24 Holland America Zuiderdam Cruise Reviews for Repositioning Cruises to Transatlantic

We choose this cruise because it was a transatlantic combined with the Baltic ports, which we wanted to see, besides we were twice before in the Zuiderdam and had a fantastic time with great music and entertainment. This time in 26 ... Read More
We choose this cruise because it was a transatlantic combined with the Baltic ports, which we wanted to see, besides we were twice before in the Zuiderdam and had a fantastic time with great music and entertainment. This time in 26 days we had music at the Ocean Bar twice, one great show with Ikos Lakis and his Saxsophon which was as always magnificent. The rest of the shows were comedians than couldn't make anyone laugh, a piano player which was just o.k.. The Pinnacle Grill was the best food in the ship, as always. Excellent food and service. The dinning room food was o.k. twice I had to send my salmon back be cause was not even half cook. The best part of the dinning room were the servers, as always excellent service. My husband went a few times to the Lectures which he enjoyed. I went to American Test Kitchen which was very good. The ports. Bermuda was o.k. Pria de Vitoria was empty, not much to do. The Baltic stops were fantastic Amsterdam, Sudden, Belgium, Cherbourg France, Tallin, Berlin, Kiel, and the best by far 2 days in St. Petersburg, all amazing ports. Read Less
Sail Date April 2019
We were looking very much forward to this cruise starting with 11 days in Central America and the Panama Canal. After that we did cross the Atlantic ending up in Copenhagen. When we were checking in, we were very well taken care of by ... Read More
We were looking very much forward to this cruise starting with 11 days in Central America and the Panama Canal. After that we did cross the Atlantic ending up in Copenhagen. When we were checking in, we were very well taken care of by a Norwegian man. Entering the ship was a little less pleasant. The staff showing you onboard was not at all polite. Ok we expected to have a glass of champagne, when getting onboard, but no. For the first time ever on cruises (first time with HAL) there wasn't a glass of bobbles as a welcome. Our cabin was not ready yet, so we went up for some lunch. After lunch we went down to our cabin and could get in. The first thing we did was trying to put something in the small bedside table. The top drawer. In there there was some used napkins. We were surprised, but removed them. Then we found out, the small tabel in front og the sofa was really dirty. We called the cabin attendant and he came and we told what we were disappointed about. He found a wet cloth and wiped away the dust on the foot of the table. The top of the table was sticky, so we wanted that clean as well. We then saw, there was a table knife in the chair placed in front of the desk. When we got our suitcases and was unpacking we found some chocolate under the bed. Not at all ok cleaning. We didn't feel it was done at all better than what they was supposed to do every day, yes even worse. We thought it had to be reported to the head of the cleaning of the cabins, so we went to guest relations and a very polite and helpful young man from Austria took report and said he was very sorry. Later the head of cabins came and required the two cabin attendants to do a full and complete cleaning of the cabin. He offered us a bottle of wine as compensation. Later the guy from guest relations came with some fine chocolate as well. The temperature in our cabin was terrible, above 25 degree Celcius. A man from the repair department tried to mend it, but no matter what we did with scale there was no change. He would do something with the entire system, but when we came back after dinner, there was no change. We went down to guest relations again and they regretted and would send a new man. We said that otherwise we would come back to guest relations and sleep on the floor, as the temperature was fine here. The temperature was after a couple of days better, but we could still not regulate it. And some days later, we had the same problem again with too high temperature. Later in the cruise - on the second cruise - the opposite was the case with the temperature. One day it was less than 16 degree C. We complained again, and now it wasn't easy to get the temperature higher. Finally - five days before we ended up in Copenhagen - they managed to fix the aircondition. We could raise and lower the temperature. What a relief. But like the rest of the cabins it was not possible to turn off the airconditioning. Old ship! One day while we were laying on a sunbead by the pool we saw a man in the spa. He went in with his clothes and shoes and what was even worse, he was all the time spitting in the hot water. I went and told him to stop spitting as it was a source to people getting sick, if he had a disease. It would explosively grow in the very hot water. The man started screaming, that I was insulting and bothering him. He was really screaming. There is no pool-attendants at all by the pool, only waiters trying to sell drinks. Is that ok? we don't think so. The man went up of the spa and went to one of the waiters and talked to him. What they were discussing we don't know. After a while a very polite and pleasant man came and asked what happened. I told the story and he said they would make a report and I would get a copy. They knew who the man was. Later a couple of officers came. The went to the ladies from the beauty salon and talked to them. Then they came and asked for my version of the incident. They also said a report would be made. While they were talking to me an elderly American lady went into the spa and she was wearing outdoor sandals in the spa. No-one said anything to her. For several days we did not see the man in the spa, but some of the last days on the cruise he was back. He was still wearing jogging clothes and shoes when he went into the spa, and no-one of the staff did say anything. No-one was taking any notice of what was happening in the pool and spa. That is absolutely not ok and not something we have experienced before on cruisen on other shipping companies. On the first part of the cruise there was a show team onboard. This is also what we are used to from other cruises. The team disembarked in Fort Lauderdale, but we were sure a new team would board to the next cruise. No. Only entertainers was there. Some very good and some quite poor and without any experience. Only a couple of nights impressed. The wine, beer and drinks are very expensive. A drink-package is around 50$ per day for the cheapest. Much more expensive than what we have experienced elsewhere. On for instance Celebrity the drink package is included if you have an outer cabin or veranda cabin. The staff gratuity is not included in your ticket. You have to pay 14,5$ per person per day. Take that into consideration when you compare prices for different cruises, as it is included in some cruises, for instance in Celebrity cruises. All the staff in the dinner room is from either Philipines or Indonesia. Most are very polite and helpful, but many are not good enough understanding and speaking English. Some of the wine waiters do probably never taste wine, being Muslims. How can you then advice what is good for the food? The ship is built in 2002 and it seems as if there has been no upgrading since then. It is "tired" and really needs some renovation. We will most likely not travel with Holland America line again. We will choose Celebrity or something even better. Read Less
Sail Date April 2019
Our cruise was 28 day, Transatlantic & Baltic itinerary. From boarding in Ft Lauderdale to leaving the ship in Copenhagen everything went well. The cabin stewards were attentive, the wait staff in both the Lido and MDR were ... Read More
Our cruise was 28 day, Transatlantic & Baltic itinerary. From boarding in Ft Lauderdale to leaving the ship in Copenhagen everything went well. The cabin stewards were attentive, the wait staff in both the Lido and MDR were exceptional. I'd like to say we ate in one of the alternative restaurants, however the food was so good in the MDR, we never felt the need to eat elsewhere. The music venues were eclectic in that there was a venue for most musical taste. America's Test Kitchen was always well attended. The Captain and his crew kept us well Informed of weather or delays. We had exceptional weather throughout the entire cruise. It was the warmest May on record for Northern Europe. We were able to use our balcony the whole trip. Did not part in any of the ship tours, however in some ports the Hop on Off Bus was at the dock and u could change to u our room, very convenient. I did find that the EXC tour guides on board did a great job on their port presentation. Not only did they give info about the ships tours but also how to get around on ur own. Never had this happen before, usually if u weren't on a ships tour, too bad. Kudos to HAL for going beyond the norm. Read Less
Sail Date April 2018
We chose this cruise for the itinerary which was almost the only good part. It was feezing onboard through the entire cruise. Some guests were taking blankets with them to sit anywhere including inside. Dining room was very uncomfortably ... Read More
We chose this cruise for the itinerary which was almost the only good part. It was feezing onboard through the entire cruise. Some guests were taking blankets with them to sit anywhere including inside. Dining room was very uncomfortably cold. Staterooms were also chilly even with turning heat up. My bed was horrible and slanted down to the floor so much that I needed a seatbelt to stay in. The mattress was so hard and thin that I didn't sleep for the first week until our steward found a better mattress. Don't know whose he stole but made me happy. Their ads about having a choice of pillows and mattresses is bogus. They had neither. Safety was a problem as there were quite a number of falls because of water where it shouldn't be or gaps in flooring or no railings. The dinner menu and food was fairly good but I am a very good cook and it was never higher than what I could easily do at home. Fruit and vegetables were rationed on the first half of trip to the point of cutting blueberries in half (and you got one half) and vegetables were garnish only. You could get a huge Prime Rib but only 2 carrot slices. Weird. Escargot was excellent. Desserts were good although creme brulee was a disappointment. I should have tried the version in the upscale paid restaurant. Breakfast either in dining room or buffets was never worthwhile, lunch was adequate. Salad bar was best lunch venue when dining room was closed which it was on port days. Hamburger joint was good, fries wete great but be warned that they had gluten on them in form of spiced flour. Virtually no gluten ftee options except toast and best of luck ever getting that. Almost everything in buffets, which we rarely did except when dining was closed, was overcooked and bland. Fruit often had mold, too many people and very few, and inattentive servers. There was often nowhere to eat except room service as the buffets were closed in morning and afternoon except for certain hours which we missed a lot. Don't sleep in or you are out of luck. When you come back from a shorter day onshore you don't want to wait for room service but there would be hour gaps or longer when everything including a cup of tea, was not available..Service was horrible except in main dining room. Ate at the paid Italian dining room for a disappointing meal, half very good, half dreadful. They used same cooks as the buffet! Not worth it. Unfortunately, we only went one time late in the cruise for the paid lunch for $10 and wished we had done that every day it was open. Best meal we had on the cruise and the level I had expected in regular dining room. Waiters in main dining were good, some awful, some superior. They got considerably better on the last two days as they trolled for tips and good reviews. We were constantly reminded by all the waiters including head staff to give them a top rating. Very annoying and tacky. The maître de was the finest I have seen anywhere land or sea and remembered our names almost from the beginning. He was amazing and lovely. The entertainment was good and enjoyable but there was very little on sea days except lectures which were good. One foursome Acapella women singers were one of the best acts on any cruise, all the comedians were great, and the mime was one of the funniest and most interesting acts we had ever seen. Unbelievable! The biggest complaint most passengers had was the horrible, incompetent and rude upper staff, particularly with the shore excursions. If you didn't buy from the cruise line, they would give you no information. Part way through the Baltic they did a little better because of the hundreds of furious passengers, but we could never get the correct information. One officer would tell you something, another, the opposite and then argued with you when you would mention the confusion. Many of us complained about the lack of a leader as NO ONE EVER seemed to know what was going on. The cruise director was seen more on shore in the bars with local girls than onboard ship where we needed him. I may cruise with Holland America again but never on the Zuiderdam. Anyone who didn't pay the excessively higher than usual ship tour prices got shafted completely. It was inexcusable. Pretty much everyone on board were senior citizens and the lack of correct information or assistance was appalling. We missed much in the cities because of confusion and the ineptness of the officers and upper staff. Most of the ladies at the front desk were very good but there was still a great deal of conflicting information. They ruined much of our enjoyment from the ports because of the excess time a lot of us old people wasted wandering around trying to find where to go once off the ship. Information on the ports, and the buses to nearby towns was almost impossible to discover. In one tiny port that was not the big city we expected, I asked an officer what town it was and he hemmed and hawed before telling me. Really? One of the worst examples of idiocy was the 2 days docked in St Petersburg. Tours were sold and arranged for both days BY THE CRUISE LINE. Imagine our surprise to get to Russia and find out it was closed. It was a holiday, and virtually everything including the Hermitage and the Palaces were not open the first day. Does Holland America not have Internet? They scheduled hundreds of tours for places that were closed! Almost all of the tours on the whole cruise were 3 times or more what it cost to get off the ship and buy yourself. And with less of a tour. That was the reason so many of us did the ports on our own. Doubling is acceptable but the costs were outrageous. The ports themselves made up for a lot as Northern Europe is amazingly stunning, in architecture and natural beauty. Anyone considering the Baltic tour should do just the first 28 days as Norway looked all the same at each stop. Scotland had Edinburgh which needs a week or more to enjoy and Inverness was interesting. Taking your own side trip to Scotland would be more fruitful as most of the cruise port stops are just where the Scots go to get somewhere else. Nothing there. I would only rate the cruise 3 stars and that is being generous. Oh yes, the WiFi either didn't work or was horridly slow and cost a fortune. Do not waste your time or money. Had good Internet connections on the hop on, hop off buses which were the best value of all. You can buy ONLINE AHEAD OF CRUISE a multiple city ticket that will save at least half. Do it before the cruise on Red Bus or one of the others HOP ON HOP OFF companies. You can use them in several of the cities on this cruise but it is very confusing as there are different hop on hop off, mostly red and upset many people when they couldn't get on the correct bus. Rick Steve's books are slightly helpful but you really don't understand half of what he is saying until after you have gone the first time. Get his book from the library, photocopy the cities, and staple each city individually so you don't have to haul around a book. Online tours in St. Petersburg were 1\4 the price of HAL , were longer and were in vans of 6-8 passengers instead of buses with 60-100. And some offer early entrance to the Hermitage AND in spite of what HAL tells you, they include the tourist visa. It can be very confusing with the Russian visa thing. Unless you want to wander on your own which isn't advisable, you do not need a visa. Do your research before you go and it will make a much more enjoyable and fulfilling trip. And bring warm clothing as our trip in April and May was 20-30 degrees below normal. Surprise!! Read Less
Sail Date April 2017
A TransAtlantic offers us a lengthy cruise at a reasonable fare with lots of sea days to relax and/or take advantage of the amenities and activities of the ship. We've done several before and always had a good experience. Holland ... Read More
A TransAtlantic offers us a lengthy cruise at a reasonable fare with lots of sea days to relax and/or take advantage of the amenities and activities of the ship. We've done several before and always had a good experience. Holland America attracts us (seniors in our late 70s) because of the spacious and comfortable Neptune suite and the accompanying Neptune Lounge which offers service and fine snacks all day. This cruise offered a good number of sea days as well as interesting ports with a final destination of Copenhagen where we visited a lifelong friend. So, ideal of us. Check in at Ft. Lauderdale was smooth and we were soon in our suite with the luggage not far behind us. I love the layout of the Neptune Suite but it's quite out of date compared to other HAL ships and is ready of dry dock which I understand is coming up in a few months. The verandah lounge chairs lacked cushions and for someone who likes to nap out there, I had to carry out my bed pillows etc. to get comfortable. More about the cabin in cabin review. The first few days out of Florida were sunny with low to moderate seas. Unfortunately, as we got further northeast we encountered wind and higher seas and, by the time we got to Normandy (having had to miss the port of Horta, Azores due to high wind and seas) it was raining. So weather this particular trip really was an issue. And we often couldn't use our verandah because of the cold and wind. But that isn't the ship's fault. As suite passengers we had the privilege of going to the Pinnacle Grill for breakfast each morning. That was nice not having to deal with the usual Lido crowds on those sea days. Food and service were very good. We went to the main dining room almost every night and food and service were consistently good. Evening entertainment, particularly the singers and dancers, was excellent. However, with a 6:30 and an 8 p.m. show, we often had to change our dinner time or rush in order to catch something we didn't want to miss. Movie theatre played great movies but was usually too crowded to get in to see. My husband enjoyed the gym every morning. Cooking classes were fun. There were many interesting enriching lectures to take advantage of. We loved the dueling pianos on Eurodam and were disappointed they aren't on Zuiderdam. Yet. I'm guessing they will be. Crew service and attitude were excellent across the board! Because we were visiting in Denmark, we shipped our big bags back home to Florida. Although expensive, it was very worth it. We walked off the ship in Copenhagen with our carry ons and walked right out to the street. Amazingly easy and quick. I'm sure Zuiderdam will have a pretty new face after dry dock and that is needed. Read Less
Sail Date April 2017
Second trans-atlantic on the Zdam, and it was great again. The ship is in good shape, and the service is full, efficient, and happily delivered. SY cabin was fine, except for the old small flat screen TV. Those are cheap, with crappy ... Read More
Second trans-atlantic on the Zdam, and it was great again. The ship is in good shape, and the service is full, efficient, and happily delivered. SY cabin was fine, except for the old small flat screen TV. Those are cheap, with crappy sound, and just inadequate for any cabin. The food in the MDR was very good, as was the wait service. The variety of dishes was wide, and quite tasteful. A very nice and relaxing atmosphere especially for breakfast, and lunch. Entertainment was typical HAL. One comedian was OK, but music and dance shows are so-so. The BB King band was good, and not as loud as others. Many activities, and lectures to keep one and all busy. Service was very good in all aspects. Dealing with the front desk was a pleasure. The staff was always smiling, and greeting folks. This being a TA, there were 6 ports including the final one. One Azores (Horta) was cancelled due to choppy seas. The other Azores stop was Ponta Delgada, and was a very charming little town. The Azores are very verdant and picturesque islands. Cherbourg had miserable rainy weather, but still quite charming city. The submarine tour at Cite de la Mer was really cool. Went on the Around Bruge tour, and enjoyed it very much. Some towns seemed to be made up of mainly restaurants. Manicured lawns, and beautiful houses show a Belgian pride of beauty and order. The chocolate shops offer demos, and sell all kinds showing their longstanding mastery of making these confections. Amsterdam is a dynamic and fun city. It never changes. Got off the ship in Copenhagen, and spent a few days there. The city is beautiful, and its people are so easy going, and good natured. A wonderful city in all aspects. Loved sailing the Zdam, and looking forward to doing it again. Read Less
Sail Date April 2017
We are seniors and this cruise was tailored for us The ship is a bit old, but is laid out well . I walk a lot and like the full promenade deck. Cabin (7028) has a very good design. Liked the curtain between the bed and bath as ... Read More
We are seniors and this cruise was tailored for us The ship is a bit old, but is laid out well . I walk a lot and like the full promenade deck. Cabin (7028) has a very good design. Liked the curtain between the bed and bath as wife is late sleeper. Shower is nice and large but curtain is pesky as always. We were not bothered by motion even though seas we a bit high a few days( neither of us have any problems with motion) Stewards were very good which is common on Rotterdam deck. Furniture is pretty worn and the TV has a very small screen. Food was very good overall in all venues. Nothing fabulous, but almost all well prepared. On the minus side, not a great selection of fruit, eggs Benedict not warm in the Lido even though prepared to order, coffee was not a good as previous HAL trips, and specialty coffee bar (Explorations Cafe) was not very convenient to large areas of the ship. Enjoyed almost all the entertainment, especially the live lounge music, but remember we are seniors and this music caters to that niche. Shows were good and sets outstanding. Lecturers and enrichment activities were good and varied, as they should be on a transatlantic. Wonderfully friendly, helpful crew; only saw 1 person that was a bit sour continually. Bad weather in Horta and Cherbourg. Been to Ponta Delgada before so just took the little train and walked around, very pleasant. Walking tour in Brugge with a guide from last year and did the canal cruise. Nice docking in Amsterdam itself,great city. Stayed extra day in Copenhagen and was rewarded with a beautiful Saturday! Great, relaxing cruise, but leave the kids and young adults at home. They will be bored stiff. Read Less
Sail Date April 2017
Great ports on the Trans-Atlantic Crossing and an amazing staff at Holland America's Zuiderdam made the cruise memorable. Although the cabin was old and dated, with a tv screen that was barely readable, the crew and the planned ... Read More
Great ports on the Trans-Atlantic Crossing and an amazing staff at Holland America's Zuiderdam made the cruise memorable. Although the cabin was old and dated, with a tv screen that was barely readable, the crew and the planned activities more than made up for any disappointment. The only negative was the on-staff singers and dancers who more reminded me of a high school talent show, than a professional team of performers. The specialty acts (comedian, pianists, and group acts) that were brought on the ship were absolutely fabulous - just cannot say the same for the onboard team of singers and dancers. The onboard house band was wonderful as well. Finally - the ship states it has a movie screening room ... it doesn't. It has a small room with 12 chairs that is always full. Actually saw a fight breakout between two people trying to get the last seat. They were showing great movies, unfortunately to a dozen people at a time only. Big disappointment. Guests would,line up 45 minutes ahead of a movie to get one of the 12 seats ... and that's only if the guests before didn't want to re-watch the same movie and not leave their seat (it happened...LOL). Read Less
Sail Date April 2017
We chose this cruise for the date and the itinerary. This was a transatlantic / repositioning cruise starting in Copenhagen Denmark. We visited Norway, Iceland, Greenland and Canada finally disembarking in Manhattan. We crossed the Arctic ... Read More
We chose this cruise for the date and the itinerary. This was a transatlantic / repositioning cruise starting in Copenhagen Denmark. We visited Norway, Iceland, Greenland and Canada finally disembarking in Manhattan. We crossed the Arctic Circle and when cruised Prince Christian Sund, Greenland. The outdoors were magnificent but the Ship was old, small and worn. Crew did an incredible job keeping the ship clean and taking care of continuous minor maintenance. Entertainment was lacking, sets were minimal and unattractive. Several of the individual entertainers were excellent. We missed our last port, which would have been Halifax, because of Hurricane Hermine. Had one full day at sea in the hurricane experiencing 80 mile an hour winds & 20 foot waves. During the storm, balcony doors and deck doors were leaking, so there was continuous cleanup with water vacuums. We were very disappointed with the Canaletto Specialty Restaurant food quality and wait staff. I would not recommend the Zuiderdam, but would highly recommend this itinerary. We had a Signature Suite, but our cabin steward could not speak much English. We did appreciate the guest lectures and port information very much. The BB King Blues band did not play the blues but did play Motown and Disco. It seemed to us that the Band was not cohesive, perhaps they were hired individually by the cruise line to play musical sets that were established by the cruise line. Read Less
Sail Date August 2016
We booked this Viking Passage cruise because of its appealing itinerary which included both Iceland and Greenland. Overall we were pleased with the cruise but cannot award it five stars because of too many minor irritations. We have been ... Read More
We booked this Viking Passage cruise because of its appealing itinerary which included both Iceland and Greenland. Overall we were pleased with the cruise but cannot award it five stars because of too many minor irritations. We have been on over twenty cruises, several with Holland America. Neither HAL not any other of the ocean cruise lines we have used have matched our recent cruise with Viking River for quality and service. On the whole the good far outweighed the bad. HAL booked our flights at a price we could not match, but they left us too little time to transit Frankfurt worry free, even if all went well. All did not go well. Our flight into Frankfurt was a few minutes late. If we had not already requested wheelchair assistance in Frankfurt which allowed us to bypass the huge EU Immigration lineup we would have missed our flight to Copenhagen and the next and last possible flight was reportedly full. We strongly recommend that anyone booking flights through Frankfurt should allow at least two hours connection time. Embarkation and disembarkation were both smooth, quick and uneventful. We had booked an outside cabin to save money because we thought a balcony would be unusable because of the cold. However when we checked in, we were very surprised and happy to learn our Vancouver travel agent had got us a free update to a balcony cabin on Deck 5. Its availability for the abnormally sunny and warm weather we experienced for most of the cruise was a bonus. The Zuiderdam was in better shape than we expected based on past Cruise Critic reviews but too much maintenance work was being done at cruisers' inconvenience. Painting and varnishing caused closure of parts of the Promenade deck on several days and our friends with rear cabins found the fumes unpleasant. For much of the cruise a quarter of the Lido buffet serving area was closed for maintenance making a normally crowded situation even worse. We were happy with the food in both the Main Dining room and the Lido but the service was the slowest we have ever experienced. Beer which was available elsewhere often seemed to have "run out" in the Lido. We suspect that with a little bit more customer care and a little less laziness by one or two members of the restaurant staff, the beer could have been found or restocked. This happened with four varieties of beer. Our cabin had a very comfortable bed and was well equipped and finished apart from a tatty floor mat which should have been pensioned off long ago. Astonishingly it was taken away on the last day and brought back washed but still wet. It was difficult to adjust the water temperature of the bath. The entertainment was typical of cruises - good but not outstanding. We particularly liked the Classical music duo. The internet was poor and very expensive. This was understandable while we were North and at the edge of the satellite's range but not in New York where there was no internet whatsoever. We could not reconfirm our flights and we had paid for time we could not use. We were pleased with the ship's tours we took and the tour staff were the best we have encountered on an ocean cruise. The guest lecturers were excellent and very popular. The Locations expert Denice did her job superbly. The tender service was especially well operated. Hurricane Hermine caused problems and our day in Halifax had to be abandoned as we diverted to miss the worst of the storm, reaching New York one day early and giving us an unexpected extra day to visit the sites. Even though we sailed at full speed and there was a large swell with strong crosswinds the Zuiderdam handled it well. (The TV Navigation Channel once indicated Beaufort 12). The Captain explained the need for the change of plans very clearly and kept us well informed. The staff did an excellent job in organizing a very good New York city tour at short notice. Overall HAL needs to improve but we would be happy to take another HAL cruise and would recommend HAL and the Zuiderdam to prospective cruisers. Read Less
Sail Date August 2016
We had a good cruise until the head office decided to make the captain sailed the ship right into the Hurrican with 90 to 100 miles per hour wind, it was hell for 2 days. The wave was so high, the starboard side suites was flooded with ... Read More
We had a good cruise until the head office decided to make the captain sailed the ship right into the Hurrican with 90 to 100 miles per hour wind, it was hell for 2 days. The wave was so high, the starboard side suites was flooded with water. The wind blew one of the outside door down, and Holland American still refused to compensate passengers. If the ship would sail according to the original plan and stop in Halifax, we could avoid the Hurrican totally without spend 2 days in hell at sea right inside the Hurrican. Any company put profit ahead of passengers' safety, should not be a cruise business. People asked Captain why he sailed us into the hurrican, he said it was an order. It will be our last cruise with this company. The balcony suite was very small compare with Princess, or other cruise line. Food was good especially the french fries at Dive in. But my husband got food poisining from the buffet. Read Less
Sail Date August 2016
Chose it to get out of the Florida heat for Aug. The staff was fantastic. Food was good in all restaurants. Entertainment was very poor. The ship is in need of renovation, no major problems, just old and worn. Had a guaranteed suite, ... Read More
Chose it to get out of the Florida heat for Aug. The staff was fantastic. Food was good in all restaurants. Entertainment was very poor. The ship is in need of renovation, no major problems, just old and worn. Had a guaranteed suite, got 8040.Lovely room- plenty of space, whirlpool, double sinks, extra large balcony (too cold to use it much). Bad news, underneath ping-pong table and chaise lounge stacking area. Lots of traffic noise. Guest service did compensate us with a free meal at Pinnacle Grill, nice. They also closed the ping pong table at 9:30 pm and opened it after 9am. Love the size of the ship. Getting on and off or excursions no problem. Booked our excursions online, no regrets. Saved a lot of money. Was pleasantly surprised by all the ports. Really enjoyed them. The weather was great. Lectures on Viking segment were very good. Cruising Prince Christensen Sound was fantastic. Other sea day were restful. Not many physical activities planned on the ship, mostly sitting activities. Miss the Fitness Programs - was a great way to meet people, stay active and have fun on sea days. I wouldn't do it again because I have more place to see on my list, but I do highly recommend this itinerary Read Less
Sail Date August 2016
Although we are much younger than the average person on the ship, we did enjoy it. The ship itself needs to be upgraded i.e. TVs, stateroom furniture, WiFi, Unfortunately, some of the needed work of chipping rust on deck happened ... Read More
Although we are much younger than the average person on the ship, we did enjoy it. The ship itself needs to be upgraded i.e. TVs, stateroom furniture, WiFi, Unfortunately, some of the needed work of chipping rust on deck happened during our 17 day cruise; which was loud and annoying. Music was changed after a couple of days from up to date music (rap) to 40's, 50's and 60's music which was more appropriate for the age group on board. Entertainment was pretty good but loud singing. They can tone it down. Our reservations in the Pinnacle restaurant were completely botched up but HAL made up for it with a free meal there. The Pinnacle Grill was excellent. All the food on board was great (except for the shrimp and eggs). Cruise Director was excellent (Christina). Shore excursions are too crowded and I would not book another one again. If you can get a taxi at the worst or if you have time get a personal tour and hook up with other people on your cruise with Cruise Critic. Ports were great: Azores (Horta, Ponta del Delgada), A Coruna, Cherbourg, Zeebrugge, Rotterdam, Copenhagen. The captain was very informative and I give him an A+. The crew in the Lido needs more training. Officers walking through the deck do not make eye contact and don't recognize anyone around. (I think that is awful). I have sailed HAL many times and this is the only time I have seen this behavior (or lack of). Read Less
Sail Date April 2016
We chose this cruise for the itinerary. The TA crossing followed by the Baltic ports and then the Fjords and Highlands. 41 days and very port intensive. Embarkation/Debarkation went extremely smooth. The cabin attendants were excellent, ... Read More
We chose this cruise for the itinerary. The TA crossing followed by the Baltic ports and then the Fjords and Highlands. 41 days and very port intensive. Embarkation/Debarkation went extremely smooth. The cabin attendants were excellent, We had the unlimited laundry service and it was excellent. Lido service was average. Seemed to me to be understaffed and overworked. Main Dining room service was a little above average. Room service was very good. If you're a "foodie" then I wouldn't recommend this ship. Food was good for us, but we're easy to please. Entertainment was typical cruise line entertainment and nothing I get excited about. We only did 2 HAL excursions so really can't add much there. The TA crossing was relaxing, the Baltics were fantastic as were the Fjords and Highlands. One big issue was the noise created due to constant maintenance around the ship. Banging, grinding, chipping and welding. Maintenance is a must, but this was the first cruise I've notice this much noise on. Rendered our cabin's veranda useless for approximately a week. Value for the money spent was worth the cruise and I'd recommend it with the understanding it has it's shortcomings, but for us we'd do it again. Read Less
Sail Date April 2016
4-stars, not 5. I'd need Oceania or Crystal to get a 5 outa me. We LOVE Transatlantic cruises. For the $Value$ seekers, this may be a true bargain...maybe. Zip,zip with Holland-America on boarding and departures. Baltics Ports were ... Read More
4-stars, not 5. I'd need Oceania or Crystal to get a 5 outa me. We LOVE Transatlantic cruises. For the $Value$ seekers, this may be a true bargain...maybe. Zip,zip with Holland-America on boarding and departures. Baltics Ports were wonderful...in April and May even !! Crossing the Atlantic was quite enjoyable. Guests from more 'Southern Climes' had light jackets on when walking or on Aft Lido Deck, but a few, including myself, used the HotTubs and pools, but sparingly. Nice Sauna!! ZUIDERDAM and longer cruises attracts more seasoned and somewhat older crowd methinks; as was the case on this 29-day from Florida to Sweden and Russia. No little kids. Teens? Nope. Twenties? Nope. Thirties? A few. Yeah...I know. Older folks. ZUIDERDAM is a middle-of-road vessel by today's North American clientele standards. Not Uber-snazzy, not Plain-Vanilla either. The Staff and Officers were 1st rate. Dining Room and Bar staff were definitely as good as we've had on any HAL ship. The ZUIDERDAM has had remodeling done recently, and it appears to be in the vogue to continue fixing and re-working cruise ships during cruises nowadays. But too much grinding and welding wore a bit thin on this voyage for many...including us. It appeared VERY seaworthy and handled open ocean conditions very, very well. But it's not new and Jazzy like a new OCEANIA or CRYSTAL vessel can be, but we liked it as it was reasonably $$Priced$$. We're in our 60's and not overly demanding. We never availed ourselves of Pinnacle Dining Rm meals, or Rm Service, as the Standard Dining Rm menu was quite sufficient. Lido Buffet was as expected....plentiful and suitable for Poolside dining. GREAT unlimited IceCream!! Free. All Cruise ships with very few exceptions have become VERY $Expense$ conscious lately to keep Cabin Rates in line with the competition. HAL, for instance, has cut out a Poolside live music group called the HAL-CATS. Big mistake in my opinion. That killed the ambiance greatly compared to past years. The Classical Violin group, formerly known as the Adiago Strings is now down to 1 String. Hmm. No Pool Volley-ball organizer. etc etc. Not egregious omissions, but such things are making long-time HAL cruisers yearn for the Good-old days and begin looking elsewhere for an experience with a little more Pizzaz and Bling-bling. Creating a TopDeck Gazebo area during it's last Dry-dock for extra $$$ is an unmitigated disaster. ZERO takers!! ZERO. NONE. Somebody got fired I'll bet. Gymnasium was quite good. Nice equipment, but no Pool Water Aerobics. Basketball court went unused. Shuffleboard? Ditto. Ports-o-Call thru the Baltics can be phenomenal. Grab a Rick Steve's Guide to the Baltics and take off as we did. We rarely take Shore Excursion thru any Ship offerings as we dislike large Motorcoaches. We are savvy enough to hike Volcanoes, snoop back streets for fun and 'Local Color', and gad about with only a street map, our feet or Taxi and a handful of $$Currency. Wa-aaay more fun for us. Azores Volcanos, Amsterdam Canals, Berlin's history, Copenhagen food, St.Petersburg Cathedrals and Galleries, Sweden's gorgeous scenery. Beaches of Normandy. Chocolate shops of Brugges, Belgium. Lotsa WOW ashore. Cocktail time, new friends, and Dining Rm ambiance aboard the ZUIDERDAM.....then lunch with our relatives in Sweden; where do I stop. Yes, indeed. We had a good time. We arrived home via Icelandic Air rather exhausted, in a good way. It beat a bus tour of N.Europe hands down. Read Less
Sail Date April 2016
This is our 3rd Transatlantic cruise in a row. Each cruise had completely different itineraries and we both love the sea days and on crossings there are plenty of sea days to relax as you see fit. My wife and I enjoy the guest speakers ... Read More
This is our 3rd Transatlantic cruise in a row. Each cruise had completely different itineraries and we both love the sea days and on crossings there are plenty of sea days to relax as you see fit. My wife and I enjoy the guest speakers that usually have lectures AM and PM on the sea days. These lectures are very popular and they do quite well with filling up the showroom. We choose the less expensive cabins and many times they offer upgrades from ocean view to balcony suites for very little cost. The more you cruise with a particular line the better chance you have of getting a reasonably priced upgrade. At least this is my experience with Holland America as we have sailed with them 14 times so far. The ships entertainment in my opinion is their weak spot. I am not a big fan of the ship's entertainers. When they bring on a specialty act like jugglers, magicians, comedians, musicians and others they are well worth attending. My wife and I really enjoy the trivia contests held several times a day. There is music trivia, food trivia, pub trivia and team trivia among the many choices. These are usually most plentiful on sea days to help keep you occupied. The crew on all Holland America ships are among the best at sea. One example: On a recent cruise we met a bar server who we had not seen in over a year and he knew our names and what we both drank. I was dumbfounded and flabbergasted. Most impressive! The cruise line offers a great variety of shore excursions and each has a varying degree of activity which is spelled out in advance so depending on your age, health, etc, you can choose the excursion that best fits your needs and desires. We have already booked our next cruise with Holland America so I definitely recommend them. Read Less
Sail Date April 2016
This was our first cruise on a Holland America ship and we found it to be the nicest we have yet experienced. We have sailed on NCL and Celebrity in the past. We combined two separate cruises to get a 29 day total. The first was a 17 ... Read More
This was our first cruise on a Holland America ship and we found it to be the nicest we have yet experienced. We have sailed on NCL and Celebrity in the past. We combined two separate cruises to get a 29 day total. The first was a 17 day transatlantic repositioning from Ft. Lauderdale to Copenhagen and the second was a 12 day Baltic Sea. We found the itinerary to be wonderful, with stops in 11 different countries and a number of sea days. The ship offered quite a few options onboard during sea days and you could find things to participate in or not depending on your taste. Yes, most of them were geared toward an older crowd, but that is what we looked like on a HAL ship and on a trip this long. The entertainment changed often and was extremely varied and top notch. We found the food to be better than our previous ships in the main dining areas and the food in the specialty restaurants was better. Granted you don't have a lot of options on the Zuiderdam, but there were enough not to get bored with the food. The service was the best we have seen, especially our cabin stewards who kept our cabin spotless the entire voyage and kept us entertained with towel animals each night of the cruise. We had seen some comments about the maintenance and looks of the ship on this forum before we left and were a bit concerned. However, we did not have any issues along those lines during our trip. Sure the ship is getting a little age on her and may be a bit rusty in spots on the outside, but hey, so am I. The deck crews were outside chipping and painting during every day of our cruise, they replaced some worn carpet during the cruise and they are constantly cleaning all over the ship day and night. They repainted the entire hull while we were on board, taking care of the scrapes they picked up during the winter on their Panama Canal cruises. We found everything mechanical worked as advertised during the entire trip. We took a fair number of the shore excursions offered through HAL and had a great time on all of them. The days in A Coruna, Normandy, Brugge, Holland, Copenhagen, Tallinn, Berlin and St. Petersburg were outstanding and the other ports were also interesting. We found them organized and professionally run, especially the ones which used headsets so it was easy to hear everything that was being said. Many of these excursions ran in excess of 10 hours and we didn't think they wasted any time. We will admit that many of these ports and excursions required a fair amount of walking, but they are pretty good about saying that up front. Some of the ports were just fine to tackle on your own and we did so in about 5 of them. For some of them it just makes sense to take the tours and let them handle the logistics. We found embarkation and disembarkation to be pretty simple and straightforward. Yes our flight got in fairly early on the day we left and we didn't have to wait long to get on board. Our cabin was ready when we got there and our luggage followed pretty quickly. The lines moved quickly and they had a bunch of people working to get you ready to board. We had an early morning flight out on the last day and they were ready for us at 4:15 am with a transfer to the airport. We did run a few minutes late getting started because some of the luggage was a little late getting off, but we were still at the airport with plenty of time to spare. It may get harder to get off during the prime times, but early was simple and easy. We did use HAL to set up our flights from home to Ft. Lauderdale and then back home from Copenhagen and those all went off without a hitch. Our seats were good and our layovers worked well both coming and going. We did use their transfers to and from the airports, which we found to be worth every penny. Overall, we have no complaints. We loved the size and the layout of the ship, the food, the service, our cabin, the staff, the shore excursions and the ports where we stopped. We would happily travel with HAL again and would hope to make it back to the Zuiderdam. Read Less
Sail Date April 2016
We chose this cruise because of its itinerary, price and length. The transatlantic part was great - full of activities, excellent entertainment, and solo time if you so desired. We had a cabin with a window but it was smaller than the ... Read More
We chose this cruise because of its itinerary, price and length. The transatlantic part was great - full of activities, excellent entertainment, and solo time if you so desired. We had a cabin with a window but it was smaller than the inside room friends had. I think I would have been happy with an interior room. We were on the first floor, which was great - I would recommend it. Some folks higher up found the crossing to be much rougher than we found it to be. As always, the room steward was super efficient; the dining staff excellent. The dining room meals were excellent. The buffet also had great choices (FRESH large salads, as well as yummy sushi and other creative dishes). The Baltic ports were well chosen but like all cruises, not enough time IN port. Be prepared for a very busy cruise if you select this portion. Full, full days and many ports in a row. I can't comment on ship's excursions as I organized all our tours independently. We travelled only with carry-on luggage, so embarkation and disembarkation were pretty easy! We stayed three extra days in Copenhagen. A good decision but EXPENSIVE! I would recommend this cruise. Read Less
Sail Date April 2016
EMBARKATION. It was a breeze at the terminal in Civitavecchia as half of the Zuiderdam’s passengers were staying on from the previous cruise. With no lines, we were processed in minutes. Within 30 minutes boarding was opened and we ... Read More
EMBARKATION. It was a breeze at the terminal in Civitavecchia as half of the Zuiderdam’s passengers were staying on from the previous cruise. With no lines, we were processed in minutes. Within 30 minutes boarding was opened and we all headed for the ship to start our adventure. Holland America Lines, Zuiderdam was built in 2002 and holds almost 2,000 passengers. We had traveled on her once before in 2003 and she has had one refurbishing, but needs substantial work to bring her up to date. The ship is clean, worn in spots, but well maintained in the public areas. We found the Indonesian and Philippine staff to be very friendly and helpful. However, the officers seem to be aloof and don’t tend to mingle with the guests as on other lines. Safety seems to be taken seriously and the life boat drill is required for all passengers. CABINS. We had a large outside cabin on deck one. (When we booked, balcony cabins were not available) Our friends were in a balcony and it was several feet smaller than our cabin – seems that the balcony took space away from the cabin. We had a much bigger sofa and more storage space. The bed was extremely comfortable. The only real issue was the extremely small screen TV – they do have DVD players and lots of free movies – but it is hard to watch. The bathrooms all have tub / shower combination and enough storage space. We had a noise issue (from a trash machine below our cabin) which was solved by the guest relations team. The cabin attendants are really over worked and under staffed but they did their best to keep things neat and tidy. DINING. Main Dining Room (MDR): We had select dining for the evening meal. After the first night we were able to have the same table / wait staff with our friends at 7:15. The food and service in the dining room was great. Some meals were better than others, but overall it was a really nice experience. In fact, we enjoyed the dining room food and service better than the specialty restaurant “The Pinnacle Grill”. Whenever possible, we ate breakfast in the MDR as we don’t like having to fight the crowd in the Lido Buffet. We also enjoyed some lunches in the MDR – a very relaxed atmosphere. Lido Buffet: Cafeteria style with section for Salads, Mains, Asian/Indian, Italian/Pizza and Ice cream. Food quality is generally good and there is a nice selection for all meals. I give very low marks for the Asian/Indian selections. However, pizza and ice cream were very good. Drive Inn: Outside the Lido Buffet, near the inside pool, is the Drive Inn for hamburgers, hot dogs and fries. They have some of the best hamburgers at sea or on land! I limited myself to three for the entire trip and everyone thought they were great! Specialty Restaurants: We had a really bad experience the night we went to the Pinnacle Grill (bad steaks awful deserts) and would not go back. ENTERTAINMENT / ENRICHMENT. The Vista lounge (main stage) is the venue for most entertainment and lectures. We only attended one full entertainment program, a comedian who was just average. We stuck our heads in several other shows but didn’t find them good enough to stay. Other lounges on the ship had some music and the Explorer Lounge had classical piano and violin program every night. There were two guest lectures on board, one for history topics and one for aviation. Group Captain Terry Holloway, Retired Royal Air Force and Aviation consultant gave many interesting talks about British aviation, and a program on how he led a Royal Soaring Society expedition to fly gliders over the top of the highest peak in South America. The Cruise Director and his staff were adequate – nothing really special. Microsoft Windows learning center was good, but always crowded. SHORE EXCURSIONS. We only used the ship for one tour – transportation from Livorno to Florence. It’s much easier than using a taxi to the train and saves a lot of time. However, like all HAL tours, very expensive. (We always try to do private tours or use public transportation.) PORTS. Livorno, Barcelona, Palma, Alicante, Malaga, Cadiz, Ponta Delgada, Horta and Nassau. We really enjoyed all the Spanish ports and Horta, in the Azores, was the only new port for us and a very enjoyable stop. Nassau – why bother. DISEMBARKATION. Opted for the early walk off with bags in Fort Lauderdale. Waited about five minutes on the ship and then it was down the ramp and through customs in another five minutes. Very quick and easy process. HITS AND MISSES. Food was very good. Hamburgers exceptional. Staff went out of their way to please the guests. Can’t say enough good things about the waiters, and Guest Relations Staff. We enjoyed having drinks in the Crows Nest at the front of the ship. Also enjoyed the Mariners welcome aboard party – plenty of free wine. The ship also has a very nice library. HAL caters to an older crowd and on this trip the majority of guests were really old! Buffet shuts down by 9 P.M. so get your snacks early. Ship shopping (stores) were a joke. Overpriced and limited merchandise. Happy Hour venues and times are to early. Not enough seats in the Vista theater, Movie theater or the Microsoft learning center – go early. Cabins are dated and need a redo. TV s are to small. Needs better overall entertainment and activities. Read Less
Sail Date October 2015
This is our 15th cruise, and second on HAL. Holland America's service is outstanding as is the food. Yes, the Zuiderdam is an older ship, but, a well maintained and clean vessel. This ship is for the older crowd, as it doesn't ... Read More
This is our 15th cruise, and second on HAL. Holland America's service is outstanding as is the food. Yes, the Zuiderdam is an older ship, but, a well maintained and clean vessel. This ship is for the older crowd, as it doesn't have climbing walls or ice skating rings. What is does have is almost daily Culinary classes, which I rate a 3, and too many daily Trivia Pursuit games in the Crow's Nest. An Art Gallery with magnificent paintings with magnificent prices and a super B.B. King's lounge, with 6 outstanding musicians and 2 terrific vocalists. The Piano Bar is a fun, sign along lounge. The entertainment in the Vista Lounge was hit and miss, mostly, miss. The 2 comedians were good, as was the magician, but, we sat in the back and left early for the majority of the stage shows. A few of them were high school quality or less. My husband participated in the ring toss, and the golf chipping, and the Texas Hold Them tournaments. Several Cruise Critic members brought their Mah Jonng cards, so we usually had 3 - 4 tables of M.J. on cruise days. The Zuiderdam has 10 sets. The ship's staff gave us no help in securing tables for our daily at sea games. It was a daily scavenger hunt. This didn't seem quite right, since the Bridge and other card games had their own room or designated tables. My husband and I used the Gym on an every other day basics. Zuiderdam's management needs to pay attention to the equipment in it's gym. A large number of the treadmills were out of order, along with the sound on the equipment. We enjoyed our port excursions, which were booked on tours through Cruise Critic members/ We didn't take any of HAL's excursions, because of prices, but, enjoyed KK's daily excursion talks. The Vista dining room offers beautiful, delicious food, with super first class service. Thank you, Zuiderdam. The Lido buffet, is quite good and safe and clean as buffets go. The hot food is served by the staff is very fresh. Our disembarkation in Fort Lauderdale was amazingly easy. No waiting in lines at Customs, and a HAL chartered bus was outside the door to take us to the airport, which is 10 minutes away. We opted for HAL to pick up our luggage and check it through to our final destination. Great service!!! Our Summary of our trip is, that for us, 6 straight days at sea was maybe 2 days too long, but, we give HAL an A for effort in making our journey a very comfortable crossing. Read Less
Sail Date October 2015
HAL put together a 7 day Greece with a 19 day transAtlantic cruise calling it a "Collectors Journey". They promised different meals and shows over the 26 days but repeated the menus and the shows from the first 7 days into the ... Read More
HAL put together a 7 day Greece with a 19 day transAtlantic cruise calling it a "Collectors Journey". They promised different meals and shows over the 26 days but repeated the menus and the shows from the first 7 days into the transatlantic. The ports brought the magic: Athens, Kusadasi, Rhodes, Santorini, Katakalon, Naples, Civitavecchia, Livorno, Barcelona, Palma de Majorca, Alicante, Malaga, Cadiz, Punta Delgado ,Horta and Nassau The ship shows its age (2002) with cabin furniture stained and damaged ; public rooms have mis matched decors of incomplete revisions; toilets failed often in public areas and cabins including ours; drip buckets were found often in hallways from leaks . The recent drydock did not effect the average voyager as it added upper deck VB cabins on Deck 10 and retreat cabanas on Deck 11. They minimized the Crow's Nest. The Screening Room for movies is ludicrous with 24 seats on a ship for 1948 potential passengers to enjoy. The computer classes max out at 12 seats. The lack of synchronization was obvious in the menu-food department. Greek food did not appear until we left Italy, Spanish paella appeared upon our last embarkation from Spain(Cadiz). Dining room service was poor if seated at a table for 8-10 and could soar to excellent service with 2-4 persons. The "On Location" newsletter was difficult and misleading at times. I went to the beginner's bridge lessons to find it was a series started the day before and I was shut out for this cruise. The staff was well trained to smile and be pleasant no matter how awkward or rude the guests were . Dining and room stewards were courteous and always accommodating. We had relatively mild seas for a trans Atlantic cruise and this ship handled the 10 foot seas well despite some histrionic passengers. The entertainment in the main lounge was pitifully amateurish. the instrumentalist were the best of the lot and the house dancers and singers were the worse. The piano bar man Tom was professional and excellent as also "The Band" . We found both sets of classical "Adagio" duos ( 2 separate cruises) as a bit over hyped. The gain on the sound systems routinely appeared turned up too high as if we all are Deaf. The lecturers were inappropriate and boring. As an educated person I would think something on our ports or the history of the region would have made sense. But there was a series on historic airplanes and airplane engines. Really! The other speaker had no purpose/focus The high moment was the destination specialist KK who spoke clearly and honestly about independently visiting each of the ports. She did not discourage use of the HAL shore excursions but she did not discourage the independent traveler. We did not use HAL for shore excursion but used independent sources for 5 excursions in 16 ports . Embarkation in Athens was the worst of our more than 20 cruises. Chaos with insultingly inadequate staff, signage or assistance. many took 2-3 hours standing in the heat trying to get on board HAL took no responsibility to assist getting onboard. WE arrived to be handled a number 16 as they handled number 5 being told it would take at least an hour or more to be called with no chairs or place to sit. Crowded into a cordoned off area. cattle get treated better. Disembarkation at Fort Lauderdale was smooth and professional and all that could be done well. It was stunningly simple and quick. Read Less
Sail Date October 2015
Sanitation: poor. We departed Venice on Oct. 23, 2008, for the 17-day cruise and it wasn't until Oct. 27 that passengers were notified the GI virus had infected passengers on the preceding cruise. By that time the virus was ... Read More
Sanitation: poor. We departed Venice on Oct. 23, 2008, for the 17-day cruise and it wasn't until Oct. 27 that passengers were notified the GI virus had infected passengers on the preceding cruise. By that time the virus was spreading on our cruise and hundreds of passengers became ill. The extensive but belated efforts to encourage hand washing should have been initiated the first day we boarded and passengers should have been IMMEDIATELY informed of the virus danger. Being sick or weak from the illness for nearly one-third of the cruise took much of the enjoyment out of our trip. And it was insulting to hear the repeated announcements that such shipboard virus outbreaks are common. They are not, and this was the first cruise we have been on where there was such an outbreak. It was amusing that we were diverted from our scheduled port stop at Half Moon Cay because another Holland America ship was there, and instead docked at Nassau, where four or five cruise ships from other cruise lines were docked. Apparently infecting them was of no concern. Food: inconsistent quality. Sometimes the beef was wonderful, other times it was so tough it couldn't be cut with a knife. The veal would be good one time and awful the next. The baked goods (as cookies) were only fair. The dining room food often arrived cold (as did the room service coffee) and service was very slow. Overall the food quality was not nearly as good as on our previous cruises. Passengers: there were more poorly dressed passengers than we have ever seen before (such as one man wearing a tee-shirt in the dining room on formal night). Perhaps because of airline luggage restrictions cruise ships may have to entirely give up on any dress code. There seemed to be less courtesy among the passengers than usual, perhaps because of the virus. Entertainment: very good variety and quality. Embarkation/Debarkation: Both were very poorly organized. Hurriedly dumping 1,800 passengers into a processing building which had only two immigration inspectors to handle us was ridiculous. Apparently Holland America wanted to begin a belated thorough disinfecting process ASAP before the next cruise passengers boarded. One report was that their scheduled morning boarding was delayed until 11 p.m.! (I wonder if the cleaning helped?) Laundry service: slow, and my $80 shirt had a hole punched in it. The cost for unlimited service was $120! But with no self-service laundry, there is not much alternative (unless you enjoy wearing dirty clothing or spending a lot of time washing in your cabin). On-board shops: average. Prices of course are almost always better for the same items in the ports, if you can find them. Cabin: The heating/cooling vent in the ceiling blows directly in your face, and if you have sinus problems this can be very uncomfortable. We taped it partially shut to divert the airflow. Our cabin was on the Navigation Deck, immediately below the Lido Deck swimming pool and outside bar dining area at the stern of the ship. The deck of our balcony was constantly soaked with water, apparently from the crew washing the deck immediately above us. The noise from the cleaning crew moving tables and chairs on the Lido Deck woke us up daily between 5 and 7 a.m. I would not recommend this cabin location, and wave motion would have been less felt on a lower deck. The cabin furnishings were worn, dirty and needed replacing. The bed was very comfortable. The day before we docked two crew members (not our room steward) knocked very briefly and then barged in on my wife in bed before she could reply, to empty the refrigerator. Interior stairways: They only have about a 10.5 inch horizontal surface, and can often cause mis-steps/falls. Poor design. Port stops: Average; it would have been nice to have visited Mykonos, Rhodes or Santorini. But of course we knew the itinerary in advance. Venice was great as always. Crew courtesy: excellent, under difficult circumstances. Both the cabin and dining room stewards are greatly overworked, probably another sign of cost-cutting by Holland America. Our hard-working cabin steward, for example, was responsible for about 30 cabins. Summary: Will we cruise Holland America again? Doubtful; probably back to Cunard. Read Less
Sail Date October 2008
We sailed HAL for the first time on the Zuiderdam, transatlantic, Venice - Ft. Lauderdale. It was the cruise from "Hell" for us. Embarkation of 1800 folks was chaotic.. hurry and wait, hurry and wait.. Just imagine folks ... Read More
We sailed HAL for the first time on the Zuiderdam, transatlantic, Venice - Ft. Lauderdale. It was the cruise from "Hell" for us. Embarkation of 1800 folks was chaotic.. hurry and wait, hurry and wait.. Just imagine folks in a warehouse with 10 - 20 counters checking you in and my wife and I with advanced "registration". The number of people on canes, walkers and "scooters" was impressive although we are not of that disability.. we appreciated the older folks who dared the transatlantic crossing. Our basis of comparison was six other cruises, including a transatlantic cruise on the QE II before she was purchased as a hotel. We even bought Carnival stock during the cruise, thinking that we would take advantage of the rumored discount if you owned Carnival stock for our future cruises. As we finally entered our stateroom (not ready when we boarded - but Lido Buffet allowed us to sit and have lunch and buy the $200 wine package) we noted, casually, a letter of "welcome" telling us about previous incidents of "norovirus" and advising us to wash hands frequently from day one. By day five, the buffet had saran wrap closing it in, all trays, silverware, etc. were handed to the guests by ship employees; all salt and pepper was removed and meal service in the dining room slowed to 1 1/2 to 2 hours (including breakfast).. public restrooms were considered off limits and "code red" was in effect. Our $250 thermal package which included the spa pool and thermal rooms were closed and we watched them scrub and clean these areas due to an out of control virus.. Rooms that reported the norovirus were specially handled with masked employees - cleaned and sanitized.. it was reported there were 300 passengers who fell to the virus. Our problems occurred when my wife was tossed into the bathtub during the one day of rough seas with "possible cracked ribs" according to the ship's doctor and the last six hours of the cruise when both of us contracted the norovirus. The nurse came twice during the night, administered a shot and medication to me and scolded my wife for waiting so long to report the symptoms. The virus was a severe case of "Montezuma's Revenge" that I've had in Mexico. It was as if a hand was grasping my intestines and squeezing them with the resulting diarrhea and vomiting for 4 hours. Since it was at the end of the voyage our stateroom was quarantined prior to disembarkation and we were gather with others separately and I was wheeled off the ship, through immigration, customs and onto the bus to Ft.Lauderdale airport where I was wheeled through Ft. Lauderdale, Cincinnati and St. Louis Missouri airports. I was absolutely debilitated and I had trouble holding up my head. We followed up with HAL in Seattle. We had already deposited and schedule our transatlantic crossing on the Eurodam for April, 2009 and have requested full refund of our deposit and reimbursement for costs of getting to departure gates at the various airports in November, 2008. We're anxious to see how HAL recognize our "pain and suffering" during out sixth cruise. We did find many experienced travelers on HAL, the ones we interacted with, were disappointed and said this was not up to HAL standards. Perhaps staff is less available given the cost cutting. Our cabin person confessed that he no long was responsible for 15 cabins but rather 30 as of this crossing. Our stateroom was cleaned and readied by 4 p.m. daily. I'm afraid that this Zuiderdam experience has queered our future sailings. We will think long and hard before we take any other cruise during our lifetimes. We have heard recently that the Regency Cruise Lines is expensive but worth the extra - no "nickle and dime" pestering for drinks and extras as we felt was the case on the Zuiderdam. Our ship board charges amounted to over $2,000 in addition to the cruise and air costs. We learned that many others paid far LESS for similar ship accommodations which was disappointing since we had deposited and reserved six months in advance and thought that we had be treated well. Little did we know that certain charter groups from Canada especially, were attracted by extreme bargain cruise and charter air prices. Read Less
Sail Date October 2008
Seventeen days on the Zuiderdam - a very nice experience. There have been several reviews of this cruise, so I will try to comment on just a few pertinent areas. First: The noro virus. Some people have written that the ship remained ... Read More
Seventeen days on the Zuiderdam - a very nice experience. There have been several reviews of this cruise, so I will try to comment on just a few pertinent areas. First: The noro virus. Some people have written that the ship remained silent about this problem for the first week or so of the cruise. I remember it differently. I specifically remember an announcement on embarkation day that there had been some cases of intestinal disorder on the previous cruise and advising passengers to take the appropriate precautions. There was also a written note to that effect in our suite. After 3 or 4 days, it became clear to the medical staff on board that the virus was still with the ship. There were announcements every day from that point on about the situation and reminders to be sanitary, wash hands, etc. I spent a day and a half in quarantine and felt that I got excellent, professional treatment. Every member of the crew pitched in and helped, particularly in food service where, because of the virus, passengers were not allowed to touch anything until it was on the plate. This was particularly cumbersome in the Lido Buffet. As a result lunches were not very enjoyable. I thought the officers, crew, and medical staff did everything they could to deal with this problem. The CDC calls this virus the second most common contagious disease(next to the cold.) The presence of such a virus in an enclosed environment presents most difficult challenges. I applaud the crew for their hard work and great attitude while dealing with this problem Two highlights: The quality of food at dinner time on this ship was as good as, or better than we have experienced in something over a dozen cruises. I have always thought that Holland America provided good, but not great food. They exceeded my expectations on this cruise. Every evening meal on this 17-day cruise was excellent! We enjoyed the meals in the main dining room and had three dinners in the Pinnacle Grill. The food in either venue was consistently outstanding. The Pinnacle Grill quality was slightly better and the service there was as good as I've seen. We have enjoyed wonderful meals on Crystal and Regent. Our experiences on this cruise were just as memorable. What a great surprise! The other highlight was the quality of the singing and dancing troupe on the ship. These young folks were more talented than any I have seen on a cruise ship. In a cast like this, I usually find one singer with great talent while the rest are just supporting. This cast had 4 singers, and each one was tremendous. The dancing and showmanship of the entire cast brings a smile to my face even now. One "lowlight": "As You Wish Dining" doesn't work very well on Zuiderdam. Indeed, we began to refer to it as "As the Zuiderdam wishes dining." We tried advance reservations. (They don't take reservations during the most desirable dining times - so if you want a reservation you must eat before 6 or after 8:30.) We tried showing up "when we wanted to dine with whom we wanted" (as the ads say). Each appearance at the restaurant was an adventure. We were shown to tables that were already occupied. We were told that there were no tables for four, only to get to the room and see several empty tables for four. Then, on other nights everything worked very well. There may be a way to make this system work. If so, Zuiderdam hasn't discovered it. Although a problem, it was overcome by the outstanding food we enjoyed once we were seated. One final comment. I'd read in various reviews that the decor of the Zuiderdam was rather gaudy. This must have been mitigated in the ship's most recent drydock. We felt that the ship was very tastefully decorated and had no complaints at all in that regard. Summary: The cruise was excellent despite the nagging presence of the noro virus. The outstanding attitude and amazing hard work by the crew is what made the cruise enjoyable despite the big challenges they faced. Read Less
Sail Date October 2008
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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