Boarding in San Diego went well. Once on board, we were told by the Captain that departure would be delayed until 5:45 pm. Had the required life vest and lifeboat drill before leaving port. This was the worst drill I have ever seen. Disorganized large groups. Crew members could not be heard.
At 5:15 pm, we feel the ship moving. No announcement from the Captain so we were well away before reaching the sail away on the Lido. This was to prove typical of the Zaandam's crew.
The stateroom was in need of cleaning. Stained carpeting, dirty bathroom floor, TERRIBLE bed and cabin stewards that barely spoke English. Our room was never serviced before 1 pm no matter how early we left. HAL boasts about their Dream Beds. The CEO'S should have to sleep in them! Worn and lumpy, smelly sheets and pillows and no duvet and touted; just a blanket between 2 sheets. After 4 days, we had to request our bedding be changed and twice more after that.
Food presentation was very nice but the food was bland. Seems as if HAL is trying to be more health conscious but the result is poor. Most all meat was overcooked which also made it tough. Service in the dining room, especially at breakfast, was poor to good. Worst we have ever encountered. Service people would turn their backs to the diners and talk making it impossible to get their attention.
The crew needs to be able to speak and understand English much better than they did.
Entertainment was enjoyable but not as good as other cruise lines.
The very best thing was the Sommelier Lunch. The food and the wine paring was excellent.
Shore Excursions are no better and no worse than others.
For some reason, the Captain decided to change the itinerary for viewing the volcanic eruption. He went from Hilo instead of going past it after leaving Kona. It was a rainy, cloudy night which made for no viewing. Leaving Kona, it was lovely weather and we could have had the view we expected.
Disembarkation was another foul up. First, we were told it would be a silent disembarkation. It was changed to a call off. Lizabeth, the Social Director, did the calling. We were scheduled to depart at 10 am. We were called just about 10 am. Took the elevator down and were met by a huge crowd. Every hallway, every corridor and every nook and cranny was packed with passengers not moving. Lizabeth is continuing to call. Seems no one told her of the human jam and no one was telling us the reason for it. Finally, we are told, through the grape vine, that the ramp had slipped and they were working to get it reattached. When we finally began moving, I spotted Beth, one of Lizabeth's staff, just standing there. She had not thought it necessary to contact Lizabeth to stop the call or to inform us as to the problem. It was a mess that could have been avoided. However, you never got the feeling that the upper echelon cared much.
All in all, it was not the dream vacation we had expected.