Zuiderdam was just out of dry dock and ready to sail. She had a few unresolved problems due to leaking roof and water lines but otherwise she was in really good shape. Workers were seen fixing and painting the grand ole lady. I was impressed as this was my first HAL cruise. Zuiderdam had had problems with Noro in previous cruises. To my knowledge no one got sick this voyage. The first two days servers fixed plates and glasses, probably as a precaution. It worked. Service was great in Lido and main dining room. Our steward was hardly visible but did everything. We had our first balcony or veranda room. My husband could be found resting his eyes there often. We traveled with two other couples, who were friends from middle school. We could be together as much as we wanted and planned time together, but be alone too. Kids club could be a little better but still got stars for attempt. My 12 year old went whenever she wanted. Some days better than others. Our supper time was at 7:45 and kids night activity started at 7. Seemed like the older 13-17 year olds were more free roaming and disrespectful. But that may be the attitude of teenagers these days, esp on vacation. Entertainment was really great. Elle and the Halcats shows and music were not to be missed. We bought a CD of the Island Steel drum group. They were mesmerizing with their broadway music as well as the oldies. Full house every show. I also liked the Cooking and demonstrating classes. Did not gamble except for Bingo so don't know if anyone was successful.
Embarkment was fast. Disembarkment was deciding we could luge two bags plus bookbag ourselves. In retrospect, with a 12 year old, we should have waited and checked the luggage. We carried and brought back too much. We drove to and from Ft. Lauderdale as we live in Georgia, so no hotel. Drive back was a nightmare as it was the end of Spring Break. I-75 and Turnpike was at standstill quite often. Friends took I-95 and I-10, had to be jumped off at parking deck, and still beat us home. My family did not use spa services, but others in our group did and esp like the treatment they received. Staff was very helpful and courteous. Gene, cruise director, was very friendly and always around. Does he ever sleep?
Destination for cruise was Panama Canal with stops along way at Half Moon Cay, Aruba, Curacao, Panama, and Costa Rica. Half Moon Cay was wonderful. We horseback rode in the blue seas. Aruba was self guided trip to the beach to snorkle, Curacao we took kayak and snorkle with Adrenaline Tours to a tugboat reef, Panama Canal transit via railway, and in Costa Rica we explored with Carlos and Okey Dokey tour. The best tour ever, we saw the countryside, rainforest, and Zip lined. Worth the whole trip. Loved the cruise, the ship, the new friends, and just everything.