Last Panama Canal visit before drydock: Zuiderdam Cruise Review by bobpell

Zuiderdam 5
Member Since 2011
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Last Panama Canal visit before drydock

Sail Date: November 2012
Destination: Panama Canal & Central America
Embarkation: Fort Lauderdale (Port Everglades)
We both measure how good our cruise was by how everything flows without delays, backups or changes to our quest for sun, relaxation, experiencing new harbours and excursions.
This 11 day 3291 NM Panama Canal cruise filled our expectations.
What I will write now is what we experienced, no third hand info or rumours.
We knew, thanks to the forum experts our ship was heading for a 10 day drydock as soon as we got off Friday Nov. 30, 2012
Although we encountered moderate seas northbound from Puerto Limon to Fort Lauderdale there was very little creaking and groaning from the ceiling panels in our suite or in the hallways as there was on the Maasdam last spring.

The book exchange in the exploration cafe which is located in the Crow's Nest is open as soon as you get on board the first day.
Mini survey form arrives on fourth day. fill it in if you perceive a problem. They do respond, sometimes even with chocolate covered good. A full survey More delivered to your stateroom on the last day.
Canada newspaper available daily though front desk.
The first and last night's Vista Lounge shows were at 9:30 PM. The rest of the nights they were at 8 and 10 PM
There were only 40 chaise loungers on the aft Lido deck. With 1905 guests you had to be early if that was your preferred sun tanning location. Hopefully after drydock this will be rectified!!
Aft Lido pool was over 85 degrees for the first 3 days but was made more re freshening after my BF put her hooks into the front desk citing health concerns.
During the Panama Canal passage it must of rained 2" in 5 hours. Water flooded into the ship through the doors forward on deck 10 just outside the Crow's Nest. There was so much it soaked the interior carpet and worked down the stairwell to deck nine. Interior ledges under the large glass panels inside the Crows Nest were covered in a layer of water which prompted the use of the blue deck chair towels to sop up the mini flood.
At this point we looked closely at the large windows port side of the Crow's nest and discovered several panels had cracks in the corners or the glass. We observed at least 2 glass panels in the Lido Restaurant cracked also in their upper corners!!
Yes the Caneletto restaurant is $10 each. ...a penny here a dime there.!! Remember there is a survey form if this and anything else bothers you put it in writing to HAL

We were in 6092 a suite just aft of the glass elevators on the port side. Our cabin stewards DJ and Bagus who seemed to be omnipresent took care of us as we were their family and we shook their hands upon leaving knowing we would probably never encounter that consistent expert service again.
We were supplied with 30 hangers, 12 drawers, a make up mirror and a workable hair dryer.
Our veranda held 4 chairs, 2 ottomans and 2 tables. For those asking there is a lock on the veranda door with a removable key.
The bathroom was amply supplied with Elemis dispensers of conditioner, bath soap and shampoo in a full size Jacuzzi tub. Body lotion was on the counter held had double sinks.
Towels magically appeared while we were out, see paragraph above.
My BF wanted me to stuff the king mattress in my over sized suitcase (which held her cosmetics etc.)as she said it was toooo comfortable.
One must bring a clock as there wasn't one supplied. We went though 4 time changes during this expedition.
There was only one waste basket for the suite.

White wine $21.95 minimum on board for cabin use. It could be bought in Aruba at the supermarket behind the Renaissance hotel for a minimum of $7.00 us. Wifi was free near Starbucks inside of the Renaissance Hotel.
In Curacao Wifi was at Edy's Ice Cream (400 Yds) for the price of an ice cream cone. Wine was at the Cheese Shop (200 Yds)
Cartagena Wifi was at the Duty Free shop (300Yds) for $3.00us an hour. Wine was available in town at a supermarket.

Due to rain for 5 straight days all shore excursions booked at Panama Canal were cancelled. Zuiderdam could not dock for shopping in colon as our dock was flooded. Coral Princess arriving first got the one usable dock. Captain Turner apologized and we were reimbursed $4.59 each in port charges.

Puerto Limon is the antithesis of Willemsted, Curacao for scenic city vistas.
It boasts the most potholes per mile of road anywhere we have visited. The one and only redeeming feature was we went ziplining and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. Wifi was at the flea market(200 Yds) alas it wasn't working . Wine was at a supermarket (400 Yds) We were too scared to walk that far.
Would we sail HAL again...we are already booked April 2013
Would we sail on the Zuiderdam, of course we would. The crew made up for the miniscule problems we encountered.
Thanks to Leonel on the aft Lido deck, DJ and Bagus on Deck 6 we arrived smiling and left the same way...enjoy
PS...I think food is personal so my review is calorie free. Velcros belts should be part of your haberdashery though Less

Published 12/04/12

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