1. Home
  2. Cruise Reviews
  3. Zuiderdam
Overall we had an excellent time on this cruise. It was our first Holland America cruise and they did not disappoint. The ship is older (built in 2002), but it is in very good condition and obviously recently refurbished. It is not as big as the newer mega-ships, but we thought this was actually a good thing. Embarkation and disembarkation were both easy and relatively quick (probably waited 30-45 minutes for each). We were thrilled to be able to wait in our room for disembarkation. The average age for this cruise was older than we had experienced on any previous cruises (someone said the average age was 74 but I can't definitively confirm that). It was obvious, however, that we were in the youngest 10% onboard (we are in our mid 50s). Although we thought this could be an issue when we boarded, it actually ended up having a lot of advantages. There was not any crazy partying during the cruise. The pools were usually almost empty and we had a pool to ourselves quite frequently. Lounge chairs were always available and there wasn't any crazy "saving" of chairs that we've had on past cruises. The older cruisers ate early so if we dined after 7:30pm neither the dining room or buffet were crowded at all. Stairways were also virtually empty (everyone took the elevators). Also, after the first day, the fitness center was not crowded at all. We did have to be patient quite a lot with slower individuals and many people with scooters, wheelchairs and walkers. The itinerary was great (and that's why we took this particular cruise). All of the ports were great. Since the ship does not transit the entire Panama canal, we highly recommend taking a tour that does so. You must book that tour through the cruise excursions. We were lucky to have fantastic weather (sunny and 80s every day except for one). The captain said it was the best weather in over 2 months. I'm sure this helped us have a great time. The food was good and was similar to what I've experienced on other cruises. We mostly ate at the buffet as we find that you have to commit too much time to a dining room meal. We thought the mainstage entertainment was average and so we didn't go much. However, the BB King All Stars were EXCELLENT. We wished we would have had more time to watch them each night. The quality of those musicians was the best I've ever seen on a cruise. Service was great - typical for a cruise ship.

Wonderful cruise experience

Zuiderdam Cruise Review by CLS419

14 people found this helpful
Trip Details
Overall we had an excellent time on this cruise. It was our first Holland America cruise and they did not disappoint. The ship is older (built in 2002), but it is in very good condition and obviously recently refurbished. It is not as big as the newer mega-ships, but we thought this was actually a good thing. Embarkation and disembarkation were both easy and relatively quick (probably waited 30-45 minutes for each). We were thrilled to be able to wait in our room for disembarkation. The average age for this cruise was older than we had experienced on any previous cruises (someone said the average age was 74 but I can't definitively confirm that). It was obvious, however, that we were in the youngest 10% onboard (we are in our mid 50s). Although we thought this could be an issue when we boarded, it actually ended up having a lot of advantages. There was not any crazy partying during the cruise. The pools were usually almost empty and we had a pool to ourselves quite frequently. Lounge chairs were always available and there wasn't any crazy "saving" of chairs that we've had on past cruises. The older cruisers ate early so if we dined after 7:30pm neither the dining room or buffet were crowded at all. Stairways were also virtually empty (everyone took the elevators). Also, after the first day, the fitness center was not crowded at all. We did have to be patient quite a lot with slower individuals and many people with scooters, wheelchairs and walkers. The itinerary was great (and that's why we took this particular cruise). All of the ports were great. Since the ship does not transit the entire Panama canal, we highly recommend taking a tour that does so. You must book that tour through the cruise excursions. We were lucky to have fantastic weather (sunny and 80s every day except for one). The captain said it was the best weather in over 2 months. I'm sure this helped us have a great time. The food was good and was similar to what I've experienced on other cruises. We mostly ate at the buffet as we find that you have to commit too much time to a dining room meal. We thought the mainstage entertainment was average and so we didn't go much. However, the BB King All Stars were EXCELLENT. We wished we would have had more time to watch them each night. The quality of those musicians was the best I've ever seen on a cruise. Service was great - typical for a cruise ship.
CLS419’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 5145
This cabin was on the starboard side right at the aft elevators. This ended up being a very good location since the dining and pools are in the back of the ship. Fitness center is in the front so this was the only thing we had to walk a distance to. There was a little elevator noise but this was minimal and did not affect us at all. I can't say that the startboard side was better or worse than port side, but for all but one port we docked on the port side. For the Panama canal it doesn't matter which side you're on. You'll be outside in public areas most of the time while you're traversing the canal. The bed was extremely comfortable and the size of the cabin was what you would expect for a cruise. Obviously having a balcony for an 11 day cruise was the right way to go.
Navigation Deck Inside Cabins, Balcony Cabins, Suite Cabins

Port & Shore Excursion Reviews

  • Aruba
    Took the local bus to Arashi Beach and then walked to Catalina Cove to snorkel. Very good snorkeling and it was where all of the snorkeling cruise excursions came to snorkel (although they came in party boats and stayed farther out). The bus is only a block or two from the cruise ship terminal and costs $5 for a round trip ticket (buy a card at the little booth at the bus terminal). Also easy to hit the fantastic Aruba beaches by bus.
    View All 1,635 Aruba Cruise Port Reviews
    View Cruise Critic's Aruba Cruise Port Review
  • Cartagena (Colombia)
    We took a taxi to the old, walled city. The taxis in the cruise ship terminal are $20. Just walk right past them to outside the terminal where they are only $10 to the old city. As we were walking by the inside terminal taxis they offered $15 when we refused $20 and then they offered $10 when we refused $15. The old city is beautiful with gorgeous street after gorgeous street. It was pretty quiet since we got there first thing in the morning. We walked around the old city and then walked on the wall all the way back to the starting point. We then walked through Getsemani on our way to the San Felipe Castillo (about 1 km from the old city). That cost $10pp but was an excellent site to tour. We took a taxi then back to the cruise ship.
    View All 719 Cartagena (Colombia) Cruise Port Reviews
    View Cruise Critic's Cartagena (Colombia) Cruise Port Review
  • Panama Canal Tour
    Only way to do the entire canal is to book a tour with the cruise line. It's expensive but well worth it in order to see the whole canal. It's a long day because you have to wait for a ship to go with you through the canal locks (the excursion boat is too small to go by itself). Fortunately we had clouds most of the day which helped with the heat. We tendered off of the cruise ship on Gatun Lake and then bused to Gamboa and then took a boat for the rest of the canal. Probably about 300 people on the boat. They served a good lunch and had free water and sodas. Great experience and worth the price, especially since there's not much to do on the cruise ship for the day (Colon is not a good port).
    View All 95 Panama Canal Tour Reviews
  • Curacao
    We rented a car at the Avis booth right outside the cruise ship terminal. About $50 for the day (plus gas). We drove to Shete Boka National Park. This has excellent scenery on the eastern (rougher) side of the island. Some nice walks there too but it was very hot. We then snorkeled at Playa Jeremi and Playa Lagun. Both had excellent snorkeling from the beach. We finished the day with a walking tour of Wilemstad.
    View All 1,242 Curacao Cruise Port Reviews
    View Cruise Critic's Curacao Cruise Port Review
  • Half Moon Cay
    Beautiful private island with a beautiful beach. Not good for snorkeling. Lunch is provided for free on the island (they don't advertise this extensively). Beach chairs also provided.
    View All 1,180 Half Moon Cay Cruise Port Reviews
    View Cruise Critic's Half Moon Cay Cruise Port Review
  • Puerto Limon
    We booked a private tour through YourLuckyTour.com. Enjoyed being by ourselves and seeing the canal, banana plantation, fruit stand and rain forest. Also, say a LOT of the Limon area. Saw plenty of sloths, howler monkeys, frogs, birds, lizards, etc. Cheaper than a cruise excursion and you don't have to be herded around with the masses.
    View All 342 Puerto Limon Cruise Port Reviews
    View Cruise Critic's Puerto Limon Cruise Port Review