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Jennifer Mager Bell

Age: 39

Occupation:Interior Designer

Number of Cruises: 3

Cruise Line: Holland America

Ship: Zuiderdam

Sailing Date: 2009-12-19

Itinerary: Panama Canal

Overall, the cruise was ok. BUT, Holland America sure knows how to nickel & dime you. We were in a Deluxe Verandah Suite (top of the line) and got nickel and dimed the whole way. We had access to the Neptune Lounge (Suites only) and had very nice appetizers, but they had no soda and when you did have a soda they charged $2.00 for each one. At this level of cruising, come on, throw in some free pop. The cabin was over $10,000 for the two of us. Another example was that everyone was encouraged to get up at 5:30 am for the entry into the Panama Canal and to join the captain on deck for a mimosa toast. It was inferred that the mimosas were complimentary. However, after we got up super early and were on the foredeck in the pitch darkness, they were charging $5.00 per mimosa. I would have had no problem with this if they had said so before hand, but they did not. Just seemed cheap. Also, there was a constant pressure from the bar staff and wine stewards to up-sell you on everything. As a person who is highly competent in wine selection, I was bullied on the first night for an up-sell on the wine that I had selected. I decided to give the person the benefit of the doubt and to with her selection. Big mistake. My original selection was much better AND $10 cheaper too. Overall, the cruise was ok, but the up-selling left a bad taste in our mouths.
The food was pretty good. It was a high 3 1/2 stars and had something for everyone. The service from the servers was great too.
We had a lovely Deluxe Verandah Suite, which was spacious and comfortable.
They were ok.
Don't miss Half Moon Cay. The water is great and the beach is beautiful. Definitely don't go into Puerto Limon, Costa Rica if you are not on a shore excursion. The town is extremely dirty and unsafe. We counted 45 police officers within 3 blocks. The Panama Canal is outstanding, but you don't need to get up at 5:30 am to enjoy it. You also don't need to go to the foredeck to see it either. You can just go to the front of decks 7 and 8 to see everything and with less crowds.
Overall the trip was great. Our entire family went and there was definitely something for everyone. We all had a great time, but everyone remarked on the nickel and diming.

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