We went on a Panama Chanel Cruise in March 2019. Here are our good and less impressive experiences from our trip.
Stateroom: We lived in a veranda on the 10th floor. Beautiful view. The stateroom was really nice. We were supposed to be 4 people in our cabin why they arranged 4 beds the first evening – 2 regular beds, one bed coming down from the ceiling and the sofa was changed to a bed. The last bed made it difficult to get to the veranda but it was only arranged as a bed at night time – not optimal but I prefer that solution compared to the solution with 2 beds coming from the ceiling as we have experienced before as you almost need to be an acrobat moving back and forth in the stateroom. As we were only 3 they only arranged the bed from the ceiling at night and moving around even at night was no problem at all. The bathroom was great and big with a nice bathtub. There was a nice TV with plenty of both life TV, movies and more available. The TV was somewhat small but did it’s purpose.
The staff was friendly but not very effective e.g. they never removed dirty dishes from the room – we needed to put them outside the stateroom to avoid the smell and have our small stateroom properly organized.
Dinning: The food was generally okay – great during gala nights but below expectation other nights. It was a big disappointment we were charged extra on gala nights to get an extra serving!! We ended up with anytime dinning but ended up eating most night at the same section i.e. getting the same servers which was nice.
The afternoon tea in the dining room was really nice
The buffet on the Lido deck was nice but that section was severely under dimensioned. At most meals we had to walk around for a long time to find a table. It was also understaffed, or the staff was not properly trained – you were lucky to get a drink 5 minutes after asking. Resulting in us going after our drinks our self. The drink section was poorly arranged making it difficult to get a drink – had they swapped the drink machines and the glass/cups then more people would have been able to get drinks at the same time!!
In our opinion then they utilize the boat poorly – there are many areas where there was almost nobody – why not remove many of the redundancies at the buffet, make more tables and then more food options other places on the boat??
My son went many times disappointed to get an ice cream – the ice cream shop opens and closes with the rest of the buffet – why???
The had a great Dive-In shop with fantastic burgers and hot dogs – my oldest sons favorite. Unfortunately, the Dive-In was next to the buffet so no seats
Entertainment: We were disappointed by the entertainment. Some of the shows at the main theater were spectacular others were okay but disappointing they substitute an evening with a movie shown in poor quality – really!!
The varieties of activities were below expectations – everyday was almost the same which is nice if you like bingo, trivial and cooking show but …
They had some sport activities which we liked to join – some of them were great and some of them – yeah it seems like they forgot – nobody showed up to organize. We somehow got an activity going but …
We knew Zuiderdam is a smaller boat, but the entertainment director could have done better e.g. ice sculpturing, magic show, parrots, juggler and a lot more.
Amenities: The two pools were nice and deep enough to swim and play though small. There were many hot tubs which we enjoyed as well
They had a giant chess board – we played it once risking our health – the board was not properly fastened and very slippery – again one of the many small but important details which would not cost them much to ensure was proper, but it was not taken care of
Two nice table tennis located in a corner giving as little wind as possible – very nice
The Explorations Central on deck 10 was impressive. Great view, games, books, monitors showing details about the boat and how it was operated. Large interactive touch screens showing highlights of the destinations and tour description. We really enjoyed that a lot.
The HAL club was nice – fairly small but there were less than 10 kids on the boat so it did its purpose at our trip – not sure how it would work on a trip with more kids?? The staff there were amazing. My boys did not spend much time there, but they were always in the middle of some activities they were excited about when I picked them up. I enjoyed staying there for a little while following the activity waiting for a good time to break off – big respect for the staff there
They could easily have utilized areas almost vacant throughout the cruise for more exciting activities – a strong recommendation from us.
Overall: A nice trip with interesting destination but too many shortcuts from Holland American making the trip overall disappoint and not worth the money – we will search other cruise lines for our next cruise.