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my opinion of the Zuiderdam, and the ports of call on our recent panama canal cruise

MisterD21

If you take me serious, it's your problem
#1
hey everyone

This is not so much a review as it is just my personal opinion of the Zuiderdam, and the ports of call.

First lets talk about the Zuiderdam. The ship will, i believe, be heading into a much needed drydock this spring. Upon arrival at the port everglades terminal i must say the HAL terminal check in area seems rather crudely put together. As we embarked into the ship the first thing i notice is the beautiful atrium. then as we make our way to our cabin i start noticing little things catching my eye. First i notice the worn, and in some places, frayed carpeting. then things like scuffed paint, and scratches on the walls in some places. Our desk area, which also holds the mini bar, had some scratched and worn edges on the wood. The balcony had several small spots of rust and corrosion. One of the brackets for the glass railing was missing(but was repaired when we let them know). On the 3rd day the balconies were painted(so they were at least trying to make improvements), but couldn't be used for several hours while the paint dried. the plumbing had minor issues... low pressure when flushing the toilet at times, and the sink would occasionally drain slowly. I must include an important positive about the crew of the ship. The crew were the the best crew i have encountered on a cruise to date. From embarkation to disembarkation i not once encountered a single crew member who didn't seem to enjoy their work. I tried, and tried to find one that was having a bad day, or seemed like they just were not into giving it their best. to no avail, they all seemed to enjoy their jobs.... even when they were just talking to each other. For that reason alone i will sail HAL again. So while the ship is an old lady in desperate need of a facelift, our overall experience was pretty darn good.


Now before i talk about the ports/terminals, i want to say that i am not certain what responsibility the cruise lines have regarding the cruise docks and terminals. So this isn't anything against HAL, just my observations and dissapointment.

Of the ports we stopped, Aruba, Curacao, Cartegena, Puerto Limon, were less than desirable for us. In Aruba there wasn't much of a terminal(a building that was closed), and several booths that were unattended. I couldn't find anyone with a map of the city, and no one seemed to care unless you were taking their excursion. For those who know me, understand that i like to rent a car and drive around myself. I could not find anyone either willing, or able to point me in the direction of a rental agency. In Curacao it was the same, no actual terminal, just half empty kiosks. an small building with a few shops. still no one with maps, or info for finding rental cars. In Cartagena the ship actually docks in a cargo dock. you have to walk down, up, and around to get to the city center. No facilities at the pier at all, just buses for excursions. no taxi's , no transportation whatsoever except excursion buses(which wouldn't have been too terrible if i wasn't travelling with my 67yr old mother). In Puerto Limon it was similar to Curacao in the terminal area, except there were several "flea market" type tables set up for people to sell their wares. but again no info on where to find a rental. the neighborhood outside the gates looked neglected and dirty. There were tons of locals ready to pounce on you for their service once you exited the tourist area.

We Loved the itinerary, just felt we didn't get to see as much as we could have due to the lack of proper cruise terminals. I had kind of expected to see it in Cartagena, and Puerto Limon... Not in Aruba, or Curacao. As our overall experience was great, we are considering this cruise again in 5-10 years. The new canal will be finished, and hopefully the cruise terminals will be upgraded by then.

DO NOT LET MY OPINIONS CHANGE YOUR MIND ABOUT GOING ON THIS CRUISE ITINERARY.... We were just disappointed with the lack of proper terminals, and lack of information at the piers. Remember... i do not like taking ship excursions, never have, doubt i ever will. However, if you don't have a problem with taking excursions then you will have a blast on this itinerary. there are so many things to see and do. You will love the Zuiderdam when she is refitted, the ship is easy to navigate, and the crew are awesome.

thanks for reading and sharing your opinions
 

Krazy Kruizers

Holland America Specialist
#2
Re: my opinion of the Zuiderdam, and the ports of call on our recent panama canal cru

Thank you for your review.

We have done that Zuiderdam itinerary a couple of times and if all goes well, will be doing it again soon.

I have to use a walker and get discouraged in Curacao when we always have to dock at the Mega pier and there isn't a ship docked at the inside pier.

Cartagena -- don't like that port. We did a couple of tours there many years ago. Now we just take the shuttle from the ship up to the only remaining little shop in the gated area. I would never go out on my own there. The main building in the freight area is now an immigration area for ships that begin and end there -- mostly ferries.

Not certain where you docked in Aruba -- sounds like you were down at 29 the freight area?
 

MisterD21

If you take me serious, it's your problem
#3
Re: my opinion of the Zuiderdam, and the ports of call on our recent panama canal cru

Thank you for your review.

We have done that Zuiderdam itinerary a couple of times and if all goes well, will be doing it again soon.

I have to use a walker and get discouraged in Curacao when we always have to dock at the Mega pier and there isn't a ship docked at the inside pier.

Cartagena -- don't like that port. We did a couple of tours there many years ago. Now we just take the shuttle from the ship up to the only remaining little shop in the gated area. I would never go out on my own there. The main building in the freight area is now an immigration area for ships that begin and end there -- mostly ferries.

Not certain where you docked in Aruba -- sounds like you were down at 29 the freight area?
in Aruba We were docked in an area where there were only cruiseships docked. near the marina area. we were docked right off of Ruizstraat.... i was surprised by how close to city center we were in Aruba.
 

connie seabee

Well-Known Member
Community Sponsor
#4
Re: my opinion of the Zuiderdam, and the ports of call on our recent panama canal cru

Thanks for your review MisterD21. I enjoyed reading it.
When we were in Aruba there were taxi's to be had. We took one to the beach and then came back to walk around the area. This was back a few plus years ago, so things may have changed.