Sail Date: August 2008
There was a group of 20 of us on this cruise, ages from late 20's to early 70's. We arrived in Venice on the overnight train from Paris with LOTS of luggage in tow. As you arrive on the train on the causeway, you will see ... Read More
There was a group of 20 of us on this cruise, ages from late 20's to early 70's. We arrived in Venice on the overnight train from Paris with LOTS of luggage in tow. As you arrive on the train on the causeway, you will see all of the ships in port so you already have an idea as to where you're actually going. Some of the group split off, and walked over the 3 bridges with their luggage, and the rest of us bought the 24 hour water-taxi ticket for the short ride down to Piazza Roma for the free shuttle to the ship. Note: YES, you can walk this even with luggage as long as you're in decent shape and don't mind sweating a wee bit! Luggage dropoff was in a little tent to the side, and overall embarkation went very smoothly in Venice. We were on board in our cabins within 45 minutes total, even after a very long walk from the check-in building outside to the actual location of the ship. We were booked in an ocean-view on Main Deck #1, aft. The cabin was adequate size for 4, and it was nice to see that all of our luggage actually disappeared under the beds and out of the way, even after hanging up the clothes. Note that there are 2 very large drawers at the end of the beds. It's easy to overlook, as you might assume it's only part of the frame! Across the hall, some of our group had the inside cabins. BIG NOTE HERE::: The inside staterooms on deck 1 are much larger than the other decks! We noted the scale on the ships layout by the elevators, and peeked into some other inside rooms... so that's a point to remember if you're wanting to save some money AND have more space! Yes, they are actually larger than the outside cabins right across the hall. Unfortunately, a few hours later after dinner, 3 of the cabins were still very warm. Calls were made, and we were told that "we'll look into it". The next morning, still about 80-82 degrees F! Maintenance came down, looked things over and made some notes. That night, STILL hot in the rooms! Back to the front desk in person, and apologies yet again, but no way to move rooms/etc. The next morning, as we were disembarking, one of the group ran into the front-desk hotel manager and he let him know about the situation. We returned back yet again to the hot cabins. This time, when we went to the front desk, we were issued credits for each of the 3 days with the heat. Apparently a master thermostat was not functioning in our area. Finally we had cool air. The ship itself does seem to be more akin to it's Carnival cousins than most of the HAL ships I've sailed on. I caught myself looking at different chairs/fixtures/decor, and wondering aloud, 'what is this doing in here?' If you're looking for the overall nautical and old-world HAL ships, this one ain't for you! I don't think a specific theme ever caught on when the Z was laid out. The Greenhouse Spa/Gym area is a puzzle. You have a separated area for the sauna / thermal suites / hydrotherapy pool / showers & changing rooms / gym. When I mean separated, you have to walk back outside, and in some cases to opposite side of the ship! Additionally, this is across the forward staircase landing. You are quickly reminded that you're not in a true gym/spa... only some rooms that are thrown together that claim to be one. Poor layout here for sure! HAL did a good job around the pools/deck area though. Plenty of space, and they do keep the sliding glass roof open during the daytime for sun and fresh air. There was no problem getting a deckchair, even on the prime sea days. Food quality was good, everywhere we ate. The Lido layout was good, and the lines usually didn't have more than 6-7 people standing in one station. I noticed that the servers were glad to help carry trays for anyone that even seemed like they would need assistance to a seat. Now for the dining room experience. First I'll say that 2 days before we left for Venice, we received a phone call from our travel agent stating we had been confirmed as a group for 2nd seating dinner @ 815pm. This proved to be a fateful call! The first dinner, we had been seated for about 15 minutes, when the wine steward came over to take our drink order. We looked puzzled, and said that we haven't seen the wine list. He pointed a blue sheet of paper in the middle of the table and said that those were the special wines. We said we want to see the full wine list. He rolled his eyes, and said, "so you're not ready to order?" (!!!!) This rude behavior was duly noted. The dining staff didn't seem to have it together at our tables. We seemed to wait for 5 minutes or more to pass before the plates were cleared for the next course, which always seems to drag dinner down even longer. The sad saga of getting iced-tea refills began the first day as well. We're a tea-guzzling bunch, which I admit. But only getting 2 glasses of tea in 1.45 dinner is not acceptable. CONSTANTLY, WE WERE ASKING FOR ANOTHER GLASS OF TEA, PLEASE? Still, nightly we only seemed to get a total of 2 or 3 maximum total. I spoke to the area supervisor and told him the problem. I suggested that if the servers were too busy, just to leave a pitcher on the table, and we'll serve ourselves. He said, I don't think that's appropriate, and I quickly responded that I didn't think that waiting for 1 hour for a refill was appropriate either. He said he'd have a conversation and briefing on this "service issue" to resolve the problem. The next night, no tea refills yet again. I had enough. I got up, walked over to the waiters station, and took the pitcher of tea myself, and refilled our glasses. THAT got the attention of the supervisor yet again... who came running over. He asked if there was a problem, and I reminded him of our conversation last night. I told him thank you for your help last evening, but I would no longer require his services anymore... and that the tea pitcher would be staying on our table regardless of how appropriate and "how it looked". From that night forward, things got better AND when we arrived there was a full pitcher of tea sitting there. Sadly that wasn't all... normally when you say "Thank you" to someone, you get an acknowledgement. Our waiter didn't grasp this concept. It was noted that 7 people in a row said "thanks" to him for various things, and we did get one "grunt" out of him. We didn't know if he was having a bad week, or what the problem was? We were left feeling like that we were the ones being rude for talking to him. Sad. The 2nd day, we heard the cruise director asking for people to please not go to At-Your-Request dining at 800pm, due to the long lines. The 3rd day, he was pleading for people not to go at 8! The 4th day, he said that 300 people cannot show up and expect to eat at 8pm! I walked down to deck 2 to watch the line and the shouting match for everyone trying to get in to eat at the same time... and it wasn't pretty. I am now in the camp of AYR dining isn't working on Holland America. It's time to say 'goodbye' on the Zuiderdam at least! I cannot fathom trying to get a group of 20, or even a large family in together to eat like that. I'm not going to talk about the ports, other than to say that yes you can do most every European port on your own. The ship's shore consultant was a God-send! Tom had papers on how to get to the trains, costs, and overall helpful information. He told me that he was there primarily for the independent traveller... and he was very knowledgeable and helpful to us. Disembarkation was a breeze in Barcelona, primarily due to arriving the afternoon prior. We actually walked off the ship before general disembarkation even began around 715am, and we were in the cab to the airport 15 minutes later. This was my 5th cruise on HAL, and my 38th total cruise. The Zuiderdam was a puzzle to me. Good things, bad things. Excellent things, horrible things. I got my money's worth, but I'd think twice about sailing on her again. Cheers. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2008
My husband, our daughter, and I used to cruise on Holland America ships years ago when our daughter was young. We have many great memories of those cruises. In particular, we remember how the gracious staff went out of its way to provide ... Read More
My husband, our daughter, and I used to cruise on Holland America ships years ago when our daughter was young. We have many great memories of those cruises. In particular, we remember how the gracious staff went out of its way to provide excellent service. For example, on our first Holland America cruise, our daughter was too little to cut her food. Our waiter, Oka, made a great ceremony of cutting her meat into bite-size pieces each time he served her. Several years later, on another Holland America cruise, we ran into Oka again, and we were delighted when he greeted us warmly and pretended to perform the meat-cutting ceremony for our daughter, then fully capable of cutting her own meat. Memories like this made us return to Holland America with our now-college-age daughter. While we thoroughly enjoyed our vacation, our experience on the ship was marred by disappointing lapses in quality, service, and management oversight. Pre-cruise information We made our own air reservations and hotel arrangements for a stay in Venice before the cruise. We purchased the HelloVenezia VeniceCard over the Internet before we left home and picked up our cards at the airport when we arrived. The cards provide unlimited use of public transportation and free or discounted entrance into many churches and museums. We spent four delightful days prior to embarkation in Venice at Oltre il Giardino, a small inn located in a quiet area in San Polo near the Frari Church, away from the hordes of tourists. We also engaged Howard Fitzpatrick, an American art historian who lives in Venice, for a private walking tour of Venice. Howard took us to well-known places, as well as to places most tourists never see, while describing the art, architecture, history, and quirkiness of Venice in great detail. Our time with Howard was one of the high points of our visit to Venice. Embarkation Around noon on embarkation day, we took a water taxi from Oltre il Giardino to the Venice cruise ship terminal. Holland America staff waiting near the water taxi dock collected our luggage, threw it on a large dolly with many other bags, and directed us inside the cruise terminal for check-in. There were only a few other people checking in, so there were no lines. The cruise-terminal person who checked us in was not unpleasant, but could have used lessons in how to smile and make small talk. I tried to speak to her in English, Italian, and French, but she was not interested in talking to me. She seemed annoyed when she realized she would have to go through the check-in process twice because we had two rooms for the three of us. When we got on board the ship, we went through our standard routine of getting lost a few times before we located our rooms. The ship is on the garish side, but relatively easy to navigate once you get your bearings. We dropped off our hand luggage in our rooms, had a quick snack at the Lido, and then left the ship to explore a part of Venice we hadn't yet visited. We returned to the ship around 7PM, intending to shower and change before dinner. But our luggage hadn't been delivered to our rooms yet. This was our first realization that the ship was understaffed. When we thought back to when we boarded six hours earlier, we remembered seeing only a handful of Holland America staff welcoming guests on board and directing guests to their rooms. The rooms Our cabin attendant was terrific. He was friendly and kept the rooms spotless. We eagerly looked forward to the towel animal creations he produced as part of the turn-down service every night. On the other hand, one of our rooms needed maintenance. The lampshades were dented beyond repair, and the tiles on the bathroom floor were loose. The sink faucets leaked, and the shower did not drain properly. The door handle on the veranda door was broken. Towels and bed sheets, while clean, were stained. One day, our daughter's bed was cleverly made up to disguise a large rip in the top sheet. We used the complementary laundry service twice, and then resorted to washing things by hand because the promised 24-hour turn-around took 48+ hours. We complained to the suite concierge three times before our clothing was returned. The concierge told us the laundry department was overwhelmed because too many guests were using the laundry service. The food The dining experience is important to us. As far as we are concerned, a poor dining experience ruins a cruise. We had dinner the first night in the Pinnacle Grill, which has a $20/person surcharge. When we entered the dining room, the maitre d' could not find our reservation, although I had made the reservation with him personally earlier in the day. His excuse was that he had confused us with another party of three. The decor of the Pinnacle Grill is better suited to a bordello than to a premier restaurant on a cruise ship. It is flashy and unpleasantly busy, almost as though it was designed to encourage diners to eat and move on quickly, much like many fast food restaurants. It's also quite noisy. Our waiter wanted to take our order as soon as we sat down, before we had a chance to read the menu; later his assistant tried to remove plates before we had finished eating. Meat we requested to be cooked rare arrived well done. We thought both the food and service were only average and not worth the surcharge the night we ate there. Although we didn't return for dinner, we went to the Pinnacle Grill several times for the suite breakfast. Service was often unprofessional: we had to ask for butter for our toast, water to be poured in the water glasses, and, on one occasion, plates when the waiter served a basket of toast, but no plates for the toast. One morning when we arrived for breakfast 15 minutes before breakfast service ended, a waiter tried to turn us away. He made a big show of looking at his watch and telling us it was too late for breakfast and the kitchen was closed. When I asked him why the posted hours didn't mention that we had to be seated 15 minutes before closing, he finally agreed to seat us. Then he either stared at his watch or glared at us as we ordered breakfast and ate it. Another morning, when our daughter slept late, my husband and I asked if we could sit at a table next to the window. Although we were the only guests in the Pinnacle Grill that morning, the waiter said no because the window tables were set for parties of four. He seated us away from the window at a table for two. On the days we didn't have breakfast in the Pinnacle Grill, we had food delivered to the room or we carried trays from the Lido and had breakfast on our veranda. Room service, although limited, was fine. Food arrived on time and at the correct temperature. The people who brought the food were pleasant. The Lido was packed with people every time we were there. The food is cafeteria/food court quality, i.e., large quantities and average quality. We had an 8PM dinner reservation at a table for three people in the upper level of the Vista Dining room. We did not try flexible dining in the lower-level dining room. Eating in the Vista Dining room was not a relaxing experience. Sound bounces off the low ceilings and hard surfaces, making it extremely noisy. Tables are close together, and the aisles between tables narrow. The glass decorations on the lamps look like magnified images of nasty skin rashes. Our waiter always tried to take our order within seconds after we sat down, often before we had a chance to look at the menu. He was annoyed when we asked to see a wine list before we placed our dinner order. He removed each plate from the table as soon as a person appeared to be finished eating what was on the plate, despite the fact that the other people at the table were still eating. Each time our waiter spoke to us, he looked at people at the next table, not us, and then rushed off to do something else without waiting for us to respond to him. The food was not particularly good. Most of what we ordered was undercooked or overcooked; hot food was lukewarm by the time it arrived at the table. It usually tasted like it had spent too much time waiting to be served or, in the case of the mashed potatoes, too much time in a box. Curiously, the man in charge of our section of the dining room came by the table each night to ask if everything was all right, but he, too, always rushed off before we had a chance to respond. It became a standing joke. We chalked up some of the problems to under-staffing. Runners carrying large trays stacked high with 12 meals at a time filled the aisles between tables. They would drop the meals off at service stations then rush back to the kitchen for more. Meanwhile, the stations would back up because there weren't enough servers to deliver the meals to the tables. We chalked up other problems to menus that were overly ambitious for the large number of meals that had to be served in a short amount of time. (The menus, like many of the written communications distributed on the ship, can best be described as a copy editor's nightmare.) There were other, more serious, problems. The menus did not list all the ingredients in each dish. While the wait staff knew the names of each dish, they knew little about the ingredients or preparation. At one lunch, I asked if an item described as a spring roll contained shellfish, which I do not eat. Two different waiters assured me it contained only chicken, no shellfish. Fortunately, I saw the shrimp before I ate it. Excursions We explored on our own at most ports, and we used the Internet to engage an excellent guide, Nejat Incedogan, in Kusadasi to take us to Ephesus and a terrific driver, George Letsios, in Katakolon to drive us to Olympia and to a seaside restaurant for lunch. And, as I mentioned earlier, we engaged Howard Fitzpatrick for an amazingly informative tour of Venice. We relied a lot on the port lecturer, who had lots of interesting information about each port and was always eager to provide advice. We took one tour offered by the ship---a tour of Delos island from Mykonos. Both the guide and the experience were outstanding. Entertainment We attended several shows in the Vista Lounge. Like most other things on the ship, we thought the shows were only average. The ship’s dancers and singers appeared to be talented, but the material they were given to work with was not particularly good. The choreography was atrocious. The rest of the entertainers we saw ranged from very good (the violinists) to only fair (the shrieking diva). The times of the shows, 7PM and 9PM, may have been inconvenient for most people because the shows were thinly attended. They certainly interfered with dinner. Upholstery on several seats in the Vista Lounge was stained. One settee close to the stage was broken during our entire cruise, but no one ever removed it. Each night at least one person would sit on it and then fall to the floor. Typically, one of the guests would position himself or herself behind the settee to warn people not to sit on it. There were only one or two people taking drink orders in the show lounge. Drinks ordered several minutes before the start of the show often were served several minutes into the show. Naturally, when the drinks were served, the waiters blocked the view of the stage. We listened to music briefly in a few of the smaller lounges; again, it was mostly average. Random comments Captain Timmers was terrific. We always looked forward to his announcements because, in addition to telling us our location and what conditions to expect, he always said something dryly humorous about the port of call. We often saw him around the ship, and he was always pleasant and approachable---and willing to tell the jokes about Split, Croatia, his wife forbid him to tell. My husband was pleased with the gym. He never had to wait for equipment. On the other hand, he complained to ship personnel about the broken-down state of the drinking fountains on the Promenade deck, where he went jogging, but the fountains were never fixed. Flowers in the Pinnacle Grill and in public areas were slow to be replaced or removed after they had browned. Hand towels in the public restrooms were worn, stained, and tattered face cloths. They belonged in a rag bag, not in a public restroom. Room service trays with partially eaten food were left in the hallways on our deck for hours and, occasionally, overnight. When introducing entertainment in the Vista Lounge, the cruise director made a series of insulting “little old lady” jokes we felt were inappropriate and unnecessary. We saw few smiles from the staff until the day before debarkation, when the staff began pushing in earnest for tips. By then, the smiles were too late. Debarkation Debarkation was a breeze. We had a leisurely breakfast on our veranda, and then left the ship when our debarkation group number was called. Our luggage was waiting for us in the Venice cruise terminal. We called a water taxi, and we were on our way within minutes. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2008
Zuiderdam July 7, 2008 thru July 31, 2008 Return B 2 B Tours-Yes, they are expensive but worry free. We went on our own to Capri but later wished we had taken the ship's tour. It's more enjoyable not worrying about missing the ... Read More
Zuiderdam July 7, 2008 thru July 31, 2008 Return B 2 B Tours-Yes, they are expensive but worry free. We went on our own to Capri but later wished we had taken the ship's tour. It's more enjoyable not worrying about missing the boat. Itinerary-Great. The only port we didn't like was Athens. Santorini had way too many ship in port. It was uncomfortable and crowded. We had to take the steep donkey trail down so we wouldn't miss the tender. The tram wait was 2 hours. We waited "only" 1 hour to go up. The cruise lines need to work together so there aren't 10,000 people dumped on the island at once. We were there several years ago and had a very different impression-not Sardine City. Entertainment-Thank goodness for the String Quartet. The lounge entertainment was so LOUD we couldn't stand it. No local entertainment was brought on board. Ship Appearance- Surprised that after drydock the carpet was threadbare in places. Upholstered chairs in the Strings area quite tired. Food was on the drapes in the dining room. The whole 24 days we were aboard the promenade deck was gross. They were working on lifeboats over head and dripping paint, filings and debris on people and chairs below. They never heard of drop cloths? The deck chairs looked nice before they dripped paint on them. Plus Side- if you were to book hotels along the way of a Med. Trip, you're not sure of what you would get either. The ship made travel very convenient. The ship provided a clean cabin and linens. It was good transportation to get us to fabulous places stress free with one stop unpacking. No maps-the ship got us everywhere. Food- Lido (cafeteria) was good. Food was served hot! Ice cream- wonderful. Fresh fruit and cinn. Rolls-yummy. Food surprisingly was superior to the dining room. I used to prefer the elegant dining room but no longer. Dining Room- 90% of the time the entrEe was cold or lukewarm at best. Yes, it looked pretty, but I like hot food served hot. By the time the waiter returned the rest of the table was done eating and I didn't want to inconvenience the rest of the group by sending my entrEe back when they were ready for dessert. It may be due to As You Wait Dining and not having the same waiter, paying tips upfront and a loss of incentive, or maybe the waiters just have too may tables. The cold soups (blueberry my favorite) and fresh fruit appetizers were indeed good. AYWD-Had no choice when we booked. I never wished to be eating at 10 P.M. but we did the last formal night. AYWD really doesn't work on a ship this big. It was fine on the Wind Surfbut no one seemed to like it on the Zuiderdam. ( Except for some strange reason, the guy at the desk enjoyed passing out buzzers to summon you back to dinner) Your buzzer would go off & you could return when They wished. Usually an hour later-everyone wished to eat at 8:00,I guess. The dining room was noisy with kids yelling, 'I want Jello." At 10:00, they probably wanted sleep. Parents ignored misbehaving children and waiters catered to them. Fixed seating people that we talked to seemed to have a better dining experience. They knew what time they were eating and where. AYWD -every night you parade to a table. The Yum Yum boy was employed in this endeavor rather than passing out ginger. I miss getting to know tablemates better than the nightly, "Where are you from?", "How many cruises have you taken?" This trivia occurred nightly because it was always a brand new group. Nice people but you don't even remember their names. I still exchange Christmas cards with a gentleman from my first cruise over 20 yrs ago on the Norway. Those days are gone, I'm afraid. Service-I did not feel pampered or that I even mattered. I often felt I was in the way of their doing maintenance. (Vacuuming in the Lido while I'm trying to have a conversation was irritating. Dripping paint on a Sea Day when I wanted to read a book was a bit much!) Waiters have become merely order takers. {McDonald's style) No warmth or friendly banter. No showing a tray of desserts and explaining them-just hand you the menu and write down the order. I realize they cut staff to keep prices affordable but service is missed & lack of it noticed. Overall-After 20 cruises, I would greatly lower my expectations of cruising. I will look at ports and cost and book with lower expectations while being grateful I was able to cruise when it was something special! It still is a good , easy hassle -free way to travel(sadly; the glamour is gone.) I was quite surprised at how many unruly children were on board. When guests complained about the chaos at the pool and the running and yelling up and down the halls-they were told that it was the kids' vacation, too! Is there a niche for adult cruisers? I would never have imagined high chairs in the dining room on Holland America. Maybe a Caribbean beach vacation, but how many kids under 5 would enjoy Europe? We did enjoy the Zuiderdam several years ago in the Caribbean but it has certainly changed.. Cruising isn't the experience it used to be, but with that in mind, I wouldn't rule it out in the future' Thanks for all the input.. I read the boards nightly before our trip and learned a lot. Now that I have something to say, I hope someone learns from my efforts as well. We have many pictures (900) of wonderful places but the places rather than the ship provide the sweet memories! Read Less
Sail Date: June 2008
Long and Repetitious This was our trip of a lifetime, a Mediterranean Cruise. It was a 2- 12 day Cruise Venice to Venice and ports in between and Venice to Barcelona with ports in between. My brother and his wife joined us, which make ... Read More
Long and Repetitious This was our trip of a lifetime, a Mediterranean Cruise. It was a 2- 12 day Cruise Venice to Venice and ports in between and Venice to Barcelona with ports in between. My brother and his wife joined us, which make the trip even more special. We have sailed several times before with HAL and were quite pleased with our Cruises. We had a cabin with a Verandah, which was nice, however, the cabin was very small and the furniture was a bit shabby. Our room steward was excellent. Our cabin was always clean and orderly. The first 12 days our waiter was slow, and apparently didn't like when you changed your mind about what you wanted, he would just roll his eyes... we requested a table change for the second 12 days and had a very helpful and cheerful waiter and did things in an orderly manor. The Lido was congested most of the time with people going in every direction. The food was fair as well as the service. My biggest complaint was that many of the Menu's were repeated including the Lido the second 12 days of the trip which made eating a little boring. The entertainment was a bit boring also except for the Zuiderdam singers and dancers shows. Most of the same shows were repeated the second 12 days. We went to the Pinnacle Grill two times and it was excellent, good food good service. The shore excursions were good, we kind of got the leftovers as we were not smart enough to book excursions on-line before we left, But we say many wonderful places. HAL should take a good look at ship board activities!! REALLY…napkin folding, table setting, towel animal folding….Come on lets get a little creative !!!! The disembarkation went quite smoothly. The system HAL has works very well. We will not take another Zuiderdam or Vista Class ship again, however, we will Cruise other HAL ships. Read Less
Sail Date: June 2008
Just got back from cruising on the Zuiderdam. Sailed from Venice to Barcelona. Transfer from the airport to the ship went smoothly. We were greeted in the airport and took a bus to the port. Checking in went smooth also. Boarded the ship ... Read More
Just got back from cruising on the Zuiderdam. Sailed from Venice to Barcelona. Transfer from the airport to the ship went smoothly. We were greeted in the airport and took a bus to the port. Checking in went smooth also. Boarded the ship and was told to go to the dining room for lunch. Others were told to go to the Lido for the buffet. Don't know how they determined who went where. Lunch was good, service was great. I've cruised on two newer Princess ships and this was my first time on Holland America. The Zuiderdam was not as impressive as the Princess ships. While it was nice, it did not have the "dazzle" I expected. The decor seems dated. The combinations of orange, blue, turquoise, and purple was a bit much. I prefer a little more elegance. The Atrium in the center of the ship was small so there was no central place for gathering. There are many small lounges though for peace and quiet. THe explorations lounge and Library were great. Nice views of the ocean while sitting in comfortable chairs. The library was well stocked books, magazines, and computers for the internet. Also a nice coffee bar. The room and balcony were nice. Not much walking room, but average for a ship. The bathroom was a nice size and had a tub. Good amount of closet space, but lacking in drawer space, although there are hidden drawers under the bed and loveseat. The room was kept clean at all times. Never had to ask for anything. The beds and linens were fantastic. Very comfortable! The staff is primarily Filipino and very courteous. I don't think there was any time that I wasn't greeted with a good morning, afternoon, etc. from any of the crew. I must say that if there was anything I would rate above the Princess line it would be the courtesy and friendliness of the staff. If you've been on Carnival, Royal Caribbean, or Princess and are looking for the same amount of activities, you'll be disappointed. The clientele this ship attracts is more conservative so the activities are more reserved. The Cruise Director was very personable though. The entertainment was OK. The main production show had great sets, but the talent was limited, and the production was the typical cruise ship goody two shoes type. The spa was nice, and many specials were offered. I enjoyed the hydro spa and heated lounge chairs. Food - While the food was good, it wasn't spectacular. Nothing stood out as being great. Just what you would get at a country club type restaurant. Would have been nice to have more seafood such as lobster or maybe good Italian specialties. The same menu is served in the dining rooms and at the Lido buffet. Although the quality was better in the dining rooms. I'd suggest the Lido for breakfast and lunch and the dining rooms for dinner. After dinner go to the Lido for all you can eat ice cream and cookies. The Pinnacle Grill was very good. Great service, better quality of food and nice presentation. Worth the extra cost as a one or two night treat. Overall, there is nothing major to complain about. I just feel this ship is better for the Caribbean where things are less casual. In the Mediterranean you may want a more luxurious ship. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2008
Nice ship...they do what they do quite nicely. This is our second voyage with the Zuiderdam--this time was during February vacation when we thought we would have more children for our kids to meet. This might be THE cruise line for those ... Read More
Nice ship...they do what they do quite nicely. This is our second voyage with the Zuiderdam--this time was during February vacation when we thought we would have more children for our kids to meet. This might be THE cruise line for those 75 and older. Despite the fact that it was a school vacation week, there were still very few kids for our children (15 & 18) to mingle with. Moreso, there was really nothing for them to do HAD they met kids to be with! The food was good but the dining room service was only fair-good. We did have a table for 10 and that might have been tough for the waiter and busboy to deal with. Getting lounges at poolside was pretty simple--everyone is over 75 so very few want to sit out at the pool! Similarly, getting to the casino tables after ten was thwarted ONLY by the fact that many closed early since there were so few people in the casino! If you do not mind gambling one-on-one with the dealer(s), you can have a blast! The disco is pretty much deserted at night. The last two nights, there were signs of life....too little, too late! The staff is gracious and accommodating. The food in the Lido is good but there is NOTHING there late! That is consistent with the entire ship...things close down early, due, I assume, to the age of the crowd! The entertainment is mediocre...Simon Cowell would say "you sound as if you belong on a cruise ship!" The excursions are what they surprises. The private island is, again, what it is. Fun, clean beach with not a whole lot to offer but beautiful water, clean sand and sun! Like almost all cruises, everything is geared towards making a buck. It should not be unexpected and is "industry standard." Embarkation was quite easy--we did go late. The spa/gym was great. No one was there (again, 75 y.o. people do not spend a great deal of time in the gym!) Getting a treadmill is easy!! The locker rooms are very clean. You have to pay extra for the sauna which is a shame. The masseuses were OK...the hair salon was nice....the relaxation room worked well! Read Less
Sail Date: December 2007
We are very experienced cruisers (>30), but this was our first Holland America trip. We were hoping to expand our cruising options. Since we are over 55 and don't have children, the traditional HAL demographic seemed ideal. Their ... Read More
We are very experienced cruisers (>30), but this was our first Holland America trip. We were hoping to expand our cruising options. Since we are over 55 and don't have children, the traditional HAL demographic seemed ideal. Their reputation for service was also an important consideration. Unfortunately, they did not deliver on either of these! Embarkation was very smooth, but with one peculiar addition: a "health questionnaire." It asked a number of very direct and detailed questions concerning the passenger's bathroom experiences within the last couple of days. These questions, intended to screen passengers for gastrointestinal illness, were not only very invasive, but clinically inappropriate. The "kicker" was that it contained a notice to the effect that if you didn't answer these questions truthfully, then the Captain could kick you off the ship at the next port! Heaven help the passenger who develops a norovirus infection in the first 48 hours of the cruise, they might find themselves marooned on a Caribbean island with a bottle of Pepto Bismol! I applaud the line's desire to keep infected people off the ship, but it would be a much more effective approach to warn them ahead of time that they will have to submit to screening and to provide an easy way to self-report without dire consequences. Perhaps allow them to rebook without penalty? The balcony cabin was very comfortable, especially the bed. The condition of the upholstery, curtains, and carpets were clearly worn and in need of replacement. The cabin steward kept the cabin clean and tidy. I have no complaint about the cabin service. I was surprised to hear from a fellow passenger at lunch one day that they had gotten a letter in their room telling them that since the ship was always sailing, that they needed to do maintenance when they were at sea. As a result, they would be shampooing their furniture and carpet on one of our sea days and they would not be able to use their cabin. Needless to say, they were not happy. I was surprised to receive a similar letter the night before we were to visit their private island telling me that they would be performing "general maintenance" on my balcony from 8AM-3PM. While I was not happy about it, we didn't complain, as we were planning on going ashore during that time, which we did. On returning, we found paint chips on our carpet, a very strong odor of paint in the stateroom, the privacy screens between staterooms folded back and furniture stacked in front of the veranda door. The ship's decor is classy, but not over the top. It is sufficiently different than most of the other ships as to be refreshing. Walking around the ship, it was clear that it needed refurbishment, surprising since the ship was only built in 2002! The Lido Buffet, which serves a wide variety of food, nearly around the clock, proved to be the gastronomic highlight of the cruise. Overall, the food quality, variety and taste of the buffet food was very good, although, as some have pointed out, you often wait in line to be served. The dining room was a far different story. The menu choices were not very broad and tended to be overly ambitious for this kitchen. Food was often under or over done, tasteless or visually unappealing. I chose the alternate menu items of steak and chicken a majority of the evenings. The service the first couple of nights was atrocious, to the extent that I had to hunt down (I mean that almost literally, as one could not be found) the Asst. Maitre'D in order to complain about forgotten side orders, condiments and refreshment of drinks. Clearly the dining room was grossly understaffed and the waiters were overwhelmed. The result was slipshod service, even after complaining. We ate at the extra tariff Pinnacle restaurant one night with similar results: the service was chaotic but at least the steak was good. The entertainment was about average overall. The production shows were well designed and executed, but the singers were very weak. The individual performers: a four-hand piano act and a magician, were a bit above the average. The Comedian was not. The ship called at Grand Turk, which is a pretty and rustic island retaining much of the old Caribbean charm. There is a lovely beach immediately in front of where the ship docks along with a large pool and Margaritaville Bar. We took a do-it-yourself tour using the local tourist bus and had a fun time exploring the island. The other port calls were Tortola and St. Thomas. There are so many reviews of these that I will not bother to add my few comments. The passenger load was not what we expected, given that school was not yet out for the holidays. While there were. as expected, a large number of older folks, there were a moderate number of younger folks and families. The families with high school and college age children were fine and were not a problem. There were a number of families traveling with 2, 3 and 4 year olds who did not seem to care that their children were throwing temper tantrums in the main dining room, lido restaurant or other public area. Further, they seemed totally unwilling to either discipline the children or to remove them from the room. It does not take many of these to ruin a meal. I do not recall a single lunch or dinner in the main dining room where this did not occur within one or two tables of us! At no time did anyone from the cruise line ever so much as speak to these offending parents. In summary, this cruise was a disappointment. I talked to a number of HAL veterans and most indicated that this cruise was an anomaly. I hope so, but I am very leery about taking another HAL cruise. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2007
I see another entry for the same cruise right before mine and am wondering if we were on the same ship! Although there were some good things about this cruise (not many kids, the ports of call, great tender service), I will list our ... Read More
I see another entry for the same cruise right before mine and am wondering if we were on the same ship! Although there were some good things about this cruise (not many kids, the ports of call, great tender service), I will list our experience and why we will never sail with Holland America again. First of all, the travel agent sent our tickets to the wrong place. That is not HA's fault, but it started us off in a bad situation. However, the travel agent sent the tickets directly to HA's ticket desk. Check in and embarkation was a breeze, taking less than 20 minutes or so. After check in we were herded to an area which did not have enough seating for the people waiting. No music, no nothing. But after about 40 minutes, we were boarding the Zuiderdam. I knew we were in for a different type of cruise when so many were being boarded in wheelchairs and scooters. This was not the case with our last cruise on Carnival. Most of the passengers were older than myself (53). On the way to the Lido deck upon embarkation I needed to use the restroom. I ducked into one on the way only to find it running over with feces on the toilet and the floor. NASTY! Strike one. I quickly went down the hallway to the next ladies room to find it out of order. Not a good start. Finally I found a restroom and went to the Lido deck to have a pina colada and wait for our room to be ready. The first thing I noticed is that the windows in the restaurant were filthy. There were heavy streaks of rust and salt running down the windows. Not a great first impression. Finally our rooms were ready and we went on down to our room. Our key did not work. Great, back down to the front desk for a new key. Back up to the room and in we go. My luggage arrived quickly, but my husband's did not. Several hours later as we were pulling away from port, after numerous phone calls, my husband's luggage was found and delivered. The cabin was dirty. Above the head of the bed on the ledge, you could write your name in the dust. There were smears and a hand print on the glass to the veranda. My parents had mold growing on their shower curtain, my brother's room during the cruise was without air conditioning off and on the last couple of days, and the last day their head did not work. I never saw our cabin steward, my husband saw him once during the whole trip. Not interactive at all. Where was HA's signature service? In the common areas, they have doors with big blue knobs on them that were missing. In the spa, one of the shower handles was missing so their was only one shower for everyone. Strike two. My husband and I were looking forward to sitting in the hot tub on the fan tail and relaxing without all the kids we encountered on Carnival. Wrong! The hot tubs are so shallow, you can't sit comfortably in them. My husband who is 6'2" had his knees to his chin. Hot tubs were out. The water in the pools was frigid, not HA's fault as it is November after all, but still no swimming either. Activities were few and far between. Our days at sea were boring, we were looking for things to do. The evenings were worse, everything closes by 8-8:30 unless you want to go to a smoke filled bar. The Lido deck bar which is in open air, was closed. Well, off to the dining room for dinner then. Every cruise line offers a steak every day if you don't find something you like on the menu. I chose steak 4 nights, my husband 6 nights. The food choices were awful, not a problem for us on our Carnival cruise. The food was bland and tasteless. Desserts were good though. Nothing special at all. We had the 5:45 seating and were done by 6:45. Then had to wait some nights for the entertainment until 10:30 at night. Forget it! Strike three! I could go on about the poor service in the Lido deck restaurant/cafeteria, lack of activities, poor maintenance of the ship, the plain unexciting decor of the ship, etc.; but you get my point here. Despite all of it, we still had a good time with our family and at the ports of call. When we were off the ship, the vacation was superb. When aboard, well......never again for us. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2007
Embarking was fast. We were on in 15 minutes. We went to our concierge lounge on our floor which was open and had some mini sandwiches and desserts. Faye our concierge was fantastic. If you had a question or needed anything Faye was there ... Read More
Embarking was fast. We were on in 15 minutes. We went to our concierge lounge on our floor which was open and had some mini sandwiches and desserts. Faye our concierge was fantastic. If you had a question or needed anything Faye was there for you. She knew my name before I knew her's she was excellent. The room upgrade was $800. Was it worth it. I think so we only cruise once every other year. Right on cue 1:30 our rooms were ready. Our luggage arrived between 4:00 - 5:00 without issues. We met Harri, the best room steward I have ever had. Took excellent care of our room for all 7 days and was very personable. After the mandatory life boat drill, we went to our first evening meal. We booked the early seating and were seated at table 61 in the back of the room. Our table staff introduced themselves. There is a definite hierarchy in the staff. Our waiter could not speak english too well- our bus boy was genuine and tried to learn our names. Our waiter made no attempt. In fact after the first night I don't remember him saying anything to anyone at the table. I believe that this lack of effort reflects HAL's tipping policy. The Lido buffet is outdated technology. You want a sandwich, you wait in line. You get a salad, you wait in line, You want a drink, you wait in line. They need to invest in a new more efficient scatter system as in most newer ships. It offers better quality and variety and is much faster. After dinner shows were poor quality. It was so loud in the theater I had to leave. The music was so loud you just cannot sit there for an hour. The illusionist was very good and the best show all week. Gym was adequate and had good equipment. Just needed a few more pieces to be listed as very good. We did not use the spa services. The weather was bad because of tropical storm Noel. HAL knew this when we left Ft. Lauderdale. Yet the captain was told to race for Turks, or made that decision, knowing our chances to get in there were not good. Someone will have to tell me why an alternate port was not in the works prior to leaving. Regardless, when we got there it did not take the Captain long to make the correct decision to skip the port for safety reasons. He also made the correct decision on the way back to avoid their Kay island stop. We did stop at Tortola and St. Thomas. We went to the Baths at Virgin Gorda. A great deal of walking up and down hills for a few views. Then on our return ferry ride back to the ship, it was dark, and the ferry had no internal lights on and passengers had to go down a narrow pitch black stairwell. Bad ending. We went to Trunk Bay Beach in St. Johns. The ferry from St. Thomas was allot more professional and safe. This was worth the trip. Beautiful beach. The last two days at sea were long as we made our way along the Cuban coast back to Ft. Lauderdale. Room was large and beautiful, Food, shows were average and dining room service not good. The ship is starting to show it's age already. I think they get top dollar and don't deliver on that expectation. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: September 2007
Sorry for the delayed review, I just wanted to give my thoughts regarding this cruise and am a fairly new Cruise Critic member. We arrived in Ft Lauderdale one day prior to cruising; we stayed at the courtyard Marriott and got a pretty ... Read More
Sorry for the delayed review, I just wanted to give my thoughts regarding this cruise and am a fairly new Cruise Critic member. We arrived in Ft Lauderdale one day prior to cruising; we stayed at the courtyard Marriott and got a pretty good deal ($120). This rate included the free shuttle to the port, a decent breakfast and shuttle from the airport. The accommodations were just OK, the room seemed really run down and the evening we arrived, there were 10 or so high school students that were in the lobby in tuxedos and formal wear, they were obviously drunk and were pretty rowdy. My wife and I are early thirties and this was our second cruise, our first was Star Princess and we absolutely have nothing bad to say about our first cruise. We chose HAL because we had heard good things about this line, we were somewhat disappointed overall. The ship itself was pretty run down, the windows were dirty, there was rust etc. There was a foul smell in one of the hallways en route to the dining room and our toilet had some issues flushing at times and maintenance was responsive in fixing this problem. The nightclub was horrible, we went there one night and the 3 couples besides us that were there were on oxygen and walkers and were "getting jiggy" (sarcasm added) with it. The cruise director was pretty cool and although it rained EVERY DAY (not HAL's fault) there were plenty of activities to participate in/watch. I especially enjoyed the chipping contest (into a floating putting green in the pool) as I am an avid golfer. The food was spectacular and our table fell in love with our servers, they were very approachable and funny and anticipated our needs extremely well. We had window table with 2 other couples and one couple we have since been on 2 additional cruises with; this was probably the highlight of the cruise given the poor weather. We snorkeled in the Bahamas but given the rain, this was a very chilly boat ride and we weren't too enthused to get into the water. The HAL private island was beautiful but again, it rained the whole time so most people stayed on the boat, we spent no more than an hour and HAL did refund the cost of the clamshell that we had booked. The stateroom was pretty roomy, we had an unobstructed window (on our first cruise we had an inside cabin... never again). After seeing our friend's balcony stateroom, we decided we will ALWAYS do a balcony from now on. The room seemed roomier than the Star Princess but also seemed more dated and run down. The pools were nice, they had a sliding roof on the main pool which cam in very convenient given the weather. The entertainment was OK, not real high praise for the "crew" attempting to entertain us, don't expect Broadway. Embarkation/disembarkation was pretty smooth, nothing negative to say here. Summary, when we first got home from this cruise, we berated HAL in comparison to our first Princess Cruise. After being on several other cruise lines, we have since realized that HAL is a pretty well run line, other than some updating and elbow grease, this was not so bad. We would go on HAL again if we were able to take advantage of a low rate, we still prefer Princess but thought this was a good second option. Good Meals, service, quick response to stateroom issues, daytime activities especially given the rainy cruise Bad Nightlife was poor, shows were not very entertaining, rain (nobody's fault here) Read Less
Sail Date: August 2007
Just for background and to put this review into context, I have sailed on Carnival, RCI, and Celebrity. This was my first Holland America Cruise and 7th cruise in general. I am 25 years old. This cruise was what I expected. Honestly, I ... Read More
Just for background and to put this review into context, I have sailed on Carnival, RCI, and Celebrity. This was my first Holland America Cruise and 7th cruise in general. I am 25 years old. This cruise was what I expected. Honestly, I don't think you're going to have a hugely different cruise vacation by picking one mainstream cruise line over another, but regardless, here is what I found on HAL's Zuiderdam. The embarkation and disembarkation procedures were by far the best I have ever seen. I arrived at the pier in Vancouver at about 11:10am and was on the ship eating lunch in the Lido before noon! I did use the online check-in, but I believe if you hadn't, it wouldn't have slowed you down too much. On the last day of the cruise, my family and I opted for the Express disembarkation. Basically, as long as you don't have any transfers booked with HAL and you can carry your own luggage off the ship, you are the first one off. We were called to get off the ship at about 7:30am. This was very easy, no crowds, and was actually opening up the door to my apartment (I live in downtown Vancouver a few blocks from the pier) at 8am. Wow! I strongly recommend the express disembarkation because you avoid the crowds that develop later in the morning. The theatre on the ship (Vista Lounge) seems surprisingly small. It is still a 2 or 3 level high theatre, but it just feels smaller, more like a lounge. Still, there was no problem finding a seat, and it was a full ship. It was probably my least favorite theatre on any ship, but was adequate enough. That being said, the quality of the shows on the Zuiderdam were the best I have ever seen on any of my last 7 cruises. An illusionist, comedian, another comedian/ventriloquist, and 2 shows featuring the cruise ship singers and dancers. On a 7 day cruise, you usually get forced to watch way more than 2 nights of mediocre singers/dancers performing tired acts. The quality of the shows they put on though were surprisingly high. It was still a typical cruise ship performance, but was entertaining. The sets were more elaborate and all but one singer was actually quite good. Automatic tipping added to your shipboard account of $10/day is convenient. Can be adjusted if you want. During areas where there was scenic cruising to be seen, they opened up the bow of the ship and that was a nice touch. I don't remember being allowed up there on other cruise lines. The ship itself is probably my least favorite. Nothing about it seems special. RCI seems to have more of a wow factor to their ships and on Celebrity ships seem to be made of more high quality materials. The design of this ship was boring. Nothing grand about it. It was dark, ugly colors, and the design was odd. It seemed cheap. The thalasotherapy pool costs $20/day or $89/week I think. On Celebrity you get this for free on the M-class ships. The main pool was large with retractable dome, and nice to sit around, but if screaming kids will annoy you, you'll have to move. There is a smaller pool aft of the ship, but it's outside and it was too cold to sit around there. The Lido buffet had really good selections of food. The dinning room also had a good selection and was typical of any cruise I've been on, so won't say too much. The one difference is besides normal meal times, it's hard to find something to eat besides room service on the ship. There is pasta and pizza always available, but nothing else really to snack on. I workout lots and try to eat every 2-3 hours, so this was a problem, but not a huge issue. A salad bar was adequate enough to have a snack between meals. The gym on the ship is poor. Lots of treadmills, and cycles. No ellipticals or cross trainers. For weight lifting there are machines to cover 1 or 2 exercises per body part. If you like to use dumbbells, they only go up to about 25 lbs! There were very few activities planned on the ship, even on sea days. Bring a good book or two to read. Service (dinning room, wine steward, cabin steward) were all comparable to other cruises (which means very good). Yudi (table 173, 6pm seating in dining room) was our assistant dining steward and was the best member of the crew I encountered on the entire cruise. HAL should make sure they keep people like him. Very friendly and efficient at his job. Stateroom accommodations were adequate. I had an inside stateroom, and it was fine. Maybe smaller than other cruises I've been on, but who really cares. My parents had a balcony, and it was fine. Again, it seemed maybe a bit smaller than other ships. I probably won't sail on HAL again, but I did have a good vacation. It's hard not to! I think Celebrity is still my favorite cruise line. Besides what I mentioned at the beginning of my review, they do everything better than HAL. On any cruise, I always feel that the activities on the ship are lacking, and this was by far the worst. I still love cruising, but for people my age, I suggest finding a special interest group that charters the entire ship and takes care of their own entertainment, brings top end entertainers and DJ's. I'm going with Atlantis Events for my next two cruises which charters Royal Caribbean ships! Read Less
Sail Date: December 2006
This review is for the Zuiderdam cruise from Fort Lauderdale, commencing December 16th. My wife and I drove from Tampa to Fort Lauderdale on Saturday, December 16th and arrived at the parking garage in Port Everglades around 1:00 pm. The ... Read More
This review is for the Zuiderdam cruise from Fort Lauderdale, commencing December 16th. My wife and I drove from Tampa to Fort Lauderdale on Saturday, December 16th and arrived at the parking garage in Port Everglades around 1:00 pm. The boarding procedures went fairly quickly and it took us about 45 minutes from the time we parked the car to the time we got to our cabin. We were a little disappointed that we boarded the ship by a hallway near the elevators rather than into a nice atrium, but we were quickly shown to our cabin by a crew member. Our balcony cabin was on the Verandah deck and we were pleased at the size and overall appearance of our accommodations. Gus, our cabin steward, was great and our room was always neat and clean whenever we returned to it. We found the Zuiderdam to be in very good condition with little signs of wear and tear. The public bathrooms were very well maintained. However, the Crow's Nest bar was not kept clean and that was noticeable as we spent a lot of time there. Finding our way around the ship was a bit of a chore for us, but that was mainly our own forgetfulness rather than any design flaw. For the most part, the staff was friendly and attentive. As it was nearing the holidays, we heard a lot of the crew casually singing Christmas songs which was a nice touch. We found the food to be about as good as could be expected for a cruise ship. The presentation was generally very good but aside from a few standout dishes, the cuisine was ordinary. We dined a few times off ship at our stops and those were our best dining experiences. However, our meal at the Pinnacle Grill was very good and we were quite pleased with their food and service. The service in the Vista Dining Room in the evening was generally good, but were disappointed a few times when having breakfast and lunch due to slow and inattentive service. We found the food in the Lido Buffet was just okay and we thought the station setups were a bit confusing and if you arrived at the wrong time, there were long lines. The pool and hot tub areas were nice and there was always plenty of lounge chairs available. The Erasmus Library was nice and we found a lot of travel books there that we used to plan our next trip. We were in the Casino a fair amount of time and unfortunately, the drink service was virtually non-existent. The casino staff in general did not seem to be very enthusiastic about being there. The singers and dancers in the Vista Lounge were very professional and their shows were almost flawless. The juggler was pretty good, but unfortunately, we missed the illusionist who we heard was excellent. The comedian was not very funny and we left soon after he started his set. We were disappointed in having to spend a whole day at Grand Turk. We felt that the stop there should have been four or five hours, tops. Aside from water sport activities, there's really not much to do there. By spending so much time at Grand Turk, we arrived at Road Town, Tortola, our next port, in late afternoon with scant daylight remaining. We took a Tortola bus tour which was enjoyable and we realized that it would have been nice to have a whole day to explore the island. We have to mention here that trying to locate the proper bus for our shore excursion was a nightmare. There were two Holland America ships in Road Town at the same time and when we walked to the dock, there were hundreds of passengers milling around, trying like us, to find their rides. None of the people from the shore excursions had any signs indicating who they were. Luckily, we inadvertently stumbled upon the right line for our bus. A simple solution would be a sign on a stick, held up so people can see where they're supposed to go. Later that evening, we had a really nice dinner at The Captain's Table, near the Road Town docks. We really liked St. Thomas and wished we could have spent more than one day in port. Walking around the downtown shopping area, especially in the alleys between the streets, was a lot of fun. My wife bought a lovely necklace for herself and we ate a nice lunch in Glady's Cafe. We also took a bus tour of the island which we enjoyed. Our final stop was Half Moon Cay, which had a great beach with crystal clear water. It was fun being in the ocean and seeing exotic fish swimming around you. We had booked the horseback swim-ride shore excursion and that turned out to be a lot of fun . Being in the ocean on a horse is quite a unique experience. A couple of times, waves almost swept me off the horse, and it was an effort to hang on. Getting off the ship in Fort Lauderdale was quick and easy and we were soon back on the road. All in all, we had a very good time. The positives outweighed the negatives, and we were pleased with the Holland America experience. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2006
We cruised in Zuiderdam SY 6094 during Thanksgiving 11/18/06 - 11/25-06. We got a fantastic deal on the cabin, so all of our impressions are tempered by the fact that for what we would pay for a lower end balcony on Celebrity, we got a ... Read More
We cruised in Zuiderdam SY 6094 during Thanksgiving 11/18/06 - 11/25-06. We got a fantastic deal on the cabin, so all of our impressions are tempered by the fact that for what we would pay for a lower end balcony on Celebrity, we got a small suite on Holland America. We've previously cruised Celebrity nine times and Royal Caribbean once to the Caribbean, Mexico, Alaska, and the British Isles/Norway. This was our first Holland America cruise, and we have a 10-day Western Mediterranean cruise booked on Westerdam next summer. My partner and I are in our mid-forties and generally do not drink. Cruising is all about preferences and finding the rights brand and ships that fit your personality. This review will focus on what we find important to us in a cruise. The Zuiderdaam Overall We found the ship to not fit our tastes. It seems to be a cross between retro 70's glam (lots of brown smoked mirrors), Deco, and Asian design influences. The predominant colors are orange-red and red, although I overheard one passenger say, It's like someone swallowed 50 gallons of paint and vomited them all up. The rest of the colors are very dark including the ceilings, making them seem very low. We loved having a real promenade deck. Some have been overly dramatic about the ship's condition. Yes, our cabin had a couple of burn holes in the leather sofa, some stains that looked like blood on the leather chair, and the fake wicker chairs on the veranda were shredding pretty badly. I noticed a threadbare sofa in the Vista Lounge, and the orange-red carpet does not hide the dirt well. We also noticed odd smells from place to place, including vomit, etc. None of this affected our cruise overall. The Food The food, which was average, might have been more enjoyable had it not been such a struggle to get. The Lido is laid out poorly. Royal Caribbean's Radiance class ships have the stations concept down well. Here, staff was trying to service many stations from the same side as the passengers, and people were running into each other. It seemed odd on the breakfast station that in the middle of the service line they would take special egg orders thus having people hold up the line by waiting on their eggs. This might have worked better had it been moved to the omelet station. The breakfast food itself was generally tasty. Fresh-squeezed OJ was available as was bread pudding (until it ran out). The Vista Dining Room food was good, but Celebrity seems to have them beat here. The first night, I ordered what was described as a shrimp curry dish. It came with two shrimp, clams, mussels, and bay scallops. I don't eat clams or mussels. I might have ordered something else, but the service was proceeding at a glacial pace. This was no fault of the waiter  he just seemed to have too many people. Tea glasses never got refilled, and we had to ask to see the dessert tray. On the second night, I ordered Beef Wellington medium. It came well done and dry. Service was quicker the second night, but at the end of the meal, the waiter apologized for the poor service. He said he normally takes care of no more than 18 diners but that he had 23 in our seating. For this reason, I chose not to bring anything to the dining room manager's attention. Having been a food and beverage manager in a previous life, I knew the waiter had no control over how many folks were seated at his station. Had I mentioned anything, the manager would have only come down on the waiter. He was doing the best he could. On the third night, we noticed the waiter was working without an assistant, so we ordered only three courses to help the timing. He later told us the assistant was unfit for duty. On the fourth night, we came back late from a shore excursion, so we ate at the special Caribbean buffet. It was inedible. All the meats were cold, and the ribs were chewy and fatty. Dining companions had hairs in three separate dishes. When we tried to get pizza or pasta, we were told the pizza oven was broken and the pasta was cold - they could only add warm sauce to the cold pasta. Other Embarkation was smooth. We arrived at 11:40 and were on the ship by 12:10. Staterooms were available at 1:15. The gym had had dated equipment, but I did like the chilled towels. The area under the retractable roof is odd. There were a small number of lounge chairs around the pool, but behind that were placed table-cloth covered folding card tables each with four folding chairs. It seemed like an afterthought, but then it did fit the theme of company coming for Thanksgiving. The staff everywhere was extremely friendly, but they seemed very overworked. We barely were introduced to our cabin steward. He seemed new. He also seemed to try to avoid us when we were coming down the hall rather than engage us. Friends said their steward said each steward was servicing 13 cabins  with no assistant. This seemed too many. One day, upon returning from shore at 12:30, the cabin still had not been cleaned. The staff also does not seem to want to go out of their way, and we wondered if this was the automatic tipping policy. One night in the Queen's Lounge, a friend ordered a Diet Coke and was brought a caffeine-free Diet Coke, being told that was all they had. He promptly got up and found one himself. The shows were typical cruise ship fare. The second production show had great costumes. The Vista Lounge itself is oddly designed with the control area taking up the entire middle section in the balcony and many poles blocking the view. Ports were all interesting, and it didn't bother us in the least that they were very laid back, as we were only looking to relax. We had a fun conversation in town on Grand Turk with an innkeeper from Australia. We also noticed the historic plaques Carnival has erected around town. People were extremely friendly. Half Moon Key was paradise, but I can't imagine more than one ship there  it got very crowded. Luckily we had a cabana, but we still had to be vigilant. We saw a wedding party of more than 20 take lounge chairs from cabanas to theirs. The cabana next to ours only had one chair, and the cabana boy said he could get no more. We also saw one woman take a cabana's floats before the occupants arrives, and another woman walked up to ours while we were in it and tried to take two of our floats. The cabana boy did get us hamburgers for a $10 tip, but because we don't drink, he didn't hang around long  the wedding party was much more lucrative. Disembarkation was the smoothest on any line we have experienced. It was great to stay in the cabin until called, and there was no line upon leaving with the first group. Would we sail Holland America again? We are most likely going to cancel our Westerdam cruise. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2006
Disappointed, this is absolutely not a five star ship. having previously travelled with Celebrity, Carnival and Norwegian. Having viewed Holland america's website and clicked on a 360 tour of a verandah cabin stateroom, it actually is ... Read More
Disappointed, this is absolutely not a five star ship. having previously travelled with Celebrity, Carnival and Norwegian. Having viewed Holland america's website and clicked on a 360 tour of a verandah cabin stateroom, it actually is a 360 tour of a Verandah Suite. a misrepresentation??. Porterage staff blatantly asking for gratuities. The whole thing was a lackluster experience, most of the ship was drab and showing signs of wear, carpet threadbare in places,some soft furnishings worn out. Bed linen was ready for the trashbin.  30 and 50 minutes late for room service. COFFEE, absolutely appalling, everywhere except the Windstar cafe where you were able to purchase a semi reasonable cup during their opening times. The self service drinks available consisted of Coffee, Iced Tea or Water, with several broken ice machines. one of the worst self service buffets for choice and quality. Dining room was good, as was the Pinnacle grill, well worth the 30 dollar service charge. Swimming pool was broken and out of use for the last three two broken jacuzzi's. Very pleased to see an abundance of hand sanitizers, although not everyone used them. General cleaning could have been better, i noticed stains and greasy handmarks on the walls from day 1 to day 7, obviously not having been cleaned. The cocktails were almost devoid of any alcohol, making them a very expensive soft drink, casino was poor and unimaginative. rarely was any Caribbean music played and an absence of atmosphere upon boarding. A large proportion of the guests were elderly and infirm. Public toilets, hand towels were in fact dingy face flannels past there use by date. Had it not have been for the cheerful and friendly staff, we would have abandoned ship. having paid 2000 dollars per person, this was not value for money. Holland America need to take many leaves out of Celebrity's book, so they can upgrade/refit their ship, and then with a clear conscience describe the ship as truly five star. many other irritants, but i think I have made my point. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2006
We have just returned home to Ireland after a one-week Eastern Caribbean cruise on the Zuiderdam. Unlike the reviewer from Florida, we were impressed with almost every aspect of the cruise and the ship....apart from one important one. ... Read More
We have just returned home to Ireland after a one-week Eastern Caribbean cruise on the Zuiderdam. Unlike the reviewer from Florida, we were impressed with almost every aspect of the cruise and the ship....apart from one important one. The Zuiderdam was the setting for some form of cruise-based large group event attended by literally hundreds of members of the gay community. To that end, we will probably return to cruising with Royal Caribbean (five cruises to date) or try another family friendly cruise line. This was a pity because we had treated ourselves to the top line Penthouse Verandah Suite on the apartment-size space with all conceivable luxuries including large bedroom, dining room, lounge area and a spectacular double length verandah with loungers and outdoor jacuzzi. Contrary to the Florida reviewer, we felt that the food on board was very good - both in the Vista dining room (although portions are small), at the Lido buffet and at the excellent Pinnacle grill. The wine lists are also very comprehensive and suit European tastes. The public rooms (ie. bars, lounges, etc) are perhaps not as good as some ships we have experienced in the past, but the Zuiderdam does have a pleasant, homely atmosphere and struck us as more convivial than some larger vessels. We spent a fair amount of time around the aft pool area - small but adequate - but this also attracted large numbers of the huge group mentioned above. The 7-night Eastern Caribbean itinerary is an interesting one although it does involve a fair amount of sailing which, for those prone to seasickness, may not be perfect. All of the ports of call are good - particularly the excellent beach and visitor centre at Grand Turk and the very enjoyable Half Moon Cay, But the real praise must go to the staff on board. Staff from Indonesia and the Philippines predominate and to a man and woman they are absolutely fantastic....highly professional and nothing is too much trouble for any of them. In summary, we liked the Zuiderdam, were impressed with Holland America's levels of quality and service....but didn't the like the large group we had to share the ship with on this occasion. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2006
Sailed on the Zuiderdam Jan 7-14.. First time with HAL. This was my 16th cruise... have sailed previously with Celebrity, RCCL, NCL, Carnival. Embarkment was a breeze. Arrived at the terminal around 12:15 and we were on the ship by 1pm. ... Read More
Sailed on the Zuiderdam Jan 7-14.. First time with HAL. This was my 16th cruise... have sailed previously with Celebrity, RCCL, NCL, Carnival. Embarkment was a breeze. Arrived at the terminal around 12:15 and we were on the ship by 1pm. During embarkment we were each given a questionnaire regarding whether or not we had been sick with fever, vomiting etc within the last week. We were aware that there had been approximately 2-300 passengers sick on the previous cruise. We also received a letter stating that there had been a number of people ill on the previous cruise and should we decide not to cruise we would receive a full refund and help in returning home. Measures had been taken to sanitize the ship plus additional measures would be in place throughout the cruise. Which did create a lot of additional work for the crew, plus they were also short handed as a number of them were also ill..... enough about that for now. Had really been expecting a super clean, updated ship since she had just returned from drydock. Were disappointed that there still seemed to be a lot of areas that had not received the attention they should have, but we were still happy to be onboard. We were in a VA Veranda Aft.. 5184. Cabin was a nice size with a small twin size sofa, queen size bed and a full bath with tub. Nice closet space but was lacking for drawer space.... in fact the only drawers were in the night tables. Balcony was a nice size..... narrow but extra deep as it was an aft cabin. Our aft cabin with RCCL was wider and did accommodate more outdoor furniture, also was more private.. but would still take an aft cabin any day compared to one on the side.. After we boarded, we went up to the Lido for lunch. Nice variety of food. Because of the extra safe guards in place, no one was allowed to serve themselves anything... also a crew member to assist you. Even with coffee, water etc. No salt and pepper shakers were on the tables etc. This did create more time in line, but we were pleased to see the extra effort being put forth. The crew really did do any excellent job throughout the whole cruise. And even though' they were working extra hours, they also maintained a cheerful attitude and we were always greeted with a smile. We found that while the food was good..... nothing was really "wow"... poor selection of desserts both in the Lido and the Dining Room at night too... We were fortunate to have received a table for 2... had an excellent server and his assistant. They were always more than happy to accommodate you in any way they could. Once again the food was consistently good, but nothing out of the ordinary. Did find the filet mignon to be dry and slightly tough both times.... Feel the food on Celebrity to be the finest at sea. Strictly our opinion... but every night was a true dining experience for us on the Century and the Millennium... One thing I really missed was that there was never any music during dinner... not even on the formal nights.. Room service for the most part was good.. Even when an error had been made, it was quickly corrected. Just would have liked to have had more room on our balcony to enjoy breakfast out there instead of in the cabin. Entertainment was fair... once again I have found that the entertainment was far better on Celebrity, RCCL and even Carnival. Did have some wonderful music for dancing in the Crow's Nest and the Ocean's Bar... And longer time periods than we had found on Celebrity and RCCL. This we truly enjoyed... Half Moon Cay was outstanding. One of the prettiest beaches I have ever seen. Very shallow and great for just wading. The BBQ was not the best and we found ourselves going back to the ship early to get something else to eat. Do get there early if you want to have a lounge chair. We had rented a clamshell online before our cruise and it was well worth the 9 dollars. We have been to St. Thomas frequently, so this was just another shopping day for us. I have noticed that during the last few years, St. Thomas seems to be deteriorating.... everything is more run down and not as clean as it once was.. Even Megan's Bay does not have the appeal it once had. We took a cab out just for a quick look after shopping and it was not worth the trip.... Tortola was wonderful. This was my 2nd visit to this charming Island. We rented a jeep for the day and drove all over the island. Beautiful views, foliage, beaches etc. My husband has decided he has found a new favorite place for us to revisit for a longer period of time.... We did not go to the Baths as the water was quite rough.. however, others said the cruise over was not nearly as bad as we had thought it would be... Now back to the ship..... Because of all the illness, the hot tubs never did open as well as the hydropool... We did peek in to the hydropool area and I must say the area on the Millennium is much larger and there is not an extra fee... At least there was not when we sailed a few years back... The main pool area was never over crowded, even on sea days.... I did miss the Caribbean music at poolside... Just adds to the overall feeling ...... There were also very few pool games etc... No late night buffets.... and the absolute worse casino we have ever been in whether it be on land or sea. We enjoy the casino... and spend a lot of time there after shows etc. We never had one winning night... in fact... there was not even "1" Royal Flush on any of the video poker machines during the whole cruise by anyone. Lots of people were commenting on the machines etc. and lack of them. So if you are like us, and enjoy a casino at sea... I would suggest you sail with another cruise line. I had really looked forward to Sailing with HAL... had read some excellent remarks by others on the HAL Board. However, I have come to the conclusion that those cruisers that are "Loyal HAL Cruisers" overlook a lot of areas that perhaps those that cruise on various other lines notice. I'm not sure we would cruise with HAL again. Price and circumstances would have to be very attractive for us to do so. Once again, I really do have to compliment the CREW..... they were excellent and really were one of the best we have had the pleasure to experience... . Read Less
Sail Date: January 2006
First Time With Holland America and Very Disappointed-Expected More I have sailed on Celebrity, Royal Caribbean, Princess and Costa, and this was the worst cruise to date. A. The design of the ship was very poor, my wife did not ... Read More
First Time With Holland America and Very Disappointed-Expected More I have sailed on Celebrity, Royal Caribbean, Princess and Costa, and this was the worst cruise to date. A. The design of the ship was very poor, my wife did not believe the ship was only 4 years old. B. Staff used passengers elevators to distribute luggage as the crew elevators were too small, this left the elevators very shabby. C. Lido Deck, When we first saw the pool deck with the removable covered roof it looked okay as we thought this was the secondary pool but it turned out to be the main pool area with the second pool area at the rear of the ship, which you had to go through the buffet area to get to. D. The Atrium was very unimpressive and the first time we walked past without realising that this was the centre point of the ship. E. The Bar areas had no atmosphere, the Ocean bar although the best of the bunch, allowed people to smoke. F. Vista Lounge: unless you had seats in the front there wasn't anywhere to place your drinks whilst watching the shows. G. Fitness centre very limited on aerobic machines and a number of them were out of use, they needed to upgrade the cybex machines. Entertainment A. Lido deck,we were travelling through the Caribbean and the music played on deck(between 12pm to 1pm) without doubt was the dullest music I have ever heard on a ship (where was the Caribbean music?). When we were docked next to other ships you could hear the music played on them but our ship was quiet, in fact I have been in a library with more noise and atmosphere. I don't like loud music and when the band played for that one hour it was far too loud, but please we are on holiday not a convalescent home. B. After the main show in the evening finished at approx 11.30 to 11.45 pm the ship became devoid of lively entertainment. C. This ship although it is trying to attract the younger person, really caters for the older generation who prefer a quiet uninspiring holiday. Dress code Men do not need to wear a Jacket on informal nights as it states in the brochure, there were plenty of men wearing short sleeve shirts and Jeans which we had been told were not allowed in the main restaurants. Even on formal nights the passengers wore what they wanted. Good points Cabins: Excellent -- Service: Excellent -- Food: Excellent -- itinerary: Half Moon Cay the best private island visited. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2005
This is our tenth cruise and first on Holland America. There were 10 people in our party, which included 2 children ages 5 1/2 and 8. We were celebrating 2 anniversaries. Each set of grandparents were celebrating their 40th and 48th years ... Read More
This is our tenth cruise and first on Holland America. There were 10 people in our party, which included 2 children ages 5 1/2 and 8. We were celebrating 2 anniversaries. Each set of grandparents were celebrating their 40th and 48th years respectively. We found the food better on this cruise but the service and the crew were a major disappointment. We had requested a table for 10 but the request was not honored. We had two tables instead next to each other. This proved to be a major inconvenience and frustration. The children were not happy that we were not all sitting together. The staff all the way up to the Director of Hotel Services were rude and inconsiderate. I understand that the ship was full but there was no effort to remedy this mistake. They did not even offer a bottle of wine or a night in the speciality restaurant. The only word that they all seemed to know was "Impossible". Physically, there was a strange odor from the public bathrooms located between the Dining Room and Theatre. After 9:30 there was nothing to do on the ship. When there was an evening event planned the room assigned to the event was too small and presented a fire hazard. A suggestion to change the room, was ignored. Another indication of the crew's unfriendliness. I can't believe that this ship won the Hospitality Award for 2005. It must have been presented by Holland America to themselves because no critic would have found this ship top notch. The ship sailed full with 400 children, unfortunately they were trying to use the same size crew for a full sailing as they would have used when the ship went out only 75% full. I would not recommend this ship. Read Less
Sail Date: August 2005
Just back from our 8/6-13 cruise on the Zuiderdam. This was our 12th cruise and first on HAL. We choose this ship because of the itinerary and its advertised reputation. I look forward to cruising mainly because of my many positive past ... Read More
Just back from our 8/6-13 cruise on the Zuiderdam. This was our 12th cruise and first on HAL. We choose this ship because of the itinerary and its advertised reputation. I look forward to cruising mainly because of my many positive past experiences and for the value that cruising has to offer. The more I have cruised the more I have become aware of the positives and negatives of a ship. Of the previous cruises I have taken before the Zuiderdam, there has been very little for me to complain about. Unfortunately, I had many more negative experiences then positive ones on the Zuiderdam. My initial response to our boarding was a bit mixed. The color scheme contrasted so much that I had a difficult time getting into the mood of being on a cruise. One example was the different shades of dark and light blue mixed with black and white on the carpet in the cabin hallways. I also couldn't help noticing in different parts of our hallway the black electrical tape holding down the seams of the carpet that were separating. Our superior verandah suite was the highlight of the ship. It was nicely appointed and more than large enough for the three of us. The beds were firm and comfortable (even the pullout) and the verandah added a pleasant place to sit and view the ocean and harbors. It was never windy to sit there on a sea day. There is a lot of space in the bathroom so you won't have to worry about bumping your elbows constantly when your showering. The biggest disappointment was the food, especially the entrees in the dining room. For me dining is one of the major highlights of cruising, along with the beaches, excursions, the shopping, or just relaxing. Simply, it was glorified diner food for me. Though their main entrees had variety, they lacked substance and didn't make my taste buds say, "WOW, this is good!" Talk about variety. How about these two entrees - turkey and stuffing and MEATLOAF!! They never ran out of the meatloaf. I wonder why? The people sitting at our table did order the meatloaf, but never finished but half. Another night there was smoked ham on the menu, not off the bone, but out of a can. How could I tell? My family is in the meat business. The Lido buffet was ok for breakfast and lunch, but the few times I ate a hot lunch the meat (pork) was dry and lacked flavor. Oh! The ice cream is free and all you can eat. Celebrity and Princess are head and shoulders above when it comes to food preparations. The evening musicals were nicely produced and varied. I'm not a fan of musical productions, but I enjoyed their productions. The lead female singers voice was exceptional. That was the highlight of the musical entertainment, because there was no Caribbean musical band on board. We were told half way through the cruise that they missed the boat and were stuck at home. On Caribbean night we had to listen to some southern duo (Starlites) play country musical. They couldn't hold a tune and there was constant feed back from their instruments, so I only lasted about 15 minutes to that. It would have been a bit nicer to hear some Caribbean music from a cd. To top it off we had no Caribbean music of any kind playing at the main pool. Instead we listen to music I would listen to driving in my car. I guess the staff just couldn't understand or hear it. Also, if you want to swim in the main pool and there are a lot of children splashing and jumping on you, well go to the back pool. Even though there is a sign that looks like there are rules written on it, they are not really rules. After complaining to the head of security about some children jumping on people we were told that it wasn't their job to watch the behaviors of those at the pool and that the sign is for guidance only. Even though it says NO DIVING it's ok to dive and jump onto people because there are no rules and the staff won't intervene. So swim in the back. Half Moon Cay was great. The beach has soft sand and the water is calm and warm. I wouldn't recommend eating the food there, but it is a pain to have to tender back to the ship for lunch. So, I picked at the chicken. Overall, the service was good and we were always greeted with a hello and a smile. For me this was the cruise that tried, but never could. I won't say that I'll never sail a HAL ship again but it will be a long time before I consider it again. I try tp keep an open mind. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2005
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 2004
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: December 2003
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: September 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
Zuiderdam Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 0.0
Dining 3.5 0.0
Entertainment 4.5 0.0
Public Rooms 3.5 0.0
Fitness Recreation 4.0 0.0
Family 2.0 0.0
Shore Excursion 5.0 0.0
Enrichment 5.0 0.0
Service 4.0 0.0
Value For Money 4.5 0.0
Rates 4.0 0.0

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