Last Updated: 16-MAR-2016

11 night Panama Canal Sunfarer cruise with Holland America

This was a 11 night Panama Canal Sunfarer cruise with Holland America - ms Zuiderdam departing from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, on March 17, 2014.

We booked this cruise with Vacations-to-go on the web in January for approx. 1,800.00 pp with $50 ship credit. This was cruise #11. and the third time with a balcony. We were upgraded to 6th floor mid-ship balcony. The cabin # was 6025 and we liked it. Quiet and A/C worked very well.

We decided to fly to Fort Lauderdale on Southwest Airlines the day before the cruise began. We stayed at Marriott Courtyard Fort Lauderdale Beach And had a room on the corner on 7th floor which had views of beach and intercostal waterway. Government rate @ $180+ tax and we were happy. Nice location and we walked the beach Sun and Mon morning. Took cab to port and arrived about 11:15. Long lines as it took an hour to board ship. But luggage was in the room and the fun began.

So we showed up in main dining room at 7:00 for open seating. We were given a clicker and told we would be called. This was too much for Ken so I went back to The maitred to give back the clicker and he said but we were just about to call you. So they escorted us to table for you #77 on 3rd floor. Then 10 minutes later a couple showed up to claim their table. They were reseated elsewhere and we were assigned that table. Puri and Agos were great waiters and we went to dinner there every night. Ken was given a suitcoat on formal nights to hang on his chair. Food was good and fast on most nights. There Was a small Chihuahua Dog that ate dinner in main dining room on our floor. We were amazed as they wheeled him in and he sat in a modified baby carriage. Never heard him! He must not have had a tux since he didn't go to formal night!

Ken says that this was the best cruise we have taken to date. It was easy, low stress, great weather, had a very interesting itinerary. The ship was not crowded and had lots of interesting menu items. In fact I could easily do this exact cruise again in the fall of 2015 as Holland America continues to offer it.

SHIP LAYOUT: The ship was in good condition. Being on the 6th (upper Veranda) we were centrally located. I never had any issue finding a free place to sit. Holland like other cruises would tie up the chairs but it was easy to untie and they did not ever say anything to me for doing that. The front area on deck 12 was an excellent place to look at the stars as it was the darkest place on the ship. But, having 1,900 - 2,200 people on the ship it never seemed that crowded.

HOLLAND ALCOHOL POLICY: They allowed BEER / WINE to be brought on. They were not that good at checking your bags and I was able to get harder stuff on (taking home) easily. Also, if you buy the plastic bottles with a plastic cap and keep it on your person you can just walk on thru the metal detector. Soda was not an issue as we brought some on board at most ports. I think this is another demographic aspect. With the average age so high they are not worried about wild booze parties !

DRESS: We had three formal nights. The first formal night I got some looks as I would wear short sleeve shirt, NO TIE and dress type pants. The second formal night they actually chased us down and gave me a jacket that was about 10 sizes too small. I just hung it on the back of my chair.. Not my problem as I AM ON VACATION ! They did this on the third formal night too. This was the most restrictive I have ever encountered on all my cruises.

CASINO: I don't remember spending any money on this cruise.

INTERNET: Because of pets at home we paid for one of the internet plans. I must say that I was very impressed with the speed. I was checking web cameras and accessing email and the speed was excellent. The ship also had a nice computer area. I accessed the web via an android phone (Wi-Fi) and was impressed that it worked all over the ship. In fact it even worked in our room. As always I would read / write email offline and only connect to send/ receive.

SECURITY: No issues in bringing on plug strips / outlet expanders that I had hid across the bags. On the cruise groups, I have seen issues with these items being taken.

ARRIVAL / DEPARTURE TIME: No problems at all at any port. Like I said it was easy on. In Ft. Lauderdale I was expecting issues in getting off the ship and it was easy. A real quick look at our passports and NO questions were asked. We carried off our bags and they were never screened. Again, very easy and we were in a cab and heading to the airport in Ft. Lauderdale within minutes of getting out of the terminal.

FOOD: Ken does not worry about this as he could eat hot dogs and mac-chees every night. Mary asked for a mango and they gave it to her the last dinner night. They had pizza, cookies & ice cream available most of the time and it was good and varied. Food was quite good. Can't compare it to the 1990s cruises because the cruise industry has cut costs and food quality has suffered. They do try to make you happy however.

DEMOGRAPHICS: Interesting and as usual on Holland... The 70+ crowd ! A few kids but generally we did not see them. The usual clogging the elevator crowd.

I picked up a new Canon EOS-70D 20.2mp camera setup for this trip. I wanted to learn how to use it on my free time. One problem I did not realize was how hard it would be to process the photos and make our web pages after the trip. Going back and forth between the two cameras was a mess. Never again will I do this.

All photos were taken with a Canon PowerShot S100 12.1mp camera (orange date) or a Canon EOS-70D 20.2mp camera (white date)

For a detailed description of the Canon EOS-70D 20.2mp camera setup I am using, visit my Camera Page

Any video was shot with both cameras and converted with AWS Video Converter 8


  • Florida - First sea days - Half Moon Cay, Bahamas - Aruba and Curacao
  • Sea day - Cartagena, Columbia - Panama Canal, Panama
  • Puerto Limon, Costa Rica - Sea days - Florida


    Day 01 - Mar 17, 2014 MON Depart from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, US         ----               04:00 pm
    Day 02 - Mar 18, 2014 TUE Half Moon Cay, Bahamas                           08:00 am           02:30 pm
    Day 03 - Mar 19, 2014 WED At Sea                                           ----               ----
    Day 04 - Mar 20, 2014 THU Oranjestad, Aruba                                01:00 pm           11:00 pm
    Day 05 - Mar 21, 2014 FRI Willemstad (Curacao), Antilles                   08:00 am           05:00 pm
    Day 06 - Mar 22, 2014 SAT At Sea                                           ----               ----
    Day 07 - Mar 23, 2014 SUN Cartagena, Colombia                              07:00 am           01:00 pm
    Day 08 - Mar 24, 2014 MON Enter Panama Canal - Cristobal                   05:00 am
                              Crusing Panama Canal and Gatun Lake
                              Gatun Lake, Panama                               09:00 am           10;00 am
                              Crusing Panama Canal and Gatun Lake
                              Enter Panama Canal - Cristobal                   01:00 pm
                              Colon, Panama                                    03:00 pm           06:00 pm                    
    Day 09 - Mar 25, 2014 TUE Puerto Limon, Costa Rica                         06:30 am           04:00 pm
    Day 10 - Mar 26, 2014 WED At Sea                                           ----               ----
    Day 11 - Mar 27, 2014 THU At Sea                                           ----               ----
    Day 12 - Mar 28, 2014 FRI Arrive at Fort Lauderdale, Florida, US           07:00 am           ----

    Cruise Log

    Total mileage on this voyage

    Ports Mileage

    Fort Lauderdale, Florida to Half Moon Cay, Bahamas 269 nm Half Moon Cay, Bahamas to Oranjestad, Aruba 838 nm Oranjestad, Aruba to Willemstad (Curacao), Antilles 71 nm Willemstad (Curacao), Antilles to Cartagena, Colombia 464 nm Cartagena, Colombia to Gatun Lake, Panama 272 nm Gatun Lake, Panama to Colon, Panama 8 nm Colon, Panama to Puerto Limon, Costa Rica 187 nm Puerto Limon, Costa Rica to Fort Lauderdale, Florida 1194 nb

    TOTAL 3,303 nm

    3,303 nm = 3,801 land miles = 6,117 Kilometers

    Ship Facts

    HA Zuiderdam - Ship Facts

    Capacity: 1,916 passengers - 2,272 passengers (maximum) Crew: 842

    Class and type: Vista class cruise ship Tonnage: 81,769 GT - 10,965 DWT Length: 291 m (954.7 ft) Beam: 32 m (105.0 ft) Height: 57.83 m (189.73 ft) keel to funnel top Draught:7.80 m (25.59 ft) max Refurbished 2005 Decks: 11 passenger decks, 15 total Installed power: 1 x GE LM 2500 gas turbine, Sulzer (now Wartsila) ZAV40S 3 x 16-cylinder diesels, 2 x 12-cylinder diesels combined 51840 kW Propulsion: Azipod Speed: 24 knots (44 km/h; 28 mph) (maximum) 22 knots (41 km/h; 25 mph) (service)

    Specialty restaurant, dining room, buffet, pizzeria Internet, Wi-Fi, safe, refrigerator, DVD 2 pools (1 indoor) Fitness classes, gym, hot tubs, spa 9 bars, casino, 2 dance clubs, library, show room, video game room Children's programs Dry-cleaning, laundry service Internet terminal No-smoking cabins

    Total Accommodations 958 Suites 112 Balconys 639 Oceanview Staterooms 788 Interior Staterooms 136


  • Cruise Guide

  • Shore Excursions

  • On Location - Daily Ship Activity - 17-MAR-2014
  • On Location - Daily Ship Activity - 18-MAR-2014
  • On Location - Daily Ship Activity - 19-MAR-2014
  • On Location - Daily Ship Activity - 20-MAR-2014
  • On Location - Daily Ship Activity - 21-MAR-2014
  • On Location - Daily Ship Activity - 22-MAR-2014
  • On Location - Daily Ship Activity - 23-MAR-2014
  • On Location - Daily Ship Activity - 24-MAR-2014
  • On Location - Daily Ship Activity - 25-MAR-2014
  • On Location - Daily Ship Activity - 26-MAR-2014
  • On Location - Daily Ship Activity - 27-MAR-2014

  • Panama Canal - Top Tours

  • Panama Canal - Railroad

  • Ship Guide

  • Cruise Log

    Holland America had a chart with the cruise course mapped out. No easy way to make a copy of it. Photos is the order of the cruise


  • Florida - First sea days - Half Moon Cay, Bahamas - Aruba and Curacao
  • Sea day - Cartagena, Columbia - Panama Canal, Panama
  • Puerto Limon, Costa Rica - Sea days - Florida

    Return to Ken and Mary's trips page