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We took a 10-day family cruise aboard the Holland America Zuiderdam over Christmas. We had 8 adults and 3 children. This was the 23rd cruise for my wife and me and all of the participants had been on at least 2 cruises. In a word, the cruise was outstanding with one major exception. Let me cover that first. HAL needs considerable work on their "As You Wish" dining. Since we were a large group with 3 children, I wanted to ensure that "As You Wish" dining was exactly that. I was told by my travel agent AND Holland America headquarters that I would be able to reserve a standing time (at 6:30 PM). I even had a Cruise Critic staff member who was on the same cruise immediately before us tell us that she was sure we "would have no problem with a standing reservation". When we attempted to obtain this reservation, we were not only turned down flat, BUT we could not get any reservation between 5 PM and 9 PM on any day. THE ENTIRE DINING ROOM WAS HELD FOR WALK-UPS BETWEEN 5 AND 9 !! If we had known this, we would have opted for their standard seating of 5:45 PM. But, once we got on board, we did not even have this option because the standard seating was full. It was quite apparent that the individual Holland America ships make their own rules and are not governed by their headquarters. That problem notwithstanding, the cruise turned out quite well. The rooms were quite large and we had the largest balcony we have ever experienced. Our room steward and waiters were outstanding in all respects friendly, attentive, willing to help out whenever they could. (The assistant "maitre d's" were rather worthless, but I guess the ship needs them to shepherd the waiters.) The ship was beautiful and extensively decorated for the holiday season. Sculptures, paintings, and pictures were well conceived and pleasant. Zuiderdam underwent a major overhaul and reconditioning in the Spring of 2008 and it was apparent since everything looked new. The food was quite good although not as good as Celebrity and Princess. Selections were extensive and the quantity more than enough. The Lido restaurant (buffet) was very good. It was divided into specific areas for deli, pasta, main courses, desserts, etc. and even had an Asian cuisine. Zuiderdam entertainment was outstanding. In addition to the singers and dancers, they had a comedian, magic team, and a singer. The smaller groups performing in the lounges and bars were also quite good. The travel guide, Dr. Richard Detrich, was excellent and provided lectures on the history, people, and land of each of the ports we visited in addition to information on the Panama Canal. The cruise director, Johnny Quinn, was as good as I have experienced and "DJ Matt" as good. The fitness center was quite good except that about 25% of the treadmills were out of order during the entire cruise. The Kids' Club (Club HAL) was absolutely outstanding. The folks running it were attentive with unique activities (including cooking) and making it fun for the children. All in all, it was an outstanding cruise except for the unsettling experience of the "As You Wish" dining.

Zuiderdam over Christmas

Zuiderdam Cruise Review by Cruzin' Joe

Trip Details
We took a 10-day family cruise aboard the Holland America Zuiderdam over Christmas. We had 8 adults and 3 children. This was the 23rd cruise for my wife and me and all of the participants had been on at least 2 cruises.
In a word, the cruise was outstanding with one major exception. Let me cover that first. HAL needs considerable work on their "As You Wish" dining. Since we were a large group with 3 children, I wanted to ensure that "As You Wish" dining was exactly that. I was told by my travel agent AND Holland America headquarters that I would be able to reserve a standing time (at 6:30 PM). I even had a Cruise Critic staff member who was on the same cruise immediately before us tell us that she was sure we "would have no problem with a standing reservation".
When we attempted to obtain this reservation, we were not only turned down flat, BUT we could not get any reservation between 5 PM and 9 PM on any day. THE ENTIRE DINING ROOM WAS HELD FOR WALK-UPS BETWEEN 5 AND 9 !!
If we had known this, we would have opted for their standard seating of 5:45 PM. But, once we got on board, we did not even have this option because the standard seating was full.
It was quite apparent that the individual Holland America ships make their own rules and are not governed by their headquarters.
That problem notwithstanding, the cruise turned out quite well. The rooms were quite large and we had the largest balcony we have ever experienced. Our room steward and waiters were outstanding in all respects friendly, attentive, willing to help out whenever they could. (The assistant "maitre d's" were rather worthless, but I guess the ship needs them to shepherd the waiters.)
The ship was beautiful and extensively decorated for the holiday season. Sculptures, paintings, and pictures were well conceived and pleasant. Zuiderdam underwent a major overhaul and reconditioning in the Spring of 2008 and it was apparent since everything looked new.
The food was quite good although not as good as Celebrity and Princess. Selections were extensive and the quantity more than enough. The Lido restaurant (buffet) was very good. It was divided into specific areas for deli, pasta, main courses, desserts, etc. and even had an Asian cuisine.
Zuiderdam entertainment was outstanding. In addition to the singers and dancers, they had a comedian, magic team, and a singer. The smaller groups performing in the lounges and bars were also quite good. The travel guide, Dr. Richard Detrich, was excellent and provided lectures on the history, people, and land of each of the ports we visited in addition to information on the Panama Canal. The cruise director, Johnny Quinn, was as good as I have experienced and "DJ Matt" as good.
The fitness center was quite good except that about 25% of the treadmills were out of order during the entire cruise.
The Kids' Club (Club HAL) was absolutely outstanding. The folks running it were attentive with unique activities (including cooking) and making it fun for the children.
All in all, it was an outstanding cruise except for the unsettling experience of the "As You Wish" dining.
Cruzin' Joe’s Full Rating Summary
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Value For Money
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Dining
Public Rooms
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Ages 10 to 12
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Cabin Review

Deluxe Ocean-View Verandah Stateroom
Cabin VF 4022
Cabin outstanding, great hanging and storage space, largest balcony we've ever had in 23 cruises.
Navigation Deck Inside Cabins, Balcony Cabins, Suite Cabins