16 Holland America Line Zuiderdam Cruise Reviews for Family Cruises to Caribbean - Southern

We had a sort of family cruise. Ended up only being 5 of us. This cruise was a good value for 11 nights, onboarding very easy, although I arrived on a red eye so first in line does help. First cruise with Holland, 10th overall, ... Read More
We had a sort of family cruise. Ended up only being 5 of us. This cruise was a good value for 11 nights, onboarding very easy, although I arrived on a red eye so first in line does help. First cruise with Holland, 10th overall, Princess, NCL, Carnival, Royal Carib.I'm mid 50s but it was like an Alaska Cruise, I felt young and thin Manicure/pedicure was great. Young gal said this was actually the youngest group she'd seen in 4 months. I did miss the energy of the other boats but Everyone was super friendly, staff and cruisers. Room was large. Ship is going in for refurbishment and that is good. It's needed. Now to food. Honestly, it was ok. I didnt like the Lido because there was a line for everything. I get cutting down on germs but it was a pain waiting to ask for most anything hot. Not just omelettes and waffles. Dining rooms always better. My favprite breakfast dining room is still Carnival, go figure. Dinners were nice, but not as good as Princess, Carnival or Royal. Similar to Norwegian. Workout area was also subdued machines weren't individual tv/music, so not at nice. Would I go again. Entertainment was nice. Not as lively again and not as much to do, but you can only do one thing at a time anyway. Would I go again. Sure. What's not to love about doing whatever you want , someone cooking for you and chocolates at night. Read Less
Sail Date April 2019
My wife and I chose this cruise because of a special promotion and it being a Panama Canal cruise. The ship itself was well maintained and the overall service was good, at best. The Captain and the crew were quite visible during the ... Read More
My wife and I chose this cruise because of a special promotion and it being a Panama Canal cruise. The ship itself was well maintained and the overall service was good, at best. The Captain and the crew were quite visible during the cruise and friendly. Service in the Lido Market was quite remarkable as compared to the dining room where if you arrived 45 minutes late, you weren't served. This is in light of the fact that the next seating was 2+hours away. Instead you're relegated to the open dining and wait another hour to be served. The quality of food throughout the ship started out very good and progressively deteriorated day to day. Squash and red peppers were mixed in everywhere and it was apparent that nothing went to waste because it kept turning up. Horrible combinations like sweet potato and apple soup! Except for pizza, there was no quick food available at dinner-anywhere. All of the food was portioned out by servers and you basically had to beg for extras. Very little cheese offering and no antipasto selection. Black olives only and dished out by the teaspoon. Off ship, the excursions were overpriced and undervalued but that seems to be industry wide. Tired of hearing guides lament how poor they are and rely on our tips. Guest entertainment was good but the "house" shows were quite boring. Read Less
Sail Date March 2019
Overall, we loved our cruise. We took advantage of $49 for 3rd and 4th guests to take two of our grandchildren, ages 11 and 13, and along with cruise credits obtained via CCL stock ownership and monitoring price reductions on our cabin, ... Read More
Overall, we loved our cruise. We took advantage of $49 for 3rd and 4th guests to take two of our grandchildren, ages 11 and 13, and along with cruise credits obtained via CCL stock ownership and monitoring price reductions on our cabin, the final price including tax and port fees was very reasonable. This was our 15th cruise, our third on Holland. The kids adapted well, even though there were few children on board, and they were well behaved and popular with the crew and other guests. The cabin was a little crowded, but functional. Pros: Service was outstanding. Our room steward Frank was very smart and talented— always smiling and a very hard worker. He was fluent in English, impeccably honest and the best towel animal maker we have seen. He was assisted by Ami, who was not so communicative but a good worker. Food service people were terrific. On the breakfast Lido buffet, the cooks were attentive and consistent. Our granddaughter is gluten free, and Sous Chef Antonio personally attended to making pancakes for her. The Burger joint was consistently good. The grandkids liked it and loved the pizza place where our granddaughter got gluten free pizza without any trouble. Nearly every evening, we went to the main dinning room. The staff was fantastic. Our wait staff included Samuti and Heri of Bali, both excellent servers and just great guys whom I would be proud to count as friends. The Maitre d’ and Assistant were also very attentive and made sure everything operated well. Consistently, the food was excellent. We had one lunch in the Pinnacle Grill and the food was also very good, but the service was a little slow compared to what we became used to in Main Dining. I might add, the kids loved the ice cream, sorbet, etc. We did the kitchen tour, and it is impressive how they maintain such high quality for so many. On the Spa staff, I recall Anina of the Republic of South Africa who is a good communicator and a fine young lady with a beautiful spirit. I enjoyed our conversations. On the Excursion Desk, Lannay of the Netherlands was excellent. She helped us as we needed it. and assisted in a matter that should have been resolved by Guest Services. The only truly incompetent person we ran into was a woman in Guest Services. We asked for clarification regarding credits we should have received for my wife as a CCL shareholder. The woman kept concocting nonsense about us trying to claim credits through a travel agent or a previously booked cruise— simply not true. We finally got clarification from her boss, a ship officer Joras of the Netherlands, an excellent officer. We received all the credits we believed we were due, and our faith in Holland service was restored. Some people asked us if our grandkids could have a good time with so many older people aboard. This was not a problem. They are homeschooled and have learned to get along with all age groups and even made friends with kids their age aboard, playing chess, ping pong and puzzles. They also really enjoyed the entertainment, including the Musical stage presentations, the magician James Cielen (talented and funny with cute dogs) and the master pianist Hyperian Knight whom my grandkids liked a lot. Also, the Lincoln Center group was great, a very talented group of young people. I personally liked BB King Blues Club and many others. We did two excursions, the Caves of Curacao, much better than expected, and the Costa Rica Tropical Rain Forest, the favorite of the kids. Perhaps my only complaint is that the morning “news” was provided via a summary of the New York Times, which I had not read for years. It is a shameless totalitarian socialist propaganda rag. So I chose to ignore it, and my days were happier for the absence of news. Read Less
Sail Date March 2019
Our family chose the Panama Canal 10 day cruise with Holland American. We had 6 adults and 3 children. We planned this cruise a year in advance. When we got to Port Everglades in Ft. Lauderdale 2 of us had passport cards and were not ... Read More
Our family chose the Panama Canal 10 day cruise with Holland American. We had 6 adults and 3 children. We planned this cruise a year in advance. When we got to Port Everglades in Ft. Lauderdale 2 of us had passport cards and were not allowed to board the ship. The passport cards would not work, so if you are planning a cruise that requires a passport do not get the passport card and note you can not fly internationally with the card. Holland America does not post passbook cards are not accepted for international cruises. There were a least 5 couples that had this issue and were not allowed to board. If this situation happened with just myself and husband we would have cancelled and got 100% refund for the cruise. This totally ruined the cruise for us. We had to go to Miami Passport Agency the next day with a 8 hour wait for emergency pass port book, then fly to Aruba to catch the boat there. With hotel expenses, fees for the pass books, air fare $1600 later. We got assistance from the Port Director not Holland American. It was on a Sunday and you could not get a hold of anyone at HAL. It was very frustrating. The Port Director was fantastic, she told us step by step what to do, so we follow her directions to the T. She called us everyday to check our progress. We did not hear one word from HAL, at that point they had our $6,000 and did not care at all. When we got to the Port at Aruba we still were not listed on the manifest to enter the ship. We had to wait for the Port to get all the information to them. Never again will we cruise with HAL. The ship was clean, the crew was fantastic but the management at HAL could care less once they got your money. Buyer beware. Also make sure you check your bill after the cruise.We found discrepancies, so unless you check thoroughly you will be billed for additional items or not get refunds from drink cards. Also we were charged $14.50 per day for gratuities that we were not aware of. I felt like we were nickle and dime for everything. Just include it in the cruise price. Holland American totally ruined cruising for us in the future. Very sad because they were a great company 6 years ago. I am a very positive person and I always shake off any hurtles I experience, but this one was more than I could gut. Aruba was beautiful, safe, very friendly and the family had a great time there. We will do a family vacation there. Please be very aware if you plan a cruise with HAL. Read Less
Sail Date March 2019
We went on a Panama Chanel Cruise in March 2019. Here are our good and less impressive experiences from our trip. Stateroom: We lived in a veranda on the 10th floor. Beautiful view. The stateroom was really nice. We were supposed to be ... Read More
We went on a Panama Chanel Cruise in March 2019. Here are our good and less impressive experiences from our trip. Stateroom: We lived in a veranda on the 10th floor. Beautiful view. The stateroom was really nice. We were supposed to be 4 people in our cabin why they arranged 4 beds the first evening – 2 regular beds, one bed coming down from the ceiling and the sofa was changed to a bed. The last bed made it difficult to get to the veranda but it was only arranged as a bed at night time – not optimal but I prefer that solution compared to the solution with 2 beds coming from the ceiling as we have experienced before as you almost need to be an acrobat moving back and forth in the stateroom. As we were only 3 they only arranged the bed from the ceiling at night and moving around even at night was no problem at all. The bathroom was great and big with a nice bathtub. There was a nice TV with plenty of both life TV, movies and more available. The TV was somewhat small but did it’s purpose. The staff was friendly but not very effective e.g. they never removed dirty dishes from the room – we needed to put them outside the stateroom to avoid the smell and have our small stateroom properly organized. Dinning: The food was generally okay – great during gala nights but below expectation other nights. It was a big disappointment we were charged extra on gala nights to get an extra serving!! We ended up with anytime dinning but ended up eating most night at the same section i.e. getting the same servers which was nice. The afternoon tea in the dining room was really nice The buffet on the Lido deck was nice but that section was severely under dimensioned. At most meals we had to walk around for a long time to find a table. It was also understaffed, or the staff was not properly trained – you were lucky to get a drink 5 minutes after asking. Resulting in us going after our drinks our self. The drink section was poorly arranged making it difficult to get a drink – had they swapped the drink machines and the glass/cups then more people would have been able to get drinks at the same time!! In our opinion then they utilize the boat poorly – there are many areas where there was almost nobody – why not remove many of the redundancies at the buffet, make more tables and then more food options other places on the boat?? My son went many times disappointed to get an ice cream – the ice cream shop opens and closes with the rest of the buffet – why??? The had a great Dive-In shop with fantastic burgers and hot dogs – my oldest sons favorite. Unfortunately, the Dive-In was next to the buffet so no seats Entertainment: We were disappointed by the entertainment. Some of the shows at the main theater were spectacular others were okay but disappointing they substitute an evening with a movie shown in poor quality – really!! The varieties of activities were below expectations – everyday was almost the same which is nice if you like bingo, trivial and cooking show but … They had some sport activities which we liked to join – some of them were great and some of them – yeah it seems like they forgot – nobody showed up to organize. We somehow got an activity going but … We knew Zuiderdam is a smaller boat, but the entertainment director could have done better e.g. ice sculpturing, magic show, parrots, juggler and a lot more. Amenities: The two pools were nice and deep enough to swim and play though small. There were many hot tubs which we enjoyed as well They had a giant chess board – we played it once risking our health – the board was not properly fastened and very slippery – again one of the many small but important details which would not cost them much to ensure was proper, but it was not taken care of Two nice table tennis located in a corner giving as little wind as possible – very nice The Explorations Central on deck 10 was impressive. Great view, games, books, monitors showing details about the boat and how it was operated. Large interactive touch screens showing highlights of the destinations and tour description. We really enjoyed that a lot. The HAL club was nice – fairly small but there were less than 10 kids on the boat so it did its purpose at our trip – not sure how it would work on a trip with more kids?? The staff there were amazing. My boys did not spend much time there, but they were always in the middle of some activities they were excited about when I picked them up. I enjoyed staying there for a little while following the activity waiting for a good time to break off – big respect for the staff there They could easily have utilized areas almost vacant throughout the cruise for more exciting activities – a strong recommendation from us. Overall: A nice trip with interesting destination but too many shortcuts from Holland American making the trip overall disappoint and not worth the money – we will search other cruise lines for our next cruise. Read Less
Sail Date March 2019
We have always wanted to see the Panama Canal, and this cruise checked all the boxes. We embarked the ship at Fort Lauderdale, the process was quick and efficient. We went to our room, cabin 5013, dropped our carry-on and proceeded to the ... Read More
We have always wanted to see the Panama Canal, and this cruise checked all the boxes. We embarked the ship at Fort Lauderdale, the process was quick and efficient. We went to our room, cabin 5013, dropped our carry-on and proceeded to the Lido deck. On our Alaska cruise, we purchased the hydrotherapy spa; we again purchased the hydrotherapy spa on this trip. After our muster station and safety review, we departed from Fort Lauderdale on time. Our overnight sale was smooth and uneventful, we decided to eat at the Lido restaurants as we had been traveling since 2 AM. There were a lot of options to choose from. We arrived at the Half Moon Cay, Bahamas on the second day and took a tether to shore. We purchased a Clam Shell Lounge, a good Investment to have a shaded area during the day. After a full day on the beach, we returned to the ship. We enjoyed dinner in the main restaurant; we purchased a bottle of wine, if you do not finish the wine, the will cork the bottle and provide it to you at any restaurant on board. The next day we were at sea and enjoyed the day at the hydrotherapy spa and exploring the ship. The next day we arrived in Aruba, we booked the CATAMARAN SNORKEL & BEACH GETAWAY. An enjoyable experience. We returned to port, and my wife said she wasn't feeling well. We returned to our cabin, and my wife fell ill. By the late afternoon, she was in full gastrointestinal distress. We had planned a dinner on the island, however, due to the gastrointestinal illness, we were unable to visit the island. The following day, we arrived in Willemstad, Curacao, we had planned to go on the CURACAO BEACH EXPRESS, my wife was quarantined to the room and insisted I go by myself. The resort location was beautiful and I was able to do some snorkeling off the beach. I return to the ship and again tended to my wife. Another day at sea and we were unable to use the hydrotherapy spa due to gastrointestinal outbreak on the ship. We learned the ships was in the midst of a novirus outbreak; many passengers were affected. I too became ill, experiencing vomiting and explosive diarrhea. Day 7 brought us to the entrance of the Panama Canal. Fortunately, we were cleared and we're able to enjoy our THE CANAL EXPERIENCE FROM GATUN TO COLON experience. Our guide was excellent and we spent time in Old Panama City and time at the Gatun Canal. On day 8, we arrived in Puerto Limon, Costa Rica. We booked the Jaguar Rescue and Rain Forest trip. An excellent trip and extremely rewarding. The tour guides were extremely knowledgeable and patient. We returned to the ship. We arrived 10 minutes before the scheduled all aboard timeline. The next two days were at sea and we're less than optimal. During our trip, we were unable to participate in the gala dinners and lost several days of enjoyments due to the novirus outbreak. Buffet were restricted; one morning, we waited 20 minutes for toast. That same evening, 30 minutes at the pasta bar in the Lido. On the last night, the Lido Bristo ran out of shrimp and beef tenderloin. Never have we experience this on any other cruises. The Alaska cruise on Holland America was the exact opposite of this trip. The thermal spa package was an additional $306 for 11 days, due to the novirus outbreak we were unable to use the package for 6 days due to quarantine. No refunds or credits were offered. We made the best of a bad situation; our memories of our Panama Canal cruise will be of gastrointestinal destress and many trips to the washroom facilities. I'm not sure how many people were affected by the outbreak, i did drop off my questionnaire at the medical center and there was approximately 30 people waiting for assistance. Read Less
Sail Date February 2019
there was many disappointing things on the cruise. And a lot of excellent things. The staff was amazing her room stores were exceptional everyone seemed very friendly. The food was very average gnome memorable meals. We had prime rib one ... Read More
there was many disappointing things on the cruise. And a lot of excellent things. The staff was amazing her room stores were exceptional everyone seemed very friendly. The food was very average gnome memorable meals. We had prime rib one night was very good, had steak it was tough and seasoned odd. Breakfast want anything special. The entertainment on mainstage was OK the comedian was excellent only there one day, he was an improv comedian working off the audience which was excellent. Then to piano players a young woman and a young gentleman that played the duration of the cruise they were amazing unbelievable very enjoyable to listen to. it seems like most of the day planned activities during the day on the ship were trying to sell you some thing a spa treatment or shoe inserts. The most disappointing thing was for afternoons our cabin had a strong paint smell which they were painting in different parts of the ship and it went to do the air conditioning system . And there was a couple days they were working on the electrical system outside the cabin banging away. We called and voiced our concerns and were told they were trying to improve the ship for future cruises, didn’t seem to care about us. Read Less
Sail Date February 2019
I was worrying before the cruise due to many negative reviews and feedback here regarding the ship and the cruise line itself. I think if someone is "hardly American or Canadian" should be a different category in the reviews. ... Read More
I was worrying before the cruise due to many negative reviews and feedback here regarding the ship and the cruise line itself. I think if someone is "hardly American or Canadian" should be a different category in the reviews. These people usually cannot recognize any kind of food but hamburgers and fried things. Every other food is just an "unknown thing" for them and after, they write a really negative review, mostly complain about the food. European cruise lines (HAL, MSC, Costa, NCL) are really different then Princess, Celebrity and especially Carnival. If you hate European food and don't like the European vibe and style - stay away from there companies and don't mislead others with your negative reviews. Zuiderdam is a little bit old ship and you can see some signs of her age (Carpets, walls in the elevators), but the staff tries their best to keep it clean and good condition. There is a lots of elderly person on board, not such much child you can see on MSC or Carnival. However HAL doesn't focus on families with children, there is enough activities and programs for children. My kids ( 8 and 11) loved the Club HAL and the pool area. Dining room staff entertained kids during every dinner, made their dining time funny and unforgettable. Embarkation and the check in is very well organized, it was very quick and smooth with only few minutes of wait. Our room steward was excellent, but I can say the whole crew on board was extremely nice and helpful. I have not experienced this kind of service before. The only negative I can say is the hotel service charge. HAL charges the same amount for kids and adults ($14.50 per person for a balcony stateroom). But, you can ask the customer service to reduce this amount or even remove every hotel service charge. We decided to make it zero and we gave cash for our steward and our dining room waiters. It was out first cruise with HAL, but not the last. I have already booked a new one on board for the summer break and I definitely recommend this cruise line for everyone who is not afraid of the European things. Read Less
Sail Date December 2018
We chose the Holland America Zuiderdam ship for our 2018 Christmas family vacation. The only reason I would give any stars for this cruise is for the room and dinning stewards who provided the utmost impeccable service. Cheers to all of ... Read More
We chose the Holland America Zuiderdam ship for our 2018 Christmas family vacation. The only reason I would give any stars for this cruise is for the room and dinning stewards who provided the utmost impeccable service. Cheers to all of you!!! However, Holland America Ships are severely lacking customer service, acommodations are poorly described. The cabin layout was terrible and considering this was a Holiday cruise, it severely lacked festive activities, entertainment and decorations. We were advised by Holland America the Zuideram Veranda Cabins accommodate 3-4 passengers. We had 3 in our cabin. However, to accommodate anymore than 2 passengers, access to the veranda balcony and bar fridge are "completely blocked" and they had to "remove furniture" from our cabin to make room for the 3rd person for the entire cruise. I guess the 4th person would have had a caught on the balcony because there is absolutely no room for a 4th person. This was extremely disappointing when we had paid the extra $2,000 to have a balcony cabin but couldn't access the door to get out onto the balcony. SAVE your money a book an Ocean View or Interior Cabin for a much lower rate. The Ship's Customer Service Relations were not helpful in providing any alternative nor compensation for the extra cost we paid to have a balcony we had no access to. There were minimal Christmas decorations throughout the ship not making it feel very festive for a holiday cruise. Santa came aboard the ship to visit the 40-50 children on board and gave them all a dollar store gift that broke within the day. We expected much more for a Holiday cruise considering the inflated cost for a cruise during this peak time. We would never consider Holland America for future Holiday cruises. PS to Smokers: there is only 1 smoking section on board and they refuse to let anyone smoke prior to the ship leaving port. It was a long 6 hour wait from the time we boarded to leaving port. Read Less
Sail Date December 2018
had nothing to do and wanted to get away from family for thanksgiving, so took son on a cruise. getting on was a breeze and a lot of very friendly people were at the cruise port to check us in. you ain't gonna travel with the ... Read More
had nothing to do and wanted to get away from family for thanksgiving, so took son on a cruise. getting on was a breeze and a lot of very friendly people were at the cruise port to check us in. you ain't gonna travel with the people in the sales brochure. granted, for these prices you get what you pay for. baby with no diaper in pool, 600 slow moving scooters, smart casual(if adhered to) means a clean t shirt with no relish stains from mcdonalds. if i spent many thousands on this cruise expecting gentrified shipmates i probably would have escaped in aruba. we coined the daily movement at the lido restaurant as the lido shuffle, an odd quarter step dance moving aimlessly, constantly changing direction but moving very slowly. not that most guest were not kind and mostly friendly, as was the crew. always ate in the dining room for dinner which was was not as bad as some people have written.. son had steak every night and it was not bad. very friendly staff exect for a few. colon is horrible. limon is horrible. if you tend to adhere to contract terms you will probably be frustrated. twice we have waited for stragglers getting to the boat very late after stated departure times despite the clearly stated terms otherwise. the boat is a very nice size and i wish they would keep the ship in good repair. on my balcony the varnish is gone from the railing and there is a massive amount of rust showing on various surfaces. the panama canal portion is a joke. you go through, park about 1000 yards in, then return to colon to pick up the excursion crowd. it would be nice if they would clearly state this..... i half expected to cruise the lake a little and look at some monkeys. i honestly don't know how people can drink and gamble all day on these things. if you don't spend your kids' birthright on these vices i think 11 days is a little long Read Less
Sail Date November 2018
We went on this cruise - Fort Lauderdale to Half Moon Cay, Aruba, Curacao, Cartagena, Panama Canal (+Colon), Puerto Limon Costa Rica & back to Fort Lauderdale - to spend time with some American friends too unwell to do a conventional ... Read More
We went on this cruise - Fort Lauderdale to Half Moon Cay, Aruba, Curacao, Cartagena, Panama Canal (+Colon), Puerto Limon Costa Rica & back to Fort Lauderdale - to spend time with some American friends too unwell to do a conventional tour or long-haul trip with us. The ship was mid-sized - just under 2000 people - and didn't feel particularly crowded, though the demographic was definitely ‘older’. It was also very stable - the only time we felt even a mild pitch was on the last sea day. The staff were almost without exception really friendly and helpful, and the service overall was very good. Our verandah cabin on deck 6 was comfortable if a little cramped, and they'd used the space well; under-bed stowage was particularly useful. The food in the main dining room was generally good, with 1 or 2 exceptions, and the waiters particularly friendly. We also found the crew - the Captain and his officers - friendlier, more engaging & more in evidence than on other cruises we've been on. We ate dinner only once outside the main dining room, and the experience was not good. We booked "Rudi's Sel de Mer", a pop-up seafood restaurant in their Pinnacle Grill, at an extra $45 a head. The food was just OK - the bouillabaisse came in a plastic bag(?!), cut open at the table, the lobster tails were pleasant but unexceptional and the desserts reasonable, but the wine list was very limited and fiendishly expensive, the service slow and poor and the food lukewarm. Getting things like bread on the table seemed to be an almost-impossible feat for them. This was poor value for the $45 supplement, & having experienced the service in what was effectively the Pinnacle Grill, we didn't go back. The Lido buffet restaurant was a scrum at breakfast & lunch - inadequate seating and often long lines at the counters. The breakfast servery seemed rather bizarre - if you want just oatmeal, or just (pre-prepared) bacon & scrambled egg, or a specially-prepared omelette or made-to-order waffles, you join the same line. At lunch, we often managed to grab a table by the front pool & then go into the Lido & come back with food. The Asian options were often good, but I didn't try too many others as the lines were ridiculously long. Drink prices were - as you'd expect - high, and the spa prices astronomical. BEWARE - they have 'info sessions' about pain management, which are simply sales pitches for you to buy over-priced treatments or products. A 'personal trainer' from the gym is pitching GoodFeet orthotics. DON'T BUY FROM HIM! He'll tell you that his $199 price is up to $100 cheaper than elsewhere, & that his products will last for 10-15 years. These statements are UNTRUE; we visited a GoodFeet store in Delray Beach after the cruise & discovered that the orthotics he sells are the cheapest in their range, cost the same $199 and last for 2 years at most. If you're interested and live in the 'States, buy them back home, where you'll get a much better service. And don't do the acupuncture. I went for what I understood would be a 'consultation', which anywhere else would be a free-of-charge precursor to actual treatment, while they understood your issues and planned the sessions for you. Next thing I knew, I was on the couch with a load of needles in me, wired up to electricity. The 'therapist' then LEFT THE ROOM - just as my thigh muscle started to go into spasm! And they wanted to charge me $169 for this. AVOID! I've had great acupuncture (which this wasn't) for much, much less. The entertainment was a bit mixed. The 2 pianists at Billboard Onboard (especially Noah, the younger one) were astoundingly good. The bar pianists and the Mainstage dancers were also excellent, what we heard of BB King's All Stars was good, the Island Magic steel band were great and America's Test Kitchen was fun (but very over-subscribed, so arrive early). The Mainstage singers, however, were frequently off-key & the acrobats from Cirque du Soleil did a lot more posturing than actual acrobatics. And we were on board at Halloween, which the ship celebrated by doing - NOTHING! Hardly anyone dressed up, & it was a real disappointment. The EXC excursions were a mixed bag. The Monkey Watch at Gatun Lake seems to have been the best Panama excursion, with a great experience of the Canal & the wildlife. AVOID the one that takes you on through the locks to Panama City - you wait for hours in a small boat shadowing a bigger vessel through the locks, and frankly you see enough of the locks on the journey from the Caribbean to Gatun Lake. (This trip arrived back at the ship over an hour after we should have departed!) The Veragua Rainforest & Tortuguero Canals trip in Costa Rica is good, though the canals themselves are rather disappointing. The Cartagena Sightseeing trip is a waste of time & money if you want to see the World Heritage Old City; you seem to go everywhere BUT this part of town. The 'Eco tour' at Half-Moon Cay was a disappointment - snorkelling may be a better option - and the Aruba snorkelling trip was mediocre. We liked the Curacao 'Beach Express' - the beach was nice, the snorkelling better than in Aruba, and the trip was about the right length. The ship was in Curacao on a Sunday, so virtually EVERYTHING in the historic town was closed - even Diamonds International! Overall this trip suited us well. Our American friends enjoyed the cruise, were able to do everything with us and it wasn't too tiring for them. Embarkation & disembarkation were reasonably straightforward, despite the very hostile security people around the port area. We got to visit 2 places - Colombia and Panama - we'd never been to before, although our time in Cartagena was disappointing. HAL is one of the better cruise lines we've used, though (like the others) the most important piece of equipment on board seems to be the giant vacuum cleaner that sucks additional money from passengers. (For example, the wi-fi was outrageously expensive). Would we cruise with them again? Maybe, but it's a big old World and cruising only gives you a fleeting glimpse of some fascinating places, so it'll be a few years before we cruise again. Read Less
Sail Date October 2018
It was a good time to go,, no mowing or lawn work needed at home during November. Plus,, it was warm on the cruise. We liked the service, it was excellent, good nice workers. The room was nice,,, they had good entertainers,, ... Read More
It was a good time to go,, no mowing or lawn work needed at home during November. Plus,, it was warm on the cruise. We liked the service, it was excellent, good nice workers. The room was nice,,, they had good entertainers,, outstanding. The food was terrible,,,they must have had a chef to help prepare it, lol there was a lot of food wasted and it was expensive to Holland America to have so much wasted..The bread was so hard and tough you couldnt eat it. They need the help of Golden Corral or some just plain cooks, They had good salads but no good dressings for it,, so that was out for us. They just need plain foods that people in America eat,,,we tried the dinners, and they were not good,,, we ended up eating fruit,, and ice cream, lol. We and others in our group say no more Holland America cruises due to the food... We all have had other cruises with Disney, and most other cruise lines and the food was great. I did find,, we got shore activities not from the ship, but from venders as soon as you get off the ship,,, we had the same activities for less than half price, that HAmerica was asking. Read Less
Sail Date November 2017
This was my 25th cruise and first on HAL. I knew the crowd would be mature, but they were very mature. At 65 I felt like a youngster. The onboard offerings were very limited and seating for the better ones was totally inadequate. Good ... Read More
This was my 25th cruise and first on HAL. I knew the crowd would be mature, but they were very mature. At 65 I felt like a youngster. The onboard offerings were very limited and seating for the better ones was totally inadequate. Good shows need two performances to allow all to see. There was only one seating per show and one had to be an hour early to get a seat. The food was very average. Coffee on Lido was weak. Servers on Lido serve the food like they personally paid for it. Crew was outstanding in general. Maybe the best I've seen. Cabin was OK with huge bath, but the TV was smaller than my Computer monitor at home. TV was positioned poorly to view from bed or couch. Limited channels. No interactive TV. WIFI available at a ridiculous price for the poor speed offered. DVD player available and free movies from the front desk if your request was available. Movies were not current at all. Food was not exciting . Waiters and busboy were great, but food was subpar. Cauliflower and carrots are served way too much. Cabin steward was excellent. Very limited activities compared to other cruises. No pool games, ice carving, late night gatherings etc. I wouldn't do this cruise again unless I was using a walker and planned on a 9:00 bedtime. Pool games, karaoke, ice carving, nonexistent. In general, nothing to get excited about. Fine for some, but not for me. Read Less
Sail Date February 2017
In less than one year HAL won us with the Eurodam (April 2012) and lost us with the Zuiderdam (December 2012). If you have the time and inclination to read our comments below you should understand why. Prior to boarding we knew that ... Read More
In less than one year HAL won us with the Eurodam (April 2012) and lost us with the Zuiderdam (December 2012). If you have the time and inclination to read our comments below you should understand why. Prior to boarding we knew that Zuiderdam had recently (Dec. 1-10, 2012) undergone dry dock repairs/improvements. However, we did not know about the complications and issues that affected the ship in the aftermath of those repairs/improvements. We only learned about those after heading back home and in hindsight these issues may explain part of our experience, but certainly do not justify it. I'm not sure if carpets throughout common areas were replaced as part of dry dock work, but whatever the case the replacement was only partial. Funny, because there are two different shades of blue everywhere and it's really hard to tell new from old carpeting. All dark blue carpet on the ship looks really shabby in general. Other carpet areas (different colors) appear to be in much better shape. In highest traffic/impact areas (e.g. near elevator doors) a half moon cut is the classic tell-tale sign of a partial replacement, and they're now fraying at most junctions/seams. Tsc, tsc, tsc, why not replace the whole thing? Food: average. Pinnacle Grill was good. Many items had run out when we asked form them (e.g. cheese at breakfast, shoyu and wasabi at the Asian food station at lunch, NY strip steak at dinner -- unbelievable). We never bothered trying Canaletto (being a Lido adaptation we did not care to try it) but truly missed Eurodam's Silk Den. Sewage odors: we never felt anything inside our suite. The only time I smelled something odd was during one of the "at sea" days. I suspect the ship's external release of sewage is the culprit, not its internal plumbing system as some have suggested. We did not have any plumbing issues in our suite, period. Elevators: I don't recall ever seeing all in service. There seemed to be a rotation, with 1-2 always with an X above the door indicating 'out of service'. I suspect this was done to cut back on electricity and therefore fuel consumption. There was a HAL document inside our cabin indicating that the company is actively working on reducing fuel consumption by 2% year-on-year from 2006 onward. In the absence of new technologies the reasonable conclusion is that these 'environmentally responsible' savings (a cruise ship is anything but) are coming from measures such as 'rolling black outs' on elevators and air conditioning. The A/C cutbacks were too obvious to be denied, especially in the Lido and on many deck hallways. Bonus remark on elevators: no day of the week on floor mats. It's a nice touch that we really missed. Cleanliness: on every cruise I bring my own disinfecting wipes and use them constantly on our stateroom, especially on day one. I cannot start to describe the different colors that came off from furniture (especially the bed stand) in our Zuiderdam suite. Chairs and tables felt greasy and dirty almost everywhere. Chairs at the main restaurant have glitter deeply ingrained in the leather. Try as you please, the glitter will not come off. Ship's exterior: consistently dirty. Besides, four of the elevators are encased by glass, and it's hard to understand how not even those glass surfaces are kept reasonably clean. Embarkation/Debarkation: both were uneventful. The new HAL terminal at Port Everglades (pier 26) is very spacious and well air-conditioned, but completely Spartan (white, not a single painting or color on the walls). It's better than the one it replaced (an old warehouse of sorts) but one would expect something slightly more sophisticated and less sterile. I find it highly unlikely that we'll choose HAL again in the future. Highlights: - Our paid upgrade from VA to SA category saved the day. An SA suite is a completely different experience and well worth the prices difference in terms of space. The verandah was great but only had chairs (no recliners???). We received fresh fruit and flowers on the first three days. - Brand new carpet on our suite. The color is brown, which is a nice departure from the screaming colors shown on HAL's website; - The suite itself: very spacious, lots of storage, and a good bathroom; - Neptune Lounge: an oasis of peace, especially for breakfast; - Ship decor: the works, colors and features are more pleasant and better coordinated than what we saw on the Eurodam; - Pool area: those annoying 'cabanas' have not yet arrived on the Zuiderdam; towels are ubiquitous and plentiful, without any need for cards, tokens, deposits and other maddening exchange arrangements that other cruise lines love to put in place; - Pool drink service: the only place where I was greeted by name and waiters remembered what I enjoyed and would likely order. Remarkably good; - Club HAL: once again, high marks to the staff and facilities, but the opening hours were maddening. Why close it every day between 4:00pm and 7:00pm, at a time when parents badly want the kids to be busy??? - Bathroom towels: long, fluffy and clean. - Wi-Fi: worked flawlessly, and the connection was as fast as I typically get at any hotel; - Holiday decor and activities: appropriate and in good measure. Really enjoyable. - Zuiderdam still rolls & pitches, but not as much as Eurodam; we could not feel any of the noise and vibration (especially at docking) that woke us up several times on the Eurodam. Lowlights: - Service, service, service: it was substantially worse that we received on the Eurodam in April 2012, especially at the restaurants where service is completely absent (Lido) or the prevailing answer is 'no' (Vista Main Dining room). We were dismayed to see the difference between our main dining room steward on Zuiderdam (who frowned upon almost any request) and his counterpart on the Eurodam (who was extremely kind, smiling, and provided absolutely outstanding service on his own initiative). Service at the Lido restaurant? There is none, period. - Port schedule: a full day wasted in that dump of a place that is Curacao, and a mere four hours docked in Aruba. Can anyone provide a reasonable explanation for this type of scheduling??? - Wine rip-off part I: when traveling on the Eurodam it was a pleasant surprise to see that in fine Portuguese tradition Port wine is appropriately served on true Port glasses everywhere on board. On the Zuiderdam I ordered three different Port wines at Crow's Nest and each time they were served in cordial glasses (translation: a half serving). So I decided to try something different and ordered a "double port" and... bingo! it came on a true Port glass. This basically certified the rip off: all along I was paying for one full Port serving but only getting half of it by way of the cordial glass. To make matters worse, one day I decided to have my daily Port wine at the Casino bar and, to my complete surprise, a single shot of Port came... on a Port glass! - Wine rip-off part II: there are two wine packages offered with your meals (in addition to a la carte wine): the Navigator's package for $249 (7 bottles) and the Admiral's for $299 (7 bottles). We chose the Admiral's, which means roughly $43/bottle. The wines were enjoyable but nothing to write home about. On the last day, after failing to consume all seven bottles, we received one to take home and leave a zero balance on the package. It was a bottle of Mark West California Pinot Noir 2010. Just Google this wine and you'll find it for $8.49, locally available at Costco. Nobody goes on a cruise expecting wine to be sold at cost, but a 400% mark up on a cheap wine can only be described as a TOTAL RIP OFF; - Liquor rip off: just order any rum-based drink (e.g. Pina Colada) and the standard rum used is "Ron Carlos" (distilled in Florida?). And I thought Bacardi was cheap enough; - Soda rip off: there is a great promotion going on during the first cruise day: buy a soda card worth $50 but pay only $25. What they fail to disclose is that the card is only valid for machine-dispensed soda. This means that half of it will be ice, and the other half will be diluted in ship's water. If you want a real soda (canned -- widely available on board, for good reason I suspect) then the soda card is not good for it; - Pool area: too many tables, very few recliners. Arriving early will not solve this one: they were all occupied by human beings, not towels; - Room service: long wait on the phone, long wait for the food, wrong items. Don't bother. - Cloth towels at public restrooms: judging by their more than 50 shades of grey (pun intended) these were long overdue for replacement; - Various other merchandising efforts, forceful and annoying, including spa packages, ship merchandise, shore excursions, specialty drinks, etc. The ship seems to be clearly managed as a profit center, with people savagely trying to improve both the top AND bottom lines; - On Thursday we were invited to nothing less than three events featuring the ship's Captain: Mariner Society brunch, Concierge Level Indonesian Lunch, American Express Platinum/Centurion cocktail. The Captain had a nice smile on but stayed less than ten minutes at each event. One can argue that he was busy, but it's possible that he didn't really care for contact with passengers; - "J.T. your cruise director", as he announces himself every now and then on the P.A. system. Annoying and greasy, playing to the crowds, but not doing anything to substantially improve the overall results of the cruise. Read Less
Sail Date December 2012
Embarkation went well and the ship left on time. The problems we encountered were with the dining room and lido buffet. The service was very slow the first night and the last in the dining room. Food was not what we were used to on our ... Read More
Embarkation went well and the ship left on time. The problems we encountered were with the dining room and lido buffet. The service was very slow the first night and the last in the dining room. Food was not what we were used to on our HAL cruises in the last two years. The beef was very tough, everything was drenched in gravy or butter, and HAL does not offer a SPA menu at all. The no sugar added desserts are limited and not tasteful. The lido was basically the same food, same fruits all week primarily melon, no crab legs on the buffet at Christmas as in the past. The service at the lido was limited, tables remained dirty for longer than necessary and they ran out of water glasses all the time. Don't get me wrong, everyone was very polite and tried to be helpful but it seemed they had cut back on service staff. We did enjoy Christmas dinner in the dining room. They did a nice job that evening. The activities were few and far between, Julie Barr, their comedian is great but there was no adult show at all, nothing after midnight. The Pinnacle grill was a disappointment. My husbands steak and my son's were overdone. I did enjoy the salmon, it was delicious. I ordered the cheese plate for dessert and I kid you not, five tiny squares of cheese and some grapes. I just got off the Carnival Dream two weeks before and the same dessert had me reliving my days in Europe. Debarkation was very smooth, however breakfast in the lido was a disaster that morning, they closed early and again ran out of water glasses. Read Less
Sail Date December 2012
We flew from Denver to Ft Lauderdale a day early, and stayed at the Hilton Marina. We were able get a Holland America shuttle to the pier without a reservation. Since we were in a mini-suite, we got priority boarding, which was very nice. ... Read More
We flew from Denver to Ft Lauderdale a day early, and stayed at the Hilton Marina. We were able get a Holland America shuttle to the pier without a reservation. Since we were in a mini-suite, we got priority boarding, which was very nice. Our first port of call was Holland America's private Half Moon Cay. We elected to stay aboard ship and wished we had gone ashore when was all said and done. It was hot and humid, so the air conditioning was nice. The next day was a sea day on our way to Oranjustad, Aruba. Our excursion was a combination sea/shore tour. We had a boat ride out to a "submarine" where we boarded and viewed a sunken German ship and lots of fish and scuba divers - neat. We then boarded a bus for an island tour. Saw the California Light House, named for the California which sank right off the shore. It wasw also one of the ships to go to the distress call of the Titanic. Went to a beautiful garden and a fallen natural bridge, where we build carin to add to the hundreds made on rocks along the shore. Kralendijk, Bonaire was our next port. We walked around the port town and tourist areas. Had fun watching dolphin and pilican around the dock, as well a fishes. Pretty little town and beautiful blue water. Williemstad, Curacao came next. Loved the Dutch building, all painted in bright colors. Neat local art painted on the fence by the dock. To make up for the cancelled dolphin swin in Tahiti, we booked a dolphin swim in Curacao. Another item checked off the bucket list! And, was it ever fun. 8 people in our group, and 4 at a time would get in with the 2 dolphin. Got pulled through the water, gave them hand signals to dance and sing, and got to touch them all we wanted. A great experience and lots of big smiles. Another sea day while on our way to the Panama Canal. We arrived just before sunrise the next morning. Lots of activity, getting into line to enter the Gatum locks. Mules getting ready to hook up to our ship and getting pulled into the first of 3 locks on the way to Gatum Lake. What an experience! We did not want to transit the canal, as we did not want to visit all the Mexican ports on such a cruise. Just going through the locks was enough for us. We got off the ship in Lake Gatun for our excursion - a boat ride around Lake Gatun and seeing sloth and monkeys and birds. We stopped at the locks and were feet from the ships going through - very interesting. We met the ship back in Colon, Panama for our trip to Costa Rica. Pat had hit her head on the boat roof support on Lake Gatun and went right to bed with a really good headache when we got back to the ship. Puerto Limon, Costa Rica. Pat was still not feeling well this morning, so did not go on the shore excursion. A pity, as it was really cool! A bus ride to the Tortuguero Canals. A fruit breakfast before boarding boats. Talk about animals and birds - howler and white faced capucian monkeys, sloths galore, momma and children camin, iguana, blue and white heron, to name but a few. Flowers and vines and trees all over. We stopped at a Del Monte banana farm and processing plant. Interesting tour and the banana heart is a beautiful flower. Pat was most disappointed to have missed the excursion! We had 2 sea days on the way back to Ft Lauderdale and our flight back to Denver. We are not into Caribbean cruises, but this proved to be a great cruise with very interesting ports of call and we were very glad we had done it.   Read Less
Sail Date November 2011
Zuiderdam Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabin 4.0 N/A
Dining 3.5 4.1
Entertainment 4.5 3.6
Public Rooms 3.5 4.1
Fitness & Recreation 4.0 N/A
Family 2.0 3.7
Shore Excursions 5.0 N/A
Enrichment Activities 5.0 N/A
Service 4.0 4.4
Value for Money 4.5 N/A

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