Sailed on the Zuiderdam May 29 Western Caribbean sailing. This was our sixth cruise. We have previously sailed with Celebrity (twice), Norwegian, and Royal Caribbean (twice). Overall we don't think you can have a bad time on a cruise with everything getting done for you (cooking, cleaning etc). But here goes our review.
Embarkation in Fort Lauderdale we had to wait approximately 45 minutes before boarding. We must have hit the peak time arriving at about 1PM for the 5 o'clock departure. Would recommend either arriving earlier (we believe they let people start boarding about 11:30 am)or much later ( around 4pm). As we never had sailed on the ship before we wanted to arrive a bit early and snoop around to familiarize ourselves with the ship.
Were escorted to our category N inside cabin by a cabin steward. This was the first time we had booked two inside rooms. What we've done in the past was book one inside room for our kids (now 18 & 16 years old) and one outside room for us. As we are kind of active and don't stay in the room much we decided to get two inside rooms. The room was big enough for two but for any more people would recommend a bigger room. Some of our luggage had made it to the room even before we arrived with the rest arriving later in the afternoon. The rooms were side by side on the upper promenade deck 4 towards the front.
On two occasions once at night and once in the morning we heard music coming from what we believed to be the lounge that is located on decks two and three. the night noise we heard was of course while trying to go to sleep around midnight and the morning noise we heard woke us one morning. Kind of strange though as if you walked into the hallway you couldn't really hear the noise but could from the room.
This was the 81st sailing for the ship and we would recommend it to others. One of the evening's after dinner shows had to be cancelled due to the sound board in the lounge not working. The performer did his show on Friday night. We do not know who or what was supposed to perform on Friday but he did. Most of the shows were enjoyable (comic, magician and juggler). We didn't really care for the zuiderman dancers have seen better dancers on other cruise lines.
Food was good they had afternoon tea service usually around 3Pm which ruined dinner a couple of times. If you are eaters we would recommend the late dinner seating so as the afternoon snacks would not curb your dinner appetite. The cruise staff especially the activity team were all very young and very friendly. They have an additional restaurant you need to pay extra $ for but we didn't do that as the "regular" food was plentiful and good enough.
Although our kids, as opposed to our prior cruises, did not do much on their own but seemed to do a lot more with us. Our son who is 18 years old was too old for the Club HAL and our 16 year old daughter said the first night she went to the meeting about five minutes after the meeting started and no one was there. Supposedly there were about 216 kids on our cruise out of 1848 passengers. They said they had a good time though.
My wife and i both visited the spa. I received a hot stone massage and got burn marks on my buttocks from the very hot initial stones and one of the burns actually blistered the next day. I informed the therapist that the stones seemed hot and she informed me that they should be as the heat must get deep into the tissues to work properly. Upon returning to inform them of what happened they gave me the massage for free.
They had a thermal pool that they charged a daily fee for which i don't think is right. we just used the hot tubs a couple of times instead. I know that on Celebrity if you get any kind of spa service you get to use the use their pool for free. No such offer was made on this cruise. One of the pools on the ship had a dome that could cover the pool but it was sunny and we had no rain on any of our days.
As far as shore excursions, as we are from florida and have been to key west before we just strolled around on our own. Visited the Hemingway house and also wanted to rent motor scooters price at one place was $39 per hour minimum two hour rental which we passed on. Later we found a coupon for a place for $19 per hour minimum two hours but at that time it was too late to rent them and we just walked. Did some shopping and returned to the ship. In Cozumel we did the horseback riding shore excursion. were only seven people in our group. They had opened up another excursion as the first group had 40 people in it. when we had signed up for the second group the holland america rep said their were 23 people in the group don't know what happened to everyone else but having a small group was nice. In Georgetown we did our own excursion. At the pier upon getting off the ship we asked the information desk if there was a place to rent a car she called avis who picked us up at the pier drove us to the airport where we rented a car and drove around 1/2 the island. We had been to Grand Cayman before and did the Stingray city tour. We would recommend that as you get to feed the stingrays out of your hand. As we didn't want to do that again we rented a car. For $45 for the day including insurance and gas charges we rented a diatsuh (?) Just had to get used to driving on the wrong side of the road and get used to all of the roundabouts they had in the road.
Overall we had a great time and would recommend the ship. We would also sail the line again. If anyone has any question just e mail and we would be more than happy to respond. Thank you.