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14 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2018
We chose this Panama Canal cruise because it traversed the "Old Gatun Locks" and were able to get an aft balcony cabin. Here is our honest review: REVIEW 10 Day Sunfarer Cruise Zuiderdam, Holland America Line ... Read More
We chose this Panama Canal cruise because it traversed the "Old Gatun Locks" and were able to get an aft balcony cabin. Here is our honest review: REVIEW 10 Day Sunfarer Cruise Zuiderdam, Holland America Line January 7 to 17, 2018 EMBARKATION: Well organized. After waiting in line, there are plenty of seats to await being called to embark. Total process about 1 ½ hours. SMOKERS BEWARE: There is no smoking area in the embarkation terminal, and smoking is not allowed on the ship until it sails. So many people will have to wait 5-6 hours. SHIP: The Zuiderdam was refurbished. Our cabin (8141- aft) was spacious, immaculately clean. King bed, large flat screen tv on wall at base of bed, a loveseat, table which could be lowered and raised, a vanity, full bathroom with tub and shower. Balcony was deep, with aft view. Two chairs with ottomans and two small side tables. Complimentary robes. Three closets. No smoking allowed on balconies. E cigarettes allowed in the cabin, but not on the balcony. At the time of booking, Zuiderdam had a smoking policy which allowed smoking in the casino. They changed this policy sometime between dry dock and our embarkation. There are mixed opinions as to when this policy changed. Our cabin tv information stated smoking was allowed in the casino, and all literature stated the same. The approximately 400 smokers were relegated to a small area on Aft deck 9 outside for the only smoking area on the ship. During peak hours there weren’t enough tables and chairs to accommodate everyone. We were not allowed to smoke at the bar adjacent to the table area. Our weather was rainy with rough seas for this trip, certainly not HAL’s fault, but this change was ridiculously cruel, thoughtless and demeaning. We felt like we were no better than steerage. I especially note the formal nights where we went outside and came back with windblown wet hair, wet feet and shoes, etc. Needless to say, everyone was extremely upset. People complained continually with no resolution. When I lodged my formal complaint, the manager of customer services did not even know the policy, nor did a ship officer! The manager told me there would be dedicated casino nights but when I asked for clarification, she came back to me and told me there were none and she was wrong! They hadn’t even bothered to change the information on the TV!!! Gambling is my favorite past time on the ship. I usually gamble 8-10 hours per day while at sea. Many of the other smoking passengers were gamblers as well. The casino is located on forward deck 2. To have a smoke, we needed to go to Aft deck 9 outside. As a result, most of us gambled for an hour or less and left to smoke. But we were all so disgusted, we didn’t return back. It was so inconvenient and really ruined the vacation. The casino most times only had one blackjack table manned and sometimes two because there were so few gamblers. Guarantee HAL lost a LOT of money for this change in policy. But obviously, they don’t care. The dueling piano entertainment was adjacent to the casino. At one point while at the blackjack table, I was covering my ears because the off key female singer, screeching out her tune was so bad! The dining room was beautifully refurbished. We had the late seating, deck 3. Let me first say WE ARE NOT FUSSY EATERS, but we do like good food. The food was marginal. Hit or miss. They offered prime rib three times and filet mignon twice, including surf and turf. This was generous. But the quality of the meat was poor, our medium rare filet mignon was so tough, we had difficulty cutting it with the steak knives! We sent it back and the next filets were a bit better, but NOT tender. On night two, I was queasy and asked if I could have chicken noodle soup. This was an issue. I was told they didn’t have any but the waiter said he would see what he could do. He did bring some bouillon to me saying this was all they had…I came to realize it could be ordered anytime on the room service menu though. If room service has it then why can’t the dining room find it? The ship ran out of lemons on day two, and limes by day 4. We were told more would be available when we docked in Aruba. But there was an embargo taking place with Venezuela, so that didn’t work out. Tortilla soup…..their version…beef bouillon with some cilantro leaves, a piece of chicken and two match stick sized tortilla strips….you have to be joking!! The brisket was so tough it was inedible and obviously they did not know how to slow cook it. On day three, I ordered the roast chicken. The waiter apologized for the delay (it took an hour for this entrée to arrive), and when it did, it could not be identified. To describe it…it was small oval shaped, relatively flat, with a pinky sized appendage rising up from the middle of the meat. We joked that it might be pigeon, or maybe seagull. The waiter asked me to turn it over and he didn’t know what it was either. The next night we were told it was the first part of the leg from the shoulder and I guess the back of the chicken. Not good. Potato choices were good on day one and the last night. Never saw a baked potato. We were told some food pallets did not make it onto the ship in Ft Lauderdale….guess that included potatoes and vegetables. Vegetables were offered in the lido consisting of mostly squash and carrots. I never saw green beans, corn, peas, broccoli, cauliflower offered individually. The aft pool was drained around day 4 for a leak, so it was not available. There was a smoke fire on day 5 knocking out tv throughout the ship and forward and rear cameras. So we were “ in the dark” about weather and news and tv shows for the balance of the trip. Wouldn’t be so bad, except Costa Rica was eliminated due to weather and rather than taking us to another island as previous cruises have done, this captain elected to slow the ship down and stay at sea for an extra day. So those of us who wanted to experience the Panama Canal both ways were on the ship from day 4 to day 10. With no TV, no considerations from the Captain, minimal entertainment, nothing to do except smoke and gamble, this was not fun. The spa was great! Best massage ever! I highly recommend if you decide to chance this ship and cruise line. After having cruised four other cruise lines, I can emphatically say I will not cruise Holland America again. Read Less
11 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2018
Our first cruise ever was on the MS Zuiderdam from Jan 7, 2018 to Jan 17, 2018. It was an initiation for sure! The weather was not the greatest to start with and progressively worsened throughout the cruise. After our second last stop in ... Read More
Our first cruise ever was on the MS Zuiderdam from Jan 7, 2018 to Jan 17, 2018. It was an initiation for sure! The weather was not the greatest to start with and progressively worsened throughout the cruise. After our second last stop in Colon, Panama the weather really turned nasty and the ship truly started to rock. The weather was so bad, that the captain decided that it was unsafe to dock at our last port of call Puerto Limon, Costa Rica. So we proceeded back to Ft. Lauderdale and spent the last part of our cruise on rough seas for 3 days. It was not much fun! To be fair, the weather was not Holland America’s fault and we and they attempted to make the best of an unfortunate situation. For the most part, we did enjoy our cruise especially the stops at Half Moon Cay, Aruba and Curacao. However, the cruise through the Panama Canal was boring and if you did not partake of one of the many day excursions offered through EXC Tours then you were not allowed to disembark from the ship at Gatun Lake (there was absolutely nothing there). Some of these tours were expensive and exceeded on average 5.5 hours in time. Passengers who took the tours were picked up at Colon when the ship docked but were warned that the ship could be late because their return time through the canal was controlled by the Panama Canal Authority. They were told to stay within the terminal facilities until the ship’s return for the safety reasons as elaborated below. When the ship did return to Colon, we were allowed to disembark but were warned to stay inside the terminal premises as it was considered unsafe to venture past the terminal facilities. The shopping within the terminal facilities was somewhat limited and there was not much else to do but return to the ship and await departure. Personally, I would find another more inviting and safer port of call. Overall, staff and crew on the MS Zuiderdam were very organized, efficient, friendly and courteous. The embarkation and disembarkation were systematic and well controlled. Our room stewards Nugi and Chris were amazing and were always present should you require some assistance. Their positive vibes were constantly evident even when the last part of our cruise was not the best. I truly wanted to thank them in this review. Servers that also came to our attention were Joel and John Patrick who provided excellent and attentive service - again, making this a somewhat more relaxing cruise. Overall though, I am not sure that I would recommend this cruise for everyone. If the weather was inclement as it was for us, then the alternatives were small to nil with the exception of returning to Ft. Lauderdale. Would we go on a cruise again? – most certainly!! Sometimes you just have to rock and roll with the flow. Read Less
14 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2018
Background: We're 57 and 62, cruised mostly on Celebrity and sometimes Princess. We've done the partial Panama Canal transit on Princess a few times and love the Canal experience. Schedule conflicts meant we couldn't cruise ... Read More
Background: We're 57 and 62, cruised mostly on Celebrity and sometimes Princess. We've done the partial Panama Canal transit on Princess a few times and love the Canal experience. Schedule conflicts meant we couldn't cruise Celebrity this January, so we decided to try Holland America. Pre-cruise: stayed one night at the Embassy Suites 17th St. using HHonors points. This is our usual pre-cruise hotel; love the nearby shops and restaurants and the ability to walk down to the 17th St bridge to view the harbor. The Embassy has consistently excellent service and is kept very clean; the suite furnishings are getting shop-worn and need replacement. For us the good outweighs the bad, since it's a free night with points, but I probably would choose another property if we couldn't use points. This was a Sunday departure and the hotel was very busy both Saturday and Sunday. We used the port transfer service for $9 each; you can charge it to the room or pay in cash. Took about 45 minutes from the time we checked out to the time we arrived at the terminal, around 11:30 AM. Embarkation: Zuiderdam was at terminal 21 since Eurodam was at 26. This area of the port is a lot less congested at the moment due to terminals 22/24 and 25 being empty space (eventually to be a new terminal 25.) Dropping the bags and getting through security on the street level went quickly; check-in desks are on the second floor. At 11:30 embarkation hadn't yet started and the main waiting area was almost full; they did have coffee, water and pastries available. Check-in took about 20 minutes; we got a boarding group number and by that time they'd started moving people onboard. We waited only another 10 minutes and were informed on boarding that cabins were already available so we could drop the luggage right away, which made us happy. We went to make a 1st-night reservation at Canaletto and found it was 25% off. Pinnacle would also have been 25% off the first night. Muster drill: unlike Princess and Celebrity, HAL still has you go outside to your assigned lifeboat station. Although we weren't thrilled initially, mostly because it was 50 degrees in Fort Lauderdale that day, this actually proved to be a much faster, much less painful experience than mustering on Celebrity. You walk without a life jacket directly to the area underneath your assigned boat, have your card scanned, wait for stragglers to be identified by shout outs, listen to 10 minutes of instructions and you're done. Our favorite muster drill, ever. Cabin: We splurged a bit this year and booked a Signature Suite, cabin 8094. It was port side, forward of the aft elevators, and the veranda was on the angle where the cabins bump out at the aft end of the ship. That gave the cabin a little extra space and gave us both a side and a forward view on the veranda, which was mostly covered except for a small section. Except for one year on Celebrity where the Upgrade Fairy bestowed us with a Royal Suite, this was easily the most comfortable, spacious cabin we've ever booked. It had oodles of space, a huge bathroom compared to what we're used to, more storage space than we could use, and we are basically spoiled for life now. What we didn't love so much: it's underneath the Lido Market (buffet) in an area where they roll service carts around both early AM and late PM; I wasn't bothered by it but hubby was. There is also a crew door directly across the hall from this cabin, and the door slammed as crew came and went. Some of them were pretty good about not letting it slam; others, not so good. And, although we loved the veranda angle on nice weather days, we had a lot of really terrible weather days on this cruise, including very heavy seas. The exposure meant that salt spray and sometimes rain coated most of the veranda. On the crappy days we could be out there, on the piece that faced sideways, but we agreed that having the angle wasn't a plus on a cruise with only 2 or 3 nice sunny Caribbean days. All that said, we did love the extra space, the couch, the comfortable beds, the dual sinks, the whirlpool tub, being able to walk around the bed without turning sideways, the USB ports by the beds, the spacious, lighted closets, the many drawers and shelves, the expansive desk area and also the proximity to the aft stairs and elevators. Entertainment: My classical musician husband was in heaven with Lincoln Center Stage, featuring 45 minute concerts of real classical music by a very respectable piano quintet. They also played some lighter programs including movie music, Latin-influenced music, and "Bernstein to Buble". The venue is kind of odd, being largely in a heavy traffic pattern near the "anytime" dining room. But we really enjoyed having a high-quality classical music option and the shows were mostly packed. BB King's featured a 5-piece live band with 2 singers, playing mostly Motown and music of the 70's with a few jazz standards and rock tunes. They also played really well and were engaging, interacting with the audience and encouraging dancing. The only drawback here was the volume level; the venue is too small for a live band of that size and we found the sound level painful, so we typically caught a few numbers and split. They usually played three 45 minute shows a night and in a 10 day cruise, after a few shows you pretty much knew the playlist. Billboard Onboard was wildly popular; two pianists/singers did various themed shows with music from the 60s, 70s, 80s, British Invasion, and several "all request" shows. It was standing room only at the later shows every night. Several specialty acts were good - comedian Jimmy Carroll one night ("clean comedy") and an outstanding steel drum band, Island Magic that played everything from the William Tell Overture to music from Cats. They are evidently a fixture on HAL because at a daytime meet-and-greet a number of passengers said they picked the cruise specifically to see Island Magic. Not sure I'd go that far, but we really loved their show. Another night the main stage featured a movie, Victoria and Abdul, and on another there was a nature film with live music accompaniment which we were sorry to miss. Daytime entertainment was scarce; there did not appear to be an “activities staff” and it was a much quieter atmosphere than our previous cruises, which we’re fine with. There were a few fitness activities, spa “seminars” and some bar and alcohol-related demos and tastings, and some shop and shore excursion-sponsored talks. There was also a daily movie shown in the small cinema. Fitness Center: nice selection of machines, all in good condition. Treadmills, a few ellipticals, several upright and recumbent bikes, a couple of rowing machines all facing forward with a nice view. Usual weight machines, plus a free weight area with benches and a small floor area. There were spinning, Pilates, yoga classes available, some free and some with a fee. There's a water fountain and a cooler of cold towels, along with larger dry gym towels. The only issue was with 15 foot waves, there was too much motion in the fitness center (it's high up in the bow) for me to use the cardio equipment about half the time. But on port days it was fine, and was rarely busy. Food: a very subjective subject but in general we thought it equaled or exceeded Celebrity's in many ways. Main Dining Room dinner menus weren't extensive, but we were never disappointed with a choice, and we found the soups, salads and desserts especially good. Breads and pastries were also excellent. We had breakfast and lunch at the Lido Market buffet daily and loved the fact that most choices were served in individual plates or containers, eliminating shared utensils and the health concerns around self-service. It did mean juggling a number of smaller plates instead of one large plate, but we liked the concept. We typically ate earlier than most - 7AM and noon - and rarely had trouble finding a table. Loved the orchids, cloth napkins and silverware at each table, and also loved how each section had a regular staff person serving beverages and assisting with anything we needed, including finding seats on sea days. Loved the Cannonball burgers at the Dive In, especially the fact that burgers are cooked to order instead of sitting in a tray. Just like Celebrity, they seemed to have frequent mechanical issues with their soft serve ice cream machines, but also had a different hard ice cream selection available daily (and also bread pudding, served by the ice cream guy.) We did notice that one side of the buffet typically had one flavor and the other side a different flavor, so it pays to walk around. Loved the pre-made sandwiches for a quick grab-and-go lunch. The made to order Oriental Tuna Salad was a treat, as was the fresh sushi rolls, and they made a mean pulled pork sandwich. We tried Canaletto and liked the food, and eating at a "restaurant" carved out of a section of the Lido market wasn't as weird as we expected. Although the menu suggests sharing two small plates and one main per person, the wait staff clearly did NOT expect anyone to order that way and recommended a starter and a main each, and a shared pasta which worked nicely. Food quality was good, not great, and the location seemed to require running the food up from a distant galley - service was really slow. But it was a nice change, and they offered 25% discount the first night of the cruise. A note about As You Wish dining: everyone wanted to eat between 6 and 7. That's not physically possible, and even with pagers, the second night they actually ran out of pagers and started suggesting eating in the Lido or at a specialty restaurant. Consequently there were a lot of unhappy people. The key to making this work seems to be making a reservation directly with one of the managers, who can look at the computer to see where the openings are and who have more discretion than the people taking phone reservations. We stopped at the desk on our way out the 3rd evening, had a pleasant chat with one of the managers who helped us book the remainder of our dinners at the same table and same time. We had to take an earlier time than we'd hoped, but having a reservation was better (for us) than facing an uncertain wait time every night. Arriving before 5:45 or after 7:45, on this cruise anyway, would not have required a wait. Between those times really required a reservation, for a table for 2. (That's been our experience on Celebrity and Princess as well; we wondered if it would be any different on HAL, and it wasn't.) Service: Absolutely first-rate. The entire crew was smiling, eager to please and unfailingly polite. We’ve had mostly excellent service on both Celebrity and Princess, but we were blown away by the Zuiderdam crew. Did everyone get everything right? Of course not. But they genuinely cared about getting it right, so even when something went awry, it was immediately corrected with an apology. We absolutely loved the crew, who have now set the bar pretty high for others to match. Ports: Half Moon Cay was nice; rained in the morning and weather was mostly cloudy after that, but we got a little sun and enjoyed the sugar-soft sand and clear water. Had no trouble finding chairs; there are literally a thousand of them in various locations, both in shade and sun. Aruba, we basically skipped. We arrived in the afternoon and unfortunately got the dock furthest away, which required a shuttle bus to get to the main terminal area. We chose to just stay onboard and enjoy the uncrowded pool. In Curacao we just wandered around the shops a bit; this was the warmest, nicest day of the cruise.The "downtown" area is very safe and walkable, and the pontoon bridge is interesting. The Panama Canal, the main event, did not disappoint. We mostly stayed on our veranda during the first transit, then stayed onboard for the return transit and went to the bow, which they opened for the day, until a thunderstorm chased us inside. There was narration both ways, and plenty of opportunity to see the locks from all vantage points. The Crow's Nest was very popular in the early morning, and they served coffee and Panama Rolls (sort of like cheese danish) all morning. We didn't go ashore in Colon, although there did appear to be some shops and bars in the port area and some people did. Unfortunately we skipped Costa Rica due to 60 mph winds and heavy seas, and we ended up with 3 very rough sea days to wrap up the cruise. Overall, except for the weather, we had a fantastic cruise. HAL compared very favorably with Celebrity, and in some ways we liked this cruise better than our past few on Equinox. We'll definitely cruise HAL again, and loved the Zuiderdam and its crew. Read Less
15 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2018
We chose this cruise primarily based on timing and the beginning/end points. Less on the cruise line. Holland America met our needs for our criteria. In spite of all that we'd heard about HAL catering mostly to elderly clients, we ... Read More
We chose this cruise primarily based on timing and the beginning/end points. Less on the cruise line. Holland America met our needs for our criteria. In spite of all that we'd heard about HAL catering mostly to elderly clients, we signed up for a 15 day cruise from Ft. Lauderdale to San Diego. Leaving Ft. Lauderdale, our first stop was Half Moon Cay. Overall, less touristy and was fine for the short time we were there. After 2 sea days, we hit Cartagena. We were there for a half-day. Didn't have time to really go anywhere other than a quick city tour. Honestly, not sure why we visited this port. Would have gladly traded Cartagena for a day in Panama City, Panama. The canal was everything we had heard it would be. The views were amazing and the trip transiting the canal was something we'll never forget. The crew did a nice job making folks comfortable. Seriously made the entire trip worth it. This is where the wheels started coming off. The first thing we found was the hot tub closed at 10 pm. Having dinner at 8 pm made this problematic. Wasn't much else to do after dinner so this was the logical choice for our 40/50 year-old group. There were six of us cruising so we thought we would ask for a little extension for one of the hot tubs. We were quickly told no. The staff was beyond confused when we told them their simple no wasn't good enough and we would like to escalate the issue to a higher authority. This really threw them for a loop. After a fair amount of complaining and 7 days into the cruise, the Captain firmly and finally said no. Guess he wasn't too interested in our opinion or issue. The second issue involved shipboard credits and the communication form our travel agency. It's too long and involved for this but suffice it to say, the crew was little to no help with this issue either. Overall, we found the staff beyond our cabin stewards and waiters to be pretty bored and less than concerned about pretty much anything beyond the basics. Couple that with the fact that everything other than ice water and coffee (even coffee in some areas of the ship were costly) were charged. HAL seems intent on getting every possible cent from their passengers. As I said, the crew was generally not helpful. Not sure if this is the HAL culture or a profound lack of leadership from our particular captain. The ports were a mixed bag with Costa Rica, Nicaragua, and Guatemala being the best by far. Chiapas, Mexico was a serious waste of time. The crew admitted there was absolutely nothing to do there. Again, not sure what we stopped there. Have to say I've taken my last cruise on Holland America Lines. Not impressed in any way. Oh,the best part of the ship was our shower was the best I've ever had on a cruise ship. This is our 8th cruise overall and was the most disappointing when it comes to the cruise line. The rep they have catering to elderly passengers is well-deserved and earned. We felt totally out of place. Should have listened to my gut! Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2018
My husband and I planned this cruise a while back and looked at a lot of reviews before we booked this cruise. Our age group is between 49-54 and we thought this was a perfect cruise for us. It turned out even better than we could have ... Read More
My husband and I planned this cruise a while back and looked at a lot of reviews before we booked this cruise. Our age group is between 49-54 and we thought this was a perfect cruise for us. It turned out even better than we could have imagined. Just a piece of advice, if you are into dancing and being up late at night this cruise is NOT for you. Also if you are traveling with children of any age this cruise is NOT for you. The night life on the ship is minimal and so is the entertainment during the day. BB Kings and the Billboard have some fun evening entertainment that we enjoyed. During the day American's Test Kitchen was good but packed so get there early! I wish they would have given you a taste of what they were making. There was live music on the deck by the pool a couple of days but mostly there was music playing over a speaker. This was fine with us and where we spent most of our time. We read and people watched most days. The ship was on the smaller side and very easy to navagate. Our cabin was nice and our balcony was great! It was always kept clean by our very nice room stewarts. We did not eat in the dining room at all so I can't comment. We ate most of our meals in the Lido Market and the food was outstanding! They served the same food in the Lido Market as they did in the dining room and it was just so much easier picking out what we wanted to eat. The service on this ship was great. The bar tenders in several bars knew our names on the second day and were always helpful. The ports we visited were very interesting and the excursions were all great! Puerto Chiapas, Mexico was the only bad port. If you are going here please book an excursion because there really is nothing to do except shop at the market by the port. Read Less
10 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2017
After recently sailing on both the Westerdam and the Noordam, the Zuiderdam was a bit of a disappointment. The ship had only recently come out of dry dock, but clearly there is a LOT more updating to accomplish. While the Gallery Bar, Lido ... Read More
After recently sailing on both the Westerdam and the Noordam, the Zuiderdam was a bit of a disappointment. The ship had only recently come out of dry dock, but clearly there is a LOT more updating to accomplish. While the Gallery Bar, Lido and Crow’s Nest were spiffy and polished, the ship was dated and shabby in many places, particularly our cabin (4174), as well as both the Ocean and Pinnacle Bar, and most public bathrooms on the ship. Also, the Zuiderdam was just not as well run as the Westerdam or the Noordam. That being said, we had a wonderful cruise director (Saul Orr) and a great time on all the shore excursions we took in Aruba, Curacao, Cartagena and Panama. The Panama Canal was worth seeing, and the doomed rail car to the Miraflores Locks was well worth the cost and time involved. The food was uniformly good and the service by both our cabin stewards and wait staff was excellent, which is what we expect of Holland America. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2017
We selected this cruise because of the itinerary. We have taken over 25 cruises with all different lines and often select based on where the ship is going.This cruise went through the Panama Canal and stopped at some pretty neat ports. ... Read More
We selected this cruise because of the itinerary. We have taken over 25 cruises with all different lines and often select based on where the ship is going.This cruise went through the Panama Canal and stopped at some pretty neat ports. The ship is in very good shape, small but elegant (we always find the HAL ships to be very pretty ships). The food was the best that we have had in a very long time. The Lido had a lot or variety and the Dining Room was really good as well. We loved our waiters, they were a lot of fun. Service was very good and professional. Our cabin was adequate for the 3 of us (our college age daughter traveled with us) and had lots of storage. We used the fitness center each day and found it to be very adequate. The entertainment was not very good at all. There was nothing to really do in the evening (trivia was big and very competitive probably so because of lack of activities). There was a speaker (Ian) who was very good and entertaining. Other than that, we were bored. Our daughter spent many nights doing puzzles in the library since there was nothing for her to do with her age group.We knew that this was a possibility but were hoping that since it was a holiday sailing that more would be going on. Ports of Call - Guatemala -Did a ship tour for the highlights of the area. Very well done. Puntarenas, Costa Rica - We did our own thing here since our daughter actually lived here with host family, so we went to see them. You had to take transport from the port area (worth it) to get into the city.It is a tourist area for the Ticos, so lots of locals. Beach area is nice and people are friendly. Nicaragua - We did a private tour. They picked us up and brought us into the city. Again, our daughter had been here before so she acted as tour guide. Cabo San Lucas - Did a whale watch here - lots of fun. Cartagena - We have been here before so grabbed a taxi and walked around the old area of town. Puerto Vallerta - Walked around and shopped. Half Moon Cay - Nice beach - went off for a little bit to swim We love to cruise and would recommend this itinerary. HAL does a good job but we feel that it caters to much older people (we are in our 50's) so it will be some time before we cruise them again. For now, we will stick to Royal Caribbean and Celebrity (we like the perks that come with cruising them a lot). Read Less
Sail Date: December 2017
Simply put we loved everything about our cruise! The entertainment was top notch. The singers and dancers on board were fabulous we went to all 3 nights of their shows, we enjoyed the dueling pianos, Island Magic Drums, a comedian and the ... Read More
Simply put we loved everything about our cruise! The entertainment was top notch. The singers and dancers on board were fabulous we went to all 3 nights of their shows, we enjoyed the dueling pianos, Island Magic Drums, a comedian and the BBC America Show with the band and Lincoln Center Stage musicians. We were in a Signature Suite-It was a nice size for my husband, mother and myself. My mother has difficulty walking, she usually uses a walker. We rented a scooter for the trip through HAL and it waiting in the room when we boarded. It made her trip much more enjoyable! The staff on the Zuiderdam was always going out of their way to help her. The Signature Suite has more than enough room to park the scooter without breaking it down which made it easy for her to come and go as she pleased. The room stewards were very attentive (although you barely see them). We felt like they watched for the minute we left and would come running to spruce up the room, drop off fresh fruit, drinks etc. and of course towel animals. The itinerary is wonderful and if you haven’t seen the Panama Canal this was just long enough to get the experience without seeming like you were in locks forever. It was just right for us. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2017
We chose this cruise for the Panama Canal full transit, and the plus that the ms Westerdam was refurbished earlier this year. I read several reviews before the cruise about the refurb modernizations, mostly people missing what was no ... Read More
We chose this cruise for the Panama Canal full transit, and the plus that the ms Westerdam was refurbished earlier this year. I read several reviews before the cruise about the refurb modernizations, mostly people missing what was no longer there. One major change, and one I never saw mentioned, was the addition of 4 USB charging ports in our cabin: 2 at the desk and 1 at each night stand. Had I known, I would have left the mini-extension-cord-with-USB at home. At least I didn't need to use it - ever! The other changes to the ship's decor and style felt like an upgrade for me, also. I remember the previous HAL style from trips about her sister ship, ms Zuiderdam, and similar styles on the Eurodam and Ryndam, and while I enjoyed those ships repeatedly none of the changes felt "drastic" or "out-of-character" with Holland America's general sense of class and elegance. The public areas were gracefully appointed and comfortable. The background muzak for some areas was unpleasant but that may have only been our take on it. HAL needs to reaffirm her role by bringing the next generation into the ship and my choices may not always be the most popular or current. I'd rather adapt than see the cruise line falter and loose markets. The food was a better than last year's cruise and that was a pleasant surprise. I expect good food from HAL and am usually only mildly disappointed by a dish now and then. But the current kitchen has surpassed my expectations and on this 14 day cruise I actually was looking to try more new dishes each day rather than resort to those I had earlier in the week and thought were good. The crow's Nest Bar has changed - the coffee machines are now a permanent part of the bar but that turned out surprisingly well, since I never would bother to walk around the corner with the old layout. I read about people missing the library but really don't understand since any time I tried to find a book (since 2009) the selection was never what I expected and I always just settled for something. I was so grateful to start using a tablet when they were available to bring all the books (and more) that I want. I miss the teak loungers on the promenade deck. Those aluminum and nylon contraptions they have were not any more comfortable and far less appealing to me. But I bet the maintenance people are pleased with the lower upkeep for them.I would certainly never keep a teak lounger at home for that reason. We are not big on the shows in the mail showroom. The couple we attended were good and well visited. And the discussions we heard from others on board indication most we're pleased with what was offered. The Lincoln Center Stage was often come-early for seating, and the crowd around the piano duet only got more involved each night. The ports were different for us and while Guatemala and Nicaragua are still industrial ports, HAL does a decent job of getting you out into the countryside. One word of caution - we talked to vendors at the port, and negotiated for a tour in Corinto, Guatemala only to be told we could not pay with a credit card as we were getting into the van. The bus driver would "take us into town to an ATM where we could get cash" but that had too many red flags for us to find it acceptable. Nothing was said during any of the negotiations that the deals was for cash payment. And our concern was that once away from the port, and stuck, the price would not be the same. And again, inside the "hospitality center" that large room with the musicians and tour desks, we were initially told we could use our credit card only to have the older woman at the counter tell the clerk that no, we could only use the card "in town at an ATM" to get cash to pay. Our advice - either book with HAL or book online before you get there. Our cabin service was a good as usual, although later in the day than we expected. I feel that HAL is reducing staff to improve margins and that's unfortunate, if they have. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2017
We chose this cruise because it went through the entire Panama Canal and ported at places we had not seen. It satisfied all those. Unlike Caribbean cruises, each and every port had different ethnic, social and landscape. We learned a ... Read More
We chose this cruise because it went through the entire Panama Canal and ported at places we had not seen. It satisfied all those. Unlike Caribbean cruises, each and every port had different ethnic, social and landscape. We learned a lot about the history of the locality. We chose a variety of HAL sponsored excursions and three private tours. I highly recommend the private ones. The HAL ones were crowded and some were not staffed with adequately knowledgeable tour company staff. The highlight of the tour was transiting the Canal. We did marvel at the engineering necessary by the French and Americans to complete the task. We did NOT like that the commentary by the 'expert' was doing from the Captain's deck was not able to be heard any place but the aft deck, the Promenade Deck and the Crow's Nest. It was not transmitted to other decks or onto balconies/verandas. Since this was for sure the main reason people took this cruise, it should have been. Also noted that daily morning announcements, times to disembark or other information - including emergency ones - were not able to be heard unless you had your cabin door open. We encountered multiple incidents where information given to me by Guest Services was contradicted by information given to my husband. Also many of the GS attendants spoke with such an accent that it made understanding them and them me, difficult. I have nothing but praise for our room steward, dining room attendant and assistant attendant and maitre d. They were always anxious to please us. The wine steward was less so once we told him that we were not interested in purchasing a wine package or even a bottle. Read Less
29 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2017
My husband had vacation days left, and a cruise required less planning than other options. The itinerary included Panama (on our bucket list), Cartagena and other ports we had never been to, so we booked this only 6 weeks prior to ... Read More
My husband had vacation days left, and a cruise required less planning than other options. The itinerary included Panama (on our bucket list), Cartagena and other ports we had never been to, so we booked this only 6 weeks prior to sailing. We flew into Fort Lauderdale the day before, used UBER ($8) to get to the Embassy Suites, which was an older hotel, but clean, and we enjoyed the free cocktail hour with snacks from 5-7 pm, and the free breakfast. Rather than use the hotel port transportation we took UBER ($4) to the port. This was our first time on Holland and we were very pleased. The ship itself is on the smaller size but I think this helped with embarkation and debarkation, and generally with a less crowded feel overall. Just a short line on embarkation and rooms were already prepared and available when we boarded. We only bring carry on luggage so were able to put our bags in the room immediately. Passengers are typically older - mid 40's to 70's and up. We are mid 50's. There were a few electric carts, canes and walkers, but not an overwhelming amount. I only saw 5 children on the cruise. We had late dining (8pm) at a table for 6. We had lots of fun with our table mates and with our waiter, Dewa, who took great care of us all cruise long. We had never done late dining before but it worked out well on this itinerary as some of the port calls go into the evening. Food was very good in the dining room. The soups were especially delicious. Surf and Turf with Lobster was tasty. On the way out of the dining room we could stop to be served butter mints! Yum. We often had breakfast in the main dining room as it was nice to be served instead of the using the buffet on LIDO deck. Food in the Buffet was very good as well. They serve you most of the items. Never ate dinner there, but lunch included asian options, pizza, various pasta (you choose pasta and sauce and add ons) , burgers, pre-made sandwiches, deli where you choose, regular hot main meals, and an awesome salad bar. Salad bar had big bowls where you choose from the lettuce you want and a plethora of nummy items and dressings. You could make a different kind of salad every day! There were always seats available in the Lido buffet, but you often had to share a table of 4 or 6 with other people. Free beverages included water, ice tea, and lemonade. Juice was free during breakfast. Ice cream was scooped, not soft serve, and available in cones or dishes. If you looked carefully, you could find a little brown bag filled with potato chips! There were several mini classes, about 40 minutes each, on Windows 10 topics which I found to be very informative and learned new things. The Test Kitchen had delicious recipes and great demonstrations-I wish I had time to attend more of those. The evening main shows were not quite what I was expecting. I thought there would be more singing/dancing type shows, but there was only one of those. The other were a couple of excellent themed dance shows, a ventriloquist, a magician, a comedian, a nature move with live musicians on stage, etc. While I did not care for the music in the BBKing Club, they had an very, very talented Quintet of violins, cello and piano that were super talented. They played a variety of programs. Also in Billboard Onboard there are 2 grand pianos with the 2 players doing several shows a day. They were awesome and seemed to have at least one all request show each evening. Emily on piano was just outstanding and a great singer as well. She knew almost ever song people asked for. My husband loves his trivia and there were contest 3-4 times a day. I took a different route and purchased the all cruise pass to the spa, $149 on embarkation day. Only 40 passes are sold, so the facilities were never crowed. That got me use of the bubbling hydro pool-really great for sore muscles. It is a quiet separate room with some chairs and chaise loungers. It also included the thermal suite with steam room, dry sauna, wet sauna and fabulous heated ceramic loungers looking out over the ocean. Open 8 am - 10 pm. Loved every minute of it! You get a sticker for your card, and then just walk up to the desk anytime to get a locker which has a lovely spa robe inside and of course a locked space for your belongings. I often read while relaxing on the loungers. Ports/Excurisions: Half Moon Cay-Very nice beach. which you take a tender to get to. Lots of beach chairs. I suggest you walk further down toward the pirate ship. You can even find some chairs with shade in this area. Water was nice for swimming. BBQ lunch by Holland was also nice. Did not choose an excursion. No need to. This was a wonderful relaxing beach day. Aruba - The town is ok, but nothing special. Would recommend you do an excursion. We did a sunset cruise from 5:30 to 7:30 and got back in time for 8 pm dinner on the boat. Nice trip, calm seas, bar open all trip long (no beer) rum and cokes, and other hard liquor, and some wine, and a champagne toast for everyone near the end of the trip. Delicious hot appetizers and local cheese served as snacks. A bit crowded when getting on, but then they opened up the front of the catamaran and that was better. Note: you must climb down a short ladder to use the toilet. Nice tour. Recommended. Curacao - Did not do an excursion, but this is a lovely port to walk around. Path from ship is brick walkway, then enters a lovely outdoor shopping mall type area (shops, bars, cheese, ice cream, free WIFI etc) then continue through and walk out to the water and across the amazing floating bridge. We went back at night across the bridge and sat in an open air bar, Vienna Biergarten, and had a drink while watching the bridge lit up at night and opening and closing as boats came by. This was our favorite port. Cartagena - We took the Cartagena by Land and Sea excursion and both liked it. Being on the boat was nice, and cooler, and broke up the tour nicely. Our guide Fernando was excellent and gave a great understanding of Cartegena. Tour also goes to the fort. It is a bit of an uphill climb, but they wait for people. It also goes into the old town. They have nice clean restrooms to use at an air-conditioned Emerald store, which also has Free WIFI. Next door you get a ticket for a free bottle of water, or soda for $1 or beer for $2. There is also around 40 minutes of time on your own. We went to the free Gold Museum. Small but interesting. Beware: the street vendors are very present everywhere. We found it best just to walk past without saying anything and they left us alone. People that said "no thank you" were then engaged in further requests to buy their items. If you like t-shirts, you can get them for 4 for $20. Nice tour. Recommended. Panama Canal - We did the Canal Experience. This was a good tour if you want to experience the canal all the way to the pacific. It is a long day. Be prepared. Maybe bring a book or puzzle in case of delays. Tenders leave from the ship using the ships lifeboats. Then a bus ride for quite a while - maybe 45 minutes or more-with a local guide giving history. Then board a ferry to go through the rest of the canal and the locks out to the Pacific Ocean. Water and generic soda are free on the ferry along with a full lunch of pasta, chicken kabobs, veggies, fruit, etc. Beer is $3. Nice little souvenirs for sale on the ferry. You may see boats in the new locks. The ferry has to wait to transit the locks with another ship so that is why the timetable is widely variable. Ferry has inside and outside, covered, and not covered seating. You can see Panama City from the ferry and they point out a few buildings. Then you take a bus back from there to meet the ship in Colon. Our bus drivers were weaving in and out of some slow traffic on the way home, but seemed to be quite skilled at their jobs, and the ride was always very smooth despite the weaving. Bus are nice, full-sized, air-conditioned tour buses. I think our day was 8 hours from start to finish. Got back to the boat at about 7:30 pm - again, in time for our 8 pm dinner on the boat. Long day, but recommended. Colon - There is no where to safely go in Colon. You can get off the ship and visit the souvenir shops in the terminal building but DO NOT venture out. We saw what it was like on our way back in from our Panama Canal excursion. Costa Rico- the sea swells were too high for us to enter the port, so our captain rerouted us to Grand Cayman the day after to make up for it. Grand Cayman- Nice town. Lots of nice shops. We walked around a bit, then had a drink and used the free password-protected WIFI at Guy Harvey's. Dont miss the Q & A with the Captain! He explaines a lot about the ship in a humorous way, and then takes questions from the audience. And, don't forget to visit the Crow's Nest on Deck 10 forward. It has comfy chairs overlooking the ocean, game tables, bar, library, etc. Decor is nothing special, but nicely done. We did one of the special black and white photography sessions and picked 4 pictures we liked before they told us the smallest size was 8x10 and each picture was $195. Yikes! And yes, that is $200 per picture. Crazy! Obviously, we didn't buy them. We didn't use the casino or fitness center. Overall we really liked Holland and the Zuiderdam. The staff were very pleasant and always greeting you, the atmosphere is relaxing, the musicians outstanding, we were surprised by the enrichment opportunities and loved the ports of call. The food was very good, the entertainment was high quality, the spa was fabulous, and trivia was a blast. We enjoyed not having the loud, high energy, crazy pool contests or lots of loud, drunk passengers weaving through the hallways. The cruise director made limited announcements over the speakers, but the Captain took time to give us daily updates. We were pleasantly surprised by our first Holland experience and would definitely sail with them again. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2017
We wanted a Panama canal cruise and picked Holland because we wanted to try them. We have been on 7 cruises before this on other cruise lines. There must be something wrong with the stabilization system on that ship. It never stopped ... Read More
We wanted a Panama canal cruise and picked Holland because we wanted to try them. We have been on 7 cruises before this on other cruise lines. There must be something wrong with the stabilization system on that ship. It never stopped rocking. 15 days of walking like you were drunk. The night entertainment was cheap. Sitting through 45 minutes of piano playing by one man. On another night was one man playing saxophone for 45 minutes. A comedian that was so bad my wife and I left. One good night was a ventriloquist. He was funny. The food for lunch at the buffet was a different way to cook chicken for 6 days or how many different ways are there to serve fish. Very boring. Asian cooking also left us amused. Cashew chicken with no cashews. Sweet and sour pork was bad. Brisket that you could not chew. Tomato soup with barley that didn't taste like tomato and in the cup were only 14 pieces of barley my wife had 17. The food for dinner in the dining room was good though. Other ships we have been on have pool side entertainment. Like ice carving, or dance contests, house races. Pool games. Not this cruise, not a thing. So boring that my wife and I put together jig saw puzzles. The end was that they charge you $13.50 per person per day for hotel services. For what? That is the first time we have seen that. We will never go on another Holland cruise. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2017
We chose this cruise because it would cover the Thanksgiving Holiday. We have already done a Panama Canal trip but had not gone all the way to the Pacific Side. Embarkation was a a surpprising "snap" The ship was in excellent ... Read More
We chose this cruise because it would cover the Thanksgiving Holiday. We have already done a Panama Canal trip but had not gone all the way to the Pacific Side. Embarkation was a a surpprising "snap" The ship was in excellent condition for a ship the age of this one. and very clean The food was good,with nice menus. The Lido was not terrific for any meal accept for breakfast. The thing we noticed most from past trips with Holland was the lack of music in the bars at cocktail time,as well as very little live music around the ship during the day. The crows nest seemed to have a continuous tape that played over and over. Entertainment other than the HAL group was mediocre at best. Fresh flowers were hardly seen. As always the crew and all servers could not have been nicer. Beverages seemed to be priced fairly. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2017
I am submitting the latest laundry package options for Oosterdam. I hope you find it helpful. These prices were current as of November 2017. Many times, laundry was returned clean in 12 hours, some times less. We had no issues with the ... Read More
I am submitting the latest laundry package options for Oosterdam. I hope you find it helpful. These prices were current as of November 2017. Many times, laundry was returned clean in 12 hours, some times less. We had no issues with the quality of the laundry service. I will say that my entire family enjoyed the cruise very much. The Panama Canal was amazing. The staff was great and attentive. The food was wonderful and tasty and convenient. On our return home, more than once we sat around the table, after dinner, wondering when someone would serve us dessert! Just kidding... We do miss having dessert every night. The pools were not suited for swimming laps but that's no problem since we disembarked and swam at multiple beaches. The rooms were quite comfortable. I did have some bug bites, which I believe were in my bed. However, my wife who slept in the same bed, did not have any bites. Go figure. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2017
Let's get the rotten things out of the way first: Not just a late embarkation, but vague, smarmy excuses instead of real information. No library. At all. Except for a very few "give and takes." Beware of chocolate ... Read More
Let's get the rotten things out of the way first: Not just a late embarkation, but vague, smarmy excuses instead of real information. No library. At all. Except for a very few "give and takes." Beware of chocolate cheesecake. One version is good. The other is a layer of wet cake on top of a layer of dry cake, both approximately chocolate. Oh, dear. Probably not HAL's fault but in Puerto Quetzel, we had to take a 20 minute school bus shuttle ride to exit the port by way of the shops when another exit was two minutes away. UHT Milk. Gravy. Only the lamb gravy is any good anymore but less weight to gain. Cushions on Lido deck chairs often wet. Chairs would dry faster without them and were comfortable when we flipped away the wet cushions. Maybe skip the cushions in rainy climates if not willing to keep bringing them in when it rains. The lentil soup. I thought it was burnt. My husband said it was just bad. No running deck; it must have been replaced by the new cabins on 10. This means runners and walkers are both trying to share the deck. Rather damages a nice quiet stroll to have runners zooming up behind you and not ideal for them having to veer, slow down and dodge. They sent hundreds and hundreds of non Americans all at the SAME time to the SAME place to get our passports stamped. It was so unnecessary, tedious and thoughtless. Disembarkation wasn't great either. They were quite adamant that all expedited passengers carrying their own baggage leave within the same half hour, which was silly, officious and inefficient. This caused traffic jams and elevator waits in the terminal. Greedy things: Westerdam has a charge for the Thalassotherapy pool and the cabanas on ten. So they were never used. Hoping to collect a couple thousand dollars, HAL lost two valuable selling points to future cruisers. They have changed the internet deal. No more packages of minutes. You must buy the "all you can use" plan either for a day or for the whole trip. This makes emailing home for word on children, sick, elderly or disabled family members and friends impossible or expensive. Another disincentive to cruise with HAL. There were lots of good and wonderful things: Almost NO smoking. Only on one half of the back Lido deck. The cutlery is already on the tables, except the back Lido deck. Sometimes glasses and cups are, too. Inside the Lido, that is. Sometimes the Lido staff come around with coffee, water, juice. If they don't offer what you want, you can say that you wanted water/juice/whatever and sometimes they will bring you that. I makes life without a tray somewhat easier. And it is civilized. They actually put ice in the ice bucket in the cabin. So useful for water bottles. We have an insulated water bottle that goes into an insulated carrier that's invaluable on hot days. Sometimes they didn't jam everyone into one tight corner of the Main Dining Room for lunch or tea. Breathing space is so lovely. The Main Dining Room now has the best acoustics at sea. They haven't carved off half of one floor for suites passengers like Celebrity and they have put a sort of circular acrylic wall around the "pit"' area. This means you can talk quite softly to your dinner mate and it is just beyond wonderful. The walking deck. It goes all the way around like good walking decks should. Three laps to the mile. They didn't close it off again and again as often happens on cruises. AND there were multiple drinking fountains. A wise, courteous and delightful touch. The day we went through the canal they opened up the bow sections on decks 4,5 and 6. This really helped reduce the crowding of people wanting to see ahead. Crab cakes in MDR Persimmon, star fruit, plums and passion fruit all appeared in the Lido. Never waiting for an elevator. The waiter. Our waiter Sukirman was wonderful. Efficient, pleasant, knowledgeable. The Diabetic: The bread basket buns are yummy, so be warned. Take a room at the front of the boat like we did and you will walk at least a mile just getting to meals and back. All of the sugar free tortes are terrific. And so is the sugar free kiwi Pavlova. The rest are just ok. The ice cream area is usually closed, unmanned or lacking sugar free ice cream. When the staffer WAS there I am not convinced they understood what "sugar free" meant, and the sugar free is always grainy and frozen and melted too many times so it's no good anyway. Save the calories. Good news, though, the chocolate chip cookies are small and good. There is no sugarfree drink except black tea, coffee or water. Squeeze a lemon wedge and add sweetener for lemonade. Bring baggies from home each with a teaspoon of cocoa powder. Mix with cream and sweetener, likely three sweeteners, then top up with hot water. The waffles are often cold, not very good anyway and they dole out whipped cream by the level teaspoon. Save the calories and don't bother. The sugarfree chocolate chip muffin was messy but pretty tasty. The flourless chocolate cake is so delicious it is evil for diabetics. I ate most of it anyway and it was my one splurge. Plan to walk a few laps of the deck to burn it off. Peanut butter was easy to find and plentiful for morning protein if you don't want bacon, eggs etc. The omelettes were good, never raw in the middle. Crab and avocado were both offered as add ins. They did offer plain yoghurt that wasn't too high in sugar. I added Splenda and fruit which helped a lot. Sort of. Cottage cheese if often offered across from the beverage stations. Oddly they often sprinkle cinnamon on it. Another protein choice for breakfast after I scraped off the cinnamon. The MDR main courses are no longer too big. I skipped whatever carb they put on the plate so I could have a brown bun from the bread basket. This worked pretty well for me. I was able to eat pretty well and get lots of wholesome exercise on the Westerdam. All things considered, I would probably do Westerdam again, but I would bring more books and resign myself to it's inadeqacies in advance. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: November 2017
We booked this cruise just 4 weeks prior to sailing because it was the 2nd half of a back to back. We enjoyed the ports, but had been to most of them multiple times. • Ship information o The ship was is in great shape, everything ... Read More
We booked this cruise just 4 weeks prior to sailing because it was the 2nd half of a back to back. We enjoyed the ports, but had been to most of them multiple times. • Ship information o The ship was is in great shape, everything worked and all public areas were kept very clean. There are plenty of places for quiet alone time and small group board games. • Activities o I loved the Americas Test Kitchen as a man who, at 55 is just learning to cook. The demonstrations by professional chefs are fantastic. The Trivia sessions are good, as expected, some folk take it way too seriously. But the cruise director kept a tight rein on it. • Service o Everyone is very helpful and friendly. • Travel to embarkation port o Unless you are the person who needs to be 1st on the ship, wait an hour until after embarkation begins, the wait is so much shorter and the buffet is still open. Unless you have a suite, those folk go straight to the front of the line. As we were already on the ship the in Transit system was poorly organized. According to others, there was a huge delay in boarding due to the immigration checks taking longer than expected. We zoomed to the front of the line passed upset onlookers at about 3:30 or so. • Dining o We had 8 pm dining at a large table every cruise. Every time we have enjoyed our tablemates as they turn into good friends. The main dining room is spacious and well tended. The staff was very receptive to our needs and wants. The food is good to great. The selection is adequate. • Entertainment o The BB King band was excellent. Great energy and great variety of classic R&B. The shows were good. The variety was adequate and for those who take the time to review the “When and where” pamphlet everyday, keeping busy is not a problem. • Disembarkation o We walked off the ship with our luggage which saves a lot of hassle IMHO, but I get those that do not. San Diego is a great port as all the transportation options are very close bye. We chose to walk to the train station 2 blocks away and everything went smooth except for my oversized bag that Amtrak charged me $20 to carry on. • Summary Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2017
2nd time around exact same cruise 4 years apart, after the first we knew we loved the ship, the company the itinerary, planned the 2nd trip, picked the aft cabin on purpose to cruise the canal with a wonderful view...however, first week ... Read More
2nd time around exact same cruise 4 years apart, after the first we knew we loved the ship, the company the itinerary, planned the 2nd trip, picked the aft cabin on purpose to cruise the canal with a wonderful view...however, first week out of dry dock, boarded the ship (3 hours later than scheduled) and pool deck above our cabin closed the first 2 days, sanding and resealing the deck and pool full of deck chairs and tables no bar, again choice of our cabin was for location to pool deck buffet and ability to use outside balcony for canal transit. all work done on pool deck ended up on our balcony, welding rods, dirt and debris daily--10 day trip able to enjoy the balcony 4, if this was not bad enough there was no air conditioning in our cabin the entire trip, when we spoke with the hotel management never got a answer other than we are trying. our room steward finally went to his cabin and brought us up his personal fan to help, we had to sleep with our cabin door open the first 3 nights of the trip to get a little relief, plumbing issues all over the ship , loud drying fans all day and all night, next to last day of cruise, they closed the pool deck again to finish the wood areas of the bar, again should have been done in dry dock, wood stools still tacky the next day so could not sit at bar but wish someone had said something before we did...you get the picture leaving the ship the same confusion and disorganization as getting on, just was not ready for the full cruise of passengers, really disappointed not in itinerary but the company and the way they did NOT handle our issues Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2017
We always wanted to see the Panama Canal, and it was amazing considering it was built so many years ago, and there are few changes. However, the ports left much to be desired. Most were industrial so you had to take a shuttle bus, or ... Read More
We always wanted to see the Panama Canal, and it was amazing considering it was built so many years ago, and there are few changes. However, the ports left much to be desired. Most were industrial so you had to take a shuttle bus, or walk a distance to get out of the industrial area. I walked into Nicaragua and walked three blocks and returned to the ship. It is dirty port with more street vendors then you can imagine. Cartagena is all grown up, but very crowded. The ship is tired..but clean, and the housekeeping service is wonderful. They kept it clean, and were available for all needs. The food is only average. Canaletto has some of the most gregarious staff, and the food was good. We did not go to Pinnacle this time as we have done it other times, and it is good, but over priced in my opinion. They have a hamburger/hot dog bar that is great with the best french fries! The food in the dining room was good, and the staff was excellent. A wine steward made wonderful origami for me after each meal. Would I take a trip again with this many days at sea? No, but I am a sightseer. We did enjoy our trip from Boston to Montreal, and the Alaska cruise. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2017
I normally don't write reviews anymore, but having just read two reviews rating their Panama Canal cruises as average, I feel I need to give my opinion to help bring the average up to where it belongs. The ship is not ... Read More
I normally don't write reviews anymore, but having just read two reviews rating their Panama Canal cruises as average, I feel I need to give my opinion to help bring the average up to where it belongs. The ship is not "tired" as one reviewer said, in my opinion of course. The ship is in great shape. The food is "good but not excellent" one reviewer said. That can be said about almost every cruise and cruise line. This was my 37th cruise so I do have many with which to compare. There were many activities on board to keep one involved during the days and evenings. During the evening there was a quartet playing classical music, a couple at two pianos playing and singing popular music as well as the main shows, movies and the casino. The enrichment speaker and the Panama Canal movies were excellent. The cruise director, TJ, and his assistant Francisco were excellent, friendly and good humored. They were the only cruise director staff on this cruise so they had a lot to do. The trivia games were well attended and varied, being competitive and fun. The evening main shows were the best I have encountered on recent cruises. The ports were not very exciting to me but that is to be expected traveling from San Diego to Fort Lauderdale. we did take a tour to San Jose, Costa Rica, and tour old town Cartagena, Columbia. It was the transit of the Panama Canal that was the feature of the cruise. We were well informed before entering the canal by the enrichment speakers and movies so we were prepared to see the highlights. There was a running narration as we progressed through the canal which also helped. Overall it was a wonderful cruise on a great ship. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2017
If you are a family of 4 in a stateroom make sure 2 of the people are contortionists. The bunk bed is 2 feet from top of lower bed and covers half the bed length so at 73 getting our of bed a couple times a night was difficult. Also at ... Read More
If you are a family of 4 in a stateroom make sure 2 of the people are contortionists. The bunk bed is 2 feet from top of lower bed and covers half the bed length so at 73 getting our of bed a couple times a night was difficult. Also at least one of us woke up the others banging our heads on the top bunk as we turned over in bed. Best to take your bike helmet. We asked to change rooms but they said all their staterooms are like that. Who designed that??? Air conditioner was very loud but they did fix that. Buffet and Asian restaurant (extra $25US per person) was very good. At least 20 minutes at the counter to get checked in after a 2 hour wait in waiting room. Buffet closed for lunch so people were a little hungry and grumpy. Only ship in port. Great kids clubs. Lots of hot tubs and they left the pool open when it was a big rocky ... that was fun. Photos not delivered as promised so delay getting off the ship trying to track them down. Great staff. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2017
We embarked in a timely manner in Vancouver....a retired couple on our 15th cruise, mostly on HAL and Royal Caribbean. This was a 19 day Panama Canal cruise from Vancouver to Ft. Lauderdale. There was some rocking of the ship for 2 days, ... Read More
We embarked in a timely manner in Vancouver....a retired couple on our 15th cruise, mostly on HAL and Royal Caribbean. This was a 19 day Panama Canal cruise from Vancouver to Ft. Lauderdale. There was some rocking of the ship for 2 days, until we got to San Francisco, but we were never uncomfortable. The dock area in San Francisco is a short walk to Fisherman's Wharf. We stopped at Trader Joe's and Goodwill to pick up some things we forgot. This is an easy stroll from any of the piers that HAL uses. Tourist information, taxis, restaurants are all easily available. The sailaway from San Francisco is exotic! In Puerto Vallarta we shopped in the Walmart and shopping center across the street from the pier. Free wireless in available there and you will see groups of staff members with their tablets, taking advantage of the free connection. In Puerto Chiapas, Mexico all shore excursions were cancelled. Parents and children had constructed a picket line at the port entrance, demanding timely repairs of their schools after a recent earthquake. Bravo to all the citizens who felt so strongly about public education. Bravo to HAL for respecting this picket line. Some passengers walked to town to explore. (Bad form for guests in a foreign country.) In Puerto Quetzal, Guatemala we took advantage of the free ship shuttle to the local market. This was the best place on our cruise that we found to purchase authentic "souvenirs"...and at the best prices. We met several Guatemala families and other merchants at the market. Recommended purchases include handwork like aprons, tea caddies, linens, bags or handbags. We found it easy to interact with the sellers and they were all respectful. In Corinto, Nicaragua we selected the tour of the banana plantation. I highly recommend this tour for its authenticity. It is not sleek, smooth or sophisticated. You get the real meal deal. You ride through the countryside, viewing the livestock and other vehicles that are abundant on the road. The presenters are sincere and thorough. I will never again take a banana for granted! In Puerto Caldera, Costa Rica we chose the excursion to the coffee plantation. Again the trip was as exciting as the plantation tour. The vehicular traffic is a contrast to the Nicaraguan road trip. There were more cars and fewer walkers, bicycles or cycle vehicles . The coffee plantation includes the whole process from the bean to the cup. The skyline of Panama City is exquisite! The commentary while transiting the Panama Canal is well done, as are the lectures and documentaries available on the ship. The Eurodam has big screen tv's in the balcony staterooms so I was outside on the balcony while the big screen tv projected the scene taken by the camera on the bow of the ship. Best view(s) possible. Cartagena, Colombia was hot and humid but worth the excursion that the ship offered. We felt that the cruise was long enough for us and we welcomed the opportunity to disembark in Florida. The Eurodam was at capacity for this cruise and it made for discomfort throughout the voyage. We were NEVER able to find a window table in the Lido. For some meals we were unable to find a table at all and we had to eat later, when the crowds had thinned. When we went to the shows in the evening it was necessary to go 30 minutes prior in order to get a good seat. The dining room waiters were rushed off their feet and the dining room had an atmosphere of haste about it. I attended over a dozen classes by the Microsoft presenter. There were only 20 computers so it was necessary to get in the lineup for the class at least 30 minutes prior. The lecture for the Panama Canal was standing room only and was delayed while the staff brought in extra chairs. The American Test Kitchen classes were over subscribed and you had to get there again, much ahead of time, in order to get a seat. Even the Trivia Contests were overcrowded and after the first day I felt it just was not worth the effort of getting to the Crow's Nest 30 minutes prior. There were no yoga, fitness or zumba classes offered unless you count the meditation at the pool at 7:00 AM. But let me end with my greatest concern: It Was Hot, It Was Cold. it seems odd to me that it is possible to put a man on the moon, yet we can't get the heat from one end of the Eurodam to the other. As I walked the length of the ship from the dining room to the show room, I would pass through 5 distinct atmospheric areas. The air was hot, then it was just right, then it was too hot, by the time I got to the show room, it was cold again. I had to constantly wear a scarf on my shoulders, then take it off, then put it on again. Seniors have trouble with their interior climate,making it difficult to adjust to quickly changing temperature extremes. This was our second cruise on the Eurodam and I would carefully consider how to dress if I were to take a third voyage. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2017
We hadn't cruised with Holland America for several years with the last one a 14 day Alaska cruise on the old Statendam. Leaving from the port of Vancouver was a plus for us as it was a short flight before embarking the ship. Things ... Read More
We hadn't cruised with Holland America for several years with the last one a 14 day Alaska cruise on the old Statendam. Leaving from the port of Vancouver was a plus for us as it was a short flight before embarking the ship. Things have certainly changed over the years and not all of them for the worse. Embarkation was acceptable and we were able to get to our cabin in the early afternoon and our luggage arrived shortly thereafter. We opted for a balcony stateroom and thought it was plenty big and spacious for our needs. The bathroom was nice with a bathtub and shower combo. We also like the large flat screen TV on the wall. We tried to use the fitness centre as much as possible and unfortunately it doesn't have a rowing machine, but there are plenty of treadmills and elipticals. The food on board was quite nice and we especially enjoyed the salad bar on the lido. We had open dining time and our dinners in the MDR were quite good, albeit service was a bit slow and so one had to be patient. We didn't make it to the MDR for breakfast as we tend to eat light for breakfast - fresh fruit and yogurt - so the lido was sufficient for us. We tried all three of the specialty restaurants with the Tamarind being my favorite. The tiramisu dessert at the the Canaletto was delicious. At the Pinnicle Grill we ordered the halibut and sadly it was overlooked; however, we told our waiter and the maitre d' hurried over and they were intent on correcting this by ordering us another one. Unfortunately we ended up waiting awhile for our dinner but second time around the fish was cooked lovely. We did enjoy the lovely coffee and espressos in the Pinnicle Grill. The coffee in the Explorations Cafe was not brewed strong enough for us. We did enjoy happy hour in the Crow's nest bar most days from 4 to 5 pm, although the appetizers they served were largely deep fried so a pass for us. The Lincoln Centre Stage performances were wonderful, albeit you had to get there early for a decent seat. My husband rarely missed a performance. The shows in the main stage theatre were mostly very good. We spent a few sea days lounging around the pool on the Lido deck and didn't have too much trouble getting a couple of loungers. But the ship seems to lack in open spaces and walking through the lido deck was tight as you tried to manoeuvre around the tables and chairs and posts. One thing we did notice was how quiet the ship was (unlike Carnival ships!!!), which we enjoyed. But there weren't many activities to partake in onboard the ship during the daytime. We only did one shore excursion in Costa Rica - zip lining through a rain forest. The excursion was for 3 hours and we finished up after about 2 hours, but they had a sit around for 1/2 an hour before we were able to get back on the bus and return to the ship - I don't think they wanted us to get back early for some reason!!! We opted to carry off our luggage early in the morning when we disembarked in Fort Lauderdale and we quite liked this option as we were quickly off the ship and able to get a taxi to the airport without any waiting. Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2017
Always wanted to do the Panama cruise,Glad to choose H.American ,they were the best period! lots of good food(I mean a lots and plenty of food .The staff were excellent,hard working people.The tours were good little too high in price for ... Read More
Always wanted to do the Panama cruise,Glad to choose H.American ,they were the best period! lots of good food(I mean a lots and plenty of food .The staff were excellent,hard working people.The tours were good little too high in price for what you get.food on salty side but good.the entertainment great.the staff were busy clean all the time.embarkment was quick and dis embarkment was even better and quick and organized.Library needed more books and short excursions needed a colour map handed a day before! and once off the ship good signage for the buses.Since impossible to keep balcony glass clean supply each room with a squeegee .so we eat the best, had fun watching entertainment,Please stronger coffee is needed. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2017
We spent approximately 2100.00 $ for two to experience shore excursions. What was stated online was not what we received for most of our excursions. We felt lied to. By day 3 we complained and it fell on deaf ears. By week 2 we ... Read More
We spent approximately 2100.00 $ for two to experience shore excursions. What was stated online was not what we received for most of our excursions. We felt lied to. By day 3 we complained and it fell on deaf ears. By week 2 we complained again....and it fell on deaf ears. We weren't the only ones upset, as others on our excursions also complained. When Guest Services attempted to set up an appointment with Shore Excursions we were told it was not possible because they were inundated with complaints. Also, before we booked with Cruiseplus.ca, I asked the agent if this cruise line was popular with very senior guests. We did not want a disabled cruise, nor a senior cruise. I was told that it wasn't known for this. Not true! There were so many with walkers, scooters and canes. I am quite mobile, and felt that many of the excursions were likely geared for this clientele group. The evening entertainment was not even close to what I have experienced with Celebrity. We have been told that since Carnival bought out Holland America, Princess and I'm sure there are more.....that it hasn't been the same. Disembarkation was also a problem. Our agent had told us to take a shuttle, because then if we were late for our flight then the Cruise Line would have to look after this. The gal at guest services stated that we couldn't take the shuttle as our flight was for 12:05 and the shuttle could only be used by those with 12:30 or thereafter. She then told me to put our luggage out in the hall the night before and pick it up at the terminal in the morning. I knew that this couldn't be correct, as we wouldn't be able to disembark early in the morning, retrieve our luggage...get a taxi (which become hard to obtain when 2,000 people are disembarking), and get to the airport 2-3 hours before our flight. We likely wouldn't make it on time....and then of course the cruise line wouldn't be responsible. The girl behind the counter stated with attitude, "Mam, I'm trying to explain to you!". I gathered my papers and went upstairs to alert my husband that he was needed. We went back to Guest Services and were told by a different employee that we should select Early Disembarkation (Expedited), and bring all of our luggage with us. She agreed that retrieving our luggage at a later time from the terminal likely would have made us late for our return home flight. There were other rude employees, but most were very nice. Sad that one remembers the rude ones though. Costa Rica was a terrible excursion due to about a dozen of us not being able to locate the driver, tour guide for at least 3/4 of an hour. And once again it was an excursion that did not meet up with what was outlined...it was a huge lie. Regarding TIPS! Why would I want to give a gratuity to those that are rude, or to parts of the ship that I don't partake....such as drinking and gambling. Yet when one wants to say no from the start....you are made to feel guilty .... and you are still given a bill at the end of the trip with this included. The night before disembarkation we had to visit Guest Services again to have this removed. We couldn't. They have your credit card....so you feel that this hangs over your head the entire trip. The morning of disembarkation we finally had it removed and I rushed around with envelopes of money to give to those who deserved a tip! Went beyond the call of duty. Whether our stateroom attendants received this money.....I will never know. They had to disembark the ship and go through customs. I had to leave their envelopes in our room. SAD!!! We were extremely disappointed with this 21 day trip! Read Less
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