We have been on the Zuiderdam before but it has been several years. We were pleasantly surprised to see that they have done a nice job refurbishing the ship and adding some new features. Like some of the other ships in the Holland America line, they have added the America's Test Kitchen, Lincoln Center Stage, BB King's Blues Club, and Billboard Onboard. The crew on this ship was fantastic - always friendly and cheerful. It reminded me of the crews I saw 10 years ago before Holland America decided to make some significant staff cuts. (I remember one cruise on another HA ship where the crew was miserable and I didn't blame them because of the pressure they were under. It appears that things have improved.) The food was good if a bit bland, but it is hard to cook for 2000 people and please everyone. I did like many of the soups and the salad bar. The service was great in the specialty restaurants, dining room, and on the Lido deck. We usually had breakfast in our room (nice!) but we never had a problem finding a place to sit on Lido deck as can sometimes be the case. The one place I think Holland America can improve is with the onboard activities. They definitely cater to an older crowd so I'm sure that is a big part of how they choose what to offer. It just seemed like most of the activities were either shopping or alcohol related, in other words ways to make more money. I loved the America's Test Kitchen although I would like to seen more demonstrations or even a hands-on cooking class. We did not go to the shows every night so I can't speak for all of the entertainment but there is some room for improvement. I enjoyed one of the comedians but was not too impressed by some of the other performers I saw. Although Billboard Onboard was quite popular, well, let me just say that it needs some work. There is no chemistry between the dueling pianists. I did not listen to the performers at Lincoln Center State or BB King's but I have seen some excellent performances on HA's other ships. Finally, this cruise had a great itinerary except that we had to use tenders at many of the ports. We also had to skip Prince Edward Island due to high winds which was a huge disappointment. Shortly after the cruise director announced that we would be stopping there after all, the captain announced a short time later that we would not, in fact, be stopping. Many people, including myself, were sorely disappointed. Although I understand that safety is the priority, I would have suggested that they skip Sydney, Nova Scotia and gone straight to PEI. They knew the day before we arrived at PEI that weather might be a problem because they announced it. Overall it's a nice ship and I would recommend it if you want to kick back and relax and maybe do a bit of sightseeing.
We had a nice cabin with a great cabin steward but there was one drawback. We were right across the hall from where the cabin stewards keep ice, cleaning equipment, etc. It seemed like they started working between 7:00 and 7:30 every morning. I heard the ice machine, doors closing, etc. The cruise director usually came on the PA system around 8:00 am to announce that we had arrived at the port and we had to go to the Queen's lounge/BB King Blues Club to get tender tickets. Every time we arrived in port there was a lot of noise and vibration which I am guessing was either from the side thrusters or because they were lowering lifeboats. Although the room was nice and dark and the bed comfortable, sleeping late did not seem to be an option (or I needed a good set of earplugs).
I like this town - lots of interesting shops and restaurants.
Quebec City is a beautiful town with several places to explore. The only drawback during our visit was that there were three other cruise ships in town and the old part of town and the boardwalk by the Chateau Frontenac were very crowded.
The town itself is very touristy but Cadillac Mountain is definitely worth a tour.