Hi. Just returned from 4 night Bahamas cruise aboard Zuiderdam and here are my thoughts and opinions:
Pre-stay and Embarkation: Flew down from Pittsburgh on Friday 1/28 on USA 3000. Nice trip and even had free tv shows, music and lunch(sandwich/cookie/chips/whole can of pop). Stayed at Sheraton FLL Airport. Booked thru Priceline for winning bid of $50 and well worth the price. Had the Sweet Sleeper beds. Nice place for a pre-stay night but wouldn't book for a vacation since not near anything. Took a taxi to the pier which cost $11.50 before tip. Went to embarkation at 11:15 am and on ship within a half hour. Was originally booked in VA #6003 and was pleasantly surprised at check in to find out was upgraded to SS#5001. Took picture and away we go!!!!!
First Thoughts and Cabin: Biggest newest ship we have ever been on and only have Carnival to compare to. Color scheme very similar to Carnival but in a more upscale way. Lots of teak wood and extra special touches like fresh flowers and artwork. Was surprised that there really wasn't an atrium and the seahorse crystal not given justice. Husband couldn't believe how tight the ship felt at first. Hallways very skinny and ceilings are low leaving you with a claustrophobic feeling. Also not too many windows in public walkways. I am happy to report that by second day the closed-in feeling was gone and you didn't even notice. I also didn't like that you had to walk through the casino to get to the Vista Lounge and walk through the Spa to get to the Lido. Felt too much like in your face advertising. Did end up finding other ways around eventually.
Cabin was HUGE!!!! There was plenty of drawer space and three cupboards. The bathroom had whirlpool tub and free standing shower. Medicine cabinet was ample sized and utilized easily, liked that it had bars so items could not fall out. There were 2 telephones, a TV and a DVD player. Like that doorways were wide with no step over due to being a handicapped cabin. We are not in need of this service but choose 6003 due to floor plan looking larger than other cabins in this category and it is true -- they are. We were bumped to SS but still a handicapped cabin in very front of ship. This was a great location in that you had floor to ceiling window and door and a second window which overlooked front of ship. There was a deck right outside our window so it felt like you had this huge balcony!! Only drawback to this cabin was that it sat over anchor so you knew when you stopped, but we didn't mind. Also, would have been better to book even numbered side of ship because this faced ports instead of nothing. Our cabin did contain magnifying mirror and vanity, fruit bowl, robes and silver plated ice bucket but did not have upgraded bed or bedding yet. All in all a great room and great accommodations!!! Would book again in a heartbeat
Food and Service: Everything was very nicely presented and very good in my opinion. Ate at the Pinnacle on the first night and it was excellent. Only $10 pp and dress was causal even though most dressed more like business casual. Top notch food and service. Husband had clam chowder, 20 oz porterhouse and volcano cake while I had cedarplank halibut and berry shortcake. Vista dining room was very elegant and food very good. Waitstaff was wonderful. Had 3rd floor 8 p.m. seating at table 82 which was a two-top right along the railing by the stairs. had no movement or vibrations. Only item wasn't too crazy about was the surf and turf. The steak was chewy and lobster tail small and watery. Loved everything else, especially baked potato soup, mushroom ravioli, raspberry sherbert and cheesecake sampler. All salads were good, too. Service excellent!!!
Always had breakfast delivered to room and ate on balcony. Had nice assortment to choose from and served on same china as Vista. Came on time as did any time ordered room service. Lido had a lot of choices and always found something easily to eat. Only time that was bad was first on board and everyone there at same time. Could not find a table because most just sitting waiting for room to be done. A lot of people ate with plates in lap by the pool. Yes, there were liqueurs for the ice cream and Hunky Dory was there too!!!!
Overall service was incredible. Lots of smiling faces and thank-yous to go around. Everyone seemed to really go out of there way to make you feel special. Lots of joking around and singing to be heard.
Entertainment: This is where I would say Holland is lacking. Yes you could always find something to do but your only real choices were drink, spa, gamble, art auction, bingo, drink, shop, drink, show and an occasional other activity. I don't drink very much and didn't use the spa. Never made it to the art auction. Played bingo once. Shopped a little. Gambled some but didn't have any luck.
The magician was incredible! DO NOT MISS HIS SHOW!!! Julie Barr the comic act sucked. not funny at all. Her X-rated show was kids playground humor (called her private area her sweet spot), MISS HER SHOW!!! The showtime live acts were good. They did a summertime musical and last show was a Broadway showtune with glamorous Bob Mackie costumes. This is a good cruise to take if you want laid back activities and minimal choices. We always found things to do but not always plentiful choices.
Biggest complaint was that Windstar, where they sell specialty coffees closed at 9 p.m. each evening. Not a great way to get late night or after dinner coffees. Was disappointed.
Ports: Key West was nice. Very party-like and alive. Walked all of Front Street, down Duval and up Whitehouse? Shopped and saw a lot. Was pretty cool that there was an arts festival going on in town with lots of local artists selling their arts. Way cool!
Nassau was kinda scary. We were there 2 years ago and can't believe how much it changed. Now there is this "compound" you have to pass through to get into town with armed guards wearing fatigues. Streets in town much more hectic and busy with cars whizzing around with out a care for pedestrians. We are stopping there again in August on Disney Wonder with kids but don't think will get off the boat. First time I ever felt that I could easily be in some kind of danger in a port. When we went last time we walked all over town, even up to fort and Queen Anne's Staircase and took public bus to Radisson Cable Beach. And took a taxi at night to Atlantis. This time I couldn't wait to get back on ship. There was a definite air of desperation with the public, from hurricane devastation maybe? and a definite crackdown by military or police. Did not like this port.
Half Moon Cay: As everyone says HEAVEN!!!!! We rented clamshell, thank-god or would have fried more than did. Water is sapphire blue and transparent. Sand is like baby powder. Could easily have stayed here for whole cruise. We did horseback riding excursion which I would highly recommend. Take truck out to stable and trainers pick you a horse you ride around in ring until everyone has a horse and then you start on hike down beach and up and down hillsides. You come back to stables for a can of pop or bottle of water and horse is changed from saddle to a mat. You then ride into ocean and water is waist high. Horse gallops and swims and then you return to beach. Was the most incredible thing I ever did. I have never ridden a horse before and was scared but in a complete giddy way. Going into ocean on horseback was breathtaking. Only bad part was that husband dismounted from horse badly and tore knee muscles. Had to push him around in wheelchair for remainder of cruise. Be very careful dismounting and don't think you are too manly to have trainers to help you off horse. These are big beautiful Jamaican horses. Went to BBQ on island. Standard fare like hamburgers, hot dogs, ribs, salads and desserts.
Disembarkation: EASY EASY EASY.
All in all would rate this as one of the best cruises I ever took. Would go on Holland again in a heartbeat. Might be a little sedate for children but not too much. Would take my kids if itinerary right. Club Hal looked small and not sure what kids activities were like. Age mix on this cruise was varied from 20/30 all the way to 80s. Best thing we brought was lanyards for room key cards that we hole punched at front office and wore around our necks for duration of cruise. Made purchasing and getting on/off ship a breeze. And we never lost or misplaced key. Would also suggest bring spare suitcase for purchases and alcohol or YOU WILL EXCEED WEIGHT LIMITS FOR AIRLINE LUGGAGE. Please ask any questions you may have and thanks for all your help!!!