Zuiderdam Cruise Review by Hotshot44: Good Cruise
Overall Member Rating
Destination: Panama Canal & Central America
Embarkation: Fort Lauderdale (Port Everglades)
We enjoyed this cruise; it was our first with HA. We are a young 40's couple with 9 cruises under our belt.
Room: Like other reviewers, we also encountered air conditioning problems in our room (none for 36 hours), no DVD player upon arrival (finally got an employee's, but it had no remote control), and public restrooms that were out of order. We were glad we upgraded to a balcony for this cruise so we could enjoy cruising through the Panama Canal and other ports on our balcony with room service. Besides the air conditioning, the room was nice..no complaints here.
Smoking: We were lucky not to smell smoke on our balcony or room, but we did smell smoke in the hallways on some floors. Hopefully, HA's new smoking policy (effective 1/15/12) will help ease the smell in the staterooms and hallways. Unfortunately, the policy was going into effect the week after our cruise!
Dining: As others have stated, the food is better on other cruise lines. You won't More starve here of course, but there are some staples that were missing from the choices: bananas, strawberries, and smoked salmon. We were pleasantly surprised to find fresh-made Belgian waffles every morning (yum) and omelets and a variety of fresh juices available every morning (free of charge). We also liked the fact that there was only one restaurant where you had to pay extra; all other restaurants/buffets were free. The Italian Restaurant was exceptionally good, but unfortunately had the same menu each evening. We suggest making reservations early, but we also lucked out by walking in one night where there were 4 cancellations. As others mentioned, the dessert are not comparable to other cruise lines, although you can find some good ones here and there. The desert buffet at 11pm one night was outstanding...don't miss. They also had some specialty barbecues and other food events that were very enjoyable and good.
Noise: Quiet for a change!! There were only about 10 kids total on this ship who were all well-mannered. It was nice not to have deal with kids occupying all the pools, running kids, screaming kids, and rude kids in the food areas (we have two kids of our own who stayed with Grandma, so were not anti-kids, just anti rude ones, which seem to be a staple on every cruise). HA does a great job as well by keeping the music low (even by the pools) so you can hear each other talk. No super loud contests and boisterous parties/drinking. Five stars here for sure to HA!!!
Screening Room: HA has a movie room that is awesome. It has about 20 huge leather lazy boys chairs, and they have free popcorn in little bags. What a great touch!
Bingo: Plenty of it, but 6 squares cost $35 and the payouts are small (first game starts at under $100 winnings and last game is no more than a $300 winning).
Entertainment: Outstanding. Perhaps we lucked out, but we really enjoyed the dancers/singers, comedians, and musicians.
Ports: The Bahamas island is nice, very relaxing. We nabbed chairs in the shade, sat by the beach, and read our books. We also swam in the ocean. Aruba-we took the public bus to a snorkeling area. Snorkeling is not that great on the shores - you really have to go out to the reefs by boat (excursion). Curacao - we shopped/walked around as others recommended. We were a little disappointed. The selection of shops is slim and the streets are dirty. Limon - my husband did the ship excursion of zip lining (loved it) and I did the Canal, Train, and Bus Ride through the rain forest. That was great. Photographers - don't forget your zoom lenses to see the monkeys in the trees and other wildlife!!
We didn't realize that HA spends a whopping $385,000 in fees to go through the Panama Canal, so perhaps a reason for the little cutbacks here and there. This wasn't the best cruise we've been on because of our inconveniences, but we would definitely do HA again. We'd probably do a HA ship that was either new or recently refurbished. Less
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