My husband and I are "young" seniors who like to cruise. We booked this cruise in November of 2009. Having had a bad experience with tight seating in airplanes, my husband refuses to fly anymore. We left Seattle, Wa. by Amtrak, on Saturday morning, we had a roomette for the trip. we boarded the train and were shown to our quarters, given 2 small bottles of champagne and offered orange juice. the roomette was small and private and we enjoyed the train very much, all dining was included in the price of the tickets, which were about comparable to a flight for 2. We arrived in San Diego at 1am on Monday morning. We had reservations at the Holiday Inn by the Bay, which was very convenient, being as it was just through the parking lot from the train depot. Our Cruise Critic group had a pre cruise dinner at Anthony's across the street from the hotel, where there were others staying pre-cruise.
Tuesday morning our ship, Holland America's Zaandam arrived, and this also was very convenient, just across the street from the hotel.Our room in the Hotel was large and very clean, we had a balcony, which was a pleasant surprise! We waited too long to get our luggage on the ship by 11:30am by hotel shuttle, so decided to just walk it across the street. Check in was very simple, we had our pre boarding passes, and all went very smoothly. We went to the Lido to have some lunch, the food was being served to us and there was no "serving ourselves", which also was fine with us, I understand that this kind of service was used for 3 days, until the ship is sure there is no H1N1 virus aboard, then things are put out to serve ourselves, for instance, salad dressing, condiments, etc. I didn't remember that Mariners had a luncheon being served in the Main Dining Room, and there was no mention of it to us as we boarded. We didn't get an invitation to the Captain's lunch, and we also missed the Captain's Welcome aboard! While having lunch in the lido, it was announced that we could go to our cabins, and there would be a lifeboat drill before we left port. We went to our cabin, and found a gift from our travel agent, 2 bottles of wine, a bottle of champagne, 2 spa value booklets, which were a welcomed surprise for us. Our cabin was just around the corner from the forward elevators and across from the housekeeping office,we found this location to be very convenient! Our lifeboat station was easy to get to, and only one flight up. Another advantage of having our cabin on the dolphin deck, was that it was one flight of stairs down to the tenders, and one flight up to the disembark ramp. The housekeeping office was easily accessible, when I needed a pair of scissors, and when I needed some scotch tape!
The first few days, were rough sailing, and many cruisers took to their cabins, the rough seas didn't bother my husband, an ex Navy man, nor did they bother me. We had open seating for dinner, the only choice available to me at the time of booking. I had never had open seating before, always having first seating, in the past. I found open seating to be really "freeing", we could go to dinner when we were hungry, we never made a reservation for dinner, just walked up to the desk and were usually asked if we minded sitting with others, which we preferred. We never had more than a minute or so to wait, and found that sitting with different people each night was a nice way of meeting other cruisers. We sat with a few of our table mates a couple of times, we just planned ahead, and that worked out well. There was music and ice sculptures in the fixed seating, I understand. We ate in the Pinnacle Grill, which also was a gift from the travel agent, my husband ordered the steak, and it was very large and thick, he said it was really good! I ordered the lobster, the experience was ok, however, I think the MDR is perfectly fine. The canaletto restaurant is new on board, and needs reservations, we ate there twice, it was very nice, and the food was very good. The first time, I ordered spaghetti and meatballs, my husband had lasagna, it was delicious!! there is not an extra charge for the canaletto.
One of the nights that we were in Hawaii, we had bought matching Hawaiian shirts, and wanted to have our pictures taken, we went to the photo desk and asked about having our photo done, they said they usually do them on formal nights. They didn't seem interested in doing our photos on that particular night, so we went to dinner, and never did get our photos in our matching shirts.
This particular cruise had a lot of seniors on board, we were the "kids" on board, and we are what I now call, "young" seniors", We are over 62! We estimate this particular Cruise's average age was about 80 yrs old. I had read on the cruise critic boards that the forward elevator was out the cruise before ours, and it remained out during our cruise. Someone said they were waiting for parts from Italy. The Zaandam is an older ship, and it does show some wear and tear. I noticed that in many places the carpet looked wet, although it was not!, the windows needed cleaning badly, especially on the Lido deck. The pools were usually emptied while we were underway, and I never got into a pool or spa. The Restaurant had a varied menu, and one of the nights there was a Chef's dinner. The tables were set with chef hats and a special menu. The waiters did a "ballet" with the napkins and delivered them to us at our tables. I did miss the baked Alaska parade, and the "whirling of the napkins".
We were on a 21 day cruise, and some were on a 15 day cruise,I didn't know this was a combined cruise at the time of booking. I found that after the initial 15 day cruise,which was circle Hawaii,that the 6 day coastal cruise was a repeat of the same movies, and the menu repeated also. I think that was unfair to us that had booked a 21 day cruise.
Our Maui port was cancelled because of rough seas, so the Captain took us cruising the cliffs of Molokai, which was interesting. The captain said this was something rarely done. One of the most disappointing thing about this particular cruise was the weather, it was not warm, and many ports were overcast, the sunsets I had hoped for, never materialized. I wonder if this was Hawaii's winter???
The cruise up the west coast to Vancouver was also kind of rough seas, we stopped at Avalon, Catalina Island, CA. this town looked like a caribbean island, I imagine it would be a great place to spend a week or so,if it were hot and sunny. The Casino was not open, as it was being repaired, and had scaffolding around it.
Astoria, Oregon was much like I expected, not much there, and the weather was overcast and dreary.
Victoria, Canada, we stayed aboard, the weather was windy,and cold.
Vancouver, we arrived in the am, had breakfast in the Lido and disembarked the vessel around 9:30am. picked up our luggage and took a taxi to the Amtrak station to go back to Seattle.