Amazing time from beginning to end!: Zuiderdam Cruise Review by HatRez

Zuiderdam 5
Member Since 2011
67 Forum Posts

Overall Member Rating

Amazing time from beginning to end!

Sail Date: December 2011
Destination: Panama Canal & Central America
Embarkation: Fort Lauderdale (Port Everglades)
We couldn't have asked for more from our most recent cruise with HAL Zuiderdam. As a young couple we have been on ships before that I would call "geriatric" in nature. Being that it was a holiday cruise the average age was a lot younger. The ship had an energetic atmosphere and a lot of fun things to do and watch.

I've read a lot of negative reviews about the Zuiderdam on here, sanitation, pools, state of the ship, etc. I would have to say that for the most part your experience is your attitude and what you make of it. Are the carpets on the stairs worn? Yes. But does that effect the quality of the food or the friendliness of the staff or the ports of call? No. So why does that matter? In fact, I didn't even notice it until someone mentioned it in passing on our second last day. I was too busy running up and down them to activities to notice.

As for the pools, they were clean and cool... perfect for the hot, humid weather we got in Panama and the Caribbean. The best More time of day to go is around 5 when everyone is eating or getting ready to eat and the sun is setting. It's not too hot and there is plenty of room in the pools and by the deck. There was often entertainment on the deck, whether it was the HALcats or the solo guitarist, DJ Mario with pool games or line dancing. There were several barbecues, the dessert extravaganza and a late night pool party.

The cleanliness of the ship was above our previous experiences. Measures are in place to ensure no one serves themselves for the first 48 hours and there are hand sanitizing stations everywhere. This is the first cruise I have gone on without catching my usual cruise cough. The staff are always scrubbing and cleaning and wiping and vacuuming. So impressive.

My husband and I took advantage of all the activities and game shows. We had a blast either participating or observing and laughed a lot and met wonderful people. We didn't have assigned seating and even on nights when the reservation desk said the dining room was full, there were always tables available for walk-up guests with no wait. The food was excellent all over the ship and we especially loved the ice cream bar and waffle cones. If there is ever frozen watermelon pie on the menu, order 2!

The entertainment for the most part was great. We loved the comedian and the juggler/comedian. We enjoyed the steel drum band and the dancers. The magician was corny and did tricks we saw several times before but his dog stole the show!

We loved the explorer's lounge with the crossword puzzle tables and chess, scrabble, sudoku, trivia, etc. It was a wonderful place to relax.

Cruise director Jason was younger than most we've seen and had a lot of humour and energy. He always started shows with funny stories from the day before.

Travel guide Brett was awesome. (I have a tiny crush but my husband is well aware! lol) His presentations prepared us for the ports and he had a few awesome inside tips that helped us find a rental vehicle and see things we wouldn't have normally.

The ports were awesome! If you stop in Gatun Lake, Panama, please visit the tribal village. It was an experience of a lifetime and the lovely people who live there will steal your hearts and you will want to take all of the kids home with you! What a wonderful experience and they were so welcoming and gracious. LOVED IT! It was truly the highlight of our trip.

I can't say enough positive things about our cabin stewards and the staff on the ship. We didn't pass one staff member the entire time who didn't say good morning or good afternoon with a hug smile. It was so great getting to know them and interact and have them be a part of our holiday.

As a tip, we were on the seventh floor and it was perfect. It wasn't noisy, only two floors to the lido deck, food, pools, etc. and it wasn't as rocky in the rough seas as it was in other parts of the ship. The swaying was slight and put me to sleep quickly most nights.

Everything about our trip was amazing and we had the best, best time. Can't say the same for our trips to and from the Ft. Lauderdale seaport (shady cab drivers, etc.) but our cruise experience was perfect! Less

Published 12/31/11

Cabin review: L7018 Standard Interior Stateroom

Our cabin was an interior stateroom on the seventh floor. It had a wall of closets with plenty of space and storage under the bed. It had a small table with a chair and a vanity with a large mirror. The bathroom was larger than other ships we have been on and had plenty of storage around and under the sink. Our location was perfect because of it's proximity to the stairs/elevator, the lido deck and the quietness of the area.

Read All Standard Interior Stateroom (L) Reviews >>

Port and Shore Excursions

Aruba was more commercialized than most. It was the last of five stops and the first time we saw a Coach store, a Starbucks and a Louis Vuitton! My husband had heat stroke so didn't have a lot of energy. We rented a jeep and drove around the entire island. We stopped at Baby Beach, drove through the national park, stopped at the caves, the lighthouse and Boca Catalina for a swim. Didn't do any shopping because it was more expensive than the other islands and we were already running low on funds! haha
Read 1286 Aruba Reviews

We loved Bonaire. At the recommendation of Travel Guide Brett (:-))we took the water taxi to Klein Bonaire. It was excellent snorkelling. In the afternoon we rented an ATV and drove around the salt flats to find flamingos. There it so much to see and do off the side of the roadway that it left us just enough time at the end of the day to walk around their adorable downtown core with a beer in hand! Perfect day! Perfect weather!
Read 443 Bonaire Reviews

We loved Colon only because of our excursion to the tribal village mentioned above. Otherwise, there was not much to see or do that was safe to get to. Take that excursion!

In Curacao we rented a vehicle and drove around the island. We went to Hati Caves and took the tour. That was worth the money and time, beautiful inside. We then drove to West Point and stopped at some beaches along the way to collect shells and watch the crabs and fishermen and iguana hunters. We walked around Curacao at night because we didn't leave until late. It is a beautiful downtown core with music playing in the streets and a lot of great places to eat.
Read 915 Curacao Reviews

The area itself is quite dirty with mounds of garbage piled up on the sides of the street. We took a great tour of the Tortoguero Canal and a banana plantation. It was great value for the money. We wouldn't have done much otherwise, not a lot to safetly see or do right in town.

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Member Since 2011
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