Excellent Way to See the Panama Canal

Zuiderdam Cruise Review to Caribbean

Cruises: 7+ cruises
Reviews: 2
Helpful Votes: 57

Overall rating:

4.7 out of 5
Verified Review

11 Night Panama Canal Sunfarer (Ft. Lauderdale Roundtrip)

Sail date: January 27, 2018

Ship: Zuiderdam

Cabin type: Balcony

Cabin number: 4027

Traveled as: Couple

Reviewed: 3 years ago

Review summary

While the traditional Panama Canal cruise enters and exits in the same day, doing a partial transit as this ship did is a much better way to actually see Panama. When you do the full transit, you spend the entire day just getting through the canal and do not get to see Panama. This itinerary allowed us to see some of Panama and the canal up close.


5 out of 5
Very smooth and organized, no more than a 15 minute wait from dropoff at the cruise terminal to boarding the ship.

Ship experiences

Food and Dining

5 out of 5
As we have always experienced on Holland America, the food and service were outstanding. The staff take time to learn your name and have an uncanny ability to remember you - along with what you like and don't like. The food is excellent - expertly prepared and presented.

Onboard Activities

3 out of 5
Not quite as many activities on sea days as we have had on other Holland cruises. There was no guest lecturer and it just seemed to be fewer things to do.


5 out of 5
Loved the music at the BB King Blues Club. They were a very lively and talented band and played to full capacity audiences most nights. Great little venue for them, really felt intimate, like they were playing to only us. It seemed there was always music somewhere on the ship and it was easy to find something that was of interest.

Children's Programs

One of the reasons we like Holland America cruises is because there are VERY few children.

Service and Staff

5 out of 5
The staff is always friendly without being fake about it. Our cabin steward introduced himself the first day and remembered us every time we saw him. He kept our room perfect. The dining room staff got to know our names, likes, and dislikes, and made sure we had a perfect dinner experience every night in the dining room. Even the young lady working the buffet introduced herself and remembered our names when we went back 3 days later.

Ship Quality

5 out of 5
Very nice and tidy after a very recent refurb. There were always staff cleaning brass, rails, and generally making sure the ship was in great condition.

Cabin / Stateroom

5 out of 5
Comfortable, with everything you would need. On this ship, the balcony was a bit bigger than we have experienced on other Holland America ships, but the wall was steel rather than glass, obstructing the view a bit. Because of recent refurb, all the furniture was new and comfortable and very clean.

Ship tip

Nice size ship at about 1900 passengers - big enough to have everything you would need (bars, restaurants, entertainment), but not so big as to feel overwhelming.

Ports of call

Half Moon Cay, Bahamas (Private Island)

5 out of 5
Great stop, excellent for laying on a beautiful beach, but the weather was not cooperative the day we were there.

Oranjestad, Aruba

4 out of 5
Excellent for shopping, lots of stuff to do right off the port (drinks, eats, shopping). Island itself is a bit dry and desolate, but some good beaches.

Willemstad, Curacao

5 out of 5
We took a private tour of the island and got to see just about everything in an 8-hour day. Excellent beaches on the north-west side,

Cartagena, Colombia

5 out of 5
Took a taxi to old town and just walked about. Architecture was phenomenal, with the old building surrounded by the ancient wall. Many shops, friendly people.

Enter Panama Canal At Cristobal

5 out of 5
Everyone needs to see the Panama Canal at some point in their life. It is an amazing accomplishment, especially when you realize it was created more than 100 years ago and remains fundamentally unchanged since.

Colon, Panama

4 out of 5
We went on a monkey island tour and saw monkeys and birds. We also got to traverse part of the canal in a very small boat, while giant tankers and mega-ships floated by right next to us.

Puerto Limon, Costa Rica

5 out of 5
Jaguar Research Center was an excellent stop to see up close the rehabilitation of local wildlife.


4 out of 5
Disembarkation was delayed for some reason for more than an hour, which made it a bit chaotic getting off the ship. But once off, customs was smooth and the taxi line was very short.
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