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Zuiderdam, you decide

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Zuiderdam July 7, 2008 thru July 31, 2008 Return B 2 B

Tours-Yes, they are expensive but worry free. We went on our own to Capri but later wished we had taken the ship’s tour. It’s more enjoyable not worrying about missing the boat.

Itinerary-Great. The only port we didn’t like was Athens. Santorini had way too many ships in port. It was uncomfortable and crowded. We had to take the steep donkey trail down so we wouldn’t miss the tender. The tram wait was 2 hours. We waited “only” 1 hour to go up. The cruise lines need to work together so there aren’t 10,000 people dumped on the island at once. We were there several years ago and had a very different impression-not Sardine City.

Entertainment-Thank goodness for the String Quartet. The lounge entertainment was so LOUD we couldn’t stand it. No local entertainment was brought on board.

Ship Appearance- Surprised that after drydock the carpet was threadbare in places. Upholstered chairs in the Strings area quite tired. Food was on the drapes in the dining room. The whole 24 days we were aboard the promenade deck was gross. They were working on lifeboats over head and dripping paint, filings and debris on people and chairs below. They never heard of drop cloths? The deck chairs looked nice before they dripped paint on them.

Plus Side- if you were to book hotels along the way of a Med. Trip, you’re not sure of what you would get either. The ship made travel very convenient. The ship provided a clean cabin and linens. It was good transportation to get us to fabulous places stress free with one stop unpacking. No maps-the ship got us everywhere.

Food- Lido (cafeteria) was good. Food was served hot! Ice cream- wonderful. Fresh fruit and cinn. Rolls-yummy. Food surprisingly was superior to the dining room. I used to prefer the elegant dining room but no longer.

Dining Room- 90% of the time the entrée was cold or lukewarm at best. Yes, it looked pretty, but I like hot food served hot. By the time the waiter returned the rest of the table was done eating and I didn’t want to inconvenience the rest of the group by sending my entrée back when they were ready for dessert. It may be due to As You Wait Dining and not having the same waiter, paying tips upfront and a loss of incentive, or maybe the waiters just have too may tables. The cold soups (blueberry my favorite) and fresh fruit appetizers were indeed good.

AYWD-Had no choice when we booked. I never wished to be eating at 10 P.M. but we did the last formal night. AYWD really doesn’t work on a ship this big. It was fine on the Wind Surfbut no one seemed to like it on the Zuiderdam. ( Except for some strange reason, the guy at the desk enjoyed passing out buzzers to summon you back to dinner) Your buzzer would go off & you could return when They wished. Usually an hour later-everyone wished to eat at 8:00,I guess. The dining room was noisey with kids yelling, ‘I want Jello.” At 10:00, they probably wanted sleep. Parents ignored misbehaving children and waiters catered to them. Fixed seating people that we talked to seemed to have a better dining experience. They knew what time they were eating and where. AYWD –every night you parade to a table. The Yum Yum boy was employed in this endeavor rather than passing out ginger.

I miss getting to know tablemates better than the nightly, “Where are you from?”, “How many cruises have you taken?” This trivia occurred nightly because it was always a brand new group. Nice people but you don’t even remember their names. I still exchange Christmas cards with a gentleman from my first cruise over 20 yrs ago on the Norway. Those days are gone, I’m afraid.

Service-I did not feel pampered or that I even mattered. I often felt I was in the way of their doing maintenance. (Vacuuming in the Lido while I’m trying to have a conversation was irritating. Dripping paint on a Sea Day when I wanted to read a book was a bit much!) Waiters have become merely order takers. {McDonald’s style) No warmth or friendly banter. No showing a tray of desserts and explaining them-just hand you the menu and write down the order. I realize they cut staff to keep prices affordable but service is missed & lack of it noticed.

Overall-After 20 cruises, I would greatly lower my expectations of cruising. I will look at ports and cost and book with lower expectations while being grateful I was able to cruise when it was something special! It still is a good , easy hassle –free way to travel(sadly; the glamour is gone.) I was quite surprised at how many unruly children were on board. When guests complained about the chaos at the pool and the running and yelling up and down the halls-they were told that it was the kids’ vacation, too! Is there a niche for adult cruisers? I would never have imagined high chairs in the dining room on Holland America. Maybe a Carribbean beach vacation, but how many kids under 5 would enjoy Europe? We did enjoy the Zuiderdam several years ago in the Caribbean but it has certainly changed.. Cruising isn’t the experience it used to be, but with that in mind, I wouldn’t rule it out in the future’

Thanks for all the input.. I read the boards nightly before our trip and learned a lot. Now that I have something to say, I hope someone learns from my efforts as well. We have many pictures (900) of wonderful places but the places rather than the ship provide the sweet memories!

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Hello, we were on the same cruise that you were (the July 19-31 portion). Here's my take on some of your comments:


The volume in the lounges--you are absolutely right about this. Why does the volume have to be so loud that it hurts your ears? This was also a problem several times in the Vista Lounge. I enjoy the shipboard entertainment and just hate it when you have to leave in order to save your hearing. This problem in not limited to the Zuiderdam--I've noticed it on other ships.


Santorini--when we got off the cable car at the top there were so many people that we couldn't even move!!! I thought that the crowds would die down by evening, but at 9:00 pm there was a huge line waiting to go down so we just walked down the donkey trail like you did. You're right--way too many cruisers in Santorini.


Maintenance and wear and tear--I just didn't get the same impression as you. Everything seemed to be in good repair.


Service--we had a fantastic room steward. I found the wait staff to be pretty attentive, except for the last day. We decided to have a last dinner in the main dining room on the last day in Barcelona. It took us 2 hours to "get through" dinner. There were alot of waiters standing around and talking. Seems to be an unwritten rule aboard many cruise ships that service is allowed to slack up the last day of the cruise.


AYWD-- The first sea day we had to wait 45 minutes to get into the dining room. Other days it was a short wait. Even with the wait time I think it is worth it to be able to dine when it is convenient for you. Because this cruise is so port intensive, we had many dinners in the Lido. I just wish the Lido hours were longer on port days, because when you sail at 8:00, it just doesn't make sense to close the buffet at the same time.


Fantastic itinerary though didn't you think? I loved the 3 days in Venice, with the Redentatore fireworks celebration. Also loved the sail out of Venice. Port lecturer Tom was fantastic.


The highlight of the cruise for me was watching Stromboli erupting!!


Thanks OP for your comments, you have some very valid points and I hope Holland reads and responds accordingly.



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Thank you both for the information. It's always good to have information from different people who were on the same cruise. :)

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Thank you for posting your experiences. We'll be sailing the Zuiderdam for the first time in April.


BTW, what was wrong with Athens?? :confused:

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Atens was dirty and filled with graffiti, Unfortunately we got stuck in the back of a bus that was so hot it made you sick. We made mistake of taking panoramic tour, too much time on bus. Just not my cup of tea. I like islands better but - Istanbul was great for a big city. Cleaner than Athens.

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