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This is about our 12th cruise, we previously cruised on Carnival and Disney, but mostly with Royal Caribbean. We had just tried Disney in 2018 but found that their experience just did not warrant their more expensive pricing. We cruised many times on Royal and consider the Allure our "home" ship. But nothing on Royal really appealed to us, so we decided to branch out. We were celebrating our 33rd anniversary on this cruise, I'm 57 and my DW is 60. We stumbled up this cruise when I searched for Panama Canal. This cruise leaves from Florida, reached the canal, goes through the Gatun Locks and then returns to Florida. We have seen the original canal, but were very interested in seeing the new one. I also saw an excursion for a dome car train journey across the isthmus and that sealed the deal, Zuiderdam here we come! We were also excited to re-visit Aruba and Curacao and thought 5 days at sea would be some nice time to relax. We had no interest in Puerto Limon. Overall, i'd give it 3.5 out of 5. There was many great things about the cruise, but a lot of misses too. We had Neptune Suite 7069, midship near the Neptune lounge. It would compare to a Grand Suite on the Allure, It had plenty of space, lots of closet space, not so much in drawer space. The balcony had a table & 2 chairs and 2 loungers. We spent a lot of time out there. It has a flat screen TV with a few live TV channels, mostly news and ESPN for the Caribbean, not the US (think soccer, soccer and more soccer). Lots of movies and a few TV programs you can run like a DVR with no charge. Several Marvel and DC Movies, Mary Poppins Returns, Coco, Frozen, and come classics like Romancing the Stone. Lots of BBC Planet and the last 2 seasons of Big Bang Theory. This ship also had 2 documentaries on the Canals. Embarkation was a breeze, we were on the ship right at 11:30. Now, and we were aware of this, the age demographic for HAL is actually older than we are. This means you will encounter people who just aren't mobile and you need to bring your patience to deal with canes, scooters, wheel chairs and crowded elevators. If you are expecting to spend lots of family time on pool activities, and those sorts of things, then HAL is not for you. I think that is what I missed the most, there were times when there just wasn't enough things to do, other than trivia and bingo. By the 5th sea day, we were kind've bored with not a whole lot to do, and thus, things like America's Test Kitchen were so crowded as to be uncomfortable or you had to be there 45 minutes in advance and just sit there waiting for it to begin. Alright, let's talk food. Now, I know, food is very, very subjective. We rated it fair. We opted for My Time Dining. Several nights we didn't even try the dining room as service was very slow and/or nothing on the menu was attractive. We led us to the Lido or to Room Service. The Lido was hit, mostly miss. Breakfast was okay as you could order eggs specifically for you. Lunch was okay, really, nothing memorable comes to mind. The Dive In bar had great burgers and hot dogs, but their fries were embarrassingly bad. If you have to coat a potato to get a crispy fry then you don't know how to make fries and the Dive In fries are coated and I don't like those. And, really, how often can you have that for lunch? Once or twice was okay, but that was all I could stomach. The dining room food was just okay, as was the service. On the 2 nights we were sat by ourselves, the service was almost non-existent. It would take between 20-30 minutes between courses, and when our entree was served, they never came back and asked us how we liked it. Twice on My Time Dining we arrived at the dining room only to be told it was a 45 minute wait and that we should have made reservations! Really, "My Time Dining", see the My Time part of that? This means we don't know in advance when will dine! Never had this issue on Royal, we would show up and be seated within 10 minutes. And, as I previously said, if you seat us at a table for 2, this does not mean you can just serve us at your convenience. We had much better service when we were lucky enough to be seated with 4 to 6 others. The evening entertainment was very, very good. HAL has the "music walk" and all three stages are worth visiting. Our couple of Megan and Ethan in the Billboard Onboard lounge were really outstanding. We went every evening they performed. Lincoln Center stage had great musicians too. The evening stage entertainment had more hits than misses (one night it was just a movie), but we enjoyed the 3 singer and dancing shows. Island Magic Steel Drum gets a special mention too, wow, they blew us away. The service from our room attendants was spotless. We took one excursion, the dome car train ride across the isthmus. This included a stop at the new visitor center where we had the good fortune of catching a ship just entering the top canal on it's way to the Atlantic. The train ride was amazing. What wasn't amazing was that after the train ride we were unwillingly dragged to a mall with a duty free store that no one wanted to visit and where no one brought anything and it added 2 hours to our trip. This stop was not in the tour description and left us with a bad taste after what had been a truly memorable time. We did things by ourselves at Aruba, Curacao and Limon. Half Moon Cay is a great stop, too bad on board time is an early 2:30 so you don't really get a whole lot of time there, especially since it is a tender port so you have to allow transit time. We had great attendants for our room, no problems there, If you are Catholic, both Sundays offered mass, actually, mass is offered daily. Disembarkation was a breeze too.

Always great to be on a cruise, many highlights, but HAL needs some improvements

Zuiderdam Cruise Review by Dolby1000

4 people found this helpful
Trip Details
  • Sail Date: March 2019
  • Destination: Southern Caribbean
  • Cabin Type: Neptune Deluxe Verandah Suite
This is about our 12th cruise, we previously cruised on Carnival and Disney, but mostly with Royal Caribbean. We had just tried Disney in 2018 but found that their experience just did not warrant their more expensive pricing. We cruised many times on Royal and consider the Allure our "home" ship. But nothing on Royal really appealed to us, so we decided to branch out.

We were celebrating our 33rd anniversary on this cruise, I'm 57 and my DW is 60.

We stumbled up this cruise when I searched for Panama Canal. This cruise leaves from Florida, reached the canal, goes through the Gatun Locks and then returns to Florida. We have seen the original canal, but were very interested in seeing the new one. I also saw an excursion for a dome car train journey across the isthmus and that sealed the deal, Zuiderdam here we come!

We were also excited to re-visit Aruba and Curacao and thought 5 days at sea would be some nice time to relax. We had no interest in Puerto Limon.

Overall, i'd give it 3.5 out of 5. There was many great things about the cruise, but a lot of misses too.

We had Neptune Suite 7069, midship near the Neptune lounge. It would compare to a Grand Suite on the Allure, It had plenty of space, lots of closet space, not so much in drawer space. The balcony had a table & 2 chairs and 2 loungers. We spent a lot of time out there. It has a flat screen TV with a few live TV channels, mostly news and ESPN for the Caribbean, not the US (think soccer, soccer and more soccer). Lots of movies and a few TV programs you can run like a DVR with no charge. Several Marvel and DC Movies, Mary Poppins Returns, Coco, Frozen, and come classics like Romancing the Stone. Lots of BBC Planet and the last 2 seasons of Big Bang Theory. This ship also had 2 documentaries on the Canals.

Embarkation was a breeze, we were on the ship right at 11:30.

Now, and we were aware of this, the age demographic for HAL is actually older than we are. This means you will encounter people who just aren't mobile and you need to bring your patience to deal with canes, scooters, wheel chairs and crowded elevators. If you are expecting to spend lots of family time on pool activities, and those sorts of things, then HAL is not for you. I think that is what I missed the most, there were times when there just wasn't enough things to do, other than trivia and bingo. By the 5th sea day, we were kind've bored with not a whole lot to do, and thus, things like America's Test Kitchen were so crowded as to be uncomfortable or you had to be there 45 minutes in advance and just sit there waiting for it to begin.

Alright, let's talk food. Now, I know, food is very, very subjective. We rated it fair. We opted for My Time Dining. Several nights we didn't even try the dining room as service was very slow and/or nothing on the menu was attractive. We led us to the Lido or to Room Service.

The Lido was hit, mostly miss. Breakfast was okay as you could order eggs specifically for you. Lunch was okay, really, nothing memorable comes to mind. The Dive In bar had great burgers and hot dogs, but their fries were embarrassingly bad. If you have to coat a potato to get a crispy fry then you don't know how to make fries and the Dive In fries are coated and I don't like those. And, really, how often can you have that for lunch? Once or twice was okay, but that was all I could stomach.

The dining room food was just okay, as was the service. On the 2 nights we were sat by ourselves, the service was almost non-existent. It would take between 20-30 minutes between courses, and when our entree was served, they never came back and asked us how we liked it.

Twice on My Time Dining we arrived at the dining room only to be told it was a 45 minute wait and that we should have made reservations! Really, "My Time Dining", see the My Time part of that? This means we don't know in advance when will dine! Never had this issue on Royal, we would show up and be seated within 10 minutes. And, as I previously said, if you seat us at a table for 2, this does not mean you can just serve us at your convenience. We had much better service when we were lucky enough to be seated with 4 to 6 others.

The evening entertainment was very, very good. HAL has the "music walk" and all three stages are worth visiting. Our couple of Megan and Ethan in the Billboard Onboard lounge were really outstanding. We went every evening they performed. Lincoln Center stage had great musicians too. The evening stage entertainment had more hits than misses (one night it was just a movie), but we enjoyed the 3 singer and dancing shows. Island Magic Steel Drum gets a special mention too, wow, they blew us away.

The service from our room attendants was spotless.

We took one excursion, the dome car train ride across the isthmus. This included a stop at the new visitor center where we had the good fortune of catching a ship just entering the top canal on it's way to the Atlantic. The train ride was amazing. What wasn't amazing was that after the train ride we were unwillingly dragged to a mall with a duty free store that no one wanted to visit and where no one brought anything and it added 2 hours to our trip. This stop was not in the tour description and left us with a bad taste after what had been a truly memorable time.

We did things by ourselves at Aruba, Curacao and Limon.

Half Moon Cay is a great stop, too bad on board time is an early 2:30 so you don't really get a whole lot of time there, especially since it is a tender port so you have to allow transit time.

We had great attendants for our room, no problems there,

If you are Catholic, both Sundays offered mass, actually, mass is offered daily.

Disembarkation was a breeze too.
Dolby1000’s Full Rating Summary
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Cabin Review

Neptune Deluxe Verandah Suite
Cabin SA 7069
Very large and comfortable cabin with larger balcony.
Rotterdam Deck Inside Cabins, Balcony Cabins, Suite Cabins

Port & Shore Excursion Reviews