1. Home
  2. Cruise Reviews
  3. Zuiderdam
My husband had vacation days left, and a cruise required less planning than other options. The itinerary included Panama (on our bucket list), Cartagena and other ports we had never been to, so we booked this only 6 weeks prior to sailing. We flew into Fort Lauderdale the day before, used UBER ($8) to get to the Embassy Suites, which was an older hotel, but clean, and we enjoyed the free cocktail hour with snacks from 5-7 pm, and the free breakfast. Rather than use the hotel port transportation we took UBER ($4) to the port. This was our first time on Holland and we were very pleased. The ship itself is on the smaller size but I think this helped with embarkation and debarkation, and generally with a less crowded feel overall. Just a short line on embarkation and rooms were already prepared and available when we boarded. We only bring carry on luggage so were able to put our bags in the room immediately. Passengers are typically older - mid 40's to 70's and up. We are mid 50's. There were a few electric carts, canes and walkers, but not an overwhelming amount. I only saw 5 children on the cruise. We had late dining (8pm) at a table for 6. We had lots of fun with our table mates and with our waiter, Dewa, who took great care of us all cruise long. We had never done late dining before but it worked out well on this itinerary as some of the port calls go into the evening. Food was very good in the dining room. The soups were especially delicious. Surf and Turf with Lobster was tasty. On the way out of the dining room we could stop to be served butter mints! Yum. We often had breakfast in the main dining room as it was nice to be served instead of the using the buffet on LIDO deck. Food in the Buffet was very good as well. They serve you most of the items. Never ate dinner there, but lunch included asian options, pizza, various pasta (you choose pasta and sauce and add ons) , burgers, pre-made sandwiches, deli where you choose, regular hot main meals, and an awesome salad bar. Salad bar had big bowls where you choose from the lettuce you want and a plethora of nummy items and dressings. You could make a different kind of salad every day! There were always seats available in the Lido buffet, but you often had to share a table of 4 or 6 with other people. Free beverages included water, ice tea, and lemonade. Juice was free during breakfast. Ice cream was scooped, not soft serve, and available in cones or dishes. If you looked carefully, you could find a little brown bag filled with potato chips! There were several mini classes, about 40 minutes each, on Windows 10 topics which I found to be very informative and learned new things. The Test Kitchen had delicious recipes and great demonstrations-I wish I had time to attend more of those. The evening main shows were not quite what I was expecting. I thought there would be more singing/dancing type shows, but there was only one of those. The other were a couple of excellent themed dance shows, a ventriloquist, a magician, a comedian, a nature move with live musicians on stage, etc. While I did not care for the music in the BBKing Club, they had an very, very talented Quintet of violins, cello and piano that were super talented. They played a variety of programs. Also in Billboard Onboard there are 2 grand pianos with the 2 players doing several shows a day. They were awesome and seemed to have at least one all request show each evening. Emily on piano was just outstanding and a great singer as well. She knew almost ever song people asked for. My husband loves his trivia and there were contest 3-4 times a day. I took a different route and purchased the all cruise pass to the spa, $149 on embarkation day. Only 40 passes are sold, so the facilities were never crowed. That got me use of the bubbling hydro pool-really great for sore muscles. It is a quiet separate room with some chairs and chaise loungers. It also included the thermal suite with steam room, dry sauna, wet sauna and fabulous heated ceramic loungers looking out over the ocean. Open 8 am - 10 pm. Loved every minute of it! You get a sticker for your card, and then just walk up to the desk anytime to get a locker which has a lovely spa robe inside and of course a locked space for your belongings. I often read while relaxing on the loungers. Ports/Excurisions: Half Moon Cay-Very nice beach. which you take a tender to get to. Lots of beach chairs. I suggest you walk further down toward the pirate ship. You can even find some chairs with shade in this area. Water was nice for swimming. BBQ lunch by Holland was also nice. Did not choose an excursion. No need to. This was a wonderful relaxing beach day. Aruba - The town is ok, but nothing special. Would recommend you do an excursion. We did a sunset cruise from 5:30 to 7:30 and got back in time for 8 pm dinner on the boat. Nice trip, calm seas, bar open all trip long (no beer) rum and cokes, and other hard liquor, and some wine, and a champagne toast for everyone near the end of the trip. Delicious hot appetizers and local cheese served as snacks. A bit crowded when getting on, but then they opened up the front of the catamaran and that was better. Note: you must climb down a short ladder to use the toilet. Nice tour. Recommended. Curacao - Did not do an excursion, but this is a lovely port to walk around. Path from ship is brick walkway, then enters a lovely outdoor shopping mall type area (shops, bars, cheese, ice cream, free WIFI etc) then continue through and walk out to the water and across the amazing floating bridge. We went back at night across the bridge and sat in an open air bar, Vienna Biergarten, and had a drink while watching the bridge lit up at night and opening and closing as boats came by. This was our favorite port. Cartagena - We took the Cartagena by Land and Sea excursion and both liked it. Being on the boat was nice, and cooler, and broke up the tour nicely. Our guide Fernando was excellent and gave a great understanding of Cartegena. Tour also goes to the fort. It is a bit of an uphill climb, but they wait for people. It also goes into the old town. They have nice clean restrooms to use at an air-conditioned Emerald store, which also has Free WIFI. Next door you get a ticket for a free bottle of water, or soda for $1 or beer for $2. There is also around 40 minutes of time on your own. We went to the free Gold Museum. Small but interesting. Beware: the street vendors are very present everywhere. We found it best just to walk past without saying anything and they left us alone. People that said "no thank you" were then engaged in further requests to buy their items. If you like t-shirts, you can get them for 4 for $20. Nice tour. Recommended. Panama Canal - We did the Canal Experience. This was a good tour if you want to experience the canal all the way to the pacific. It is a long day. Be prepared. Maybe bring a book or puzzle in case of delays. Tenders leave from the ship using the ships lifeboats. Then a bus ride for quite a while - maybe 45 minutes or more-with a local guide giving history. Then board a ferry to go through the rest of the canal and the locks out to the Pacific Ocean. Water and generic soda are free on the ferry along with a full lunch of pasta, chicken kabobs, veggies, fruit, etc. Beer is $3. Nice little souvenirs for sale on the ferry. You may see boats in the new locks. The ferry has to wait to transit the locks with another ship so that is why the timetable is widely variable. Ferry has inside and outside, covered, and not covered seating. You can see Panama City from the ferry and they point out a few buildings. Then you take a bus back from there to meet the ship in Colon. Our bus drivers were weaving in and out of some slow traffic on the way home, but seemed to be quite skilled at their jobs, and the ride was always very smooth despite the weaving. Bus are nice, full-sized, air-conditioned tour buses. I think our day was 8 hours from start to finish. Got back to the boat at about 7:30 pm - again, in time for our 8 pm dinner on the boat. Long day, but recommended. Colon - There is no where to safely go in Colon. You can get off the ship and visit the souvenir shops in the terminal building but DO NOT venture out. We saw what it was like on our way back in from our Panama Canal excursion. Costa Rico- the sea swells were too high for us to enter the port, so our captain rerouted us to Grand Cayman the day after to make up for it. Grand Cayman- Nice town. Lots of nice shops. We walked around a bit, then had a drink and used the free password-protected WIFI at Guy Harvey's. Dont miss the Q & A with the Captain! He explaines a lot about the ship in a humorous way, and then takes questions from the audience. And, don't forget to visit the Crow's Nest on Deck 10 forward. It has comfy chairs overlooking the ocean, game tables, bar, library, etc. Decor is nothing special, but nicely done. We did one of the special black and white photography sessions and picked 4 pictures we liked before they told us the smallest size was 8x10 and each picture was $195. Yikes! And yes, that is $200 per picture. Crazy! Obviously, we didn't buy them. We didn't use the casino or fitness center. Overall we really liked Holland and the Zuiderdam. The staff were very pleasant and always greeting you, the atmosphere is relaxing, the musicians outstanding, we were surprised by the enrichment opportunities and loved the ports of call. The food was very good, the entertainment was high quality, the spa was fabulous, and trivia was a blast. We enjoyed not having the loud, high energy, crazy pool contests or lots of loud, drunk passengers weaving through the hallways. The cruise director made limited announcements over the speakers, but the Captain took time to give us daily updates. We were pleasantly surprised by our first Holland experience and would definitely sail with them again.

Refined and Relaxing with a Great Itinerary

Zuiderdam Cruise Review by Meg1711b

29 people found this helpful
Trip Details
My husband had vacation days left, and a cruise required less planning than other options. The itinerary included Panama (on our bucket list), Cartagena and other ports we had never been to, so we booked this only 6 weeks prior to sailing. We flew into Fort Lauderdale the day before, used UBER ($8) to get to the Embassy Suites, which was an older hotel, but clean, and we enjoyed the free cocktail hour with snacks from 5-7 pm, and the free breakfast. Rather than use the hotel port transportation we took UBER ($4) to the port.

This was our first time on Holland and we were very pleased. The ship itself is on the smaller size but I think this helped with embarkation and debarkation, and generally with a less crowded feel overall. Just a short line on embarkation and rooms were already prepared and available when we boarded. We only bring carry on luggage so were able to put our bags in the room immediately. Passengers are typically older - mid 40's to 70's and up. We are mid 50's. There were a few electric carts, canes and walkers, but not an overwhelming amount. I only saw 5 children on the cruise.

We had late dining (8pm) at a table for 6. We had lots of fun with our table mates and with our waiter, Dewa, who took great care of us all cruise long. We had never done late dining before but it worked out well on this itinerary as some of the port calls go into the evening. Food was very good in the dining room. The soups were especially delicious. Surf and Turf with Lobster was tasty. On the way out of the dining room we could stop to be served butter mints! Yum. We often had breakfast in the main dining room as it was nice to be served instead of the using the buffet on LIDO deck. Food in the Buffet was very good as well. They serve you most of the items. Never ate dinner there, but lunch included asian options, pizza, various pasta (you choose pasta and sauce and add ons) , burgers, pre-made sandwiches, deli where you choose, regular hot main meals, and an awesome salad bar. Salad bar had big bowls where you choose from the lettuce you want and a plethora of nummy items and dressings. You could make a different kind of salad every day! There were always seats available in the Lido buffet, but you often had to share a table of 4 or 6 with other people. Free beverages included water, ice tea, and lemonade. Juice was free during breakfast. Ice cream was scooped, not soft serve, and available in cones or dishes. If you looked carefully, you could find a little brown bag filled with potato chips!

There were several mini classes, about 40 minutes each, on Windows 10 topics which I found to be very informative and learned new things. The Test Kitchen had delicious recipes and great demonstrations-I wish I had time to attend more of those. The evening main shows were not quite what I was expecting. I thought there would be more singing/dancing type shows, but there was only one of those. The other were a couple of excellent themed dance shows, a ventriloquist, a magician, a comedian, a nature move with live musicians on stage, etc. While I did not care for the music in the BBKing Club, they had an very, very talented Quintet of violins, cello and piano that were super talented. They played a variety of programs. Also in Billboard Onboard there are 2 grand pianos with the 2 players doing several shows a day. They were awesome and seemed to have at least one all request show each evening. Emily on piano was just outstanding and a great singer as well. She knew almost ever song people asked for.

My husband loves his trivia and there were contest 3-4 times a day. I took a different route and purchased the all cruise pass to the spa, $149 on embarkation day. Only 40 passes are sold, so the facilities were never crowed. That got me use of the bubbling hydro pool-really great for sore muscles. It is a quiet separate room with some chairs and chaise loungers. It also included the thermal suite with steam room, dry sauna, wet sauna and fabulous heated ceramic loungers looking out over the ocean. Open 8 am - 10 pm. Loved every minute of it! You get a sticker for your card, and then just walk up to the desk anytime to get a locker which has a lovely spa robe inside and of course a locked space for your belongings. I often read while relaxing on the loungers.

Ports/Excurisions:

Half Moon Cay-Very nice beach. which you take a tender to get to. Lots of beach chairs. I suggest you walk further down toward the pirate ship. You can even find some chairs with shade in this area. Water was nice for swimming. BBQ lunch by Holland was also nice. Did not choose an excursion. No need to. This was a wonderful relaxing beach day.

Aruba - The town is ok, but nothing special. Would recommend you do an excursion. We did a sunset cruise from 5:30 to 7:30 and got back in time for 8 pm dinner on the boat. Nice trip, calm seas, bar open all trip long (no beer) rum and cokes, and other hard liquor, and some wine, and a champagne toast for everyone near the end of the trip. Delicious hot appetizers and local cheese served as snacks. A bit crowded when getting on, but then they opened up the front of the catamaran and that was better. Note: you must climb down a short ladder to use the toilet. Nice tour. Recommended.

Curacao - Did not do an excursion, but this is a lovely port to walk around. Path from ship is brick walkway, then enters a lovely outdoor shopping mall type area (shops, bars, cheese, ice cream, free WIFI etc) then continue through and walk out to the water and across the amazing floating bridge. We went back at night across the bridge and sat in an open air bar, Vienna Biergarten, and had a drink while watching the bridge lit up at night and opening and closing as boats came by. This was our favorite port.

Cartagena - We took the Cartagena by Land and Sea excursion and both liked it. Being on the boat was nice, and cooler, and broke up the tour nicely. Our guide Fernando was excellent and gave a great understanding of Cartegena. Tour also goes to the fort. It is a bit of an uphill climb, but they wait for people. It also goes into the old town. They have nice clean restrooms to use at an air-conditioned Emerald store, which also has Free WIFI. Next door you get a ticket for a free bottle of water, or soda for $1 or beer for $2. There is also around 40 minutes of time on your own. We went to the free Gold Museum. Small but interesting. Beware: the street vendors are very present everywhere. We found it best just to walk past without saying anything and they left us alone. People that said "no thank you" were then engaged in further requests to buy their items. If you like t-shirts, you can get them for 4 for $20. Nice tour. Recommended.

Panama Canal - We did the Canal Experience. This was a good tour if you want to experience the canal all the way to the pacific. It is a long day. Be prepared. Maybe bring a book or puzzle in case of delays. Tenders leave from the ship using the ships lifeboats. Then a bus ride for quite a while - maybe 45 minutes or more-with a local guide giving history. Then board a ferry to go through the rest of the canal and the locks out to the Pacific Ocean. Water and generic soda are free on the ferry along with a full lunch of pasta, chicken kabobs, veggies, fruit, etc. Beer is $3. Nice little souvenirs for sale on the ferry. You may see boats in the new locks. The ferry has to wait to transit the locks with another ship so that is why the timetable is widely variable. Ferry has inside and outside, covered, and not covered seating. You can see Panama City from the ferry and they point out a few buildings. Then you take a bus back from there to meet the ship in Colon. Our bus drivers were weaving in and out of some slow traffic on the way home, but seemed to be quite skilled at their jobs, and the ride was always very smooth despite the weaving. Bus are nice, full-sized, air-conditioned tour buses. I think our day was 8 hours from start to finish. Got back to the boat at about 7:30 pm - again, in time for our 8 pm dinner on the boat. Long day, but recommended.

Colon - There is no where to safely go in Colon. You can get off the ship and visit the souvenir shops in the terminal building but DO NOT venture out. We saw what it was like on our way back in from our Panama Canal excursion.

Costa Rico- the sea swells were too high for us to enter the port, so our captain rerouted us to Grand Cayman the day after to make up for it.

Grand Cayman- Nice town. Lots of nice shops. We walked around a bit, then had a drink and used the free password-protected WIFI at Guy Harvey's.

Dont miss the Q & A with the Captain! He explaines a lot about the ship in a humorous way, and then takes questions from the audience. And, don't forget to visit the Crow's Nest on Deck 10 forward. It has comfy chairs overlooking the ocean, game tables, bar, library, etc. Decor is nothing special, but nicely done. We did one of the special black and white photography sessions and picked 4 pictures we liked before they told us the smallest size was 8x10 and each picture was $195. Yikes! And yes, that is $200 per picture. Crazy! Obviously, we didn't buy them. We didn't use the casino or fitness center.

Overall we really liked Holland and the Zuiderdam. The staff were very pleasant and always greeting you, the atmosphere is relaxing, the musicians outstanding, we were surprised by the enrichment opportunities and loved the ports of call. The food was very good, the entertainment was high quality, the spa was fabulous, and trivia was a blast. We enjoyed not having the loud, high energy, crazy pool contests or lots of loud, drunk passengers weaving through the hallways. The cruise director made limited announcements over the speakers, but the Captain took time to give us daily updates. We were pleasantly surprised by our first Holland experience and would definitely sail with them again.
Meg1711b’s Full Rating Summary
Enrichment Activities
Value For Money
Embarkation
Dining
Public Rooms
Entertainment
Cabin
Fitness & Recreation
Shore Excursions
Service
Onboard Experience
Free Price Drop Alerts
Get Holland America Zuiderdam price drops
250,000+ people have entered their email

Cabin Review

Deluxe Ocean-View Verandah Stateroom
Cabin VC 4156
This was a very nice cabin. Balcony cabins on Deck 4 are an extra 18" deeper than those on higher floors. It is neither too close, nor too far, from the elevators. The main dining rooms are just a quick 1 or two flights down. (Early and late seating are on deck 3, pick your time dining is on deck 2). All of the inside main areas are on decks 2 & 3 so were easy to walk down and then along deck 2 or 3. For Lido buffet dining or pool, just a very quick elevator ride to deck 9. Room was quiet except for sounds of moving items overhead (part of dining room) 2 or 3 times during the trip for about 5 minutes each time. No bother at all. USB ports by the beds. Mirrored wall behind bed made the room feel larger. 2 wine glasses, 2 old fashion glasses and 2 water glasses in cabin along with an ice bucket that our stewards kept filled for us. Hairdryer and magnified mirror provided in cupboard. Fruit bowl was complimentary upon request. There were 3 closets with lots of hangers that you can remove from the rods. Robes were supplied. Bathroom was decent size for cruise ship, with one cabinet with 3 shelves, plus some counter space above and below sink. 3/4 Tub with shower, hand held shower, good pressure. 2 drawer night stands on either side of bed. Balcony door had a key to lock it, which seemed funny until the workers came by on the outside (opening the partitions between cabins, in order to clean the decks and windows. Balcony had two chairs each with an ottoman that could slide underneath the chair, and one small table. Nice flat screen TV. Lots of free movie choices and some live TV (that I didn't watch). Note: some of the movie titles disappeared during the week and new ones appeared. Nice weather channel, front of boat camera, and map of where the ship is sailing available. However, there is no way to check your account charges on the TV. There are a couple of kiosks by guest services where you can quickly swipe your card and get a printout of charges to-date at any time. Announcements are NOT piped into the stateroom, so we often opened the door to be able to hear what they were saying. There is room to store suitcases under the bed. Also 2 extra drawers under the bed. Of course there are the obligatory towel animals and chocolates at turn down. Room was serviced twice every day which was nice. You do have to walk around the end of the bed to get to the small couch area. But, the balcony has clear barrier so you could sit on couch and look out at the sea. Only negative point was when out at sea the balcony partitions between the cabins rattle a bit. You could only hear it on the balcony, but it wasn't as peaceful on the balcony during windier times or when traveling faster. This appears to happen on many of the balconies. You can usually fold up a piece of paper and find a place to jam it in the partition to stop the noise. There were pillows on the couch and bolster pillows on the bed which came in handy. Overall, I really liked this room and would choose it again.
Navigation Deck Inside Cabins, Balcony Cabins, Suite Cabins

Port & Shore Excursion Reviews