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213 Holland America Hawaii Cruise Reviews

Having cruised recently on the Sea Princess, I imagined that Holland America would be a similar experience, well I was wrong! Boarding at Los Angeles (Long Beach) was a breeze, no queues, no hassle and the whole process only took 10 ... Read More
Having cruised recently on the Sea Princess, I imagined that Holland America would be a similar experience, well I was wrong! Boarding at Los Angeles (Long Beach) was a breeze, no queues, no hassle and the whole process only took 10 minutes, pre-checkin on the internet did help. This was the fastest embarkation I have ever experienced. The Volendam is a wonderful ship, very traditional with only 1400 guests it does not have that overcrowded feel of the larger ships. The layout is such that you never have to queue for anything. The two pools one of which is situated at the stern were more than adequate for the number of passengers on board. Dining was a real joy to look forward to every night. The main dining room the Rotterdam is on two levels, one being for traditional dining and the other for anytime dining. We chose the latter and always got a table without queuing- the two waiters at our first night were so good that we dined at the same table for the entire cruise. The standard of food here was very high ,the best we have experienced on a cruise ship,-Holland America have Daniel (the Head Chief) to thank for that-, so much so that we did not even try the speciality restaurant (The Pinnacle Grill). The other dining options-the Lido Cafe, Canaletto's and poolside Mexican/American grill were also of a very high standard. Entertainment was good with the resident company doing shows plus visiting artists gave us a wide variety of performers to enjoy, again the quality of the shows was very high. There is also a cinema on board which showed recently released films daily and free popcorn was provided. There were two bars where you could enjoy a pianist and a string quartet, so everyones taste was catered for.The biggest difference we noticed between Holland America and Princess were Holland America paid more attention to the "niceties", there were cloth towels in the public washrooms, staff provided free lemonade around the pool,use of glasses and china, not plastic plates around the pool, no pressure to "buy,Buy,Buy" on board and generally the service on board was much higher than Princess or Celebrity and some of this must go down to the staff. Apart from the uniformed officers every single person had a smile always acknowledged you when passing, very often knew your name, no mean feat when there are 1400 of us. They worked hard to ensure that we had a great experience and always without fail exceeded our and most other guests expectations. I believe that Holland America has got this element of cruising spot on. We had on two occasions reason to complain about the pool and attitude of a uniformed officer, both issues were dealt with immediately and we were very impressed at the way they deal with any form of poor service- well done. The ports of call were interesting, included New Caledonia, Ile des Pines, and Samoa. We were supposed to visit Eden in Australia, but due to inclement weather we had to forgo this please and instead have an overnight in Sydney, to everyone's delight!! On the whole we were very impressed with the standard on this ship, we loved it and will return again to experience the feeling of being part of the Voldendam Family. Read Less
Sail Date September 2011
My husband wanted to return to sailing the high seas as he had served in the U.S. Navy and missed the ocean. I had been a Navy dependent growing up in the Pacific region and wanted to return to the islands. In those days my girlfriends and ... Read More
My husband wanted to return to sailing the high seas as he had served in the U.S. Navy and missed the ocean. I had been a Navy dependent growing up in the Pacific region and wanted to return to the islands. In those days my girlfriends and I had greeted the P&O cruise ships when they came into port--we spent the afternoons giggling with the young British crew members and having high tea. I had also sailed aboard many military ships as a dependent traveling to and from the U.S. My husband found the HAL 17 day Circle Hawaii Cruise online on the ms Zaandam and we signed up. HAL itself provided excellent pre-cruise service from calming my jitters re. documentation, booking arrangements, and delivering us to the ship. As first time cruisers we were tremendously excited about our upcoming journey and for normally quite rational folks, we slowly discovered that our (fairy-tale) expectations of the cruise did not meet reality. My husband did enjoy being at sea once again--but his daily sunrise strolls around the decks were not my cup of tea. We didn't realize it was the last day of the cruise season when we departed Vancouver, B.C. Why was it the last day of the season--because of the weather. We spent the first three days of our cruise in true high seas with grey skies skirting a storm. Not a good start and unpleasant for us landlubbers. As a result of having to follow a different route at slower speeds, we missed our first port of call in Kona. We called at our second port instead, Honolulu. The next port of call was Nawiliwili, Kauai, where we rented a scooter from Kauai Mopeds (808.652.7407). We had a thrilling time zooming around the island, getting lost when we literally ran out of land and ended up on a small dock, being pelted by warm rain, and visiting the Kauai coffee plantation. Did we feel like kids again, discomfort and all? Yes! We missed our next port of call, Lahaina, Maui, apparently because of rough seas. The tenders or small boats that were to ferry us from the ship to Maui could not anchor/connect with the ship properly. The captain wasted no time in continuing on to the next port of call, Hilo, Hawaii. I was ready to lead a mutiny as a couple of people actually boarded the ship from a tender--why couldn't we volunteer to release HAL of any liability, board a tender to Maui and fly to the next port of call to join the ship. Maui was my symbolic return to the islands and all I could do was watch the land disappear from my sight. In Hilo we walked to an isolated black sand/rock beach where I finally swam in the ocean for a couple of hours. We meet a Hawaiian family and passed a very pleasant afternoon with them just talking and swimming. We were invited back for a family luau in March 2012 and we may return, but not by ship. The ship headed for our last port, San Diego, California. Because of unfortunate circumstances, an ill crew member, we forged ahead at top speeds through the tail-end of yet another storm. (I don't know whether the crew member recovered--I truly hope so.) At this point I felt like a prisoner and just wanted to get off the dam ship. The only place aboard ship where I felt at peace was lying in the kids' area hammock (negating the always present lateral and vertical movement) at night and watching the stars and satellites go by. On the downside, I found the captain and officers of the ship quite aloof and unfriendly. They did not return greetings nor interact with the general passenger population. I had the feeling that the passengers were secondary to the ship: I was cargo being transported from point A to point B. I really felt that the captain and crew would have been happier without passengers aboard. The highlight of being aboard ship was the courtesy and service of the Indonesian and Filipino crew members. I watched a significant number of the passengers treating the dining crew with disdain. The crew in general spoke English phrases but did not have a comprehension of the language. I saw that lead to discourteous passenger behavior. During my second day on the ship the man in front of me in the open serving line berated the dining crew member. All she did was continue smiling at him because she did not understand what he said. I did and I sailed into a cold argument with him until he left. In short, the pleasing ambiance of the cruise was highly diluted by the attitude of the captain and staff and the passengers themselves (median age was over 70 years of age). I spoke to many passengers aboard and we were the only first time cruisers I found. Most people averaged four to five cruises with one couple having completed 17 cruises! My husband and I concluded that we were not really cruisers. Both of us were distressed by the disconnect with the environment, including the ship itself. Personally, I wanted knowledge, not entertainment. Because of this experience, my next cruise will more than likely be through my college--where a professor is assigned to passengers to explain and discuss the environment. That type of cruise has value to me. Overall, I would recommend a HAL cruise. Now that I think I know what to expect--and do--I will probably return to the ms Zaandam for a short cruise as it has a home in my memories. Read Less
Sail Date September 2011
We were on the Westerdam in a cruise to Hawaii and the Marquesas Islands. This was the first trip of this ship to that destination and begun in San Diego on Sept 29th, 2011. What you are going to read here is just my personal opinion ... Read More
We were on the Westerdam in a cruise to Hawaii and the Marquesas Islands. This was the first trip of this ship to that destination and begun in San Diego on Sept 29th, 2011. What you are going to read here is just my personal opinion which, by the way, could be very different from others. But if you are looking for some information, maybe this could be useful to know how things are in this ship and what you will find in those islands. EMBARKATION: Really fast. We took the shuttle from our hotel in San Diego and as soon as we arrived to the pier we didn't have to even touch our luggage. From the van, it went to a small cart and then we saw it again in our cabin. The paperwork process was fast after we crossed through the security check. Basically speaking in 15 or 20 minutes we were in our cabin and then seated in the Lido restaurant having lunch. FYI: the first 48 hours they won't allow self service in the restaurant to avoid spreading viruses. STATEROOM: In February we made our reservation based on a VF category. Two weeks before sailing we were upgraded to VA. We got the #8117 on the Navigation Deck. Great location between the last set of elevators and the Aft. Very quiet with a nice balcony and bigger than the one we had in the Navigator of the Seas three years ago (particularly because of the washroom with a real bathtub). Not bad but, for the money that we paid they could change the furniture. You will notice that the coach and the carpet are worn. Also, since they create a queen bed using 2 twins, only the sheet set was queen. Blankets are twin so they have to put them across and not in the normal way. Although I asked for a queen size, I never got it. Regarding the storage capacity, we were a couple with two carryons and three luggagges and we had more than enough space to have everything well organized. Life on board: The Westerdam is a very fine and classy boat but, at the same time, with a very conservative style. It has all the latest technology but with the layout and decoration of the Titanic (Very stylish with touches of Art Deco). If you like this kind of ship, this is the one for you. Anyway, just to give you a clearer picture, lets compare it with the Navigator of the Seas (Royal Caribbean): Mathematically speaking, on the Westerdam you have more space p/passenger (as big as the Navigator but with only 1900 passengers) but, because of the layout, you won't notice it. The Navigator has more and bigger common areas which promote the interaction between people (particularly during the funny shows). Believe me, I am not a "groovy" guy and I need my quiet time but on the Navigator I had a level of fun that is impossible to achieve on the Westerdam. You'll find meetings and parties on the Navigator with a lot of fun while in the Westerdam they are not existent. (Although the live shows are VERY good). On the Navigator you'll find an entire mall on the 3rd deck from Aft to Forward with almost everything you'd like to buy. On the Westerdam there are just a few and small shops with "basics". If you want to try the SPA, be ready to pay for it (there is no real treatment for less than $100). That is why you can not see any price until you are there. Even the brochures on board have no prices. Having said that, in general I have no complaints. The food, the service and the attention that we received were second to none. All the personnel were ALWAYS very kind with no exception. They strive to give you the best possible service, always with a smile. GRATUITY: Be aware that HAL (unless you change the amount) will take $11 p/person per day from your account which I think its too much. I understand that those people who serve me (but I don't see like cooks, etc) are entitle to a tip but I feel that HAL is making US to pay for the salary of its employees. My understanding is that from those $11, $4 go to the steward, another $4 for the waiters and the last $3 to other personnel. We were two people in the cabin... Don't you think that $8 p/day to the Steward for 30 days on a row is a little bit too much even if he's good? Also, if I receive a very good service at dinner, I give an extra tip too because I feel obligated. I don't want to tip twice. Tipping Once is the right thing to do. Besides, if that is not enough, you will be charge 15% extra every time that you ask for something at the bar. And I am not talking about an special elaborated drink. Just for giving you a can of coke from the fridge it will have the same effect. So... Keep your hands in your pockets. Spoiled paradise As everything in life, small unknown details can ruin things. Maybe ignoring this was my mistake but I guess I am not alone in this. When we planned this cruise, we read the itinerary, evaluate the price, see the pictures of the beautiful places that we were going to visit and, finally, booked the reservation. At that moment, automatically we installed in our minds the image of the idilic trip (blue skies, big sandy beaches) but, that was partially ruined for an uninvited guest: the bad weather. And I am not talking about stormy and dangerous weather but just windy, rainy and partially cloudy days which, apparently, are not uncommon in the Pacific. And we were there at the beginning of the rainy season !!! If you are going to take one of the next two trips (January or March with the Rotterdam) bring your umbrella and your raincoat. Thanks to this the ship was not always rolling from left to right but also under the trembling effect of a turbulence (as in an airplane). It is incredible the effects that the waves have over the boat. You walk through the corridors as you were very drunk. Anyway, this not only changed the "original dream" but also the itinerary because we couldn't visit Rarotonga. After four days at sea and after visiting Hawaii we were really excited and waiting for that stop but the weather burst our bubble. I don't understand why cruise ships insist with this place because most of the time they can't stop because tendering is impossible. There are also other factors that lurk beneath the reality: partial information. An example of this is Bora Bora. It is a beautiful place but nobody tells you that the only way to enjoy that paradise is if you stay in those magical and expensive resorts. If you are with a cruise having only one day, you can do almost nothing because Matira (the only public beach) is not only in the other side of the island but also it is just about 300 meters long by 3 meters wide with absolutely nothing on it (no umbrellas, no chairs, no washrooms). The closest restaurant is about 6 blocks and you have to be very brave and having the skin of an elephant to be 2 or 3 hours under the sun in that area without protection. Besides, if you were hoping to walk or shopping "in the city", I am afraid that you will be disappointed: downtown it is only three blocks long and you'll have more of the same: pearls, pareos and T-shirts. In less than an hour you will be an expert in downtown Bora Bora. Although it is obvious, FYI, there is absolutely NO night life, the only real restaurant is Bloody Mary about 30 minutes by car and in the shops the prices are incredible high. SHORE EXCURSIONS: As you can imagine, not all of them worth the price. Actually, at least half of them are an attractive excuse just to get more money out of you (preying on your excitement, your lack of information, and using a colourful description of the tour). Please, don't misunderstand me: all the places were beautiful but be aware that with a couple of pictures well taken and a poetic description in the brochure they can create magic out of something that does not deserve it. For example: paying $130 p/p just to be in a bus for three or four hours to go around an island (like "Natural Treasures of Tahiti") it is too much. If you stay close to port you'll have more or less the same view. I don't want to sound "insensitive" because every place has its own beauty, but the reality is that a set of "mountain/lagoon/sea" is almost the same in all the islands. You don't have to go to the other side of the island to see another one. A "beautiful rainbow fall" most of the times is only a small and very narrow stream of water falling from 30 meters high but they will advertise it as a great and incredible feature of the excursion. Remember that after you paid, they don't care if you liked it or not because in few hours you will be on board again and there is no money back. Please, remember that my opinion is based only on the things that I saw in the few hours that we stopped in every place. You won't have one week to explore every island. Your adventure will last only a few hours. If you chose the wrong excursion, your money and your time will be wasted. But, having said that, there are three of them that you can not miss: Pearl Harbour, the pearl farm in Riatea and snorkelling with sting rays in Moorea. Great experiences. FINAL NOTE: Most of the above was written while at sea. At that moment I was thinking about how to answer the obvious question from my friends: "How was your trip?". Well... After a month at sea, I guess that it has more than one answer depending of what aspect of the trip they want to know about. Maybe for you, if you decide to make this trip, there will be several answers too. In any case, although it was wonderful as a general balance, I would make you some suggestions: 1) Be VERY patient with your fellow passengers 2) Have an open and positive mind about the experiences that you will live. 3) Expect to gain some weight. 4) Keep your expectations low about the places you will visit. If you apply them and "go with the flow", the result will be more satisfactory. Read Less
Sail Date September 2011
My husband and I went on a cruise in late March 2011 with Holland America from San Diego, California to Hawaii and back to San Diego. The cruise was great, very relaxing, great food and great entertainment. The ship was clean and it ... Read More
My husband and I went on a cruise in late March 2011 with Holland America from San Diego, California to Hawaii and back to San Diego. The cruise was great, very relaxing, great food and great entertainment. The ship was clean and it continued to be cleaned throughout the cruise. Our room was clean, spacious and with plenty of drawers and closet space.  Our ship crew was always polite and greeted you with a smile where ever we went. They were always there to please you. I have read many negative reviews and I am sorry to see them for they are not true. This is our second cruise with this ship and every penny spent was well worth it. ALL of the people on the ship were always willing to make our cruise the best and they did just that. Our only negative was that the pool was not filled a few days out and back so we were unable to use it because of the earthquakes in Japan which caused the ocean to be unhappy and created large swales that would cause dangerous slip hazards on deck from the water sloshing out of the pools. But that was not the ships fault. They all highly believe in safety first. So don't hesitate in taking a cruise on this ship, when we went it was a full ship no empty rooms so it can't be as bad as some people write. They probably have never been in the ship to begin with. Read Less
Sail Date March 2011
As a seasoned cruiser, never again on Holland America.Huge banging all through the night. We were told at the end of the cruise the whole front hull was buckling and banging. Room service was always late and wrong, toast came bread not ... Read More
As a seasoned cruiser, never again on Holland America.Huge banging all through the night. We were told at the end of the cruise the whole front hull was buckling and banging. Room service was always late and wrong, toast came bread not toasted.Formal dinning rm food bland and tasteless. Entertainment not entertaining, seen better acts at high school.New entertainment director was constantly asking the audience if we liked her dress and was it appropriate, every day.Food was so bad that we ate at the hamburger stand almost every day. Music was focusing on the "over 75 year old" audience.40s music. Do they not know that people 55-65 like music from the 50s, 60s, and 70s?The age group they are focus toward is in the nursing home, time to catch up and change that 320 year old format.We asked people if they were pleased, the ones that said yes had never cruised any other company, ignorance is bliss. Read Less
Sail Date February 2011
REVIEW OF ZAANDAM: San Diego-Hawaii-San Diego February 27-March 13, 2011 Being from the Midwest, the best place to be in February is Not in the Midwest. Therefore we booked this cruise to paradise. We chose HAL principally because ... Read More
REVIEW OF ZAANDAM: San Diego-Hawaii-San Diego February 27-March 13, 2011 Being from the Midwest, the best place to be in February is Not in the Midwest. Therefore we booked this cruise to paradise. We chose HAL principally because it left from San Diego, one of our most favorite cities.. We also decided to arrive a day early as San Diego was guaranteed to be warmer than where we were. We were lucky to escape from a seven-inch snowfall the day before we left. However, in San Diego we were greeted with rain, clouds, brisk winds, record snowfalls in the mountains above the town and unseasonably cold weather. We were glad we brought our sweaters and jackets from the North. On Sunday we boarded the ship. Now, at last, the good weather. Not so fast. Departure was sunny but still chilly. Standing on the upper decks as the ship departed the bay was not a comfortable situation with wind gusts that echoed life in the snow belt. It did not get better for days. On the second full day at sea, 35 know winds, rough seas and high waves made the ship roll back and forth so much, the outside was declared off limits. Many fell sick; others just fell due to the high amount of rocking onboard; the movement just made us tired and we went to bed earlier than usual. By Wednesday first week, the worst was over. And by Thursday, the expected warm weather finally appeared for good. The Zaandam is a relatively small ship compared to the giants out there now (70,000 tons and 1500 passengers). We enjoy the Navigator class from RCI which is double the size. One plus was the relatively small number of passengers, thus insuring you would see the same faces (new friends) often during the cruise. Some of the amenities we enjoyed on RCI were lacking (notably the promenade). Crew members were friendly and helpful but service often was absent when you most needed it (see below). It often seemed that if it were not their responsibility, they would comment they would pass the word to others and then as soon as they were out of eyesight, soon forget about you and go on their own business. The Zaandam has a beautiful three story ornate pipe organ in the atrium of the ship. We heard it only once during the entire cruise (although I heard others indicate it played several times during the day). I would think HAL would have at least one if not several formal shows (playings) of the organ during the cruise; it has a great asset that is not being effectively utilized. Pluses: The embarkation was a breeze. Even though we arrived at 11am, before debarkation was all completed (the ship was several hours late arriving due to bad storms the night before), we were checked in and boarding before noon. Our luggage arrived by mid afternoon and we were totally unpacked before departure. Can't say much for Pier B and the old warehouse used as dock facilities by San Diego. But that was not HAL's fault. For the first three days, all food was handled directly to the passengers by the staff and no self-service was available. This was a new policy to combat the ever present dangerous noroviruses. Seemed to work. Since I am an independent sort, I felt somewhat embarrassed to be waited on when I could just as easily do it myself but I understand the reasoning for the service. We enjoyed the Canaletto, the specialty non-premium restaurant offered by HAL. More of these should be the norm in every ship: enriched variety between the MDR, the Buffet, and the premium extra-pay restaurants. Food was good but servings were too generous and we left food on the plate rather than stuff ourselves. Kudos to Kainoa, the Hawaiian travel guide for the ship. A native Hawaiian, very knowledgeable, very friendly, helpful and accessible to all passengers. He made the trip so much easier and enjoyable. He was present dockside on all the Hawaiian ports, readily available to answer questions and direct you to where you wanted to go. Also kudos to Eric, cruise director, a very talented, funny individual who made the cruise more eventful with his one liners, his stories, and his Georgian accent. The Culinary Arts center was a great hit. Not that we are great chefs or have the inclination to be so back home. It was fine entertainment, good learning, and just a good time was had by all. Paula, the party planner, was always a jovial, friendly, delightful, knowledgeable hostess whom we can't say enough good things about. We were especially delighted by the Executive Cook-Captain battle one day. The Theatre seating was not typical movie theater hard seats but cushioned seats more of a cocktail lounge act seating. It made the ambiance of the theater better. Entertainment was good not great. Justin Miller, guitarist, was outstanding and played an afternoon matinee in addition to his night show (and substituted a second night when one of the regularly scheduled entertainers came down sick. That is above and beyond the call of duty!!). The singers and dancers were excellent. The comedian for two days was hilarious and played perfectly to the senior crowd. For the first time ever we saw an acrobatic act on a cruise ship stage and had to agree it was different and kept the crowd's attention throughout the show. We were pleasantly pleased with the library and exploration (computer center) on the Zaandam. Very spacious, many volumes, well organized, quite a few comfortable chairs and tables and an onboard librarian. It would set a great example for other ships. The Zaandam has a retractable roof that covers the 8th Lido deck pool area. Great for rainy/bad weather. But often they leave it up instead of opening it when weather is good. Nice feature though. Afternoon Tea (3pm) was a daily stop for us. Light finger food and pastries with your choice of tea or coffee. A chance to reconnect with friends or make new friends. A midafternoon break. A delightful tradition that I would recommend all cruise lines partake in. Negatives: As usual the number one negative in my book was the high cost and inversely proportional low speed of the Internet. I make my living on the Internet and can cruise during off-season only by working while cruising. You would think that with current technology, reasonable speeds can be obtained. I hate paying the high rates for Internet and I hate it worst when I wait for minutes for a page to load, meanwhile watching the minute meter keep increasing without accomplishing anything. First cruise line that provides fast, inexpensive, reliable internet service will have us as lifetime loyal customers. Better yet, offer an unlimited internet rate and all the pressure and stress will disappear for us road warriors. Food was adequate. Portions were large, too large and half portions should have been offered. Our goal for every cruise was to come back the same weight as we arrived. We sampled all the restaurants. Ample variety. Good but no better than other cruise lines we had been on (this comment we would remark many times during the duration of the cruise and hear others). We found the variety lacking (and found this seconded by other passengers with experiences from other lines) and assortment limited on the menus. As the cruise went on, the quality of the food decreased. The Zaandam must have a new pastry chef; with the exception of large cookies and ice cream (which you can hardly mess up even if you tried), the special deserts lacked flavor and texture. This is a petty concern of mine but I must express it: The Zaandam only offers water and tea as complementary beverages; other ships we have been on include Lemonade and Fruit Punch. These additional drinks add to the variety of the food offered. We chose "anytime dining" as a means to be flexible. As I understood it, you could go to the Main Dining Room anytime during dinner hours (or make a reservation). The ship likes the flexibility as it provides some flattening of the usual dinner hour traffic jams. Well, as we learned much to our disappointment, a better name is "Anything but" dining. We tried most of the two weeks to make a reservation and the only time they had was 7:45 (if we wanted that late we would have chosen the 8pm seating). We also tried numerous times to show up and every time was told 7:45pm. Either offer it sincerely or do not offer it. We had two room stewards. Why two? Not enough work for two and we did not see them for days. DW marked our sheets and they were not changed for several days. One night by nine, our room had yet to be serviced for the night. That is getting late in anyone's book. We enjoy a few minutes in the jacuzzi before bedtime. The 'hot tub' was more accurately named "luke warm tub." It was the only hot tub I have ever been in that was at room temperature. DW tried to call the desk for 30 minutes (and then a further 30 minutes back in the room) without the phone being answered. DW also cornered four or five crew members (including one officer) and asked about the problem, "We will contact someone for you." Thirty minutes later no one had yet surfaced to assist us. For a premium line, we expected a hot Jacuzzi and prompt service, neither of which was forthcoming. After numerous phone calls, we were told they closed the Jacuzzi at 7pm. This is nonsense and idiotic. Do they roll up the streets at 6:30 too? I know the average age for HAL is in the seventies but there are some that want something to do after dinner. Oh and no towels on the pool deck; we dripped and dried ourselves all the way back to our room. To be quite honest, they did fix the situation and sent us an apology letter with a special food gift. But it did take them the better part of two days whereas it should never have occurred in the first place. We also enjoy playing the penny slots. We were glad to see two-cent slots. However, upon closer examination the minimum bet one could play was 40 cents (twenty lines minimum at 2 cents). This, at the very least, was false and misleading advertising. Needless to say, we did not play the slots or the casino. What else, we wondered, were they misleading us on there? The crew is mostly Filipino with Dutch officers. They were excellent and made every attempt to assist you when necessary. We did find their grasp of English to be substandard and it was hard at times to understand what they were trying to say. Holland-America uses a negative check-off system (similar to that used by record/book companies when you must send back a card otherwise they send you the next selection). Tips are automatically charged to your unless you intentionally fill out a form at the Front office. And to make it more difficult, you can only do it the last night before debarking. They are obviously trying to make it as difficult as possible in the hopes you will forget or just give up. We believe in determining for ourselves the gratuities given staff. And feel insulted that HAL wants to force us into a system instead of letting us decide for ourselves. We had an aft cabin that was only two cabins short of being on the stern of the ship. Often when we sat on the verandah (note not balcony, verandah), the smoke from the ship's smokestack could be seen in a downward spiral on our side of the ship. Often we could smell the fumes and had residue on the verandah occasionally. It did not make for a fitful sleep knowing fumes were nearby. The ship needs a good overall and maintenance checkup. Rust could be seen throughout the ship. It was clearly showing its age. When we on the tender to/from Maui, the rust was clearly visible all along the waterline. Not a comforting sight to say the least. We found service to be substandard. Not just us but others attempted to contact the Front Desk and Guest Relations and spent 30-40 minutes without anyone picking up the phone. The Front Desk was basically afraid of their own shadows and could not make decisions or make allowances to the guest. And the computer guru said to DW, "If you have any more problems, I am going to have to sever your connection." Not fix it, not assist it but eliminate the source and the problem will go away; she got my award for the Best effort to dissuade you from every returning to HAL. The room stewards did not have a direct extension; to contact them you had to phone the front desk (whom never did answer their phone so how do you communicate with them when you needed them? Still not certain how) Not exactly service oriented displays by a cruise line that portrays itself as a superior service line. Conclusion HAL considers itself a premium line (it is a legend in its own mind as the joke goes). It offers excellent service but at a considerable monetary premium to other lines. The question in our mind is whether the service and amenities offered are worth the premium paid to cruise with HAL. IMHO (and DW concurs), HAL is overrated and is not worthy of the premium prices paid (Not just us but many of those we spoke too had the same feeling including several who had cruised many times at HAL). Its service is no better and in many fashions worse than other lines. DW would not recommend them at half the price. We do like some of the innovative itineraries they have proposed (whereupon you leave and return to the same American port but get to visit Europe, South America or the South Pacific, thus eliminating the dreaded 9 hour cross Atlantic flights). But this is not enough to overcome their basic service problems. We have therefore scratched HAL from further consideration for our future cruises. Read Less
Sail Date February 2011
Embarkation was a breeze; arrived at terminal before 11:30 a.m. and was on board by noon. The cabin was available by 1:00 p.m. We had an ocean view cabin on deck 1. It was clean, comfortable and well maintained. The only problem (toilet ... Read More
Embarkation was a breeze; arrived at terminal before 11:30 a.m. and was on board by noon. The cabin was available by 1:00 p.m. We had an ocean view cabin on deck 1. It was clean, comfortable and well maintained. The only problem (toilet failed to flush one morning) was taken care of promptly. Being on the lower deck does have some drawbacks when it comes to accessing the public areas. We got a lot of exercise going up and down stairs. This is something to consider, especially if you have mobility problems. This was our seventh cruise (fifth on Holland America), but our first Hawaiian cruise so we were a bit unsure about open ocean travel and sea conditions to be encountered. However, the seas were relatively mild except for the second day out and the ship was quite stable even on that rough and windy day; no significant problems and no seasickness. The first couple of days were cool, but the temperature warmed nicely as we got farther south toward Hawaii. This was the oldest cruise clientele that we've ever encountered. We heard that the average age was 70. There were more walkers, wheelchairs and scooters on this cruise than any we've been on. We saw a grand total of two young children. If you want a quiet cruise, this is the one. Being at the younger end of the senior citizen spectrum, we still found this one to our liking, in spite of the slow traffic flow caused by the effects of age. The ship was reasonably well maintained and the staff was friendly and helpful. Entertainment was good; we enjoyed Marty Brill (comedian), Dr. Justin Miller (guitar musician), Annie Francis (Australian singer) and Maske (Australian string trio). Dining in the Rotterdam Dining Room was excellent and the wait staff did a great job. The Pinnacle Grill was superb, and worth the $20 cover-charge. The Canaletto Restaurant was not great; we'd highly recommend the Rotterdam Dining Room over the Canaletto. The Lido tended to get a bit crowded at times, but the food was very good and the layout worked reasonably well. The Lido coffee was not as good as the dining room coffee. We used room service very little, but it was timely and very good when we did use it. The ship still allows smoking in some bar and casino areas. So if you hate cigarette and cigar smoke as much as we do, be forewarned. The gym was often crowded and some machines needed maintenance and repair. Two of the seven treadmills were out of service. Also a couple of the other machines were out of service. This area is obviously not a high revenue producer and could use more attention. The jogging track on deck 10 often proved a better option than the treadmills. The ports were Hilo, Honolulu, Nawiliwili, and Lahaina (Ensenada was a quick 3-hour mandatory stop on the return trip). We took tours in Hilo and Honolulu. The Pele volcano tour in Hilo was very good and the Pearl Harbor tour in Honolulu was excellent. We rented a car on Kauai and drove to see Waimea Canyon and visited a coffee plantation. Renting a car on Kauai was a good way to go. On Maui we rented a private limousine and had a good personalized tour. Personal favorites were Kauai and Maui. This 14-day cruise had 9 sea days. If you go stir crazy on sea days this may not be the cruise for you. If you like leisurely days at sea, this is a great way to go. The ship had enough daily activities planned to break the monotony. The library was very nice as was the Explorations Cafe area. We could always get a great coffee drink and grab a book or magazine to read. Overall this was an excellent cruise on a great ship with a fine staff. We'd definitely consider doing it again if the price was right. Read Less
Sail Date February 2011
What a great holiday and what an absolutely wonderful crew.We arrived privately at the embarkation point having spent some 5 days visiting Los Angeles (Omni Hotel) and 4 days San Diego (Manchester Hyatt.) In short, Los Angeles is a little ... Read More
What a great holiday and what an absolutely wonderful crew.We arrived privately at the embarkation point having spent some 5 days visiting Los Angeles (Omni Hotel) and 4 days San Diego (Manchester Hyatt.) In short, Los Angeles is a little sad, San Diego is great. We used Luxbus to travel between the cities and they were efficient and effective. Embarkation was as efficient as we have know on our previous HAL cruises but could be speeded with more personnel. Our luggage arrived quite quickly. Our stateroom (Nav.Deck S category) was as we expected and Restaurant (Fixed Upper Level) dining was as good if not better than previous cruises.As to the Cruise, yes, things went wrong, many of which were beyond the control of the Ship's personnel but, they certainly made up for it in every way they could. We have made a number of HAL cruises (now 4 star Mariners) and it is always a built-in thing to compare ships, crews, hotel staff, etc. Not in every way were all the team on the Rotterdam the best but, they gave it their all and we couldn't ask for more than that. We particularly felt that Cruise Director Steve James was outstanding in his humour, perseverance and general all-round like-ability. Well done Steve and all your team, the best we have experienced on any ship and we know how difficult it was for you at times. We have to make the point that many of the activities on board are designed for passengers to have fun and are not to be taken seriously - future passengers please note that there are no world championships or Olympics - it's about having fun. If you don't want to have fun, do something else, there are plenty of other things to do on board.Some of the theatre/showroom acts were not necessarily to our tastes - parochial is a term that comes to mind in terms of some of the acts - but when you have stars such as Annie Francis, Michael Hilbig (Hilby), Comedian John Evans and the like, how can you not enjoy them? The show format with only two dancers and more singers was a great improvement and the lead singers were excellent. The on-board information lectures were informative and generally entertaining. As to the many and various ports and tours available, well let's just say we wouldn't want to return to some places and at some of the others the tours were not value for money. Best experiences were Pearl Harbour, Fanning Island and the jeep safaris, particularly the one in the rain on Bora Bora where we (privately) ended at Bloody Mary's. All these were on the first 30 days.Tours taken - more stars the better (but this is just our opinion) - No Stars = waste of money, * = go if you must, * * = O.K., * * * = enjoyable, * * * * = excellent, * * * * * = lifetime experiencePlace Tour Organised by Our RatingHilo, Hawaii Waterfalls Spectacular HAL No starsLahaina, Hawaii Road to Hana HAL * Honolulu, Hawaii Pearl Harbour and Mighty Mo HAL * * * * Nawiliwili Kauai Grand Canyon of Pacific HAL * *Fanning Island, Kiribati Local Guide (Naan) * * * * * Raratonga, Cook Islands Island Tour Private (Big Bus) * * *Raiatea, Fr. Polynesia Jeep Safari Expedition HAL * * *Bora Bora, Fr. Polynesia Off Beaten Track 4-Wheel Drive HAL * * * * (rain)Papeete, Fr. Polynesia Off Beaten Track 4-Wheel Drive HAL * * * Island Tour by bus Loc. Tourist Centre * * *Moorea Fr. Polynesia Capture Moorea by Photo Safari HAL * * * *Rangiroa Fr. Polynesia Glass Bottom Boat HAL * Not value for $ Pearl Farm HAL * * Nuku Hiva, Fr. Polynesia Taipivai Scenic Drive HAL * * *San Diego, Ca. Shopping & Coronado Is. Self Organised * * * *Cabo San Lucas, Mexico Boat & Scenic Drive HAL Boat ****Drive- 0Puerto Vallarta, Mexico Two if by Sea HAL * * Puerto Quetzal, Guatemala Antigua on Your Own HAL * * *Corinto, Nicaragua Colonial Leon & Mud Pots HAL *Fuerte Amador, Panama Authentic Embera Indian Village HAL * * * * Eco Cruise & Gatun Locks HAL Cruise * . Locks ****Salaverry (Trujillo) Peru Historic Trujillo & Paso Horses HAL * (not at all what is shown on cruise videos)Callao - Lima, Peru Miraflores Sterns Free Bus ** Private Taxi - Changing of Guard Self Organised Official Taxi **** Changing of the Guard *Guayaquil, Ecuador Free Bus to Market Self Organised **Manta, Ecuador Fine Panama Hats HAL * * *Puerto Caldera, Costa Rica Forest/SkyWalk/Pura Vida HAL * (Pura Vida for sale)Puerto Chiapas, Mexico Local dockside market and dancers **Huatulco, Mexico Strolling Self Organised * nothing to seeAcapulco, Mexico Private tour Divers & sightseeing Self Organised ** Zihuatanejo, Mexico Strolling Self Organised ** Manzanillo, Mexico Strolling Self Organised *Would we do this cruise again? Yes to the Rotterdam. Yes to the Islands, Definitely not the Inca Empires. A Big Thank You to the crew, the artistes and the team led by Steve. Particular mention to the Hal Cats led by David - they really should have one evening of their own show. Sadly there is one slight critisism and that was the Classical Quartet. Although they improved as the cruise went on they should have a well-prepared programme that they have practised and not have such long pauses between the pieces of music. To Hans Dernison, well done to you and all your Hotel Staff and to Captains Robert-Jan Kan and Sybe de Boer and all your Officers and crew, we look forward to sailing with you again. As a final point, hopefully on future cruises when tendering is necessary, passengers will step on the yellow line and not try to be Olga Korbut's. Read Less
Sail Date January 2011
We were in Cabin 7004, Neptune Suite. To begin with the cabin was tired and worn, dirty furniture on the veranda, only one electrical outlet in the entire cabin (they confiscated our brand new compliant outlet strip at check in, gave us an ... Read More
We were in Cabin 7004, Neptune Suite. To begin with the cabin was tired and worn, dirty furniture on the veranda, only one electrical outlet in the entire cabin (they confiscated our brand new compliant outlet strip at check in, gave us an old battered one) the laminate on the vanity was peeling off, the floor in the bathroom was buckled and the tiles were missing grout. Old and outdated room with old box and hose hairdryer. The tub had a large crack in it patched with a different color material (the did serve notice that this would be corrected on one of the Hawaii port days). While the cabin steward and MDR staff were excellent, the Pinnacle Grill was absolutely awful We waited 30 minutes for our 8pm reservation when the restaurant was almost empty, this was day 3. Tables were not cleaned or bussed, we sat around tables with dirty linen, glasses, napkins and plates not removed, during the entire meal. Waitstaff was clueless and disorganized. They came after 10 minutes of just sitting there to take our order when we hadn't even gotten menus or ordered drinks yet. We had to continually ask 2 and 3 times for things, service was poor. On the LeCirque night (second one, toward the end of the cruise) the manager came over and asked how everything was and I pointed out once again all of the unbussed, uncleared tables, he went into a long apology telling us about how he was new, and used to being on a bigger ship, had a new staff, had staff out sick etc. OK well maybe that was the situation in the first several days, but this was 2 weeks later, one would think you would get it right by then. We also had to wait to be seated that night. As suite guests we had our breakfast in the Pinnacle Grill, again, very disappointing, terrible service, orders wrong, had to ask multiple times for things and though we would arrive 30 minutes prior to the closing, they rushed to take our order telling us the kitchen was closing. The cruise was very disorganized. In the past on HAL, when we arrived, all of the invitations for cocktail parties, lunches, travel agent gifts etc. were all in our cabin. We arrived to find only one Pinnacle Dinner and One Canaletto Dinner (both booked for embarkation day that evening) these were the comps from the Explore 4 package. Since we had 10 sea days we wanted to book things like spa, cooking classes etc. and wanted to know when the advertised things such as suite cocktail party with ships officers would be held so as not to double book. The concierge had no record of these and said they don't do those anymore. I pointed out how this was advertised as a perk for suite guests. We asked about gifts from our travel agent and he had no record of these, in fact they tried to pass off the Pinnacle Grill and Canaletto dinners from the Explore 4 package as gifts from the travel agent. I emailed my agent and it took them 4 days to get it sorted out. The complimentary beverage package was a disaster. Now there is not a separate card but goes on your ships ID card. All throughout the cruise we were constantly in the office dealing with charges for drinks that were supposed to be included in the package. The final bill was still not correct and was so confusing and convoluted that is was pages and pages and we still would up paying for drinks that were supposed to be included in the package. Apparently the suite cocktail party was overlooked and a hastily thrown together suite lunch where the captain and the hotel manager made a brief appearance was substituted. It was in the Pinnacle Grill and the manager again came over to tell us his woes and how he only had 2 days notice to put this together. The cooking classes were supposedly overbooked, but 8 of the guests were double booked and the names were spelled wrong and confirmation notices did not arrive, mass confusion again. We did happen to meet with the hotel manager and he totally agreed that our experiences were out of line. A guest should never be given any excuses. As far as dining, while the food was good, in the MDR portions were sparse. Vegetables now are a garnish. A small portion of protein (less that 3-4 oz.) was accompanied by one piece of asparagus or one broccoli floret or a small slice of carrot and one small little round potato or piece of potato or a thimble full of rice. Portions were all small and disappointing. Room service was very slow, orders were often incorrect and the supposed offer of evening hors'doeuvres was almost nonexistent. There were lots of repeats in the menus and many similar dishes. We took our lunch most of the time in the MDR because the chaos of the Lido and the overcrowding and dodging wheelchairs, canes, walkers and the like, along with people who were not eating but occupying tables playing cards etc. On the plus side, concierge service was good and the Neptune lounge has a good selection of items. The Dive in and most bar service was good. Although we learned from being on the Amsterdam last year to tip the bar staff, otherwise you wait and are ignored. The worst issue was toward the end of the cruise on Saturday, there was an emergency announcement. (This new system of several alerts is most confusing) Apparently there was smoke detected in the forward bow thruster room. The situation was well handled and we were kept informed, the captain was on the scene almost immediately. They dispensed fire teams and evacuated the staff decks forward. Everyone remained calm. They were puzzled because there was no active fire, but smoke was present. As it turned out, there was ongoing maintenance on a fuel tank and a cover was left off which let out terrible fumes, detected as smoke. For several days the entire front of the ship was filled with noxious odor. We became sickened and missed out on many activities because of spending time in our cabin, feeling ill. Apparently caused by carelessness. While most of the crew were attentive, it seemed like they were just going through the motions and checking off the box. Things like the Indonesian Tea, the Dutch High Tea and similar events were not at all what we were used to. They were held but except for some decorations and a title, not really anything different than any other tea. Disappointing selection of food and we ere rushed through, refills on tea or food were difficult to come by. The staff seemed overwhelmed by the numbers of people attending. The formal nights are now replaced by "gala" nights. The dress was most appalling, apparently people just ignore the dress codes and almost no one dresses anymore, another disappointment. Only 3 gala nights with 10 sea days on a 17 night cruise was disappointing. The dress codes were not enforced anywhere not in the MDR or the Pinnacle Grill. I have traveled and cruised extensively, (Cunard diamond member) my cruise companion summed it up best: "Last year on the 14 day Alaska cruise on the Amsterdam, it was a wonderful experience, so much so that it made me want to go again. Had this been my first cruise, I would not have booked a second." We booked a Canada/New England cruise for next year but will definitely cancel and try another line. HAL has disappointed us and lowered their standards to the point of paying $20,000 for a cruise, we can do better, much better. Read Less
Sail Date December 2010
A relative drove us to the port and our bags were collected. We entered the terminal, filled out a form, and waited for our number to be called before boarding. It took about one-half hour. We boarded the ship and had lunch in the Lido. ... Read More
A relative drove us to the port and our bags were collected. We entered the terminal, filled out a form, and waited for our number to be called before boarding. It took about one-half hour. We boarded the ship and had lunch in the Lido. We ate breakfast and lunch at the Lido every day except for the "Mariner" special lunch in the Rotterdam dining room one day. We liked sitting "outside". The first two days the staff was very careful about our not handling the coffee machine, etc. to prevent an outbreak of a virus. They were successful. After the first two days the restrictions were much less. The daily Explorer was put in our cabin each evening and helped us to plan our activities for the following day. I enjoyed the Challenge Trivia each day and Erik, the cruise director, pointed out that it was just for fun, but we got quite competitive. We chose to purchase a "thermal suite" package and enjoyed the steam room, mineral hot tub, heated loungers, misted shower, and the relaxation room with flavored water & snacks almost every day. We had early seating and our dining steward Tono and his assistant Diek did a good job of taking care of us. One evening our entrees were delayed, and he seemed to take it personally that his table had to wait for their meal. I was able to order decaf cappuccino at dinner. I attended the show every evening. The production numbers were lively and enthusiastically performed. On other nights we had individual singers, magicians, musicians, and the wonderful Elliot Finkel (pianist). Every night had a surprise and we enjoyed it. The "Neptunes" in the Ocean Bar played older standard dance music that was our speed. Some of the same couples gathered there most nights. Holland America has rolled out a special dinner night in their special dining room. It is "Le Cirque". It is affiliated with the the restaurant of the same name in New York. The meal and service were unbelievable. It was definitely worth the extra cost. We stopped at four ports: Hilo, Honolulu, Kauai, Maui. The Trilogy catamaran snorkeling excursion offered through the ship (Maui) was the best. I am a terrible swimmer at best. They made sure that I had what I needed to feel confident. After snorkeling we went looking for whales. What an amazing experience. They were competing and acting very playful. George in the Explorations Lounge was very helpful when our computer decided to stop working. The Windows Tech taught me things about my camera I didn't know and has me excited about easier editing of my trip pictures. I always dread disembarkation. This one was the smoothest ever. There were a large number of persons on our cruise who used walkers, wheelchairs, motorized scooters. The crew made sure that those passengers who required extra help got it. This sounds too good to be true. The only complaints I had were of some guests that were rude. There is always someone that thinks the rules don't apply to them or someone who finds something about which to complain. This is a vacation. Relax, enjoy, and don't get hung up on the small stuff. Read Less
Sail Date December 2010
This was our third HAL cruise. We went into San Diego one night early. We stayed at the Bay Club Hotel & Marina, which is on Shelter Island. December is an especially nice time to stay at the here because of the marina and many of the ... Read More
This was our third HAL cruise. We went into San Diego one night early. We stayed at the Bay Club Hotel & Marina, which is on Shelter Island. December is an especially nice time to stay at the here because of the marina and many of the boats are decorated for Christmas. The Bay Club has a lovely view anytime, but especially nice in December. They also provide a complimentary full breakfast buffet, airport pickup & port drop-off. Embarkation: We arrived around 11:00 and were on board by noon. We had access to the cabin around 1:30. The ship is beautiful and we enjoyed the smaller size. There were bouquets of fresh flowers everywhere, and we were fortunate that some of the Christmas decorations were up. Cabin: We booked a BC guarantee, and were assigned a B. Our cabin was very quiet, roomy, comfortable & in an excellent location. The balcony was large enough for 2 small chairs & a lounger. We had dinner one night on the balcony. The bed was very comfortable and the bath was large enough to move around in with a very nice tub/shower combo. The towels are large and absorbent and the bath supplies are very good quality. Our room stewards, Hemly & Huru, were excellent. We would leave our room for breakfast or an activity and it was always clean when we returned. The ice bucket was never empty which is important to us. Dining: We had late traditional dining. Best food I've had on a cruise in years. The menu selections were excellent with a number of appealing choices each evening. Our servers, Gede and Made, were fabulous -- they had that perfect combination of friendliness, warmth & professionalism. We went to the Pinnacle one night and DH's porterhouse was perfect but I had to send my filet back as it was overcooked. The service in the Pinnacle was not nearly as good as the service in the MDR. Entertainment: We went to a show each night and/or went to one of the lounges. Since entertainment is a matter of personal taste, I will only mention the entertainment that we thought very good to excellent. Mondriaan Showroom: Elliot Finkel, Jeff Tachta, and the last production show, Love, Broadway were very enjoyable. We also thought that the HALcats, Neptunes & Piano Man were excellent. The Mondriaan showroom seating does not have good sight lines to the stage, so I recommend going early. Ports/Excursions: When we left the ship in Hilo we had a lovely surprise -- they gave each of us fresh flower leis which lasted most of the cruise. In Hilo, we shared a private tour (Ricky's Tours) with two other couples from the roll call. We enjoyed the tour, which concentrated on the volcano. In Honolulu, we took a bus to Waikiki & walked on the beach, shopped in the Aloha Tower Shopping Mall & had Mai Tais. We felt fortunate to be in the Honolulu harbor late because they had a parade of boats with their Christmas decorations which was fun. Kauai: Took a free shuttle to a little shopping center near the Marriott, had lunch at Dukes & walked around the Marriott hotel & beach area. Maui: Enjoyed a HAL tour that went to the Iao Needle and then the Ocean Center. The Ocean Center was a really worthwhile experience. We had some concerns about going on the Zaandam because of some negative posts but the ship is beautiful with elegant touches. The service, the food, the ambiance all made for a fabulous cruise. We were also concerned about being exposed to a lot of smoke on the balcony, decks & in the casino, but that was never a problem for us on this cruise. We did have 2 situations which I'd like to mention if only to forewarn future Zaandam cruisers : 1. At embarkation, we were told by all the staff upon boarding to go to the Lido. When I told them that we were going to the dining room, they responded that the lunch in the dining room was by invitation only. I was prepared for this because I had read that it had happened on an earlier cruise, so we went to the dining room. When they requested our invitation before seating us, I explained to them that "Welcome Back Embarkation Lunch in the dining room" was a benefit for all Star Mariners, so they did seat us. 2. We had two erroneous mini bar charges during the cruise, which we straightened out while on board only to come home and have an additional $25 added to our bill after the 'final statement' was delivered to our stateroom. We did call HAL and were given a credit. It was annoying, so I recommend checking your charges. Disembarkation: Easy & very organized. We took a cab to the airport for $10 plus tip. Read Less
Sail Date December 2010
First let me state that most of my complaints about this cruise are not so much about the Zaandam and its crew as indictments of the cruise industry as a whole. Let's start with the feedback form, passed out on the ... Read More
First let me state that most of my complaints about this cruise are not so much about the Zaandam and its crew as indictments of the cruise industry as a whole. Let's start with the feedback form, passed out on the next-to-last day of the cruise. The purpose of such a process should be "Please tell us what we can do better to make for an improved cruise experience for our future customers." But when the cruise director instructed people how to complete the form he made it quite clear that he expected to receive 9's (the highest score) in all areas. In effect, he said "Anything less than a 9 represents a failure." On the surface this seems to represent great pride on his part and that of the company. But the net effect is to say "Please tell us how wonderful we are so that we don't have to change anything." The 1 to 9 scale becomes completely distorted and meaningless. The ship and it's personnel receive high scores for their performance but nothing changes for future passengers. Let me emphasize that this problem is not unique to HAL. A recent experience with NCL was the same—-the feedback form is a superficial gesture towards improving cruising but shows no real desire to do so. Let me take a specific example of something that can be improved but—-strangely enough--there was no place on the form to put it. The problems noted are nowhere near as harmful to the cruising experience as some I've seen noted by other critics but they are symbolic of how management tends to sweep little problems under the rug rather than make any meaningful changes. The in-cabin TV system was awful. For starters, the remote control only worked if you stood up to use it. (That was the only way to have a line-of-sight contact with the TV in my room). I'm no lazier than the next man but if I'm given a remote control I expect to be able to operate it while lying in bed. The content of the system was just as deficient. Two things I ask of an in-cabin system is to be able to see the correct time when I want and to know what is on each channel. I could only get the time about every ten minutes or so and to find out what movies or shows were playing was difficult to impossible. The reports from the bridge were good regarding the ship's position, course, etc. But much of the content of that channel (#40) was phony. I didn't ask for a system that provides the sunrise and sunset times for each day but it did seem like a nice feature to have. The problem was that the times never changed. Sunrise was always 7:05 and sunset was always 6:42, times that were as much as an hour off at some points in the trip. Similarly, I was impressed that the system would always be able to tell me the temperature of each Jacuzzi. Neat idea! Except that these never changed either, showing a temperature of 102.2F even when the Jacuzzis had been emptied! As a result of seeing all these inaccuracies, I could only pray that the navigation information was accurate and the captain really knew where we were. The point here is simple. Providing no information is better than providing inaccurate information. I was not impressed with the food on the Zaandam. In common with many cruise lines, I wish they would reduce the size of the menu and use the savings to upgrade the quality of the food. Taking a common cut of meat and giving it a fancy European name is like putting lipstick on a pig. Just give me some good, tasty food! To be fair to HAL and the Zaandam, there were many things about this cruise that were exemplary. The ship is well laid out (except for the level four entrance to the Rotterdam dining room). The staterooms are well planned. The maintenance of the public areas of the ship is very good and the crew is friendly, competent and has a great "team spirit." Embarkation and disembarkation were well planned and well executed. The overall plan for dining was good and had the right degree of flexibility. There were plenty of onboard activities and coffee was always available for us "early risers." Overall this was a pleasant cruise but I wish the management at HAL and the other cruise lines would become more responsive to customer concerns. Many of the problems I've seen cited in CC reviews are easy to fix and would improve the cruising experience of future customers. Management should listen to customer complaints rather than either their meaningless evaluation form data or only those complaints that rise to the level of asking for a refund or other redress. A good company doesn't try to substitute pizzazz for real quality and responsiveness to customer concerns. Read Less
Sail Date November 2010
We arrived in San Diego on November 6,2010 a day prior to sailing. HAL had reps at the airport to provide directions to transfer vehicles. Our pre and post nights were arraanged through HAL and the Hotel was excellent the Sheraton Marina ... Read More
We arrived in San Diego on November 6,2010 a day prior to sailing. HAL had reps at the airport to provide directions to transfer vehicles. Our pre and post nights were arraanged through HAL and the Hotel was excellent the Sheraton Marina Hotel. Embarkation and Disembarkation was well organized and went smoothly. We had one of the secret cabins 7083. A great location and plenty of room. Only drawback was that we had three different calls for toilet problems, and they were taken care of. Cabins were ready about two pm on date of sailing. We noticed a change in food since last cruising 30 years ago on HAL. The food was not as good as years ago. Service was slow and food was cold in the Rotterdam Dining Room. The Pinacle Grill was excellent and worth the extra $20pp for the steak. The Lido buffet is open for breakfast , lunch and dinner. Coffee is available 24/7. Beverages are the same price as you would pay on land in a bar.You can purchase a $100 beverage card for $90. Cruise photos are overpriced. The talks on board prior to arriving at the ports of call were excellent. The Water Fall Tour in Hilo was poor and they stopped at a local farm for half an hour to buy coffee and nuts. We advised the shore excursion office of this. The tour guide was not well informed. Other tours were excellent. We booked tours through HAL. Only disadvantage was that tours through HAL are expensive and I am sure you could get a better deal on the dock. The slot machines in the Casino are tight just a money grab. Most of the items in the shops on board cater to women and they have promo sales everyday. In light of other reviews the Zaandam was in good repair for a ten year old ship. Dont miss the 2 for 1 cocktail hour in the Crows Nest everyday and Harvey was the best. A daily program is delivered to your stateroom and there various activities throughout the day. Read Less
Sail Date November 2010
We flew to San Diego on Saturday morning the day before our Nov 7 round trip cruise to Hawaii on the Holland America Zaandam. We stayed at the Days Inn Harbor View because they offered shuttle service from the airport to the hotel, from ... Read More
We flew to San Diego on Saturday morning the day before our Nov 7 round trip cruise to Hawaii on the Holland America Zaandam. We stayed at the Days Inn Harbor View because they offered shuttle service from the airport to the hotel, from the hotel to the ship, and breakfast. We got to the hotel at 11:00 am and were able to check in. The type of room we reserved was not ready, so they gave us a deluxe queen room. We were satisfied with the hotel. Our room was clean, and the location was good. We were 2 or 3 blocks from Little Italy, so we walked there for lunch and had our choice of about 25 restaurants. There was a lot of activity, with a singing group and some of the street blocked off for booths of all kinds. On the way back to the hotel we were able to stop at a grocery store to pick up a couple of bottles of wine and some diet cokes to take with us on the ship. Breakfast was very limited, but we enjoyed eating at the outside tables and people watching. After breakfast we enjoyed a walk along the harbor to our ship and back to the hotel. Our shuttle got to the ship about 11:00 am and we went through security, check in and received our sign and sail card without any delay. Since we were a little early, we were given a group number and directed to sit in the waiting area. After about 20 minutes or so they started boarding the ship by groups. We probably were on board by 12:00, and had lunch. Our rooms were not ready until about 1:30. I had read some very negative reviews of this older ship, and our room was not a luxury hotel suite type, but it was very adequate. We always book a mid-ship ocean view stateroom on a lower deck. The room and bath were clean and everything worked. We unpacked our four suitcases, put them under the bed and had unused drawer, shelf and storage space. Our room steward was very good. He had an assistant but they had 30 cabins to see about. He brought our luggage into our room, instead of just leaving it outside our door. He always said hello when he saw us in the hall and if we walked by him he would spend a few minutes making small talk with us. During the cruise, one of the lights over our bed went out and the next day (without me reporting it) an electrician came to our room and took care of it. Our room had 4 pillows, but none of them were like my pillow at home. My wife liked her pillow and the bed, but I found my side of the bed too hard (you just can't please everyone). We had no problems with the layout or public areas of the ship. Entertainment is subjective, but we found the entertainment in the theater, bars and lounges to be just ok. The thing that we enjoyed the most was the Travel Guide. Kainoa is a native Hawaiian and his job was to see that we enjoyed the cruise, not to sell us something. Everyone that I heard talk was impressed with Kainoa. We also enjoyed the Culinary Arts Center on sea days when a chef would give a cooking demonstration. They would give us the recipe of what he had cooked and sometime a small serving to taste. We had early dining at a table for six. We ate dinner in the dinning room every night but one and thoroughly enjoyed dinner and our table mates. I enjoy eating almost anything as long as there is enough of it, but my wife has a more delicate taste. She was impressed with the food, both in the dining room and the Lido. We only had room service one time and it was OK. We also ate lunch in the Pinnacle one time and it was a good experience. This is our 14th cruise and we rarely take the ship land tours, and we did not use any ship land tours this trip. We prefer to be on our own or with a small group in a van instead of a bus load of 40+ people trying to see something or hear the guide. Out first port of call was Hilo where we had made reservations by e-mail with Ricky Banasan at rickystours @ yahoo.com. There was one other couple alone with my wife & I on the tour. This turned out to be a very good tour that cost us $60 each and took about 5 ½ to 6 hours. Among other places we went to Rainbow Falls, Volcano National Park, Thurston Lava Tube, a black sand beach, Liliuokalmi Gardens and of course stops where we could tour & buy Macadamia nuts, candy & orchids. Ricky talked the whole time discussing what we were seeing as we drove around the area. Our nest next port was Honolulu, where we had been to Pearl Harbor and Diamondhead Crater, etc on a previous cruise. This time we decided to just use the Waikiki Trolley, which is hop-on-hop-off with narration; however, depending on where you sit the speaker system is not that good. The Aloha Tower stop was just across the street from our ship terminal, so we walked across the street and bought our tickets. We accidentally picked a very good place to get off the first time at Punchbowl & King St. There was an old and interesting church & cemetery across the street from the stop and the Iolani Palace was just down the street. The back of the state capital is adjacent to the back of the Palace grounds. The tour of the Palace cost $20 and took about an hour. As we walked back to the trolley stop, we saw the trolley driving away. The trolleys come by every 35 to 40 minutes and our timing to catch them was bad all day. We only had time to ride the Red Line and did not have time to make all the stops we wanted. Our favorite port of call and island was Kauai. We rented a car at Nawiliwili and drove up to Waimea Canyon, and to the beaches, and Spouting Horn blowhole. The weather was great, even up at the canyon. We went on narrow gravel roads where a bus could not go, and stopped at overlooks whenever we wanted. We bought red dirt shirts and had a picnic of subway sandwiches. Our last and most disappointing port was on Maui. We had to tender in, but the process was stopped because of swells. The tendering process was moved from the port side to the starboard side of the ship and then continued. We had some things we wanted to buy, so we intended to go ashore, shop, find the post office and stop at a cafe for a leisure drink or some local food. We were successful in buying some stuff. However, it was hot walking around town and we ran out of energy, so we went back to the ship about 2:00 or 2:30. We had good weather most of the time and overall this was a very enjoyable cruise for both of us. The front office, the crew & staff were very friendly and gave very good service. Our Cruise Critic Roll call group and the M&G were great. We met some very enjoyable people on this cruise. The debarkation process was non stop and as good as any that I have seen. The first day and half or two days out there was a fair amount of ship movement even though the sea didn't look that rough. The rest of the time it was fairly smooth sailing. Read Less
Sail Date November 2010
For those of you wondering about the condition and joy of the Zaandam, I can report that my wife and I found everything exceptional. We did not look for little frays in carpet or light bulbs out, or windows not washed so we can say we had ... Read More
For those of you wondering about the condition and joy of the Zaandam, I can report that my wife and I found everything exceptional. We did not look for little frays in carpet or light bulbs out, or windows not washed so we can say we had a fantastic time once again on a Holland ship. This was the first time for us on any HAL ship other than Vista Class so we wondered how much we would enjoy it-absolutely great! We enjoyed every night in the MDR Upper at 8PM with what I have to believe was the best as to servers and quality of food. There was always something that suited our taste. I brought my own wine and we enjoyed a bottle per night. One night the Cellar Master brought us each a glass of Proseco because I happened to mention to him that I really enjoyed that Italian wine. We were celebrating our 40th Anniversary and he knew that. We did have two dinners away-one was Deluxe Seating at Paradise Cove in Honolulu that I arranged independent of the Zaandam and that is where they also go. It was fantastic! and a beautiful setting. The other dinner was the Sommelier Dinner in the Pinnacle Grill that Rod, Cellar Master, put together and we had a great time. He served expensive champagne to start off and expensive wines continued to flow with each course of a 5 course gourmet dinner. It was a wonderful evening and I highly recommend it. Cost was $69 each and we were quite "happy" come the end of the experience. Rod has a great personality and does and excellent job in presenting and explaining each wine. We had already done the wine tasting for Standard and then Premiun wines on two days. We attended a Special Captain's cocktail party in the Crow's Nest on one of our formal nights and as always, it was very nice and we met an interesting couple a little older than we are and from North Carolina. I had organized my 4th Meet and Greet and we had a great bunch of people(24 total). All had a very nice social together. As to excursions, we were very disappointed in the ship's excursion to Nani Mau Gardens along with Akaka Falls with a side trip to Moana Lau macadamia farm(which was the highlight). Our tour bus was late and broke down on the way to Akaka Falls and after a quick tour of the falls since we were running late, the bus would not go so we waited 90 minutes for a replacement bus that was like brand new. It would have been a different experience had we had a dependable tour guide and proper bus. We would not recommend going to Nani Mau which we found in poor condition, but we would recommend getting a car and doing the nut factory and other side trips on our own. This was in Hilo. In Nawiliwili, we chose to take the little shuttle from the pier a short distance to the beach where we discovered the Marriott Resort with a lovely beach and facilities. We would certainly do that again. There was an ABC store handy where we could get some bottled water, etc for the short ride back to the Zaandam. We will definitely go back to Hawaii and hopefully on the Zaandam and we will do this day again. In Maui, we took the ship's tour of the Maui Tropical Plantation and Maui Ocean Center and we enjoyed this very much. Again, we would probably rent a car so we could spend more time at each of those and then time for shops in downtown Lahaina. Didn't particularly find anything exciting about Hilo Hatties and certainly not Maui Divers that is pushed hard by the tour ambassador. Needless to say, we had a fantastic cruise with a great bunch of people, excellent crew and officers in all respects. We personally thought most of the entertainment was quite good and we liked the Cruise Director, Eric. As to their comments about requesting passengers to rate the cruise as a 9, this is done on every cruise we have been on and we rate based on our experience which would be an 8+ and for a review a 5+. Highly recommend this cruise and we love the sea days but the last 4 sea days seemed to fly by which we didn't expect to happen. Bob Read Less
Sail Date November 2010
We enjoyed the Zaandam very much - it was the perfect size- about 1400 passengers I think. One of the real pluses of the 14 days was that every at-sea day (9 of them if you count getting to Ensenada in the evening the last night) our guide ... Read More
We enjoyed the Zaandam very much - it was the perfect size- about 1400 passengers I think. One of the real pluses of the 14 days was that every at-sea day (9 of them if you count getting to Ensenada in the evening the last night) our guide Kainoa gave two talks - 1/2 hour in the am and about 45 minutes at 2 pm - on Hawaii, which is his native state. He talked about everything from geology, to history, to the hula. We went to them all - he was also available all the time on the ship for questions. The entertainment staff was perhaps the best overall we have had in 12 cruises - especially the dance staff. The food was very good - our vote for best escargot and best lobster on our 12 cruises - maybe a bit too many sauces, but I learned to order simple cuts of meat, etc. I did not like the lamb chops, but loved the baked brie. Casual dining was not overly-crowded and the food was very good. Cannot comment on the special buffets as we avoid them, only eating 3 meals, breakfast and lunch in the Lido, dinner in the dining room and sometimes cookies or sundaes at snack time. Best meal of the cruise was in the Canneletto Dining area- it is no-extra-charge, but you should make a reservation. The chicken marsala was so good we went back for more another night. And tiramisu dessert was extra-special. All service on the ship was very good and with a friendly smile. We travel to relax and enjoyed the promenade deck chairs as often as we could - also enjoyed getting exercise on the wrap-around promenade deck. We really had no problems aboard except for a water problem in the cabin which was addressed and fixed the same day and a light bulb that was replaced immediately. One problem on the ship seems to be the TV remote control which did not work very well and several have mentioned on other reviews. We hardly ever watch the TV in our cabins, so it was not a big deal. It was a great two weeks - this was our first HAL cruise. Read Less
Sail Date November 2010
My husband and I took our two children on the 14 day voyage to Hawaii. After reading all the negative comments about the Zaandam I was greatly relieved by the wonderful experience we had. The ship is well used but is charming. I did ... Read More
My husband and I took our two children on the 14 day voyage to Hawaii. After reading all the negative comments about the Zaandam I was greatly relieved by the wonderful experience we had. The ship is well used but is charming. I did not find it disgusting I found it well used. The staff was amazing and constantly cleaning or repairing things. My only critique would be at that time the allowance of smoking in the staterooms. I believe that policy is now changed. It was an adjustment to get over the smell of smoke but after 14 days we were fine! This was by far the best dining experience we have had on any of our cruises. The food was very good. The Pinnacle Grill was fantastic and a great treat for me and the Hubby without the kids. The older group of passengers was relaxing and very friendly. This is not one of the "fun ships". This cruise is really about relaxing. We did not have to deal with one drunk belligerent person on this cruise and that was very nice. We are are younger and we love Holland America. We are looking forward to our next cruise with them soon. I would recommend this for anyone wanting to cross the Pacific, see the beautiful Hawaiian Islands, and just have some real peace and quite. It was great. Read Less
Sail Date November 2010
My mom and I cruised previously with NCL, Royal Caribbean and Holland America Line. This was our eighth cruise overall and our second time on Zaandam. We have sailed on Zandaam about a year ago and we have enjoyed it but the latest 15-day ... Read More
My mom and I cruised previously with NCL, Royal Caribbean and Holland America Line. This was our eighth cruise overall and our second time on Zaandam. We have sailed on Zandaam about a year ago and we have enjoyed it but the latest 15-day Hawaii cruise was awful experience. After embarkation we were told that the staterooms are not ready and the crew told us to go up in the Lido buffet and wait. Around 3:00 pm there was an announcement that the staterooms are ready and we went down to our cabin. To our surprise the beds were not separated, the toilet bowl was dirty, there was some garbage in the closet, bed sheets had holes and hair, and the blankets were old and worn. The air conditioner did not work and it was hot in the stateroom. We immediately have reported all these problems to the front office and they told us that someone will be there shortly. We waited for several hours but nobody came. We have visited the front office again and insisted that the bathroom needs to be cleaned, beds has to be separated and A/C has to be repaired as soon as possible. After some arguments with the front office personnel they finally sent a cabin steward to clean the bathroom and separate the beds. The technicians also came to repair the A/C. They told us that the A/C is working now and that we can adjust the temperature to our liking. They lied to us as they simply set the temperature to minimum. We have set the temperature controller to maximum but it did not work as the A/C was blowing cold air. Because of cold temperature we couldn't sleep all night. In the morning we went to the front office again and insisted on a meeting with a hotel manager. After several arguments with front office clerks they have made an appointment with Guest Relations Manager, Mrs. Grace Zerna. She was 20 min late and no one even care to let us know that she is late. We have explained the situation to her but she was rude and kept interrupting us. We insisted on a meeting with Hotel Manager, Mr. Kees B. Streuding. She has refused and said that she could not find him. We said that we will not leave the front desk area until we meet with the Hotel Manager. In about half an hour the Hotel Manager finally met with us. We informed him about A/C problem and asked to repair the A/C or move us to another stateroom. He said that there are no available staterooms and promised us that the A/C will be repaired. The technicians came again and told us that they have replaced the thermostat and that we can adjust the temperature, but it was a lie again. The A/C blew cold air again... The clerk from the front office checked the temperature in our stateroom. It was 64 F. After many stressful visits to the front desk during the first 3 days of the cruise we gave up as there was no help from management to solve the problem. They simply ignored us. It seemed that the hotel manager does not exist at all as during the 15 day cruise we have not seen him except our short and useless appointment. We had no choice but to sleep in the cold room with our clothes on and using extra blankets. We got cold for several days and had a sore throat and cough. Two days before the end of the cruise we wrote an official letter to the Hotel Manager, Mr. Kees B. Streuding, and demanding compensation. There was no response. We have enquired at the front desk about response to our letter but they said that there will be no compensation... Other problems during the cruise include: 1. During the cruise there were constant painting and varnishing in the public areas on outside decks. The ship was repaired all day long and the crew was wearing protective respirators. It was awful because instead of enjoying fresh air during our 9 sea days we were forced to breathe poisonous chemical fumes and vapors. 2. Another disappointment was the food. It was of low quality, very repetitive and mostly tasteless, except for formal nights. At lunch there were mostly 3 or 4 chicken dishes with fries, rice, noodles and vegetables. Watery oatmeal, expired granola boxes, salty soups, most meat and fish dishes had no taste or had strange odor. The fruits and desserts lacked any variety. There were no grapes, mangos, peaches or nectarines in the buffet. You can also see other cutbacks. 3. There were fruit flies in the glasses with water and juice, on bread and fruits in the main dining room and in the Lido buffet. The windows throughout the ship were dirty and some dust streaks were hanging from the ceilings in the Lido buffet. 4. In the middle of cruise there were general plumbing problem and toilets did not flush for about 12 hours. The administration tried to hide that it is a general problem and there were no announcements or apologies given. 5. Many passengers were waiting for beautiful Napali Coast passage but for some reason the captain has changed the course and no information given. On the plus side we have enjoyed the cooking demonstrations in the Culinary Arts Center, The Neptunes trio in the Ocean Bar and Kimika show. Hawaii ambassador, Kainoa, has provided very interesting and informative lectures. Our dining room stewards, Tono and Ariana also provided excellent professional service. We are extremely disappointed with this cruise on Zaandam as our vacation was ruined and we will never sail on Holland America Line again unless HAL will greately improve their customer service and dining. Read Less
Sail Date October 2010
We have cruised on Holland America several times before, once on Disney, and once on Royal Caribbean. We booked this cruise over a year ago. We were traveling with my husband's brother and sister-in-law. We love to cruise for ... Read More
We have cruised on Holland America several times before, once on Disney, and once on Royal Caribbean. We booked this cruise over a year ago. We were traveling with my husband's brother and sister-in-law. We love to cruise for the rest and relaxation and getting away from our hectic jobs. Now our journey ... We arrived in Vancouver 10/01, the day before our cruise. We had booked the Fairmont Waterfront through HAL and we met the HAL representative at the airport and they ushered us to a taxi and straight to the hotel (a breeze). Room was on the port side (beautiful view). We woke up a little before 6:00 a.m. and saw the Zaandam arrive. There were also two other ships in port that day (1 Princess and 1 NCL). We had transfers to the ship that also included a city tour. The tour started at 9:00 a.m. and was nice at first but they did not want us on the ship until 2:00 p.m. The ship sailed at 3:00 p.m.!!!! Needless to say, most on the bus were not happy campers. We finally got to the ship and just barely got our lunch when the Lido was closing. We have always boarded the ship early .... so excited to get there. So, if you have booked the transfers, I would just skip the city tour and walk over to the ship yourself. On the plus side, there were no lines since we were boarding so late and our luggage was in our rooms when we boarded. Our room was great!! We booked the secret rooms (there are two 7086 & 7083). They are classified as insides but actually have a large window on the aft/stern of the ship. Great location .... just one quick flight up to the Lido. We ate all our meals in the Lido. This was to be our first (and NOT last) cruise where we packed lightly (no formal clothes). YIKES, some would say but we loved it!! This is a vacation after all!! We were surprised that the Lido was so busy every night. Seems lots of other cruisers have the same idea. I have to say that service in the Lido was fantastic. We tend to eat at the same table (if we can get it) on the port side and met Andi who was our waiter/go getter. He was great .... always smiling and happy. He learned our names and after the second day, he remembered us. The first couple of days we were served and that made service slower but once we could serve ourselves and get drinks it went much quicker. I loved the Asian Cuisine and that is what I ate almost every day at lunch (along with bread pudding, or course). Wish they had more selections on the nightly buffet though. We had a great turnout for our cruise critic meeting. It was great seeing everyone and putting names with faces. Ran into several of them all through the cruise and it was like meeting up with family. The ship provided cookies, coffee and refreshments but none of the officers showed up. Well ... as for the ship. We have been on the Zaandam before (back in 2006) and it was in better shape then but the Zaandam is still a great ship. It could use a little TLC. Seems like they have cut way back on the staff, service is still good but maybe they need more staff to maintain the ship. It wouldn't hurt them to wash the windows. I put that on the survey by the way. There was a contact crew that got on when we were getting off. They had taken down some lightning on the aft pool deck and was hauling plywood up the stairs outside our room. Couldn't figure out exactly what they were going to do. The organ in the atrium is beautiful. We got to see it play on one of the sea days when we happened to be at the front desk. It started playing and the little figures on the sides started moving. It was very nice. I made a comment to the desk clerk that I had not seen it play and I believe he said it played on sea days at 10:00 a.m. and Noon. Now for the sea days .... I love sea days, I really do. Time to relax and do nothing, if you so chose, BUT we have decided that four and lastly five are way too many for us!! The last couple of days we were wishing we were back home and that is a first for us. We didn't see any of the shows. Sat in on one Liars Club - that's a HOOT!! Went to all of Kainoa's (the native travel guide) talks and lectures. You sure learn a lot about Hawaii from him. Disembarkation was a breeze ... we chose expedited which means you can carry off all your luggage without any help and get to leave the ship first. We left the ship at 8:30 a.m. and grabbed a waiting taxi and was at the airport before 9:00 a.m. All in all, we had a great time. Not the best way to see Hawaii. My husband had never been and we did not get enough time in each port but we knew that going into it. We got to cruise (which we love) and see a little of Hawaii - What more can you ask??? Read Less
Sail Date October 2010
I really did not have any intention of booking this cruise because I did the round trip itinerary in March. The relaxed feeling I had after coming home did not last as I started working on a software upgrade at work. I knew I would ... Read More
I really did not have any intention of booking this cruise because I did the round trip itinerary in March. The relaxed feeling I had after coming home did not last as I started working on a software upgrade at work. I knew I would not make the Alaska season so I started looking at a Panama Canal Cruise on the Zuiderdam that was embarking close to my home. It hadn't come down in price. Than I noticed this repositioning from Vancouver to San Diego via Hawaii at a great price. I was intrigued because the ship was in port til 11:00 PM in 3 of the 5 ports. We flew to Vancouver from SFO the day before and stayed at the Hampton Inn Suites Downtown on Robson. The hotel provided a free shuttle from the Hotel to Canada Place. Since the ship was leaving at 3:00 embarkation was at 12:00 so I requested the 11:00 shuttle but it was full so we had to take the 10:30 Shuttle. By 11:30 A.M. we were checked in and waited in the holding place til we could board the ship. We were on the ship by 11:45. We went to the Lido to get a cup of coffee til the MDR opened for lunch. After Lunch we walked around and cheated a little and made our way to our cabin. We were forward on the Lower Promenade Deck. About 15 minutes they announced that the rooms were ready. We found our gifts from our travel agent 2 $50.00 soda cards, a bottle of champagne and 3 bottles of Wine. The soda cards did come in handy although I only used half of it. I could only purchase soda with it. I wasn't able to purchase bottled water to take ashore with the soda card. Our Cabin Stewards Eddy & Harry were the greatest Stewards I have ever had on a HAL Ship. Believe me they were busy in my section. On the first day at Sea a pipe burst in one of the cabins and affected the cabins on both sides. They were able to relocate the passengers in the cabin with the bursted water pipe til we got to Hilo. The Hal Staff responded promptly to this situation. I was concerned on how it might affect my cabin. We did end up with a plumbing problem 3 days before the end of the cruise which was responded to promptly. The first two days out of Vancouver were a little chilly, by the 3rd day things started warming up and as we got closer to Hawaii the weather was great. Day 3 we had a meet and greet in the crow's nest. It was really great to meet everyone on the roll call. We had open seating. I have always been an advocate of open seating. This time I was very disappointed. This is the 4th Hal Ship I have sailed on and there has never been a problem getting a table within 5 minutes when you walk up and you don't mind sitting with others. The first four days they sure didn't have it together. We got a pager and waited 30 - 45 minutes to get a table. Even people with reservations had problems. The night before we hit Hilo the wait time was down to 10 minutes. When we were in Hilo, Lahina and Honolulu there wasn't a problem. After that the Dining room looked empty so I don't know if people got fed up and just decided to go to the Lido. The food was hit and miss (I know this is subjective) There was always something to find so I didn't starve. I did think the food was better when I did this trip in March. Breakfast and Lunch we ate in the Lido and dinner we had in the dining room. The show times this trip for the most part were 8:00PM and 10:00PM a great improvement from 7:00PM and 9:00PM. On the nights when there was one show the show was at 9:30 and the night of the Black and White Ball the show was the old 7:00 PM and 9:00 PM. I only went to half of the shows. One really great act was a Husband and Wife team from England called Kimka. For the most part I did book Hal Excursions. For the most part they were very good except for the Planetarium Tour in Hilo. This problem was due to a technical error. They couldn't get the show to work. HAL did refund this excursion 50%. The excursion also included a trip to Rainbow Falls, tour through downtown Hilo and to the Island Candy Co. which did take place. HILO -5 I have been to this Port several times before and have toured allot of the area. This Port has the Volcanoes National Park and great Water Falls. I opted for the Planetarium because it was something different. Lahaina - 5 This is a tendering Port and some people had problems. Since the ship was in lahaina til 11:00 I booked the road to Hana Excursion. It was a long day but so worth it. Honolulu - 5 There is something always to do here. My Dad and I took the Free Hilo Haties shuttle to Hilo Haties than took the free Shopping Shuttle to Ala moana Shopping Center. This is the pick up point to pick up the bus that goes around the island. My Dad was $1.00 and I was $2.50. We were in Honolulu on a Saturday so all the local kids were getting on with their surf boards and checking out all the beaches on North Shore. We got off at the Polynesian Cultural Center. Admission and Lunch was $60.00 which was over $100.00 cheaper than the ships excursion. We couldn't stay for the night show. We got the 5:04 bus back to Honolulu and had to transfer at Ala Moana Shopping Center and got back to the ship at 7:30. Before leaving Honolulu we were all ready to go when they opened the gangway again due to a Medical Emergency. We were about 15 minutes leaving. Nawiliwili, Kauai - 5 Waimea Canyon was wonderful and a great view. Tons of Chickens on Kauai Tour went along the coast. This would be an easy place to rent a car. Kona - 5 Did a Sail and Snorkel Tour on a Catamaran. This port was very hot so it was a great day to go swimming. This is a tendering port with limited time. Kainoa the travel guide is great. You really learn allot from his lectures and you can tell he has real passion for his heritage. If you are taking this trip and you really don't know what you want to do, go listen to him. He is also available in the explorations lounge during certain hours to ask questions. This trip did what I needed it to due. "Chill" Allot of Sea Days are not for everyone. I had a great time and everything does not have to be perfect to have great time. The Zaandam is an older ship and not as spruce as some of the newer ships. The crew was always working hard and responded to things that needed attending too. Read Less
Sail Date October 2010
First, I understand HawaiiLeo's frustrations. We also had a cabin a/c problem (did not work at all) and found the bathroom needed cleaning (mold/mildew on the floor, worn out shower mat, dirty shower curtain, toilet looked dirty from ... Read More
First, I understand HawaiiLeo's frustrations. We also had a cabin a/c problem (did not work at all) and found the bathroom needed cleaning (mold/mildew on the floor, worn out shower mat, dirty shower curtain, toilet looked dirty from many discolored scrapes and rough areas, and it smelled bad). Like HawaiiLeo, we tried to have these addressed at first by telling the regular contact crew. No luck. The hotel manager does all he can to avoid public contact and the customer relations person never made herself available either. That said, The cabin stewards did, the first day at sea, bleach the bathroom and replace the worn out items. A smell remained, but I found the problem could be controlled by closing the tub drain. The a/c problem continued for the entire cruise, but a work around was used to give us enough a/c to control temp and provide some airflow. First, they gave us a fan to use - it worked. Then, on the third day, the crew started monitoring the a/c system in our cabin and would reset it as needed. It wasn't until I talked with an officer in charge of a water leak repair down the hall that this process became invisible to us. Also had the worst shore experience ever. The Honolulu luau was terrible. Maybe they thought it was good to have Kentucky Fried Chicken there... Could not eat the food, long lines, long walks just for water, so-so entertainment. Lots of $$$ for nothing. There was a lot of apparently deferred maintenance visible. Lots of lights out (11 where we sat the first time in the extra cost restaurant and 12 the next time), a broken seat back in the Crows Nest, a broken sofa in the Crows Nest, and a 'moving' permanent sofa chair in the main show room. I found light fixtures missing, dirty carpet in places, holes in napkins, a hole in a towel, and more rust than I have seen on all of my previous cruises combined. It would have been nice had the windows been cleaned before departure and the same for the veranda see through panels. Even our veranda was gritty to walk on. Sounds terrible, but there was lots of good too. Our dinner with the chef was an outstanding experience. Personable and wow, can he cook! Our renewal of vows with the Captain was also a big hit. The Captain spent quite a bit of time with us and he is the opposite of the hotel manager when it comes to customer relations. Entertainment in the main show room was very good the first week and so-so the second week. We found the bar and small room entertainment very nice. Except for the Honolulu luau all shore trips were at least as good as expected and sometimes better. The luau was a zero minus. We arrived at the ship in San Diego about noon and found no lines. About five minutes later we were allowed to board. The room was almost finished and we dropped off our carry-on bags. We met the concierge in the Neptune Lounge and proceeded to the dining room for our welcome back lunch. We were denied the lunch, the excuse being there would be too many people. After a check with another location/manager type we went back and were seated. The Reuben sandwich was the best I have had on a ship. Shame it was available only that one time. The positives: Cabin was very comfortable once the a/c was working. I did miss the stand alone shower (in addition to the whirlpool tub) found on newer HAL ships, but the room was as I expected. Fair amount of noise on the veranda from moving chairs around the lido pool during the day. Our cabin stewards were very good. The concierge people (both) more than helped make up for the non caring hotel manager and absent customer service manager. The internet connection was spotty. There was a lot of pitching and rolling on the way to Hawaii and apparently that caused poor signal lock for internet and cell phone data. It actually cost us less to use cell phone data for internet than the slow ship internet. In port the ship internet service was available, but still slow. The return crossing was a a slower speed and the internet connection better. The ship itself gives the feeling of a warm cozy place. Except for the time we tried to see an early show in the main show room were saw no crowding and lines were usually none. We found the public contact crew very nice (internet manager an exception - and he wasn't awful). This was our second HAL cruise, both in suites. Sadly, both times the bathrooms were not clean when we departed. Given the apparent lack of up to date maintenance on what the passengers can see, the two water leaks on our floor, the partial electric failure on the way to Ensenada, the apparent fire (in the laundry according to the announcement) when we arrived back in San Diego, and taking into account other recent events, I wonder if cruise lines are starting a downward spiral... Read Less
Sail Date October 2010
We are 60 and 71 and this was my 6th cruise and my husband's 4th. We loved this cruise the best of any. The days at sea are wonderfully relaxing as you do not have to get ready to go to ports of call. This was our first time in a ... Read More
We are 60 and 71 and this was my 6th cruise and my husband's 4th. We loved this cruise the best of any. The days at sea are wonderfully relaxing as you do not have to get ready to go to ports of call. This was our first time in a deluxe suite and it was truly a pampered experience, we had so much room it was amazing. Our special thanks to Gladys and Joshua who were always there for us in the Neptune lounge they helped with things like how to attach a formal tux tie and even provided me with flowers for my hair one evening. Our balcony door would not stay shut and it was fixed promptly as was a broken glass swept up right away....It was nice to able to put on your robe and go down and get coffee in the morning or ice tea in the afternoon etc. I could have taken ½ the clothes since the laundry service (free for deluxe suite guests) was prompt and well done. Our cabin attendants, Suko and Soli were wonderful, always happy and they kept our room so nice..we are are big slobs so we tipped them when we first came on board and when we left. They kept our wine chilled and filled up our little ice chest each day all with the nicest manners and good nature we have ever experienced. I am not sure I would get deluxe again maybe for a cruise lasting longer than a week. Internet: We took both our laptops and signed up for 200 minutes for $100.00, we could get connection in our cabin pretty slow some days but ok....our Broadband card worked all the 4 days in Hawaii so we really did not need all our ship's time but I was doing a travel blog so it was nice. Dining: We had anytime dining which I think is wonderful, as you can reserve a time, however, one nite when we did not have reservations we found it was very crowded so we got beepers and then just decided not to wait and go to Lido deck. We only had one dinner in the dining room and we were happy to go to Lido or order our dinner from room service. I think many folks do not know that during the dinner hours you can order from the main dining room menu..one nite we had lobster and filet mignon in the privacy of our stateroom and it was a wonderful experience. The food was fabulous everywhere, I really like salads and always enjoy the variety of everything. We are not that fond of fish but they have tons of it for you who enjoy it. A suite perk was an Indonesian lunch with the Captain and he sat at our table there was only 4 of us and him....so that was wonderful, he is very nice and it was a very special treat. Ports of Call Hilo, found Waylon at the pier phone number 808 640 1244 nice little mini van with only 7 of us we got to see two waterfalls stop at a little market that sold exquisite native preserves, I got coffee flavored butter and a low sugar passion fruit with guava, then the Macadamia Nut farm were we bought a lot of goodies....Mauna Loa...... then a little romp on a true black sand beach and back to the ship for lunch. If you are keen on seeing volcanoes this was not included on this tour. Honolulu: We took the ships tour for the Arizona and we would not do that again. First we got up way to early, then off to the lounge at 8 am then off to board and there were so many folks including handicapped the process took way to long. We saw the cemetery and the King's palace and stopped for a restroom break each time boarding and unloading tons of folks. We ended up at the Memorial with a hour to spare , the gift shop was very nice but again we feel we could have done this a better shorter way, as we ended up back at the ship around 2:30 starving and kind of peeved that everything took so long. The Memorial is awesome. Kauai: took free shuttle to Coconut shopping center, lovely gift items and the trip showed us lots of the scenery, enough for us at least. Maui was our favorite port, the beautiful shopping center and large banyan tree are right at the pier; we bought Made in Mau rum, macadamia nut liquor, bailey's Irish crème. All security on all four ports was done by private companies and evidently they do not care if you are taking liquor back on board so we did as we were running a little low from what we brought on in our suitcases. We thought about finding a beach but decided to go back on board and swim the pool was deserted and wonderful the view Aft was of lovely Maui, we felt we were in a tropical paradise which we were of course. Photos: there are four formal nites and we planned our clothes for them, therefore we got the photo package for $300.00 which gives you every picture they take, ports of call everything and a CD which was a real bargain. The last formal nite we wore our matching Hawaiian shirts for our portraits and they came out nice, we then retired to our room. Everyone was in a festive mood and said we looked adorable..even tho we were dressed casual they were decked out. Entertainment: We are not big show goers but the band the Paperback Writers doing a Beatle medley was superb. I won $350.00 in bingo. The slots were lots of fun, won a lot and lost a lot about even I think.....the 2 cent machines were paying like crazy and the quarters not bad at all. Mostly I got to spend a lot of time there without too much damage to the pocketbook. The only way you can win is to bet max each time. On the morning of embarkation we toted all our bags down ourselves very heavy but we were being picked up so not so bad. We did meet a gentleman at the elevators and we greeted him good morning and asked how he liked his cruise. Since he was on our floor I assume he either had a deluxe or superior suite and that would cost him some bucks....well...He said he did not like it at all and I asked why...he just said don't get me started. This always amazes me that someone can find something wrong with a cruise, for me it is what you make of it. I guess I have never met a cruise I did not love, however, as stated this was our favorite, the ship , the food the service ....EVERYTHING WAS WONDERFUL Read Less
Sail Date October 2010
Embarkation exceptionally easy.....on board in under ten minutes and in cabin (after lunch on the Lido) right on time. Stateroom rather small but adequate with lots and lots of storage. Clean and comfortable. Fresh flowers in room and ... Read More
Embarkation exceptionally easy.....on board in under ten minutes and in cabin (after lunch on the Lido) right on time. Stateroom rather small but adequate with lots and lots of storage. Clean and comfortable. Fresh flowers in room and luggage delivered promptly. Ate in the optional (no cost) Italian dining room. EXCELLENT food and service. At sea we thoroughly enjoyed the quiet relaxing Explorer Cafe and Lounge as well as the exceptionally well presented cooking demonstrations in the Culinary Theater. The "enrichment" guide Kainoa was incredibly knowledgeable and entertaining. Entertainment was above par with the usual large Vegas type reviews and two exceptional comedians that left us in stiches. Ate in the upscale Pinnacle one night and had an incredible meal.....truly a memorable dining experience. Well worth the upcharge. Dining on the Zaandam consistently exceeded expectations and HAL remains the best of the cruse lines we have sailed with. The friendliness of the wait staff and other personnel is exceptional! Special kudos to Dody and Ari. The only dining problem is that HAL is trying to institute a split dining schedule with assigned seating AND as you wish seating. It doesn't work. All early seats reserved early and we wound up eating either at the Lido buffet or at 7:45 (too late). They need to either go back to the fixed seating or all freestyle. Many complaints from folks like us who had to wait. On the bright side the food in the Lido was exceptionally well prepared with a varied menu. The HAL approach of putting out freshly cooked food in small quantities paid off. Crisp fresh cooked vegetables were fantastic. Chef Paulo runs a fine operation. Lamb, ham. turkey, chops, duck, Italian, Asian, fresh salads, all available at various times. Reasonable uncrowded and at dinner tables were set with tablecloths to make up for missing the Rotterdam dining Room. The Cruise Director Eric) was one of the best we have had.......UNOBTRUSIVE with only a few announcements per day rather than the constant barrage of announcements (mostly ads) you find today on most lines. Room service was prompt with fresh good tasting food but the menu could stand expanding. Poolside dining from the grill featured good hamburgers, hot dogs, etc., but the pizza was a disappointment. The decor and layout of the Zaandam is upscale with comfortable furnishings. The general condition is excellent but the carpets in the public areas need cleaning or replacing in some areas. Windows need cleaning badly. Great music available in all the lounges. This is not a "party" ship but one aimed at the older and/or retired clientele.....which was perfect for us. Shops offered good quality and decent prices but I found the phots to be exceptionally overpriced. ($40 for a single 8x10 is excessive) Disembarkation was exceptional.......in less than one hour from the time we were told to proceed to the gangway we were at our gate at the airport. We would recommend the luggage express option ($19 each) which was fantastic. Great ship, fantastic crew, above average food.......would definitely sail HAL again in the future. Read Less
Sail Date October 2010
Our two week cruise aboard the ms Zaandam out of San Diego to Hawaii went very well, with one major exception. During the cruise, we decided to bid on a painting by Daryl Millard during a silent auction; the price listed on the painting ... Read More
Our two week cruise aboard the ms Zaandam out of San Diego to Hawaii went very well, with one major exception. During the cruise, we decided to bid on a painting by Daryl Millard during a silent auction; the price listed on the painting was $600.00; we bid $450.00. The auction ended at 5:00 PM, and at 5:05 the art director called our cabin and told us that the painting was ours. We made arrangements to come down and sign the paperwork after dinner, and upon arriving, the director said "Are you here to buy the Millard painting for $450.00?" We said yes, and he said that $500.00 would "Seal the deal". We asked him what he meant, and he explained that he couldn't sell it for only $450.00, and that $500.00 was as low as he could go. I would expect that type of fraud in a 3rd world market stall, but not aboard one of the premier cruise lines. We later found out that one of the couples at our dinner table had a similar experience, and that they were very upset about it. We have since written to H.A.L's corporate offices, and await their response. As to the rest of the cruise, everything else went off without a hitch. This was our 14th cruise, and the first with Holland America. We primarily cruise with Celebrity & Princess, but were surprised to find that the service aboard HAL exceeded both those lines in most areas (if such a statement can be made after only one cruise). Embarkation was pretty smooth, with some delays caused by computer problems, but nothing to complain about. Disembarkation at the end of the cruise was the best we have ever experienced. We had a standard verandah stateroom (#6190 - category B) and although it was a fairly standard size, the layout was excellent, with ample storage. The room was maintained very well, and included a flat screen TV with a DVD player, a small refrigerator and a small whirlpool bath tub. During the cruise we heard a few passengers complain about the upkeep of their cabins, and couldn't figure out what could possibly be wrong. During disembarkation as we were walking along deck two, we could see into some of the cabins and the walls had large rust streaks under the windows going to the floor along with other obvious problems. Overall, the food was excellent. The Lido buffet was pretty good, but they tend to repeat the same dishes a lot; you wouldn't notice it on a one week cruise, but after two weeks, it gets a little old. But hey, it's a buffet, and if you are expecting excellent food at a buffet, you are going to be disappointed. On the other hand, the service at the buffet was the best we have ever seen. They simply cannot do enough to make sure you are happy. Waiters are clearing your table of empty plates quickly; others are pushing carts around to refill coffee cups and water glasses. If you are drinking ice tea, they go get you another glass. I simply cannot describe how good they are; they truly go the extra distance to help you. Dinner in the main dining room met and in some cases exceeded our expectations. Service was excellent, but it usually is with other line also. We felt the food and its presentation were slightly above other lines, but others felt it was about the same. This ship also has two specialty restaurants: The Pinnacle Grill (which charges an extra $20 per person) and Canaletto (free, but you need to make a reservation). The steak house type restaurant, Pinnacle Grill, was good, but not worth the extra money. The Italian restaurant, Canaletto, was outstanding. That is a must if you are cruising on this ship, and in fact, we ate there twice. Don't miss it. Entertainment throughout the cruise was uneven, just like any other ship. The pool band was terrible, as was the piano bar, but the groups in the Explorers Lounge and the Ocean Bar were outstanding. Generally very good entertainment in the main theater, and the cruise director Eric did a nice job keeping things going without being obnoxious. The photo staff did a nice enough job, but $40 for an 8X10 is out of line with other ships. Also, some 5X7's would have been a nice option. One thing that was unique for us was the Culinary Arts Center, which holds cooking classes in a very comfortable environment during at-sea days. Unlike some of the superficial demonstrations done on other lines, these are very in-depth and they give you copies of the recipes at the end of the show. The host, Paula, is to be commended for her work in clarifying things and making it easy to understand. One thing to avoid is buying the ships internet program. They charge $100 for 250 minutes, which is great compared to other lines, but the connection is so slow that it is worthless. When you complain about it, they give the stock answer that ships internet is much slower than on land; yes it is, but not this slow. It is roughly half the speed of dial up, so buyer beware. In conclusion, we would recommend this line and ship, but stay away from the deceptive art department and the internet. Read Less
Sail Date October 2010
First thing, the ship : it has been remodeled, ok, but why put planks to lay on in a tre inch pool? Specially when passengers - most of them - are so old they cannot climb in and out of such pool. The tv sets are so old there is no ... Read More
First thing, the ship : it has been remodeled, ok, but why put planks to lay on in a tre inch pool? Specially when passengers - most of them - are so old they cannot climb in and out of such pool. The tv sets are so old there is no colour left : everything is black and red, the remote batteries need to be checked and changed. Air conditioning : it works full blast or not at all, we preferred the not at all mode. Plumbing : on longer cruises it always happens around half trip, on this cruise it happened at the end so it may be considered as positive. Bathtubs: normal sized but passengers on this cruise were normally very overweight and over age, how can you shower in these conditions? Is this the reason the hot tubs were always full (and I avoided them)? Activities : boring lectures, bridge lessons, computer lessons that should have been held in the (small) theater and not in a 15 seat room. Crafts? making things my three year old niece does or getting together with other passengers and exchange opinions doing your own craft (like in retirement homes). Itinerary : some stops were badly managed. Fanning Island we were encouraged not to get off the ship because it was "dirty": not at all, it has a nice small beach and clean (I did not analyze it) water. Papeete : since we stayed the night, could have included a dance show in the excursions. All together, the itinerary looked like we were in low season and most of the islands were deserted or closed down. Only Honolulu and Lahaina were very good and lively. The food : I am italian, I am a gourmet and excellent cook. The maitre (Sodramin) on the ship should take some cooking lessons. Quite a lot. Will not cruise on this ship again, will not cruise HAL again since "excellence" is very far away from what we experienced. embarkation - disembarkation : I suggest making different paths for those getting in and those getting out, one small lane was used by both having to barge your way in or out. Tenders : sore spot, mostly because passengers could barely walk or were very overweight. Should have made special tendering service for those who had walking problems helping them on and off instead of leaving the problem to those who were already in the tender. Entertainment: really? was there entertainment on board? Never had the chance to get in the theater, the "wailcats" singing on deck had no idea of what the volume button is. The only pleasant moments were those with the guitar man, wherever he was singing. Little added pleasures : stinks of various kind around the ship and a continuous wail (while sailing) in cabins on main deck. Read Less
Sail Date September 2010
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