For those of you wondering about the condition and joy of the Zaandam, I can report that my wife and I found everything exceptional. We did not look for little frays in carpet or light bulbs out, or windows not washed so we can say we had a fantastic time once again on a Holland ship. This was the first time for us on any HAL ship other than Vista Class so we wondered how much we would enjoy it-absolutely great!
We enjoyed every night in the MDR Upper at 8PM with what I have to believe was the best as to servers and quality of food. There was always something that suited our taste. I brought my own wine and we enjoyed a bottle per night. One night the Cellar Master brought us each a glass of Proseco because I happened to mention to him that I really enjoyed that Italian wine. We were celebrating our 40th Anniversary and he knew that.
We did have two dinners away-one was Deluxe Seating at Paradise Cove in Honolulu that I arranged independent of the Zaandam and that is where they also go. It was fantastic! and a beautiful setting. The other dinner was the Sommelier Dinner in the Pinnacle Grill that Rod, Cellar Master, put together and we had a great time. He served expensive champagne to start off and expensive wines continued to flow with each course of a 5 course gourmet dinner. It was a wonderful evening and I highly recommend it. Cost was $69 each and we were quite "happy" come the end of the experience. Rod has a great personality and does and excellent job in presenting and explaining each wine. We had already done the wine tasting for Standard and then Premiun wines on two days.
We attended a Special Captain's cocktail party in the Crow's Nest on one of our formal nights and as always, it was very nice and we met an interesting couple a little older than we are and from North Carolina.
I had organized my 4th Meet and Greet and we had a great bunch of people(24 total). All had a very nice social together.
As to excursions, we were very disappointed in the ship's excursion to Nani Mau Gardens along with Akaka Falls with a side trip to Moana Lau macadamia farm(which was the highlight). Our tour bus was late and broke down on the way to Akaka Falls and after a quick tour of the falls since we were running late, the bus would not go so we waited 90 minutes for a replacement bus that was like brand new. It would have been a different experience had we had a dependable tour guide and proper bus. We would not recommend going to Nani Mau which we found in poor condition, but we would recommend getting a car and doing the nut factory and other side trips on our own. This was in Hilo.
In Nawiliwili, we chose to take the little shuttle from the pier a short distance to the beach where we discovered the Marriott Resort with a lovely beach and facilities. We would certainly do that again. There was an ABC store handy where we could get some bottled water, etc for the short ride back to the Zaandam. We will definitely go back to Hawaii and hopefully on the Zaandam and we will do this day again.
In Maui, we took the ship's tour of the Maui Tropical Plantation and Maui Ocean Center and we enjoyed this very much. Again, we would probably rent a car so we could spend more time at each of those and then time for shops in downtown Lahaina. Didn't particularly find anything exciting about Hilo Hatties and certainly not Maui Divers that is pushed hard by the tour ambassador.
Needless to say, we had a fantastic cruise with a great bunch of people, excellent crew and officers in all respects. We personally thought most of the entertainment was quite good and we liked the Cruise Director, Eric. As to their comments about requesting passengers to rate the cruise as a 9, this is done on every cruise we have been on and we rate based on our experience which would be an 8+ and for a review a 5+.
Highly recommend this cruise and we love the sea days but the last 4 sea days seemed to fly by which we didn't expect to happen.