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ZUIDERDAM, Panama Canal, Dec. 13-23 Our last cruise with HAL was 2 years ago and we enjoyed it. Our most recent cruise was on Equinox Dec. '09, equally enjoyed. PROS The Canal experience: A+ information & narration aboard the ship were complete and very interesting. A special day. Zuiderdam has one important feature for us, a wrap-around promenade deck. We walked 2 miles every day. Hydro-pool - We bought a pass ($190 for 2), worth it. We used it every day, clean and quiet. Pinnacle Grill - We had 2 dinners and 1 lunch. Each time, food and service were very good. 2 shows we really liked: The magician & his dog Indy, and Magic Island. CONS LIDO is a mess. Is it the lay-out? Poor design? The place was always packed with people coming/going from all directions. Breakfast or lunch, lines, lines, lines. On Equinox, with a lot more passengers (2,950), buffet is better organized and generally offers better food. Quality of meals at lunch was most often below average, the stuff we find at our local all-you-can-eat at $6.99. Except that on Z, they 'hide' the food under stainless lids, so you don't see exactly what's offered. MDR - We opted for As you wish.. On Equinox, getting a table for 2 is no problem. Select Dining is what it says, anytime you're ready, no wait, no reservations required. On Princess Anytime Dining, no reservations either, we never had to wait more than 10-15 min. It seems Z cannot manage a large number of diners. As you Wish Dining = We don't care. Tables for 2 were never available. They even looked very annoyed when we asked. When we tried to reserve one in the afternoon, they were already.. reserved. One night we were told, before we asked (!), only tables for 8 were available at that time. Right across, along the wall, was a nice table set for 2 (ghosts?) that remained unoccupied for more than 1.5 hour. That night at our table service was very slow. Being on vacation doesn't mean we want to spend the evening in the dining room. What saved our cruise on the dining front is the extensive in-room menu. We ended up having most of our dinners on our balcony. EXCURSIONS We took only one ship excursion, "Discover Costa Rica Deluxe" $198. We discovered it was a waste of money. A few years back, we spent 2 weeks in CR driving along the Pacific Coast. We loved it, gorgeous country, so beautiful that we wanted to see another piece of it. This is an 8-hour tour including a 4-hour drive. The bus was clean, guide & driver were good enough. However the trip is on a main road without interest and littered with garbage on long stretches. Our first stop, we couldn't visit the church that was on the program, it was closed. But at least we were able to use the restroom (one for 20 people) on the other side of the street. The sink had no faucets, glad I always carry my hand sanitizer. Miles later, we got off the bus and hopped on an open truck for a 20 min. bone-rattling ride during which we saw nothing special. We finally got to a rather small waterfall. If you ever saw a waterfall you've seen this one. We were served a small glass of juice by the natural pool where we spent about 45 min. We then went to a 'ranch' for lunch & a horse show, that part was ok. Back on the rock-and-roll truck before getting on the bus again. That's when our guide told us we were running late, that we wouldn't have time to visit the museum we were supposed to. Return to the ship. DISEMBARKATION - chaotic. We used Luggage Direct and were assigned Group AAAA (first group). When our group was called we proceeded to the gangway. There were already many people and we got in line where we waited about 30 min. to get to the scanner. That's when we were told "Step away, you have no luggage, you cannot leave now". Only expedite disembarkation (those carrying their luggage themselves) were allowed to get off. Gee, wish we had known before. A man behind us started arguing: "What f-difference does it make if we have no luggage? We have a Group A ticket". No reply. The only HAL rep in place to help out at the scanner told him: "Back off, sir, and wait in line". At that point, the place was jammed packed, no more line. Was it Z first disembarkation? On the other hand, Customs & TSA agents were fast and efficient. OVERALL - not a bad cruise, just not good enough. We will probably cruise with HAL again , certainly not on Zuiderdam.

ZUIDERDAM - Panama Canal

Zuiderdam Cruise Review by BlueBayou08

Trip Details
ZUIDERDAM, Panama Canal, Dec. 13-23





Our last cruise with HAL was 2 years ago and we enjoyed it. Our most recent cruise was on Equinox Dec. '09, equally enjoyed.



PROS

The Canal experience: A+ information & narration aboard the ship were complete and very interesting. A special day.



Zuiderdam has one important feature for us, a wrap-around promenade deck. We walked 2 miles every day.



Hydro-pool - We bought a pass ($190 for 2), worth it. We used it every day, clean and quiet.



Pinnacle Grill - We had 2 dinners and 1 lunch. Each time, food and service were very good.



2 shows we really liked: The magician & his dog Indy, and Magic Island.



CONS



LIDO is a mess. Is it the lay-out? Poor design? The place was always packed with people coming/going from all directions. Breakfast or lunch, lines, lines, lines. On Equinox, with a lot more passengers (2,950), buffet is better organized and generally offers better food.

Quality of meals at lunch was most often below average, the stuff we find at our local all-you-can-eat at $6.99. Except that on Z, they 'hide' the food under stainless lids, so you don't see exactly what's offered.



MDR - We opted for As you wish.. On Equinox, getting a table for 2 is no problem. Select Dining is what it says, anytime you're ready, no wait, no reservations required. On Princess Anytime Dining, no reservations either, we never had to wait more than 10-15 min.



It seems Z cannot manage a large number of diners. As you Wish Dining = We don't care.

Tables for 2 were never available. They even looked very annoyed when we asked. When we tried to reserve one in the afternoon, they were already.. reserved. One night we were told, before we asked (!), only tables for 8 were available at that time. Right across, along the wall, was a nice table set for 2 (ghosts?) that remained unoccupied for more than 1.5 hour. That night at our table service was very slow. Being on vacation doesn't mean we want to spend the evening in the dining room.



What saved our cruise on the dining front is the extensive in-room menu. We ended up having most of our dinners on our balcony.



EXCURSIONS



We took only one ship excursion, "Discover Costa Rica Deluxe" $198. We discovered it was a waste of money. A few years back, we spent 2 weeks in CR driving along the Pacific Coast. We loved it, gorgeous country, so beautiful that we wanted to see another piece of it. This is an 8-hour tour including a 4-hour drive. The bus was clean, guide & driver were good enough. However the trip is on a main road without interest and littered with garbage on long stretches. Our first stop, we couldn't visit the church that was on the program, it was closed. But at least we were able to use the restroom (one for 20 people) on the other side of the street. The sink had no faucets, glad I always carry my hand sanitizer. Miles later, we got off the bus and hopped on an open truck for a 20 min. bone-rattling ride during which we saw nothing special. We finally got to a rather small waterfall. If you ever saw a waterfall you've seen this one. We were served a small glass of juice by the natural pool where we spent about 45 min. We then went to a 'ranch' for lunch & a horse show, that part was ok. Back on the rock-and-roll truck before getting on the bus again. That's when our guide told us we were running late, that we wouldn't have time to visit the museum we were supposed to. Return to the ship.



DISEMBARKATION - chaotic. We used Luggage Direct and were assigned Group AAAA (first group). When our group was called we proceeded to the gangway. There were already many people and we got in line where we waited about 30 min. to get to the scanner. That's when we were told "Step away, you have no luggage, you cannot leave now". Only expedite disembarkation (those carrying their luggage themselves) were allowed to get off. Gee, wish we had known before. A man behind us started arguing: "What f-difference does it make if we have no luggage? We have a Group A ticket". No reply. The only HAL rep in place to help out at the scanner told him: "Back off, sir, and wait in line". At that point, the place was jammed packed, no more line. Was it Z first disembarkation?



On the other hand, Customs & TSA agents were fast and efficient.



OVERALL - not a bad cruise, just not good enough. We will probably cruise with HAL again , certainly not on Zuiderdam.
BlueBayou08’s Full Rating Summary
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