Panama Canal and Caribbean on the Big Z: Zuiderdam Cruise Review by zackiedawg
Overall Member Rating
Panama Canal and Caribbean on the Big Z
Destination: Panama Canal & Central America
Embarkation: Fort Lauderdale (Port Everglades)
Embarkation was fine in Port Everglades, despite their complete disorganization...the port facilities are under construction and renovation, which means ships are being almost randomly assigned to various piers, and the port signage often doesn't match. Our ship was parked where the Princess ships normally park, and the signs at the western port entrance had no mention of it. None-the-less, once we found the right pier, we entered, checked in, and boarded in under 20 minutes from car door to ship elevators.
Zuiderdam is scheduled for refurb very More soon - we were the 2nd-to-last cruise before she undergoes wet-dock in Freeport. I've never been the particularly picky type who considers a cruise a complete failure because a carpet had a stain, or a chair was worn, so this was not something I worried about. The ship's condition was actually pretty decent and clean, with the typical and expected signs of wear and tear on cushions of deck chairs, weathering of wood decking, etc. Anyone reading this review should have nothing to worry about, since those should all be taken care of by the time of your next cruise.
I love the SS cabins - lots of room to spread out, lots of storage space, large balcony - no complaints. Room stewards were attentive and friendly and handled all personalized requests (separate beds, empty minibar goods to make room for sodas and milks, get rid of extra bedspreads and sheets, etc.).
The captain Christopher Turner was excellent at keeping to schedule, very informative in his daily bridge updates, and friendly in person. Cruise director JT Watters was familiar - at the Cruise Critic meet & greet I found out why - he was the same cruise director I had on Eurodam just last year! No complaints on ship staff and crew - all as to be expected on HAL.
I stuck with the main dining room throughout the cruise - no visits to Pinnacle this time. I had fixed seating, 8pm, table for 8. I've had very good luck over the past 8 years with getting very friendly tables, with everyone getting along immediately...and this cruise was no exception. Waitstaff was excellent, and right away got into our sarcastic and joking atmosphere of our table. Food quality was, if anything, even a little better than it has been on Zuiderdam - it's always been reliably good, but they were really doing well in the dining room with the selection as well as food quality overall. Lido dining I have very limited experience with - I typically visited the omelette station on some mornings, and the sandwich/bistro station on some afternoons - I tried no other selections as I'm more of a light breakfast and lunch type.
It was great to be back aboard the Z, and I look forward to the next time.
My photo gallery from this cruise is located at:
Port reviews to follow. Less
Cabin review: SY8070 Signature Superior Verandah Suite
Navigation deck 8, port side, midship - 2nd door aft of the central elevators. Lido was just above - noise not a problem as you are underneath the very beginning of the Lido seating area. The balcony overhang is larger on this deck, providing good weather protection but not providing lots of direct sun unless facing the rising or setting sun (I prefer the overhang, which allows the balcony to be usable 24-hours, even in rain or heavy spray days). Cabin has lots of storage room - two desks, two chairs, drawers in both desks, both bedside dressers. Storage shelves beside the couch, above the minifridge, and in the closets. 3 separate closet sections all which have convertible shelves or hanging space. Large couch suitable for seating 3, also convertible to a bed. Large bathroom with two sinks, two medicine cabinets, lots of space around the toilet, a jetted tub with shower and a separate standup shower. Excellent location!Read All Signature Superior Verandah Suite (SY) Reviews >>
Port and Shore Excursions
StarBreeze Panama Canal
Island Princess Panama Canal
Overall, A Good Trip