This is the first disappointing cruise experience I have had with Holland America Line. I used to be a loyal HAL cruiser. I am now three star mariner. This may have been my last cruise with HAL unless it was on their newer ships, Eurodam or Niew Amsterdam. The Zuiderdam is in horrible condition. It has not been well maintained. Everywhere you looked, something needed fixed. There were tears in the carpet, tears in the cushions on the deck chars, tears in the upolstry on lounge chairs in the Crow's Nest. There was painting that needed to be done. The brass was scraped in the elevators. Certain things were broken or damaged to the point of being unusable. There was supposed to be a chair at the makup table in my room. It was not there and never provided. I believe that HAL is simply not spending the necessary funds to properly maintain their fleet, as I heard other guests comment that Ryndam is falling apart as well. This ship is now 10 years old, and it looks like it is about 30 years old. It needs to go to dry dock. The ship's condition gave this cruise a black eye for me. HAL claims a 5 star cruise experience. Zuiderdam is in about 2 star condition.
On to other aspects of the cruise:
The itinerary was fabulous. It was very exotic and included Costa Rica, Curacao, Bonaire and Aruba. People couldn't wait to get off this ship and onto shore. I had a nice time while in port. I wish I could have stayed on one the islands/countries we visited rather than return to this dump of a cruise ship.
The food was very good. I would say the dining deserves a 4 star rating. We dined in Pinnacle grill. It was the same food, with a little better presentation, served in the main dining room. Don't waste the extra money. The night we booked in Pinnacle, they had lobster tail in the main dining room and, of course, you could order multiple entress (tails). You would have to pay double in Pinnacle for that. Stay in the main dining room. Hopefully, you won't be booked on Zuiderdam, but if you go on one of their newer ships this should be a standard comment and would apply as well.
The crew was up to HAL standards. My cabin steward and my waiter were excellent. So were the bartenders. I felt bad for them as they constantly had to make excuses for Zuiderdam's condition for the company. One crew member told me that rain water drops were coming in the Northern Lights one night. They told the passengers " do not worry if the rain comes down from up above, you must worry if it comes up from below, that means that the ship is sinking."
The entertainment stunk. There was not enough variety. Usually you have a rock band and some other musical genre to choose from. Many lounges were deserted with no entertainment. This might have to do with HALs older crowd.
The casino is terrible. People were losing lots of money, which is normal in a casino, but not one light went off on any of the slots the entire cruise while I was in there. You could drop 5000 in seconds and not even $500. I guess thet have to be greedy and make as much money as possible because they know you won't be returning.
Fortunately, I met another single on this cruise and we spent time sitting on by balcony talking and pounding beers and looking at the beautiful sea. That made the cruise and helped us to pass time. Had we not met, I would have hated this cruise. Fortunately, for HAL, a fellow passenger helped my perspective.
Disembarkation was a disaster. We stood in line for hours. HAL broke my mother's handle on her luggage.
Please don't choose Zuiderdam if you must sail with HAL. Go on Eurodam. Zuiderdam is barely servicable in her current condition. My next cruise I will be returning to Celebrity. That is truly 5 star. In fact, I have had better cruises with Carnival, and Carnival cruise ships are in much better condition than this one. I am really down on HAL after this.