Over all I would definitely recommend this cruise. I know if we had not visited Greenland and Iceland on a cruise we would never have gone. The Atlantic crossing was a bit rough. Two nights we were told to 'batten down the hatches' so to speak. The excursions are not inexpensive on this cruise. For the most part the ports and guides are very good.
4 out of 5
The good news is we are 4 star and get priority boarding - the bad news is on these longer cruises there are hundreds of 4 and 5 star cruisers. It is faster, not by much. HAL is very organized and the process itself is efficient.
Food and Dining
4 out of 5
One of the reasons we travel on HAL is because the food in the main DR is better than other ships. On this cruise the food in the DR, on the east bound portion was very good. On the return to Boston I felt like a different chef was in charge. Lido has certainly upgraded their food; the servers are very friendly and helpful. Pinnacle Grill is the speciality restaurant on this ship and it's good. We enjoy the more relaxed atmosphere and unrushed service.
4 out of 5
We are not big 'joiners' - we do not participate in most of the on-board activities. I do use the fitness center on all except port days. We've done all the wine tastings on practically every ship and have just about decided we are done with those. While HAL does have good wine available on the ships, they are generally not the ones at the wine tastings. We enjoy the educational/informational talks when the speaker is capable of delivering a good talk.
3 out of 5
For the most part the entertainment on this cruise was not very good. We did enjoy the Lincoln Center Stage quintet. BB King was so-so and the Billboard duo on the east bound was good and sounded like Shakey's Pizza on the west bound portion.
Service and Staff
5 out of 5
HAL provides excellent service. I was so attached to my DR staff I would not change tables out of their section. Any questions are always answered and overall service is very good.
4 out of 5
Zuiderdam is due for dry dock soon and she can use a sprucing up. Cleanliness is never an issue. Rust, peeling paint and worn furnishing ready to be fixed.
Cabin / Stateroom
4 out of 5
Great room. Standard balcony.
There is nothing specifically related to this ship to share. I like to remember to relax, enjoy and respect fellow cruisers.
Bar Harbor is a cute tourist town.
We did the whale watching excursion which I would not recommend. The vessel for the excurison was not exclusive to HAL and there were too many people. We traveled almost 90 minutes to get to a place to see whales and saw the same 2 or 3 whales 2 or 3 times then had to travel back. Not a good excursion.
Loved Sydney, NS. We did the Bird Islands of Cape Breton. Local captain took about 30 people in his boat. We saw dozens of birds including bald eagles; also seals. Beautiful day. The captain was very informative. Sandwich and water served for lunch - we didn't eat.
Another great port. Beautiful country. We took the Gros Morne National Park excursion - absolutely beautiful ride with several stops. The most disappointing stop was the National Park. There is a building with an exhibit and a movie - neither were very interesting. Spent way too much time here. Lunch at a local hotel, seafood that was not prepared well and tasteless. The other stops and the countryside are worth the excursion.
Red Bay, Newfoundland
5 out of 5
Absolutely beautiful place and the Lighthouse Journey was excellent. Two local women did the tour - one driving the school bus (she is the school bus driver for the children) and the other doing the commentary. I will not give away the secrets and best parts of this journey - it's very interesting and beautiful. Even in the rain the lighthouse is awesome. There was a local cake and cider, somehow we missed that.
We were unable to visit this port due to weather. Too bad because it would have been the inaugural visit. We went to Nanortalik instead. Did the Hike Nanortalik excursion which was a hike around the a portion of the beautiful lake. Very nice. Not too difficult.
Greenland is beautiful - not very green...we did another hike - Hike around the lake - this one is strenuous! The beginning is fairly easy however, the ground is boggy. At the halfway point the it changes drastically to rocks and climbs both up and down. Not at all suitable for people with any difficulties walking. Qaqortoq is not as scenic as Nanortalik; the end of the walk is through a rather junky/trashy area and, there was not place for lunch.
This is not a port it is a cruise through the Sound and is amazing. Dozens of waterfalls, unnamed glaciers and icebergs. Our captain was great about slowing down for the really good sites and even turning the ship 360 so everyone got a fantastic view of 2 big glaciers. Stunning day.
We absolutely loved Iceland! We did another whale watching tour here and it was exactly what I wanted - small boat with maybe 12 of us and the 2 pilots. We had to put on full all-weather suits. The seats on the boat are more like those on a bike or motorcycle - you straddle it and there is a metal bar to hold onto. The whales are within 10-15 feet of you. We were there on a rainy and round day - still saw several whales and had a blast. We went out in the morning and the afternoon tour was cancelled. Not for you if you don't like to get wet. The city itself is great! We found a great cafe for cappuccino and a muffin before the tour and went back for lunch afterward. Lots of nice shops and a great brewery close to the wharf.
Another excellent town and excursion. The weather in Iceland is rainy and chilly - still this excursion to the waterfalls was great - another opportunity to see the countryside. Lunch was provided by a local hotel and it was much better than the first offering, not great but edible. A good bit of walking on this excursion; some paved paths and some on ground that is not even and rocky.
We liked Bergen. User friendly town and very nice people. Our excursion, Mt Floien Hike was in the afternoon so we walked around the shops and had a coffee and pastry before our hike. We did go back to the ship to drop off our purchases and change clothes as the weather turned rainy and we were very glad we did as we were hiking in rain. Fun to ride the funicular up Mt Floien then do about a 5 mile round-trip hike. Not too difficult. It is a mountain and uphill. Our guide was great, gave lots of info on the area.
Totally enjoyed Rotterdam. We did the Kinderdijk excursion which was interesting. I loved seeing the windmills and being able to go inside one and see the workings and how the people lived. Interesting, too, learning how the windmills work with the nearby plant. Not too long of a drive to and from which left time to explore. Unfortunately, the city center is too far to walk and we didn't have time to take the shuttle. We walked a long way though, had lunch and just enjoyed the river.
Absolutely loved Cobh! What a delightful town. Our excursion was to Spike Island. Very interesting history. It was a beautiful day and we enjoyed walking around the island. Transfer was by ferry which we easily walked to and from boat. One of the best things here is the cathedral - magnificient! And, the town had held a regatta and there was music, local crafts and food in the park. We had a great time!
We had been to Dublin a few times and did not book an excursion because there are so many things to do on your own. We went to the cathedral, saw the Book of Kells, the castle, shopped and ate - fun day.
I wish we had more time to see the city of Belfast. We took the Giants Causeway excursion. Very interesting natural site with thousands of people. While it was interesting to see it was not worth the drive; yet the drive was pretty and we did see some interesting ruins. To actually see the Causeway is about a one mile hike. There is a shuttle with a very long line.
Another amazing excursion, The Valley of the Waterfalls! Never have I seen so many waterfalls in one day. Our guide was the son of the family who owns this amazing glacial canyon - his enthusiasm and depth of info was a big part of the tour. Some walking required. Fun to see the inside of a sheep barn, too.
Absolutely loved Reykjavik! I think I could live there. We had an overnight here so we did an excursion the first day and just enjoyed the city the second day. The excursion we did, Glacier Walk and Waterfalls was unbelievable - driving on a glacier and going into a glacier - amazing! The tour was in monster SUVs with special tires which could go on any terrain - which we did. I won't spoil the surprises. Great guides! Another community wide event was going on the second day and we fully immersed and had a great time!
As noted above we visited this early because we skipped Paamiut.
St. Anthony, Newfoundland
3 out of 5
The port itself is not too exciting, other than the visitors center, which has a small cafe, there isn't much. We took the Santana Trail excursion which involves walking about almost 400 steps to get an amazing 360 view. Not really was bad as it sounds and worth the view. Also saw the lighthouse. A bit disappointing as we had the entire day and not even a place to have lunch.
Because we skipped St Johns we had an overnight in Halifax. Arriving mid-afternoon was strange; the ship was several blocks from what could be considered the center of town and the walk is mostly along the boardwalk. There were huge local crowds, as again, there was a festival happening. It was very hot! Stange after being in almost winter like weather. The second day was better - took the Peggy's Cove excursion. The drive was beautiful and our guide, Gale, is a local and had lots of good info. Peggy's Cove itself is just a small cove made famous by an abandoned child and an artist. An hour is plenty time to see it all. Masses of people. The most interesting thing is the rock formations. We did get good info from Gale on what to do the second day: the Maritime Museum, the Public Gardens, Catholic and Anglican cemeteries. We found a local brewery for lunch, did a lot of walking; went back to the ship and cleaned up for dinner - had a really nice dinner on the patio at Shuck.
3 out of 5
We were not in a hurry because our flight was early afternoon; however, we wish we had done the expedited disembarkation and gotten off early. Crazy lines to go through passport control and then off the ship then find luggage...ugh!
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