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7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2016
My DW and I both wanted to see the changing of the trees so we booked this cruise (and indeed the trees were wonderful). The Zuiderdam was the HAL ship we sailed on years ago and enjoyed so much that we have been sailing on HAL ever since. ... Read More
My DW and I both wanted to see the changing of the trees so we booked this cruise (and indeed the trees were wonderful). The Zuiderdam was the HAL ship we sailed on years ago and enjoyed so much that we have been sailing on HAL ever since. We are both partly retired and can go when we find a cruise to interest us. For us the flying is usually the worst part of the adventure. We arrived in Quebec City by Flight Ease late in the day and went straight to the hotel by transfer. The trip had a stop in Toronto where we did customs and nearly missed our next flight. We stayed at the Hilton and it was good. Just know that eating at the hotel is way expensive. Embarkation went smoothly although slowly. It seems we showed up at the same time as everyone else. Disembarkation at the trip's end was very fast for we chose to do luggage direct and not have to fuss with any bags or carry-ons. The cost is minimal. I would like to take a moment here to let you in on a secret. If you let HAL handle the flights, transfers, excursion, & hotels, going on the cruise is much less worrisome. If things happen while cruising (and did they ever!) HAL takes care of all the details. Same goes for excursions. We missed two ports because of a depression (Hurricane Matthew) in which we had booked excursions and the refunds showed up on our statements in good time. Good luck for those who booked their own for HAL could have cared less. There are real advantages to spending a bit more to book with the Cruise Line. To sooth the pain of missing two ports in a row, we were given a free mimosa. Thanks a lot HAL. The room (4139) is large enough and I think larger than the rooms we have booked on other ships. The balcony is plenty big and has baffles for privacy side to side and for protection from wind. Only some privacy from above as the balcony sticks out more than the floors above. It may be a good bit larger than the rooms on the upper decks.The bath room has problems. If you take a bath, you must use the showerhead to fill your tub. If you take a shower, the water drains real slow and you stand in it up to your ankles. The mirror will be fogged over for the vent in there didn't work at all. The toilet had a button to push and it didn't work. A call to the service desk had a man there to work on it and it did at least work if not well after the visit, and the front desk called to make sure we were pleased. The room is across the hall from behind the elevators and above an exit door to the Promenade Deck. Neither caused us a moment of trouble. In fact it was a real handy spot. Do understand that I'm not young and my hearing isn't all it could be. Most of the noise we heard was from our neighbors allowing their doors to slam. I would book that room again without hesitation. The MDR was a bit of a disappointment as there were a number of large groups on the cruise that wanted to sit together at meals. We like to visit with other folks over a leisurely meal and that pretty much didn't happen. The meals were tasty and the menus were varied. The Lido had a wonderful breakfast (although crowded) and the other meals were just OK. I did leave a small amount of ice cream for you. The Dive-In had good burgers & hot dogs. The Pinnacle Grill was very good. The entertainment was hit-and-miss. Some shows were OK, most were - well - not. There was a stand-out excursion in Boston. It was the "Duck"! The cruise around town was a bit long but the cruise in the James River was long and wonderful. I recommend this one! The Captain took us into a depression with a top wind of 90MPH. I can't see any need to have done that. We were in that for the better part of 3 days. Missed two ports. And it was rough. Remember that the majority of folks on this cruise were elderly with mobility issues. What was the Captain thinking? The rest of the cruise was in mild seas with sunny days. Just perfect - Almost. In Port Canaveral we had an electrical blackout. The power was back on in less than an hour but then the Navigation System wouldn't work. We left port 3 hours late with a promise to use all the engines to get us to Ft Lauderdale on time. Nope! Generator failed. Arrived +/- 2 hours late. HAL worked overtime for us (we had Flight Ease & Baggage Direct & a transfer). DW says never again on the Zuiderdam. Well, I won't hold her to that. There were many negatives but many plusses too. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2016
We were excited to cruise on the Zuiderdam again, this time for the Canada/New England Cruise. We came in to Quebec a few days early to enjoy the city and wish we had a few more days - Quebec City was delightful and autumn is a great ... Read More
We were excited to cruise on the Zuiderdam again, this time for the Canada/New England Cruise. We came in to Quebec a few days early to enjoy the city and wish we had a few more days - Quebec City was delightful and autumn is a great time of the year to explore it. On the day we left port we got the ship early only to be meet with long lines for the taxi to get in, then long lines and confusion inside. We were told to sit one place to wait, then other people who came in long after us were taken on first. Not a problem of the cruise line, but rather the people in the port building. Once we got past the people from the port and to the HAL people things went smoothly. The line then went quickly and we were on the ship and in our stateroom. Our luggage wasn't there yet, but our room was ready and we went to enjoy lunch and when we got back the luggage was there. Our cabin was on Deck 7 and was wonderful, Our room stewards were top notch and we never wanted for anything. Our dining stewards were both excellent and very attentive. Entertainment was OK - not the best I've seen on a cruise, but definitely not the worse I've seen. One of the problems we encountered was a weather problem and we missed two ports because of it. Despite two + days of high winds (over 90 mph) and high waves, I never felt threatened or that we were in danger. One night it was so rough, things came out of our closet and things crashed off the shelves (our fault for not putting them away knowing the seas were rough). The other problem was our last night. It was almost time to leave Port Canaveral - we were enjoying dinner and the ship lost power. After less than an hour the power was back on. During this time, dinner service continued and there was no disruption there. But it did leave the ship with navigation problems and we couldn't leave port. After about 2 hours the problem was fixed and off we went. But then early in the morning we were delayed again, this time by a failure of one of the diesel engines. We did get to Ft. Lauderdale in time to make our flight connections, etc. The thing that impressed me thru all of these problems was the staff and crew - they all continued to be pleasant and helpful to us. Was I disappointed to miss two great ports? Certainly, but all in all it was a good cruise. Would I go on Holland America again? Of course. Would I go on the Zuiderdam again? - I'd have to think about it. Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2016
Given the Zuiderdam's age, and taking into consideration the reports that the intended updates were not fully realized on the last scheduled dry dock due to a labor strike, the ship doesn't look as worn as you might think. Of course you ... Read More
Given the Zuiderdam's age, and taking into consideration the reports that the intended updates were not fully realized on the last scheduled dry dock due to a labor strike, the ship doesn't look as worn as you might think. Of course you can easily see signs of age and wear and tear, but nothing to spoil a cruise, assuming reasonable expectations. Having said that, the realities are this: 1. Food is generally OK to good, again assuming limited expectations. The Pinnacle Grill was better than we expected, based on a disappointing prior experience. Canaletto was good but should be better. On the two occasions where the Lido stepped up and offered ethnic options and therefore some much-needed variety (more please!), the Indian and Indonesian / Polynesian / Malaysian were a real treat. Their so-called sushi offerings aren't really, to anyone who likes sushi. There are too many half-hearted attempts, I can't help but wonder if this is to avoid offending the culinary sensibilities of heartland Americans? The tex-mex taco bar on the pool deck and the Dive In burger bar were welcome havens, but it's too bad that the Dive In shuts down at 5PM, there were times when nothing of interest appeared on either the Lido buffet or dining room menus, and a burger would have been a welcome option. By comparison, we loved the Tamarind restaurant on the Nieuw Amsterdam, It provided much-needed variety. So all said, HAL needs to provide greater culinary variety and elevate its' menu standards above the level of OK. 2. Entertainment was limited and of generally poor quality, with the exception of the band in BB King's, which was exceptional. My only beef there was that BB King's is promoted as a blues club, but the set lists are predominantly popular R&B standards. So a bit of bait and switch. I understand that the R&B hits are popular for a reason, and promote dancing. Fair enough. But could we please have a little more blues? The only show in the main theater that we didn't walk out on in the first 15 minutes was a talented performer and his wife who performed Beatles hits. Sure, it was cruise-ship level entertainment, but wholly successful as such. 3. Having complained about food & entertainment, I can't say enough good things about the service staff. From the room stewards to the food & drink servers, to the ever-present maitre d' (?) in the Lido buffet / Canaletto, the staff is consistently warm, smiling, genuinely friendly and quick to assist in every way. If HAL is weak on entertainment & menus, it's strength is its' staff. Every thumb up. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2016
Had a good time on this cruise, we were definitely in the younger group (and we're in our early 60's) so it was sometimes a little slower than we would have liked but on saying that there were no noisy parties etc going on into the night! ... Read More
Had a good time on this cruise, we were definitely in the younger group (and we're in our early 60's) so it was sometimes a little slower than we would have liked but on saying that there were no noisy parties etc going on into the night! Had a few things happen that we haven't had before. Missed two ports because of weather, was pretty rough at some points. Power failure on our last night so a few hours late leaving Port Canaveral then engine trouble overnight so late getting into Ft Lauderdale. This didn't affect us as we had a late flight. Quite a few medical emergencies but to be expected with the age demographics. That out of the way, we had a great time. Our cabin was good - 4143 - had a lovely big balcony which we used quite a bit. Was in good shape, no strange noises from above or below, lots of storage and closet space and bathroom was fine. Cabin steward was great, as always, he's there when needed and does everything without us having to ask. Food was good in the MDR and the Lido, used the Mexican buffet and the burger/hotdog places a few times. Liked the MDR for breakfast. Staff were always helpful, happy and went out of their ways to do anything they could for you. Only complaint was the Lido closed at 8pm, on most cruises that's when we would be thinking about dinner. Always felt rushed, we like to be on our balcony as the ship leaves port and for as long as possible and then go for a quick dinner in the Lido but didn't quite work that way on this ship. Entertainment was so-so. In the theatre the best act was the couple who sang Beatles songs. The singers and dancers were quite good but its always the same old stuff!!! We're not really into jugglers and comedians. Loved the guys in the BB King Blues club, went there every night they were playing, very good. Casino was pretty good to us. Overall everything went pretty well, we found the ship in better condition than expected. Staff were great. Food was good. Entertainment okay. Ports were good, too bad we missed Charlottetown and Sydney but wasn't the captain's fault. He kept us up to date on all problems with the weather, change in ports, electrical problems etc and for most of us that's all we want - to be kept up to date. Would take this ship and itinerary again. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2016
We were looking forward to a "Fall Colors" cruise. It was our second HAL cruise, the first being aboard the Neuw Amsterdam. Enjoyed Quebec City and Saguenay but then got hit by a "subtropical depression" and missed the ... Read More
We were looking forward to a "Fall Colors" cruise. It was our second HAL cruise, the first being aboard the Neuw Amsterdam. Enjoyed Quebec City and Saguenay but then got hit by a "subtropical depression" and missed the next two ports of Charolettown and Sydney due to hurricane force winds (up to 90kt.s and 30-40ft. sea!) but ship handled it well and crew was confident and helpful for the 60 or so hours of the storm. Even all but two of the BB Kings entertainers showed up to preform. After that all was OK until Cape Canaveral, where we had a power failure and a three hour delay on leaving port. Power failure cause a long delay in receiving Disembarkation and luggage documents until 10pm. That night at sea there was another engine failure and we limped into Fort Lauderdale this morning late, tired and happy to get on a plane home. Would we take another cruise, Yes. Would we cruise on another HAL ship. Yes, would we cruise on the Zuiderdam again. ???? Probably not. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: September 2016
We had not ever toured the NE coast of the US or the Maritime provinces, so this cruise leaving from NYC and calling in MA ME and NovasScotia and Prince Edward Island was a treat. Then sailing up the St Lawrence seaway into Quebec was ... Read More
We had not ever toured the NE coast of the US or the Maritime provinces, so this cruise leaving from NYC and calling in MA ME and NovasScotia and Prince Edward Island was a treat. Then sailing up the St Lawrence seaway into Quebec was interesting. Quebec City is historically appealing recalling grade school history of the Colonial period of both the US and Canada. Amusing hearing French spoken and being in a French inspired city and knowing we,e still in N. America. We had hoped to see the changing of the leaves but we were too early. Sailing later in September would have been better or October. We heard later sailors did see more color but also more rain and overcast sky. We had beautiful warm clear days. The SS Zuiderdam was about right for our tastes. Decoration was a bit garish is some respects but service was first class. Entertainment was just enough, we really enjoyed more the cocktail hour piano and violin duo in of the lounges. Piano bar and dance combo were adequate. Limited stage productions were Ok, we did not expect or want Broadway or vegas style. The passenger list of about 1800 was about our limit. W can't imagine a ship of 000 to 5000 as being very enjoyable. We did not need a lot of extras. We enjoyed the experience and would sail HA again. Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2016
My hubby and I (ages 62 and 70) recently returned from a 10-day Canada/New England cruise on the Zuiderdam. This was our 3rd cruise with Holland America and for the most part we were very pleased. We picked this cruise mainly for the ... Read More
My hubby and I (ages 62 and 70) recently returned from a 10-day Canada/New England cruise on the Zuiderdam. This was our 3rd cruise with Holland America and for the most part we were very pleased. We picked this cruise mainly for the itinerary/ports of call and truly enjoyed getting to see a bit of all of them. Our embarkation was a breeze. BY the time we reached Quebec City, it was 2 in the afternoon, so there was no line up at all to get onto the ship. Our room was ready for us as soon as we boarded. We had chosen an inside cabin this time for a couple of reasons. One- it was more affordable. Two - we have friends who told us that since you're rarely in your cabin anyway, why not just get an inside one and save the $$? So we did. We looked at the cabin layout on the cruise line website, and went ahead. Unfortunately, our cabin was NOT laid out in the way which was portrayed online. It was very small, no couch, and a small amount of room on either side of the bed. Hubby said it was like a "broom closet with a bed". Okay, so this was our choice but I must say, we were disappointed. Despite the room like an office cubicle, we had excellent service as always with our room steward. The service on this ship is one of it's biggest perks. The bathroom by the way, was your basic cruise ship bathroom - functioned perfectly - no issues. We had "as you wish" dining which was great. We only had one evening where we had to wait to get a table.... but keep in mind that we were willing to sit at any sized table and visit with folks and never did request a table for two - so I do not know how long that wait may have been. We did not go to any specialty restaurants on this trip, so cannot speak to the Pinnacle Grill or Canaletto. We ate in the main dining room most nights and the service as well as the food was excellent. It was fun (for us) to meet lots of different people every evening. We did eat in the Lido one evening and even that was good. We had Lido breakfasts every day and the food was consistently good. The folks that work in the Lido were so nice every day. Since our last cruise (3 years ago) we noticed that they changed the way the Lido works. You no longer EVER get to serve yourself. I'm sure there are many reasons for that.. less chance of Norovirus being spread around, and less food waste by people who take WAAAAAYY more than they really can eat and heap it up on their plate. The evening entertainment was so-so. I'll admit we weren't intrigued enough to go more than three evenings, so I can't speak to all the acts. What we saw was not horrible, but it wasn't amazing, either. Considering we do not go on a cruise for the evening entertainment, it really wasn't a big factor for whether we enjoyed the cruise or not. I do have to mention the Piano Bar, however. Our tablemates one evening encouraged us to go with them to the Piano Bar after dinner - telling us that the pianist was fabulous. We went, stayed about half an hour (all we could take) and left, along with a lot of other people. The pianist could play the piano, but he could not sing - yet he "sang" to every song, and in a rhythm that was his alone. It was impossible to sing along, which is probably the main reason folks go to listen to "James Taylor, Jim Croce, & John Denver night". Each night the Piano Bar had a theme, and while it sounds like it would be an enjoyable evening, it was not. We overheard some passengers saying that they were disappointed with the entertainment on the ship, and we asked if they meant the evening productions/acts? They said no, there just wasn't "enough going on" for their taste, and what was going on, all happened at the same time. We felt differently - there was plenty going on in our opinion, but it just goes to show that two couples can view the same cruise in different ways. Nearly every day we went up to the Crow's Nest for afternoon "Happy Hour". Since we didn't buy the drinks package, Happy Hour was a great deal for us. From 4-5pm you could buy one drink and get the next for a dollar. The only caveat to that was: if you bought, say a Stella beer, and your partner wanted a Corona, well, that was NOT ALLOWED - even if they were the exact same price! You had to get two of the exact same drink! Hubby could not get a glass of red wine and I a glass of white wine. Nope, it had to be the SAME thing. Thought that was kinda strange and somewhat annoying. Still, we did take advantage of the Crow's Nest happy hour often. Great views and comfortable seating up there! In regards to shore excursions ---- We had 7 ports of call on this trip. We purchased 3 excursions from the cruise line and 3 we bought on our own. One port we bought nothing and decided to "wing it". All our excursions were purchased prior to leaving home. We were pleased with all our excursions except one. I will go over them briefly. In Quebec City we bought our own "Walking Tour". It was SO informative and the guide was excellent. It was advertised as a "leisurely walk from the top of the old city to the bottom". Well, that it was NOT. We walked UP many stairs and many hills, and finally after 2.5 hours made it to the bottom of the old town. It was a great tour despite being somewhat different from the description. In Prince Edward Island we did an Island Drive and Anne of Green Gables House tour, through Holland America. This tour was great and totally enjoyable. Loved seeing the countryside of PEI! IN Sydney Nova Scotia we saw the Celtic music show, featuring fiddle players. LOVED this!!! It was purchased through the cruise line. In Halifax Nova Scotia we were on our own. We'd been to this port before and had seen quite a few of the main points of interests, so we walked less than a mile from the cruise ship terminal to the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic. Very interesting and well worth the $9 Canadian to enter! From Halifax we went to Bar Harbor, Maine. I did a lot of research regarding which tour to take and noted that some of the cruse line sponsored tours did NOT get to the top of Cadillac Mountain in Acadia National Park. This was one place I truly wanted to see, so we booked independently with Oli's Trolleys. Great choice!!! The walk to the Oli's Trolleys pick up point was about a block from where the tenders were brought to shore. Loved everything about this tour for sure! Next port was Gloucester, Mass. Here we'd arranged a tour through the cruise line to see Gloucester and nearby Rockport. Our "tour guide" was probably the worst we have ever had on a trip. She was practically useless, pointing out her family home, where she went swimming every single day of the year, etc. When she did try and point out an interesting monument she'd say -"and over there is the pole they grease every year and people try to climb up......" We never figured out where "over there" was. The driver of the large bus was also scary. He had numerous instances where he had to struggle to turn the bus around, and once, while parked in Rockport, the bus was actually hit by another bus. After that, the driver moved our bus closer to the curb (where hit should have been all along). We enjoyed Rockport a lot where we had 1.5 hours on our own. It just goes to show that you don't always get a tip-top tour when booking through the cruise line. Our last port was Newport Rhode Island. This tour was booked on our own and much cheaper than similar tours offered by the cruise line (as is often the case - just a fact)! We met our bus driver a short one block walk from where the tender docks, and had a wonderful tour through Newport and then The Breakers - one of the famous mansions. Fabulous tour!!! Regarding tender ports: This trip had 3 of it's stops as tender ports. We will never do this again. Getting to shore on a tender became a big hassle, particularly at the last port, Newport RI. There were some "technical issues" with the tender boats - which are actually the ship's life boats. We noticed plenty of "technical issues" with these boats, and yes, we did mention it to the cruise line - as they double as our life boats in an emergency! One boat in particular did not have a hatch that sealed, and sea water came rushing in (onto tender passengers!) whenever a small wave broke across the tender's very low deck. Some people got drenched from the knees down. All in all, we were pleased with the trip and know that our biggest complaint - our small room - was our own doing. We'll definitely go back to a balcony cabin next time! We loved this itinerary and totally enjoyed getting to see all of these great places. The Zuiderdam itself is a very nice ship and yes, we're very happy we went! Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2016
This ship was very dated, worn and grubby. It was advertised as being renovated recently but there was no sign of anything renovated at all in all public rooms and cabin. They took extra money from you for everything including bottled ... Read More
This ship was very dated, worn and grubby. It was advertised as being renovated recently but there was no sign of anything renovated at all in all public rooms and cabin. They took extra money from you for everything including bottled water, an extra dish to share for 4 in the main restaurant and other small things that would be free on other cruise lines. The dining was very average and even in the much hyped Pinnacle Grill, the food was ordinary. I ordered a steak which was totally inedible being all fat and gristle. The rude waitress whisked the plate away with a dirty look and no apology. The shore excursions were very expensive and most had to be taken from a tender which meant being there 1-1.5 hours earlier than advertised. The service was average and at times they seemed disinterested in assisting with anything. I would never go on Holland America again under any circumstances. We will stick with the cruise lines we know that will be of a much higher standard for the same or lesser cost. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2016
We have been on a couple of Holland America cruises in the past which were charters for The Jazz Cruise and were always a little disappointed in the food and service. But we figured that this was because The Jazz Cruise is a chartered ... Read More
We have been on a couple of Holland America cruises in the past which were charters for The Jazz Cruise and were always a little disappointed in the food and service. But we figured that this was because The Jazz Cruise is a chartered event and they went a bit cheap on these things. We were right. The food, service and ship were excellent. We usually ate in the specialty restaurants and they were excellent. We never eat in the main dining, so we have no input on that but the buffet was really nice. There seemed to be an overall lack of musical entertainment though. The band played in the Queens Lounge now and then and were pretty good. There were some string players in one of the other lounges now and then. But even the background music in the bars was uninteresting. The ship was very nice and smooth sailing even though we had a bit of weather. Embarkation was one of the easiest we have ever had but this was most likely because we boarded in Quebec and the ship already was pretty full with people doing back-to-back from NY city. The Queens Lounge was our main hangout, the staff there was fantastic and brought us lots of hors d'oeuvres, very nice people and great food. We did a couple of on-ship events. They had a Le Cirque diner in the steak restaurant which I highly recommend, if it is available, for an extra charge. We also did a beer tasting and a scotch tasting event. The scotch tasting was very informative since I don't normally drink liquor. We also loved their Italian restaurant. We had a standard balcony room which was on par with most we have been in. Don't over-look the lower level outside cabins. The location is great and the room sizes are very nice. A balcony is nice but we find that we don't use it very often. The inside staterooms on the lower level are huge if you can get by without a window. We haven't gotten to that point yet. This is a great line to use, they don't hassle you with photos and all the things you normally find in the "family" cruises though all of this is offered if you want it. If you want a relaxing cruise without all the normal noise, this is the cruise line. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2016
We have always found HAL cruises to be top notch in our price range. Our "go to" liner of choice. The destinations on this cruise were great however the cutbacks were so apparent that it negatively impacted our total experience. ... Read More
We have always found HAL cruises to be top notch in our price range. Our "go to" liner of choice. The destinations on this cruise were great however the cutbacks were so apparent that it negatively impacted our total experience. The grab for the almight buck became offensive to us as well as to most of our fellow passengers who had travelled with HAL previosly. To be fair the front line staff were excellent. And we tipped them well. The issues seeme to flow from above. Gone is the chocolate extravaganza event. Gone is the 1 glass of free champagne whe the cruise embarks. Gone are the wine and liquor tastings. On the downward slope are the entertainment, activities and quality of the meals as compared to our previous cruises. When several of us commented on the lack of enrichment activities we were told by several crew that this was to meet the needs of the older demographic LOL! The American customs experience was fraught with misinformation with incorrect forms and wrong directions for Canadian and other non-American travellers. What should have been a simple orderly process became unnecessarily stressful. On one tender all the passengers who had booked private excursions or simply wanted to walk the port were kept waiting approx 2 hours, while the passengers with HAL excursions were allowed off first. Blatantly preferential treatment. The excursions booked through HAL were far too rushed as compared to those taken through private tour companies. The chair in our stateroom had a burn hole in the fabric. We are choosing to vote with our feet (and our dollars) to a viable and more respectful competitor. Read Less
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