2 San Francisco Holland America Zuiderdam Cruise Reviews

We travelled on a 16 day repositioning cruise from San Francisco to Fort Lauderdale in September/October. The cruise had good and bad points. Good first :- Staff were very friendly and helpful throughout - nicest staff on any ship I can ... Read More
We travelled on a 16 day repositioning cruise from San Francisco to Fort Lauderdale in September/October. The cruise had good and bad points. Good first :- Staff were very friendly and helpful throughout - nicest staff on any ship I can remember. Best was the Maitre d'hotel on the open dining restaurant who remembered our name, room number and preferences after just a few days! Cruise Director also excellent. Cabin staff lovely (but they always are!) Cabin large and well appointed - nice area to sit and watch TV, lots of storage space and hanging area. Food generally good although rarely had a wow factor. Portions not too big which we like, as it means you are never over-full. Icecream excellent and nearly always available. Lots of sunbeds and loungers on deck - never a shortage. Nice outside pool at back of ship Open dining good - we usually never booked and never had to wait for a table. Bad points:- No cool areas except on Promenade deck, miles away from pools. It was very hot and sunny on the cruise and the only way to escape the heat was deck 3 or inside. The outside pool area had no shade except where smoking was allowed - why were they so favoured?! There was another area with cover in the middle of the ship but it was constantly like sitting in a sauna because there was no breeze or aircon in that area. All other upper deck areas were in the full sun and, as a result, were hardly used at all. Where there were covered areas, the covers had been removed, for no obvious reason. No forward visibility because all open areas faced sideways or backwards. There was one forward deck but it was closed at all times except for the Panama Canal transit, again for no apparent reason. Why not open it all the time?!! The staff were all lovely but badly trained and also understaffed in places - we waited a long time for breakfast in the dining room, tables were often not set when we sat down, we had to keep requesting things that should be there. Some small examples - plates at buffet were too hot to hold but there were no napkins to hold them with, one course was often being delivered when other diners were eating the previous course, very often the food did not match what was described on the menu, staff at customer services denied there was a navigation chart even though we had seen it (and found it again!) - all minor things but lots and lots of them!! Dining room not open for lunch on most land days which meant only the Buffet was open. As a result, there were long lines and nowhere to sit. Many of the passengers were very elderly - at 55, I felt like a teenager!! I am used to some elderly passengers but I think more than half were over 70 and many much older! Tendering was a disaster - we wondered if the crew had ever carried out the process before - it took so long and was so disorganized. We waiting 35 minutes for a tender on full sunshine even though we were third in line!! Also, the staff operating the tender did not seem to know how to moor the boat - as a boater myself, I could have done a better job! Finally, the tenders were filled and then wheelchairs put in the aisles which was a definite safety risk if we needed to get out quickly for any reason. God help anyone who has to evacuate this ship - it would probably go down while passengers waited to join the lifeboats!! Altogether, OK but not the 4 star experience we expected from the good reviews on Holland America Read Less
Sail Date September 2010
Embarkation at San Francisco was quick, easy and efficient. Our time for embarkation was 3:00 pm and we arrived shortly after 2:00. No waiting and our luggage arrived in the stateroom before dinner. My only complaint was that there was ... Read More
Embarkation at San Francisco was quick, easy and efficient. Our time for embarkation was 3:00 pm and we arrived shortly after 2:00. No waiting and our luggage arrived in the stateroom before dinner. My only complaint was that there was very little, Welcome Aboard information with what was going on that day. We didn't have the daily sheet showing times of dinners, shows etc. Shortly after sailing, we had our first lifeboat drill - we felt that we were being tugged in a dozen directions and weren't sure which way was up. Do you explore ship? How do you find out where to go and what to do? Next day, much better. Daily sheet arrived, met Charlie our cheerful, competent Steward. At 11 am the Cruise Critics who had registered on the Roll Call Forum met in the Crows Nest, wearing our Mardi Gras Beads. We weren't a large group so we were able to meet for lunches and get-togethers during the voyage. One couple was English, one American and 3 couples were Canadian. Our fellow CC certainly enhanced our enjoyment of the holiday! Since this ship had departed from Vancouver, there were a lot of Canadians aboard and the Zuiderdam staff provided Canadian Newssheets and had a Turkey Dinner for Canadian Thanksgiving. Dining in the Vista Lounge was interesting. Each menu had a myriad of choices and the description of the meal often didn't match the finished product. They were all tasty though and the creative writing descriptions gave our table companions some laughs. Plates were beautifully presented with servings not huge (thank goodness) and quite varied. On occasion, one of our tablemates would request a second helping and it was not a problem for the dining room staff to comply. We enjoyed our table companions very much but sharing a table for 18 days is quite a long time. It would have been interesting to have different dinner companions sometimes. I understand that other cruise lines are experimenting with free style dining but there are problems with this style too. Wines: We purchased wine with dinner and the house wine at $18 was quite acceptable. The steward was pleased to recork it and serve us the remainder the next day. We ate lunch at the Lido restaurant and enjoyed the variety. Breakfast was usually room service. Ports of Call: This was a fantastic Itinerary. Cabo San Lucas, Puerto Vallarta, Huatalco, Acapulco, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Cartagena Columbia, Jamaica, Half Moon Cay, Bahamas in addition to the piece de resistance, the Panama Canal. We participated in shore excursions at most ports and found them to be well run and interesting. The only hiccup was Cartagena which is the most interesting city with its ancient fortifications and cathedrals. 47 buses lined up to take passengers on excursions - most of which were city tours. They all seemed to end up at the same place at the same time causing tremendous traffic jams. The tour was billed as an easy tour but hiking up the battlements of the fort and up the hill to the cathedral was quite strenuous. As usual, there wasn't enough time to explore everything you wanted to, but such is life. They always find time to deliver you to the Approved Shops which sell the same ugly tee shirts and tourist souvenirs. Columbia had the benefit of Emeralds though and many people were sporting some lovely pieces at the next formal night! Some of our fellow cruise critics hired a taxi and had the benefit of a guided tour with their private guide. Half Moon Cay was a delight. Lovely white sand, warm, turquoise sea. A few chaise lounges in the shade would have been appreciated. All of the cabanas were gone early - you would be well advised to book these in advance. We took a snorkeling trip on a boat and just loved it. We have a few physical limitations (age, artificial joints) but had no trouble entering the water and snorkeling in the choppy water. Everyone wore a swim vest that could be inflated and there were two lifeguards. Entertainment: Showtimes were just great. We went to most shows and they had a great diversity. The theatre is quite sophisticated and holds about 650 people. Early shows were quite full, the later show was not. We also enjoyed the Zuiderdam Superstar show - home grown Karaoke talent which was excellent and much fun. Daily entertainment was good too. They had a series of lectures on Geology as it pertained to the area we were transiting as well as a series of enrichment lectures: Spies, Gismos and Gadgets. There was an ACBL Director giving Bridge Lessons and hosting a game in the afternoon of sea days - both Duplicate Bridge and Party Bridge. This was great as many people who have played bridge for years were able to update their methods. There was a guest chef aboard, James Mazzio. He gave a culinary demo which was interesting, informative and fun. Later in the cruise he and the Zuiderdam's executive Chef had a cook off which was lots of fun. We also had a tour of the galley. In addition to these activities, there were trivia contests, ballroom dance lessons, singles get-togethers, exercise classes, gym, spa services, movies, bingo, afternoon tea - it was impossible to participate in more than a fraction of the entertainment aboard ship. We found the layout of the ship very pleasing. There are lounges scattered throughout the public areas and we never found ourselves overwhelmed by people. Many times we would go for a drink in the Crows Nest and there would only be a dozen or so other people there, a small band playing and a few people on the dance floor. In the pool area there were many lounge chairs empty; the Promenade deck had lots of shaded lounges just waiting. Management of people departing for tenders to Ports was well handled and we were never waiting in line for more than just a few minutes. It was hard to believe that there were 1,800 people aboard the ship. The layout of the ship is such to encourage you to use the decks for exercise In General: Passengers were an older crowd - it was a 3 week cruise from Vancouver to Fort Lauderdale so that is to be expected. There were only a few children and 1,000 grannies! The staff was wonderful - friendly, helpful and cheery. We will be cruising again and believe that Holland America offers excellent value. Read Less
Sail Date October 2006
Zuiderdam Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 4.2
Dining 3.5 4.1
Entertainment 4.5 3.7
Public Rooms 3.5 4.1
Fitness Recreation 4.0 3.7
Family 2.0 3.7
Shore Excursion 5.0 3.8
Enrichment 5.0 3.6
Service 4.0 4.4
Value For Money 4.5 3.8
Rates 4.0 4.1

Find a Zuiderdam Cruise

Easily compare prices from multiple sites with one click