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11 Night Southern Caribbean Cruise from Fort Lauderdale

11 Night Southern Caribbean Cruise from Fort Lauderdale (Port Everglades)

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Zuiderdam
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Itinerary

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  • Day 1
    Fort Lauderdale (Port Everglades)
  • Day 2
    Half Moon Cay
  • Day 3
    Cruising
  • Day 4
    Aruba
  • Day 5
    Curacao
  • Day 6
    Cruising
  • Day 7
    Cartagena (Colombia)
  • Day 8
    Gatun Lake
  • Day 8
    Panama Canal
  • Day 8
    Colon (Cristobal)
  • Day 9
    Puerto Limon
  • Day 10
    Cruising
  • Day 11
    Cruising
  • Day 12
    Fort Lauderdale (Port Everglades)

Zuiderdam

Zuiderdam - Holland America Line

Pros

Partnerships and Music Walk mean exciting enrichment and entertainment choices

Cons

Pool and some public areas appear dated; cabins could use more storage

Bottom line

Continual refurbishments and additions keep older ship fresh for a variety of destinations


Cruise Reviews

Had an awesome cruise, 7 day Caribbean. ship is from 2002 but renovated in 2017/18 My wife and I have sailed primarily Royal, Celebrity, Princess, NCL, Carnival and my wife Cunard in the past, over 40 cruises. 1900 passengers and ... Read More
Had an awesome cruise, 7 day Caribbean. ship is from 2002 but renovated in 2017/18 My wife and I have sailed primarily Royal, Celebrity, Princess, NCL, Carnival and my wife Cunard in the past, over 40 cruises. 1900 passengers and 9 decks with lots of elevators. many were on 2, 3 and 4 week back to back cruises we are 65 and 68 so almost felt young!! An older mix, say average age 65-75. Very few children, saw the Club HAL kids place closed one day plus some younger couples who want a quiet cruise and have returned. The dining room food selection, presentation, service and taste I'd say would be the best similar to Celebrity. We did not go to Pinnacle dining room or Canaletto for speciality dining, but the menu looked great at Pinnacle ($39 cover) Would highly recommend HAL's renovated ships and newer ships. Had prime rib 2 nights, lots of seafood, lobster tails on last Gala night (formerly formal night) and far less formal than in the past. This is all good. Nice touch on exiting the DR, one could have mints, ginger, dates or figs. Lido buffet was also excellent. They even had crepes, super omelettes,V8 and grapefruit juice which you don't see often. Most food was served to you, similar to what Celebrity has done. Some fruit, bread and other items you could pick up on your own. I asked why they served, its to avoid cross contamination, They told me with an older crowd, if someone gets ill, can be harder on older people to recover. a good idea. Sushi and Thai, Chinese food every day. Loved Half Moon Cay, private island stop, only ship there, soft powdery beach. BBQ lunch was one of the best we;ve seen. great salad selection, gourmet hamburgers and fresh fruit and ribs and fish tacos. They also had a Lobster Shack so for extra $ can get a roll or lobster salad Even had real ice cream scooped from coolers. Also lido had real ice cream all day. Lido pool deck midship had Dive In, a hamburg/hot dog /french fries. You place the order and are given a buzzer to come pick up minutes later. Nathan's dogs and crispy fries, served in a cup. Beside Dive-in there was a mexican station all day, nachos, cheese, various additives, soft and hard tacos. A real nice touch. Workers greeted you all the time and were constantly cleaning. Just had main dining lunch once for Mariner lunch. Breakfast and lunch always in Lido, ate at the aft, nice to be in the air (we try to do this on all cruises) only minor issue smoking was allowed on the aft starboard side, so smoke sometimes blew over. Mainstage a nice size theatre, on decks 2/3 No orchestra and big stage show, instead we had 3 excellent dance shows by Step One, 7 dancers with recorded music. Get to Mainstage early and most go to the early show. Also had great comedian Ken Boyd and illusionist Ben Zabin at the Mainstage Live music in BB King's, a dance club bar which used to be the test kitchen area. This 7 piece group was tight, excellent and the place to go after dinner. 3 shows most every night. Trumpet, sax, bass and lead guitar, keyboards, drums and male/female singers. Nice dance floor. Both Mainstage and BB King's were very cold so bring a sweater and socks when you pack. Lincoln Center Stage had a string quartet with piano, 4 ladies and a fellow, young and excellent. several shows a night. room was quite small, so get there early. Now this venue was too warm !! They need some HVAC adjustments. This quintet had 2 violins, a viola, cello and grand piano. Played classical but mix of American, show tunes and modern. Version of Stairway to Heaven was awesome. There also was Billboard online with back to back grand pianos, playing various tunes. shows were after early dinner. Noted that unlike most ships there is not a venue for piano and bar. They had an electronic piano with people dancing. Casino was not big but busy and best of all no smoking. Celebrity has also gone this way Smart move. one night was orange night (the Dutch colours) and chocolate surprise, where samples of dutch goodies and chocolates were handed out around Billboard and BB King.s some trivia games. Deck 10 forward has Crow's next, easy chairs, great views lots of games/most jigsaw puzzles ever. Large reference books, regular library replaced with book exchange, so check in day 1 for best selection. Shore ex and future cruise were also in this area, smart idea. Some nice touches on HAL that we haven't seen on most cruises: - when boarding ship after port, had cool towels, water/lemonade, nice sitting area with flowers (Celebrity has similar with no flowers) Celebrity does have the nice OJ and sparkling upon first embarkation though - chocolates in your room every night (Princess also has but most have cut back) - towel animals every night in your room - bottomless fruit bowl in your room. - balcony and higher have small bathtub/shower. Save the environment with no small bottles so shower soap, shampoo, conditioner in dispensers from Elemis, Elemis lotion bottles given though -rooms were cleaned by team of 2 room stewards, there were no carts left in the hall like other cruiselines. Instead they would go into side rooms for suppliers. Amazing service, these guys were invisible -could get a mini newspaper and NY times crossword every day at Deck 1 reception desk. They had German, UK, Canadian, Dutch and various languages if you wish. US paper also had a crossword and Sudoku puzzle but a little small font, the NY times crossword was printed in good font on cardboard stock with a hyper sudoku as well. Will keep you busy for hours -outside the good sized bathroom, there was a motion activated night light at your feet, nice touch. Celebrity has a night light in the washroom - to save the environment in the room garbage can they had a slot for paper and regular garbage. Still too much paper handed out. Nice compact daily When and Where program though. Don't think they had an art auction, but art on display. Still doing group photos but less of them. No picture racks, but viewing screens like the other newer ships -room had lots of storage, balcony good size for our VA category, 2 chairs, with foot stools and small table. Balcony had a door unlike most cruises with sliding doors. Beds were very good with nice pillows - robes were in room to use for cruise or $55 to purchase with monogram -free HAL bag in each room like Princess and Celebrity - beach towels in each room to use - like the newer ships, a flat panel, very impressive TV, lots of movies, and other shows, food menus etc. TV channels about 12, Caribbean ESPN and ESPN 2, MSNBC, Fox, BBC, HGTV etc Gym had Precor equipment, I prefer Llifefitness. NO video input to machines. but 3 TV's on ceiling. Good selection of weights. Sadly people don't know to wipe machines, there was no sign to do so and no sign to keep machine use to 30 minutes, I suggested this to the gym managers In tendering to Princess Cays, had quite a wait 45 minutes to fill tender ship, returning much faster. On 2 Sea Days cruise director Stephanie made morning announcements at 9 am. Gave them feedback not to do that, can;'t sleep in CD was Stephanie Summerville from the US. An actress and professional speaker. Great voice and pronunciation. Only with HAL 7 months She gave some excellent EXC talks at Main Stage, History of HAL (150 years)The Deep Blue, Caribbean Rum Spirit, Islands of the Mind (Hemingway and Jimmy Buffet) These were highly produced excellent presentations with audio, video and using their million light LED stage panels. Made for HAL, I understand some sailings have guest presenters, but they use the CD most of the time. Forgot to mention the MainStage LED panels were used for the dance shows and these are incredible screens. Only 4 computer screens. WIFI packages were pricey and i heard not too fast. For this ship audience, they aren't connected as much. Captain Bart Vaartjes was Dutch as most are, he gave a great ship presentation and Q/A friendly noon announcements. Very casual, had a relaxed demeanor, walked about ship like most officers. Met him at Amber Cove, took a photo, he just ashore for a few hours Amber Cove in Dominican Republic, at Puerta Plata, was a nice stop, Carnival Magic was also there, so large pool/lazy river were packed. Big swim up bar, food available, hammocks available, over the water bungalows to rent, also bungalows near Zipline $20 pp all day. Lots of the usual shops. No beach, but can taxi or shorex to Puerta Plata for beaches. Free wifi just outside main store after leaving ship. Carnival Corp built this stop a few years ago, for their branded ships. A nice stop, but quite busy if several large ships are in port. Key West, always a nice stop. Interesting we had to clear US customs first thing in the morning, there were a lot of lines. Being Canadian we did not have as many line as US. Then at Fort Lauderdale, no US customs to clear, just walk off. We walked down Duvall St, down to the Southernmost beacon, endless bars and stores, found a $5 for everything beachwear. Must visit original Margaritville, Had Kermits famous Key Lime Pie. Free wifi at Starbux Overall, an excellent cruise, would sail HAL again. Put down the $100 deposit for a future cruise. Would highly recommend doing this for any cruise you are on Read Less
Sail Date January 2020
I am missing a single day to become a *** three star mariner with HAL. I crossed the Atlantic twice: once on the Noordam and once on the Koningsdam from and to Civitavecchia, plus three weeks on the New Amsterdam (which is still my ... Read More
I am missing a single day to become a *** three star mariner with HAL. I crossed the Atlantic twice: once on the Noordam and once on the Koningsdam from and to Civitavecchia, plus three weeks on the New Amsterdam (which is still my favorite vessel in terms of decor and style). Firstly, the ship voyage was often unexplainably rocky - even when there was not particularly rough seas. This made me wonder if the ship STABILIZER were working properly. Second, I’ve always found the food experience on board of HAL to be excellent and I NEVER even considered once to send back a dish... well, this time I was forced to do so several different times on board of the Zuiderdam. Including in its Pinnacle grill, which in my opinion was way below the standards of a HAL specialty restaurant (for $35 extra). So my major complaint on board of the Zuiderdam was the poor quality of the food - often unacceptable even in the Lido cafeteria. I found the food selection and quality dramatically lower than the usual standards of Holland America lines. Often economizing on the carving station with few choices, and those that were offered were often sad chunks of overcooked beef, pork or turkey, or the “ethnic” section with shameful bowls of equally overcooked stuff. — Furthermore, I found the entertainment offered on board rather pitiful. Nothing like the BBC Earth show played by a four element string quartet on other ships. Plus the overall appearance of the Zuiderdam is tired and anachronistic sometimes lacking in basic hygiene (as I had reported to officers onboard) like in the aft pool mens restrooms on the Lido deck, which -honestly- smelled like a Marine barracks. Horrific. On the other HAL ships I mentioned above, there were fresh orchid buds in every restroom. To my chagrin, I found the miseries of a ship which has failed to live up to its promises to have undergone some "major" refurbishment. I also would like to mention my profound disappointment of having found the classy lounge right next to the Crows Nest turned into some sort of schoolroom with (in my opinion) useless chairs where I have noticed only three people who were occasionally sitting to attend some sort of medical lecture. On the other hand there was always a battle to get a seat on one of the TOO few bistro chairs in the smoking section of the ship aft. Overall I would never consider take another cruise on the Zuiderdam. Read Less
Sail Date January 2020
We chose the Zuiderdam for a romantic, relaxing cruise. We were very disappointed with many things about the Zuiderdam and Holland America as a company. First, let me start by saying the Holland America has some serious operational and ... Read More
We chose the Zuiderdam for a romantic, relaxing cruise. We were very disappointed with many things about the Zuiderdam and Holland America as a company. First, let me start by saying the Holland America has some serious operational and procedural issues which need an outside consultant to fix. Embarkation: You know you are in trouble when getting on the ship is the best thing you can say about the ship. Embarkation was quick and painless. Cabin: We chose an inside cabin for this cruise because we like to take a nap in the afternoon and there is nothing better than a cold, dark cabin after a hot shore day. The cabin was very dated. The shower floor was filthy. I mean black filth. When the shower is dirty you have to wonder what else is dirty that you are not seeing. It is like walking into a restaurant and looking up to see black vents and ceiling tiles. If they do not care enough to make sure the shower floor is clean then you can bet they are not making sure the things you cannot see are clean. The steward was fine and helpful. Restaurant: We ate dinner in the restaurant only one night because the first experience was that bad. First of all, they sat me a 6 foot 7 football player type of a guy in a booth with a table cloth that almost went to the floor. I spent the entire dinner feeling like I had a blanket covering my legs and when I got up I took the table cloth off the table with me. Second, we never saw the same person twice. It was ridiculous. There was not one person you could have called our waiter. Third, it was chaos in the restaurant and took a very long time for the food to arrive. There was way too much time between courses and when the food did arrive it was bland and just not very good. We skipped dessert because by the time we got around to being asked what we liked we just wanted out. We went one morning to eat breakfast in the restaurant at 9:05 am and were turned away because they said breakfast was over at 9. Now mind you, we are on vacation and 9 am is too early to stop serving breakfast to people who are sleeping in and trying to relax. Buffet: The biggest problem with the buffet is there are not enough places for people to sit and eat. There are two many large tables and not enough smaller tables. Lunch and breakfast can become very stressful affairs. I literally felt like dropping my plate and walking out on more than one occasion and I have never felt that way on a ship before. It was not just us you would see and hear people upset they could not find a place to sit. I have never experienced something quite like this on a ship before. Also the buffet stops serving dinner at 8 pm. This is way too early because people from the West Coast are not ready for dinner until 8 pm. The problem with the Zuiderdam is it wants to run on its time schedule and not on a realistic time schedule for all of their guests. One evening I actually saw them removing the food away from people trying to get something to eat. This is not an exaggeration. They actually removed the food away from them leaving them to stand there hungry. Bars: The bar service was fine and as a matter of fact our best overall service was from Ricky in the Ocean Bar. The drinks were always plentiful and good. At least the bar was good to keep the edge off of how awful everything else about the ship was. America's Test Kitchen: One of the reasons we booked this cruise was for America's Test Kitchen. It was advertised that it was on the Zuiderdam. Guess what? There was no America's Test Kitchen. I have to say it really felt like a bait and switch type tactic. If you are going to advertise something to a potential customer as a cruise company you had better make sure it is happening on the ship when they arrive. BB Kings: The best part of the Zuiderdam entertainment was the BB King lounge. The only problem was the first three nights it was not offered. We got half the product for the full price. See how this is going? Billboard Music: This was the most laughable and horrible entertainment I have seen in years. I am serious it is awful. The two guys behind the piano's are awful. Mainstage Theater: Dance Shows - They had three dance shows which were very good. The dancers were very well trained and their interaction with the LED screens was really amazing. They were the best part of our trip. English Comedian - First let me remind you that we are a gay male couple. The homophobic comedian was not funny and as a matter of fact he was offensive. He made several awful gay jokes which were insulting. My husband and I did not pay to be insulted and that is exactly what happened. If this were racial jokes the guy was making they would have fired him on the spot. What is the difference? You do not insult people who are paying for your service. We will not make this mistake with Holland America again. It was really that bad. Half Moon Cay: You would think since Holland America has had this island since the 1990's if would be an amazing place to be. Well it is not. The straw market was a joke. The food was a joke. Not being able to use your drink package on their island was a joke. The facilities are run down and they are dirty. Once again Holland America and dirty are in the same sentence. Not good. We took a shore excursion on Half Moon Cay. It was awful. It was not on the ocean but in a lagoon. We rode a small uncomfortable boat around a lagoon. Seriously it was like one of those bad amusement park boat rides with the cheesy narrator. It was truly that bad. Disembarkation: Was quick and easy. In closing, we were very disappointed in Holland America. The ship and cruise were overall depressing. Holland had better change their game because this was truly one of the worst cruise ships we ever sailed. We will not choose Holland America ever again. Read Less
Sail Date January 2020
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