Chilly Caribbean cruise!: Zuiderdam Cruise Review by rosegrower

Zuiderdam 4
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Chilly Caribbean cruise!

Sail Date: February 2012
Destination: Panama Canal & Central America
Embarkation: Fort Lauderdale (Port Everglades)
We arrived in FLL the day before and stayed at the Embassy Suites on 17th Street. We have stayed in FLL 4 times before but not at this hotel and I must say it was our best pre-cruise stay. I booked this hotel with the Hilton MVP rate that I found out about on Cruise Critic. We arrived around 1:00pm and after a short wait in line we were told by the check in clerk that they had a very nice room reserved for us on the 12th floor where we could see the cruise ships. She took our cell phone number and said we would be called when room was available. We checked our luggage with the bellman and received claim checks for them and even shown where they were being placed for easier reclaiming. We then left for our usual pre-cruise clam chowder at Kelly's Landing and before we finished our lunch received the call that room was ready. The managers reception was crowded but with 3 bar tenders the line moved fast. Breakfast the next morning for us at 6:30 was very quiet, a good variety of hot More and cold foods provided. Great location for Publix and Total Wine!

We arrived at the port early and the process was fast and we were in boarding group 2 sitting upstairs when the rain storm came in, so happy we missed being out in that! We went straight to our room to leave our bags. My husband had ordered a vase of assorted roses for me and they were there waiting and very nice. We were up to the Lido before the crowds, first time for us with the 48 hours of no self service. I thought it worked rather well but others seemed to be clueless and were constantly reaching for plates and stuff they were not supposed to touch. Our bags were in our room, after lunch and for the first time ever, we were fully unpacked before lifeboat drill and CC sailaway meet. Our SY cabin 6104 was clean and everything appeared to be working. It was in a great location close to aft elevators and not too far from midships elevators. We had no noise problems. As the days went by, our room kept getting colder and colder and the thermostat did nothing to help. If we wanted to take photos from the veranda like sunset, Panama canal we had to place our camera out on the veranda to heat up cause the lenses steamed as soon as they hit the warm air. Workers came 2 days and changed fuses and thermostat, said heater part did not work and finally ended up just doing something to reduce air flow so we got less cold air blowing out in the room. It was better than being hot but really a super cold (and I like cold) we never expected.

We had a great table for 6 in the MDR early seating. Food was okay but cost cutting measures noted compared to other HAL cruises. We had to resort to the always available menu more than on previous cruises. The Master Chef dinner was actually one of the better offerings, much to our surprise. Service was just okay, our table seemed to be of the least concern to our servers. Breakfast in the Lido was fine with a good selection. Lunch was okay also but noticed lower cost cuts of meat for Bistro and no asparagus except 1 stalk in a medley. We ate in the Pinnacle one night and it was very mediocre, shrimp cocktail limp and not chilled, lobster chewy, only great thing was the chocolate souffle.

We went to most of the shows, really enjoyed Jeff and Indie and Island Magic, even purchased their CD which I am listening to as I type this. We enjoyed the karaoke shows and would have done some of the activities in Northern Lights except it was just to smokey for us. We used Bags Direct with Southwest and were very pleased with it. We received our tags and boarding passes the day before and were off the ship,in a cab and to the airport and thru security by 8:00am. Our flight was not until 1:20 pm so it was a long wait. We could have paid more to switch to an earlier flight but we were told we would have to wait for our bags to arrive at the original time, 5:45 so it really was not worth it, since we live 2 hours away from the airport.

Over all, a nice relaxing cruise, just way too chilly in the room! Less

Published 02/26/12

Cabin review: SS6104 Signature Superior Verandah Suite

Cabin SY 6104 was a quiet location, convenient to aft and mid elevators. At times the whole hallway would smell of cooking odors (garlic, fish, meat) but it did not last long and only a couple times invaded our cabin. Storage was ample with lots of hangers.

Read All Signature Superior Verandah Suite (SS) Reviews >>

Port and Shore Excursions

Sunset Cruise

When were arrived to the pier building, we were directed to a table and were given a green paper to sign, most just signed it and went to wait for the tour. My husband DID read it and was upset that we we had to sign this form releasing everyone including HAL from any responsibility if anything happened to you. We chose to lose our money and hurried back on the ship to go to dinner. It would have better if HAL had been upfront about this in the excursion description and we would have not chosen it. We did not have to sign any other forms on any of our other HAL excursions which were on boats also.

Our favorite port! We did the glass bottom boat excursion and it was great! There is a step down to get into the boat but they help you if needed. William and the boat driver went out of their way to help us see coral, 2 sea turtles and many fish. At Kleine Bonaire, the fish come right up to the boat and you get to see them up close. Williams commentary was very informative and witty and we just had a wonderful time. The boat is covered so we really did not get sun pouring down on us. The only cautionary note is that you do have to really bend your knees to fit in the space in front of the glass bottom. I have had knee replacement surgery and my knee got a little stiff but otherwise okay. The port itself has a craft market right at the pier where items have to be from Bonaire. I got a small water color of the type of sea turtle we had just seen and some other artwork with flamingos.
Read 443 Bonaire Reviews

We stayed on the ship for the Panama Canal since we had lived in that country for 3 years. The process of going thru the locks was fascinating and we spent most of the day on our veranda watching. We did get off the ship in Colon for a short while but did not purchase anything.

We just walked across the floating bridge and did some shopping, took some good photos of the colorful buildings and used some free wifi at a cafe. We had to return by ferry but no problems. We had been here previously and did extensive excursions so just relaxed here for the most part.
Read 915 Curacao Reviews

The Tortuguero Canals

Bus was well air conditioned and seats comfy. Our guide Anna Maria was very knowledgeable and spoke English very well. She talked to us on the way to the canals about the country and what we would see. There are restrooms to use before getting on the boat. The boat ride itself was fun, it was covered and the boat driver and Anna Maria went out of their way to help us see birds, sloths. monkeys. After the boat, you got about 20 minutes or so to listen to the band , eat fresh fruit and have a drink. There was a small gift area and I bought a necklace and bracelet made out of the local woods. I was sorry that I did not purchase more since the same items were being sold at the pier for $3 and $4 more. The stop at the banana plantation was short but interesting. On the way back, the driver stopped and purchased some small ladyfinger bananas at a roadside stand which we all got to sample. We enjoyed this excursion. We were a little concerned when we saw that we had to leave at 6:45 am, but it was not bad, the LIDO opened early and our guide told us the morning was the best time to see wildlife, etc.

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