5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2016
This was our first cruise. We chose HAL because without exception, everyone we know who has cruised has raved about it. So we booked a back-to-back: transatlantic from Ft. Laud to the Azores and up the coast of Europe to Copenhagen for ... Read More
This was our first cruise. We chose HAL because without exception, everyone we know who has cruised has raved about it. So we booked a back-to-back: transatlantic from Ft. Laud to the Azores and up the coast of Europe to Copenhagen for 17 days, and a follow-up Baltic 12-day circle back to Copenhagen. The Good: Our cabin, a verandah on the Verandah Deck, was comfortable if small. But we didn't spend much time in it. We overlooked the tops of the life vessels but had unobstructed ocean views. Our cabin stewards were delightful and we LOVED the towel animals they made each night (yes, it's SOP on a cruise but we loved them anyway.) Our bathroom was small, of course, but had plenty of storage, including a shelf under the vanity and a roomy cabinet. The closets were pretty big for a small cabin. Our suitcases fit under the bed, barely. The food was plentiful and very good. We enjoyed open seating so sat with new people every night, which was interesting. The Pinnacle service was excellent and we loved the menu and preparations. All the dining-room staff at the Lido and Pinnacle were outstanding. We also enjoyed the specialty meals on the pool deck, with the oompah band and German dishes when we were in Warnemunde. We enjoyed trying out the different bars - I think there were 11 of them, each different in character. We went to one main stage show and didn't enjoy it that much, but we loved the piano bar where a young woman played and sang and sort of became everyone's granddaughter. Her replacement for the Baltic leg was a slicker, more polished performer with a Vegas-style line of patter and we didn't enjoy him as much. The piano-violin duos who played every evening were terrific. But by far the best entertainment was the BB King Blues Band in the BB King Room. They were fabulous musicians who put on a wonderful show every night that was sadly under-attended. But we were there almost every night. We enjoyed most of the lectures. One lecturer, a retired captain, was very entertaining and filled with tons of fascinating information. The other one was more professorial and managed to make his fascinating subjects a little windy and boring, but the information was great. We spent a lot of time in the Crow's Nest, reading and chatting. I worked my way through the library and enjoyed the wonderful views. Happy hour there was great. Everything was very clean and organized. Disembarkation for shore tours was very organized, the lifeboat drills were accomplished fast and in a somewhat military manner, with dire threats of being left behind if we missed them, and no matter when we were out and about, there would be someone polishing the brass, vacuuming, or washing windows. The Not-so-good: One suitcase was waiting for us when we reached our cabin. Two hours later, I called to ask about it and was told that the wine bottle in it would be confiscated because we couldn't bring it aboard, which directly contradicted what we'd been told before we booked. (We'd been told we could board with two bottles apiece.) I told them that we absolutely needed that suitcase immediately, WITH the wine, and a few minutes later there it was, wine bottle included. Happy hour is only observed in two of the bars, so if you were in the wrong place, you were out of luck. Not sure why they don't all have it. We didn't buy a drink package because we were quoted something like $1580 each for our 29-day cruise, with no ability to treat someone to a drink - we would have had to drink all that ourselves! So we paid as we went. Most drinks are pretty reasonably priced. Our verandah was a few feet shorter than others in that class, because we were just above the lifeboats. The balconies above us were at least two or three feet deeper. It turned out not to be an issue because the weather was chilly enough that we didn't use it much, but if that's important, don't book a Verandah cabin on Deck 5, the Verandah Deck. We kept getting lost because the passageways all look the same. It would be helpful if the doorways to the passageways were painted different but consistent colors - all port aft on each deck red, all port forward on each deck blue, and so on. Because some of the elevator banks look the same, we found ourselves wandering in circles. Likewise, the brass plaques at the elevators that show a cutaway of the ship with the decks labeled weren't oriented the way you were standing when you looked at them. So if you couldn't tell which way was forward and which was aft, they weren't much help. We'd looked forward to the behind-the-scenes tour but bagged it when we learned that it cost $150 per person, more than some of our shore excursions. Can't imagine how they justify that. There are no trays in the MDR. We understand the reason for that - it really cuts back on the massive food waste - but it's hard to juggle a full meal while searching for a table, especially in choppy seas. We encountered ONE 16-year-old girl on the 17-day leg of our trip. Everyone else was an older adult, sometimes significantly older. That poor girl was bored out of her skull. There were only four younger children on that leg, although some crew families came aboard for the Baltic leg so there were more kids around. As comfortable as this line is for older travelers, I'd think long and hard before bringing anyone under age 20 along. And that's pushing it. The one nightclubby venue was rumored to be closing before the end of the year. Overall, we enjoyed our first cruising experience. There were no surprises - we knew about the older crowd, but that's us! We've booked a second cruise on HAL for next spring. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: July 2015
This was our first cruise, Holland America Line ms Zuiderdam, 11-NIGHT ADRIATIC DREAM. We booked a Signature Suit, SS, Location: Upper Verandah Deck. Check in was fast and efficient, off to a good start. The suite was a reasonable ... Read More
This was our first cruise, Holland America Line ms Zuiderdam, 11-NIGHT ADRIATIC DREAM. We booked a Signature Suit, SS, Location: Upper Verandah Deck. Check in was fast and efficient, off to a good start. The suite was a reasonable size with plenty of wardrobe space and a safe. The large bed was five stars, very comfortable. The bathroom was a little old fashioned but OK. The suite was not completely ready, no bathrobes and no bathroom slippers. Also the air conditioning was not working and the room was hot. Phoned guest services and after four attempts, their phone system kept cutting off, explained the problems and was promised a resolution. Bath robes and slippers arrived. Towards the evening of the first day still no resolution of air conditioning problem. After using the shower, which had an old style with plastic curtain, we found the conditioner dispenser was not working. So contact guest services again. Spent a hot night in the temperature sense. In the morning of day 2 saw the cabin attendant to see if he could get some action with the air conditioning. He fetched his boss, a man with a clip board no less, and he promised some action. Just to make sure we visited guest services in person to chase up the air conditioning problem and also enquire what bathroom amenities we should expect in the way of cotton buds and the like, you know basic things in any 3 star motel. The front desk lady seemed surprised that a customer in a Signature Suite should expect such luxuries. Anyhow a few hours later a tumbler arrived with some cotton buds and cotton balls. We went out for a few hours and upon return to the cabin no resolution of the air conditioning problem. So down to guest services again and asked if I could see someone who could sort my problem, maybe the Captain? Or could I bring my bedding down to the reception area and sleep in the cool there? My conversation was overheard by a lady who I think was a supervisor, She dispatched one of her staff with a thermometer to check if I was telling the truth. Yes the customer was not lying, it was 25.5C in the cabin and they would get someone to fix it. Later a man who looked the part in overalls turned up and we left him to it. A few hours later we returned to the cabin and found that he had “improved it worse” now 26.8C. Again phoned guest services and they “would get the maintenance supervisor to look into it ” Why could this not have been done yesterday? We went out for the evening and when we got back wonder of wonders we had a cool room. From this point on things did improve, a man from guest services called in to check everything was now OK and the following morning we received a follow up phone call from guest services to check all was OK on the air conditioning front, so all’s well that ends well but initially it was hard work to get some action. Later a letter arrived from the guest relations manager saying their technical staff were going to perform necessary maintenance on the air conditioning system. This begs the question if they knew they had a problem why not say on day one then we could have understood and not get so frustrated. A couple of days later we were offered a Pinnacle Grill dinner and wine as an apology. Well done HAL for coming through in the end. So now hopefully on with the cruise. On the good side we cannot fault the catering, truly five star. (See separate Pinnacle Grill Dining Experience and Le Cirque reviews), All the meals were delicious and well presented. Well done the F&B staff. The Vista Dining Room offered impeccable service from a well trained and friendly staff serving some of the most delicious food I have ever tasted. On one occasion we had breakfast served in our suite, it was on time, hot and delicious. The casual dining area, Lido, also offered a great range of good food served cafeteria style in clean and friendly surroundings. Wow! Forget the cruising just tie up the boat somewhere and we would enjoy a week of food and wine. The cabin attendants kept the room clean and tidy, again well done. In fact the whole ship was kept immaculate both inside and out a credit to the hotel manager and his staff. We bought an unlimited laundry package, clothes promptly laundered and returned, well done laundry department. We were in the middle of a six week holiday so being able to keep up with laundry was worth the cost of the package. We had an Evening at Le Cirque and were underwhelmed. Even taking into account I confused my Chateaubriands’ with my Beef Wellingtons we were as underwhelmed with what was supposed to be the culinary highlight of the cruise ‘An Evening at Le Cirque’ We have been racking our brains to find the reason why we were so disappointed and finally realized that it was not that the food was so bad but that the meals in the main dining room were so good so Le Cirque was not worth the additional expense. The only difference I we could discern for the additional US$98 was that the plates have a monkey painted on them, the napkins had “Le Cirque” printed on them and the glassware was nicer. Also we were surprised that we had to order our desserts at the start of the meal not something we had come across in a supposedly ‘up market’ restaurant. The staff seemed a bit on edge not making for a relaxing experience. Sorry but for these diners it was not worth the extra money. On the last night we had Pinnacle Grill Dining Experience. After our previous dining experience at the Pinnacle Grill, Le Cirque, which involved plates with cartoons of monkeys on them, our expectations were not high this time. But this time our expectations were met with excellent service and good food. Even the staff appeared more relaxed and friendly on this visit. The PG is somewhere for that special occasion. The food is good, the service attentive and the evening very pleasant. So things came right in the end after a disappointing start . Read Less
Sail Date: April 2015
This was our first cruise ship experience, and we won't be traveling on Holland America any time soon. At the outset I should note we've got years of travel experience internationally - from our first trip from the US to ... Read More
This was our first cruise ship experience, and we won't be traveling on Holland America any time soon. At the outset I should note we've got years of travel experience internationally - from our first trip from the US to Mainland China in 1984. We're very familiar how the hospitality industry SHOULD work. HAL is the kind of organization that stinks from the head down, with policies and employee attitudes that are clearly reflective of senior management. The first overall issue with HAL is their attitude towards "Customer Service". There is none. We had emails with HAL months before the cruise that guaranteed certain amenities to be provided. One example was the "VIP Package". An in-cabin bottle of wine, flowers, and other amenities that were never received. When we inquired with the front desk about it (including their reviewing the email we received), they refused to act on it saying only "they would need a response from their head office (which of course is closed on US weekends and holidays). I've never heard of customer service people that weren't empowered by management to take action on behalf of the customer. This ship itself is at the end of its useful life. We had plumbing and water issues, elevators stalled for no reason, and huge rusted areas inside the ship were visible when ceiling panels were removed to fix some problem during the cruise. Judging from the long lines at the front desk and other passenger comments, these issues were endemic to many of the passengers. We ourselves experienced all of these issues (on deck 6 in a highly upgraded "Signature Suite" cabin). The Zuiderdam had just left drydock, where apparently the primary concern was building more expensive cabins at the back of the ship. The air conditioning on the ship is useless as well, and complaints about it are routinely ignored. And our decrepit balcony furniture (one chair too unsafe to sit in) showed how inattentive to the ship's maintenance the company is. We are at the younger end of the cruising crowd, and were able to organize non-HAL shore excursions everywhere. In most cases the same experience as those who purchased the HAL excursions, but 2/3 less cost. Sadly however like the airlines, the cruise experience is filled with sneaky tricks that HAL uses to charge you for what you might think is included. One egregious example is the "$50 per day drink package". The fine print on this little gem excludes all branded wine and many beers, as their is a "maximum drink price" of $7 for inclusion in the package. Essentially the passengers who drink lousy beer in the buffet can get hammered, and the upscale passenger in the dining room gets hosed. Get a reduction in the price of the cruise and pass on the drink package is our recommendation. And while the cruise lines will not allow off-ship wine onboard, you can load up on soft drinks at nearly every port at half the price or less. I again note that we've attempted to discuss these issues with the so-called onboard management. They refuse to come out of their offices for ANYONE - we saw passengers angry at minibar charges and other billing errors demand to see a manager and refused. Over the years we've had our share of hotel difficulties, and have never been refused the step of speaking to management, who were almost always able to correct the issue. Much of the staff (mostly indonesian and filipino) were polite and responsive, but did not exude any particular happiness or enthusiasm for their jobs. We had one barman at the Lido Pool deck who never smiled, rarely greeted anyone, and never proffered a hello or thank you. Perhaps someone that should be in the kitchen instead of serving the public directly. The main dining room was very will run, and the food generally interesting and tasty. It's a difficult task to feed some 2000 passengers a cruise dining experience everyday, but we were generally satisfied with their result. The waiters here went the extra mile to ingratiate themselves with the passengers. The portions we found very reasonable size, and we didn't experience the cruise ship "bloat" that many have. Of course with the average cruise ship passenger moving "downscale" from the past, we would guess several hundred preferred the fast-food but all-you-can-eat environment of the Lido Grill (aka "hillbilly") deck. If dining room staff were a little more aggressive in discouraging passengers who don't even own any "smart casual" dress from the dining room, it would be more pleasant for everyone. We don't see the reason that the ship can't have a 7/11 type store onboard for passengers to get bottled soft drinks and other amenities. The bottled water in the rooms was marked at $3.50 a bottle! While the tap water seemed perfectly fine to drink, this seemed another petty attempt to slug us for a few more bucks (and the $3.50 doesn't apply to the drink package!) A nice touch was the short talks about the upcoming ports, and an orientation of what was worthwhile to see and do. This particular cruise was in large part Americans, along with a large number of Australians. While I found these lectures from "K.K." (who apparently is not keen on revealing her actual name) informative, I found some of her political and social commentary distasteful and insensitive - as did others sitting around us. The Zuiderdam is a technology joke, which I would suspect is a major stumbling block for marketing to younger people. The in-house TV system was just crap, with bad pictures on the world's cheapest cabin-installed TV's. And while we had a DVD player included, it wasn't connected properly and the DVD's (get them at the front desk) were mostly scratched, unplayable, and useless. Satellite TV was available and that was fine, but the biggest issue these cruise lines need to face up to is internet access. It's currently an overpriced, gouge-you-for-dollars joke. I routinely ran speed tests on the connection and it was about 1/3 the speed of when I was using an analog MODEM. And at $249 for 10 days of connectivity (which quits after an hour and requires a complex rebooting to restart), someone's getting filthy rich on this gouge. The internet provider Harris Corp claims that HAL isn't providing enough bandwidth for the demand (no kidding), but clearly the bandwidth is available to meet the demand. And it's not like these issues aren't well known - with so many tourists shooting photos on their iPhones, these devices are set to sync to the cloud when connected and most don't know they should or ever CAN disable this feature. The result is a completely unusable system. We understand other cruise companies are doing better (as are the airlines, where I routinely can get an over-the-ocean satellite connection at 2MB+ along with all my fellow passengers). But HAL will drive away potential passengers with this major shortcoming. The internet is no longer a "luxury", but a mainstream requirement. Many of the passengers who were loathe to be raped by HAL for this service on-board could be seen jamming cafes around the ports with their devices, trying to just get a bit of communication. With a few days to go we may have additional comments as we get closer to disembarkation. But we're quite sure we won't be on a Holland America cruise ship again. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2015
This was our first cruise ship experience, and we won't be traveling on Holland America any time soon. At the outset I should note we've got years of travel experience internationally - from our first trip from the US to ... Read More
This was our first cruise ship experience, and we won't be traveling on Holland America any time soon. At the outset I should note we've got years of travel experience internationally - from our first trip from the US to Mainland China in 1984.  We're very familiar how the hospitality industry SHOULD work.  HAL is the kind of organization that stinks from the head down, with policies and employee attitudes that are clearly reflective of senior management. The first overall issue with HAL is their attitude towards "Customer Service".  There is none.  We had emails with HAL months before the cruise that guaranteed certain amenities to be provided.  One example was the "VIP Package".  An in-cabin bottle of wine, flowers, and other amenities that were never received.  When we inquired with the front desk about it (including their reviewing the email we received), they refused to act on it saying only "they would need a response from their head office (which of course is closed on US weekends and holidays).  I've never heard of customer service people that weren't empowered by management to take action on behalf of the customer.     This ship itself is at the end of its useful life.  We had plumbing and water issues, elevators stalled for no reason, and huge rusted areas inside the ship were visible when ceiling panels were removed to fix some problem during the cruise.  Judging from the long lines at the front desk and other passenger comments, these issues were endemic to many of the passengers.  We ourselves experienced all of these issues (on deck 6 in a highly upgraded "Signature Suite" cabin). The Zuiderdam had just left drydock, where apparently the primary concern was building more expensive cabins at the back of the ship.  The captain made a big deal about this "$39M upgrade", but it was largely spent in an attempt to jam MORE suckers into higher-end cabins, instead of items that it is sorely in need of fixing.  The tender boat dock was covered in rust, and the handrail was almost rusted through!   The air conditioning on the ship is useless as well, and complaints about it are routinely ignored.  And our decrepit balcony furniture (one chair too unsafe to sit in) showed how inattentive to the ship's maintenance the company is.  If this is the quality of care and maintenance on the OUTSIDE, VISIBLE part of the ship, what's going on in the kitchens and engine room?? We are at the younger end of the cruising crowd, and were able to organize non-HAL shore excursions everywhere.  In most cases the same experience as those who purchased the HAL excursions, but 2/3 less cost.  Sadly however like the airlines, the cruise experience is filled with sneaky tricks that HAL uses to charge you for what you might think is included.   One egregious example is the "$50 per day drink package".  The fine print on this little gem excludes all branded wine and many beers, as their is a "maximum drink price" of $7 for inclusion in the package.  Essentially the passengers who drink themselves into a stupor on lousy beer at the buffet can get hammered, and the upscale passenger in the dining room gets hosed.  Get a reduction in the price of the cruise and pass on the drink package is our recommendation.  And while the cruise lines will not allow off-ship wine onboard, you can load up on soft drinks at nearly every port at half the price or less. And on arrival into Citvitavececchia, we were told by the destinations specialist (who never would tell anyone her real name) that "there are almost no taxis and the train station is a dangerous walk and not recommended" - all in an attempt to sell us transport into Rome at twice the price of the competition. I again note that we've attempted to discuss these issues with the so-called onboard management.  They refuse to come out of their offices for ANYONE - we saw passengers angry at minibar charges and other billing errors demand to see a manager and refused.  Over the years we've had our share of hotel difficulties, and have never been refused the step of speaking to management, who were almost always able to correct the issue.   Much of the staff (mostly indonesian and filipino) were polite and responsive, but did not exude any particular happiness or enthusiasm for their jobs.  We had one barman at the Lido Pool deck who never smiled, rarely greeted anyone, and never proffered a hello or thank you.  Perhaps someone that should be in the kitchen instead of serving the public directly.   The main dining room was very will run, and the food generally interesting and tasty.  It's a difficult task to feed some 2000 passengers a cruise dining experience everyday, but we were generally satisfied with their result.  The waiters here went the extra mile to ingratiate themselves with the passengers.  The portions we found very reasonable size, and we didn't experience the cruise ship "bloat" that many have.  Of course with the average cruise ship passenger moving "downscale" from the past, we would guess several hundred preferred the fast-food but all-you-can-eat environment of the Lido Grill (aka "hillbilly") deck.  If dining room staff were a little more aggressive in discouraging passengers who don't even own any "smart casual" dress from the dining room, it would be more pleasant for everyone. We don't see the reason that the ship can't have a 7/11 type store onboard for passengers to get bottled soft drinks and other amenities.  The bottled water in the rooms was marked at $3.50 a bottle!  While the tap water seemed perfectly fine to drink, this seemed another petty attempt to slug us for a few more bucks (and the $3.50 doesn't apply to the drink package!) The Zuiderdam is a technology joke, which I would suspect is a major stumbling block for marketing to younger people.  The in-house TV system was just crap, with bad pictures on the world's cheapest cabin-installed TV's.  And while we had a DVD player included, it wasn't connected properly and the DVD's (get them at the front desk) were mostly scratched, unplayable, and useless.  Satellite TV was available and that was fine,  but the biggest issue these cruise lines need to face up to is internet access.  It's currently an overpriced, gouge-you-for-dollars joke.  I routinely ran speed tests on the connection and it was about 1/3 the speed of when I was using an analog MODEM. And at $249 for 10 days of connectivity (which quits after an hour and requires a complex rebooting to restart), someone's getting filthy rich on this gouge.  The internet provider Harris Corp claims that HAL isn't providing enough bandwidth for the demand (no kidding), but clearly the bandwidth is available to meet the demand.  And it's not like these issues aren't well known - with so many tourists shooting photos on their iPhones, these devices are set to sync to the cloud when connected and most don't know they should or ever CAN disable this feature.  The result is a completely unusable system.   We understand other cruise companies are doing better (as are the airlines, where I routinely can get an over-the-ocean satellite connection at 2MB+ along with all my fellow passengers).  But HAL will drive away potential passengers with this major shortcoming.  The internet is no longer a "luxury", but a mainstream requirement.  Many of the passengers who were loathe to be raped by HAL for this service on-board could be seen jamming cafes around the ports with their devices, trying to just get a bit of communication. All in all, we liked the idea of the cruising experience. As people who've driven for weeks around Europe with the incessant check-in, check-out of hotels that such travel requires, it was nice to be based on one location for 11 days. But this isn't the kind of ship we had in mind. Perhaps others are better. We're willing to find out. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2015
We booked our first cruise after selecting the Holland America 22 day Mediterranean / Adriatic option. We paid our deposit in July 2014 and waited with building excitement. That excitement quickly turned to disappointment as our ... Read More
We booked our first cruise after selecting the Holland America 22 day Mediterranean / Adriatic option. We paid our deposit in July 2014 and waited with building excitement. That excitement quickly turned to disappointment as our stateroom experienced several plumbing issues. We had no cold water for the first couple of days and our toilet had intermittent flushing problems. The cold water was turned on by day three but we still experienced the toilet issue. Cabin staff acknowledged the issue and informed us they had passed the problem on but it was only when I put the issue in writing to the office that some meaningful action happened. A ship’s plumber reset the internal pump which solved our problem for a day or two but then we had the same old issues again. Repeated requests drew little help and it was only when I stood my ground at the office that the issue was finally resolved by replacing a faulty internal pump. In all fairness, HAL recognised their problem and credited our account by way of goodwill. I am also grateful to a cruise critic member for his suggestion of writing complaints. Overall the cruise experience was enjoyable, we met plenty of similar couples and joined with them on HAL excursions, internet booked tours and general wandering about. The food was good, well presented and the staff attentive. Cabin service were very good and all staff were welcoming and pleasant. Entertainment was mediocre and internet was often slow and expensive. There are a few issues which could be greatly improved to provide a more enjoyable cruise experience. If you required destination information and separate excursion tour info the only direct option was through large group presentations or queue for one on one desk attention. The presentations were available only a couple of times through each 11 day cruise but were available on the in-house TV channel. There was no interactive access, so if you wanted info on Rhodes for example, you had to wait for the whole presentation to run until your destination came up. The ship had DVDs for use but it was a bit of a raffle if you needed anything specific. We enjoyed our cruise but believe an interactive media centre could make things a whole lot more enjoyable for any traveller. Instant destination info, excursion booking, DVDs, account info, ship data could all be incorporated in one simple interactive device. Let’s face it airlines use this facility to great advantage. Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2015
This was our first-ever cruise, so the Zuiderdam will always be special to us. We did not know what to expect from so many days at sea, but it ended up being the most memorable journey. Embarkation was easy and well-organized and in under ... Read More
This was our first-ever cruise, so the Zuiderdam will always be special to us. We did not know what to expect from so many days at sea, but it ended up being the most memorable journey. Embarkation was easy and well-organized and in under 30 minutes, we were allowed to board the ship. We felt quite young on the ship (both of us 41)--my guess is that average age is 65+, but we soon found out that our fellow passengers seemed to drink and party harder than us. :) Our Verandah cabin on Deck 7 (Rotterdam deck) was larger than we expected. Having a balcony in any hotel room is always awesome but we weren't prepared for the balcony experience while onboard a ship, especially a transatlantic where 8 of the 15 nights were at sea. With a table and 2 chairs, there was still plenty of space and it was extra special to have our own private outdoor area to lounge in, feel the fresh air, and watch the all that water. Our stewards were very sweet and personable and cleaned our stateroom twice per day, leaving us chocolates and a new animal towel in the evening. We tried dining alone and with other passengers during the journey, and had good times commingling and hearing stories from other cruisers. (Some telling us we were brave for taking a Transatlantic as our very first cruise experience) Formal dining service was impeccable, menus were well thought out, and the food was generally delicious. The food at the Lido was also good, our only gripe was that the lemonade ran out too quickly everyday. Our favorite activity was simply walking around and discovering different areas of the ship. The pool area was large with many places to relax. The movie theater was a bit small, but they played current titles. Hamish was our cruise director and his “WOO-HOO” after every announcement was strange at first, but something we ended up looking forward to every morning. Overall, we had a fantastic time onboard the Zuiderdam. It’s a beautiful ship with plenty of space, not once did we feel like it was too crowded. The staff did their best to make sure everyone was having a good time and the daily newsletter delivered at night helped you plan out the following day. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2014
Just finished our cruise and omg, it was an amazing ship! We embarked from Port Everglades and I have never in my life been without internet access that long, but that's the point of a cruise, right? To experience it all? We did! We ... Read More
Just finished our cruise and omg, it was an amazing ship! We embarked from Port Everglades and I have never in my life been without internet access that long, but that's the point of a cruise, right? To experience it all? We did! We started our trip staying at the Quality Inn & Suites Airport/Cruise Port South. This is key: THEY HAVE A FREE AIRPORT SHUTTLE AAAAAAAAAND A FREE CRUISE SHUTTLE! Well, at least FROM/TO the airport and TO the cruise. It's $10ea to get a shuttle back to the hotel from the cruise port, which isn't bad. The rooms were musty smelling, but overall nice-ish. The chairs had stains and the bathroom floor left much to be desired, but the curtain is curved, so at least it doesn't touch you. Wish the cruise one was curved! Also, gotta love the sign telling you to not steal the towels, they are inventoried. You get what you pay for spending $99 a night, but it's next door to the Oakwood Plaza where we got a bunch of last minute stuff. That strip mall has a LOT. Getting on the ship early is key! I was expecting to queue for hours....we got on the shuttle from the hotel at 10:30. They ask you to tell them the night before you need a ride and they ask you what ship/day and they assign you a time. They have a huge mini bus that takes passengers to cruise port, because they attach a mini UHaul looking thing to the back to store everyone's luggage. We were at the cruise terminal 15 mins later. You can have your luggage checked from the curb and put on the ship or, if like us, your luggage is small enough to go through the airport scanner looking thing, you can bring it on the ship yourself. We only had a duffle bag each, so this is what we did. HAL lets you bring ONE 750ml bottle of wine or champagne for EACH person (assuming 2 ppl per room), no hard liquor or beer on the first night. The Dollar Star in the plaza next door sells CHEAP wine, $4/10 that people were going crazy over because it's GOOD cheap wine, so we bought 2 bottles on board and had to sadly toss the half drank chardonnay at the scanner. You can also bring booze you buy on board and they hold it until the night before for free...or you pay an $18per bottle corkage fee. We got our alcohol back the last night. From there you have to go through HAL front desk to get your room key, show passport etc in a terminal meets a hotel front desk. They give you a cruise group number in line to get to this and after you check-in, you sit and wait to be called to take escalator up to get on ship. Total time between getting off of shuttle and on to the ship? Maybe 20mins. Then again, we were also SUPER early. Our number was in the teens to get on. Other passengers told me their wait to just be called was like 45 mins. Anywho, they make you scan your card and sanitize your hands to get on the ship. All of the crew were very friendly all of the time, even when you knew they wanted to smack you or the person treating them rudely. They were all genuinely nice to me, because I wasn't rude to them. Then again, like I said, even the people I wanted to harm FOR them for being so rude were treated calmly and politely on this trip. We carried our own luggage on and the stewards meet you all along the way and at the elevators to direct you to your room on the first day. This was helpful and nice. Our room was right in the middle of the ship and close to the elevators. Score! It was an HH Obstructed View room, which just meant the lifeboar was RIGHT outside your window. We came in and checked out our room. Plenty of space to put your items for a long or short trip. They give you a daily tri folded itinerary. This ship uses a LOT of paper. They need to automate it somehow and make it a channel,too, to save on paper! We dropped our stuff off and went exploring....ie....to get food. O.M.G...as a first time cruiser, we decided to forgo paying for meals, so we stuck to Lido dining on 9 and once or twice the Vista Dining Room on 3 for our meals. Vista for dinner on the majority of nights was formal or semi formal. One guy declined wearing a jacket. Seriously? They give you one if you don't have it. He had a sweater and slacks and said no, so they declined him entering. You could have taken the jacket off at the table. We did Vista Dining once for lunch and once for dinner and just did Lido all other times. Lido is come as you are all the time and is open ALL the time, so we started our journey there and spent all of our time there for the most part. They have Asian, deli, bistro, ice cream, drinks and salad bar. Each table is pretty much ocean view. One side of each station is always open, both sides are during lunch and dinner. We never made it to breakfast and never utilized the free room service. If we wanted to eat, we could go ourselves. It was useful if you were doing shore excursions and wanted to sleep in, but even then, they slipped us notices the night before port saying it would be better to just go upstairs to the dining, since so many would use room service. We ate A LOT. Soda is not included in meals, so we stuck to water, iced tea and lemonade. It was a nice change. Other than at the salad bar, they serve the food to you and the wait wasn't really that long, even when there was a line. Why they individually heat up pasta in skillet at the salad bar is mind boggling. Do you know how much time that delays? It saves on freshness, though. So they don't waste. The variety of food reminded me of my college. Pizza, pasta, ice cream, meat, salads, sandwiches. It was 4.75/5, only because of the whole pasta delay. But yes, the food was great. The BB King All Stars were great entertainment on the ship in the Queen's Lounge and once in the Vista Lounge/main stage. There were also Zuiderdam singers and dancers, but the BB King people made the trip SO much better. We were never bored on the trip. We slept a lot, ate a lot and just sat on the deck a lot watching the world go by. Deck 3 has chairs everywhere and up on 10, the observation deck. We noticed that is NOT the case with the other ships we saw. Celebrity X gives everyone their own veranda with 2 chairs and you could walk between them! The deck everyone uses had like 2 sets of chairs. How un-inviting. We thought we had a big ship, until other ships like Celebrity, Norweigan and the Disney one made ours look like a tugboat. Even with 1900+ passengers, it never felt that way. It sure wasn't loud on the ship. It was peaceful the majority of the time. Like our own huge private yacht. The staff were great. Always polite and never cross. Hamish the cruise director was a riot. I liked that he seems to like his job. Allegra was another story. The "free" jewelry she is hawking at you to get is just costume jewelry in each port. Beware. Yes, this cruise is said to have an older crowd and sometimes it was like walking behind dinosaurs because people are so slow, but when I'm that age, would I want someone to treat me this way simply for being alive? Heck, the passengers who were older were the life of the ship! Dancing and participating in the events. I had a great time. I even had lunch one day with an older gentleman when we were docked in St. Martin/Marteen who just decided to sit at my table while I was off getting lunch, because he said he lost his wife, but we were at sea, she'd show up eventually. I came back to my table that had my bag at it and I was like "hello, how are you?" Did I expect to see him at my booth? Nope. But hey, we were at sea. Live in the moment. I was able to wave at him when I saw him on the ship on other days, same as the couples who sat at our table when we ate in the Vista Lounge. Being friendly is key on this cruise. Strangers talked to us all the time, simply because we made eye contact. We went to Grand Turk, San Juan, St. Martin/Marteen and Half Moon Cay on this holiday cruise. We were in each port just long enough to not wear out the welcome. I spent a lot of $ in ports, but it was well worth it. The ship also gives you sturdy navy and beige booksized totes with their logo and name on it. It screams I'M A TOURIST while in port. I cared before the first port, at all the following ones, at least one of us carried ours. It was raining on day 2 when we got to the first port of Grand Turk, but 20 mins later it stopped and was sunny skies ALL day. Make SURE to call your bank to tell them you will be out of the country, so when you use your card in different ports, you won't get locked out at the first attempt. I called my bank and gave a heads up a month before the trip in case I forgot. I had to tell them every port and which days I'd be there. The front desk also lets you use their courtesy phone to call your bank or card company for free, as my family member had to do on day one. I shut off my cell's data, roaming and backround data while still in FL and put it on airplane mode JUST to be sure. The ship has it's own time that may not match your own, but you can always turn to the "where are we?" map channel that has the date, time, ship location and temperature. If you have a magnetic wallet, don't keep your room key in it. I demagnetized mine TWICE before having to keep it in the separate padded insert you get at check-in. At the end of the trip, you still have to go through customs. That was the longest line we were in the whole trip. Because we again, carried our own stuff, we got expedited disembarkation. It took us about half an hour to get off the ship and wait in the customs line. The ship was going SUPER fast home, because we were back in FL by like 6:15a and that was even including the 90 mins we moored off the coast of Half Moon Cay as they tried to locate two passengers the day before. We were at the airport by 9:30a, which sucked, because I booked a LATE AFTERNOON flight, thinking it would have taken longer. This included stopping at the post office at 8a and waiting an hour for it to open. The ship was not rocky at all. So if that is what they were like WITHOUT the stabilizers, well gee, wonder what it is like WITH them. Don't get me wrong, you FELT the up and down, up and down, up and down when in the front of the ship in the Crows Nest, Vista Lounge or observation deck, but only there. I definitely will cruise with HAL again. For a holiday cruise, the price was great, less than $500 and that included the upgrade to HH. I only got the room around Thanksgiving....so it was a steal. Thumbs up!   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: May 2014
My husband and I took the Holland America Land & Sea Journey on the Zuiderdam. We flew to Anchorage where we were met at the airport for transport to the Westmark Anchorage for the start of the Land portion of our trip. It was the ... Read More
My husband and I took the Holland America Land & Sea Journey on the Zuiderdam. We flew to Anchorage where we were met at the airport for transport to the Westmark Anchorage for the start of the Land portion of our trip. It was the first trip of the season so that may have accounted for the disorganization the next morning as we were taken by bus to Holland America's own domed rail cars for the trip to Denali. The train ride was great -- so many miles of forest and beautiful scenery! McKinley Chalet's are where you stay and they are OK but clean. The only drawback on the land portion was your luggage had to be outside your room door each morning of travel by around 6:30 am. That means you have be up and ready by then or you have to carry anything you use to get ready with around with you the rest of the day. All the hotels you stay at are Westmarks or the McKinley. They are all clean but I would only call the Fairbanks & Dawson one's attractive (both in very different ways). We stayed 2 nights in Denali. The wilderness tour was taken on the full day there. We saw numerous caribou, several moose, ptarmigan, a Dall sheep (a dot on the mountain). Some on our group also saw a lynx. Every where we went on buses, they made plenty of stops so we didn't get tired of sitting. From Denali, was took a bus to Fairbanks. It was only a couple of hours trip and there was beauty out all the windows so well worth the time. The next morning we took a plane from Fairbanks to Dawson, Yukon, Canada. (You might want to verify with you cell provider whether you will have service in Alaska and Canada.) We personally loved the little town of Dawson. Only one street is paved and most of the buildings look like they were built a 100 years ago. On our way out of town the next AM, there was a cute little red fox that ran alongside our bus for a little bit. Then about 10-20 miles outside of town, there was a black bear sitting up against a telephone pole watching our bus go by. By the time the driver was able to get back to it, it had taken off so we didn't get photos but had a great initial viewing of it. My husband was really dreading that 9-hour bus trip between Dawson and Whitehorse. But he even admitted it wasn't bad. The bus was comfortable, they made frequent short stops, and there was just so much to see. And the morning after Whitehorse, we rode the old narrow-gauge railroad down into Skagway where we got onto the ship. Little did I know we had already spent the best part of our trip on land. I didn't really think about the fact that we weren't going to spend very much time in each town we visited because there simply wasn't time. But we are still glad we took the Land portion because we did get to see so much more of Alaska that way. Oh, and the shore excursion Husky Homestead Tour was the best. Not only do you get to hold and pet young Alaska husky puppies but 4X Iditarod champion, Jeff King, gives a informative and entertaining presentation about preparing for and running various sled dog races. It was one of the highlights of our trip. We joined the ship in Skagway and things from there were rather a disappointment,. This was our first cruise so maybe I expected too much but all the full-color glossy brochures made me believe we were going to experience the trip of a lifetime. I just thought it was going to be a good thing. The cabin was fine even if you feel like you are meeting yourself coming and going. The hallways to the cabins were dreary. The buffet was staffed by people that English was their second language and quite a few of them made no effort to speak clearly. We never knew what we were going to get because we literally could not understand 1/2 of what they said. And you are charged $11.50 per day per person to give those that wouldn't make an effort to be understood gratuities for service! There were plenty that made the effort to be understood, gave very good service and were polite and pleasant., But not nearly enough of them. Oh, and as for the great quantities of delicious food -- think again. Sizzler has a better salad bar, there was a strange flavor to most of what we got, and the wonderful, enticing desserts were nonexistent. We paid just a little extra one night to dine in the Italian restaurant and only 1 of the 3 items we got was good. I lost over 4 pounds in our 11 days!!!! Side note, every meal we got on the land portion of our trip was good. Unless you like to have people staring at you while swimming and enjoying the spas, I wouldn't plan on using either during the afternoon. There was a Mexican Fiesta buffet set up all around the pool area so you would have quite an audience while trying to swim. I was expecting some serious luxury in at least a few common areas. It wasn't bad but there definitely wasn't any soaring ceilings or graceful stairways. There were glass elevators from which you could see the ocean or land. The colors were primary and bright. We felt that almost everything on the ship was about separating you from your money. We even had to pay over $3.00 a bottle for water in our cabin. I guess the bottom line is I was expecting to be treated really well and I felt we were just treated like cattle and that they expected us to pay well for the treatment! 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
Sail Date: July 2013
This is our first cruise so I will primarily focus on the things that a first time cruiser can contribute. Our party of 6 (1 senior, 2 adults and 3 kids) booked three verandah stateroom on deck 4 (Upper Promenade). They were far forward ... Read More
This is our first cruise so I will primarily focus on the things that a first time cruiser can contribute. Our party of 6 (1 senior, 2 adults and 3 kids) booked three verandah stateroom on deck 4 (Upper Promenade). They were far forward (4001, 4003 and 4004) and similar except in one respect. Cabin 4001 was quite a bit noisier than the other cabins as it was right next to a forward crew area. Additionally, the balcony did not have a forward awning to break the wind. That was good for the view and not so great for comfort. Also, we did not find out until late in the cruise that the balconies of adjacent rooms could be opened. That would have been nice to know. The reason we found out about this was because the lock on our stateroom broke such that we were unable to open our stateroom on the last full day of the cruise. We had been having periodic issues with our keycards to all the staterooms but this was a real inconvenience on our last day. This was the only aspect of the cruise that was not well handled by Holland America and, coincidentally, occurred right after we finished the guest satisfaction survey. Key problems seemed to be a recurring problem with a number of passengers on the ship. The primary reason we picked this cruise over other options on Princess and HAL was the opportunity to visit both Tracy Arm and Glacier Bay as well as see the inside passage via Vancouver. In hindsight, we certainly would not have wanted to miss any of these aspects. The service call at Tracy Arm where we directly boarded the catamaran to Tracy Arm went smoothly. When we boarded the catamaran it was raining and foggy. If we could have cancelled the trip I would have strongly considered doing so since it looked like we were not going to be able to see anything. Good thing I didn't because the scenery was nothing short of incredible. Once we got back into the arm where it narrows we were greeted with more waterfalls than I can remember falling off sheer granite cliffs into a milky green bay full of colorful icebergs. For Lord of the Rings fans it looked a lot like Rivendell. The small catamaran maneuvered right next to a number of waterfalls allowing numerous picture taking opportunities. At the end of the fjord, we turned up toward Sawyer Glacier (South Sawyer was too icy) and pulled fairly close to this beautiful tidewater gem. There was some calving and still numerous waterfalls coming off the steep granite walls. The comparison John Muir made to Yosemite is quite apt. Upon returning to meet the cruise ship in Juneau we grabbed a quick bite and grabbed a shuttle to Mendenhall Glacier with a stop at the fish hatchery. It was fun and beautiful but a little overpriced. The next day found us in Skagway where we rented a van from Avis and drove to Emerald Lake in the Yukon. This was a nice drive and a nice day with a mix of sun and a little rain. The kids enjoyed our stop at Caribou Crossing and the sand dunes at Carcross. The next day in Glacier Bay was the highlight in a trip with a lot of highlights. We lucked out and had beautiful weather which undoubtedly greatly added to the experience. I awoke at 5:45 to experience the whole thing. The scenery was so unbelievably beautiful that tears came to my eyes on several occasions. Admittedly, I am more of a sucker for scenery than most but suffice it to say it could not have been more spectacular to my eye. The unbelievable colors, tidewater glaciers, high glaciated mountains and wildlife combined into a feast for the eyes. Kudos go to the captain for taking us up John Hopkins Inlet in addition to Tarr Inlet with Marjorie Glacier because it was wonderful. I do not believe the Princess ship that visited Glacier Bay that day made it up Johns Hopkins Inlet so big kudos to HAL (and Captain Turner). Most of the whales were concentrated near the beginning of the bay and there were numerous pods of humpbacks feeding, breaching, etc. as we left. We then headed out to open ocean around Prince of Wales Island to head to Ketchikan. The scenery heading out to the open ocean was also quite a site. The next day found us in Ketchikan where we had chartered a boat for an afternoon of Salmon fishing. We all had great fun with Jordan Box of Jordan Box’s Fishing Adventures. He picked us right up from the dock, was great with the kids, and worked hard to help us catch fish. We caught quite a few Salmon (kept 9, released or lost at least that many) and a few rockfish in our 4 hour charter. I have been fishing in Ketchikan previously so this was the shore excursion of choice for us. On board, I will politely say that we do not see eye to eye with many of the styling choices in the interior of the ship. The Lido restaurant was particularly bad and a place where we ended up spending a lot of time. The long cramped stateroom hallways were a bit of a downer and it seemed like the carpet didn’t match the walls, which didn’t match the faux artwork etc. I guess our taste is more sedate (boring) but we really enjoyed all the outdoor areas and the Crow’s Nest/Explorations Café. The staff was, almost without exception, wonderful and friendly but we are not high maintenance people. Our room steward in particular stood out as did a number of the wait staff. We had open seating for dinner and ate in the Vista Dining Room most nights. The only time we experienced any wait at all was the last night when they told us to come back ½ hour later and sit with the late seating upstairs. I know Holland America has a good reputation for food but it was better than I expected—often really good, sometimes excellent. It has to be hard serving that many people at the same time but they pulled it off about as well as could be expected. We enjoyed the two shows we attended (comedian and magician) and took in a few movies in the screening room. My youngest enjoyed the kids club the few times he attended. My older two kids were a little too shy to fully embrace the teen’s club and only went a time or two. We spent a lot of time on the sports deck which seemed to be badly in need of a little maintenance on the netting, equipment as well as some new balls. It seems like HAL could spring for a few more family/kid friendly facilities (i.e. foosball tables, more ping pong tables, video game machines that do not require you to be in the kid’s club etc.). Overall, we had a great time and very pleased with the choices we made. I was a reluctant cruiser as I don’t like to be around a lot of people but that rarely proved to be much of a problem. I am sure we will cruise again in the future and would definitely give HAL strong consideration.   Read Less
Sail Date: June 2013
My wife, Leslie, and I had our first cruise On the Zuiderdam. I will give you a short review WE HAD THE TIME OF OUR LIVES.This was our first cruise and so we had researched cruise lines carefully. After a very long day of air travel full ... Read More
My wife, Leslie, and I had our first cruise On the Zuiderdam. I will give you a short review WE HAD THE TIME OF OUR LIVES.This was our first cruise and so we had researched cruise lines carefully. After a very long day of air travel full of delays we reached Vancouver and checked into the Pan Pacific hotel. We had a nice late afternoon and evening in Gastown. Up early the next morning we had hoped to tour other parts of Vancouver but the weather had different plans for us so we just went to check in at Canada Place in the hopes our suite might be ready early. Our first Holland America employee was a friendly and helpful lady who directed us to luggage drop off and on to the customs line. The place was packed already and I felt sorry for passengers of the Princess line as there was no one around to help them yet. Our next Holland America employee was Iann and he was a funny and most helpful fellow. He explained the process and delays we should expect from customs and when we might finally board the ship. The process was exactly as he described and while not timely was much better than our air travel had been. Too bad air travel and customs is not under your direction.After clearing customs the Holland America cheek in process was pleasant and quiet efficient. Promptly at 11:30 we began to board and we were delighted to find our suite (7081) ready, immaculate and much bigger than the pictures online.Happy, smiling crew at every turn greeted us. I found in the room cards showing all of the extras we had purchased with the exception of one dinner at The Canaletto. I headed down to the Neptune Lounge to sort it out. I was greeted by Mina who apologized profusely but assured me our reservations were confirmed. Mina never failed to greet me or my wife by name, was always happy, cheerful and most helpful the entire cruise. The Neptune Lounge was always immaculate and filled with scrumptious treats. While my wife and I still enjoy vibrant health I was quiet impressed with the way your staff handled the needs of the mobility impaired. Bayu and Sodiq were our suite attendants and kept our suite immaculate, they always greeted us by name and unfortunately did not fit in our suitcases for the trip home. I had no need to ever speak with the hotel manager but his stewardship was evident everywhere. The ship was immaculate 24/7. A mess was doomed before it hit the ground. Everywhere we turned someone was polishing, scrubbing or cleaning. Always happy and cheerful!The food, wine and bar service was divine in every location on the ship. I am equally comfortable in shorts and a tee shirt as I am in a Tux. We enjoyed both. The staff did an excellent job of providing service to all. I really appreciate how they kept those of us that wanted a sophisticated evening away from those that wanted to dress down.There are far too many wonderful servers to name but the rock stars are Handrie (Hank), Nina, Roel and in the Pinnacle Grill Sam the Maitre D, wine steward Ben and Zoran our waiter.We were delighted and honored to be invited to dine with Captain Christopher Turner at his table. Executive Chef Obierna, Cellar Master Levente and Dining Room Manager Wiyono presented the perfect evening. Captain Turner was a very pleasant and gentle man but it was evident he ran a tight ship. His staff officers were out and about the ship constantly. I recall an instance where a lady spilled her plate going back to her cabin and a staff officer stopped, alerted passengers to the spill, called for a cleaning crew and did not leave until the spill was cleaned. This is the kind of attention to detail that come from ones heart. These kinds of things are learned by example from ones superiors. These are the little things that separate exceptional from mediocre. Read Less
Sail Date: June 2013
Alaska - Zuiderdam - June 29th to July 6th 2013 This was my very first cruise and accompanied by my daughter. My husband was not interested in coming to somewhere with no beach!! Our original booking was for the first week of June, but ... Read More
Alaska - Zuiderdam - June 29th to July 6th 2013 This was my very first cruise and accompanied by my daughter. My husband was not interested in coming to somewhere with no beach!! Our original booking was for the first week of June, but because of changing work commitments my daughter could not make it. So glad I took the cancellation insurance. We easily rebooked with a small penalty. This time however we had to take a guarantee for a VH - so glad we did as we were upgraded to a VB (6140). Our anticipation grew each day as we awaited the day of our departure from Montreal. I was constantly on-line looking at reviews, comments etc. about the ship and itinerary. I pre booked two shore excursions (more on that later). I also, as a surprise for my daughter, pre ordered a wine package (3 bottles), bon voyage package (sparkling wine and balloons) and a bon voyage bouquet. At last the day to leave Montreal arrived. We flew to Vancouver and stayed the night at the Blue Horizon Hotel which was an excellent location for walking around and an excellent price. Day of embarkation arrived. We arrived a little early (we thought) at the terminal, but were not the first to. I was very impressed with the organization of the whole process of checking in. From exit from our taxi our luggage was whisked away to miraculously reappear a few hours later in our stateroom. After having picture taken and receiving the "all you need" on board card/room key, we patiently waited 20 minutes to board. Our stateroom was ready and everything I had pre-ordered was already there. Our steward Bagus came to introduce himself and my request for an extension cord for my CPAP machine arrived within 20 mins. Our stateroom 6140 was comfortable although a little cramped, but perfectly adequate for one week. After dropping our hand luggage we went to the Lido Buffet for lunch as this was all that was open until dinner time. This was our first and last visit to the buffet as we preferred the Vista (main dining room) and we also had two meals in the Pinnacle. All but one morning we had room service for breakfast. The food on board was TRULY AMAZING, with only one disappointing dinner in the Vista (surf and turf) the lobster tail was good but the sauce on the steak was not to my liking, but hey what was one meal out of so many. After dinner on the first evening we settled down in the Crows nest to enjoy the view and a fabulous sunset, only to be disturbed by the fire alarm. The Captain quickly explained that a fire had been detected in one of the life boats. A battery pack had apparently malfunctioned and started a fire. The lifeboat had to be lowered to deck 3 so that the crew could put out the fire and remove the battery pack. Those who were assigned this lifeboat (10) we given new lifeboat assignments. We could still smell the smoke on our balcony after returning to our stateroom, and all passengers on that side of the ship were advised not to open their balcony doors until morning. The Crow's nest was our favourite place on the ship to relax during the day and in the evening listening to the guitarist and having a glass of wine. Our first day of sailing was very overcast and foggy, but enjoyed the day in the Crows Nest drinking coffee and enjoying the eerie effect of the fog and mountains and seeing many whales. Juneau - low cloud and frequent downpours for the whole day, but we still enjoyed our tour of the Glacier Gardens and the Mendenhall Glacier. At first we thought we would not see the Glacier because of the fog, but after watching a video presentation in the visitors information center, we discovered that the fog had lifted and we had about a ten minute window to take pictures before the fog rolled back in again. Skagway - a quaint town of 800 residents. We did not do a tour here but enjoyed walking around the town and had a great lunch, returned to the ship early afternoon for a quick nap. Glacier Bay - another low cloud, foggy start to the day, but nevertheless the highlight of the cruise. The bow of the ship (deck 4) was opened for this day so that is where we stationed ourselves, appropriately dressed for a wet cold day. We were rewarded by witnessing the Glacier "calving" , a spectacular sight. On the way out of the bay and in the Icy straights we saw sea otters, sea lions, puffins and more whales. After leaving Icy Straights we entered the Pacific to begin sailing south again and back to Ketchikan. Unfortunately the seas were quite rough and my daughter had her first sea sickness attach, so it was a good dose of Gravol and an early night. Ketchikan - Arrived in bright sunshine and had a wonderful walk around the town, watching the 4th of July parade and a lunch of Dungeness Crab before taking a tour to Saxman Native village where we were treated to a short video of their history, a show of their native dance and an visit to the Totem Pole carving center and viewing the totem pole collection. A very enjoyable day. Last day sailing - saw all the scenery that we missed on our first night as we were sleeping. Overall this was an excellent first cruise and it will not be my last. Holland America's standard of service, organization etc. was outstanding!!   Read Less
Sail Date: July 2012
After a 13 hour flight from New Zealand , we arrived in Vancouver and checked into the Century 21 Plaza and Spa , very surprised to be offered a complimentary upgrade to the 26th floor and an executive suite--accepted with pleasure ! Easy ... Read More
After a 13 hour flight from New Zealand , we arrived in Vancouver and checked into the Century 21 Plaza and Spa , very surprised to be offered a complimentary upgrade to the 26th floor and an executive suite--accepted with pleasure ! Easy commute next morning to the terminal and then the 2 hour process began-- kind of expected that because we were heading into American territory and us 'outsiders' get quite a 'grilling' !! Once on board we found our room -- felt a little claustraphobic at first , but soon got over that,after we went navigating the ship ( with our map )-- maybe a GPS would have been handy , as we were forever taking the wrong way !! We felt the room was very clean and having 2 wardrobes was great while the colour scheme is not to every ones liking , wasnt that unbearable -- the bathroom and shower was in top condition - was surprised at the pressure the shower had - better than some motels we had stayed at in the past . We had 3 meals at the main dining room where we 'open seated ' -- the meals , service and fellow diners were excellent. Rest of the cruise we ate at the Lido -- was busy at times , but always found a seat ,as people came and left -- was impressed with the selection of food and once again the staff there were excellent, very friendly and always willing to have a chat.Surprised at a previous comment about staff eating at the same time -- we never ever came across this. Spent many evenings on the Crows nest deck where we enjoyed the wonderful Gary Lithgow -- he has the most amazing voice and was beautiful to listen to. We went to many shows and seminars and honestly , we loved them all , even the Trivia !! We had booked out day excursions prior to the cruise and we enjoyed those too -- At Juneau we did the cycle to the Glacier and Brewery visit-- the cycle is a very easy ride .. Skagway , went to the Jewell Gardens , where we sampled tomato soup , scones and Rhubard bars ,made with ingredients from this beautiful organic garden-- In the afternoon we went on the Brothel and Ghost tour of the town -- that was a real highlight , the young lady who was our guide was great , there is so much history in this town -- In Ketchikan , my hubby went on the Crab feast tour and he was in 7TH heaven -- he ate so may crabs , he didnt want any dinner that night !!I went on the Bear tour -- was a little disappointed here , as we had about a 2 hr lecture on rain forests and 2 minutes looking for the bears !! -- when we finally found the bears , we had to hurry as time was running out !! While I do appreciate the rain forest and the importance -- it was the Bears I had come to see. We thought the cruise was fantastic -- all the staff we came across ,whether they were in the lounge , dining room, cabin area or just cleaning the furniture -- all very friendly and spoke to us -- On the down side -- disappointed the Coffee Lata machine was out of action for about 3 days ,as it was the only one on board. The Gym had quite a lot of broken equipment -- this was not a good look -- also the bikes had no seats -- dont know what this was all about !!! If you are going for a massage -- BEWARE - mention what you want -- I suffered for 5 days !! after a session on my knotted shoulders !! We loved getting back to our cabin at night to find an animal made out of Towells by the cabin crew -- that was so cool. I was apprehensive about cruising , never done anything like this before , as I dont really like boats -- However hubby and I both loved the cruise experience and would reccommend it -- the scenery and glaciers truely unbelievable --was just magic , watching the Whales Read Less
Sail Date: May 2012
Thank you to the cruise critic community for encouraging me to go, I still cannot believe that the 'travel agents' thought this would not be a fun cruise for us because of our ages. Room: (SA) It started out that we got ... Read More
Thank you to the cruise critic community for encouraging me to go, I still cannot believe that the 'travel agents' thought this would not be a fun cruise for us because of our ages. Room: (SA) It started out that we got bumped from SC to SA, I'm not so sure how big of a bump that is. The room was clean and the furniture was a bit tired but still comfortable. Lots of closet space. Having the balcony at glacier bay was awesome we made a fort out there with pillows and blankets so we could see over the rail. In room dining-all the time. Both a perfect storm and Titanic were on the movie list- hilarious. Toilet broke for about an hour it was on permaflush, far superior to the alternative. Food: At the Pinnacle we really enjoyed the 'Cirque' night and the Indonesian lunch, was nice to have breakfast there. Don't order the 'shoestring fries' they are nothing of the sort, other than that it was great. They had some problems with service on the cirque night but it was just really full and they were overloaded. Loved in room dining, everything was somehow always the right temperature, the salads may have been a little warm but not to a point that I stopped ordering them. Italian place was fun, dining room was a little chaotic for me so we ordered in. Neptune: We were there a lot, our room was close by. My husband has a thing for pate and canapes, he was truly happy. I ate all of the chocolates, though I'm not a big fan of the rice crispy one they should stick to the bark. There is a possibility I have gained weight. The concierges were fantastic, I may not have enjoyed the cruise nearly as much if I did not have them. Seriously, if you can spring for the suite. It was worth it to have an uncrouded area to relax in that's not your room. Ports: So some of the ports didn't really do it for us, but that's okay. I didn't understand that every town in Alaska had no less than 25 jewelry stores, I love jewelry as much as the next girl but this was overkill. I also didn't understand that there would be no less than 3 cruise ships in every port at all times. Ketchikan: We walked around and it was cute. DO NOT BUY the fish and chips on the dock. Expensive and REALLY disgusting. Nightlife: We danced to the bands for a while there were a few other couples who did the same, we do appreciate ballroom and try our best. I think it was the band at the ocean bar that we really loved, the pianist had a great voice. There were some really lovely dancers (passengers) to watch on the boat. I stopped into one of the musical performances and was not to impressed but I had been to a great opera company the week before we left so expectations were too high. Did a couple of the events and they were fun, we particularly appreciated the group dance lessons. My husband enjoyed some poker in the casino, yes it does clear out by about midnight but Alaska is a great place to get up early. We did party the last night "Rock it until we dock it" how could we resist? Lot's of old standards which were fun, the twist and Mustang Sally and such.... The DJ played us some top 40 around 1am and we had a drunk guy come in and dance which was fun. But we were alone in the Northern Lights nightclub but it didn't bother us. Spa: Here is where my grievances lay. I'm upset that the ladies locker room was not frequently picked up, especially on 'sea days' when everyone was there. I don't expect every 10 minutes but I am annoyed when I go into a changing room and find someone else's robe and towels strewn about. This may be more of a grievance with the passengers. We bought the spa pass and enjoyed the thermal suite. I love a steam room. Large Jacuzzi was nice but you have to hit it at the right times because it's not as pleasant when it's crowded. Met some people in the thermal suite who wanted to talk politics with me, was not pleasant then they were in there all the time... my luck, not relaxing but what can you do? Spa specials were nice and they were able to accommodate me almost immediately but the changing area really annoyed me and the 'spa shoes' were terrible- bring your flip flops. Gluten: I am one of those gluten sensitive people, almost celiac. The chefs and crew really went out of their way to help me out. Thanks for that. Overall we loved this vacation, we will cruise again. Thanks CruiseCritic! Read Less
Sail Date: February 2012
I was pleasantly surprised at the organization of 1900+ passengers in little time. The staff was very pleasant, and remained so during our entire trip. The staff was constantly cleaning SOMETHING - even taking dental floss to the ... Read More
I was pleasantly surprised at the organization of 1900+ passengers in little time. The staff was very pleasant, and remained so during our entire trip. The staff was constantly cleaning SOMETHING - even taking dental floss to the handrails to get in the tiny areas. Only had one issue - the refrigerator. It didn't work for the first six days. We called the first two, then started visiting the front desk. Finally a mechanic showed up that did not speak any English (the only thing he did was turn down our room thermostat to the coldest setting ?!?). We finally went down to the front desk again and asked to speak to a manager (which we had to ask several times before the clerk got the hint). The manager spoke English very well - and was quite upset with the way our case had been handled (although we had been calling, it wasn't considered a 'complaint' - huh ? We wouldn't call to tell you it's working, have a nice day). The non-English speaking mechanic came back again within 2 hours and replaced the refrigerator with a working one. Problem solved - and should have been handled the FRIST day, not the SIXTH. And yes, he turned down our room thermostat to freezing again. The food - prepare yourself for a feast ! The food is delicious, wonderful and non-stop. I didn't have one bad meal. My husband only complained of one - and that was a burger that seemed to be of the frozen variety at the grill. Everything else seemed to be super fresh. The spa/gym - we took advantage of a special they offered, and it was great (for me at least) - my masseuse was friendly, my husband's was not. We also couldn't get into the sauna due to too many other guests using it at the time. I took advantage of the gym - only TWO elliptical machines ? PLEASE ! I DID use the arc trainer & they worked well, as no matter WHAT time I went - I could never get one of the ellipticals (even at 6AM open). Entertainment - take advantage of the specials & shows for a laugh ! Island Magic is fantastic (Steel Drum band) Charlie Jourdan (acoustic guitar) various comedy shows. Also the theatre is nice for a movie (it IS small - go early !) the chairs are HUGE and overstuffed. Excursions - very nice ! All were well organized & professional (that WE were on - we did hear of some that DIDN'T go well) We especially liked Half Moon Cay & Curacao. Read Less
Sail Date: September 2011
We did a deal with our friends from New York. They would take the transcontinental train from Toronto to Vancouver with us, and then we would all take a cruise to Alaska. This would be our first cruise, as I have been prone to seasickness ... Read More
We did a deal with our friends from New York. They would take the transcontinental train from Toronto to Vancouver with us, and then we would all take a cruise to Alaska. This would be our first cruise, as I have been prone to seasickness when on water. However, I armed myself with some Transderm anti-nausea patches, and off we went. The train trip, BTW, was a wonderful old-fashioned experience on mid-20th century equipment, good food, excellent service. We arrived in Vancouver and headed straight to embarkation. Although this is perforce a tiresome business, it was organised efficiently as we cleared in turn US immigration and then the ship boarding process. The ship, as others have commented, is somewhat garish in design, however our stateroom was pleasant, and the verandah was lovely to have. Even as we headed north and it got cooler I was happy to sit out there admiring the amazing scenery, snuggled under the rug thoughtfully provided. The staff are uniformly pleasant and obliging. The regular menu was excellent, and my husband was happy to be able to enjoy a good steak every night. We considered trying the Pinnacle one night but never got around to it. The entertainment - the song and dance kids were OK, the magician was excellent and entertaining, and the comedian was good. I sat in on several of the Microsoft classes offered, otherwise we did not try any of the myriad daytime possibilities offered. My major unhappiness was with the amount of what I can only call huckstering going on. Someone always seemed to be trying to sell us something, whether it was an overpriced wine tasting, hot chocolate that apparently could only be had if you bought a souvenir to drink it in. Frankly, it seemed unworthy of a line of Holland America's stature. Of course, it may go on on all the cruise lines - I don't know. The one blandishment I did fall for, and was very pleased with, was the special dropped off as a flyer with the day's activities - a special package at the spa. Flyers I have no problem with. However, there seemed to be a lot of people on the ship who needed to make a living selling extras. I did feel somewhat gypped with the coupon booklet I received because of some early booking deal or other. Supposedly worth $400, it only offered nibbles off some fairly pricey stuff. The one coupon I expected to use, offering free gold earrings if I spent over $500 on fine jewellery, I was not permitted to use. Despite spending nearly $600 on a lovely amber and silver bracelet, I was told that did not quality as fine, it should have been precious stones. I do not see why - money is money, isn't it? Or does this just signify the markup on diamonds is much higher so they can afford the special? Overall, we enjoyed our cruise - the scenery is spectacular, and pausing in front of the Margarie glacier LISTENING TO IT as it popped and banged and crunched was worth the whole trip. One more complaint. My husband ordered and bought the DVD, supposedly a souvenir of the cruise. It opens very well, with lots of shots of people boarding,and sailing away under the Lion's Gate bridge. Then the rest of it is basically capers by the staff, with a couple of brief shots of the captain on the bridge. Where was Juneau, Ketchikan, Skagway, the magnificent Glacier Bay? This could easily have been provided with stock footage too - although they do have the last 'day at sea' to put the DVD together. I have complained to Holland America. Read Less
Sail Date: September 2011
I booked this cruise for myself and my 23 year old daughter on the spur of a moment, however, after reading reviews and postings on CC's discussion boards I wondered whether I'd made a big and costly mistake. I read about ... Read More
I booked this cruise for myself and my 23 year old daughter on the spur of a moment, however, after reading reviews and postings on CC's discussion boards I wondered whether I'd made a big and costly mistake. I read about staterooms reeking of smoke, tired and worn furniture, billing problems...the list of negatives went on and on. My 23 year old daughter was also a bit apprehensive about the whole 'cruising' experience - not only does she get motion sickness but she was concerned that she'd be surrounded by "old people"! The experience that we had on the Zuiderdam 10th -17th September, however, turned out to be the highlight of our almost 6 weeks long Canada/US holiday - we thoroughly enjoyed every bit of our Inside Passage cruise. Check in and embarkation The first thing that struck me, when we got to Canada Place, was the amount of Australian and UK accents that we heard (we're English born but after 21 years in Australia we only hold Australian passports and speak with an Aussie accent!); I saw at least 3 different tour group names that I recognised (we were independent travellers not part of a tour group). The second thing that struck me was that, as these tour groups seemed to consist of relatively recent and youngish retirees, the average age of the passengers on the Zuiderdam seemed to 60ish, which was a decade younger than I'd imagined and also much fitter than I'd envisaged. The embarkation process was pretty much as I'd expected; a reasonably steady pace through security border security and check in - my only negative comment here would be the very insistent porter who not only grabbed our suitcases and bags as soon as our taxi driver deposited them on the ground but also made it very clear that he expected a tip - "I will take care of your bags" he repeated at least three times whilst my daughter and I were still paying the taxi driver! We got a lovely surprise after check in when realised we'd been upgraded from our partially obstructed ocean view state room (4112) to a verandah state room (4050) (I'd ticked the 'upgrade' box when I booked). When we checked in I wasn't immediately aware that we'd been given a verandah state room as I didn't have my glasses on and the woman who checked us in just said it looked as though we'd been upgraded from a partially obstructed to a full ocean view. It wasn't until we sat down, whilst waiting to board, and I put my glasses on to look at the deck plan in order to check the location of the room that I realised that we'd been allocated a verandah stateroom with cabins above us and meeting rooms below us. The stateroom Obviously as we'd been relocated last minute our beds had not been split - that was fixed later on in the day by Rudi and Anwar our lovely and efficient stewards. I have no complaints about the room - it was clean, we had a balcony, it was quiet and the beds were lovely and comfortable. Our cabin stewards did a wonderful job tidying and cleaning the room considering that my daughter and I had a huge amount of luggage and my daughter is incredibly messy! There was no smell of cigarette smoke in the room or in the corridor near to us - there was the occasional smell of cigarette smoke (and weed - I'm assuming medicinal use!) whilst we were on the balcony but I can't say it bothered us. Dining I have celiac disease so food is a big concern for me when travelling. I give the Zuiderdam 10/10 in this respect - they were marvellous at catering for my needs. I did as CC boards suggested and requested the maximum amount of gluten free foods that HAL offer, I also took on board various snack bars, rice crackers, savoury biscuits and my favourite breakfast cereal. When travelling I try to eat as I would at home which is quite healthily and minimally. I had breakfast at the Lido every morning - the Zuiderdam had fruit juices, plain, natural yogurt and plenty of fruit available to accompany my cereal. I also ate lunch at the Lido every day - I could make up a salad from the individual items at the salad bar, dress it with balsamic vinegar and to that I added a bowl of plain boiled rice - there was cheese and eggs available for protein. On Juneau day we had a late excursion so I decided to have a heavier lunch in case we were back late and so the Lido pizza and pasta bar were able to make me a vegetarian gluten free pizza. Dinner - we ate 5 out of the 7 nights at the Pinnacle Grill and the other 2 nights at the Lido. The Pinnacle Grill staff was fantastic - they offered me gluten free bread every night, most of the menu is gluten free anyway but the chef is willing to make changes if necessary - however we had the signature skewers the first night and loved them so much that we had them every night that we ate there (one seafood and one lamb which we shared)! For the appetiser I had the Seafood platter 2 nights, the Beefsteak tomato salad one night, the Baby Arugula salad one night and the Shrimp cocktail one night. For dessert I had sorbet one night and the divine crème brulee on the other nights when I could actually manage to eat dessert! We ate dinner in the Lido on Juneau night because of the late excursion - I had a small bowl of rice and stir fry vegetables. We also ate at the Lido on Glacier Bay night - the Le Cirque menu offered at the Pinnacle that night didn't look appealing to me or my daughter (I would have eaten at the Pinnacle if the regular menu had been available) so we had an early dinner at the Lido - I had the salmon, boiled potatoes and vegetables. The service at the Pinnacle Grill was exceptionally good - I don't like sitting for hours in restaurants waiting for ages between courses and I don't like eating late, so to be able to get in and out of the restaurant quickly was really good - we had 6pm or 6.30pm reservations at the Pinnacle. The service at the Lido was also good I chose to eat there early, when I could, not only because it reduced the risk of gluten contamination of foods but it was also less busy. We didn't go to the Vista restaurant once so I can't comment on it. Entertainment/bars We liked the Crow's Nest bar and Explorer's Cafe and listened to Chris Toler (he was pretty good) most evenings after we'd been to dinner - the only negative comment I have is that on most nights the Crow's nest bar was partitioned off from 9pm for private functions for one tour group or another - that's when we left and went to our stateroom, we may have stayed later if that hadn't happened. We didn't go to any shows in the Vista Lounge or Queen's Lounge - they're not 'our thing' so I can't comment on them. Excursions We did HAL excursions at all 3 ports. Juneau - Alaska's Whales & Rain Forest Trails, Skagway - Chilkoot Trail Hiking & Rafting and Ketchikan - Bering Sea Crab Fisherman's Tour. All three were excellent and I thought they were value for money - however our favourite was the Chilkoot Trail Hiking and Rafting. We also looked around Juneau very briefly and picked up some soaps from the Glacier smoothies shop. At Skagway we had a bit more time for shopping, photos and ambling around. And at Ketchikan we did the self-guided walking tour, we particularly liked Creek Street and the Totem Heritage Centre. Spa and Salon. Both my daughter and I visited the spa - I went twice and my daughter 3 times. I had the hot stones massage, the special 20-20-20 - mini facial, sea-weed wrap and back and shoulder massage. I also had my hair shampooed and blow dried at the salon. My daughter had a manicure, the hot stones massage and a deep cleansing facial. Neither of us have ever had any spa treatments before however Christina, who did both of my spa treatments, made me feel very comfortable and did not use too much pressure when massaging me - I really loved the facial. I bought a couple of products however I actually asked for products for specific areas that I was interested in rather than being sold products that I didn't really want. My daughter loved her manicure and facial and also bought skin care products specific for her skin type which she's finding are very effective. We both scheduled our treatments for sea days which was a really good time to fit them in on this port intensive itinerary . General overview We loved the whole experience. Whilst the furniture and fittings on the ship are showing some very minor signs of wear and tear, the ship, however, was clean - I think maybe the most noticeable thing was a leak from the ceiling in the Lido - however, this did not affect our enjoyment at all. The crew are fantastic and hardworking - I have nothing but praise for them. I had no billing problems - however our pre-booked "gift vouchers" to the Pinnacle Grill and for our on board credit and also our Shore Excursion tickets went astray (probably because of the late state room change) - that was all sorted out quickly and efficiently by the front office. We were fortunate to have, what I consider, to be good weather for the majority of the cruise so we were able to go a good way into Tracy Arm and had a fantastic journey into Glacier Bay. The scenery was amazing ...icebergs floating in the water...glaciers calving - it was an unforgettable trip. So, all in all, we had a wonderful cruise - the negative aspects were very, very minimal and in no way detracted from our enjoyment. The only thing my daughter suggested would have enhanced her trip would have been a vending machine for snack foods! Read Less
Sail Date: August 2011
Second time on Holland America. 10 times on Princess. 8 Carnival. 3 RC. We choose this cruise for the itinerary (7 day inside passage, in/out of Vancouver, and Glacier Bay). Colleagues recommended against HAL as perceived not kid friendly. ... Read More
Second time on Holland America. 10 times on Princess. 8 Carnival. 3 RC. We choose this cruise for the itinerary (7 day inside passage, in/out of Vancouver, and Glacier Bay). Colleagues recommended against HAL as perceived not kid friendly. HAL assured us that summer Alaska would have families on board, but agreed that other sailing not good for kids. HAL rep even said that they warn clients to expect kids on summer Alaska routes. Very smooth and efficient boarding in Vancouver and staterooms were ready at 1130 am. We were very impressed. As returning guests we were invited to dinning room for lunch. First impression of overall appearance was so so. Carpets and tiles need to be cleaned or replaced in many areas. Not very fancy interior. I'm sure it was nice in 2002, but I think the only upgrade since were flat screen stateroom televisions. We had open seating, but requested the same table and time every night. Dining room service was slow, slow, and slow. Perhaps assigned seating was better. We had one waiter and never saw an assistant waiter as on all other cruises. Very bland menu and poor quality steaks and food often cold. Kids menu very poor. Would not recommend this line for families. On three occasions, our food sat out for 15 minutes while we waited. Carnival menu and food quality was at least twice as good, and Princess and RC were both better quality than Carnival. On positive dining note, we ate at Pinnacle Grill and had a lively dinner. If we ever take HAL again, we would pay the $20 every night as the service and food quality is worth it. Show quality was poor compared to all other lines. Magician was good, but unfortunately hawked his magic kit (which he sold after show and in gift shop) throughout show which was unprofessional and annoying. Inside passage and ports were great, but we will travel on a more kid friendly line with better service next time. On positive note, ship never appeared overcrowded, we could always get deck chair, and most passengers were asleep by 11. Casino was usually quiet. Once again, very efficient disembarkment in Vancouver. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2011
We had a great time on Zuiderdam..Deluxe Verandah..wish we had upgraded to a suite. Well traveled 45 yo couple with 11 yo daughter. Pros: we had a 8pm set dining in Vista..service and food was great-table on window..bliss! our cabin was ... Read More
We had a great time on Zuiderdam..Deluxe Verandah..wish we had upgraded to a suite. Well traveled 45 yo couple with 11 yo daughter. Pros: we had a 8pm set dining in Vista..service and food was great-table on window..bliss! our cabin was very clean and our stewards were always available to help, did the $49 all week laundry and press..came back within 24 hours, ate at Caneletto one night..fab, booked spa on ship-they have a ton of specials daily so not worth to purchase before..Flo gave a great full body and facial! brought wine & champagne on board but corked in room..wine and beer prices were fair,kids club was really great..daughter spent maybe 8-10 hours the whole trip..the gals that facilitate are really fun and she met some other kids..the Ranger program was great and they had fun things at night. Did Yukon Tour in Skagway (decent but should be shorter and $30 cheaper) and used Alaska Seaplanes in Ketchikan on our own for great float plane ride. Choc Xtravaganza worth staying up for! Great free culinary and lectures to attend..my husband took daughter to magic show but we did no other shows..spent time in steamer chairs on Observation Deck and in Explorers Lounge when you could find a chair. Husband retired Naval Officer so he did the tour of ship w/ Captain-was worth $150..Weather was cold and misty almost every day in Alaska but didn't stop us from sightseeing-just would have been amazing to see it in the sunshine! Had room service twice for breakfast and Vista downstairs for breakfast is good. High tea is a must! 1700 passengers we never felt like the place was crowded..until we saw the Lido! Cons: Lido...we are not big buffet eaters..the food was fresh ad plentiful but the crowds were amazing..it was the most crowded place on the ship..and it is not pretty to see how people eat and grab at food like they never ate before. We ate in the Lido maybe 5 times during the week..always avoiding peak times..so we slept in and would go around 10-1030am and always would sit outside near the pool (weather permitting). We ate lunch around 230-3..really good salad bar. Never had dinner there..it reminded me of Vegas. As expected average age was 60+ and it seems alot have the early seating for dinner. Everyone we met were nice..a few rude people but that is to be expected. All the service and help was great-they were friendly and always had a smile on their face. All in all it was a great trip..scenery is beautiful..Tracy Arm, Sawyer Glacier, Mendenhall, Glacier Bay...layer up, put the waterproof jacket on and breath fresh air..the last frontier is impressive! Read Less
Sail Date: June 2011
As a first time cruiser I was not prepared for the ordeal of embarkation. We sat for what seemed hours, marshalled onto lines of cheap plastic chairs. American security didn'timprove the experience either! First impressions of ... Read More
As a first time cruiser I was not prepared for the ordeal of embarkation. We sat for what seemed hours, marshalled onto lines of cheap plastic chairs. American security didn'timprove the experience either! First impressions of stateroom were not bad, just much smaller than the Holland America website led us to believe. We were told that lunch was being served in the Lido Restaurant. What a bunfight!! There was nowhere to sit and the place had been completely taken over by two large tour parties who had clearly been given early embarkation and were not moving anywhere.... we demanded a member of staff find us a table which you daren't leave to get food because it wouldn't be there when you got back. One of us had to go to the salad bar and choose enough for two of us. The restaurant was crowded, noisy and chaotic. We never ate there again apart from one night when we got back late from an excurion. Most food stations were closed and I was treated to cold lasagne. We quickly became aware that the ship was dominated by two enormous parties, one of which was a group of hundreds of Harley Davidson afficiendos. I have written to Holland America and asked them to justify this booking. They took their "up yours" philosophy around the ship with them, dominating bars and paying no heed to any dress code. On formal night they were to be seen in the Pinnacle Bar in biking leathers and all manner of inappropriate gear. At least the ship segregated them at dinner to the upper level of the Vista dining room. The Vista dining room was an altogether better experience with a friendly and winning staff, especially the supervisors. We had booked the Pinnacle Grill for 3 dinners during our stay and were not let down until our last night there when some bright spark thought it would be a good idea to allow a large party to hold a birthday party for an 8 year old. How that child avoided a mass beating from the other customers I do not know! We requested a change of table, but our evening (and our food) were ruined. We were not the only party to make a formal complaint about this as the evening was supposed to be "Le Cirque" with "intimate and sophisticated" dining. Excurions from the boat were magnificent and the sailing into Tracey Arm an almost spiritual experience. We did rafting, whale watching and a floatplane ride: all highly recommended. They don't come cheap, but hey, it's only money. Will we cruise again? Probably not and certainly not with Holland America. Read Less
Sail Date: June 2011
First time cruisers. Was surprised there were no surprises as far as cruising goes. The ship's common areas were impressive and looked as though had been refurbished recently. But when you got to the cabin there was a distinct ... Read More
First time cruisers. Was surprised there were no surprises as far as cruising goes. The ship's common areas were impressive and looked as though had been refurbished recently. But when you got to the cabin there was a distinct impression of a long distance ferry. The furniture was worn and presumably dated back to when the ship was built - 2002. Not having experienced a cruise ship before, we were unsure the basic look and small size of the cabin was maybe usual. The meals and the entertainment were the upside of the trip. Unlike some reviewer's comments of food on this ship, we found all meals were exceptional. The Pinnacle chargeable diner ($20 per head) was the best restaurant I'd probably ever been to. A sort of Ivy at sea! A small criticism (HAL take note) was that the coffee waiters needed some training. It was amusing to us that they'd volunteer to top-up one person's coffee but ignore 3 other empty cups at the table. This happened so often. The entertainment was amazingly professional. I wouldn't have been disappointed if we'd paid up-town show prices for similar. The shore excursions went well and no complaints there except... when we got to Juneau a few other ships had beaten us there. This meant we had to anchor in the bay and we were amazed we had to undergo a "lifeboat drill" and be ferried ashore in tatty lifeboats. Very unprofessional! also as each boat only held a few, there were annoying queues. We appreciated the need to be ferried, but surely there must have been decent large launches in the area that could have been employed? - was this HAL price cutting? In conclusion, we had picked this cruise line as it was marginally cheaper than their competitors. Therefore taking into account; you get what you pay for, I think in all, this trip can be recommended - if there is still a price advantage. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2011
BACKGROUND This cruise was a part of our three-week trip to the Pacific Northwest, beginning with a couple of days in Vancouver, then the cruise roundtrip to Alaska and lastly a road trip over the Rockies, ending in Calgary. The whole ... Read More
BACKGROUND This cruise was a part of our three-week trip to the Pacific Northwest, beginning with a couple of days in Vancouver, then the cruise roundtrip to Alaska and lastly a road trip over the Rockies, ending in Calgary. The whole trip was arranged and booked by ourselves and via the internet. TRAVEL TO PORT We live in northern Europe and started our trip by flying with British Airways from Copenhagen to Vancouver via London. We arranged the flights ourselves. HOTEL Before the cruise we stayed a couple of nights at the L'Hermitage Hotel in Vancouver. The hotel had beautiful rooms, great amenities and excellent service. We stayed in a 'Petite Boutique Room'. We arranged the hotel ourselves. EMBARKATION We took a taxi from the hotel to the port, the porters took care of the luggage and everything was very smooth. We arrived at 12pm. It took approximately an hour to board, immigration was slow since almost 600 passengers were non-American nor Canadian (mostly Australians). SHIP We chose HAL because we wanted smaller ships and an elegant and quiet experience on board. Zuiderdam looked great, especially the exterior appearance which is ship-like, with dark blue hull and the linear/striped appearance of the smoke-glassed balconies. We really liked the teak decks and spent a lot of time viewing the scenery and strolling on the promenade deck. The interior is somewhat over the top regarding colors, textiles etc and has too many design elements. Everything was however clean and well-maintained. STATEROOM We had a VE Deluxe Verandah cabin. The cabin was excellent in size, the balcony was somewhat small. An advantage with a balcony cabin is that you get better views from inside the cabin through the floor to ceiling glass doors and through the glass balcony railing. On the morning of our first sea-day we could see Orcas and Dall's Porpoises from our balcony, which was amazing! It was nice to have seating area inside by the balcony door with views outside and a separating curtain to shield of the bed from the seating area. The bed was very comfortable. The bathroom was adequate in size but had a bland decor. DINING We chose open seating. We had three dinners in the main dining room, including both formal nights. We had rented formal wear, which simplified things a lot. We also had afternoon tea twice in the MDR. We tried lunch once in the Pinnacle grill. All other meals (incl breakfasts) we had in the Lido. We mostly chose the Lido because we're not too fond of long dinners and because it felt easier to view and select between the different choices available. It's also easier to choose side dishes etc in the Lido. Breakfast and lunch can be very crowded in the Lido, dinner was never a problem. However the MDR was great for meeting people, typically we would walk in and ask for a table for four and then meet new companions. Larger tables became too noisy and the dinner would take too long. The food quality was excellent, we especially liked the breakfast options in the Lido. We never tried room service. ACTIVITIES We mostly strolled on the promenade deck or sat on our balcony and viewed the scenery, or rested in the cabin. We had 3 & 1/2 sea-days, which was peaceful. We tried very few activities: the galley tour was fun, a wildlife lecture was informative and also a cooking demonstration. We were not interested in shopping talks, bingo etc. SERVICE Really all of the staff were very friendly and helpful all of the time, they would smile and greet you wherever you saw them. Some officers seemed indifferent however. ENTERTAINMENT We enjoyed the classical music of the Adagio strings, however they had a somewhat popularized and narrow repertoire. We watched three shows in the Vista lounge, the magician was great and we liked the 'Stage & Screen' show. PORT EXCURSIONS We arranged our own excursions. The best were renting a car and driving up the Klondike highway from Skagway and visiting Mendenhall Glacier in Juneau. See also the port reviews below. Disembarkation Disembarkation was very smooth and quick, a lot faster than embarkation. SUMMARY All-in-all a great first cruise that has spoiled us! We don't know if we will dare to try another cruise line since HAL fits us nearly perfectly... Read Less
Sail Date: October 2010
This was a 3 generation family cruise. Mom and I have been on 5 cruises each. She has been on P and O, Celebrity and River Cruises on The Danube and Rhine and I have been on Royal Caribbean, Celebrity, and Norwegian. It was the 1st cruise ... Read More
This was a 3 generation family cruise. Mom and I have been on 5 cruises each. She has been on P and O, Celebrity and River Cruises on The Danube and Rhine and I have been on Royal Caribbean, Celebrity, and Norwegian. It was the 1st cruise for my daughter. I always book based on the itinerary and my vacation time from work. We chose Holland America this time for the "senior" aspect for Mom. Well, at 82, even Mom felt that this was "too senior" for her! Pre-cruise hotel: Hilton Ft. Lauderdale Beach Resort. This was a highlight of the trip. We stayed here for 4 days in an ocean-front condo. It was gorgeous, spacious, bright, and had a huge balcony and fully equipped kitchen. I have been at a few Hilton Hotels but this far outshone the others. The service in the hotel and dining room was impeccable. Embarkation: As suite guests we were processed as soon as we arrived. However, the lady who checked us in was a little confused. She got our passport numbers, pictures and other info mixed up to the point that she was getting frustrated. She finally said she had it straightened out but when we boarded the ship the steward checking our IDs started to laugh. My picture was on my mother's card and visa versa! Ship: I was prepared for the age and dEcor of the ship based on the other reviews. I think the best description was "a comfortable old shoe". Of all the ships we have been on, this was the most outdated, worn and garish in dEcor. Having said that, it was immaculately clean. Cabin: This was a plus. The suite was spacious and had plenty of storage for 3 of us. We had a wraparound aft balcony which was awesome. We ate a few meals there and, since the weather was generally very good we spent a number of hours reading and enjoying the scenery or the wake. Our cabin steward, Dadang, was fantastic, sweet, and unintrusive. Staff: All fabulous! Not one complaint. Dining: The Lido was generally good. I would say it was better than the other cruises I have been on in that it had more variety and prepared-as-you-wish dishes such as pasta, eggs and grilled sandwiches. The dining room had mostly good, but some mediocre, meals. We tried The Pinnacle Grill three times. The first time the food was stellar. The 2nd time...not so much! While the service and ambiance was wonderful on both occasions, the difference in the food may have had something to do with our choices. We all had beef or lamb the 1st night and fish the 2nd night. Coming from a part of Canada where fish is a main staple, we know our fish! This was dry, overcooked and tasteless. The third time was the Indonesian lunch with the Captain. While the food was good, the service was impeccable and the servers wore gorgeous traditional dress. A pleasant surprise was Canaletto, the Italian restaurant. We thoroughly enjoyed the food and service and would highly recommend it for a casual dining experience. Entertainment: We went to a couple of shows and thought they were ok. I have been to more memorable ones on other lines. Spa: We spent some time on a sea day having some treatments at the spa. This was a pleasant, expensive experience! The staff was professional and I got a great haircut from a young gentleman from Hungary. (This was very daring for me but I was desperate and it really paid off!) Excursions: Half Moon Cay. This was a day at the beach. The tendering was slow and tedious. We had a clamshell and I did the bike tour. The area is quite beautiful! Aruba: I had booked a tour with "Pitaruba" from reviews on CC. Nice guy, good guide and reasonably priced. We toured for 2 hours and then, based on the concierge's advice that Aruba was the best place for shopping, we spent an hour poking around stores where we felt overpowered by salespeople. Curacao: This, on the other hand, was wonderful. We didn't book anything, again based on the concierge's advice, and almost didn't get off the ship! What a mistake that would have been! We walked around, found a wonderful jewelry shop, bought a couple of things, had lunch at a gorgeous waterfront restaurant and generally loved everything! Panama Canal: This is everything you would expect. It is an experience we will never forget. My daughter and I did the Embera Indian Village. It was a great excursion, interesting and memorable---especially the beautiful, sweet children! Costa Rica: This also was very interesting. My daughter and I did the Zipline excursion and this was a highlight. Also, the countryside and the people were beautiful. We would definitely come back to see more of the country. Note: The main problem I had with the excursions is the fact that, with all the elderly people (many with various handicaps) there were very few, and in some cases, no excursions that catered to them. My mother, who is otherwise a healthy, active person has limited mobility because of an ankle problem and uses a cane. The concierge told us that there really wasn't anything in Panama or Costa Rica that would be suitable for her because of the strenuous nature or length of tour so she stayed on the ship. While she had no complaints, she would have liked to have been able to take part in some shore activities in these 2 ports. Overall, we had a very good time and met some very interesting people. My daughter was happy to have experienced her 1st cruise but would definitely choose something newer, more lively and age-appropriate next time. I was glad to have tried HAL for the 1st time but would definitely choose something newer, more lively and age-appropriate next time! Mom enjoyed the experience but, whatever about the age demographic and condition of the ship, would have liked to have had more shore excursion options. Read Less
Sail Date: September 2010
Our first ever cruise on an ocean liner - we picked Zuiderdam and it was a beautiful ship. Tried reading all about cruising on websites but didn't find one of DOs and DONTs. Many reviews of course would concentrate on the DOs. So let ... Read More
Our first ever cruise on an ocean liner - we picked Zuiderdam and it was a beautiful ship. Tried reading all about cruising on websites but didn't find one of DOs and DONTs. Many reviews of course would concentrate on the DOs. So let me just tell you that the best thing about the whole cruise is the destination. Alaska is sublime - a throw-back to the wild west, an uncut diamond and a super destination for your brand new digital camera - assuming you have bought one with a 200X zoom for wildlife. Otherwise that whale or seal or sea otter is just going to be a speck on a grey ocean. Calving glaciers are fascinating too - it's like seeing the evidence of global warming right in front of your eyes - how much more can the planet take?! I asked myself as yet another piece of ice thunders into the ocean. However watching it through those perspex plastic sheets (for safety) isn't fun. It's like watching a movie in a cinema. So some of us climbed onto the railings and peered over the perspex - only to have the ship security insisting that we get down. But like naughty schoolboys, the moment their backs were turned, we're up again - hey, we paid for our cruise didn't we? We're entitled to some reality TV for God's sakes. It doesn't get better than this - watching glaciers calf. By the end of our 7 days cruise, my eyes just about needed glasses ( had perfect vision before) cos of the endless hours of looking at the ocean from our "money well spent" room with a balcony - waiting for a breeching whale (that the other half saw but my back was turned). Last but not least, don't fall for those onboard ART AUCTIONS unless you have lots of money to throw away. We were lured by the US$100 discount voucher, the arty farty ambience and I did like a very sensual piece which I thought might look good on my wall back home. SO like an idiot, I bid - but no one else did - so I won it. British American Auctions didn't tell me I could ship it without a frame and they sweetened the deal with another piece of art absolutely free -so I ended up paying US$432 for both and shipping...which was a lot more than what I really wanted to pay - but never mind, I convinced myself that I still liked the first one. Three months after arriving home and not having received the two pieces of art I paid for, I started getting worried. My emails to BAA were unanswered, my web search came up with horrendous stories of scams, my pleas to HAL came to polite replies such as "We'll forward your emails to BAA", blah, blah, but not taking any responsibilities themselves...I was beginning to tear my hair out (whatever's left on my head that is). Anyway, they did finally come - and the paintings are on my wall - and I still liked it but would I do it again? NEVER!!!! 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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