Totally enjoyable cruise: Zuiderdam Cruise Review by zelker
Overall Member Rating
Totally enjoyable cruise
Destination: Panama Canal & Central America
Embarkation: Fort Lauderdale (Port Everglades)
We found the entertainment a bit lacking but not enough to detract from our overall experience. We did enjoy the BB King Experience but the volume was too loud for the size of the venue. The Adagio Strings (a pianist and a violinist) were wonderful and always had a nice size audience in the evening. We did not care for the CD's style (Hamish) but that's just our taste and nothing against him. We do enjoy the quieter atmosphere that HAL cruises provide.
Food in all venues was usually very good and with a fairly decent variety but service sometimes lagged and we especially noticed that in the Pinnacle Grill at breakfast and lunch. PG dinner was top-notch in all aspects. Canaletto dinner was nothing to write home about - it was extremely warm in the restaurant and we had a "herd of elephants" running overhead (from the open track on Deck 10) which really detracted from the experience. We didn't use room service so I can't comment about that.
The itinerary was the reason we chose this cruise and it did not disappoint! There was a good mix of sea and port days and we enjoyed all the ports. It rained hard the first couple of hours at Half Moon Cay (really, the only rain we experienced the entire cruise) so we waited out the storm and then tendered over for a couple of hours to enjoy the beach and water. At the Canal, we took HAL's Embera Indian Authentic Village tour and it was truly a Nat Geo experience! Highly recommend it! In Aruba, Curacao, and Puerto Limon we arranged private tours since HAL didn't offer excursions that interested us.
The embarkation process was painless and quick and we were happy to find our stateroom available before 11:30, in time to drop bags, look through all our invitations and cards and head to the Mariners Lunch at noon. Disembarkation was nice in that we were allowed to wait anywhere on the ship, including our suite, so we enjoyed breakfast in the MDR, got our things from our stateroom after, and walked right off about 9:15. The only thing I wish they could improve on is the long wait going through immigration but I know HAL can't control that part of the process so it is what it is.
A few miscellaneous things to mention: we like that they now email the Satisfaction Survey rather than having to write it all down while on the ship; we miss the trays in the Lido; we also miss being greeted by a white-gloved staff member handing us a glass of champagne as we stepped onto the ship; smoking on verandahs continues to be a thorn in our side and we were kept from using ours on occasion by people out smoking on theirs; we would have preferred an actual Canal authority guest speaker on board doing the Canal presentation rather than the CD standing up front and reading from a slide show - fortunately there was someone up on the bridge while we went through the Canal who was very knowledgeable; internet speed continues to be slow and expensive and I heard several complaints. Less
Cabin review: 6097
Second time in a Deluxe Verandah suite (now called Neptune Suite). Abundant storage, two sinks and separate tub/shower and shower. All linens were quite nice (bath towels oversized and nice weight, sheets soft) and when I asked for extra down pillows, we wound up with 12 pillows on our bed for the duration (LOL)! No exterior noise except if we were standing right next to the hall door we could hear the elevator ding but not in the stateroom itself. Love the free laundry and Neptune Lounge (and concierges Joy and Josephine were great) but other than that, find the HAL suites just don't have the size or wow factor (or overall perks) we've experienced in suites on Celebrity.
StarBreeze Panama Canal
Island Princess Panama Canal
Overall, A Good Trip