Embarkation exceptionally easy.....on board in under ten minutes and in cabin (after lunch on the Lido) right on time. Stateroom rather small but adequate with lots and lots of storage. Clean and comfortable. Fresh flowers in room and luggage delivered promptly. Ate in the optional (no cost) Italian dining room. EXCELLENT food and service.
At sea we thoroughly enjoyed the quiet relaxing Explorer Cafe and Lounge as well as the exceptionally well presented cooking demonstrations in the Culinary Theater. The "enrichment" guide Kainoa was incredibly knowledgeable and entertaining.
Entertainment was above par with the usual large Vegas type reviews and two exceptional comedians that left us in stiches.
Ate in the upscale Pinnacle one night and had an incredible meal.....truly a memorable dining experience. Well worth the upcharge.
Dining on the Zaandam consistently exceeded expectations and HAL remains the best of the cruse lines we have sailed with. The friendliness of the wait staff and other personnel is exceptional! Special kudos to Dody and Ari.
The only dining problem is that HAL is trying to institute a split dining schedule with assigned seating AND as you wish seating. It doesn't work. All early seats reserved early and we wound up eating either at the Lido buffet or at 7:45 (too late). They need to either go back to the fixed seating or all freestyle. Many complaints from folks like us who had to wait.
On the bright side the food in the Lido was exceptionally well prepared with a varied menu. The HAL approach of putting out freshly cooked food in small quantities paid off. Crisp fresh cooked vegetables were fantastic. Chef Paulo runs a fine operation. Lamb, ham. turkey, chops, duck, Italian, Asian, fresh salads, all available at various times. Reasonable uncrowded and at dinner tables were set with tablecloths to make up for missing the Rotterdam dining Room.
The Cruise Director Eric) was one of the best we have had.......UNOBTRUSIVE with only a few announcements per day rather than the constant barrage of announcements (mostly ads) you find today on most lines.
Room service was prompt with fresh good tasting food but the menu could stand expanding.
Poolside dining from the grill featured good hamburgers, hot dogs, etc., but the pizza was a disappointment.
The decor and layout of the Zaandam is upscale with comfortable furnishings. The general condition is excellent but the carpets in the public areas need cleaning or replacing in some areas. Windows need cleaning badly.
Great music available in all the lounges. This is not a "party" ship but one aimed at the older and/or retired clientele.....which was perfect for us.
Shops offered good quality and decent prices but I found the phots to be exceptionally overpriced. ($40 for a single 8x10 is excessive)
Disembarkation was exceptional.......in less than one hour from the time we were told to proceed to the gangway we were at our gate at the airport. We would recommend the luggage express option ($19 each) which was fantastic.
Great ship, fantastic crew, above average food.......would definitely sail HAL again in the future.