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My only cruise experience was with Renaissance back in the 90s and I hated it. Decided to try again, and my sister and husband are 4 star mariner and loves HAL, so we went along. Also decided to go with the Neptune level to increase the potential for a great cruise. It worked! (this ship has 1900 passengers, the Renaissance had about 300, so it was a large ship to us) Our suite was very roomy, 500+ sq. ft. with huge balcony on deck 7. We did not see wear on the ship as other reviewers have mentioned, everything looked really nice, with great decor. I love the fact that we unpacked once and did not live out of a suitcase. We left port late March, and unlike the January cruisers, we had perfect weather. I saw rain for 20 minutes max, the whole cruise. Cartegena was hot but the humidity was not bad anywhere. We took a tour through Expedia in Cartegena that was excellent, through the city, down streets full of street art, to the church on the hill, and through the old city. Our guide took us where we wanted to go and didn't lead us to emerald stores like many others. In the Panama canal we stayed on board, having read reviews before we left of the heat, slow buses and long days on shore excursions. Talking to others afterwards, that had taken those tours, they were sorry they had done so. You could see from the bow, stern and from our balcony everything you could want to see, how the locks worked, while waving at sailors on the sand dredging ship in the next lock. The service aboard was great, from the cabin stewards to the waiters. We also left some money for our cabin stewards the second day and the last day, which probably gave us an extra bit of service. That was in addition to the daily charges. I would say the only negative was some of the food in the dining room was bland. The soups were uninspiring and the lasagna I had one night had maybe a tablespoon of tomato sauce on it. We ate many meals in Canaletto and Pinnacle restaurants, and the food was a step up. The Lido was also good, and they have two salad bars that one reviewer here must not have seen. Also the casino was pretty large for a ship, IMHO. We didn't attend many of the entertainment nights or classes, but may do so the next cruise. We did get hooked on Downton Abbey which was one of many many shows and movies available on our huge TV, on demand. Overall a great cruise, we think HAL is tops and the ship was beautiful. Of course had we had 20 foot seas, I might not be so pleased. We will continue booking excursions ahead of time through the internet (not with HAL). And we will be sailing again with HAL.

First cruise on a large ship

Zuiderdam Cruise Review by Warysailor

4 people found this helpful
Trip Details
My only cruise experience was with Renaissance back in the 90s and I hated it. Decided to try again, and my sister and husband are 4 star mariner and loves HAL, so we went along. Also decided to go with the Neptune level to increase the potential for a great cruise. It worked! (this ship has 1900 passengers, the Renaissance had about 300, so it was a large ship to us)

Our suite was very roomy, 500+ sq. ft. with huge balcony on deck 7. We did not see wear on the ship as other reviewers have mentioned, everything looked really nice, with great decor. I love the fact that we unpacked once and did not live out of a suitcase.

We left port late March, and unlike the January cruisers, we had perfect weather. I saw rain for 20 minutes max, the whole cruise. Cartegena was hot but the humidity was not bad anywhere. We took a tour through Expedia in Cartegena that was excellent, through the city, down streets full of street art, to the church on the hill, and through the old city. Our guide took us where we wanted to go and didn't lead us to emerald stores like many others.

In the Panama canal we stayed on board, having read reviews before we left of the heat, slow buses and long days on shore excursions. Talking to others afterwards, that had taken those tours, they were sorry they had done so. You could see from the bow, stern and from our balcony everything you could want to see, how the locks worked, while waving at sailors on the sand dredging ship in the next lock.

The service aboard was great, from the cabin stewards to the waiters. We also left some money for our cabin stewards the second day and the last day, which probably gave us an extra bit of service. That was in addition to the daily charges.

I would say the only negative was some of the food in the dining room was bland. The soups were uninspiring and the lasagna I had one night had maybe a tablespoon of tomato sauce on it. We ate many meals in Canaletto and Pinnacle restaurants, and the food was a step up. The Lido was also good, and they have two salad bars that one reviewer here must not have seen. Also the casino was pretty large for a ship, IMHO.

We didn't attend many of the entertainment nights or classes, but may do so the next cruise. We did get hooked on Downton Abbey which was one of many many shows and movies available on our huge TV, on demand.

Overall a great cruise, we think HAL is tops and the ship was beautiful. Of course had we had 20 foot seas, I might not be so pleased. We will continue booking excursions ahead of time through the internet (not with HAL). And we will be sailing again with HAL.
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Cabin Review

Neptune Deluxe Verandah Suite
Cabin SB 7081
Cabin was over 500 sq ft, comfortable bed, A/C was so good we had the heat on slightly. Towels folded like animals every night, along with chocolates. Shower and tub in bathroom, although shower stall was pretty tiny. More closet space than we needed, with a safe. My only negative was the wood rails on the veranda needed sanding and varnishing. No big deal.
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