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: December 2013
RATINGS (out of 10): Stateroom 'VA' veranda - 8 Ship condition - 9 Staff - 10 Food quantity/variety - 9 Food quality - 6 Itinerary - 10 Grand Turk catamaran/snorkel - 7 San Juan PR strolling - 7 St. Martin Orient Bay ... Read More
RATINGS (out of 10): Stateroom 'VA' veranda - 8 Ship condition - 9 Staff - 10 Food quantity/variety - 9 Food quality - 6 Itinerary - 10 Grand Turk catamaran/snorkel - 7 San Juan PR strolling - 7 St. Martin Orient Bay Beach - 6 Half Moon Cay - 10 Entertainment - 7 Spa Massage - 1 (one) Gym - 9 Poolside - 6 COMMENTS 1. My wife enjoyed her couples massage, but I felt that my masseuse was untrained. She did not work the muscles, but merely smoothed oil gently over my skin. She hardly touched my neck, which was the #1 area of stress/tension that I told her about. She asked if I wanted hot stones, but failed to mention the $20 extra charge. At the end, the up-marketing began in earnest, as they tried to sell many expensive oils and cremes. When it was all said and done, I felt like I had been ripped off. I've had far better massages for $50-60. 2. I would compare the food to a Golden Corral: Lots of quantity and variety, but the quality is only so-so. Best items were breakfast and the poolside french fries. Not what you could call gourmet. 3. The ship's regular entertainers were only mediocre, but the BB King band had some real talent. Each of the 6 band members held their own individually and as a group, and the 2 singers were outstanding. They will be on the ship until March 2014. I only wish they had actually played blues like BB King, rather than "Rhythm &" Blues. 4. The snorkeling would have been far better if they had done it in 10 feet of water instead of 30-40 ft. And it was about twice too expensive. 5. Fabled Orient beach is small, dirty and trashy. But at least you could get 6 Coronas for only $10. 6. By contrast the beach at Half Moon Cay was gorgeous: super clean, soft lovely sand, good swimming area, BBQ, etc. The clamshell umbrella was a good deal. 7. This was Christmas week, and they tried, but it sure didn't seem like Christmas. More like a "Happy Gingerbread House Holiday." 8. The staff were very friendly, helpful and hard-working. The service was excellent, albeit slow in the main dining room. But they were practically running non-stop, so no lack of effort... just a massive undertaking to serve so many people. BOTTOM LINE Enjoyable and relaxing, maybe an 8.5 score. But we're not sure we'll cruise again soon... will have to weigh cost & convenience vs. a land trip. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: December 2012
- I sure hope HAL reads these reviews. - Thanks to all who post here and on Boards Of all the cruises we have ever taken, the Zuiderdam was lowest in our estimation. - BEWARE of Cabins 1083 and 1085 We were shocked that there was an ... Read More
- I sure hope HAL reads these reviews. - Thanks to all who post here and on Boards Of all the cruises we have ever taken, the Zuiderdam was lowest in our estimation. - BEWARE of Cabins 1083 and 1085 We were shocked that there was an unidentified noise underneath these cabins - like a chain being dragged. The vibrations actually shook the cabins. We complained and later found out these cabins are above either the incineration (or the trash compactor?) The noise and vibration went at various times all through the day...even in the early a.m. Although we were happy at first with the extra-large cabin and their mid-ship location on Main Desk near the Purser and Shore Excursion Desk and elevators, the aggravation was not worth it. Since it was a 14 day Holiday cruise, the ship was fully booked and the one statement Guest Relations offered us was not suitable. Eventually, HAL offered us on board credits, but not enough to take away the displeasure of the noise and vibrations. I don't know how far down the hall on that side of the ship the noise/ vibrations reached, but be very, very careful of booking those cabins. - Not much in poolside entertainment and.... On other ships, there is always music, pool games, etc. going on during the day, especially days-at-sea. Here, very little. In fact, rather a sedate, quiet cruise. Surprised us that - here we are in the Caribbean - and no traditional island music. Poor programming. The Shows were generally retreads - and the singers were awful. Mike Bliss - the comedian, juggler, magician was excellent. - Kudos for the Microsoft at Sea classes. A bright spot. - Food Standard cruise fare ....not terrible, but the Dining Room dinners were over-salted and over-sauced. The Chef menus were a bit pretentious. Stick to the simple selections: fish, grilled steaks, etc. offered daily. Pinnacle Grill was excellent. Canaletto - over-salted ...we didn't eat the spaghetti and meatballs entree it was so bad. Best was Breakfast in the Dining Room ...lots of choices and the smoked salmon (lox) excellent. - Casino Small, not very interesting. Bottom line: An older ship - and it shows, despite the dry-dock refurbishing. Unless the itinerary is a must-do, skip this ship. Sad, because our other HAL cruises (Noordam, Maasdam) were much more satisfying in terms of service, food, and entertainment.   Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: December 2011
This was our first HAL cruise. Previously we have cruised on 4 times on Celebrity and once on NCL. We chose it for the itinerary -- Panama Canal -- and we wanted to be away for New Years. We had also heard good things about HAL from others ... Read More
This was our first HAL cruise. Previously we have cruised on 4 times on Celebrity and once on NCL. We chose it for the itinerary -- Panama Canal -- and we wanted to be away for New Years. We had also heard good things about HAL from others who had cruised on the line. We flew in the day before and stayed at the Marriot Courtyard in Dania Beach since they had an airport shuttle and a cruise shuttle the next day included in their room rates. The hotel was fine, and there was a seafood restaurant in easy walking distance for dinner. We got to the port at around 1 PM and were in our stateroom in maybe half an hour. Boarding was easy and efficient. Our stateroom was clean and the crew everywhere was cheerful and helpful. We had a VA balcony cabin on deck 8 towards the front of the ship with amazing views. We were extremely happy with it as we had booked a balcony guarantee cabin. There have been some negative comments on the condition of the ship -- ignore them. There was always some maintenance, cleaning, painting, and whatever going on. Yes, there were some dings and dents in the walls at spots, and maybe the carpet was worn in a couple of extremely high traffic areas. If that is what ruins your vacation, then stay home. The food was good, generally well-prepared, and the variety made sure everyone in our party had something they liked. I would like to commend the restaurant staff for handling food allergies well. One person in our party has a serious allergy -- she received the next day's menu everyday at dinner. She could order whatever she wanted and they would prepare her dinner separately to make sure nothing on the plate would cause her distress. We frequently travel together, and we were very happy not to worry about her finding something she could eat. We never got to the Pinnacle Grill because there was always something on the next day's menu that we wanted! You can also get the specialty coffees at no extra charge in the Dining Room with your dinner. There is a charge for them when you order them at the Crows Nest coffee bar. The Lido buffet was the low point in the food service. It was more cafeteria-style than buffet and at times the lines were long because there was no way to just grab one thing from a station without going through then entire section because someone had to serve most of it. There were many items that should have been cafeteria-style that were not. The Philippine-style buffet on the last sea day was very good, but the line was terrible because the last item on the line was cooking too slowly and held up everything else. Overall, the food was good but we often chose lunch by what had the shortest lines. On the itinerary: we wanted to see the Panama Canal and everything else was additional. We took the excursion on the ferry that takes you through all of the locks to Pacific. DO NOT MISS THIS. Yes, it was very hot, and the excursion was expensive -- but isn't this why you took this particular cruise? Half Moon Cay was a pleasant beach stop. I would have liked to have gotten to Curacao earlier. Most museums closed early since it seems that the day before New Years eve is a holiday so most of what we wanted to see wasn't open. There were 100,000 firecrackers going off in the streets in the afternoon -- we know this number because we happened upon the shipping container in one of the squares! We also stumbled on a beer and drum band street party that was fun. The Postal museum is listed on line as a point to see because of the age of the building. They are wrong, the age of the building is significant, but the man running the place is really worth the trip! He was closing when we found the place but let us in because we were really interested. Between his limited English and our total lack of Dutch we found out about history, renovating classic buildings, and traveling the world looking for funky stamps. Bonaire is snorkel heaven -- need I say more? Costa Rica was more interesting than I expected. We hired a local tour guide off the ship who was a fabulous ambassador for his country. I could see going there for vacation. We went to a beach, took a ride through the canals seeing birds, sloths, a very cool red and yellow crab, and other local fauna, saw a banana plantation, and ate some of the best pineapple I have ever had. New Years Eve countdown in the Vista Lounge was fun and lively. But there was not too much going on after around 1:30 AM. The entertainment was typical. I rarely care for the shows on cruise ships. I personally am partial to a bar with some good live music. The solo guitarist was good and the house pop band HALcats (very cute) were fun to listen to. I also liked the Steel drum band. My biggest complaint is that there was very little to do after 11 PM. There was just the casino and Northern lights which is a small DJ bar. It was just too close and hot most of the time. Maybe they could keep one lounge open later. We were at last call for one of the lounges every night. We knew this would be an early ship ahead of time, but it was still a surprise when we would get to a lounge after main dinner seating (around 9:30 -- 10:00), sit down listen to some music and chat a bit, and by the time we are ready for maybe a second drink, the bar is closing up. I know some people have had some problem with the front desk, but we never saw it. My key card suddenly stopped working after a few days and we had a question about our bill and both instances were handled quickly and cheerfully. The biggest problems we saw was that one elevator was always out of service -- they never seemed to have every elevator on the ship working. Some of the public rest rooms were taken in and out of service for short periods of time. Overall, we really enjoyed the cruise. We would definitely take another HAL cruise, and would also return to Zuiderdam.   Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2011
We arrived at the port around 1:00 and waited only a couple of minutes to board. Our room was ready so we went directly to it to put some things in the safe. We had a huge inside cabin on Main deck. We rarely cruise in balcony cabins ... Read More
We arrived at the port around 1:00 and waited only a couple of minutes to board. Our room was ready so we went directly to it to put some things in the safe. We had a huge inside cabin on Main deck. We rarely cruise in balcony cabins anymore since we never use the balcony and find that we sleep better in an inside. After reading some of the reviews we were concerned that the ship would be in poor shape. Well, either we aren't that fussy or some of the others have impossibly high standards. We did notice some of the carpet was worn on the stairs leading to the dining room (my suggestion is to take the elevator to avoid the stairs if that will ruin your cruise) but other than that the ship looked great including the pool area. All the hot tubs were open every day. We have never seen so much cleaning going on -- the ship was spotless. We enjoyed our sea days. We did not have a problem finding lounges or a table and chairs. One thing we did notice is that a lot of passengers leave their towels on the chairs even if they aren't coming back. The pool attendants tried to keep up with this. There are a lot of events happening every day. I attended several digital camera workshops and learned some new things. The teacher was a young woman named Molly. She did an excellent job explaining and demonstrating how to organize and edit our photos. I now know how to remove wrinkles making everyone in my photos look wrinkle free! The food was above average. We ate breakfast and lunch in Lido and had anytime seating in the MDR for dinner. I am a picky eater and I could find something that I liked on the menu each night in the MDR. The service was excellent in both the Lido and the MDR. Someone on the staff was always willing to assist you. Ice cream was available all day and into the evening. The staff was very friendly. It seemed that every staff member we saw smiled and said hello. We did have to go to the front desk for an issue with our TV. They resolved it promptly and sent a plate of chocolate strawberries to make up for the issue (totally unnecessary but the strawberries were delicious). Every time we passed the desk (which was at least once a day since we were on Main deck) they greeted us by name. The officers including the captain were out and about on deck. The hotel manager spoke to us several times during the cruise making sure we were enjoying ourselves. The cruise director, Jason, was outstanding. Probably the most visible cruise director we have ever had on a cruise. His staff is young and energetic. We even managed to fit in a movie in the screening room -- they have really comfortable seating. We really enjoyed the entertainment. There were several production shows, a magician, Marty Brill, a comedian who did one of the funniest routines we had ever heard about someone learning English, and another comedian. We also had the pleasure of watching Island Magic, the steel drum band, perform a few times and listening to guitarist, Stephanie Johnson several evenings in the Crow's Nest. We have been on HAL before for New Year's Eve and love it. There were numerous places you could celebrate but we chose to be in the main lounge. It was crowded but fun with a good mix of music, a countdown to New Year's and the balloon drop. We had a little rain on the first day when we visited Half Moon Cay. But, we didn't let it interfere with our having a good time. We were off the ship early and we able to find a shaded area under a thatched roof near the lifeguard stand. We walked around, swam and enjoyed the barbeque. We didn't do much in Curacao. It isn't our favorite port. We did get off the ship and look at some of the shops but that was it. It was the day before New Year's Eve and many people were setting off firecrackers -- lots of noise. Later in the evening prior to our leaving we were able to see a lot of very pretty fireworks from the ship's decks. In Bonaire, we took the water taxi to Klein. We walked down to the pier and booked with a vendor rather than booking with the ship. It cost $15 round trip. Our cousins, at our suggestion, booked with Woodwind (we have gone with them twice previously). They were amazed at how great the snorkeling was. The snorkeling on the side of Klein where the water taxi drops you off is not as good as where you go with Woodwind. But, it was a great beach day and we enjoyed it and would do it again. Going through the Panama Canal was very interesting. We took most people's advice and got up early to be on deck when we entered the canal. We were glad we did. It was beautiful and very interesting. It was very crowded on the bow so we went up one deck and watched from there. Then, later, when most people had lost interest we went down the bow. Don't miss the special rolls and coffee that they serve when entering the canal. We got off the ship when it docked in Colon. We followed the ship's advice and stayed in the port area. There are a few shops including a very good market where we bought some local beer and candy. Lots of people were buying wine to bring on the ship. It seemed as if the entire crew was in the market buying personal food supplies. In Costa Rica, my husband and his cousin went zip lining. They booked through the ship -- the 3 hour tour. My husband had been before and said that this zip line was much better than the one he had gone on previously. When he returned we walked around town. There is a little market right by the port and if you go out onto the street there are many shops. It is very laid back and we enjoyed walking around looking at the old architecture. We found a supermarket a couple of blocks from the ship and bought coffee there. They had the same brands they were selling at the market at the pier but much cheaper. We really had a great cruise and are already booked on the Noordam for next New Year's Eve. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2011
We chose the Zuiderdam because we were traveling with others. This particular ship attracted an older crowd. We found ourselves in an un-airconditioned cabin and after many complaints and aggravation we finally were placed in a cabin with ... Read More
We chose the Zuiderdam because we were traveling with others. This particular ship attracted an older crowd. We found ourselves in an un-airconditioned cabin and after many complaints and aggravation we finally were placed in a cabin with working a/c. We did not spend one night without air but were moving our stuff at midnight by ourselves. I later learned that we were not the only ones with this problem but other passengers were without air for two days. The other complaint I have is the pools. The water was dirty in both pools and the water was as hot as the hot tubs. It had a constant layer of film and scum on top of the pools looking like a breeding ground for germs. There was only one working pool shower for two pools and two thousand people. I have been on ships where they pump in the sea water to change the water and refresh it. The Lido pool offers comfy lounges but they only set up about 30 chairs. The sea view pool had more lounges but not all of them are set up there were stacks of chaises on the tenth deck tied together and unused. There were no pool personnel to move the chairs etc, but there were plenty of bar personnel to assist with a cocktail. Ask for water and it would be as if you spoke an alien tongue. The staff on a whole were cordial and the food was very good. I just feel that the ship needed to be overhauled. It was dated. Life on board was very mellow, very little of the cruise director trying to get the group moving there was some live music poolside and not too many outdoor activities. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2010
We sailed on the Zuiderdam Dec 23-Jan 2 - our second cruise on the Zuiderdam and our first Holiday cruise. In the world of CCCruisers - we're newbies, with three previous cruises - • Sept 2004, Maasdam Boston to Quebec; • ... Read More
We sailed on the Zuiderdam Dec 23-Jan 2 - our second cruise on the Zuiderdam and our first Holiday cruise. In the world of CCCruisers - we're newbies, with three previous cruises - • Sept 2004, Maasdam Boston to Quebec; • Sept 2005, Veendam Seward to Vancouver; • Feb 2008, Zuiderdam Eastern Caribbean. We're an active couple of 60 somethings - we both still work [by choice], we're longtime walkers and bikers. I'm also a fairly accomplished cook and come from a family of great cooks. Our flight to FLL was smooth and uneventful, including no issues with TSA. We checked three bags and carried on two small bags. I packed our toiletries in our checked luggage to avoid any hassles. We grabbed a taxi right away with no problem. We checked into the Embassy Suites and everyone we met we there was going on a cruise. Lots of three generation families connecting for their holiday together. We walked over to the Publix for last minute goodies and then ate a pizza in the hotel lounge. Dec 23rd - we headed downstairs for breakfast and it was a madhouse! The entire lobby, dining area, and lounge were filled with families getting breakfast before sailing. It took a bit of navigating to get breakfast and find a seat, but we managed. After breakfast, we walked back to the shopping center. I found some wonderful toddler books about cruise ships for our grandson at Bluewater Books and Charts - a great store for everything nautical. We picked up some supplements at Nature's Remedy Shop and had a nice visit with the owner of this local mom and pop store. And I found SkinCeuticals at Flair Beauty Boutique - they had many, if not all, of the top of the line skin products. Getting from the 10th floor to the lobby with our luggage at 11 AM was a challenge because everyone was trying to do the same thing. We got on the elevator going up and it was the smart thing to do - once another couple from the 12 floor got on with their luggage, the elevator was full. In spite of the 30-40 people waiting out front, we snagged a taxi with only a 5-10 minute wait, probably because it was just the two of us. Everyone else seemed to be in larger groups. Got to the port with no problems and our luggage was whisked away by HAL porters. The line for embarkation was outside the building, but the process was orderly. In 40 minutes, we had our key card in hand, and we were on our way to the MDR for the Mariner's lunch. We ate at a table with a family from Atlanta [originally from Canada], and a couple from Phoenix. Before we finished lunch, the announcement came that our cabins were ready, around 1:30. We headed straight for our cabin - 5187 on the stern of the ship - and we were not disappointed. The verandah was huge with two chairs, a table and a lounge chair. We had our room steward bring us another lounge chair during the cruise and we spent a good bit of time napping and eating on the balcony. The cabin was clean and everything was in working order. There was more than ample room for all of our luggage under the bed. There are also two large drawers under the bed for storage and the stool at the desk opens for extra storage as well. The Zuiderdam was updated in 2008 and we liked the changes in the layout of the Ocean Lounge and dance floor, the Explorations Cafe and Library, and the new Screening Room. The ship was decorated from stem to stern. The atrium was draped with lighted garlands. Every post around the atrium had greenery with ribbons and nutcrackers. There were Christmas trees of all sizes all around the ship. In the Lido were tables set with elaborate Gingerbread house scenes. The bottom of the atrium had one whole side covered with a red "package" - which turned out to be the train and main Gingerbread scene revealed at the Christmas tree lighting.There was a neon Christmas tree on the observation deck, a Happy Holidays sign painted over the door to the shore excursions. We walked a mile on the promenade deck twice a day, and each day we walked, we observed crew members working on some kind of maintenance. Some were sanding, painting, working on the lifeboat lifts, varnishing table tops and deck chairs. I observed one tear in chair upholstery in the Crow's Nest, and some frayed velvet around a post in the Vista Lounge. DH [an engineer] declared the Zuiderdam "shipshape." I can't comment on the elevators since we did not take them one time during our ten day cruise! Stairs worked just fine. We ate in MDR 6 out of ten nights, PG once, Canaletto twice. We had room service for breakfast twice, and breakfast in Lido eight times. We ate lunch in the Lido and we took high tea twice. We had pizza at midnight once. We did not have a bad meal and we had several great meals. All of the food was well seasoned and prepared. The lobster soup and lobster I had in PG was sublime. We both had souffles for dessert - excellent. And the truffles presented at the end of the meal were the best I've ever had. Sea bass tournedo served with lobster ravioli in the MDR was delicious. Veal chops with peppercorn sauce in the MDR were melt in my mouth tender. Best dessert on the ship is the Mille Fieulle Madagascar Chocolate with Walnuts, topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Our room service breakfast was on time, as ordered, hot. For breakfast in the Lido, I sampled the varieties of eggs benedict and especially like the St. George with crab meat. I always enjoy the Swiss Museli and bran muffins. And the Panama Rolls were good but the next day, when they were filled with custard, they were GREAT! The pizza we had was declicious - nice thin crust with chewy edge, just the right amount of ingredients - more European than American [not the typical inch thick layer of cheese, meat, veggies.] There are always more activities than time when we're on board. We played bingo once, attended the steel guitar demo, the Panama Canal presentation, a couple of fitness seminars, a jewelry presentation, a movie, and the interview with Captain Turner on Christmas morning. On our previous zuiderdam cruise, I toured the kitchen, attended several culinary events, and we took a "behind the scenes tour" that lasted 4 hours and allowed us to see the working parts of the ship. We use the fitness center and it is well equipped. I've used the salon for haircuts and enjoyed a massage at the spa. I've been pleased each time. A special activity for us this cruise was the Renewal of our wedding vows in honor of our 40th anniversary. The ceremony was officiated by Captain Turner and was made special by Rebecca Wilks the party planner. Service is still what Holland America excels at. Our room steward, table stewards, wine stewards - even front desk, that regularly gets slammed in these reviews - all were courteous, attentive, smiling, eager to please. There was a great espirit d'corps on board the Zuiderdam and after spending some time with Captain Turner, it's easy to see how his leadership and graciousness impacts those that sail under his command. Island Magic steel drums were amazing! DH is not a big fan of steel drums and he was blown away! The International Christmas concert was lovely, especially with Captain Turner reading the Christmas story. All of the different crew nationalities on board presented some part of their Christmas tradition. We saw the Stage and Screen production by the singers and dancers of the Z. It was the exact same show on the ship in February 2008. We did not see the other shows, because we preferred to dance and enjoy the various music venues around the ship. There were lots of families with kids and teens on board ship and more international travelers than we've seen on our previous cruises. We met people who traveled from Hong Kong, Russia, Germany, Austrailia, and England. Christmas Eve included the lighting of the tree at the bottom of the atrium and 'unwrapping' the Gingerbread/train station, followed by hot chocolate and cookies. Throughout Christmas morning, CD Gene Young came on the loudspeaker with updates of Santa's location and he arrived in the Vista Lounge at 11AM. We sheduled three excursions through Holland America - the Canal Experience, Tayutic Hacienda at Puerto Limon, Land and Sea at FLL. All were excellent excursions; our PC guide was good, our Tayutic guide was outstanding, and we enjoy cruising through FLL and the port to see our ship one last time before heading to the airport. We placed our luggage by our door by 11 PM. We met in Queen's Lounge at 8:20 for our FLL tour. Our luggage was easy to find and easy to stack. We rolled right through customs and to the bus for our FLL Land and Sea tour. I read ALL the reviews - the good, the bad, the ugly - about Hal's ships and other's experiences. I don't doubt that other cruisers have had difficulties - after all, people and things are both subject to good and bad days. It's been our pleasure the have experienced good and great days with Hal and we're looking forward to our next cruise. I would sail the Zuiderdam with Captain Turner any chance I get! Read Less
Sail Date: December 2009
I have always wanted to cruise at Christmas and my hubby and I decided to do it for our 30th year of marriage. Our grown children remained at home with their families. It was a wonderful one-time adventure for us. Cruising is definitely ... Read More
I have always wanted to cruise at Christmas and my hubby and I decided to do it for our 30th year of marriage. Our grown children remained at home with their families. It was a wonderful one-time adventure for us. Cruising is definitely the most relaxing way to spend 10 days. I have never slept better or longer and I loved not having to cook or clean! Embarkation was slow as there had been a virus on board the prior cruise. We arrived at 11:00 and didn't access the ship until 12:30. We didn't mind because we were pleased that they were doing extra cleaning to keep us safe. That being said, the ship has alot of brass and glass. In most areas the brass and glass had been sprayed with something, but not wiped down which gave a very unpleasant look for the first few days until staff began wiping it down. I had read a number of reviews about the ghastly decor, but I was not put off except in a few areas. For the most part, I simply felt the ship needed some serious updating in public rooms and in the cabins. Although our cabin seemed very small, it easily met our needs. We thoroughly enjoyed having a verandah but no time during our cruise was the plexiglass wiped down, so you really had to stand to look at anything. You could not see through the salt and spray on the glass. Our cabin stewards were outstanding and did everything possible to make us comfortable. We had breakfast in our rooms most mornings and room service was prompt. However, ordering room service at any other time was a crap shoot. An order of "cheese and crackers" was a plate with 3 pieces of cheese about 2 bites each and a dollop of jelly! No crackers at all. The dining room service was slow, but the food was good. We ate all dinners in the dining room but only two lunches, both were extremely slow and the food choice limited. The lido had an excellent assortment of food but if you arrived after noon, it was impossible to find a table to sit. But, when we did, we were very pleased. Contrary to other reviews, we had our worst experience at the Pinnacle grill for dinner one night. We could not get a reservation until 8:30 pm (5 days in advance), so by the time we arrived, we were hungry. NO ONE came to our table for over half an hour. We waited another 20 minutes for someone to take an order for wine. Dinner arrived an hour after that and all of the entrees were cold. People who came in after us had their dinners and were gone before we were even served. It was the worst service I have ever experienced and would never spend the money again. We found the evening shows amateurish and uninteresting for the most part. They definitely catered to an older crowd with songs my parents used to listen to. The singers and dancers were mediocre at best. The pools were virtually inaccessible after 10 am, filled with screaming kids. I took 3 bathing suits as I love to swim, but never went in the water on the ship. Although we got off the ship in the various ports, we found the ports themselves to be ugly and with nothing to do but shop at low level souvenir shops...not my cup of tea. We took the jungle kayaking excursion in Costa Rica and were very disappointed. Imagine traveling by bus for an hour to a "hotel" with outdoor bathrooms with non flushing toilets and no tissue. Yuck! The kayaking was on a muddy river and we saw 3 or 4 birds and some monkeys in the far distance. The tour ended at the hotel's gift shop for an hour! Save your money. The crossing of the Panama Canal was outstanding. We enjoyed every minute of it and would highly recommend seeing it. Disembarkation was a nightmare. We have no idea what the problems were but we waited in long lines for an our and a half. We took the Ft. Lauderdale land and sea excursion which was great, especially the paddle wheel boat which went past the beautiful homes on the waterway. This was our third cruise with HAL. We have experienced better ships, food and entertainment on the other two. Although we enjoyed ourselves, we felt HAL really did a mediocre job on this ship and cruise. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2009
Review of Zuiderdam Panama Canal Cruise This was a 10 day cruise aboard the Zuiderdam. Day 0 found us at Fort Lauderdale at the Hampton Inn North. Great hotel and you can leave your car, get shuttled to and from the port free of ... Read More
Review of Zuiderdam Panama Canal Cruise This was a 10 day cruise aboard the Zuiderdam. Day 0 found us at Fort Lauderdale at the Hampton Inn North. Great hotel and you can leave your car, get shuttled to and from the port free of charge. Considering the charge at the port.. it was less money to stay at the hotel. Spent the day at the beach and ate at Bubba Gumps. Had a downpour of rain in the late afternoon, Day 1. Took the shuttle to the pier at 11:30, and was on board by 12:30. White glove service, Staff holding open elevators, very helpful. Never saw this service again. Went to Lido deck for lunch.. typical cruise food, long lines, but plentiful. Muster drill was typical.. no life jackets needed. CD was Gene Young. Show was "Lets us entertain you" One nice touch was the Hannukah lighting everynight. Sail away at 5pm. Day 2.. Half Moon Cay. This is my favorite island. The luncheon was very well organized and plentiful. Nightly show was Elliott Maxx. Day 3 was a sea day. Nightly entertainment was "Stage and Screen" Formal night. Day 4 Aruba. Spent the day doing "colors of Aruba" This included the bus trip through the city, the California Lighthouse, the Natural Bridge, baby bridge, rock climbing" and ostrich farm. Nightly entertainment was "Fillipino Crew Show" Day 5..Curacoa. We did the Jewish heritage tour which was exciting, historical and informing. Went to both the old and new cemeteries, the oldest synagogue, tour of the city, the walking bridge. Nightly entertainment was Steel drum group "Island Magic" This day also found many people ill so, everything was taken away.. (salt, pepper, sugars, silverware, towels). The lido food was all sealed in saran wrap and you stood in long lines to get any food or drink. This continued through the rest of the cruise. Day 6 Formal night, Day at sea. Entertainment was "In concert" Day 7 Panama Canal. VERY early mornig 4:30 A.M spent the morning traveling through the Canal, then took the "Canal Experience" and continued on a ferry to the pacific side. What a fantastic experience. Ended up in Cristobal..large shopping place. Entertainment was "Jeff Peterson and Indy the magic dog." Day 8 was Puerto Limon Costa Rica. Did the arial tour and buss ride. This was throught the rainforest, and it did rain. Entertainment was Tony Cherry. Day 9.. at sea, formal night. Entertainment was "Dream Park" Day 10 at sea. Entertainment was "Farewell Variety Show" Now for the review.. Never saw our cabin steward unless we needed something. Never left ice or water.. asked room service for a pitcher of water for in the room.. told no.. we weren't allowed, so next time we were in the lido we found empty pitchers and brought back to room. The dining room service was awful, the food was a lot of seafood or had mushrooms of which I am highly allergic to. Asked for alternative, but ended up going to the lido deck and brought food down to the dining room of which I could eat. Our table was for 6 which was behind a serving station and we were always forgotten. Dinner was usually 2 hours from start to finish. We did do the Pinnacle Grill for dinner one night and THAT is 5 star. Lido deck food was great, and also the BBQ's. Entertainment was so,so.. have seen better. Tony cherry was fantastic. Overall.. the shore excursions were great, the ports were wonderful, but Holland is not a 5 star ship. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2009
From many perspectives, we found the partial transit of the canal to be our most interesting time in the Caribbean. The Canal is historically significant and should be on all bucket lists; Aruba and Curacao are very pleasant and prosperous ... Read More
From many perspectives, we found the partial transit of the canal to be our most interesting time in the Caribbean. The Canal is historically significant and should be on all bucket lists; Aruba and Curacao are very pleasant and prosperous islands and the jungles of Costa Rica are stunningly different from any North American sights. I am a 3-star Mariner from up North and sailed with my husband and college-aged son, spending the Christmas and New Year's holidays on board for the Panama Canal cruise. Pre-cruise stay was at the Doubletree Gallery One on Sunrise, which is convenient to the Beach, but in the cool weather we toured the Bonnet House, hiked the Hugh Taylor Birch State Park and spent many hours sightseeing on the water taxi. Trip to FLL was interrupted by Delta flight delays in Atlanta due to lousy weather and delayed luggage. All luggage including my carryon was delivered rain-soaked. I had to unpack all the bags and hang wet clothing all over the hotel rooms. This was second year in a row this happened to me and I did take precautions of packing in plastic, but bags were so soaked and so much rain leaked thru the zippers that I had quite a bit of drying, pressing and repacking to do. Hopefully the cleaners can get the stains out of some of the formal wear. Washables are in pretty good shape, but I will now only pack by color and sort just like laundry before handing over suitcases to the airlines. Highlights: Perfect weather, including rain in the Costa Rican rainforest! Shore Excursions. We had the best guides we have encountered in many years. Panama Canal excursion took us thru the locks, about a 4 hour transit, and all the way to the Pacific on a very old ferry, with narrative from Melvyn all the way from the ship via bus. Get out on Deck 4 about 6 am when the doors open; no need to line up earlier. Crocodile sightings: One, from our balcony with the binoculars! Veragua rainforest research facility tour was led by a young man "Hurben "who had a wonderful teaching manner, asking us what we saw as we toured the grounds, hiked to the waterfall, visited the butterfly museum and the reptile house and took the aerial tram. Bring your ponchos; day changed from bright to downpour as we toured. Bus Driver navigated the rutted and muddy dirt roads with skill. Curacao trolley trip was narrated in excellent English by a personable guide. The advantage of the ship's tour was being delivered downtown to the trolley stop; prepaid cab available for return, but we walked. Stop for a sample of Curacao! Aruba was still in holiday mode, so we walked about downtown, looking at the fort, the waterfront, the clock tower, the upscale shops, Queen Wilhelmina Park. Half Moon Cay is always delightful for lazing on a float and walking the white sand beach. Leaving ship and returns were efficient and quick. Holiday activities: Tree-lighting ceremony with carols and falling snow in the Atrium on Embarkation night; we had a birds-eye view from our table in the Pinnacle Grill. The crew and staff presented a heartfelt holiday caroling program on Christmas Eve. Services for all faiths were offered, including a midnight mass. The non-denominational service departed too much from our traditional service to enjoy, but a new experience nonetheless. Beautiful, large gingerbread houses on display. Lively New Year's party with all the noise, featuring Father Time and a very good looking New Year's baby! Nice menus throughout-and I ordered my plummy pudding for Christmas dessert! Many nicely decorated Christmas trees. Onboard Activities: We finally made time to take an iPod art tour on Day 2—and we will always do it early in the cruise since it opened our eyes to overlooked corners of the ship. For example, look down as you cross the corridor by the Explorers Lounge. On the floor are glass panels that are reflections of Venice. We loved the whimsy of the small shadow boxes tucked around a corner on a low deck, especially the man riding the champagne cork. And did anyone ever notice the serpent horn displayed on the wall in the Piano Bar and the accompanying paintings? The classes hosted by Party Planner Kelly were very well-organized. We liked the Celebrity chef cook-off, and of course, the panel of passengers gave the win to our head chef! The Indian curry cooking class demo by Vijay from the PG was informative. And, I liked the instructions from Kelly to create "Lush" style bath bombs. Tried to win $$$$$ in Bingo, but all we did was join in the boos for the players who were one away from BINGO! For cultural (and humorous) insights, the Indonesian crew show and the Indonesian tea are don't miss events. Linda, the Canal lecturer, had a lovely Southern personality and offered lots of helpful advice about Canal Day. On Caribbean itineraries we usually purchase the hydrotherapy-thermal suite package for all of us and use it daily as a nice sanctuary. This trip the area did not seem as busy and there were no noisy crowds. We sometimes use the pool decks, but otherwise spend our time on our balcony. Food did not disappoint, except for the "International" Christmas Eve menu, which had strange items like lentil soup and borscht and looked like a hodge-podge where nothing went together. We are big fish eaters, but we ordered the tenderloin entrees almost daily, perfectly prepared. We missed the nightly flambE offering and escargot. The Master Chef's dinner was fun for us-and we each wore our chef's toque! We enjoyed the Pinnacle Grill for dinner on Night 1; all was excellent. Book ahead; passengers were complaining there was no availability because of all the on-line bookings prior to cruise. We went back for lunch one day and thought the halibut sandwiches were outstanding. My son had a nightly burger to get him thru till dinner; the grill chefs Alvin and Jonas, looked for him each day and personally grilled those burgers to perfection! Room service was early each day until Costa Rica morning when it needed to be early and arrived at the late end of the half-hour instead. Cabin: Stewards were absolutely incognito for first several days. They finally appeared in fleeting moments every once in a while. However, the room was done to a T, no oversights. Laundry was done beautifully this trip. Towel animals appeared daily; really, for us, without kids, we are not that entertained by them. Entertainment: Jeff Peterson, Magician-Comedian, and little dog Indy; Trinidad Island Magic Steel Band; Joan Rivers's opening act, Jerry, singer-entertainer and production shows were all good. The ventriloquist was perhaps the lamest entertainment ever on a HAL cruise, but to my utter shock, everyone I talked to the next day said he was so funny! (I kept a diplomatic silence!) Miscellaneous: Ate in DR after boarding at 2PM. BBQ on deck at sailaway. The mustering was done without vests and without a roll call. The lack of trays in lido was okay since people take way too much anyway using only plates. Mariner's Brunch was without fanfare. The cupcake tea was new. A pallet with a patch of grass on promenade deck puzzled us; it was for the service dog onboard. Photo staff was pretty unobtrusive, but had a good buy 3, get one free package and we had lots of good photos to choose from. Gym treadmills filled with walkers who stayed on and on. Lifestylist Will from Iceland was sincere about better living! Bar Staff, thank goodness, was not pushing drink, wine or soda cards on this trip. Big movie in Vista was Julie and Julia. Fruit Bar Buffet at pool on last day was super-Chefs were slicing melons, pineapples, apples, guava on request! Dessert extravaganza featured large colored ice sculptures! Crew was most gracious, captain was visible, had several meet and greets, and CD Gene Young was enthusiastic, multi-talented and welcoming. I like the red and purple and bright colors used on the Z! Kudos to Vino Lover for the CC Meet and Greet! It was attended by Gene Young and we had lovely people, cookies and coffee! We met some very nice people; but as always are appalled by the curtness and lack of manners by passengers of all ages when interacting with crew. Disembark interrupted by 45 minutes or so. This may have been related to the FLL airport being overwhelmed by baggage. Could it be Oasis' fault? Passengers were only admitted to check in and security lines with 2 hour window till flight. Had arranged for private car after taxi fiascos of prior Holiday. Rating: Top-notch in all respects! Best of any Caribbean Itinerary Read Less
Sail Date: December 2008
We took a 10-day family cruise aboard the Holland America Zuiderdam over Christmas. We had 8 adults and 3 children. This was the 23rd cruise for my wife and me and all of the participants had been on at least 2 cruises. In a word, the ... Read More
We took a 10-day family cruise aboard the Holland America Zuiderdam over Christmas. We had 8 adults and 3 children. This was the 23rd cruise for my wife and me and all of the participants had been on at least 2 cruises. In a word, the cruise was outstanding with one major exception. Let me cover that first. HAL needs considerable work on their "As You Wish" dining. Since we were a large group with 3 children, I wanted to ensure that "As You Wish" dining was exactly that. I was told by my travel agent AND Holland America headquarters that I would be able to reserve a standing time (at 6:30 PM). I even had a Cruise Critic staff member who was on the same cruise immediately before us tell us that she was sure we "would have no problem with a standing reservation". When we attempted to obtain this reservation, we were not only turned down flat, BUT we could not get any reservation between 5 PM and 9 PM on any day. THE ENTIRE DINING ROOM WAS HELD FOR WALK-UPS BETWEEN 5 AND 9 !! If we had known this, we would have opted for their standard seating of 5:45 PM. But, once we got on board, we did not even have this option because the standard seating was full. It was quite apparent that the individual Holland America ships make their own rules and are not governed by their headquarters. That problem notwithstanding, the cruise turned out quite well. The rooms were quite large and we had the largest balcony we have ever experienced. Our room steward and waiters were outstanding in all respects friendly, attentive, willing to help out whenever they could. (The assistant "maitre d's" were rather worthless, but I guess the ship needs them to shepherd the waiters.) The ship was beautiful and extensively decorated for the holiday season. Sculptures, paintings, and pictures were well conceived and pleasant. Zuiderdam underwent a major overhaul and reconditioning in the Spring of 2008 and it was apparent since everything looked new. The food was quite good although not as good as Celebrity and Princess. Selections were extensive and the quantity more than enough. The Lido restaurant (buffet) was very good. It was divided into specific areas for deli, pasta, main courses, desserts, etc. and even had an Asian cuisine. Zuiderdam entertainment was outstanding. In addition to the singers and dancers, they had a comedian, magic team, and a singer. The smaller groups performing in the lounges and bars were also quite good. The travel guide, Dr. Richard Detrich, was excellent and provided lectures on the history, people, and land of each of the ports we visited in addition to information on the Panama Canal. The cruise director, Johnny Quinn, was as good as I have experienced and "DJ Matt" as good. The fitness center was quite good except that about 25% of the treadmills were out of order during the entire cruise. The Kids' Club (Club HAL) was absolutely outstanding. The folks running it were attentive with unique activities (including cooking) and making it fun for the children. All in all, it was an outstanding cruise except for the unsettling experience of the "As You Wish" dining. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2008
Embarkation: The Fort Lauderdale terminal was small and because of other ships in port and the shared area, close in parking was impossible to find. The lines moved quickly and the check in process was painless. Unfortunately if you ... Read More
Embarkation: The Fort Lauderdale terminal was small and because of other ships in port and the shared area, close in parking was impossible to find. The lines moved quickly and the check in process was painless. Unfortunately if you arrive before 1330h (1:30 pm) you will not have access to your stateroom and will be directed to the Lido deck/buffet. With the entire ship on the Lido, tables were impossible to find. Really a ZOO and needs to be fixed. The Room an Outside Veranda (deck 4) - TINY is the word. Lots of closet space. Toward the end of voyage last day, some sewage smell in the toilet. Restaurants and Service - I must say the service on this trip was one of the best we have seen. The Lido restaurant in particular was well managed and service was outstanding there and in the main dining hall. The Sommelier's knew their stuff and of course pushed their product well (they don't share the $11/day gratuity but make their money on the surcharges) Ports of Call: The cruise called at Half Moon Key, Aruba, Curacao, Panama (Cristobal), and Costa Rica (Puerto Limon). • Half Moon Key These private Islands of the cruise line are the most useless (and for them the most lucrative). We did not go a shore, and spent a quiet day with a good book. • Aruba - It is the shopping port of the cruise and we arrive on New Years day when 90% of the stores were closed except some of the Holland America associated stores. Why in the world would not they delay or moveup by a day our shopping port call??? Stupid!!!!! • Curacao - a nice port for site seeing - we chose a private tour with "Leo" and we have a separate review of this elsewhere in Cruise Critic. • Panama - The canal experience was nice, but it was like watching grass grow. Because of a delay it took us over 6 hours to make the approach and traversing the gatun locks. Our tours started at noon (should have started at 0930. The tours have to be arrange by the ship. Panama is a dangerous country - there have been reports of buses being robbed. In our case we had an armed guard with us throughout the trip to the Embera Village. This tour is a MUST see. • Puerto Limon - We took an outside tour from Okeydokey tours (Charlie Soto). Again these local guides are much better and more one to one than any cruise tour. Disembarkation: The luggage hall in Fort Lauderdale is small and has always been an issue. Long backup through customs. However we made it from ship to car in less than 1 hour, which for me is painless. One CAUTION, we bought an expensive watch on the ship. We were singled out in advance (a hole punched) in our customs form for a special inspection. BEWARE the Zuiderdam shares all purchase information with customs!!! Summary: Pluses of the Zuiderdam - +Very friendly crew who work as a team to provide outstanding service + Pinnacle Grill food +Main dining room and Lido service +Dr. Richard - his talks were outstanding and covered his favorite topic Panama +Wine - expensive but the Sommeliers' know their job. +Sanitation - Purell was everywhere. The ship was serious at elimination of Noro virus. +Cold towels and drinks when reboarding at each port of call Minues - - Bar service - you never know what you will get. - Embarkation holding cell - Lido deck. - Schedule of ports - could have made some changes to accommodate New Year closings. Read Less
Zuiderdam Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 4.2
Dining 3.5 4.1
Entertainment 4.5 3.7
Public Rooms 3.5 4.1
Fitness Recreation 4.0 3.7
Family 2.0 3.7
Shore Excursion 5.0 3.8
Enrichment 5.0 3.6
Service 4.0 4.4
Value For Money 4.5 3.8
Rates 4.0 4.1

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