Sail Date: July 2015
Wasn't sure about this ship by the reviews here...I would say having lived it, its average to the ten-ish others I’ve been on. It has its good and its not so good like any ship I've been on. We flew to Vancouver day of the ... Read More
Wasn't sure about this ship by the reviews here...I would say having lived it, its average to the ten-ish others I’ve been on. It has its good and its not so good like any ship I've been on. We flew to Vancouver day of the cruise and made our way to the port using the ships transfer easily. Slight delay in getting our cabin keys but with a special note we were on and to our cabin in no time. We did get upgraded to a great cabin on the Lower Promenade deck. The cabin had a giant window (tinted) that looked onto the deck and the great Alaskan view. The room needed refreshing/renovating. The bathroom was showing its age. But again was comfy and clean as any. We loved Alaska. Even in the rain. But even more in the sun. You can whale watch from the ship. In Juneau we took the blue bus to the glacier for a short hike in the rain. In Skagaway we took the train up the mountain (amazing) and a walking tour of the town by a park ranger (free). In Ketchican we walked to the city’s totem centre and took the tour of Dolly’s house. We also had great lunch at the Alaskan Fish House dock side. The highlight was of course glacier bay. The pea soup on deck beside a giant blue wall of ice is something I will never forget. The ship is older and the staff aloof yes. I never lacked anything I needed and enjoyed the entertainment. We really enjoyed going for a drink before dinner and listening to the piano and violin duet. There was also a great server there who made a great Bloody Caesar. We sat in the dining room with two other friendly couples and enjoyed laughing and catching up on our adventures and ship life. The food in the dining room was good. The red meat the best choice. My advice is ask you waiter for their picks…they know. The food in the buffet at lunch and breakfast was at par with any other cruise I’ve been on. The hamburger place poolside was above par and a nice touch with the order and buzzer system. The size of the ship is perfect. Disembarkation was easy. I wish it had a steam room and better dry sauna. I would highly recommend an Alaskan cruise…I enjoyed this ship and this itinerary. Read Less
Sail Date: September 2014
This was on my husband's bucket list. We had done Alaska with Holland America on the Westerdam 2 years ago and the Caribbean 2 yrs before that. We had never done a 20 day cruise before but the itenary was great and a full transit ... Read More
This was on my husband's bucket list. We had done Alaska with Holland America on the Westerdam 2 years ago and the Caribbean 2 yrs before that. We had never done a 20 day cruise before but the itenary was great and a full transit seemed what we would want. Prior to leaving, I had booked the excursions that we wanted with Holland America, liking the security and peace of mind, knowing that if anything went wrong, Holland America would see you to your next port of call. We left Vancouver, having stayed at the Waterfront overnight...great hotel and view of the harbour. Embarkation process was excellent...very efficient and friendly and we were on board very swiftly. Made my way to front desk to book 2 cookery classes and a ship's tour for my husband, then offloaded our luggage. The stateroom 6064 was plenty big enough for the 3 of us, as was the balcony. No engine noise or vibration could be felt throughout the trip. Left Vancouver amid warm breezes and sunny skies with sunning vistas of bridges and mountains. Arrived next day in Astoria, where we were able to meet a friend who showed us around the local area with great pride. Had lunch at a brew pub by the harbour and also visted the Memorial Wall where those lost at sea were remembered. A memorable day out. Two days later we were in San Francisco, enjoying lunch at Boudin's...famous for clam chowder...and watching the sea lions knock each other off their pontoons, with much barking!! Leaving San Francisco was delayed which turned out to be a bonus, as we got to see the city all lit up, including the Westerdam which had arrived mid afternoon. With ships horns blowing and the city, ships and bridges all lit up, it was a great send off. Cabo San Lucas was the first of the Mexican ports to be visited. Great rock formation and strong surfs, though the shops and night life would be more for others than myself. Huatulco was next and was by far our favourite Mexican port. Small, colourful and vibrant, it made you feel in the holiday mood. We had a 5 bay sloop excursion ....not to be confused with the catamaran excursion...here early morning. With the Sierra Madre Mountains in the background, it was a wonderful 3.5 hrs viewing the scenery, including a stop for swimming in one of the bays. The 2 boat crew were professional, yet friendly and casual...perfect for the job. They handed out drinks of choice for those that fancied and gave interesting information of their area. An excellent tour and well worth the money. Puerto Chiapas ....the main town from the port was a 40 minute ride away from the ship, and any excursion required considerable travel time. We had nothing booked but the shuttle in was cramped and not air conditioned, so not to be recommended in that heat and humidity. In Costa Rica we were fortunate to have Jonathan as our tour guide on the bus and crocodile safai boat. The 1.5 hours drive to the estuary wAs comfortable due to air conditioning and very informative due to his love of his country and his desire to i part as much information as he could. The crocodile safari was superb, due to plentiful sightings of crocodiles as well as birds which Jonathan would identify for us and we could check off in our bird guide books which he had supplied at the beginning of the boat trip. The captain of the boat was excellent as he would turn and manoevre again and again for us all to get great pictures close up. A bird highlight was the spoon billed flamingo. A fantastic tour which ended with fresh fruits and coffee being served in their small market, and which Holland America had already told us would be safe to eat and drink. The Canal was everything and more, of what is said of it. A lifetime experience, not to be missed...just fantastic. Cartegena was hot, humid and carried an advisory from the Captain for tourists to aware and cautious. Fellow travelers found they were harassed and felt afraid. Half Moon Cay finished an excellent cruise. It was beautifil, with water at 84 degrees, no humidity, just perfect weather and a gorgeous beach, complete with a shore BBQ. The following day was embarkation day, but Fort Lauderdale needs to take lessons from Seattle or Vancouver in this regard. All staff were friendly and smiling. Our cabin stewards were excellent Konang and Fery, as were many of the MDR and lido staff. The Captain was informative and available on many occasions to interact with guests. Ship's tour was well worth it as were the cooking lessons with Chef Mani. In summary, yes, the 20 day cruise was worth it!! Last accolade goes to the Indonesian and Filipino Crew who put themselves out at the end of a long day to give us all a great show, showcasing their cultures. Thank you everyone who made it a great vacation.   Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: September 2014
We have cruised previously, mainly with Royal Caribbean and felt that this ship did not in any way match up to their standards,. The ship is old, overall well maintained but very dated - it is definitely ready for a total refurbishment. ... Read More
We have cruised previously, mainly with Royal Caribbean and felt that this ship did not in any way match up to their standards,. The ship is old, overall well maintained but very dated - it is definitely ready for a total refurbishment. Starting with embarkation, our advice would be ignore the informationyou re sent to check in at 12 - we did that and waited 3 hours to get through US customs - when we asked we were told that in future the best time to arrive would be between 10 and 10.30 am that is before the groupos arrive at around 11am This was not a good start as we were treated like cattle shifted from queue to queue and then sat in rows waiting to be called before joining the final queue. We had a balcony cabin which was fine, it was well equipped - except for the fract that there is no kettle in the cabins - however, we overcame this by using room service for early morning drinks. The food on board was good not outstanding but good. We always found something tasty to eat. The waiters were very helpful and did not rush you. One of our key concerns was poor communications on board, the destinations talk was just pure sales pitch and gave you no information on the actual destination and what you could do with your free time. There were several occasions when whales and other sealife could be sen from the eck but unlike RC cruises there were no announcements from the bridge to let you know when they were sighted or where it was best to look in the next 24 hours. Entertainment was varied, the theatre was small there were 2 decent singers, otherwise very sub standard. The piano bar was fantastic, great atmosphere and full every night. The Hal Cats were very good kusicians and entertaining, otherwise overall the ship lacked the type of entertainment we are used to on larger ships. Disembarkation was smooth and well managed, very fast and efficient. Overall we had a great holiday but do feel that Holland Aaerica missed several opportunities to make it just that little bit more special. Alaska cruise great, if repeating would use a different line. Read Less
Sail Date: September 2014
We have just returned from a 7 day Alaska round-trip, Inside Passage cruise from Vancouver on MS Zuiderdam. Ports were Skagway, Ketchikan, Juneau and Glacier Bay cruising. All in all – it was pretty great. Vancouver is an hour flight ... Read More
We have just returned from a 7 day Alaska round-trip, Inside Passage cruise from Vancouver on MS Zuiderdam. Ports were Skagway, Ketchikan, Juneau and Glacier Bay cruising. All in all – it was pretty great. Vancouver is an hour flight from home so that was a treat from cruising from farther away ports. We stayed in VB veranda stateroom 4164. I booked that cabin purposely for the extra large balcony. In hindsight, I wish I had booked a VA room in a better location and for fewer dollars. The weather most days was damp, rainy or windy and though it was nice to have the balcony – a smaller one would have been quite adequate. Embarkation was pretty smooth: about one hour from arriving at Canada Place to being in our room. The 2 men who looked after our room were great! They seemed to be around any time I was looking for them for more ice, etc. and our room was tended to in a very timely matter. The Zuiderdam is a nice ship. It has minor showing of some wear and tear but that is too be expected. I am glad we didn’t keep the Explore 4 package that we had originally booked. With the great bucket of beer prices and the happy hours, we did not come close to spending $700 on beverages. And we certainly did drink. We brought on our 2 bottles of wine and feel like we could have easily brought more on without anyone caring. The food is plentiful and with a good selection. We ate daytime meals in the Lido buffet, and all but two evening meals in the dining room. I can’t imagine ever choosing set dining times; we enjoyed meeting new people at the dinner table at whatever time we showed up. We had minimal waiting for a table. Glacier Bay day was a rare bright, sunny day and we enjoyed looking at the beautiful scenery from our balcony, and on decks 4, 6 and 9. In Skagway we had a van tour to Emerald Lake and a train back from Fraser. The train was a highlight for my husband. Ketchikan my husband fished for salmon, and I went on a HAL booked zodiac ride. I saw whales and seals during that excursion; more whales than on the Orca Enterprises whale tour in Juneau. I was surprised that Captain Larry was at the wheel……apparently he is still able to captain his vessel as it was all “just a mis-understanding”. My husband and I cruised with another couple. We are all in the just 50+ age and we felt like there were a lot of similar aged guests on board. My friend spent a lot of time (and $$$) in the spa and seemed to enjoy it a lot. We only watched 2 of the nightly shows. One was the Recycled Percussion show that I had read about on here. It was just okay. The ship does offer loads of entertainment – but we were more of the early to bed, early to rise group. I did enjoy 3 movies in the theatre. This was my husbands’ first cruise and he really enjoyed it. I have 5 Caribbean/Mexico cruises under my belt and Alaska topped them all. It was so beautiful and so different than a hot Caribbean vacation. Now I have Christmas in hot Huatulco to look forward to! Debarkation was a breeze as well. From the port we were able to take a shuttle for $15 each to the Vancouver airport.   Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2014
We had a most disappointing cruise on the Zuiderdam. Firstly we were given Cabin 4034, a balcony which had a solid steel plate from the railing to the floor. Vision from the tired balcony furniture was nil. Next the food was VERY poor and ... Read More
We had a most disappointing cruise on the Zuiderdam. Firstly we were given Cabin 4034, a balcony which had a solid steel plate from the railing to the floor. Vision from the tired balcony furniture was nil. Next the food was VERY poor and barely warm. I got food poisoning from the shrimp cocktail and/or crab cakes. My husband decided that they couldn't stuff up cooking a steak. Wrong! His medium steak was so rare it bled blood on the plate, but the medium-rare was well-done. The cafeteria was a feeding frenzy, with fingers being poked in the serving trays.The bedding was inadequate - 1 thin sheet, a thin scuffed polar fleece blanket and another thin sheet for a bedspread. I rang for a warm quilt but was told there weren't any but I could have another polar fleece. We slept with our coats over the bed. I sent a letter of complaint to Holland America but hadn't heard from them 6 weeks later. I sent an email and received a standard response. If you have the chance, do not go on this ship. Read Less
Sail Date: August 2014
We drove to Seattle from our home and took the " quick bus." From Seatac. No issues. Pre cruise we stayed at the Pan Pacific hotel. Great location. Right over the cruise terminal. Terminal. Ask for a view of the seaplane and ... Read More
We drove to Seattle from our home and took the " quick bus." From Seatac. No issues. Pre cruise we stayed at the Pan Pacific hotel. Great location. Right over the cruise terminal. Terminal. Ask for a view of the seaplane and convention center when you book this hotel. Hotel. Our bags were taken from the room. To the ship . We were in a Neptune suite so we went down to embark at 1030 am. Easy breezy through Customs and check in. We waited till 1130 and then boarded and went to our rooms. Areas for improvement Neptune suite Two soaps in bathroom when there are two sinks and soap holders Put the Landry forms and bags in the room every day. Every day we had to ask. Pillows on the couch were spotted Bathroom counter tacky Ship Some public rooms tackily some very nice. Public bathrooms in odd locations and hard to find. Don't clean right before shows when people want to use them. Canneleto a miss. Very slow service. No atmosphere. Food not as good as Lido deck. Tours More Signs telling what deck is get off deck More signs for tours off ship Tour to Mendenhall glacier too long at glacier when raining. Two hours Center too small.. Tour bus pickup a mess Trip on white horse railway a bit Scarey if you don't like heights. Big safety issue Get on ramp at Skagway was at too high an angle due to tide. One hour after mentioning to three people i was finally told that the tide would start going down in ten minutes. One hour later other passengers said that it was still too steep.. Finally it was lowered to a lower deck. Positives Mdr Mdr food quite good.. ( I am not a foodie.) Waiter good .. Quick..after first night Beautiful table .. 26 on upper vista restaurant Lido food Actually the best buffet we have seen. Lots of good choices. Pinnacle grill Our dinner there was very good! Neptune Suite Things fixed quickly, bathroom light, balcony door key. Temp in room fine. Neptune lounge attendants very nice.. Especially Doris. We.didn't use much as our room was on another deck. I left a designer ring in the ships shop as I was trying on other rings, Doris facilitated its return to me. I was very impressed. Room well appointed. Lots of storage. Room service on time. Free laundry was good and even got a bad red wine stain out of my husbands shirt. Other staff The customer service manager was nice. Cruise director, Dave, was very good. We loved trivia. It wasNot so competitive as prizes were minimal and thus it was more fun. The captain, John, was very charming as was his wife who lead the "behind the scenes" tour. (Actually he was one of the most charming and fun captains we have ever had. Ironically worked for another of the best.. Halle Gunderson. ). Entertainment We loved the talk with the captain the first morning. The "Behind the scenes tour wonderful". We got to spend a lot of time with the captain. Recycled Percussion outstanding! The rest of the entertainment was of the normal cruise ship caliber. Weather Leaving Vancouver was gorgeous. First day at sea cloudy most of the day. Juneau cold and rainy. Skagway warmish and partly sunny. Glacier bay rainy and foggy. Ketchikan warm and full sun. Last sea day partly rainy and foggy the whole day. Arrival back in Vancouver.. Cloudy. Be prepared for every kind of weather. Don't expect sun and you won't be disappointed. Clothes Pretty casual. Jeans in the dining room except the " formal nights " Everyone tidy. Very few tuxes. Biggest oops... Our " inside passage trip" was not all inside passage! The second night was in open sea, as fifth night and last day. Bring your seasick medicine as it was rough in the North Pacific after we left glacier bay. According to staff this is the usual route so be prepared. Especially at the end of the season. Read Less
Sail Date: August 2014
We have cruised with Holland America Lines for at least 25 times and this cruise did not disappoint. The relaxing seven-day cruise was just as expected with all of the pampering that one needs. We prefer the 'Inside Passage' ... Read More
We have cruised with Holland America Lines for at least 25 times and this cruise did not disappoint. The relaxing seven-day cruise was just as expected with all of the pampering that one needs. We prefer the 'Inside Passage' from Vancouver because the scenery is spectacular - much better than the 'outside' passage from Seattle where there is two days of seeing nothing but water. Zuiderdam was as regal as ever - this was our third voyage in Zuiderdam. The crew was as welcoming and gracious as can be. A perfect getaway vacation to a spectacular part of the world. The main dining room is our choice as we get to know the waiters and wine steward - it really makes the cruise. Meals were served in a timely and elegant manner by the caring staff. We're not sure how our wine steward was so attentive, as he had 23 tables to look after, but the glasses rarely were empty. A true professional. Embarkation and disembarkation were simple and quick - although not reflective of the ship but of the US and Canadian authorities in Vancouver. Most definitely we will be cruising with Holland America Lines again!! Read Less
Sail Date: August 2014
This was our 5th cruise with Holland America, our 9th cruise overall, and our 3rd time to Alaska. Our aim was a nice relaxing vacation and Holland America satisfied our goals. Overall we enjoyed the cruise and the food and service were ... Read More
This was our 5th cruise with Holland America, our 9th cruise overall, and our 3rd time to Alaska. Our aim was a nice relaxing vacation and Holland America satisfied our goals. Overall we enjoyed the cruise and the food and service were very good. The itinerary included Juneau, Skagway, Glacier Bay and Ketchican. We had some rain in Juneau but beautiful weather after that. The only shore excursion we took was White Pass Summit Scenic Railroad which we really enjoyed. We had the explore4 card. This allowed us to purchase any beverages with a list price up to $7 and we received a free dinner at the Pinnacle Grill. The only downside was that you couldn't pick when you wanted to go to dinner at the Pinnacle Grill or the time. They would not consider adjusting our reservation. Regardless, the food and service at the Pinnacle Grill were outstanding. We had open dining in the Vista dining room and both the service and food were excellent. No waits if you showed up before 6:30. The entertainment seemed to be hit or miss but this has been our experience on all cruises. We enjoyed the Comedian Brian Bradley and the solo guitarist John. The live entertainment did not start until dinner time. On our last cruise with Holland America they had afternoon live music which was very enjoyable. There did not seem to be as many musical groups performing as last time. Most on board activities seemed to be geared towards selling something or they had a cover charge. We skipped them. The movie theatre was quite nice and they provided popcorn. The biggest downside for us on the cruise was the amount of smoking. Many times I could not sit on our veranda or at the Lido pool due to nearby heavy smoking.   Read Less
Sail Date: August 2014
7 day cruise on the Zuiderdam is for anyone and everyone who wants to see Alaska. As HAL is geared more of the older folks, I saw all different ages on this ship from young guest to older guest. This is a mid size ship so it only holds ... Read More
7 day cruise on the Zuiderdam is for anyone and everyone who wants to see Alaska. As HAL is geared more of the older folks, I saw all different ages on this ship from young guest to older guest. This is a mid size ship so it only holds about 1916 passengers. The SY rooms can hold up to 3 guest. Our room had 2 adults and 1 child age 11. There was enough storage space for all the bags and extras that come along with a child. I can tell you the weather along the trip was amazing. But Alaska and Vancouver weather can be iffy with grey skies and occasional rain showers during the day. The best part of the cruise was going into Glacier Bay. It was sunny! We were lucky when we were there. Juneau's weather was not exciting as it rained and drizzled on us most of the day. There was no changing it. it was what it was. We still got out and walked around the town and did our excursions. If you let the weather dictate your trip and it rains, you will have a miserable trip. Be adventurous and go out and see what there is out there. Overall , I like HAL! They have something for everyone on board. The entertainment is OK. Not a Las Vegas or Broadway show. BUT on this sailing we had a special show from Recycled Percussion from Las Vegas. They give audience members ear plugs, drum stick and either pots, pans or metal serving trays. It can be loud, but it is FUN. Check out other parts of the ship and explore. Dinging room meals are wonderful. Every night we sat down for dinner we knew we would have a good meal. If you like steak, try Pinnacle Grill charge is $25. For Pasta and Italian try Canaletto charge is $10,   Read Less
Sail Date: July 2014
The ship is a little old but in my opinion well maintained. It was definitely more quiet then other cruise lines, but I actually preferred that. No holding/fighting for chairs, no long lines at the buffet etc… The overall atmosphere of ... Read More
The ship is a little old but in my opinion well maintained. It was definitely more quiet then other cruise lines, but I actually preferred that. No holding/fighting for chairs, no long lines at the buffet etc… The overall atmosphere of the ship just had more class than others. We are a family of 4 traveling with my in-laws. My boys are 5 & 10 years old. Club HAL is not camp Carnival but is more than adequate. My youngest liked it more than my oldest. Towards the end of the cruise, my oldest only wanted to go if they were having “free time” which is another word for, you guessed it, “video games”. LOL You can drop them off around 9am, but you must pick them back up by 11 or 11:30 for lunch. HAL opens back up at 1pm till 4pm and then from 7-10. I think this helped keep the kids from being bored, however its sometimes a problem picking them up so often as other activities seemed to start before drop off or end after pick up etc… We had a balcony room which was pretty standard when compared to other ships, my only complaint is that the fold down bed from the ceiling was over my bed instead of the couch. So every time you wake up, you have to remember to not sit straight up in bed or you would bang your head on the bunk above. Also the bed was closer to the door instead of the balcony, so when the couch was made into a bed by the balcony door, it made it very difficult to go on the balcony. Everything in the room worked great, A/C, water/shower etc… Room attendant was very good and responded to requests very well. Food on the boat was generally very good! I’ve been on several Carnival cruises and the MDR can be hit or miss, but the MDR on this cruise was Exceptional from food to wait staff we couldn’t have asked for a better MDR experience! The breakfast buffet was very good with lots of options. My favorite part of the breakfast buffet that set it apart from others was the Eggs Benedict station! They had about 6 choices every morning. Of course they had all the usual stuff including the omelet station. It seemed the lines on this smaller ship were much better than other buffets on past cruises. Lunch buffet was on par, but the grill outside was fantastic. The only real negative I have about the food is the pizza… Worst pizza ever, I would have rather had a frozen Red Baron. I couldn’t eat it… even the kids didn’t really care for it… I didn’t partake in much of the entertainment on board as it didn’t really appeal to me. That being said the comedian was really good. Movies in the screening room were newer (not on DVD yet), but seating was limited. The complimentary popcorn was a nice touch. Juneau we booked the whale excursion with HARV & MARV – to say that this was the Highlight to our trip would be an understatement. Steve, our captain, was exceptional, full of knowledge and passionate about the whales and life in general. He was a real pleasure to be around and he was great with the kids. It was a rare beautiful sunny day in Juneau and as we motored out Steve got on the radio and said there were several boats viewing the Humpbacks, so he suggested we start by making our way to another area were 2 Orca’s had been spotted. According to Steve, Killer Whales are kind of rare and only seen by maybe 15% of guests. Once we got to the area marked by other boats viewing we sat with baited breath and camera’s ready… to our delight a few minutes later they surfaced! There are rules that boat captains must follow including a distance 100 yards when it comes to viewing the whales. If they move closer to you, great, but you cannot motor any closer than 100 yards. That being said, as the Orca’s would surface, move about , then deep dive, Steve would move the boat in anticipation of where they would pop up next…. It’s almost as if he is a Whale whisperer. Many of the other boats would go the wrong way, but Steve really had a knack for anticipating their movements. After about 30 minutes the whales took another deep dive (they can be down for awhile) we were ready to see the Humpbacks. So off we went. There was a pod of 12 bubble net feeding…. It was AWESOME! We also saw sealions. I’ve linked some video below! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MrOd...ature=youtu.be https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CtCE...ature=youtu.be https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oK0y...ature=youtu.be FYI - Harv/Marv doesn’t allow kids on this excursion unless you book the whole boat. The bears at the end were actually from a Skagway tour we did with Chilkoot. Skagway- We did the bus/train and dog sled with Chilkoot charters! Alyssa was an awesome guide. We saw lots of great stuff and had another rare picture perfect day! Ketchikan we just hung out, ate some fish and chips at the Alaska fish house and checked out the Lumberjack show which was a lot of fun. The kids really enjoyed that as well. All in all we had a great time!   Read Less
Sail Date: July 2014
I was traveling with my parents and while this was not their first cruise experience, it was mine and I didn't know what to expect other than it would probably be boring since HAL caters to an older demographic (i.e. 50+). My sister ... Read More
I was traveling with my parents and while this was not their first cruise experience, it was mine and I didn't know what to expect other than it would probably be boring since HAL caters to an older demographic (i.e. 50+). My sister and I are both in our 20s and most of the activities & entertainment were kind of meh --- nothing really appealed to us (except for the cooking class which my sister loved). They had a bunch of activities like trivia, bingo, auction, and some fitness activities too but generally nothing upbeat or exciting for the younger 20-30s year old crowd. Actually, the slow pace of life on the cruise was exactly what we were looking for. We did not find the cruise to be boring at all. In fact, it was a rather relaxing vacation for us since we are so used to land tours and trying to do and see a million and one things on our tours. On the cruise, we just lounged around all day when we were at sea (which was only 2 nights) and had plenty to do and see when we were at port. Alaska is really beautiful, especially Glacier Bay, so spending time just admiring the scenery isn't bad. We booked the land-facing Deluxe Verdandah Oceanview stateroom, which had its own balcony and spent most of the day enjoying the scenery and trying to spot wildlife --- we saw dolphins, seals, otters, and a humpback whale. Pretty relaxing. The fitness center was pretty decent. They had a good number of equipment but surprisingly, the fitness center was always busy and crowded whenever I tried to use the gym except for when it opens at 6:00 am. The fitness center had a pretty view of the ocean too and nothing beats working out at 6:00 am in the morning with an unobstructed view of the sun peering through the Alaskan mountains. Terrific! The public area was also pretty clean and modern looking. Public washrooms were also clean and well lit. Décor showed quiet sophistication, not too loud or over-the-top. I found that style to be appealing. Room Our Deluxe Verdandah Oceanview stateroom was land-facing and we saw a lot of nice scenery. it's great for when you are in Glacier Bay since the decks can get really crowded. We didn't have to squeeze and compete with others for a good view or picture of the bay since we had our own balcony. The room was also very clean. Our steward was very friendly and introduced himself on the first day. He was always seen cleaning the hallway, which could explain why it was always so clean. The floor of our room was always clean --- I walk around the room barefoot and never once was the sole of my feet dirty. Much attention was paid to details --- edges of our room and bathroom was spotless and dust-free. These are areas that often get overlooked (even in well-established 5-star hotels). Service Overall, service was pretty good. The service from the dining crew was good and some even went beyond expectations - the Indonesian staff was mostly attentive, accommodating, mostly friendly, and professional. One of them even took the initiative to make mocha for us even though Lido cafe does not serve Mocha --- he made it with chocolate powder and black coffee. And he did it only because we had causally said that we liked mocha. It's the little things like that that make their service stand out. Also, we were always greeted with a smile when we were at the Vista Dining and Lido, and they made us feel welcomed. Some of them do not speak English very well but that was okay since I had no problems understanding them and neither did they have any problems taking my orders and answering my questions. The front desk service was pretty good. I was charged for a drink I did not order and without any questions, they took it off my bill immediately when I told them of the mistake. The only one exception was when I got my room number wrong and one of the concierge who was not attending to me smirked and tried to suppress her laughter. Nothing wrong if she had laughed along with me when I noticed my mistake and was clearly embarrassed instead of smirking at me like I was an idiot for forgetting my room number. I was also interested in booking a future trip because of some promotion they were having and spoke to one of the planners/advisors. She was not very helpful. Instead of taking time to answer my questions, she did not seem interested in my business. She handed me a book with all the routes and told me to look it over. Maybe it was because I look young (in my 20s) and she didn't think I would be a serious customer but regardless, I didn't appreciate her lack of interest especially when I was the only person there and it was not like she had other potential customers waiting in line to place a deposit. I went down thinking of placing a deposit for my next trip but because of her attitude, I did not. But other than that, I found their level of service to be acceptable and met my expectations. Food I found the food to be okay. Lunch at Lido Café is below expectations. There isn't much variety and the lines for the Bistro section is always long, which is expected since I think the Bistro section is the saving grace of the cafe. Let's just say, it's only cafeteria-quality food and nothing more. We ended up ordering room service one of the days (we have complimentary room service) instead of heading to the cafe. Vista Dining option was not bad. It's a nicer and more elegant atmosphere with a wider selection of food. You can order more than one serving to share, which we did - we ordered two appetizers each to share among ourselves, especially when we liked the selection of appetizers. Food quality and presentation was pretty decent too. I liked the service there much better than the Pinnacle Grill because the waiters were also very warm and attentive, and we went back whenever we could. We paid for the Italian restaurant and Pinnacle Grill. I thought the Italian restaurant served better food than the Pinnacle Grill. In terms of quality of food and level of service, Pinnacle Grill is not much better than the free Vista Dining option to justify the additional cost. In fact, they did not even notice that our water glasses needed refilling, which shows a lack of attention (Servers at the Vista Dinning did not make that mistake). I would not recommend Pinnacle Grill. That being said, I must explain that our experience at the Pinnacle Grill was definitely affected by our much better experience at Le Cirque, which we dined the night before our dinner at the Grill. Le Cirque was an additional $50 per person but was definitely more gourmet. It was much quieter that night (I think because of the price tag) and our server was more attentive and had time to be chatty with us. Corkage fee was only $18, which isn't expensive. The only negative experience at Le Cirque is the inexperienced of one of the wine stewards who served us our champagne. My dad brought a bottle of dom perignon and the sommelier or maybe he was just a wine waiter did not even shake it a little (perhaps he expected us to have shook it?) so when he popped the cork, it did not even make a noise. Later, he made the mistake of letting me have first taste or "try" of the champagne instead of my dad, who was the one who brought the Dom Perignon, before serving it to everyone after I found it to be satisfactory. Needless to say I was surprised and my dad was disappointed. Embarkation and disembarkation Quick and organized. Customs took a while, which is to be expected but there was also some announcement explaining the process to us, which we found to be helpful. Disembarkation was always pretty quick and organized. It was a pleasant experience and no hassle getting on and off at the ports. But overall, Le Cirque was a pretty good experience. Food was nice, atmosphere was quiet, we had a good view of the ocean, it was pretty exclusive, which we enjoy. But that also made the quality of food at the Pinnacle Grill only sub-par when we had it the next day. In conclusion, I'm definitely considering HAL as one of my options when I travel next. There were hits and misses but more hits than misses, and it was overall an enjoyable trip. We went on a cruise solely to bond as a family and wanted something more relaxing than the faster pace of travel than we are used to without compromising too much on luxury or quality. In those aspects, HAL delivered. We definitely appreciated the fact that there weren't too many screaming children and annoying teenagers --- there is also a sort of quiet sophistication about the place without screaming kids running around and dirtying everything. HAL caters to an older crowd and so the pace of life (i.e. types of activities & entertainment) on the cruise reflects that, which is fine by us since we just want some quiet and relaxing time away from the stresses of life.   Read Less
Sail Date: July 2014
Pros: - The adults in our group enjoyed themselves overall - The ship was very quiet because of Holland America's older age demographic - The ship quality and cleanliness was perfectly fine (even though the ship is somewhat old ... Read More
Pros: - The adults in our group enjoyed themselves overall - The ship was very quiet because of Holland America's older age demographic - The ship quality and cleanliness was perfectly fine (even though the ship is somewhat old according to other online critics) - The service was extremely friendly for the most part. The staff is human, and it's hard to fault them for the occasional expression of frustration. In our case, we showed up late for dinner, and the guys at the entry door sent us up to our servers, who got angry because they were getting ready to pack up. It wasn't our fault, but I was okay with it as a general misunderstanding. - The weather was mostly good - we got sunny days at Glacier Bay and in Ketchikan (and slight drizzles at Juneau and Skagway) but overall the weather was fine. July seems like the best time to go. Cons: - The ship had very little for our kids aged 5 and 8. We knew this was a risk going in, but I was hoping that there would be at least some good entertainment for kids (magician, cartoon characters, cartoon video shows, or something). The best thing they had was a chocolate making workshop, but that was pretty much the only kid-targeted entertainment (besides the ongoing club HAL games and crafts). This left my kids somewhat bored... again given the demographic, this is not a complaint as much as a warning for people to not think that Holland America has made much progress in targeting families. - They misrepresented what Indian food will be like to me. Before the cruise, and as part of selecting which line we will go with, I got an Indian food menu from ship services. They told me we would be able to mix and match between anything from the Indian menu plus the regular menu every lunch and dinner. The 7 day Indian food menu was quite nice and had good variety, which seemed perfect for us. What actually happened on the Zuiderdam was each person had to choose between getting the "chef's choice" of Indian food, or using the regular menu. The chef's choice left no flexibility for us, and was missing many of the things that were on the menu we had seen. The food was also very spicy and repeated the same items a couple times. We adapted to the situation (nobody ever goes hungry on a cruise), but the misrepresentation from their office beforehand was unprofessional. From what I later heard from friends who have gone on Royal Caribbean, Norwegian, or Carnival, there are many more choices for Indian food than HAL had for us. - Fruit juices were only available at breakfast. For lunch it was water/lemonade/ice tea, and for dinner it was only water. I later heard this is common, but I hadn't come across that comment in any other reviews so I thought I'd post it here. It gave a rationing feel to us. [By the way, on both the Indian food, and the juices, some friends who went on NCL had a much better experience, which makes me think that NCL may have been the better choice for us in hindsight...]   Read Less
Sail Date: June 2014
We had spent 2 weeks on train and bus travelling in Canada. We used the cruise as a restorative time. I've cruised several times before, but always with the Princess line. This ship is apparently up for a refit next year, so I was ... Read More
We had spent 2 weeks on train and bus travelling in Canada. We used the cruise as a restorative time. I've cruised several times before, but always with the Princess line. This ship is apparently up for a refit next year, so I was told. Most of the cabin staff, cleaning staff, table service staff wore cheap looking, ill fitting uniforms. One of the men supervising the safety drill had the hem of his jacket hanging down ! Staff on the front desk were efficient, knowledgeable, pleasant and helpful. Didn't see any shows / entertainment because our meal times clashed with them, and we didn't stay up late. We ate with a group from our tour, so went with the time that was booked. Spent time in the Crow's Nest bar. Great views, noisy ( but I think our group was mainly responsible for that !! ) Loved happy hour. If anything let the ship down, it was the diningroom experience. The food was mostly good, tasty, but often ill presented. The supervisor Mateus was well dressed, charming, funny and we all enjoyed his company. Someone in the background must have told the waiters that speed was of the essence. Some nights better than others, but menus were often dumped in front of us, likewise the meals, plates sitting cockeyed on the cutlery. Courses were forgotten, served two at a time, plates snatched off the table. Waiters were funny, engaging, always pleasant, badly dressed. Our experience of the buffet was good. Food good, seats comfortable, staff pleasant. Ship needed quite a bit of maintenance, - door handles loose, doors hard to open - we noticed relatively small things, but they add up to a negative impression. LOVED the cruise of Glacier Bay. Blessed with the weather. Never thought I would see such sights in all my life. Just wonderful ! Bottom line - we were fed, watered, slept well, comfortable, but a lot of aspects of the ship lacked finesse !   Read Less
Sail Date: June 2014
The ship is rather tired looking from the outside although the inside doesn't disappoint. Cabins pretty much the usual standard for any cruise ship but not having any tea and coffee making facilities in the cabin was not good. You ... Read More
The ship is rather tired looking from the outside although the inside doesn't disappoint. Cabins pretty much the usual standard for any cruise ship but not having any tea and coffee making facilities in the cabin was not good. You don't always want to summon room service just for a cup of tea or trail up to the buffet.. Food in the restaurant a little too Heston Blumenthal for us - Pineapple and cucumber or banana soup?? and very small portions for a man. The buffet was rather boring and always the same. We would have liked the staff to smile on occasion! Entertainment was VERY American. Our cruise was a Dancing with the Stars special. Their compere for the dancing was simply dreadful but the ships entertainment manager very good as were the singing and dancing troupe. Generally we were not impressed with the standard of entertainment on board. Everything seemed to be geared to getting more money off us and the 15% service charge added to absolutely everything was infuriating. The optional excursions were very over priced and the whale watching trip very disappointing. We were all led to believe we would actually see lots of whales but two tiny lumps in the distance wasn't quite what we had in mind. If anyone is considering the cultural tour in Ketchikan - don't. It's the most boring trip you can possible take unless you have a fetish for totem poles! Skagway was quite fun to wander about in and a trip to the Red Onion Saloon is well worth the time. Be prepared for jewellery shops absolutely everywhere though and don't get caught out with silver coated in a thin gold covering.We don't think we would choose a HAL cruise again and think we will stick to good old P & 0. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: June 2014
Our group of 6 had a wonderful cruise aboard the HAL Zuiderdam. We embarked Zuiderdam at Canada Place after a couple of pre-cruise nights in Seattle. We enjoyed the Amtrak ride up Puget Sound on embarkation day. There were 3 cruise ships ... Read More
Our group of 6 had a wonderful cruise aboard the HAL Zuiderdam. We embarked Zuiderdam at Canada Place after a couple of pre-cruise nights in Seattle. We enjoyed the Amtrak ride up Puget Sound on embarkation day. There were 3 cruise ships at Canada Place and the line to get through security and customs was super long. It took almost 2 hours to finally make it to HAL check in, which took all of 5 minutes! We had booked SB 8140 for this cruise, an Aft Wrap Neptune Suite. What a wonderful cabin! We enjoyed that huge balcony every day. The scenic cruising within the Inside Passage was incredible. Even with a light rain, the balcony overhang from the Lido allowed us to sit back against the bulkhead and enjoy the scenery. And, the day that we visited Glacier Bay NP, we enjoyed all the majesty and beauty of that national treasure from our balcony. Although it's a hike down to the Neptune Lounge from 8140, we'd book it again in a heartbeat. Our shore excursion in Juneau was the Helicopter Landing on Mendenhall Glacier. Although there were some clouds, and the occasional light rain, the excursion was incredible. Grandson Jordan and I loved the short flight up to the glacier and the tour staff on Mendenhall did a great job showing us around, explaining all of the aspects of glaciers, and allowing us a drink from a glacier stream. We loved it and heartily recommend this tour from TEMSCO. In Skagway, we took the White Pass & Yukon Railway tour that was round trip to the White Pass Summit. While the scenery was incredible, a large group in our railcar totally diminished the enjoyment of the tour by allowing several small children to scream, cry, and yell during the entire 3 1/2 hour tour. Not our idea of what we came to enjoy. Our visit to Glacier Bay is always one of the highlights of our Alaska cruises and this one didn't disappoint. We witnessed several dozen seals, sea lions, humpbacks, and even a cinnamon brown grizzly during our comings and goings within Glacier Bay NP. We did not book any excursions for Ketchikan, just did some walking around, shopping, and visited Creek Street. It was one of those rare days in Ketchikan without a cloud in the sky and temps in the 60s. The food on Zuiderdam was overall very good. Although our MDR steward was not up to HAL standards, we didn't let that take away from our enjoyment of our times spent there. We had a couple of burgers, dogs, and fries from the new Dive In. Overall, they were very good, however, the bun on the 'Canonball' burger was cold and hard. The fries are excellent, and the portabella mushroom burger was terrific. DW said that the Nathan's hotdog was really good, too. Our concierges in the Neptune Lounge spoiled us rotten and made sure that our stay aboard Zuiderdam was seamless. Cabin Stewards were attentive and very friendly. Every request was fulfilled with a smile and 'Can Do' attitude! Disembarkation was delayed slightly by some not presenting themselves as requested, but we were still off the ship just after 8am. We booked the HAL transfer to SeaTac. When we arrived at the border, the border guard boarded the bus, asked if we wanted to get off and stretch our legs, or simply hand him our passports and he would scan them for us. Of course, we all voted for the latter and 15 minutes later he was back, handed our passports back, and said 'Welcome home'! We were off the bus at SeaTac a little after 1:00 PM. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: May 2014
We were a party of 13 cruising together to celebrate my dad's 80th birthday.As told to me my my travel agent I went to the dinning room as soon as we boarded to change our dinner table setting as my agent could only book as high as 8 ... Read More
We were a party of 13 cruising together to celebrate my dad's 80th birthday.As told to me my my travel agent I went to the dinning room as soon as we boarded to change our dinner table setting as my agent could only book as high as 8 online, so off I went to change it to 13 , only to be told it was not possible ,they only have tables for 10 , needless to say we had 2 tables one behind the other where it was in no way we could enjoy dinner as a group to celebrate dad's birhtday, that in itself was disappointing ,but to top it off we were going to celebrate on the second formal night as we all were excited about it being lobster night, only to be told that because one of the men didnt have a suit jacket , they were not permitted in the dinning room ! Are you kidding me? Everyone of us were dressed up and all that was missing was a dinner jacket on one person that ruined the entire celebration, we had to celebrate without my brother being present, how sad is that? The entire meal on one of our tables were cold and my lobster was full of little pieces of shell , I was NOT impressed at . The buffet was ok , but not special, there were no decorated carved watermelon or other fruit and veggies as I have seen on all the other ships I have sailed on, it was more like a cafeteria nothing to write home about, the food itself was just ok. The hamburger hot dog shack was only open till 5 PM , which I think should have been open till at least 10 or 11 PM for late night snacking, even the latenight snack at the buffet was only open from 10:30pm to 11:30pm after that your out of luck unless you want to sit in your room and have room service . The rooms were spacious and comfortable , and in the ports we had ample time to do everything that we wanted to do , no complaints about the port times but definitely a huge complaint about how far we had to walk to get to town. It was awful ! We had with us a 10 year old and a 1 & 2 year old . We could have taken the 10 year old to play in the playroom but they would not allow the younger 2 kids in even if we stayed with them. Therefor leaving absolutely nothing for the kids to do. The entertainment onboard was lacking, the shows were short and not good with the exception of the recycled percussion group they were awesome. The had very limited activities on board and we found ourselves sitting around waiting for something to happen that we could watch or join into. We all found it quite boring, I have never been bored on a cruise ship before, but then again I had never traveled with Holland America before , and I NEVER will again ! Read Less
Sail Date: May 2014
This was my first ever cruise and it exceeded my expectations. We had a veranda room with balcony and the views on this trip were amazing. Food was great and service was excellent. Majority of staff went above and beyond to make my ... Read More
This was my first ever cruise and it exceeded my expectations. We had a veranda room with balcony and the views on this trip were amazing. Food was great and service was excellent. Majority of staff went above and beyond to make my family stay wonderful. Rahmat my dinning room server was excellent and made sure our needs were taken care off every single night. He went above and beyond what was expected. Arief the host made sure we had the same table every night and I was amazed by his effort to remember my room number and family names by the 2nd night. Matus one of the dinning room managers made and effort to visit every table a few times a night to make conversation and made sure guest were well taken care off. I understand that is his job, but on my 7 day trip, he was the only manager doing this, so this says a lot. Rooms were cleaned twice daily, once in the morning and the second time during turn down service. During turn down service, they cleaned the bathrooms and changed the towels as well. Majority of staff on the ship are foreign and they work long hours and give their very best to serve guest. I have seen many guest complain about minute things, but I feel they are uncalled for. I have seen guest even complain that staff were not making an effort to speak English properly, however, the best service came from those whose 2nd language was English. In fact those whose first language was English were not as friendly. Even in the Lido buffet, I apologize for not remembering his name, there was a server who worked the Carnilito section who every morning will bring me water and orange juice. Every morning if I sat in his section. Shy guy, seldom spoke but always served with a smile. In room service for breakfast, came exactly the time you requested the previous night. However regular room service may take longer as they were busier and had less time to prepare for last minute orders. And for those who complain about being stared at in the pool or hot tub, Please!!!! Everyone is enjoying the great scenery of the inside passage or soaking up the sun. Ignore the negative reviews, overall excellent 1st time cruise on board Holland America Zuiderdam, excellent service, great food, will be back. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2014
My wife and I are newbie cruisers, because we used to enjoy more DIY travel until we got married on the Oasis. Anyways, here's is our "biased" review of the Zuiderdam on May 17, Alaska via Glacier Bay. Check-in, Boarding: ... Read More
My wife and I are newbie cruisers, because we used to enjoy more DIY travel until we got married on the Oasis. Anyways, here's is our "biased" review of the Zuiderdam on May 17, Alaska via Glacier Bay. Check-in, Boarding: We were happy as everything went smoothly. The security check was efficient and we waited little to get our room keys and greeted by the various departments of the ship on the gangway. Ship 1st impression: It's a classy ship with lots of colors and artwork. These does not cover up the fact the ship is older. We saw various workers working on maintenance works like scraping old tiles, baseboard, carpet cleaning etc. Surprisingly, even they were busy working, they greeted us with smiles. They staffed extra people on the corridors to direct lost passengers to their room. We found our room easily and found 1 of our checked luggage at the doorway (efficient). While we were exploring the room, our room attendants knocked and introduced themselves and asked if we were hungry. They offered suggestions to where to eat at lunch time. We gave them a tip for the good work done (as with our previous cruise), and we went and explore. The Zuiderdam has everything separated in various part of the ship, thus we had to locate where we were and used the paper map given to us to go to our destination. It would be nice to have larger maps at various traffic areas for the first time. Fortunately the staffs were busy roaming around and we asked for directions. Food: For the first 48 hours, all self-serve services were stopped to prevent illness. We went to Lido for lunch, it was busy and for every line, there were at least 5-6 people in front waiting to be served. Suggestion here: be greedy at Lido, ask for more food because they will give you a small plate!! Even the glassware and cups are small!! Overall, the food is adequate here. On the other hand, the Dive-In hot dog and burgers were amazingly good. Dinner at Vista Main Dining Room were excellent. The portion, the flavors and the cooking technique were top notch, we were treated fine dining every night. They served west coast meals during the trip. The waiter and the assistant waiter were without question, good. For breakfast, the Vista dining room had the slowest service for the similar level of quality at the Lido. We wanted a quick and casual breakfast so that we never tried again. All of our lunches and breakfasts were in Lido or Dive-in. We signed up for LeCirque, due to the smaller scale, we found it a huge step up from the MDR. Did it justify the $50/pp? I think so, but we would probably try to Pinnacle Grill instead. We loved the plates they used on the night, but they were for show, they served with other plates. We also found out only 1 chef would prepare the LeCirque. Bar services were great, the bartenders had the proper techniques. They were definitely not stingy about pouring, at many times my drinks could have at least 2 oz or more liquor in there. The bar prices were slightly higher, average $7.50 per after all the charges. The virgin drinks were horrible, I guess they expect someone would order them. They were too sweet. I am a coffee geek, the Exploration Cafe at deck 9 scored very low marks. The staff there lacks the proper technique to call a barista. The latte came out too hot, expresso was not temped at all. Even McDonald could make a better cup of latte. I visited once and never bought from there again. The atmosphere there was great to read a book or just gaze at the ocean. Entertainment: On our cruise, the majority was about 40+, and being a smaller ship, most of the activities we found too passive. There were game shows, musical performances and classes. The musicians' performance were good, but there weren't too many audiences around after 9pm. The atmosphere was plain and uneventful. For that reason, we did not participate too many of the onboard entertainment and watched movies in our room from our laptop. The LCD TV had HDMI and we could easily hook up the laptop with it. We were told beforehand that they have an excellent culinary program and we signed up for the mixology and cooking shows and classes. For the drinkers, $10 gets you 3 martini/cocktail and you learn how to make it. The cooking class is $30 hands on with the head chef that prepares the LeCirque. It includes a lunch at the Pinnacle Grill with wine. My wife and I found them to have excellent value since we got to learn something, take something and have a nice meal. We highly recommend that culinary programs. Room: As with most cruise ships, they run cruises all year around. I found the room to be clean in general but with some reservations. For example, I found dirty clothes inside the closet from the previous guest; I found the TV remote dirty to touch; some areas have layers of year old dusts. I understand the crews would clean up the busier areas but I would imagine maybe at least a complete cleaning once a month? My room review could be seen at the cabin review later. Shopping: Like any other cruises, there were tons of shopping opportunities for luxury goods. We didn't participate in any of them. We bought some liquor for our house bar and smokes for friends. The selections of liquor and smokes were small. The biggest brands would be there but the mid-range brands were absence. On the Alaska cruise, there were no duty free at ports, therefore the ship is the only place to buy them. For majority of the shopping, the ports had better selections and pricing compare to the ship. Regrets: If we went again, we would definitely buy the Spa package, where we could use the steam, sauna and the hydro pool for the duration of the trip. We would also want to try the Pinnacle Grill more because the quality of the food is significant better. This vacation with the Zuiderdam was uneventful, but relaxing. The smaller crowd, attentive services and good food would be something I would recommend. Despite of some complaints and older ship, none of them is a deal breaker for an once in a lifetime experience in the Alaska. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2014
Day 1: Sailing day Arrived at Canada Place. Had no problems whatsoever. The porter was there to take our luggages from the van. Crown Princess was also sailing away that day so the place was quite busy. But the lines to immigration moved ... Read More
Day 1: Sailing day Arrived at Canada Place. Had no problems whatsoever. The porter was there to take our luggages from the van. Crown Princess was also sailing away that day so the place was quite busy. But the lines to immigration moved quickly. That is, if you are holding a US or Canadian passport. My cousin is not, so she had to queue at a different line which took longer. We then filled out the medical questionnaire and proceeded to check in at Holland America. Since I already did the check in online, this process was a breeze. I was surprised when the lady told me “your stateroom is ready”. This was around 12:45 PM. I asked her if we can get on the mariner’s lunch and she checked and said sure I can. It’s my first time with HAL, but I have previously sailed with Princess so I got 1 star in my id card (yey!) Went to drop off our things in our room then proceeded to find the MDR. The MDR was not busy at all which is really nice. I’ve been to buffets at other ships on embarkation day and it’s a zoo in there. So we really appreciated the nice, relaxing lunch away from the crowd. No need to find tables.  I noticed that for our 2 groups, our ID’s show an early seating and a late seating. This was despite requesting my TA to link our bookings together so we can have the same table. So I went to the Queen’s Lounge in Deck 2 to have this sorted out. Good thing it was taken cared of immediately. We then went to explore the ship. We went to the aft side to take pictures of Canada Place. Weather was lovely. Don’t miss the sail away from Vancouver. It was really beautiful and don’t miss the Lion’s Gate Bridge. Day 2 – Sea Day It started raining, but it’s okay. It’s sea day today. We joined the galley tour. It’s also the first formal night. For the production show, it was Recycled Percussions (group that performs in Vegas). Entering the Vista Lounge, they have champagne and orange juice for the minors. They give you drum sticks and all sorts of pots and pans for you to make noise. Don’t forget to get ear plugs as it gets really loud in there. I don’t know if this is always this group performing or not. Enjoyed the show. Day 3 – Juneau, Alaska We are scheduled to arrive in Juneau at 1 PM, but we got there at 12 ish. However, we had to tender. This process took longer. This is the only day when I felt we are a bit short on time. We took our numbers for the tender and waited for them to call our number. Although the process went fairly smoothly, I wish we were actually docked since I planned to go to Mendenhall Glacier. So when we got to the port, which was already 2:20 PM, I immediately headed to the area where there were lots of booths with signs to Mendenhall Glacier. I told the guy to give me the best price for roundtrip shuttle to Mendenhall Glacier for 7 people. He says, “I’ll give it to you for $70”. I say, that’s the same price as your sign. He says the sign shows $10 one way. I took his offer since I heard that they charge $15 per person round trip. He says bus (Glacier Express – white bus) is due to arrive at 2:30 PM. They only have 2 buses and set to travel every half hour. When they give you the receipt, make sure you keep it as the driver will look at this going to and back. We waited, and waited and waited. Saw the bus pass by but did not stop where we were waiting. Talked to fellow passengers waiting for the bus and they said they’ve been waiting since 2:10PM. By now, it was already 3 PM. The white bus finally arrived. The bus took us to Mendenhall Glacier. It was beautiful. Weather was so nice and clear. We walked to the first view point and took pictures. We were debating if we should go to the waterfall, but the last bus says 6 PM and we didn’t want to wait for the last bus as there could be a lot of people. So I asked a fellow traveler and he says it’s easy walk to go to the waterfall. He suggested to us to take the left trail – he says it will not get us exactly to the waterfall but will take us close enough. So we did this. I think it was worth it but next time, I would do the proper trail to actually get close to the waterfall. Also, for those people climbing the rocks, I don’t suggest you do this if you are not fit. It’s pretty steep and rocky. One misstep and you could be regretting your decision. Just follow the trail and you can still get those wonderful pictures. So we got back to the bus meeting place at 5:30 PM. As expected, the bus was full! So we had to wait again. When the bus came, the sign now says last bus at 7 PM. We got off at downtown and went to some stores. The kids wanted to collect the charms. By the time we were ready to go back, it was already 7:45 PM so we decided that we’d just miss the MDR tonight as we still have to tender and we didn’t want to go there late. Overall, Mendenhall Glacier was great but wish there were more buses as there were a lot of ships that day. Maybe 4. Day 4 – Skagway, Alaska We arrived at Skagway early and all aboard is not until 9 PM. So we just slept in and took our time. We did not do any excursions, just walked the street. Just walked the street one side heading away from the ship, crossed the street, then walked the other side heading back to the ship. It was really windy today but at least it’s not raining. Had king crab legs for dinner! So yummy. This is one of the two highlights of my cruise. The other one is Glacier Bay. Day 5 – Glacier Bay Woke up early to see the rangers get on the boat. Stayed at Crow’s Nest early – the place was packed as the day went on. Then went outside and also to Deck 4 – Bow to enjoy the majestic glaciers. No pea soup served though, or I missed it. Saw the ice calving. Everything was just so awesome and so beautiful. I would not hesitate to go back to Alaska to see Glacier Bay. Again, we had the most beautiful weather. It was cold, but clear. I was wearing a thermal undershirt, fleece, jacket and gloves. Zuidy has some blankets as well so you can use these to keep you warm. This is the 2nd formal night where surf and turf (lobster and filet mignon) is on the menu. Guys had on their jacket with tie. Ladies were dressed nicely. But I would say it wasn’t uber formal. Day 6 – Ketchikan Sorry to be making you jealous, but again, weather was super nice. We just strolled around Ketchikan, bought some souvenir items and smoked salmon and went back to the ship. For those looking for smoked salmon, try the salmon in Sockeye Sam’s. This is right near the port. There’s also another place selling salmon in Ketchikan downtown, but my relatives said they liked this one better. Production show as Dancing with the Stars at Sea. The venue was full. As others have noted, the way it is set up is not very good. Lots of poles and spots where you cannot see the full stage. The contestants who joined were all very good. Day 7 – Inside Passage We had breakfast at MDR. I noticed that their breakfast items are a lot more varied compared to other cruise lines. We also tried the Indonesian Tea. There’s not a lot of things to choose from. The menu at MDR for dinner was International. You can order whatever you want in the menu, but I find this a bit confusing. There were 4 (I think) different sections – Asian, North American, South American… I forgot the other one.  Just goes to show I’m really confused. Day 8 – Vancouver My cousin had to go to the Hudson’s since they held her passport. This part was a bit disorganized. A lot of passengers who don’t speak/understand English were being very disruptive with the entire process. The staff should’ve just pulled those disruptive passengers aside so that they can get on with the rest of the process instead of a couple of people affecting everyone. We had our final breakfast at MDR and waited for them to call our number. Got off the ship and immediately found our luggages. I talked to one of the people in Canada Place to ask where we can wait if someone is picking us up (no tours or transfers). She says either the street or we can go to P1, where the drive can get in, load our luggage and leave. There’s no charge if you get out within 15 minutes. If you’re over 15 minutes, then it’s $4. Some public washrooms had delayed flushing.   Read Less
Sail Date: September 2013
This was our second cruise to Alaska but first on Holland America, as well as first time in a suite. Embarkation was a breeze. We ate all of our dinners in the MDR and service was efficient and the waiters were pleasant. The wine steward ... Read More
This was our second cruise to Alaska but first on Holland America, as well as first time in a suite. Embarkation was a breeze. We ate all of our dinners in the MDR and service was efficient and the waiters were pleasant. The wine steward was very friendly as well. We ate breakfast in the Lido and enjoyed the variety of items. Since we were staying in a suite we also were able to utilize the Neptune lounge where on occasion I would get a cappucino or we would get a couple of snacks. We ate one night in the Pinnacle grill and it was fabulous. All four of us raved about the quality of food and service. We also enjoyed a special Indonesian lunch in the Pinnacle one afternoon and it was one of our favorite meals of the trip. This was the first time we tried the Italian restaurant and it was good and a nice change. Staff were very friendly. Our cabin stewards would always say hello whenever we saw them. Several of the staff also would say hello when we would see them. The captain would make daily announcements about our destination and travel conditions. We only saw two of the shows at night but they were good. We attended one of the "adult" game shows and it was a lot of fun. On the sea days we spent time going to Windows Live classes, reading, and participating in a variety of trivia contests. We didi go to the theater and watched a movie on three nights following our late seating dinner. The theater served popcorn and had comfy leather chairs. We did not book any organized tours but opted to DYI. While still in Alaska we were informed that weather conditions were such that we would not be stopping in Astoria, Oregon on our way to San Francisco. The weather did get rough but we never got sick. A few bar glasses in our room did break during one night. Overall, it was a very relaxing cruise and we experienced no mechanical, AC, or plumbing issues other than at times there was delay in flushing of a few minutes.   Read Less
Sail Date: September 2013
We live near Vancouver, BC so enjoy the coastal repo cruises. After several on Princess, we tried HAL on a 3-night from Vancouver to San Francisco. Our timing was poor! A record-breaking early fall storm produced tropical-storm force winds ... Read More
We live near Vancouver, BC so enjoy the coastal repo cruises. After several on Princess, we tried HAL on a 3-night from Vancouver to San Francisco. Our timing was poor! A record-breaking early fall storm produced tropical-storm force winds and 25 foot seas. Here are grades and explanations for what we experienced on the m.s.Zuiderdam: SHIP: B+. This is a beautiful, elegant ship with fascinating art everywhere, including the stateroom hallways. The bold (by HAL standards) color scheme works brilliantly, with only a few "what were they thinking?" moments. There are lots of nooks and crannies for quiet reading. My biggest complaints: the outdoor deck space is uninspired, with the Observation Deck being a total waste (I would need X-ray vision to see through the wind shield.) But HAL does still have padded lounge chairs on the Promenade. Yes! Inside, I did not understand how the handsome Waterford crystal seahorse in the (less than thrilling) atrium could be so poorly presented. No lighting at all!!! Doesn't crystal shine in light?? CREW: A. We sailed right through a serious storm. The only port, Astoria, was cancelled. Outside decks were closed until the last day. Wild, raging seas caused the ship to rock back and forth. Yet, Zuiderdam and its bridge crew seemed to handle the angry seas well. The Captain kept us well-informed and hurried into calmer weather. Plus service in the restaurants and bars was mostly top-notch. (See the food section for a major failure.) Another negative: we never met our cabin steward even though we were in a Signature Suite. Bottom line: passengers should never underestimate the training, skill and dedication required by crews to provide us with safe, comfortable, and entertaining passage on the open seas. Especially in extreme weather conditions. STATEROOM: A. Our SY ("up" grade from SZ) was 6016 on the Upper Verandah deck. Outstanding. Huge balcony (our only access to the outside during the storm) and huge bathroom (2 showers! 2 sinks!). Lots of sitting room and storage. Good lighting. A treat. I am spoiled! ENTERTAINMENT AND ACTIVITIES: B+. Lots of folks complain that HAL offers little entertainment. Now I have to say that this cruise was NOT lively and some of that is due to HAL's notoriously mature passengers. However, I think a lot of us (including me) were strung out on meclazine or other sea sickness remedies. That said, HAL offered an entertaining magician, cooking demonstrations, interesting lectures (about waves!) and music from standards to pop to classical. We especially enjoyed Adagio, a violin/piano duo who played everything from Cole Porter to Mozart and played them well. FOOD: B. Except for the specialty restaurants, the food was disappointing and not as good as our Princess cruises. Lido choices were plentiful and satisfying but not particularly interesting. I had a nice entree in the Main DIning Room (beautiful!) and service there for dinner was good. But 2 breakfasts in the MDR were a disaster. One did not arrive until 40 (yes, forty) minutes after we were seated. And when it arrived, it was practically nothing... a tired, miniscule frittata. The 2nd breakfast arrived more quickly, but it too was a sad, tiny affair. I understand portions are reduced for health reasons, and that you can order extra. But this was ridiculous. For the positive.... Canaletto's was just fine and remarkably atmospheric for being a partitioned area of the Lido. And Zuiderdam's Pinnacle Grill is a gorgeous room with strong food. (I especially liked the mustard-horseradish sauce on the filet mignon). OTOH, desserts were pretty and tasty but not memorable. EMBARKATION and DISEMBARKATION: A. Both were quick and painless. Well done! MISC: Love the Vista elevators. They are quick, scenic and often unused. Crew was slow to recover from the storm. Even when seas were calm, the pools were shut down and the forward deck below the Crows Nest closed. Cocktails were well made. Logistically, the cruise was painless- no small feat. While this review contains nit-picks (and that's what we do here on Cruise Critic), the whole experience was wonderful and I can't wait to get on one of those dam ships again! Thanks for reading this, Rick   Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: September 2013
We are equal opportunity cruisers sailing many cruise lines, ship size, etc. that said we have also always enjoyed the overall excellence of Holland. This cruise was a mixed . First time sailing this class of Holland ship, it felt ... Read More
We are equal opportunity cruisers sailing many cruise lines, ship size, etc. that said we have also always enjoyed the overall excellence of Holland. This cruise was a mixed . First time sailing this class of Holland ship, it felt claustrophobic. Limited outside view as we traversed the ship due to layout. Just felt closed in. Bar service was wanting, as service poor, not set up as out of certain liquors, glasses. Hmm.... Cabins whereas fairly large also feel old...... Now the cabin and dining room service was superb and the dining room food good. Pinnacle a bit disappointing as Halibut sub standard and veal chop incorrectly cooked, service good but not warm and cordial. Night at Le Cirque was ok, I'd probably skip next time. Main shows good overall. Three full shows in 7 days, lots of energy, great costuming, although singers only fair. As for other entertainment throughout the ship........ah, little if any , surprising as it left the feel of the evenings less festive, somewhat hollow. Art allergy an afterthought and auctioneer and staff, sub par. Didn't care for Walmart feel of shops. Alaska ports are what they are. All Caribeanized...... So excursions a must although in Alaska can be expensive. Sorry but not the HA experience we are use to.......... Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: September 2013
On my previous voyage I had earned the status of a 3-star Mariner and so this voyage was the first time I had sailed under this new status. I had booked a Signature Suite on the Zuiderdam (paying double since traveling alone) 8 months in ... Read More
On my previous voyage I had earned the status of a 3-star Mariner and so this voyage was the first time I had sailed under this new status. I had booked a Signature Suite on the Zuiderdam (paying double since traveling alone) 8 months in advance and had a suite amidships (to alleve motion problems and since I had a bad leg and was using a cane) on the port side confirmed for those 8 months. As I checked in at the dock, I was told that I had been "upgraded" and that my confirmed suite had already been sold out from under me at the last minute. The "upgrade" was technically to a Neptune Suite, but was really to a handicapped accessible suite in the far stern of the ship. This suite did not have a large sitting area or a suite bathroom, both of which are standard features of even a Signature Suite. I was told that I had no recourse and that there was nowhere I could be moved. I then spent the rest of the afternoon trying to recover all the stateroom items and pre-boarding purchases (plus my bags) from the other cabin which had not been delivered to the new cabin. Some of these items had to be wrested away by the front office from the people who now occupied the original cabin. This was an extremely distressing start to what was supposed to have been a relaxing retirement cruise. The new cabin had not even been prepared for sailing. See the cabin review in the "Deck Plans" section. The first four days of the cruise were in high seas and bad weather. Of course, that's just the weather. It was used, as well as passenger comfort, as an excuse to bypass the first port of call in Astoria, OR. This decision had already been made before leaving Vancouver. Once the ship had reached Cabo San Lucas and beyond the ship's cooling systems began to fail. I learned that the cooling system worked like a heat pump and that it relied on the difference between the air and water temperatures. Predictably, in tropical waters, the air and water temperature soon became the same. As a result, the cooling system needed auxiliary power to be able to cool the whole ship. This would have required the use of the ship's diesel auxiliary generators. However, to save fuel, the auxiliary generators were not used and the ship's air-conditioning was rationed for the next two weeks to the revenue-producing areas of the ship and the VIP decks. Passengers were not informed as to the cause of the failed air-conditioning in many parts of the ship. My cabin remained at 80 degrees or above both day and night for two weeks. And again I was told that I had no recourse. Notably other passengers were relocated when they complained. I can't tell you how difficult it was to have no air-conditioning in the tropics while having to walk the entire length of the ship over and over with a cane. My leg got progressively worse and I lost two weeks of sleep from the heat and humidity. This was the suite for which I had paid double to celebrate my retirement. I was offered some shipboard credit for my "inconvenience" by a wooden front office ( a whopping 10% discount).. Let me say, on the other hand, that the crew were wonderful (their own quarters were stifling as they were given the same treatment as most of the passengers).. The dining at the dining room and the Pinnacle Grill was superb. The talented cast of the production shows were great although only 2 production shows were offered in 20 days. Finally, the daytime transit of the Panama Canal was magnificent. I would avoid the Zuiderdam at the least to keep your self-esteem intact. Although I did not know it when I embarked, the highest priority on the Zuiderdam is saving fuel above all other considerations. The first port was missed entirely as it would have taken too much fuel in high seas to get there on time. I think it is a shame that Mariner Society members are treated so poorly and that a signed contract means nothing and that a carefully selected cabin could be sold right out from under someone without their knowledge or permission. Read Less
Sail Date: August 2013
Recently back from an Alaskan cruise on the Holland America Line ship Zuiderdam. Can I start with the good points before hitting the bad points. The ship was built in 2002 and is not one of the new super liners and that's exactly ... Read More
Recently back from an Alaskan cruise on the Holland America Line ship Zuiderdam. Can I start with the good points before hitting the bad points. The ship was built in 2002 and is not one of the new super liners and that's exactly what I was looking for, it was an elegant well maintained ship with excellent decks for viewing the fantastic scenery and inside was very luxurious with fine art where ever you looked. Cabin was nice size with lots of wardrobes and draws , mini bar, hair dryer, TV, DVD (large library of old DVDs available to watch on board), nice bathroom (very small bath) and ample size balcony especially as I had the cabin to myself. Food on board was of the highest standard and very plentiful although the lido deck self service was very crowded due to the limited opening hours. You need to be in a group of 2 people or more, one to hold a table while the others get the food, being on my own by the time I found a seat the food was often cold. don't expect to get much as you are only given 1 plate each and the only trays I saw were being used by the cleaners to clear tables. The crew in the restaurants, bars and cabin were of the highest standard with nothing being of too much trouble. Found the Vista dinning room no good for me as most of the dishes were fish and as I am allergic to fish/ seafood it only left 1 item most nights on the menu for me. The brochures keep on about the flowers on board, there are a few orchids on board but most of the plants and flowers are PLASTIC! The ship has a maximum capacity according to HAL of 1916 guest but we had 2040 on board meaning there were not enough seats in the theater and often saw people in there 80's sitting in the aisle on the hard steps or like me stood at the back all through a show. The ship is sold as being 5 star with lots of space but was overcrowded in most of the public areas and I am not sure were some of the people slept as a few people like me had a room to them selves and my room could take up to 3 people so were did the over capacity people sleep???? I took 3 shore excursions booked with the ship and thought they were good and not too badly priced, I would certainly recommend the three I took, whale watching in Juneau, misty Fjords catamaran trip in Ketchican and the White pass Railway in Skagway. Would very highly recommend the Allen marine trips even the coach driver was funny and informative. So far so good you may be thinking but now we get to the entertainment! Or lack of it! Again let me start with the good. The shows with the singers and dancers in the theater on 3 nights are a must see as is the Adagio piano and Violin of Christina and Simona in the explorers lounge from 6 till 10 is magnificent however the rest of the entertainment was of a poor standard or none existent. On board are 2 house bands they call the Hal cats they should play for a couple of hours at night mainly during the time your at the show!, or that's the theory, in practice they sit around messing about chatting and fooling around like some tipsy teenagers, when they do play (mainly after I complained about them) they play about 4 song per hour as they seem to have to re tune everything after each song and then have a long chat about it before playing the next, I have been to rehearsals that were far better than there so called performance, the piano bar I visited many times and never found anyone playing the piano. The bars and restaurants have mangers checking them all the time but no one seemed to be in charge of the entertainment as it didn't seem to matter if they played or even turned up. Two nights we had an American comedian who the Americans found funny but for the other two thirds of the International passengers found boring I walked out after 10 mins, we had a magician one night doing tricks that we saw Paul Daniels do in the 80s and the one show he did was just a sales pitch to show you his magic kit he sells on board. As for the daytime I would say no entertainment, Ross our cruise director would come on the p.a. every morning like Gladys Pugh from Hedi Hi and tell you the exciting program for the day is something like the following, 9 till 10 come to the shop and buy a watch, 10 till 11 buy a shore excursion, 11 till 12 buy some earrings, 12 till 1 buy a spa treatment, 1 till 2 come to the show lounge and we will tell you were to shop when you get off so as we can get our commission, 2 till 3 buy 5 beers get one free, 3 till 4 book your next cruise, 4 till 5 buy some photos, 5 till 6 buy a ring, it was like being stuck in the shopping channel, I went to be entertained not to shop all day. Luckily the scenery is superb but on the day we had fog and couldn't even see the water you would find people asleep around the ship as they were so bored. I heard that the drinks takings were way down and they couldn't work out why? Its probably because people were in there cabin watching a DVD as there was no entertainment in the bars???? The Zuiderdam ship was a brilliant ship let down by the people in charge of entertainment, you could turn up to a scheduled thing only to find no entertainment and no manager there to check this and no one who seemed to care. The best entertainment would be to put a short plank over the side and whoever was manager or organizer to walk it as all the hard work done by 90% off the crew was ruined by the 10%. I wasn't looking for a party ship, but a crew member doing an ice sculptor on deck (come to think of it I don't remember seeing a ice sculptor anywhere on board) a bit of music, just simple things would have been nice. So if you going on the Zuiderdam take board games, books, mp 3 players, your laptop and what ever else you can fit in your luggage( watched them throwing the luggage literally onto the Zandam so no breakables(probably how my binoculars got broke)) as you will need them if the weather isn't good enough to see the scenery. Treated myself to this cruise for getting over a brush with Cancer for the second time so thought I would book a five star cruise line but this experience was far from a five star experience. the cruise with no flights etc. cost $3000 I have emailed Holland America 3 times once in the U.K. and twice to head office however all I have had back is an automated Email saying it will take a few weeks to get back to me! wonder why perhaps there busy with similar Emails??????? This may have been my first cruise but my family cruise up to 3 times a year and I do all the research and all the booking for them and they have been on Princess, Royal Caribbean, NCL, Thomson, Airtours, Cruise and Maritime and more, all of which had better entertainment. I will return to Alaska as the scenery is fantastic and seeing whales is the most wonderful thing however it will not be with Holland America.   Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: August 2013
I dealt with Holland America directly to book the cruise and prepaid 2 dinners for my family of 6, a $25.00 soda card, $250.00 Spa access and I also requested Wheelchair service for my mother. After 10 trips to the front desk in the first ... Read More
I dealt with Holland America directly to book the cruise and prepaid 2 dinners for my family of 6, a $25.00 soda card, $250.00 Spa access and I also requested Wheelchair service for my mother. After 10 trips to the front desk in the first 2 days I found out that everything I preordered didn't get added to my profile because Holland America switched my cabin. This shouldn't have been a quick easy fix. However they didn't accept responsibility or take initiative to resolve these issues. I'm Sorry there is nothing we can do followed by silence was the standard response from everyone I dealt with. I would offer simple suggestions on how this could be solved (eg. just give me another soda card and figure out the accounting later) and they would just be quiet until I finally walked away.. It became obvious that their goal was to get me to leave. Not find out how they could help. They insisted that it was head office and I should just pay again onboard and figure it out when I get home. Again shifting the responsibility back to me to follow up and deal with Holland America's mistakes. The majority of my cruise was spent troubleshooting the mistakes of the cruise line and asking for what I already paid for. I had to double pay for everything and spend an hour on the phone with their customer service people when I got home to find out why preordered items were canceled 3 days into the cruise and why my visa hasn't been credited for the double payment. Lack of Customer Service Examples: My brand new Luggage had a hole in it when it was delivered to my room. I'm sorry there is nothing I can do. I asked to talk to a supervisor and his first response was" I'm sorry there's nothing we can do". I said that I purchased full insurance and this should be covered. After 10 minutes he decided that he'd have to look into it. The front desk girl asked me to go bring her the luggage. I said that I'm going to dinner she can send someone to go pick it up. I had to call back on day 4 and 5 for them to look at the luggage and on day 6 I filled out a form stating that I would get a $100.00 credit for my $350. luggage. The cleaners left a wet bathroom rag in-between my suitcase and the dinner clothes I had draped over it. What were the cleaners doing by my closet handling my luggage? Let alone wiping things down with the bathroom rag! I held the rag outside the door and the cabin boy looked horrified. He ran past me, grabbed the rag and said, I'm sorry before he disappeared around the corner. I didn't call the front desk because I knew they wouldn't be helpful. I question the cleanliness of the ship and the integrity of the staff. The customer service agent is looking into my concerns and said she was embarrassed of their staff's actions. It's been two weeks since I talked with them and I haven't heard if they are going to refund my prepaid items or make up the difference in the value of the suitcase. I'm sorry Holland America. I won't be cruising with you again.   Read Less
Zuiderdam Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 0.0
Dining 3.5 0.0
Entertainment 4.5 0.0
Public Rooms 3.5 0.0
Fitness Recreation 4.0 0.0
Family 2.0 0.0
Shore Excursion 5.0 0.0
Enrichment 5.0 0.0
Service 4.0 0.0
Value For Money 4.5 0.0
Rates 4.0 0.0

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