Holland America - Alaska Inside Passage Zuiderdam Sept 2012: Zuiderdam Cruise Review by fltam

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Holland America - Alaska Inside Passage Zuiderdam Sept 2012

Sail Date: September 2012
Destination: Alaska
Embarkation: Vancouver
This was our first cruise and overall we had a wonderful time. Since we drove from Florida we decided to park at Canada's Place VINCI long term Parking.

PARKING: The only problem we experienced during the entire cruise was with VINCI Parking. When you pull into the Canada Place Parking facility - you can either drive to the right side to drop off your luggage (which was very nice - except how they make you pull in backwards into a small tight area in order for Porters to get your luggage)....Very nice porters were available to take your luggage. (HELPFUL TIP: Make sure you have already placed the CRUISE SHIP LUGGAGE TAGS on your bags before you arrive here - its hectic and fast paced). When you leave the baggage loading area...you end up on the main street - you can not go and park your car from this area - you must drive around the block and come back to the main entrance at Canada Place - VERY TEDIOUS and TIME-CONUSMING so give yourself plenty of time to arrive - this More added at least 30-40 minutes to get finally parked. NEXT TIP: Try parking at level P1. You will need to park first then WALK to the VINCI parking office which is on P1 about halfway in the middle of level P1 - located in a small office (almost non-noticeable). I had pre-ordered our parking pass in August 2012 for our September 2012 cruising day. I received an email receipt and my charge card was quickly charged for the full amount. However on the day we arrived at VINCI - the office didn't have any record of our reservation anywhere. I brought the email receipt (but not the credit card charge receipt- which I probably should have). The girl in the office couldn't find any information on our reservation but said it wouldn't be a problem because she would make a copy of my email receipt and that she would be in the office the following Saturday when we disembarked. She said she would remember us and there wouldn't be any problems..Well...she wasn't there on the following Saturday..and the lady (a different one) again said she had not record of the reservation (including any copy that the first lady had made the previous Saturday)...What a big management mess!! However she was nice enough and gave us a yellow card to use to show we paid when we left...It worked and we got out of the facility....PIECE OF ADVICE: If you prepay (which you should because it at least $60 cheaper - bring both a copy of credit card and email confirmation receipt.

CRUISE: We began our embarking process around 12 noon...and it wasn't too bad...I would say it took about 45 minutes or so to finally get onto the ship and head to our room. Our luggage wasn't there for at least another hour or so..but it wasn't a problem because we just headed down to get lunch at the LIDO buffet..for the first two days you are served by the staff. One thing I noticed throughout the entire week was that the Zuiderdam STAFF was very professional, friendly, and helpful...Absolutely no complaints on anyone we interfaced with. The food was actually very good from the LIDO Buffet.

The only criticism was that it was clear initially on how to line up to each food station. The way it worked for the most part was that there would be two type of food stations side by side....Each side had it own line....the problem was that it wasn't clear that there were two lines on the first day or two until you got the hang of the place....as more people crowded into this area...the lines blended into the crowds of people and sometimes (well many times) you couldn't tell where the line began or ended which caused confusion...and was annoying and frustrating at times. However, the food was very very good...there was a wonderful ASIAN food station which I ate lunch almost everyday...They had pizza/pasta station, gluten free station, BISTRO station which served a variety of seafood/beef/chicken//pork dishes that were all very good; they had a sandwich stations (i.e. make your own or try one of the daily special including paninis) again very good.. Also a dessert station (which was just okay in my opinion)....

Near the LIDO pool they served hamburgers, chicken and salmon burgers w/fries - all very good (especially the salmon burgers)...I believe they served a sit down lunch for in the VISTA Dining room for those who cruised before and for those who had a deluxe suite or higher....

In the evening everyone had the option of eating in the main Vista dining room or LIDO BUFFET (no Asian options at night because this area was used to prepare Italian dishes for Canaletto restaurant) or one of the speciality restaurants (Pinnacle Grill, Canaletto at additional costs).

On various days - there would be different types of Lunch food options set up near the LIDO pool such as taco bar, Indian food, baked salmon, steamed claims, etc....

DRILL: Around 4 pm everyone was required to go out to the main deck and stand by their assigned lifeboat for a safety drill...of course there were those who held everyone up and didn't show up initially - causing us all to stand and wait as they called and called over loud speaker for them. This was annoying...Another issue I had was when the captain spoke to us - you could hardly hear him through the deck speakers....I think the reason was because they speakers seem to be pointed towards the railing...and not toward where the people where standing...if you had any problem hearing at all (like my husband does)...there was not way you could understand what was being said...Also the staff who was checking off names would periodically call out names of people who hadn't checked in with them...and you couldn't hardly hear them....this needs a lot of improvement...TIP: get to the deck on time and check in with the person in front of your lifeboat so they can mark your name off...


ROOM: We stayed in a Superior Suite - which was a nice size for us. About as big as a nice hotel suite size room (i.e. ones with a kitchenette and sofa). Bathroom was somewhat small but had two full sinks and a large storage shelf under the double sink area which made storing extra items easy. Shower was very small. However the bathtub had a shower head and we used that primarily because it was roomier...Towels were over-sized and heavy - very nice quality. We didn't have any problems with out toilet not flushing properly (like some people experienced at times).

Beds were comfortable enough - but not as comfortable as many people had described - at least to me. They were okay...and didn't hurt my back but I thought they could have been more comfortable...maybe the one we had was older? However we had six pillow overall - soft, med, hard...loved the pillows.

There were two chair with a rounded back - which I didn't like too much - they hurt my back...I would have preferred flat-back chairs...The couch pillow cushions were covered in a shiny material which caused them to slip on the couch...they would stay put...especially if you tried to put them behind you for support..not practical at all....

The decor was tastefully done - colors of bamboo greens/berry/ warm orange. We loved our veranda - it wouldn't have been the same experience without it...
There are only two main outlets in the main cabin for both 115 and 220v. So bring a multi-plug outlet if you want/need more. The bathroom only has one non-polarized outlet...so bring an adapter for this type of outlet if you plan on using it. The room provided a non-removable blow-dryer that was inside a drawer in the cabin (not in the bathroom)...it was VERY VERY WEAK...so I just used the one I brought (highly recommend bringing your own if you style your hair)...

The room or ship does not provide any IRONS/IRON BOARDS - so you will need to send your clothes out to be pressed if needed. However Downy Wrinkle Release spray works pretty good for most items.

There was AMPLE storage space...there closets and plenty of room under bed to store way luggage...plus two more storage containers under bed...YEAH!!

I brought lysol along with me to spray room, remote controls, doorknobs etc...The ship provide LOTS AND LOTS of PURELL stations...even ones when you embark/disembark ship ...Very nice...

Television has some options..I think there was one cartoon station, a couple of ship announcement stations and a few television stations like TNT, A&E CNN, FOX NEWS ESPN and a few other. Also they had 3 movie channels which they aired ACTION DRAMA AND COMEDY shows. You can also rent DVD's...There were about 3 music stations also.

The Explorers cafe provided a nice selection of books/magazines to check out as well....

We had two cabin stewards who were both exceptional...courteous, professional, friendly, helpful...just terrific....not pushy - just very accommodating in meeting any of our needs.

FORMAL NIGHTS: There were two formal nights - food was exceptional on these nights (but also exceptional on non-formal nights)....the only thing I didn't love was the WRINKLED CHAIR COVERS they used to make the dining room feel a little more sophisticated...it just looked tacky...they should have been pressed...or not used at all....Maybe they should just add a big white bow or something in lieu of these wrinkled chair covers...it took away from the ambiance...

Most people were dressed in tuxes/cocktail dress, suits, etc...but there were a few who came in in inappropriate outfits - they looked so out of place...and I wish the the management would have not allowed this but they did....

Overall food experience was fantastic....a wide variety of international food options...Service for the most part was absolutely terrific...there were a few times the servers ran behind and things got a little slow - but so what...where were we rushing off to ???

SHOWS: There were several musical shows...they were just okay...entertaining yes...great singing - not so much...but everyone worked hard to provide an entertaining show and that was great...some of the dancers were really good and stood out...there were a variety of programs offered everyday...we didn't attend too many of them but I heard many people enjoyed them...everything from the exercise programs to the culinary demos...

We really enjoyed the piano room and the jazz music played in the Ocean Lounge..We loved sipping wine, watch the beautiful scenery and listening to the soothing sounds.....I loved that there were many tucked away lounges you could sit away from the crowds.

There were a small amount of children on board...and yes had a few activities for them - however I really don't think it was the best cruise for children...I think others like Carnival are better suited...I just don't think there is that much for them to do overall...

PORTS: JUNEAU AND SKAGWAy were fun to walk around. Unique and old-frontier style...we loved KETCHIKAN...lots of shopping and fun places to check out like CREEK STREET where the oldest brothel DOLLIES is located....fun saloons in each port RED DOG, RED ONION SALOON, Totem Bar, Artic Bar, etc.). We saw a small bear which got separated from its mother on a back porch. It was being kept their for the time being until they relocated it....we saw several sea otters swimming around in the creek which meandered in between the little port shops along creek street.

STORE EXCURSIONS: we didn't take advantage of any of these...

GLACIER BAY: We had a local environmentalist board and discuss the glaciers and the Alaskan environment while we cruised around beautiful Glacier Bay. We heard some glacier 'calving' which sounded like mild thunder. We ate Dutch Pea soup and it was noticeably chillier (even inside the cabins) as we enjoyed our delicious hot steaming soup - earlier they served hot chocolate on the outside deck....FUN AND MEMORABLE - we even saw a couple of sea otters briefly...

CHOCOLATE CHOCOLATE EVERYWHERE NIGHT: On Thursday night - near the LIDO pool - the Chefs prepared and presented a spectacular display of everything CHOCOLATE...It was outstanding...and STUNNING to behold...HOWEVER the only problem was that we were going through a storm - and the ship was rocking and rolling terrible...and dripping water through the roof all over the place...it make it awkward and cumbersome to enjoy the spectacular showpieces...the rocking make me feel ill so I couldn't stay as long as I wanted to taste and savor all of the culinary delights...but it was just GRAND PRESENTATION and a lot of VERY HARD WORK...

SEASICKNESS - Unfortunately for me - I was sick throughout the week - but my husband was fine....I did take BONINE and IMMODIUM which I think helped for the most part...I had a lot of stomach problems regardless..Two nights in particular...the second night we ran into a lot of bumpy weather - rocking left and right, back and forth...caused my stomach to flip around a lot....and caused me problems for the next couple of days...also on the Chocolate Night - same thing.... (no fever or chills - so no norovirus - just gastric issues from so much motion and maybe some slight bacterial infection)....

Overall - we had a WONDERFUL TIME and I highly recommend Holland America to anyone looking for a classy and sophisticated adventure..... Less

Published 10/01/12
Helpful? Thank fltam

Cabin review: SS Signature Superior Verandah Suite

Superior Veranda - Great balcony (four chairs - one large table). Three tall closets, under bed storage, and large bathroom storage shelf. Comfortable bed, six pillows (soft, med, hard). Large couch. Quality bed linens. Tasteful room decor/colors. Two chairs - not very comfortable. Small desk area. Only two outlets in main cabin. One non-polarized outlet in bathroom. Heavy, quality towels. Professional and courteous cabin stewards. Room service was timely and food was good.

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