Cruise Ratings
See Reviews For
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: August 2015
This was our fourth HAL cruise and the first on the Zuiderdam. We enjoy the HAL line as we enjoy the smaller ships and the traditional, classic touches. This trip originated in Barcelona where we had an overnight on the ship and we ... Read More
This was our fourth HAL cruise and the first on the Zuiderdam. We enjoy the HAL line as we enjoy the smaller ships and the traditional, classic touches. This trip originated in Barcelona where we had an overnight on the ship and we disembarked in Rome. There were others who remained for another 11 days travel to Venice. We stayed an extra night in Barcelona at the Petit Palace just off of Las Ramblas, and couldn't have been more satisfied with the accomodations. Getting on the ship was the easiest we have ever done. As the ship was docked overnight, people came onboard throughout the day. We were the only people in the vast terminal. We, my husband and I traveled with my sister and brother-in-law. The ship is NOT brand new, and for those who expect a brand new ship will be disappointed. What it is is a lovely, refined, elegant vessel. Our room, 8143 was a rear-facing veranda. We enjoyed the veranda thoroughly and the foot traffic on the end was minimal. However, the room was just below an active Lido deck when chairs and tables were being moved (loudly) during the night and early morning. The room was spacious enough with many thoughtful touches. The curtain between the bathroom area and bedroom area keeps the bedroom area dark when the bathroom door is opened during the night. Fruit and ice and regularly replenished. The bed was soooo comfortable, and the room was kept spotless. HAL is one line that provides robes for its guests. The activities on the ship were not as plentiful as other sailings we've been on, but what we attended was great. KK, the destination specialist, is a treasure. We attended her presentations on the ports of call (there were only 2 sea days on an 11 day voyage) and found her expertise to be invaluable. She also found information for us about a location we wanted to see in Livorno and allowed us to use the ship phone to arrange the visit. Do not miss her talks. We also attended the culinary shows as well as trivia games and enjoyed those too. What really impressed us though was the Adaggio Duet, Evgenia and Dimitrov. We went EVERY night following dinner to the Explorer Lounge to enjoy their amazing talent. We weren't the only ones enjoying their shows and their repertoire and abilities. We decided many evenings to stay there rather than go to the main shows. It couldn't be better. The bar steward in the Explorer Lounge, Armin Lavador was a standout among a wonderful crew. We enjoyed talking with him and hope HAL knows what a great team they have there. We ate most breakfasts and lunches in the Lido, and found the food very, very fresh, plentiful and varied. My sister commented that there was nothing that could possibly be served for breakfast that wasn't available. From full English breakfasts, to Meditteranean, and on and on. She especially enjoyed the fresh squeezed orange juice, a profit center on other lines, free on HAL. My husband enjoyed the different offerings in the Asian station, and I loved the cheese display and fresh fruits and veggies. Most dinners we ate in the dining room and there wasn't a bad meal to be had there either. One night we ate at the Pinnacle Grill, and without question, it was one of the best meals I have ever eaten. We will, on future voyages, take advantage of that level of dining again. The ports (all 9 of them) were of varied enjoyment. Some surprised us (St. Raphael and Corsica), others not so much. When Tunis was taken off the itinerary they added Corsica, and while I enjoyed it, I much would have preferred an overnight in Livorno, in order to enjoy Florence for more than just a few hours. We mostly did our own travel off the ship, with one exception and that was Herculaneum. We did the excursion from the ship and highly recommend it. I don't know how we would have found our way there and back without the bus. It was one of the great highlights of the trip, looking at the baths and stores from over 2000 years ago. Worth the money, definitely. There were no lines for tenders when we went, no lines to get on or off the ship and disembarkation in Rome was flawless. I would sail on this ship again in a heartbeat! Read Less
Sail Date: June 2015
I was disappointed to find no guest laundry on the ship. Was on a 32 night cruise, and ships laundry costs very expensive for that amount of time. Loved our verandah suite stateroom. The staff mostly cheerful and attentive. The ships ... Read More
I was disappointed to find no guest laundry on the ship. Was on a 32 night cruise, and ships laundry costs very expensive for that amount of time. Loved our verandah suite stateroom. The staff mostly cheerful and attentive. The ships band was amazing. Singers and dancers pretty good as well. Some of the bought on entertainment Average, one of the comedians was embarrassing. HAL merchandise not of the good quality as has been in past years, and cabin bag now like Shopping bag fabric, not the sturdy thick cotton of the past. Be aware of 15% on top of alcohol and some other purchases. Everything costs. We were surprised at the amount of Children and young adults cruising, probably because of school holidays. Good on you for broadening your horizons. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2015
This was our first time Holland America line, and some of the reviews were a little scary. Ship was older but nice. Not run down, and modern decor. I enjoy cruise entertainment, but the entertainment on this ship was pretty awful. There ... Read More
This was our first time Holland America line, and some of the reviews were a little scary. Ship was older but nice. Not run down, and modern decor. I enjoy cruise entertainment, but the entertainment on this ship was pretty awful. There were a few nights of really good shows, but the others were really bad. We enjoyed the food. The buffet was limited in selection, but what they had was very well done. We ate ate the restaurant for dinner each night, and we enjoyed the varied menu options each night. Room service breakfast was also quite nice! There was only one real specialty restaurant so dinner choices were very limited. Casino was really small. The ports were not that good. Some were amazing, and some not so much! On the lower decks there was a terrible odor. Like mildew, not really sure what it was, so we stayed away from deck 1. Happy hours were nice. local band was excellent. Had some nice specialty events upon leaving some ports that were nice! Just crowded! Great staff and crew. Seemed to be for the older generation. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: May 2015
This is an older ship and even though they did remodel , it still needs help ie attention to details. The staff made the boat. Almost all were wonderful . Great smile and attitude . The entertainment was marginal at best. Their shore ... Read More
This is an older ship and even though they did remodel , it still needs help ie attention to details. The staff made the boat. Almost all were wonderful . Great smile and attitude . The entertainment was marginal at best. Their shore excursions are pricey and uninspiring .The problem is with HAL . We booked a 22 day Mediterranean cruise only to find out when we boarded that we were on two 11 day cruises. So after 11 days we had to re purchase spa package and Internet servic. First , I feel that wifi should just be included in the price. The Internet itself was beyond poor and HAL should be embarrassed as a company to charge for such poor service. HAL arrival and departure at the ports was just unacceptable . Especially at key ports like Florence, Rome . You don't actually get to see your itinerary until booked and they have your $$$. But , to dock at these major destinations 90 minute drive into town ( 3hr round trip ) and then depart in the middle of the afternoon is just wrong. Especially Rome where they were scheduled for departure at 4pm but because this was the beginning of a new 11 day cruise , we had to be back at 2:30 for muster station safety check or if we did not attend we would not be allowed on the boat. We had booked and paid for private (2 people) Vatican tour guide which was expensive and just a joke because we had so little time. We did not get to see anything else in Rome with the super early departure. Overall the room stewards and food service staff saved this ship. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2008
Having previously sailed on the Zuiderdam several years prior, this sailing was a disappointment. I won't be a malcontent who spews venom everywhere; I just want to let you know the kind of things that made this a less than ... Read More
Having previously sailed on the Zuiderdam several years prior, this sailing was a disappointment. I won't be a malcontent who spews venom everywhere; I just want to let you know the kind of things that made this a less than "Signature of Excellence" experience. The Zuiderdam had undergone renovations in dry dock earlier this year, so I was expecting to see an upgrade in the cabin appointments. This was not the case. Other than a new flat screen TV, the cabins were exactly as they had been two years ago, only with two more years wear and tear. The leather chairs had noticeable grease stains. The beds were comfortable and there is a nice selection of pillows. A clock in the room would have been appreciated. Our room steward did a good job; he worked with us regarding a persistent odor of grease in our cabin. The problem was never resolved, the smell came in through the ventilation system. For future reference, I would not recommend room 8048 unless you consider French fries an acceptable perfume. Food in the main dining room was average to good. Service was painfully slow. We had a table of six, we showed up on time, and we asked for no special or extra food. Every night of this 12 day cruise the "chime man" came around announcing it was time to leave the dining room, usually before we had received our desserts. On Baked Alaska night we had not even received our main course by the time everyone else was enjoying the show and the dessert. I also missed the personal service that I have become accustomed to on other cruises and cruise lines. I felt like if someone completely different had shown up at our table the waiter would never have known the difference. He had no idea who was sitting at his table, he didn't care, and it showed. Food in the Lido was good for buffet style dining. Because the ship suffered an outbreak of GI virus, the self-serve drink option was removed and diners were not allowed to touch any of the food or serving utensils. I do know that this made it more difficult for the staff, and I appreciate this. However, hearing "One more day" repeated by several of the Lido staff (and well within earshot of the customers) didn't do much to make me feel welcome there. Because this was a very port-intensive cruise, not much time was spent on the ship, and this was probably a good thing. The outbreak of the GI virus rendered our purchase of the Hydrotherapy Pool and Thermal Spa package worthless. For health reasons, I understand why this was done. What I don't understand is why there wasn't better communication about what was happening. Instead of telling us that things would re-open when and if the Code Red was lifted, every day it was "Maybe tomorrow". At no point did the spa staff make any attempt to notify us about what was going on. If, as advertised, only 40 memberships to these amenities were sold, contacting 40 people should not have been a difficult undertaking. This could have been easily accomplished by sending a note to our cabins or leaving a message on the phone. It should not have been up to the customer to try to figure out what was going on at every turn. On the flip side of the communication issue, I did not appreciate being told by the cruise director what to put into my cruise evaluation. Instead of "Signature of Excellence", I felt this cruise was more "Signature of Mediocrity, but tell my boss I did an Excellent Job". Knowing that this was the final cruise for many of the staff members likely made a difference in the kind of service that was provided. Whether it was the added stress of the Code Red status, the final tour of duty, the pre-determined tipping, or a combination of the three that caused the decline in service I don't know. I only know that things have changed on Holland America, and not for the better. Read Less
Sail Date: September 2008
Review HAL Zuiderdam - 12 Day Barcelona to Venice Sep 5-17 This was our fifth cruise, second with HAL, having cruised twice before with Carnival and once with Norwegian. We had a VE category balcony. We flew to Paris and then to ... Read More
Review HAL Zuiderdam - 12 Day Barcelona to Venice Sep 5-17 This was our fifth cruise, second with HAL, having cruised twice before with Carnival and once with Norwegian. We had a VE category balcony. We flew to Paris and then to Barcelona. An HAL rep met us while we were waiting for our luggage in Barcelona... we got four pieces but were missing one big suitcase... MINE! which contained DH's suit jacket and all my clothes. Luckily I had thrown a pair of comfortable capris into one of DH's suitcases at the last moment, because all I had on was a pair of long pants, high heels and a blouse. Unfortunately, all the shops on the ship were closed while in port, but I was able to buy some crocs (shoes) and a cotton top for 30 Euros at the duty free shop at the port. My suitcase arrived on the second day just before the fire drill. Note to Self: Pack each suitcase with half DH clothes and half my clothes!! After extensive research on the boards, I couldn't decide which excursions to take and only booked one HAL excursion from home - the 4 hour one in Monaco for Nice & Eze and we were waitlisted for the Dubrovnik Riviera. I figured we'd wing it once we had the ship info for each port. I had bought an HAL Bon Voyage package including balloons (which were placed, and remained for the duration of the cruise, outside our cabin door in front of our mailbox, making it easy to locate our cabin), sparkling white wine, which surprisingly was NOT on ice upon our arrival, 6 chocolate covered strawberries, and some casino dollars for DH. Unfortunately, DH was not feeling well and needed to go directly to the cabin upon our arrival while I needed to place a missing luggage report with the Front Office right away while there were no crowds, so when I asked him how he liked his Bon Voyage presents he said "what Bon Voyage presents?" Guess he was focused on just getting into the cabin to lie down... no problem, we enjoyed these items the next day. In Barcelona, we found an HAL bus tour that was just about to leave and they had some vacant seats. A gentleman from Dallas offered us a free ticket as his wife was ill and unable to take the tour, so we gave him half the fare. The tour was very good and we were particularly impressed with the Familia Sagrada, the unfinished church designed by Gaudí - incredible!!! The next port was Monaco and we tendered in, in the morning and the ship would dock later at 3 pm. We were surprised the tenders were actually the Zuiderdam's tenders. We took the Nice and Eze bus tour, which was FANTASTIC. Our tour guide, Ingrid was very good. She kept us apprised of all the local gossip, including Prince Albert illegitimate children, Princess Grace's accident, Princess Caroline's and Stephanie's lineup of husbands. We saw the site where Princess Grace had her fatal accident. Then we stopped in Nice for 30 minutes. We went on to Villefranche which was particularly spectacular and had views of Cap Ferrat and Cap d'Antibes. Eze is truly beautiful and it was here that we met a very nice couple that we ended up spending most of our time with. When we returned, we decided to tour Monaco instead of going directly back to the ship... Unfortunately the Palace and Museum were closed but it was pretty walking along the gardens and we saw the final resting place of Prince Rainier and Princess Grace. We did not make it to the casino. When we got back to our room to change for dinner, we were pleasantly surprised to see Monaco all lit up from our balcony - a sight I will always remember as the ship was so close - truly memorable! In Livorno, we had signed up for the Cinque Terre tour but it was sold out, so we took the Pisa and Lucca tour. The Pisa tower was breathtaking when we first saw it, but apart from it and a few churches, there wasn't much to see there... and Lucca was "just another walled town" It may have been our tour guide who was very knowledgeable, but not very patient, or it could've been that we were tired, but I just felt like we were following her around and around and we didn't dare drop off the tour as we were unsure as to where the bus was waiting for us. Of all the tours we took, I felt we could've missed Lucca... In Civitavecchia, we took the HAL transfer in to Rome, with another other couple and managed to see the Spanish Steps, Trevi Fountain, Pantheon, Bocca de la Verita, the Palace where Mussolini watched the horse races, Colosseum, Circus Maxis all before taking the subway to the place where the bus was to pick us up. It was incredibly hot so we thought we had done well in seeing as much as we did in the time allotted. In Messina, Sicily, Italy, the ship gave a descriptive port lecture going thru the straits of Messina - we went to the front of the ship on the 6th floor and got some spectacular pictures. Later we decided to take a taxi with two other couples to Taormina for 30 euros per person. Half way to Taormina, DH asked me if I had our camera.... I did not as he was in charge of photos. We asked the driver to call to see if a camera was found at the terminal behind but it was not.... We thought we had lost all of our pictures up to then! We got to Taormina, bought 2 disposable cameras and went to David's theatre, with beautiful views from the top. It was exceptionally hot here as well and I would've thought there would've been a breeze but there was none. We stopped for a Sicilian canoli which was out of this world!!!, and beer. When we got back into the taxi van, the driver lifted his "purse" from between the two seats and that's where we found our camera - thank goodness!! Note to self: Bring multiple camera disks and store in safe even if they're not full!! We would have gladly given up the camera just to have our photos! The next day was a well deserved "At Sea" day. I attended an "easy appetizer" demo in the culinary kitchen and an "update your hairdo" seminar in the spa. (neither one particularly inspiring). At Navplion, Greece, we set out with another couple and we two girls climbed the tower on the right (not the 899 step tower) and rang the bell (we had to climb thru an 18" x 24" opening in the fence to access the bell tower. The views at the top were beautiful - it was a clear day. The guys had found a shady place to wait for us where the beer was 2 euros per liter bottle. Later, closer to the ship, DH stopped for a beer, which cost 5 euros for regular sized bottle. At Katakolon, Greece, a lot of people went on the Olympia tour, but we just hung out at the duty-free area... there were lots of vendors but it seemed everyone was selling the same stuff... DH found it too hot so he went back to the ship and I remained. I entered a jewelry shop and the gentleman vendor approached and asked me where I was from, etc. then stated his brother was living in Canada as well etc etc. then he said he knew where there was a topless beach. Thinking I might be able to entice DH to go to the beach if it was not far, since we still had a lot of time in port, I asked "is the beach close to here" whereupon the gentleman stated "It's not too far if I go with a friend like you in my convertible!!!!" I beat a hasty retreat and it was not long after that I overheard a British accent (lady) saying "...and then he tried to get me to go to a topless beach!!!!" So I guess he was trying hard to get someone (anyone!) to go with him.... In Corfu, we took the little train for 5 euros each that takes you around the town but the speakers were not clear so we couldn't hear the narrative but it gave us a good sense of Corfu. We saw the palace where Prince Philip was born. We decided to walk back to the port and there was a very dramatic thunder/lightening storm just as we reached the duty-free building. I was a little disappointed in Corfu, thought they could have cleaned it up especially along the water's edge - it seemed there were just fast food places and other nondescript buildings. Perhaps we should have taken HAL's tour of the Palaces of Corfu..... The morning we arrived in Dubrovnik, we were invited at 6 am to the front of the ship to see the sunrise and our approach to this beautiful city (unfortunately it was raining so not much to see). It had not rained in Dubrovnik for 3 months and the day we were there it poured all day long. We took the Dubrovnik Riviera tour and we had a 15-minute stop at the little seaside town of Cavtat where it was raining so hard that the water gushed down the stone steps soaking our feet. Our tour guide was very good giving us some history - Croatia has its own money, the kuna, and it will be approx 3 years before it will join up with the other countries and use euros. It is 'illegal' for Dubrovniks to accept American money or Euros, but everyone does it... You just need to ask before you make a purchase if they accept it and they may give you kunas in change. We paid in euros and received euros in change. We were dropped just outside the old town and were given shuttle tickets to go back to the ship at our convenience. We stopped for a cappuccino at one of the outside covered cafes but then it started to get very windy and we were getting wet. We were able to get a table inside and we shared the best pizza I have EVER had (including in Italy!). Luckily the rain let up a bit so we were able to walk around the Old Town but we were unable to walk the wall. In Venice, the tide was in so St. Mark's Square was full of water. People had taken off their shoes and were walking in the ankle-deep water in the square. We had reservations to see the Basilica at 1:25 pm that day, but when we got to the Square there were so many people, all in line walking on raised platforms to get into the Basilica that we didn't attempt to see the Basilica. It was difficult to see where the line started and where it ended. So we walked to the Rialto Bridge, had a beer and panino at one of the bars and returned to St. Mark's Square where we had a rendezvous at 4:00 p.m. with my Italian cousin and her husband (that I hadn't seen in 5 years). We decided to get a drink at "Da Florian" where there was a string quartet playing. We had a coke, a Chinoko (Italian soft drink), beer and a prosecco. The bill was 59 euros. (Prosecco was 24 euros, beer was 18 and the remainder was for the soft drinks). The ambiance was very nice and it allowed us to do a bit of catchup in a quiet area. Her DH doesn't speak English and my DH doesn't speak Italian so somehow they communicated by speaking French! Nice touches from HAL: We got a Canadian newsletter every day in our mailbox, which was nice as we have an election coming up in October. After every tour and before you boarded the ship, we were greeted by iced wet faceclothes, water spritzing, and a glass of either lemonade or water - very well received as it was HOT! A cruise blog at the end of the cruise stating where we had been, whether we anchored or tendered and how many miles we had gone. When we got off the ship in Dubrovnik, the HAL staff held umbrellas one after another so we wouldn't get wet while on our way to the bus (wish I'd gotten a picture of that!). The morning we arrived in Venice, they offered coffee and Italian canolis in the Observation Deck at the front of the ship as we cruised up the canal and after the port lecture, they played a song by Andrea Bocelli - beautiful! Negatives: I did smell a sort of bleach-y type of smell (others on cruise critic had mentioned a sewer-type of smell) once in a while, while showering and definitely after I'd been in the hot tub. We had used HAL's transfer from Venice to the airport but when we got off the bus, we were just dropped off and there were no porters and no carts around. This meant that by the time we finally got our luggage to the Air France waiting line, there was a huge line and we were advised that the Air France baggage holders were on strike for 24 hours and that we'd have to wait in another line for two hours to get our boarding passes for the following day. After getting our boarding passes for the next day, we waited another 2 hours for HAL to find us a room in the outskirts of Venice. I felt sorry for the elderly people who had to wait with all their luggage in line... there wasn't many places to sit down and everyone was exhausted from the port intensive trip. Since we had booked our airfare with HAL, they paid for the hotel room and breakfast. However, there were some people that had done their airfare independently through travel agents, or online, so while HAL helped them get a hotel room, they would have to pay for the room. Not sure if they could get reimbursed by Air France. So warning that it may cost a bit more to book flights thru the cruise lines, but it's worth it for protection. Our flight the next day was uneventful. We thought the food and the service in the dining room was very good. I liked the size of the ship, not too big if you had to deek back to your cabin for an unforgotten item. I would definitely sail the Zuiderdam again. Read Less
Sail Date: September 2008
We were a group of four that sailed from Barcelona the beginning of September for a 12 night cruise ending in Venice. It was nice to board the ship and have a full night in port, before setting sail. Therefore the boarding process was ... Read More
We were a group of four that sailed from Barcelona the beginning of September for a 12 night cruise ending in Venice. It was nice to board the ship and have a full night in port, before setting sail. Therefore the boarding process was very relaxed and well organized. I think it took all of 10 minutes from arrival at the pier to being in our cabin, now that is almost unheard of. The cabin was traditional of HAL. Size was good. Clean. Although the picture in our cabin had a huge crack across the entire frame. You never knew if the glass was going to fall out (attention to detail). The bathroom was clean, although it always had a faint odor. The balcony furniture was great. Overall we were satisfied with the cabin. The Spa was very good. We took advantage of the Thermal/Hydropool package for the 12 days. Great value. The spa change room was clean however their were no extra amenities available (no creams, lotions, shaving items, etc.)...it was pretty bare bones. Although it was clean. Our friend was quite upset that on three occasions, a male attendant entered the women's change room to clean, even with her in the change room. Luckily on both occasions she was either in a robe or clothed. He didn't seem to be bothered. We had open seating for the dining room. For the most part we didn't have to wait long. Having open seating provides you with the opportunity of having different servers. One downfall however, is the service in open seating is not very good. According to one of the servers who was working in the non-open seating area, the table to server ratio is much higher in the open seating portion of the dining room. Therefore if you have designated early/late seating - the service provided will be better. Often the open-seating servers had little time for conversation - so the service lacked. In the entire 12 nights, we only came across one bar/wine server that actually had knowledge of wines and could make good recommendations. The food was generally quite good - however stay away from the salads. This has been true on any HAL cruise I have taken. (it is the little things that count) Entertainment was excellent. From the shows in the Vista Theatre to all the Lounges. This is one area where HAL ranks high. We went to the Pinnacle Dining Room for a meal one evening to celebrate an anniversary, which was explained when the reservation was made. When we arrived we requested a table by the window - however were told that none were available (although there were two tables for four that remained vacant the entire time we were there). When we were being seated, a server passing by inadvertently hit one of our friends in her neck, with a silver tray. It wasn't a light tap at all. The server apologized, however the Maitre'D that was seating us made no mention of it although he witnessed it. Now, if this had been a true 5-star cruise line, something should have been done. Even if to offer a complimentary drink to the person that was hit....but nothing was done. (it is the little things that count) The food was excellent. Service was a little cumbersome, but good. Oh also...no "Happy Anniversary" greetings either (it is the little things that count) The Lido restaurant was hit and miss. Sometimes it was fine, other times it was not. The often ran out of coffee in the morning...nothing like a bunch of people without their morning coffee. Also, the coffee served is some of the worst I have ever had on a cruise line. The fresh fruit was seldom ripe (except the watermelon which was great). The service was fair but not great. One of my biggest pet peeves is when a bus person comes up to clear the table and starts piling the plates/dishes from all the other trays onto one...dumping left-overs from one tray onto the other - all this right in front of us. This is definitely not 5-star service. This does not even happen in most shopping mall food courts. (it is the small things that count). I did like the coffee/tea trolley service throughout the morning to get a refill at your table. Although there were some very good employees that we encountered, I have to say that overall I was displeased with the service on board. It ranged from being hassled for drinks by the pool (one bar server actually followed us as we were walking along the aft lido deck trying to get us to buy a drink - I actually had to tell him to stop following us and that we had said no thank you). Another time we sat in a Lounge waiting for bar service while the six staff members joked around with each other. We waited for over 10 minutes (there were only two other couples in the lounge at the time). (it is the little things that count). The Shore Excursions were all very good. They were well organized and the companies providing the excursions were well chosen. Disembarkation in Venice went very smoothly. One other of my pet peeves is when members of the staff vie for higher rating scores on the comment cards. The cruise director actually said during his disembarkation talk, that if you 'liked' the cruise you should not give a rating of anything lower than a "9" (which is the highest rating). He actually said that they want to show home office that they are doing a great job. Now....on a rating scale of 1-9, if I 'liked' the cruise, I would rate it between a 5-7, however to get a "9" you would need to be exceptional. All companies have room for improvement. HAL should not be telling any guests what to rate. This is 'stacking the numbers' in their favor....I was totally honest on my comment card. I gave high scores to areas that deserved it and I gave low scores. I have been on 20 cruises, on most of the various cruise lines, so I think I know what I am talking about. I also work within the Hospitality Industry and know what to expect from a Company that promotes themselves as providing 5-star service. I believe most of our bad experiences were a result of poor management and leadership. For the most part, the staff were friendly but they certainly were not engaged. I'm thinking this will be my last HAL cruise. Read Less
Sail Date: June 2008
We took two twelve day back to back cruises on the Zuiderdam. We had sailed on the Oosterdam to Alaska, so we thought we had the same ship. Not quite. The Zuiderdam is older, and the rooms, as others have noted, are smaller. The ship went ... Read More
We took two twelve day back to back cruises on the Zuiderdam. We had sailed on the Oosterdam to Alaska, so we thought we had the same ship. Not quite. The Zuiderdam is older, and the rooms, as others have noted, are smaller. The ship went through an update this year, but there were areas of worn carpet, etc. in the halls. Since we got a very good package, with air from the West Coast included, feel the overall value was there. Certainly, the ports of call were outstanding- couldn't of planned it better myself. We felt the food was very good, but the wait staff did seem harried. Maybe because HAL has recently gone to free style dining as an option, they didn't quite have their act together. We can't say enough good things about the staff- from the personable captain down to the able seamen- really a pleasure to be around them. The entertainment was sketchy, sometimes great (comedian) to "gotta get out of here" (screaming diva). The sound system, as someone else noted, needs to be turned down. We also felt that there seemed to be a dearth of activities, unlike our experience in Alaska. Overall, however, we had a great time. With the dollar almost worthless, this is the only way to travel. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2008
I just returned from a 24-night Western and Eastern Mediterranean cruise on the Zuiderdam. I had sailed several times on Statendam-class ships, the Zaandam, Rotterdam and Amsterdam, but this was my first time on a Vista-class ship. On the ... Read More
I just returned from a 24-night Western and Eastern Mediterranean cruise on the Zuiderdam. I had sailed several times on Statendam-class ships, the Zaandam, Rotterdam and Amsterdam, but this was my first time on a Vista-class ship. On the basis of this cruise, I would have to say that the Vista ships have dumbed down some of the features that made Holland America unique. The space previously occupied by the Explorations Cafe (Library/Internet Center) is now a fancy jewelry store and the Explorations Cafe has been banished to a section of the Crow's Nest on Deck 10. The book collection is intact and still good, but the computers, books and coffee bar are now squeezed into one smallish area. Between the noise from the coffee machine and the noise from the activities in the Crow's Nest, there is no longer a quiet place to read or work a puzzle. Space is wasted on a strange dedicated Screening Room with only about 25 oversized leather chairs, instead of using the Culinary Center/Queens Lounge for movies. The number of seats in that lounge is also quite limited. There is a dark, gloomy nightclub Northern Lights that was virtually unoccupied during the entire cruise. The Vista Lounge (not to be confused with the Vista Dining Room-- I guess they ran out of names!) is attractive and well equipped technically for loads of special lighting effects and stage platforms that rotate, go up and down, etc. The level of entertainment ran from fair to very good. One of the productions shows "Dream Park" was quite spectacular. The trouble with the shows is the time they are scheduled, at 7 and 9. If you're on early seating, you have over an hour to kill after dinner before the late show. If you're on late seating, you have to see the early show. I much prefer the old schedule of shows at 8 and 10:30 whereby everyone saw the show after dinner. I cannot for the life of me understand why they adopted this new schedule, which is convenient only for people on "anytime dining" who choose to eat around 7. My major complaint about the cruise is that converting the lower level of the dining room to anytime dining seems to have had an adverse effect on service for people on the late seating in the upper dining room. Service was consistently slower than it has been on earlier cruises. Dinner rarely took less than 90 minutes. At some point in the meal either before or after the entree, there was often a 20-minute gap with no food. At first we thought it was the waiter as our first waiter was not up to the usual Holland America standard. However, they rotated staff halfway through the cruise. Our new waiter was much better, but it did not reduce dining time one bit. I think the problem is not the waitstaff, but the galley. I don't think they have adjusted to anytime dining and the delays it caused in the galley are slowing down the meal. (Incidentally, I heard that people who booked as early as February were forced to accept anytime dining.) The food continues to be very good, although the salad selection was quite limited and there was a heavy emphasis on red meat. The food in the Lido was just OK. At lunchtime, there were long lines for salads and beverages and the staff didn't seem to clean tables as quickly as before. The hot breakfast available from room service was an excellent way to go. Between the change in the show schedule and the slow dining service, my perception of the Holland America advantage over other cruise lines has greatly shrunk. As a single traveler, anytime dining is not really a viable option for me. If I had known that I would have to see the show before dinner every night, I might have thought twice about booking. Since there were so few sea days on the cruise, I can understand why the daytime shipboard activities were limited. However, even on sea days there were very few things scheduled that appealed to me. One notable exception was the last day of the cruise, when they set up a backstage tour that was very interesting. With all the ancient sites we visited, a lecture series on Mediterranean history would have been most welcome. It would also have been enjoyable if they had invited local talent, e.g. Greek dancers, onboard to perform while we were in port. A big surprise was the large number of children aboard during the second half of the cruise. Apparently Holland America's attempt to reach younger people has been successful. Fortunately, the children were generally well-behaved. There were far fewer wheelchairs, walkers and oxygen tanks than I have seen in the past. The cabins are still very nice, especially the large bathrooms. The cabin stewards are still terrific and the cruise staff gracious as ever. I guess the cruise lines are not immune to economic pressures, but some of the prices of the shore excursions, photos, and spa treatments were very high. Liquor prices seemed unchanged but the cost of wine at dinner was up by about $2 a glass or $10 a bottle since early last year. The strategy seems to be to keep the fare low and make it up elsewhere. The itinerary was terrific. The only change I would suggest is to spend two full days in Istanbul where there is far too much to see in just one day. Most of the shore excursions were good. In conclusion, it was a good cruise which would have been even better with reasonable showtimes, quicker dinner service and more onboard activities. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: January 2008
 The ship-organized bus transfer at the Barcelona airport will cost you $49. USD each but you'll have to wait for everyone to board ... get a cab outside for approx. 25€ total tip included. It's a short ride to the ship. ... Read More
 The ship-organized bus transfer at the Barcelona airport will cost you $49. USD each but you'll have to wait for everyone to board ... get a cab outside for approx. 25€ total tip included. It's a short ride to the ship. We paid $2,050 USD per person (taxes all in) for a deck-one ocean-view cabin with no obstruction. I thought the price was high but I was willing to pay because Holland America promotes itself as "above the rest". This was our 15th cruise ... we believe there's no such thing as a bad cruise. But, we would position Royal Caribbean and Princess ahead of HAL. This itinerary is a good one because there is only one sea-day. The Free-Style dining works well because it gives you lots of time in port and you don't have to rush back for a firm dinner time. Normally I wouldn't want a deck-one room but this was VERY convenient to dining and for getting on and off the ship - I would highly recommend it. The ship is medium sized which makes it easy to find things and easy to get on and off. The decor, particularly in the Lido, is very disco-dated and a little worn-out, but, after a few days, you won't notice it. There are two roof-top pools and one has a retractable roof - excellent! The gym is well equipped. The theatre is roomy and the on-ship singers and dancers are very good ... as well as Marty Brill the comedian and Penny, the "Les Miz" lead singer. Neil Diamond fans/groupies may not enjoy the Diamond-impersonator with the Australian accent or the magician who talks too much and doesn't do his act. If you are planning on buying any of the Art-at-Sea from PARK WEST, you may want to Google them before you go - they have lots of unresolved issues with cruise-customers. Online hook-up is $55 per 30 min. - dial-up is very slow (and costly). Internet Cafes at the port in CIVITAVECCHIA & VENICE are about 3€ for half-hour and the phones to N. America are equally cheap. The on-board Casino is very, very smokey and the staff is the worst I have ever encountered on a ship - most of them wouldn't last a shift in Vegas. SHORE EXCURSIONS!!!! Investigate! If you are willing to be a little adventurous you will save a lot of money by doing the excursions yourself. One simple rule - when you get to the bus or train depot to buy your tickets, ASK A LOT OF QUESTIONS - does the bus/train go direct to the destination? ... what time does it return? ... how long will it take to get back to the ship? ... how much? It's fun to invite other like-minded cruisers to join you you'll be surprised how many other people there are who don't want to spend a lot on excursions. One couple told us that they take the money they would have spent on excursions and apply it to upgrading their accommodations to suites etc. REMEMBER TO ALWAYS GET YOUR BUS AND TRAIN TICKET TIME-STAMPED BEFORE YOU GET ON ANY BUS OR TRAIN! We haven't taken a train in 30 years. Italian trains are easy and cheap. You will surprise yourself at how easy it is. And, how much you'll save. The on-ship Shore Excursion guy has a very nice announcer-voice but he will do everything he can to discourage you from using in-port public transportation and particularly the trains in Italy ... HE IS WRONG! ... public transportation in every port is reliable, safe and very cheap ... the trains in Italy may be the best in the world on time, safe, clean, and efficient. They will take you to the destinations you are eager to visit in almost every port. You'll note that the ship's 11-hour excursion to Rome is more than $1,000 USD for 2. Our dinner-mates took it. Their bus attendant could only speak French/Italian so her commentary was difficult to understand on the 90 min. journey to Rome (or back) and the day was quite a rush. They could have taken the train from our port town of CIVITAVECCHIA to Rome and made one transfer to a subway which stops at the Vatican for about 25€ each/return. Another couple slept-in, missed their bus and lost their $1,000. The excursion guy (green shirt) claims to be at the run-way when you depart the ship at port ... we saw him once in 12 days. BUY YOUR TRAIN TICKETS AT EACH STATION - it's cheaper than buying a Eurail Pass unless you'll be in Italy for a month. The same for LIVORNO/FLORENCE. Take the shuttle from the boat to the bus - then to the rail-station. The return train to FLORENCE is 17€ each instead of $96 USD each, on the ship excursion. Incidentally, as an after-thought, the excursion-guy casually mentions that FLORENCE and its museums (including "DAVID") is closed on Mondays, the day the ship docks. BARCELONA you must go to the GAUDI cathedral (about 15€ by cab from the ship). The ship looks close to downtown when it's in port but it's not. After the Gaudi, we walked to Las Ramblas, the longest promenade in the city - it goes south to the main downtown area and port. There's lots to do here but we were too tired from the flight over. On the ship, we heard of 5 separate incidences of PICK-POCKETING in Barcelona from fellow-cruisers so be extra careful and always USE THE SAFE IN YOUR CABIN. MONTE CARLO take public transportation - 1€ each to the palace and 1€ each to the Casino. Entrance to the casino is 10€ each + you must show your passport. The excursion guy said "no shorts" "no running-shoes" during the day for admittance to the casino ... he is wrong. LIVORNO has the ugliest port in the world. You cannot walk into town - take the shuttle bus. Remember that FLORENCE museums are CLOSED ON MONDAYS,so you can walk the city, go to the Duomo or go by train to PISA. CIVITAVECCHIA is Rome's port town but it's a long way to Rome - 90 min. by bus - about the same (but a lot cheaper) by train. If you choose not to go to Rome, Civitavecchia is a nice port town for walking and has an open-air flea market with lots of trinkets and trash and shoes & purses. MESSINA go to the main cathedral in town - awesome! Then, it's a 500 yard walk to the train station. For 20€ return + 1€ each for the bus ... it will take you to the beautiful mountain town of TAMORMINA - you must see this! The on-ship excursion wants $79 USD per person for the same trip. NAVPLION is a very nice port town. You can walk to the beach (stoney not sandy) no cost. KATAKOLON is the port town for ANCIENT OLYMPIA and the original Olympic site. I thought this would be a hole in the ground and some rocks. I was wrong. It's awesome and will take you 2-3 hours to see. Take the train in the port town for 2€ each and it stops directly at the Olympic site instead of the ship excursion price of $67 USD each. Get the 11am train or earlier because you'll really need some time at this place. CORFU we just walked around. Not a very nice port. DUBROVNIK is awesome! We took the city bus to the old town. There is lots of history and lots to see. You will want to spend some time here (it also has an Internet cafe right at the front gates by the bus stop). And, a beautiful cafe by the walls of the city overlooking the water. VENICE we walked into the city to PIAZZALE ROMA from the boat - it's a real hike (15€ by cab). Piazzale Roma is the transportation centre. Here, you can get a water-bus, a (very expensive) water taxi or a (very expensive) gondola. Buy a 16€ one-day water-bus ticket which will allow you unlimited use of the water-bus for 24 hours REMEMBER TO GET YOUR TICKET TIME-STAMPED. Yes, it goes to St. Marks and Murano for the glass and Burano for the lace. There are 400 bridges in Venice - you'll feel like you crossed every one of them - you'll need good walking shoes. Venice is very safe. You must visit the Doges' Palace in St Marks square as well as the cathedral - go later or earlier in the day to avoid the cruise-crowd. If you are going to the airport, after Venice, take a cab ... it will cost you less than $85 USD the ship will charge you. If you want to stay in Venice you may want to do what we did ... stay in a convent. It's only 10 min. from Piazzale Roma - very safe - very clean - very reasonable (a double room with bath + continental breakfast 65€ per night) it's Casa Caburlotto - you can email Martina @ caburlotto.casaperferie@virgilio.it ABOUT ITALY ... they don't have cream for coffee ... most public rest-rooms and restaurants don't have toilet seats ... Diet Coke is called Coke-Light and, like most soft drinks, will cost you 2€-3.5€ (about $5.50 USD) and they don't know what "refill" means. Although Italians don't tip, you will be expected to leave 10%. But, check your bill because many restaurants "include a service charge". Ask cab drivers "how much"? BEFORE you agree to the ride. You'll find that many restaurants charge one price for sitting down for a cappuccino and another for standing up. We were charged 3€ (about $5 USD) for a basket of bread with dinner they will charge for water at your table if they think they can get away with it ... the best advice about restaurant pricing is ask as many questions about the menu and the prices BEFORE YOU ORDER so there's no surprises because there will be surprises. If you go to The Vatican, you may want to visit the "Scavi" a dig in progress under the main basilica - you have to order tickets in advance - only 100 people per day are permitted entrance go to GOOGLE. A guide for the Vatican Museums? She is very, very good but a little pricey ... art historian, Caitlin Miller, - 65€ per hour up to 4 people - caitlinmiller@hotmail.com. Our Rome convent accommodation was spectacular -Casa Maria Immacolata at Via Ezio 28 and only 15 min. walk to the Vatican. Great breakfast, very clean, double room + bath for 75€ per night ALSO buy the homemade dinner plan, 7:30 each night for 10€ each + tip. Contact Daniella at casamariaimmacolata.it Read Less
Zuiderdam Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 4.2
Dining 3.5 4.1
Entertainment 4.5 3.7
Public Rooms 3.5 4.1
Fitness Recreation 4.0 3.7
Family 2.0 3.7
Shore Excursion 5.0 3.8
Enrichment 5.0 3.6
Service 4.0 4.4
Value For Money 4.5 3.8
Rates 4.0 4.1

Find a Zuiderdam Cruise

Easily compare prices from multiple sites with one click
Compare and book excursions for your next cruise