cruise lines were docked. Apparently infecting them was of no concern. Food: inconsistent quality. Sometimes the beef was wonderful, other times it was so tough it couldn't be cut with a knife. The veal would be good one time and awful the next. The baked goods (as cookies) were only fair. The dining room food often arrived cold (as did the room service coffee) and service was very slow. Overall the food quality was not nearly as good as on our previous cruises. Passengers: there were more poorly dressed passengers than we have ever seen before (such as one man wearing a tee-shirt in the dining room on formal night). Perhaps because of airline luggage restrictions cruise ships may have to entirely give up on any dress code. There seemed to be less courtesy among the passengers than usual, perhaps because of the virus. Entertainment: very good variety and quality. Embarkation/Debarkation: Both were very poorly organized. Hurriedly dumping 1,800 passengers into a processing building which had only two immigration inspectors to handle us was ridiculous. Apparently Holland America wanted to begin a belated thorough disinfecting process ASAP before the next cruise passengers boarded. One report was that their scheduled morning boarding was delayed until 11 p.m.! (I wonder if the cleaning helped?) Laundry service: slow, and my $80 shirt had a hole punched in it. The cost for unlimited service was $120! But with no self-service laundry, there is not much alternative (unless you enjoy wearing dirty clothing or spending a lot of time washing in your cabin). On-board shops: average. Prices of course are almost always better for the same items in the ports, if you can find them. Cabin: The heating/cooling vent in the ceiling blows directly in your face, and if you have sinus problems this can be very uncomfortable. We taped it partially shut to divert the airflow. Our cabin was on the Navigation Deck, immediately below the Lido Deck swimming pool and outside bar dining area at the stern of the ship. The deck of our balcony was constantly soaked with water, apparently from the crew washing the deck immediately above us. The noise from the cleaning crew moving tables and chairs on the Lido Deck woke us up daily between 5 and 7 a.m. I would not recommend this cabin location, and wave motion would have been less felt on a lower deck. The cabin furnishings were worn, dirty and needed replacing. The bed was very comfortable. The day before we docked two crew members (not our room steward) knocked very briefly and then barged in on my wife in bed before she could reply, to empty the refrigerator. Interior stairways: They only have about a 10.5 inch horizontal surface, and can often cause mis-steps/falls. Poor design. Port stops: Average; it would have been nice to have visited Mykonos, Rhodes or Santorini. But of course we knew the itinerary in advance. Venice was great as always. Crew courtesy: excellent, under difficult circumstances. Both the cabin and dining room stewards are greatly overworked, probably another sign of cost-cutting by Holland America. Our hard-working cabin steward, for example, was responsible for about 30 cabins. Summary: Will we cruise Holland America again? Doubtful; probably back to Cunard. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2008
We sailed HAL for the first time on the Zuiderdam, transatlantic, Venice - Ft. Lauderdale. It was the cruise from "Hell" for us. Embarkation of 1800 folks was chaotic.. hurry and wait, hurry and wait.. Just imagine folks ... Read More
We sailed HAL for the first time on the Zuiderdam, transatlantic, Venice - Ft. Lauderdale. It was the cruise from "Hell" for us. Embarkation of 1800 folks was chaotic.. hurry and wait, hurry and wait.. Just imagine folks in a warehouse with 10 - 20 counters checking you in and my wife and I with advanced "registration". The number of people on canes, walkers and "scooters" was impressive although we are not of that disability.. we appreciated the older folks who dared the transatlantic crossing. Our basis of comparison was six other cruises, including a transatlantic cruise on the QE II before she was purchased as a hotel. We even bought Carnival stock during the cruise, thinking that we would take advantage of the rumored discount if you owned Carnival stock for our future cruises. As we finally entered our stateroom (not ready when we boarded - but Lido Buffet allowed us to sit and have lunch and buy the $200 wine package) we noted, casually, a letter of "welcome" telling us about previous incidents of "norovirus" and advising us to wash hands frequently from day one. By day five, the buffet had saran wrap closing it in, all trays, silverware, etc. were handed to the guests by ship employees; all salt and pepper was removed and meal service in the dining room slowed to 1 1/2 to 2 hours (including breakfast).. public restrooms were considered off limits and "code red" was in effect. Our $250 thermal package which included the spa pool and thermal rooms were closed and we watched them scrub and clean these areas due to an out of control virus.. Rooms that reported the norovirus were specially handled with masked employees - cleaned and sanitized.. it was reported there were 300 passengers who fell to the virus. Our problems occurred when my wife was tossed into the bathtub during the one day of rough seas with "possible cracked ribs" according to the ship's doctor and the last six hours of the cruise when both of us contracted the norovirus. The nurse came twice during the night, administered a shot and medication to me and scolded my wife for waiting so long to report the symptoms. The virus was a severe case of "Montezuma's Revenge" that I've had in Mexico. It was as if a hand was grasping my intestines and squeezing them with the resulting diarrhea and vomiting for 4 hours. Since it was at the end of the voyage our stateroom was quarantined prior to disembarkation and we were gather with others separately and I was wheeled off the ship, through immigration, customs and onto the bus to Ft.Lauderdale airport where I was wheeled through Ft. Lauderdale, Cincinnati and St. Louis Missouri airports. I was absolutely debilitated and I had trouble holding up my head. We followed up with HAL in Seattle. We had already deposited and schedule our transatlantic crossing on the Eurodam for April, 2009 and have requested full refund of our deposit and reimbursement for costs of getting to departure gates at the various airports in November, 2008. We're anxious to see how HAL recognize our "pain and suffering" during out sixth cruise. We did find many experienced travelers on HAL, the ones we interacted with, were disappointed and said this was not up to HAL standards. Perhaps staff is less available given the cost cutting. Our cabin person confessed that he no long was responsible for 15 cabins but rather 30 as of this crossing. Our stateroom was cleaned and readied by 4 p.m. daily. I'm afraid that this Zuiderdam experience has queered our future sailings. We will think long and hard before we take any other cruise during our lifetimes. We have heard recently that the Regency Cruise Lines is expensive but worth the extra - no "nickle and dime" pestering for drinks and extras as we felt was the case on the Zuiderdam. Our ship board charges amounted to over $2,000 in addition to the cruise and air costs. We learned that many others paid far LESS for similar ship accommodations which was disappointing since we had deposited and reserved six months in advance and thought that we had be treated well. Little did we know that certain charter groups from Canada especially, were attracted by extreme bargain cruise and charter air prices. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2008
Seventeen days on the Zuiderdam - a very nice experience. There have been several reviews of this cruise, so I will try to comment on just a few pertinent areas. First: The noro virus. Some people have written that the ship remained ... Read More
Seventeen days on the Zuiderdam - a very nice experience. There have been several reviews of this cruise, so I will try to comment on just a few pertinent areas. First: The noro virus. Some people have written that the ship remained silent about this problem for the first week or so of the cruise. I remember it differently. I specifically remember an announcement on embarkation day that there had been some cases of intestinal disorder on the previous cruise and advising passengers to take the appropriate precautions. There was also a written note to that effect in our suite. After 3 or 4 days, it became clear to the medical staff on board that the virus was still with the ship. There were announcements every day from that point on about the situation and reminders to be sanitary, wash hands, etc. I spent a day and a half in quarantine and felt that I got excellent, professional treatment. Every member of the crew pitched in and helped, particularly in food service where, because of the virus, passengers were not allowed to touch anything until it was on the plate. This was particularly cumbersome in the Lido Buffet. As a result lunches were not very enjoyable. I thought the officers, crew, and medical staff did everything they could to deal with this problem. The CDC calls this virus the second most common contagious disease(next to the cold.) The presence of such a virus in an enclosed environment presents most difficult challenges. I applaud the crew for their hard work and great attitude while dealing with this problem Two highlights: The quality of food at dinner time on this ship was as good as, or better than we have experienced in something over a dozen cruises. I have always thought that Holland America provided good, but not great food. They exceeded my expectations on this cruise. Every evening meal on this 17-day cruise was excellent! We enjoyed the meals in the main dining room and had three dinners in the Pinnacle Grill. The food in either venue was consistently outstanding. The Pinnacle Grill quality was slightly better and the service there was as good as I've seen. We have enjoyed wonderful meals on Crystal and Regent. Our experiences on this cruise were just as memorable. What a great surprise! The other highlight was the quality of the singing and dancing troupe on the ship. These young folks were more talented than any I have seen on a cruise ship. In a cast like this, I usually find one singer with great talent while the rest are just supporting. This cast had 4 singers, and each one was tremendous. The dancing and showmanship of the entire cast brings a smile to my face even now. One "lowlight": "As You Wish Dining" doesn't work very well on Zuiderdam. Indeed, we began to refer to it as "As the Zuiderdam wishes dining." We tried advance reservations. (They don't take reservations during the most desirable dining times - so if you want a reservation you must eat before 6 or after 8:30.) We tried showing up "when we wanted to dine with whom we wanted" (as the ads say). Each appearance at the restaurant was an adventure. We were shown to tables that were already occupied. We were told that there were no tables for four, only to get to the room and see several empty tables for four. Then, on other nights everything worked very well. There may be a way to make this system work. If so, Zuiderdam hasn't discovered it. Although a problem, it was overcome by the outstanding food we enjoyed once we were seated. One final comment. I'd read in various reviews that the decor of the Zuiderdam was rather gaudy. This must have been mitigated in the ship's most recent drydock. We felt that the ship was very tastefully decorated and had no complaints at all in that regard. Summary: The cruise was excellent despite the nagging presence of the noro virus. The outstanding attitude and amazing hard work by the crew is what made the cruise enjoyable despite the big challenges they faced. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2008
We are a couple from south Florida who booked this cruise as an (early) celebration of my 60th birthday. Because of a small inheritance, we had some extra money, so we really "splurged" on this cruise! We flew business class ... Read More
We are a couple from south Florida who booked this cruise as an (early) celebration of my 60th birthday. Because of a small inheritance, we had some extra money, so we really "splurged" on this cruise! We flew business class from Miami to Zurich to Venice, and booked a deluxe suite on the Zuiderdam in the stern of the ship with a huge, wrap around balcony. We flew into Venice a couple days early and stayed at a great B&B near St. Mark's Square. It was great to have extra time in that magical city, but it wasn't near enough. We boarded our lovely ship at around 13:30 Thursday, October 23rd. It was a little disorganized and, although we went to the shorter line for suite check-ins, it didn't really matter because there was a huge line for the security scans. No matter. Even with the long line, it only took us about 20 minutes or so to get aboard. Although it was close to 14:00, a staff member greeting us as we boarded said that our rooms weren't ready. So, we went up to the Neptune Lounge to wait. But when we reached there, they cheerfully informed us that, of course our suite was ready and escorted us to our room. What a room! We'd had an SS suite before on the Westerdam, and the SC cabin was similar, but with some nice additions. Six roomy closets, half with optional shelves, cabinet space all over the room; a dressing room with a three-drawer vanity; and a huge balcony! I practically lived on that balcony. I don't know if we would have gotten so much use out of a side balcony because it was cold and stormy during some of the trip. But our completely covered balcony was out of the wind and weather if you didn't go over to the side section. I'd never had a wake cabin before and found the sound of the water hypnotic. It sounded like a waterfall (Niagara?) and I found my eyes closing too often as I sat out there and gazed at the water. The room was in good shape, though there was a slight stain on the carpet. Our cabin steward, Dedi, was fantastic, going beyond the call of duty several times during the cruise. The sailaway in Venice was breathtakingly beautiful. We enjoyed it from the Crow's Nest as we met our fellow Cruise Critic cruisers from our roll call. We had an extremely active roll call and about 60 of us showed up at the Meet and Greet. It was great to have "friends" aboard whom you'd been "talking" to online for ages as we all anticipated our upcoming cruise. Sorta like having a ready-made family aboard. It really increased our enjoyment of the cruise to have friends to hang with on shore excursions and on the ship. The hotel manager, Mark, was very welcoming to us. He attended both the first Meet & Greet, but also our second one on our first sea day. Then he surprised us with a special luncheon for CC'ers at the Pinnacle Grill. What a treat that was!! HAL has a reputation for good service, and it lived up to its reputation as far as we were concerned. We had great service in the dining room with waiter Ali and assistant waiter, Kadek. They were so sweet and went out of their way to anticipate our needs. All the crew, especially those that worked in food service, were working double and triple time because of the extra burden of being under Code Red for most of the cruise. Yet, almost every one of the crew and staff we had any dealings with were unfailingly polite and professional. We had no complaints whatsoever about the service on the Zuiderdam. We really disliked what they've done to the Crow's Nest - adding the internet cafe and library. Why would anyone put a library and nightclub in the same room?? It has completely destroyed the ambiance of the Crow's Nest, which used to be our favorite place to enjoy a drink and do a little dancing. Adding the screening room was a nice touch on deck 3, but we never got to see a movie there because the seats were always taken. There also seemed to be fewer shops with fewer choices than we had seen on the Westerdam in March 07. We both found the food to be excellent in both the dining room and lido. Loved all the ice cream choices - totally free. Nothing feels like "vacation" as an ice cream cone. And, of course, the scrumptious bread pudding with vanilla sauce!! Pinnacle Grill was great for dinner and breakfast. We didn't see as many shows as we normally do. Part of that was because the entertainers were sick with Noro virus. But mainly the problem was the change of time for the shows. We had fixed dining at 8pm. In order to see a show, we had to go to the 7pm one, which was just too early for us, especially days we were in port. We used to enjoy the 10 pm shows very much, so were disappointed with the change of times. Again, can't figure the logic of whomever made that decision. We greatly enjoyed all the ports: Dubrovnik, Corfu, Sicily (Taurmina), Rome, Cartegena, Cadiz, and Madeira. The only complaint I had about the ships tour in Rome was that we couldn't hear the tour guide on the headsets. Combination of static and a heavy accent. We used CC - especially our roll call - to guide what we did at each port. Our fellow cruisers were informative and helpful. Yes, I got the noro virus despite taking all precautions, but, thankfully, it was while we were making the crossing, so I didn't miss any of the ports. The medical staff, the Neptune Lounge, and our cabin steward all were wonderful about taking care of me and making sure we had everything we needed. Didn't like getting sick, but at least had a great room to be quarantined in! Used the spa a lot, and the quality of their services (massages, seaweed wraps, etc.) was great! Love the wrap around promenade on the HAL ships. Loved the piano bar, cigars under the stars. Too many things to count, and this review is already long. We had a fantastic time on our "cruise of a lifetime." We might not be able to afford to go all out again, but are already planning a Hawaiian cruise on the Zaandam - probably in a regular balcony room. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2008
We recently returned from the now infamous transatlantic crossing on the Zuiderdam and even though I have never posted a review of any other ship before, I felt compelled to share my thoughts on this cruise experience. Prior to sailing, I ... Read More
We recently returned from the now infamous transatlantic crossing on the Zuiderdam and even though I have never posted a review of any other ship before, I felt compelled to share my thoughts on this cruise experience. Prior to sailing, I read reviews of the Z that were filled with complaints regarding sewage odors, disrepair of the ship, and a lack of attention from the crew. Frankly, those reviews made me apprehensive to embark on our transatlantic journey on this ship. I tried to prepare myself for a cruise that was not up to Holland America's standards and perhaps a less than stellar than usual. In retrospect, the only times that I had that were not positive were when we were told that the Captain decided to substitute Nassau for my beloved Half Moon Cay to spare the Westerdam the notorious norovirus that had been sailing with us for most of the journey—the Westerdam was sharing the island with us that day. Instead, we had to spend eight hours in Nassau with thousands of cruise passengers from five other ships rather than on an idyllic private island. The other time I was unhappy was when we were disembarking in Ft. Lauderdale and reality was setting in that our wonderful cruise was over and it was time to return to our life on land. We were part of the Cruise Critic roll call group and the ship treated us well by hosting two gatherings for us in the Crow's Nest which included drinks and hors d'oeurves. We also received formal invitations from the hotel manager, Mark Pells, to a lovely lunch in the Pinnacle Grille. Speaking of Mark, what an ambassador he is for this ship and HAL. He was very entertaining and informative along with approachable, gracious, and generous in spite of the difficult conditions he was confronted with on this sailing. Our journey began in Venice where we spent two nights prior to sailing, too short a period of time, in this magical town. While there I felt that if the cruise was not what we hoped for, I would still be content because we had the opportunity to experience the essence of what makes Venice so unique. When it came time to board the ship, the terminal became chaotic after a while with a check-in system that broke down and if fault needs to be assigned, I would have to assign it to the terminal staff who stopped communicating with the passengers waiting to check in—in some instances for a lengthy period of time. I witnessed passengers who were so irate that they kicked their carry on luggage, stomped around the terminal, and uttered expletives that made your ears blush. I guess that they were anxious to get in that line in the Lido to start their 17-day feeding frenzy! Perhaps I am being too hard on them. Some had just arrived from the States and were exhausted but I don't feel that a lack of decorum is justified even under those circumstances. We boarded after waiting about an hour and were ushered/herded to the Lido because our cabins were not ready. We had the usual welcome aboard Lido lunch and sooner rather than later, we were able to go to our cabin where I was expecting stains, tears, marks, and grime. None of the above was present. Our carpeting even looked fairly new. No complaints so far except our verandah only had one chair and an ottoman even though it could accommodate another chair. We ended up putting the chair in the cabin out there when we wanted to enjoy the verandah together. Problem solved. We opted for As You Wish Dining which we had chosen for the first time on a recent cruise on the Prinsendam and I must say that I thought it was much more efficient on the Z than on the previous cruise. The only time we had to wait was when we made a reservation so we never made one again and we were always seated immediately. We tended to go to the dining room around 7:00 or 8:00 and ended up very pleased with how expediently we were seated. Most nights we chose to be seated with others and one or two nights we opted for a table for two. No problem. We enjoyed our meal in the Pinnacle as we always do. The food and the service was outstanding, and the atmosphere peaceful and elegant. My husband had the filet which he said was one of the best he has ever had and I had the halibut and king crab leg and both were prepared perfectly. Of course my meal was completed with the chocolate volcano that is just decadent and delicious and my husband enjoyed the triple crème brulee. We rarely go to the Lido for dinner, but we experienced rough seas one night and decided to eat lightly and thought that would be a good alternative for us. It was not our favorite dining experience. I remember when that alternative dinner service was first initiated on HAL. White table cloths adorned the candlelit tables, you went through the line for your appetizer and salad, then placed your order for your entree which was then served to you when it was ready. That is either no longer something HAL offers or it is not available on the Z. There were no tablecloths, etc. and you get all of your food just like you would at lunch time. We prefer the dining room even though we observed the dining stewards and their assistants serving several more passengers than usual. One of the head waiters told us that each steward has between 20 and 26 passengers at any time. Quite a difference from the good old days when they had two tables that were on the same course at the same time. In spite of the increase in the numbers served, we were impressed with how seamless it all was accomplished. They are a hard working staff and their work became more difficult as the virus multiplied and the ship was under the dreaded Code Red. No more salt and pepper shakers on the tables, bread and butter was passed, cream and sugar was only handled by the wait staff. Everyone who worked on the ship was doing double duty. We did a double take one morning when one of the women who played the violin in the string quartet in the Explorers Lounge was dishing up the French toast in the Lido. You saw constant cleaning and polishing going on. Purell dispensers were everywhere and you began to feel like you were bathing in it. All of the captain's and cruise director's announcements included the daily count of those newly afflicted followed by pleadings to wash your hands thoroughly. Most took this seriously but there were those who felt they were immune or special and who had different rules for themselves. This was our second transatlantic and when we were in the middle of the Atlantic the first time, I don't remember it being noted by the staff. Well, that was not the case on this sailing. In the middle of the Atlantic, in the middle of the afternoon, on a beautiful, sunny day, a party was held at the aft pool that included the ugliest fish (purchased in Madeira) that you could possibly imagine grilled poolside for our eating pleasure and in spite of its appearance, it was yummy. Along with accompaniments to the fish was an OPEN BAR. When was the last time you were on a cruise that had an OPEN BAR?! For me, never. What a generous gesture and one that was greatly appreciated by the passengers. Our Cruise Director, Jason (fondly called Yason by the Captain), was dressed as Neptune and before we knew it, officers were invited to jump into the Atlantic (the pool) clothes and all! Passengers were invited to join them and we had a few Cruise Critic members who took the plunge! They are among the few that can say they swam in the middle of the Atlantic! Thank you Holland America for a fun time! I have to be honest and say that we usually are not big fans of HAL entertainment but that changed on this cruise. The quality of the performers particularly the pianist and the flautist were world class and the production numbers with the state-of-the-art sets and special effects were the most enjoyable entertainment we've experienced on any ship in a long time. We loved the itinerary which is why we chose this crossing and are grateful for the extraordinary efforts the staff put forth to make our experience the best it could be under the difficult circumstances. Would I sail on this ship again? You betcha! 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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