Our trip began in Hong Kong after a long flight from Kansas City. We added the extra night at Holland America's hotel of choice which was a great hotel but we were there for a very short time due to travel time that it hardly seemed worthwhile. We were at the hotel by midnight and left to go to the ship at noon the next day.
Comment about the Zaandam: We think that Holland America and the ship personnel would agree that the ship needs some work to restore and update the ship. A lot of rust, faded carpet in common areas, plumbing issues, safe malfunction, dated decorations, etc. We think that it is scheduled for dry dock in several months... good deal!
We loved the size and format of the ship due to it being easy to get around with only 1500 passengers it was not crowded in any of the common areas. The deluxe veranda suite had a awesome veranda. The concierge at the Neptune Lounge could not keep my traveling partner and spouse separate from us so he was constantly referring to me as him and mixing our arrangements. It got more than a little annoying after a awhile. Room Service didn't seem to talk to the concierge very well so our orders for appetizers were mixed up several times.
Comments about the Holland America 14 day Asia Explorer itinerary: We enjoyed the itinerary going to Halong Bay in Vietnam, then Sanya, Hanien island China, Nha Trang, Vietnam, My Phu, Vietnam, Sihanoukville, Cambodia, Laem Chabang,(Bangkok), Thailand, Koh Samoi, Thailand, Singapore, Singapore.
All of the ports were very interesting with much to see and do. A bit crowded from a Midwesterner's viewpoint but very negotiable. We went on Holland America tours in all of the ports except Saigon, Bangkok, and Singapore. The boat ride and cave in Halong Bay was exceptional. The key sights in Sanya tour was drawm out too long... the tour could have ended after 4 hours instead of the scheduled 7 hours. Nha Trang city tour was great a nice mix of temples, beach, and city tour. Not much to see in Sihanoukville, Cambodia if you are not interested in coconuts, suggest making this a beach day. The elephant village was touristy but very much fun and we wouldn't miss the elephant ride... also a very nice lunch.
In the other ports of Saigon, Bangkok, and Singapore we utilized a private guide with a van and driver. This went very well and allowed us to see the sights that we wanted to see at our own pace. The driver usually was able to pick us up at the sight with very little waiting and queuing so familiar to a bus tour. The guide were knowledgeable and spoke good English. The vans were great except for the one in Singapore which was totally unacceptable, due to size and lack of visibility. These tours were arranged by ReadyClickandGo.com. This is a Great Britain company which contracts the guides and vehicle with local companies. This worked OK but I would recommend also talking to the local company representatives to manage the details.