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7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2018
This has been on my bucket list. Planned a Panama Canal raise 5 years ago, but was unable to do this because of serious family illness. After the death of my husband I decided that it was imperative to do a cruise I had always dreamed ... Read More
This has been on my bucket list. Planned a Panama Canal raise 5 years ago, but was unable to do this because of serious family illness. After the death of my husband I decided that it was imperative to do a cruise I had always dreamed about doing. Only did the 11 day round trip from Fort Laudetdale with partial Panama Canal transit We flew into FLL on Southwest Airlines and stayed both pre and post cruise at Embassy Suites Fort Lauderdale, which is a hotel that I have used for years. Have previously sailed on smaller HAL ships, so was curious about whether I would like the larger ship. I felt very much at home because HAL retains a similar floor plan for their public decks. The crew was very friendly and helpful. After trying another cruise line, I truly enjoy seeing the friendly Indonesian and Filipino faces that are a hallmark of Holland America. We took excursions in Aruba, Curacao and Costa Rica. Enjoyed our visit to a banana plantation in Costa Rica most among the shore excursions. We stayed on the ship during our visit to the Panama Canal and felt we truly got to see lots of the actual workings of the canal. We enjoyed the movie and TV program about the Canal in our cabin prior to our Canal day. A nice HAL touch was the Panama buns and coffee on deck In the early morning. We enjoyed the Billboard Onboard nightly. Pianists could certainly draw a crowd of us oldies that loved the oldies that they played. The only other entertainment that we saw was a marvelous steel drum ensemble “Island Magic” that captivated a large number of passengers. Embarkation and Debarkation were handled with usual HAL precision. We got thru Immigration and outside the terminal just as a thunderstorm passed through. (Welcome back to Florida,) Have already scheduled another cruise on the Nieuw Statendam, so will be looking forward to another great Holland America Cruise! Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2018
We chose this cruise because of the itinerary that included the Panama Canal and Cartagena. We were not disappointed. Embarkation was a breeze. We landed at FLL around 1:00 and were enjoying a light lunch by 2:00. Disembarkation was also a ... Read More
We chose this cruise because of the itinerary that included the Panama Canal and Cartagena. We were not disappointed. Embarkation was a breeze. We landed at FLL around 1:00 and were enjoying a light lunch by 2:00. Disembarkation was also a breeze. We chose luggage direct and were off the ship by 8:30. Got to the airport a little after 9:00. Our luggage arrived at our final destination, BWI, without incident. The ship had a more laid back vibe, We did not miss the belly flop or wet t-shirt contests. Lounge chairs were at a premium on sea days. You could, however, find a very comfortable deck chair on the Promenade deck. The entertainment was good. The B.B. King All-stars were the best band we have heard on all of our cruises. Listened to them every night they played. The shows in the theater were also good. Drink prices were quite reasonable compared to other cruise lines. The evening special $5.00 martinis at the Billboard Lounge were excellent. Food was uniformly good. We chose anytime dining and only had to wait one night. Service was excellent. The Lido grill served excellent food. Seating could be a challenge at lunch. Canaletto and the Pinnacle Grill were outstanding. The tours in Cartagena, Panama City, and the hacienda tour in Costa Rica were awesome. We had excellent tour guides for all of our tours. We look forward to going back. After 30 cruises, this was our first on HAL. It will definitely not be our last. Read Less
10 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2018
We just returned from an absolutely amazing cruise of the Panama Canal. Before we left, I confess I was apprehensive because of some of the reviews I’d read that said the boat was old, that the itinerary wasn’t good, and that the ... Read More
We just returned from an absolutely amazing cruise of the Panama Canal. Before we left, I confess I was apprehensive because of some of the reviews I’d read that said the boat was old, that the itinerary wasn’t good, and that the activities were too few. I couldn’t disagree more, and I honestly have no idea what all the whining is about. Of course, it could be that before the ship was dry-docked last November it was shabby, but it sure isn’t any more. The furniture in the rooms was new, the doors and carpets all appeared new, the public spaces were well-maintained, and the beds were more comfortable than ours at home. That said, if you’re into glam and glitz, huge ships with entire shopping malls and bowling lanes in them, then, true, this is not the boat for you. But what the Zuiderdam does have—and which is way more important—is high-quality, healthy food that isn’t just sugar, salt, and fat rearranged into different shapes; impeccable service in the rooms, dining rooms, kids’ club, spa, casino, and more; quality dance, comedy, music, and magic acts by talented people; almost no lines for anything; and just enough excitement to make each day fun and relaxing. We stayed in room 6017, a balcony room on the Upper Veranda deck. It was perfectly situated for viewing the canal and its feats of engineering as well as the breathtaking jungle canopies filled with toucans and parrots on either side. Our friendly room steward Gede and his assistants did an amazing job of servicing the room in a timely manner and leaving all sorts of whimsical towel-animal creations for our 8-year-old to enjoy. On the canal tour day, we even had breakfast delivered to our room so that we didn’t miss any excitement. (Do work on those scrambled eggs, though.) Our boy was one of probably only 30 kids on the whole boat! Before you decide that this cruise isn’t good for kids, let me tell you how awesome it was for him to have gotten to know the majority of the others by name and be able to play with them in and out of Club HAL throughout the trip. Besides, he enjoyed the Club HAL activities immensely and appreciated all the love and energy the staff members, like Allison and Amanda, put into organizing enriching things for the kids to do. By day, we took advantage of a wide variety of activities. We played lots of bingo, ping pong, and music trivia, all of which the assistant cruise director Alice made super fun, we hung out by the pool, which is the only cruise pool I’ve been in that wasn’t frigid, we gambled on the wide variety of slot machines, and we had spa services. In particular, the hot stone massage and the acupuncture treatments I got from the knowledgeable Lauren Steigmayer were great ways to start the trip off relaxed and healthy. We also took five excursions, two by Holland and three through our booking agent. We enjoyed all the ports of call except for Colon, which was pretty sketchy. But Holland offered excursions from Gatun Lake that made it well worthwhile to stop in Panama. Don’t miss the opportunity to see Panama. You can read detailed reviews of the excursions we took—the Panama monkey island tour and the Everglades airboat tour--on Holland’s web site. The other tours we took were through prestigecruises.com. The photographers did a great job of capturing all our comings and goings without being pushy. By night, we loved having dinner in the dining room with our excellent waiters Dindin and Asep, who were so welcoming to our son. Thanks to the variety of healthy choices, decadent options, and ethnic dishes, we never tired of the food, which we usually do. (I’m on a special diet, so imagine my pleasant surprise on learning that the Lido deck offered gluten free pasta and bread!) The Pinnacle Grill had amazing crab legs, and when we dined there a second time, they were out of crab legs but made up for it with free lobster tail, instead. The entertainment, which I’m usually not too excited about, was surprisingly fantastic. As a former ballet dancer, I’m a tough critic, but I thought the dancers were quite technical and fun to watch. As music goes, we especially enjoyed Billboard Onboard, featuring the dueling pianists Danny and Ian. Ian was so kind to my son, Cameron, playing his requests and encouraging him to stick with piano. We also really liked the BB King All-stars band, the comedian with his dry sense of humor, and the magic act with the adorable Pomeranians. Nick, the cruise director, did a great job of organizing the activities and getting us excited about them. Zuiderdam, we love you and think you deserve this praise. Keep up the great work! Read Less
11 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2018
We chose this cruise because we knew the Panama Canal is not something that many people get to see. We weren't disappointed in the cruise. She may have a few scratches here and there, but the ship is in great condition with cleaning ... Read More
We chose this cruise because we knew the Panama Canal is not something that many people get to see. We weren't disappointed in the cruise. She may have a few scratches here and there, but the ship is in great condition with cleaning and repair on-going but not in passengers' way. Weather was wonderful--not too hot or humid. Everyone said we had the best weather in the last couple of months. We were pleasantly surprised by the food. It was wonderful in all the venues. We only ate in the dining room twice because we prefer less time spent on dining and not dressing up every night. The Dive In had perfect hamburgers and chicken sandwiches. There was a taco bar that we used several times for taco salads. We got the salad bowl and lettuces from the Lido buffet. We also appreciated that there are servers--not everyone handles the utensils at the different areas. The quality was quite good as was the variety. I think I saw more actual variety at breakfast than I have on any other line I've sailed with. And, the Lido manager brought me a cherry crisp that I had seen on the dining room menu! Pasta bar was great. Many kinds of pasta and add ins were available. We had room 6129 on the Upper Verandah deck. Andri and his assistant did a wonderful job of cleaning, bringing ice, setting a mood for evening after dinner, and making towel animals. Zuiderdam is on the smaller side with 1800 passengers on our trip. I wasn't sure about the arrangement of the decks when I got on and started looking around. Guest services is on deck 1. But it all turned out well. We could get around quickly. I always like a promenade deck that goes all the way around. It was particularly nice for Canal viewing. The entertainment was amazing. I think it's best total package I've ever seen for entertainment. BB King's Blues Club, Billboard Onboard, comedian, classical entertainment, dancers and musicians, especially Steel Drum Island Magic, were all top notch as evidenced by the large audiences for each. America's Test Kitchen was interesting. The lecturers brought onboard for the ports and the Panama Canal were very informative. I'm not at all including the shopping guide. That, to me, is always a waste. All they want to sell is jewelry. Zuiderdam has a Navigator app for your phone to use. It's very handy to get around the ship, schedule your activities, and contact your family. I do wish it would ding though when you have a text. We booked all tours through Holland simply because I like the convenience and they cover what most all the tours do although with a bit more expense. For Bonaire and Curacao, the shopping areas closed early so there wasn't much time for browsing. A bit more time in port would be good. Bonaire was interesting for the salt flats and slave huts. I thought we would stop to see flamingos, but we didn't. We saw some but at a distance. Curacao is a beautiful area. Be sure to see the Kukunu Museum. The guides do a super job of showing you how the island functioned years ago. The town is beautiful. Be sure to go across or at least see the swinging bridge. Free wi-fi is hard to come by. We chose to stay on board at the Panama Canal. The long tours were more than we wanted to do this time, but I think we will make another trip and see the other side of Costa Rica. One tour was 3 hours late returning because the canal doesn't work on strict timing. All the deck areas were open to accommodate everyone who wanted to see what was going on. We got to see the sun come up over the canal. You'll want to get up early! I got off in Colon and walked about 3 blocks through a chain link tunnel to the "mall". There was a military helicopeter and a large police presence there. You'll want to stay onboard I think. Costa Rica was beautiful--another reason to go back so that we can see more of the island. We did the Rainforest Preserve. The rainforest is the most magnificent thing I've ever seen. I love the desert, beach and mountains, but the forest has to be seen to be believed. We did not see many animals which was a bit of a disappointment, another reason to go back. Be prepared to walk whichever tour you take. There's a great market at the port with many booths and crafts people. For sea days, there were many new movies in the room. There were many activities to attend and lots of deck chairs all over the ship to relax in. Shopping was all high end except for small things in the shop that sells candy, t shirts, etc. Why is there always so much high end shopping? Embarkation was pretty smooth. Rooms were ready by 12:30. We got on at 11:30 and had lunch. Debarkation was easy too. We paid $25 for Holland to collect our bags and get them to the airport and print our boarding passes. It was worth it. Hassle-free trip to the airport. Customs was 45 minutes--a long wait. If I could have gotten the Mobile Passport to work, we could have saved a lot of time. I'm not sure what the issue was. We will definitely choose Holland again. Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2018
We were advised that Holland America was the only way to cruise. This is a smaller ship which was just what we wanted and the Panama Canal had been on our bucket list for some time. We extended our cruise up to Vancouver bringing it up to ... Read More
We were advised that Holland America was the only way to cruise. This is a smaller ship which was just what we wanted and the Panama Canal had been on our bucket list for some time. We extended our cruise up to Vancouver bringing it up to 19 days in total. The crew were the best we have ever encountered on any cruise line and couldn't have been more helpful and friendly. Unfortunately the ship disappointed right from embarking in Fort Lauderdale. The first thing we noticed was the rust all round the glazed areas, not just the usual mooring scrapes that all ships suffer. The floor of our veranda was rusted and pushing up the non slip surface. Hand rails in corridors were falling off, the thresholds at fire doors were sticking up and frequently caused people to trip. Sections of the decking were either rotting or the steel floor beneath was rusting away. Deck furniture had wonky arms and legs though in fairness some of them were replaced during our journey. The wash basin in our cabin was badly cracked, the shower leaked and ran out on to the floor. The silvering was fading off the mirrors. General maintenance appeared to be virtually nil, even down to simple things like faulty lighting. Wall coverings were worn and shabby. The overall appearance of the ship was of a one time grand old lady in her death throes and her owners were not prepared to spend any money on maintaining her. Virtually every passenger complained about the cold in the public areas. Passengers would sit in the stage and bar areas with pullovers on and rugs around them. The food was excellent with a very good menu and was very well cooked. Unfortunately it was always cold by the time we were served and this was exacerbated by serving on cold plates. This would have been a wonderful cruise if it had been run by anyone other than Holland America. They couldn't even be bothered to clean the glass on the observation deck so the passengers could see the Panama Canal. This was despite their being a decked access area directly below it. They ask you to tell them about your experience so they can improve it yet they don't even offer an excuse never mind correct the problem. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2018
We took this cruise for a chance to see the Panama Canal and all it's greatness. We arrived late at night the day before our cruise and stayed at the Hampton Inn. We checked in online so our room keys were waiting for us. The ... Read More
We took this cruise for a chance to see the Panama Canal and all it's greatness. We arrived late at night the day before our cruise and stayed at the Hampton Inn. We checked in online so our room keys were waiting for us. The Hotel was clean and the bed was compfy! We ate breakfast and took a taxi to the ship about 11am. The was no one in line, we went to the check-in counter, they took new pictures and we received our cabin keys. We only waited about 15minutes and our number was called to board the ship. After a little walk and an elevator we were in our cabin! The ship is in great shape! The Crows nest is gone :( was only negative we found. The Illusionist and John Denver group were the best. Entertainment was great the first couple of days and then was mediocre. The Room stewards, Sea View bar servers and Main dining room stewards were the best we have encountered on HA!!! Day 4:Cartagena, Colombia, too short a visit but Cartagens is nice (Hot always) Day 5: Panama Canal Was FANTASTIC! Day 7: Puerto Caldera (Puntarenas), Costa Rica took a coffee tour, it was really nice.Tour guide was great. Day 8: Corinto, Nicaragua. Nicaraguan Treasures: El Viejo & Chinandega Our tour guide sucked, talked politics, hardly mentioned the country side. The meum was a few artifacts in a small building. Day 9: Puerto Quetzal, Guatemala. Guatemalan Rum, Aged in the Clouds; and Antigua Sightseeing Tour was nice. Tour guide was informative and nice Day 10: Puerto Chiapas, Mexico. Chiapas through the Ages: Izapa Ruins & Tapachula tour was great once again, the guide was very informative and cared about the tour. The ancient Mayan archaeological site of Izapa is allot better than some reviews say. It is from 1500BC. Day 13: Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. Clean and no one pushing junk. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2018
I chose this cruise to reconnect with one of the world's major sights and to see the new locks which were not there in 2004 when I last visited. I also have never been to Cartagena, Colombia and heard nice things about Old Town ... Read More
I chose this cruise to reconnect with one of the world's major sights and to see the new locks which were not there in 2004 when I last visited. I also have never been to Cartagena, Colombia and heard nice things about Old Town which was a wonderful experience. In addition Curacao was a great place to visit. I could skip Colon, Panama and the town of Puerto Limon, Costa Rica. The ship itself is showing its age, but overall it was pleasant. There were five sea days, but there was not enough on board activity to keep me occupied. The staff were so polite and friendly. Now that I am a widower and travel alone I look forward to socializing with others, but I did not find much in the way of solo get togethers. Two bars, however, had a special each afternoon where your second drink was only two dollars and this allowed for social contact. I had an inside cabin which was plenty big for me as a single traveler. It was comfortable and was kept very clean by my attendant. I mentioned to my table mates one night that my birthday was the next and they informed the waiters which got me a sing along and a lovely cake the next night. Comedians on other ships that I have been on described the average age of Holland America passengers as in the early one hundreds, but I found a good age mix among the passengers. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2018
My only cruise experience was with Renaissance back in the 90s and I hated it. Decided to try again, and my sister and husband are 4 star mariner and loves HAL, so we went along. Also decided to go with the Neptune level to increase the ... Read More
My only cruise experience was with Renaissance back in the 90s and I hated it. Decided to try again, and my sister and husband are 4 star mariner and loves HAL, so we went along. Also decided to go with the Neptune level to increase the potential for a great cruise. It worked! (this ship has 1900 passengers, the Renaissance had about 300, so it was a large ship to us) Our suite was very roomy, 500+ sq. ft. with huge balcony on deck 7. We did not see wear on the ship as other reviewers have mentioned, everything looked really nice, with great decor. I love the fact that we unpacked once and did not live out of a suitcase. We left port late March, and unlike the January cruisers, we had perfect weather. I saw rain for 20 minutes max, the whole cruise. Cartegena was hot but the humidity was not bad anywhere. We took a tour through Expedia in Cartegena that was excellent, through the city, down streets full of street art, to the church on the hill, and through the old city. Our guide took us where we wanted to go and didn't lead us to emerald stores like many others. In the Panama canal we stayed on board, having read reviews before we left of the heat, slow buses and long days on shore excursions. Talking to others afterwards, that had taken those tours, they were sorry they had done so. You could see from the bow, stern and from our balcony everything you could want to see, how the locks worked, while waving at sailors on the sand dredging ship in the next lock. The service aboard was great, from the cabin stewards to the waiters. We also left some money for our cabin stewards the second day and the last day, which probably gave us an extra bit of service. That was in addition to the daily charges. I would say the only negative was some of the food in the dining room was bland. The soups were uninspiring and the lasagna I had one night had maybe a tablespoon of tomato sauce on it. We ate many meals in Canaletto and Pinnacle restaurants, and the food was a step up. The Lido was also good, and they have two salad bars that one reviewer here must not have seen. Also the casino was pretty large for a ship, IMHO. We didn't attend many of the entertainment nights or classes, but may do so the next cruise. We did get hooked on Downton Abbey which was one of many many shows and movies available on our huge TV, on demand. Overall a great cruise, we think HAL is tops and the ship was beautiful. Of course had we had 20 foot seas, I might not be so pleased. We will continue booking excursions ahead of time through the internet (not with HAL). And we will be sailing again with HAL. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2018
A few random observations about our rent cruise. Embarkation: Process was slowed by some kind of drill aboard ship. the waiting area at Ft. Lauderdale was therefore jammed and seats hard to find when DW and I arrived. Once boarding ... Read More
A few random observations about our rent cruise. Embarkation: Process was slowed by some kind of drill aboard ship. the waiting area at Ft. Lauderdale was therefore jammed and seats hard to find when DW and I arrived. Once boarding began the process was slow but smooth but the sudden onrush led to tremendous crowing at the Lido. Cabin: Our cabin was clean spacious and filled the bill. No complaints. Some rust on the verandah as others have noted but who cares when the view and weather are great. Dining: We found the service in the MDR to be very good and the food well prepared and interesting. Our waiters were very attentive and we found the number of staff to be an increase over recent HAL sailings. Entertainment: The BB King band was excellent as were the two young performers in the dueling piano bar. These two pianists seemed somewhat limited in their repertoire and amusingly had never heard of Neil Sedaka when one of his songs was requested. To their credit they came back the next performance playing and singing " Calendar Girl" which pleased their nightly overflow crowd. Ports: Took tours in Aruba, Curacao and Panama. The two islands were very alike with a lot of cacti and waves crashing into inlets. Some minor cave explorations. Overall just a good look at the islands for first timers. The entry into the Panama Canal and movement to the Gatun Lake was excellent. We when ashore from the lake with a tour that took us to the Pacific side of the canal and a visit to Miraflores locks. Well worth the trip. We also toured old Panama city where restoration of the historic area is taking place despite some opposition from the residents who fear being displace by gentrification. As we proceeded towards our bus and were passing the Presidential palace a motorcade of official vehicles appeared with lots of security. The window of one of the vehicles opened and our guide shouted "that's the President". Indeed it was Mr. Juan Varela the president of Panama who waved to us and then spoke with our guide. As a result we were permitted (rare) entry to the palace grounds and into the foyer of the Palace where we could take photos. A real unusual end to our tour of Panama Fellow passengers: We made friends with several fellow passengers who we joined for trivia, drinks etc. As usual with the vast majority of HAL guests they were bright, entertaining and good company. Disembarkation: A very smooth process that was well handled. Overall a very good ship and itinerary that we can recommend to anyone considering this area foer a future cruise. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2018
This was a bucket list trip for my husband but I was worried that we could be happy on a ship for ten days. We had also never sailed Holland America so for a treat we booked a signature suite. The ship had just come from dry dock and it ... Read More
This was a bucket list trip for my husband but I was worried that we could be happy on a ship for ten days. We had also never sailed Holland America so for a treat we booked a signature suite. The ship had just come from dry dock and it was beautiful and the cabin was terrific. Just a side note to Holland America who thought it was a good idea to put the tv over the couch? On the plus side the tv had a lot of tv shows and movies to watch. Have since done Royal Caribbean and Holland was better in every way including food and entertainment. We flew into Fort Lauderdale and stayed at the Hilton. Not our best Hilton as they were having air conditioner problems. We took a cab to the 15th street fisheries to eat upstairs and it was quiet, probably better in the more casual restaurant downstairs. Embarkation and debarkation very easy. Buffet was the best ever and we have sailed RC , Carnival, and Celebrity. We ate lunch that first day in the main dining room. Great food there too. The dueling pianos were great and the singers in the Blues Club were so talented. Half moon cay was ok, not beach people, so we should have done an excursion. Aruba was fun since we were there for so long really felt like we got to know the island. We did a ship's excursion around the island, ate at the Iguana Joe's restaurant, and visited the casino. We were probably the last people back. In Curaçao we took the train through town but we should have done a longer excursion to get a better feel of the island. In Panama Canal we stayed on the ship and it was great but I wish we could have done an excursion, nothing offered that seemed interesting. The port of Colon was terrible. Costa Rica was my reason for the trip and we did the Canal boat excursion. We saw monkeys and sloths. Limon did not seem safe so maybe not the best introduction to Costa Rica. All in all a great trip, great weather, and we did ten days with no problem! Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2018
WE decided to spare Captain Mark Rowden’s blushes. The gallant Yorkshire-born skipper of the Holland America Line’s Westerdam had probably had enough after his vessel was apparently, as the late Frankie Howerd might have said, ... Read More
WE decided to spare Captain Mark Rowden’s blushes. The gallant Yorkshire-born skipper of the Holland America Line’s Westerdam had probably had enough after his vessel was apparently, as the late Frankie Howerd might have said, verily thrice whupped by the Island Princess. Yet earlier, the Island Princess had been the butt of the jokes around his own ship. One of Westerdam lecturers was rash enough to show a map, pointing out: “The Island Princess had to go all the way round South America to reach Panama Canal. Yet it was almost on their doorstep in Fort Lauderdale.” But cliche though it might be ... it is still true that he who laughs last etc. So what happened? Well, the first hint of a reprisal came on the evening of March 16 when we were advised by a letter “there will be two ships in port and we will be sharing the same narrow pier to dispatch the tours”. Followed by a list of what NOT to do. So what happened? Although the Westerdam arrived first next day, the Island Princess had thoughtfully and craftily nicked all the best parking spots in advance for their tour buses in Puntarenas, Costa Rica. The net result was that our tour was dispatched 45 minutes late. The following day, on the run in to the Panama Canal, the Island Princess whipped past us like Lewis Hamilton overtaking a backmarker. This meant, of course, they were tantalisingly ahead of us all day during the passage itself. And all the while there was great honking and tooty fruiting of sirens from both sides. Don’t know enough about ship points scoring even after 20-plus cruises to judge who won that battle. They were at it again in Cartagena, Columbia, where the best someone could do in the face of taunts from the Princess vessel was a rather pathetic sign saying: “Our balconies are bigger than yours.” Which was, fortunately, true. We had sailed on the Island Princess in 2015. The morning after our departure from Cartagena was accompanied by one of those freak weather scenarios where the wind was blowing so hard that it felt as though our balcony door was permanently locked. It took a massive heave from one of our cabin stewards to force it open. The floor of the balcony was littered with bits of detritus, including a pair of knickers. That very same morning Captain Mark was giving a sort of “My Job” talk in the theatre, followed by a question and answer session. Given the proximity of our forward balcony position virtually below the bridge we wondered whether it might be prudent to ask him whether any of his crew might claim ownership of the said undergarment ... or alternately, know who the owner might be. Eventually, after a discussion, we decided to spare him any further embarrassment. The excursions themselves were generally acceptable with the exception of the first rather humble one in a very crowded and noisy Puerto Vallarta. But, annoyingly, all the guides insisted on leading from the front at a pace which would have made them genuine contenders for a 10km walk medal in the Olympics, completely ignoring the average age of their charges. We were reminded of that on the very first day when we entered the Lido Market casual dining area to be greeted by a flustered senior woman steward, busily mopping the floor with tissues and informing us: “Please be careful where you tread. A lady has just peed on the floor.” Or the couple who arrived an hour late for an excursion, blissfully unaware that the time had moved another hour foward the previous night. The ship travelled 4,301 miles from San Diego where boarding was amazingly rapid. Less than an hour after being picked up at our pre-cruise hotel we were in our cabin. Praise was slighly tempered when the ship departed an hour late without a proper explantion. The odyssey ended in Fort Lauderdale where chaos reigned supreme and we parked next to a building site. On the way we visited Puerto Vallarta and Huatulco in Mexico, Puerto Quetzal in Guatemala, Corinto in Nicaragua, Puntarenas in Costa Rica, the Panama Canal, Cartagena (Columbia) and Half Moon Cay in the Bahamas, where we might have created a record by catching one ferry out and the next but one back. We admit we’re not beach people and there was no wi-fi on this private Holland America island. And talking of wi-fi ... we were sent pre-cruise data with their prices. The offer of $100 for 250 minutes seemed a fair deal but when we rang the desk to book it, we were told the offer had now been withdrawn. Yes. Thank you. Other niggles: Complete confusion over departure arrangements. We were sent Pink 1 luggage tags and told our approximate departure time. It was just as well we rang the information desk to check something. They then informed us we had been sent the wrong tickets. They should have been Red 1 and new ones were duly supplied with an apology and a different departure time. Plus note: We were were allowed to stay in our cabin and have breakfast there until we got the call. Departure from the ship was amazingly fast, too. It then took an hour to clear customs and and a further hour waiting in broiling sunshine for the coach to take us to Fort Lauderdale airport. Bad one Holland America! Good points: 1.) Sya, the ship’s towel folding star, and his mate Alan were our pleasant and capable cabin stewards. Hope they were happy with their tip. 2.) The courtesy throughout the ship was impeccable. 3.) Top-class live band in B.B. King’s theatre. Fair points: 1.) Entertainment quality rather mixed although we only once used those “bummer” seats next to the aisle in the Mainstage Theatre which enable people to leave without disturbance if the show is a bummer. 2.) We always eat in the Lido-style establishments. It’s quicker and there is a wider choice. It was on the whole, though, only marginally above average in quality. 3.) As so often happens on cruise ships, the temperature was far too cold in some places, particularly the Mainstage Theatre and some of the bars. *The ship was nicknamed the “Westerdram” by the heavier whisky drinkers in Gallery Bar. Not guilty, m’lud! Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: March 2018
We had not cruised with Holland America before so we gave it a try. The ship was quite, the bathroom was bigger than the shower rooms on other ships. There were no lectures or line dancing for my wife during days at sea which if it had of ... Read More
We had not cruised with Holland America before so we gave it a try. The ship was quite, the bathroom was bigger than the shower rooms on other ships. There were no lectures or line dancing for my wife during days at sea which if it had of rained there would not be much to do. The shows were not very good only the ventriloquist was worth seeing very funny. the food in the main restaurant in the evening was disappointing not much choice on the menu, the onion soup was disgusting. they only had one specialist coffee which was on deck 10 no coffee card. The on board shop was boring we had $300 dollar on board spend. The crew were excellent always polite and smiling. Very good embarkation/disembarkation but got us to the airport far too early 8 hour wait for our flight and 4 hour wait to book in. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2018
This cruise represented a couple of firsts for us; it was the first time we had booked air and transfers with the cruise line, and the first time we had a verandah stateroom, both of those proved to be nice additions to the cruise ... Read More
This cruise represented a couple of firsts for us; it was the first time we had booked air and transfers with the cruise line, and the first time we had a verandah stateroom, both of those proved to be nice additions to the cruise experience. As this cruise started out of San Diego we took a risk and booked our flight for the departure day as it is only a two hour flight from home and there are a multitude of flights everyday. We had the quickest check-in experience we have ever had, perhaps because we were later in the day. It was a little odd that some of the online check-in information such as credit card info and the request for twin beds had not come through, but those things were taken care of quickly. Our stateroom was a good size for two with enough room to unpack our things, though slightly more counter space might have been nice. The verandah was more enjoyable and useful than we had anticipated. We used it as a quiet place to read and for bird watching during the day, and for stargazing at night. We were at the stern and just one deck above the Promenade. The stern of the Promenade is closed to passengers during the canal transit so it was a great advantage to have this verandah as it provided an up close rear view going through the locks. The ship has beautiful and interesting artworks throughout, I particularly loved the floor mosaic which was slightly damaged but still very beautiful, although I cannot now recall whether it was on the Promenade or Lower Promenade deck. Some new touches since the last time we sailed with Holland America that we enjoyed were: Lincoln Center Stage where there were 45 minute classical music concerts by a piano quintet five nights a week at 7:00 and 9:00 (and sometimes in the afternoon); EXC Guides, whose job is to tell you how to enjoy the port on your own, not the shopping stops or a big upsell for the shore-excursions, but facts about the country and area you are visiting and practical tips for how to get around and sights you might like to visit (some of the presentations were more helpful and informative than others); America’s Test Kitchen presentations which are a lot like watching a semi-live episodes of the show. We did not attend many of the evening shows, just the Planet Earth II in concert which was marvelous, and an Argentine group which was quite good. The food was, on the whole, excellent. We ate breakfast and lunch (when on board) in the Lido and dinner in the Dining Room each night. We had free seating and went to dinner between 5:15 and 5:45 every night which meant we never had a wait, but there were some long waits for those arriving later, particularly on gala nights. At breakfast the waits for omelets could sometimes be longish but generally not too bad and it was, as usual for Lido on every ship I have been on, often difficult to find a place to sit. At lunch there was a great variety in what was offered. The best were often the asian dishes, (the Indian food was amazing!) but they also offered some excellent vegetarian sandwiches. The taco bar was probably under-utilized and so offered a quick tasty lunch if you did not feel like standing in line for something. The burger/hot dog counter seemed to always have a huge wait, they even gave you a buzzer so you could sit while you waited, if you could find somewhere to sit. Dining room service could be slow, but the food was beautifully presented. There were a couple dishes that I did not like, but most were tasty and a few were excellent, including an amazing chocolate dessert which had a long name we had never heard of and cannot remember, so be sure to ask what something is on the menu if you don’t recognize it. For disembarkation we did not put our bags out as we only had carry-on sized luggage and we had booked an excursion and transfer (our flight was in the evening) so we were in the third group called after the expedited passengers and those who took advantage of the ships luggage direct service which transferred checked bags to the airport and checked them for you. The times were slower than expected so rather than being called at 7:45 we were called at 8:25 so we got a bit worried that we had somehow missed the call, It is the first time we have been on a ship that did not allow persons with only carry-on bags to depart whenever they wished. Puerto Vallarta Took “Two if by sea” excursion by motor Catamaran. The morning was cool and the water somewhat rough. On the way out we were given breakfast and an introduction to the area. We paused briefly at Los Arcos, small rocky islands, to see nesting Blue-footed Bobbies, Pelicans and Cormorants. We then suited up with snorkel, mask and fins for the first stop Majahuitas Cove. Our guide, a marine biologist, led the snorkeling bringing up sea creatures like urchins and sea cucumbers from the bottom for everyone to experience. Visibility was good near the rocks where we entered the water and there was a lot to see, then as we swam toward the beach where the boat tied up, reduced to almost nothing. It was a fair distance swimming and one man became exhausted and had to be towed back to the boat. The water was quite cold and the boat apparently had wet suits available, but I did not learn that until I was already in the water. There was a chance to kayak for those interested. After the water activities, brunch was sandwich fixings, including some really awesome roasted vegetables, more fruit, a macaroni salad, water and juice, and the bar was open for those so inclined. At the second stop, Yelapa we walked through town and up to a waterfall the guide went sometimes a little too quickly as some people got behind and did not get to hear some of the commentary about local plants and etc he shared along the way. It was a pretty little waterfall and a cute little town. We then had an hour on the beach with lounge chairs and umbrellas. On the way back to the ship the captain took a route further out to sea and we spotted a sea turtle, several Manta Rays, and we were very lucky to spend several minutes with Humpback Whales, a mother and baby. The crew put on a fun and rather silly lip sync show to keep us entertained when not spotting wildlife. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2018
My husband had always wanted to cruise the Panama Canal, so this time was his choice. This was our 4th Holland America cruise and it was a decent one, as they all have been, but the overall impression was of mediocrity. The food was OK, ... Read More
My husband had always wanted to cruise the Panama Canal, so this time was his choice. This was our 4th Holland America cruise and it was a decent one, as they all have been, but the overall impression was of mediocrity. The food was OK, the room was clean, our room stewards (Made and Rosa) were excellent, the entertainment was fine, although the Mainstage area was very cold. We also had a problem with dirty glassware in the Lido - something we had never experienced before. By the end of the trip, we were checking every glass for lipstick smudges or dried orange juice! I guess I was most disappointed with the offshore excursions. The only ones worth the time and money were in Huatulco - we went to the Zapotec ruins, which were interesting, and the coffee plantation in Guatemala, also extremely interesting, plus the lunch there was delicious! (coffee mousse, anyone?) They cancelled our snorkeling excursion on Half Moon Cay - they said the weather was too rough!??? - so that was a major disappointment. The trip to the old capital city of Leon in Nicaragua was also disappointing - they coupled it with a trip to the home of the poet Ruben Dario, and we spent far too much time there and not enough time in the small but very nice art museum. I could have easily spent another half hour or more in the museum as we only got to see a small portion of the artwork. It will be a while before we take another Holland America cruise. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2018
This was our 3rd Winter in a row to sail the Oosterdam for our COLD weather get away. We weren't disappointed. Having never sailed from San Diego, we didn't know what to expect. We stayed the night before at Springhill Suites, ... Read More
This was our 3rd Winter in a row to sail the Oosterdam for our COLD weather get away. We weren't disappointed. Having never sailed from San Diego, we didn't know what to expect. We stayed the night before at Springhill Suites, right across the street from the pier. We easily walked across the street about 1045 the morning of the cruise. There was a long line in the terminal, but it moved quickly. We are 4 star mariners, so we got through the priority check in and were seated in the priority boarding area within 20 minutes. They started boarding by 1130 and we were quickly to our room. Our signature suite was remodeled a few years ago, but it was in great shape. Our cabin steward came to check our room right after we arrived. Both stewards were very friendly and efficient. Any requests we made were taken care of with a smile. The ship had a few more bangs and worn edges than it did last year, but it was still in good shape. It was going in for a 2 week dry dock after our cruise, so I imagine some carpet and upholstery will be changed. The crows nest, library area, and Explorations Coffee cafe upstairs was still nice. I understand that's all going to get the new "remodeling " to change it to the EXC area. We always ask for fixed main dining, table for 6. That's what we got and we enjoyed our evening meal. The dining room certainly wasn't full on any night. Our stewards were always happy and very attentive to our wants. We found the selections to be very good most nights and the food was very tasty except for 1 dry chicken dish. We thought 1 bad entree out of 16 night's chioices was pretty good. The lobster, shrimp, and fish dishes were all very tasty. We ate all breakfasts and lunches in the lido. There were plenty of choices and ( except for the final morning) the workers were always quick with clearing tables and offering you drinks. We favor the Asian or salad bar for lunch most days. There was an occasional Dive burger. The evening entertainment met our wants. We don't really care for the production shows, but really enjoyed the comedians and impressionist singer. Each evening we attended the Billboard piano entertainment. We really enjoy the sing along ( although some may not enjoy OUR sing along). We took 2 ship tours which were very enjoyable and they were as stated in the brochure. Our ports were Puerta Vallarta, Hutalco, Guatemala, Nicauragua, Costa Rica, through the Panama Canal, Aruba, and Half Moon Cay. All of these had a quality of their own and were enjoyed. Half Moon was shared with Koningsdam, so it got VERY CROWDED by noon. We chose Luggage Direct, so disembarkation in Ft. Lauderdale was very quick. We were the second group called off, so we left our cabin about 7:35 and were through and to a cab by 8:05. The crew, seas, weather, and ports were all better that we had hoped for. ALL of this made for a WONDERFUL 16 days on the oosterdam. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2018
We chose the cruise because of the itinerary (through the Panama Canal) and the fact we love HAL and prefer the smaller ships.We had done the Canal once before in 1996. We had the signature suite 8094, which was good size. Bathroom had ... Read More
We chose the cruise because of the itinerary (through the Panama Canal) and the fact we love HAL and prefer the smaller ships.We had done the Canal once before in 1996. We had the signature suite 8094, which was good size. Bathroom had a whirlpool tub and shower plus another free standing shower and two sinks. Large balcony. We ate breakfast daily in the Lido, usually at the omelet station, made to order. Food was always excellent. We had lunch either in the Lido or the Dive Inn hotdog, hamburger cafe outside. A lot of time they had "tapas" in the Lido which sufficed for lunch. Also made to order salads. We really didn't notice any wear and tear on the ship because we were having too much fun. Maybe some paint missing in the elevators was about it. Many raved about the Pinnacle Restaurant, which was an added charge. I didn't think it was worth the extra and the menu doesn't change. The Vista, Main dining room, was great and of course, the menu changed daily. We got a meal in the Cannaletto given to us by my travel agent. It was an added charge restaurant and although it was nice, we won't do it again. We had the signature beverage package so no worry about added charges at the end. Our favorite part of the trip was the staff we met in the bars around the ship. They were above awesome. I would take this ship again whatever the itinerary just for the same people. We became very close to them. We loved the Lido Bar, BB King bar, the Pinnacle Bar and Billboard Bar.We loved the Trivia games and Bingo. We used the spa more than previously. I had some acupuncture sessions for knee pain that were amazing. My daughter and sis had several facials and manicures they were very happy with. I used the fitness center daily which was quite adequate. The Crow's Nest was great for watching the ocean go by and reading or internet. Unfortunately the internet availability was awful. i would never have spent the money if I knew it would just be wasted. Their reason for bad internet might be because we were in the middle of nowhere. Last year we cruised Princess, a sister ship, around South America and had much better reception so middle of nowhere is no excuse. I didn't take any of the ship's excursions but my kids did and were happy with all. Maybe we should have, especially in Corinto, Nicaragua, because there was nothing to do at the port. Probably my favorite cruise of all time!!! Read Less
14 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2018
Overall we had an excellent time on this cruise. It was our first Holland America cruise and they did not disappoint. The ship is older (built in 2002), but it is in very good condition and obviously recently refurbished. It is not as big ... Read More
Overall we had an excellent time on this cruise. It was our first Holland America cruise and they did not disappoint. The ship is older (built in 2002), but it is in very good condition and obviously recently refurbished. It is not as big as the newer mega-ships, but we thought this was actually a good thing. Embarkation and disembarkation were both easy and relatively quick (probably waited 30-45 minutes for each). We were thrilled to be able to wait in our room for disembarkation. The average age for this cruise was older than we had experienced on any previous cruises (someone said the average age was 74 but I can't definitively confirm that). It was obvious, however, that we were in the youngest 10% onboard (we are in our mid 50s). Although we thought this could be an issue when we boarded, it actually ended up having a lot of advantages. There was not any crazy partying during the cruise. The pools were usually almost empty and we had a pool to ourselves quite frequently. Lounge chairs were always available and there wasn't any crazy "saving" of chairs that we've had on past cruises. The older cruisers ate early so if we dined after 7:30pm neither the dining room or buffet were crowded at all. Stairways were also virtually empty (everyone took the elevators). Also, after the first day, the fitness center was not crowded at all. We did have to be patient quite a lot with slower individuals and many people with scooters, wheelchairs and walkers. The itinerary was great (and that's why we took this particular cruise). All of the ports were great. Since the ship does not transit the entire Panama canal, we highly recommend taking a tour that does so. You must book that tour through the cruise excursions. We were lucky to have fantastic weather (sunny and 80s every day except for one). The captain said it was the best weather in over 2 months. I'm sure this helped us have a great time. The food was good and was similar to what I've experienced on other cruises. We mostly ate at the buffet as we find that you have to commit too much time to a dining room meal. We thought the mainstage entertainment was average and so we didn't go much. However, the BB King All Stars were EXCELLENT. We wished we would have had more time to watch them each night. The quality of those musicians was the best I've ever seen on a cruise. Service was great - typical for a cruise ship. Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2018
Three couples chose this cruise because it went to the Panama Canal. I have never been on Holland and didn't know much about them, (found out later they are part of the Carnival/Princess lines of which I am NOT a fan but by then it ... Read More
Three couples chose this cruise because it went to the Panama Canal. I have never been on Holland and didn't know much about them, (found out later they are part of the Carnival/Princess lines of which I am NOT a fan but by then it was too late). This ship and the line were outstanding! We are retired, in our 60's and this was the perfect choice for us. No KIDS, you could get in the hot tubs, no belly flop or newlywed games but still perfect for all of us. Very classy entertainment of all types, every venue and show was outstanding. The ship is beautiful, very stately and in great shape. The food was just fair although the Lido does an excellent job in their serving and preparation. The dining rooms are nice because they don't hoard people at the same time, the anytime dining is very fluid and you can always get a table. The food in the dining rooms was usually lukewarm, it might have been our waiter. There are two speciality restaurants and our travel agent treated us to both. The Italian one was outstanding, our best meal. The steak house had cronic service issues. It was so bad they invited us back again as their guests but unfortunately the service was not much better - it took over 3 hours to eat and we left before desert so we could go to the show. The cabins are lovely - we booked early and chose inside cabins on deck 6 mid ship - 6081, 6071 and 6067 - each was perfect, larger than expected, great location and we loved them. I am not a sit on the veranda kind of cruiser, I like to get up and out and we would go directly upstairs to deck 9 and sat outside. There are two nice pools, one covered. My husband smokes cigars and there is a nice smoking section on deck 9 and it was a great social gathering spot. As I said, the entertainment was great. This was the longest cruise we ever took, might not do another this long but it takes a while to get to the Panama Canal and it was worth it! We took the tour through the other 3 locks and I highly recommend it. Don't sit on the ship that day, the port of Colon is just plain dangerous and you came all that way take the trip through the locks. It is a once in a lifetime experience. We went to the rainforest in Costa Rica, it was so - so there might be other better excursions and we did the hop on -hop off in Cartagena - not necessary the only thing to see their is the Wall city and that is great - don't miss it. Nothing else to see in that city. Half Moon Cay was great, and Aruba has really deteriorated over the years and Curacao is nice. The itinerary was almost perfect - some stops, some days at sea, just right. Our weather was perfect and that adds to the experience. Some of the other poor reviews were I am sure due to the weather. If ours had not been as nice for the entire 11 days it might have been a different experience. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2018
I was fortunate enough to cruise many times with my late husband but never got the opportunity to cruise to the Panama Canal. After much discussion, my cousin from Sarasota and my cousins from New Jersey decided on Holland America's ... Read More
I was fortunate enough to cruise many times with my late husband but never got the opportunity to cruise to the Panama Canal. After much discussion, my cousin from Sarasota and my cousins from New Jersey decided on Holland America's Zuiderdam to fulfill that bucket list wish! We were all very pleased with the smaller size of the ship. Easy to navigate with no long lines of passengers waiting for elevators or in the Lido buffet line. Thought the food served in the MDR, Lido and specialty restaurants to be very good with lots of choices daily. I must comment on the excellent service by all staff and crew members. They work hard to keep the ship clean and tidy. We even got our chipped bathtub replaced early in the week while we were on a tour. Enjoyed the entertainment in the Main Show Room by the ship's talented singers and dancers, but for me the main attraction was the nightly performances in the Billboard Onboard Piano Bar by Danny and Ian. They played 3 shows a night, the last one being an all request show, and I never missed one! Very talented pair! Took one independent tour in Aruba with Fantasy Tours and was taken to all the island's highlights for a reasonable price. Ship tours included Curacao, Cartagena, the New Canal Locks and the Hacienda tour in Costa Rica. Enjoyed them very much. Would definitely recommend this ship and itinerary. Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2018
We had done a HAL Southern Caribbean cruise a number of years ago, and enjoyed it; we wanted to go someplace warm and when I saw that Cartagena was on our itinerary, we decided to book. I had really not wanted to do this cruise; it ... Read More
We had done a HAL Southern Caribbean cruise a number of years ago, and enjoyed it; we wanted to go someplace warm and when I saw that Cartagena was on our itinerary, we decided to book. I had really not wanted to do this cruise; it was a concession to my husband who wanted a change from 5th wheel camping. Here's why: we had been on a few RCCL cruises, one of which was a disaster due to the X-rated cruise director and RCCL's ugly customer service people. Then we took an MSC cruise from Southampton, which was bad in so many ways that I really never wanted to take another cruise. Add to that a bunch of negative discussion about the new Explorer Lounge/aka Crow's Nest, and I was filled with trepidation. I'm happy to say that I've never been so wrong! We just had the best time from the minute we stepped on that ship. HAL is a great cruise line in so many ways. The Zuiderdam is really gracious. I really iked the Explorer Lounge/Crows Nest. The interactive tabes had a lot of good information about each port on the cruise, but short so you couldn't get bored. The combined coffee shop/bar was fine - not really too busy to get what you wanted. A couple of things I mentioned on my feedback were that the navigation screens blocked prime viewing real estate and those little stool-like things by the interactive tables were downright uncomfortable; it's better to stand! The regular chairs were comfortable but the couch didn't fit me at 5'1" or my husgand at 6'. However, it was great and a lot of people must have thought so too, because it was always busy. The library was a big issue on the forum board, and I'll agree to an extent. Do we need 20K books on a ship in the age of Kindle? I don't think so; but perhaps a few works of fiction and a small book exchange area would be welcomed. We took 2 ship tours, both excellent (Colonia Panama and Miraflores Locks and Tayurtic Hacienda in Costa Rica). I posted detailed reviews of those on the HAL webpage. The food was good and varied. I loved the Pasta bar in the Lido, and loved the Asian lunch bar too. Service was excellent; they hire and train great people. We enjoyed the open seating in the dining room and never had to wait more than a few minutes. The entertainment was so great. We had to excellend comics, David Pengelly and Dan Chopin. There was an illusionist that everyone loved, 3 performances by the Holland American Singers & Dancers, and the magnificent Island Magic Steel Drum band. (It's worth taking the cruise just to hear them). The only disappointment was that one evening was dedicated to streaming the Oscars. I so don't care so we skipped that. Others said the same thing. Although I'm a heavy Windows user, i took advantage of the Microsoft Windows classes and learned some useful tips every time, and even was able to get into some apps that I hadn't had a reason to explore before. The facilitator was excellent and patient; with systems, there are inevitably people getting lost. (I've trained systems, and know that not everyone can handle it like she does.) She offered everything from Windows 10 Essentials to photo apps and security. She also had a handout with navigational instructions after each class. Something I LOVED but was unable to take full advantage of is the HAL Navigator app which is free. If only my husband hadn't been so last-century and refused to let me download it for him, I would have been saved a lot of frustration trying to find him!! This app shows you the entertainments of the day, dining menus, events around the ship (letting you build an 'itinerary) and best of all, a chat function with other ship people you add (hence my frustration with my husband.) The steps they have taken to modernize are good - change is inevitable in any area of life, and they did it graciously, IMHO. The TV/Movie selection in our rooms was way more extensive than I'd dreamed it would be, and they had some excellent documentaries on Panama that I'd never seen. Embarkation and disembarkation we both easy. On my last cruise (MSC), the disembarkation was a nightmare, so I was prepared. This was such a non-event. Quick Hint - this is not ship related: download the Mobile Pass app (which you'll see advertised in the waiting room for embarcation). We flew through customs on the way out - there was a special line for Mobile Pass people and few were in it. I can't say enough good about Holland America and the advantages of a small ship. For some people, rock climbing is important, but we're a little past that kind of excitement and aren't looking for that kind of ship and the inevitable large number of passengers. There is plenty of social interaction, intellectual stimulation, and relaxation to be had on the Zuiderdam. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2018
This was our sixth HAL cruise and it didn't disappoint, just like all the others. The ship is 16 years old, but I understand it has just returned from a re-fit in drydock. The interior looked brand-new. You coulda said the ship was 16 ... Read More
This was our sixth HAL cruise and it didn't disappoint, just like all the others. The ship is 16 years old, but I understand it has just returned from a re-fit in drydock. The interior looked brand-new. You coulda said the ship was 16 weeks old and I woulda believed it. It seemed everything was new - carpeting, furniture, facilities, new layouts of many public rooms. We were on an Alaska cruise last summer on her sister ship, the Noordam. We could see the differences with the new layouts. The crew was uniformly excellent, pleasant, helpful and seemed to be enjoying their jobs. We always chose the open seating in the dining room so as to meet new people. This is almost the highlight of the day. We ate in the Canalotto Italian restaurant 3 times as we enjoyed it so much. This cruise went from Ft. Lauderdale to Half Moon Bay, Aruba, Curacao, Cartigena, Panama Canal, Puerto Limon and back to Ft. Lauderdale. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2018
My wife and i had the panama canal cruise on our bucket list for sometime, so decided to finally take the plunge along with 2 other couples. The ship showed signs of its age, even though we were told it had recently been in for retro fit. ... Read More
My wife and i had the panama canal cruise on our bucket list for sometime, so decided to finally take the plunge along with 2 other couples. The ship showed signs of its age, even though we were told it had recently been in for retro fit. Some the carpets were worn, and also we had concerns about coming upon water in hall ways and dryers being used to cleanup wet areas. We encounterd a storm that lasted about 18 hours as the ship was hit by high seas and strong winds, to the point that they had to close all outside doors, we were almost thrown out our bed during the night and could feel the whole ship vibrating. The staff tried their best to make us comfortable as possible.our friends had problems with their toilets, and there seem to be many other passengers complaining about the same problem, we were luck and didn't encounter any problems with our cabin. Found the ship small and with limited entertainment, with only the bb king all stars being the major drawing card (they were great), the casino was small, as was the shopping area. The diningroom was the standout, as we eat there for breakfast and dinner, and were treated to great service and food. We find the excursions ok but had one of our main ones cancelled due to a festival. The pool ares were small with one being in an area with a covered roof that was suppose to be retractable, but wasn't functioning properly. Also they were doing repairs to the ship while at sea, painting and in doing so cutting down on the promenade deck walking area, and this went on the whole cruise. We will not cruise with hal again! Also 4 of our group came down with the flu and contracted pneumonia and are still in recovery, not saying they got it on shipboard, but seemed that a large number of passenger had same symptoms. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2018
14 of us book a cruise from our bridge club. We notified HAL we needed a table and bridge supplies and they said "no problem" Had we known they wouldn't supply anything we could have brought our own stuff. This where the bad ... Read More
14 of us book a cruise from our bridge club. We notified HAL we needed a table and bridge supplies and they said "no problem" Had we known they wouldn't supply anything we could have brought our own stuff. This where the bad started. LIES, LIES, LIES after they get you money your just screwed. At one point of the cruise at port the closed the kitchen for hot foods saying the power went out. MORE LIES. There was hot food available for people willing to pay extra. The port times were really short and to far away from most things. Best way is to buy the excursion from the ship and shop on the internet before you go. They DO guarantee price matching. It was by for the best part of the cruise. Sad to say. The entertainment was crap. A talking dummy, ventriloquist. That's the best they could do. One night they even made the crew put on a show. SAD The pool in the back of the ship often got blasted with black blobs burnt oil from the diesel engines. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2018
Excellent value and an excellent ship. We opted for a Signature Suite 6045 which was well worth the money. Room Stewards (Nyoman and Yusep) were attentive and always accommodating with a smile. We had thoughts of opting for the upscale ... Read More
Excellent value and an excellent ship. We opted for a Signature Suite 6045 which was well worth the money. Room Stewards (Nyoman and Yusep) were attentive and always accommodating with a smile. We had thoughts of opting for the upscale restaurants, but elected not to do so since the regular food service and quality were very good. Our Wine Steward, Yohan, was exceptional and most helpful. Being that the cruising itinerary has almost 7 sea days, the entertainment and ship-board amenities have to be good. The Lincoln Center Stage quintet was excellent, and, although we did not see all the stage presentations, the few that we saw were very professionally done. Land tours were good, and the bus lines were not long, given that there were several handicap people on board. The several tour guides that we experienced all spoke with different levels of English competency, which is to be expected. All in all, they were knowledgeable and had good senses of humor. Read Less
9 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2018
10 day Panama Canal cruise Good: - Housekeeping services. Cordial and kept the room clean and neat. Every time we came back to the room, the bed was made. Every evening they left a nice towel animal. - Ice cream. The ice cream ... Read More
10 day Panama Canal cruise Good: - Housekeeping services. Cordial and kept the room clean and neat. Every time we came back to the room, the bed was made. Every evening they left a nice towel animal. - Ice cream. The ice cream staff is very friendly, and they offer a good selection of ice creams and toppings. - French Fries. They are crispy and freshly cooked. Sadly, this was the highlight of the food onboard. - Buffet is not self-service, which is quite good to prevent food contamination. Average: - Photography. We booked a session for the black-and-white photos. (+)Photos are really good, although very (-)expensive. Photographers throughout the cruise, in the evenings, are hard to find. A large group was waiting to take a group photo in the main stairs, and the photographer was no where to be found. They asked me to take their picture in an iphone. We did take a picture a few days earlier at the stairs and had a good experience. - Pool/Jacuzzi. (+)Pool was not packed, quite enjoyable. (-)Jacuzzis were NEVER HOT. I asked one of the guys handling the towels how to increase the temperature, and he looked at me perplexed. Did not answer or acknowledge my question. After a few minutes he came back saying he informed someone else, and that it was going to be turned on in a few minutes... nothing happened. - Stateroom. (-)Smaller in comparison to Royal Caribbean, but the bathroom is more spacious (+) and has a small bathtub! - Entertainment. Magician show was good (+), but comedy shows did not cater to different age groups(-). Music scene was somewhat repetitive and had very few songs beyond 2000's. Bad: - When cruising on the Canal, a few fellow cruisers used their iPads to take pictures of the canal. Let me explain: they placed SEVERAL iPads in front of the glass, blocking everyone behind them to see. One woman placed FOUR iPads (she was in a group with family members, why they couldn't share the video from one ipad?). As in, they just left the iPads standing there for HOURS. Other people were hogging the space in front of the glass, did not let other cruisers to get close to the glass. Pretty sure people's vacations got ruined because of this. The cruise line should have placed a moderator to prevent such behavior. The crew are very hands-off when it comes to moderating passenger behavior. Worst (Really Bad) - Food. Selection is similar every day. Not a great fresh selection of entrees. Main dinning room often offers the SAME items available at the Lido restaurant. Appetizers and soups are disappointing. Most soups are just water with a bit of flavor. Most breads are hard to bite. Most food is bland, not appealing to different demographics (except the Asian station, which is bland too). - Dining service: Dive-In (hotdog and burger) service is terrible. I was ignored when it was my turn in the line, then harshly handed out a pager. After a few minutes waiting I was told to move and wait somewhere else. I did not move. The line kept increasing (they were very slow to take the orders) and the staff kept with a slow peace, and one of the cooks took a phone call! In all, it took 30 minutes just to get a burger and fries.(**) We got a Soda card, and EVERY TIME we wanted to use it, the waiter would come back with the sodas when we were about to finish our food. This happened in both the Lido and Main Dinning room. Food service in the Main Dining room was too slow (waiters looked overworked and tired). On the first day, it took 1 hour to get the entree, we left after 1.5 hours without dessert (we got tired of waiting). - Room service (Dining). What room service? We had to call, several times, guest services because room service did not answer our call and placed us on hold. The second night we thought they were busy, so we waited 20 minutes on the line before hanging up. The issue kept repeating so we resorted to call guest services instead. ** Due to the poor service in many areas, we chose to reduce the "Hotel-Service" charge. It is $15 per day per person. Instead we left cash for the housekeeping guys. My conclusion: Cruise + airfare + activities total was around $5,500. After traveling on Carnival and Royal several times, we wanted a more "refined" experience. Not worth paying double than what we had paid in the past for a similar stateroom. To top it off (not Holland America's fault): The weather was bad. Ship rocked most nights, even when the weather was Ok. We skipped the Costa Rica stop due to weather. Read Less
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