This was the first time we had sailed with Holland America. Cruising may be addictive and we were busy feeding our new found addiction. Recent empty-nesters we decided to try out our new "wings" and see what travel in the adult-only world feels like. We were thrilled at the prospect of having a cabin to ourselves and had heard HAL catered more to people at our stage of life than others so decided to try it out. Our last family cruise was on NCL's EPIC, which is a whole other review in itself...
Embarkation was in San Diego. Trying to drop our bags off was confusing. Guys in the baggage drop area couldn't quite decide on where and how that should occur, shuffling customers from one point to another. When finally rid of our bags, we went to check in. Check in and embarkation went smoothly. Because we were early, rooms weren't ready but lunch on the Lido was.
This was the first time I had ever been served at a buffet. It made for a pleasant experience. Because staff did the serving, there wasn't the usual spills and mess you usually find on most buffets. AND it seemed more hygienic. By day 3, people could more or less serve themselves but staff prepared and served most of the dishes as we went by. The food was always fresh and hot. My favorite was the Asian station. The sandwich line always had a wait as staff prepared food to order. Most times it was easier to get service on the hot meal lines. The dining rooms were elegant, the food was excellent and the service superb! We loved our waiter Ari and the maitre'd, Indra. They went over and above to insure our experiences were memorable.
The ship was easily navigable. No blind turns that required us to go up then down to get where we were going. Signs were conveniently posted. The promenade deck was spacious. The only down side was the smell of sewer gases on the right hand side of the ship.
The common areas were beautiful and comfortable. Our cabin was so, so, I've seen better but we were only there to shower and sleep. We had an outside cabin. Being on the promenade deck, people walked past our window at all hours and the deck got washed every morning about 6:00am. Most of the time, our curtain remained closed. We probably would have been better off in an inside cabin. It would have saved us some money and been quieter.
Having recently been on the EPIC, we couldn't help but make certain comparisons. The art gallery and entertainment on Zaandam cannot measure up, however, the food and service were better. If you could have entertainment and decor from the EPIC, put it together with the food and service on the Zaandam, that would be perfect!
When ready to go again, if the price is right, we wouldn't hesitate to book another trip with HAL.