We have taken several cruises, all in different parts of the world, as we like to cruise to enjoy different cultures. We arrived in Hong Kong a few days before the cruise and stayed in the very convenient Marco Polo Hotel right at the cruise terminal. On the morning of embarkation, we arrived at the terminal at 10.30am to find they were already opening up. We were among the first passengers to embark and were on the ship before 11am, in our cabin by 11.30 and shortly afterwards in the dining room enjoying the Marine's Welcome back lunch. The ship sailed 30 minutes late at 11.30pm the following evening due to some Russsian guests not understanding the immigration announcements, but it was a spectacular sail out of the Harbour and the mist that had been around for the last few days cleared so that we could see the lights.
The demographics of the passengers on this cruise was different to previous HAL cruises. On the whole, the age group was a lot younger than normal....We in our 60's felt we were some of the older passengers. There were also a lot less US passengers. I believe the makeup of the passengers was approx 500 from UK, 250 Australians, 200 Canadians, and 150 from US, a Russian group and the rest was made up of various nationalities.
We chose a verandah stateroom this cruise on the Starboard side...so that land would be on our side most of the time. Our cabin was under the overhang of the Lido, which turned out well as the weather was very hot, so it provided some shade. However, we are not people to sit for long...there is always something interesting to see or do!
We have previously cruised on several other HAL ships, and really enjoyed the Zaandam. It was immaculately clean...the crew work 24hours day to keep it that way. We loved the decor of the ship, felt it was very tasteful...the music theme continuing throughout the ship with many valuable relics.
We felt that the food on this ship was up with the best we have had on a Holland America Line ship...it was always fresh and served hot in the Main Dining room where we had fixed late dining at a table for two, which we requested when booking. We always feel that if you are hungry on a cruise it is your own fault as there is always somewhere to eat, and plenty of variety!!
The crew as always were amazing! Always smiling and helpful. Special mention this cruise to the Front Office staff who were incredibly busy, as there were always long lines of people waiting to change money for the many countries this cruise visited. There always seemed to be a few people there to complain too! I am really not sure what about because we certainly did not find anything to complain about. Our only slightly negative observation was that we didn't feel that the Travel guide on this cruise was as knowledgeable about the ports as she could have been.
We did not attend many shows as we have late dinner and after a big day in port 10pm was just too late for us! However the group that was brought on in Saigon for the Vietnamese show were fantastic. We did attend Trivia most days, and did very well with our International team!
We did enjoy the ports. However as we have travelled in Asia on land quite extensively before, we did not do any excursions other than the ship's transfers into Bangkok and Saigon. We enjoyed our time wandering, particularly in the local markets. One port that we especially enjoyed was Sanya in China. The shuttle dropped us at an exclusive shopping centre that we had no interest in. However on the way we had seen what looked like a fair or market with several large marquees and many red balloons. It was about 2 km back so we decided to walk back to it as we love seeing local events. It turned out to be some sort of Chinese expo and was great fun see all the demonstrations of products! We even bought a few!!
Sihanoukville in Cambodia was another new place for us and after walking around the market, we negotiated with one of the very persistent Tuk tuk drivers who gave us a wonderful tour for over an hour into the countryside and to many of the main sites of the town.
The other ports we visited were Halong Bay and Saigon in Vietnam, Bangkok and Koh Sanui in Thailand before arriving in Singapore.
Disembarkation went as efficiently as the rest of the cruise, and we stayed in Singapore for a few days afterwards.