I see there are a few other reviewers of this particular cruise that didn't like the fact we couldn't anchor in Charlottetown, PEI. Them's the breaks, folks. You can't control the weather. I thought we were very fortunate overall with the weather given the timeframe, with Sydney, NS being the only problem spot.
My only gripe with this is that the printed itinerary (which I booked a month out) said we'd be at pier and not anchored. Because of this I took a chance and booked a third party tour, which of course didn't have a refund policy. When confronted with this discrepancy, HAL Guest Services stated that they have no control over where the ship is assigned in port. I guess I don't understand how that works as I thought these itineraries are planned months if not years in advance. Don't cruise lines pay ports for docking privileges?
Anyway, this is only my second cruise, the previous being a 9-day Alaska cruise on Westerdam, another Vista class sister ship to the Zuiderdam. I found virtually everything to my satisfaction, including the food. All dinners were taken either in the MDR or the specialty restaurants. Pinnacle Grill was nice, though it seemed like staff was stretched thin on the night I attended. The Cellar Master's Dinner was spectacular. Didn't bother with the Lido other than for breakfast, which was fine and really not much different from MDR's offerings, with the exception of better service.
As for onboard entertainment, I greatly enjoyed the Lincoln Center Stage offerings. A shame they don't have a larger venue for them to play in. Saw the BB King band during the Orange Party and it was no different than on the Westerdam. Not my thing, and I don't need the hearing damage. Attended one America's Test Kitchen show where they made gnocchi. I didn't think so many people would be interested in someone boiling water on a stage.
A bit disappointed with drink service in the Crow's Nest as I thought their double Scotch pour was a little miserly.
As to the port excursions, I think there's a little too much bus and shuttle stuff going on compared to the time actually spent at whatever the destination was. Folks with mobility issues were a definite factor, and I think HAL needs to be more proactive with respect to what's expected of those travelers.
Newport: Did self-guided tours and a non-HAL trolley. Great little town. Could spend several days here doing all of the mansion tours.
Gloucester: Beauport Mansion & Rockport Tour. Nice tour of the Sleeper-McCann House, though at only one hour it is very, very rushed if you're a photographer. Managed to squeeze out 90 minutes from the house guide, which I'm sure annoyed the bus driver who still had to hustle up to Rockport, which isn't much more than a picturesque tourist trap, IMO. A woman was 20 minutes late returning to the bus, resulting in a 5 minute photo stop at the Gloucester Fisherman's Memorial Statue. No big loss.
Portland: Kennebunkport & Scenic Cruise. Skip the cruise part entirely. The boat goes approximately 100 yards past the breakwater and picks up a lobster trap for a photo op. Big whoop. The town's much like Rockport, quaint and aimed at maximum tourist dollar extraction. Walking the streets of Portland was okay.
Bar Harbor: An Intimate Look at Acadia National Park. The only thing "intimate" about this was the fact that you were in a small airport shuttle instead of a full sized tour bus. Only two 15 minute photo stops intersperced with pulling over to the road shoulder and pointing out houses. Have fun if you get stuck with a driver that doesn't know how to work the a/c to keep the windows from fogging up. I was later told there was a free shuttle up to the park entrance, but how you got around after that was a mystery. Made it to the top of Cadillac Mountain for some spectacular views, but it was incredibly windy. I didn't mind, but it seemed most of the tour group had enough after a mere 15 minutes.
Halifax: Did self-guided tours and explored the Citadel. Nice city.
Sydney: Weather was poor, so this wasn't much fun. Walked the city self-guided and there frankly wasn't much to look at. I suppose a Cabot Trail tour might have been nice, but it was a short day in port and I was tired of being on buses.
Charlottetown: Canceled due to high winds. Lots of disappointed people, but I thought the captain's talk later that day really explained what he was up against.
Saguenay: Did the bus tour to Anse St-jean and took a large jet boat back to La Baie. Would have been nice to spend more than 15 minutes in the woods with the fall colors, but apparently the guide was insistent we be in town to buy trinkets and eat food. Covered bridge was underwhelming. I'm tempted to say skip this tour as the Zuiderdam left port before sunset, so you'll see much of the same sights just with different lighting conditions. The Zuiderdam did make a stop at the Lady of Saguenay statue (as does the tour boat), which was nice.
Quebec City: Spectacular. Self-toured both days. Did the pricey high tea at Chateau Frontenac, which I thought was better here than at the Empress in Victoria. Ironically, this port had the most fall color of all the cities on the itinerary. Would have been worth it to find a hiking tour someplace around the airport as the red and gold colored trees went on for miles.
Not sure I'd do this trip again, but it serves as a decent sampler of the region for folks interested in an extended stay at one of these cities.
Cabin VD6152 was in good shape, though the shower floor had some evidence of a failed repainting job. Didn't notice any bothersome inside ship noises other than guests deliberately letting their cabin doors slam shut. On the outside, the verandah deck divider doors had a tendency to rattle in high winds. Took a port side cabin thinking there might be some advantage to views of the coast, but I don't think it made much of a difference unless you really wanted a nice sunrise to greet you in the mornings.
Ivan and Toto the cabin attendants were absolutely the best. Can't say enough good things about the both of them.
The night sailing out of the harbor was spectacular.
My remarks about the tour are in my main review.View All 86 Kennebunkport Reviews
Not enough time spent on photo stops. Remarks are in my main review.View All 236 Acadia National Park Reviews
Could spend several days here just doing mansion tours. Nice city.
Easily walkable city. Would consider spending a few days here.
Remarks are in my main review. If this port could be skipped in favor of an extra day in Quebec City, that would be awesome.
Was not able to anchor here due to high winds.
Easily walkable for self-guided tours. Remarks are in my main review.