1. Home
  2. Cruise Lines
  3. Holland America Line
  4. Holland America Line Cruise Reviews

213 Holland America Hawaii Cruise Reviews

We had done this itinerary a year ago on a different cruise line, and really enjoyed the number of sea days, so decided to repeat it on a Holland America ship. We live close enough to San Diego to be able to drive to the port easily, and ... Read More
We had done this itinerary a year ago on a different cruise line, and really enjoyed the number of sea days, so decided to repeat it on a Holland America ship. We live close enough to San Diego to be able to drive to the port easily, and avoid the hassle of air travel/hotel expense. The embarkation was very smooth, and we were accompanied all the way to our cabin (one of us needs wheelchair assistance). Our stateroom was one of the Lanai cabins, with a sliding glass door replacing the ocean view window, allowing direct access to the teak walk-around Lower Promenade deck. It also includes two reserved wooden deck chairs right outside the door. We had been on this particular ship in March 2014, so the layout was very familiar for us. We had requested and received early fixed dining at the same table for two as last March. We had stopped for brunch on the way, and weren't hungry for the Mariner embarkation luncheon. Luggage arrived quickly, and we found spots for everything in spite of my penchant for overpacking. The standard bathrooms on this ship class don't have much storage; the over-door shoe bag is a must. Our stateroom attendants introduced themselves & we were more than satisfied with their friendliness & service throughout the cruise. They made some unique towel animals that we had never seen. We asked for ice twice a day and they always delivered it. The disaster drill was on deck (no lifejackets), and took a little longer than we were accustomed to, the passengers were restless and had lost interest after about 30". After a short rest on our deck chairs, we adjourned to get to the MDR by 5:15. Very easy to remember the table frome the previous cruise, and we met our dining staff - so very nice throughout the remainder of the cruise. We signed up for a wine tasting & ordered a bottle of wine. The meals for the duration of the cruise were all very good to excellent, temperature perfect, seasoning good. We do like spicy food, but understand that they have to season the food for the majority. When we ordered medium rare beef, it was perfectly done. We do like to try things we have not had before, or unusual (for us) foods. Lobster was on the menu only once (not even on the Pinnacle Menu), which didn't disappoint us, but we heard some grumblng from other passengers. We dined in the specialty dining venues once each, and had equally fine experiences. We try to avoid the Lido just because it is usually crowded, difficult to get around the entire serving counters and to find a table. The couple of times we did end up there we were OK with the food, but my husband said his was not even warm. The best food outside the MDR was the "Dive In" burger/hot dog joint at the end of the pool area. The fries were hot, crispy, and seasoned well. the burgers were really good. There is also a Mexican buffet there each day. Entertainment was mediocre in the showroom - we missed the Broadway show which was probably good, but it was only offered at 9:30 one time, we are early-to-bed types. The best show was "Encore", which showcased a good male & female singer, the Hal Cats turned orchestra, the violin performer from Adagio, and 2 female dancers. Light opera, Broadway show songs, very nice costuming. We had seen it last March, but liked it equally as well this time. The best one of the entire cruise. Entertainment is like food, depends on the person. There was a change in the crew shows - the Filipino crew show was at 2:00 PM, standing room only. We enjoyed it a lot, have never been able to stay up for the usual 11:00 Indonesian one, missed it this time too. We really like the layout of this ship, small & easy to get to everything. Best library of any one we have been on. There were daily activities for absolutely everyone, if you couldn't find something to do it wasn't HAL's fault. We attended several of the lectures on the history and culture of Hawaii, learned a lot of new facts. We only got off at one port, didn't do any excursions since this was our 3rd visit and we had seen most of what interested us before. We did get off the ship to go to "Hilo Hattie's", had not been to any of these stores prior to this trip. The sea days after we left the islands were great for us, our side of the ship was now on the south (sunny) side, and we camped out in our deck chairs most every day. Seemed like lots of the passengers were tired of the sea days & couldn't wait to get back; we didn't feel that way at all, we like being lazy & waited on. The day did finally come though, and I have to say that the disembarkation was the worst we have experienced on any ship. As I mentioned, one of us requires wheelchair assistance which we signed up for, but many of the passengers who showed up for it had not reserved it. There were more than 50 passengers in the Sea View Bar when we arrived, and more coming all the time. Not enough wheelchairs, or pushers who could handle the ramps that they had to negotiate. Passengers demanding that they be let off immediately, ones who decided they didn't want to wait & left,(why were they there at all ?) The poor man who was trying to coordinate the process was overwhelmed. We were more than an hour past the time we should have been let off, lucky we weren't on an early air flight. Overall we tried not to let this part of the experience negatively color the rest. I keep a journal each day, so have looked it over to read all the good parts. When I asked the onboard future cruise consultant she let us know that HAL will not be scheduling this cruise, the Mexican Coastal itinerary, or any other shorter R/T itinerary from San Diego after 2015, only the 30 or so days ones. So sad to see them go. Read Less
Sail Date January 2015
The Ship: The ship is wonderful. The retrofit changed a few things, so i recommend you also try the Maasdam to get a feel for the smaller ships. The Atrium is wonderful and still all the decks and spaces are so wondrful. The artwork is ... Read More
The Ship: The ship is wonderful. The retrofit changed a few things, so i recommend you also try the Maasdam to get a feel for the smaller ships. The Atrium is wonderful and still all the decks and spaces are so wondrful. The artwork is also wonderful. They changed happy hour times, but that is okay, we still made a few of them. We danced in the crows nest late one night and had a blast. I recommend you check out the deck plans. We always to scour them before we sail. The crew:The crew was amazing. Arthur and Gabriel of the front desk! They need a raise. Cyn of the spa, she was great. Our room stewerts were also amazing. The Entertainment: The on location stuff by Kinoa was amazing. His knowledge , his humor, his open heart full of aloha was so refreshing. This guy is so informed, a true native that you simply cant stump him. Dont miss his presentations. I even took some of gradma's jewlery to him, and he knew all of the hawaiian origins. The show Airborn was hilarious and inspiring. the singing and costumes were really good. The movies were all latest realeases. They show them the next day on the TV or in the Gym, so we saw alot of them. There is so much going on, dont fall prey to sitting in a lounger all day. Walk the decks, go to the cooking presentations, take the galley tour, go the library and just do it. It is nice to see Officers and the Captain enjoying a show or two some times too. The Dining: Prior to this cruise we always booked late seating. This time, due to negative people at our table, we jumped ship and switched to open seating. We found others of like mind that love their surroundings and love cruising and are generally happy with themselves to be fun to hang out with and did what we would normally do with our tabelmates. We ate at Canaletto together, went offshore together and got time to have a bite and talk. The dining was wonderful. For an 18 night cruise food did not repeat itself and was always fabulous. The soups were killer and we got to meet the saucier or soup guy and tell him so. The dining staff on this ship is top notch and clearly they have fun at work. They laugh and joke with us and each other and one night after dinner (we usually shiut the dining room down) they were celebrating a coworkers birthday at the very end of the shift with a with a pie in the face and icewater on his head. we all laughed and clapped at this rare human moment from folks who work so very very hard. The Gym: There is a good deck on the gym floor in which to take pics as most do, but also give the gym a try. We wend there everyday. It is free and they have good equipement. Just bring headphones so that you can also catch that movie you missed the day before , because they have screens and plug ins. The Spa:This is limited to 20 couples on this size ship and is a must do with 12 sea days. I am expecially glad we did, as the mineral tub was so ralaxing with a sea view and the ceramic hot beds were our daily moment of zen. There are also showers, steam rooms, two of them, one cooler one hot. If you can possibly afford it, just do it, and you wont regret it. The pools and hot tubs: THE pool (only one) was refilled with nice warm water that just got colder and colder each sea day. Very motel 6 like. The hot tubs, never hot, the jets are on day and night no option to turn the jets off. The jets are just blasts of cold air the water bubbles six inches high. On the back deck at The Retreat , the wind takes the bubbling water to be shared by all on the deck, and in your face too. The rectangular hot tubs at the Retreat , when they were filled, which wasnt all the time, were oddly the hottest pools and hotter than the hot tubs. They also had motion and jets to them, but were simply hotter. they are shallow, but wonderful. They just simply dont travel well at sea, so they are netted and empty most of the time as most of the water sloshes out across the decks. poor planning. The Room: We booked a oceanview on the promenade deck next too an exit to our "veranda". Loved the fresh air that would blow in when doors on this deck would open and close with people going in and out. Stateroom 327, just steps away from the promanade, providing fresh air, a feeling like it was our own viranda at half the price of the lanai. close to elevators and the atrium, and the lovely atrium steps. The Excursions: We had these stops: Oahu, Maui, Kuai ,Kona and Hilo. On Oahu (this was our overnight stop) we got together with friends for dinner and drinks, but the next day we took the city bus to Hanauma Bay and went snrokeling. I recommend this very much. Clear warm waters and huge fish. We have been to Oahu before so, this was perfect for us. On Hilo we got a rental car and drove to Volcanoes National Park and spent a time there walking trails. On a prior cruise we took the crater hike and it was wonderful. This time we drove to key spots and then drove also to Akaka Falls. This is a very spectacular fall on a very very short walk. Do this is you are pressed for time and want to squeeze in one more side trip. It is worth it. on Kaui we took the Seafun Kauai Shore Snorkel excursion form the ship. This is the best trip! You start in a van with a very short ride to suit up in a short wet suit, which keeps you warm and bouyant enough, so that you dont need a vest as on other snorkel trips. Once at the shore, the guides help you get situated, so dont let the rocky shore worry you. If you are lucky you will get the guide named Paul. We have gotten him twice now. This guy lives in the ocean and knows it like the back of his hand. He always produces a good find. Last time it was a Nerf Shark and Turtles and too many fish to describe. He will even offer to dive with your camera and get a good pic for you. This time he found an Octopus and we took turns holding it with his guidance. He also points out everything so you want to follow him, and he is good at keeping you close if you stray. We saw eels, sea cucumbers, turtles and a million dish. The Octopus was the star this time. The Kona Sail & Snorkel was a Snorkel excursion form the ship. This was a tender port, so this wonderful sail snorkeling excurion starts with a short drive in a van to the Kaloko Honokohau Marina. Then you travel south by catamaran to a sheltered cove. This was a small and intimate catamaran. Good lunch and treats and beer if you want it. The fish were wonderful and we always see some species that we haven't seen before. This location had a beautiful view of a beach that only native hawaiians can go to, but it was also close to a nice drop off.The water is thirty feet deep where the boat ties off to an anchor point. The water is very clear visablity is 120 feet. Along the shore are blocks lava that are plentifull with marine life and unbelievable amounts of fish. This was one of the few locations that we saw schools of fish. This is not for first time snorkelers or weak swimmers. The guides are friendly and very knowledgable of this pristine spot. West Maui Snorkel Cruise snorkel excurion from the ship:This the second time we have taken this excursion and was just as great as the first time. The crew is fun and friendly, very helpful for first time snorkelers. The water is about 20 feet deep, coral heads rise off the bottom at least 15 feet. Marine life covers the coral heads that attract the fish and turtles. The water is very clear you can see for 60-80 feet, fish are very abundant swimming around the coral heads. This spot is south of the ship tender close to Olowala state reserve on shore the water is very calm.The sail back to port is mostly by motor, the crew tries to sail but the wind has other ideas, take lots of pictures going to and from this location. The good: We love cruising and love our surrounding both at home and on a ship. Not much can dampen our day. One sweet highlight was seeing a storm petral and an albatross on the water. The bad: People who think that they are royalty; one day a woman stuck her pronged cane in the elevator while it was closing. It clamped down on the end and she was stuck on the outside with the rest of her cane and i was stuck on the inside with the end of it. Naturally it shut down the elevators and i had to pry open the doors. It put the elvator out of commision for a day. This might work in a city, not so much on a cruise ship. The ugly: Buzz kill negative people who hate their surroundings should not cruise. This sucks the life out of those of us who do. If you run around and take bowls of cheese or all the almonds you are selfish. If you complain that the soup is cold when there is steam clearly rising from it, you are ignorant. Leave cruising to those of us who know how to do it. Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
First the good, The ship reflects the grandeur of the past glory days of cruising. Quality decor and comfortable surroundings gave us the initial good feeling that we would be enjoying the next 16 days sailing the pacific. Unfortunately, ... Read More
First the good, The ship reflects the grandeur of the past glory days of cruising. Quality decor and comfortable surroundings gave us the initial good feeling that we would be enjoying the next 16 days sailing the pacific. Unfortunately, that was about the only good thing about this cruise. We were welcomed to our cabin with a revolting smear on the rim of the toilet seat. After we mentioned it to our cabin steward he said "oh, you would like it extra clean? Needless to say, we used our Lysol wipes to disinfect our drawers, power switches, etc.. But, it's a cruise, how bad can it get... Well, it seemed that the entire ship was very short staffed. In fact, if something disastrous would have happened onboard, I would not have felt safe with the crew. The room steward had twice the number of rooms to clean compared to Princess ships. He seemed exhausted and sleepy all of the time. We felt sorry for him so we kept our room very clean just to give him a bit of a break. As far as the food was concerned, you likely would get far better quality from any N. American cheap fast food joint. Seriously! Despite the fact we dined in the main dining room everyday, the service and the food was atrocious. Now I know what magazine posed foods tastes like. Yea, it looked good, but I wouldn't feed it to a dog (mainly because a dog wouldn't eat this garbage). Crunchy, parboiled rice and risotto, tomato sauces right out of a no name jug, and meat that could substitute for shoe leather. And that was the good stuff. Now I understand why they gave you so little on your plate, because anymore would have made you sick. Our highlight was escaping the dining room two hours after being seated to go up to the Lydo buffet and have some ice cream. Unfortunately, that didn't last very long. We read the ingredients labels on the ice cream containers. It listed high fructose corn syrup and glucose as the sweeteners, artificial flavouring, and other items I could not pronounce. Even bulk foods ice cream uses real milk and sugar! Princess and NCL makes their own ice cream on board with real ingredients. H.A. has gone way too far. What a dump! The service in the dining room was pathetic. The waiters are responsible for twice the number of tables as on other ships. You could never get their attention. And we were always waiting nearly an hour between our appetizer and main course. It took us no less than two to two and a half hours to have a simple meal. As we waited in long lines for every meal in the dining room, we only met one person in the 16 days who said she liked the food. She also loved the hotdogs and lard fried French fries served poolside. Everyone else was revolted by the quality of the food. The thermal spa was also a major disappointment. One of the two showers had a plugged drain and the staff did nothing to rectify the problem in 14 days. You would think that for $450 you would get a working facility. We were wrong! In fact, the aromatic steam room should be infused with relaxing scents. It never worked throughout the cruise. We asked 5 different spa staff members to tell us if they smelled any aroma. They all said no except for the manager who sold us the package. Needless to say this will be our last Holland America cruise. Beware, as all of those old mariners we talked to onboard say that H.A. has dropped to new lows for quality cruising. Read Less
Sail Date September 2014
We embarked in Vancouver in a timely fashion. No problems, no surprises other than our bags had already arrived at our cabin and we were only slightly delayed in the boarding process. Very pleasant. After everything we had been told on ... Read More
We embarked in Vancouver in a timely fashion. No problems, no surprises other than our bags had already arrived at our cabin and we were only slightly delayed in the boarding process. Very pleasant. After everything we had been told on this site, we expected, as 1 star Mariners we would be able to eat in the main dining room for lunch, but alas, we were turned away and ate our first meal in the Lido, first of many I might add. I was awakened by my wife at 5am the first morning in a panic because the water to the head (toilet) would not stop flowing. After trying unsuccessfully to call the front desk, I ran up the stairs and after hitting the bell, finally got someone's attention to try and stem the tide. Getting back to the room, and waiting far too long, I finally tracked down a steward that was able to turn the water off. A couple of hours later, a crew member had the broken shutoff valve replaced. Rest assured, it was not anything foreign and forbidden that was flushed to cause the drama. The stewards worked hard the next couple of days to dry the cabin out from our adventure. And did an admirable job. That was the only true problem with the trip, but I will say to be sure you like sea days very much before choosing an itinerary that has 5 sea days at each end of the trip. On such a small ship, with very little entertainment, other than a very active team trivia each day, it became very monotonous. Needless to say, I took the opportunity to catch up on visiting with my wife, and a great deal of reading. In our 50's, we were very much on the young side of the demographics of this ship. We heard from a few different people the average age on board was in excess of 80 years. I can not prove that number, but also from the number of walkers, canes, wheelchairs and scooters, I totally believe it. Everything on this ship is designed to work around the fixed dining, so be warned, if, like us, like options, choose this line carefully. I can not understand how the main dining room starts the second seating at 8pm, but closes up the Lido at that same time. Trying to eat at any time but the fixed times met with frustration. We had no real complaints about the Lido, other than it was no more than cafeteria food. Better than most cafeterias, but still just a cafeteria. We usually like to have a bigger lunch a bit later than most, around 2:30, but if you do not get there well before they close, then you are left with the same deli selections, each and every day. We then try to have a decent snack at around 8:30, a bit before bed, but unless you want to dress for the dining room, forget about that. There is practically no place, but the dining room to eat after that point. We tried the Pinnacle Grill twice, and found that it was once too many times. Very nice food, but for the price, not worth it in my opinion. Entertainment revolved around the fixed dining, with shows starting at 8pm and 10pm. Forget trying to get a seat at the 8pm show unless you show up at least 45 minutes before hand. The few shows we watched, were hardly worth the bother. Some of the guest entertainers were great, but very standard shows otherwise. The musicians onboard were very nice, but forget listening to anything other than classical or very old standards. The only reason we chose this cruise was the multiple visits to the Islands of Hawaii. They did not disappoint. One piece of advise, rent a car and explore on your own, well worth the time and investment. I can see why some would fight to the end to keep Holland America traditional, but it is only a matter of time before the present catches up with this line. Read Less
Sail Date September 2014
Just returned from this cruise,I do really like sea days but there just was not any thing to do during the day Cooking class MEH who ever goes home and makes this stuff,because of this there were no movie during the day.And when they did ... Read More
Just returned from this cruise,I do really like sea days but there just was not any thing to do during the day Cooking class MEH who ever goes home and makes this stuff,because of this there were no movie during the day.And when they did have an evening movie it was so very old "Hawaii" come on, that movie must have been 30 years old! Trivia on the ships has become very old All the fun stuff they would do during the late seating dinner hour(The Marriage)game and the word definition game...these are usually fun to watch The HAL Cats band was very good but, The Hal cat singers sang so load you could not understand them,now I know why they have been know as The Screaming Hal cats on other reviews. Then they had two repeat shows,come on spend a little more on the entertainment and I am not talking about the eight and ten o clock show I mean two of the same shows the following nights.Back by popular demand they called it... right Makes wonder if we will sail again for a while The food was always great, no issue there Read Less
Sail Date September 2014
I took this cruise to Hawaii because of the long days at see. I was in Cabin 6127 on the Veranda Deck. Great stateroom, cabin stewards very attentive. Loved spending time on my balcony - private sunbathing, private reading and late night ... Read More
I took this cruise to Hawaii because of the long days at see. I was in Cabin 6127 on the Veranda Deck. Great stateroom, cabin stewards very attentive. Loved spending time on my balcony - private sunbathing, private reading and late night drink. Dining in the main " walk in" dining room was awful. You could walk in but you would have to wait forever. Finally, when I wanted to dine there I made a reservation. Also, they did not like to seat me by myself, which I preferred, had to be very pushy. Once seated I generally waited a long time to get a menu, then another long time to place my order. I avoided that experience as much as possible. I found the Pinnacle Grill to be wonderful! Wait staff amazing, food selections varied and cooked to perfection. I did not mind paying a bit extra for that level of service. The other special restaurant had Italian fare it was right by the Lido food lines. The service was OK, it seemed to me that some of the food came right off the Lido food lines. Only ate there once. The Lido restaurant was self serve, not allowed to use a tray, very crowded and noisy. Room service was wonderful. I ate breakfast in my cabin every morning. Also, several lunches and dinners and late nite tea and cookies. Timely, friendly and the food was well prepared. Explorations Café was nice. The barista made great lattes for a very reasonable price and they had all kinds of delightful snacks for free. Frequently did lunch there. The computer access was expensive and very, very slow. The Librarian was pleasant and helpful. The Spa was wonderful I had several fabulous Swedish massages. Facilities were great and the staff very skilled. Front desk staff was very pleasant and helpful. They were kept very busy. Entertainment ran from fair to excellent. Adagio violin and piano were terrific, a joy to hear. Oceans Bar music as good and danceable. Guitar player was fair and the piano bar player a bit better. The shows in the Lounge were fair, some of the individual entertainers were excellent. The ship was clean. Smoothly run. Plenty of hand cleaning stations. Docking was done very smoothly. Embarkation and disembarkation were handled very efficiently, with minimum waiting even on tender day. As a nurse I was concerned about the 30+- passengers who had to leave the ship via ambulance. One night we had left port and had to return due to the severity of a patient's condition. It was my understanding that the medical staff was kept very, very busy. A great many of the passengers were physically challenged. Obviously, certain aspects of the cruise did not please me. I'm not sure if I would travel with Holland American again.   Read Less
Sail Date September 2014
We had an unfortunate situation when a passenger fell down some stairs & was seriously injured. The captain was kind & caring enough to turn the ship around & head back towards SanDiego to meet with a US Coast Guard chopper to ... Read More
We had an unfortunate situation when a passenger fell down some stairs & was seriously injured. The captain was kind & caring enough to turn the ship around & head back towards SanDiego to meet with a US Coast Guard chopper to remove injured passenger & all turned out well. Because of the lost time we had our time cut short in Honolulu , another port because of sea conditions we were unable to visit. Holland America chose to offer everyone a 15% discount on a future cruise . My problem with this is why not issue a credit on the cruise where the losses occurred ? Not happy with that arrangement !!!! Notable problems I had with ship 1 Smoking in casino was not acceptable 2 On pool deck lounge chairs were one on top of each other 3 Water in swimming pool was never heated ( freezing ) 4 Limited number of public washrooms on ship 5 Common areas on ship were constantly too cool 6 No food trays to carry your food on in Lido Dining room 7 Ice tea glasses were so small you had to carry 3 of them & 1/2 the time they didn't have Lemmon 8 Only once saw the hot tubs being tested,on other cruises they were tested hourly 9 Only 1 electrical plug in bedroom at desk 10 Absolute wast of time stoping at Ensenada,Mexico Jones act or not TFavorable features of cruise 1 All entertainment was fantastic 2 Smaller ship was enjoyably 3 Priest on board was nice 4 Captain was fantastic with all his daily updates 5 Trainers in gym were great 6 Port of SanDiego Wes extremely convenient 7 The entire crew were polite & courteous at all times To sum it all up I felt like they were cutting back at every corner they could & it showed it. It's NOT the same Holland America we once knew   Read Less
Sail Date January 2014
We were on the Veendam cruise to Hawaii from San Diego that returned on Feb. 8, 2014. This is our 14th cruise (mostly Holland America and Celebrity, plus 1 Crystal - also 2 Royal Caribbean and a few Princess from our earliest cruises). The ... Read More
We were on the Veendam cruise to Hawaii from San Diego that returned on Feb. 8, 2014. This is our 14th cruise (mostly Holland America and Celebrity, plus 1 Crystal - also 2 Royal Caribbean and a few Princess from our earliest cruises). The last cruise we took was 7 years ago, also on the Veendam (26 days Mediterranean/Baltic), so this review will include the changes I’ve observed since then. If you are considering this cruise, please note: our cruise ended up having just 4 ports of call, instead of 6 in Hawaii, plus a day in Ensenada. That meant 7 days at sea, 4 port days in Hawaii, followed by 6 days at sea and a day in Ensenada (and since we live in San Diego, we are not too impressed with Ensenada.) We would definitely not have booked this cruise if we knew this was going to happen. Here’s why we just 4 ports in Hawaii: After a day at sea, someone fell down and was injured bad enough that we had to turn around and cruise back to San Diego for 12 hours, until the ship was close enough to land for the coast guard to use a helicopter to take her to a hospital. That put us one day behind, so they had to cancel the 2nd day in Honolulu and rearrange all ports of call. Then, at our last port of call, Maui, the sea was too rough to tender in, so we had to just leave and head back to San Diego. I was glad that the captain wanted to consider the safety of all cruisers first, but was disappointed with only 4 days in Hawaii. HAL did offer all cruisers a 15% credit toward another cruise. Here is my review of this cruise: Embarkation and Disembarkation went quickly. The ship was clean and well maintained. I was very impressed with the crew – they were all hard workers, smiling, and seemed very happy. I could easily find our room attendant during the hours he was cleaning rooms on our floor. During his off hours, if I phoned the front desk, I would get quick results. Service for dinner in the main dining room was also very good – I did not think they seemed “stretched”. Any time I phoned the front desk, they would answer quickly and take care of the issue or request. If I’d go to the front desk, I never had to wait in line because there were always 3 people working. They would address me by name, and be very friendly and helpful. The food in the dining room, and Lido for breakfast and lunch was very good. The exception was the desserts – pretty bland. I felt like they had not added much sugar or butter. Many times I wished that I had brought some canned frosting, or powdered sugar with me, so I could mix it will butter and sugar from the Lido, and make some frosting, because cakes were dry with almost no icing. If the “almost flourless chocolate cake” is on the menu in the dining room, order it. It was the one really good dessert during the cruise. I liked all of the chilled fruit soups in the dining room, but not the hot soups. One thing I noticed that has changed since 7 years ago, is that many entrees were made with hot/spicy seasonings, like jalapenos and cilantro. I do not like hot/spicy food, so I didn’t try these, but hopefully they were prepared with just a little of these spices. Also, I noticed that the vegetables are now served el dente, which is the popular way to serve them in our local restaurants. However, I prefer them soft – easier to chew. This made me think they are trying to appeal to a younger clientele. My advice regarding “open seating”: We had “open seating”, for the first time ever. Thanks to reading cruise critic reviews before we left, I knew to phone the front desk for reservations. Since the dining room opened at 5:00 p.m., I made reservations for then because we did not want to wait in line, as many cruise critic reviews said they had to. I soon found out that you could make reservations for the next 3 days. Therefore, each morning, I would phone at 8:00 a.m., and make reservations for dinner for another day. When we got to the main dining room, we discovered there was a very short line on the left, for open dining if you had made a reservation, and a long line on the right for open dining for those who did not make a reservation. Not many people knew you could make reservations. We were seated immediately at a table for 2, which we had requested. My advice for open dining: On the first day, look around the room for your favorite table location, and get the table number, which is on a card. Then, when you phone each day for reservations, ask for that table. After a few days, you’ll automatically get it. We had the same table for the entire cruise (via reservations), therefore out waiter got to know our preferences. For 5:00 p.m. reservations, the soonest you will finish dinner if you order dessert is 6:30 p.m. By the time your table is cleared and ready for the next diners, it is probably 6:45 p.m. So, I don’t see how anyone going to the dining room at 6:00 p.m. expects to get seated immediately – I think it is impossible. They stagger reservations, so some people are seated at 5:00 p.m., and some at 5:15 p.m. For open dining, you’d better go at 5:00/5:15, or 6:45/7:00 p.m. Breakfast on the Lido had everything you could want. Service was fast. They now serve several different variations of eggs benedict – with ham, or salmon, spinach, mushrooms, etc. The fruit was always fresh. They have a juicer, so you can always get fresh-squeezed orange juice. I agree – the French fries on the Lido were great. I usually don’t eat them, but couldn’t resist these – like nothing I’d tasted before. The hamburgers by the pool were okay, and I didn’t really like their hot dogs. The pizza was not very good. The entrees for lunch on Lido were better than 7 years ago. Also, one side had Asian entrees as well (really great), and the other side had Italian ones. The sweet potato fries were good. I noticed a big difference in their desserts on Lido: 7 years ago, there was this counter with tiers of whole pies and cakes – really good carrot cakes with lots of frosting, etc. Now the desserts are on a long counter, with ice cream served on each end. They are all on individual plates, very small servings, and really bland and tasteless. They had a good selection of ice creams and sherbets, not very high quality but quick service, considering the lines. I don’t think many people ate the other desserts. Tip: Go to the Explorations Café and request the lemon pound cake – really good and moist. Each evening, we liked to fill out the room service card for breakfast, requesting just coffee, juice, and baked goods. We place it on our door, and the next morning they promptly delivered it. We enjoy it while we are getting dressed, and reading the 8-page Times newspaper – you can request that they deliver it to your room as well. However, some days, they forgot to deliver it. I did not smell diesel anywhere on the ship, as another reviewer from last year stated. The air conditioning and heating always worked just fine, but it was never really that hot outside, since Hawaii is around 75-80 degrees F this time of the year. There was some sort of “varnish” smell in a cabin down the hall, one evening. Our room was very quiet and our window was washed down each day. My husband has a bad back, and felt that the mattress wasn’t firm enough, and should have been replaced, which could not be done. They flipped his mattress over, and then brought a foam topping, which made his side of the bed 4” higher than mine. It was just adequate. I love their bathtubs they are short and very deep – great for a good soak. But the shower nozzle was the hand-held variety with not much water pressure. We always had enough hot water. One issue we had with the bathroom: By the 3rd day, when I filled the tub up, the water was really yellow and left a yellow crusty rim on the tub. The plumber could not fix it. He said that the bath water is from the same pipe as the faucet in the sink that we drank from. The front desk person was very nice, and said we could bathe in another cabin each morning. However, she showed us 2 cabins - one on another floor, one way down the hall from ours – and when we filled up the tub, the water was also yellow. That meant the problem was probably in the entire ship! Also, during those days, the tap water smelled bad and tasted bad, although the water was much less yellow the following days, and clear a few days. The front desk gladly gave us complimentary liters of bottled water to drink anytime we needed it, which was for many days. I am glad to report that the last morning of our cruise, the water was perfectly clear in the tub, and did not smell when we tasted it from the sink faucet. There were walkers and scooters on our cruise. However, I never felt that they were hard to maneuver around, or made me wait longer for an elevator. They said the average age on our cruise was 70. I did not mind this, and enjoyed hearing the life stories of many fellow cruisers. As far as Dry Docks, I heard that after the Panama Canal sailing (which started on Feb. 8), they were going into dry dock, but for just 10 days. We were on the Main Deck, Cabin 611. I am glad we picked a cabin right in the middle of the ship (we always do this), as the sea was rough most of the way to Hawaii. I think anyone who had a cabin too far forward or aft might have gotten a little seasick. I liked that we were midway between both elevators. There were a lot of people coughing on the ship, and we both ended up with colds after the cruise. The Show Lounge: We went the night they were doing a Broadway dance/singing program, but it wasn’t that great. The other evenings, the entertainment sounded mediocre so we didn’t go. I liked the Explorations Lounge in the evening. They had classical music – a pianist and violinist – very good. We enjoyed dancing in the Ocean Lounge – very romantic! The other lounges had very good musicians as well. It was hard to get one of those wonderful lounge chairs with ottomans, facing the ocean, in the Exploration Café, because people would sit there for so long, and if there was an empty one, someone left their stuff on it to reserve it until they returned. I like their movie theatre, but I don’t think the movie selection was that great this time. They have 1,000 DVD’s that you can reserve and take to your room, but no explanation of what the movie is about. The TV in our room wasn’t that great of quality, especially the sound. There was a good movie channel, and most days we were able to watch the “Closing Bell” on CNNBC, I believe. The two ESPN channels always were available. I used to look forward to high tea, but since it was at 3:00, and we ate dinner at 5:00 (since we had “open seating”), there was no point to it. I tried it one day and it was good. I was really looking forward to the Royal Dutch Tea, but the day it was served, there was no special announcement in their program – it was just listed under the time slot, and I neglected to read that part of the program that day. Compared to 7 years ago, this time, instead of books, many of the seniors were using Kindles, Nooks or IPads. Also, many brought their Macbooks and used them in Crows Nest and other “hot spots”. All the computer classes were for Windows users, and I think HAL should consider some Apple classes as well, perhaps for Ipad apps, and IPhoto or IMovie (note: I use a MacBook Pro). We had previously booked a 7-day Mexican Riviera round-trip cruise out of San Diego, but right before our money was due, I checked, and this Hawaiian cruise was available for $100 per day ($3800 for both of us total, for 18 days), so we changed it for this one – so it was a very good value for an outside cabin. One of the 4 elevators on the dining room side of the ship was out of order the entire cruise. The part needed was on order. We had to wait a little longer for an elevator, but it wasn’t too bad. In conclusion, I like the Veendam for it’s smaller size and have never been on a megaship. I like the size of this ship - it's so easy to get around without a lot of walking. No public rooms were huge - so they felt kind of intimate. My favorite cruise line is Holland America because: it is the only one with a wrap-around teakwood deck; I like their library and it has ocean views; and I like the Crow’s Next Lounge and Explorations Café. I think it is a good value. Their food is as good as Celebrity’s, and is better than the food on other cruise lines in their price category. I love Crystal, but can take two cruises on Holland America for the price of one Crystal cruise. We’ve never been on the luxury lines.   Read Less
Sail Date January 2014
Stayed overnight at Wyndham Bayside both coming and going due to schedule issues with Air Canada. Nice hotel. You can see the boat in the harbor if you have the right room. It is just across the road. Luggage being left and sorted in the ... Read More
Stayed overnight at Wyndham Bayside both coming and going due to schedule issues with Air Canada. Nice hotel. You can see the boat in the harbor if you have the right room. It is just across the road. Luggage being left and sorted in the parking lot beside the boat was a little disconcerting. Talked to some people on board who never got their luggage until we docked at the first port. Hula lessons, ukulele lessons, history lessons and bracelet making was available from native Hawaiians on board. Wonderful country/rock singer Cliff entertained every evening in The Mix. Some of the entertainment in the Showroom at Sea was good but I find the ships own dancers etc. are becoming somewhat dated. We went on Hilo excursion to Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park and Thurston Lava Tube.very good, lots to see. As expected the tour to the USS Arizona at Pearl Harbor was very well done. Atlantis Submarine tour in Maui was very entertaining. Our stop at Ensenada was forgettable,children begging on the side of the road. Disembarkation went very smoothly. Read Less
Sail Date November 2013
I was not fond of the overall menu choices in the dining room. Different, not as familiar as on other Holland cruises. On a 17-day voyage you might expect to have some repeats of dessert choices, but only once did I see creme brûlée on ... Read More
I was not fond of the overall menu choices in the dining room. Different, not as familiar as on other Holland cruises. On a 17-day voyage you might expect to have some repeats of dessert choices, but only once did I see creme brûlée on the menu and I opted not to order it, saving that choice for another night. I never again saw that opportunity. On a Princess cruise in August, 2013, it was n thee dessert menu nightly. Some nights none of the main dishes appealed to me. One of those nights I chose the usually predictable rare steak. My knife would not -- repeat, would not cut through it. Server brought another knife but nota any better. I opted send it back, as the whole table would have had to wait for me to complete my meal before the server would take our dessert choices. Probably will not book the lanai cabin again. The sliding glass door was extremely heavy and hard to open. Because of the floor plan to have access to that door, the useable open space of the cabin was smaller than those non-lanai cabins on the lower prom deck we have been in several times. We also experienced annoying "tapping" noises at night in the area above the cabin. Our immediate neighbor, forward of us, complained enough that they were moved to another cabin. The casino in the Veendam was disappointing. Tables had very few people gaming. I asked if the minimum on the "normal" blacklack table (one table only) ever changed from $10, to $5 and was told NO, only the "fun" 21 table offers the $5 minimum bets. Most of the time there was not a dealer at the roulette wheel. The cruising itself was fine. Smooth sailing most of the time, and when the larger whitecaps were showing, it had very little effect on us. Ports were good to excellent. Be sure to go up to the volcano in Hilo, and if you really want a GREAT experience, take the helicopter ride in Kauai. Excellent! The entire flight is records, including views of the passengers inside, and for an additional fee you may elect to purchase it right after the flight is over. Read Less
Sail Date November 2013
I should preface this review by saying that even a bad cruise isn't totally bad. On the other hand, I haven't done a Carnival Cruise in a while (ha). 4 out of my last 5 cruises have been on Holland America but this Zaandam ... Read More
I should preface this review by saying that even a bad cruise isn't totally bad. On the other hand, I haven't done a Carnival Cruise in a while (ha). 4 out of my last 5 cruises have been on Holland America but this Zaandam cruise was (by far) the worst. My first cabin was 1882 on the Dolphin deck. On the first night of the cruise the seas became a bit rough and we began to hear this loud crashing noise as the ship rolled to starboard. Then 3 or 4 seconds later there would be another crash as the ship rolled back to port. Since the crashing noises always came in pairs, I have a hunch it was a heavy door opening and closing on the ship someplace. The guy in the cabin next to mine (1878) was going nuts by the second night. Others in that area of the ship were bothered by it too. The ship's crew would not tell us exactly what the problem was. They made plenty of suggestions but none of them made any sense. I am sure they knew exactly what the noise was because after many complaints, they finally gave us a different room. The next room (2542) was not noisy but the toilets would not flush properly. I gave up complaining about that but I felt sorry for our room steward who ended up "manually" cleaning our toilet many times. We also found both of our rooms to be incredibly uncomfortable to sit in. It was almost impossible to sit in bed and watch TV without leaning back against the light switches and turning the lights on and off. The couches were also very uncomfortable to sit in. I think both of our rooms had couches that converted into sleeping beds and were not really designed for the comfort of anyone who wanted to just sit on them. Most of the food on the Lido deck was good but we found it difficult to get something as simple as ketchup. More often than not, the ketchup dispensers were empty or broken. The Asian food was good on the Lido, but trying to find a bottle of soy sauce was almost impossible. There was a ton of simple things like that could easily have been fixed but weren't. I also thought the Lido breakfast menu was a bit boring after 10 days of exactly the same menu. Most of the other cruise ships I have been on have had more variety. One thing that was almost laughable was the portions of popcorn they served in the ship's movie theater. This was the first time in 25+ years of cruising that I actually attended a movie on a cruise ship. The day I was there we had at least 150 people for which the cruise staff brought in about 24 bags of popcorn. But the funniest part was the fact each bag held no more than 2 dozen kernels of popcorn. Obviously none of the crew had ever attended an American movie theater before. Last year we took a two cruises on the Holland America Eurodam. My wife loved the free Tai-Chi classes that were held twice a day on the aft deck. Sadly, this cruise had no such classes. Obviously more cutbacks. This cruise seemed to be less organized than other cruises too. This may be my last Holland America cruise and DEFINITELY my last cruise on the Zaandam. With some of the horror stories we have been reading about in the news, I am beginning to wonder about the cruise industry in general. Read Less
Sail Date March 2013
After many years of travelling to exciting destinations to celebrate special occasions, we were challenged to come up with a really special trip to celebrate our 49th wedding anniversary. We have sailed on Holland America many times, so ... Read More
After many years of travelling to exciting destinations to celebrate special occasions, we were challenged to come up with a really special trip to celebrate our 49th wedding anniversary. We have sailed on Holland America many times, so our first thought was to explore possible itineraries on one of their ships. It didn't take us long to settle on a 14 day cruise to Hawaii from San Diego. Finding a Delta flight with a low fare and having a companion fare coupon made getting to San Diego from Florida affordable and sealed the deal. We stayed in at a Hilton hotel in the Gaslight district. This beautiful hotel is very conveniently located, there are many dining options nearby, and it's a short walk to the downtown marina. San Diego is a great destination in itself, with many things to do, so we decided to go two days early and enjoy San Diego before sailing away to Hawaii. We walked to the marina and toured the Midway which is docked there, and then had lunch at Anthony's where we had eaten on a previous visit. Embarkation was, as expected, very smooth and hassle-free. When we boarded the Zaandam around 11:30 we were delighted to find that our cabin was ready. After enjoying lunch in the main dining room (a perk for HAL mariners) we returned to our cabin and found our luggage had already been delivered. The cabin was roomy, clean, and had plenty of closet and storage space, so unpacking and getting settled was easy and went quickly. Then we were free to relax on our veranda and watch the sail away. Sailing to and from Hawaii we were at sea 4-5 days in high winds and rough seas. The Zaandam handled the rough conditions well and we only experienced slight to moderate rocking and rolling of the ship. Also must give much credit to the captain who did a great job of sailing around the worst of the weather and keeping the passengers as comfortable as possible. During our time at sea, we enjoyed daily presentations by Kaino, a native Hawaiian on board. Seeing Hawaii through his eyes, we learned about the history of the islands and its people, their culture and traditions. Other venues on the ship offered everything from learning to Hula to cooking Hawaiian dishes. In Hawaii we visited four of the islands: Hawaii, Maui, Kauai, and Oahu. Shore excursions were arranged through HAL, and we were not disappointed. All of the islands are beautiful and each has it's own "personality" and special things to offer. From waterfalls, to museums, to whale watching, to beautiful scenery, to eating at a famous shrimp truck on the north shore of Oahu, we enjoyed it all. For meals on the Zaandam, there are many options depending on the individual's personal preference. We ate in the main dining room, the Lido, the upscale Caneletto, and the very upscale Pinnacle restaurant. Also enjoyed room service on several occasions. All in all, I would rate the food as above average. Service was a little slow in the main dining room, but the wait staff was friendly, helpful, and always went out of their way to make sure we were pleased. This was a great cruise and I hope to do it again someday. Read Less
Sail Date February 2013
Embarkation: We boarded the Zaandam in San Diego. Boarding was fast and efficient. We arrived at the pier around noon and were in our cabin by 12:30. The staff both on shore and on board were very helpful. Stateroom: We were in ... Read More
Embarkation: We boarded the Zaandam in San Diego. Boarding was fast and efficient. We arrived at the pier around noon and were in our cabin by 12:30. The staff both on shore and on board were very helpful. Stateroom: We were in cabin 2603 (center, starboard side). As with previous HAL ships, the stateroom was roomy and comfortable. Our cabin was not particularly clean.. This was brought to the attention of Guest Services. Within an hour the situation was rectified. The staff was most apologetic and included supervisory follow-up as well. Ship Condition: The Zaandam is one of the older ships in HAL fleet. For the most part it was well-maintained. The interior was excellent butr the exterior could use some attention. For example, our stateroom window was filthy and had paint spills in evidence. The robber window gaskets needed replacing. Smoking on board was severely restricted, a plus for non-smokers and former smokers. Enrichment Opportunities: Since this was a round trip cruise to Hawaii, several native Hawaiians made the trip with us. Guests were provided many opportunities for cultural presentations. The travel guide, Kainoa DeleCruz was a wonderful presenter as were the two hula dancers and Hawaiian band leader. The Digital Workshop offered complimentary workshops covering many PC applications. Theyu were well presented and easy to understand for novices. Entertainment: The ship's singers and dancers were above average for cruise ships. The choreography needed some work however, Guest entertainers ranged from very good (Paul Pappas) to average and below-average. Dining: Food on the Zaandam was well above average for cruise ships. In the Lido buffet, the staff did the serving for the first two days to minimize the incidence of nuerovirus. Breakfast was excellent with made-to-order omelets, fresh fruit, and assorted pastries. Lunch selections were varied and tasty. The short order grill was excellent. Even the pizza was pretty good. DFinners in the main dining room were above average with numerous choices. The salads needed some improvement, however. Ship and Guests: All HAL ships are configured to promote quiet conversation with numerous little sitting areas within the public areas. Having twelve elevators (forward amidships, and aft) was wonderful for passengers having difficulty with the stairs. It has been said that the HAL ships have mostly senior citizens aboard. While a number of canes and wheel chairs were evident, the number of guests using the ship's fitness center was amazing. For example, the fitness center was full at 7AM on mostly at sea days. On Board Activities: Much the same as on most cruise ships (bingo, casino, shops, etc.) The musical entertainment in the lounges and piano bar was quite good. A major complaint was the lack of organized bridge lectures and games. With ten sea days, this was inexcusable. The card room was full every sea day with informal games. Other cruise lines offer this option with even fewer sea days. On the positive side, we appreciated having a Catholic priest and Protestant minister on board offering daily and Sunday services. Overall Impression: The Zaandam was a comfortable ship with a most attentive crew. The trip was worth the cost and worth doing again in the future. Read Less
Sail Date January 2013
SO much to tell after two weeks! I'll try not to be ridiculously verbose... We sailed out of San Diego. This is a great port to cruise in and out of. The airport and the cruise terminal are so close together, and many hotels ... Read More
SO much to tell after two weeks! I'll try not to be ridiculously verbose... We sailed out of San Diego. This is a great port to cruise in and out of. The airport and the cruise terminal are so close together, and many hotels between the two have free shuttles. We stayed at both the Hampton Inn (Downtown) and the Holiday Inn on the Bay. Both were great, with the only exception being the noise from the train crossing in our room at the Hampton Inn. Embarkation was smooth as can be and very quick, as was debarkation. No issues there at all. We had booked a veranda guarantee, and were given an AA cabin - 7085. The cabin was really nice :) Loved our veranda, location was perfect. The cabin is under the lido aft pool, but we only ever heard noise on the veranda - the occasional shifting of deck chairs. The room itself was silent! It is a connecting cabin, and that cabin was occupied, but we never heard anything from that room. We did hear the toilet flush in the other cabin near us if everything was really quiet, but not loud enough to notice or to keep a person awake. The ship itself- what a relief! We had read so many bad reviews lately.... Very clean, the carpeting looked new, all the soft goods in our cabin were new, the public areas were sparkling clean and looked in perfect shape. No smells, no maintenance issues, nothing worn out or dirty. The food - it was good. No complaints at all. I don't have a lot to compare it to, but I will say I thought the food selection and variety on RCI Freedom of the Seas was better - but not by much. We ate in the Lido and MDR and had room service - never ate in the Pinnacle Grill or Canaletto. Canaletto got rave reviews from those we spoke to who ate there. Entertainment - so-so, but we knew that going in. The Zaandam singers and dancers were... uh... well - don't worry too much if you miss a show. The lounge acts were quite good, the individual acts in the main show lounge were pretty good - with Chipper Lowell and Mark Newell being FANTASTIC. The culinary demos were pretty cool :) We played pub trivia almost every night with four others who were wonderful companions! Had a lot of fun with that :) Ports - all were good, and detailed below. Tendering in Lahaina was a piece of cake and very efficient - just make sure to get your tender tickets from the main show lounge as early as you can in the morning. Dress code fyi: After reading many posts on this board, I thought that the dress code would be more formal than it was on smart casual nights. Very few people wore ties or sport coats and most women were wearing capris or regular skirts and pants with nice tops. Formal nights - men were far more dressed up than most of the women, which I thought was odd! About 33% of men were in tuxes, 33% in dark suits, and 33% in sport coat/tie combos (along with those who chose not to go to dinner and were just in normal clothes). Women - only a handful of long gowns, mostly black pants/skirts with sparkly tops and some cocktail dresses. As for jeans, they were allowed in the MDR on smart casual nights. Shorts were turned away the two nights we saw someone try (smart casual). We had a wonderful time, and could have stayed on forever :) I will say that we are very low-maintenance as far as being entertained, and were very happy reading books on our veranda. We would never take a kid or a teenager on this cruise! Also - if you need a, exciting night life or a busy casino, this is not the cruise for you :) Read Less
Sail Date January 2013
We chose this cruise because of all the days at sea. Titled "Hawaii Circle Cruise" the emphasis is definitely on cruise rather than Hawaii. Though we enjoyed our time in the islands, we spent more time getting there (and back) ... Read More
We chose this cruise because of all the days at sea. Titled "Hawaii Circle Cruise" the emphasis is definitely on cruise rather than Hawaii. Though we enjoyed our time in the islands, we spent more time getting there (and back) than touring. We knew this going in and were ready for the relaxation cruising affords-- no phones, no internet (unless you want it) and no TV. No access to work activities. Relaxation! Embarkation at San Diego was quick and easy. We parked across the street at the Holiday Inn on the Bay (covered parking at a great rate, plus walking distance to the port). The port has an efficient drop off system set up. I dropped Mom and the bags off at the port, parked the car and walked back. Once inside, the line moved quickly. Within about 5 minutes we were through security and registering for our ship's cards. The ship opened up for new passengers a little after 11 (the paperwork said to arrive at noon). In order to facilitate embarkation, the 200 or so of us who arrived early all received number cards. Seats were provided for waiting (we didn't have to wait). On board, staterooms were ready. We were in 2536 which is slightly forward with all the usual HAL amenities (bathtub, DVD player, plenty of storage). Our stewards, Raz & Win, were wonderful. They were friendly but discreet. They always put our mail in the room, made sure we had 2 daily planners and found extra blankets when we were cold. LoveHAL organized a Cruise Critic meet & greet. The captain, the hotel director and the cruise director all took the time to attend (and stayed afterwards to talk to individual passengers). On our last day, we received a letter from the Guests Relations officer thanking us for our participation in the CC M & G, as well as other activities. Many thanks to Marty for organizing this event-- it was nice to meet people and recognize them throughout the cruise. On board, we had a lot of fun. HAL was trying out a new idea-- calling it the Aloha Explorations series. Besides the wonderful HAL travel guide, Kainoa, whose talks about Hawaii (whether ports of call, history, culture or geography are NOT to be missed-- but get there early because seats go fast!), HAL engaged a team of people to share Hawaii with us: Henry Allen (an extraordinary ukelele and steel guitar player), Paki (a great public speaker that taught dance, Hawaiian and crafts) and Heidi & Valerie (the "Hula maidens" who were graceful and gracious, helping out in all the activities and taking the time to share their love of Hawaii with the passengers). Some of the activities including: making flower leis, making ribbon leis (am going to repurpose this idea for next year and make Xmas tree garland), making Wili bracelets, learning to hula, learning to play the ukelele, learning Hawaiian, learning Hawaiian recipes, etc. Amanda, our lovely party planner, also guided a number of these activities-- especially the culinary ones. Hopefully, HAL will make this a regular feature of its cruises. Along with the usual slate of cruise activities (which included multiple trivia competitions, mixology classes (take all 4 to get a certificate), Aloha "Olympics", bingo and more), it was a challenge to decide which activities to do every day. There was also a book club (we read Allen Brennert's "Honolulu") run by our friendly librarian, Chris; it gave multiple opportunities to share a love of books with others on board both within and outside of the club meetings. There was also a guest lecturer who gave lots of information about shipping (the Titanic, pirates, other mysteries); we didn't attend but spoke to many who really enjoyed his talks. With all of this fun on board, there were many opportunities to meet fellow passengers. Michael Headla does a great job of organizing all the fun while we are "out and about" on ship! The entertainment on board was fantastic! We don't usually attend many of the evening entertainment but things changed on this cruise. We especially enjoyed Ryan Silverman (a very talented Broadway singer who has an unbelievable range and who sang wonderful standards and Broadway classics-- his Phantom performance was one of the best renditions I've heard!), Ryan Ahern who tickled the ivories la Liberace and the Drums of Polynesia show (a local group brought aboard at Honolulu). We also enjoyed the movies (though I think Mom goes for the popcorn!) but wish they'd move the picture up about 18 inches to provide a clearer view to all. I especially appreciated HAL's efforts to make sure that there was something special during each day in port so that those who were unable to leave the ship (we had a number of mobility inspired passengers on board) would also have special memories of their time in Hawaii-- whether this be the barbecue, a Hawaiian party or special Hawaiian entertainment. On shore, we participated in two excursions, a luau and some independent activities. Our first excursion was through Roberts Hawaii to see Volcanoes National Park. The Roberts website was really easy to use-- it brought up all of their excursions after I listed the name and departure date of our ship. We also booked a trip to Waimea Canyon on Kauai but that port was canceled due to weather. Roberts greeted us warmly as we disembarked in Hilo then introduced us to our guide, Dean, who has an amazing knowledge of the flora and fauna of the islands. He was one of the best guides we've ever had-- friendly and informative without being silly. And, as it turns out, we were the only two people on the tour so we got to take a long as we wanted at each of the stops-- and he threw in a stop to an orchid farm for us, as well. Roberts is charged a flat fee for every vehicle they take into the park and it was only $5 less than what we paid for our tour. It says a lot that Roberts didn't cancel on us but instead gave us the opportunity to learn about this beautiful island. Our second tour was booked through HAL for Maui: the West Maui Snorkeling tour run through Trilogy. There were 17 HAL passengers on board the catamaran, along with a crew of three. We were served a light breakfast (variety of homemade breads) and lunch (chips & salsa, variety of wrap sandwiches) but by one week into the cruise, no one was very hungry so the crew went home with lots of leftovers! We sailed over to a spot near the Old Lahaina Luau site for snorkeling. Wet suit tops, boogie boards, snorkeling gear (including prescription lenses), life vests, etc. were all included (on many of the other snorkeling cruises, you have to pay extra for any of these). There were lots of first-time snorkelers on board. The crew was very helpful in providing instruction. After about 75 minutes snorkeling (the timing was based on when the last person decided to come back), they let out the sails and we took off on the catamaran across the bay. What fun! Our goal was to find a whale which we did (eventually) about 100 yards out. I will definitely choose Trilogy again for my Hawaii excursions! We also visited the Old Lahaina Luau in Maui. We took the bus out there (a bit tricky and not much savings: $2.50 each for the bus but only $8 plus tip for a taxi; we shared one back to port). The Luau was lots of fun. They have about 400-500 people but everything was so well-organized, you don't feel like you are part of a crowd. The site is beautiful, the food good and the dancing spectacular. The service was fine, albeit a little overly friendly. (No, I really don't want to hug a half-naked young man goodbye... but maybe others do.) In Honolulu, we pre-reserved a time for Pearl Harbor using the NPS site. We took a taxi out there and it wasn't cheap ($32). Afterwards, we took a bus to Waikiki (in other direction from ship) which took over an hour but only cost $2.50. This was my third trip to Honolulu but my first to Pearl Harbor. It's a beautiful memorial and a must-see. In Waikiki, we rented beach chairs in front of Duke's (Outrigger hotel) and enjoyed the sunshine (and a little "pineapple juice" from time to time). The water was rough, though, and pretty chilly, so we didn't swim. With warmer weather, though, this would be an easy excursion. Plus, if you take the free shuttle to Hilo Hattie's first, you can pick up some souvenirs and sarongs, then take the free shuttle down to Waikiki. Your trip back to ship from Waikiki can be on the HH shuttle or a taxi (about $20). Back on board from our day in Honolulu, we learned that the captain had to cancel Kauai due to weather so we had an extra night in Honolulu. Given how rough the seas were for our first few days en route back to San Diego and the mobility challenges of so many people on board, this made a lot of sense (even though people were disappointed). Plus, sailing out of Honolulu during the day was a lot of fun! We saw a sea turtle from up on the sports deck and we got to see the Waikiki skyline, Diamond Head and the mountains from the sea-- a very, very beautiful view. We heard people complaining about a variety of things while on board (including one man who harangued the dining room captain for 20 minutes about the lack of biscuits & gravy for breakfast) but that wasn't our experience. For me, this crew was exceptional. For example, one of the bar servers, Jesse, who we met the first night on ship, took the time every day to watch out for us so that she could say hello and make sure we were okay. If we were on Lido, she'd bring by glasses of ice water. In the Lido buffet, Dewie, Ni Luh and Antoni were our special friends but everyone was very helpful. The staff would watch out for those who needed an extra hand to carry their plates back to the table. They always had a big smile and kind word for everyone. From the front desk to the maintenance crew (we had a small leak from our air conditioner that was fixed immediately), we couldn't have asked for better service. And this service makes all the difference. We felt like pampered guests but tried not to act like spoiled ones (though I know that HAL spoiled us repeatedly throughout the trip). Many of our fellow passengers also had special relationships with different crew members which is a testament to the dedication of their staff. The staff is exceptionally gracious, attentive and kind. They are also extremely patient. Their extraordinary commitment to the highest level of service explains why 1100 of the 1400 passengers on board had already traveled with HAL before. This cruise does tend to have days where the ship is rocking and rolling, with passengers lurching from one place to another. It's the only cruise where I've felt slightly "green around the gills" at times (and we've been on several cruises with rough weather). You might want to splurge for the patches or a shot if you are susceptible to the movement. On our last evening, we went to the Hawaiian sunset hour to see the last hula performance. Two of the passengers who are also Hawaiian musicians were playing with Henry Allen. Paki, Heidi and Valerie danced. It was a bittersweet farewell-- we'd had a great vacation, learned a lot about Hawaiian culture and loved our time on board the Zaandam (especially the people we'd met aboard-- both passengers and crew). Disembarkation was swift, though there were some delays in processing the non-citizens. Once they found the 6 "missing" people who didn't report, the rest of us disembarked swiftly (starting at about 8:15 AM). Our "scheduled" time was 9:45 but we were off the ship, in the car and leaving the parking lot by 9:15. We bid the Zaandam a fond Aloha! I would sail anywhere with this crew again. They made this trip special. Mahalo to all of them. Read Less
Sail Date December 2012
Took advantage of the opportunity to do the 4 repositioning (Vancouver to Victoria to San Diego)+ 14 days Hawai'i (from and to San Diego). Group of passengers on the 4 day cruise was very different from the usual HAL niche: several ... Read More
Took advantage of the opportunity to do the 4 repositioning (Vancouver to Victoria to San Diego)+ 14 days Hawai'i (from and to San Diego). Group of passengers on the 4 day cruise was very different from the usual HAL niche: several children and babies and a much younger crowd. This leg of the trip was not a typical HAL cruise as the activities were very different. It was still an enjoyable cruise. 300 stayed on for the next leg and 1100 new passengers came on. Average age and passenger mix was more typical of most HAL cruises. Having read the flooding incidents that had occurred in previous cruises we were a bit worried as to what types of problems the ship might have. (Zaandam had been scheduled to go in dry dock early October and this was cancelled, giving way to the 2 week cruise to Mexico). Overall there were some negative problems but certainly not to the extent as to what previous passengers experienced. Some toilets overflowed but the problem was limited to a single bathroom. There were vacuum problems with the flushing of some toilets: it was intermittent and finally got settled. Since dry dock had been cancelled the maintenance was occurring during the cruise: -Carpet changing in some areas: no major mishaps. -Curtains & cushions... changing: not unpleasant. -Lower promenade deck removal of paint from the railing: daily occurrence which was noisy and messy. This started early in the morning; some inconveniences for passengers who had staterooms nearby. Overall it was a very good cruise. Food was good. Personnel was friendly, helpful and went out of their way to make our cruise wonderful. One disappointment was the fact that we did not stay long enough on some islands. Why does the ship take 4 days to go to Hawai'i but needs 5 1/2 days to come back (we could have sailed around Hilo to see the volcano at night or stayed overnight in Honolulu and have spent a full day in Lahaina). Answer: by sailing at 16-18 knots instead of of 20+ it saves fuel and reduces carbon footprint. Shows were OK but not great. Smoking is still permitted in the Casino (some parts are non smoking but it reeks of cigarette smoke). Casino has no doors so there is cigarette smell in the halls and the shops. Why not put doors, or better yet, do as other cruise lines did...ban smoking in the casino. Enjoyed lectures by Dr. Losey (guest lecturer) and Kainoa (on board guide). Read Less
Sail Date October 2012
From the time of boarding the Zaandam to leaving her, the staff of this ship found many ways to please us with great service and courtesy. For the first time ever we never went in the main dining room, which is really unusual as on most ... Read More
From the time of boarding the Zaandam to leaving her, the staff of this ship found many ways to please us with great service and courtesy. For the first time ever we never went in the main dining room, which is really unusual as on most ships the best meals and service are found there. With the first meal at the Lido the selection and variety were so great that we thought that we would just make this our regular meal stop and not worry about eating at set times. The salad selection was varied and fresh, the Asian dishes were tasty and having the pasta bar service was tops. Confidence in health was provided by having the staff serve the plates to you and not having to hold implements handled by the person in front of you. Given the lack of proper hygiene by some guests, this is a great way to stay healthy. The pork roasts, roasted turkey, baked chicken dishes and steamed vegetables all were terrific. It was great to see the Chef around checking on his staff and talking freely with the passengers. The cooking demonstrations with the staff were not only great at sharing tips but were actually funny. The Company Men playing in the Theatre were really a high energy group that challenged the older crowd to come alive. They were fun and their talent promised long and successful careers. The ship is well maintained and carries an air of eloquence from the teak decks on the promenade deck to the intriquing artwork on display everywhere. The Hawaiian speaker really knows the Pacific and provided a great way to learn and enjoy the trip. The maritime history speaker was excellent as well. Read Less
Sail Date September 2012
Just finished a 16 day cruise, Vancouver to Hawaii. I would place the ship in the "banana boat" category. Rusty hull, window ledges. Evidence of electrolysis on the inside of the aluminum windows. Vibration coming from the ... Read More
Just finished a 16 day cruise, Vancouver to Hawaii. I would place the ship in the "banana boat" category. Rusty hull, window ledges. Evidence of electrolysis on the inside of the aluminum windows. Vibration coming from the bulkheads, (walls) loud enough to keep you awake at night. The faster the speed the more the vibration. The air conditioning was full blast in most of the public areas so if you wanted to enjoy reading in the library you had to wear a sweater, even in Hawaii. To relax with a drink outside your room you would wander around the ship until you found a slightly warmer area. I would be ashamed to be an engineering officer on board this ship. Seats are usually designed to be comfortable for set periods of time. Fast food places come in at 20 minutes. Most of the ships seats fit the fast food criteria. I would go to a show in the theater and by 20 minutes be suffering with a sore butt. We were on the 1st deck and just down the hall several cabins had serious water problems. For the first few days we would be woken up at 1:30 AM by the noise of a wet vacuum cleaning up the water. It was a repeating problem. Another reason why I would be ashamed to be an engineering officer aboard this ship. We had the open seating for our meals and before they sat us they would ask for our room number. When I asked why they did this they said that if they had to get in touch with us in the event of an emergency, they would know where we where. Yeh, right. Then why didn't they check for my room number when I went to the pool or the bar? All this did was delay the seating and frustrate the guests. I've been on other ships and we weren't bothered with this. It's not like someone was trying to sneak into the dining room. I never did get warm or hot eggs in the dining room. The good things? Great hard working staff, easy check in, good entertainment but only 45 minutes in the theater. The jazz trio was fantastic. Overall a substandard cruise with a high standard price. Will be moving on to other cruise lines the next time. Read Less
Sail Date September 2012
Just returned from a 16 day round trip Vancouver -- Hawaiian Islands on the Zaandam, September 23 to October 9, 2012. The cruisers -- my 82 year old father (walks short distances but we have a travel, folding wheelchair), my husband, ... Read More
Just returned from a 16 day round trip Vancouver -- Hawaiian Islands on the Zaandam, September 23 to October 9, 2012. The cruisers -- my 82 year old father (walks short distances but we have a travel, folding wheelchair), my husband, and myself. Check in: this is the first time I've cruised out of Vancouver and gone down to Parking 2. HAL's Statendam and the Golden Princess were also in port. We arrived around 11:30am. It took a few minutes in a car line up before we got out. While we waited in the car we saw a huge line up of people in the parkade lining the sidewalk just to get in the building. A porter showed up and whisked off all our luggage and we got in the line which 30 minutes later got us through security. Then on to US customs. There were so many handicapped passengers we would have probably been better off getting in the fully mobile line up but we have to go where the staff send us and they have different lines for mobile people and handicapped. Usually it's a benefit traveling with a person in a wheelchair but not this time. I've never seen so many walkers, wheelchairs, and scooters on any other cruise! When we finally get to the check in there is a problem with the computers. Really slow. All the staff working the desk are very frustrated. Our check in lady was really grouchy, probably brought on by the stress of the slowpoke computers but whatever, thanks for the snarly attitude. We changed the credit card we were using and I made it very clear that all 3 of us were using this one card for all of our onboard charges. We finally get onboard at 1:15pm. Going back to the check in process, the next day my husband gets a letter saying he has not let HAL know how he will be paying for his onboard account and to contact the front desk. So thanks for screwing up grouchy check in lady! Now we are inconvenienced by having to go stand in a line at the front desk to do the credit card thing one more time because they won't do it over the phone. Toilets: no problem with the toilet in our bathroom nor any of the public ones on the ship. I heard no complaints from other passengers about toilets not working. Air conditioning: worked. In fact it worked overtime. It was very cold in some areas including our cabin even though we had the setting on midway between heat and air conditioning. Sewer smell: very strong only on Deck 4 outside the Pinnacle restaurant. Now that's gotta be a joy eating in there! After the shows a large group of passengers would make their way down this hallway to the midship elevators and everyone commented on the stench. Woowee!!! Peeyew!!! There are restrooms nearby but I don't think the overpowering stink was coming from there. My husband said there was most likely a hole or leak in an outtake pipe of the ship's waste storage system causing the stink. Something like that is very hard to find or repair. The last 2 days the staff was using an air freshener outside the Pinnacle trying to mask the sewer stink. Swimming pools -- usually open 7am to 7pm no matter how late the Explorer says they're open. The crew were netting them just after 7 each night and turning off the lights in the Lido pool area. Hot tubs supposedly open to 10pm if you can find them in the dark! Bedtime: 9pm bedtime on the Zaandam. The place becomes a ghost town after that. Must be discouraging for the entertainers on the late shift who are playing to an almost empty room. Passenger accommodations and comfort: We were in a triple cabin, deluxe veranda B category, on Deck 6, Veranda deck, #6203, near the aft elevators. Good location. We chose our cabin, did not book a guarantee. Twin beds for my father and husband. I bunked on the couch that coverts to a single bed made up by the stewards each night. The first couple of days they left it as a bed but I asked them to turn it into a couch by day. Room was good enough. I know a lot of people complain about dingy, and color schemes, etc but I'm not all about that. This is ocean life. Salt air and moisture, they choose colors and furniture that will stand up. The only thing I'll say is that there was a long gouge in the desk and a previous cruiser gouged their cigarette multiple times into the couch and the chair. Passengers in cabins on Deck 1 and 2 were suffering from flooded cabins. One woman told us their bed/bedding was flooded, along with everything else in the cabin. They asked for a new cabin but were told the ship was sold out. 3 days before sailing HAL contacted us and asked if we wanted to pay extra to upgrade to a superior suite or a penthouse but we turned it down and other passengers I spoke with also got similar offers. So that tells me unless they sold out at the last minute there probably were available cabins but Zaandam unwilling to upgrade a passenger on Deck 1 up to Deck 7. Instead they put two cots into the housekeeping room for these passengers and offered them a $500 future cruise credit. The woman was livid. What makes HAL think they'd ever cruise with them again after this? A woman on our trivia team told us one of her dinner tablemates had water flowing down her wall the entire cruise. There were about 20 cabins flooding on these 2 decks and affected passengers were offered $300 future cruise credit. All the Zaandam staff could do was mop up these cabins as best they could but I got the feeling from the flooded out passengers that there was no sense of urgency. The flooding issues were not fixed and that would be tough to do without ripping out walls and ceilings and they'd need a dry dock to do that. Ironically the Zaandam was supposed to be in dry dock right now but it was cancelled and instead they're sailing to Mexico and back to Vancouver instead. One of our friends was on Deck 1 and their cabin was not wet but the cabins that were leaking the water came out under the doors and onto the hallway so they had to walk over wet carpets and said the staff were out there occasionally with mops and shop vacs trying to keep up with the water. Deck 5 main dining room last Friday had the elevator area closed off. There was a ladder set up and several ceiling panels on the floor so pipes had sprung a leak there too. The hotel manager/director Edwin Brunwink happened to be standing there looking up at it when we walked past. My husband asked him what happened and he said "Routine scheduled maintenance." My husband asks "You scheduled a flood?" Brunwink glared at him and turned and walked away without a word. I mean why lie? Most people through life experience have probably had a leaky roof or a toilet or bathtub overflow. The ceiling below gets a water stain and the drywall puffs out. Why lie to the passengers? Later on we saw a staff member up the ladder working on the leaky pipe. He was a lot friendlier and smiling. I don't know if they fixed it but the ceiling was replaced later that day. Deck 3 -- this is the Lower Promenade Deck even though it's the deck that is usually called Promenade deck on most other cruise ships with the outside walk around. There are passenger cabins here. The outside view cabins look out on the walkaround. And vice versa. People who are going walkaround can look in on theses cabins. HAL might try to fool you into thinking these are mirrored windows and people can't see in but I could see in just fine if the curtains were open. And I wasn't pressing my nose up to the window. I was just going walkabout and I could see in. Day or night I saw people inside these cabins. Though at night time in addition to the curtains being open the lights also had to be on for me to see in. Sorry future Zaandam cruisers. If someone at HAL told you that people walking around on the deck can't see in, they lied. If you book an outside cabin on Deck 3 on the Zaandam and you want privacy -- keep your curtains closed! Meal service and accessibility: the absolute worst I have ever encountered on any cruise line. The first problem is getting to and from the MDR on Deck 4 which is only accessible by stairs or elevator. We are anytime dining. Works better for us. My father never knows when he might be hungry but usually we go down around 5:30 to 5:45. First night we ate in the MDR and we had a good server and all was more or less fine. The food would have been better if it was served hot. Very noticeable is the lack of assistants. Cut backs, sick staff, or not all servers get an assistant I don't know. Second night we went down around 5:30 and they were already giving out pagers. We had about 15/20 minute wait and then were seated at a table for 12 with several other passengers which was fine, we're happy with any sized table. But no way did 12 people eat and leave in the last half hour. It just took the staff a long time to set up due to lack of MDR staff. The next night was formal night so we ate in the Lido. The following night we went to the MDR around 5:45 and were given a pager. We were the 16th person to get a pager. Finally got paged at 7:10pm for a table and sat with others again which was fine. A table is a table. There are a lot of angry passengers. What happened is for anytime dining the Zaandam staff are taking reservations? I mean what??? This is anytime dining. Go down when you're ready to eat and instead throughout the day the Zaandam is taking reservations and screwing up the whole anytime dining concept. What is the point of having anytime dining? When our pager went off and we came back to the MDR one person we talked to had pager #32. When we got our food it was cold. That was actually pretty much normal for the MDR any meal we took there, cold food. Total passenger mutiny in the MDR that night and the manager started bringing complimentary champagne around to the passengers around 8:30 as an apology for the bad service. We tried the MDR a couple of other times on the cruise and they tried to pass me a pager and I said forget it we'll eat the Lido instead. Our last night at sea we tried the MDR one more time. Got there around 6pm and was handed a pager. Fortunately my father wasn't hungry yet and that's why we planned it figuring by the time we got seated he might be. They tell you to go up to Deck 5 and wait in the lounge which we did all 3 times we got a pager. Got paged nearly 30 minutes later. I ran down the stairs to let them know we're coming just that my husband and father were waiting for an elevator. The maitre'd tells me they paged me 15 minutes earlier and I didn't show up so they gave my table away. So for the first time ever on a cruise I argue with the sucker telling him no the pager just went off a couple of minutes ago. Those pagers make a fair amount of racket. They vibrate, lights flash, and a loud voice tells you to return to the dining room your table is ready. I had the pager sitting on the table in front of us. 3 of us watching a pager are not going to miss it. No way it went off 15 minutes earlier like he insisted. Like I said its very obvious when the pager goes off so I'm arguing with the guy that they may have paged me 15 minutes ago but the pager went off just now. So he assures me we'll get the very next table which we got about 2 minutes after my father and husband arrived on the elevator. Meanwhile these two jokers behind the ma'tre d station decide to test my pager and call it. Nothing happens. Hah! Told you! Apparently this particular pager has a delayed reaction. Which I guess I should be fortunate was only 15 minutes delay otherwise I could have been sitting up there for a couple of hours! We get seated and the server ignores us. No water in our goblets, no bread on the table. Though the people who got seated at the table next to us 10 minutes after us got their bread and water right away. After we'd been sitting there 25 minutes the server brings us water and bread and returns 5 minutes later to take our order. Meanwhile the people seated 10 minutes after us already have their appetizers. We should have just bailed and gone up to the Lido. As it was we didn't stick around for dessert and got up to the Lido just before they closed and got our dessert there. What I've learned about the Zaandam's dining room service is if you are physically handicapped to the point you need to use an elevator and if you like to eat in the MDR -- the Zaandam is a BAD choice. If you like to get good dining room service - the Zaandam is a BAD choice. If you like to get your food hot and eat it while it's hot in a dining room - the Zaandam is a BAD choice. We chatted with a man who has over 200 days with HAL and has sailed on the Zaandam several times. He was very disappointed with the deterioration of the meal service. Likewise hundreds of other frustrated Zaandam passengers on our cruise were also fed up with this crappy meal service in the MDR. The Lido buffet area. Decent food and at least passengers had a higher rate of success of getting hot food here instead of in the main dining room. Continental breakfast starts at 6am, with a full breakfast starting around 6:30 or 7, really depended on the day if it was a sea or port day. Lunch same story, maybe 11:30 to 2 but sandwiches and desserts available all afternoon. Dinner 5pm to 8pm. Dinner at the Lido was decent enough and this is the place to be on the Zaandam if you actually like to eat hot food because they keep it under warmers. There was one female cook/server who hated her job and hated the passengers. Because I'm not sure of censoring of bad words on Cruise Critic, I'll call her Witchy, but substitute that w with a b if you want to know what we really called her! One little old lady made the mistake of telling Witchy she put too much food on her plate. Witchy made a huge point of sighing loudly, scraping all the food off the plate and into the garbage, and glaring at the little old lady making sure she got her point across how inconvenient the old biddy was making her life. My husband asked her to put a little gravy on the meat for my father's plate. Instead she dumped gravy on everything on the plate. One time my husband and I were both standing in line getting a plate of food for him and my father. He asked for small portions for only the plate for my father who has a small appetite. Then for his plate he said load it up so Witchy made a point of putting tiny portions on his plate too and when he asked for more she glared at him and flung the food across the plate making the food presentation match her attitude -- lousy. There is a pasta bar just before the main entree area with one fellow operating it. Fortunately Witchy never got assigned pasta detail! Or maybe it would have been better if she had because the fellow serving pasta ignored the passengers. Mostly he kept his back turned to them and kept busy doing something across from the pasta station though he kept looking over and knew people were waiting for the pasta. I usually gave up trying to get him to serve up some pasta and moved on to eat something else. Hello Witchy! And what do they do with all that leftover pasta the fellow refuses to serve in the Lido that night? My guess is they serve it in the Canaletto the next night! $10. Signs in all the elevators. Dinner is served in the Lido between 5pm and 8pm. One side is closed down. The Canaletto is on that side of the Lido and takes up around 1/3 of the seating area, perhaps a little less but let's call it a third. The rest of this side is reserved for officers and staff during the 3 hours. Hunh??? I'm not saying the crew don't deserve to eat but they seem to have no problem fitting in with the passengers during lunch and breakfast so what's the issue with fitting in with the lowly passengers at dinnertime too? If they had to have their own private time in the Lido can't they choose a less busy time. So 5 tables or less were usually in use by staff leaving a lot of empty tables on that one side of the Lido. Meanwhile on the passenger side of the Lido all the tables are full of passengers who've given up on the crap service and food in the MDR so its hard to find somewhere to eat. Several times we went to one of the pool decks with our food. So one night my husband went upstairs to check things out around 6pm and came back down to tell me that one man was arguing with the staff member in charge of keeping the lowly passengers out of the staff side of the Lido during dinnertime. He was complaining there was nowhere to sit on the passenger side and no staff were eating on the side reserved for them and there were lots of empty tables and he should open them up for everyone. Then more passengers got involved in the argument. 20 minutes later we came up to the Lido to eat and the crew member must have gotten worried about a mutiny and removed the sign stating crew only and allowed the passengers to come in and use the tables. What's the big deal why they separate staff and passengers? Beverage services: My father used the bar service a few times in the Mondrian Lounge prior to a show. Staff were friendly and efficient and very good at remembering what he liked to drink. There was one woman who I think was a senior bar staff because she was the one on stage serving the officers on the night of the champagne toast. I saw her before shows in the lounge and I nicknamed her The Scowler because she never smiled and just glared around the room. One time I was in the Lido pool and the roof was open and it was windy and there was a bit of swell to the ocean. The bar staff had a display table with various drinks on it including bottles of beer. A bottle of beer rolled off the table and smashed onto the deck. Could smell that from where I was in the pool. The Scowler appears from nowhere putting on this dramatic performance like the busted beer bottle mess was the greatest tragedy the world has ever seen. You'd think the cost of the beer was coming out of her paycheck or something the way she was carrying on! You'd think the main priority would be to clean up the mess -- or call in whoever's responsibility that belongs to and make sure there is no broken glass in the area because this is an area where its very likely barefoot passengers are walking around. Instead she spends much time lamenting the death of this beer before clean up begins. Bizarre. Elevators: Remember my father and the wheelchair? At our aft elevators only 3 out of 4 were working. One was always dark. Out of the other 3 it seemed like 2 of them rarely budged. This became a nightmare at chow time when walkers, scooters, and wheelchairs are all trying to get to the food. The problem is Deck 4 MDR can only be accessed by stairs or elevator. The galley is on the other side of the stairs so there is no hallway that accesses the forward areas of Deck 4. You got to go up or down a floor and walk that floor's hallway until you reach the midship stairs or elevators. One time when we came out of the MDR there were 20 wheelchairs/scooters/walkers waiting for an elevator. I went up the stairs and hotfooted it to the lounge to hold seats for my father and husband who was pushing the wheelchair. It took them 15 minutes to get there. I have no idea how long that one elevator was out of service -- sometime during the Alaska runs. If it broke down on the last run and they needed a part or an elevator technician to get it going again, I know of two companies in Vancouver who service elevators and there's probably more. I'm also going out on a limb and saying there are probably companies in Honolulu that service elevators and the Zaandam couldn't get that sucker going? Who knows how long it's been down? So one elevator never working and for whatever reason out of the other 3 elevators only one would be working. You'd see it going up and down and the other two elevators would be stuck on the same floor the whole time. Listen up Zaandam. Not everyone can use the stairs! Get the elevators running! Entertainment: Zaandam singers and dancers -- I've got good news and I've got bad news. Out of all the HAL ships I've been on the Zaandam singers and dancers are the best I've ever seen. Energy, talent, great routines. Incredible! Loved them! The bad news? This was their farewell voyage. Their contracts are up, they've gone on to whatever it is cruise ship workers do at the end of their contract. Our travel guide/port lecturer Kainoa was wonderful. Loved his talks! Very passionate about Hawaii as a destination partly because that's his heritage. He's great. Can't say enough nice things about him. Other entertainers included: comedian/magician Rich Purpura pianist Juan Pablo Subirana ventriloquist Patrick Murray and Matilda -- the passengers loved him but this was the Edgar Bergen/Charlie Maccarthy crowd. He was great. Comedian/juggler Billy Prudhomme The Stander Dance Duo (skip this one!) The Drums of Polynesia Show -- came on board on Honolulu. Wonderful hula show. Comedian Mack Dryden The Company Men (quartet singers) more appealing to a younger crowd. And of course the Filipino and Indonesian crew shows on different nights at 11pm, not well attended because it was past the bedtimes of 99% of the passengers. Barbi and the Halcats performed throughout the ship -- sailaways, pool party, and Crow's Nest. In the main show theater, Mondrian Lounge, the first show is at 8pm. To get a semi-good seat you must arrive by 7:30. By 7:40 the lounge will be packed. No seats left. Come back for the 10pm show. Oops, no, can't do that. 9pm bedtime! We came to the 10pm shows a few times. Us and 30 others. Kind of tough on comedian Billy Prudhomme who thanked all the people who showed up for his performance disguised as couches and chairs. At one point he's yelling "wake up, wake up" and I turn around and an old man sitting by himself a few rows behind me is sleeping. And Billy tells him "I don't come to your cabin and juggle." One time my husband and I came up to the Crow's Nest at 8:50pm and caught Barbi and the Halcats last couple of songs. We were their only audience. We came up a couple of times after 11pm to listen to them. Its pretty sad when a 5 piece band outnumbers the audience but can't keep people up past their bedtime can you! Ports of call: I prebooked cars in all the Hawaiian Islands. Cost including GPS ran between $45 and $55 depending on island plus between $10 and $30 for gas. Not bad for entertaining 3 people. Hilo -- it was a free day at Volcano National Park so we drove up there and around the rim and stopped at the lookouts for photos. Then we drove back to Mauna Loa macadamia nut farm and bought some goodies. We drove back to Hilo and checked out Rainbow Falls and went to Big Island Candies and Cookies. Tons of free samples in that place and bought some more goodies here too. My father wasn't hungry when we got back to the ship. Gee I wonder why! We found a parking spot half a block from the farmer's market. I bought an incredible bouquet of orchids for $5 that I kept in my cabin for the cruise. That would have cost me $50+ back home. We also bought various jams and honeys from the vendors. Lahaina -- this is a tender port. Another reason the Zaandam is an extremely bad choice for disabled passengers is you have to walk down a flight of steps (and back up upon return) to get to the tender launch. There are no lifts for handicapped passengers. Walk the stairs or stay on board. We knew about this in advance and yes my father can walk up/down stairs. Slowly. The staff will assist with a steadying hand and carrying wheelchairs or scooters on and off the tender. We've all been to Maui numerous times so we just did a scenic drive and had lunch in Kihei and took the car back to the rental place to catch the 3pm shuttle back to the dock. Last shuttle is at 4pm. Miss it and take a taxi. Anyway we get back on the tender and the floor is really wet so I figured surf was up and water was sloshing in because the doors are open with just a rope keeping people in. When we got off the captain was standing there greeting passengers. A little odd. First time ever I've seen a captain do that. My father wanted to nap so we dropped him off at the cabin and went back to the tender about 15 minutes later. The captain is no longer there at the security station. Oddly enough an engineer also gets on our tender and is giving the pilot some tips. He drove to the dock very slowly and carefully. Only one other couple is on the tender going back to Lahaina. They told us they were on a tender back to the ship about half an hour earlier and the waves were high and the fellow piloting the tender decided to run it fast and full tilt into the oncoming waves. Yee haw!!! Unfortunately he forgot to close a hatch and a woman sitting in the front got drenched. Twice! And a crew member was injured. So that would account for why the captain was down greeting tender passengers. Must have happened a boat or two before us. Something serious enough like that would bring him down to check that all involved were OK. And probably to relieve the tender driver of his duties! Then he stayed there awhile keeping an eye on how the tenders were being operated. Kauai -- we drove out to the Waimea Canyon -- the grand canyon of the Pacific. Gorgeous. Afterwards we stopped at the Kauai Coffee Plantation where they have free samples of about 16 or 20 different types of coffees. Different roasts and flavors. I don't drink coffee but my father loves the stuff. Then on to Red Dirt Shirt Factory because we saw it on Dirty Jobs a couple of years ago. I'm distracted because right across the street I see the Kauai Chocolate Company. I help my husband pick out a couple of nice polo shirts then I run across the street and buy dark chocolate macadamia nut fudge and 3 other chocolates, some local creation that was very good with caramel, cookies, macadamias, and covered in chocolate. We went for lunch at Puka Dogs. I'd heard about these Hawaiian hot dogs and we decided to give them a try. They're OK. Can say we've done it. Then we visited the nearby spouting horn blowhole. Honolulu -- again been here so this time did a circle tour of the island. Stopped at the Dole Pineapple Plantation where I annoyed my husband by buying my father a bag of coconut pineapple popcorn that he munched on for the whole drive. We stopped at a shrimp truck on the north shore and I tried coconut shrimp. It was very good. Nice drive. Lots of photo opportunities. Last stop the big Hilo Hattie not too far from the cruise ship where we bought our last souvenirs. We overnighted in Honolulu. The next day my husband and I caught a bus down to the International Marketplace -- its gone downhill since I was last there -- and walked on Waikiki Beach. 5 days at sea coming and going. The weather was good. No rain though overcast on our last sea day. First night at sea after we exited the Juan de Fuca and got into the Pacific was very rough. I woke up around 3 or 4 in the morning -- take your pick, the time turned back an hour that night -- and wandered out on the balcony to see how high the waves were. Probably about 10 feet. Enough to keep me awake. A lot of passengers were seasick that night and the next day. The front desk staff said they'd passed out LOTS of motion sickness pills. Fortunately none of us were sick. All staff we dealt with were professional, courteous, and smiled. But there is something very, very wrong on this ship especially with the food and beverage service staff. When they're not dealing with passengers they get into small groups and talk in their own language and they're very angry. Must be huge management or supervisor problems in these departments -- not sure if they're separate departments or come under same management. But after Brunwink stomped off after we caught him in a lie, if he has that same attitude with his staff maybe he's the problem or maybe its lower down, I don't know. I've seen employees unhappy with their workplace and the Zaandam screams it. Staff moral sucks on this ship. Final words about the Zaandam. For a small cruise ship it is very badly managed. The Zaandam has created a lot of problems that they seem incapable or unwilling to fix. The main dining room is a fiasco and joke. A place to be avoided if you like eating your meals hot or if you are physically unable to walk up and down stairs. Loved the destination -- who couldn't love the beautiful Hawaiian Islands - but the overall cruise experience on the Zaandam is the worst I've ever had. I will never sail on the Zaandam. In fact I might not ever come back to Holland America. Read Less
Sail Date September 2012
As a first time cruiser, we booked months in advance and were very excited. We were cruising with four other experienced cruisers. The first impression upon boarding the ship was that everyone seemed to move very slow. It soon became ... Read More
As a first time cruiser, we booked months in advance and were very excited. We were cruising with four other experienced cruisers. The first impression upon boarding the ship was that everyone seemed to move very slow. It soon became evident at the supper meal when all the wheelchairs and walkers showed up. It wasn't long before my wife commented that it felt like we were in an old-folks home. A couple of days later a senior officer commented that 70 percent of the passengers were over the age of 80!! We are retired in our late 60's and were have many friends that are over the age of 80, but when it comes to an expensive cruise for 16 days, I think that Holland America should have let us know in advance the passenger demographics of the cruise. The food in the buffet was excellent whereas the dining room was so packed with the oldies that it took one hour to two hours to get fed. As for the entertainment we had 3 good shows out of 16. The other activities were very laid back as you would be needed for people 80+. We had been upgraded to a veranda stateroom and it was great as was the service of the crew...but who wants a 16 day holiday in a old folks home. Eventually we all will end up there, but lets not rush it. Another thing that we found annoying is that everything cost extra. We had read reviews on CruiseCritic and were aware of the costs of the no-host bar, but there was no sign in the stateroom when we arrived so we didn't know that the bottled water cost $4.00/bottle. The sign went up the second day and then we understood why everyone was filling up their containers in the buffet. We may have taken an excursion or two, but we chose to get away from the other passengers as it was too depressing being around them. Read Less
Sail Date September 2012
We have sailed to Hawaii on the Zaandam before. We were thrilled to see Michael Headla was still the cruise director and Kainoa DelaCruz was still on as the explorations expert. These two gentlemen are fantastic ambassadors for HAL. They ... Read More
We have sailed to Hawaii on the Zaandam before. We were thrilled to see Michael Headla was still the cruise director and Kainoa DelaCruz was still on as the explorations expert. These two gentlemen are fantastic ambassadors for HAL. They set a bar that we have yet to see met on any other cruise we have taken. We found there was value added on this cruise, compliments of the explorations team. An astrologist gave lectures each day and then spent two evenings out on deck star gazing with us. DJ Steve and Daffyd, the professional photographer collaborated and ran a 10 day digital scavenger hunt that had you taking photos of staff, items on board as well as on shore and allowed you to meet and interact with people you might never had got to know or meet before. The event planner Amanda conducted the normal HAL events but she was so professional and knowledgeable that they were a delight to attend and every day there was standing room only. You are never going to see zip lines on a HAL ship, but you know that before you board. What they do offer is gracious surroundings, excellent service and relaxing atmospheres. This cruise had an added bonus, the captain is a young vibrant man who was approachable, pleasant and very visible the entire cruise. It seemed to set precedence for the rest of the officers and department heads. The two head chefs walked through the dining areas daily speaking with their staff and with guests making everyone very relaxed. The waiting staff and room stewards go out of their way to make you comfortable, joke with you and attend to your every wish. Read Less
Sail Date September 2012
I picked this cruise because of the itinerary and because it left and returned to Vancouver (our neck of the woods). My husband and I are in the 35-54 demographic so wondered if Holland America was the right cruise line for us but were ... Read More
I picked this cruise because of the itinerary and because it left and returned to Vancouver (our neck of the woods). My husband and I are in the 35-54 demographic so wondered if Holland America was the right cruise line for us but were certainly willing to give it a try. Turns out that there were only a few minor drawbacks to sailing on a line pretty much dedicated to not only seniors but the elderly. Yes, we saw a few children from time to time and a handful of couples under 40 but our general impression was that the average passenger was about 80. I believe that the same ease of transportation that attracted me to this itinerary was also a draw to many older seniors living on the lower mainland of BC and Vancouver Island. Staff on board made mention several times that they had never seen so many mobility impaired pax on a single cruise and that their wheelchair facilities were stretched to the max. Also there were a lot of Canadians. I didn't get the stats but we did run out of Clamato juice for Bloody Caesars so, yeah, lots of Canadians. Embarkation was quick and easy. We had paid a little extra for an upgrade to a Deluxe Verandah which was roomy enough with lots of storage space and a big verandah (compared to my only other balcony on Celebrity). The stewards were very good; one was a bit shy about using English but there was no communication problem and they were both very quick to keep us in extra ice and laundry request sheets. We choose the unlimited laundry and pressing option which for our 16 days was $119.00 and well worth it. There was also a $20.00/bag option but we're both XL-sized so wouldn't fit much in the bag. The first day out I sent my husband's dress shirts and two of my dresses for pressing so they looked pretty for dinner. The next day and every two days after that I sent socks, underwear and whatever else might need a wash so that when we got home there was only one small basket for me to tackle. I've read some recent reviews complaining that the Oosterdam's furnishing are old, dirty and tatty. I noticed a few very faded lounge chair pads and some scarring on furniture but only when I was looking with a critical eye - generally I was so busy running from one event to another or meals or schlepping back to the cabin for a nap I never saw the imperfections. The food was good to excellent. I was disappointed that the Chinese and Indonesian and Indian buffets were so mild but there was always Sriracha hot sauce or sweet chili sauce available to spice things up. There were so many food choices that even with devoted attention to five or six meals a day I didn't manage to get "a bit of everything". Breakfast choices include: fresh fruit, danish pastries, donuts, congee, oatmeal, made to order omelets, waffles with choice of toppings (mango!), french toast, blueberry or banana pancakes, scrambled eggs, hash browns made with white and sweet potatoes, beans on toast, fresh squeezed orange juice, twenty types of tea, Swiss muesli, eggs benedict station with choices like Scottish (gravlax), St. George (real crab meat), and Messina (mushrooms and cheese sauce) oh, and bacon, eggs fried to order or scrambled, sausage links or patties, also bagels, cream cheese, gravlax, cheese slices and a few cold cuts just in case. Early in the cruise they promoted a tour of the kitchens. There was one guy at the front of the line of passengers which stretched out as folks stopped to take pictures and look around. We didn't get to hear him at all but they did provide us with a map of our route and the stations we were passing. Some of the stations also put out samples. The pasta station had a nice display of ingredients (they use Barilla pasta) and plates of Italian sausage to taste. There were also big wheels of cheese with tastes, demos from staff making bread animals, fondant roses and ice carving, giant raw steaks that would be grilled up for dinner that night and a tray of warm cookies at the end. We had the "As you wish" dining option which turned out pretty well for us. Again, because of the clientele we discovered quickly that planning for the later show (10pm vs. 8pm) and dinner anytime after 7:15 allowed us to ask for a table for two and frequently get it as well as choice seating for the show. Many sea days our evening went something like: 5pm happy hour with free hot appys in the Crow's Nest listening to Matt Murphy (excellent). Change for dinner, win trivia at 7pm (we got some great lootz) then head to MDR for dinner. There was plenty to do on board. Trivia and karaoke seemed very popular on this sailing. Diane in the piano bar is fabulous and Matt the guitarist in the Crow's Nest knows almost as many songs as she does. Matt in particular likes to "adjust" the lyrics to the room and works the waitstaff into his act. The HALCats are great but I wasn't very keen on their vocalist. The Adagio Strings were also nice to listen to for awhile. The movies shown in the screening room during the day and twice instead of live entertainment on ports days included: The Help, War Horse, The Artist, Adventures of TinTin, Sherlock Holmes II, The Muppets, Mission Impossible IV, Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (US). The screening room is too small for demand and we never arrived in time to get a seat but were able to sometimes catch the show we missed on the in-room TV the next day. No worries, there was always something to do even if it was time to lie in a lounger and read. Speaking of reading I was pleasantly surprised by the scope and size of the library. In addition to many, many choices of books there were also two jigsaw puzzles on the go, chess table, daily Sudoku and crossword, as well as many board and party games available to borrow. Also in the Explorations Cafe (library and internet spot) you can get specialty coffees for almost exactly the same price as on shore. I only had one and it was very Starbucky. The barrista also has a little cooler with tea sandwiches, cookies and pastries. He'll offer you some with your beverage but I did see at least one person walk up and just get some goodies without purchase. Happy hour (all of them) was always popular. 4-5 Ocean Bar, 5-6 Crow's Nest, 7-8 Ocean Bar, 9-10 Crow's Nest, 11-midnight Northern Lights. Second drink for $1 and a little dish with hot appys like mini crabcakes, chili rellenos, or siu mai. I used the gym a couple of times before I got too lazy. The movement of the ship on the second and third days out made standing exercise challenging so I worked out from a mat on the floor. Really enjoyed the Lido pool. It was never very busy. On the rougher sea days it was actually the best place to avoid sea-sickness since you're body is completely in sync with your senses. It was also a hoot playing in the waves created by the ship's movement. The Lido pool was covered for much of the trip to and from Hawaii and the dome opened when we were in port. Very convenient. The evening entertainment was also geared to what people think the older crowd likes. We found it mildly entertaining but somewhat cheesy and didn't even bother the last few nights. The two things that were really outstanding were the Travel Guide Kainoa and most of the cooking events in the Culinary Arts Center. Kainoa is a gentle giant of a Hawaiian man who knows something about anything you could care to ask him about the history, traditions, culture, natural environment and food of Hawaii. I thought he was brought on board specifically for the Hawaiian cruise but he's been working for Holland America for years and is equally adept at lectures about Alaska and Mexico - who knew? The events in the Culinary Arts Center were pretty much the on-ship highlight of this cruise. Young Daniel (a chef tournant, meaning he can work any station in the kitchen) from Vancouver and with the help of perky party planner a girl named Kyle entertained us every sea day with cooking demos of different foods made on board. Most demos ended with a tasting. Daniel also was the instructor for four hand-on cooking lessons ($29.00 each) where he had classes a large as 9 and as small as 4 put together several recipes into a meal which we then plated for ourselves and snuck into the back door of the Pinnacle Grill where we ate our creations with fancy table settings and wine service. I thought it was totally worth the money but now what do I do with 4 aprons... The only other "enrichment" event we attended was the Digital Workshop on Making Movies using Windows Live Movie Maker. Even though we consider ourselves tech savvy we hadn't used this program before and are now much more likely to. We even got along really well with the photographers on board who were very open to us using our own props (my husband brought his ukulele) and inventing our own poses to suit our personality. I strongly recommend if you want great pictures the photo staff would be delighted to do something different and have a chance to express their creativity. (Especially Daniel Gabor). Port reviews appear separately. We really enjoyed ourselves. The median age of the passengers didn't really bother us. We met nice people who just happened to be our parent's generation and they seemed to think we were cute, so it's all good. I will probably not pick Holland America for my next cruise but I certainly haven't written it off for the future. Read Less
Sail Date April 2012
We traveled from Seattle to Vancouver by chartered bus that was arranged thru our travel agency.AAA in Seattle (Tina & group) does a wonderful job of taking care of everything. Boarding in Vancouver was easy & cabin was ready when ... Read More
We traveled from Seattle to Vancouver by chartered bus that was arranged thru our travel agency.AAA in Seattle (Tina & group) does a wonderful job of taking care of everything. Boarding in Vancouver was easy & cabin was ready when we arrived. 8147 is a very nice cabin located starboard side aft Our cabin stewards were fantastic (Topic & Trish). Room was always clean, seemed like these two never rested. Dry cleaning & laundry service came with our room & it was efficient, prompt with nothing lost. We had read from previous critics that the Oosterdam was dirty & in need of repair in many areas. We found none of that. The ship was very clean, with what I would consider normal wear on the furniture. Pool areas were constantly being cleaned, towels were prevalent & lounge chairs were always available. Water temperatures were keep at 86F the entire cruise. Even in cold, rainy conditions. the large pool has a covered roof & is maintained at a very comfortable temperature. Since we had booked a SA category room, our dining choices were expanded. The Neptune lounge is a wonderful place to have a quick snack or breakfast. The staff in the lounge were more than helpful & will make it unnecessary to have to ever go to the front desk for anything. Another nice feature is the Pinnacle Grill, were breakfast is served for SA staterooms. We ate most lunches in the Lido dining hall & its a buffet style service. For the first 48 hours of every cruise, the Lido staff serves the food but after that, its mostly self serve. We found the salad bars to be good, large selection of specialty salads. the Italian buffet was also very good. One recommendation would be to relocate the soups to the salad bar area. They are currently located with the entrees & the line is very long there for someone just wanting soup. Dinners in the Vista dining room were excellent. Our servers were Wan & Nur. They discovered the first night what you wanted & it was always there every night. As was previously written, the lounge shows were average. One exception was Bill Harris, a TV reporter for those who remember him. His afternoon chats about Hollywood, MGM Studios & specific movies were well attended & fascinating. A prior write up said that the ship is always selling something & that might be true, Photo Department is at every occasion to take your picture & the gallery shops are always open at sea. Most everything is "discounted" & no sales tax. There is no pressure to buy anything, its just available. We especially enjoyed the Art Auctions run by Conrad, Mitch & Vi. Again, you need not bid on anything but the knowledge about the modern day artists is interesting. In summary, this cruise catered to an older crowd but it was a relaxing experience on a very lovely ship. Read Less
Sail Date April 2012
Oosterdam is the twentieth ship that we have travelled on, therefore we feel qualified for the review that we are submitting for this ship. Additionally, we generally travel on voyages of two weeks' duration or longer, so have ... Read More
Oosterdam is the twentieth ship that we have travelled on, therefore we feel qualified for the review that we are submitting for this ship. Additionally, we generally travel on voyages of two weeks' duration or longer, so have substantial experience of what is and is not acceptable for paying passengers on a cruise line that claims such terms as "refined elegance", gracious service", "signature service style", "our 5-star world" (all quotations from the 2012 Holland America Voyages brochure). We had travelled on Volendam for a 17-day cruise from Sydney around New Zealand and return to Sydney over Christmas 2011. This was our first Holland America experience and we were thrilled at the quality of that voyage; Captain Pieter Bos and his team kept Volendam in absolute top condition, staff were always right on the money for first-class service and we had no reason to complain about the accommodation, food or service. It was primarily on the goodwill built-up on Volendam that we chose to use Holland America again for our next voyage. What a mistake. We travelled from Australia (Sydney) on 16 March on Qantas Flight QF11 to Los Angeles, staying there overnight and self-driving to San Diego the next morning to join Oosterdam. Qantas enroute to Los Angeles was excellent, the flight being on the A380 aircraft with very good creature-comforts and superb service by cabin crew. Accommodation at Los Angeles was the Airport Marriott (very well-priced and comfortable, close to freeway entrances), vehicle rental was from Hertz at the Marriott. A nice upgrade from Hertz - we booked a Dodge Caravan for ease of transporting luggage, instead provided with a Mercedes GL450 4WD at no extra cost. Porters at San Diego Cruise Terminal are as usual, excellent. They know what they're doing and they do it very efficiently and politely. On arrival at our cabin, the premises were nothing short of putrid. Past passengers' pubic hairs on the bathroom floor; more hair within the bed linen; soap scum layering the sink, soapdish and shower-tile surfaces; carpet lined with grit and filth; litter (potato-crisp packets) on the floor adjacent to and beneath the bed; mattress stinking and reeked of perspiration; sofa head covered in dust with some dead insects for good measure; sofa and cushions stained and obviously not correct for use in accommodation represented as "5-star"; makeup stains on the pillow-linen for the bed. We genuinely believe that the bed-linen had not been changed from the cabin's previous occupants, if not longer than that. The hair-dryer's casing was severely chipped and therefore a safety risk. No steward identified themselves to us as being responsible for our cabin. We approached a steward standing in the corridor (not doing much) near our cabin and asked him whether he was responsible for Cabin 5150, he said that he was and that seemed to be the end of the conversation. No enquiry as to the satisfaction of our accommodation, no greeting blurb as to the location of our lifeboat station, etcetera. I rang the front desk to advise that we wanted housekeeping management to view our accommodation. Shortly afterwards, Housekeeping Managers Tessa and Melanie arrived at the cabin and agreed that the accommodations were in fact filthy. They could provide no explanation for the condition that the cabin was presented to us in, but advised that it would be properly cleaned when we went for dinner. On return from our meal, the cabin appeared to have been thoroughly cleaned. Over the next number of days enroute to Hawaii, other events occurred - unfolding a napkin at the Lido Buffet Restaurant during a lunch, the napkin contained somebody's fresh nasal discharge - whoever folded the napkin must have seen this but chose to make the napkin available for use, complete with cutlery folded into it. Another lunchtime napkin in the Vista Dining Room contained some luxuriant black hair on another day. The bartender at the Ocean Bar one evening gave us a drink with somebody's fresh lipstick nicely decorating the glass's rim. The strip of corridor on Deck 2 between the Atrium and Queens Lounge stank strongly of vomit, all day every day, widely-commented on by many others. Then the air-conditioning unit over the bed in Cabin 5150 started spewing out black soot into the cabin - onto the bed and cabin-furniture, probably onto us during the night and being inhaled by us, too. Even after a claim of repair, the unit continued to do this until finally stopping. The Hawaiian ports were excellent, we made use of Dollar Car Rental for Hilo, Honolulu and Nawiliwili, Hertz for Lahaina. Lacklustre service at the Dollar depots, excellent service at Hertz. Tendering at Lahaina was fairly efficient and if you were prepared to start the day early, you got off early, too. From the Hawaiian Islands back to San Diego, grumbles amongst various passengers were becoming more bold, but whether or not anybody else made their grievances known to the Oosterdam management, we are unaware. Corridor-carpets and stairwells were always filthy, especially in the rearmost internal areas of the ship. At lunch in the Vista Dining Room on the second-last seaday enroute to San Diego, I ordered a Tuna Melt sandwich, clearly stipulating without bellpepper as I have a severe allergy to this and to pickles. The waiter repeated the order back, which was witnessed by three other Florida passengers with whom we were having lunch. I bit-into the sandwich, and it was loaded with bellpepper. The response from my insides was immediate, resulting in a dreadful mess at the table (you can guess the images). Lots of apologies from the restaurant staff at all levels, no explanation though as to how it had happened especially given that the order had been correctly-taken and supposedly then correctly relayed to the kitchen. What the checking mechanism is then for the meal's forwarding to the Dining Room, is unknown by me. The next day (final seaday), same time, I ordered a cheeseburger without pickles due to allergy. The cheeseburger arrived, on this occasion I checked the burger before biting it, and the burger was loaded with pickles. I informed the Head Waiter (same one as on the previous day with the bellpeppers) and he could not advise why this had now happened to me on consecutive days with advice of an allergy that would cause me to be seriously ill. At this table with us were four British passengers (one a retired judge). The judge ordered a meal which when arrived, he advised that it was inedible and insisted on a replacement. When the replacement meal arrived, the judge advised the Head Waiter that this meal was also inedible due to the way in which it had been prepared. The judge then gave-up on getting an edible meal in the Dining Room and they left to try to obtain edible food at the Terrace Grill. We cancelled our housekeeping tips that afternoon, and only left the Dining Room tips still standing due to some degree of loyalty to our Dinner (Fixed Seating) Waiters, who were relatively solid in their table-service to us each night. We wrote five positive-feedback compliments for various staff on Oosterdam, including the fabulous Glenn Gonsalves (personable and super-professional Manager of the Pinnacle Restaurant). As a comparison, we wrote over twenty compliment-cards for Volendam crew-members, struggled to find five to write about on Oosterdam. We received a letter from Oosterdam Hotel management thanking us for the compilment-cards we had written, and they included on the list a further four crew-members we had never heard of. The two Cruise Critics Meetings that were held were well-attended, and many, many thanks must go to our wonderful Cruise Critic Den Mother Norma from Arizona, who did all the pre-cruise organisation and correspondence with Holland America for the CC meetings. Special hellos from us also to Dobie Mom from San Diego and Cruznmonster from Chicago. We very much enjoyed the company of all the Critics who attended. It was a nice moment to sign the CC banner which is held aboard Oosterdam. Our dinner table (65) was an excellent collection of wonderful folk (family Dan, Diane and Shirley from San Diego, friends Kathleen and Dianne from Seattle). Disembarkation at San Diego was relatively efficient, again with those great porters who know their business so well. We hired a Chevrolet Tahoe truck from Hertz and kept this vehicle until departure from Los Angeles to Sydney on the night of 3 April. Holland America place a 'Let Us Know' slip in the cabin in each evening and advise that if you have any concerns, put it in writing. We have learned that this is lip-service only by Holland America, and in our experience on Oosterdam this 'Let Us Know' advice is lacking in sincerity and commitment. We wrote four advices to the Oosterdam management during this cruise, firstly for the completely unacceptable cabin-presentation, then for the deteriorating condition of the hygiene-critical items (napkin with nasal discharge, etcetera). then for having been served on consecutive days with food-ingredients that I had advised the restaurant would cause me serious illness with a potentiality for worse. On the first two occasions, we received short responses signed 'Thoughfully' from the Hotel Services Manager. After the incident which caused me to be violently ill in the Dining Room, I received a note saying my correspondence had been sent to Head Office in Seattle (no mention of 'Thoughtfully' against the signature this time); there was no acknowledgement even that something had happened to me. We submitted a further letter after I was served with an allergic-food on the consecutive day - we did not even receive an acknowledgement this time, even though we specifically asked for a response. Gutless or incompetent management? Make up your own mind. Any goodwill generated by Volendam on Holland America's behalf is well and truly gone now. We had intended to travel on Noordam in Europe this year, but not now. One older female passenger on this same Oosterdam voyage, when we advised of our intention to write this review for Cruise Critic, said "Tell 'em their ship stinks". Where does the 'buck stop' on Oosterdam - how could this ship vary so differently in a passenger-experience to Volendam? Whispers to us from some crew-members from various departments on Oosterdam were that this vessel is perhaps not a good example of Holland America. In our view, on this ship, the buck stops with the Hotel Services management (go as far up the tree of the ship's management as you wish). During the course of the voyage, we had never asked for any form of upgrade, only seeking a vacation that lived up to (or near enough to) the promises in the advertising. Oosterdam is relocating to Australia later in 2012. P&O Cruises in Australia, often commented for a rowdy passenger-demographic, at least provide very clean ships with good reliable service in recent years. Our tip to Australians who may be considering booking on Oosterdam, either as the opportunity to travel on a 'new' ship to Australian waters or due to previous good experiences on the excellently-run Volendam is DON'T. Instead give your fare to P&O or Royal Caribbean (who have also demonstrated a serious commitment in providing quality ships with responsible management to Australian passengers). This was a waste of vacation-time on a poorly-managed ship whose Hotel Management doesn't even have the courtesy to respond in writing after having actively solicited feedback (supposedly good or otherwise). Read Less
Sail Date March 2012
The Captain kept referring to the "Beautiful Oosterdam". Well he should have walked around to see it more closely. So let me tell you about this ship: Threadbare furniture, cracked leather seating, filthy chairs you ... Read More
The Captain kept referring to the "Beautiful Oosterdam". Well he should have walked around to see it more closely. So let me tell you about this ship: Threadbare furniture, cracked leather seating, filthy chairs you wouldn't want to sit in, lampshades in dining room scotch taped together, restrooms that either smelled of urine or were not working, 3 out 8 treadmills dysfunctional and our bathroom drain was broken and had to be used manually to get rid of the water. The Lido Buffet was a Chinese fire drill - you had to run all over the place to get your meal. The food was cold and the selection boring. The drinks were served in juice glasses so you had to fill them up several times. And there was absolutely no logic to the layout......none! And you couldn't help yourself to anything it all had to be served. The cabin stewards were magnificent but the waitstaff was unhelpful. Whatever you asked them the answer was "I don't know".......unless they sent for their supervisor. My guess was they didn't speak English. On the plus side: the restaurant food was tasty, well presented and superior to other Carnival lines; the entertainment was professional and the disembarkation procedure was phenomenal. Unfortunately this was my first - and probably last - Holland America Cruise as it did not meet by a long shot my expectations. Read Less
Sail Date March 2012
Already Booked?

Get to know who you’ll be sailing with

Find a Cruise

Easily compare prices from multiple sites with one click