was our second sailing on Zuiderdam, the first was on her seventh sailing in
early February. Many of my comments
will reflect changes from this early sailing.
a little about us because not everyone looks for the same cruise experience.
We are Jim and Sue, in our lower 50's, all kids grown and gone. Our
cruising choices tend toward the ships that offer a more elegant experience
rather than a casual one. For Caribbean cruises, we book for the ship, the
suite, and number of sea days, not for the ports.
Our routine onboard any ship is similar (others probably would find it
boring) – a lazy relaxed morning with coffee and sometimes breakfast
delivered by room service. We spend a
lot of time in the cabin and on the verandah so for us a suite makes a lot of
sense. Since we usually only eat two
meals a day, we usually skip lunch and have appetizers late afternoon prior to
dinner. We rarely attend the shows
because we enjoy having a nightcap on the balcony before going to bed.
always fly to the port city a day ahead of time to avoid any air delays or
other mishaps and to be able to board the ship relaxed and refreshed.
Our flight from Denver to Ft. Lauderdale was on time and uneventful and
our stay at the Embassy Suites was very nice. We
particularly enjoyed meeting several new friends from the message boards at
the complimentary cocktail party at the hotel.
morning we had breakfast and then taxied to the port.
We were quite early and waited in the line outside the terminal for
about 20 minutes, but after the doors were opened check-in was a breeze!
We had received all paperwork with our documents and had it all filled
out as well as having done the online immigration forms so we went right to
the counter for Penthouse and Deluxe Verandah Suites (S).
They checked us in and took our pictures with a small camera attached
to the computer and we went upstairs. Within
about 15 minutes they called for priority boarding and we went onboard.
I think this is the biggest improvement Holland America has
made--allowing you to board the ship and use the public areas until the cabins
are ready at 1:30. We went directly to
the Neptune Lounge and I asked the Concierge (Susan and Jasmine) about
booking a cabana on Half Moon Cay. We
got the Pink one, just as we had hoped! We also arranged for appetizers to be
delivered to our suite every afternoon at 4:30.
After a few munchies in the Neptune Lounge we decided to see if we
could get to our cabin. On our previous
cruise our suite was located near the Neptune and we used it often; this time
being on a different deck and all the way aft, we didn’t use it at all.
booked S suite 8135, an aft suite with a balcony that is covered by the
Lido deck above and wraps around the side of the ship.
The verandah was everything we had hoped for… it had two lounge
chairs, a table with four chairs and two chairs with ottomans--we spent much
time on it. On the other hand, the suite left much to be desired.
It was much too small to be considered an S suite.
The bathroom was the same as other S suites; it included a whirlpool
tub with shower and a separate shower. There
was also a long vanity area with two sinks and plenty of storage space.
The two fluffy robes were hanging in the closet.
I really like the dressing room, which includes a dressing table out of
view of the cabin so I don’t have to worry about cleaning it up and the
closet doors have full-length mirrors so you can really see how you look.
All of the S suites on Zuiderdam are slightly smaller than on the older
ships, but this one was barely bigger than the king-sized bed.
There were no drawers in the cabin except those in the nightstand--the
ones under the bed were filled with extra bedding which we could have asked to
be removed, but made do without. We had
no barware and had to ask for champagne glasses for our complimentary bottle
of champagne for sail-away. For the
rest of the trip, we made our in-cabin toddies in the water glasses.
We had one chair removed, but the other blocked the mini-bar and the
closet. Later in the cruise I spent some time with Nick Berger, the Hotel
Manager (we knew him from previous cruises) discussing the suite and I
recommended that they reclassify it as an SS. Ok,
enough complaining about the cabin.
ship is really interesting and many of the problems we found on the early
sailing have been (for the most part) fixed. We
didn’t encounter any bad odors and there seemed to be plenty of restrooms in
the public areas. The service is still
rather apathetic, not what we were used to on the older ships, but also
nothing to really complain about. I
thought the flower arrangements were spectacular--this is one of Holland
America’s real strengths, not using artificial flowers!
I enjoy the artwork throughout the ship, but the “masquerade”
window is my favorite… then again I really like the miniatures near the
elevators and the large photos that cover the photo gallery when it is closed.
The colors through out the ship are much brighter than on the older ships and
the style is mostly art deco. My
husband was particularly happy to find that Monday Night Football was on in
the Sports Bar (Broncos /vs. Raiders). Being from Denver, we were
interested in the game and it was fun to watch it dressed in our formal
had several breakfasts and one lunch in the Odyssey (a perk for suites)
and enjoyed them. The Indonesian
wait-staff there was recently replaced with Hungarians and (comparing with our
earlier sailing) the language problem was solved, but they seemed to be rather
unorganized. We didn’t have dinner in
it so I can’t give any opinions on that. The Odyssey remains one of my
favorite rooms on the ship--I love the white and silver color scheme.
I do think that lowering the dress code to follow that of the ship is
rather a shame; it used to be coat and tie or better every evening.
table in the Vista Dining Room was on the upper level (3 Deck) at the
railing overlooking the lower level. We
really enjoyed listening to the musicians that played at the start of dinner
and missed them when they stopped playing about 10 minutes after seating time.
Our tablemates were great, Pat and Christine (a mother & daughter) and
Sherry and John.
evenings we went to the Ocean Bar either for a before- or after-dinner
drink. This is one area that, although
convenient to the dining room, isn’t well designed.
The band and dance floor are located on one side that has very little
seating and on the other side you can’t hear the music.
As on our last sailing, the Atrium Bar was never open when we
walked through, but I like the sculptured look of the furniture and floors.
attended the special Captain’s lunch for suite guests in the Crow’s
Nest; as usual the food served was excellent and they didn’t skimp on
the caviar! The Crow’s Nest is
similar to those on the other ships with the exception of some great lounge
chairs that face out the windows.
didn’t get off the ship at any of the ports except Half Moon Cay as we had
sailed this route several times and our goal for the trip was just to relax.
The ship is very quiet the pace is slow during the times that most of
the passengers are ashore--I enjoy these times immensely--in fact, it’s the
only time I’ll go to the pool. Our
last day aboard ship was the stop at Half Moon Cay; it gets better each
time we go. The water and weather were perfect and we loved the private
cabana. Currently there are only four
available with another just about finished. They
are offered to PS and S passengers for a cost of $149 and go very quickly.
That cost includes the cabana with a ceiling fan and air conditioner,
sodas and beer, a vegetable and dip platter, fresh fruit platter and chips and
salsa. There is a table with six chairs
and two chaise lounges with cool misters along side each, and a shower to
rinse off the salt water and sand. You
are also provided with floaters and snorkel equipment.
Stewards from the ship will get drinks from the bar and deliver your
barbeque lunch right to the cabana. Life
is good! We invited Pat and Chris (our
tablemates) to join us and we all had a wonderful time-–really the highlight
of the trip.
summary the trip was ok, not great. As
I said at the beginning, our style of cruising includes a lot of time spent in
the cabin and this cabin was a disappointment.
We did not let it spoil the trip… the verandah was wonderful and we
spent hours out there reading. We did
get our money’s worth as I booked the trip on a special offer sent via email
to Mariners and we had free air passes! I
think I prefer the older ships like Maasdam and will plan to book one of them
next time, but would sail Zuiderdam again if another special offer rolls our