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The long & short of this cruise was that quite a few passengers ended up with Bronchitis. Was this the fault of the ship, of course there is no way of telling. However, it certainly did color our enjoyment of the trip. While we are both pushing 70, this cruise did not fit our style. The Zuiderdam is showing her age and yes I know that she is going into dry dock in a couple of months (April 2015). However, small things add up and put an edge on the experience. There were lots of activities to choose from: Dancing with Stars at Sea - had I felt better I would have given it a try; Cooking Shows; Windows 8.1 Workshop; the typical Shopping Seminars; etc; etc. One thing that the Zuiderdam can not be faulted on was the service - our cabin stewards (Holly & Dee) knew that we weren't feeling well and went out of their way to check on us, water, ice, extra blankets, etc The table staff in the Lido restaurant were all friendly and more than willing to help finding a table bringing water, coffee, etc. When asked they helped me take food back to the cabin when we wanted something other than what Room Service offered. When I found that I had locked key to my TSA lock inside my luggage, the locksmith was there in less than 10 minutes. On the third day we mentioned to our steward that the shower/tub appeared to be draining slowly - 15 minutes later there's the plumber at the door. Compared to our previous cabins, this one felt small. It may only have been the layout but the perception was there. The one area that I was less than thrilled with was the dining. We ate once in the Vista (opening seating). The service was fine and the new friends that we met made the dinner enjoyable. The food failed to impress, lukewarm food won't impress anyone. The food in the Lido restaurant suffered the same handicap. Service from a steam table should be HOT not tepid, the exceptions to this were the Omelet, English Breakfast and the Pasta Stations. The answer is simple, each of these are prepared to order not off the steam line. Ice cream was melting as it was put in the bowl, turn on the freezer. Our experience with Shore Excursions this trip was limited. Half Moon Cay has much to offer and is a nice break. The excursions around the island are impressive but the downtown core of Aruba is a bit shoddy but with a great selection of shops ( Diamonds Int'l, etc, etc). Curacao is a pleasure to visit with its brightly painted Dutch Colonial buildings. We toured Cartagena with a group from Cruise Critic. We had 4 hours with a guide and saw the key points of the Old City and touched the newer areas. Don't miss La Popa Monastery, it high overlooking the harbor, much like the Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janiero. We skipped the Panama Excursions only because our bronchitis was really bothering us and the coughing was a distraction for those around us. The last port was Puerto Limon, Costa Rica. As the antibiotics were being to work we decided to venture forth to see Tayutic Hacienda. DON'T SKIP THIS ONE. Yes, it's a two hour bus ride each way and we left at 7 AM. The bus is an air conditioned highway coach and the roads are in excellent condition. The scenery is exceptional. At the Hacienda there are demonstrations of Macadamia nut, Coffee bean and Sugar Cane processing with a delicious traditional lunch and a visit to RC chapel on the property that was built by the original owner from pieces that they salvaged from other churches that were being updated. The Hacienda is only 13 miles from Mt. Turrialba,an active volcano. We chose to taxi to and from the airport; it's only a 15 - 20 minute ride fare runs $15. HAL offers Baggage Direct service for $20 / person. Bags outside the door before midnight and they take them to airport check them through to your final destination and issue your boarding passes. All you have to do is walk off with your carry-on and get to the airport. The airline baggage fees are added to your stateroom account. Don't get sick on a cruise ship..... The prescription prices are exorbitant and make certain that your medical insurance will cover it. All in all, it wasn't a terrible cruise! As I stated at the first, our experience was tainted by an illness. We are certain that we would have enjoyed the cruise in more favorable circumstances.  

Not our style

Zuiderdam Cruise Review by frober262

Trip Details
The long & short of this cruise was that quite a few passengers ended up with Bronchitis. Was this the fault of the ship, of course there is no way of telling. However, it certainly did color our enjoyment of the trip.
While we are both pushing 70, this cruise did not fit our style. The Zuiderdam is showing her age and yes I know that she is going into dry dock in a couple of months (April 2015). However, small things add up and put an edge on the experience.
There were lots of activities to choose from: Dancing with Stars at Sea - had I felt better I would have given it a try; Cooking Shows; Windows 8.1 Workshop; the typical Shopping Seminars; etc; etc.
One thing that the Zuiderdam can not be faulted on was the service - our cabin stewards (Holly & Dee) knew that we weren't feeling well and went out of their way to check on us, water, ice, extra blankets, etc The table staff in the Lido restaurant were all friendly and more than willing to help finding a table bringing water, coffee, etc. When asked they helped me take food back to the cabin when we wanted something other than what Room Service offered. When I found that I had locked key to my TSA lock inside my luggage, the locksmith was there in less than 10 minutes. On the third day we mentioned to our steward that the shower/tub appeared to be draining slowly - 15 minutes later there's the plumber at the door.
Compared to our previous cabins, this one felt small. It may only have been the layout but the perception was there.
The one area that I was less than thrilled with was the dining. We ate once in the Vista (opening seating). The service was fine and the new friends that we met made the dinner enjoyable. The food failed to impress, lukewarm food won't impress anyone. The food in the Lido restaurant suffered the same handicap. Service from a steam table should be HOT not tepid, the exceptions to this were the Omelet, English Breakfast and the Pasta Stations. The answer is simple, each of these are prepared to order not off the steam line. Ice cream was melting as it was put in the bowl, turn on the freezer.
Our experience with Shore Excursions this trip was limited. Half Moon Cay has much to offer and is a nice break. The excursions around the island are impressive but the downtown core of Aruba is a bit shoddy but with a great selection of shops ( Diamonds Int'l, etc, etc). Curacao is a pleasure to visit with its brightly painted Dutch Colonial buildings. We toured Cartagena with a group from Cruise Critic. We had 4 hours with a guide and saw the key points of the Old City and touched the newer areas. Don't miss La Popa Monastery, it high overlooking the harbor, much like the Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janiero. We skipped the Panama Excursions only because our bronchitis was really bothering us and the coughing was a distraction for those around us. The last port was Puerto Limon, Costa Rica. As the antibiotics were being to work we decided to venture forth to see Tayutic Hacienda. DON'T SKIP THIS ONE. Yes, it's a two hour bus ride each way and we left at 7 AM. The bus is an air conditioned highway coach and the roads are in excellent condition. The scenery is exceptional. At the Hacienda there are demonstrations of Macadamia nut, Coffee bean and Sugar Cane processing with a delicious traditional lunch and a visit to RC chapel on the property that was built by the original owner from pieces that they salvaged from other churches that were being updated. The Hacienda is only 13 miles from Mt. Turrialba,an active volcano.
We chose to taxi to and from the airport; it's only a 15 - 20 minute ride fare runs $15. HAL offers Baggage Direct service for $20 / person. Bags outside the door before midnight and they take them to airport check them through to your final destination and issue your boarding passes. All you have to do is walk off with your carry-on and get to the airport. The airline baggage fees are added to your stateroom account.
Don't get sick on a cruise ship..... The prescription prices are exorbitant and make certain that your medical insurance will cover it.
All in all, it wasn't a terrible cruise! As I stated at the first, our experience was tainted by an illness. We are certain that we would have enjoyed the cruise in more favorable circumstances.
 
frober262’s Full Rating Summary
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Cabin Review

Deluxe Ocean-View Verandah Stateroom
Cabin VC 4151
I'm certain that it was simply the layout; however, the cabin felt smaller than our previous cabins which were in virtually the same location on two other ships. The mirror over the bed does give the illusion that there is more space than really exists. The bathroom is well laid out, with storage under the vanity and there is a small cabinet beside sink. The shower/tub was good but I believe they are being changed to shower only during refit. Leave your soap, shampoo etc home the Elemis products that are supplied are wonderful and really work.
Navigation Deck Inside Cabins, Balcony Cabins, Suite Cabins

Port & Shore Excursion Reviews

  • Aruba
    The downtown area of Aruba fails to impress me at all. Compared to its picturesque neighbor, Curacao, Aruba's core needs a great deal of work. Yes, it does have a large selection of jewelry stores and name brand name clothing stores. BUT, where it falls short is eye appeal.
    View All 1,710 Aruba Cruise Port Reviews
    View Cruise Critic's Aruba Cruise Port Review
  • City Tour
    Minibus with experience guide. Nick had a strong accent; however, he became easier to understand as we became used to him.The tour was four hours which included a stop at Castillo de San Felipe de Barajas, historic city walls, La Popa Monastery and the shops of Las Bovedas
    View All 337 City Tour Reviews
  • La Popa Monastery
    This is a very impressive building not only for its location ; but, also, for its collection of artifacts and the simple fact that it is still a working monastery. The only draw back is the forest of radio & cell antennas immediately adjacent to the building. The views were lovely, once you had driven through the barrios and up the hill to the monastery. Once there, the chapel was quite charming.
    View All 22 La Popa Monastery Reviews
  • Tayutic Hacienda
    This is a most impressive tour. Two hours each way by air conditioned coach, surprisingly the roads are very good, the scenery along the way is tremendous. The road from Siquirres to the Hacienda is a bus drivers nightmare - switchback after switchback, etc., etc. Once you arrive you really don't want to leave. demonstrations of macadamia nut processing, coffee bean cleaning & roasting and finally, artisanal processing of sugar cane from cane to raw brown sugar. Add to this a traditional lunch of black beans, rice, steamed local vegetables and chicken pieces in a light gravy. Lastly don't miss the chapel that was built by the owners from materials salvaged from churches that were being renovated.
    View All 14 Tayutic Hacienda Reviews