5 Holland America Zuiderdam Spring Break Cruise Reviews

We recently returned from a partial Panama Canal transit aboard the Zuiderdam. This was our tenth cruise on a Holland American vessel and as always we were very satisfied with the voyage and especially the service. On the one occasion ... Read More
We recently returned from a partial Panama Canal transit aboard the Zuiderdam. This was our tenth cruise on a Holland American vessel and as always we were very satisfied with the voyage and especially the service. On the one occasion when we complained of an issue, after resolving the issue, Holland America staff made multiple attempts to follow up to ensure we satisfied and even sent a complimentary bottle of wine as an apology. We had a very large Vista suite cabin #6076 midship on the port side. From our spacious balcony we seemed to always be on the side with the port view so the view was much more interesting. I also must note however the continual creaking of the boat when there was any sort of sea motion. It did make a good night’s rest a little harder. Highlights of this trip was the cave excursion in Aruba and the train trip across the isthmus of Panama, which included a stop at the visitor centre for the new larger lock complex. We appreciated that the captain periodically opened the bow area for passengers to get a better view of what was ahead when sailing. Food and service were up to the usual HAL standard. We were a little disappointed with the entertainment as many of the shows were the same as we saw on our last cruise a year ago. However, I must single out the steel band that performed twice during our trip as being excellent. We very much enjoyed the performers on the Lincoln Centre stage, though the Billboard pianists were nothing special. There were many other interesting shipboard activities during the several sea days, most particularly America’s test kitchen and the lectures done by members of the excursion team. As always, the excursion team themselves functioned extremely well for the duration of the voyage. We ate most nights in the dining room, with two nights at Pinnacle. All meals were very tasty but in most cases not too much food. We used the Lido only for breakfast and lunch but most times went outside as the inside dining areas are both crowded and noisy. I heard some people complaining about the relatively sedate nature of evening activities during the voyage, but if you want dancing and late night entertainment, you are best served by a line such as RCC or Disney that caters to a younger demographic. HAL has changed their internet packages to be based on data used rather than time online. I liked this approach better as our data needs are low. Prices have also been reduced though response time still needs improving. We have booked three additional cruises on HAL ships over the next 18 months so I think that tells you all you need to know about our ongoing satisfaction with this line. Read Less
Sail Date March 2019
It was a good cruise. Our main attraction in selecting this cruise was to go through the Panama Canal. The ship goes through the first lock. We bought a ship tour that took us through all the locks. It was a great experience! Wish the tour ... Read More
It was a good cruise. Our main attraction in selecting this cruise was to go through the Panama Canal. The ship goes through the first lock. We bought a ship tour that took us through all the locks. It was a great experience! Wish the tour took us to see the Panama City also, as the tour was not cheap. The service, food was good. I would like to recognize Gede, Eko, KD and Mauro for their excellent service and taking care of us during dinner. Our room was serviced by 2 pleasant people. Computer classes were a hit, the instructor was pleasant and wonderful. But the space was limited. 5-10 more computers would help. Shows and entertaining was good. Enjoyed the drums show. Went to all the bingo games, thought it was a bit expensive. Adding one or two more ports would have made the experience a bit more fun. We were at sea for more than 2 long stretched days, Read Less
Sail Date February 2019
We just returned from an absolutely amazing cruise of the Panama Canal. Before we left, I confess I was apprehensive because of some of the reviews I’d read that said the boat was old, that the itinerary wasn’t good, and that the ... Read More
We just returned from an absolutely amazing cruise of the Panama Canal. Before we left, I confess I was apprehensive because of some of the reviews I’d read that said the boat was old, that the itinerary wasn’t good, and that the activities were too few. I couldn’t disagree more, and I honestly have no idea what all the whining is about. Of course, it could be that before the ship was dry-docked last November it was shabby, but it sure isn’t any more. The furniture in the rooms was new, the doors and carpets all appeared new, the public spaces were well-maintained, and the beds were more comfortable than ours at home. That said, if you’re into glam and glitz, huge ships with entire shopping malls and bowling lanes in them, then, true, this is not the boat for you. But what the Zuiderdam does have—and which is way more important—is high-quality, healthy food that isn’t just sugar, salt, and fat rearranged into different shapes; impeccable service in the rooms, dining rooms, kids’ club, spa, casino, and more; quality dance, comedy, music, and magic acts by talented people; almost no lines for anything; and just enough excitement to make each day fun and relaxing. We stayed in room 6017, a balcony room on the Upper Veranda deck. It was perfectly situated for viewing the canal and its feats of engineering as well as the breathtaking jungle canopies filled with toucans and parrots on either side. Our friendly room steward Gede and his assistants did an amazing job of servicing the room in a timely manner and leaving all sorts of whimsical towel-animal creations for our 8-year-old to enjoy. On the canal tour day, we even had breakfast delivered to our room so that we didn’t miss any excitement. (Do work on those scrambled eggs, though.) Our boy was one of probably only 30 kids on the whole boat! Before you decide that this cruise isn’t good for kids, let me tell you how awesome it was for him to have gotten to know the majority of the others by name and be able to play with them in and out of Club HAL throughout the trip. Besides, he enjoyed the Club HAL activities immensely and appreciated all the love and energy the staff members, like Allison and Amanda, put into organizing enriching things for the kids to do. By day, we took advantage of a wide variety of activities. We played lots of bingo, ping pong, and music trivia, all of which the assistant cruise director Alice made super fun, we hung out by the pool, which is the only cruise pool I’ve been in that wasn’t frigid, we gambled on the wide variety of slot machines, and we had spa services. In particular, the hot stone massage and the acupuncture treatments I got from the knowledgeable Lauren Steigmayer were great ways to start the trip off relaxed and healthy. We also took five excursions, two by Holland and three through our booking agent. We enjoyed all the ports of call except for Colon, which was pretty sketchy. But Holland offered excursions from Gatun Lake that made it well worthwhile to stop in Panama. Don’t miss the opportunity to see Panama. You can read detailed reviews of the excursions we took—the Panama monkey island tour and the Everglades airboat tour--on Holland’s web site. The other tours we took were through prestigecruises.com. The photographers did a great job of capturing all our comings and goings without being pushy. By night, we loved having dinner in the dining room with our excellent waiters Dindin and Asep, who were so welcoming to our son. Thanks to the variety of healthy choices, decadent options, and ethnic dishes, we never tired of the food, which we usually do. (I’m on a special diet, so imagine my pleasant surprise on learning that the Lido deck offered gluten free pasta and bread!) The Pinnacle Grill had amazing crab legs, and when we dined there a second time, they were out of crab legs but made up for it with free lobster tail, instead. The entertainment, which I’m usually not too excited about, was surprisingly fantastic. As a former ballet dancer, I’m a tough critic, but I thought the dancers were quite technical and fun to watch. As music goes, we especially enjoyed Billboard Onboard, featuring the dueling pianists Danny and Ian. Ian was so kind to my son, Cameron, playing his requests and encouraging him to stick with piano. We also really liked the BB King All-stars band, the comedian with his dry sense of humor, and the magic act with the adorable Pomeranians. Nick, the cruise director, did a great job of organizing the activities and getting us excited about them. Zuiderdam, we love you and think you deserve this praise. Keep up the great work! Read Less
Sail Date April 2018
we did in fact enjoy our vacation in spite of the condition of the ship. We were aware of the age of this ship but shocked at the appearance. We have been on many cruises on many different lines but not prepared for this. Dirty and ... Read More
we did in fact enjoy our vacation in spite of the condition of the ship. We were aware of the age of this ship but shocked at the appearance. We have been on many cruises on many different lines but not prepared for this. Dirty and stained lounge cushions on the Promenade Deck, pitted and rusty tables at the back pool and badly chipped and dented cocktail tables in the Crow's Next Lounge (inside lounge). Photos available and sent to both Holland America and Vacations to Go. Both rated this ship a 4.5 even though Cruise Critic gave it a 3.5 and Cruise Line a 3.8 Both defended their rating in spite of seeing the photos. We requested a reduction on our final bill the day of disembarkation and was told that they would take it from the service charge. Confirming the "service charge" was the crews tip money we emphatically declined. The crew had nothing to do with the condition of these furnishings. These items were easily and inexpensively replaceable. After send Holland America a formal complaint we were offered dinner for two at the Pinnacle Grill and a $100 cabin credit ON OUR NEXT CRUISE. Fat chance. If this is how Holland America treats their passengers and personnel we are finished with Holland America. Dining was very slow and entertainment average. We had a balcony and it was find. Our cabin steward was wonderful. I couldn't imagine cheating these hard working people out of their tip money. I can only wonder how many people fell for this trick!!! Read Less
Sail Date May 2017
We just returned from a fantastic cruise on the Zuiderdam. This was my 5th cruise on Holland America, and my 21st cruise in all. I am 48 years old, and traveled with my husband, 2 daughters (ages 11 and 14)and my mom, who paid for it ... Read More
We just returned from a fantastic cruise on the Zuiderdam. This was my 5th cruise on Holland America, and my 21st cruise in all. I am 48 years old, and traveled with my husband, 2 daughters (ages 11 and 14)and my mom, who paid for it all!There is something about Holland America that just keeps me coming back for more. Indeed, I feel like I am coming home to family! You just can't find service on another line that is of the caliber of that on Holland America! Warm, friendly people who truly care ... small touches of elegance ... great food ... fun activities ... who can ask for more? EMBARKATION: A breeze! We had an early flight out from MacArthur Airport on Long Island. We had never flown from this airport before and found it very convenient and hassle-free. We also flew Southwest for the first time and enjoyed it very much. Check-in at the pier was very smooth. We were the 2nd family to board the ship and took advantage of the empty Lido for lunch, then lounged by the pool on a clear, cool Florida afternoon. THE ROOM: My husband, one daughter and I had a room next door to my mom and my other daughter. The cabins were not adjoining; however, we opened the partition between the verandahs so we could go back and forth. We are always satisfied with the verandah staterooms and find that we have more than enough space. THE SHIP: The ship is beautiful. We had been on the Zuiderdam before (in November 2007) and the ship has had a few changes since, such as a makeover of the shops and the addition of the library/internet cafe next to the Crow's Nest lounge on deck 10. DINING: We never experienced a bad meal! Our dining room steward, Hanni, and his assistant, Putu, were always there to make sure we got everything we wanted. They learned our names right away, and even seemed personally disappointed when, for instance, the chicken was a bit saltier than expected. Make sure you order the following, which were served at different times during the cruise the pate, the baked brie, the cold soups, the wienerschitzel, the liver with bacon and onions, and the tenderest lobster I have ever eaten on any cruise. Also be sure to eat at the Pinnacle Grill. We were given free lunches there by our travel agent, and we loved the food there. When you eat breakfast in the dining room, you also have a choice of daily specials. And of course, be sure not to miss the Indonesian high tea. ACTIVITIES: There is always something to do, especially on sea days. I found myself circling plenty of activities in the daily bulletin from cooking demonstrations in the Culinary Arts Center to trivia and Pictionary, from port lectures to "coffee chats" with the onboard entertainers. We don't gamble and we don't spa, so I can't report on those. We went to an art auction, but I was surprised I didn't receive my free art print at the end, which is what I used to get on past Holland America cruises (perhaps I went on the wrong day). KIDS' ACTIVITIES: My 11-year-old made new friends at Club HAL and couldn't wait to join them. After club hours, you could usually find these 5th and 6th graders in the hot tub. My 14-year-old hung out with kids in the Loft, and they also met for onboard activities. SERVICE: This is where I would like to tell me story of a "good deed" done by a Front Office staffer, Julie. It's little incidents like these that make me want to cruise exclusively with Holland America. On the first formal night, a half hour before the captain's cocktail party, my husband discovered, while dressing, that he had packed his tuxedo but not the shirt. I went down to the Front Office to see if I could rent a shirt, but Julie told me that the tailor shop had closed at 7 and it was now 7:08. She made several calls to see if she could find a key, but then told me she was sorry. I gave her my room number, just in case, and as soon as I returned to my room, I got a call from Julie, that she had found not one, but two shirts, and was going to deliver them personally to my room. Julie arrived at my room 5 minutes later, my husband picked the shirt size that fit him, and he had a complete tuxedo for the rest of the cruise! Thank you, Julie! Thank you, Holland America! You could always find warm, personal touches like this wherever we went helpful staff at the shops, workers at the Lido deck who not only memorize your name but carry your tray to the table ... I could go on and on, and no, they don't pay me to say this. I am just a fan of Holland America! ENTERTAINMENT: Except for this ship's HAL Cats (the house band)not being the best HAL Cats I've experienced on Holland America, the entertainment was very good. We had seen the three production shows on the Eurodam last summer, but always appreciate how hard the cast works. The male singers stood out in that one could not hit the low notes and the other would sing in an operatic tenor voice. The male dancers are very energetic! Please visit Nathan in the piano bar this guy is amazing, what the heck is he doing in a ship's piano bar? His talent is amazing, and shame on the people who chatted in the background and didn't want to listen to him (and sing along). My mom and I sang a song dedicated to the cruise director, Andrew, in the Superstars contest. Andrew, though out and about, is not the most charismatic cruise director around. He needs to get more involved. DJ Mark is a nice fellow, but wee also have seen better. The rest of the entertainment was good, not great. The ventriloquist was very talented and funny. We had seen the magician, James Cielen before on the Zuiderdam. I find him to be full of himself, wanting very much to market his magic kits and DVDs. The steel band that played, Island Magic, was amazing, playing everything from the Beatles to classical music, and they were extremely humble. The Indonesian crew show was wonderful, as it always is, and my kids and I got a chance to go onstage and play the anklung, a traditional Indonesian instrument. The most disappointing entertainer was the singer/impersonator, Paul Tanner, who seemed full of himself and tried too hard to impress the ladies on the cruise (I will say no more). During the crew farewell, the crew did not file onstage one by one; rather, the curtain was opened after "Love in Any Language" was sung, and they were all already backstage. Don't tell me that guests have complained about this lovely aspect of the cruise!PORTS: Our first stop was Half Moon Cay, Holland America's private island, where we enjoyed the sun (the air was cool for the Bahamas and the  water was chilly!). My advice is to go to the buffet on the island and get extra hot dog buns and feed them to the fish. The fish will come up to you in hordes! Our next stop was Aruba, where we looked at some stores, but they were mainly jewelry shops. We had intended to go to the beach, but it got too hot. Instead, we went to the beach in the next  port, Curacao. It was Easter Sunday and the beach was crowded. We had wanted to see the synagogue, but it was closed. The next port was Cristobal, Panama. This is after we had gone through the Panama Canal. We did the shore excursion to the Embera Indian Village. This is something right out of National Geographic, and it is an experience not to be missed. We arrived there by dugout canoes with outboard motors, were treated to a lunch of friend tilapia and plantains served in banana leaves, joined the Indians in a dance, and had a chance to buy their crafts. Our last port was Puerto Limon, Costa Rica, where we took the Rainforest Aerial Tram excursion. We really enjoyed it. This tour included a delicious lunch of chicken, rice and beans, plantains and a tropical fruit drink. Their gift shop is very nice; we bought coffee to take home. DISEMBARKATION: This was not a high point. Unfortunately, on the way back to Fort Lauderdale, they had to offload a sick passenger in Grand Cayman. This made the ship an hour and a half late in coming back to port (8:30 instead of 7:00 a.m.). Our flight was at 11:15. We just made it! Along with many other passengers, we tried to leave the ship before all the luggage was off, but the port people held us in a room and would not let us go, despite our protesting. They said that it was unsafe in the luggage area. When a representative from the ship came to talk to us, she was accompanied by 2 armed officers who were there solely to intimidate us. Finally, at 10:30, they let us go, and we scrambled for a cab! The lines at the airport were huge, but they moved, and as I said, we just made the plane.SUMMARY: Except for the annoying rabbi, who was hired to lead Passover services, but instead spent most of his time walking up to passengers at the poolside and trying to sell his book, this was a terrific and enjoyable cruise. Read Less
Sail Date April 2009
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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