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213 Holland America Hawaii Cruise Reviews

OUR CRUISE TO HAWAII FROM SAN DIEGO MARCH 22- APRIL 6 20006 This was our sixth cruise in Holland America and first on MS. Amsterdam. We had booked an inside cabin guarantee but the upgrade fairy put us in the outside cabin on Deck 3. ... Read More
OUR CRUISE TO HAWAII FROM SAN DIEGO MARCH 22- APRIL 6 20006 This was our sixth cruise in Holland America and first on MS. Amsterdam. We had booked an inside cabin guarantee but the upgrade fairy put us in the outside cabin on Deck 3. We flew into San Diego on Tuesday March 21, 2006, and the Quality Inn hotel shuttle picked us at the airport. The room was excellent with two queen size beds. After some rest we walked to Balboa Park to stretch our legs due to a long flight from LaGuardia. When, we checked in and we reserved two places on the 2 PM shuttle for March to the pier. That night we had Mexican dinner in the Gas Light district. The next morning ate their complimentary breakfast and then took a shuttle to San Diego Zoo. We spent 4 hours at Zoo and Hotel shuttle brought us back and waited until we went and got our luggage. Our cruise didn't start out on the best foot, when we got to the pier around 2:30 PM on Thursday, dropped of our suitcases at the baggage terminal door. Once we got in the terminal, there were large number of people in line to get on board. We were given a form to check off that we are not suffering from Flu or other Viral infections . They also gave us letter indicating it was code red on the ship, hands had to be washed before we touched anything. In the previous cruise several people were afflicted by Norwalk virus with gastrointestinal problem. The ship was to be thoroughly sanitized by outside cleaning crews. We boarded the ship around 3:30 PM. We went to our stateroom and relaxed for ½ hr and then walked around the ship to locate dining room, public rooms, luckily all were located on the upper Promenade deck and two decks above our cabin. Ship's muster drill held at 4:15, at 5 PM we went to the Sail away party on the Pool Deck and stayed there until ship was undocked and left the pier. We then went to Queenss room to request Maitre D' to change our dining options for early dinner. There were at least 50 people came and none of succeeded for early dining. Next day after Captains party my wife and I spoke to the Manager of food services. Around 12 noon next day to our surprise we were assigned to early dining. FOOD: We ate all our breakfasts and lunches at the La Fontaine dining room. The food was excellent and their service was superb. We ate most of our dinners in the dining room at table 35 with a large back window. The dinners were good to excellent. Our tablemates are friendly but slightly older than us. One couple sailed on HAL several times from San Diego to Hawaii. There were no salt shakers or pepper mills on the table or no self serve coffee or water at Lido cafe due to code RED. When we left Honolulu, the Captain informed us the CODE RED was downgraded to CODE YELLOW which means we still have to wash our hands all the time. Salt and pepper shakers were back on our dining table and we can serve ourselves coffee and water at the Lido Cafe. However, day after we left KONA, CODE RED was back. ACTIVITIES: We had 4 1/2 sea days going over. The seas were amazingly calm with bright sunshine everyday. There was one Captains party during 4 days cruise. Because of CODE RED, we were asked to wash our hand everywhere we went and in the shopping arcade we were asked to wear gloves if we have to touch anything. Even at the library we have followed the same procedures to get any book signed out. There were all kinds of activities all around the ship every day. Lectures were of the highest caliber and were a daily highlight. Coffee chat with performers on the ship in the Promenade Lounge was also in our daily agenda. We attend several lectures on Hawaiian culture from Prof. Dela Cruize a native Hawaiian. On board we also had an out standing marine biologist Dr. Palmisano. His 8 lectures and power point presentation on marine life and the formation of Hawaiian Islands were excellent. My wife also attended several cooking demonstration at the Culinary Art Center. They also showed the first run movies in Wajang Theater with free Popcorn. Since I am an avid reader, I read five books during the two week period cruising. ENTERTAINMENT ON BOARD The entertainment was great! They had 2 comedians, a juggler, two singers, a Piano virtuoso, Opera singer and a guy who played several instruments including hi-tech instrument called a xylo-synth and a story teller from Texas. The Amsterdam Singers and Dancers were outstanding. Entertainment in Public lounges and bars were also excellent. Both Philippine Indonesian crew are very talented and their shows were also very highly professional. ISLANDS: (MAUI) On Friday, we tendered at Lahaina Maui. We rented a car and Avis shuttle picked us at the dock. We drove to Halekeala National park; it was drizzling when we reached park entrance. The Ranger told us heavy wind gusting up to 40 miles and 0 visibilities was the forecast. The visitors center located 10 miles below the summit. Another park ranger told us, the weather is changing constantly, having drove this far, we should drive up to the summit in the rain but there was no wind. Once we reached the look out area nothing was visible, visitors center was closed due to power outage. We got out of the car, the wind gust was 70 miles and rain water came down hit our body like stone pebbles. We sat on the car few 15 minutes and drove back to the first visitors center and ranger informed the wind gust was 70 miles with heavy rain 0 visibility and power outage. Coming down , there are so many hair pin bend on the road with a steady drop in altitude; we drove on the second gear until we reached main Hanna Highway. It is an experience of life time. On the way to Lahaina, we went to Wailuku to see IAO Valley a densely forested valley where King Kamehameha defeated the Maui King. The main attraction is IAO needle is a rock formation blanketed with vegetation and rising 1200 ft above the valley floor. On our way back we stopped at Kepaniwai State Park contains Heritage Garden with different pavilions built to pay tribute to early ethnic groups who settled in Maui. While driving to Kanapalli to drop off the car, we saw a pod of whales jumping out of water between Maui and Island of Lanai. On the way back, the shuttle dropped us at Hilo Hattie where we browsed and bought few goodies for home. Hilo Hattie shuttle bus dropped us at the tender area. The sea was so rough; we waited on the tender boat for more than hour until they stabilized the ship to receive the tender. It was roller coaster ride from the dock to the ship and waves washed over our tender boat. (OAHU). On Tuesday, we docked at Honolulu. We took a city bus to the Arizona Memorial. We toured the Museum got a preview of what to see. At 11:15 we saw a documentary about attack on the Pearl Harbor Dec 1941. The Arizona is awe-inspiring and very emotional place. After all these years, the oil from Arizonas holding tank is still coming up, and being the final resting place for 1200 brave men, really mind boggling. (KAUAI ISLAND). On Wednesday, we docked at Nawiliwili; our rental car shuttle took us to their site at the airport. As we drove, we saw miles and miles of sugar cane plantation, the remains of 1817 Russian port over looking Waimea bay. We drove up the serpentine Canyon drive to see Waimea Canyon. It was a partly cloudy day and Canyon visible with river below as we drove up the mountain. At the look out point 3400 feet above sea level, the deep brilliantly hued gorges aptly named as Grand Canyon of Pacific was visible. We drove up to Kalalau look out at 4100 feet elevation. From here Na Palli coast and Kalalau beach are visible. Colorful native Hawaiian chicken with very long tail plume feathers can be seen at the look out points. We drove down to Waimea Bay where Captain Cook first landed. On the way we stopped at 3600 acres Kauai Coffee plantation, largest in US (Kona Coffee in big island are only 10-15 acres). From here we went to Koloa to see the spouting horn. The spout is formed by wave action forcing the sea water through the holes in a lava formation giving a Geyser like appearance. Next to the Spouting geyser is Alerton garden with lush green tropical foliage, topiary, sculptures and gazebos and former place of Maui Queen. From Poipu we took route 520 and traveled through a tunnel of Eucalyptus tree before the road joins route 50. Our next stop was Wailua Falls on Highway 56, a 200 feet drop of water into Wailua River. (HILO, HAWAII - big island) On Thursday, we docked at Hilo. The National car rental shuttle met us at the Pier. After renting the car, we drove to Volcanoes National Park. In the Park Visitors Center, we took a walking tour with a volunteer park ranger. She is very knowledgeable and has a good sense of humor, and explained the history of volcanic eruptions, geology, flora and fauna in the park. Then we attended 30 minutes video presentation on Volcanoes National park. Afterwards, we drove through Crater Rim Drive, along the Kilauea Caldera stopping at steam vents, Kilauea over look, Jagger Museum, Halemaumau overlook and trail, devastation trail, Thurston lava tube and Kilauea Iki over look.. On the way down, we also stopped at an orchid nursery and gift shop before we went to macadamia factory. We stopped first at Mauna Loa macadamia orchard and candy factory, where we saw harvesting and processing of macadamia nuts. From there we drove to Akaka State Falls Park along the Route 19 scenic Highway. Akaka Falls, 442 feet high, and Kahuna falls 400 feet high is one of many waterfalls along the Hanomu coast of the island. We hiked for ½ hr through a dense forest where sun light was muted. A paved path strenuous at point winds among varied fragrant tropical flowers and vines. The stream has cut through a layer of ash to the more resistant lava below. (KONA, HAWAII - big island) To day is the last day in Hawaii. This morning the ship anchored on the coast of Kona and tender boat dropped us on the dock. As usual we rented a car and proceed on route 19 south, a narrow two lane highway carved out of ledges on the hilly slopes of Mona Loa. After 90 minutes drive, our first stop was Puuhpnua O Honaunau National Historic Park preserves the traditional Hawaiian life for several centuries. On the black lava flats Honaunau Bay National Park maintains this site where many of the old Hawaiian ways carry on in the modern world. Our next stop was St. Benedict Painted Church built in 1890. Using ordinary house paint, the first priest created flamboyant murals depicting Biblical stories to visually teach the congregations. Painted Palm fronds and star adorn the ceiling and upper walls of the church. From here we went Royal Kona Coffee Museum and Plantation. The museum was a disappointment; they had few old rusted coffee bean harvesting and processing machineries. I thought Kauai Coffee plantation had a better Museum and video shows. They were selling Royal Kona coffee beans $20.49/ 7 Oz. One of the ladies from our ship told me both Wal-Mart and K Mart in Kona sell the same brand for $10/ 7 oz. Sure enough we went to K mart and got the same brand and quality of coffee beans for $ 10/ 7 Oz. We reached ship around 3 PM and Amsterdam sailed from Kona at 5 PM sharp .We had another Muster drill before our departure. After dinner, every one waited on the Port side of the ship for the highlight of our trip, "the viewing lava flow at night. What a spectacular sight, as the ship slowly moved east along the coast, every few minutes the shape and size of the lava changed. Goddess Pele knows how to display her magic. SAILING BACK to SAN DIEGO -- The first three days, sea very calm and we hardly saw any other ship. Dr. Palmisano the marine biologist discussed topics on sea birds, sea otters. Dr. Tanner an Astrophysicist and Director of Vancouver Planetarium gave lectures on volcanoes, our universe, Super Nova, Solar Eclipse and UFOs. Some people went to the sports deck with him to observe the stars in the night sky in the middle of Pacific. Some passengers were sick due to Norwalk virus and confined to their cabins and Code RED was back. We had a Mariners party on the 2nd formal night followed by two informal night and formal night. During the last formal night, on the pool deck Chef and his crews created a Desert Extravaganza with 18 tiered 10 feet tall cake, Chocolate creations and Vegetable carvings. The last day,the sea was bit choppy but every one was fine. We had two hour technical stop in Ensenada, Mexico and on Thursday April 6, we disembarked from the ship in a breeze. OVERVIEW - The ship itself is lovely, well designed and maintained, public areas are all maintained spotlessly. This cruise was absolutely fantastic; Amsterdam and all its crew members are as wonderful. We enjoyed each of the islands, and they were all amazing in their own way. Overall an outstanding cruise experience. We will cruise Holland America again - probably on the new Noordam. Read Less
Sail Date March 2006
The embarkation in San Diego was hectic. No provisions were made for people who had trouble walking or standing. Few chairs were available. When we got to our cabin, our toilet had a note saying it was broken. It was full to the brim. Why ... Read More
The embarkation in San Diego was hectic. No provisions were made for people who had trouble walking or standing. Few chairs were available. When we got to our cabin, our toilet had a note saying it was broken. It was full to the brim. Why were we allowed to go to the cabin? How disgusting!! Obviously someone knew about the problem and should have addressed it before we arrived. The ship itself is quite lovely. The common rooms are bright and inviting. I especially enjoyed the library. Many activities were scheduled each day. It would be nice if we knew what some of the activities were. When there was a change in meal time or show time it was noted in the daily schedule. It would have been nice if the activities director brought it to everyone's attention in his daily announcement. The excursion staff was not at all helpful. They consistently said they didn't have information we requested because it was their first time in Hawaii. One day when we went on a tour, we felt as if we were help captive on the bus. It began to pour. We asked to go back to the ship since our outdoor experience could not be had. Many other tour group passengers also wanted to do this. The driver refused, even after he was told by his superiors that roads were closed due to mud slides. We were stuck on that bus for almost 8 hours!! We eventually got half our money back, but that didn't give us back the day we lost. We could have gone to the shops by the port, or even back to the ship and participated in activities there. I would not recommend a Holland America Cruise. Read Less
Sail Date October 2006
We booked our cruise 20 months in advance. It was to be my "dream" vacation. Our final bill was to be paid in July and I called at least 6 times over a period of three days and each time left a voice mail message. When I did not ... Read More
We booked our cruise 20 months in advance. It was to be my "dream" vacation. Our final bill was to be paid in July and I called at least 6 times over a period of three days and each time left a voice mail message. When I did not get a return call, I called Mr. Stein Kruse, the CEO and with his help was finally able to pay the remainder of our bill. Travel to San Diego was uneventful and booked through HAL. After my husband and I picked up our luggage from the baggage area, we left all four bags in the hands of the HAL representative. We were put on a bus to go to the pier and the bus had some unusable seats. The check in at the pier was chaotic and we stood in line (in a hot warehouse) for at least 45 minutes-1 hour. We found our cabin without incident and toured the ship while we waited for our luggage to arrive. Three of the four pieces arrived before dinner. The fourth bag (mine) was lost and HAL was never able to get it to me for the entire 15 days of the voyage. This particular bag contained 100% of my makeup, evening wear, shampoo, brush, comb, curling iron, toothbrush and paste, swimsuit, suntan lotion, creams, informal wear, and 50% of my shorts, capris, shoes, sweaters, etc. The first evening, I was given an "emergency kit" which consisted of a small toothbrush, small toothpaste and Scope. The next day HAL said they would give me $50 on board credit to purchase emergency supplies...I bought four items of the cheapest products in the on-board store (we were at sea for the first four days) and the total came to $56.42. Guest relations said they did not have the authority to approve the remaining $6.42! I was in tears and was then told to go down one floor to guest relations. Long story short, it was finally approved, through persistence and some begging. Same story when I asked them to approve a $39.00 shampoo and styling in the hair salon. The first day in port (Hilo) I again called Mr. Kruse. I was then approved for two more appointments in the beauty salon and a massage. The ship also charged my insurance company to cover any other on-board expenses that I might have. Hilo was our first port. Nice city. Our excursion included Akaka Falls and the nut factory. It was okay, but far from outstanding. I spent the afternoon in Walmart, to purchase supplies that I would not have needed nor wanted if HAL had not lost my luggage: cost $104.00 The next day we docked in Honolulu. We did the excursion to the Arizona, Mighty Moe and the Punch Bowl. Well worth the time and money, although I did get sun burned. Our second day we did the Island Little Circle tour. It was a huge waste of time and money. Our fourth day in Hawaii, we dropped anchor outside of Kona and were getting ready to disembark when the earthquake hit. The ship really shook. Fortunately the captain, within minutes of the quake, told the passengers what had happened and that the ship was fine. Our tour was cancelled, so I cannot report on the volcano that we expected to see. Our last day was spent in torrential rain in Lahaina. Because of the weather, our glass bottom boat tour was also cancelled. The last stop on the last night of the tour was to be in Ensenada, Mexico. The port was fogged in with 0 visibility, so that was also cancelled. The best part of the cruise was seeing Pearl Harbor and the WWII memorial. Since we had a balcony cabin, we also enjoyed some beautiful rainbows on the Pacific Ocean during the cruise back to San Diego. The wait staff was first class as was our cabin attendant. My husband and I enjoyed playing in the casino and it made some of the long days at sea go faster. Reading my book also helped. I would have liked to have been able to enjoy the pool and hot tub, however HAL had my bathing suit and had sent it to Mexico. We also enjoyed the shows. We were surprised at the large number of very elderly people on this cruise, and the accompanying number of wheelchairs, canes, and walkers. At the conclusion of this cruise, all passengers received a "cruise log" which included the captains notes about the voyage. I have not received this from any other cruise line and I found it to be a valuable keepsake. In conclusion, HAL's lack of due diligence in taking care of my luggage ruined my very expensive vacation. The fact that I could not wear most of the clothes that I had bought specifically for this trip was traumatic. After the first day or two though, my trauma was as much about HAL's poor response to the problems they created as it was to the lost luggage. My requests were reasonable, but with each request,I was usually told "I don't have the authority to approve that." I asked, in writing to see the ship's hotel manager and was refused. I did meet with him at the end of the voyage, but only because I insisted after a public meeting. Within one week of arriving at home, I wrote to Mr. Kruse and to the head of guest relations at the corporate office and have yet to get a response. This was by far the worst cruise I have ever taken and we will not sail with HAL again. Read Less
Sail Date October 2006
Zaandam Cruise, Circle Hawaii, Nov 1 - 16, 2006 (Overall Trip, Oct 31 - Nov 16, 2006) Route: San Diego - Hilo - Honolulu (2 nights) - Lahaina - Kona - San Diego. 1. General Comments: A great cruise. This was our fifth cruise with HAL. ... Read More
Zaandam Cruise, Circle Hawaii, Nov 1 - 16, 2006 (Overall Trip, Oct 31 - Nov 16, 2006) Route: San Diego - Hilo - Honolulu (2 nights) - Lahaina - Kona - San Diego. 1. General Comments: A great cruise. This was our fifth cruise with HAL. We booked a cabin with private verandah (7th deck). The important issue for this cruise is why do you want to take this particular cruise? There are four days going to Hawaii with nothing to see and five days returning with nothing to see. This is an ideal cruise for rest and recuperation; my wife and I needed this after a most stressful nine months of 2006. We could do as much or as little as we pleased during these travel days. We have been visiting the islands for literally decades, so touring the islands was not a consideration. If your intention is to see the islands, then fly there; do not spend 9 days travelling to and from Hawaii. The passengers on this cruise also fit the traditional description of HAL passengers: elderly. Of course! This cruise is 15 days during school days and no holidays. How many working families with school-age children could take this much time off? Yes, there were some young families with children (home schooled?), but electric scooters and walkers outnumbered baby strollers. Also, widows far outnumbered whatever single men on board. Weather is important. In November Hawaii has daily temperatures in the 80s. However, San Diego is in the low 60s, and the temperatures do not go up just because you are on a ship. temperatures did not hit the 70s until the third day out and returned to the 60s about two days from San Diego. We had no rain on this cruise; seas were moderate, but there often was a good wind (up to 20 knots) across the ship. HAL seems to have come to a reasonable solution on controlling the spread of illnesses spread by sick cruise passengers. They have placed automatic dispensers of alcohol-based cleansers at the entrance of the dining room as well as both lines of the Lido and the entrance to the Pinnacle Restaurant. Most passengers seemed to accept - and use - these cleansing machines. 2. Travel to San Diego: We took the HAL hotel option, travelling to San Diego the day before the cruise. We were met by a HAL rep at the airport, picked up our luggage, and were taken by shuttle to the near-by Sheraton Marina Hotel. Hotel bell boy tips are covered by HAL. On a previous cruise out of San Diego, we spent the morning before boarding taking a short tour of the city. No more; now you can now sleep in, have a leisurely breakfast, and wait for a shuttle to take you directly to the pier at around 11:30. Hotel bell boys pick up your luggage, and you next see it in your cabin. Check-in at the pier is quick, especially if you have checked in on-line at the HAL website. You can board the ship at 11:30, but cannot get to your cabin until sometime around 1:00 - 1:30. Lunch is served at the Lido during this time, and it is a bit of a zoo. As people board they stake out tables on the Lido deck - with their carry on bags - and do not move until they can go to their cabins. A place to sit and eat becomes scarce. Those who do not want to eat settle in at the other public areas on board. The end result, though, is that things get a bit jammed until the all clear is given for moving to cabins. 3. The Zaandam: The ship was very attractive, and our cabin was comfortable for the two of us. There was plenty room for putting away clothes and suitcases. Suitcases fit under bed, nicely out of the way. There was even good shelf space in the bathroom. The cabin had a small safe in the closet, and a small refrigerator. The TV is set up for DVDs, and besides movies, also receives CNN and ESPN. We also received a daily 8 page NY Times Fax newspaper which includes the daily NYT crossword puzzle. The ship has an internet cafe (with coffee) and there are also WiFi arrangements if you bring your own computer. There is a full-service spa and gym, and four laps around the outside third deck equals one mile. The crew and staff were tops. Officers were Dutch, cabin and dining room stewards were Indonesian, and bar personnel were Filipino. Deck crew was also Indonesian. On our cruise we were full with 1,400 passengers. Temperatures inside the ship fluctuated between cold and cool. We quickly realized that no matter how high we set the thermostat in our cabin, it was still cold. Only when the sun was beating down on the ship in Hawaii did the inside temperatures become more comfortable (for us). If you prefer a warmer temperature, you may want to bring along at least an extra long-sleeve shirt, if not a sweater. Because of the length of the cruise, there are two lifeboat drills: the usual one before the cruise departs, and the second one after departing Hawaii on the return leg. 4. Meals: We join other travellers who say that HAL food is excellent. We gained minimal weight as we did not attempt to eat everything. Breakfast and lunch are open seating in the dining room or cafeteria style in the Lido restaurant. The Lido was quite popular for these two meals, probably because one could pick and choose more easily. We did try the alternative Pinnacle restaurant, and it was busy. There is a surcharge when eating in this fancier restaurant. Was it worth it? I think so; the service is a bit more relaxed than in the dining room, and the presentation is nicer. Wine list is better. We found it interesting that probably most customers had vouchers for the surcharge, meaning that someone else (their travel agents?) paid the charge. Dinner is the only meal with specified sittings in the dining room. There are two times with each sitting, ie, 5:30 upper floor, 6:00 main floor and again, 7:45 upper and 8:15 main. My impression is that this eases the crush in the kitchen at each sitting. The wine list is respectable; there are package deals for bottles. Wine by the glass is also available. Food portions are of respectable size, and if you don't try to eat all the courses everyday, you should not do bad weight-wise. The kitchen is quite prepared to handle special dietary requests (take the kitchen tour, if offered; it is amazing). The Lido Deck at poolside also runs a hamburger/pizza line for those who can't survive from lunch to dinner. The Dutch dinner that used to be served one night is now a Master Chef's Dinner. The Chocolate Dessert that used to be held at midnight is now the Dessert Extravaganza at a more respectable 10:30PM. The last formal night is now called a Black and White Dinner with the traditional Baked Alaska parade through the dining room. 5. Dressing for Meals: For this 15 day trip it was three formal, three informal, and nine casual/Hawaiian meals. The ladies on board were all dressed well for the formal evening meals. It was about a 50-50 split between dark suits and tuxes for men. 6. Shore Excursions: HAL sent a booklet listing all their shore tours with details and prices, so you have a good idea what you want to do before ever arriving at the ship. Avoid the lines on board and make your shore excursion reservations on-line. The billing goes direct on your credit card and not on your shipboard account. If you know the ports of call and want to travel by yourself, then, of course, you don't need the ship's tour office. HAL's tour prices are not cheap; you are paying for the convenience of having the ship organize the tour rather than you doing it after you get ashore. Also, if you obtain your tour through the ship's staff, you have support when there is a problem. Go to your local AAA office and get their tour book for Hawaii as well as maps for the islands and Honolulu. The Honolulu bus system (called The Bus - $2 to go anywhere) is on-line. The Maui bus system is also on-line ($1 to go anywhere). There is a ton of information available on-line to help you decide what to see on the islands. The ship docked in Hilo and Honolulu; tenders had to be used at Lahaina and Kona. The pier at Hilo is a bit out of the way; you need a cab to get into the downtown area. Caution about the docking at Honolulu; while the literature says that the ship docks at the Aloha Tower, we docked at Pier 2 which is about a 10 - 15 minute walk from the Tower. We were at Kona at the same time as the Pride of Hawaii; this made for some crowds in the small community. An interesting sight comes around 11PM after departing Kona. The ship stops about 700 meters off shore from where the Kilauea Volcano lava flows are pouring into the ocean. The scene is pitch dark with only the red glows from the vents on the mountain side as well as the entry points into the sea. The ship does a 360 degree spin so that all passengers can view this sight. About two days out from Hawaii on the return leg, the ship developed some engine problem and had to slow down to work on it. It was fixed and speed was resumed. However, the time lost cancelled the stop in Ensenada (scheduled for 8PM - midnight). In order to meet the US law requirements the ship still stopped at the Ensenada roads at midnight, processed with the Mexican authorities, and continued on its way only thirty minutes later. We arrived in San Diego on time. 7. Shipboard entertainment: The ship has a daily schedule full of activities for all tastes: sports, cards, bridge, bingo, cooking classes and demonstrations, movies, etc, etc. The evening shows were pleasant and worth seeing, even if all of them were not of Las Vegas caliber. The three performances by the ship's song and dance troupe were well done. Headliners included a violinist, singer, juggler/comedian, comedian, etc. I would say the singer (a girl from Sydney) was the most popular with the audience. An issue with the shows is seating. Many people from the early dinner seatings go straight to the theater and camp out there the 45 minutes or so until the show starts. Add in the numerous people who don't observe their "assigned" times for attending the show, and you get a full house very early. Several times my wife and I went to the theater about 15 minutes before show time and no seats were left. The casino was of good size and the payoffs did not seem to be much worse than Las Vegas. Duty-free liquor on board was reasonable, but limited in variety. There was not much business, though, as you cannot carry the liquor onto an airplane. You can, though, pack it in your checked baggage (if you dare). You'll have plenty of pictures taken of yourselves by the ship's photographers--pricey, but a good souvenir. The library is well-stocked; there are plenty of nooks around for quiet reading. Those into the disco scene will enjoy the Crow's Nest on the 9th deck which runs into the wee hours. Note that the ship's stores and casino are closed almost continuously during the six days the ship is in Hawaii. The printed daily program details all the day's activities. This helped reduce the often obnoxious broadcast announcements by a cruise director of the latest upcoming events. This ship's director only came on once daily, right after the captain's report from the bridge. Occasionally there was some other activities announcement, but normally there was peace and quiet. The Pinnacle held a tasting of six premium wines that was excellent. We were 16 participants of whom only 4 were women. We presumed that some people may have balked at the $35 tasting fee, but we all agreed it was worth it to taste wines that would usually be outside our price ranges. 8. Tipping: The present HAL system was the easiest we've run into. You are charged $10 per person per day on your shipboard bill. This covers all your tips, period. The $10 is broken down by the ship: $3.50 for your cabin steward, $3.50 for your dining room steward, and the remaining $3 goes into a pool and is divided among all others who support you. The bar personnel and wine stewards receive 15 percent on your bar/wine bill as you go. You do not have to give anything to anybody; it is done for you. Some people still gave something extra to a favorite person, but that was the exception. 9. Settling of Accounts: During your cruise anything you purchase on board (drinks, souvenirs, tours, duty free items, photos) is punched into a computer; you sign one copy of the ticket and you receive a copy. The day before the end of the cruise you receive a preliminary statement of your account. This gives you time to clear up any problems. At the beginning of the cruise you give the ship's front office an imprint of your credit card. In the morning before disembarking you receive a final statement. Very painless. 10. Disembarking: One reviewer described this procedure as hurry-up and wait . Very true. Your bags have to be out by midnight, breakfast is early, but you can remain in your cabin until it is time to disembark. Your bags are color coded by the type and time of your onward transportation. Disembarking started around 8:30, and we were in the first group (our flight left at 11:50). Even with a delay with the bus to take us to the airport, we were checked in, through airport security, and at the gate by 9:40. 11. Conclusion: Despite some hiccups along the way, this was a great trip. You have to study beforehand how you want to spend your travel days as well as what you want to do in Hawaii. This cruise certainly met our needs and expectations. If anyone has questions, send me an e-mail at LTC519@satx.rr.com Fred Groth San Antonio, TX Read Less
Sail Date November 2006
SHIP: Zandaam, Holland America Lines, 15 day Hawaii (from 12/21/06 to 01/05/070, round trip San Diego. Cabin#6109 Verandah Deck Embarkation: Checking in went fast and the stateroom was ready at 1:00 PM as promised. We were suppose to ... Read More
SHIP: Zandaam, Holland America Lines, 15 day Hawaii (from 12/21/06 to 01/05/070, round trip San Diego. Cabin#6109 Verandah Deck Embarkation: Checking in went fast and the stateroom was ready at 1:00 PM as promised. We were suppose to leave San Diego at 5:00 PM, but a medical emergency delayed our departure. The Cabin: a Verandah Suite, port side forward. The room needed updating, the carpeting was worn with several stains. The couch was also stained. The bathroom shower also had black mold around the soap dish and hand hold. During the evening you can hear you can hear what is taking place in lounge which is below the stateroom. The layout of the room made it seem small. On the positive side the bed was the most comfortable I've ever encountered on a cruise ship. SHIP: the ship itself was well maintained and the attendants were constantly cleaning. Overall I found the ship consistent with those of the Princess line, but nothing out of the ordinary. ACTIVITIES at Sea: Everyday the ship posted a list of activities.The list was always full, but it consisted mainly of activities intended to get you to spend more money, such as: bingo, watch and jewelry sales, spa treatments, gambling, ect.. The vast majority of people spent their time at sea reading. SEA Days: There were 10 days at sea on this cruise. Thats way too many and it was voice others on this cruise. I certainly didn't realize how bored you can get on a cruise ship. The first five days are not that bad because you are looking forward to Hawaii, but the return voyage is hard to take. Think twice if your trying to decide to take this cruise or similar ones offered by Princess or Celebrity. DINING: The dining room on this ship is beautiful. The service is not as good as I've received on other cruise lines. The food in the main dining room is the worst I've every experienced. On several occasions the meals were cold, and were not cooked properly. Pasta was hard, the meat was tough. Overall a bad experience. Another couple had made this cruise on four previous occasions, but not on the Zandaam. According to them, Holland America food is usually very good and they felt the food was only a problem with this ship. They only satisfactory meal we experienced on this cruise was a when we dined at the Captain's table. Cruise Experience: One of the high point of this voyage was suppose to be cruising by the volcano national park at night to observe the lava flow into the ocean This was to take place on 12/30/06, and according to the Cruise Director, the ship would pass by the volcano and then turn around and pass the volcano again so people on both sides of the ship would get a good view. The Captain announced, over the ship's PA system, that we pass the volcano between 11PM and 12 AM. Well the ship passed the volcano at about 11:05PM, at about 19.5 knots, with no announcement made over the ship's PA system. While dining with the Captain he was asked "why didn't you announce we were passing the volcano" and his response was "I didn't want everybody to run on deck and go to one side of the ship". Another person asked the captain "why didn't we turn around as the Cruise Director said we would", and Captain's response was "it was too windy to turn the ship around". I personally heard these questions asked of the Captain and these are his exact responses. Ship's Staff: the best service I ever had on a cruise ship. The service in the bar was outstanding. I have to commend the staff on this ship. Weather: on the voyage to Hawaii we 2 bad days. The seas were rough and numerous people were sea sick. On the voyage back the last night before we reached San Diego was extremely rough and was one of the worst days on the voyage. Overall, not too many smooth days at sea Shore Excursions: We the helicopter tour of Lihue, HI and it was well worth the money. The best tour I've ever taken on a cruise. The other were general tours arranged thru the cruise ship. Nothing outstanding. Shows: The shows put on by the ship's crew were top notch. This is the first cruise where I found the stage shows by the crew were better than the guest performers. Embarkation: well organized and went smoothly Conclusion: I probable would not cruise with Holland America again. The food is below average, the cruise experience is about the same as Princess, but the ships crew service was well above average. Read Less
Sail Date December 2006
First, a word about us. We are late 50s. We cruise often but have never been on a ship this large. We took this trip because it meant a friend could go with us and we could drive to the ship. We were anxious about the size of the ship but ... Read More
First, a word about us. We are late 50s. We cruise often but have never been on a ship this large. We took this trip because it meant a friend could go with us and we could drive to the ship. We were anxious about the size of the ship but decided to give it a chance. EMBARKATION: From moment we drove up to the ship until we were onboard, it probably took 15 minutes. On a small ship, it would have taken 5 and we would not have felt like we had been "processed". We appreciated being able to board at 11AM but our first encounter with the Lido underwhelmed us and did not change throughout (think Luby's cafeteria). CABIN: This was very much a last minute cruise - we booked and paid about five weeks prior to sailing. Our friend, and travel agent, recommended we take a guarantee cabin and we were well-pleased with where we ended up - on the lower promenade deck. We had two adjacent, but not connecting, cabins and they were mere steps from the mid-ship's door to the promenade deck. We especially enjoyed the ability to zip in and out these doors to avoid tedious trips through the passageways and to have a fun place to sit in the evenings. The cabins themselves were a bit tired and cramped but we had plenty of storage space and the beds were wonderful. Our steward was efficient and largely invisible! DINING: The three of us were seated at a table for 8 at the 8:15 seating. Our wait staff was very good and attentive. However, we are accustomed to eating where and when we want and having to eat at the same table with the same people at the same time for 2 weeks got old, fast. Sadly, we didn't try the Pinnacle until the end of the cruise - had we tried it earlier, we would have had many more meals there. As far as the food goes, I would say that most cruise ship food (even on our beloved little ships) is pretty but fairly boring. I do not cruise for the food so that is the end of my comments about it. However, a couple tips for coffee lovers - if you order cappuccinos for lunch or dinner, they are free vs whatever they cost in the coffee bar. THE SHIP ITSELF: Very pretty and understated and very well maintained. I felt the traffic flow because of the noisy casino was a bit awkward. The internet area was in the library where, unlike little ships, they lock up the books at night! The library was especially nice late in the evening. This ship needs a "quiet zone" - no one yakking. Spent virtually no time around the pool or in any of the lounges, the reason for the latter to follow. ACTIVITIES: We LOVE sea days and I do not become bored so I am probably not the typical big ship cruiser who wants fun, fun, fun. The motion of the ocean lulls me into a a very peaceful state and having to dash off here or there to play bingo or go to a movie or listen to a speaker turns me off. However, there appeared to be plenty for folks to do but many of these were aimed at separating passengers from their money. ENTERTAINMENT: With the exception of the crew shows, the passenger games, and an Aussie singer named Annie Francis, the entertainment was lame at best and down-right awful in most instances. The piano player might have been good but who could tell when he was forced to compete with the jangle of slot machines! We were looking forward to catching up on some movies but the awkward arrangement of the screen in the theater made this very difficult. The speakers we heard were either boring or were trying to sell us something. STAFF: This is the ship's strong point. It was interesting to learn how they are trained. They were great. FELLOW PASSENGERS: I don't know how full the ship was because the well-designed public areas kept crowds to a minimum. There were said to be some 100 children on board but I probably never saw more than 10 as they were well attended in the HAL Club. Kudos to Zaandam for ensuring they weren't a nuisance. What was a nuisance was the large number of incapacitated, irritable elderly passengers! Why they subject themselves to the rigors of navigating a ship this size eludes me! SHORE EXCURSIONS: We don't do them so we can't comment except to say some of tablemates learned early on why we go it alone. Thereafter, they opted for independent travel. I have been to Hawaii several times and wasn't too interested in anything on offer, anyway! Knocking around the small towns and hiring a local taxi for a highlight's drive were about as energetic as we got before settling down to an on-shore lunch. BOTTOM LINE: Would we do another HAL cruise? Probably not because of the inflexibility inherent with big-ship cruising. Back to the little guys for us. However, this trip was superior in almost every respect to a trip I took with a sister in law in 5/06 on Oceania's Nautica (650 pax) which we hated largely because of its gawdy decor and obsession with enhancing the bottom line. There were moments of that on this ship, selling water to folks going on the overpriced shore excursions (give the folks water on the buses, for pete's sake!)as an example, but more subtle. Read Less
Sail Date December 2006
Holland America Zaandam - January 20th to February 4th, 2007 This was our third time on Holland to Hawaii (repeat of 3 years ago and 6 years ago), our 14th Holland cruise and 40th cruise to date. Booked two adjoining rooms 3397/3401 with ... Read More
Holland America Zaandam - January 20th to February 4th, 2007 This was our third time on Holland to Hawaii (repeat of 3 years ago and 6 years ago), our 14th Holland cruise and 40th cruise to date. Booked two adjoining rooms 3397/3401 with connecting doors for three adults. Embarkation was a breeze as usual since we live in San Diego. A ten minute ride to the pier and with an express boarding pass(completed on home computer), we were on the ship in five minutes flat including photos! The ship, now six years old, is in beautiful shape like other Holland ships(except a very few spots with worn carpet) and was extremely clean from bow to stern. The first night and day of our four day crossing to Hawaii was a little rough and a few newbies did get a little seasick, but the rest of the voyage was mostly smooth for a winter Pacific crossing. Only major problem was six foot swells in Kona that caused our Captain to cancel the port call as he did not want to risk any injuries getting on or off of the tenders. Too bad that Kona does not have a dock...maybe someday they will build one so that they don't lose the tourist revenue because of high seas! Our cabins were perfect, room steward was very attentive, food was good in both the Rotterdam Dining Room and the Lido. Pinnacle grill was outstanding on this ship, we all agreed that both the food and service were excellent, but since it was a gift from TA we didn't have to spend the $30 extra which is a little steep (the old $20 charge seemed about right). The crew on this voyage was outstanding, they all seemed to go out of their way to be accommodating, from the room steward, to the dining stewards and especially to the buffet line cooks in the Lido who took the time to give you exactly what you wanted at any meal. Special kudos to the omelette cook and the deli sandwich cook for their creations! The ports of call in Hawaii were of course as beautiful as ever and we appreciated having an overnight in Honolulu so that we could spend some time with friends who live their and gave us a Cook's tour of all the places that you don't normally get to see, off the beaten path. The return to San Diego was very relaxing with another four beautiful days at sea and once again a very smooth disembarkation which Holland has down to a science with passengers allowed to remain in their cabins (or any other place on the ship) to avoid the crushing stampede of passengers that is so common in the cruise industry. Our only complaint on the voyage was the fact that there was a group of about 400 passengers that were attending religious seminars on board which tied up the main showroom and some of the lounges causing events and games for the other passengers to be moved around or cancelled. The bingo games were held in the Crow's Nest which didn't workout very well and were poorly attended as a result. But the biggest problem with this group was that some of them were very religious and attempted to preach to the other passengers which didn't go over very well. We noticed that the mood on this voyage was very strange, after a while, as people stopped being talkative for fear of getting preached at in response to a simple hello! I encountered this same problem years ago on another cruise line and the same change of mood spoiled the atmosphere on that cruise because of a religious group on board...people don't go on vacation to get religion, most of us get plenty of that at home and Holland should not allow this type of group to spoil other passenger's vacations. We will probably not be sailing on Holland again due to this religious group experience...if they can't charter the whole ship, they should meet on land! Read Less
Sail Date January 2007
This was our 6th cruise--the first with Holland America, the first to Hawaii, and our first sailing without a balcony. If I was allowed only one word for this experience it would be TERRIFIC! That said, there were a couple of glitches that ... Read More
This was our 6th cruise--the first with Holland America, the first to Hawaii, and our first sailing without a balcony. If I was allowed only one word for this experience it would be TERRIFIC! That said, there were a couple of glitches that provided some consternation, but nothing could diminish an overall A+ experience. San Diego: We arrived on our own, one day prior to cruising. We highly recommend arriving one day prior for a cruise that begins with 4 days at sea. We stayed at the Hotel Solamar in the Gaslight district and loved the restaurant there. It was an easy $12.00 cab ride to the port and just slightly more from the airport. Embarkation: We arrived a little before noon. The embarkation procedure was well organized and completed in less than 45 minutes. The only hitch was when the tide shifted and they had to adjust the ramp. That event resulted in a little people shifting and brief wait. Since HAL allows departing passengers to remain in their staterooms prior to disembarking (so humane) we were not allowed in cabins before 1:00. Lunch was served on the Lido deck and there was plenty of room to sit and wait. Cabin: Our cabin was on the lower promenade deck. Since this was our first time sailing without a veranda/balcony we feared this would be an issue. Our cabin, 3364, was next to the mid-ship door leading out to the promenade deck. There were ample numbers of teak deck chairs on the deck and we felt like we just had a really BIG balcony for this trip! We were underneath the Pinnacle Restaurant and had a very quiet cabin. We did hear others on this deck complain that they were not so lucky. Be sure to look before you book any cabin on any ship for what might be above or below your cabin. Our cabin steward was quiet and extremely professional. The cabin provided ample storage space. There are even 2 drawers under the foot of the bed! We did have several problems with basic systems in the cabin. By the 2nd day we were sure that the air did not seem to be cooling the room adequately. A technician came about 1 hour after reporting the problem and he fixed the broken capacitor. We have complained about warm cabins on other ships and were told port days were different and that rooms would not be as cool. Now, we wished we had called the first day instead of waiting as there was a real problem and even on sea days the cabin remained comfortable! The second problem was with the toilet. For several days we experienced problems flushing. Sometimes it flushed with as much as a 30 minute delay and other times it just didn't flush at all. It took repeated phone calls to get this resolved. We heard there were others with a similar problem. Happily, this was resolved within 3 days. Two of the four elevators mid-ship did not work on a regular basis. One would open its doors and after the doors closed it would remain on the Lido deck until someone would push the elevator call button. My husband would report this daily and ask them to shut it down rather than continue to hold passengers in a closed elevator. Unfortunately, this was not done and we met one woman who became very anxious at the prospect of being trapped. This is the only complaint/problem that was not promptly addressed the entire cruise. Food: The dining room and bar staff/wine stewards were among the best we have ever had. The food was always hot or cold as appropriate and delicious. We looked forward to reading the menu earlier in the day and thinking about what our decision would be for the night. The Pinnacle Grill, an added fee venue, provided excellent food and service. We ate their twice, once on our 25th anniversary and they provided a special cake. The food on the Lido deck was varied and good, but a little bland at lunch time. The flow at breakfast was not well designed and often resulted in bottle necks at the hot stations. The staff there is top rate. The lido stewards are just the best ever. They quickly learn your name and what you like to drink. They anticipate your needs and act on them. Be sure to check the daily newspaper for its hours of operation. The hours varied daily by a half hour at the front and back end some days. They also did not always follow their printed times. This was the first cruise we have been on that did not have a variety of food available (outside of room service or the fruit in your room placed by the steward) in the early evening. There was a period of time, after five, when the only food available would be at the library café (the drinks were extra). They served a muffin with frosting, etc. Since we had dinner at 8:15 we had to plan ahead to have crackers or bread and cheese available if we got hungry before the Lido reopened at 6:30. (For most folks this is a silly complaint, but due to a medical problem I had to plan ahead for protein options.) We enjoyed the Royal Dutch High Tea and the Indonesian Tea. They were great fun. Entertainment: We only went to hear the Classical Strings/Piano Trio and the crew shows. The classical musicians were very good. We did have problems locating them as the ship's newspaper was often not correct. The staff was not able to help us find when they would play that evening. The crew shows were very dear. There was lots of pride and soul in each. We also went to see the local talent from Hilo, a group of 50yo+ women who performed the classic hula. They provided a lovely show. The onboard speakers were not as entertaining as some others we have heard. The timing of their talks (after the events) seemed odd. For a $15 donation, the ship offered a 5K Pink Ribbon walk for the Susan B. Komen Foundation. There was a good turn out. The Captain and Cruise Director walked with the group and they were always very accessible during the course of our whole cruise. Shore Excursions: We took 3 of HAL's offerings. On Oahu, we did the USS Arizona, the Mighty Mo and Punch Bowl/downtown Honolulu; on Hilo, we did Akka Falls, macadamia nut factory and a botanical garden; and on Maui the Atlantis Submarine. All three tours were well done and worth the charge. Our bus driver for the Oahu trip offered lots of insights as a native Hawaiian. The Falls were beautiful, but the walk was more challenging than described. My husband has severe arthritis in his hips and it was a little difficult. Overall impression: The best thing about HAL is their staff. It is truly just first rate. They are professional people who give the appearance of liking each other and their jobs. Every person we encountered made us feel welcome and special. The ship was beautifully appointed and very classic. We loved how the ship never felt overcrowded or too spread out. The library is a real library! It felt like a comfortable coffee shop with the Explorer's Café in the middle of the library. The average age of passenger was probably about 65, but there were lots of very vigorous 60+ year olds on board! My very favorite parts of the trip were seeing and hearing whales and going by an active volcano at night. It was truly a memorable vacation cruise. Give yourself a treat and be sure to consider HAL when looking for your next cruise. Read Less
Sail Date January 2007
Background Information - I am 36 and my husband is 44 and in the last three months we have cruised transatlantic, caribbean and now most recently Hawaii. We have never been displeased with a cruise experience aside from a few details that ... Read More
Background Information - I am 36 and my husband is 44 and in the last three months we have cruised transatlantic, caribbean and now most recently Hawaii. We have never been displeased with a cruise experience aside from a few details that were missed on our recent RCCL experience that were actually rectified when we arrived home from our HAL cruise in a letter. Hotel Info 4 nights at the Holiday Inn directly directly across from the ship. Ship Info Zaandam Activities There is tennis and a small gym Service The staff were great, I have nothing bad to say about any service. Only an observation that we found it very odd that the staff were always using the lido deck dining area, the restaurant there and the deck to eat...occupying the long lines and the few tables. I have never seen this before and found it very against the rules of any hotel operation. Shore Excursions We rented cars or toured on our own which worked out fantastically. Plus there were many many taxi's , as expected, available for our departure though the cruise line would go a long way to suggest none would be available in order to gain a large fee for their shuttle. Travel To Port of Embarkation Houston was horrible as usual with terrible staff at their Continental desk - plus the flight was delayed leaving us stranded in Houston overnight, having a 10 usd voucher each at a candy shop (nothing more) and a 5 hour sleep before having to catch our rescheduled flight. Horrible experience that dragged out an otherwise quick trip from our home in Cancun Stateroom Fantastic with jacuzzi, veranda and tv channels, free rental of DVD's in the library . Room steward was fantastic. Found it a little odd that there was no way to let the steward know we were not in the room...we are used to having a little card placed in the door slot to let them know we are not there and to 'make up room'. Would have saved him a lot of time. Dining Great food in the dining room but especially in the Pinnacle Grill was there a true cruise like experience. The main dining room delivered the food incredibly quickly allowing us to enjoy a five course dinner in 60 minutes time is really quite silly. Not a true dining experience. Pinnacle was completely different. We had a courtesy visit there and the second time paid 60usd. Were not charged for the bottle of wine that we brought, perhaps because we tipped so madly 60usd for our table of 8. Children's Clubs No children, thank goodness. Or perhaps just a few from the crew and their wives...again , occupying the coffee lines and the restaurant on the lido deck. Entertainment We did not venture to see the entertainment because we feared it would just not meet our expectations, having the majority of the fellow passengers some 40 years older than us. Disembarkation Fantastically fast and was wonderful to sit in our cabin until we were called. Much quicker than Miami disembarkation but questionable that customs did not give that much care. Miami has much higher security and technology that was missing entirely here. decor - the entire ship was tired, it was very hard to believe that the ship was in fact only seven years old because the technology was missing entirely, the areas were super dated and reflected the 70's. The furniture in the public areas was of the oldest style and there just were not any beautiful areas to take photos that we are so accustomed to. The gym was carpeted in orange and turquoise, almost like there was a sale on ugly carpet...it doesn't have to be that way. Nothing to wow or marvel at as far as any public area and we are used to being wowed...grey old walls covered the hallways...we didn't use the elevators because our 6th floor cabin allowed for easy access to every single area being that everything was on the 5th floor or 8th floor and we were right off the stairway. I would recommend this cruise to your parents or grandparents, anyone over 75 years old...because the crowd was what we infact referred to as a 'floating seniors citizens home'. The buffet was a little odd because the glass (that serves to keep people from drooling on the food) did not able a person to serve himself without doing an awkward back bend to reach food not placed directly closest to you.Ridiculously unaccessible. The dessert buffet outside one night was beautiful to look at but the food was simple and did not taste good, the only thing flavorful were the chocolate covered strawberries which are hard to mess up. The waiter in the dining room even awkwardly presented the desserts each night as they were nothing to look at. All in all, if you would rather see Hawaii than be in an old age home this cruise would be great for you. Read Less
Sail Date March 2007
We arrived (by air) from Toronto. When we arrived at the port in San Diego, we were told that the ship was being super-sanitized, because several cases of Norovirus had occurred during the previous voyage. Some of the passengers had been ... Read More
We arrived (by air) from Toronto. When we arrived at the port in San Diego, we were told that the ship was being super-sanitized, because several cases of Norovirus had occurred during the previous voyage. Some of the passengers had been informed the previous day (even though the problem had existed well before the ship ended its last cruise). My travel agent never was informed. It seems that I get e-mails and postal mail from Holland America on a constant basis...........but they can't alert me when such a serious situation may change my plans? Instead of boarding for a leisurely lunch and tour, we were all kept (like cattle) in the embarkation terminal. Boarding took at least 3 additional hours to occur. Holland America offered a full refund of the tour cost if anyone did not wish to take the cruise. No one from Holland America would make any commitment as to air fare refunds. I had already spent over $1100 on air fare and to try to get a flight on Thanksgiving Day eve would have been impossible. There is no doubt, in my mind, that the 'offer' was purely legal protection, in case some got sick on our cruise. The ship should not have left the dock. Quarantine, for this gastrointestinal virus is at least 48 hours. We had enough passengers come down with the virus, that we were in "CODE RED" until 2 days before our 15 day cruise ended. Those who were confined to their cabins, as a quarantine measure, were paid $150 per day. We were not given the 'signature service' that we had paid for. Hot tubs were not opened. The Taco bar was not available. The library could not be used for any books. The 'tranquility spa pool was not available'. No self-service was available for meals. This meant ridiculous line-ups to get cutlery, milk, juice, coffee, rolls, ANYTHING!!! We could not have dinner rolls on the table in the dining room or salt or pepper shakers. We were asked to spray disinfectant on our hands, everywhere we went. The employees on the ship were expected to work extra time. Even spa people and pianists and wives of crew members were part of the serving teams in the LIDO eatery. It still did not alleviate the constant line-ups and confrontations. On shore, any bus shuttles that we took had to be sprayed down before any of us could enter. We received some negative reception from store personnel and other tourists. Some tours (agricultural, for example) were just plain cancelled. I could elaborate, but I think that you get the point that we did not get what we had signed up and paid for. What did Holland America do to compensate the passengers for the inconveniences (as well as the constant worry of potential infection)? They gave us each a $10 room credit. That is correct...........the decimal place is accurate.......TEN DOLLARS. This was apparently to pay for a lunch in San Diego on the first day (we missed the on-board lunch because we could not board). No one, who did go to eat in San Diego, could do it for $10! Holland America should have been pro-active. There should have been top people at the embarkation terminal to clarify their offer of a 'full cruise refund'. Those who chose to continue with their cruise should have been given a large credit. $10 is an absolute farce. We each paid $10 per day for 'gratuity charge'. This was even charged on the first day, when we could not even get into our room until early evening. In my opinion, this was a money-grab issue from beginning to end. The cruise should not even have started. CODE RED would be necessary for an 'at sea' ship, to enable it to complete its voyage. To start, and operate for 13 days, in CODE RED should be illegal, let alone grounds for a sizeable refund of fees paid. There needs to be some serious answers for the conduct of the Holland America company in this situation. Read Less
Sail Date November 2007
Overall we very much enjoyed our recent cruise on the Zaandam. The food and service in general were extremely good, and we concluded that we received very fair value for our vacation dollar. Embarkation in San Diego is easy. We stayed ... Read More
Overall we very much enjoyed our recent cruise on the Zaandam. The food and service in general were extremely good, and we concluded that we received very fair value for our vacation dollar. Embarkation in San Diego is easy. We stayed overnight at a small hotel in La Jolla and, on November 5, arrived at the pier just after noon. Check-in was efficient as we had used HAL's on-line process (keeping a hard copy of the form to show the agent, as is required). Our time with the agent was just long enough for her to snap our photos, and then we boarded. Unfortunately, everyone was herded to the Lido buffet, and the lines were thus huge! We should have walked to the burger bar at the aft pool deck but instead went through the line and then shared a table with some folks--even though the room was crowded, the first meal was delicious! Off to a very good start. By the time we were through lunch, at about 1:15, the announcement was made that cabins were now available. So, we headed to our mid-ship Verandah cabin on deck 6. The cabin was clean, comfortable and well prepared for its new guests. Within five minutes of our getting to the cabin our steward knocked at the door and introduced himself. He asked how many bags we expected. We told him four. Within 30 minutes we had all the bags--this has never happened before on all our past cruises! We were fully unpacked before Lifeboat drill. There was ample closet and storage space, all our hanging goods and other items were put away and we did not even need to use the drawers at the end of the bed. The luggage went under the bed, forgotten for the next two weeks as we got used to our new "home". We like the "verandah suite" category--its not as lavish as are the deluxe suites, but the price is reasonable and the service is fine. We found the "at your service" concierge, which we presume is a dedicated line to the front office, also very helpful to supplement the excellent service from our cabin steward. The Zaandam is not a new ship, but the cabin was in very good shape: clean, carpeting fine, comfortable. The large bed, in particular, was very comfortable and we slept well most nights. The only problem was, for us, the a/c was not strong enough. Yet, we were aware that many of the passengers found the ship "too cold". It is not easy to please everyone! Still, the engineer came to our cabin and boosted the air-flow from the vent, which helped a lot. The bathroom was quite nice, a whirlpool tub, not huge, but nice for baths for my wife, and a hand-held shower. Occasional fluctuations in water temperature during a shower was noticed, but not too often and not to extreme temperatures. Food: the executive chef was a rather rolly-polly fellow whom we felt wanted us all to weigh about the same as he. In other words, the meals were generally excellent. We had room service many mornings, using the order card the prior night, and the meals arrived on time, as ordered, and were quite tasty. Occasional breakfast in the Lido was fine, and the line-ups were not too bad. Breakfast in the dining room was excellent, however, although on a vacation we did not always rouse ourselves to be there within the times. Lunch was also very good no matter which option one chose. We enjoyed occasional room service lunch on our verandah, and the sandwiches or wraps, or burgers, etc., were all very good indeed. Lunch in the dining room was nice, and so was the Lido. Dinners in the dining room were again excellent. HAL has changed its menu somewhat, but there remains lots of choice for dinner amongst various starters and main courses. Of course, for those who are more "gourmand" than "gourmet" (that would include me at times) one could have seconds of any dish--a treat when the jumbo shrimp cocktails were on the menu! For a change of pace we went to the Pinnacle on two occasions: one regular dinner to celebrate our anniversary, and for the special wine-tasting dinner with a variety of wines organized by the cellar master. Both dinners were first-rate and well worth the price. The Cellar Master's wine tasting dinner had a unique menu, and the Pinnacle chef took great care with the food--it was excellent. The wines were lovely, and the quantities were not limited, perhaps because there was not a huge attendance at the tasting dinner. That was unfortunate because a better value on land likely could not be found. A word on dress-code: HAL has "smart casual" most nights, and formal for four nights on this 15 day cruise. On formal nights I would estimate that at the 8:00 p.m. dinner sitting, a majority of the men made the effort and put on a tuxedo or dinner jacket. Others were dressed in dark suits, and the ladies matched their men-folk. No one stood out as ignoring the dress-code. On the smart-casual nights, given the elasticity of this category, people ran the gamut from navy blazer and tie, to neat khakis and a sports shirt. As a guy who likes the ladies but who is clueless as to the nature of a formal versus informal dress or skirt, I will stick to how the guys dressed. On sea days, many men wore a sports jacket or blazer in the evening, sans tie, and with khakis or slacks. Some men wore sweaters, very few wore ties except on formal night. Personally, I like a jacket when going out for dinner and opted for that many nights (except port nights when in Hawaii when everyone was more to the "casual" end of "smart"). Dress at the Pinnacle was up a notch. On our two occasions there all men had on jackets, some ties, and we were there not on formal nights. This is a longer cruise and, from recent past experience, I know that on a seven day cruise the spectrum tilts heavily to the casual end. This was also a somewhat older crowd (I am in my mid-40's and felt, comparatively, young--which is fine by me. We enjoy meeting and having a conversation with people a little older, who have had interesting life experiences). Services in general: The service on the Zaandam was at the overall excellent level that we have come to expect from HAL. Our cabin steward was great, and responsive to all our requests. Our cabin was done in the morning and at night we found a different towel animal awaiting us. The friendly staff in the Ocean Bar were particularly good at learning ones name, and drink preference, and delivering the order promptly and with a smile (and some snacks too!). The Piano bar was an equally pleasant hang-out for us, and Piano player Bob belted out the favorites and got us all singing along--many a night after dinner there was not a seat to be had at the Piano bar. Shore excursions were fine and offered reasonable value in our view. The port lectures were long on shopping and diamonds, but weak on practical information (the cost of a cab in Honolulu, what about public transit, etc.). Front office staff, whether by phone or in person, were always polite and helpful. Sometimes they had to get approval and could not answer right away, but they were ultimately helpful. Activities: Other than sales-type of activities where one sat through a sales-pitch or an activity at a cost (and the ubiquitous bingo!), there was not a lot else to do, which suited us fine as we caught up on our reading, snoozing, enjoying the ocean views, etc., on the way to and from Hawaii. Others may have liked a better range of guest lecturers, although the anthropologist was somewhat interesting, as was the astronomer. Trivia games at 9:00 a.m., however, were a tad early for us! This was not a cruise for young children--there were hardly any on board, and one young fellow seemed, when I saw him on the ship, quite bored. The showtime entertainment was pleasant. Some of the cast could actually sing well (they all could sing). Some of the other acts were quite good as a way to pass the time but nothing stands out as particularly memorable. The theatre ran good movies, a nice place to while away a sea day watching something current. TV's in the staterooms also showed the movies later that week after they played in the theatre. The library area is large and comfortable, and one could sink into an easy chair and "sleep a book" while the ship sailed along. Or, one could do any manner of things. There were many at the computers but, having to use one as part of work, I avoided the computers for the entire 15 days. Spa: The Steiner spa on this ship offered good quality services, as my wife and I each enjoyed a massage and other services. I had purchased a spa-pass for the length of the cruise--more on the spa itself later. When the ship unfortunately experienced a Norwalk outbreak at the last three days of the cruise and as a result all pools and the spa was closed, Steiner refused to refund the pro-rata amount of the spa-pass. All I was offered were additional services, which I did not need at that point near the end of the cruise. Moreover, my wife (who by then had purchased two manicures, a pedicure and a massage but not the spa pass) was told she could not receive the services in lieu of me, but only I could have a service. We felt the Steiner managers on the Zaandam was very inflexible, and that she delivered poor customer service. Happily, the ship's guest relations manager agreed that if, through no fault of ours, we could not use a facility for which we had paid we should get a pro-rata refund. So, she put a credit for that on my shipboard account. In my view this was an example of excellent customer service on the part of HAL, and puts Steiner to shame. The spa itself on the Zaandam is not huge. It is nice enough but the Vista ships' spa is like a pool--far more elaborate. Still, it was nice to have the use of the spa for most of the cruise. This is one example of life being a series of trade-offs. We like the smaller, and older, HAL ships in some respects, but also enjoy the expanded amenities of the newer Vista ships that, for reasons of size, are not available on the older ships. I guess we just have to keep cruising on both types! A note about Norwalk: this can happen in any confined space, not only on cruise ships. We have never contracted this, in over 13 cruises, probably because we wash our hands frequently, with hot water, and also use the hand-sanitizer that is around the ship. If everyone did that, outbreaks would become less frequent. While the ship was clean before, after the outbreak, the cleaning of the ship was even more visible! Ports: Hawaii is lovely and other than Kauai we had plenty of time to do the tours, including a snorkel tour in Kona that was a highlight, that we had booked before departure, using the internet. Booking tours by internet prior to departure makes things a lot simpler on board, and allows one to avoid lining up. Still, we made some changes to some tours, adding some, deleting others, while on board--the shore excursion office was helpful if at times understaffed, given the line ups of people to do this. We went at "off-peak" times and in the main avoided lining up, which one should try to avoid as much as possible when on holidays! We left Kauai at the early time of 2p.m., because the final port of the cruise on the last day was Ensenada, Mexico, arriving there at 8 p.m., just at dinner time, and after everyone has gone through the fuss of packing, etc. While a foreign flagged ship must call at a foreign port when traveling between two US ports, the ship need only stop for a short period. Very few people did get off but some fellow guests got off at Ensenada and reported that they were not impressed. In our view, rather than a four hour stop there, we could have enjoyed more time at Kauai. Overall, this was an excellent cruise holiday and we would continue to cruise with HAL--the food and service impressed and we wish we were still on board! Read Less
Sail Date November 2007
There have been several harsh reviews of Zaandam on the boards and I thought it was time for a current review that would give a "fair and balanced" review for this ship. About me: I have 141 days on Holland America ships. This ... Read More
There have been several harsh reviews of Zaandam on the boards and I thought it was time for a current review that would give a "fair and balanced" review for this ship. About me: I have 141 days on Holland America ships. This was my first on Zaandam. I have cruised Princess, Royal Caribbean, and Norwegian. I have other cruises from lines that are now bankrupt so I do have a wide and diverse cruise history. HAL is my favorite. Let us begin with embarkation. The dreaded news spread faster then the disease, "norovirus" was on board. Well, it must have disembarked at San Diego because I never heard anyone say that they knew someone who became ill, or heard of someone becoming ill. We were delayed approximately 2 hours on our boarding, while HAL went through the super cleaning they now do after the virus as appeared. I want you to know that HAL was so careful that they sent teams out into the waiting area and they sprayed all the bench seating with the anti-viral spray and wiped it all down to protect their passengers. We did not go "code red" although I did miss the salt and pepper shakers on the Lido for the first few days. We were issued packets of salt and pepper with our trays. There was no other visible signs of noro unless it was how scrupulous everyone was about using the hand sanitizer. Once on board, we discovered cabins were ready. So we went straight there and dropped our stuff. Met our steward and he asked how many pieces of luggage we had, we told him, and when we got back from lunch...our luggage was there. We were unpacked and settled before the lifeboat drill. San Diego was wickedly chilly, which meant lifeboat drill was also. They are having an abnormal winter in San Diego so check the weather and dress accordingly. This was the Zaandam's first voyage facing the challenge of "as you wish" dining. Let me tell everyone that they have a system in place that is remarkably efficient. I was able to make a reservation every night to get the table for two and the time I wanted. I called everyday precisely at 8 when the reservation line opened. Now if you are not so prompt, do not fear, there were days when I called as late as two in the afternoon and still got what I wanted give or take a half an hour. Try this system, you may like it. The food was up to HAL's expected standard. We did not have some dishes as often as I would have liked (rack of lamb) and we had some dishes more often then I like (prime rib 4 times), but those are the breaks. I am not letting it become an issue for me. If I did not care for something my waiter for that evening was right there asking if he could replace it. Anytime dining has done no harm to the gracious, attentive service of the dining staff. They have a new dinner show called the "Master chefs dinner" The stewards do all kinds of dances and singing with each course. No one was more surprised then I to see something "new" at dinner. I was expecting the baked Alaska parade. The baked Alaska parade is only done for the traditional seating guests on the last night at sea. That made me a little sad. Since the last time I cruised on HAL (a lapse of one year) some changes have occurred. We now have the "wine card", "cocktail card", "coffee card" I liked the wine card immensely. At last, access to a reasonably priced glass of wine to have with dinner. It was 67.50 for 20 glasses of wine. The pour was probably 4 ounces. The 15% gratuity was added on bringing final price to 78.00. Now let me say, if you are a wine enthusiast with a taste for high ticket bottles, do NOT buy a wine card. If you are a person who likes wine but doesn't spend a lot of time swirling and sniffing, this could be for you. I liked the red, disliked the white, and did not try the white Zin. My Mother, who likes white Zin, liked the house pour. The "cocktail card" 55.00 for 10 cocktails. (plus 15% for tip) I bought one of these because it saved me a buck on every Pina Colada. There is an extensive list of included cocktails. I believe Martini's were included. "The coffee card" 26.00 for ten coffees. This I did not buy. I drink espresso. I don't want shots of syrup and chocolate and whatever. So a grande size espresso was 1.70 Which would mean losing money on the coffee card. But if you want the 4 and five dollar "coffee of the day" buy this card and save yourself some money. I have read on past reviews that the Zaandam is old and worn. No it is not. There are some minor damaged spots, true. But I had to look hard for several days to find anything that might account for somebody to say Zaandam is worn out. My first impression was "wow". Polished brass and shined furnishings. She is every bit as beautiful as you would hope. I don't know if every sailing gets the entertainment we did. I think we got lucky because the entertainers on board were swapped out in Hawaii. Part one of the trip we had a classical violinist, an Australian singer, and a comedian who also played violin, only more country then classical. They were wonderful, unfortunately I have a rotten memory and forgot their names. However you can find out who they are because they have gone to join the world cruise and entertain on it for HAL. Then we got a second group of entertainers for the return trip. A comedian who does magic, an impressionist singer, and a Flautist. So we had lots and lots of great shows. These people are now on the Zaandam and I am sure if you post on the regular boards you can get their names quickly. There have been reports on the boards that the Zaandam is having trouble with her air conditioning. Those events seem to be localized to a room by room. My room had excellent a/c. I also had a small portable fan that I take to circulate the air. On this cruise there was a shipwide failure not just of the a/c but the electrical power. We had lights, but the a/c and Galleys were down for over two hours. Boy was I glad we ate early that night. I gather there was minimal hot food to be had at the late sitting. My cabin got to 82 degrees. The balconies and verandahs had the edge that night. The power was repaired around 11 p.m.. It took at least an hour for the temperature to come down. Hawaii itself is everything I imagined except for one thing, the water is not warm and inviting. It was chilly and I did not expect that. When I asked the locals if I was just there at the wrong time of year they said no it is usually that temperature. Now if you are from New England and are used to swimming in cold Atlantic waters, you will think Hawaii is great for swimming. If you are a person who wants to walk in and feel cozy in the water don't plan on swimming in Hawaii. On shore excursions there is something for everyone, be it adventure tours or a leisurely drive through a tropical garden. Ensenada was a useless stop that kept us legal under the Jones act. What amazed me is how many complaints I heard about not spending enough time there. There was nothing there. Why would you want to? The ship has a speaker of Hawaiian heritage that gives regular lectures on the history, culture and peoples who came to the islands and made their lives there. There was also a series of lectures on topics related to literature. In addition, they had presentations on cooking and food display in the culinary arts center(AKA Wajang theater) so there was at least one of these happening everyday. That concludes my review of the 2/3/2008 sailing of Zaandam. Read Less
Sail Date February 2008
We travelled to San Diego one day early to avoid any airline problems. Boarding went without problems and we met some wonderful people in the line waiting to board. Cabins were ready within one hour of boarding and luggage was in the room ... Read More
We travelled to San Diego one day early to avoid any airline problems. Boarding went without problems and we met some wonderful people in the line waiting to board. Cabins were ready within one hour of boarding and luggage was in the room well before the Fire Drill. The sail away party on the Lido deck aft was well worth attending and served as an introduction to the Event Staff (Jason, Andrew, Amanda, Cassie, and Drew) Lunch followed with Jason and Andrew and then our first day with the open dining. The ability to eat whenever one wanted was good, but we missed having a regular group of dining room staff at our table. The trip to Hawaii was good in spite of the cooler weather the first two days of the trip. My wife caught the virus on the first day we were in Hawaii and the staff of the Zaandam did everything for her except give her a tiara. The efforts of the crew to contain the virus were outstanding and the virus would have been contained quickly had passengers reported their illness in a more timely manner. There were about 112 passengers and crew ill on the ship and who knows how many more that went unreported. There was more than enough to do and we tried to do most of it (at least on sea days). We met a number of interesting people on the cruise including a few members of CC. Disembarkation was the quickest I have ever seen from a cruise ship. Kudos to the personnel at San Diego. The entertainment was good as usual and Chris Pendleton was exceptionally funny. Mike McCullough was great as a Niel Diamond impersonator. The shows were good although one of the female singers had a cruise from hell (Flu, caught the virus, knocked out during a performance). Some of the complaining passengers got a little old towards the end of the cruise but we were able to steer clear of most of them. The submarine dive in Maui provided great viewing of the reefs and a ship that had been sunk to create a new reef. Snorkeling in Kona provided even more beautiful views of the underwater life there. I would rate this as one of the better cruises we have been on, second only to the Alaska cruise. For those who find so much to complain about, try carnival next time. Read Less
Sail Date March 2008
Background Information: We are newly retired folks, aged 62 and 65, and relatively new to cruising. Our first cruise was on Royal Caribbean, followed by 4 more on Holland America. We have additional Holland America Cruises booked, as the ... Read More
Background Information: We are newly retired folks, aged 62 and 65, and relatively new to cruising. Our first cruise was on Royal Caribbean, followed by 4 more on Holland America. We have additional Holland America Cruises booked, as the line is a good fit for us. Travel to Port of Embarkation: We arranged our own air, flying American Airlines, O'Hare to San Diego, non-stop. The flight was uneventful, which is always good news. Hotel Information: We stayed one night pre-cruise at San Diego's Holiday Inn on the Bay. A free shuttle was provided from the airport. We think of this as the 2 star hotel with the 5 star view. It was pricey, at $279 for one night in a very ordinary room, but there is nothing like sitting on your balcony just before dawn to see your ship arrive at the pier. A couple hundred feel closer and the bow would have been in my lap. Embarkation: Smooth and easy. We walked across the street to the pier around noon, found little line, and were checked in and on the ship in less than 15 minutes. Even with 3 large suitcases and 2 carry-ons, the hotel was close enough to make the walk an easy one. We dropped our carry-on's off in our almost-ready cabin and went to the aft pool area to enjoy a cool soda and the view while we awaited the announcement that cabins were ready. Less than an hour later we were enjoying the view from our own balcony. Stateroom: We don't do guarantees, as it's important for us to know exactly what to expect. We booked an S-Suite on the Navigation Deck and were pleased with it. It was roomy, clean, comfortable, and well maintained. There was plenty of room under the bed for our empty suitcases, and the closet and drawer space would have accommodated twice our needs. Our room steward was relentless in his efforts to tidy things up, and we often wondered how he knew we were out of the room. We always returned to a full ice bucket, as well as other evidence that we were being cared for. The bed was by far the most comfortable we've ever slept in, and the cabin furnishings were in good condition. The furniture on the balcony was somewhat worn, and should probably be replaced sometime soon. Ship Information: The theme of the Zaandam is Music, and it was in evidence everywhere. Doors to several venues were glass etched like sheet music, lamps in the showroom featured tiny lighted instruments, antique instruments were framed and placed in hallways, and there was a sax signed by Bill Clinton. Between the music theme, the Egyptian Art, and the abundance of flowers, we felt surrounded by elegance. Dining: As suite guests, we were provided with a quiet area in the Kings Room for a full service breakfast. We ate there most every morning and enjoyed sharing a table with the same people on several occasions. Food was served promptly, properly cooked, and hot. There was also a full service breakfast in the dining room and a buffet breakfast in the midship Lido Restaurant. Room Service was very good. We used that a couple of times, and our food arrived in a timely manner - and hot. We especially appreciated this early morning access to a pot of coffee in our cabin. Dinner most nights was in the main dining room, and we found it to be a good experience. We were at table for 8, seated with people we didn't previously know. It was fun to get acquainted and to run into these folks around the ship. We found the food in the dining room to be at least as good as a high-end land based restaurant. It was well prepared, properly seasoned, attractively plated, and was served at the proper temperature. Hot was hot and cold was cold. The menu was divided into 3 basic sections: Starters, Soups & Salads, and Entrees. We were able to order as many items as we liked from each section, so a 5 or 6 course dinner was not unusual. On the one occasion a tablemate didn't care for her entree, a different one was cheerfully provided in less than 10 minutes time. The dessert menu was separate and always had a good selection of items, as well as sugar-free desserts. The extra cost dining venue, The Pinnacle Grill, is absolutely delightful. They have access to a quality of filet mignon that is beyond that of many restaurants. It was prepared exactly as ordered and could, literally, be cut with a fork. We could not find a single thing about this wonderful meal that wasn't right, including the excellent service. Cost was a flat $30 per person and well worth it. Lounges: We frequented two bars, and found them more than comfortable, with staff that seemed to care about us personally. Although we know we were low profit people in the bars (soda only), we were greeted by name from the first day, and found ourselves waving hello to "our" bartenders whenever we passed by - and they always seemed genuinely glad to see us. Activities: There were so many activities that choices had to be made every day. The ongoing things, like daily movies in the theater, a shipbuilding contest, team trivia, daily quizzes, game show games, evenings in the show lounge, and more, were always fun and well attended. Special events, like a joke contest, a pub crawl, talent show, dance lessons, educational lectures, and on and on, were always popular. The Cruise Director and Activity Staff were quite visible on the ship, and often stopped to chat with various cruisers - another personal touch that was much appreciated. Entertainment: I'd have to rate this as excellent. There was a lot of real talent presented at the evening shows in the showlounge. We didn't get to every show, but really enjoyed those we did see. Among those were a magician-comedian that kept us in hysterics, a classical violinist-comedian who was amazing, and the Zaandam's CAST of Singers and Dancers whose talent was much more than I'd expect to see on a cruise ship. Service: Holland America is well known for the excellent service provided by it's crew and staff, and our experience was that it's definitely still true. Our every need was met, many times before we could express it. We wanted for nothing. Our Captain did a daily shipwide announcement "Voice from the Bridge" to update us on navigation, ocean depth, air and water temperature, and various other things. This was just once a day, and we looked forward to it. Immediately following him was a brief summary of upcoming events by our Cruise Director. We were not interrupted during the day by any other announcements, which we appreciated. Disembarkation: This was very well organized. We were able to use their special service that delivered our airline boarding passes and luggage tags to our cabin. We placed our tagged suitcases in the hallway the night before we disembarked and didn't see them again til we arrived at O'Hare. The cost was $15 per person, and worth every cent and more. Code Red: Sadly, three days into the 15 day sailing, that pesky Mr. Noro raised his ugly head. Because there was no illness when we boarded and it was a full three days before it hit, it's pretty much a certainty that a passenger brought it aboard. Although we did end up with a total of 101 persons, including crew, who had been ill with it - we pulled into port in San Diego with just 6 new cases that morning and fewer than 20 people still in their 3-day quarantine. Actually, given that the 101 cases occurred over 12 days, it's amazing that an average of only 8-1/2 people per day became ill on this 1400 plus passenger and 600 plus crew ship. I credit this incredible recovery to the sanitation steps taken by the crew, and their relentless pursuit of the germ. Summary: We consider this to have been one of our best cruises, even with the code red problem. We were treated like royalty the entire time and have nothing but good things to say about the experience. In addition to the wonderful Zaandam folks, we had the pleasure of meeting up with 25 Cruise Critic people from our roll call. A great addition to a terrific cruise! Read Less
Sail Date March 2008
We are 61 and 59 years old. This was our 7th cruise, 5 with HAL, and our 2nd cruise to Hawaii. I do have some physical limitations, but we are not "doddering walker" cruisers by any means. The embarkation port was San Diego, ... Read More
We are 61 and 59 years old. This was our 7th cruise, 5 with HAL, and our 2nd cruise to Hawaii. I do have some physical limitations, but we are not "doddering walker" cruisers by any means. The embarkation port was San Diego, where we live, so it was a 30 minute commute by hired Towncar. We arrived at 12:30pm, which is when we usually get to the terminal. We knew , from reading the cruise boards, that the ship had sailed Code Red on the previous cruise. HAL offered a full refund if we wanted to cancel. Some did, but we chose to stay. All passengers were held in the terminal until 2:30PM, while HAL disinfected the ship. City bus tours were offered by HAL (free) for those who didn't want to wait in the terminal. Upon boarding, all passengers were escorted to Lido deck for lunch, where we ALL were held until 4:30. This delayed sailing, and the lifeboat drill was postponed until 10am the next day. Due to late sailing, we arrived late to our first port. The Captain gave us 2 extra hours in the 1st and 2nd ports as compensation. Zaandam is a beautiful ship, well maintained (I only saw some minor wear and tear), and very easy to navigate. The only deck that does not go through from bow to stern is deck 4, Promenade. We were on deck 6, verandah, near the aft elevators. We loved the location ! Very quiet. It was 2 decks up to Lido, and 1 deck down to the dining room. Verandah suites are spacious, have alot of storage, whirlpool tubs, Elemis bathroom products (shampoo, conditioner, bath and bar soap, hand lotion,shower cap) in small bottles on the counter, clothesline in the shower, hairdryer in a drawer, flat screen TV w/DVD player, stocked mini fridge. There is WIFI in the cabins. Balcony has a lounger, chair, and small round table. Partitions are metal and go to the floor on one side, almost to the floor on the other side, clear plexiglass on front side. As usual, service was absolutely outstanding. Dining room food was very, very good, as well as was food in Lido. We had early dining, traditional seating, at 5:45pm. We ate most of our breakfasts and lunches in Lido, and dinners in the dining room. We thought breakfast and lunch was just ok in the dining room, however, dinners were great there. Our TA had reserved a rear table next to the windows so we had awesome views the whole trip. We had been to Hawaii before and seen the main attractions, so this time we did smaller tours, also, I do have some problems walking distances. In Hilo we opted for the Waves and Waterfalls tour, which included the Tsunami Museum. It was an interesting tour, falls were beautiful. As usual, it was drizzling, but not when we were walking around. Honolulu was the Little Circle Island tour, with our fabulous guide, Nappy. The tide was out when we arrived at Halona Blow Hole, so we didn't get to see the geyser. Again, there was some drizzle, but a fun and informative tour. Kauai we took the Wailua River cruise, mostly because of my walking limitations. It was a nice tour. The Fern Grotto is just now getting back to normal after Hurricane Iniki decimated most of the foliage. Maui was Ulalena Theater. This is the reason we went back to Hawaii. I didn't see it last time, and DH wanted me to see it. It is hard to describe this experience. It is so much more than a Cirque de Soliel adaptation, and was so much worth the effort to see it. Kona we saw the Seahorse Farm, and what a fun treat. This is a "bare bones" facility, but so educational and fun. We got to hold a seahorse !! This is a good tour for everyone, and especially for children. The weather in Kona was cloudy, due to the volcano eruptions. The smell of sulphur was in the air. The locals call it "VOG"--volcano fog. This was our favorite cruise. The only negatives, for us, were the lack of things to do. We aren't pool people, and pools were a big draw for many people. Also, all the activities overlapped, so if we wanted to do 2 things, we had to leave one early. We played Trivia every day, met some nice people. There was live music throughout the ship---fabulous violin, piano,cello trio, piano soloist, and bands. We were serenaded every night before dinner. There were numerous, huge, amazing floral arrangements throughout the ship. One of our favorite things is the Wajang Theater, but the movies were only shown at 5pm (our dinner time) or 10pm (too late for me and my medical issues). Our very favorite place is Explorations Cafe. The library is fairly extensive, comfortable computer area, amble seating, and good game area. The Explorations Cafe coffee area we visited several times every day. The entertainment was actually pretty good. Nick McCullock gave us a great Neil Diamond tribute, Ken Groves and his "dummies" was good, The Amazing 88's were amazing. All of it was good. The Indonesian and Filipino shows were held very late. They were good shows. You cannot miss the midnight Chocolate Extravaganza ! All the carved fruits, chocolate, cakes, breads, ice carvings--everything was really something. Two positive things were, no announcements in the cabins (except emergency), only in the public rooms, and no photographers except on formal nights (there were 4 formal nights- days 3, 5, 11, 14). We didn't like the backdrops for the photos, and did not like the backdrop for the embarkation photos. We didn't think the photographers were all that skilled. Again, despite everything, this cruise was wonderful. I am sure everyone will find something they will like. We made new friends and new memories. Thanks HAL! Read Less
Sail Date April 2008
We live in San Diego so embarkation was a breeze for us. We arrived at the terminal around 2:30 and experienced a short wait to check in. We like inside staterooms and chose this one because there were not other staterooms behind or ... Read More
We live in San Diego so embarkation was a breeze for us. We arrived at the terminal around 2:30 and experienced a short wait to check in. We like inside staterooms and chose this one because there were not other staterooms behind or next to it. The one thing that we didn't count on was the vibration and constant engine noise! It was so bad the first night my husband couldn't sleep at all. We found the beds extremely uncomfortable. I had a terrific backache that lasted for days. The ship needs renovation. We had black along the wall next to the bathroom that looked like mold. There was mold in the shower and some of the tile grout was molded and crumbling. The room stewards were excellent and seemed upset if they couldn't turn our bed down at night. The food was a disappointment. We last sailed with Holland America two years ago on the Amsterdam and found the food while portion controlled, very good. The food on the Zaandam ranged from excellent to truly awful. It was apparent that we were fed leftovers. The tenderloin of beef was excellent at dinner. The next day it showed up at the past passenger brunch (well done this time.) Then it showed up again that night in the Lido. The same was true for the beef short ribs. The first time they showed up was at the Lido Pool Hawaiian grill night. Then the next day as braised short ribs, then again with a sauce over them. The same was true for the pork tenderloin. It showed up several days with a different sauce. Mashed potatoes tasted warmed over. Vegetables were bagged frozen perhaps from Costco? All pasta dishes had the same sauce and it tasted like it came from a jar. Fish dishes were all over cooked. One day I had Mahi Mahi and crab legs. What I got was two mushy fish medallions (silver dollar size) and a quarter of a dried out crab leg split in half. With the exception of the Indonesian buffet one day at the Lido pool, all the Asian food was truly awful. My husband and I both tried several of the Asian dishes during the cruise and could not eat any of them. One day at lunch I decided to go for a tuna sandwich. The chef tossed a pre-made Wonder Bread sandwich with a half slice of American cheese and a slice of tomato on a plate and handed it to me. I should have handed it back. The bread was stale and the amount of tuna in the sandwich would not have covered a saltine cracker. Breakfast on the Lido was OK if you had fresh cooked eggs and ham or boxed cereal. The blueberry muffins had one blueberry per muffin. (I tried several over the cruise and did find two blueberries one time.) Hot cereal was made with no salt. I put the oatmeal in the truly awful category. The sausage patties looked and tasted exactly like those found at McDonald's in the Sausage McMuffins. The Taco bar looked and tasted a lot like Taco Bell. The grilled hamburgers were good. The potato salad looked and tasted exactly the same as you would buy at a supermarket deli. Rolls and butter were good and most desserts were good. We liked the ice cream that was available daily. With the portion control so tight on the entree's we found ourselves eating more rolls and butter and dessert than normal just to get enough to eat. The buffet was not open 24 hours per day as on a Princess ship. If you didn't get dinner by 8:15 pm you didn't eat until 11 pm. The entertainment on the ship was OK. All the entertainment was geared to the Geritol generation so if Lawrence Welk is your idea of fun you would have been happy. Most of the ship's activities were geared to 70 and 80 year olds (which included 80 percent of the passengers). If you like to learn to make towel animals, this was your cruise! We were not impressed with Lizabeth the cruise director. Her attitude seemed toxic both on and off the stage. On the night the Hula Dancers performed at the Lido pool, several passengers rudely came in late and stood directly in front of seated passengers totally blocking their view. Many people asked these rude people to move and they refused. There was nearly a riot with some pushing and shoving and name calling. The ship could have prevented this with a little crowd control. There were no crew members in sight. This spoiled everyone's time. Ports - If you didn't take a HAL tour, the ship provided no useful port information. We took the shopping bus at Hilo and was dropped off at Hilo Hattie's in a mall with Wal-mart across the street. We rented a car in Honolulu. Thrifty picked us up at the dock and took us back near the airport to rent the car. There was a $15 early return penalty. What we didn't know was parking around the pier was $50 for over night. We found a parking garage about six blocks away for $12 but had to have the car out before 7 am. We would have been better off to book the car one day at a time and saved parking. Maui has a nice beach a short walk from the pier. This was the only day it didn't rain so it became our beach day. There wasn't much to see at Kona. After awhile all the shops began to look the same. The day before disembarkation everyone was told to report to the Mondrian Lounge at 10 am for instructions. The first problem was not everyone fit. Then Lizabeth the cruise director told us that her instructions would be on the ship's TV (so lots of people left including us). We were told that we would have a "silent" disembarkation and to report at out assigned time. The next day, they proceeded to call tags as usual. Overall, comparing Princess to HAL we would have to go with Princess. Last year's cruise on the Grand Princess was superior to this one. Read Less
Sail Date November 2008
Boarding in San Diego went well. Once on board, we were told by the Captain that departure would be delayed until 5:45 pm. Had the required life vest and lifeboat drill before leaving port. This was the worst drill I have ever seen. ... Read More
Boarding in San Diego went well. Once on board, we were told by the Captain that departure would be delayed until 5:45 pm. Had the required life vest and lifeboat drill before leaving port. This was the worst drill I have ever seen. Disorganized large groups. Crew members could not be heard. At 5:15 pm, we feel the ship moving. No announcement from the Captain so we were well away before reaching the sail away on the Lido. This was to prove typical of the Zaandam's crew. The stateroom was in need of cleaning. Stained carpeting, dirty bathroom floor, TERRIBLE bed and cabin stewards that barely spoke English. Our room was never serviced before 1 pm no matter how early we left. HAL boasts about their Dream Beds. The CEO'S should have to sleep in them! Worn and lumpy, smelly sheets and pillows and no duvet and touted; just a blanket between 2 sheets. After 4 days, we had to request our bedding be changed and twice more after that. Food presentation was very nice but the food was bland. Seems as if HAL is trying to be more health conscious but the result is poor. Most all meat was overcooked which also made it tough. Service in the dining room, especially at breakfast, was poor to good. Worst we have ever encountered. Service people would turn their backs to the diners and talk making it impossible to get their attention. The crew needs to be able to speak and understand English much better than they did. Entertainment was enjoyable but not as good as other cruise lines. The very best thing was the Sommelier Lunch. The food and the wine paring was excellent. Shore Excursions are no better and no worse than others. For some reason, the Captain decided to change the itinerary for viewing the volcanic eruption. He went from Hilo instead of going past it after leaving Kona. It was a rainy, cloudy night which made for no viewing. Leaving Kona, it was lovely weather and we could have had the view we expected. Disembarkation was another foul up. First, we were told it would be a silent disembarkation. It was changed to a call off. Lizabeth, the Social Director, did the calling. We were scheduled to depart at 10 am. We were called just about 10 am. Took the elevator down and were met by a huge crowd. Every hallway, every corridor and every nook and cranny was packed with passengers not moving. Lizabeth is continuing to call. Seems no one told her of the human jam and no one was telling us the reason for it. Finally, we are told, through the grape vine, that the ramp had slipped and they were working to get it reattached. When we finally began moving, I spotted Beth, one of Lizabeth's staff, just standing there. She had not thought it necessary to contact Lizabeth to stop the call or to inform us as to the problem. It was a mess that could have been avoided. However, you never got the feeling that the upper echelon cared much. All in all, it was not the dream vacation we had expected. Read Less
Sail Date November 2008
First a bit about us. My wife and I are 48 & 50 years old, and have been married for four years. We have taken nine cruises together (HAL, Princess, Norwegian, Carnival, and MSC). Our Honeymoon was on the HAL Westerdam (inaugural ... Read More
First a bit about us. My wife and I are 48 & 50 years old, and have been married for four years. We have taken nine cruises together (HAL, Princess, Norwegian, Carnival, and MSC). Our Honeymoon was on the HAL Westerdam (inaugural Atlantic crossing 11/04). Embarkation We arrived at the port at 11:30am and were on the ship by Noon. We were asked to go to the Lido deck and await the call to our room, since none of the rooms were ready yet, we expected this since we boarded so early. The food at the buffet was ok. At 1:45pm the announcement came that all rooms were ready. Many of the passengers were over 65. This was expected being a fifteen day HAL cruise. This was not a problem at all. Stateroom We went to our deck three inside stateroom and found it to be very clean and set up the way we requested. Our room steward (Jamie) showed up about 10 minutes later with all our luggage. I asked him if he could get us an egg create mattress topper. Ten minutes later he showed up with it. Jamie was great throughout the entire cruise. Our room was not cleaned till after 2pm daily. But it was always very clean. We did have a problem with the air conditioning throughout the entire cruise. The room would not get below 73 degrees. We notified the front desk every day for the first 7 days; they sent people to check it out every day. They also followed up with us every night. They never could do anything to fix it so they gave us a fan to use after the second day (it helped). They also offered to move us to another room, but only offered smaller rooms in less desirable locations. So we stayed in our original room. The cruise line offered us a $100 credit due to the A/C problem. We negotiated it up to $200. The front office staff was very accommodating. Our stateroom was very quiet throughout the entire cruise. Food The food throughout the cruise (Lido Buffet, and Dining room) varied from great to just ok. All of it was very bland (probably due to the older passenger's dietary needs). I'm a chef and found the food selection and presentation fine. We ate breakfast at the Lido buffet every day (the only way to get a hot cooked to order omelet). We also ate lunch at the Lido buffet. I enjoyed the Sushi. The sandwich bar was ok after you realized that you needed to tell them to put more meat on the bread. The ice cream was some of the best we've ever had; they changed the flavors almost hourly. Dinner in the dining room was nice and as I said the quality of the food varied every night from great to acceptable. The wait staff was average. Entertainment The cruise director Lizabeth was the worst we've ever had. She was not at all entertaining. She would ignore you while she was walking around the ship. She just wasn't a warm person. The Dancers were great. The Singers were rejects from American Idol. The guest entertainers (a juggler, Comedians, Singer, and a Ventriloquist) were all good. On board activities were all geared toward the 60 and over crowd (Bridge, Bingo, Water color painting, towel folding, Golf). The trivia events were twice a day, Breakfast trivia 9am, and Team trivia some time between 1:30 - 3pm. All the trivia events were hosted by Lizabeth the terrible. Spa We bought the Thermal suite retreat for the full cruise. A small room overlooking the ocean with a private hot tub, 2 saunas, 2 aroma showers and 5 thermal beds. This room was our sanctuary everyday before dinner. VERY relaxing. It cost $240 per couple for unlimited use for entire cruise. It was well worth it!!! 4 Sea days after leaving San Diego The first two days it was very cold and windy outside. The weather started to warm up on the third day, but it was still windy due to the Pacific trade winds. Ports Hilo, Hawaii was great. We rented a car and drove to the volcano (highly recommended). We took a 2 mile guided hike, and loved every minute of it. We stopped at Mauna Loa Macadamia Nut plantation on the way back to the ship. We spent way too much there but picked up Christmas gifts for everyone. We also stopped at Wal Mart (located in the same shopping center as Hilo Hattie's). You can get a free shuttle to Hilo Hattie's from the pier, then walk across the parking lot and buy your Hawaiian shirts in Wal Mart for between $7-$30. Also buy your Macadamia Nuts and Hawaiian souvenirs in Wal Mart They have a large section full of everything that you didn't know you wanted (you will save lots of money). Honolulu, Oahu (two days) What a zoo!!! Reminded me of New York City (I grew up there) over crowded, way too much traffic all day. We rented a car for two days, but returned it after one. It was just too stressful trying to drive around the city. The second day we walked around the downtown area, and enjoyed all the sights. Lahaina, Maui We spent the day walking up and down Front Street, and sat under the 135 year old massive Banyan tree. This day was very relaxing. Don't eat at "Cheese Burger In paradise" the food was horrible, with the exception of the coconut shrimp. Kona, Hawaii This was the only port we booked a shore excursion. We went on the "Kahun Ranch with ATV Adventure" tour. It took an hour bus ride to get to the ranch, followed by a 2.5 hour ATV ride. What a blast!!! We each had our own ATV, then an hour back to port. The Bus driver / tour guide was great. Back in the port there was a street festival going on, we walked around and picked up a few more gifts. 5 Sea days the return trip These sea days were also windy, and the last two were cold. We were supposed to stop in Ensenada, Mexico on the last night, but due to the extreme fog the Captain decided to bypass this port. Better safe then sorry. Mexico been there done that, gave the tee shirt to Goodwill!! Debarkation I think it was the easiest we've ever had. We chose to get off after 10am. From the time we were called till the time we were in the taxi on the way to the airport was only 20 minutes. That is including finding our luggage. Overall we had a great time. We met another couple onboard and did everything with them. I know we will be life long friends and are already planning our next cruise together, next November. The ship was in need of many repairs, but nothing that was unsafe. The engineers were constantly working all over the ship. The ship was clean. The crew was not the friendliest we've ever experienced. But I'm not a complainer, I just wanted to let everyone know what to expect. If you can't have a great time on a cruise, just stay at work. Read Less
Sail Date November 2008
We spent 2 days in San Diego before our cruise, staying at the Holiday Inn San Diego on the Bay. We love this hotel, which is right across the street from the cruise terminal. Their bus picked us up at the airport and we were at the ... Read More
We spent 2 days in San Diego before our cruise, staying at the Holiday Inn San Diego on the Bay. We love this hotel, which is right across the street from the cruise terminal. Their bus picked us up at the airport and we were at the Holiday Inn in 7 minutes. Our room was nice, with a balcony facing the harbor, and pretty small. We figured this would be good practice for cabin living once onboard. The staff was very nice and helpful. We ate at The Elephant and Castle downstairs and also at Anthony's Fish Grotto across the street. We enjoyed Anthony's so much we ate there again upon our return from the cruise. We especially liked Hazelwood's, the little deli place downstairs and outside. It was convenient for breakfast, lunch, ice cream, pastries and beverages ...... we made many visits. Coming from the chilly Midwest, we felt like we were really on vacation sitting at an outdoor umbrella table watching the ships come in. While in San Diego, we took the OLD TOWN TROLLEY TOUR BUS. You could hop on and off the bus at each sight, staying as long as you wished until you were ready to hop on the bus for the next location. We visited Old Town, the Harbor, Seaport Village, Marriott Hotel and Marina, Horton Plaza Shopping Center, Gaslight Quarter, Coronado Island (the ferry landing and an Irish Pub closer to the Coronado Hotel), San Diego Zoo and Balboa Park. You really could spend an entire day at some of these stops. One surprisingly interesting site was the SAN DIEGO COUNTY SHERIFF'S MUSEUM. It's in the Old Town area and it's free to the public. Very interesting and educational. If you're into photography, there are many photo opportunities there. The day of the cruise, we walked over to the cruise terminal about 11:30. Within 30" we were eating a delicious lunch in the Lido. Very efficient check in. Our outside cabin on the Dolphin Deck was efficiently laid out with plenty of storage, a personal safe, luggage storage under the bed, 2 additional keyed drawers by the bed, luxurious linens and pillows and a comfort-top mattress. On the desk, we had an ice bucket and glasses. There was a fruit basket but with so much food aboard we discontinued the daily in-room fruit. The bathroom had a corner cabinet that held quite a lot. Even so, I used the over-the-door shoe hanger for additional "stuff". The provided toiletries were up-scale and smelled so good. For those mentioning difficulties getting in and out of the tub.....our tub had two grab bars... And believe me, they came in handy when the ship was rocking and rolling! Our room stewards RiDHO and SYURYADiH magically appeared, presented their card and proceeded To lay out our luggage for unpacking. They asked if they could do anything for us, and complied with all our requests. By the way, I did pack the suggested sticky notes and they came in handy whenever we wanted to communicate with Ridho and Syuryadih. After unpacking, it was off to the lifeboat drill. It was rather hot and crowded on deck and there were a few elderly people who were unsteady in the crowd. One poor lady fainted and was immediately attended to by the officers and a woman I assumed was a nurse. We saw the fainter recover and walk off. Hope she was OK. Holland is VERY strict regarding lifeboat drills. It didn't appear that anyone was excused. And there were quite a few elderly and/or physically challenged individuals on this cruise. But by golly, they didn't let that stand in the way of their having a good time. I don't know if it was because my DH and I had such a good time on this cruise, but I completely believed the cruise director and several other crew members when they told us that we were an especially fun group. It certainly felt that way. Wherever we went on the ship, people were chatting, laughing, smiling and just generally having a pleasant time. Who wouldn't....living for 15 days in paradise? Probably most people were in their 40's-80's leaning toward an older group. We only saw a few children. Okay, here is a typical day for DH and I. The "coffee man" woke us up at 7 or so. We did our daily 5k around deck 3. Back to cabin to shower then to Lido for breakfast. Then to library for reading or nap. Ballroom dancing mornings in Crow's Nest. At 10 there is usually some enrichment seminar (example: "Hawaii the Kingdom to State" with your travel guide Kainoa ). At 11 perhaps another seminar, culinary demonstration, health and fitness presentation by spa personnel. Once they had an amateur bartender event. It was so funny. Three contestants competing and the judges getting happier and happier as the contest went on. I don't drink but there were lots of drinking events that even I enjoyed. BTW, this always tickled us: In the daily program the schedule for the Friends of Bill W. always just preceded the Happy Hour Announcements. So at 4:00 pm Friends of Bill W meet in King's Room, immediately following that on the schedule: Happy Hour, all drinks are half price! The casino was busy. Poker seemed to be popular. We waited for the craps table to get busy but it never did while we were there. After lunch, things picked up, we had to make the movie, get another nap in, get ready for the show, for dinner, and after dinner music. The evening shows were a head above those we've seen on other ships. The Zandaam's Song and Dance Cast was entertaining and energetic, The Las Vegas Tenors were spectacular...doing a lot of "popera', funny comedians, the Indonesian, Philippine and Hawaiian Culture Shows were great. There was too much entertainment to mention and to attend. But we tried our best. The after dinner music was one of the highlights of this cruise. You could wander throughout the ship from one type of music to another. There were sing-alongs in one lounge, jazz in another, ballroom dancing in the Ocean Lounge, modern dancing in the Crow's Nest, karaoke talent contests. It definitely is the Musical Ship. We never made any of the 11pm -12am late night snacks. We would have loved to but we pooped out and returned to our cabin for a wonderful night's sleep. The bed linens were luxurious and the bed was so comfortable, we just let the sea rock us to sleep like babies. The food was very good in our opinion. The variety, quality, presentation and service everywhere was excellent. We had the "Anytime Dining" and enjoyed it a lot. We enjoyed the flexibility for time and companions. Some evenings we sat at a romantic table for two. When we felt more social, we opted sharing a table with 6 to 12 people. We always met lovely people and enjoyed learning about them through many interesting conversations. We never had to wait for a table and never made reservations either. We were just lucky that the dining room had what we wanted available. The dining room staff were wonderful. They aimed to please. Our experience with the cruise director, Lizabeth, was positive. She was funny and extremely energetic. She was everywhere from pool volley ball to leading us in the walk for the cure. She led the trivia contests, was at all shows and events. Lizabeth had one of those soothing, late-night radio voices that made listening to the general announcements pleasant. We even ran into her after the cruise and she was as sweet as could be. I would have liked the temperature lower in our cabin but my DH was comfortable at the lowest setting. I was even comfortable on deck the first couple days at sea. Cool but that's the way I like it. It didn't stop us from our walking regime. Neither did the motion of the ocean or the waves splashing up. It was part of the experience! An improvement IMO would be to stagger the levels of seating in the Movie Theater. Those in back had their view blocked by those in front. There was always competition to get "the best seat" at the movies. We signed up for three excursions: HAWAII TROPICAL BOTANICAL GARDENS in Hilo (my favorite! You found a wide variety of Hawaiian scenery here from flowers to crashing waves. Waterfalls to colorful birds.) PEARL HARBOR in Honolulu...(excellent! I was in Honolulu 30 years ago as a kid J and it was very rough then. They really cleaned it up.) And the GRAND CIRCLE ISLAND excursion. (The Dole Pineapple Pavilion was unexpectedly fun. They had a pineapple maze and lots of fresh fruits. The Japanese Temple was awesome but we couldn't stay long. I think this tour could be improved if it had skipped 2 "souvenir stops". Then we could visit longer at the "real" Hawaiian sites.) We did the other ports on our own and enjoyed ourselves walking around sightseeing. On Kona, I wish I wore my bathing suit ashore because their was a little protected beach area right by the dock. You could see bright colored fish from the shore and it would have been fun to snorkel there. There was a rental booth with beach/snorkel equip. with very reasonable prices. The beach and lagoon looked safe enough even for little kids. The last stop, Ensenada was cancelled because of dense fog. All in all a wonderful cruise although Debarkation had it's moments when the line was held up because the "glass bridge" needed to be adjusted. The line couldn't move yet they kept announcing more groups to come down for debarkation. But it wasn't awful except for that guy loaded down with Macadamia Nuts and we finally got off, found our luggage and walked across the street to checked back into the Holiday Inn at 10:30 am. This time they put us in the Priority Club section and our room was larger and more modern than the one before the cruise. We were delighted! Walked over to Seaport Village via The Great Generation Way and had hamburgers at a take-out place and ate them at an umbrella table. Yep, we're still on vacation! Even if only for one more day. Read Less
Sail Date November 2008
Background We are a married couple, 30 years old. My mother also cruised with us and she is 67. We have cruised on Holland America, Princess, Carnival, Celebrity, Royal Caribbean and Norwegian. This cruise was the 15 day Circle Hawaii ... Read More
Background We are a married couple, 30 years old. My mother also cruised with us and she is 67. We have cruised on Holland America, Princess, Carnival, Celebrity, Royal Caribbean and Norwegian. This cruise was the 15 day Circle Hawaii cruise that sailed roundtrip to the islands from San Diego, CA. We visited Hilo, Lahaina, 2 days in Honolulu and Kona. Embarkation We arrived at the pier around noon. There were lots of people there already but check in was easy and we only had to wait in line a few minutes. When we boarded the ship the staterooms were not ready so we headed to Lido for a bite to eat. Our Stateroom Our Stateroom was an outside cabin on Deck 1 - Dolphin Deck, Midship Category E. The cabin was very nice with plenty of storage for all three of us. The third bed is a sofa which makes into a bed. My mother said it was not very comfortable. Our bed was two twins pushed together and was comfortable. The bathroom had a tub/shower combo. The service form the cabin stewards were excellent. Sea Days and Things to do on the Ship There were 10 sea days on this 15 day cruise. Most of the passengers on this cruise were 65 years or older. We only saw a few young people and 2 small children. The ship was very peaceful and quiet. No drunk people and no kids running around. We like cruising with the older people so we fit in great. However, due to the average age of the passengers there were not many activities geared toward the younger crowd. Every day there would be cooking demonstrations, trivia, live music, bingo and sports events. We took place in the sports events to collect the Dam Dollars to redeem at the end of the cruise for souvenirs. There were also dance lessons, coffee chats, travel talks, and various other events during the sea days. The library had many books, magazines, games and puzzles for people to use. Most sea days the library was packed with people reading or playing games. DVDs were also available to check out for $3 each. Every cabin has a TV and DVD player. Big screen movies would play in the culinary theatre at night. The selection of movies was very good. But the theatre is not set up very well with the position of the chairs and the screen. It helped very much that there were 2 large screen TVs on each side of the big screen to see the movie as well. These were much clearer and provided for an unobstructed view of the movie. They also provided popcorn and sold drinks. I wish they would have played the movies during the sea days as well. But usually that lounge was used for cooking demonstrations during the sea days. They also played these movies on the cabin TVs the next day. There was also a travel guide aboard the ship to tell us all about Hawaii. He was very knowledgeable and fun to listen to. He would give talks during the day and they would be shown on the cabin TVs as well. The Casino is very small but all of the staff was very friendly. They had the usual table games and the limit was low at $5. Every sea day they would hold 2 sessions of Texas Hold'em Poker. The slots machines were very tight and did not pay anything. The shops were your average souvenir and jewelry stores you find on cruise ships. Entertainment The cruise director on the ship was Lizabeth and she was a very nice lady. She fit the older crowd but was not very entertaining. The production shows with the singers and dancers were great shows. However, the singing was awful and the shows were missing the live music that Carnival always has. The other entertainers included singers, comedians, ventriloquists, and jugglers. All of these shows were fantastic. The live music around the ship was very nice as well. There were also 2 crew shows - one Indonesian and one Filipino. Both were excellent shows! Food The food on the ship was very good. I would not say it was outstanding but it was very good. Every night in the dining room there would be one dish of either chicken, beef, fish, pasta and vegetable. These were accompanied by appetizers, soup, salad and of course dessert. The service in the dining room was excellent. The lido buffet was good as well serving almost the same thing for dinner each night as was served in the dining room. Lunch offered a variety of items as well as a deli, salad bar, Mexican bar and hamburger/hot dog/pizza station by the pool. Dessert and ice cream was offered as well. Late night snacks were also provided on lido deck starting around 11pm. Drinks On this cruise you could purchase a drink card for soda, wine or cocktails. Each card has its own price and offers a certain amount of drinks. Your card is punched every time you have a drink. The price you pay initially includes the tips and taxes. My husband purchased the wine card for $67 + tax and tip. This provided 20 glasses of house wines which he could use anywhere on the ship. The best deal was the happy hours in the Ocean Bar. Almost every day from 4pm-5pm they would offer half price drinks in the Ocean Bar. This was a great deal and better than purchasing any of the drink cards. Gym/Spa We did not purchase any spa services but took a tour of the area. It was very nice and the gym was quite busy on sea days. They offered specials throughout the cruise. Photographs The photographs were very expensive. We only purchased our embarkation photo along with a photo of the ship in a Folio album. This cost $53. There were only a few photographers on the ship and they did not hound you to take photos like on other cruise lines. They didn't follow you around or make you take photos. They would usually ask first if you wanted a photo. This was a great feature. Hawaiian Ports We did not take any of the HAL shore excursions as they were very expensive. With 3 people we found it cheaper and better to rent a car in each port. We explored the islands and saw the sights we chose and did it all on our own time schedule. I think this is a great way to see the islands. We calculated that the cost of the car plus gas averaged $24 per person per day. This is a great way to see many places at your own pace and for a low cost. We were supposed to sail past the Volcano on the big island once we departed Hawaii on the last port day. The captain switched the schedule so that we would sail past the Volcano after the first port day in Hilo. He did this because we would be sailing past at an earlier time so more people would be awake to view this. Unfortunately, it was raining and we could not see the volcano very well. We did see the glowing red lava but it was very far away and hard to see through the fog/rain. I believe each person can make the best or worst of their port days so I won't go into detail about each stop. I will say that we really enjoyed Hawaii and there is a lot to see and do. Make the best of your time there! ? Debarkation Originally we were going to have a silent debarkation. This means you are given your designated time to leave the ship and you go at this time. However, it was changed and they did make announcements for when we could leave the ship. We got off the ship early and with no problems. However, there were a lot of people trying to get of the ship and it seems like they needed more time between each color being called. The elevators were slow as were they people walking off the ship with their luggage. More time for each group of people to leave the ship would have been better. Conclusion This was a wonderful cruise with excellent service. The food was very good and the entertainment was great. We really enjoyed the long cruise experience. It provided for relaxing sea days and plenty of time to enjoy all areas of the ship. Expect an older crowd with the average age of the guest being 65 years and older. Most of the passengers have been to Hawaii before and cruise mainly for the experience. We did not encounter any long lines, party atmospheres or kids running loose. It was a very quiet and peaceful cruise. We had a great time and would take this cruise again! Read Less
Sail Date November 2008
Review of Zaandam to Hawaii 12-7 to 12-22 Captain: Sybe de Boer CD: Lizabeth Knight HM: Frank Ulbricht 12/6: Arrive in San Diego and we are staying at the Holiday Inn, right across the street from the cruise terminal. The location is great ... Read More
Review of Zaandam to Hawaii 12-7 to 12-22 Captain: Sybe de Boer CD: Lizabeth Knight HM: Frank Ulbricht 12/6: Arrive in San Diego and we are staying at the Holiday Inn, right across the street from the cruise terminal. The location is great and the room is OK. We dined at Anthony's on the pier and got to watch the Oosterdam sail away. In the am we watched the Zaandam sail in from our balcony. An ambulance arrived shortly after the ship docked and an individual was brought off by stretcher to the waiting ambulance. We could see the Captain on the bridge supervising. 12/7 Embarkation: Arrived at 11 am, after rolling our luggage across the street ourselves. The check-in line moved very quickly. We had to wait until about 12 noon to board. We had lunch at the Lido. Rooms were not ready until 2 PM. Our luggage did not arrive until after 5 PM. We were some of the last to get our luggage. I was getting nervous since we didn't have one suitcase yet! Sea days: We had 5 each way. Plenty of time to enjoy enrichment lectures, cooking demonstrations, the thermal spa, Royal Dutch high tea, the Indonesian tea, water color class, golf putting and chipping contests, learn how to hula, attend a floral arranging class by the onboard florist, go to a movie or watch one in the room, attend a chat with the Chief Engineer to learn about the ship, and many other activities. Ports of call: We had been to Hawaii before so we did not do that many excursions. Hilo, Hawaii: First was Hilo where we took a ship's excursion to Volcano National Park. This was a great excursion and we visited the Visitor Center, the Jagger Museum and stopped to see the steam vents, stopped at a local black sand beach and that evening we sailed past the volcano as it was splashing lava into the sea. We were able to watch it from our starboard verandah and the Captain announced he got the closest ever - ½ mile away. It was spectacular. Volcano viewing was excellent. Pictures can't do it justice. Binoculars helped with viewing. Lahaina, Maui: This was a tender port. We waited until after most of the excursions had left and took a free shuttle to Whaler's Village for shopping and then went back to Lahaina for more shopping and a late lunch at Bubba Gump's. It was lightly raining by late afternoon when we returned. Tendering was difficult because the sea was very rough. We were there until 10pm, but the Captain actually suspended tenders in to shore around 6 pm because he determined it was just too risky. Those that wanted to come back to the ship were brought in, but no one else could go back ashore. We were a little late leaving because it was difficult getting the tenders hooked back up to the ship. Nawailiwili, Kauai: We went ashore to Duke's Canoe club at the Marriott for lunch and drinks and then did some shopping nearby. There is an ABC store, jewelry stores, clothing stores, etc. Beautiful sunset that evening. Honolulu, Oahu: Got up at 6 am to watch the ship sail in to harbor and was treated to the most spectacular sunrise with Diamond Head from the starboard verandah. This was one of the highlights of the cruise! We took the Natural Highlights ship's excursion and it was very good. We went to Diamond Head - in the middle of the crater, to Hanunama Bay and along the coastline, saw the beach where "From Here to Eternity" was filmed, and to a sacred, ancient Hawaiian temple ruins and then on to the Pali Lookout. We had an excellent guide who was an expert in his area. Then back to the ship for a snack and then in the afternoon we took a taxi to Waikiki beach to the Halekulani Hotel to House Without a Key for Hawaiian music, hula, cocktails and pupus. It was overcast so no sunset. Mai Tai's were very strong. Very good! Then around 7 pm we had another taxi drop us off at the Honolulu City Hall for the "Honolulu City Lights" Christmas lighting display. It was lovely. They really decorate for Christmas and inside City Hall were all kinds of Christmas Tree displays. Many families were there and there were pictures with Santa. We walked back to the ship - past the Iolani Palace and the State House, etc. More beautiful decorations! The ship docks at the Aloha Tower and there is shopping, etc. there. Kona, Hawaii: Another tender port. We just walked around the town to see what had changed since we were there last. Did a little shopping and stopped for Kona coffee. There were free shuttles offered here for shopping, as well. Some high points from the cruise: -The Pinnacle Grill: We ate here 4 times. This was our 4th HAL cruise, but we had never dined in the PG. We thoroughly enjoyed it! The food and the service were excellent. -The shore excursions we mentioned and the nighttime viewing of the volcano -The Hawaiian guide and enrichment lecturer, Kainoa. We attended every single talk he had and he was excellent. We learned a lot about Hawaiian culture and beliefs. He made the cruise for us! Definitely a highlight! -Don't forget the culinary demonstrations. Many are free and they are very informational and entertaining. -Free hands-on water coloring classes in the afternoons -Bought a lei in Hilo for $8 right at the pier as well as a cabin arrangement for $10. Great bargain! -Classical music in the Explorer's lounge and at dinner by Spring Breeze -Piano Bar : Ed Kelly and also Sonja Marie Happy Hour from 4-5 pm - great chance to try all the signature cocktails. We had fun with those. -Mariner brunch was handled very nicely on this ship. -The Christmas decorations were very beautiful We had a couple of problems that were taken care of. One was no hot water for the first 3 days. We called our telephone concierge each day, but nothing improved. I contacted the HM and it was taken care of within a few hours. The other thing was the bed was just not as comfortable as on our 3 previous HAL sailings. I had read 2 reviews lately that complained about the beds and I was surprised. But, we had the problem, too, and it was easily taken care of with an egg crate mattress. It was a great cruise! Read Less
Sail Date December 2008
We spent a couple days in San Diego exploring and recovering from the long flight from Alabama! My daughter's brand new in box watch listed at $900, my husbands cuff links, new in box cumberbun and bow tie and out new binoculars were ... Read More
We spent a couple days in San Diego exploring and recovering from the long flight from Alabama! My daughter's brand new in box watch listed at $900, my husbands cuff links, new in box cumberbun and bow tie and out new binoculars were all stolen out of luggage on AA. The watch I didn't realize was put in there so that should have been expected, but the rest?... Anyway, we had a restful time at a nice hotel in the gaslamp district. We boarded the ship on a rainy day, but had short lines and very nice people helping us with the abbreviated paperwork. We had all pre-boarding passes etc. taken care of. The ship is in very nice condition. We traveled on her a few years ago shortly after she was refurbished and the upgrades have been mostly maintained. The only things I could comment on were the stain on the sofa in our room (not a problem for us) and the fact that we had a regular blanket as opposed to a feather comforter between the sheets (no duvet) on our bed. Our cabin stewards were fantastic and our waiter (late set seating) was wonderful! We had ice in our room when we needed it and our food came quickly as our waiter took note of the 3 teens who would rather not spend much time eating! Very thoughtful! The shows were quite good. We only went to 3 but enjoyed them! We played a lot of Bingo. The girls love this so we went every day. One daughter won a little once which kept us coming back. I do have to say my praises for DJ Matt! He is always cheerful and entertaining. I did several of the Dam bucks events and had a blast! I have 2 coffee mugs to show for my (non)golfing/hockey/tennis etc. lack of talent. Lizbeth was sweet and a good hostess as well as a good sport as she got in the pool and played volleyball! I would not have put myself in that pool for money as it was a little chilly! We had a lot of fun in the casino. It wasn't a winning trip (understatement) but the people were absolutely wonderful - a big and welcome difference from our last trip! Our ports were Hilo - we rented a car and went to VNP - beautiful and fun, Honolulu - again rented a car and did some sightseeing, Maui - we did the river kayak trip which was great fun and the waterfalls were lovely, kauai we did the whale watch tour and a luau and we just vegged in sunshine on Kona at a lovely beach bar and tiny beach. The food on the ship was good! We had no complaints about dinner in the dining room and the food in the Lido was mostly good. You can't expect good crispy bacon when cooked in in bulk and eggs are something best ordered at the window so they are cooked to your preference! I do love the pizza and sandwich station! REALLY GREAT! This was a really special trip as it was or longest cruise yet and our first trip to Hawaii! Thank you Holland for another special experience!!! Read Less
Sail Date December 2008
Feb. 5 departure for Hawaii on Ms Zaandam. There is no doubt that the 'technical difficulty' that delayed our departure from San Diego was related to the lack of hydraulics for the stabilizers (prevent side to side roll of ... Read More
Feb. 5 departure for Hawaii on Ms Zaandam. There is no doubt that the 'technical difficulty' that delayed our departure from San Diego was related to the lack of hydraulics for the stabilizers (prevent side to side roll of ship). I understand that pitch (front to back movement is unavoidable), but the constant side to side roll as evidenced by one's feet and the motion of the water in the pools proved that we weathered gale force winds and forty foot waves WITHOUT stabilizers. The stabilizers remained dysfunctional throughout the cruise. The ship should not have been permitted to leave San Diego without stabilizers especially considering the average age of the HAL cruiser. I saw many older folk fall onto the floor, into chairs, into tables and many injuries were incurred. One also wonders if the incoming storm which hastened our departure from Maui by seven hours was not related to the lack of the stabilizers. The second problem with the cruise which was also avoidable was the presence of Norovirus on the ship which restricted activities, ease of meals in the Lido Dining room and other inconveniences. A simple finger-stick for a drop of blood sample placed on a slide, easy two step staining procedure and an experienced microscopist specializing in hematology would easily have detected the presence of a viral infection in a boarding passenger. There was abundant time to perform this test as we wound our way through the dockside check-in. (I can do the entire process within ten minutes.) I AM a former specialist in reading blood smears and determining from the white blood cells present and the percentage of circulating lymphocytes to tell the officials which passenger(s) has/have a viral infection. The self-declaration form we filled out is useless. Who is going to answer yes to a question which will cancel their long-awaited cruise? As an aside: As I was trying to get to the bridge portion of the ship, I took some wrong turns after encountering a Fire Exit sign on the door which would have led me to my destination. Apparently the Dutch have no idea that Americans do not breach Fire Doors. I entered many other doors which had NO warning signs of any sort and accidentally found myself walking up the steps to the pilot house. Good thing I was not a hijacker or terrorist, eh. One more thing: Do you all realize what HAL pays their 'non-professional' staff members? The Eastern Europeans in the casino get TEN DOLLARS PER DAY. You can extrapolate downward to get a sense of what HAL must pay the Indonesian cabin staff which do the yeoman's portion of the work aboard the ship. I call that slave labor and I will be notifying my congressional representatives about it. I will not sail HAL again. Read Less
Sail Date February 2009
Zaandam-Circle Hawaii-Feb. 5-20, 2009 We live in the Palm Springs area so drove to San Diego in the morning. We parked at San Diego Airport Parking which was wonderful and inexpensive. They parked our car, dropped us directly at the ... Read More
Zaandam-Circle Hawaii-Feb. 5-20, 2009 We live in the Palm Springs area so drove to San Diego in the morning. We parked at San Diego Airport Parking which was wonderful and inexpensive. They parked our car, dropped us directly at the cruise terminal, picked us up at the end of the trip...all for 105.00 for the entire 15 day cruise. Day 1 Embarkation process was fairly easy. We boarded at about noon. Had a WangWang on the Lido by the pool and shared the table with a very nice couple. Our room was ready at about 1:45pm. Our beds were situated as two singles. Our room stewards, Sugiyanto and Rhido introduced themselves and situated the beds as one queen. We brought 2 cases of wine on board and our stewards brought up a wine cooler and ice which they kept full the entire cruise. We had muster which is always our worst part of the cruise, but it was done very quickly and efficiently. We returned to our cabin for a bottle of champagne and to begin our celebration of the great cruise. A trip around the ship found it to be in good condition. There were a few areas that were well used, such as the recliners in the Crow's Nest. Overall, we found it to be wonderful. This is a musically inspired cruise. Various instruments around the ships that are interesting. Our Verandah cabin 6121 was in good condition, very neat and clean. The bed is very comfortable. We had late dining and were assigned table 49. Our dining stewards were Hendra and Budi. They were great at suggesting what they considered the "best item". As the cruise progressed they got to know our particular tastes and would suggest what they thought we would enjoy. My husband loves hot and spicy. Hendra would make sure to have Sambal (not sure of spelling) but a really hot Indonesian spice, at our table. They were fantastic. Our wine steward was Romeo with some help from Benny. We were charged 15.00/bottle corkage, except when we ate at the Pinnacle where we were charged 18.00/bottle. Bon Voyage party in the Crow's Nest acquainted us with the crew. Michael Helda was our CD. He did a fabulous job keeping things going. He was fairly young, and I believe this was only his second HAL cruise. He did very well, and kept things lively and enjoyable...."Out and About" DJ Matt and Party Planner Jen were fun. We felt that things went well. I felt that they were fairly young and very energetic with tons of things to do. Day 2. We were hit by a significant storm. Sea Sick bags appeared everywhere. Many folks were sick. The captain, Jan Smit, came on to alert us that we were having 30 ft seas and 55knot winds. We needed to remove all items from shelves and take them to the floor, as they were ending up there anyway. We were asked to stay inside and avoid outside decks. This was a definite E ticket ride. We were not sick, buy most others were very ill. We enjoyed the show at the dining room as the agile stewards delivered stacks of meals with the very high seas. One young steward did quite a dance and ended up sitting over the edge of an empty chair, but he saved the meals from sure disaster. Thankfully many seats were empty due to the horrible weather. He did not end up in the lap of a diner. We had a Meet and Greet with other Cruise Critic folk that David put together, name tags and all. Very nicely done. I enjoyed meeting Nigel, the Beverage Manager and Michael, the CD also attended. I asked Nigel about the Hendricks Gin I requested prior to the cruise. He told me that at every port he sent out his assistant to find a bottle, without success. He said the assistant would return empty handed with a taxi bill for the search. Eventually, he felt that it was costing way too much in taxi fare so gave up the search. I apologized for the work I created. He asked me where I purchased this Gin and I told him that I found it least expensive at Trader Joes. I thanked him for his efforts. I purchased the occasional martini on board and we had a bottle of Sapphire delivered to our room...not Hendricks but better than Mr. Green (in my opinion). They really try to meet all requests. I enjoyed meeting some of the other CCers. All were very nice. Day 3. We got breakfast in our room, as we did each and every morning. It was always a nice treat. We got fresh coffee, pineapple, cottage cheese and chocolate croissant. The breakfast room service was as broad as one would like. Very nice. We would usually sleep until they arrived with our breakfast at 8am. We played a little Bingo, hung out by the pool, even did the Walz lessons. This led a special kind of dancing with the movement of the ships on the high seas. We had fun and nobody was permanently injured. Did the Indonesian High Tea which was fun. Captains toast was nice, we were not overly impressed with the late shows, but they were okay. They were entertaining. Somehow I keep hearing Simon Cowels voice in my head saying "To be honest, it reminded me of something one would see on a cruise ship." We did enjoy the piano player in the Piano Bar, Tim Kelly. He was entertaining and played a broad range of standards. Day 4. We were greeted with news of being on Code Red. Apparently there were a small but growing number of folks with the Norovirus. We were told it was only 1.8% total, but they were jumping on it to prevent a widespread outbreak. I was impressed by the proactive Captain and Crew. The crew responded with super scrubber, sanitizing precautions. Bread, salt and pepper shakers disappeared. No self service. As a neat freak, I actually like Code Red precautions....but I could tell it was putting undue stress on the crew. I was told they were working 15 hour days to overcome the Code Red. We overheard the Dining Room Manager, Inder, telling some staff to refrain from shaking hands and place their hands behind their backs and politely bow to the guests and welcome them back. We were told to wash our hands often and for at least 20 seconds. We were provided with personal bottles of hand sanitizer. We personally already use Clorex wipes when we first board and wipe down all surfaces in our room including remote control, bathroom walls, all handles on drawers, doors, etc. Then whenever we leave or enter our room we wash our hands, so our room is a "Clean Zone." We take the stairs since I believe the sickies do not feel well enough to take the stairs, avoid hand rails and touching anything. We especially avoid public restrooms. The entire crew were working overtime for sure and I was impressed. Day 5. Lazy day, read, poked around the ship, lounged around by the pool. Found myself irritated by the chair hogs. A few women who must get to the pool early and save 7 or 8 lounge chairs by putting a shoe or bag on them. They would then come and go throughout the entire day. It really bugged me as some of them were empty most of the day. Very rude to my way of thinking. At one point my husband asked if he could move the belongings as the chair had not been used for over an hour. The deck steward was very nice and apologetic but said they could not touch the belongings. The Indonesian crew show was a lot of fun. I loved seeing them. They are a fun loving group. Day 6. HILO!! We rented a car and really made tracks. We did VCP, the macadamia nut house, Akaka Falls, Big Island Candy factory. We had a plate lunch which we enjoyed (double scoop rice, beef, macaroni salad). This was a great day. We reboarded at about 4. I would recommend renting a car for sure. We went through Thrifty, it was easy and no problem with logistics. Day 7. Honolulu. We spent the day at Waikiki Beach. We took The Bus (great transportation) to Diamond Head and then came back to the beach. We rented a couple of chairs and umbrella and spent the day at the beach. We ate Sushi in the early evening and made our way back to the ship at about 6. We showered and ate in the Dining room. The food was always very good. We set sail for Kauai at about 11:30pm. Day 8. Nawiliwili, Kauai. We did the Back Country Zipline excursion. It was great fun and I would do it again. It was one of the highlights of our trip. After we returned from the excursion we still had a little time left, so went to Dukes and had fish and chips and Macadamia nut pie. Fantastic! We boarded tired in time for sail away party. Very fun day. Day 9. Maui. The captain informed us that there was a very bad storm coming in that evening which made tendering unsafe, so we would need to cut that port short. Those that planned the Luau or Road to Hana were very disappointed. We had been to Maui a number of times so just poked around Lahaina and did some shopping. We ate a nice lunch at a fish house and bought souvenirs. The whales were very much out. We could sit on our verandah deck and watch the breaching of whales and calves. It was quite a show...and for free! We left Maui at 5pm and sure enough had very rough seas later that evening as we made our way to Kona. Day 10. Kona- We did shopping, snorkeling and had a nice lunch. We enjoyed Kona. Later that evening we took a trip to see the Volcano as it poured into the sea. It was fairly spectacular. Beautiful! It was very late though, well past midnight before be got close to the site. Valentine's Day and we found a nice plate of chocolate covered strawberries and chocolates in our room, compliments of the captain. Very nice touch. Very late night and a lot of fun with dancing in the Crow's Nest with Jen leading the fun until quite late. Day 11. Starting back to the states. We spent the time lounging by the pool, reading and relaxing. Code Red stays in effect. I was told there were something like 90ish people that became ill, but new reports were going down and people were getting out of quarantine. This has not really negatively effected our trip, but I do think the crew is working very hard to overcome this. We noticed unusual folks serving food in the Lido, the Cruise Director, the Hal Cats (Musicians) members, the guy who gave the lectures about Hawaii...lots of unusual folks. I believe they were all working double time to get on top of the Code Red. Continually there were staff with industrial cleaners doing sanitizing procedures on the ship. I kind of liked the buffets being closed to self serve. I think it is cleaner with things being served to us. I kind of liked it. Day 12. We ate in Pinnacle Grill. We found it to be very good. My husband got the lobster and I got a giant steak and we shared so we both had surf and turf. The lobster tail was not small, I would consider it probably from a 1 pound lobster, it was served to us poached but we could have had it grilled. We prefer poached and it was very good. The chocolate volcano cake was great. I think it is definitely worth the 20.00 fee, but I rather like my dining room stewards better than the Pinnacle stewards, but service was great and food excellent. Day 13-We are out of Code red. There have been no new cases for the required timeframe and they feel they are on top of the virus. Bread ended back on our tables, Self serve coffee, tea and salad has returned. Taco bar back opened. I am very impressed with the efforts by the crew. Had Lobster tonight and Hendra brought my husband a second helping. Two lobster tail and a filet were on each plate. The lobster were excellent and nice sized. Very well done and a lot of fun. There was a celebratory feel as we are out of Code Red and the seas have calmed down. Day 14 Final full day at sea. Again, relaxing day. We enjoyed the Master Chefs dinner. Quite a show. Very nicely done. The food was only okay, but I enjoyed seeing the crew ham it up. Due to the weather, we were informed by the captain that we were not going to be able to enjoy the Ensenada port. We were running 3 hours behind due to previously rough seas and just could not make up that time. We anchored rather than docked and quickly did paperwork and proceeded to San Diego. Some were disappointed, I was fine with it...not a huge Ensenada fan. Today—We ended our cruise with very orderly disembarkation. A very sad day for us. We loved our trip, despite weather and Code Red. We think Holland America did an excellent job overcoming these challenges. We would travel with them again. Read Less
Sail Date February 2009
Tried to keep a log this time... and I made it until those last sea days. Too relaxing, I suppose! We were delighted to sail once again on our beloved Zaandam. She never seems to change always the same atmosphere and great crew! We ... Read More
Tried to keep a log this time... and I made it until those last sea days. Too relaxing, I suppose! We were delighted to sail once again on our beloved Zaandam. She never seems to change always the same atmosphere and great crew! We were a little late boarding, due to previous code Red conditions, as the 'sterilization process' was taking a while. But, it was only about an hour later than usual that we boarded. Great Sail Away party in the Crow's Nest and it was a beautiful day. Wonderful cabin stewards [Harry and Kadek] and dining room servers [Buddi and Dede, wine steward Mike]. All took wonderful care of us, of course. As did 'Nette in the Neptune Lounge. A new string quartet in the Explorer Lounge. After a few rough starts, they performed very nicely. I wish we could have spent a little more time listening. The seas the first night were 'very bouncy' a condition we all soon learned to deal with. My anti-seasick system is: two bonine at night, one ginger capsule in the a.m. Although we rolled and pitched at times I never missed a meal or felt that I should have. Took part in some, but not nearly all DAM dollar competitions. There was so much going on and we had a few scheduling difficulties ours, not HALs. Went to some of the Culinary Demonstrations. The head chef [I'm sure that's not the correct title], named Daniel, is a most personable man, and he was very entertaining at these [free] sessions. We saw him all over the ship. Busy guy! No one going to Hawaii should miss the gentleman, Koinoa, who did a wonderful presentation nearly every day. What a storyteller! On this cruise, we decided to do the wine tastings. There were two an introductory tasting and one in the Pinnacle Grill. Also, a new thing The Sommelier Wine Dinner, held in the Pinnacle Grill. The Pinnacle chef and the Cellar Master created a fabulous menu to go with the great wines that were served. Well worth the money. One would pay a good deal more for such dinners here on land. As a result of the above activities, we became acquainted with Cellar Master Larry, and he would stop at our table to chat every evening. BTW, I have to add that we were not buying wine we had purchased a wine card online. We had seen some of the entertainers before Tony Pace and Dave Levesque, but they were wonderful to enjoy once again. A new face to us was Annie Frances. What a lovely voice! And, coming home we had Barnaby and Paul Pappas. Great piano bar man as well... last name, Kelly. Went to some of the production shows. Until they can do something about the sound levels in these shows, we tend to either leave, sit way in back or just not go. Just too loud for us.... Michael Headla was a very good Cruise Director. He was everywhere! Had a good crew working with him, as well. Hilo had some light rain. We went on the tour to Volcano National Park. Had a terrific bus driver/guide [James] and we really enjoyed this tour. Stopped in terminal for two of the beautiful fragrant $8 leis. [HAL didn't provide these this trip. Is this some new cost-cutting thing?? Anyone know?] After the show, we sailed past the lava flow. [Good timing, Captain Smit!] The volcano was in good form this evening. Always impressive. On Honolulu, we didn't do a tour, but made an attempt to walk to Waikiki. After 45 minutes, we turned back and walked along the ocean-front park. Weather gorgeous only one light shower. NEXT time, we'll take the shuttle to Waikiki and walk back! Missed Kauai and our tour to the Fern Grotto. Decided this was a good enough reason to return one day. There was a huge ocean swell and high winds. That would have been very tricky to try to get into that dock. Glad we were in good hands. Maui was gorgeous! We had a rental car and took a picnic lunch to the Ioe Needle. Lovely!! Highly recommend this one! There is a nice park and walking path. It was about an hour's drive to get there. Returned car and met some friends from home who have been renting a condo for a month. Sat on their terrace and watched whale after whale! What a show! On the way home, the choppy seas really kicked in. This rather curtailed our daily morning walks on deck. Too windy! Plus it was easy to stay in, have a lovely breakfast and just watch the waves. One day, when we were having dinner late, we did have High Tea served in our room. Oh my! What a great thing to do!! We felt very special. And, on one of the days going to the Islands, we managed to have the club sandwiches from Room Service out on the verandah. Yum! I have no further notes on the return cruise, other than the rockiness. We were just lazy and ate a lot. Heard of no sickness, thank goodness. Missing Ensenada was no great loss to us. Understand the wind and seas slowed us down too much to get there in time. We would have stayed on the ship anyhow, and the 'farewell champagne' was a nice touch! As always, it's tough to come home to reality! I think cruising is a bit surreal anyhow. It's like a wonderful Never-land we get to visit from time to time. Cheers all! Here's to the next one. LoyHAL __________________ Read Less
Sail Date February 2009
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