Overall my trip was good and I got some rest and relaxation. Unfortunately I woke up with a sore throat the morning after I left the ship, but that is to be expected I guess on a ship full of people where half of them go around coughing and hacking all over the place. While there have been some on board that are humorously or downright annoying, (see examples below) the majority of people are great to talk with and learn more about life from.
How to Annoy People:
1. Oh the joy of finding a perfect theatre seat and someone sits next to you who is repeatedly opening and closing their clutch purse every 5 or 10 seconds with a loud snap. SNAP... snap... snap.... SNAP.... Snap.... Snap.... snap...yeah, you get the picture? Throughout the entire movie. Seriously, do I even need to have to say something?
2. Or, how about coughing all over people (sometimes I think deliberately) standing next you? Hello???? Do us a favor please, "Cover your mouth and cough into your elbow please?"
3. Walk 5 people abreast across all corridors.
4. Really annoying are people who argue with ship staff and think they are owed something far grander than the experience or service that they were not happy with.
My tolerance levels for some things is lessening as I get older. That said, I did meet some fascinating and lovely people.
I had open seating arrangements but after the first night I stayed with one table I was seated at. (I had to argue with dining room staff the first time to sit there again, but after that first night they let me sit there)
The Explorer lounge was being completely revamped and was closed the entire trip except for the last day on ship. It didn't look a whole lot different to me than it did before; they must have upgraded it.
I've been on the Zaandam once previously in 2007 and there seemed to be a missing element from this ship though. I believe all the staff were brand new and it showed. They didn't seem to have the training that the other staff have in terms of service and attentiveness that I've experienced on other ships. I don't blame the staff and greatly appreciated their hard work. They are doing the best they can with the tools they are given. I do blame whoever is training them or supervising them. For example, one evening I went into the piano bar and there was a young man making drinks behind the counter. He stood there doing nothing for 20 minutes meanwhile people were coming into the piano bar. There were no other servers around and instead of coming out and asking people if they wanted anything, he just stood there, bored and looking off into space. I guess with my own managerial background, I found this unacceptable. It was only after a half hour went by and some servers finally showed up from another area of the ship, that the bar had actual working servers.
Another experience is that late one afternoon I was in the Ocean bar and there was no one else in there. There were three people behind the bar and they were wandering around looking out the windows, etc. One of them asked me whether I wanted something and I said okay, I will have a tall Kahlua and milk. All three of them heard my order and I paid up at the bar and went and sat back down. So off they go and a half hour goes by... (I'm patient) and still nothing. I thought wow maybe they had to go to the kitchen to get some milk. So a little while later, one of them comes over and asks if I want another drink. I said, I still haven't got my first one yet. So they go back to the bar and they all start laughing and I yelled out to them that I thought maybe you had to go milk the cow. I finally got my drink and an apology. So I get it, people make mistakes... no big deal. However, between the three of them you would think one of them would remember or be attentive enough to recall that I had ordered a drink and paid for it.
The comedy shows were great. Only once in 11 days did I see anyone coming around asking if anyone wanted drinks in the Theatre.
The other thing that drove me crazy this trip was every time you turn around, someone is trying to sell you something. It felt like it was being shoved down my throat this time. All the Port information sheets contained almost nothing but advertising of places to go shopping and I don't really care about that. I want sight seeing information.
I did eat in the Pinnacle one night and it was amazing. The steak was outstanding.
Another huge disappointment was that I arranged to have my portraits done utilizing their high end black and white photographs. I paid for five photos and when they came in the mail, there were only four and the one I wanted most wasn't included. I will NEVER do that again. I was extremely disappointed with the pictures and the fact that I didn't receive what I had paid for - which was costly. I threw them out.
So while my intent was not to paint a negative picture, I felt an element was missing this trip. I know most people were working hard and I hate to critique but I did leave some constructive comments this time. My room stewards were good; however, I found a dirty sock under the desk when I first got to my room. My room seemed refurbished from the last trip and it was newer and brighter. One day I returned to my room to find an odd smell in the bathroom and in looking around, they had completely recaulked the bathtub and put in new moldings. It must have been leaking to the floor below. I was impressed at how quickly they did it and if I weren't for my good sense of smell, I probably would not have noticed.
This was my fifth and final cruise with Holland America. For someone travelling alone, their prices are no longer affordable and they do not provide a large enough discount for solo travelers anymore. When you pay good money for a cruise, you also want the service that you come to appreciate and expect with that cruiseline.