Holland America Line : Zuiderdam Caribbean
We had been a little shy of cruises as our last cruise on a different cruise line served food that we felt was sub-standard and the boarding process was a nightmare. Having completed our first cruise on Holland America’s we are pleased to report that we had a wonderful time and the food we felt was awesome throughout the ship.
Boarding: We embarked out of Miami. HAL makes boarding a breeze with sufficient check in people and what seems like an expedited process for all passengers. The Zuiderdam is only around 2,000 passengers as compared to our last cruise of 6,000. Hooray for easy boarding, it starts you off on the right foot!
Room Accommodations: We prefer verandas and they are comfortably large enough to handle two chairs with stools and small table with room to spare. The two twin beds joined to what seemed to be a king size bed that left you with lots of room to sleep and not run into your partner. We felt the storage space was sufficient and the various light configurations let you keep one area dim while your partner slept and you read. A medium size, 25 inch, suitcase stored under the bed and there was room for another suitcase in the closet and alongside the couch.There is a TV to keep you abreast of the ships position and has a great movie selection. The room included a couch with table and s desk with storage, two night stands and closets. The bathroom was larger than many ships we have been on with a tub/shower.
Excursions: We booked most of our excursions a month or so prior to departure on the HAL website. All went well. It would be nice to have a user rating system so you received more in depth knowledge of the excursion prior to booking.
Guest Services: Anytime you had a question you could call Guest Services, on board, or visit their desk on deck one.
Entertainment: Entertainment on the ship is free and awesome. Some cruise lines charge you an add on to attend an evening show. The comedian was fantastic, sort of adlibing with people in the audience. Our tummies ached from laughing so much and for so long. We recommend Ben if you get a chance to see him onboard or in NYC or Houston. The magician was cute, young and and refreshing. If you want to hear some great blues, jazz, rock, pop then the BB King stage is the place to rock and out and dance, fantastic musicians and singers.
Dining/Food: As we mentioned the food was exceptional not only from a cruise standpoint, but overall. There are two formal nights meaning no shorts or t-shirts in the dining room. The kicker was the filet and lobster tail night. There is a formal dining room on deck 2 and a casual buffet on deck 9 (pool deck) along with a burger joint known for exceptional burgers and a taco bar.
Bars/Beveridge s: There are six bars scattered around the ship that serve liquor, beer and soft beverages. We went for the Beveridge package that included up to 15 hard drinks/beer a day and free bottled water. Hey, you only live once.
Staff: You will never lack for a friend or conversation on-board. Every time you pass a staff member they say hello. Your room attendant will tell you all about where he lives and ask you where you live, always with a smile. The dining room staff are plentiful and helpful. We want to give a shout out to Britt from the Netherlands the Matre’d and Alla the wine steward from the Phillipines, both are exceptional professionals that extend service above and beyond.