We stayed in the Holiday Inn Express Convention Center/Cruiseport. It was in a great location and had a free airport shuttle. The beds weren't the most comfortable, but otherwise it was fine for an overnight. They had a shuttle to the cruise port, but it was not free. Unless you're traveling alone, a taxi would be cheaper.
We arrived at the port about 11 AM. Boarding did not start till about noon, but went very smoothly. We stayed in a superior verandah suite. The room was nice enough and the room steward provided great service. We did have a problem with the bathroom light, but it was fixed promptly. Some have mentioned issues with AC and plumbing. Fortunately, both were fine in our room. Sometimes there was a delay of several seconds between hitting the flush button and the toilet actually flushing, but it always flushed eventually. I assumed this might be normal for a vacuum type flushing system.
The ship seemed to be well maintained and clean. This is More
not to say it looked like a new ship. It looked like a well maintained 10 year old ship. I thought the decor was quite dated in some areas. There was liberal use of smoked mirrors and brass. I've definitely been on ships that I thought were more attractive, but hopefully the upcoming dry dock will include updating the decor. There were scattered toilets with out of order signs, but I can't recall any restrooms that were entirely closed. My biggest complaint was an objectionable odor that seemed to surround every toilet on the ship, including in the cabin. Fortunately it wasn't strong enough to make the entire bathroom smell bad.
I am fairly picky with food, but I thought the Zuiderdam had some the best food in the main dining room of any cruise I have taken. I thought the lido was average. Sometimes the lines were frustrating. For example, I waited about 20 minutes for spaghetti with only about 5 people ahead of me in line. There seemed to be no effort to move more staff to the busy or more popular serving stations.
The entertainment was very good. I thought the Holland America singers were some of the best I've heard on a cruise. I prefer the production shows, but the magician, island magic, and impressionist were good. I didn't care for the comedian, but most people seemed to enjoy him as well.
I don't have much to say about the ports (Half Moon Cay, Curacao, Bonaire, Panama Canal/Colon, Puerto Limon). There was a good variety of excursions offered, so I think just about anyone could find something appealing to do.
Disembarkation was a disaster. I believe disembarkation was delayed because colors and numbers weren't being called at the scheduled times. Basically everyone tried to leave the ship at once. The customs line was very long. I overheard several porters and port agents commenting that they had never seen lines this long and people should be held back on the ship. From the time we left our cabin, it took about 2 hours to get off the ship and go through customs.
Overall, this was a very good cruise. Highlights for me were the food, entertainment, friendly staff, and good itinerary. I did feel that the ship needed updating and had a low energy feeling. Also, I wasn't crazy about most of the activities offered during sea days. Although I would cruise with Holland America again, I will probably consider another line on my next cruise because I missed the younger, more energetic feeling that I've had on previous cruises. Less
Zuiderdam Cruises to the Panama Canal & Central America