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15 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2017
We chose this cruise to see the Baltic ports we had heard so much about, but also to see the Shetland Isles and a bit more of Scotland than we've seen before. That part of the cruise was our favorite (We're not city lovers.) The Baltic ... Read More
We chose this cruise to see the Baltic ports we had heard so much about, but also to see the Shetland Isles and a bit more of Scotland than we've seen before. That part of the cruise was our favorite (We're not city lovers.) The Baltic ports were interesting, but this is not a cruise I would ever bother to do again...once was plenty. (Whereas I'd do the VofV or Antarctica again as well as any AK cruise again.) We were often in ugly container ports that required us to take a shuttle or HOHO to get anywhere. The HOHO buses DID pick us up at the ports, though and that was a plus. St. Petersburg was just an endurance test over 2 days...we did a private tour (Alla) that met at 7:30 each day and didn't get us back until after 5...no time for lunch the second day, so thank goodness I had brought a few graham crackers. We were raced through cathedrals, palaces, zipped around on hydrofoils, cruised (?) on a boat, and even did a stop on the subway. A whole experience for sure, but it was so over-the-top that we didn't have much time to appreciate it. It was done right after Tallinn, which was our favorite stop and which we did on our own (no need for a tour...just wander at your own pace...and you can find plenty online to read up on it beforehand.) So, we were already tired from 15,000 steps in Tallinn! The Vasa Museum in Stockholm was another highlight that you can do on your own...we took a cab at 8 AM when the ship docked (the equivalent of about $24 which was shared by 2 couples)and got to the Vasa at 8:15, so we were among the first in...and had the museum to ourselves pretty much for the first hour. We ran around taking photos, though we found even later, people spread out. It's one of the most fascinating museums I've been in. Take your time (We spent 3 1/2 hours there! It has a nice cafe we had a coffee and roll in.) Then we took a HOHO bus to return to the ship. (Tickets good for the 2 days we were there.) I would recommend taking a water tour in Stockholm rather than the HOHO bus. The city is best seen from the water. Our ship docked at an outer dock which did not have a HOHO boat available, but others took private boats and saw a lot and the views were lovely. The weather was quite normal for the places we were. No temperatures rose above 70 degrees, with most days finding us in raincoats (just in case) over a light shirt. A few brave souls were in shorts. Most temps for the entire cruise were mid-50's to mid-60's. Lots of cobble stone streets. Keep in mind that we were often reminded about thefts in most the ports, so my husband had some of the P3 Cube pants with secure pockets (he can't get into them!) which made us feel comfortable walking around. I had a travel vest with secure inside pockets. Carried a camera. The ship was, as most ships tend to be, quite cool in many places, so I ended up buying another fleece on board when they went on sale. We've been on back to back Zuiderdam/Oosterdam cruises in January and felt that the Z had the edge on food and it was the same on this cruise. We felt the food was a bit better (though the same menus) on the Z. Still the nasty scrambled eggs but they will do "real eggs you have to crack open" if you ask nicely. No different in the dining room. Dining room toast is always cold, so we rarely at there for breakfast, but they have great french toast. The ship was in very good shape for a ship going to dry dock this fall. They were constantly working on her in port...painted the blue, white outside, did some major window washing, were revarnishing our deck railing, so overall it was still quite spiffy. Note to others thinking about this ship: after dry dock, if they do the same thing to the Lido restaurant as they did on the Oosterdam (replacing what is currently carpet in the area in front of the serving stations), you will get more noise in your cabin if you are on the deck below. The noise level on the O'dam in the Lido was noticeable due to carts going on the new tile whereas I noted the trollies go on the carpet area now on the Z'dam. It's got to be heard in the cabins below...just FYI. Because of so many long port days, we did not go to any entertainment other than Terry Davies and his ABBA FAB...which as usual, were worth seeing even though tired! (CD, Simon, seemed to be good.) Ship services were excellent all around. Embarkation and Debarkation in Copenhagen were easy...nice city to disembark from. (Stayed at The Square the night before which was nicely located for a pre-cruise reasonable hotel.) After the cruise we spent a night at the Clarion Airport Hotel and loved it! Perfect location. We bumped ourselves up when we arrive (at 10 am) to an Executive Level room ($130 more) which was available right away...perfect. It allowed us access to the Executive Lounge Room which still had some breakfast items out (great pastries, coffee, juices, fruits) and then more snacks during the day...enough that we called it all Lunch and Dinner and never needed to go out or eat in the (EXPENSIVE) hotel restaurants. (Option is to walk 5 minutes to the airport which had all kinds of fast foods.) We were tired, so this was perfect. It is attached to the hotel, so at 4 AM all we did was walk through their walkway (covered) and were at our BA desk in 15 minutes to check in our luggage. The Zuiderdam will remain one of our favorite ships (along with the others...O, N, and W dam ships) since we like the SS class of cabins when the price is right and the itinerary is long. The Baltics, yes, it's one of those "must do" kinds of trips...but do again? No. Whereas we repeat cruises that go to Norway, England, Ireland, Scotland, etc. Special note: We have T-mobile with free data which includes all the countries we visited, so instead of ship wifi, we used our phones to check email, FB, upload a few photos, check maps, info on ports, etc. Never found a need for ship internet since we were almost always within distance of our phone's signal. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2017
We choose this particular cruise because of the itinerary including the following cruise to Iceland, and that it was a mid size ship. Very impressed with the organisation for embarking and disembarking. The food, entertainment and ... Read More
We choose this particular cruise because of the itinerary including the following cruise to Iceland, and that it was a mid size ship. Very impressed with the organisation for embarking and disembarking. The food, entertainment and excursions were excellent although some of the excursions seemed a little disorganised with the local guides. Choices of food and menus we could not fault and we ate extremely well. Our only complaint is the "hotel service charge" we were slugged on top the the cruise cost, and the cost of drinks which also incurred a service charge (tip). The cabin stewards were very good and we would have preferred to tip them direct rather the the ship skimming $27 USD per day for tips as well as those collected with every drink purchased and the drinks were not cheap. We were also charged for any wellness activities in the salons and gym. HAL should think about covering all costs with the cruise fare. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: July 2017
The destinations were the reason we booked this cruise. Food and staff were excellent. Entertainment was almost non existent. Supervision around the pool area was dismal. The size of our cabin K5034 was terrible. The pool area leaked ... Read More
The destinations were the reason we booked this cruise. Food and staff were excellent. Entertainment was almost non existent. Supervision around the pool area was dismal. The size of our cabin K5034 was terrible. The pool area leaked when it was raining, there was a large crack in one of the front windows for the entire trip in the Crows Nest. The complete lack of supervision and mention of using the disinfectant solution prior to entering the eating areas was disgusting. The only time staff/crew were getting passengers to use this solution was when we were going to the Mariners Lunch when the Captain and his staff were in the greeting line. Other cruises you have staff at the solution station ensuring all passengers were using it prior to entering the eating areas. Only saw the Captain or his offisider was at the Mariners Lunch, never had the opportunity to have a photo with him ever on the Gala Nights. All in all not an enjoyable trip. Put in our questionaire but never received a reply at all, even though we were requested twice to submit the questionnaire. Would appreciate a reply as to why we were given the smallest room when we have paid for our cruise early and did the whole 26 day cruice. Read Less
9 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2017
We chose this cruise because we were interested in visiting Scandinavia and Russia, and we liked Holland's itinerary best.. We took a one day Holland America tour to Moscow from St. Petersburg on the high speed train. The tour guide ... Read More
We chose this cruise because we were interested in visiting Scandinavia and Russia, and we liked Holland's itinerary best.. We took a one day Holland America tour to Moscow from St. Petersburg on the high speed train. The tour guide had no sign. He held up a banana for the group to follow. After he ate the banana, he used a black umbrella for us to follow. It was hard to find him in a crowd, as it was raining that day! All other cruise lines had tour guides holding signs, which made them easy to see, Holland did not. The high speed train was interesting, and they served a good meal, but that was through the Russian Rail, not Holland. Our one other Holland tour was to Hamburg. This tour guide spoke very poor English, so was almost impossible to understand. This tour also lasted from morning until 6:30 pm, with no snack or meal break. All of our other tours were through private companies, like Viator and SPB tours. All were excellent. I wrote a note to the woman in charge of tours to try to express my opinion of the tours and never got a response. The food was excellent, especially in the dining room. We were happy to have lobster on one of the formal nights. (Last year we took a Princess cruise for 12 days, and were disappointed when we never saw a lobster on the cruise!! ) It's nice to get fine service and special attention, which you don't get at the buffet. The food seems fresher and better, too! We were very pleased with our cabin stewards. They were so efficient and accommodating. The internet on the ship is expensive and slow. It's really not worth the high cost unless you are desperate to check your email! The entertainment was different from what we are used to. The two stage shows were odd. African themed and Billboard magazine top hits. There was an Abba tribute group which were good, as well a couple who did acrobatic dancing. We took advantage of the laundry service and were very pleased with the efficiency and quality of work provided by the laundry staff. The ship is getting tired and shabby, and I have been told it's due for a refurbishment, which is sorely needed. I thought our bathtub was dirty, but when I looked closer I could see that the finish was chipping off. The shopping was a little disappointing. The Russian products like Amber and Faberge egg jewelry was about triple the cost of that in the stores. The Matroishka dolls were about the same price as in stores. It pays to do your homework first, and see the prices online. If you are interested in seeing the Baltic counties, this cruise is the one. Just make other arrangements for your tours to avoid disappointment. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2017
We flew BA a day ahead and opted for the luggage transfer to hotel and airport. This was our second time staying in the Palace Hotel Copenhagen, they run the cruiseship people through like a well oiled machine!. It is a historic hotel ... Read More
We flew BA a day ahead and opted for the luggage transfer to hotel and airport. This was our second time staying in the Palace Hotel Copenhagen, they run the cruiseship people through like a well oiled machine!. It is a historic hotel that is kept clean, and is beautiful. The breakfast puts every American hotel to shame! Embarkation was run smoothly, you just need patience, they are running thousands of people on board. The Norwegian Fjords are a great sight to see! Even though it was late June Norway was cool for the most part. Scotland was actually kind of cold, one port we were late departing waiting foe the tenders get people onboard with rough seas. We chose to take a shore excursion from HAL in every port, they were all prfessionally, and timely run. ou just go to the assgned meeting place, wait for your tour to be called, get n your bus and enjoy! Copenhagen airport was a pain, they don't even staff the check in until 2 hours prior to the flight departing which caused some chaos, people just stepping in front of those who had been waiting. Heathrow airport was a pain just like the way in, They don't post the gate assignments until 20 minutes prior to boarding, Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2017
We had not sailed Holland for several years. I feel that the clientele has moved to a much older crowd. Many guests on walkers, wheelchairs etc. My biggest disappointment was the itinerary during the day. There was nothing to do. No ... Read More
We had not sailed Holland for several years. I feel that the clientele has moved to a much older crowd. Many guests on walkers, wheelchairs etc. My biggest disappointment was the itinerary during the day. There was nothing to do. No karaoke, no dance classes, nothing to fill the time if you decided to stay on the ship. Holland may do this intentionally in order to sell excursions. However, there was not much at night either. The trivia games were at odd times that interfered with dinner or happy hour. The trivia guy was not very energetic--he did not make it very fun. Since we had been to several of the ports before, I was looking forward to staying on the ship. Other than a movie, happy hours, or just sitting on the lido, there was nothing to do. The bright spot was the shows at night. The dancers and singers on this ship were very talented and put on some awesome performances. Read Less
8 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2017
We had sailed on the Holland America Zuiderdam out of Copenhagen for a Norwegian Fjord and Scotland/UK cruise in June/July 2017. Upon arrival at the airport we were transported to the Scandic Palace Hotel in the city and then to the ... Read More
We had sailed on the Holland America Zuiderdam out of Copenhagen for a Norwegian Fjord and Scotland/UK cruise in June/July 2017. Upon arrival at the airport we were transported to the Scandic Palace Hotel in the city and then to the ship the following morning. Checking in at the pier was fast and easy and in a few minutes we were in our Verandah cabin on deck #7 and having lunch at the Lido shortly thereafter. The ship is a little dated but in good shape as are the cabins which are standard Holland America style and very clean. The only issue in the cabin that we had was the floor drain in the bathroom would sometimes back up a little leaving a black residue around the drain which was quickly cleaned up by the cabin steward who explained that when the ship encounters rough waters sometimes the muck inside the pipes loosens up the drain gets stopped up when several showers are run at the same time. It happened 4 times on a 12 day cruise which was fine. Our cabin stewards were excellent. We selected “Open Seating” in the main dining room which worked out well for us and the food and service in the dining room was very good to include several breakfast meals that we thoroughly enjoyed. The only time that we ate in the Lido was for lunch or a late afternoon snack as it was usually crowded and not worth the effort. Dinners and service at the Pinnacle and Canaletto were very good as well. Room service for coffee and an occasional breakfast was very good and very prompt as well. The entertainment was less than average as the visiting acts, except the magician, were enjoyable but the BB King Blues Band was not as good as the BB King Bands that we have seen on previous cruises and they were way too loud for the small room that they played in. The Zuiderdam singers and dancers were a few notches below theme park show quality and after two songs we just left on the nights that we attended as it was pretty bad. The lounges and Crows Nest could have used some music as the main attraction some nights was a “Music Trivia” contest that was lacking any enthusiasm from the staff member hosting the event. The service at all of the lounges was consistently good and consistent with the dining room service that we enjoyed. The ports of call were interesting with a few that didn’t have much to offer but that is usually the way all cruises run. Holland America does a good job with moving people especially with the frequent use of the tenders which was very smooth. All in all a very pleasant cruise that could use some work with the entertainment which would make a big difference during the evenings. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2017
We choose this cruise for the ports and we were not deceived, although you need to be prepared since there is very few sea days. Beautiful areas to visit by sea. We found that the food was of less quality than our previous HA cruise as ... Read More
We choose this cruise for the ports and we were not deceived, although you need to be prepared since there is very few sea days. Beautiful areas to visit by sea. We found that the food was of less quality than our previous HA cruise as well as the ship's activities of which we were deceived (although not a lot of time for them on this specific cruise). As other cruisers we found the coffee to be of variable taste and strength, some days being horrible. We enjoyed our fixed dinner time with a great service from our butlers. We did one ship's exursion and organized ourselves all the other port's visits with a combination of private cabs, tours or Hop & Off. Zuiderdams was sometime docked outside the city and you should plan accordinly. In Copenhagen they have not advise that the public transportation stopped around 4:30 pm and a lot of us were in trouble to get back to ship, and had to take an expensive cab. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2017
Chose this cruise because to the location and places visited, also we had cruised with Holland America in 2011 and thought the cruise line was really value for money. This trip everything was just subtly less so. No major disappointments, ... Read More
Chose this cruise because to the location and places visited, also we had cruised with Holland America in 2011 and thought the cruise line was really value for money. This trip everything was just subtly less so. No major disappointments, but lots of minor ones. We found Holland America to be very money hungry, just overall less generous than in 2011. The door key cards failed again and again, our cabin had only one stool to sit on, with a two person cabin. Others in the same category had a couple of chairs. The ports were great (Baltic region) but shore tours were very expensive and catered mostly to people who had a high level of fitness. I thought this was contradictory to the age group of the majority of the passengers. Personally, I would have appreciated more choices with a moderate level of fitness required. Meals were very tasty, but less generous than previously with less ease of service in the dining room if requiring a little something extra or slightly different to the menu items listed. Vegetables were in quite short supply, the servings being very small indeed, however, fresh and tasty. Holland America was one of my favorite cruise lines until this trip.......it has slipped down the list a little. I would cruise with them again, but I would want a very good deal! The destinations were fabulous! Read Less
10 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2017
I am just writing this review in case anyone has the same questions as I did. The itinerary on this cruise speaks for itself, I can’t imagine a better northern European itinerary so I will focus on the ship itself. First of ... Read More
I am just writing this review in case anyone has the same questions as I did. The itinerary on this cruise speaks for itself, I can’t imagine a better northern European itinerary so I will focus on the ship itself. First of all, just a note, since all American flights to Europe get in first thing in the morning, if you want to spend the day in Copenhagen before boarding use Luggage Buddy or similar app and check your luggage, we checked ours at 10 am at Hard Rock and it was perfectly safe and we had the whole day to hang out in Copenhagen, since you can’t board ship till like 1pm. This was my first time on a HAL cruise, and it was fantastic. I’ve been on Royal and NCL’s big Caribbean ships, Zuiderdam is smaller and older, but in some ways it was prettier even though the decor is dated. We had a suite (just the Verandah suite, not the super upgrade) and the room was fantastic! Totally spacious, like a regular hotel room, and the bathroom was larger than our bathroom at home - 2 sinks, 2 showers and a whirlpool bathtub. Bed was comfortable. The tv gets BBC, MSNBC and Fox News, all live. There is a huge DVD library, they have a book and you order the DVD you want so this is also great. I was worried about the outlets, our suite had 4 outlets, 2 American 115V and 2 European 220V, so if you bring Euro adapters you will have 4 outlets (plus one dual in bathroom that I couldn’t get to work). I was afraid the outlets would be all continental European, but they are American as well. My one rec to HAL would be to improve internet. Royal now offers high speed internet for an additional fee, it’s fast enough you can actually stream Netflix with no problem. This would be a nice option for those of us who want and need to be connected. Internet at sea was slow, about average for a cruise ship. The plus on this trip was that you are rarely offshore so if you get a Travel Pass on your smartphone you can use it almost all the time with strong service, and you can use your hotspot. Food was fantastic, we do not do the dining rooms, only the buffet, but buffet was great. Royal is still tops in my opinion as far as food goes, they do a good job of having a variety of food - Asian, Indian, etc. but HAL’s food was very good and I did not get sick of eating on the ship. The views are so beautiful that eating in the Lido buffet is a spectacular experience. Staff like on all cruise ships is top notch. God bless these people, they break their backs and are still always smiling, there is a special place in heaven for cabin and dining attendants on a ship. Shoutout to Magdalena in Lido Dining, she always had a huge smile and was wonderful, she should be promoted to the front desk or something, she is a shining star for HAL. Also, they had a Filipino show one night where the staff performed native dance and singing, etc. We were exhausted as this was on the Berlin trip day so did not go, but this is a GREAT idea. All cruise ships have Filipino staff it seems like, they are so nice and I just really appreciated HAL giving them the opportunity to share their culture. We did not book any excursions except for the train to Berlin - in case you are wondering here’s how that works. There ARE trains from Warnemunde to Berlin, but they require transfers, etc. So you really need to book the train THROUGH HAL because they actually charter a train so you don’t have to transfer, etc. So, book the train, it looks really difficult to DIY. Train ticket was about $170 pp round trip. You do not have to book a ship tour in Russia, we booked ours through Alla Tours (I have a review of that as well) and it was fantastic, and cheaper than the ship tour. You do have to book a tour to get off the boat though, tour ticket serves as your visa, so make a plan, but it can be a third party tour no matter what they tell you onboard. I was told it would be all elderly folks on this ship but that wasn’t the case either, it was a good mix of ages and nationalities, it’s not a retirement home at sea by far. Also, unlike Caribbean cruises, this crowd is freaking civilized! Everyone was well-behaved and quiet, which was a pleasure. If you’re a runner, you can run while in port in Stockholm, the port is right on a great running trail. Otherwise I just used Deck 10, it was not crowded at all up there and no one bothered me about it. That’s it, I would get on this ship again in a heartbeat. Improving internet is my only recommendation to HAL, otherwise this is 5 stars all the way (now, I have been on many cruises so I have a good idea of what to expect, and this lived up to and slightly exceeded my expectations). Good job! Read Less
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