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1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: January 2018
Excellent value and an excellent ship. We opted for a Signature Suite 6045 which was well worth the money. Room Stewards (Nyoman and Yusep) were attentive and always accommodating with a smile. We had thoughts of opting for the upscale ... Read More
Excellent value and an excellent ship. We opted for a Signature Suite 6045 which was well worth the money. Room Stewards (Nyoman and Yusep) were attentive and always accommodating with a smile. We had thoughts of opting for the upscale restaurants, but elected not to do so since the regular food service and quality were very good. Our Wine Steward, Yohan, was exceptional and most helpful. Being that the cruising itinerary has almost 7 sea days, the entertainment and ship-board amenities have to be good. The Lincoln Center Stage quintet was excellent, and, although we did not see all the stage presentations, the few that we saw were very professionally done. Land tours were good, and the bus lines were not long, given that there were several handicap people on board. The several tour guides that we experienced all spoke with different levels of English competency, which is to be expected. All in all, they were knowledgeable and had good senses of humor. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2018
Our first cruise ever was on the MS Zuiderdam from Jan 7, 2018 to Jan 17, 2018. It was an initiation for sure! The weather was not the greatest to start with and progressively worsened throughout the cruise. After our second last stop in ... Read More
Our first cruise ever was on the MS Zuiderdam from Jan 7, 2018 to Jan 17, 2018. It was an initiation for sure! The weather was not the greatest to start with and progressively worsened throughout the cruise. After our second last stop in Colon, Panama the weather really turned nasty and the ship truly started to rock. The weather was so bad, that the captain decided that it was unsafe to dock at our last port of call Puerto Limon, Costa Rica. So we proceeded back to Ft. Lauderdale and spent the last part of our cruise on rough seas for 3 days. It was not much fun! To be fair, the weather was not Holland America’s fault and we and they attempted to make the best of an unfortunate situation. For the most part, we did enjoy our cruise especially the stops at Half Moon Cay, Aruba and Curacao. However, the cruise through the Panama Canal was boring and if you did not partake of one of the many day excursions offered through EXC Tours then you were not allowed to disembark from the ship at Gatun Lake (there was absolutely nothing there). Some of these tours were expensive and exceeded on average 5.5 hours in time. Passengers who took the tours were picked up at Colon when the ship docked but were warned that the ship could be late because their return time through the canal was controlled by the Panama Canal Authority. They were told to stay within the terminal facilities until the ship’s return for the safety reasons as elaborated below. When the ship did return to Colon, we were allowed to disembark but were warned to stay inside the terminal premises as it was considered unsafe to venture past the terminal facilities. The shopping within the terminal facilities was somewhat limited and there was not much else to do but return to the ship and await departure. Personally, I would find another more inviting and safer port of call. Overall, staff and crew on the MS Zuiderdam were very organized, efficient, friendly and courteous. The embarkation and disembarkation were systematic and well controlled. Our room stewards Nugi and Chris were amazing and were always present should you require some assistance. Their positive vibes were constantly evident even when the last part of our cruise was not the best. I truly wanted to thank them in this review. Servers that also came to our attention were Joel and John Patrick who provided excellent and attentive service - again, making this a somewhat more relaxing cruise. Overall though, I am not sure that I would recommend this cruise for everyone. If the weather was inclement as it was for us, then the alternatives were small to nil with the exception of returning to Ft. Lauderdale. Would we go on a cruise again? – most certainly!! Sometimes you just have to rock and roll with the flow. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2018
10 day Panama Canal cruise Good: - Housekeeping services. Cordial and kept the room clean and neat. Every time we came back to the room, the bed was made. Every evening they left a nice towel animal. - Ice cream. The ice cream ... Read More
10 day Panama Canal cruise Good: - Housekeeping services. Cordial and kept the room clean and neat. Every time we came back to the room, the bed was made. Every evening they left a nice towel animal. - Ice cream. The ice cream staff is very friendly, and they offer a good selection of ice creams and toppings. - French Fries. They are crispy and freshly cooked. Sadly, this was the highlight of the food onboard. - Buffet is not self-service, which is quite good to prevent food contamination. Average: - Photography. We booked a session for the black-and-white photos. (+)Photos are really good, although very (-)expensive. Photographers throughout the cruise, in the evenings, are hard to find. A large group was waiting to take a group photo in the main stairs, and the photographer was no where to be found. They asked me to take their picture in an iphone. We did take a picture a few days earlier at the stairs and had a good experience. - Pool/Jacuzzi. (+)Pool was not packed, quite enjoyable. (-)Jacuzzis were NEVER HOT. I asked one of the guys handling the towels how to increase the temperature, and he looked at me perplexed. Did not answer or acknowledge my question. After a few minutes he came back saying he informed someone else, and that it was going to be turned on in a few minutes... nothing happened. - Stateroom. (-)Smaller in comparison to Royal Caribbean, but the bathroom is more spacious (+) and has a small bathtub! - Entertainment. Magician show was good (+), but comedy shows did not cater to different age groups(-). Music scene was somewhat repetitive and had very few songs beyond 2000's. Bad: - When cruising on the Canal, a few fellow cruisers used their iPads to take pictures of the canal. Let me explain: they placed SEVERAL iPads in front of the glass, blocking everyone behind them to see. One woman placed FOUR iPads (she was in a group with family members, why they couldn't share the video from one ipad?). As in, they just left the iPads standing there for HOURS. Other people were hogging the space in front of the glass, did not let other cruisers to get close to the glass. Pretty sure people's vacations got ruined because of this. The cruise line should have placed a moderator to prevent such behavior. The crew are very hands-off when it comes to moderating passenger behavior. Worst (Really Bad) - Food. Selection is similar every day. Not a great fresh selection of entrees. Main dinning room often offers the SAME items available at the Lido restaurant. Appetizers and soups are disappointing. Most soups are just water with a bit of flavor. Most breads are hard to bite. Most food is bland, not appealing to different demographics (except the Asian station, which is bland too). - Dining service: Dive-In (hotdog and burger) service is terrible. I was ignored when it was my turn in the line, then harshly handed out a pager. After a few minutes waiting I was told to move and wait somewhere else. I did not move. The line kept increasing (they were very slow to take the orders) and the staff kept with a slow peace, and one of the cooks took a phone call! In all, it took 30 minutes just to get a burger and fries.(**) We got a Soda card, and EVERY TIME we wanted to use it, the waiter would come back with the sodas when we were about to finish our food. This happened in both the Lido and Main Dinning room. Food service in the Main Dining room was too slow (waiters looked overworked and tired). On the first day, it took 1 hour to get the entree, we left after 1.5 hours without dessert (we got tired of waiting). - Room service (Dining). What room service? We had to call, several times, guest services because room service did not answer our call and placed us on hold. The second night we thought they were busy, so we waited 20 minutes on the line before hanging up. The issue kept repeating so we resorted to call guest services instead. ** Due to the poor service in many areas, we chose to reduce the "Hotel-Service" charge. It is $15 per day per person. Instead we left cash for the housekeeping guys. My conclusion: Cruise + airfare + activities total was around $5,500. After traveling on Carnival and Royal several times, we wanted a more "refined" experience. Not worth paying double than what we had paid in the past for a similar stateroom. To top it off (not Holland America's fault): The weather was bad. Ship rocked most nights, even when the weather was Ok. We skipped the Costa Rica stop due to weather. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2018
We chose this Panama Canal cruise because it traversed the "Old Gatun Locks" and were able to get an aft balcony cabin. Here is our honest review: REVIEW 10 Day Sunfarer Cruise Zuiderdam, Holland America Line ... Read More
We chose this Panama Canal cruise because it traversed the "Old Gatun Locks" and were able to get an aft balcony cabin. Here is our honest review: REVIEW 10 Day Sunfarer Cruise Zuiderdam, Holland America Line January 7 to 17, 2018 EMBARKATION: Well organized. After waiting in line, there are plenty of seats to await being called to embark. Total process about 1 ½ hours. SMOKERS BEWARE: There is no smoking area in the embarkation terminal, and smoking is not allowed on the ship until it sails. So many people will have to wait 5-6 hours. SHIP: The Zuiderdam was refurbished. Our cabin (8141- aft) was spacious, immaculately clean. King bed, large flat screen tv on wall at base of bed, a loveseat, table which could be lowered and raised, a vanity, full bathroom with tub and shower. Balcony was deep, with aft view. Two chairs with ottomans and two small side tables. Complimentary robes. Three closets. No smoking allowed on balconies. E cigarettes allowed in the cabin, but not on the balcony. At the time of booking, Zuiderdam had a smoking policy which allowed smoking in the casino. They changed this policy sometime between dry dock and our embarkation. There are mixed opinions as to when this policy changed. Our cabin tv information stated smoking was allowed in the casino, and all literature stated the same. The approximately 400 smokers were relegated to a small area on Aft deck 9 outside for the only smoking area on the ship. During peak hours there weren’t enough tables and chairs to accommodate everyone. We were not allowed to smoke at the bar adjacent to the table area. Our weather was rainy with rough seas for this trip, certainly not HAL’s fault, but this change was ridiculously cruel, thoughtless and demeaning. We felt like we were no better than steerage. I especially note the formal nights where we went outside and came back with windblown wet hair, wet feet and shoes, etc. Needless to say, everyone was extremely upset. People complained continually with no resolution. When I lodged my formal complaint, the manager of customer services did not even know the policy, nor did a ship officer! The manager told me there would be dedicated casino nights but when I asked for clarification, she came back to me and told me there were none and she was wrong! They hadn’t even bothered to change the information on the TV!!! Gambling is my favorite past time on the ship. I usually gamble 8-10 hours per day while at sea. Many of the other smoking passengers were gamblers as well. The casino is located on forward deck 2. To have a smoke, we needed to go to Aft deck 9 outside. As a result, most of us gambled for an hour or less and left to smoke. But we were all so disgusted, we didn’t return back. It was so inconvenient and really ruined the vacation. The casino most times only had one blackjack table manned and sometimes two because there were so few gamblers. Guarantee HAL lost a LOT of money for this change in policy. But obviously, they don’t care. The dueling piano entertainment was adjacent to the casino. At one point while at the blackjack table, I was covering my ears because the off key female singer, screeching out her tune was so bad! The dining room was beautifully refurbished. We had the late seating, deck 3. Let me first say WE ARE NOT FUSSY EATERS, but we do like good food. The food was marginal. Hit or miss. They offered prime rib three times and filet mignon twice, including surf and turf. This was generous. But the quality of the meat was poor, our medium rare filet mignon was so tough, we had difficulty cutting it with the steak knives! We sent it back and the next filets were a bit better, but NOT tender. On night two, I was queasy and asked if I could have chicken noodle soup. This was an issue. I was told they didn’t have any but the waiter said he would see what he could do. He did bring some bouillon to me saying this was all they had…I came to realize it could be ordered anytime on the room service menu though. If room service has it then why can’t the dining room find it? The ship ran out of lemons on day two, and limes by day 4. We were told more would be available when we docked in Aruba. But there was an embargo taking place with Venezuela, so that didn’t work out. Tortilla soup…..their version…beef bouillon with some cilantro leaves, a piece of chicken and two match stick sized tortilla strips….you have to be joking!! The brisket was so tough it was inedible and obviously they did not know how to slow cook it. On day three, I ordered the roast chicken. The waiter apologized for the delay (it took an hour for this entrée to arrive), and when it did, it could not be identified. To describe it…it was small oval shaped, relatively flat, with a pinky sized appendage rising up from the middle of the meat. We joked that it might be pigeon, or maybe seagull. The waiter asked me to turn it over and he didn’t know what it was either. The next night we were told it was the first part of the leg from the shoulder and I guess the back of the chicken. Not good. Potato choices were good on day one and the last night. Never saw a baked potato. We were told some food pallets did not make it onto the ship in Ft Lauderdale….guess that included potatoes and vegetables. Vegetables were offered in the lido consisting of mostly squash and carrots. I never saw green beans, corn, peas, broccoli, cauliflower offered individually. The aft pool was drained around day 4 for a leak, so it was not available. There was a smoke fire on day 5 knocking out tv throughout the ship and forward and rear cameras. So we were “ in the dark” about weather and news and tv shows for the balance of the trip. Wouldn’t be so bad, except Costa Rica was eliminated due to weather and rather than taking us to another island as previous cruises have done, this captain elected to slow the ship down and stay at sea for an extra day. So those of us who wanted to experience the Panama Canal both ways were on the ship from day 4 to day 10. With no TV, no considerations from the Captain, minimal entertainment, nothing to do except smoke and gamble, this was not fun. The spa was great! Best massage ever! I highly recommend if you decide to chance this ship and cruise line. After having cruised four other cruise lines, I can emphatically say I will not cruise Holland America again. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2018
My husband and I planned this cruise a while back and looked at a lot of reviews before we booked this cruise. Our age group is between 49-54 and we thought this was a perfect cruise for us. It turned out even better than we could have ... Read More
My husband and I planned this cruise a while back and looked at a lot of reviews before we booked this cruise. Our age group is between 49-54 and we thought this was a perfect cruise for us. It turned out even better than we could have imagined. Just a piece of advice, if you are into dancing and being up late at night this cruise is NOT for you. Also if you are traveling with children of any age this cruise is NOT for you. The night life on the ship is minimal and so is the entertainment during the day. BB Kings and the Billboard have some fun evening entertainment that we enjoyed. During the day American's Test Kitchen was good but packed so get there early! I wish they would have given you a taste of what they were making. There was live music on the deck by the pool a couple of days but mostly there was music playing over a speaker. This was fine with us and where we spent most of our time. We read and people watched most days. The ship was on the smaller side and very easy to navagate. Our cabin was nice and our balcony was great! It was always kept clean by our very nice room stewarts. We did not eat in the dining room at all so I can't comment. We ate most of our meals in the Lido Market and the food was outstanding! They served the same food in the Lido Market as they did in the dining room and it was just so much easier picking out what we wanted to eat. The service on this ship was great. The bar tenders in several bars knew our names on the second day and were always helpful. The ports we visited were very interesting and the excursions were all great! Puerto Chiapas, Mexico was the only bad port. If you are going here please book an excursion because there really is nothing to do except shop at the market by the port. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2018
We chose this cruise primarily based on timing and the beginning/end points. Less on the cruise line. Holland America met our needs for our criteria. In spite of all that we'd heard about HAL catering mostly to elderly clients, we signed ... Read More
We chose this cruise primarily based on timing and the beginning/end points. Less on the cruise line. Holland America met our needs for our criteria. In spite of all that we'd heard about HAL catering mostly to elderly clients, we signed up for a 15 day cruise from Ft. Lauderdale to San Diego. Leaving Ft. Lauderdale, our first stop was Half Moon Cay. Overall, less touristy and was fine for the short time we were there. After 2 sea days, we hit Cartagena. We were there for a half-day. Didn't have time to really go anywhere other than a quick city tour. Honestly, not sure why we visited this port. Would have gladly traded Cartagena for a day in Panama City, Panama. The canal was everything we had heard it would be. The views were amazing and the trip transiting the canal was something we'll never forget. The crew did a nice job making folks comfortable. Seriously made the entire trip worth it. This is where the wheels started coming off. The first thing we found was the hot tub closed at 10 pm. Having dinner at 8 pm made this problematic. Wasn't much else to do after dinner so this was the logical choice for our 40/50 year-old group. There were six of us cruising so we thought we would ask for a little extension for one of the hot tubs. We were quickly told no. The staff was beyond confused when we told them their simple no wasn't good enough and we would like to escalate the issue to a higher authority. This really threw them for a loop. After a fair amount of complaining and 7 days into the cruise, the Captain firmly and finally said no. Guess he wasn't too interested in our opinion or issue. The second issue involved shipboard credits and the communication form our travel agency. It's too long and involved for this but suffice it to say, the crew was little to no help with this issue either. Overall, we found the staff beyond our cabin stewards and waiters to be pretty bored and less than concerned about pretty much anything beyond the basics. Couple that with the fact that everything other than ice water and coffee (even coffee in some areas of the ship were costly) were charged. HAL seems intent on getting every possible cent from their passengers. As I said, the crew was generally not helpful. Not sure if this is the HAL culture or a profound lack of leadership from our particular captain. The ports were a mixed bag with Costa Rica, Nicaragua, and Guatemala being the best by far. Chiapas, Mexico was a serious waste of time. The crew admitted there was absolutely nothing to do there. Again, not sure what we stopped there. Have to say I've taken my last cruise on Holland America Lines. Not impressed in any way. Oh,the best part of the ship was our shower was the best I've ever had on a cruise ship. This is our 8th cruise overall and was the most disappointing when it comes to the cruise line. The rep they have catering to elderly passengers is well-deserved and earned. We felt totally out of place. Should have listened to my gut! Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2017
After recently sailing on both the Westerdam and the Noordam, the Zuiderdam was a bit of a disappointment. The ship had only recently come out of dry dock, but clearly there is a LOT more updating to accomplish. While the Gallery Bar, Lido ... Read More
After recently sailing on both the Westerdam and the Noordam, the Zuiderdam was a bit of a disappointment. The ship had only recently come out of dry dock, but clearly there is a LOT more updating to accomplish. While the Gallery Bar, Lido and Crow’s Nest were spiffy and polished, the ship was dated and shabby in many places, particularly our cabin (4174), as well as both the Ocean and Pinnacle Bar, and most public bathrooms on the ship. Also, the Zuiderdam was just not as well run as the Westerdam or the Noordam. That being said, we had a wonderful cruise director (Saul Orr) and a great time on all the shore excursions we took in Aruba, Curacao, Cartagena and Panama. The Panama Canal was worth seeing, and the doomed rail car to the Miraflores Locks was well worth the cost and time involved. The food was uniformly good and the service by both our cabin stewards and wait staff was excellent, which is what we expect of Holland America. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2017
We chose this cruise because it went through the entire Panama Canal and ported at places we had not seen. It satisfied all those. Unlike Caribbean cruises, each and every port had different ethnic, social and landscape. We learned a ... Read More
We chose this cruise because it went through the entire Panama Canal and ported at places we had not seen. It satisfied all those. Unlike Caribbean cruises, each and every port had different ethnic, social and landscape. We learned a lot about the history of the locality. We chose a variety of HAL sponsored excursions and three private tours. I highly recommend the private ones. The HAL ones were crowded and some were not staffed with adequately knowledgeable tour company staff. The highlight of the tour was transiting the Canal. We did marvel at the engineering necessary by the French and Americans to complete the task. We did NOT like that the commentary by the 'expert' was doing from the Captain's deck was not able to be heard any place but the aft deck, the Promenade Deck and the Crow's Nest. It was not transmitted to other decks or onto balconies/verandas. Since this was for sure the main reason people took this cruise, it should have been. Also noted that daily morning announcements, times to disembark or other information - including emergency ones - were not able to be heard unless you had your cabin door open. We encountered multiple incidents where information given to me by Guest Services was contradicted by information given to my husband. Also many of the GS attendants spoke with such an accent that it made understanding them and them me, difficult. I have nothing but praise for our room steward, dining room attendant and assistant attendant and maitre d. They were always anxious to please us. The wine steward was less so once we told him that we were not interested in purchasing a wine package or even a bottle. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2017
We chose this cruise for the Panama Canal full transit, and the plus that the ms Westerdam was refurbished earlier this year. I read several reviews before the cruise about the refurb modernizations, mostly people missing what was no ... Read More
We chose this cruise for the Panama Canal full transit, and the plus that the ms Westerdam was refurbished earlier this year. I read several reviews before the cruise about the refurb modernizations, mostly people missing what was no longer there. One major change, and one I never saw mentioned, was the addition of 4 USB charging ports in our cabin: 2 at the desk and 1 at each night stand. Had I known, I would have left the mini-extension-cord-with-USB at home. At least I didn't need to use it - ever! The other changes to the ship's decor and style felt like an upgrade for me, also. I remember the previous HAL style from trips about her sister ship, ms Zuiderdam, and similar styles on the Eurodam and Ryndam, and while I enjoyed those ships repeatedly none of the changes felt "drastic" or "out-of-character" with Holland America's general sense of class and elegance. The public areas were gracefully appointed and comfortable. The background muzak for some areas was unpleasant but that may have only been our take on it. HAL needs to reaffirm her role by bringing the next generation into the ship and my choices may not always be the most popular or current. I'd rather adapt than see the cruise line falter and loose markets. The food was a better than last year's cruise and that was a pleasant surprise. I expect good food from HAL and am usually only mildly disappointed by a dish now and then. But the current kitchen has surpassed my expectations and on this 14 day cruise I actually was looking to try more new dishes each day rather than resort to those I had earlier in the week and thought were good. The crow's Nest Bar has changed - the coffee machines are now a permanent part of the bar but that turned out surprisingly well, since I never would bother to walk around the corner with the old layout. I read about people missing the library but really don't understand since any time I tried to find a book (since 2009) the selection was never what I expected and I always just settled for something. I was so grateful to start using a tablet when they were available to bring all the books (and more) that I want. I miss the teak loungers on the promenade deck. Those aluminum and nylon contraptions they have were not any more comfortable and far less appealing to me. But I bet the maintenance people are pleased with the lower upkeep for them.I would certainly never keep a teak lounger at home for that reason. We are not big on the shows in the mail showroom. The couple we attended were good and well visited. And the discussions we heard from others on board indication most we're pleased with what was offered. The Lincoln Center Stage was often come-early for seating, and the crowd around the piano duet only got more involved each night. The ports were different for us and while Guatemala and Nicaragua are still industrial ports, HAL does a decent job of getting you out into the countryside. One word of caution - we talked to vendors at the port, and negotiated for a tour in Corinto, Guatemala only to be told we could not pay with a credit card as we were getting into the van. The bus driver would "take us into town to an ATM where we could get cash" but that had too many red flags for us to find it acceptable. Nothing was said during any of the negotiations that the deals was for cash payment. And our concern was that once away from the port, and stuck, the price would not be the same. And again, inside the "hospitality center" that large room with the musicians and tour desks, we were initially told we could use our credit card only to have the older woman at the counter tell the clerk that no, we could only use the card "in town at an ATM" to get cash to pay. Our advice - either book with HAL or book online before you get there. Our cabin service was a good as usual, although later in the day than we expected. I feel that HAL is reducing staff to improve margins and that's unfortunate, if they have. Read Less
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