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7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2019
This was a tailor made holiday to Brazil and ended with the cruise from Bueno Aries to Santiago. The facilities were fine. Food in buffet was excellant but in restaurant I was underwhelmed. Tendering was a shambles. Missed my private ... Read More
This was a tailor made holiday to Brazil and ended with the cruise from Bueno Aries to Santiago. The facilities were fine. Food in buffet was excellant but in restaurant I was underwhelmed. Tendering was a shambles. Missed my private pre booked trip because the steward would not allow me off the ship although I explained I needed to leave to meet my tour. Even when I booked a ship tour I had to ask permission to leave to make tour. Also price of tours are now so expensive . Not good value. Entertainment on main stage was O.K. Some shows were excellant ,others were not suitable for the main entertainment. Staff were friendly but there was not many on dockside to help when going ashore for trips. This was my second cruise with Holland America , I chose them because last cruise I was very happy with them. This time I felt the standard had fallen slightly, However I would cruise with them again if cruise itinerary was what I required Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2019
The ship was badly affected by what can only be described as the Holland America cost cutting strategy. This was evident everywhere on the ship and throughout the 34 day cruise. The main restaurant should be the main attraction of any ... Read More
The ship was badly affected by what can only be described as the Holland America cost cutting strategy. This was evident everywhere on the ship and throughout the 34 day cruise. The main restaurant should be the main attraction of any cruise ship, this was our 22nd cruise on various cruise lines and ships and our worst possible main restaurant experience by far. The plates were very nice, but night after night no variation in the menus, "no taste", too often "rice" or mashed potato", mass catering vegetables, nearly always cold, very small portions. Service was always good, but what value is good service when dinner each evening and also gala evenings, was such a disappointment. We therefore moved to the Lido Buffet on deck 8, which was always much better and very often the same selection of food available as in the main restaurant. It was no surprise the main restaurant was often half empty. One niggle at the Lido Buffet, breakfast, lunch and dinner was the frequency of "crew and staff" sitting 1 or 2 persons for a table of 4 or 6, when passengers could not find tables which were free. Reduced service staff at the Lido also caused tables not to be cleared and cleaned, leaving passengers "waiting" for a clean table, Bar service was almost non-existent due to not enough Bar staff, again a result of cost cutting. Bars are normally a profit center so why not enough service staff? Bar and restaurant Service" was generally excellent and so very friendly, the service staff could not do enough for you. But in some areas and at certain time there were not enough service staff, again a clear indication of cost cutting. Entertainment - The main theater dancers and singers were an exceptionally good and very talented team, the theater band was also of the highest quantity. But outside the theater entertainment was also non-existent. The quality of music around the ship was poor, HAL get what they pay for, but why should cruise passengers who pay high prices have the quality of their vacation reduced because of cost cutting in the entertainment area. After about 21:00 hours each evening it seemed like HAL wanted passengers in bed so as to save money on entertainment. The Crow's Nest was almost empty every night, there was no dance band. The "singer" each evening in the Ocean Bar lounge was like a "sleeping tablet". Music at the Lido and Sear View bars was the same day after day. Excursions - Far too expensive and did not fully provide value for money. In future we will book in advance our own private tours, for a cost 60 - 70% lower. It was also very noticeable the HAL staff organizing the tour departures out of the theater and off the ship, were not in any way identified with the Holland America brand. We liked the Zaandam very much as a medium size, passenger friendly, easy to find your way around, very comfortable cruise ship, but we were very disappointed and disturbed by the effects of cost cutting, an awful main restaurant where only "the plates were nice", poor entertainment, over-priced excursions, and our biggest niggle, 15% service charges continually being added to our main cruise invoice. We objected very strongly to the Holland America policy of "15% service charges" being added to Beverage Packages purchased in the Internet. This was in effect an additional 15% "administration charge", because we were also expected to pay 14.50 USD per person per day, which is also stated to be a "service charge", so yes, passengers are being asked to pay double service charges. We went to the reception and insisted that our service charges be reduced to the absolute minimum. Partly because we wanted the 15% internet administration charges refunded and partly because cost cutting has created a quality of service which does not meet our cruise expectations, especially for the price we pay. This does also affect any future purchase decision when we book a future cruise. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: March 2019
Tried to put new adventure into the cruise life but the main reason was to sail Cspe Horn and see Ushuaua. And..... weather canceled so we went to some backwater ports of little interstate not history. Sad. Do not let yourselves get ... Read More
Tried to put new adventure into the cruise life but the main reason was to sail Cspe Horn and see Ushuaua. And..... weather canceled so we went to some backwater ports of little interstate not history. Sad. Do not let yourselves get booked into cabin 1964. A loud, smelly place really unfit for habitation. Ship was nice for relaxing, cards, stage shows. Happy hours were really necessary to keep the spirits up. Food was amply provided and the variety made for good sets. Guest services was helpful when our room issue was unbearable. Made many acquaintances on the cruise which helped us deal with missing the 2 key planned highlights. Room 1833 was available and a much better quality than that other nightmare. Lots of people caught the a/c hack and remained for the whole cruise. This critique is more or less to ensure that I save someone from the misery called 1964 Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2019
I wanted to write this review because I saw a number of poor ratings for Holland America and since we had a good experience, I thought it would be fair to write a good one. This was our first cruise with HAL and we were on the Zaandam. ... Read More
I wanted to write this review because I saw a number of poor ratings for Holland America and since we had a good experience, I thought it would be fair to write a good one. This was our first cruise with HAL and we were on the Zaandam. This is a beautiful ship with a musical theme. We liked the baroque organ. We ran into two storms on the Pacific Ocean with 6.5 meter waves and the Captain changed our port of call from Ushuaia to Castro and also gave us the beautiful Brujo glacier. We were good with the decision since it was a bit of a rough ride that day. We had booked mostly private excursions since we like the smaller groups. Except for the tendering ports, all the ports of call on our cruise were well managed. We have travelled with at least 4 other cruise lines and we found the food selection to be good better than some of the others. We liked having less choices but better quality. Cabin crew were good. Enrichment activities were good. Entertainment were okay. Embarkation and Disembarkation were spot on. All in all, we liked Holland America and have already booked another cruise with them on the Westerdam. Hoping to be able to have the same level of service or better. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2019
Booked a Vista Suite on the Navigation Deck (#7046) and soon discovered after embankment that it sat directly beneath the Lido kitchen area. Needless to say the noise from above our cabin ceiling was unbearable and went well into the night ... Read More
Booked a Vista Suite on the Navigation Deck (#7046) and soon discovered after embankment that it sat directly beneath the Lido kitchen area. Needless to say the noise from above our cabin ceiling was unbearable and went well into the night and then began again at around 3:30 a.m. There was no remedy for the problem and guest services did not follow up after we complained. We were on a 15 day South American cruise and got very little undisturbed sleep throughout the voyage. This was the major problem we encountered on this particular cruise but there were also many minor to medium issues on the ship which is well past it's prime. We have cruised with Holland three times previous to this 4th cruise but it will most likely be our last. There should have been some sort of disclosure regarding this particular cabin and the related noise problems in the initial booking information. We did not eat in the dining room but had all meals in the Lido Cafe. The food was good and the Lido service people friendly and attentive. The new hand washing stations were barely used and the majority of the people entering the Lido walked right by them on their way to dine. We don't do the shows so cannot comment on the entertainment. The shore excursions left something to be desired and we missed two ports due to bad weather. The future cruise consultant had a slight attitude and acted like she could care less about questions we asked her. The customer service desk was also average and the people manning it were not consistent regarding DVD rentals. The shipboard talks regarding ports we would visit were full of bad information and twice one seating was about two separate ports combined which was confusing to say the least. Overall I would say that the cruise was not up to the normal standards that we have seen from Holland in the past. Our next two cruises will be with Viking which has a newer fleet of ships and offers features that Holland is now lacking. Read Less
8 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2019
We were keen to visit Antarctica but did not cherish the idea of being tossed around in the Drake passage aboard a small vessel. We therefore chose HAL Zaandam although it did mean no setting foot on Antarctica. It was the best decision ... Read More
We were keen to visit Antarctica but did not cherish the idea of being tossed around in the Drake passage aboard a small vessel. We therefore chose HAL Zaandam although it did mean no setting foot on Antarctica. It was the best decision that we made and right from the word go, the cruise was just great. The sights, especially during the 4 days in Antarctica were unforgettable. Living on board for 22 days was every bit comfortable with great food, service and stateroom no 3365. Talks by expedition team leaders were highly informative. Other entertainment activities were also good but perhaps not great.. Getting off the ship for shore excursions was very well managed with no one getting rushed even at the tender ports. Disembarkation and luggage handling was efficient. Only somewhat unsatisfactory experience was the late embarkation process at Buenos Aires. The HAL transfer person simply left us at the kerb outside the port building. We had to ask around for directions to get to the ship, carrying our bags and it was some distance away. Overall, it was a memorable holiday trip Read Less
16 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2018
Our ninth cruise with HAL. It's likely going to be our last with the awful experience we're having on this cruise from Buenos Aires to Santiago. Currently enroute from Stanley, Falkland Islands and the problems just keep piling ... Read More
Our ninth cruise with HAL. It's likely going to be our last with the awful experience we're having on this cruise from Buenos Aires to Santiago. Currently enroute from Stanley, Falkland Islands and the problems just keep piling up. As we're in an upper-end cabin, we had the "Signature Experience" which included two nights in a Buenos Aires hotel, an "event", and appropriate transfers. At virtually the last minute we were moved from a 5-star hotel to a hotel only open two weeks in a less-than-desirable area of Recoleta (downtown). This hotel was filled with problems - apparently HAL saved a few bucks in the process however. When we arrived at the ship we had (for the first time on any cruise) our passports confiscated by HAL staff! We were given a printed card as a receipt for the passports - which had a signature line NO ONE would sign! We've asked repeatedly on board for HAL to explain this unusual situation, but no one in management will return our calls. This ship is 20 years old. And perhaps not much longer for HAL's inventory, as they are now ignoring maintenance items that would seem to be routine. Examples: *. Heat/cooling in our cabin is generally non-functional •. Overnight today our thermostat even quit working •. Sun curtains in the dining rooms (on the back windows) are "stuck" in a midway position (our waiter said they haven't worked in months) •. Hallway carpets are worn and dirty as are the deck areas around the Lido pools Internet service is unusable despite the high cost and claims that the service supports "video and audio streaming". This is a bald-faced lie - it rarely is even able to send email! Service on this ship is provided by Speedcast.com, who are well aware of the problems and blame HAL for "overselling" the system. We have been continually annoyed with the aggressive solicitations by crew members for dubious up-sells and "special events". They bothered us during dinner with these phony wine tastings, and then started calling our room just before dinner and offering the Pinnacle Grill or Cannalato Restaurant "experience" for $5 less than the published (upgrade) price! I've asked the office repeatedly to put us on the "Do Not Call" list without any positive results. HAL is engaged in other, airline-type "upgrades" to what used to be an all-inclusive experience. The breakfast room service menu has few choices now but several pricey "Upgrades" available. So does the dining room menu. We are offended by these changes. Dining room food has been its usual high-quality, with friendly and competent waiters. However service has been slow with long waits between the starters and main course common. We were also surprised to see primary-school-aged children on this cruise. HAL staff refuses to intervene with the parents of some of the more troublesome in the group. Much of the rest of the crew seems sullen and disinterested. This is especially true with the servers in the Lido deck food areas. Food service and quality there has been lackadaisical to say the least. However by far the biggest shamozzle was the issuance of "tender ticket" reservations. You'd think that HAL had never done this before. At 7:30am almost 100 people were already in a queue down the hallway for an 8am ticket call. These tickets are meant for people who have firm (non HAL) day trip bookings so they can go ashore as early as possible. But it has turned into a free-for-all, with non-English speaking passengers in particular not understanding the process and no one from HAL available to speak to them in Chinese. When the ticket issuance started, the Chinese passengers were being given individually 2, 4, up to 8 tickets on the earliest tender transfers despite these people neither NEEDING the early transfers nor everyone standing in line like the rest of us. The day of the tender to Stanley, these same passengers were giving the additional cards away to others without cards, or holding much later tender times. HAL staff ignored the complaints by the other passengers who were prepared to follow the system, such as it is. In Ushuaia, at the last minute we were forced to tender due to some problem with the pier. This meant an even bigger free-for-all trying to get tender tickets. This showed how ill-prepared the crew is for any unplanned change. With a short port call at Ushuaia scheduled (Noon to 7PM), this left large numbers of passengers with shortened or missed tours - extremely unfortunate as Ushuaia is an especially scenic location. The last passengers who wanted to go ashore got there over four hours later than planned, with only 3 hours left for touring. HAL would not extend the onboard time (even though we had daylight until after 10pm). When any cruise line actively markets to newer cruise markets like China and don't do anything to educate these new cruisers on the experience, it does a disservice to all the passengers. HAL management admitted that they had no Chinese-speakers on their staff. We had a large number of Chinese who were doing things that were out of the ordinary - for example filling up plastic bags with food from the Lido. Bad food handling practices in particular are often the cause of norovirus on these ships. HAL staff just shrugged when they saw these things occurring. Haven't these passengers been told they can use room service 24/7? We did enjoy the cooking demonstrations on most days, and many of the musicians on board seemed very talented. We aren't much for the late night shows so didn't attend them. We used the spa area for massages and the staff in these areas is always competent and friendly. As the cruise progresses pricing goes down - we always wait for the inevitable "sale" flyer. 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3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2018
This was a long planned bucket list trip to see South America and especially Patagonia. The on-board service was absolutely excellent with HAL's customary exemplary service in the bar, restaurants and cabin, and with the sea going and ... Read More
This was a long planned bucket list trip to see South America and especially Patagonia. The on-board service was absolutely excellent with HAL's customary exemplary service in the bar, restaurants and cabin, and with the sea going and port tender management. Although we were in gale or storm force winds for much of the open water sections of the voyage trip, the Zaandam is extremely sea kindly and the motion was never uncomfortable. We splurged on a Neptune Cabin and concierge service which was well worth the premium with just nothing to fault it. The Zaandam is a newer R class ship and although similar to the older S Class Ryndam, Veendam and Maasdam upon which we have made previous cruises, is generally much "sharper" and more salubrious. Unfortunately however the Carnival "cheapscate" ownership of HAL once again reared its ugly presence, as previously for us with an Alaska trip which included an on-shore hotel component, with a truly dreadful hotel - this time after a bait and switch where a reasonable four star hotel originally scheduled for our trip at time of booking was substituted by HAL with a truly lousy three star - in Buenos Aires. To add insult to injury my wife's designer sunglasses and costume jewelry were stolen from our room when we were taking our bags downstairs for delivery to the ship (an action necessitated by the failure of the hotel to do this job). These are my general comments; insofar as the specifics of this cruise are concerned, the following provide some summary thoughts: In addition to the lousy hotel, the BA trip was marred by the prevalence of "Argentine Time" - 45 minutes to more than an hour at least late for everything - and generally sloppy management in BA. The best part was the Delta Cruise and Tango dinner which would probably have been excellent if we had started on time. As it was we were so late that the cruise through the delta islands was in pitch darkness. Montevideo was also marred by an inadequate guide and bus service, although others on board who did not use the HAL tour enjoyed it. After a rough two days at sea the on shore components started getting much better with the stop at the Falklands - a really well managed tender experience. The shorter penguin tours - they are adorable - was more than sufficient and the quaint town and environment were most interesting. Punta Arenas was our first stop in Chile, when the different attitude between the Chileans and Argentinians became obvious, and not just because the clocks worked! We had an emergency tender operation at Punta Arenas due to a dock conflict that the ships crew managed really well. The cruising through the Magellan Straits and Beagle Passage were delightful with awesome scenery before our next stop to Ushuaia and a visit to the southermost tip of South America. After more gorgeous Patagonia cruising we had a brilliantly managed rounding of The Horn before more Fjords and a delightful stop at Puerto Montt, where the German restauranteur and market trip was brilliant. Disembarkation at San Antonio was excellent, after which we made our own, very successful independent arrangements for driver, Santiago tour and hotel - a lesson learned! Overall, an excellent cruise which, as with our Alaska trip some years ago, started out really badly by HAL's failure to provide an on-shore experience that is anywhere remotely comparable to their on ship board experience, but ended real well. Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2018
We were on this cruise for the 14 day portion. After sailing many times with Celebrity, we did our first trip with Hal two years ago and enjoyed it. We decided to do this trip with Hal based on our previous experience on the Volendam. ... Read More
We were on this cruise for the 14 day portion. After sailing many times with Celebrity, we did our first trip with Hal two years ago and enjoyed it. We decided to do this trip with Hal based on our previous experience on the Volendam. Our cabin turned out to be under the galley and we were kept awake at night with constant noise. When we complained at 1:00am and then again at 4:00am the front desk offered ear plugs and a free dinner at the restaurant. The noise was like a construction zone above us and the front desk staff admitted that they had complaints in the past about the cabins where we were located, but that there was nothing they could do. After a few nights of this and after telling the front desk that we were going to take our bedding and sleep by the front desk, we were moved to another cabin. This cabin was quiet, but the toilet wouldn’t work and maintenance was dealing with it on a daily basis. The cabin tv had to be repaired and our safe replaced. The cruise director seemed bored with his job and added nothing to the cruise. No activities on the liddo deck whatsoever even on lovely sunny days. The ship lacked any vitality and I don’t know if I will sail with Hal again. Hal should disclose that cabins in the area we stayed have noise issues. Read Less
12 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2018
This cruise was everything we expected and more! Great ports of call, 4 days cruising in Antarctica waters where we saw bunches of penguins, sea lions, whales and a wide variety of birds. Onboard, they offered great lecturers on sea days ... Read More
This cruise was everything we expected and more! Great ports of call, 4 days cruising in Antarctica waters where we saw bunches of penguins, sea lions, whales and a wide variety of birds. Onboard, they offered great lecturers on sea days and even had a few interactive game shows which elated my DW. However, two areas where HAL did not meet our expectations were (1) the quality of their production shows and (2) making sure passengers sanitized their hands when going into a dining area and when reboarding the ship after a day in port. Quality of HAL production shows. The singers and dancers were fine, but the pace of the shows were that of watching a Lawrence Welk Show. That's fine if you like a slower pace, but we're in our mid 60's and grew up on rock and roll and were board stiff during most of their shows. However, they did hire some great entertainers which made up for the lack luster production shows produced by a New York-based production company from what we understand. Personal hygiene shortfalls. This 22 day cruise was during the height of the cold/flu season, but HAL didn't seem to realize this. They used to make folks going into a dining area sanitize their hands the first 48 hours of the cruise. Not any more. They used to have a crew member at the base of the gangway making sure passengers sanitize their hands before coming back on ship. Not any more. They used to have sanitizer dispensers outside the main theater entrances. Not on this cruise. As a result, this was the "sickest" HAL cruise we have ever been on as at least 1/3 of the passengers had bronchial type cold/flu symptoms the last 2+ weeks of the cruise. Going to the show in the evening was like listening to a chorus of coughing. Lesson learned. Wash your hands and use the hand sanitizers religiously and if at all possible avoid using the tongs up on the lido deck. Of course, no cruise is perfect and since we just got off a great 25 day Celebrity Eclipse cruise where all of the shows were great with many reaching the "wow" status and the ship's hygiene practices were top notch, it was just a big let down to see HAL's offerings so inferior. But, as I mentioned earlier, it wasn't all bad. The itinerary was GREAT, the guest lecturers were GREAT and the contracted evening entertainment for the most part was very entertaining. Read Less
15 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2018
After fourteen years of cruising with HAL and being a 4 Star Mariner, I stopped choosing them in 2014 after my sister and I together and separately had several rather disastrous experiences – ratty ships, bad food. This trip renewed my ... Read More
After fourteen years of cruising with HAL and being a 4 Star Mariner, I stopped choosing them in 2014 after my sister and I together and separately had several rather disastrous experiences – ratty ships, bad food. This trip renewed my interest in HAL. This ship was in excellent condition. Everything in the public areas and in my cabin had been refurbished, reupholstered, and freshly painted. No dings or dents and everything worked. My cabin was very big; I had three full closets and one half closet, nine large drawers for storage, many wall hooks, a real bathroom cabinet with door. The food in the main dining room was very good. They have simplified the menus. They did an excellent job of properly cooking fish. They separate fixed and at will diners on separate floors so there is calmness and continuity of service. The least appealing menus were on the ‘Gala’ nights. The Pinnacle had very good fish specials each night and the vegetables were great; the beef is not of the quality that it should be (or used to be). The Lido was nicely organized and the food was presented attractively. There were different stations for different kinds of food. The salad bar always had good choices. The sushi was quite good. The ice cream was wicked. For the most part, the shows were very good and they had a lot of variety. The production singers and dancers were excellent. They left a comment card every single night in case we wanted to say what was good or needed improvement or we had employees we wanted to compliment. The service everywhere was excellent. My room stewards were some of the best I have ever had. The two biggest weak points: 1)The transfer and embarkation process in Buenos Aires. It was five hours from the time my plane landed until I was in my cabin. Most of this time was spent waiting on enough passengers at the airport to fill up a big bus; several smaller would have made more sense due to the heavy traffic to the port. And there were two ships in port and we were not kept as separate as we should have been. 2)The lifeboat drill. HAL uses a different system than any other cruise line and it was confusing. The trip: In twenty-two days, we were in ten ports, including the embarkation and debarkation port: Buenos Aires (overnight); Montevido, Uruguay; Puerto Madryn, Argentina; Stanley, Falkland Islands; Ushuaia, Argentina; Punta Arenas, Puerto Chacabuco, Isla Chloe, Puerto Montt, Port San Antonio, Chile. Some were working ports so the logistics were different than if they had been cruise ship ports. There was not much tourist type shopping in the ports. And the areas outside some of the port gates were not always so nice. Complimentary shuttles were available in the working ports. For the most part, the tender docks were right in the towns. This is definitely a trip to do an organized shore excursion every day in order to see the places. The ship’s shore excursions I took were all good and I got to see some interesting things. In each cabin was a Port Guide. It had a map of each place, with things to see in town and out, places to eat and shop, and information about the place. And it was not just about the ‘ship approved’ places. Every cruise on every cruise line should have one of these. Having it at the beginning of the trip made planning easier. We spent four days cruising parts of Antarctica and were very close to shore. There were three destination lecturers onboard who specialized in South America and Antarctica, each with several areas of expertise such as geography, history, plants and animals. They also did narration on the deck during our days there. In addition, we had a group come from one of the U. S. scientific stations to spend the day onboard and talk about what they do and what it is like to live in Antarctica. They included scientists from various disciplines, but also the station manager, the cook, the waste guy, the marine mechanic. The scenery was spectacular – whales, penguins, seals, birds, icebergs, glaciers, craggy mountains covered in snow and ice. We lucked out on weather and seas everywhere we were. HAL has the best itinerary for this trip because of four full days in Antarctica. And because it goes through the Chilean fjords, which definitely rank up there with Norway and Alaska, and to the Falklands. Would I do this cruise again? Absolutely. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2018
We booked this cruise whilst onboard Volendam in Alaska in Oct 2016, from start to finish this cruise Itinerary was great, Antarctica was amazing and the captain did a fantastic job in making sure we got to see everything that was worth ... Read More
We booked this cruise whilst onboard Volendam in Alaska in Oct 2016, from start to finish this cruise Itinerary was great, Antarctica was amazing and the captain did a fantastic job in making sure we got to see everything that was worth seeing ,he even backtracked one day so we could see areas he missed because of bad weather, Wallis our tour EXC was more than helpful and her knowledge of the area was brilliant she was always on deck explaining everything and her colleagues were also good, the lectures about the wildlife and geology were very informative,and the info about Argentina was especially interesting, there were a lot of people on deck when there was something to see which was pretty much all the time and although tedious at times with people trying to get the best photo it was tolerable, food was good we ate mostly in the buffet, always find it takes to long in the dining room and the food is only ever warm at best, service onboard mostly from Philippines all great very polite and nice and our cabin attendants Arthur and Doi were great lots of towel animals and kept our cabin very clean, Conrad, Police,and Jeanine in Crows Nest kept us well watered always very polite and friendly. Only let down on this cruise was the cleanliness or lack of it in the buffet, to start there was no staff at the entrance to the buffet with sanitisers also a lack of sanitisers, they put cups and glasses on the tables and just replaced what was missing when guests left we watched in horror as people with colds and flu coughed and handled everything on the table which was then left for the next unsuspecting guest, i even witnessed a few times glasses being used then not removed and the next guests using the same glass which the waiters filled, when the tables were wiped down they used the same rag that was used on other tables no rincing out and when they did it was in a bucket of dirty water, basically if you wipe down a table were people have been coughing and sneezing then move on to the next table all you do is transfer germs from one to the other,What happened to sanitiser spray!!!!! i did write a long detailed letter of their bad practice and handed it in to guest services but guess what nothing changed, we then witnessed the epidemic of flu and colds sweep through the ship everyone got it including my partner who was ill for 2 weeks it was a really nasty virus that came and went and came again, we always got our cups and glasses from the stack trays and would always get our own drinks it was safer but with bad sanitary practice you stood no chance, what a shame this was as it tainted what would have been the perfect cruise, shame on you HA for not doing everything you could to protect your guests, best of it is it would cost nothing to do, a no brainer to me !! Read Less
10 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2017
I chose this cruise because of the itinerary mainly but also because of the size of the Zaandam. I had not liked the big ships I cruised on before and the Zaandam is a pleasant size indeed. We were three women in a Vista Suite on ... Read More
I chose this cruise because of the itinerary mainly but also because of the size of the Zaandam. I had not liked the big ships I cruised on before and the Zaandam is a pleasant size indeed. We were three women in a Vista Suite on deck 6 but I forgot the number, like I forgot quite a few things of this cruise because I do not even want to remember them. The cabin was small and the suitcases could not be placed under the bed, so we travelled the complete cruise with two suitcases standing near the window to the balcony. I travelled before in three and we never had this problem because the suitcases – normal size – could easily fit in under the bed. We had breakfast delivered to the cabin most of the time and that was OK apart from the coffee. I tried the coffee bar for espresso, but that was terrible too. My sister did the kitchen tour and found out that all their coffee comes from one source: Melitta filtered. I guess that is acceptable for Americans, but I find it not nice and that is an understatement. Lunch would be in the Lido and was generally nice. We liked the Asian food, the ice-creams and the sweets, some of them prepared without sugar! And dinner we had in the Main Restaurant and we found the food always of good quality with enough choice daily and variations from day to day. Sometimes we had to queue for a table. We once sat together with others but then we were hardly able to hear them across the table, so we decided to not do that again. The service was very good; in the restaurant, and for the cabin too! We dined also at the Pinnacle, which was a real good time in a very pleasant setting! I booked for myself the Master Cellar dinner and the maître put me at a table with two persons from Buenos Aires and that for me was a remarkable experience: because of this lovely couple and because of the food and the wines. Don’t miss this one! The Italian restaurant on the lidodeck was a mistake to book, nowhere near what you would expect. This should really be upgraded, especially with a cook who knows what he’s doing. Service? I lost my credit card in Buenos Aires and blocked it in time. I told the front desk and suggested I pay with my debit card – Mastercard that I used all over the world – and they said no, it had to be a credit card, or cash. So they actually suggested I go to an ATM on land, get cash – would have been pesos! – and pay them cash. I would have needed a sizeable bag for that. They were absolutely serious when suggesting this “solution”! I suggest this company take the Holland out of their name because the Dutch pay with debit cards all the time; there is no percentage taken off by the bank and the money gets transferred right away. But no, here that was not possible. I had to ask my friend – invited by me, therefore embarrassing to me – to pay the bill and then later reimburse her. Ridiculous experience this was. Activities? I once attended a travel trivial and it was like a children’s game. Lasted 20 minutes in all, so once was enough for me. Entertainment: we attended a night with dancing and singing, I think the group was German, and found that very good. Then there was a local artist from Buenos Aires with bandoneon music and he was very good, I bought his CD and went to see his second show which was very well done too; he did it all solo with a beautiful video of Buenos Aires on the big screen behind him! We tried twice to see a movie, even 15 mins before it would start, only to find the cinema completely full, not one seat left. Pity. Embarkation and disembarkation were smooth, gave no problems. Port & shore excursions was quite an issue on this ship. Their prices were sky-high and, in every port, you could see that most people had organized themselves with alternatives to the HAL excursions. But they punished you for that! We had booked an excursion to see penguins on the Falkland Islands, which was still expensive, especially when you pay for three persons. We arrived ashore after having waited an hour and a half for the tender! Those booked with HAL got precedence even when they arrived later than we did! over people like us who wanted just to go ashore and do their own thing. That was pure discrimination and indeed we were too late for our excursion! Fortunately, Patrick Watts on the Falklands saved our day by taking us to see penguins anyway. I fully recommend Patrick Watts; a knowledgeable and pleasant guide! It was the best day of our cruise. The ports I found terrible, in Buenos Aires and also Montevideo you expect a cruise terminal, but we constantly saw cargo ports. If I had wanted that, I could have booked a cargo cruise, but I didn’t, so why do they have to save money on decent ports? Especially the last one, San Antonio, was an unpleasant change from the announced Valparaiso. I had to change transfers and hotel and never saw Valparaiso. Again, the transfer I booked myself online as the HAL transfer was 3 times the price I paid! So, no, HAL, this was my first experience with you and the very last for sure. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2017
After returning from a Panama Canal on the Maasdam, sorting thru upcoming cruises the 32 day explore South America Passage and Inca Discovery was of great interest. Fortunately for future travelers, the Zaandam is going in to dry dock to ... Read More
After returning from a Panama Canal on the Maasdam, sorting thru upcoming cruises the 32 day explore South America Passage and Inca Discovery was of great interest. Fortunately for future travelers, the Zaandam is going in to dry dock to be rehab in 2018. In the Lido dining the chair cushions show great ware as they are sunken in. There was very little variety of foods from day to day. No specialty nights with native food from the country we were in. Randomly closed parts of each food line thus had to go from side to side to complete a meal. Food became 'same-O-same-O'. Internet very expensive, very slow, basically non functional. On some other cruise ships, internet is free. Waste many of your minutes waiting for it to connect. Entertainment has really gone down hill. No entertainment on the pool deck. Very little variety in the lounge - mostly singing and dancing. Some of the ShipFlicks permanently missing or so scratched they would not play. Returning to America and Clearing Immigration i.e. final disembarkation was an experience of disorganize chaos. This could have been handled much better. It put a big black mark on what to that date had been an excellent relaxing time. Bathrooms definitely need some attention. On the bright side, the Captain's 12 noon briefings were very interesting as were his Q/A meetings with the passengers. The staff was very attentive, nice group of young people. For the fitness bugs, the center is treat. A variety of equipment. The morning stretch class was a huge hit. I attribute this in part to the personality of the instructor. About the deserts. Too good, need I say more! The system for dismissing guests and matching them with their selected excursions was very efficient. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2017
After having sailed the Mediterranean last year we wanted to explore a part of the world that would be oh so unique. With HAL doing away with the South Pacific cruises of the last 3 years we decided to book this one. Having booked our ... Read More
After having sailed the Mediterranean last year we wanted to explore a part of the world that would be oh so unique. With HAL doing away with the South Pacific cruises of the last 3 years we decided to book this one. Having booked our flight from Vancouver to Buenos Aires through HAL's Flight Ease everything went smooth even the very tight connection in DFW. Sleepy eyed the next morning we arrived on time and made our way to the Baggage claim, where we were met with HAL greeters. Being disabled I was placed in a wheelchair and made it to the exit point of the terminal. Our guide unfortunately left my wife and I behind on the way to bus. When we found out where the bus was it was long gone. I was not impressed. Found another HAL guide outside the terminal to help out and had to wait 30 - 40 mins for the next one. Once on board the bus it didn't take long to get to cruise terminal, but is where the fun began. We were among the first persons here except for the previous bus and were told to sit towards the rear of the terminal away from the in route to ship processing. We were not given a process number but told to wait until we were notified to line up for pre process. Other groups after us we noticed were given number cards and seated adjacent to the processing gate. My wife went over and queried what was going on. She was told by staff that it was for 4 and 5 star priority guests but upon asking one of the people seated there this was their first cruise as well as others my wife again asked what was going on and told the rep that what she her was not correct. After that she went away came back with another rep with processing numbers and started handing them out to our group but after the later arriving guests already had the lower numbers. once we got started it went pretty well. A staff member found me a wheelchair and assisted us through the process, up the elevator and onto the ship. Luckily our cabin was on the Dolphin Deck which was where the embark ramp was. Into our room and then off to the front desk by 1240 pm and then the Dining Room which didn't open until 1 pm. Was seated and recognized dining staff from previous cruises what a reunion. Had a great lunch and some catch up conversation. It didn't take long to find that the food quality has declined with our first dinner in the dining room (Deck 4 open seating). Our initial dining staff didn't seem very motivated to go back to the galley and make things better. The next evening we moved to another table with different waiter and assistant. Oh did we hit the jack pot. Sony and Yoga were absolutely incredible. They made every dining experience after that beyond reproach. Our wine steward was very good as we like our wine and made some great recommendations for wine selections within the wine packages of South America and the HAL wine list . Nelson, our Maitre' D and Syariff the Dining Room Manager treated us so well. Most breakfasts and lunches when applicable were taken in the Lido Market. I met two wonderful Omellet chefs Rona and Micheal(JR), made to order delicious. Varied fresh fruit was mostly available and if you didn't see it don't be afraid to ask. Great salad and sushi bars. Enjoyed the food quality and taste at the Dive In, great burgers and fries with curry ketchup. All the staff were so gracious and helpful. Our cabin seemed so small maybe it was my memory but our room sure seemed small. Didn't like the in cabin safe where you had to use only on shipboard card or credit card etc to operate the safe. Sure made it inconvenient at times. Why not have them same as other ships within a push button code set. Beds seem be have seen better days time for a replace as well as the sofa. TVs are antiquated, terrible resolution and immovable. It would be nice also that every time we are in port that they give the windows a scrub so you can see half ass clearly out of them. Ship's Captain, Chris Turner was excellent thank you for the Cape Horn and El Brujo Glacier experience. His senior staff were very good. All of our cruise directors Mark, Mario and Jordan were very personable and professional. Other persons of note were the Local Location Specialist, Ryan Baird was exceptional. What a wonderful asset to have on board. Also the wonderful lecturers we had on board Dr Stephen Sloan on World Affairs and how these affected the areas we were travelling through and Dr Christofferson on Marine biology of varied Marine species relative to areas we were visiting. Evening stage shows were OK but didn't "wow" us. We miss the HAL Cats, instead we get "The Band" but unfortunately they don't play that often and for a short period of time. Not too lively. As always the Ship's Shore excursions as usual over promise, over charge and under deliver. We did take two with the ship because we couldn't find english speaking guides on private tours. As a rule we check out our own with online help when we can get Wifi on shore for a private tour. If you can find another couple to join you all the better. Four in a group is the most economical. Overall the food could be better, the room as well, but the Staff was incredible especially our dining staff they are in a class of their own. Our cabin staff of Widodo and Bashari thanks guys for all you do, and who could forget the wonderful Front Office staff headed by Rencel Recto, Guest Relations Officer. Captain Turner you were great, hope to sail with you again, before you retire. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2017
I wanted to go to South America and wanted to see Penquins. The cruise was extraordinary. Even though we missed one port due to weather I still got to see the penquins in Falkland Islands.It was awesome. I visited 4 countries and really ... Read More
I wanted to go to South America and wanted to see Penquins. The cruise was extraordinary. Even though we missed one port due to weather I still got to see the penquins in Falkland Islands.It was awesome. I visited 4 countries and really got to experience the culture and life in each country. I had booked private tours and it made the tours very personal. It was also half the cost of the ship tours. The weather this time of year is unpredictable. We had rainy weather from Valparasio to Ushuaia. If you want to see penguins I recommend you book tours to see them in more than one port. The temperature is around 47F. Tours for tips are offered in both cities. We finished in Buenos Aires. I recommend if you have a late flight take the transfer from the ship and the tour they offer.(only tour booked through the ship) WE were very pleased with Holland America. Disappointed in the WiFi. It was very slow. Used most of my minutes trying to up load pictures. I quit trying. Disappointed I could never get hot toast for breakfast, even in the dining room. In general the food was good but not superior. Great service and very friendly staff. Entertainment in the theater was superior. I would recommend this cruise to anyone that wants to see the penquins and experience the culture in four countries. Read Less
78 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2017
I have never written a review related to my vacations, Be it cruises, or stays at hotels, etc. I have read reviews though, and found that in most cases they never represent experiences as accurately as they most likely unfolded. ... Read More
I have never written a review related to my vacations, Be it cruises, or stays at hotels, etc. I have read reviews though, and found that in most cases they never represent experiences as accurately as they most likely unfolded. Especially the cruise vacations. One must keep in mind that a review is based on the characteristics of the reviewer influenced by their values, formal and informal education, range of travel exposures, etc. etc. At the end of the day the cruiser establishes expectations that often are unrealistic relative to applying to everyone. As such the review reinforce every aspect of their voyage life from only one perspective. Too often it results in providing a negative outcome for the cruiser and a poor review. Thus their evaluation should be digested with great care. Similarly the review that gushes with perfection just might be a bit overboard as well. My wife and I are not cruisers with years of experience. We fall into the late sixties early seventies age range. We have been on two river cruises and three ocean cruises. Two of the ocean cruises were with Holland America and the most recent was on the Zaandam from Buenos Aires to Vancouver.We had a Vista suite compared to an outside ocean view cabin or inside cabin. For a long cruise (ours was 36 days) I encourage people to seriously consider the larger accommodation. There are times when one just needs to get away and enjoy the quiet and comfort of a larger room. By booking earlier the difference in cost is not that much. On the other hand taking an outside ocean view cabin fits the bill for many folks. Especially those people who are on a cruise of 7 days to 14 and are also individuals who love to socialize in the common areas. Inside cabin might also be ideal for folks who prefer spending most of their time away from their cabin. Simply -- know yourself and plan accordingly. I read a recent review submitted by a cruiser who was on the same ship as us at the same time, but for only part of the journey. The person did not have a good experience. However the examples of their concerns left me dumbfounded.To suggest there was limited leisure options for sea days based on Bingo or trivia caused me to review the daily schedule I brought home with me and to re-read my notes. I don't know how the cruiser missed the culinary shows, the guest lectures on either Global affairs or on the sea life related to places we were traveling to or seeing on sea days or the movie theatre and a host of other things that were on board.. I am amazed the cruiser did not hear the musicians who played in the lounges during the late afternoon or at night. I tried to imagine how one could not spend an hour or more observing the actions of people at the art auctions (even if you were not into art, the experience of watching others was fun). The evening entertainment was very diversified and of exceptional quality. Yes it might be that one comedian's sense of humor compared to another was not to one's liking but it was obviously appealing to others. Or perhaps one singer might not appeal to one group of folks but did to others. However, over the course of the voyage one would be hard pressed to say nothing in the way of entertainment was good. For me it was outstanding and exceeded expectations. Food seems to be a complaint most often heard from reviewers. Again what were the expectations when booking a cruise? My wife and I ate in the dining room 8 times over the 36 days. We ate in the Pinnacle dining room once and the Italian restaurant twice. We ate many meals in the Lido and enjoyed the casual hamburgers/hot dogs around the pool. The dining room service was very good. Not perhaps the same level of service one might experience in an extremely high end restaurant in a major North American or European city but I did not expect that level of service. What I received was terrific.The service was of a high quality in the other restaurants as well. Quality of food is a tough one to review. Again what are the expectations? The dining room and specialty restaurants provided food that was hot, well presented, and tasty. If one is on a long cruise and chose only to eat in the dining room it is possible the experience would prove monotonous, both in service and quality of food. But if one spreads their choice of food and venues each day or every couple of days the Zaandam offered value for money. If I offered any negative critical remark it would be for the Lido.The breakfast options were good and service was as expected for a buffet. Dinner entrees offered diversity but too often I found the food a bit on the cool side. On the other hand the temperature was just right for my wife. My recommendation when it comes to dining is be realistic about setting expectations. If you have made a great financial deal with an inside cabin and expect the cabin service and accommodation to be similar to a five star hotel you will undoubtedly be disappointed. If you expect the dining room and Lido restaurants to provide quality of food and service as if the servers were private butlers and each food item was prepared exactly as you wanted it you will be annoyed with that expectation not being achieved. Common areas are great on Zaandam. The library is well stocked. Only complaint would be with passengers who raid the shelves on the first day and take ten books and not return them until the end of their cruise. The Crows nest lounge is a great place to view the world as it slips slowly and quietly along. Other lounge areas are equally nice. Pool areas can be a bit noisy but isn't that what one should expect on a cruise ship? The Captain was very experienced and possessed a subtle sense of humor. Three cruise directors for three portions of the cruise provided us with different personalities and which one appeals to a person is anyone's best guess. All did their job well. The South America cruise from Buenos Aires to Vancouver met our expectations for exploring bits of the geography and being exposed to culture of many countries. We spent a few days in Buenos Aires before joining the ship and the city was fantastic. Many things to do and very cosmopolitan. I recommend spending at least a day and preferably more visiting the city before heading off on the Ocean waves. Montevideo was well worth touring. Due to the brief time in the city I would recommend taking either a planned Holland America cruise or local tour as there is much to see and too little time to see much of anything. Port Stanley was our first Tender port and the process was quick and easy. Don't plan a tour until you get ashore. The city is easy to walk around and there are many tour operators at dockside who will take you to any place you want to explore. A great little museum worth the visit. Punta Arenas, Chile and Ushuai Argentina are easy ports to walk around but we found the area limited for casual exploring. We did go out of the cities into the non urban places and loved the country side. Choices are many. The ship's location guide, (Ryan) was a wealth of knowledge and presented information each day on ports of call and was always at his desk. (I think he had a roll out bed in one of the drawers). Puerto Montt, Chile is another tender port and again the transfer went smoothly, (except for the periodic time when passengers chose to ignore the cruise staff directions because those passengers felt they deserved or where entitled to special considerations). I would recommend the Holland America excursion to Petrohue Falls and lake cruise. Yes, the tour is a bit touristy, but the country side is beautiful and the experience is very relaxing. Valparaiso, Chile is a city I first visited in 1964. It has changed a lot in the past fifty odd years. I am not sure what to recommend with this port. First, one needs to expect to see poverty throughout South and Central America. It can be unsettling and one needs to be prepared for it. Thus when you reach Valparaiso you will find the city, though rich in history, is also challenged with the conditions of poverty which can make the touring/visiting experience a difficult one. I encourage folks to consider taking a tour for this location. Or if one wants to see a bit of the country those people who went to Santiago, who I spoke with enjoyed the trip. Coquimbo is a small place and distance from the ship to the city requires a transfer (provided by the ship). My wife and I chose to go to the Elqui Valley and we did not regret it. Beautiful scenery and a great lunch/stop at Vicuna. Yes, it is a tourist tour but there were no other tourists, other than us, so it was not the type of rush and push one often associates with bus tours. General San Martin is one of those ports that you need to read up on to make a decision as to what you want to do. It is a desert area and not much to see unless you are into deserts. The tours that are offered by Holland America might be the best options for those who wish to go ashore. Callao/Lima is a longer stop. Most of the passengers I spoke with enjoyed this port. (Callao is a bit seedy and dangerous.and the recommendation to passengers is to not walk around the place). Interestingly, this was the same recommendation given to me and others way back in 1964 when I was in the Navy. How little things change. Some folks did the tour to Machu Pichu and loved it. We visited the area of Pachacamac and found the site quite interesting. You can walk around Lima without a concern. Salvaerry has many options and is worth trying to get a couple of other passengers to join you to arrange for a private car tour. It provides more flexibility and the cost spllt among four or six people is worth consideration. Manta, Ecuador is the home of "Panama" hats and buttons. This is another place you might want to check with the location advisor as to how best to tour the location. Puerto Caldero, Costa Rica is very limited with respect to walking around. Consider taking a tour and check with the location guide as to what is available dockside. Depending on the time of year you take the cruise the tour options might be more limited. Holland America offers many tours and perhaps folks who traveled on one of their excursions will write about them. In Puerto Chiapos we took a ship tour and went on the "Chiapas through the ages" tour. Again, for us it was an interesting tour and not too many other tourist were out and about in the town. Cabo Sans Lucas is well known to North Americans. It is very touristy and easy to walk around. It is a toss up for folks with respect to what to do. All kinds of tour operators are at dockside if one seeks a guided tour to surrounding areas. San Diego is a wonderful port. You can walk off the ship and take a Hop on Hop Off bus or arrange for guided tours or simply walk around the city. Victoria is also very easy to walk around. As soon as you walk off the ship you are in a nice neighborhood and it is an easy fifteen walk to the downtown area. There are also buses from dockside to downtown. A beautiful city, easy walking and lots to see and do in such a brief time in port. Vancouver is, in my mind, a city that cruise folks should research before making their transportation home arrangements. Spending a couple of days in this city is a great way to end their tour. A nice safe city with all kinds of areas to explore. Weather wise we hit the jack pot. Though the clouds came out in Stanley and the wind blew a bit in the Magellan Straits it never rained the entire time we were away. We were told that the ship was not able to dock at a couple of places we visited on its previous trip due to weather conditions. Also that the rain and clouds etc made some aspects of the South American cruise taken earlier in the season a bit problematic. For us the mid March to late April proved to be the best time for this cruise. Simply, this was a good introduction to people places and things associated with the "Americas". Just plan your trip with a good understanding of knowing you are and what you want out of a cruise. Oh yes, -- there was quite a range of ages on each portion of the cruise. A bit older for the first part. Mid sixties to late seventies from Buenos Aires to Valparaiso, a little younger from Valparaiso to San Diego and a number of younger families from San Diego to Vancouver. Also, keep in mind that the ship will take your passport when you board so have another piece of photo ID with you for when you go ashore. As well, American dollars are widely accepted so don't worry about currency exchange. Read Less
13 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2017
Choose this cruise as they were going where i wanted to see !! Getting on the ship in Buenos Aires was a nightmare as all computers crashed. Once on board we did'nt sale until the following evening ,just as well the heavens ... Read More
Choose this cruise as they were going where i wanted to see !! Getting on the ship in Buenos Aires was a nightmare as all computers crashed. Once on board we did'nt sale until the following evening ,just as well the heavens opened that night ,floods in quite a few area in the ship .. After sailing i realised looking at the daily programme there was not a lot to during the sea days (6) ,entertainment was poor after you had seen the dancers and singers.and it did not get better for the 14 days That all said the food was very good in the dining room and lido,I prefered the lido as you picked exactly what you want ( suprised that hand sanitizer was not available by the cruise staff) there were machines as you went in but most people went straight passed !! NOT GOOD !!! Cabin was 2519 nicknamed "the coffin",of course an inside!! The staff in the main were very good,but did notice the dinning room staff got slower as the cruise went on. Getting off was ok until we had to hang about for 2 hours while they looked for a case of one of my group (found it on the ship WOW !!) Overall i have been on much better cruise lines (NCL and CELEBRITY) so my cruise money won't go to HAl again, Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2017
We chose this cruise to sail through Antarctica. Having been on several HAL cruises we were not concerned with quality. We were convinced that the quality would be the same on this ship as it had been on our previous three cruises. It was ... Read More
We chose this cruise to sail through Antarctica. Having been on several HAL cruises we were not concerned with quality. We were convinced that the quality would be the same on this ship as it had been on our previous three cruises. It was definitely not! If you have food allergies BEWARE! The Lido deck is fraught with dangers for those with allergies. My adult daughters suffer from some fairly severe allergies and had a most difficult time finding anything to eat. Bread and butter became their best friend. Our cabin cleanliness was quite lacking as well. Several times our stateroom door was left open. So much fo safety on the ship. The only time we had hot food was in the specialty restaurants, which of course cost extra. There's something inherently wrong with that. Service is another big issue on this ship or should I say lack of service. Read Less
8 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2017
This has taken much too long to complete because of the lack of response from Holland America subsequent to the cruise. But it is too important not to complete it, so that potential customers know what they are getting into with Holland ... Read More
This has taken much too long to complete because of the lack of response from Holland America subsequent to the cruise. But it is too important not to complete it, so that potential customers know what they are getting into with Holland America. First let me say that the overall Antarctica/South America experience was unique and fulfilling. The scenery and educational experience in Antarctica were spectacular. The South America ports of call were less than fulfilling. Shopping did not cater to tourists, and merchants were only open at limited times. The shore excursions – I did white water rafting, a winery tour, a gaucho farm, and a park with a waterfall and a whisky sour and dance celebration afterwards – were all excellent! Onboard entertainment catered to the elderly, but that is what 99% of the people onboard were. Unfortunately, the Holland America experience was extremely disappointing. I have sailed with Holland America on 3 prior occasions and had always been favorably impressed. This sailing was surprisingly different from what I had always remembered. The ship was Ms. Zaandam. I believe there are newer, more luxurious ships, and perhaps they concentrate more on a luxurious experience. However, I can only speak to the Zaandam in this review, which exhibited extremely poor customer treatment before, during and after the cruise, from booking to onboard and onward to the President’s Office post-cruise. My first encounter in booking this cruise was with a cruise consultant in the Seattle, Washington office, who did not return phone calls or emails. After a month of trying, I went to a non-affiliated cruise company from whom I received quality customer service and was able to book the cruise. The stateroom was less than impressive. The room stewards were very pleasant and helpful, unlike the majority of the rest of the crew. Very surprisingly, the food on the Lido Deck was bland and sometimes awful. This was the cafeteria type food onboard. In addition, the servers were somber and sometimes rude. The food improved in the Rotterdam Dining Room. However, the customer service was terrible. My recollections of customer service on prior Holland America Cruises was that of consistently friendly and caring personnel. It was not so on this cruise. The servers in the dining room were miserable. And the service was painfully slow, even for alcohol. If you wanted good food with excellent customer service you had to go to the Canneletto Restaurant or the Pinnacle, and of course, these were not free. The onboard movie offerings and live presentations regarding Antarctica were excellent. They offered Microsoft classes, which were worthwhile. The jewelry was a big push onboard, sometimes with pushy salespersons. There were absolutely no Antarctica items for sale onboard, and since there is no port of call in Antarctica, such items were hard to come by. We found this odd for an Antarctica Cruise. There was an offering for a $15 Beer Tasting onboard. Guests were probably expecting exotic beers, but were given small cups including Miller Light, Molson, Becks, and Grolsch. This is one of many examples of cutting corners and having customers pay extra for nothing that is evident throughout the ship. I am not proud to say that I am a smoker, so only a limited number of people may be interested to know what I am about to say. But it is not about the smoking that this is so crucially important, so please try and understand the point. The smoking policy prior to sailing was that smoking was permitted outside on the Lido Deck in the Sea View Bar, in the Casino (only if you were gambling) and on Stateroom Verandahs. This cruise embarked on January 10, 2017. On January 10, 2017 Holland America changed its policy and no longer allowed smoking on the Verandahs without informing people of the change prior to the cruise. For those who paid a premium for a stateroom with a Verandah so that they could smoke, this was very shocking and upsetting. The new smoking policy allowed for smoking outside of the Crows Nest Bar. There was a group of us that all smoked together outside on the Lido Deck. On several occasions, an abrupt and discourteous crewmember told us that we must leave immediately so that they could clean the deck. Although smoking was supposed to be permitted outside of the Crow’s Nest, no such smoking was allowed. Therefore, there was no place to go to smoke at that point. I visited the Front Desk about all of this on two occasions, and neither of the persons that I spoke with, one of whom was a supervisor, properly addressed the issues. The Front Desk customer service was courteous but completely ineffective. They failed to address the inconsistently handled smoking issue, as well as the discourteous crew who demanded we leave the Sea View Bar immediately. When I returned home, I wrote to the President’s Office at Holland America to address the aforementioned issues. I have corresponded with the office on two occasions. Having received no satisfactory response, other than a coupon for a discount on a future cruise, I write this less than flattering review. Something is radically wrong at Holland America. It is evident from the experience with the cruise consultant who did not answer calls or emails, to the rude onboard crew, to the ineffective Front Desk, to the President’s Office who does not address any of the issues, that there are severe morale issues that result in poor customer service and relations. The food reflects a severe deterioration of what Holland America has offered on prior cruises. I am not alone in these opinions, as several of the people I met on the ship have also written to Holland America with similar outcomes. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2017
Wanted to see South America and enjoy life aboard the Zaandam. Trouble first started at the Casino where I was supposed to get $75 of free play. It took 3 days and a lot of fighting with the casino manager to get the money. Next was the ... Read More
Wanted to see South America and enjoy life aboard the Zaandam. Trouble first started at the Casino where I was supposed to get $75 of free play. It took 3 days and a lot of fighting with the casino manager to get the money. Next was the casino manager promised a free drink when playing but was nowhere around to give one. Next the Lido food court was in disarray. The server had past me up in line twice before I complained that I was next to be served. After receiving the food. It was cold. The food seemed cold or luke warm everyday because the meat would be sitting out before serving time. The shore excursions where very expensive. The only thing that was good in my opinion was the deserts. These the could not recycle like the main vegetables. I believe if you pay for the food and service it should at least be satisfying. Read Less
17 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2017
This was a "Bucket List" cruise for me and an "I'm along for the ride" cruise for my DW. We are 3 Star Cruisers with HAL. We had spectacular views and also appalling views of poverty. Embarkation: The ship is a ... Read More
This was a "Bucket List" cruise for me and an "I'm along for the ride" cruise for my DW. We are 3 Star Cruisers with HAL. We had spectacular views and also appalling views of poverty. Embarkation: The ship is a good ways from the airport so you get a feeling for Buenos Aires right off the bat as you travel through. It was good to be moving and sight seeing as the flight from Houston was at night and 10 hours. Customs was wacky but not excessively long. Our rooms were ready by the time we arrived. The Lido even had places to sit and relax. Not at all crowded. The ship is showing her age, but holding up nicely. No kids hogging the elevators, on only 2 occasions were there any lines to contend with and we were greeted with smiles from all the crew. Captain PJ is top notch and even was on the gangway as we disembarked. Didn't care much for the dirty South American ports. Only 2 had good Wi-Fi [Puerto Chacabuco and Puerto Montt]. Enjoyed excursions in Puerto Madryn and the Falklands. Antarctica was beyond words grand! And we had the unheard of pleasure of 3 days of sunshine there. Plenty of wind, plenty of cold, and too many views of grandeur to keep track of. Bring all your coldest weather gear for you'll need it. On the way to Cape Horn we had heavy seas which the ship handled just fine. As we approached the Horn, the rainy weather cleared to give us a beautiful view. The dining was on par with all the other HAL ships which is pretty darn good. Maybe the Lido was a step above. The entertainment was hit and miss. I would say it was mostly good and the ship's singers and dancers worked their hearts out. The front desk folks were excellent and were our servers. Disembarkation was bad. There was one line down the gangway which was blocked and stopped for each passenger that needed assistance, and there were many. To get away from the ship to the terminal, you took a shuttle bus. Again a slow process. The ship docks in Valparaiso +/-90 minutes from the airport in Santiago. Our flight was at 10:40PM so we took advantage of this and booked an all day excursion that dropped us there about 6PM. The airport is a huge barn with no seating, little signage, and the gates don't open until 3 hours before your flight. No reason to arrive early. The flight from Santiago was +/-9 hours. Then customs at 5AM in Houston followed and was awful. Just Awful. Get to do it again in September. Yuk! The good was Antarctica! The bad was the disembarkation! The ugly were the South American ports. We have booked another cruise on the Zaandam so I guess you can say we loved her. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2017
It was our first cruise and it lasted 3 weeks. We took this cruise mainly to see Antarctica and it was the highlight of our trip. The glaciers, the icebergs, the whales, the penguins, the seals, the dolphins, etc. The port of calls in ... Read More
It was our first cruise and it lasted 3 weeks. We took this cruise mainly to see Antarctica and it was the highlight of our trip. The glaciers, the icebergs, the whales, the penguins, the seals, the dolphins, etc. The port of calls in South America were mainly small towns or cities and not that interesting. The excursions in the national parks were nice. As for the cruise itself, in general it was very nice. The service was excellent, the food was good, the entertainment was very good also. We had 3 scientists who had worked in Antarctica and they gave lectures which were very interesting. Then we got 10 people working at the US research station that came on board for a Q & A session. The only bad point was when it was time to leave the ship to go to the ports of call, the procedure could be improve because it was very slow and unorganized. Read Less
12 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2016
We chose this cruise simply because it was going to Santiago in Chile were we would be spending Christmas. Having said that the ports of call were excellent. I especially liked the Falklands and would recommend the Penguin tour . I ... Read More
We chose this cruise simply because it was going to Santiago in Chile were we would be spending Christmas. Having said that the ports of call were excellent. I especially liked the Falklands and would recommend the Penguin tour . I booked direct with a tour operator based on the Falklands and this was half the price of the cruise ship tour. The ship itself looked tired in areas and in need of a refurbishment. We were in cabin 7076 VISTA SUITE. The cabin itself was a good size and comfortable. The Bathroom was in need of upgrading. we had a Jacuzzi but on inspection I would not have used it. There was staining on the tiles which was from condensation. Our Cabin Stewards were excellent. The food in the Lido restaurant and the main dinning room was of good quality with plenty of choice. Unfortunately the service in both these places was hit and miss. In the Lido Dinning room it took rather a long time for the tables to be sided. Some staff were seen to have a cough. I understand that people can be under weather at times, but to carry on serving food which you have just coughed over is unacceptable. this happened on more than one occasion.one of the things which stuck out was that there seemed to be no one in charge We had a few sea days and on these days the entertainment was lacking I appreciate that it was not always possible to put Deck games on due to the weather but there was very little to do in doors. The entertainment at night was hit and miss but did get better towards the end of the cruise I have cruised before and this was my first time with Holland and America i feel there are other cruise companies out there who offer a better cruise experiance. Read Less
10 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2016
Winter in in the northern hemisphere is summer in the southern hemisphere, best season to cruise towards the south end of America. In the desire to explore the glacier landscape we decided on this cruise that allowed us to also visit many ... Read More
Winter in in the northern hemisphere is summer in the southern hemisphere, best season to cruise towards the south end of America. In the desire to explore the glacier landscape we decided on this cruise that allowed us to also visit many ports in Argentina (Patagonia) and Chile (Tierra del fuego). Holland America filled our expectation of 5 star accommodations and service. The cabin was comfortable and clean. Dining was excellent with a wide variety of selections. Entertainment was different and I was glad it included south American artists showcasing Latin music, singers and dances. I always appreciate the classical music presentation at the adagio, but also enjoyed the unique bandoneon concerts by Guido. Buenos Aires, was a tough afternoon with the protest that blocked the city traffic. Montevideo is a nice port town, friendly people and best place to buy non expensive leather goods(soft sheep leather) and souvenirs. In front of the port there is a large market with approximately 20 fire pit grills serving good quality meat and sausages. Worth while a visit. The Falkland Islands were a surprise, with a British style village and beautiful cove from were to observe penguins on the seashore with a non expensive shuttle drive (not a cruise excursion) offered on the port. The sea on our way there was a 2 day cruising, a bit more shaky but tolerable, and an opportunity to relax and rest. Punta Arenas, Ushuaia, and Puerto Montt, each had their own characteristics, all very nice small towns. Cruising through the channels was relaxing with beautiful scenery. The weather changed very rapidly in all these ports but in general we had lost of sunshine and nice temperatures. Required layers for the changing temperatures. Upon arrival to Valparaiso we were met by Jorge Salgado who has his own tour company and he picked 4 of us in the Valparaiso port and gave us a tour of Valparaiso and Viñas del mar and then took us on a ride to Santiago leaving us in our hotel at 4:30 pm and taking the other passengers on a tour of Santiago and then on to the airport. Jorge is a very honest and respectful tour guide which made our transportation to Santiago and our tour of Valparaiso a great experience. We continued to use his services while enjoying our short stay in Santiago all at an affordable price. He gave us insights to the best places in the city. His phone is 993110796 and his email chileantrips@hotmail.com. Prior to our cruise we also visited El Calafate and the Glacier Park of Perito Moreno, and it was the best decision because we were able to enjoy this magnificent glacier close up. The town is also a very pleasant experience. In El Calafate we stayed at a very comfortable and simple hotel were the staff were very friendly and helpful, Schilling Hostel Patagonico, and walking distance from the center of the town with abundant good resturants and shops. In Santiago we stayed at the Apart Hotel Providence, and had a similar experience with a clean small apartment with a kitchen and friendly staff. Very accessible to transportation in a very nice neighborhood. Overall it was a very nice trip, relaxing and with time to rest. There were many days cruising, so if you don't like cruising this trip is not for you. We were very fortunate for the weather at sea was calmer than usual. Read Less
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