179 Holland America Zuiderdam Cruise Reviews

My wife and I just got off the ZUIDERDAM, we were on from 3/5-12. we are both 31 and knew what we were getting into. I am going to break this review into two main sections - THE GOOD and THE BAD. But before I even begin, how can a modern ... Read More
My wife and I just got off the ZUIDERDAM, we were on from 3/5-12. we are both 31 and knew what we were getting into. I am going to break this review into two main sections - THE GOOD and THE BAD. But before I even begin, how can a modern ship not offer pay per view movies in the room nor allow you to book any excursions through your tv? THE GOOD the staff is amazing, from the porters, the room steward, the bartenders, etc. the embarkation/debarkation real smooth. The excursions, besides always starting at least 10 minutes late, fantastic. Spa and golf services were great as well. The room was great, as well the view, VA 7020. EXCURSIONS Deep sea fishing at Half Moon Cay, even thought the captain was "missing" before we were scheduled to go, it was great to have a boat just for me and my wife. No better way to spend a day than fishing in beautiful blue waters. Kon Tiki Booze Cruise on St. Thomas, every thing you could want from a rum booze cruise. The only negative was that the beach they took us to did not offer many things to do, i.e. kayaking, etc. Snorkeling by boat in Tortola. Once again this started late, the reef they brought us to was ok, nothing really to see. No excursions in Nassau, went to paradise island and just walked around and found some nice bars to hang out in. SPA/GOLF CENTER Jeremy in the golf center was a really good guy, unfortunately the person who was in right before I went in was a real hacker and ripped a divot out of the mat that made the simulator a little harder to use. But it was definitely better than sitting in a driving range. My wife and I had the couples massage, she enjoyed hers more than I enjoyed mine, but it was still enjoyable. THE ROOM The room was real nice, the only thing that I really did not like was not having the option to rent movies on demand in the room. This is something that even the most basic hotel now has, I can't understand how a modern ship does not offer this service. Back when I last was on a cruise in '97 the ship had pay per view movies. THE BAD Basically everything else was bad. I'll start from the beginning, we check into our room and there is a note saying that our request for a table for 2 will not be granted. After settling in, we decide to go see if there was anything that we can do about this. After waiting 20 minutes in a lounge we finally saw the DR steward who looked at his computer and said that we were at a table of 4 but that only the 2 of us are booked there. So we wasted the first half hour of our vacation taking care of something that we shouldn't have even been bothered with from them. THE FOOD AND DRINK We went to the bar on the lido deck and asked what kind of bottled beers they had, the bartender gave me a list of beers. I asked for a Budweiser Select and he said that he was all sold out. SOLD OUT! How can you be sold out of a beer and you haven't even left port yet, but we persevered. (I did find it later on in the cruise at one of the other bars, but still) BREAKFAST The first day we decided to order breakfast in, it was horrible and tasteless. The English muffins, OJ and bacon were all terrible. To say the least that was the last day we had breakfast. LUNCH Well if you did not make it to lunch by 2p you were basically regulated to hot dogs, hamburgers, and pizza. Otherwise the selections were OK at best, the taco bar was a little better than OK, but not much. DINNER First night at dinner I ordered the NY Strip steak which was more like a tasteless shell steak, we chalked that up to first meal blues. But besides the crab legs, lobster tail, and beef tenderloin the rest of the food was quite a disappointment. By the time we found out that the Pinnacle Grill was a zillion times better than the dining room, it was too late. Mind you, my wife and I went on this cruise expecting some good food, when we go away our bill before tip and we don't order bottles of wine, are at least $150/night. To say that we were disappointed would be an understatement. For this reason alone we will not cruise with HAL again unless there's nothing else available. ROOM SERVICE As I already stated the breakfast was horrible, we ordered lunch one day since we missed the 2pm cutoff and didn't want bad pizza. They have something called an ALL AMERICAN BURGER on the menu, that only comes with SWISS or CHEDDAR cheese. How can you have an ALL AMERICAN BURGER and not offer American cheese? My wife ordered the shrimp cocktail, which were a bunch of small shrimps that you would normally get from a Chinese take out place. The only salvation were the chocolate chip cookies. THE MIDNIGHT BUFFET oh yeah, there isn't any. If you wanted a late night meal you better get a slice of pizza or order in some room service. THE NIGHTLIFE Before my wife and I went on this cruise we knew it was going to be laid back and probably not that many people close to our age. When we were first checking in, we were definitely afraid that we were going to be the youngest by at least 20 years. Thankfully as the day went on we started to see people around our same age and made friends with a few couples who were in close proximity. At night your choices are limited to whatever act they brought in for the geriatric crowd, the casino, the piano bar, the sports bar (that only plays espn deportees, even though every port we went into had espn usa), and northern lights the dance club. As I already mentioned, since there were no pay per movie choices in the rooms, you either hung out in one of these places or went back to your room by 10:3pm. So my wife and the other people our age split time from the casino and northern lights. Whomever on HAL's staff is in charge of what goes on what nights in Northern Lights should have their head examined. For example, one night was Kareoke(sp), then it went to country music trivia to country line dancing to a hip hop club. Pick a theme and stick with it for the night. The casino was fun, especially after over hearing that the ship lost over 20g's at the craps table during the duration of the cruise. Btw...The sail away party from St. Thomas was absolutely horrible. MISC. - The automatic $10/day pp tipping policy seemed fine to me, you can always tip extra if you want to. The one thing that I did not understand is the 15% service charge per drink, it's one thing if you are bringing a drink to my lounge chair, but it is quite another when you get charged and you are sitting at the bar. - Also for those who say that you never win at the slots as the cruise goes on, my wife won for over $125 the last night, even winning $95 on one pull at the nickel slots. - There is definitely no feel like you are on a cruise music wise, which was more disappointing then I thought it would be. OVERALL I will not travel on a HAL cruise again, the main reason being that the food was such a disappointment and the ship lacked any real character. Read Less
Sail Date March 2005
This was our 10th cruise (we normally cruise with Princess), however it was the first time to cruise with HAL. We were impressed with the high level of service that we received in the dining room, Neptune's lounge, Odyssey Restaurant, ... Read More
This was our 10th cruise (we normally cruise with Princess), however it was the first time to cruise with HAL. We were impressed with the high level of service that we received in the dining room, Neptune's lounge, Odyssey Restaurant, and most public areas. We felt that the service on the lido deck buffet was very inconsistent and definitely not up to par with the other areas of the ship. We were not impressed with the ship. If you have questioned any other posts about the Zuiderdam's vibration problems, IT IS STILL TRUE! We were in stateroom 8135, and the ship vibrated at sea and sometimes when docked. When we tried to sleep at night it felt like we were in the bed of a cheap motel room (no wonder we received such a good rate on that particular room $$$). The layout and flow of traffic on the Zuiderdam felt more crowded and enclosed than other similar sized ships that we have experienced. Some people might prefer this since the Zuiderdam does have the feeling of a much smaller ship. The entertainment/activities were below average. They were very limited and only a few interested us. We like the activities on Princess much better since they have a wide variety that seems to meet all age groups. HAL closed their pools at 7:00 PM and hot tubs at 10:00 PM, so you can forget that if you like to do it in the later evening. HAL does appear to hold their tour operators to much higher standards. They were the best that we have ever had in the Caribbean. We will not cruise with HAL again. While they do a few things better than some of their competitors, our overall vacation experience has been much better on Princess. Read Less
Sail Date March 2004
This was my 11th cruise with my wife (56 & 51 years old) and my first on Holland America. I normally travel on Celebrity, RCL, and Princess. This was a 7 days cruise which took in Half Moon Cay, St. Martin, St. Thomas, and finally ... Read More
This was my 11th cruise with my wife (56 & 51 years old) and my first on Holland America. I normally travel on Celebrity, RCL, and Princess. This was a 7 days cruise which took in Half Moon Cay, St. Martin, St. Thomas, and finally Nassau. The itinerary was fine, even though we have been to all ports many times before. The weather was very good around 80 most of the time and the seas were fairly calm which made for all the ingredients of a successful cruise. The Zuiderdam is about one (1) years old, but came across as a much older ship. The vessel was cheaply built (Tinny was the word used by others) and it was apparent from the start that the crew was having a hard time keeping up with all of the repair requirements which were extensive. The ship was just put into an emergency drydock for 2 days prior to this cruise at Newport News, Virginia but several of the crew members told me that few of the problems were fixed. The problems included broken public bathrooms; paint scraping above and below the surface; broken Yogurt and drink machines (Constantly); electrical problems in the private suites and problems with getting hot water. Virtually everyone on the ship encountered these problems. In addition the ship was poorly designed and poorly built. The architect built a ship that looked like it was made for the 1950's with tacky colors and design. None of the fine art work or teak work was showing on this ship which are a trade mark of Holland America. All of these problems were compounding by the fact that the crew did not clean the boat in the public areas and we found constantly dirty balconies, carpets, bathrooms, and other common areas. Other ships you constantly see the staff painting and cleaning and this was never apparent on this ship. The two swimming pools were the smallest in the industry making the 2 hours set aside for laps every day a matter for jokes. The spa pool was an extra $ 11.00 per day compared to being free on Celebrity. In the private cabins their was inadequate drawer space and the beds were hard as rocks. The bathrooms were made cheaply with a plastic shower curtain instead of glass. No bathrobes were offered which has become a standard with comparable rated cruise lines. For those that like to workout in the Gym and spa this also left a lot to be desired. The equipment was very basic and limited compared with similar sized ships. I think this was partly due to the very old crowd that normally cruises on Holland America. Walkers and wheel chairs were everywhere blocking anyone who wanted to walk quickly. To Holland America's credit they do work hard to please these customers, but this also scares away younger cruises below 70. This was definitely a cruise for the 75/90 crowd. On the positive side the ship provided some great entertainment with a very fine comedian (Tom Drake); an excellent singer (Claude Eric); and two very good production shows with a great cast of dancers and singers with excellent costumes. These shows ranked right up with the best we have seen on cruises. The food was very good and hot, but the service was inconsistent. We ate at the early seating at 6:15 pm since the late seating at 8:30 pm was much to late considering some people took almost 2 hours to be served at dinner! Some nights the service was fast at dinner and other nights our servers seem to just disappear. We liked the fresh squeezed orange juice every morning and the place settings at each table in the upstairs Lido Restaurant was very nice. I also liked that you could get a snack almost anytime in this restaurant and their was a nice ice cream bar with a variety of flavors at no extra charge. The ship provided fresh fruit in our balcony stateroom which was a nice touch and a daily limited newspaper was delivered to your cabin every morning. All public bathrooms had cloth towels in plentiful supply at all times which is not always the case with other cruise lines. During days at sea we were often bored during the afternoons. Holland America has very little in the way of exciting activities unless you consider playing cards and bingo as enough. Myself and my wife both read 2 books since we had so little alternate stimulation and even the movie theatre broke down twice during the voyage. Overall the good food and entertainment could not overcome the poor design and condition of the ship. We heard this loud and clear from the other passengers including one couple who were veterans of 35 cruises with Holland American. The notoriously famous large cabins were non existing on these new class of ships of Holland America and we frankly thought out loud that the changes were a result of Carnivilization of the fleet. In other words maximum the profit of carnival at the expense of a quality cruise. I would say that better then 70% of the passengers on this cruise said 'Never again' on this ship or Holland American. Read Less
Sail Date December 2003
My husband and I have been on 15 cruises in the last 3 years, We have sailed on every major line in the industry. We are pretty much laid back people and we had always thought that there was no such thing as a " Bad Cruise" but ... Read More
My husband and I have been on 15 cruises in the last 3 years, We have sailed on every major line in the industry. We are pretty much laid back people and we had always thought that there was no such thing as a " Bad Cruise" but alas, we just experienced one. For HAL's benefit I will list the positives first: 1} Embarkation and debarkation were easy and very organized. 2} Casino literally gave away money!! I truly had never seen a ship casino pay out on so many slot machines. 3} Entertainment was better than average. That's IT for positives!! Now for the negatives The Zuiderdam cannot find its place in the HAL lineup, You know that they are trying to achieve a younger audience but they just can't pull it off. Between the Decor, (If you could call it that) which looks like a remnant sale at Kmart , the closed in hallways, the low ceilings and congested layout, this boat is was headed for disaster before it even left on its maiden voyage. We read the message boards before going on board, so we sort of knew what to expect. The first time cruisers on this ship probably thought it was wonderful, but if you are a seasoned cruiser, PAY ATTENTION TO NEGATIVE FEEDBACK on different boards, they are all true!! The vibration problem in the back of the ship is NOT a myth, it is a reality. After speaking with the maitre 'd requesting a change of tables BEFORE the ship even sailed, he informed us that the upper level dining room was completely booked and not to worry we were in the front of the lower dining room. And by the way, he mentioned that they had brought in heavier tables to reduce the vibration so the plates don't vibrate off the tables anymore. We knew we were in trouble when I asked if it was true that the ship was going into dry dock. He responded with a reluctant yes, and the ship will be drydocked in December for Mechanical Problems.. The sewer odor problem is NOT a fantasy! This ship is obviously not vented properly, because at certain times of the day the overwhelming odor of raw sewage is prevalent throughout the ship. We could not use our balcony every morning because of it. Maintenance was sent, but they were well aware of the problem and their was nothing that they could do. Lack of maintenance was appalling, this ship is only 9 MONTHS OLD! It could easily pass for at least 5 years old. Water leaks in The "GRAND ATRIUM" turned the gold leaf green and moldy. I watched the art auction with buckets around me to catch dripping water from the ceilings. Decks were not cleaned in th A.M. from the previous evening. Laminate surfaces were buckling everywhere, door cabinets were hanging off hinges, paint was falling off the balcony roof in our friends' mini suite. HAL definitely gets an F in maintenance. Dining room service is a disaster. We had only a waiter, no asst. waiter or busboy. The food service was rushed and hurried ,they were trying to get second seating diners out in 1 hour! We had to keep calling the maitre 'd over to tell our waiter to slow down. The first night at dinner he threw the menus at us and told us to make it "snappy". It all went downhill from there. The food was mediocre at best, the dessert selection was even worse, unless of course you consider JELLO to be a Treat! We were constantly holding onto our plates so our waiter would not swipe it away from us while we were in "Mid - Bite". It got so bad that the Head waiter removed our waiter from our section and served us exclusively the last 3 nights of our cruise. We were not alone in hearing dining room horror stories from other passengers. We knew of at least 10 other tables that were experiencing the same kind of service. We also took a walk toward the back of the dining room one evening to "experience" the vibration problem. If anyone DARES to write that they felt no vibration, then they were either dead or drugged. You had to raise your voice just to have a conversation and the background noise from the vibration was like a scene out of the movie EARTHQUAKE! HAL definitely gets an F for dining room service. Our Cabin which was a category B balcony was below typical of other cruise lines. Once again you had the WAL-MART decor surrounding you, which flowed so beautifully with the prison grey corridor walls. A painting or two would help along the corridor walls but they obviously didn't have it in their budget. HAL gets a D for room and hallway decor. The Staff on board was helpful in getting my room changed from the back of the boat to midship (Due to the heavy vibration in our cabin). Other than that you are basically getting Holiday Inn level of service. I will have to say that room service was the highlight of HAL'S customer service. HAL gets a C- for service (it would have been a D if not for room service)! I have taken pictures of many of these things that I have listed here and intend to email them to HAL. Let's just say that this was a major disappointment on HAL's part. As everyone knows HAL is giving away their cruises because the senior population is not traveling as much as they once did and they have to open themselves to other markets. They have a very long way to go and should look upon Celebrity Cruise line as their role model. If you are a 1st time cruiser all I could say is Bon Voyage, If you are a truly experienced cruiser then you will quickly know that all is not right with this vessel. Read Less
Sail Date September 2003
Zuiderdam Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 4.2
Dining 3.5 4.1
Entertainment 4.5 3.7
Public Rooms 3.5 4.1
Fitness Recreation 4.0 3.7
Family 2.0 3.7
Shore Excursion 5.0 3.8
Enrichment 5.0 3.6
Service 4.0 4.4
Value For Money 4.5 3.8
Rates 4.0 4.1

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