Sail Date: June 2019
After 14 cruises with this storied line, I was disappointed with the Copenhagen-Copenhagen sailing that stopped in Norway, Iceland and Scotland:(Lerwick, Inverness were pleasant surprises) All the ports met expectations and more. ... Read More
After 14 cruises with this storied line, I was disappointed with the Copenhagen-Copenhagen sailing that stopped in Norway, Iceland and Scotland:(Lerwick, Inverness were pleasant surprises) All the ports met expectations and more. Holland's receptions had no music; first ship I've been on that had no orchestra; no appetizers, Bloody Mary's had no celery. B-B King's seemed to forget that they were there to play jazz and blues, not 90% rock n roll or whatever it took to get people on the dance floor. If it hadn't been for the Lincoln Center classical performers, there would have been No entertainment. There were no production shows, only a comedian, some signer and a local group that got on in Iceland for one evening that no one understood them or their music. There was an abundance of food that was either tasteless, undeterminable or the chef was left to make whatever he/she wanted. Salads had mushy substances instead of recognizable products(tuna, chicken)???pizza slices had virtually no cheese on them; sandwiches consisted mostly of bread, mayonnaise and mustard(cold cuts, chicken or salads composed less than 10%.) Hardboiled eggs served in room service had turned gray from age. I'd rate the food OVERALL: one level below fast food! Excursions were pricey and in one instance one bus had 64 people on it with one guide in Iceland. Needless to say, it was not worth it! The ports sold themselves in terms of their beauty, offerings and ability to get around on your own. I would recommend future passengers secure their own tours. Disembarkation was efficient and could not come fast enough. Read Less
11 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2018
We chose this cruise because we knew the Panama Canal is not something that many people get to see. We weren't disappointed in the cruise. She may have a few scratches here and there, but the ship is in great condition with cleaning ... Read More
We chose this cruise because we knew the Panama Canal is not something that many people get to see. We weren't disappointed in the cruise. She may have a few scratches here and there, but the ship is in great condition with cleaning and repair on-going but not in passengers' way. Weather was wonderful--not too hot or humid. Everyone said we had the best weather in the last couple of months. We were pleasantly surprised by the food. It was wonderful in all the venues. We only ate in the dining room twice because we prefer less time spent on dining and not dressing up every night. The Dive In had perfect hamburgers and chicken sandwiches. There was a taco bar that we used several times for taco salads. We got the salad bowl and lettuces from the Lido buffet. We also appreciated that there are servers--not everyone handles the utensils at the different areas. The quality was quite good as was the variety. I think I saw more actual variety at breakfast than I have on any other line I've sailed with. And, the Lido manager brought me a cherry crisp that I had seen on the dining room menu! Pasta bar was great. Many kinds of pasta and add ins were available. We had room 6129 on the Upper Verandah deck. Andri and his assistant did a wonderful job of cleaning, bringing ice, setting a mood for evening after dinner, and making towel animals. Zuiderdam is on the smaller side with 1800 passengers on our trip. I wasn't sure about the arrangement of the decks when I got on and started looking around. Guest services is on deck 1. But it all turned out well. We could get around quickly. I always like a promenade deck that goes all the way around. It was particularly nice for Canal viewing. The entertainment was amazing. I think it's best total package I've ever seen for entertainment. BB King's Blues Club, Billboard Onboard, comedian, classical entertainment, dancers and musicians, especially Steel Drum Island Magic, were all top notch as evidenced by the large audiences for each. America's Test Kitchen was interesting. The lecturers brought onboard for the ports and the Panama Canal were very informative. I'm not at all including the shopping guide. That, to me, is always a waste. All they want to sell is jewelry. Zuiderdam has a Navigator app for your phone to use. It's very handy to get around the ship, schedule your activities, and contact your family. I do wish it would ding though when you have a text. We booked all tours through Holland simply because I like the convenience and they cover what most all the tours do although with a bit more expense. For Bonaire and Curacao, the shopping areas closed early so there wasn't much time for browsing. A bit more time in port would be good. Bonaire was interesting for the salt flats and slave huts. I thought we would stop to see flamingos, but we didn't. We saw some but at a distance. Curacao is a beautiful area. Be sure to see the Kukunu Museum. The guides do a super job of showing you how the island functioned years ago. The town is beautiful. Be sure to go across or at least see the swinging bridge. Free wi-fi is hard to come by. We chose to stay on board at the Panama Canal. The long tours were more than we wanted to do this time, but I think we will make another trip and see the other side of Costa Rica. One tour was 3 hours late returning because the canal doesn't work on strict timing. All the deck areas were open to accommodate everyone who wanted to see what was going on. We got to see the sun come up over the canal. You'll want to get up early! I got off in Colon and walked about 3 blocks through a chain link tunnel to the "mall". There was a military helicopeter and a large police presence there. You'll want to stay onboard I think. Costa Rica was beautiful--another reason to go back so that we can see more of the island. We did the Rainforest Preserve. The rainforest is the most magnificent thing I've ever seen. I love the desert, beach and mountains, but the forest has to be seen to be believed. We did not see many animals which was a bit of a disappointment, another reason to go back. Be prepared to walk whichever tour you take. There's a great market at the port with many booths and crafts people. For sea days, there were many new movies in the room. There were many activities to attend and lots of deck chairs all over the ship to relax in. Shopping was all high end except for small things in the shop that sells candy, t shirts, etc. Why is there always so much high end shopping? Embarkation was pretty smooth. Rooms were ready by 12:30. We got on at 11:30 and had lunch. Debarkation was easy too. We paid $25 for Holland to collect our bags and get them to the airport and print our boarding passes. It was worth it. Hassle-free trip to the airport. Customs was 45 minutes--a long wait. If I could have gotten the Mobile Passport to work, we could have saved a lot of time. I'm not sure what the issue was. We will definitely choose Holland again. Read Less
26 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2017
THE CRUISE LINE - Holland America We've been on five cruises, and all of them on Holland America - so, we can't compare to other lines. Our experience has been consistent. It is classy, but no where near stuffy. The staff are ... Read More
THE CRUISE LINE - Holland America We've been on five cruises, and all of them on Holland America - so, we can't compare to other lines. Our experience has been consistent. It is classy, but no where near stuffy. The staff are friendly in the extreme and are always there to help. They are ever-present but not imposing. Their ships are "mid-size", topping out at about 86,000 tons (compared to more than 200,000 from a couple of the Royal Caribbean behemoths!). I would describe the line as "quietly elegant". The ships offer enough activities while also providing an awful lot of places you can have a quiet moment and read. THE SHIP - Zuiderdam In April 2017, the Zuiderdam will be going into dry dock until October for a refitting/refurbishing. While I wouldn't call the ship shabby or worn, I would say that it was in need of some sprucing/freshening up. The carpets in the public places, for example are a little too vibrant and, in the photo sales corridor it is literally dizzying. They could use updating. The lounges and the rooms, however, are just fine on that score. The ship is laid out like all HAL ships. They are all nearly identical in deck plan and public spaces. This is a nice thing for returning HAL customers - it's a little like going to a familiar vacation spot that you are already comfortable with. There tends to be music around the pools during the day - and the lounges are quiet at that time. The Crow's Nest (deck 10, forward), is a great observation deck. All glass walls out to the sea on three sides. Big, comfy, leather lounge chairs are there - perfect for reading while having a drink. The Crow's Nest is surprisingly quiet during most of the day. The teak promenade deck that encircles the ship is a feature on all HAL ships. It's not only a great place to do some walking laps, but a wonderful place to just spend some quiet time. Teak steamer lounge chairs line the decks - and some are always available. It gives the feel of an old-time ocean liner as opposed to a cruise ship. The only noise you'll find is the waves passing by and the soft sounds of people's conversations as they stroll past you. It's really nice. The ship (like all HAL ships) is immaculate. All HAL ships rank very high on the CDC's inspection list. Staff and crew are constantly cleaning, polishing, buffing, vacuuming, repairing. THE CABIN/STATEROOM - Neptune Suite The Neptune Suite is quite large (about 550 s.f.) with a long deck (about 20 ft) that has a table with chairs and a couple lounge chairs also. The king size bed is incredibly comfortable. One of the best things about HAL is they have the best beds! There is an 8 ft couch, coffee table, two comfortable chairs, a changing/make-up room, and a very large bath with double sinks, a jacuzzi tub/shower, and a separate shower. There are fresh flowers and a chilled bottle of champagne waiting for you in your room when you arrive. There is a ton of closet space and a good deal of drawer space. The cabin stewards are wonderfully attentive - but I don't think that's because we were in a suite - I just think that's a signature of HAL's service. The only real ding I'd give the suite is the TV is a bit small for the room. I'm not one that needs a mega-screen, but the screen was a bit small for the viewing distance. Maybe they'll change that in the refurb. One of the best things about having a Neptune Suite is having access to the Neptune Lounge on deck 7. It's an extremely comfortable, large lounge with plenty of comfortable seating, appetizers throughout the day (and fruit, cereal, baked goods, smoked salmon, and fresh-squeezed OJ for breakfast). There are pastries and hand-made chocolates for the taking. There is a honor's bar, too. There are two concierges that learn your name immediately and are incredibly helpful and friendly. THE FOOD Overall, I find the food on HAL to be top shelf. Is it 5-star gourmet luxury? Not quite. But the meals are certainly creative and wonderfully executed - and are deliciously pleasing to even real foodies like myself. Jamaican-style Cuman-crusted lamb chops; pork rib-roast with apricot dressing; mushroom and wild rice chowder; escargot; bucatini with duck (oh my god - so good!); bourbon-glazed beef; beef and tuna carpaccio; mahi-mahi; rainbow trout - just a few examples. The proteins are always succulent - perfectly cooked. The vegetables are perfect - just the right bite to them. The sauces are amazing. We both have food allergies. Our waiter was so attentive, he gave us the next day's menu at the end of every meal so that we could make our selections - and then he'd make sure that they were properly prepared for us. On the nights we didn't dine in the dining room, he delivered the menus to our room. The only negative I can say about any of the meals this trip: the duck breast wasn't seared enough to render out the fat - so there was an unappealing layer of uncrisp flab on it. And the meat was, consequently, on the dry side. This is the only time out of all the meals I've ever had on HAL that I could find fault with the duck (or any protein). The pastries they make could be right out of a Parisian bakery. Most of the breads are really good (one or two are "ehh"). Dining at the Pinnacle Grill (surcharge) is an elegant experience. Every time I have had one of their steaks, it is melt-in-your-mouth incredible. I would say the steaks in the Pinnacle Grill are better than any I can remember having on land. I think the room service menu is surprisingly limited. The food is plentiful and quite good and promptly delivered, but the selections could be a bit broader. ON-BOARD EXPERIENCE There are minimal announcements over the P/A system. One or two a day. You can easily find music and company and drinks - or a cup of tea and a book and a quiet spot. The gym is really excellent. They offer programming during the day (especially during the at-sea days) such as cooking demonstrations, guest speakers, etc. There is a cinema (and you can also choose from over 1000 movies to watch in your room). There is a casino and shopping. Many comment on how HAL cruises skew to an older crowd. I think this is generally true, but not usually so that it is noticeable or has any impact on the experience. This particular cruise was markedly different, though. We (at 61 and 58) were among the younger people on board. The average age, I would guess, would be 72+/- for this cruise. I've never seen such a passenger makeup on any other cruise, and have no idea why this particular one would have such an older client-base. That is not by any means a complaint, but an observation that may have made a difference to some. But, I'll tell ya - there were a lot of folks on that ship take made me laugh hard - great people with great senses of humor. We are a gay couple. To say this is a non-issue is an understatement. We couldn't feel more comfortable. BOTTOM LINE The Zuiderdam, like all HAL ships, feel welcoming, manageable, comfortable and familiar. The cruise experience is exactly what we need it to be - every time. I can't think of a reason why we would ever try a different cruise line. Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2016
Although we are much younger than the average person on the ship, we did enjoy it. The ship itself needs to be upgraded i.e. TVs, stateroom furniture, WiFi, Unfortunately, some of the needed work of chipping rust on deck happened ... Read More
Although we are much younger than the average person on the ship, we did enjoy it. The ship itself needs to be upgraded i.e. TVs, stateroom furniture, WiFi, Unfortunately, some of the needed work of chipping rust on deck happened during our 17 day cruise; which was loud and annoying. Music was changed after a couple of days from up to date music (rap) to 40's, 50's and 60's music which was more appropriate for the age group on board. Entertainment was pretty good but loud singing. They can tone it down. Our reservations in the Pinnacle restaurant were completely botched up but HAL made up for it with a free meal there. The Pinnacle Grill was excellent. All the food on board was great (except for the shrimp and eggs). Cruise Director was excellent (Christina). Shore excursions are too crowded and I would not book another one again. If you can get a taxi at the worst or if you have time get a personal tour and hook up with other people on your cruise with Cruise Critic. Ports were great: Azores (Horta, Ponta del Delgada), A Coruna, Cherbourg, Zeebrugge, Rotterdam, Copenhagen. The captain was very informative and I give him an A+. The crew in the Lido needs more training. Officers walking through the deck do not make eye contact and don't recognize anyone around. (I think that is awful). I have sailed HAL many times and this is the only time I have seen this behavior (or lack of). Read Less
Sail Date: May 2013
Embarkation was a breeze. With three ships at Canada Place, the line for security was long--but moved very steadily. That served to space out people so that there were no delays for US Customs and Immigration, nor for check-in. Once we ... Read More
Embarkation was a breeze. With three ships at Canada Place, the line for security was long--but moved very steadily. That served to space out people so that there were no delays for US Customs and Immigration, nor for check-in. Once we were through security, there were no further lineups before we got to our suite. The Mariner's luncheon in the dining room was very quiet, and set a nice tone for the week.Our Cabin was a Neptune Suite (7067) directly across from the Lounge. We could not have been more pleased with it. Spacious and bright during the day, but with effective blackout curtains not only on the windows, but also between the cabin and the dressing area (very useful when one of you is an early riser and the other is not!). Our cabin stewards, Bayu and Sodiq, attended to us promptly and well. The laundry stewards took care of our clothes speedily and accurately.For dining, we opted for fixed seating--as is our wont--and received extraordinary service from Wayan and Heri (our waiter and assistant waiter) and Arnold (our wine steward). I had availed myself of the opportunity to bring half a case of wine on board, and took four bottles down on the first night. Arnold managed them faultlessly.The quality of the food in the Dining Room was absolutely first rate. I persuaded our table companions that one never goes wrong ordering the chilled soups on HAL, and they all confirmed that my advice on the subject was sound! Not one disappointment in all of the meals taken in the main dining room.The Lido was less successful. While food options were many, and plentiful, most of the choices were uninspired. The sushi at the Asian station was downright insipid. The best options on the Lido seemed to be the Deli for very good sandwiches, and the Salad bar. Ultimately, the number of people, and general atmosphere makes the Lido my least favourite place to eat. (However, the cinnamon ice cream on Day 3 was a very yummy treat!)The Pinnacle was impeccable, but service at breakfast tended to being somewhat stiff. So much so that the last two mornings we opted to breakfast in the Main Dining Room instead, and enjoyed it more, given that we had table mates, rather than breakfasting at a table for two).We only ordered Room Service twice--once for breakfast on the first full day (when the Pinnacle was not yet open for breakfast), and once for hot and cold canapes before the first formal night). The breakfast order was missing an entire breakfast (mine), but fortunately I was able to pop across to the Pinnacle for a perfect substitute. The canapes were delivered absolutely on the dot, with the hot ones hot, and the cold ones cold, and were well received by us and our guests.The dinner at Le Cirque in the Pinnacle was flawless--but excruciatingly slow. Given that these items must be made to order, the service can never match the speed of the Dining Room, but it was still remarkable for the length of time between courses.We booked two shore excursions but alas, the first had to be cancelled since the seas in Auke Bay were too rough for the whale watching. The Mushers Camp and Sled Dog Encounter in Skagway was so good that it rivals Glacier Bay for the high point of our cruise. (Confound them for counting the puppies before letting us handle them!)I booked a pass for the Thermal Suites and made use of it every day after my workout. Only once did I find the thermal suite full, and then, no longer then it took me to start in the steam room. The hydro pool never had more than four people. Very much my own space when I used it. The Fitness Centre was well equipped, and I never had to wait for a treadmill, even on sea days.Entertainment in the bars was very good, particularly fine was the duo Allegro (violin and piano) who played nightly in the Explorer's Lounge.However, there were some aspects which did not get a 9 on our surveys.Entertainment in the Vista Lounge was more of a mixed bag. The first night was, frankly, dreadful. The musicians weren't even playing, it was patently obvious that it was prerecorded track, and the staging was very poor. The first night is a tough object--trying to put all of the ship's musicians, plus the singing and dancing cast on stage is a staging and technical nightmare--but you have to do it well, because this is the first impression that passengers will have. It needs a serious rethink.The two production shows fared much better--but still suffered because some of the lighting instruments were improperly focussed (or had settled in their yokes) meaning that there were big holes in the lighting design. Sound balance was pretty awful, too. The guest artists were all very entertaining, though.By far the most unpleasant element of the cruise was the incessant push on retail sale of jewellery. I am not so foolish as to misunderstand how important the retail real estate is to HAL's bottom line. But I cannot count the number of "promotions" and "invitations" that turned up in our mailbox to jewellery sales and events. And when we did go through the shops (which was unavoidable when in transit from late seating dinner to the show lounge), there was hardly anything else for sale. Not one camera, no camera accessories. No electronics. One tiny corner of duty free, and an even smaller corner of convenience items, a small perfumerie, and the rest was wall-to-wall jewellery and watches. (And just to demonstrate the fantasy that is shipboard pricing, one of our table companions was admiring a ring with a sticker price of $9,000 and was immediately told, "But for you, $3,000.")The Vista class ships are not our favourites--we remain firm fans of the R-class ships. Placing the public decks between the decks of accommodation means shorter travel time to and from whatever activities one wants to get up to. It maximizes the number of balconies, to be sure, but makes the vessel less of a ship and more of a floating hotel.But what does it matter whether or not one loves the ships when you receive service like this! And for all my complaints about jewellery sales, and poor lighting design in the show lounge, I would return to the Zuiderdam with nary a second thought! __________________ 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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