Zuiderdam Cruise Review by searaider: FLL to VAN repositioning
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FLL to VAN repositioning
Zuiderdam is great ship and we enjoyed ourselves on the 22 day repositioning. This was our longest cruise to date and we did not have a 'nothing to do' day.
Embarkation (disembarkation was much better) was a bit slow due to having a gastric infection with small # of passengers on the previous group requiring additional cleaning, but a glass of champagne at dinner was part of the apology for the delay to board the ship.
We found staff are very cheerful as they do their jobs, and most say hello when they meet you in the hallway. There seemed to be a lot of staff who have been with HAL a long time on various ships.
Food menu selections were better than some seen on our other cruises and both the dining room and the buffet has good selection. 10 stops in 22 days meant lots of excursions and some in ports that do not see a lot of cruise ships-we did not have a bad excursion, just some better than others, and we booked all of ours through HAL as most of these ports More were our first time visit.
We had two pet peeves, one was the Vista Lounge/show theatre-the posts for supporting the balcony seem to be larger than required. It resulted in a large number of seats being unusable if you wanted to see the shows. As well, smoking is allowed on all outside decks, and in all of the casino, it meant that at any point a smoker could sit down next to you, and I found myself having to move from my chair quite often.
Noticed that the ship is due for a re-fit as it is getting a little tired and worn in some spots-carpeting and upholstery but nothing that took away the glitz and glory. Less
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Cabin review: Zuiderdam Deluxe Verandah Oceanview Upper Promenade 8135
cabin is just below the Lido aft deck, so somethings people where above and you could talk to them; large closest, quiet location near rear of ship;
Port and Shore Excursions
We had seen the divers before, so we decided to go to the Museo Historico de Acapulco, which is an easy walk from the ship dock. In fact, you can see it on the hill across the street. For those with limited mobility, there is an elevator or stairs to take you up the worst part of the climb. Well worth the $4.00 American per person to see. We spent about an hour at the site.
Big buses have great difficulty getting around Antigua and therefore I recommend small van tour rather than big bus due to difficulty. There were a number of times that it took minutes to turn a corner or get past another vehicle once near Antigua with a big bus.
As the ship docks, and then tenders are taken to shore, there is a long boardwalk with restaurants and shops within easy walking distance to enjoy, which we did. It also helped that security was located every few feet to make sure the vendors stayed off the main walking path, which make our stroll more enjoyable. There are also a number of water taxis available at a reasonable price if you want to go for a short tour.
We took a HAL tour 'scenes of Cartagena with less shopping', as I am not a shopper, but we like museums and history sites. Our guide spoke very good English and was very knowledgeable.
The highlight for me was the section of the city that has been restored/maintained as it was-Old Town streets are cobblestone and narrow. The San Felipe de Barajas Fort, and Navy Museum were also very worthwhile seeing.
The tour was booked through HAL, and as the bus could not handle the heat, they changed buses for the ride back, which was very appreciated by all.
The site was very crowded with tours, which made staying with our guide a challenge and we ended up going off on our own. The only issue was the lack of time to stay at the site, as your spend 3 to 4 hours in travel to and from. We need to go back for another visit.
WE also stopped at Paraiso (Tabasco) the previous day, and went to see the Comalcalco Mayan Ruins and Paraios town. The ruins are a good as Chichen Itza, though different and well worth the visit.
We went to a co-op coffee plantation which showed all stages of the process which was interesting. The site is over 600 acres and some of the owners live around the site in small houses. They were not working the site where we could see, but guides walked us around some of the area and showed us the process (before and now). Guides split group up into smaller groups so make the tour more interesting for everyone, as all the questions and answers could be heard.
We also had a brief stop at a shopping site which had a very nice lunch counter, with lots of tourists and local customers. Felt that the area is very safe for tourists.