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91 Holland America Panama Canal & Central America Cruise Reviews

We sailed the first leg of the 2017 World Cruise, disembarking in San Diego. Overall experience was pleasant, but we had to overlook inconsistent food, a musty smell in our stateroom, and a toilet that malfunctioned three times. The ship ... Read More
We sailed the first leg of the 2017 World Cruise, disembarking in San Diego. Overall experience was pleasant, but we had to overlook inconsistent food, a musty smell in our stateroom, and a toilet that malfunctioned three times. The ship hasn't been refurbished in years, and it shows. Service was excellent, entertainment good. This particular cruise attracts a lot of old people, the majority of whom are 80+. I question the value received for the price paid. This was our second HAL cruise, the first being on the (superior) Eurodam. Was frustrated trying to watch NFL playoff games via satellite. The audio channel carrying the play-by-play call was not working. Getting on and off the ship was a breeze. Tours are expensive for what's offered. The majority of the passengers on the Amsterdam world cruise take the entire, 4-month trip. There were many repeat customers who apparently don't mind this ship's shortcomings but focus, rather, than on the socializing that goes on. Like other cruise ships, internet service is slow and expensive. Read Less
Sail Date January 2017
First of all the ship itself was excellent if a little dated in places, food and choice was excellent. Ports of call, especially Cartagena and the Panama canal outstanding. My wife and i thought the entertainment was just OK,with the ... Read More
First of all the ship itself was excellent if a little dated in places, food and choice was excellent. Ports of call, especially Cartagena and the Panama canal outstanding. My wife and i thought the entertainment was just OK,with the Trinidadian Steel band being the best. The guests were of a more mature age which suited this ships style and decor, we had a stateroom with balcony on Deck 10, which was excellent and well maintained. Although we researched the cruise before departing we were still caught out with HAL on board pricing regime,alcoholic drinks are a little pricy to start with, $7-11 each, but then a 15% surcharge is added to each drink supposedly as"tips" for the bar and waiting staff!! Also there is a surcharge of $12.5 per. person per. day of the cruise for "housekeeping" of your stateroom!! this again is supposed to be shared out amongst the housekeeping staff at the end of the cruise, we are used the "tipping" as we go, if a waiter, bar tender or a member of the housekeeping staff are outstanding they are "tipped" accordingly,the HAL way means they do not have to try too hard to be rewarded, that said most of the staff we met did an excellent job. HAL front desk staff stated that the $12.5 per.person per. day surcharge could be adjusted at the of the end of cruise, this did not happen,and we were then informed it was not HAL policy to remove this!! HAL shore excursions and Spa treatments extremely expensive. All in all we enjoyed the cruise experience. but based on previous experience with other Cruise providers we will not be booking with HAL again as we did not find them good value for money, Read Less
Sail Date January 2017
We selected this cruise to travel with friends during the holidays, and we wanted to go through the Panama Canal. The Veendam was a nice size ship and easy to get around. Embarkation and disembarkation were smooth, because the ship was not ... Read More
We selected this cruise to travel with friends during the holidays, and we wanted to go through the Panama Canal. The Veendam was a nice size ship and easy to get around. Embarkation and disembarkation were smooth, because the ship was not too crowded. The ship was attractively decorated for the holidays, and even Santa found the ship on Christmas Day! We had positive, negative, and average experiences during the cruise. First, the positives: - Jeff, the piano player in the Mix Bar was outstanding! He could play everything, and he gave interesting background information about the songs. We really enjoyed his "Name That Tune" games. - The Crow's Nest was a great place to read, play trivia, and enjoy Happy Hour. The staff (Keith, Jocelyn, Willie, and Jamaica) were attentive and efficient. - The food in the dining room was good, with a good number of choices available. We were happy to see that the portions were not huge. The desserts were really good. - The host at the dining room (Farid) always greeted us by name and he welcomed us like family. - The Lido Buffet had a salad bar area, where a staff member would create a salad to order. - The burgers at the Dive In were hot, fresh, and delicious! - Overall, the crew and staff were polite and friendly. - Regarding entertainment: The singing and dancing shows were very good. The mentalist was interesting and amazing. The Neptunes in the Ocean Bar were consistently good and attracted quite a few dancers. - The crew shows (Philippines and Indonesia) gave us a nice look into the heritage of the countries and the talents of the staff and crew. - They did a nice job on New Year's Eve celebrations. - I appreciated having Mass available on board. - We enjoyed having the Panama Canal movies shown prior to our crossing the canal. - Going through the Panama Canal was the most memorable part of the trip! What a feat of engineering! Be sure to read "The Path Between the Seas" by David McCullough before you go! - Our shore excursion in Puerto Chiapas, Mexico, took us to an elementary school, where we were able to give school supplies to the students, and they gave us a dance performance. The excursion also included a visit to a banana plantation, which was fascinating. - We also enjoyed our excursion to the National Aviary in Columbia. Beautiful birds of many species! - The Coffee Estate and Antigua excursion in Puerto Quetzal was interesting and included a nice meal. (Our bus broke down on the way, but a new one was sent within 30 minutes.) On to the negatives: - See below about the plumbing problems in our cabin and in public areas. - Smoking was pretty well controlled on the ship, except in the casino area. When we were in the Mix Bar, the smoke from the casino drifted into the bar. Seems like a door to close off the casino would solve this problem. - The Lido Buffet did not have any trays for passenger use, so it was tricky to (a) procure a table; (b) stand in line to get your food; (c) bring it back to the table; (d) get a drink. - Occasionally they would run short on plates and bowls. When the plates would arrive, you would have a hot plate for your salad or fruit, because the plate had just come out of the dishwasher. - We were surprised to see that there was a charge for some activities in the fitness center, such as pilates and indoor cycling. Seems like HAL could absorb the cost of having an instructor for those classes. - On-board activities choices were fairly slim. We played a lot of trivia, which was fun. Fortunately, we like to read, because sometimes that was the best (only?) choice. Footprint Analysis? - The Digital Workshop classes were often too crowded. - Be prepared for the avalanche of advertisements for Art Sales - yikes! - We chose Anytime Dining for dinner, but that didn't work out too well. One night we went in and there was a 90 minute wait. After that, we made reservations at 8:00, but that is later than we like to dine. We discovered that if we went at 7:00, we could usually get a table within 10 minutes. And then we would cancel the 8:00 reservation. Not sure why this was such an issue, as there were usually many empty tables available. - We were surprised that the bar service (both in the dining room and at the bars) was pretty slow. - We kept our cabin A/C at the coldest setting, but we didn't feel any coolness. Fortunately, we were not too uncomfortable. A/C in the Showroom at Sea Deck 8 left side was similar to the Arctic. Bring a sweater! - Except for Puerto Chiapas, the ports had no shops available where the ship docked. We tendered to Half Moon Cay and Cabo San Lucas, and the other ports were shipping container ports. And the average experiences: - There wasn't really anything special in the dining room on Christmas. Our friends told us to expect something like flaming Baked Alaska and dancing waiters, but that didn't happen. - The comedians and the juggler in the Showroom at Sea were OK. - Our shore excursions were OK, but usually involved a long bus ride, and we were only in the ports a short time. The Half Moon Cay Eco-Lagoon Cruise was nothing special. In Costa Rica, the Eco Tropical Mangrove River Cruise was OK, with quite a few crocodiles and some birds. The tour of the Flor de Cana Rum Distillery in Costa Rica was pretty good. In Cabo San Lucas, we went on the snorkel trip to Chileno Bay. The staff was nice, there was a simple meal (sandwiches and chips and fruit) and an open bar. However, there weren't that many interesting sea creatures to see, so people didn't stay in the water very long. Overall, the cruise was OK and we enjoyed it. I can't say that we would strongly recommend it to other cruisers. The Veendam is past its prime, and if you are looking for a cruise with a lot of bells and whistles, this isn't it. The crowd was older (lots of retirees) with some families, with generally well-behaved children. I'm glad we went, but I wouldn't do it again. Read Less
Sail Date December 2016
Living in Florida we've been on several Carribean cruises and looked forward to the Panama Canal and it's Pacific ports. The size of the Veendam was great. Easy to get around on and not too crowded. The ship does show it's ... Read More
Living in Florida we've been on several Carribean cruises and looked forward to the Panama Canal and it's Pacific ports. The size of the Veendam was great. Easy to get around on and not too crowded. The ship does show it's age. The crew for the most part was very efficient and polite. The head office staff not always so, more on that later. The main dining room food was good but nothing special. They stressed presentation. The service in the main dining room was spotty and on the slow side. The food in the casual dining area was quite good and there was always a nice variety. The main showroom was ok on the lower level but the seating on the upper level was very uncomfortable. The seats were worn out and very hard to sit on plus the backs are very short and hit you in a very uncomfortable place. The ships singers and dancers were very good but the rest of the entertainment was very spotty as were the daily activities. Kitchen tour was nothing more then a quick walk through with no narrative. The gym was clean and adequate. I used it almost every day. Back to our issue with the main office staff. We had two issues with our room. 1, an inconvience. The tub drained very, very, slow. When you finished your shower you were standing in 2 inches of soapy water. It took 3 calls to get it corrected. All the front desk would say was that they reported it to engineering. The 2nd is was a health issue. A substance was blowing out from the air conditioning vent in the room . It appeared to be dirt or mold. Dark particles covered the area beneath the vent. My wife has asthma and was having breathing problems a few days befor I discovered the particles. The discovery was a fluke as the room stewards really were doing a great job taking care of our room. One morning after the room had been cleaned, I had placed a sheet of white paper on a shelf under the vent when I went to retrieve it I noticed it was covered with particles. I notified room service and the front desk. The area was cleaned but the problem was not resolved. I contacted the front desk once again as my wife had to visit the ships Doctor, where she was treated for her breathing issues. I took pictures of the area covered with the particles and actually collected some to show the staff. The didn't seem interested but did send engineering once again who put a filter behind the vent. The next morning the particles were back again and back to the office I went. I stated I thought it woul be right for them to pick up the charge for the ships doctor but they stated the couldn't be sure that's what caused the breathing problem. They then upgraded our room. They never seemed to take me seriously that there was a real issue. Just another complaining customer. After departing the ship in Fort Lauderdale Fl. We drove 3 hours straight to our Doctor where she was treated. This was not our first cruise on Holland American but it might be a while befor we try them again. Read Less
Sail Date December 2016
We chose this cruise for two reasons, to set foot in South America and to see the Panama Canal. This cruise met both of those criteria but both were disappointing. The stop in Cartagena on the 11 day version of the trip met the South ... Read More
We chose this cruise for two reasons, to set foot in South America and to see the Panama Canal. This cruise met both of those criteria but both were disappointing. The stop in Cartagena on the 11 day version of the trip met the South America desire. This stop was a very short 6 hours. Because time was short we didn't think we could arrange our own visit. We elected to take a City Highlights Excursion that was rushed and not very interesting. The guide was not very informative or enthusiastic. To be honest, if you want to see an old city and well preserved fortress, go to San Juan. Cartagena was a disappointment after visiting San Juan recently. Our biggest disappointment was the Panama Canal experience. I was concerned about a partial transit rather than a full transit. What sold me on this cruise was that Holland America's itinerary described the partial transit as including cruising Gatun Lake, the large lake that you enter after passing through the Atlantic side locks. We were looking forward to seeing the lake and the surrounding jungle as we cruised until it was time to return through the locks later in the day. To our disappointment, the Zuiderdam made a sharp left turn and anchored immediately inside the locks and remained there the rest of the day until it was time to return. No cruising of Gatun Lake! I would not recommend a partial transit on Holland America. The service on the ship from the mostly Indonesian crew was outstanding. The dining was average but we did enjoy the full room service menu for several breakfasts. This was our first Holland America cruise and though our understanding historically that it was a step above other lines such as RCL, Carnival, or NCL, we did not feel ithe onboard experience was much different than those other lines. Read Less
Sail Date November 2016
My Wife and I recently went on an 11 day Caribbean Cruise with Holland America N.V. aboard the Zuiderdam from Fort Lauderdale through Aruba, Curacao, Cartagena, Colon, and Puerto Limon from 9 through 20 November. This was our third trip ... Read More
My Wife and I recently went on an 11 day Caribbean Cruise with Holland America N.V. aboard the Zuiderdam from Fort Lauderdale through Aruba, Curacao, Cartagena, Colon, and Puerto Limon from 9 through 20 November. This was our third trip together on Holland America and my Wife’s fourth overall, all on Vista Class Ships. Our overall experience with this cruise line has been outstanding. However, this most recent cruise was a disappointment to say the least. First the good points. The service was good to excellent as always. Individual crew members were friendly, receptive and ready to assist. End of story. Now, a short list of the negatives: Key Cards: As with all cruise lines these days we received a combined Identification Card/Cabin Key Card/Casino participation Card. Upon arrival at our Cabin the cards did not work. Constant “red” light returns at each attempt. We are on Deck 8 and the Service Desk is on Deck 1. Down I went and waited. It was boarding Day. Many Key Cards. Many failures. After 30 minutes I get new cards and back to Deck 8 to the Cabin. On Day 4 my Key Card failed. Back to Deck 1. Another 15 minutes waiting for assistance. Many Key Cards. Many failures. On our last evening aboard I decided to stay in the Cabin and my Wife went to the Casino. I had to run an errand. Threw on some shorts and a T-Shirt and off I went. 15 minutes later I’m back. “Red” light. Key Card Inoperative. Down to Deck 1. New Key Card. Also got one for my Wife. Back to Deck 8. “Red” light. Back to Deck 1. Desk Representative comes to Cabin with me and resets lock. I’m back in my Cabin. After an hour. During this time my Wife has just hit a small jackpot in the Casino only to have her Key Card fail on payout. 30 minutes later she returns to the Cabin. She gets in with old Card. Then new Cards do not work. We finally give in and just use her old Card which for some mysterious reason now works. Thermal Spa: We paid for a couple for the 11 days at the Thermal Spa. On Saturday, our last full day aboard, we go to the Spa for our last relaxation. NOPE. Something happened at the swimming pool so they decided since they had to drain that pool they would go ahead and drain the Thermal Pool as well. Early. No notification to passengers. After much haggling we did get a day rebate on our final bill. Maintenance in Public Areas: On the final evening, about 6 PM, someone decided it was a grand idea to run a new cable along our hallway to the Bridge. Down came ceiling panels that probably had not been moved in months if not years. All of this residue and dust just fell to the floor. Outside our Cabin and down the hallway to the elevators and beyond. A Work Order suddenly appeared on a wall outside our door after the work was completed. Then maintenance personnel came, wearing breathing masks, and finished the repairs. All with no word from the staff. Disappointing Buffett: I am certain in an effort to cut overhead the Cruise Line has cut back on the amount, and it appears the quality, of the Lido Buffett. When I reached into a tray with the prescribed tongs, a cook grabbed the tongs from my hand and screamed at me. Someone came over and served me but the cook just glared. And we had to fight to get service at the Cabana we rented at Half Moon Key. Appearance in Public Areas: Again, it appears the deferred maintenance on a fine ship has overtaken the quality across the board. The ship was put into service in 2001 and it is noticeable in the trim around the doorways, the cracks in the bath tubs, the condition of the decks and promenade. The service and attitude of the crew remained at a high level but the equipment they have to work with is subpar for this fine Cruise Line. They can, and usually do, far better than this. I also have some pictures to demonstrate what I discussed in this review. Read Less
Sail Date November 2016
My husband and I have cruised many many times. We have sailed on Royal Caribbean, Norwegian, Carnival and Holland America. We always considered Holland America to be a notch above the rest in terms of elegance, service and food. Since the ... Read More
My husband and I have cruised many many times. We have sailed on Royal Caribbean, Norwegian, Carnival and Holland America. We always considered Holland America to be a notch above the rest in terms of elegance, service and food. Since the price seems to reflect this, we only sail on Holland America for special occasions or special itineraries. We always said that when we did the Panama Canal, we would get a veranda on Holland America. When we booked a full year in advance, we were able to book a SY suite guarantee at a very attractive price compared to the verandah, so we did it. 8 of our friends also went and we had 5 cabins (everyone else was on deck 1 with inside or OV cabins.) We ended up in a SS category suite, cabin 6082, assigned 12 days prior to sailing. I'll start with the positives. The ship is beautiful. She was clean and well maintained. The New York (Nieuw Amsterdam) theme is great! Lots of vintage photos and "New Yorkie" decor. The public areas were all nice, and in good condition. The cabin is very nice. More on the cabin later. Chriz, the bartendress in the Ocean Bar was amazing! The entertainment was pretty good for the most part. Embarkation was a breeze for us, since we were in a suite. Slower for our friends, though, but not too awful bad. We waited for them, and it was about 15 minutes. Our cabins were ready when we got on board. Debarkation for us was a breeze, too (not many people disembarking that day). It was somewhat chaotic for our friends, which was probably due to some folks who held up immigration for at least an hour, making the rest of debarkation a frenzy, and also that is the day most passengers disembarked. (We stayed on the ship 4 more days than our friends.) Food and dining experience: The service was terrible in the dining facilities and the bars. We were able to secure a reserved table for ten after embarkation, so we all were able to have dinner together each evening in the MDR at the same table with the same staff. In the past, this always meant that your servers will get to know you, and your preferences. That didn't really happen till the cruise was almost over. At every meal at least one person (and usually more than one) at our table had the wrong item served. Once, when the wrong dinner was served, and a bite was already taken, the server removed the plate and tried to give it to the right person! With a bite already out of it! This actually happened at a lunch at a different table with a different server, too! Must be common. I had fish at the Mariner's lunch, and it was served to the wrong person, who decided to keep it, but the waiter tried to take it away and give it to me. Then my replacement came, and it was cold and mushy. My lobster on formal night was mushy, too! Yuk. And the filet mignon was inedible. It was less than a half inch thick and did not have a real meat consistency. Most of the dining room food was pretty bad. There were a few decent items at the Lido, but the same things day after day after day. And it was difficult at best to get a glass of water, or a dirty plate removed in the Lido. The best food on the ship was by far the Dive-In. And that is so sad that on a cruise ship, one would be reduced to preferring hamburgers, hot dogs and fries to anything else on board. They were really good, though! We had room service for breakfast almost every day. The food was pretty good and usually delivered 15 minutes PRIOR to our selected time (I'm ok with that, though) except one time when the card was never picked up. The omelet was not good, but if you like eggs over medium, they did that perfectly every time! And a bran muffin every day keeps things moving along, if you know what I mean. We tried The Crow's Nest for happy hour the first two nights, but soon learned that with the trivia going on, it was not the place to have a few nice quiet cocktails before dinner, even if you could get served, which you could not. We started going to the Ocean Bar for happy hour, but soon started calling it "happy HALF hour", as it always took a good 30 minutes to get the first drink. So, we started going up to the bar to get the first round, which is where we found Chriz, a wonderful bartendress, who knew our names and drinks after the first time ordered, and always had our mixers waiting for us when we got there. Chriz is a sweet girl, and very efficient in the bar. Her co-bartender, Vol Taire, is a great bartender, too! Between the two of them, they could crank out some drinks! We stayed at the bar for the entire happy hour after our friends disembarked. It was fascinating watching Chriz and Vol Taire at work! Cabin 6082: This SS category cabin is very nice. It is spacious, with plenty of storage, and the showers were large with excellent water pressure! The cabin is right next to the glass elevator. This was never an issue, as there is absolutely no way for someone on the elevator to see into the cabin. They can see a lot of the balcony, though, but they are going by pretty fast, and most people are either looking out to sea, or toward the elevator doors, anyhow, so not looking onto balconies. We never noticed noise from the elevator gathering area, either. This cabin is basically right in the middle of the ship (front to back, and top to bottom), making it convenient to get anywhere quickly and easily. It is just a few short steps to the "private" glass elevator, which usually came right to us whenever we needed it, even during peak elevator times...it's like no one knows about it, lol! The cabin steward was nice (and I say cabin steward because we never - on a 19 night cruise, mind you - never met the second one) but he seemed to have too many cabins. When we first got to our cabin, there was a plastic grocery bag stuffed into one of the drawers. This bag had some brown stuff in it - I am going to say it was melted chocolate, because the thought of it being anything else is making me gag. Two of the drawers were broken (the front was hanging off on one side) but after three days of leaving them open in the hopes the steward would have them fixed, I just went ahead and fixed them myself (MacGyver style) with some duct tape I brought along (you never know when you are going to need that stuff!) There were several areas in the cabin that have never been dusted: the top shelves in the bathroom and at the desk, and the desk around the lamp, and the cover of the storage stool. There was a sticky spill on the coffee table when we arrived, which I finally washed off before our "Panama Passage" party. Also, I believe suites are supposed to have fresh flowers. We never got any, but since they bring a little bud vase with breakfast room service, and apparently, never take them away, we ended up with quite a few flowers, anyway. Ha! We bribed our room steward into bringing us some extra ice for the panama canal passage party we had, and he brought us a wine chilling bucket full! Then he filled it up with ice every day after that for the remainder of the cruise! Too bad the ice was usually melted by the time we got back to our cabin each time. Like I said, he was nice. He made us a different towel animal every day. Note: I have read many complaints regarding the placement of the TV in this cabin. It has been moved! It is now on the wall across from the bed, and it is huge, but there is no DVD player. Repeat, NO DVD player...just FYI. Quite a few movies to choose from on the interactive TV. Not many shows or live TV channels, though. But, hey, we weren't there to watch TV, right? Entertainment: Hamish, the cruise director, was cute as could be. The entertainment was usually really good! A good variety of talent at the show each night. There was one comedian who wasn't that great, and once he got heckled he pretty much couldn't handle it and it was pretty awkward after that. But other than that, a really great show each night. Also, the BB King Blues Club band was phenomenal! Also, there was a violinist in the Explorer's Lounge each evening as we left dinner. We never saw the show, as we were at dinner, but he seemed to have a good crowd every night and what I did hear as we walked by was very good. One of the people in our group went to the Piano Bar each night, and loved it, but someone else in our group said the piano man kept changing the words to the songs and it was irritating. I had heard that the Screening Room showed current first run movies. I only saw one, Brooklyn, which was good. The rest of the time, they were either 1) Panama Canal Documentaries (which you couldn't get in because everyone wanted to see them and there are only about twenty seats in there) or 2)older movies or 3)movies you could see in your room or 4)movies I've never heard of. Ports and Shore excursions: All were good and I'll review them individually elsewhere. Note: In Guatemala, every shore excursion was to Antiqua. We chose to take a cab over to San Jose, which is about a mile West of the port, instead. This was a drive through a poor, undeveloped, dirty sad little town. We were afraid to get out of the cab. It was, however, an interesting hour and only cost twenty bucks in cab fare, so I'm glad we did it. Note: Victoria is a good place to do on your own if the weather is nice. The whole city is pretty much walking distance to the ship and beautiful and clean and well marked and they give you a map and everything! We caught a free shuttle back to the ship cause my feet hurt. A free shuttle provided by the city, I guess. It was a big orange double decker. Free! Cruise overall: Food and service were disappointing, ship, cabin and ports were great! I will think twice before booking on Holland America again, as we no longer consider it a notch above other lines, due to the service and food. Read Less
Sail Date April 2016
We chose this cruise because we wanted to see first hand the progress made on the new canal. Although the excursion to the site of the new locks was all we had hoped for, the cruise itself was a major disappointment. The biggest ... Read More
We chose this cruise because we wanted to see first hand the progress made on the new canal. Although the excursion to the site of the new locks was all we had hoped for, the cruise itself was a major disappointment. The biggest problem was the number of maintenance projects that were being performed throughout the cruise. There were several days when the paint fumes seeping into our stateroom were so intense we tried propping open the door to the balcony to clear the air. Since I have asthma, this was a major problem. We contacted the front desk, but there was really not much they could do. There were days when our stateroom was spared the fumes, but other areas on the ship were not so lucky. We even had to leave the casino one afternoon because of the fumes. Even worse was the day they closed off an area in the buffet while half a dozen workers fiddled with the ceiling, scraped off the paneling on a half wall and proceeded to glue on replacement paneling. The smell of the glue was terrible. I was so amazed that they would actually performed this work (all the workers were wearing face masks) while passengers were eating, that I took pictures with my cell phone. Other projects included denying access to various floors from the mid-ship elevators while they installed new carpet and grinding/welding on the deck. Clearly this ship belonged in dry dock, not cruising filled with passengers. Less serious, but still annoying things about this cruise included: 1) Fitness equipment jammed together in the gym and the number of "out of order" treadmills 2) Premade sandwiches on the buffet with soggy bread 3 The buffet closed at 11:30. It would have been nice to have a cafe or coffee shop open where passengers could gather for a late night snack before going to bed. 3) The disembarkation process that was one of the worse I've ever experienced for passengers attempting to walk-off. The one bright spot was the friendliness and professionalism of the crew. Our cabin steward did a great job, although the television in our state room was tiny and I couldn't help but wonder about the holes and soft spots I could feel beneath the carpet. Service in both the dinning room and the buffet was excellent. We are frequent cruisers and this was our sixth Holland America cruise. It was, without question, our worst. Read Less
Sail Date April 2016
We chose this cruise strictly on the itinerary. The boat itself does have some issues. I definitely would not say it's a rust bucket, I thought the interior was wonderful. The balcony was amazing. We had cabins 7001&7003. Both ... Read More
We chose this cruise strictly on the itinerary. The boat itself does have some issues. I definitely would not say it's a rust bucket, I thought the interior was wonderful. The balcony was amazing. We had cabins 7001&7003. Both were quiet and the balcony was way bigger than the Carnival or Norwegian we have previously sailed. Also, 7001 was in the front so the view from balcony to canal was wonderful. The negative was the smell. It has been remarked upon on this site and it was a definite notice for us too. The food was ok some hit and miss. Definitely do not do late dining if you are trying to see shows, you'll miss them. The casino was limited to a few table games, small, not enough variety, but rarely full so not an issue with that. The ports were good except for Colon, not worth getting off even. The spa is expensive and they try and sell you to do a three visit package. Don't do it, you'll end up having better daily specials and the staff will bug you to buy products, annoying! The service is tremendous on the boat. Staff goes out of their way to help and....no need to "Extra" tipping unless you are inclined to at the end. Loved that. Also pictures only at ports and formal nights, very nice to not be constantly bombarded. We also splurged and rented a retreat cabana and LOVED it. If you have the money it's worth every penny even on port days it was great. Miguel and Rod were our personal attendants and they were fantastic! I can't tell you how much we loved it. We also utilized the laundry and loved that too, they press all you clothes...wonderful. All in all we had a great time and if we didn't have that odor I would have given it a 4. Read Less
Sail Date April 2016
We had a wonderful relaxing cruise, but the Zuiderdam is a little bit tired. We stayed in a Neptune Suite and loved it and the perks that came along with it, specially the free laundry. Embarkation was quick and painless. We arrived ... Read More
We had a wonderful relaxing cruise, but the Zuiderdam is a little bit tired. We stayed in a Neptune Suite and loved it and the perks that came along with it, specially the free laundry. Embarkation was quick and painless. We arrived at about 11:15 and we onboard at 11:45. Rooms were ready shortly thereafter. Disembarking was probably the fastest ever. We used the Luggage program where you pay $19.95 a person and they take your bags from the hallway and you don't mess with them until your destination airport. It worked beautifully, although we had to disembark at 7:45 to utilize the program due to Customs requirement that we be available in the event that we were chosen to have our bags randomly screened. We would have preferred to stay onboard another hour or 2 since our flight wasn't until noon, but it was still worth it. I know food is subjective, but we found it to be mostly good or better than good in the main dining room. Service however was really rough. We had open seating and they really didn't handle it as well as most other cruises we have been on. Some nights we stood in line for 10 - 15 minutes JUST to get a pager. We expected to wait for a table, but not for a beeper! The staff seemed overwhelmed at times, and confused. But when the meals arrived they were good and plated beautifully. I can't say that the food was better or worse than the other mainstream lines we have been on. But the service issues made dinnertime rather stressful, and we opted out of the man dining room several nights. The Lido was uninspired and quite limited, and the hours were too short in our opinion. The deli sandwiches were premade and sometimes good and sometimes soggy. The pasta was precooked and then reheated in hot water, and never seemed done enough. I had roast pork and roast turkey from the carving station and both were good, but the beef was chewy and too well done for our liking. The salad bar was quite good, although the salads were made for you at your direction which felt weird but worked out fine. The ice cream was good and very popular. The Dive In near the main pool had burgers and hot dogs, and they were good. They also have Mexican set up there and it as my husband's go to for lunch. We had dinner in the Pinnacle Grill the first night and the food was very good and the service was good. However, as a Neptune perk we had breakfast there a couple times and the service was slow and we never felt welcome. There was a rumor that staff had been pilfered for another ship (presumably the Konigsdam?) so they were always short staffed. Not sure if that was accurate or not. We also ate in Canaletto one night. The 2 of us were placed by ourselves at a table for 8 in spite of arriving on time for our reservation that was made well in advance. It was a little awkward. The food was very good and the service was good. The lemoncello dessert is still one of my favorite cruise treats! I think this is a great value for the $10 upcharge. Okay, I was a lazy bum and never went to an activity or saw any entertainment. I did spend some time in the casino and the first few days got plenty of play and had fun, but as the cruise went on it got boring because of the lack of variation in the slots and the abysmal pay table on the video poker. The Casino Staff was very nice and friendly. There was one No Smoking day if I recall correctly. My husband went to a few lectures and attended some of the digital workshops. He enjoyed all of them and found them to be quite useful. He also really enjoyed the BB King group. He found the cruise director Simon to have just the right touch which is always nice. I totally forgot to see the Piano dude, but folks said he was really good. We both used and enjoyed the library. I had to borrow a book because I read every single thing I had on my Kindle by day 7 - haha! Our stateroom attendants were among the very best we have had in over 40 cruises. Darry and Yardo spoiled us rotten, and I miss them terribly. They were standouts in a sea of mediocrity service wise, and I hate to say that. We ha an aft corner Neptune suite and we absolutely loved it. I reviewed it throughly in the Cabin area below. This itinerary was perfect for us. We loved every single stop. On Half Moon Cay we rented a Clam Shell as my husband is pretty much translucent and can't do sun. We had a nice location and spent the day in and out of the water. DH also rented a Hobie Cat and had a blast zipping around for an hour or so. I may have partaken in some of the libations in a souvenir glass - haha. It was a great day. On Aruba (our port time was 1-10pm) we took a cab with a couple other cruise critics and went to Arashi beach for some snorkeling. We saw tons and tons of fish and it was very easy entry and nice and calm. But there are absolutely no facilities or security, so unless you have someone to watch your stuff and don't mind standing (or fighting off ants if you are brave enough to sit on a towel) there might be better choices. We had arranged with our cab driver to pick us up after a couple of hours, and that was plenty of time. We went back onboard and cleaned up before going back to town to find a bar for some local beer and snacks. We considered shopping or visiting a casino, but just enjoyed the beers and people watching. It was another great day for us both. Curacao was a first for my husband, so we found a cab driver with a nice smile and had him show us around. He gave us a nice tour and told us lots about the politics and local life. We really enjoyed Mr Frank and would her him again. We had him drop us off on the other side, and we checked out the Floating market and wandered around for a bit. Then we crossed the pontoon bridge, had a couple local beers and called it a day. We really enjoyed the day. Next up was the Panama canal, a first for us both and a longtime bucket list item for my husband. It was nothing short of amazing! Our Aft Wrap balcony was the PERFECT spot for viewing, and I remained onboard. History buff & engineer type DH took the Panama Canal Experience excursion which entailed taking a ferry through all of the locks to the pacific and then taking a bus to Colon to get he ship. It was a very long day, and he loved it although he did say the diesel fumes on the ferry (from the other boats in the lock) were unpleasant but that it was all worth it. I must also mention the absolutely delicious Panama Rolls that were available only on this day, and a real treat! Last stop was Costa Rica and we opted for the Rainforest Aerial Tram Excursion. The 2 hour ride each way was long (and the Puerto Limon area is very poor and not terrible scenic) but could not be avoided if we want to experience the rainforest. The tram ride was not scary at all, and the rainforest was amazing. Because most of the wildlife is nocturnal, we mainly saw trees and other plants. We had a great guide that made it al very interesting. We saw the sloth that (literally) hangs out in a tree near the entrance, and a viper that was sleeping off a big fat meal (he is also right at the entrance - hmmm), and after the ride we saw a tapir chomping on bananas also near the entrance (do you see a theme here?) The included lunch was quite good and we left the rainforest satisfied and humbled. It is truly impressive at how forward thinking Costa Rica is environmentally. It was another fantastic day. Other than a couple of hours one evening with the entire ship's water shut off due to a burst pipe (the captain kept us well informed and it was handled quickly and efficiently), we personally did not experience any problems at all. But there were a number of places that we passed regularly that you could smell sewerage and we spoke to several people that had those problems unfortunately. There were also buckets set up here and there for leaks... Another notable issue was the amount of rust on the exterior. Obviously it did not impact our vacation in any way, other than to make us wonder what was up. The rumor we heard was that when the Zuiderdam went into dry dock last time, the shipyard was experiencing a strike so a good deal of the planned work did not get completed. I am not sure if this has any basis at all in fact, but it was interesting. I think I have covered everything. We truly had a wonderful time, but if it wasn't for the exceptional itinerary & our awesome stateroom attendants Darry & Yardo, this cruise would not stand out for us. Read Less
Sail Date March 2016
We had a blast on this cruise with all of the staff. By far the staff made the trip!!! I have traveled the world and our room stewards were the best ever!!! I enjoyed seeing their smiling faces everyday. The ship on the other hand ... Read More
We had a blast on this cruise with all of the staff. By far the staff made the trip!!! I have traveled the world and our room stewards were the best ever!!! I enjoyed seeing their smiling faces everyday. The ship on the other hand needs some work. Our first night the toilet wouldn't flush and they asked me if it could wait until the morning to be fixed....ummmm no!!! The following day we could smell sewage thoughout our floor. Throughout the day you could smell urine in front of the Queen's Lounge. Most of the toilets there were out of service. I could smell why. They would clean the rug but the urine had to be leaking onto the carpet. It was disgusting. Our two days at sea they made an announcement that there had been a pipe that broke and they were shutting off the water to the ship. It was Gala night and I had just had a massage so my hair was all greasy but that wasn't that big of a deal. After two hours I started purchasing water in case we had a real problem. After 2 1/2 hours the water resumed. Thank God!!! We had issues at the pool with elderly people saying children were not allowed. There is a sign clearly stating children under 16 must be accompanied by an adult. They would make rude comments how they own the pool and our children should get out. It's spring break for goodness sake. Security would be called, and I'm sure they were napping so they could work dinner service. They were so sweet but they had to show up because they were called. Our children weren't doing anything wrong. They would make the older guests feel better and then leave and be called again in 10 min. I have sailed with Holland America before and never had these issues. Thank goodness for the staff or it would have been hell. Read Less
Sail Date March 2016
I will start by saying that I have never been on a cruise that I did not enjoy. We have taken over 40 cruises with 8 different lines. When I write reviews, I tell em as I sees em. We chose this cruise because it started by going to ... Read More
I will start by saying that I have never been on a cruise that I did not enjoy. We have taken over 40 cruises with 8 different lines. When I write reviews, I tell em as I sees em. We chose this cruise because it started by going to several islands in the Caribbean before entering the Panama Canal. This is very unusual and seldom done by other cruise lines. We had booked two southern Caribbean cruises in the past but both were cancelled by us or the cruise line and this was the first time we were to see any islands in the southern part of the Caribbean. Those stops and seeing the new additions to the Panama Canal encouraged us to select this particular cruise. After entering Gatun Lake, the ship made a detour to see the new lock that will take larger ships into the lake. This cruise started on a sour note because the fare for our cabin was reduced by $1,000 per person just after we made our final payment. I called our travel planner at Holland America to see what kind of adjustment they would make to our fare and was told that they would not do anything except offering us an upgraded cabin. Of course, if we took the upgrade, we would have to give up the booking bonus we got when we booked the cruise. The booking bonus was $200 per person onboard credit and two dinners at the specialty restaurants onboard. The upgrade was not in the location we wanted and the cabin offered was not that much better than ours, so we chose not to make the change. However, I was very surprised at Holland America’s attitude, since we have never had a problem getting price adjustments, refunds or onboard credit on any of the other lines with which we have sailed. CABIN We chose a cabin in the forward location on the Upper Veranda deck so we would have easy access to the outside deck in front of the ship when we went through the Panama Canal. We had a similar cabin location on a previous canal cruise 15 years earlier and it worked out very nicely. We could watch the TV to see when we were approaching something of interest and then go outside on the front deck to get a better look at it. That way we were not constantly in the heat of the day. Fewer and fewer ships are being built with front decks that are open to passengers, so a ship that has these decks is a good choice for a Panama Canal cruise. We were again happy that we chose this location for our cabin. We were in cabin 6017. It was somewhat typical of a veranda cabin with a small deck outside with two chairs. The bed was very comfortable and had adequate pillows and a nice comforter. Two small night stands each had two drawers. Reading lamps were built into the headboard. There was enough storage room under the bed for our suitcases. There was no more drawer storage in the room. A vanity near the door to the deck had a frig on one side and two shelves on the other side. The shelves were inconvenient for storage and the vanity chair was in front of the door to the deck making it inconvenient to come and go when someone was sitting at the vanity. There was a small couch across from the vanity and a table in between that was an additional hindrance to veranda access. A very small TV in the corner above the vanity was impossible to see from across the room because of its size. The screen was also very dark and there did not seem to be any way to adjust the brightness. We would have enjoyed seeing some of the first run movies that were shown each day, but that was not possible due to the dark screen. Most ships on other lines have a binder in the room that lists what movies are shown on the various TV channel each day. There was nothing like this in our room. I called the front desk and was told they did not have any kind of printed listing for the movies. Two closets were available for hanging clothes and they were adequate for the 21 day cruise. A third closet had shelves and the safe. We managed to store clothes here that would usually have been put into drawers. The bath was OK but also had limited storage space. It had a tub. We would have preferred a shower, but managed with the tub. It had a hand held shower head that worked very well and there was always plenty of hot water. Adjusting the water for the correct temperature was very easy. The first two days we were onboard, the toilet stopped flushing each day, but the repairmen came as soon as we called and fixed the problem. It worked properly for the rest of the cruise. The air conditioning/heating system in the cabin was a mess. The knob had to be turned all the way to the right to get heat. If it was turned about 10 degrees to the left from that point, the room turned into an ice box. There was no happy medium. We had to wear sweaters during the day or swelter in the heat. At night we snuggled under the covers to keep warm. We had two stewards that did an excellent job of caring for our room and always responded to any need we had. FOOD We had anytime dining and usually arrived at the restaurant between 5:30 and 6:30 for dinner. We never had to wait for a table. We always got one immediately. The staff should be commended for developing a way to do this as other lines issue buzzers to guests and they often have people waiting for long periods before getting a table. The food in the main dining room was average to good. The service was excellent and quick most of the time. We appreciated the fast service so we were able to get to the early show each night. The dining room was open for breakfast each morning and for lunch on sea days. It was a very pleasant alternative to the lido restaurant which was always overcrowded. The food in the lido restaurant was tasteless and usually under or overcooked. The choice was almost always poorly prepared chicken and fish and one type of low quality meat at the slicing table. The only meat that seemed properly cooked and spiced was the turkey which they had a couple of times. The only food in the lido that was good was from the Asian location. The type of food here changed daily between Chinese, Vietnamese, Indian, etc. It was always properly cooked and spiced very nicely. On the day they had Vietnamese food it included a type of noodle that was wonderful. Unfortunately, they never had that type of noodle again. There was an Italian station in the lido that was horrible. They always had a couple types of pasta and would prepare a sauce to order. I chose to have a white sauce and asked for onions and mushrooms to be included with it. She put a ladle of white fluid in a pan and threw in some raw onions and the mushrooms and heated it until it was lukewarm, then poured it over some noodles. It tasted like skim milk with undercooked items added. There was also a casserole dish each day with some type of pasta in a sauce with lots of cheese on top. It too was terrible. The Italian station should be avoided at all times. One of our booking bonuses was a dinner at the Pinnacle Grill. I had a fillet mignon and my wife had halibut. Both were excellent and the service was also. The lobster bisque was wonderful and the deserts were very good. On previous cruises with other lines, we have found the specialty restaurants to serve items that were no better than those found in the main dining room. This was not the case with the Pinnacle Grill. We would definitely try that again if we ever take another Holland America cruise. We also had dinners at the Italian Restaurant which is created out of a portion of the lido restaurant in the evening. The service was good; the food was not memorable although the portions were huge. Nothing was any better than we would have had in the main restaurant. There was a hamburger/hot dog grill near the indoor pool on the lido deck. It was always very busy and buzzers were provided because the service was so slow. The hamburgers were so/so, but the French fries were excellent. The hog dogs with all the trimmings were also very good. Near the grill was make-your-own taco stand with all the trimmings in open buckets which were left out all afternoon. It looked like a good place to avoid. ROOM SERVICE We had several breakfasts and a couple of dinners delivered to our room. The service was very prompt and the food was always good. After each delivery, we received a call asking if the food had been delivered on time. We were always happy with this service. ENTERTAINMENT The shows were average to good. They were certainly better than many we have seen on Princess but don’t compare with Celebrity or Royal Caribbean. They had a variety of comedians, a pianist, a violin player, etc. and a few production shows. We did not attend all of them, but enjoyed most that we did attend. I attended a couple of camera and computer classes and found them to be excellent. I probably should have gone to more, but they often did not fit into our schedule. The trivia contests seemed to attract a lot more people than we have seen on other cruises. On other Holland America ships, there is a movie theatre where newly released films are shown each day. The Westerdam did not have a theatre but showed the films in a night club. It did not work. The room is built in a half moon shape and the sight lines were only good for the people seated in the center of the room with a direct line to the screen. Those on the sides could not see the screen well enough to fully enjoy the films. We only attended one. LAUNDRY SERVICE Most of the other Holland America ships we have been on have had at least one self-service laundry on each passenger deck. This ship had none. It was necessary to send four bags of laundry out during the cruise. A full bag of laundry was $20 and you could stuff as much as you could in the small bag that was provided. The service was very good. Each load was returned within 24 hours and the pants and shirts were all pressed and returned on hangers. We were very happy with this service. ILLNESS ON BOARD I have frequently come down with a cough and cold like symptoms on many past cruises, but I never noticed many other passengers with like problems. Not so on this cruise. I started coughing around the third day on board and LOTS of others started doing the same. Many people had far more serious symptoms like sore throats, laryngitis, and stuffed sinuses. My wife was one of those. My symptom was just the cough and it is still with me now. My wife still has all her symptoms. I have had this cough hang on for as long as two months in the past. Hopefully, it will not do the same again as it is easing off a bit now. INTERNET SERVICE The ship offered email and Internet service for the entire cruise at a cost of $200. I thought this price was a bit stiff, but decided to sign up for it anyway. The service was the worst I have experienced on any ship. It took up to an hour to get connected to AOL so I could check my email. The computers were located in the library which was located in the observation room on deck 10. The librarian was the person responsible for helping people having trouble with the service, but she could not always help and was not there much of the time. During the first few days she would show up at the appointed time and then put up a sign that said she was helping out at some other location on the ship and would be back in a few minutes. She usually did not return. After several days of having problems, I noticed a flyer in the library that said we should “ask one of our team members to help” if we had problems with the Internet service. Unfortunately, it did not say how to find a team member. I called the front desk and the person there said I should bring my device down to their location for help. I said I could not very well bring one of their computers down to the front desk and asked how to find the “team member.” I was again asked to bring my device down to the front desk. I gave up. The computers were set up so anyone could access the Holland America web site with or without purchasing a subscription to the Internet service. I decided to send a request to the customer service department at Holland America asking how to get faster access to AOL. Nothing happened until the next day when someone on the Westerdam left a message on our phone saying our subscription fee had been refunded. However, he did not mention that he had also cancelled our subscription. I guess he decided that action was easier than solving the Internet problem. I was not happy, but decided it was not worth pursuing any further. We went without service for the balance of the cruise. TOURS On most cruise ships, people going on a tour are asked to assemble at a particular room in the ship. Then they are led down to the gangplank or tender when the tour is ready to start. Holland America has taken an innovative approach to assembling the tour passengers. We were told to go to exit the ship at a certain time and look for our tour bus on the pier. The first day, several hundred people crowded into the hallway near the gangplank, but the ship had not yet been cleared and we all stood in this very close environment for almost an hour past the appointed time. FINALLY a crew member said we could sit in a night club until we were called. We never were called, but noticed that the line started to move, so we got up and followed the crowd. We then began to look for our bus on the pier, but it was not there and there was nobody around to tell us where we should assemble. We finally found the line and waited again for the rest of the tour group to make their way off the ship. Holland America needs to rework their innovative procedure. We had very good tour guides on all the tours. When we visit a new location, we usually take a sightseeing tour to get acquainted with the general area. Unfortunately the three islands we visited in the southern Caribbean had very little of interest. The primary interest of tourists is getting sun and scuba or skin diving. All the best to be seen is underwater. My disappointment was probably my own fault. I did not do enough research before deciding to visit these islands. I had visions of beautiful landscapes and green mountains similar to what is seen in the south pacific. Some photos of Caribbean islands had led me to believe that all of them would look like that. Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao are all flat and drab. They had nothing in common with the type of tropical islands I was expecting to see. On the Pacific side of the canal, we visited several countries again taking general interest tours. Unfortunately, these places have little of interest other than the typical town plazas and the local cathedral. Again, the tour guides worked very hard to help us enjoy their country, but it did not work for us. The very hot weather also made us very happy to return to the air conditioned ship as soon as possible. Read Less
Sail Date March 2016
When you think of Holland America and know that it has an older crowd, know that on this particular ship the average age is 80. Of the 1800 passengers less than 100 were under the age of 60. Very few were even in their 60s. Almost everyone ... Read More
When you think of Holland America and know that it has an older crowd, know that on this particular ship the average age is 80. Of the 1800 passengers less than 100 were under the age of 60. Very few were even in their 60s. Almost everyone that we interacted with were in their 80s. Nearly everyone went to bed straight after the 8:00 show let out. If there was an actual emergency onboard there is no way people would get to the lifeboats swiftly. The octogenarians were not an negative aspect, but be aware that no one is really awake past 9:30 and that the pace is slower than slow. My friend and I are in our 50s and we spent the whole time wanting to aid the older people who were having trouble moving deck chairs and whatnot. We also felt resentment when we went to shows and bar early to get seats for shows and older and later people would show up and have nowhere to sit. But we paid too, and we couldn't keep giving up out seats like we were on a subway or something. This is a senior cruise, and really should be labeled that. The cruise director was the worst I have ever experienced, ,and when I mentioned this to several crew members, they had all noticed the same issues and agreed he was horrible. They said they had never worked with someone so disengaged with the passengers. He was very preoccupied with his girlfriend, who is also a crew member. The only times you would really see him was before a show started. He was never out mingling with the guests or greeting anyone. Throughout the cruise as we passed crew in the hallways, they all went out of their way to greet every single passenger. We passed him three times over the course of our cruise and twice he purposely looked down at the ground and said nothing and the third time he just looked past everyone. We saw him at the ports, not saying anything to any passengers but flirting with his girlfriend and being amorous. Once we passed him using a phone on the ship and heard him giggling and talking dirty. He was horrid. I liked the food. We went to the Pinnacle twice for their regular menu, and once for Le Cirque. Le Cirque was well worth it and the other two times were not. Might as well have gone to the regular dining room or Lido, which had lots of options. They had pizza and ice cream available at any hour, and other options available til 11:30pm. The condition of the ship was also not bad. We saw some buckets collecting various leaks in the photo lounge, but didn't see any rust or any furniture in bad shape. Our room was very nice, large, clean. We were happy with that. We did the Embera Village shore excursion in Panama. I would not go again. We did not go to Panama, ride in a bus for an hour and a half, then a motor powered leaking canoe for 7 minutes, to an obviously uninhabited collection of huts to purchase items from China from people who are wearing Hawaiian costumes. The people in the village are dressed in said costumes that they readily tell you that they have bought from China. They also try to sell baskets, beads, jewelry, and other items that they have purchased from China. And the items that they are selling they are also selling right at the port. They ask for candy and money for the children, but they you see all the adult men eating the candy and they admit that the children have uniforms for a local school and so the money is probably for all the satellite dishes that you see throughout the village. The villagers also do not live in the huts that you see, they live in concrete buildings toward the back. Where they have running water and televisions and computers. They whole place is a scam. I'm sure there is not any other opportunity for these people really, other than selling cheap Chinese merchandise and begging for money, but just know what it is before getting into it. On the way home everyone was talking about and pointing out the absurdity of this excursion. The cruise entertainment was a mixed bag. The Zuiderdam singers and dancers were very similar to watching the Lawrence Welk Show. Their music was not modern, nor was their dancing. Some of the singers were not very good. They performed three or four times. Kevin, the steel drum player was really great, but he didn't seem to know that many songs. He played the same music everyday on the deck. There was a magician named James Cielan who was pretty good. BB King Blues was the place to be. They did sing the same 20 songs over and over each night, but they were at least lively. And then there was Stryker in the Piano Bar, the theater, the deck, the Queen's Lounge. He performed every single day, sometimes twice a day. He apparently has lived on the ship for nearly 10 years, we were told this by the crew. He gets a packed crowd each night because the octogenarians like to sing Oh When the Saints Go Marching In before heading to bed at 9 pm. They also like to sing Sweet Caroline over and over. He is a very good singer and very good piano player, but as per the usual complaint for the enetertainment category, plays the same 20 songs over and over again. So you have Kevin on steel drums, Stryker, the Zuiderdam Singers and Dancers, plus BB KIng people all playing "Fernando" each day for 12 days. You will never want to hear certain sings again. And Stryker makes this point that he knows every song, but as soon as someone requests (for example, Stevie Nicks) something that isn't on his boring list, he doesn't know it and won't play it. There wasn't anything interesting to do on sea days or between ports onboard. People ended up napping all over the ship or eating during these times. We did too. Embarking was swift and easy, disembarking was not. We had a good cruise, but it could have been better. Simon the cruise director needs to be retrained or removed. They needs to stop playing the same 20 songs repeatedly each day. Stryker and the Zuiderdam Singers and Dancers need to freshen up their acts. Everything else was pretty good. It was a very slow pace on this ship, good for relaxing. We enjoyed the ports, though more than 4 early morning hours in Cartagena would have been nice. I would recommend this ship for octogenarians who like Lawrence Welk and napping. You will have a great time. Read Less
Sail Date March 2016
One thing to note: The average age of guests was probably close to 70, much older than other cruises we've been on. Even older than guests on our other HAL cruise. The day going through the Panama Canal was very interesting and ... Read More
One thing to note: The average age of guests was probably close to 70, much older than other cruises we've been on. Even older than guests on our other HAL cruise. The day going through the Panama Canal was very interesting and worth the trip and, if you love sea days, this would be a perfect cruise for you. There were 7 named sea days and actually the canal day was a sea day in actuality. The ports visited were just OK in our opinion. Aruba was nice; not a lot to do in Punta Arenas, Costa Rica. Huatulco, Mexico was very small, not much shopping except straw markets. Puerto Vallarta and Cabo San Lucas were more interesting ports, but you had to be back on the ship at 1:30, so very little time in the ports. The ship, although over 20 years old, is in beautiful shape. The crew was efficient and friendly and the food was excellent. Very extensive room service menu available 24 hours a day; on time breakfast delivery every morning. The nightly shows ranged from just Ok to pretty good. Dancers and singers were very good, but the "scripts" they were given just seemed to lack something. Lounge music was very nice as long as you liked music from the 50's to the 70's or classical strings. Not much in the way of current popular music. Comedian was good and 100% clean humor. Dance duo/magic act was good. Internet was pricey and painfully slow. I used over 600 minutes and only downloaded email once or twice a day and did virtually no web surfing. ...but by the end of the cruise we were a bit bored and totally ready to get back on shore. Last two days of the cruise were rocking and rolling due to strong headwinds. We wonder if the older/smaller ships do not have the same kind of stabilizers as the newer/larger ships. We don't get sea sick, but I'm sure there were many on the cruise who did those last two days. Presentations in the Culinary Arts Center were interesting and CAC host Kelly was charming. Casino was close to deserted much of the time. Small and not a bit lively like on our other cruises. TV channels are VERY limited ...a couple of news stations, the "ship"channels, and a music channel. Read Less
Sail Date March 2016
Arrived at the pier 12:00 noon. Waited on line outside the building for ten minutes, then entered to stand on another line for 20 minutes to get past security check. Waited another 15 minutes to check in and obtain the cruise cards, and ... Read More
Arrived at the pier 12:00 noon. Waited on line outside the building for ten minutes, then entered to stand on another line for 20 minutes to get past security check. Waited another 15 minutes to check in and obtain the cruise cards, and then waited another 30 minutes in another room before our "number" was called, to allow us to enter the ship. We have taken over 25 cruises and Holland has the worst embarkation system. Our last cruise with Celebrity, also from Port everglades, was a 30 minute affair from beginning to end. The cabin was ready for us when we boarded and everything appeared to be in working order. Went o lunch at the Lido on deck 9. Very crowded the first day, which is the norm. An outbreak of Noro virus on the previous cruise prompted the line to institute their "code orange", which means that crew members must serve you everything from the buffet. This slows the process down, but I can appreciate the added protection for passenger health. This lasted for the first 4 days, after which you were allowed to serve yourself. The last time we sailed with HAL, on the Noordam, there was a sandwich station that allowed one to custom build your own sandwich. Now, that has been replaced by 5 or six pre-made sandwiches. No other choice. The selections and quality of the hot choices at the lunch buffet also seem to have decreased since our last sailing. There is an asian bar, which was good, and the pizza and pasta bar, which had good pasta but some of the worst pizza I have tasted at sea. The Mexican bar near the mid-ship pool was excellent, as was the dive in burger and hot dog bar. Although the ship is old by today's standards, the public areas were exceptionally clean and well maintained. Elevators were in the aft, mid, and forward areas and service was fast and efficient. The food in the main dining room was good, but nothing very special, as seems to be the case on most cruise lines these days. Service and presentation were excellent. The extra cost Canelleto Grill is merely an extension of the Lido Buffet on deck 9. It has a limited menu and nothing special. We also ate in the Pinnacle Grill, which was excellent. Entertainment on this ship is below average. The Vista Show Lounge has the usual broadway and movies reviews of singing and dancing, which were not especially exciting. We did enjoy, however, the Piano Bar, which is hosted by an entertainer that calls himself Stryker. He is very entertaining and quite good at the keys and vocally. Adagio, which is the string and piano duo playing mostly soft and relaxing music, was excellent before our dinner each night. The pools were adequate for this size ship, but lounges were hard to come by. Many people put their belongings selfishly on a lounge and leave them their for hours just to reserve it. The crowd can only be considered "mature" on this ship, with very few young families. That's OK, since we were looking for some relative quiet. We only took 2 shore excursions, which I reviewed separately under the excursions review section on the HAL website. We did not gamble, so I can't rate the Casino. Bar service was good when you went to the actual bar to order, but I found that waiters around the pool were sparse. The coffee and espresso bar was located on deck 10, all the way forward. Other ships locate them on lower floors and more mid-ship, soap to make them more accessible for evening activities. All in all, we had a good time, but compared to most of the other ships we have been on, this ship leaves some things to be desired. Read Less
Sail Date February 2016
First let me say that I believe that my expectations were way too high. Having read blogs from Bill & Marianne on their world cruise aboard Amsterdam and being on Ryndam last year for the cruise before the "holiday Cruise" ... Read More
First let me say that I believe that my expectations were way too high. Having read blogs from Bill & Marianne on their world cruise aboard Amsterdam and being on Ryndam last year for the cruise before the "holiday Cruise" set me up for a huge let down! I also have been debating on doing a review because there were so many negative items about the whole experience that I don't want to "dampen" others enthusiasm. But anyway here goes. We had originally been going to stay in Florida this year for Christmas & New Years but on the 15th of December we saw this cruise. Luckily for us the kennel had a spot and we got decent flights and hotel reservations in Ft. Lauderdale and San Diego so we did it. We boarded which was very easy and found our cabin. WOW! Underwhelmed is an understatement. The whole cabin is about the size of a postage stamp and as far as being "partially obstructed" it should read "Mostly obstructed" We did find that the way to see out is to kneel or stand on the bed and crane your head sideways. From that position you can see out. We tried for an upgrade, but that is another long and boring story which I won't even go into. The first thing we find out and only by going to the dining room is that there is no Mariner's lunch. It reminds me how much I hate the Lido. But dh wants to get something to eat and so up we go. Big mistake. Lets just say I detest the Lido. We go back to our "cabin" and find that all our luggage is there. Since we are supposed to be "upgraded" we decide not to unpack but sit in the postage stamp with four suitcases. The next morning we decide that "we aren't going to be upgraded so we do the unpacking. Good thing as it took the front office two days to call and say "there are no upgrades available" DUH! I guess we can figure some things out ourselves. Then we come to the question of Electric plugs. We have none. The one and only one above the desk had a plug in it already and its attached to the refrigerator under the desk. I'm sorry, but where are we supposed to plug in things like dh's razor, the batteries for my camera and dh's camera and my lap top. Back down to the front desk. We will need to leave a $50 (25 each) for an extension cord and surge protector so we can plug in all our electronics. Our "postage stamp" comes with one other strangeness about it. It is actually brighter at night than during the day! I found this out the first night. I kept waking and couldn't get back to sleep. There are two flood lights just outside the window which flood the area with light but dim and turn off during the day. During the day we would keep the curtains closed after we had people come right up to the window, put up their hands around their face and try to look in! We started to wonder about some of the people on this cruise after that. As for decorations and Christmas atmosphere. Forget it! The only Christmas Carol we heard until the 23rd was coming aboard the ship. Once inside there was nothing!!! No decorations, no carols, no nothing! (Now remember the previous year we were on Ryndam the cruise before the Christmas cruise and the ship was beautiful. Totally decorated from top to bottom. On Ryndam at the bottom of the atrium not only did they have a wonderful tree, but a huge gingerbread garden It was amazing!) So here we are with nothing. We wait and we wait and finally about the 20th they start putting up some decorations. Let me just say that for the Amsterdam being HAL's "signature" ship the decorations were puny. Maybe HAL should change signature ships! And by the way there are still no Christmas Carols. Then we realize something else we are in port both Christmas and New Years day. Which means no Christmas or New Year's Dinner. (Where I come from Christmas dinner is served in the middle of the day as is New Year's day dinner) I go to the Front desk and ask if the dining room will be opened for these holidays during the day. No they will not be I am told. That is when I realize with out a doubt that we have just made a huge mistake. Forget about all you hear. If you love Christmas and the Holidays don't ever take a Holiday cruise. I guess its time for me to come to the food on this cruise. All I can say is OMG! The worse of the worse. The very first night in the dining room I ate right out of the freezer Perdue breaded chicken breast with melted velvetta cheese drizzled on top! Now I am no chef, but I would put my Beef stroganoff up against HAL's any day of the week. HAL's stroganoff had no sour cream in the gravy nor any mushrooms and there weren't even any noodles! The meal consisted of what would be called beef in drippings with a dab and I mean a dab of sour cream on top and on top of the sour cream was sour pickles! That sat next to a ice cream spoon full of rice! Hals Beef Bourguignon was another dish which did not resemble anything to do with my Beef Bourguignon. I could go on and on, but the bottom line is if you are going to call a dish something at least use the ingredients which are generally considered part of the dish or just call it something else. In my survey to HAL I did offer to lend them my copy of Julia Child's "Art of French cooking" if their "chef" needs to read what one of the items should taste like and my private recipe of beef Stroganoff. My husband said it best. Now, you have to know my husband. He is not picky, but he told me that the best food he ate on board the ship was the Nathan's hot dog he got from the dive-in counter. Most of the other food was pretty bad and he even said some of it was in-edible! Just wanted to interject here that for Christmas "dinner" (which where I come from is served in the middle of Christmas day) dh and I had "Nathan's hot dogs. That evening (Christmas night we would call supper) we did have turkey, believe me when I say it wasn't worth the wait! Now remember folks we are on a ship with 1200 guests and about 80 to 100 are children. I generally like children and have a couple of them myself, but I would not inflict my children and grand children on a small ship where most of the people are elderly. Putting it bluntly there isn't much for children to do on this ship. There isn't much for adults to do unless you want to gamble, learn to cook (sorry, but I really don't think HAL can teach me anything about cooking, I'm eating the food remember?) or work on the computer. Other than that it's reading or going to the pool. We finally decided that the children's source of entertainment was driving the elderly crazy at the pool! Now there are a lot of elderly who use the pool for their P.T. as I do. Forget it or get out very early. The children use it to jump around and generally cause havoc. The poor guitar player was trying to play his music over the screaming and splashing of all the kids. We felt sorry for him and clapped though most of the time we could hardly hear him. One family in particular was what we call "the awful" family. Their kids were not only out of control, but mostly unsupervised. I never did figure out how many kids they had with them as I think it was a number of families traveling together, but I believe they were raising them as a pack of wolves. Two incidents stand out in my mind. One, some poor lady thought she had bingo, but when the announcer announced that she didn't this "family" actually stood up and cheered, and the family was led by the "father" or a large male leading the cheering! The second thing was an item of mine went missing, it was gone for about two to three days and I go to the pool and one of the children is playing in the pool with my item. When she sees me she just lets it float away and leaves it there. Now picture this, your child has something that doesn't belong to the child and you don't turn it in to lost and found? You tell me who does that? The rest of the passengers were on the whole nice with only a few exceptions. I do know many were happy to know that they were getting off in Ft. Lauderdale and several were very unhappy about the cruise. Several people we talked to had paid big money and felt that it wasn't worth what they had paid. Since HAL is a part of the Carnival family I guess it is a good thing that they didn't offer to give you your money back after the first day or when you got to the first port. (I believe it was Carnival that had that guarantee several years back) I can see a lot of people taking them up on their offer on this cruise! Dh actually admitted to me later in the cruise that he had thought of leaving when we got to Puerto Vallarta, but he said he thought it would be too time consuming and too costly to fly home. I was very surprised. We did over hear a man talking to his wife (we weren't ease dropping, but at a two person table it's hard not to hear the next table over) he said he couldn't wait to get off this ... Boat! We saw him leaving the next day with a carry-on bag when we docked in Puerto Chiapas. We didn't see her leave. I will have to say that New Year's Eve was the most entertaining we have had in a long time. We loved it and danced the night away. We had dinner with two couples and they graciously allowed us to join them. We all laughed and danced. The seating was a bit squished, but who cares we were celebrating. The second wonderful thing about this trip was seeing the Panama Canal. Now this was our fourth time and each and every time it's wonderful. There isn't much more to say about the Canal. The entertainment was good. We love to listen to the Adagio in the evening. We also like the shows and really enjoyed the piano player in the queens lounge along with the guitar player and then enjoyed them when they teamed up and did a show together. We saw two movies which we really enjoyed. One was 'A walk in the woods" and the second was "spy". Now when "spy" first started we thought OMG what a corn ball, but then we realized it was a comedy and that's when we really started to enjoy it. The ports were I guess all right. The two that we had not been to before and wanted to take tours, but the one Puerto Chapas the nearest town was about 25 miles away and Puerto Quetzal the drive was 90 min each way. Now I don't know about anyone else, but I'm not driving 90 each way to see anything. So some we got off the ship and just walked around and some we stayed on the ship and enjoyed the quiet of the pool! The crew was outstanding. They really went out of their way to help with whatever. We really can't say enough about our room stewards. They were great!!! All in all the trip was ok. Would I do it again NO! DH and I have no intention of having Nathan's Hot dogs for Christmas dinner any time soon! We booked on a HAL cruise for 42 days. I'm calling before final payment and asking how many children will be on board. If there are any more then ten I am out of there. Read Less
Sail Date December 2015
Our 9th cruise, and 2nd on Holland America was just O.K. The food was Buffet Restaurant quality at best, ( think Golden Corral, Old Country Buffet). Dining room service was not quite up to par as I've experienced on most other ... Read More
Our 9th cruise, and 2nd on Holland America was just O.K. The food was Buffet Restaurant quality at best, ( think Golden Corral, Old Country Buffet). Dining room service was not quite up to par as I've experienced on most other cruise lines, but all services were done with a smile! Main stage entertainment was, as others have commented, High School Drama/Glee Club quality. Demographic was 85%-90% Retiree community and over. The accessibility services for the port excursions was top notch! Cruise Director (Rick) went above and beyond to ensure a fantastic experience for all! Excursions were GREAT! The Canal, GREAT! The "Band" was hard-working, and extremely flexible. B.B. King Band were not the seasoned caliber of a previous HAL cruise we experienced. Happy Hour in Northern Lights (10:30-11:30) was always fun, even starting a tad bit early. Great room Steward Staff (5064-Mad'e) and overall friendliness. I loved that the Pool Staff did not pressure us to buy drinks, but were available if we wanted. Andy-Host extraordinaire, Ashley- Cooking/Cuisine Expert, Rick-Cruise Director, really made our experience one we'll remember forever! Thanks again Holland America! Read Less
Sail Date November 2015
We previously sailed with HAL to Alaska. That was almost flawless so we were disappointed in the Veendam and some of the shore excursions. The cruise began with electrical problems on the ship which delayed our departure from FL by over ... Read More
We previously sailed with HAL to Alaska. That was almost flawless so we were disappointed in the Veendam and some of the shore excursions. The cruise began with electrical problems on the ship which delayed our departure from FL by over 5 hours. Thus, our shore time in Cartagena, Columbia was cut short by 2 hours. Our guide was an independent and she did her best to give us a good tour in less time. Transiting the Panama Canal was fantastic, what an engineering marvel. Our cabin was on the fantail so we could see both sides of the canal from our balcony. Our tour in Costa Rica was OK but too much time on the bus. The tour in Nicaragua was by an independent and he did a fantastic job. The tour in Guatemala was so-so and 3 hours on the bus round trip to Antigua. The street vendors were very pesty. One lady followed us all over town. Our stop in Huatulco, Mexico was great. Again, we had an independent tour guide, just 4 of us in his air conditioned SUV. What a nice place! Lastly, we stopped in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. We should not have taken a tour and just walked around town or taken a taxi. The tour was in a run down bus, the guide San Jose Del Cabo for over a hour. He and the bus driver were almost 1/2 hour late picking us up. The town leaves a lot to be desired unless you wanted to eat somewhere. The tardiness caused us to have a 10-minute stop at the glass blowing factory and we just made it back in time for the last tender back to the ship. (This was one of Holland's recommended tours.) We had a broken shower line in the cabin that flooded the bathroom floor, there were some air conditioning problems in the cabin and around the ship....showroom was like a refrigerator. One of the dining room staff was the worst waiter ever. Disembarkation was horrible and we missed our train home and had to wait another 3 hours for the next train!! Read Less
Sail Date October 2015
My wife and I booked a balcony stateroom on deck 6. This was our first cruise with Holland America and our 7th overall. Rather than trying to comment on every aspect of the experience, what I will focus on is what we particularly liked ... Read More
My wife and I booked a balcony stateroom on deck 6. This was our first cruise with Holland America and our 7th overall. Rather than trying to comment on every aspect of the experience, what I will focus on is what we particularly liked or what we particularly disliked. Liked: • The embarkation/disembarkation process – it was the smoothest we have ever encountered. • Our room had an unobstructed view and adequate storage. • Open seating plan for dining – no set time requirement. • Beautiful grand spaces (the main dining room, the stage, the Crows Nest Lounge, etc) – the ship was built in Italy and had some stunning visual flair. • The first line staff – mainly from Indonesia and the Philippines. Wonderfully accommodating. • Plenty of interesting lectures and things to do aboard – I particularly enjoyed the Windows 10 seminars. • The Canal transit itself was the highlight of the trip. Holland America did a great job in presenting background and running narrative on what we were seeing. Felt privileged to have experienced this first hand. Disliked: • Our bed – experienced back problems throughout the trip, even with special effort on their part to make modifications. • Experienced both electrical and plumbing issues in our room, neither of which were completely resolved to our satisfaction. The electrical problem caused difficulty with using my CPAP machine, which ultimately led to a very useful tip which I will try to share in an appropriate blog space on cruising with a CPAP. • Food quality was almost universally low. Problem was not so much in preparation as in the purchase of low quality ingredients by the cruise line to start with. This held true even in their premium Pinnacle Grill. We are foodies and this was a deal-breaker issue for us in terms of considering Holland America for future cruises. • Décor and color schemes outside of the grand rooms were so eclectic and gaudy as to be detracting. • Temperatures in the public areas were kept so low that the temperature differences in moving about the ship promoted a very high degree of sickness among the passengers. This was really serious. My wife caught a cold early; recovered, and got sick again before we disembarked. I picked-up a bad upper respiratory illness around day 8 and had to see the ship’s doctor for antibiotics. I would guess that more than half of the passengers were similarly affected. • Average age must have been in the 70’s for this particular passage – we found the ambiance was a bit geriatric. They had a disco, for example, but nightly attendance never seemed to exceed 8 or 9 people at a time. For us, the Dislikes were rather serious in nature and overall this means that we are not likely to cruise with Holland America again. Read Less
Sail Date September 2015
PROS: 1. The dining staff and cabin staff are wonderful and will do anything to help you. Cheerful and sincere. 2. There are few lines for anything, even with a relatively full ship. 3. Embarkation and disembarkation at all ... Read More
PROS: 1. The dining staff and cabin staff are wonderful and will do anything to help you. Cheerful and sincere. 2. There are few lines for anything, even with a relatively full ship. 3. Embarkation and disembarkation at all ports is handled very well and, again, almost no waiting. 4. There are many venues on board for your amusement, from good classical music to games to culinary shows to bad art for sale to overpriced jewelry to good computer stations and a small library, lots of different style bars, a small casino and a variety of restaurants. There is a wide variety of music and there are a variety of shows; not everyone will like every show but everyone will like some of them. 5. There are free daily newspaper summaries at the front desk for several countries and you can read the NYTimes for free on wifi. 6. Alcoholic drinks are reasonably priced. 7. Great lecturer on board. 8. Very interesting "navigation updates' almost daily by members of the bridge. 9. Captain was very informative on the progress of the ship.10. The menu at the Vista dining room changes daily but the menus bear no relation to the ports visited. CONS: 1. EVERYTHING costs extra. You have to pay for bottled water. You have to pay for soft drinks. You have to pay for lattes and espressos which are not even available in some of the dining areas. You have to pay outrageous amounts for internet service. I have no problem paying for alcohol, wine and beer, but water???? Please!! Coffee???? Please!! 2. All day, every day, there are efforts to sell you things: art, jewelry, spa services, drink specials, more excursions, photos, videos, etc., etc. It gets tiresome. 3. There is a 'SERVICE CHARGE' added to your bill every day. Holland America says this is instead of tips. Tips, excuse me, are voluntary and personal for special service. Holland America says you can remove this from your bill but then they work to make you feel guilty. They are not paying their behind the scenes staff and the 'service charge' doesn't just go to your waiters and cabin attendants; it goes to the people who clean the ship, the people who do the laundry and all the invisible others who should be paid by the cruise line. If you delete the 'service charge,' these poor people are then getting shafted. In other words, you are being charged a fare to go on the cruise and then you are being charged $10-12 per day per person more to pay their basic employees. This is like going to a department store and buying a shirt for $30 and then being told it really costs $35 because the $5 extra is a 'service charge' to compensate the people who put the shirt on the shelf and the people who clean the store at night. This is not right and needs to be changed to eliminate the appearance of deceptive pricing. 4, The shore excursions are generally quite good but they are not all good so read the reviews before signing up. 5. The food is good but not excellent; the baked goods (bread, rolls, desserts) are just barely passable, hard, cold, no better than Denny's; the meats and fish are excellent and the service is outstanding. The wine packages are actually a good deal and the wines available are consistently very nice. The specialty restaurants, Pinnacle Grill and Canaletto, are nothing special at all and not worth extra money. The big deal special restaurant -- once a cruise -- Le Cirque, is also just fine but not worth any extra money; the food in these restaurants are the quality that all the meals should reach. [But the specialty restaurants still had the same bad baked goods!] All in all a very good cruise but there is no question that all day every day, Holland America is counting the money it can bring in over your fare. The low point is selling you water bottles as you leave the ship to go on excursions when it is over 100 degrees outside! This is our 4th cruise and the only time we have felt like we have been so pushed to spend money every time we turned around. We will likely be moving to other cruise lines to avoid the sense of being more like profit centers than guests. Read Less
Sail Date April 2015
We had a previous cruise with HA to Alaska and enjoyed it every much. Disappoined in this cruise as a poorly done maintenance issue caused us to miss two ports. The ship was clean and staff courteous and efficient. The food was average. ... Read More
We had a previous cruise with HA to Alaska and enjoyed it every much. Disappoined in this cruise as a poorly done maintenance issue caused us to miss two ports. The ship was clean and staff courteous and efficient. The food was average. We agree with previous reviewer that the bar staff tried to help us forget all the problems. One of our biggest problems was a terrible internet service. Overpriced and we couldn't get a connection. Note to all, think hard before choosing one of these older ships for your money. Read Less
Sail Date February 2015
I chose the Holland America line (HAL) partly because a close friend/travel agent highly recommended it as did many experienced cruisers I’ve met. The other reasons were the ports of call and the excursions available. However, HAL did ... Read More
I chose the Holland America line (HAL) partly because a close friend/travel agent highly recommended it as did many experienced cruisers I’ve met. The other reasons were the ports of call and the excursions available. However, HAL did not meet my expectations. Bad weather and operational issues delayed the Veendam’s arrival and, hence, our departure. The schedule to reach Cartagena and the Panama Canal was much too tight, so we missed our original time slot through the canal, losing one port of call in Mexico and cutting short our stops in other ports. This made some excursions exceptionally rushed. Then a mechanical issue led to unhealthy fumes permeating much of the ship, and the cancellation of our remaining stop in Mexico. The compensation offered was inadequate (a credit of 20% of the base fare on a future Holland America cruise). Many older travelers stated that this was their last cruise, and others were so dissatisfied that they have no intention of taking HAL again. On the positive side, the departures for excursions were exceptionally well-organized, there was a variety of excursions suitable for older travelers, and the location talks were the best I’ve ever heard.   Read Less
Sail Date February 2015
As others have already noted, the Panama Canal cruise on the Veendam from Ft, Lauderdale to San Diego, departing Feb. 21 was a huge disappointment. Due to the many missed ports (blamed on engine problems), we basically paid a lot of money ... Read More
As others have already noted, the Panama Canal cruise on the Veendam from Ft, Lauderdale to San Diego, departing Feb. 21 was a huge disappointment. Due to the many missed ports (blamed on engine problems), we basically paid a lot of money to ride around in a big boat from the Atlantic to Pacific Oceans. Delayed embarkation information on Feb. 21st was not communicated until late morning of that date (surely they knew at least one or two days prior that they were going to be late!???). In spite of that snafu, I was pleased to experience a very speedy embarkation. That might have been because we arrived earlier than they originally told us we could board and that might have been because we were Vista class passengers - who knows? Our friends were booked in a Neptune Suite and they had A/C problems for three days before it was fixed. We had no A/C for a solid 24 hours before ours was resolved. I ended up with a severe sore throat and bad cold which may, or may not, have been caused by bad air quality. It was interesting to read the other posts regarding previous engine problems that, of course, we were never told about. The missed ports were exceedingly disappointing - particularly Cabo since that was to be our first time ever whale watching excursion. Again, reading a prior cruisecritic post, I learned that our Zihuatanejo missed port was known WEEKS in advance of it's cancellation. And, not only did we miss ports, some of our port stops were truncated in order to make it to San Diego on time. This was not a cheap cruise and the Holland America line owes its passengers more than a future cruise credit. How self-serving is that? Oh, I have to spend even more money in order to save some??? I have heard from friends who took a H-A Alaska cruise recently and they encountered very similar issues. As they like to tell us on our airplane flights "you have many choices of airlines to fly to your destination and we appreciate that you chose ours." So how about if Holland America gets with that program???? We have many other cruise ships to chose from and it probably won't be H-A next time. If I get better than the 20% future cruise credit, I will post an update and to all of my fellow passengers on this ship - if you get a better compensation, please share with us so we can use it as a bargaining chip. I agree with the reviewer who noted that we had a lot of fun fellow passengers on our ship which made the voyage a little more fun in spite of the problems. We also enjoyed our "Teddy Roosevelt" actor. He was terrific! Read Less
Sail Date February 2015
There were 8 of us traveling together on this trip. We flew in a day early and stayed at the Rodeway near the pier. It really needs some refurbishment and we had a couple of roaches on our floor so the overnight bag we opened went up on ... Read More
There were 8 of us traveling together on this trip. We flew in a day early and stayed at the Rodeway near the pier. It really needs some refurbishment and we had a couple of roaches on our floor so the overnight bag we opened went up on the desk very quickly. They are friendly and efficient there so that helps and the shuttle to the pier went nicely. The Zuiderdam seemed in pretty good condition. There were just a few worn spots here and there but they clean and straighten a lot so that can be overlooked. The consensus of opinion in our group was that the food is only ok in the main dining room. Seems they could do lots better but since they are catered, they don't have a lot of leeway. The planked halibut and the steaks are excellent in the Pinnacle and the Lido is pretty good for buffet food. The staff onboard are pleasant and helpful which is a positive since we were concerned that they would not be attentive due to the automatic gratuities. There were 4 cabins in our group and all were acceptable to good. We were in a Pinnacle Suite (bought an upgrade when time to sail came closer) and it was huge. We were kind of the gathering place for our group with afternoon canapés and happy hour. We have to say it took 3 days for the requested canapés to be brought according to our easy requests but it did come together. One complaint that we have is that there is not a dedicated phone line to call for our cocktails to be delivered to our suite at happy hour or any other time. We really think that should happen for the Pinnacles for what we paid. We're not snooty and fancy but rather than dressing and running to a bar and handing our cards over for a couple of drinks, why can't they dispatch a steward with the couple of drinks. Oh well, a bit of sour grapes. About the "house" wines, they are only ok but not terrible. Usually we drink cabernet but the merlot was much more full bodied so that became the wine of choice. Their chard was also not terrible but just ok. The general drink prices are quite ok. They pour some really nice top shelf stuff for $5.95 like Crown Royal and Gray Goose. Their champagne is not too bad either. The Neptune Lounge concierges are very helpful. They offered to run for our drinks but we only had them do that one time and then we decided they had better things to do than be cocktail runners. Another thing we have groused about is the upcharge in Pinnacle Grill for the crab legs. Surely for the cost of a Pinnacle Suite, they could throw in $20 worth of crab for our 55th anniversary dinner. Well, we ended up speaking with the head of the culinary dept. and by golly, they did throw in the crab legs. We only ate in Pinnacle one time and the menu is unremarkable generally so we ate the rest of our meals with our friends and family in the main dining room. Our waiters were JoKo and Frankie and we enjoyed them a lot. They got us all figured out in 2-3 nights and all was good after that. We had only a couple of issues with food not being properly cooked (overcooked generally) and that was handled VERY nicely by our Assistant Maitre'd, Sebastian who is an outstanding guy at his job. Efficient, friendly, eager to please without being too hovering. We did a couple of shore excursions through Holland and they were ok. The one to Miraflores Locks Observation Center was not so good as there were parts of the center that were not open. Really, they should have told the groups that they would only get to see some of the exhibits and areas but oh well. We had a great tour of Cartagena with a tour guide we picked up at the parking lot when we got off the ship. His price was about half of what Holland offered and it was much more thorough. We also did a jungle boat / zip line tour through Cruise Compete that was outstanding and affordable. Would recommend their tours heartily. Sorry to be so wordy here. Best to sum it up and say the purpose of our trip was primarily for our son who has terminal cancer and he was well enough to have a great time with our friends though he could not do some of the shore excursions as he was not strong enough to trek for such long tours. It was as sweet time for all us together that we will remember always. We will not sail with Holland again but the trip was overall pretty good. Will go back to Oceania or Regent or maybe try Seabourne which lots of folks have recommended. Really like paying up front and actually, it does not cost any more to do that at least with Regent and Oceania. Hope some of these ramblings will be helpful. Have a great trip whenever you go!!   Read Less
Sail Date February 2015
My husband, parents and I arrived the day of sailing. We took a taxi from FLL to the ship. Nice and easy. Embarkation was a piece of cake as well. We were in a line but it moved quickly. Before we knew it we were on the ship. We were able ... Read More
My husband, parents and I arrived the day of sailing. We took a taxi from FLL to the ship. Nice and easy. Embarkation was a piece of cake as well. We were in a line but it moved quickly. Before we knew it we were on the ship. We were able to drop our carry-ons in our rooms. We then went up to the buffet restaurant. It was difficult to find a place to sit. I always try to avoid the buffet on "opening day" on any ship, but there weren't any other options for us and we were hungry. We were unable to find seating together. The parents at one table and we at another. The food was fine at all our meals. Not inspiring but I didn't go hungry. It did annoy me that my 3 favorite desserts: flourless chocolate cake, tiramisu and grand marnier souffle were all on offer on the same evening. Most nights the desserts were rather boring- sundaes, crisps and ice cream. Although I discovered rather late on that a stacked brownie confection was delicious. I avoided the buffet as much as possible because I couldn't find much there that appealed to me. I ate more burgers than usual at lunch time. We mostly ate in the main dining room for breakfast and dinner. We had the Any Time Dining (or whatever it is called.) We were always able to be seated quickly. The wait staff in the dining room were attentive and did a good job. Our cabin stewards were great. Our cabin was in need of updating, though. We had connecting verandahs on Deck 5. Where to begin? There was some gross stain or rust at the bottom of the toilet. When I first saw it I thought someone had left a little something on their way out that morning!! The tub had quite a few scratches near the drain. The love seat's springs were not great. The table in front of the love seat had a warped and water stained top. The edging of the verandah curtain had come undone. That said, our bed was very comfortable as were the pillows. I also loved that they had a blanket on the bed rather that one of those stupid duvets. The room was quiet. We never heard anyone else- not even my parents who keep the tv turned up very loud due to hearing loss. I found that every single public bathroom on the ship except one smelled like urine as soon as I closed the stall's door. It was really gross. The entertainment, like the food, was ok- not inspiring, though. They served stale popcorn in the screening room. Going ashore in Bonaire was a huge mess. We were late getting in to port and our shore excursion was also late then. At the gangway a huge mass of humanity were all jammed together trying to get off at once. Folks who did not have a shore excursion really needed to wait till those of us with excursions were able to get off. HA maybe needs to be a little stricter about that. All of the staff that I met were pleasant and courteous. Disembarkation was easy and quick. I like that they allowed us to wait in our cabins for our turn to leave. As we left the ship there was a group of staff saying good-bye which was a sweet touch. We easily collected our suitcases; customs was surprisingly fast. We caught a taxi immediately and were on our way to the airport. We enjoyed our cruise but I am not sure that we would go on Zuiderdam again. It really needs to be updated.   Read Less
Sail Date November 2014
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