33 Holland America Zuiderdam Cruise Reviews for Senior Cruises to Panama Canal & Central America

We chose the cruise for it's destination, the Panama Canal and for it's embarkation port, Ft. Lauderdale. The ship was fine, the stateroom was excellent and the service staff was wonderful. We did NOT feel the same about the ship ... Read More
We chose the cruise for it's destination, the Panama Canal and for it's embarkation port, Ft. Lauderdale. The ship was fine, the stateroom was excellent and the service staff was wonderful. We did NOT feel the same about the ship personnel. They were aloof and never smiled or made eye contact. We also felt that there was a constant sales pitch for jewelry or spa services. We were inundated by daily paper advertisements in our mailbox, definitely not environmentally friendly. The beverage package is NOT worth it. We never knew exactly what was or was not included, forcing us to ask and making us feel uncomfortable. We did not feel that we got our money's worth. The on board activities were lacking which made for boring sea days. The pools were small and too cold, the hot tubs were not hot enough and looked grimy. Service in the Canaletto specialty restaurant was bordering on arrogant and the food was average. We therefore skipped all other specialty restaurants. The buffet food was good. The entertainment at night was very good, especially enjoyed Hilby. Aruba was underwhelming while Willemstad was fun. We walked both cities. Our main event was the Panama Canal and we booked the Canal Experience. We do NOT recommend it. The guide was repetitive, the food was dubious and the boat was very old. It had a malfunctioning engine and spewed fumes all over the decks. We sat there for 4 hrs, breathing through wet towels. HAL refunded the money but otherwise did not check in with the two passengers with medical emergencies this had caused. Again, aloof and did not care despite our complaint. Be aware, HAL definitely caters to older customers. There were a lot of walkers and wheelchairs on board and the ship was quiet after 930p...not catering to the more active, even if senior, customer. Read Less
Sail Date November 2019
The Panama Canal was exciting.it was awesome to see how it was done, The crew on the ship was fabulous expecially as follows Danny , was so amazing always making sure everything was okay, and went out of his way to make you feel so ... Read More
The Panama Canal was exciting.it was awesome to see how it was done, The crew on the ship was fabulous expecially as follows Danny , was so amazing always making sure everything was okay, and went out of his way to make you feel so welcome and enjoyable Rene our drink guy , was so informative of drinks , wines ,if you weren’t sure what you liked he was sure he’d bring something you like and he did Zeri, our mint man after dinner was so entertaining and such a comedian , he even went out of his way to take a picture with the professional photographer. Lucky, our waiter was so deliteful to see every evening, how he remembered everyone’s name was amazing, so astonishing. Aguhn, our server, was so remarkable how he knew everything on the menu. Olivia in Lido restaurant, was so sweet and pleasant. It was a delightful day to see her smiling face every morning and afternoon who went out of her way to make sure you got what you wanted and came and talked to see how your day was going. Sweet as cotton candy, I told her. I will cruise again with Holland American. One complaint, was the evening menu, seem to be a lot of the same, except each night things were changed a little. We did start with the norovirus, it was amazing to see how well everyone was sure not to make it spread. , very well accomplished so our cruise was deli. Read Less
Sail Date February 2019
Our first cruise ever was on the MS Zuiderdam from Jan 7, 2018 to Jan 17, 2018. It was an initiation for sure! The weather was not the greatest to start with and progressively worsened throughout the cruise. After our second last stop in ... Read More
Our first cruise ever was on the MS Zuiderdam from Jan 7, 2018 to Jan 17, 2018. It was an initiation for sure! The weather was not the greatest to start with and progressively worsened throughout the cruise. After our second last stop in Colon, Panama the weather really turned nasty and the ship truly started to rock. The weather was so bad, that the captain decided that it was unsafe to dock at our last port of call Puerto Limon, Costa Rica. So we proceeded back to Ft. Lauderdale and spent the last part of our cruise on rough seas for 3 days. It was not much fun! To be fair, the weather was not Holland America’s fault and we and they attempted to make the best of an unfortunate situation. For the most part, we did enjoy our cruise especially the stops at Half Moon Cay, Aruba and Curacao. However, the cruise through the Panama Canal was boring and if you did not partake of one of the many day excursions offered through EXC Tours then you were not allowed to disembark from the ship at Gatun Lake (there was absolutely nothing there). Some of these tours were expensive and exceeded on average 5.5 hours in time. Passengers who took the tours were picked up at Colon when the ship docked but were warned that the ship could be late because their return time through the canal was controlled by the Panama Canal Authority. They were told to stay within the terminal facilities until the ship’s return for the safety reasons as elaborated below. When the ship did return to Colon, we were allowed to disembark but were warned to stay inside the terminal premises as it was considered unsafe to venture past the terminal facilities. The shopping within the terminal facilities was somewhat limited and there was not much else to do but return to the ship and await departure. Personally, I would find another more inviting and safer port of call. Overall, staff and crew on the MS Zuiderdam were very organized, efficient, friendly and courteous. The embarkation and disembarkation were systematic and well controlled. Our room stewards Nugi and Chris were amazing and were always present should you require some assistance. Their positive vibes were constantly evident even when the last part of our cruise was not the best. I truly wanted to thank them in this review. Servers that also came to our attention were Joel and John Patrick who provided excellent and attentive service - again, making this a somewhat more relaxing cruise. Overall though, I am not sure that I would recommend this cruise for everyone. If the weather was inclement as it was for us, then the alternatives were small to nil with the exception of returning to Ft. Lauderdale. Would we go on a cruise again? – most certainly!! Sometimes you just have to rock and roll with the flow. Read Less
Sail Date January 2018
We chose to cruise on the Zuiderdam ship because it went to the Southern Caribbean, Central America, and the Panama Canal. The price was excellent for a long cruise. We had a great cruise with no real issues. I had read some rather ... Read More
We chose to cruise on the Zuiderdam ship because it went to the Southern Caribbean, Central America, and the Panama Canal. The price was excellent for a long cruise. We had a great cruise with no real issues. I had read some rather negative reviews so I wanted to share my experience to balance out the reviews for this ship. I would cruise on this ship again as it provided us a wonderful, laid-back cruise with outstanding service throughout the ship. Embarkation: We arrived at the cruise port by taxi from Ft. Lauderdale Airport. This is a short 10 minute taxi ride which cost about $20.00 (set by Florida law). Once we arrived at the cruise port, we had to stand in line for an hour to embark. Even though this was not an awful experience, it could have moved faster. I think we just arrived at the prime time (12:30pm) when most people arrived. They did need more help during embarkation, at least for this busy time period. Once on board, everything was great. Our room was ready when we arrived with luggage arriving in about 2 hours. LIdo Dining: We had lunch on the Lido deck the first day and most days thereafter. We found the food choices varied and good. Service on Lido was excellent with wait staff bringing drinks to your table once you obtained your food. The Lido staff was helpful, pleasant, and hard-working. We usually ate lunch here each day and found the food to be good. We really liked the salads which the staff made as you selected items from a diverse choice of ingredients. They make the salad to prevent spread of germs which I applaud. I hate buffets where everyone touches the utensils to serve themselves. This staff ensures less spread of germs by serving the cruisers. Ship: The ship is an older ship but did not look completely worn out as some have reported. The outside had been painted so we did not see the rust others discussed. The outside is dark navy and white which is not beautiful to look at but that is not why we choose a ship. Some carpets had been replaced but some needed to be replaced. Some furniture was outdated but not torn or in disrepair. Overall, the ship was easy to navigate, clean, and well-designed. We actually loved the ship and would sail on it again. The art work and decor is vibrant and interesting (sometimes strange looking) but colorful. I never saw anything that looked dirty or in disrepair on this 11-day cruise. There needs to be more shopping on the ship. The shopping was extremely limited on this ship. However, that is not why I choose a ship, either. Dining Room: We loved the formal dining room (Vista). The food choices were varied and mostly good. The highlight of the formal dining room was the staff. They were outstanding, making the experience so nice. We never went to the restaurants that charge extra as we were pleased with the formal dining room menus. We ate there each night. We did not eat breakfast in the dining room but many did and liked it. We preferred room service as we enjoy eating on the balcony in our room and not rushing out in the mornings. On my partner's birthday, the dining room brought a beautiful cake and sang to him. They did this twice that week. It was very nice. Room: We had cabin 4145 and it was great. We had an extended balcony with lounge chairs and a table. For the first time on my cruises, I had a bathtub which I truly enjoyed. The balcony room (Category VB) was adequate in terms of storage and space. I would like to see more up-to-date furniture and a larger TV but this did not negatively impact our trip. The bedding was really good. I have never slept so well on any ship as the mattress and pillows were fantastic which is very important on an 11-day cruise. Overall, the room served our needs well. We had plenty of space for two adults, ample storage and closet space, and a great balcony. There are drawers under the sofa and under the bed which was nice to have for things you did not need every day. Service: Our room stewards were fantastic. No matter what I asked for, they provided. They even brought me a fan because I am very hot-natured but my partner likes the room warmer than I do. The AC worked fine in the room. Our stewards kept the room clean and were always available to assist us, if needed. The deck is showing its age but it was clean and very large compared to other lines we have traveled on. The service on Lido and the formal dining room was great, too. We found bartenders and wait staff in other areas of the ship to be very customer-focused. We have no complaints about service. In fact, this is one of the best ships for excellent service that we have traveled. Entertainment and Activities: The band in the BB Blues Club was outstanding, playing a variety of music that the cruisers loved. We danced there every time they were playing. They usually take one night off each week. The room (Queens Lounge) has a great design being shaped like a half moon with the band on a stage and a dance floor in front of the band. From anywhere in the room, you could see the band and the dancers. We loved dancing in this club. The Disco Club was not some place we wanted to dance. It is definitely designed for a younger group. The show band played about 5 out of 7 nights from 5-8 in the Ocean Bar which allowed ballroom dancers a venue to dance. However, there needed to be more dancing in this area beyond 7:45pm. Some nights, there was no music in this area. The shows in the theatre were alright but the singers and dancers were not super talented and the shows were short (about 45 minutes). The band and dancers usually only had about 3 shows in an 11-day cruise. However, the band did play for other events and the band was great. The comedian acts were very mediocre. This is the one area that the ship needs to improve for future cruises. Activities included cooking classes, fitness group activities, technology workshops, and art meetings. There were 3 days that included dance lessons but there needed to be more dance lessons offered, especially with so many older cruisers aboard. This is a great exercise for older adults and a way to socialize. There were cards games, etc. offered but we did not do these types of activities. I did learn how to make creme brulee which is a favorite on the ship. We did attend dance lessons but not enough were offered. I do think the cruise director needs to add more dancing classes on the ship. The casino is very small but includes different games to play. Ports and excursions: We loved Aruba and visited the city and interacted with the people. The beaches were pretty and the people were very friendly. We did take several excursions and was pleased with them as they were as described. Curacao was beautiful. We toured the island with a cruiseline excursion and enjoyed learning about the culture of the people. In Costa Rico, we visited the city and visited the banana plantation plus visited a village where the people shared their culture through dance with us. The private island was outstanding with many activities, including a lunch prepared by the cruise ship staff. Due to inclement weather, one of our excursions was canceled by the cruiseline and we were refunded. The Panama Canal was awesome to experience. Many people got off the ship while we were in Lake Gatum but we remained on the ship to travel through the locks again. Overall impression: We loved this cruise. We are 64 years old and found that most cruisers were above age 55 which meant it was a quiet experience in all venues we visited on the ship. We enjoyed the quietness of this cruise and found the overall experience was excellent with the service being the best part of the ship experience. I would cruise on the Zuiderdam again, even though she is an older ship. We loved the BB Clues Band and enjoyed dancing each night on the ship. Food was very good and offered diversity to suit various tastes and preferences. I am ready to go again! Read Less
Sail Date November 2016
Embarkation for our panama Sunfarer cruise was very smooth. We arrived at cruise port by 11 and were on the ship by noon. We are an older couple (65 and 71) so we fit right in with the much older crowd than we have been with on other ... Read More
Embarkation for our panama Sunfarer cruise was very smooth. We arrived at cruise port by 11 and were on the ship by noon. We are an older couple (65 and 71) so we fit right in with the much older crowd than we have been with on other cruises. The ship certainly caters to us oldsters, both in décor and musical genres. Our cabin was spacious and beyond expectations. We had purchased a verandah guarantee and wound up with cabin 4176 which was about 380 sq.ft. including the 100 sq.ft. balcony. The cabin was located aft and afforded us fantastic views, especially when transiting the Panama Canal. Our room stewards were polite and very obliging. We tipped them to start off with but I don't think that had any effect on their level of service. Dining room and Lido waiters were all very efficient and friendly. The food was very good and offered a nice variety. Trivia was fun, Piano Bar player Annika was very good, Kevin playing steel pans was excellent, B B King Blues Band was over the top good. The Crows Nest and Explorations Cafe were delightful, and the quality of the library was unexpectedly good. Room service was also very good, and delivered in a timely manner.Our only slight disappointment was the quality of the singers and dancers on the Vista stage. They were not up to the standards of any other cruise line we have been on: Carnival, Norwegian, or Celebrity. But I understand that the shows are being revamped with a new talent agency over the next little while, so that might improve. All in all, this was a lovely experience. Read Less
Sail Date April 2016
I had cruised Holland before, service was great in every way. entertainment good, ship was very clean , we really enjoyed our cabin with a balcony.. we had breakfast on balcony every morning great.;,,food was excellent. the shore ... Read More
I had cruised Holland before, service was great in every way. entertainment good, ship was very clean , we really enjoyed our cabin with a balcony.. we had breakfast on balcony every morning great.;,,food was excellent. the shore excursions were delightful,,,yes I would go again we really enjoyed going thru the rain forest in costa rica the most our cabin stewerts were wonderful so was the waiters assigned to our dinning table also very friendly and entertaining .I was able to attend digital workshops everyday the instructor was very helpful I really enjoyed this. ,while my room mate enjoyed the casino,.watching the sunsets was just beautiful from our balcony most evenings .the beds were very comfortable . we had forgotten a drop cord for my c-pap machine so our cabin stewert didn't hesitate to find me one.. my room mate really was empressed with all the towel animals found on our beds each night upon returning to our room. going thru the panama canal was very exciting .was different than what I expected.yes we're ready to go again Read Less
Sail Date March 2016
When you think of Holland America and know that it has an older crowd, know that on this particular ship the average age is 80. Of the 1800 passengers less than 100 were under the age of 60. Very few were even in their 60s. Almost everyone ... Read More
When you think of Holland America and know that it has an older crowd, know that on this particular ship the average age is 80. Of the 1800 passengers less than 100 were under the age of 60. Very few were even in their 60s. Almost everyone that we interacted with were in their 80s. Nearly everyone went to bed straight after the 8:00 show let out. If there was an actual emergency onboard there is no way people would get to the lifeboats swiftly. The octogenarians were not an negative aspect, but be aware that no one is really awake past 9:30 and that the pace is slower than slow. My friend and I are in our 50s and we spent the whole time wanting to aid the older people who were having trouble moving deck chairs and whatnot. We also felt resentment when we went to shows and bar early to get seats for shows and older and later people would show up and have nowhere to sit. But we paid too, and we couldn't keep giving up out seats like we were on a subway or something. This is a senior cruise, and really should be labeled that. The cruise director was the worst I have ever experienced, ,and when I mentioned this to several crew members, they had all noticed the same issues and agreed he was horrible. They said they had never worked with someone so disengaged with the passengers. He was very preoccupied with his girlfriend, who is also a crew member. The only times you would really see him was before a show started. He was never out mingling with the guests or greeting anyone. Throughout the cruise as we passed crew in the hallways, they all went out of their way to greet every single passenger. We passed him three times over the course of our cruise and twice he purposely looked down at the ground and said nothing and the third time he just looked past everyone. We saw him at the ports, not saying anything to any passengers but flirting with his girlfriend and being amorous. Once we passed him using a phone on the ship and heard him giggling and talking dirty. He was horrid. I liked the food. We went to the Pinnacle twice for their regular menu, and once for Le Cirque. Le Cirque was well worth it and the other two times were not. Might as well have gone to the regular dining room or Lido, which had lots of options. They had pizza and ice cream available at any hour, and other options available til 11:30pm. The condition of the ship was also not bad. We saw some buckets collecting various leaks in the photo lounge, but didn't see any rust or any furniture in bad shape. Our room was very nice, large, clean. We were happy with that. We did the Embera Village shore excursion in Panama. I would not go again. We did not go to Panama, ride in a bus for an hour and a half, then a motor powered leaking canoe for 7 minutes, to an obviously uninhabited collection of huts to purchase items from China from people who are wearing Hawaiian costumes. The people in the village are dressed in said costumes that they readily tell you that they have bought from China. They also try to sell baskets, beads, jewelry, and other items that they have purchased from China. And the items that they are selling they are also selling right at the port. They ask for candy and money for the children, but they you see all the adult men eating the candy and they admit that the children have uniforms for a local school and so the money is probably for all the satellite dishes that you see throughout the village. The villagers also do not live in the huts that you see, they live in concrete buildings toward the back. Where they have running water and televisions and computers. They whole place is a scam. I'm sure there is not any other opportunity for these people really, other than selling cheap Chinese merchandise and begging for money, but just know what it is before getting into it. On the way home everyone was talking about and pointing out the absurdity of this excursion. The cruise entertainment was a mixed bag. The Zuiderdam singers and dancers were very similar to watching the Lawrence Welk Show. Their music was not modern, nor was their dancing. Some of the singers were not very good. They performed three or four times. Kevin, the steel drum player was really great, but he didn't seem to know that many songs. He played the same music everyday on the deck. There was a magician named James Cielan who was pretty good. BB King Blues was the place to be. They did sing the same 20 songs over and over each night, but they were at least lively. And then there was Stryker in the Piano Bar, the theater, the deck, the Queen's Lounge. He performed every single day, sometimes twice a day. He apparently has lived on the ship for nearly 10 years, we were told this by the crew. He gets a packed crowd each night because the octogenarians like to sing Oh When the Saints Go Marching In before heading to bed at 9 pm. They also like to sing Sweet Caroline over and over. He is a very good singer and very good piano player, but as per the usual complaint for the enetertainment category, plays the same 20 songs over and over again. So you have Kevin on steel drums, Stryker, the Zuiderdam Singers and Dancers, plus BB KIng people all playing "Fernando" each day for 12 days. You will never want to hear certain sings again. And Stryker makes this point that he knows every song, but as soon as someone requests (for example, Stevie Nicks) something that isn't on his boring list, he doesn't know it and won't play it. There wasn't anything interesting to do on sea days or between ports onboard. People ended up napping all over the ship or eating during these times. We did too. Embarking was swift and easy, disembarking was not. We had a good cruise, but it could have been better. Simon the cruise director needs to be retrained or removed. They needs to stop playing the same 20 songs repeatedly each day. Stryker and the Zuiderdam Singers and Dancers need to freshen up their acts. Everything else was pretty good. It was a very slow pace on this ship, good for relaxing. We enjoyed the ports, though more than 4 early morning hours in Cartagena would have been nice. I would recommend this ship for octogenarians who like Lawrence Welk and napping. You will have a great time. Read Less
Sail Date March 2016
It's the first time we haven't driven down to Florida from Ont. Ca. We flew using the services of HAL, on A/C, we had checked out the air fares before we booked the flight, and the fares were cheaper than what was quoted with ... Read More
It's the first time we haven't driven down to Florida from Ont. Ca. We flew using the services of HAL, on A/C, we had checked out the air fares before we booked the flight, and the fares were cheaper than what was quoted with A/C, by a few $. We always arrive the day ahead, especially this time in case of snow, and if the flight was cancelled, needn't have worried, no snow. we booked the hotel our selves, not with the HAL., and took the hotel shuttle to the port. We have been on HAL before, September 1994, one of the last ships to Alaska, at that time I had slipped a disc, 10 days before, the Dr allowed me two travel if I rested and did my exsercises. HAL at that time were excellent, with me needs. We had wanted to cruise the Panama Canal, for my husband's 80th, and we had checked out other cruise lines, and HAL had the best itenery to suit us. We weren't disappointed. Yes, it's an older ship, and may need some repairs, what ship doesn't, but maintanence was being done and keeped in check. One review I had read, stated it was rusty, yes it had some rust, but remember it's salt water, and when it rains, salt is in the rain, and metal doesn't like salt water. Stair carpets were being replaced, no problems, they have to be done some time, and they weren't all done at the same time. I did hear the second day out, that the aft balcony cabins had problems with the plumbing, on some decks, but I don't know for how long. Also some of the ladies toilets did get plugged and maintenance was onto it. BUT THIS HAS HAPPENED ON OTHER SHIPS TOO. We had booked a guarantee in side, and when we received our cabin number, main deck 1031, right under the bars and casino, we were worried about the noise level, (we go to bed early most nights) we needn't have been, didn't hear a thing, heard more of people walking down the hall. Was disappointed that the walls weren't metal, couldn't hang my hooks on them. My over the door shoes rack, only just made it, a bit tight. Lots of storage, could put the cases under the bed. The cabin was very spacious, had a 1/2 moon shaped sofa, with table and the usual dressing table. Plenty of room in the bathroom too, was a shower only, which is fine with us. Did appreciate the handle bars in the shower, plus all the amenities. Wasn't keen on the "Half Noon Cay", must say RCL's much better by far, but my husband did enjoy the swimming there the first week, the weather and water around 80f. The second week the weather was bad, cold and rainy, which should have been a warning to my husband, he caught a very bad head cold. Bad for him, great for me, as I got to do things I wanted to do. First two days, I would take his meals down to him, he eventually did wander up for meals and sitting on deck three, promenade, for the next 4 or 5 days. As I said, I got to do a lot of trivia games, and things that I liked to do. Met a lot of cruisers that way. EMBARKATION AND DISEMBARKATION:- was a breeze, even when we had to disembark in F.L. to continue on to our second portion of the cruise. DINING:- we had booked first sitting, and asked for 6-8 size table, was placed on a table for 4, the other couple didn't show. The waiter had two other tables of 8, making our service slow, no fault of his, very nice waiters, so tried "any time dining" for a couple of times, then we ended up in the Lido restaurant for all meals, suited us better, food the same, especially while my husband was sick. THE ENTERTAINMENT:- was very good. In the Adagio lounge the first week was "Dmytro and Eugenia" Who were EXCELLENT. When they preformed on the Vista stage, with "The Band" (asked for by many guests, and HAL put on as a special event) you couldn't have asked for a better concert. They were missed the second week. "The Band", in the Ocean Bar, were good, they're not too sure about the tempo for Ballroon dancing, and the tunes were too long at times, but was still enjoyable. The floor needed to be bigger. BB King was loved by all. Nice dance floor and bigger, they need to switch floors for ballroom dancing, even if every over day or so. The Zuiderdam Singers and Dancers were good especially the second week. FITNESS CENTER:- Rich and Matt very pleasant, Rich gave us a exercise to continue with when we got home. SHORE EXCURSIONS:- Only did two. One in Cartagena on my own, as hubby sick, went with the ship, well worth it, just a two hour walk about on my own, got my coffees for presents, the other one on disembarkation, did the "land and Water" tour ending up at the airport. was good, was raining, passed the time away. PUBLIC ROOMS AND CREW:- All the crew were great and helpful, always a smile on their faces, nothing was too much trouble, even in the Lido at 10.30pm, when I had forgotten my milk for Meds. Cruise direct Rick, and Show host Andy, and Alice were great, The public rooms were always clean. I would do my "walking at 5.30-6.00am, on the inside on the promenade deck, there was always cleaners cleaning. DIGITAL :- We took a few work shops for "Windows 10" DECORE:- with it being a New Years Eve cruise, every where was decorated for the season, and looked lovely and festive, the only thing was, I left it too late to take photos, not thinking they would take them down, so don't have any memories of them. THE CANAL:- it was all that we expected, they did open up all decks, so we could see going through. Must do it again when they open up the new canal. OVER ALL:- Would we go on HAL again?, yes we would, Would we recommended HAL to other cruisers? Yes we would. Thank you HAL for a great cruise. Read Less
Sail Date December 2015
Recently returned form a 10 day cruise on the Zuiderdam to Aruba, Curacao, Panama Canal and Costa Rica. Some of my favorite places to visit. Our first cruise on the Zuiderdam. We had sailed on the Maasdam a couple months before so being ... Read More
Recently returned form a 10 day cruise on the Zuiderdam to Aruba, Curacao, Panama Canal and Costa Rica. Some of my favorite places to visit. Our first cruise on the Zuiderdam. We had sailed on the Maasdam a couple months before so being they are similar ships, Zuiderdam a bit bigger, we knew what it was like. We parked in one of the nearby lots from which they transported us to the terminal. Went very smoothly. As did the return when we got back. Had a very nice balcony room on deck 10 with a very good room steward. And our dining room experience was excellent. We reserved the same table every night because of our waiter, Victor, and every night was perfect. By the last couple nights he knew ahead of time what we were going to order. The ship was laid out nicely and since we had a midship room we never had to walk very far. I did the spa experience for the cruise and really enjoyed the heated pool and thermal room. Did that twice a day. Holland America has nice spa areas. We enjoyed our island stops. Aruba we just toured on our own. Mainly the casino by the port. Curacao is still a beautiful port to sail into. And it was good to see the bridge across the entrance back working. Panama we just stayed on the ship and enjoyed the area. Costa Rica we did the white water rafting tour. We've done that for the past 20 years and never get tired of it. Beautiful country. All in all an excellent cruise we will do again. Read Less
Sail Date December 2015
Having sailed numerous times (over 200 days) on Holland america I think I can safely say they have dropped from a premier cruise line to a mediocre line. Upon arriving I was told that I was only a 3 star Mariner and I could wait with ... Read More
Having sailed numerous times (over 200 days) on Holland america I think I can safely say they have dropped from a premier cruise line to a mediocre line. Upon arriving I was told that I was only a 3 star Mariner and I could wait with everyone else. Nice remark. I think I saw beef once on the 10 days. The line ha s changed over to pork, lamb, chicken and turkey. It does get old the same meats. They also pushed the Caribbean foods this is not my bad. As for the shows perhaps they need a new supplier. The two comedians were not that funny....The ships singers I did care for though they had great voices , you can't do a rock in roll show with operatic voice. The best show was the BB King. As for the ports we pulled into Bonnaire on a national holiday and everything was closed except for street vendors. In the ports of Panama and Costa Rico you did not dare go into town and they told you that. All tours were into the jungle to see the wild life. Not really my cup of tea. On the good side the crew (stewards and bar keeps) worked hard taking care of you Read Less
Sail Date December 2015
Our 9th cruise, and 2nd on Holland America was just O.K. The food was Buffet Restaurant quality at best, ( think Golden Corral, Old Country Buffet). Dining room service was not quite up to par as I've experienced on most other ... Read More
Our 9th cruise, and 2nd on Holland America was just O.K. The food was Buffet Restaurant quality at best, ( think Golden Corral, Old Country Buffet). Dining room service was not quite up to par as I've experienced on most other cruise lines, but all services were done with a smile! Main stage entertainment was, as others have commented, High School Drama/Glee Club quality. Demographic was 85%-90% Retiree community and over. The accessibility services for the port excursions was top notch! Cruise Director (Rick) went above and beyond to ensure a fantastic experience for all! Excursions were GREAT! The Canal, GREAT! The "Band" was hard-working, and extremely flexible. B.B. King Band were not the seasoned caliber of a previous HAL cruise we experienced. Happy Hour in Northern Lights (10:30-11:30) was always fun, even starting a tad bit early. Great room Steward Staff (5064-Mad'e) and overall friendliness. I loved that the Pool Staff did not pressure us to buy drinks, but were available if we wanted. Andy-Host extraordinaire, Ashley- Cooking/Cuisine Expert, Rick-Cruise Director, really made our experience one we'll remember forever! Thanks again Holland America! Read Less
Sail Date November 2015
The long & short of this cruise was that quite a few passengers ended up with Bronchitis. Was this the fault of the ship, of course there is no way of telling. However, it certainly did color our enjoyment of the trip. While we are ... Read More
The long & short of this cruise was that quite a few passengers ended up with Bronchitis. Was this the fault of the ship, of course there is no way of telling. However, it certainly did color our enjoyment of the trip. While we are both pushing 70, this cruise did not fit our style. The Zuiderdam is showing her age and yes I know that she is going into dry dock in a couple of months (April 2015). However, small things add up and put an edge on the experience. There were lots of activities to choose from: Dancing with Stars at Sea - had I felt better I would have given it a try; Cooking Shows; Windows 8.1 Workshop; the typical Shopping Seminars; etc; etc. One thing that the Zuiderdam can not be faulted on was the service - our cabin stewards (Holly & Dee) knew that we weren't feeling well and went out of their way to check on us, water, ice, extra blankets, etc The table staff in the Lido restaurant were all friendly and more than willing to help finding a table bringing water, coffee, etc. When asked they helped me take food back to the cabin when we wanted something other than what Room Service offered. When I found that I had locked key to my TSA lock inside my luggage, the locksmith was there in less than 10 minutes. On the third day we mentioned to our steward that the shower/tub appeared to be draining slowly - 15 minutes later there's the plumber at the door. Compared to our previous cabins, this one felt small. It may only have been the layout but the perception was there. The one area that I was less than thrilled with was the dining. We ate once in the Vista (opening seating). The service was fine and the new friends that we met made the dinner enjoyable. The food failed to impress, lukewarm food won't impress anyone. The food in the Lido restaurant suffered the same handicap. Service from a steam table should be HOT not tepid, the exceptions to this were the Omelet, English Breakfast and the Pasta Stations. The answer is simple, each of these are prepared to order not off the steam line. Ice cream was melting as it was put in the bowl, turn on the freezer. Our experience with Shore Excursions this trip was limited. Half Moon Cay has much to offer and is a nice break. The excursions around the island are impressive but the downtown core of Aruba is a bit shoddy but with a great selection of shops ( Diamonds Int'l, etc, etc). Curacao is a pleasure to visit with its brightly painted Dutch Colonial buildings. We toured Cartagena with a group from Cruise Critic. We had 4 hours with a guide and saw the key points of the Old City and touched the newer areas. Don't miss La Popa Monastery, it high overlooking the harbor, much like the Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janiero. We skipped the Panama Excursions only because our bronchitis was really bothering us and the coughing was a distraction for those around us. The last port was Puerto Limon, Costa Rica. As the antibiotics were being to work we decided to venture forth to see Tayutic Hacienda. DON'T SKIP THIS ONE. Yes, it's a two hour bus ride each way and we left at 7 AM. The bus is an air conditioned highway coach and the roads are in excellent condition. The scenery is exceptional. At the Hacienda there are demonstrations of Macadamia nut, Coffee bean and Sugar Cane processing with a delicious traditional lunch and a visit to RC chapel on the property that was built by the original owner from pieces that they salvaged from other churches that were being updated. The Hacienda is only 13 miles from Mt. Turrialba,an active volcano. We chose to taxi to and from the airport; it's only a 15 - 20 minute ride fare runs $15. HAL offers Baggage Direct service for $20 / person. Bags outside the door before midnight and they take them to airport check them through to your final destination and issue your boarding passes. All you have to do is walk off with your carry-on and get to the airport. The airline baggage fees are added to your stateroom account. Don't get sick on a cruise ship..... The prescription prices are exorbitant and make certain that your medical insurance will cover it. All in all, it wasn't a terrible cruise! As I stated at the first, our experience was tainted by an illness. We are certain that we would have enjoyed the cruise in more favorable circumstances.   Read Less
Sail Date February 2015
Had this been the first HAL ship we ever sailed on we would never choose HAL again! To start with the first 3 days of the cruise the toilets in our cabin as well as the toilets in many of the public areas were not working! It took that ... Read More
Had this been the first HAL ship we ever sailed on we would never choose HAL again! To start with the first 3 days of the cruise the toilets in our cabin as well as the toilets in many of the public areas were not working! It took that long for the crew to fix the problem! The shower water in our veranda cabin was either boiling hot or extra boiling hot! When I complained to guest services they said they will send someone to check it out. It took three days and a demand to speak to a supervisor before a plumber came & changed the water assembly in the shower. On the second day of the cruise we could not open the veranda door to go out on the veranda. That took another two days and a demand again to speak to a supervisor to finally get it repaired as the lock inside the door assembly had broken. But unfortunately when we did go out on our veranda the couple next door was smoking so much that we had to retreat to our cabin because we could not stop coughing. HAL you could easily remedy this by putting smokers in a separate area of the ship so they don't destroy non-smokers vacations! And why is there smoking in the Casino which is open to the rest of the ship and between the dining room and the Vista Lounge where all the shows are? Also we were told three separate times that there was no credit card on file, while I checked us in well before sailing, and got demands each time to put a hold on my credit card for a total of $3000 hold on my card, even though I paid for the trip and had on board credits to cover everything well before we sailed? The service in the Lido dining room was terrible. There were long lines for everything and no one would offer any help. There were servers who stood around and all they would do was cleanup the tables. When I asked if they would bring water or coffee I was pointed to long lines to wait on even for water! The only ship's tour I took was the sunset cruise in Aruba which was fine. I heard many disgruntled comments about the ships tours at the other stops. And one couple was much happier with their tour with Lucky tours, not through the ship, in one of the ports. They said the tour guide was far superior to their previous tour with HAL's company. This ship is old and showing its age! As for the shows in the Vista Lounge, they were Ok but many seats were unusable as they were behind large columns so unless you came very early to the show you would not get a viewing seat. Since we tried to eat at 7 pm, we tried to make the 8:30pm show, by the time we finished dinner & got to the show there were plenty of seats but none where you could see the show without a column in your way. I must commend the maitre'd's in the Vista dining room, anytime dining, as well as our waitstaff, Bennie and Joko and the head chef, Ugo. They went out of their way for us as my husband could not eat certain foods and the food was quite good. We sailed on the Nieuw Amsterdam last August from Venice to Barcelona. That ship was managed far superior to the Zuiderdam! Never again on a ship older than three years in this fleet!! Read Less
Sail Date March 2014
Although we have enjoyed multiple cruises with the other mainstream lines, this was our first with Holland America. Embarkation was interesting!!! As I passed through the electronic security screen, I set off the alarm. Before I could ... Read More
Although we have enjoyed multiple cruises with the other mainstream lines, this was our first with Holland America. Embarkation was interesting!!! As I passed through the electronic security screen, I set off the alarm. Before I could remove my watch, (which caused a similar reaction at the airport), I was hustled over to the side and groped in a most intrusive manner by a wannabe prison guard. The cruise lines need to do a better job of screening their “rent-a-cops.” The one I encountered certainly skipped more than a few of H.A.L.’s “Service Excellence” program classes. I wasn’t sure whether I was going on a cruise or being incarcerated. Once on board things improved considerably. We found a most accommodating staff and crew who were always courteous and eager to help. Even chance encounters in the corridors were always greeted with a; “good day - how are you to-day?” We ate all but one dinner in the dining room and were again especially pleased with the level of service. The quality of the food was pretty well standard cruise line fare. About on par with a mid-priced restaurant in Canada or the U.S. Our one venture into a H.A.L. specialty dining venue was to the Caneletto Italian themed restaurant. The meal was O.K. and we would probably go back if we sail with H.A.L. again, but it was nothing spectacular. Usually breakfast and lunch were eaten in the Lido Buffet. Again, a typical cruise line buffet, with a wide selection and decent quality. I tried several items from the poolside grill, (hot dogs, hamburgs, fries, etc.), but something about the flavor put me off, although many people seemed to be enjoying the various items offered. The entertainment in the main theatre varied from excellent, to adequate. The comedian and the illusionist were excellent and their shows played to a full house. The B.B, King Blues Band’s talent and enthusiastic performance had many of us dancing in the aisles. The H.A.L. resident singers and dancers were O.K. However, these entertainers just did not seem able “connect” with me. I don’t know if it was the selection of musical numbers, or the presentation, but I wouldn’t pay to see these shows ashore. Despite the comments by earlier reviewers, the A/C and the toilet in our stateroom functioned well. HOWEVER, we had three days of COLD showers before someone repaired the water mixing valve in our shower. Following the repairs(?), one had to be extremely precise when making any adjustments. It took very little movement of the temperature control valve handle to go from “ice cubes” to “steam”. The other disappointment was the broken desk chair in our stateroom. It was promptly removed, but we went without a chair for four days. The public areas were all well maintained, with very little sign of wear and tear. My only complaint would be the temperature maintained in some of these rooms. For example, the Crows Nest on deck 10, with it’s panoramic view would have been a great place to spend an afternoon reading, or an evening enjoying a drink with friends. However, the temperature was set so low that I had to leave after 15 - 20 minutes. Would we sail Holland America again? At his point the “jury is still out”. Read Less
Sail Date February 2014
This Nov 29 to Dec 9, 2013 review of the ms Zuiderdam 10-day Panama Canal Sunfarer cruise is written as my impressions which may or may not conflict with the impressions of others. Pre-cruise hotel was at the Sleep Inn, Dania Beach for ... Read More
This Nov 29 to Dec 9, 2013 review of the ms Zuiderdam 10-day Panama Canal Sunfarer cruise is written as my impressions which may or may not conflict with the impressions of others. Pre-cruise hotel was at the Sleep Inn, Dania Beach for four nights prior to the cruise. There is a small strip mall across the street where we found three restaurants (Mexican, Italian, and Chinese) and a Publix grocery. The Publix had great carry-out food and we could purchase our carry-on beverages. There was also a Walgreen's Pharmacy adjacent to the hotel property. The hotel has a free shuttle to/from both the airport and cruise terminal. Luggage: Our luggage consisted of two spinner bags, one with clothing and another with miscellaneous computer and camera accessories; large camera bag with three cameras and lenses; roll-on bag with two computers (business and personal), cruise documents, jacket, meds, and personal car keys; duffle bag (personal oxygen concentrator supplies, meds, and spare batteries; a portable oxygen concentrator; and a four-wheeled walker. Two spinner suitcases and the walker were left with the curbside porter who placed them in the rolling cart that would transport them on to the ship. Scooter: A scooter from Special Needs at Sea was waiting for us near the luggage drop-off location at the HAL terminal. Embarkation: We arrived at the terminal at 10:30 AM and proceeded directly through the security checkpoint to the HAL Check-in counter. The five-minute process was efficient and with no waiting. We were pointed toward an elevator that took us to the second floor waiting area. We were the first passengers in the waiting area. Due to computer issues with the Border Control, embarkation was delayed until 12:00. The intrusive ship's photographic staff blocked all access to the doorway leading to the gangway but being the first passengers to board, we quickly proceeded past their cameras. I stopped at the Fron Desk to get a hole punched in my boarding card so that I could wear it on my HAL lanyard. Stateroom 6166 was ready for arrival and I dropped off my carry-on luggage before proceeding to the Mariner's Embarkation lunch. Our luggage arrived at 1:30 PM. Ship's Furnishings: I will dispense with any comments about the decor as being very subjective and having no bearing on my level of satisfaction with the cruise. The artifacts as well as the coloring throughout the ship did indeed complete the intent of the designer. Stateroom: SC5166 was ready for our occupancy when we arrived. The room was clean and all of the relevant documents were on the bed. We met our Room Steward and revieed our requirements We asked that our mini-bar be removed and this did not happen until the following day. We requested to large ice buckets be filled three times per day and this happened most of the time. The aft-wrap balcony was partially covered with four chairs, two loungers, a foot stool, and large table. At least 30 people could fit on the balcony. Even though our mini-bar was evacuated, we discovered a new bottle of water on the third day and a charge of $2.11 on our final bill. The charge was not worth standing in line at the Front Desk to contest. During the Panama Canal transit, the room temperature rise caused us to close our curtains and the air conditioning returned to normal. Room Stewards: Hanofi was a good Room Steward but need reminding about laundry bags each day. He provided our free shopping bags on the last day of the cruise. Dining -- General: Ron, Culinary Operations Manager, provided me the lunch and dinner menus for both the Lido and MDR for all of the Panama Canal cruises as well as for the 7-day Caribbean cruises for the 2013-2014 season. I also obtained the new Canaletto menu. All of the menus were scanned and are being provided to CC members upon request. There was no chocolate extravaganza night as on previous HAL cruises. Dining -- Lido: The food was good with the Pepperoni pizza being especially favored. It must be noted that HAL pepperoni pizza does not have tomato sauce but rather a light brushing of olive oil. The cooked-to-order pasta was excellent. Line Servers would provide any quantity of items upon request. Of special note was the bread pudding and chocolate chip cookies. The Lido Restaurant management was active in speaking to diners about the service and quality of the food. The servers were friendly and offered their suggestions for those passing down the serving line. Tables were cleared quickly after diners left the table and a rolling cart with free beverages was in constant motion through the dining area. Dining -- Terrace Grill: The nachos, available after 2:00 PM were a great snack almost every day. Since I often delivered a plate of nachos to the stateroom for an afternoon snack, I shall repeat my helpful hint for delivering nachos whether with melted or shredded cheese: put some cheese on the plate, before introducing the chips, to keep the nachos from sliding off the plate during delivery. The Taco Bar was not open for the first 48 hours due to mandatory Code Orange rules. Main Dining Room (MDR): The five meals I ate in the MDR were well-prepared and served at the proper temperature. The Assistant Dining Room Manager visited every table on most nights and alos assited the servers on some occasions. The hot, silver, teapots were no longer available as tea water was poured at the server station. Since I ate alone, each meal was completed in less than one hour. On formal nights, I counted only 20 tuxedo-clad males passing my table near the MDR entrance. Pinnacle Grill (PG): The embarkation night found the PG at only 25% capacity. My steak daine was perfectly cooked and the service excellent. My waiter, Harry, was able to answer lots of my questions since there were only a few customers. I ate two additional meals in the PG and added the Le Cirque as well. The Manager, Vliet, moved from table to table on each evening checking on the customers. The service was impeccable and the food of high quality on my four dining occasions. It must be noted that my cruise was the last with the old menu and a new menu is now in place as I write this review. Room Service: As on every HAL cruise, food arrived almost to the first minute requested. The food was always at the correct temperature. The fresh-squeezed orange juice was always a treat. It must be noted that if you want an empty glass or chocolate croissants, you need only write it on the Room Service card before hanging it on your door handle Facilities: The ship was clean and was in a constant state of scrubbing, vacuuming, and painting in all areas. The stateroom across the hall from ours had toilet overflow issues one evening. I wandered to the Crows Nest on a few occasions and always found the lounge chairs were completely occupied. I did not eat anything at the Explorations Cafe. The Library was only sparsely occupied on the few times I passed through it. Neptune Lounge/Concierge: We had very little contact with the Neptune Lounge except to request a fan and obtain a copy of the new Canaletto menu. There was always a good supply of snacks and desserts. Laundry: The Laundry was efficient and most days it was returned within 15 hours of my hanging it on my door. All laundered items were returned in excellent condition. Shops: The Shops personnel were very helpful in finding correct sizes and answering questions. There was never a delay to checkout. The demonstations of liquor and jewelry continued as on all HAL cruises. . Culinary Arts: I attended three cooking demonstrations and obtained a number of recipe cards. Computer Classes: I attended one Microsoft class and was impressed with the instruction and technical skill of the instructor. The handouts were very well received by all attendees. Casino: Since I don't gamble, I can only comment on the lack of smoke when walking past it when the casino was in full operation. There must be new exhaust fans installed. Ports - Half Moon Cay: I remained on the ship during this stop since I had benn there on other cruises. Ports - Curacao: With the oppressive heat, I remained on board but took some good video os fhe opening and closing of the marine bridge. Ports - Panama Canal: This was a fascinating experience seeing a huge cargo ship higher than my head on the lock just behind us. My pictures and videos will be treasured forever. Ports - Colon: I remained on board to experience the transfer back through the Gatun Locks Excursions -- Aruba Sunset Cruise: The heat of the day was oppressive but the catamaran slow cruise was very cooling. The open bar was a real hit and the sunset pictures were incredible Entertainment: We did not attend any of the shows so I cannot comment on the entertainment. Meet & Greet (M&G): There was no Meet and Greet held on this cruise. Internet: The room had a Cisco internet repeater and I purchased the 1000-minute plan. The speed was 786 kbps during the evening hours. With the repeater, I did not have to leave my stateroom to get better reception. Staff: The staff were exceptional. The Westerdam's officers spoke freely with the passengers when riding elevators or passing in the common areas. The traditional greeting, "How are you today," from the other Room Stewards that you pass in the hallways was ever present. The dining staff, both MDR and Lido, had frequent interaction with passengers in my observation. Disembarkation: What appeared to be an emergency situation with a passenger delayed disembarkation and that caused a huge congestion near the gangway. This was releived by routing passengers through the Vista Lounge. There were four Immigration agents available until one left while we were still in line. Passing through the handicapped line gave us only a 20-minute wait while others waited nearly one hour. Taxis were available across the street from the entrance. Post Cruise: We stayed at the Sleep Inn, Dania Beach, due to its close proximity to the airport and three restaurants within walking distance. There was a two-hour wait until our room was cleaned before we could check in to the hotel. Summary: As stated at the start of this review, the above are my impressions as a longtime HAL cruiser. I would highly recomment the ms Zuiderdam and especially passing through the Panama Canal during one's lifetime.   Read Less
Sail Date November 2013
Summary: HAL has gone downhill from our last cruise with them of 2 years ago. Food is mediocre and service while friendly has definitely been impacted by staff cuts. Many items that were free in the past are now up charges. This ... Read More
Summary: HAL has gone downhill from our last cruise with them of 2 years ago. Food is mediocre and service while friendly has definitely been impacted by staff cuts. Many items that were free in the past are now up charges. This includes real coffee and the Canaletto restaurant. The Zuiderdam is a tired ship and definitely needs a long (non-cosmetic) dry-dock . Embarkation: Very efficient. Had to wait in a holding area for 15 minutes after getting our room card before boarding ship. Food and Service: Service was friendly always as usual. However it is obvious that HAL has cut staff -- waiters and assistants are overworked. In fact they have additional duties as wages have been cut and they have to sell $60/day of up charged merchandise (cappuccinos, espresso etc.). First night was worse. Saw food sitting at the waiter station for over 15 minutes (and yes it was ours). Pinnacle -- excellent food and great service. Wish the rest was as good. Main Dining, Lido, Canaletto -- mediocre at best. Food sometimes overcooked and cold. Canaletto for a $10 up-charge per person is ridiculous -- especially when it is served in the LIDO. Coffee tasted like urine. Caps, Latte and espresso are all upcharges. Ship and Stateroom: Yes the Zuiderdam still has issues. Smells of sewage during certain times of the day. A/C died twice in our cabin. Maintenance was annoying. They were changing drapes in the cabins. Maintenance staff has no clue what a "privacy" sign means. Doors do not lock -- including the bathroom and the veranda. The veranda door lock/handle was so corroded that it was in danger of falling off -- leaving the person on the veranda with no means of getting back in to the stateroom. Room stewards were good. Saw them at most twice during the cruise and room was always clean. Other points: This was a Panama Canal cruise. No special lectures on the canal were given other than those by the in-house person Lance. Bridge narration during the passage canal was also mediocre. Our last HAL cruise we had Richard Detrich whose book is the best for Canal enthusiasts. Apparently this is another obvious HAL cutback. Entertainment- we really don't care -- but the entertainment was just plain bad. Internet - A good feature is the $99 internet package for the 10 days. Generally was happy with performance of the system. Except for last two days speed and connection were good. The last two days they offered $9.99/day and the speed went to a crawl. Summary: Mediocre food, overworked staff, upcharges for anything (coffee, water etc.). HAL and the Zuiderdam are NOT for me anymore. Read Less
Sail Date March 2013
1st time with HAL, 1st time cruising out of Ft. Lauderdale, 1st time cruising to all ports and the Panama Canal. Flew in day before and stayed at Fairfield Inn. Fairfield provided free from airport to Hotel. Fairfield Inn. provided ... Read More
1st time with HAL, 1st time cruising out of Ft. Lauderdale, 1st time cruising to all ports and the Panama Canal. Flew in day before and stayed at Fairfield Inn. Fairfield provided free from airport to Hotel. Fairfield Inn. provided transportation to Cruise Port for $8.00 per person. At same time we purchased transportation between cruise port and the airport on day of disembarkation for $10.00 per person. We rented a wheelchair and 4 oxygen tanks from Special Needs at Sea. On arrival at port, Special Needs at Sea had area right near the baggage drop-off where you can pick up wheelchair. Bottled oxygen bottles were waiting for us in our cabin. Once entered check-in area there were a lot of folks sitting as was told there was a slight delay in boarding. Wheelchair cruisers were directed to special area and check in was very quick and we were then able to go to a area designated for handicapped and those needing special assistance and we were the first to board the ship. On the day of disembarkation we chose to take advantage of HAL's program to have bags picked up and sent directly to the airport @ 19.95 per person. Cruisers taking part in this program are one of the first group to disembark. We were called at 07:30. This was a blessing as when we got to customs, they only had 3 Customs agency working. We were told due to our government's handling of the countries financial situation, U.S. Customs had cut down on the # of agent available. Unless some others showed up, I felt sorry for all the other passenger who had yet to disembark! Cabin -- We got a balcony which was really nice. Room was nice with a sitting area. Only complaint our rooms stewards never formally came by to introduce themselves. We had early dining 05:30 pm. For the first 8 days when we came back from dinner our room had yet to be made up for the night. Couple of times, wife was already in bed when they came by. On the 8th night they did ask if we had gone to dinner yet. Upon further conversation they said they were told we were signed up for the late dining time. Entertainment. Shows were good. Liked the house band. They did have a comedian and a magician we really liked. Food -- Was good but nothing really stood out. Can't complain though. Thought the food in the Lido cafeteria was really good from what I can remember from past cruises. Out headwaiter and assistant waiter were really nice and good at their jobs but from what I could count, they had 5 tables they were responsible for during dinner time. They were always on the go and couldn't spend a lot of time at a table to talk etc. Felt sorry for them being so busy. Port -- All ports were great with very good tour guides on the excursions we took. Half Moon Cay. Very nice island. Highly recommend. Lots of vegetation, restrooms. Just a enjoyable island Aruba -- Took a bus tour of the island. Informative and got good overview of the island WILLEMSTAD(CURACAO), ANTILLES. Took a trolley tour of Willemstad. Very nice and informative PANAMA CANAL (CRISTOBAL). What more can you say about going through the Panama Canal. We took the train ride and how many can say they went from the Caribbean Ocean to the Pacific Ocean in the say day! Train was air-conditioned and the tour guide was great. Trained followed the Panama Canal and we were able to take a short bus tour of Panama City. We did pass what we were told was a prison that was in the middle of the jungle while on the train and tour guide said this was where Manual Noriega is housed. Highly recommend this tour!! On way back from train to our ship, we were had to drive through the city of Cristobal. What a experience. There are no stop lights in the city and we were driving through during evening rush hour. We came within 1 foot or less from broad siding a car that pulled in front of us. It's everyone for themselves when driving in the city. Very good tour guide. Provided lots of information. COLON, PANAMA - Took a boat ride on a canal. Saw lots of birds, sloths, monkeys. Nice easy ride. On return for boat ride, they provided free refreshments including BEER! OVERALL Impressions -- Could not have asked for better weather and smooth seas. Average age of fellow cruisers was 40+. I could count on my hands the # of children/teens that were on the cruise. The Zuiderdam was a well maintained ship. Clean, staff friendly. Front Desk crew were exceptional. They were very nice and did all they could to help and answer any questions! Read Less
Sail Date March 2013
We were picked up at the airport, a very friendly fellow took us to the ship, and we were on very quickly. Our bags arrived shortly after, lots of time to unpack, and lots of space to do so. I was impressed with the stewards, so friendly, ... Read More
We were picked up at the airport, a very friendly fellow took us to the ship, and we were on very quickly. Our bags arrived shortly after, lots of time to unpack, and lots of space to do so. I was impressed with the stewards, so friendly, laundry done for $20.00, all press and back the next day. It was a much smaller ship than I have travelled on before, so the walk from one end to the other wasn't a problem. We are smokers, and found just not enough places to sit on the Lido, so spent more time than we preferred on our deck. The food was okay, I am not a fish lover so found selection not great. Staff was WONDERFUL, always smiling. always friendly. Their stage show was about the most entertaining we thought, except for Island Magic, awesome! The photography classes were interesting I came home eager to do my pictures, My one complaint was the Lido deck was closed so early, so service, no ashtrays, and no one to help. I also had trouble with Diamond International, my purchase was very expensive and broke when I put them on at home. It is expensive to return them to New York, so will have to get them repaired here,they should have been fixed when I took them to store in Curacao. We picked Eco excursions in Panama and Costa Rica, very disappointed, saw very little, just lots of poverty and GARBAGE. We knew it would be an adventure, but by the sound of others talking there were some beautiful places to see, we saw tall trees, waterways, but not much other than sloths. We came home with an appreciation of what a great life we have here in Canada Very efficient getting everyone out at disembarkation time, 15 min from when we were called until we were on our bus on the way to airport. Read Less
Sail Date February 2012
Nice itinerary, deluxe decoration, delicious food at Vista Restaurant, friendly restaurant & stateroom staff. A nightmare dealing with the Front Desk, confusing information about credit card deposits. One authorization signed at the ... Read More
Nice itinerary, deluxe decoration, delicious food at Vista Restaurant, friendly restaurant & stateroom staff. A nightmare dealing with the Front Desk, confusing information about credit card deposits. One authorization signed at the Front Desk was stated on my Visa account under an unknown name different from Zuiderdam or HAL. On board credit was blocked without previous notice. Badly maintained exterior surfaces, worn-out sunbeds. Smoking permitted in staterooms and verandas. Passengers in the stateroom adjacent to ours where heavy smokers, smoke smell came both through the aisle and the veranda. Impossible to have breakfast or just sit down in our veranda since those early smoking birds were sitting there from dawn to dusk. The A/C in the stateroom cannot be turned off or at least reduce the vent power. Located right above our bed, we could feel the air blowing over our face the whole night long. Some sailing nights with rough sea we were several times awakened by the sound of creaking panels. We called maintenance and they put some wooden plugs in the angle between the wall and the ceiling During formal dressing nights, those wearing casual were forced to have dinner before 8 PM in Lido Restaurant while more elegant passengers could enjoy dinner at Vista Restaurant till 9,30 PM.WARNING: at every port of call we were told to carry the ship card and a photo ID. WARNING!!. Our passport weren't stamped at any port of call. The Shore Excursions Department informed all passengers to disembark carrying the ship card and a photo ID (not necessarily the passport). In Puerto Limón we took a taxi to Cahuita Park. On the way back we were stopped at a police control. The police required us to show our passports as the ONLY LEGAL ID for tourist in Costa Rica. They also wanted to confirm our date of entrance in the country. The taxi driver solved the situation and we could return to the ship. While the ship was being maneuvered through the chambers of Gatun Locks, passengers who had booked tours were 'locked' inside the ship's theater for 50 minutes as a pre disembarking procedure, preventing them from watching one of the most interesting parts of the trip. I would book another cruise with Holland America just if the selected route is not operated by any other Cruise Line Read Less
Sail Date November 2011
We began our trip with a two and a half hour drive from Cape Coral.Drove right to the pier unloaded the luggage ,parked the van and joined the line to check in.It was one fifteen and the lines moved quickly.Up to the Lido Deck for a light ... Read More
We began our trip with a two and a half hour drive from Cape Coral.Drove right to the pier unloaded the luggage ,parked the van and joined the line to check in.It was one fifteen and the lines moved quickly.Up to the Lido Deck for a light lunch and then to our room.The luggage was there and we unpacked.Went on deck nine and viewed Ft. Laud.After life boat drill returned to very warm room.Went to service desk and explained about warm room and that the bed should have been set up as twins,my sister is with me.At 8:30 stopped at desk again and was told it was a technical problem,beds still not changed.At 11:00 took my pillow with me down to the desk and said I was sleeping there .The sweat was dripping from my head.Was offered a fan and told someone would seperate the beds.We had the fan for the entire cruise.A crewman came to the room on Thursday and removed both panels in the ceiling and siad thats the best we would get. The room itself did not seem too clean from the beginning,but I put it down to the age of the ship.The bathroom floor appeared dirty but i thought it was worn.It bothered me for days and I finally wet a tissue,put soap on it and rubbed the floor.Like magic it was clean.I took pictures and showed them to the service desk,a supervisor was sent to the room and told me she would have it cleaned.The room was never dirty again and the bathroom floor looked like new.On Friday we were offered a change of room. The men and women at the service desk were always polite and tried to be helpful,but they could not cool or clean our room.And yes our door to the veranda was always closed and the drapes drawn. We attended all of the shows and enjoyed them.The singers and dancers give a great show.The Island Magic steel band played to a standing rooom crowd.In Costa Rica we took the Ariel Tram through the rain forest,the monkeys were in the trees and moved right over us.This was worthwile.In Panama we rode the Dome Car Train to the Pacific.Our Guide made the trip with her talks.on the wayback we were all tired and we were seeing the same thing,a lot of napping was done. We enjoyed the food in all the restaurants,and our group included some picky eaters,everyone was satisfied.The service of all the crew and the good food makes me feel bad about the room conditions.We have sailed on H.A. more than fifty days and have another trip set for March.The Ship appears in need of an overhaul.There were many public restrooms with out of order signs and a very bad odor on the third deck midships. We walked of the ship with no problems in less than a half hour.I like cruising and feel bad about this review as I sailed this same ship last Nov.and loved everything.Thats why our friends sailed this time.They did not have similar problems Read Less
Sail Date October 2011
I was a bit concerned after reading a few very negative reviews but after being on the ship feel that they must have gotten up on the wrong side of the bed and see every glass 1/2 full or were put upon by having to take care of someone ... Read More
I was a bit concerned after reading a few very negative reviews but after being on the ship feel that they must have gotten up on the wrong side of the bed and see every glass 1/2 full or were put upon by having to take care of someone when all they needed was to be taken care of themselves. Out of over 1800 only met 3 rude people, pretty good odds to me. The ship is older but very beautiful and traditional with fresh flowers and great art. The staff I can not say enough good things about!!! They are warm,friendly and very caring. Being an older ship we did have a problem with cabin on 1st day that was taken care of to our satisfaction which I am very glad for as we loved the room it is slightly longer both inside and on the veranda and was wonder to see both sides of the panama canal and watch the ports we left from. Because of all the activities I was not bored on sea days learned digital photography, took in a few of the afternoon teas had a couple of great wine tastings. Loved the may small bars with different music never seemed like you were in a big crowd spent a lot on nights in piano bar. Enjoyed the comedy acts and music in the large vista lounge at night.Lido does great breakfast with made to order eggs, egg Benedict and omelets along with their great made to order pasta. Right outside they do good hamburgers and hot dogs also fresh. My husband loved the free ice cream bar. We did late seating because we like meeting people the food was good and our tablemates great! So if you want a cruise line where the staff really make you feel like they are happy to help you with nice accommodations along with interesting activities that balance a relaxing vacation with some high tech you will enjoy this ship. Read Less
Sail Date September 2011
The Zuiderdam is showing her age. Worn carpeting, broken toilet flush buttons, rust around the ship and leaks dripping from the ceilings onto the floor pretty much sums it up. These were not the norm, but they were observed on this ... Read More
The Zuiderdam is showing her age. Worn carpeting, broken toilet flush buttons, rust around the ship and leaks dripping from the ceilings onto the floor pretty much sums it up. These were not the norm, but they were observed on this cruise.My stateroom attendant was outstanding, as was the front desk staff. Water Aerobics was fun but crowded. The Screening room has big, comfortable chairs but I was disappointed there was no popcorn. The Explorations Cafe was clean and well supplied with books. Public areas were generally clean but looked worn. The public restrooms were sometimes in need of attention. The bars and Lounges that I visited were clean and the service was good. The Spa was clean and well cared for. Very good service and friendly staff.The food was where the cruise line fell down.We used As You Wish Dining because fixed dining was full. It was terrible. Unorganized and confused, the waitstaff was clearly undermanned and poorly trained. The food was just OK, nothing special. The presentation was well done, however. It was pretty, just not very tasty.The Lido restaurant was generally a mess. Tables were dirty and I had to wipe down more than one before I could put my plate down and eat. They usually only had one side open at a time so it was crowded and the lines were long. The buffet was not generally self serve and it was obvious to me and most passengers I spoke with that the servers would have rather been somewhere else. A few were smiling and friendly, but most of them acted distant and unhappy. When they handed you your plate, the food was just slapped on it. I wiped the rim of my plate almost every time. My morning oatmeal was dripping over the side most mornings when they handed me my bowl.Silverware was difficult to find. Sometimes they had it piled on a tray and you had to go find the tray. Sometimes they had it with the servers and you had to remember to ask for it because they rarely remembered to give it to you with your plate.Generally, the cruise was good. The waitstaff and the food really need work. Read Less
Sail Date April 2011
My mother and I have just returned from a 10 day Panama Canal cruise on the Holland American Ship Zuiderdam. It has been many years since I sailed with HAL, and have sailed on three other lines. I had read many reviews - some good, some ... Read More
My mother and I have just returned from a 10 day Panama Canal cruise on the Holland American Ship Zuiderdam. It has been many years since I sailed with HAL, and have sailed on three other lines. I had read many reviews - some good, some okay and some bad about the Zuiderdam. I guess that I have mixed emotions about the ship and the service. It reminded me of a sailing with Norwegian on a ship that needed to be retired or put on a three day cruise schedule where people just don't expect as much.Although we were in a "suite", I would classify it as a mini-suite in the terms of other cruise lines. As far as the cabin steward and his helper, they did an okay job and were friendly. However, I think that more and more the cruise lines are doing more with less people. Hardly saw the steward - except when he needed to clean the room and my mother was still getting ready (she is a little slow - but then she was on vacation!!I was really startled to find that my sheets were worn and had holes in them. That kind of put me off. Also, a very think blanket on the bed with sheets on top and bottom of it. Many times it was hard to control the temp, so it was chilly with just that blanket and sheets.On the plus side, there was plenty of storage and the bathroom is the best I have ever had on a cruise.Room service was good for breakfast and some late lunch or dinner items. However, the bread is always cold, cold, cold. Not just room service, but at the buffet or in the dining room - no warm rolls, bread, whatsoever. The only way to get warm bread is to have toast - done right there - at the buffet.I thought the food was very good otherwise in the dining room and buffet. The one night that was not well done was when we were sailing out of a port and they only had barbeque around the pool. It was not well organized and sparks were flying on people. Too many people for this kind of set up. No plates at the salad bar and when they did bring some they were burning hot - not something you want to put your salad on or that you could even hold with your bare hands.The As you Wish Dining is somewhat complicated and needs work. Norwegian has it down very well and I am not sure you can really do it well the way HAL has it formatted. I guess I feel that if you can't do something well, just don't do it. I expected more from them. The service was good - not complaints.The coffee served throughout the ship is really not great - except maybe where you pay for it. I didn't try it there, so can't say. However, they do keep it hot and serve it hot with room service.The front desk service was hot and cold. Not very helpful nor friendly sometimes, but okay others. The embarkation and dembarkation were the best I have encountered. They definitely have this down pat.The Spa was very well run and a great place to relax or get a massage or facial. The staff didn't hard sell you after a treatment. I was really impressed with it - I just would have a little more separate area for the men and the women in the relaxation and/or thermal suite.So, my final assessment is that we had a good cruise, ate good food, met many nice people and saw some wonderful places. The ship needs a facelift and the staff needs it too - they reflect the quality of the ship - which is slightly worn and tired. Read Less
Sail Date April 2011
My husband and I enjoy cruising - the best way to travel since his spinal cord injury left him with mobility challenges. Besides the excellent Accessible Balcony Cabin, the excellent room stewards, tasty meals and special dining during ... Read More
My husband and I enjoy cruising - the best way to travel since his spinal cord injury left him with mobility challenges. Besides the excellent Accessible Balcony Cabin, the excellent room stewards, tasty meals and special dining during "An Evening at Le Cirque" in the Pinnacle Grill, we received excellent support from Zuiderdam's Shore Excursion Team. Prior to ports of call I would go down and discuss with them the appropriateness of the shore excursions which we had pre-booked from home. Their suggestions were wonderful. Some ports in Central America are not very handicap-friendly. The Shore Excursion Staff even introduced me to Rafael Esparza, Operations Mgr. for Explora Caribe. Explora Caribe provided some of the ship's shore excursions and there was nothing suitable in the ship's offering so Sr. Esparza provided us with a private car and driver to take us to places which we could access, and at the rate which we would have paid for one of their bus tours. What wonderful service!!! Not only were we pleased with the ship and service, we are grateful to Cruise Critic for the opportunities to share information with and glean information from other travelers. We especially appreciated the information regarding touring in Corinto, Nicaragua, which will be discussed in more detail later. We visited quite a few ports which are not listed on CC's drop-down box. During our partial transit of the Panama Canal we took an excursion called The Shaping of Panama. It traveled to Panama City by highway with a nice luncheon there, then back to Colon. It was good to be able to see the countryside. At Vera Cruz, Mexico, we visited the World Heritage Site of Tlacotalpan and the town of Alvarado. Tlacotalpan was wonderfully presented and a great opportunity to hike around and see prehistoric indigenous structures. At Alvarado we enjoyed a presentation of music and dance by students who are part of a group trying to preserve the local heritage. Dos Bocas, Mexico, offered the Comalcalco Ruins featuring Maya constructions using bricks with unique designs and then Paraiso Town. At Progreso, Mexico, we were provided a car by Explora Caribe (mentioned above) and went to Merida. The bus tours discouraged passengers with mobility issues but the driver of the car and the guide took us to see some small ruins plus Progreso's Zocalo, the Governor's Palace (take time to enjoy the art museum inside), The Cathedral. We had a wonderful lunch of locally-favorite foods at Los Almendros Restaurant and the driver and guide even took me to a bookstore in Merida where I could purchase some special volumes about the area. In Corinto, Nicaragua, we used the services of John "Max" O'Connor for a private tour. We had found Max through Cruise Critic Reviews/Blogs and enjoyed our day. We shared his services with another couple whom we had met on board. The gentleman was in a wheelchair, complementary to my husband's use of an electric scooter (needs a wheelchair if the scooter couldn't be used.) We went to see the items which specifically interested us. Surprisingly, Max had to do some research for our tour because I had researched Corinto online and had come up with some places which were not on the usual tourist path. At Puerto Quetzal, Guatemala, we were not feeling well so cancelled the planned shore excursion to Antigua but did go ashore to do a bit of shopping and see a bit of local color. They have a very nice development there at the port with musicians and vendors selling their wares. Read Less
Sail Date April 2011
I loved the cruise not just because the night before sailing we were upgraded from SS guarantee (small suite) to SA (big suite with perks). The ship's brass plate said 2002 but the ship could have just been christened, considering ... Read More
I loved the cruise not just because the night before sailing we were upgraded from SS guarantee (small suite) to SA (big suite with perks). The ship's brass plate said 2002 but the ship could have just been christened, considering the cleanliness and maintenance level. As usual, the HAL staff was friendly and efficient. I've posted details elsewhere on cruise critic about a Half Moon Cay adventure, casino, costa rica and the "explore the zuiderdam" tour. These were high points. We had room service breakfast daily, as we did on a previous HAL in a smaller cabin. You can add items to the breakfast door hanger, and they arrive, at least our pancakes, eggs benedict and apple juice did, all on time and hot. Good service at dinner, but a dinner for six can take two hours. One of our party wanted hummus at dinner, and it wasn't immediately available but appeared the next night and every other night, even if we were at a different table. Mid morning was at the gym. Some folks jogged early on deck 3, but I'm not an early riser. The gym has precor treadmills and cybex machines. didn't use spa but overheard their infomercials. We liked the dancers on board. Some of them gave group dance lessons, like salsa. A young string quartet from Kiev was charming. the computer classes were useful and well attended, focused on photos and windows 7. fifteen laptops to follow along with the instructor Trevor. This was our HAL trip #10 (two others on Regent) and by now we are about median age for most HAL cruises. (66 and 62). We are likely to cruise HAL again. Read Less
Sail Date January 2011
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

Find a Zuiderdam Cruise

Easily compare prices from multiple sites with one click