3 Holland America Zuiderdam Cruise Reviews for Cruises for the Disabled Cruises to Alaska

We joined my parents for what we were expecting to be a great Alaska cruise in HAL's Zuiderdam. Unfortunately, the ship was a disappointment. Our last cruise was on the Eurodam and it was a great ship with good ... Read More
We joined my parents for what we were expecting to be a great Alaska cruise in HAL's Zuiderdam. Unfortunately, the ship was a disappointment. Our last cruise was on the Eurodam and it was a great ship with good food and service and this was a deciding factor when looking at Alaska cruises. Our Zuiderdam experience was just the opposite. First - The ship: It is very tired and the Lido deck is in bad shape. Light grids are missing from the florescent fixtures leaving rusted fixtures to look at. The floor is gouged, tiles cracked with looking as if holes were punched in them, and Mismatched and worn furniture on the decks. Several light bulbs were burned out the entire cruise. The buffet area had equipment that kept failing (steam tables, toasters, coffee machines, etc.) and one of the glass "sneeze" guards where entrees are prepared was shattered. Other noticeable items around the ship include torn ceiling panels in the piano bar, the worn wall coverings in elevators, frayed and worn carpets, scratched brass...I could go on.Fortunately our cabins were in pretty good shape. We were in a superior suite and my parents in a deluxe suite. Baths showed signs of some bad grout and caulking repair and the a/c cover in our room looked as if it had been taped up with the sticky residue left behind. (Wouldn't have notice if it wasn't the first thing I saw when laying on the bed.) Second - The food: What happened HAL???!!! Perhaps the main reason we booked on HAL again was my father uses a motorized scooter and isn't always comfortable in the dining room so we take most meals in the Lido. The Lido food on the Eurodam was the best buffet food we've experienced on a ship. The Z'dam Lido food was about the same quality as a Hometown Buffet. Quarter inch "NY Steaks", overcooked inedible pork, and overall just very bland. We tried the dining room for lunch to see if it was any better and again, very mediocre with one dish (mac & cheese!) inedible. My parents had room service on evening and to quote my mother, "how do you mess up a sandwich?". Fortunately the Lido Manager (Oscar) was kind enough to get us into the Italian restuarant on two of the nights and the food was good. We also ate in the Pinnacle Grill and it too was very good. Third - The service: Our room stewards did a fine job keeping our rooms tidy but I must say the tin garbage cans roped to the front of there service carts had a bit of a cringe factor. The Lido service started out to be very poor. For the first couple of days, tables weren't cleared, no table side beverage service, silverware and napkins difficult to find, and at times, no staff to be seen. The cook staff seemed to be going thru the motions and would not engage with guests. Our dining room lunch waiter was very indifferent and quite frankly seemed to be very board with his job. Service was very slow and the room just didn't seem to be as clean as it should have been. After voicing my opinion on a Facebook post I was contacted by the Guest Relations Manager (Dustin) who was very nice and pleasant. He apparently got on the ship the same day we did and I don't think was fully aware of some of the issues I mentioned. We did notice that after our discussion with him, the Lido service improved greatly. Staff were visible, friendly and very efficient. Also, the hard sell for spa and shopping became very tiresome. Summary: These are just some of the highlights of our experience but I've said enough. HAL used to be a very good higher end cruise line but now offers a very generic experience and in our case, on a substandard ship. I guess being owned by Carnival is having an effect. I know some may feel I'm being a bit anal about what some would call "little things" but HAL used to have a reputation for taking care of the "little things". Unfortunately, the have let some of the "little things" on the Zuiderdam become very big things. Read Less
Sail Date July 2011
Background Information: There were four of us on this cruise ... two parents with one in a wheelchair, one adult daughter, and daughter's friend. We chose the ms Zuiderdam because (1) we were flying from Toronto, and wanted to cruise ... Read More
Background Information: There were four of us on this cruise ... two parents with one in a wheelchair, one adult daughter, and daughter's friend. We chose the ms Zuiderdam because (1) we were flying from Toronto, and wanted to cruise out of Vancouver without the hassle of going through Customs at the airport, (2) we wanted one room that was wheelchair accessible and had a balcony, and (3) we wanted the Inside Passage, with minimum amount of rough water. Travel To Port of Embarkation: Canada Place is a beautiful setting, in downtown Vancouver. We arrived at Canada Place in our rental car, and drove down to the underground parking to drop off our luggage with the porters, and some of our group (while the other person drove the car back to the Hertz rental car office on Granville St). Embarkation was very smooth, especially with a wheelchair. We had to go through security, then Customs, and then check-in. The whole experience took maybe a ½ hour. Stateroom: Our rooms were available as soon as we arrived, which was around 12:30. The wheelchair accessible room (5137) was great. There was lots of room to turn the wheelchair around. The bathroom was roll-in, with a shower. There was a slight ramp from the room to the balcony. Since we were at a curve in the ship, the balcony was extra large, with room for three wicker chairs and a small table. We had one of the indoor chairs removed, to make more room for the wheelchair. You could open and close the curtains using a switch by the bed. The non-accessible room (5135) was right next door. We had them unlock the divider between the two balconies, so that we could travel back and forth between our rooms on the balcony. The room had lots of storage space. There were three closets, plus storage over the pull-out couch. We had them remove the two indoor chairs to make a little more room in the seating area. Bathroom included a tub, and was quite spacious. Balcony was nice, with two wicker chairs and a small wicker table. There was a small flat screen TV in each room, with maybe about 10 channels to watch. There was also a DVD player, and you could borrow lots of DVDs to watch. Shampoo, conditioner, and shower gel in the bathroom was amazing ... don't bother bringing your own from home. If you need a blanket for sitting on the balcony, then check the drawer under the foot of the bed. Ship Info: Deck 10 - Observation: Crow's Nest had the most amazing views out the front of the ship. We found that this area was quite crowded though, and the comfy chairs were pretty much always full. The Captain had a question & answer session there one day, and the Park Ranger had a session there the day we visited Glacier Bay. Explorations Cafe is next to the Crow's Nest, and a great place to read books or magazines, work on a group puzzle, or use the computers. We paid for the Wi Fi, but found that the speed in the room was painfully slow, so in an attempt to get better response time we would take the laptop to the Cafe and use it there. Beware that the internet speed is no where near what you may be used to at home. Deck 9 - Lido: To the right of the Fitness Center is a door that leads outside, to the front of the boat. I don't think many people were aware of this, because we saw very few people out there. But you can get amazing views out the front. Dress warmly though. Greenhouse Spa & Salon was very nice. We did a tour on day one, and then had a massage, facial and pedicure there on day two. They have daily specials in the Explorer that is delivered to your room. The people working there were very nice, but sometimes a little pushy when selling products. Lido Pool was often empty on this cruise. Once in a while there were a couple of people in it, or a fitness class being held in it. Since the roof closes, it was a great area to sit and eat meals, or pull a chair up to the window and spend the day watching the scenery and wildlife float by. Sea View Pool was also pretty much empty since it is outside. But there are lots of places to sit and enjoy the view. Deck 3 - Promenade: Vista Lounge was a great venue for watching performances. There was limited wheelchair seating though. There were only a few spots at the back on deck 3, and they didn't have great viewpoints. There was a whole row at the beck on deck 2, but most of those chairs were occupied by other people. I think Holland America could make an improvement here, and clearly identify the wheelchair sections, and don't encourage others to use those seats, since the wheelchair people have no other options. Screening Room was great for watching movies. Movies were current, chairs were large and comfy, and bags of popcorn were supplied. Shopping Arcade was fun. There are only actually two shops (one jewelry, one everything else), but they're quite large, and they had different sale tables every day. There was a good variety of stuff for sale. While the ship was at sea, they had also had sales around the Lido Pool, mostly for Alaskan clothing (t-shirts, hoodies, hats, etc.). Deck 2 - Lower Promenade: Casino was lots of fun too. Good variety of slot machines at all denominations. There were a few card tables. We visited a few times, and it was never overly busy. Queen's Lounge & Culinary Arts Center was great. We watched the chef prepare lobster salad from Le Cirque, and got to enjoy crème brulee. Explorer's Lounge is great place to relax. We attended a craft class there, and made beaded lanyards to hold our room keys, and had lots of fun. Also tried to attend the flower arranging class, but it was very crowded. Dining: Vista Dining Room: We didn't want to be tied down to eating at a specific time and table. We often showed up at the dining room (on deck 2) for breakfast, lunch, or supper and were able to walk right in with no wait. The room is beautiful, with great views, and was never crowded. Service was impeccable, and the food was always delicious. We dressed casual for breakfast and lunch, and dressed nice for dinner. We saw a wide variety of clothing here. Pinnacle Grill: We paid $20 per person to eat here on the final night, and it was well worth it. We had a table for four along the windows, with an amazing view. Again, service was superb. Food was out of this world. The Caesar salad was made table side, and the best I've ever had. Everything was top notch. Lido Restaurant: For the first two days, the staff served the food to everyone, and after that you could serve yourself. There is a lot of variety here, and the food was great. Breakfast choices are amazing. Pizza and pasta are always available. It can be a bit hectic here. We usually took our food from here, out to the Lido Pool and sat in the sunshine. Every night from 10:30-11:30 they had food from a different country (i.e. Mexican, Italian, etc.). We usually tried a little something, even though we were still stuffed from supper. Room Service: We started by ordering breakfast the first day, which arrived promptly. After that we usually ordered juice and coffee for a pre-breakfast, and then had breakfast in the Lido. We also ordered the cheese plate once, and the chocolate cake once. On one of the formal nights we checked the menu at the Dining Room. Found out that it was surf and turf, so we called room service and had it delivered to the room. It arrived promptly, and hot, and was simply fabulous. There is an extensive room service menu. Plus whatever is served in the Dining Room. We also enjoyed pea soup, which was served outside on deck 3 when we visited Glacier Bay. On the second formal night there was a dessert extravaganza around the Lido Pool. All the chefs came out and were introduced. There were ice sculptures, and every kind of fabulous dessert that you could imagine, including three chocolate fountains. On the final day there was an Alaskan Salmon Bake at the Sea View Pool, with the most amazing salmon and baked potatoes and salads. It was a really nice surprise, and the food was great. Activities: Since the scenery is so stunning in Alaska, we actually didn't participate in many activities. As mentioned above, we made beaded lanyards one day, and went to the Culinary Arts Center once. There were other activities we wanted to try, but just ran out of time. We spent a LOT of time just watching the amazing scenery, either from our balcony, or from the Lido Pool area. We participated in the 5K "On Deck For The Cure" walk, to raise money for the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation. There was a good turn-out (maybe 50 people), and you can walk at your own pace, and quit whenever you need to. This was held on deck 3, and the view was magnificent during the whole walk. We even saw dolphins playing in the waves behind the ship. Service: What can I say ... it is outstanding! From the moment we arrived, people were always ready to help with the wheelchair. When we entered a restaurant or got on/off the ship, there was always somebody to push the wheelchair for us, which is truly appreciated. The room stewards were top notch. They moved around silently, but were always ready and willing to help wherever they could. They were fabulous! Entertainment: We didn't have time to enjoy much of the entertainment. We went to the Vista Lounge on the first night, and got to enjoy the singers and dancers. We went back on the final night, and saw the comedian and the magician, which were very fun too. Disembarkation: There was a delay in getting the first group off the ship, which backed up most of the other groups. We had a leisurely breakfast, and then waited in our room, until our group/colour was called. Seems that some people don't understand that concept, and insist on waiting where everyone else is trying to exit. Other than that, it was very quick with a wheelchair, since we had our own line for Customs. We then had to find our luggage, in a sea of black luggage. Luckily they had lots of free luggage carts, which made it easier to handle everything. We waited a while for one of us to arrive with our rental car. Everything was smooth, but we were sad that it was over, and wanted to turn around and get back on the ship. Summary: An Alaskan cruise is amazing. I had only heard positive comments before we left on the cruise, so I had great expectations, but I was totally blown away. The scenery was breath-taking and jaw-dropping around every corner. The air was clean, and the people were friendly. Yes, the crowd was an older crowd, and it was very quiet at night, which was fine with me. This was my first Holland America cruise, and I was astounded by the superb service, and the incredible meals. It was very easy to take a wheelchair person on this cruise, and the extra help offered by everyone was great. I will definitely recommend Holland America to everyone. Read Less
Sail Date June 2011
BACKGROUND INFO: My husband and I (and our kids) had cruised the Caribbean on Royal Caribbean and my mom had taken many cruises in the past as the owner of a travel agency. My mom now lives with us and is in her 90's but she had ... Read More
BACKGROUND INFO: My husband and I (and our kids) had cruised the Caribbean on Royal Caribbean and my mom had taken many cruises in the past as the owner of a travel agency. My mom now lives with us and is in her 90's but she had always wanted to take an Alaskan cruise, so we wanted to help her make that dream come true - PLUS it sounded like a wonderful experience for us, as well. I found this Holland America Cruise on the Zuiderdam by doing some online searches and it seemed to fit the bill. I made reservations about 6 weeks before the cruise by calling HAL directly. The agent I spoke with was friendly and knowledgeable and got us set up in short order. All paperwork was sent via e-mail & our luggage tags were mailed. It was very easy. We made our own plane reservations to fly from Texas to Vancouver, B.C. to arrive the day prior to sailing. I also made our own hotel reservations for that Friday night. With the internet, it's pretty easy to be your own travel agent. TRAVEL TO PORT OF EMBARKATION: I highly recommend that if you are flying to a port city, you plan to arrive a day ahead. It was so nice to relax at the hotel after the long flights and anticipate the cruise without worry about any unexpected delays. We did have a weather delay getting out of Houston and it was nice to know that we had plenty of time to spare. Our party of 4 (my husband, myself, our daughter, and my mom) arrived in Vancouver late morning on Friday. It took us awhile to get through customs and the airport. My mom can't walk distances, so we had her in a wheelchair. Sometimes this slowed us down, but mostly it speeded things up because we got priority treatment whenever there were lines! Getting a minivan cab (wheelchair, 4 people and all our luggage) from the airport to the hotel was easy and relatively inexpensive. HOTEL INFO: I had booked a Family Suite at the SHERATON VANCOUVER WALL CENTRE because they had a very reasonable price for their location and amenities. All went smoothly with our check-in there. Our corner suite with 2 bedrooms was lovely with 2 walls of floor to ceiling windows and a sweeping view of Vancouver. My husband & I walked to a market and bought a feast, stopped at a wine shop, and brought it all back to the room where we had a great supper. In the morning, my husband (a marathoner) ran around beautiful Stanley Park before we packed up for the cruise. We got another minivan cab (hotel staff very helpful) for the very short ride to the port. I would certainly recommend that hotel. PORT AND EMBARKATION: This is where having a person in a wheelchair was a great advantage! We were whisked through the process in a flash! We were ushered to the head of every line which was a blessing for my mom who would have had an uncomfortable time if we had much waiting. I can't say how the process was for those who had to stand in line for a long time. We got on the ship and went right to the LIDO buffet restaurant where we ate and relaxed, then did a little exploration before heading to our cabins. STATEROOMS: In the interest of keeping the cost down somewhat we had booked two unobstructed F class ocean view cabins (this had been fine for our Caribbean cruise where all you see is water) and asked that they be connecting or, at least, next to each other so I could help out with my mom. When we finally got our stateroom assignment a couple weeks before the cruise, I was excited to see that we had been upgraded to two neighboring VD class rooms on the Upper Promenade Deck with larger than average verandahs. Although our rooms weren't adjoining on the interior, we were able to get our steward to open the verandah gate between our two rooms, so we could walk back and forth between the rooms that way. Although we were very happy that we were upgraded and didn't have to pay extra for the better cabins, we quickly realized that we SHOULD have booked verandah rooms in the first place! Alaska cruises are all about the scenery! Being able to sit out on your own verandah and enjoy the beautiful panorama of mountains and the glacier was a huge part of the enjoyment of this cruise. I can't imagine now having to go up to a public deck every time we wanted to enjoy the view. We LOVED our verandahs! The staterooms themselves were more than adequate. We had plenty of room, the beds were exceptionally comfortable, and there was a lot of storage space. Nothing luxurious, but very nice. Lots of bathroom storage, too. SHIP INFO: There are lots of other reviews that tell about the different features of this ship, so I won't go into them. This wasn't the most up-to-date ship, but this cruise, for us, was about ALASKA! We were excited just to be there. DINING: We girls had breakfast via room service each morning and loved being able to just get up and eat in our "jammies" and watch the beautiful scenery go by from our sliding glass door windows. My husband went to the LIDO for breakfast because his appetite is bigger than what is offered on the room service menu. We all ate every lunch in the LIDO. There were a lot of choices and it was fun the first couple days. Then we noticed that most everything tasted kind of bland. I kept going back to the pizza because it was the only thing I found that I really enjoyed. We ate dinner in the VISTA DINING ROOM every evening except for one. We really enjoyed the open dining feature and not having to be there at a specific time. We never once had to wait to be seated. We enjoyed sitting in different areas of the room. Service was great. We bought a wine package and the wine was very good. By Thursday, though, I thought something had happened to my taste buds because I wasn't getting a lot of flavor from the food. It looked so great, but with a few exceptions, tasted kind of flat. Earlier in the week we had made reservations at the PINNACLE GRILL for Thursday dinner. I had heard it was very good and hoped it would be better than the Vista. Suffice it to say we wished we had reserved dinner there every night! It would have been well worth the daily extra $20 per person! We had the most delicious meal there. For example, I had a filet mignon in the Vista and it was tough and hard to chew. It was the worst filet I had ever had. I ordered filet mignon at the PINNACLE GRILL and it was so tender it cut like butter and tasted wonderful. It was one of the best filets I've ever had. Everyone in our party - plus a guest we had invited - raved about their meal. To top off a perfect meal, I ordered "the ultimate chocolate experience" for dessert. I'm not sure what it was called (it might have been their Chocolate Volcano Cake) but at the first taste, my eyes rolled back in their sockets! I think I moaned with every bite after that, it was SO delicious. My mom and my husband ordered the Crème BrûlEe Trio which was also heavenly. My advice on this cruise is to eat at the Pinnacle Grill as often as possible! Put that little extra expense in your cruise budget! PORT AND SHORE EXCURSIONS: Sailing through TRACY ARM was magnificent! It's where we first gave big thanks for the blessing of the verandahs! Took lots of pictures. GLACIER BAY National Park was another great photo op ship excursion. We didn't do any organized shore excursions. We rode the Mt. Roberts Tramway in JUNEAU, but mostly we just enjoyed walking the streets and knowing that we were in Alaska! I really enjoyed SKAGWAY. I know it's very tourist-y, but we walked down some side streets and got more of the flavor of an Alaskan town. We also enjoyed KETCHIKAN. Took the funicular up to the charming Cape Fox Lodge where we walked around, enjoyed some totem poles, and then relaxed with an Alaskan beer in the bar. Would love to make it a destination trip sometime. Bought a few Alaskan trinkets in Ketchikan to give as gifts and as souvenirs of our trip. ENTERTAINMENT: We went to three shows in the VISTA SHOW LOUNGE. We saw an illusionist, JAMES CIELEN, who was excellent. Lots of fun. We saw a pair of comedian jugglers, WILDE & JAMES, who were exceptionally clever and funny. And due to some scheduling problems attributed to illness of a performer, we missed the other comedian, LEE BAYLESS, but did see him do a short routine on Friday - mostly shipboard humor - not as funny as Wilde & James for us. However, of all the onboard entertainment, the most enjoyable aspect of this relaxing cruise was our nightly visits to the CROW'S NEST. We had checked out some of the other entertainment areas of the ship, but were turned off by the noise and activity. By evening, all we wanted to do was sit back, have a nightcap, and enjoy something more low key. Thankfully, by our second night we discovered the Crow's Nest and a fabulous guitarist, "KEVIN T." As a musician myself, I was so impressed with his skill and musicianship. He was very personable and made it seem like he was playing just for us. My 94-year-old mom asked if he could play a number that was her and my dad's special song, "There's a Small Hotel" written around 1935. He said he didn't know it, but if we came back Thursday, he would have it learned for her and would play it. Well, we came back every night anyway and on Thursday he was true to his word, and played and sang her favorite song so beautifully that my mother cried with happiness. We also heard other people ask for songs that weren't in his current (& large, from what we heard) repertoire and he did the same thing for them. He seemed to have quite a following. The beautiful Crow's Nest with its panoramic view and listening to the soothing sounds of "Kevin T." were the perfect end of each day and a memory that will stay with us always. DISEMBARKATION: We signed up to be in the last group to disembark, wanting to prolong our stay on board as much as possible! It all went very smoothly. Again, the wheelchair helped! We were reunited with our luggage, got a minivan cab very quickly and were on our way to the airport hours before our flight home. We did have a little problem at customs when we forgot we were carrying a couple apples (which we had planned to eat at the airport for lunch) in a see-through bag. They were spotted and we had to go through a special area where they were confiscated and we were admonished for not declaring them! They said it could have been a $300 fine! A girl behind us got caught with a banana which they confiscated. They let her keep her nectarine, however. I asked why and they said that nectarines were "in season." Go figure. Anyway, watch out for your fruits! Also, I don't know if this is true or not, but our cab driver, a Vancouver resident, said that this was the last year that cruises to Alaska were going out of Vancouver. He cited fuel costs in Canada as one reason. Although we enjoyed the little we saw of Vancouver, if a cruise out of Seattle would eliminate all the customs' hassle, that would be fine with me! SUMMARY: Overall we had a marvelous time and were treated very well by everyone on the Zuiderdam. The crew was exceptional and took very good care of us. If the food had been a little less bland, the cruise would have been perfect! The weather was great. Cool and no rain! (It was a little hazy due to some fires in B.C., but not too bad.) We will especially remember the beautiful SCENERY from our verandahs, strolling the streets of ALASKAN TOWNS, eating in the PINNACLE GRILL, and the lovely evenings in the CROW'S NEST listening to the music of "KEVIN T." Read Less
Sail Date August 2009
Zuiderdam Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 4.2
Dining 3.5 4.1
Entertainment 4.5 3.7
Public Rooms 3.5 4.1
Fitness Recreation 4.0 3.7
Family 2.0 3.7
Shore Excursion 5.0 3.8
Enrichment 5.0 3.6
Service 4.0 4.4
Value For Money 4.5 3.8
Rates 4.0 4.1

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