So many times, people complain about bad things & fail to compliment successful efforts, & my recent one was certainly that. My wife & I were traveling with another couple & went on the October 18 Zuiderdam Western Caribbean trip. It was our first experience with a Holland America cruise, third overall.
I have to say that upon reading some reviews of the Zuiderdam online at different sites, I had some concerns, but either major problems had been overcome, or they were substantially exaggerated based upon how things went for us. We were on deck 5 in outside verandah suites, midship & starboard, though not adjoining. The couple we were with did experience some kind of sewer odor in their room the first night upon returning from dinner, but it never resurfaced during the voyage. My wife & I did notice a foul smell one evening upon going out on our balcony, but quickly returned inside & that problem never occurred again. Those were the ONLY unsatisfactory aspects of this cruise. Our highest compliments to Rubai, our cabin steward, who always saw to our needs when we were out, but was so stealth in achieving it that we virtually never actually saw him except for when I tracked him down in a supply room on the last night to extend thanks & a gratuity.
Our dining staff of Abe-waiter, Din-assistant and Lilik-maitre d', was absolutely wonderful. They were always very polite & went out of their way to please or meet special requests (even putting up with others at our table who sometimes were quite honestly a bit rude & hard to please), & made great efforts to make every night a 5-star dining experience. We made the decision after a few days to NOT eat at the Odyssey, because we so appreciated this staff, were impressed with the meals we were being served in the Vista Dining Room, & just didn't feel the need to miss out on an already superior time of enjoyment. The staff & service at the Lido buffet were always courteous & helpful, as was the case in general at every venue on the ship. We immensely enjoyed the nightly entertainment in the Vista Lounge & rated it superior to prior cruise experience. We never had any major problems or delays in getting on or off at ports & the arrival & disembarkation procedures were far quicker than we might have expected & went off without a hitch. The only itinerary issue we had was the time in Cozumel. We elected to visit the ruins in Tulum, which was a great experience, but due to the extended time, it left us no time on Cozumel itself. Any potential to extend the evening departure time by even a few hours would enable those who visit the ruins to get some benefit out of Cozumel itself, even if for a short while. Otherwise, we enjoyed all ports & our experiences at each of them. We participated in shore excursions, including Tulum @ Cozumel, as well as snorkeling & scuba-diving @ Grand Cayman, & although they were not cheap, we believed that they were reasonable values for the prices paid. We had no problems getting around the ship itself & were positively impressed with its decor & overall condition. I would highly recommend the Zuiderdam & the quality of service provided by Holland America before, onboard & after the cruise.