The Zuiderdam has been receiving a bum rap lately. Based on my recent Holiday cruise, the old girl deserved a better grade than some recent cruisers had given her. Sure, the old girl's makeup needed a few touch-ups here and there, and ... Read More
The Zuiderdam has been receiving a bum rap lately. Based on my recent Holiday cruise, the old girl deserved a better grade than some recent cruisers had given her. Sure, the old girl's makeup needed a few touch-ups here and there, and if you had come aboard with a negative attitude to find fault with everything, you could find a few faults, but you would be nitpicking from my point of view. I had read most of the recent reviews about the Zuiderdam and had a limited concern I may have booked on the wrong ship. I had sailed on the Zuiderdam back in January 2003, and remembered how great it looked when it was fairly new. However, I stepped aboard the Zuiderdam on December 23, 2010 for a 10-day cruise with a positive attitude to have a good time and enjoy what cruising is all about. I would not be disappointed.
After dropping our luggage off at curbside, I parked the car at about 12:50, and within an hour we had moved through a short boarding line, even though the ship was fully booked, had checked in, and we were in our cabin. Once in the cabin, it was spotless, the cabin steward, Rudy, stopped by to introduce himself and inquire if we needed anything to make our stay more enjoyable. High marks for Rudy, and his partner, Diding, whom together, gave us excellent cabin service each day. We had booked a superior cabin on the Navigation deck, mid-ship and we were not disappointed in the cabin or the location. The balcony was large, with a table and two chairs for outside dining and two lounge chairs with ottomans for napping and reading. However, I think my next cruise on a HAL ship; I will book a deluxe cabin, just for the step-up in the onboard amenities. By two o'clock we walked the one deck up to the Lido for lunch. I was impressed with the selections and service. My first selection was soup, wow, it was great, and too, the sliced rye bread I had the server put on my plate. Next I had a salad, giving that high marks too. The soups served each day were wonderful in taste and each day the selections were different. The breads and pastries served each day were always good. After enjoying our lunch, and a quick walkabout to scout out the dancing locations, we returned to the cabin, it was 3:30, and our luggage was arriving within two minutes. Now that was quick luggage service.
Once the ship passed the sea marker at Ft. Lauderdale, the ship started its rocking and rolling when it traveled through the choppy Gulf Stream waters. The motion got the best of my shipmate, and I had to go to the front desk and get some sea calm medicine. We had to pass on dinner in the dining room that first night at sea. When Bev felt better we went to the Lido for a bite to eat, however, the cafeteria line had closed by that time. But once a Lido supervisor found out Bev had been sick, but feeling better, and needed something to eat, he made it a point to find some food for her. High marks for the Lido crew.
We had breakfast and lunch each day in the Lido, and each day the soups were great, the food choices numerous, including a good daily choice of sushi items. Whatever we had, tasted great. We also had dinner twice in the Lido area, also receiving high marks for service, selections and taste. We had dinner one night in the Canaletto, a separate dining area in the Lido during the evening meal, by reservations only and at no extra charge. The Canaletto served mostly Italian specialty dishes, with lots of garlic. Again, high marks for the Canaletto for service and food.
On New Year's Eve, which was a formal dress night, we had dinner reservations for the Pinnacle Grill, the ship's specialty restaurant, reservations only, including a surcharge for the dining experience. The meal, served tableside, was excellent, and the ambiance of the room enhanced the special evening. The ship had a gala New Year's Eve party in the Vista Lounge, with dancing and plenty of champagne being served by the ship's crew. I was in the casino at midnight, and champagne was being served in that room also. As it was a Holiday cruise, the ship had four formal nights during the 10-day cruise.
On a formal night in the dining room, it was Christmas dinner night, a couple joined our table, and the guy was wearing a T-shirt and a baseball cap. Leaving the baseball cap on his head during the entire time he sat at the table. I really think wearing baseball caps should be forbidden in the dining room during the evening meal, especially on formal dining nights.
We enjoyed dancing in the Ocean Bar during happy hour, prior to going to dinner. The ship had a happy hour drink price each night, at different bar locations, where the second drink is only one buck. Good deal, however, happy hour was usually just that, for one hour on the special drink prices. The house band played in the Queen's Lounge on a few evenings, the lounge has a good sized dance floor, but the floor was extremely slippery for kick-up-your-heels dancing.
The ship had a good-time BBQ party on the Lido pool deck one night, with the band playing some good dance music. It was a perfect night for outdoor dining and dancing. We sat with a couple who traveled to Marco Island, FL each year for their wedding anniversary. I had lived on Marco for 16-years, so I gave them a list of fun places to dine and dance when next on Marco Island.
The Captain held a brunch during the cruise for the Mariners club members; it was an excellent meal with good wine served during the meal. I was seated next to a lady who had lived in an area just outside Washington, DC, named Cabin John, Maryland, and nearby Glen Echo Heights, places where I had lived for a short time when a young boy. (Late 1930s) It was great fun to chat with the elder lady about places and things we had both enjoyed in the Washington area, and too, the old Glen Echo amusement park. Small world and all that.
We spent time in the casino each evening, and during the day when the ship was at sea. You can use your room card key to charge your house account when playing the slots. Be careful doing that. I lost track as to how much I was charging to my house account and was somewhat surprised as to the final casino charge on my bill. However, it was a fun game, but lady luck was not with me on this cruise.
In summary, go aboard the Zuiderdam with a positive attitude and you will have a great time, and too, meet new friends and reminisce about the good old days. You will always find a few passengers on board who complain about everything, and a few passengers who have special status, or so they think, and ship rules do not apply to them. Ignoring the dress code for the evening, not wearing shoes or cover-ups when going into the Lido for food in dripping swim suits. The crew kept the ship clean at all times. Would I cruise again on the Zuiderdam, yes would be the answer. Read Less