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10 day Panama Canal cruise Good: - Housekeeping services. Cordial and kept the room clean and neat. Every time we came back to the room, the bed was made. Every evening they left a nice towel animal. - Ice cream. The ice cream staff is very friendly, and they offer a good selection of ice creams and toppings. - French Fries. They are crispy and freshly cooked. Sadly, this was the highlight of the food onboard. - Buffet is not self-service, which is quite good to prevent food contamination. Average: - Photography. We booked a session for the black-and-white photos. (+)Photos are really good, although very (-)expensive. Photographers throughout the cruise, in the evenings, are hard to find. A large group was waiting to take a group photo in the main stairs, and the photographer was no where to be found. They asked me to take their picture in an iphone. We did take a picture a few days earlier at the stairs and had a good experience. - Pool/Jacuzzi. (+)Pool was not packed, quite enjoyable. (-)Jacuzzis were NEVER HOT. I asked one of the guys handling the towels how to increase the temperature, and he looked at me perplexed. Did not answer or acknowledge my question. After a few minutes he came back saying he informed someone else, and that it was going to be turned on in a few minutes... nothing happened. - Stateroom. (-)Smaller in comparison to Royal Caribbean, but the bathroom is more spacious (+) and has a small bathtub! - Entertainment. Magician show was good (+), but comedy shows did not cater to different age groups(-). Music scene was somewhat repetitive and had very few songs beyond 2000's. Bad: - When cruising on the Canal, a few fellow cruisers used their iPads to take pictures of the canal. Let me explain: they placed SEVERAL iPads in front of the glass, blocking everyone behind them to see. One woman placed FOUR iPads (she was in a group with family members, why they couldn't share the video from one ipad?). As in, they just left the iPads standing there for HOURS. Other people were hogging the space in front of the glass, did not let other cruisers to get close to the glass. Pretty sure people's vacations got ruined because of this. The cruise line should have placed a moderator to prevent such behavior. The crew are very hands-off when it comes to moderating passenger behavior. Worst (Really Bad) - Food. Selection is similar every day. Not a great fresh selection of entrees. Main dinning room often offers the SAME items available at the Lido restaurant. Appetizers and soups are disappointing. Most soups are just water with a bit of flavor. Most breads are hard to bite. Most food is bland, not appealing to different demographics (except the Asian station, which is bland too). - Dining service: Dive-In (hotdog and burger) service is terrible. I was ignored when it was my turn in the line, then harshly handed out a pager. After a few minutes waiting I was told to move and wait somewhere else. I did not move. The line kept increasing (they were very slow to take the orders) and the staff kept with a slow peace, and one of the cooks took a phone call! In all, it took 30 minutes just to get a burger and fries.(**) We got a Soda card, and EVERY TIME we wanted to use it, the waiter would come back with the sodas when we were about to finish our food. This happened in both the Lido and Main Dinning room. Food service in the Main Dining room was too slow (waiters looked overworked and tired). On the first day, it took 1 hour to get the entree, we left after 1.5 hours without dessert (we got tired of waiting). - Room service (Dining). What room service? We had to call, several times, guest services because room service did not answer our call and placed us on hold. The second night we thought they were busy, so we waited 20 minutes on the line before hanging up. The issue kept repeating so we resorted to call guest services instead. ** Due to the poor service in many areas, we chose to reduce the "Hotel-Service" charge. It is $15 per day per person. Instead we left cash for the housekeeping guys. My conclusion: Cruise + airfare + activities total was around $5,500. After traveling on Carnival and Royal several times, we wanted a more "refined" experience. Not worth paying double than what we had paid in the past for a similar stateroom. To top it off (not Holland America's fault): The weather was bad. Ship rocked most nights, even when the weather was Ok. We skipped the Costa Rica stop due to weather.

Vacation savings thrown away by this experience!

Zuiderdam Cruise Review by JennyVega

9 people found this helpful
Trip Details
10 day Panama Canal cruise

Good:

- Housekeeping services. Cordial and kept the room clean and neat. Every time we came back to the room, the bed was made. Every evening they left a nice towel animal.

- Ice cream. The ice cream staff is very friendly, and they offer a good selection of ice creams and toppings.

- French Fries. They are crispy and freshly cooked. Sadly, this was the highlight of the food onboard.

- Buffet is not self-service, which is quite good to prevent food contamination.

Average:

- Photography. We booked a session for the black-and-white photos. (+)Photos are really good, although very (-)expensive. Photographers throughout the cruise, in the evenings, are hard to find. A large group was waiting to take a group photo in the main stairs, and the photographer was no where to be found. They asked me to take their picture in an iphone. We did take a picture a few days earlier at the stairs and had a good experience.

- Pool/Jacuzzi. (+)Pool was not packed, quite enjoyable. (-)Jacuzzis were NEVER HOT. I asked one of the guys handling the towels how to increase the temperature, and he looked at me perplexed. Did not answer or acknowledge my question. After a few minutes he came back saying he informed someone else, and that it was going to be turned on in a few minutes... nothing happened.

- Stateroom. (-)Smaller in comparison to Royal Caribbean, but the bathroom is more spacious (+) and has a small bathtub!

- Entertainment. Magician show was good (+), but comedy shows did not cater to different age groups(-). Music scene was somewhat repetitive and had very few songs beyond 2000's.

Bad:

- When cruising on the Canal, a few fellow cruisers used their iPads to take pictures of the canal. Let me explain: they placed SEVERAL iPads in front of the glass, blocking everyone behind them to see. One woman placed FOUR iPads (she was in a group with family members, why they couldn't share the video from one ipad?). As in, they just left the iPads standing there for HOURS. Other people were hogging the space in front of the glass, did not let other cruisers to get close to the glass. Pretty sure people's vacations got ruined because of this. The cruise line should have placed a moderator to prevent such behavior. The crew are very hands-off when it comes to moderating passenger behavior.

Worst (Really Bad)

- Food. Selection is similar every day. Not a great fresh selection of entrees. Main dinning room often offers the SAME items available at the Lido restaurant. Appetizers and soups are disappointing. Most soups are just water with a bit of flavor. Most breads are hard to bite. Most food is bland, not appealing to different demographics (except the Asian station, which is bland too).

- Dining service:

Dive-In (hotdog and burger) service is terrible. I was ignored when it was my turn in the line, then harshly handed out a pager. After a few minutes waiting I was told to move and wait somewhere else. I did not move. The line kept increasing (they were very slow to take the orders) and the staff kept with a slow peace, and one of the cooks took a phone call! In all, it took 30 minutes just to get a burger and fries.(**)

We got a Soda card, and EVERY TIME we wanted to use it, the waiter would come back with the sodas when we were about to finish our food. This happened in both the Lido and Main Dinning room. Food service in the Main Dining room was too slow (waiters looked overworked and tired). On the first day, it took 1 hour to get the entree, we left after 1.5 hours without dessert (we got tired of waiting).

- Room service (Dining). What room service? We had to call, several times, guest services because room service did not answer our call and placed us on hold. The second night we thought they were busy, so we waited 20 minutes on the line before hanging up. The issue kept repeating so we resorted to call guest services instead.

** Due to the poor service in many areas, we chose to reduce the "Hotel-Service" charge. It is $15 per day per person. Instead we left cash for the housekeeping guys.

My conclusion:

Cruise + airfare + activities total was around $5,500. After traveling on Carnival and Royal several times, we wanted a more "refined" experience. Not worth paying double than what we had paid in the past for a similar stateroom.

To top it off (not Holland America's fault):

The weather was bad. Ship rocked most nights, even when the weather was Ok. We skipped the Costa Rica stop due to weather.
JennyVega’s Full Rating Summary
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Cabin Review

Deluxe Ocean-View Verandah Stateroom
Cabin VB
Cabin size is small. Large TV is placed in front of the bed, which is good for couples. Bathroom layout gives a sense of spaciousness, and has a bathtub.
Observation Deck Inside Cabins, Balcony Cabins

Port & Shore Excursion Reviews