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3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2019
I think I should start with what I did like. The new (i had not seen these before) hand wash system in place and the covers over the dining selection in the Lido dining room. Its a pity that guests do not adhere to using these and it is ... Read More
I think I should start with what I did like. The new (i had not seen these before) hand wash system in place and the covers over the dining selection in the Lido dining room. Its a pity that guests do not adhere to using these and it is not monitored by staff. Only one sanitiser as you come out of the lift and again not many use this either before going to the food counters. I think the comedian on board hit the nail on the head when he said that these things are done to stop guests getting infected and ill. I saw guests drinking the juice from the breakfast selection and leave the now dirty glass on the counter in front. Another leaning on the glass covers on the section making the rolls up, Guests filling water bottles direct by placing bottle inside the dispenser instead of filling a glass and pouring into bottle. Bowls of apricots and nuts etc removed completely from the cabinet when there are spoons to use in each bowl. Guest could not work the tongs on the cold meats and sliced cheese counter so proceeded to hand pick her slices with her hands. The Café a guest took of his hat and placed it on the counter while waiting for his coffee. I think I will leave that there but every day at least once I witnessed something that made me question where are the staff as I challenged on 2 occasions only for the guests to flare up and get angry with me. I did get a stateroom change as 1962 was very noisy and I couldn't get decent sleep. Started usually around 4am to am due to engines and propellers side thrusts when docking. Not recommended. Too many trips down to guest services regarding laundry, I had paid for unlimited laundry package but still had this put this on my bill 3 times and I had to go to guest services to get it removed. Drinks put on my bill in the dining room that I did not have (although) this was removed before I saw it on my bill. Easter came and went with no recognition apart from hot cross bus offered in the bread roll selection in main dining room and 2 mini choc eggs left on the bed instead of squares. No entertainment in the theatre on Easter Saturday and very limited bars. I asked Michael the travel agent on board why no show etc and was told it was because we had 2 late departures and this very often happens? So we went out ashore in the evening but because it was Easter everything closed between 4pm and 8pm so we went back to the ship.We had 20 nights on boad and the Zaanda singers and dancers were only on 4 times? We are booked on the Westerdam in October (this was booked before we had cruised with Holland America) so I asked Michael for some information while we were on board as he said he had just joined Zaandam after 6 months on Westerdam. He told me couldn't help me as I did not have my booking reference with me. I am sure had I been going to book he would have been more helpful. Drinks are quite expensive. Ran out of IPA (bottled craft beer) 7. but not available.7.25 and 7.5 volume too strong for the average drinker. Hand pump for boddingtons . Rekordling cider ran out in Crowes nest. One day of rain and water was leaking through the ceilings into the Lido dining and through a light fitting outside the toilets and Crowes Nest bar. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2019
Choose this cruise for the itinery and appeared good value. Cabin fine we choose interior and are happy lots of storage. The itinery was good and we saw lots the highlight was transitting the Panama canal AWESOME. Yes there were senior ... Read More
Choose this cruise for the itinery and appeared good value. Cabin fine we choose interior and are happy lots of storage. The itinery was good and we saw lots the highlight was transitting the Panama canal AWESOME. Yes there were senior passengers on board but we were treated as aged and any entertainment past 9.30 pm was considered to be a disturbance to those asleep in bed according to the entertainment Director Tino We asked for 50s 60s night party told NO we asked to change music on lido deck which was on a loop and told NO asked to have an announcement when crossing the Equator and told NO after going through Panama canal no cheers no horns no nothing. Even Easter Sunday passed without any acknowledgement. Easter Monday late bought round some trays of chocolate. All passengers I spoke to English some USA and Australians said they were bored had never read so many books on holiday or been in bed so early. The Captain sails the ship the engineer keeps the ship going the chef feeds the passengers. The Entertainment director and assistant should keep the passengers happy and entertained well it didn't happen 4 shows from cast in 21 days hardley ever saw the entertainment Director no people skills bad jokes telling us to take clothes from people's cases left in corridor night before departure !!!!!. Very inexperienced person did not know the passengers feelings never asked how things were? Deputy Erica needs to change her job not happy does not speak or acknowledge passengers is not part of the team that makes the ship work. Some people had been like us on many cruises 5 plus and could not believe the lack of entertainment on offer. No sail away parties and the disco should be closed and used for something else. Very sad to be writing this as had high hopes for this cruise the itinery saved the day. And finally the main entertainment areas were freezing main stage theatre wajang theatre, Dining room, people got colds coughs and All the throat sweets were sold out. We would sit in the main stage theatre with body warmers on. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2019
We recently travelled on the zaadam for three weeks although we enjoyed the cruise It was spoilt by the lack of entertainment at night, not much going on in the day either, no sail away parties, no fun around the pools, the ship was like ... Read More
We recently travelled on the zaadam for three weeks although we enjoyed the cruise It was spoilt by the lack of entertainment at night, not much going on in the day either, no sail away parties, no fun around the pools, the ship was like an old folks home! We are entering our 70's but that does not mean that we want to be in bed by 10pm. The ship was like the Marie Celeste after dinner. There were 4 shows with the ships singers and dancers in 20 nights, the only time we saw them after this was eating, other ship we have sailed on we have seen the dancers taking part in the daytime activities, what a job they have 4 shows in 20 nights. Our evening entertainment one evening was the blue planet which has been on TVs at home it was a pleasant hour as the ships band accompanied the action on the screen. We tried the disco on several occasions only to find Erica propping up the bar with her iPad there was no acknowledgement that we were there which seemed a little rude as there were of six other people, she made no mention of what she was going to play just touched the iPad screen. The one evening we stayed in the disco until 12 midnight with four other people only to find the bar staff closed the bar switched off the lights and said goodnight! The ship was very cold in the public areas, deck 4 & 5 and particularly the theatre were guest were wearing body warmers, cardigans, shawls and jumpers, when I complained to an Officer I was told that it would get warmer closer to the equator, it didn't. Surely in would be in Holland Americas interest to have guest staying in the bars and discos longer rather than most people being in bed by 10pm . Will we travel with them again very doubtful it would have to be an exceptional itinerary. Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2019
This was a tailor made holiday to Brazil and ended with the cruise from Bueno Aries to Santiago. The facilities were fine. Food in buffet was excellant but in restaurant I was underwhelmed. Tendering was a shambles. Missed my private ... Read More
This was a tailor made holiday to Brazil and ended with the cruise from Bueno Aries to Santiago. The facilities were fine. Food in buffet was excellant but in restaurant I was underwhelmed. Tendering was a shambles. Missed my private pre booked trip because the steward would not allow me off the ship although I explained I needed to leave to meet my tour. Even when I booked a ship tour I had to ask permission to leave to make tour. Also price of tours are now so expensive . Not good value. Entertainment on main stage was O.K. Some shows were excellant ,others were not suitable for the main entertainment. Staff were friendly but there was not many on dockside to help when going ashore for trips. This was my second cruise with Holland America , I chose them because last cruise I was very happy with them. This time I felt the standard had fallen slightly, However I would cruise with them again if cruise itinerary was what I required Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2019
The ship was badly affected by what can only be described as the Holland America cost cutting strategy. This was evident everywhere on the ship and throughout the 34 day cruise. The main restaurant should be the main attraction of any ... Read More
The ship was badly affected by what can only be described as the Holland America cost cutting strategy. This was evident everywhere on the ship and throughout the 34 day cruise. The main restaurant should be the main attraction of any cruise ship, this was our 22nd cruise on various cruise lines and ships and our worst possible main restaurant experience by far. The plates were very nice, but night after night no variation in the menus, "no taste", too often "rice" or mashed potato", mass catering vegetables, nearly always cold, very small portions. Service was always good, but what value is good service when dinner each evening and also gala evenings, was such a disappointment. We therefore moved to the Lido Buffet on deck 8, which was always much better and very often the same selection of food available as in the main restaurant. It was no surprise the main restaurant was often half empty. One niggle at the Lido Buffet, breakfast, lunch and dinner was the frequency of "crew and staff" sitting 1 or 2 persons for a table of 4 or 6, when passengers could not find tables which were free. Reduced service staff at the Lido also caused tables not to be cleared and cleaned, leaving passengers "waiting" for a clean table, Bar service was almost non-existent due to not enough Bar staff, again a result of cost cutting. Bars are normally a profit center so why not enough service staff? Bar and restaurant Service" was generally excellent and so very friendly, the service staff could not do enough for you. But in some areas and at certain time there were not enough service staff, again a clear indication of cost cutting. Entertainment - The main theater dancers and singers were an exceptionally good and very talented team, the theater band was also of the highest quantity. But outside the theater entertainment was also non-existent. The quality of music around the ship was poor, HAL get what they pay for, but why should cruise passengers who pay high prices have the quality of their vacation reduced because of cost cutting in the entertainment area. After about 21:00 hours each evening it seemed like HAL wanted passengers in bed so as to save money on entertainment. The Crow's Nest was almost empty every night, there was no dance band. The "singer" each evening in the Ocean Bar lounge was like a "sleeping tablet". Music at the Lido and Sear View bars was the same day after day. Excursions - Far too expensive and did not fully provide value for money. In future we will book in advance our own private tours, for a cost 60 - 70% lower. It was also very noticeable the HAL staff organizing the tour departures out of the theater and off the ship, were not in any way identified with the Holland America brand. We liked the Zaandam very much as a medium size, passenger friendly, easy to find your way around, very comfortable cruise ship, but we were very disappointed and disturbed by the effects of cost cutting, an awful main restaurant where only "the plates were nice", poor entertainment, over-priced excursions, and our biggest niggle, 15% service charges continually being added to our main cruise invoice. We objected very strongly to the Holland America policy of "15% service charges" being added to Beverage Packages purchased in the Internet. This was in effect an additional 15% "administration charge", because we were also expected to pay 14.50 USD per person per day, which is also stated to be a "service charge", so yes, passengers are being asked to pay double service charges. We went to the reception and insisted that our service charges be reduced to the absolute minimum. Partly because we wanted the 15% internet administration charges refunded and partly because cost cutting has created a quality of service which does not meet our cruise expectations, especially for the price we pay. This does also affect any future purchase decision when we book a future cruise. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: March 2019
Tried to put new adventure into the cruise life but the main reason was to sail Cspe Horn and see Ushuaua. And..... weather canceled so we went to some backwater ports of little interstate not history. Sad. Do not let yourselves get ... Read More
Tried to put new adventure into the cruise life but the main reason was to sail Cspe Horn and see Ushuaua. And..... weather canceled so we went to some backwater ports of little interstate not history. Sad. Do not let yourselves get booked into cabin 1964. A loud, smelly place really unfit for habitation. Ship was nice for relaxing, cards, stage shows. Happy hours were really necessary to keep the spirits up. Food was amply provided and the variety made for good sets. Guest services was helpful when our room issue was unbearable. Made many acquaintances on the cruise which helped us deal with missing the 2 key planned highlights. Room 1833 was available and a much better quality than that other nightmare. Lots of people caught the a/c hack and remained for the whole cruise. This critique is more or less to ensure that I save someone from the misery called 1964 Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2019
I wanted to write this review because I saw a number of poor ratings for Holland America and since we had a good experience, I thought it would be fair to write a good one. This was our first cruise with HAL and we were on the Zaandam. ... Read More
I wanted to write this review because I saw a number of poor ratings for Holland America and since we had a good experience, I thought it would be fair to write a good one. This was our first cruise with HAL and we were on the Zaandam. This is a beautiful ship with a musical theme. We liked the baroque organ. We ran into two storms on the Pacific Ocean with 6.5 meter waves and the Captain changed our port of call from Ushuaia to Castro and also gave us the beautiful Brujo glacier. We were good with the decision since it was a bit of a rough ride that day. We had booked mostly private excursions since we like the smaller groups. Except for the tendering ports, all the ports of call on our cruise were well managed. We have travelled with at least 4 other cruise lines and we found the food selection to be good better than some of the others. We liked having less choices but better quality. Cabin crew were good. Enrichment activities were good. Entertainment were okay. Embarkation and Disembarkation were spot on. All in all, we liked Holland America and have already booked another cruise with them on the Westerdam. Hoping to be able to have the same level of service or better. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2019
My husband and I had recently a 13 days cruise from San Antonio ,Chile ,crossing Chelian Patagonia,Falkland islands, Montevideo and finally ended in Buenos Aires. The ship was tired and needs to be refubrished, all furnishing equipment ... Read More
My husband and I had recently a 13 days cruise from San Antonio ,Chile ,crossing Chelian Patagonia,Falkland islands, Montevideo and finally ended in Buenos Aires. The ship was tired and needs to be refubrished, all furnishing equipment also. Food in the self service ,Lido deck was monotonous and with limited variety.The quality of food was medium. The same quality was in the Dine In restaurant since the chef and kitchen was the same. During all cruise long we had the sense that everything was under economic restrictions Eg. During our stay we had only one hand soap(!) and only one shower cap(!)The personnel in Lido deck was serving you the quantity of the main course probably for the same reason. Entertainment was very cheap and childish (!) All TV sets in the staterooms were very old fashioned and the programme was limited i.e Only 3 movies per day ,and 3 news stations. Of course there was a video player in the stateroom and you could borrow movies if the player was not out of order!! The Wi Fi was very expensive. We tried to purchase 1 day for 15 $ but with this amount you could be able to see only your facebook and therefore you have to upgrade the quality by adding 10 more US$ ie. totally 25 US$ per day. Last but not least were the alcoholic prices(more expensive) which differed from the price list that we have found in the internet. Finally we have to admit that the whole ship was very clean, also the state rooms,and the public toilets.Embarkation was easy and disembarkation also Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2019
We wanted to travel around Cape Horn, something I thought I would probably never get to do. Had been looking at various cruises with this itinerary for quite sometime and they seem to fill up quick or had a pretty steep price/person. ... Read More
We wanted to travel around Cape Horn, something I thought I would probably never get to do. Had been looking at various cruises with this itinerary for quite sometime and they seem to fill up quick or had a pretty steep price/person. Then we saw this cruise offered at a rather reasonable rate and jumped on it. Holland America is not my first choice of cruise line but have cruised them prior and would cruise not exclude Holland in the future. Arrival in Santiago airport a little bit confusing but we made it and you can purchase Chilean pesos in the airport, no problem. Hotel prior to cruise: stayed in Santiago at the Hotel Plaza San Francisco, excellent hotel in the center of Santiago. You can arrange tours of Santiago right at the hotel and the tour will pick you up at the hotel. The service and food are great, very friendly and they speak English. Transportation from airport to hotel and then from hotel to cruise terminal in San Antonio was previously arranged through Viator, no problems. Ship: The ship is an older ship but in good condition. It is easy to navigate and there are approximately 1400 passengers and you have plenty of space, you don't feel like you are in a sardine can, which is quite nice. The crew is friendly and helpful, Capt. was excellent! Always kept you apprised of various weather conditions, ports, etc. We were in cabin 3322 and the cabins on Holland are usually a little larger than on other cruise lines. One problem encountered with this cabin is that you are right next to an exit door on the Lower Promenade deck and there is a large wooden door to the deck outside. This large heavy door would slam shut, and I mean slam shut, every time anyone used it, so if you were sleeping, it very definitely jarred you. Would not select this cabin again for this reason only. The ship has a lot of relaxation areas and is quite comfortable. The entertainment was great, and Holland does a nice job with their shore excursions. Dining Room: We were travelling with friends, and we had a nice table in the Dining Room right next to the upper railing. The problem with this was to gain access to the seats at our table for four. There was a large support post behind the seat closest to the railing and the other side of the table the chairs were abutting the chairs at the table behind. So on both sides of the table to access the seats we had to pull the chair closest to the aisle out into the aisle and let the person get in to their chair closest to the railing and then push the chair back for the next person to get in to sit at the table. The service was not so good and to top it off, our food was delivered not hot, and did not taste good at all. It was in fact, the worst meal I have ever had at sea! We decided after that that we would not eat in the Dining room the remainder of the cruise. The cruise itinerary was good, we were able to get into all the ports: San Antonio, Chile; Puerto Montt, Chile; Punta Arenas, Chile; Ushuaia, Argentina; Falkland Islands; Montevideo, Uruguay; and Buenos Aires, Agentina overnight. There are times when the weather will not permit entry into the ports as the winds are significant in this part of the world and the weather changes very quickly. Do expect seas when travelling this cruise also, so be prepared. One thing I enjoyed very much was the Shore Excursion talks given by Kevin on board the ship. He kind of tells you like it is. He talks about both private tours and ship sponsored tours. He was very informative. Shore Excursions seem to be a little high priced on Holland, so we took a private one in Puerto Montt. In Punta Arenas we did the Tycoons of Patagonia, but we did not get to see the mansion as stated in the tour and our bus broke down, probably the reason we did not get to the mansion, so the shore excursions desk gave us back a partial refund on our tour. In Ushuaia we did the Beagle Channel Wildlife and enjoyed it very much. We had a beautiful day and got to see the Lighthouse at the end of the world. Falkland Islands we did the Bluff Cove Penguin Rookery. You can only get to this place if you book through the cruise ship, good tour. But,very, very windy. In fact most of South America is quite windy. Our next port of call was in Montevideo and we did not book anything here we just toured on our own, turned out fine. Next is Buenos Aires and we wanted to see the Colon Theatre, and our excursion through the cruise line was cancelled, so we took a taxi on our own (approx. $10 US and cab driver takes US $$) and went to the Theatre and took the tour. The tour was about $20/person you can pay with credit card) What a beautiful Theatre, very well worth the trip. Our next day we departed the ship and took their Buenos Aires Highlights and Tango Show with Airport Transfer. Since our flight was not until the evening this worked our just great and it was a good tour. The Buenos Aires Airport is a little bit confusing as there are insufficient signs as to where to go to your particular airline, had to ask, finally found what we needed. Most of the ports we visited would take American dollars, but if you don't have the correct change they will give you change in their currency. The ship will also exchange pesos/dollars for you, just not in larger amounts. The Casino on the ship is small, I mean small, really small, smallest I have seen and not a large variety of one armed bandits to play. Disembarkation off the ship worked well with no problems. Read Less
11 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2019
We chose this cruise for the itinerary- leaving from the Santiago area (port of San Antonio) and cruising around Cape Horn to the Falkland Islands, ending in Buenos Aires. Originally we had booked a similar cruise with Celebrity but ... Read More
We chose this cruise for the itinerary- leaving from the Santiago area (port of San Antonio) and cruising around Cape Horn to the Falkland Islands, ending in Buenos Aires. Originally we had booked a similar cruise with Celebrity but realized that HAL went to the Falklands and switched for that reason. We booked 18 months in advance because we wanted a Vista Suite (with balcony) mid-ship, facing land (the port side in this case). The ports and general enjoyment of a cruise around Cape Horn is very dependent on the weather as we heard from the Captain and crew, who let us know that the previous cruise which went in the reverse did not had very good luck and missed three ports. Our weather was spectacular for the most part, even in Ushuaia, where they never see sun. We even made it to the Falklands, a long tender which was calm heading in during the morning but a bit rough coming back in the afternoon after penguin watching when the wind picked up. The ship took us through the Darwin Channel, Beagle Strait and Straits of Magellan, each early in the morning where we had close up views of glaciers and the sunrise. The balcony was worth the extra cost just for these amazing days as we didn't need to fight the crowd on deck for a good view. The ship had experts on board who gave excellent talks every sea day on wildlife, South American Culture and history, and the night sky. We also had a port expert who provided a lot of information on what to do each port day. They did not push shore excursions like some cruises, instead showed you what to see and how to do it if you wanted to do it yourself, hire a local guide, or use the ship resources which was very much appreciated. Entertainment was provided part of the time by the ships's group, but we also had excellent shows brought on locally including a Tango show and Bolo dancers which were amazing. Cabin was excellent, food and service top-notch, and the experience one we will never forget. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: March 2019
Wanted to passage the Panama Canal again - to see the new larger locks that were being built the last time we passed this way - Holland America was recommended to us - we were disappointed at the poor meals - not much choice and constantly ... Read More
Wanted to passage the Panama Canal again - to see the new larger locks that were being built the last time we passed this way - Holland America was recommended to us - we were disappointed at the poor meals - not much choice and constantly had rice (which we are not keen on) - the expensive poor trips - some of which did not actually visit all the places listed. As the cruise went on - things that had really grated seemed less important - unlike many other cruise ships there were plenty of places to just sit and read. Thoughtful touches like snacks and drinks available outside the ship when on deck watching the entry and exit to the locks on the Panama Canal - a bit disappointed that the majority of our fellow guests did not seem to grasp that on 'Gala Nights' - you are supposed to dress up - many men wearing Beach shirts and shorts - amazing - very few men seemed to own jackets and certainly not ties ! The resident dancers and singers very good. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2019
Booked a Vista Suite on the Navigation Deck (#7046) and soon discovered after embankment that it sat directly beneath the Lido kitchen area. Needless to say the noise from above our cabin ceiling was unbearable and went well into the night ... Read More
Booked a Vista Suite on the Navigation Deck (#7046) and soon discovered after embankment that it sat directly beneath the Lido kitchen area. Needless to say the noise from above our cabin ceiling was unbearable and went well into the night and then began again at around 3:30 a.m. There was no remedy for the problem and guest services did not follow up after we complained. We were on a 15 day South American cruise and got very little undisturbed sleep throughout the voyage. This was the major problem we encountered on this particular cruise but there were also many minor to medium issues on the ship which is well past it's prime. We have cruised with Holland three times previous to this 4th cruise but it will most likely be our last. There should have been some sort of disclosure regarding this particular cabin and the related noise problems in the initial booking information. We did not eat in the dining room but had all meals in the Lido Cafe. The food was good and the Lido service people friendly and attentive. The new hand washing stations were barely used and the majority of the people entering the Lido walked right by them on their way to dine. We don't do the shows so cannot comment on the entertainment. The shore excursions left something to be desired and we missed two ports due to bad weather. The future cruise consultant had a slight attitude and acted like she could care less about questions we asked her. The customer service desk was also average and the people manning it were not consistent regarding DVD rentals. The shipboard talks regarding ports we would visit were full of bad information and twice one seating was about two separate ports combined which was confusing to say the least. Overall I would say that the cruise was not up to the normal standards that we have seen from Holland in the past. Our next two cruises will be with Viking which has a newer fleet of ships and offers features that Holland is now lacking. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2019
Finishing the Trip – Lima to San Diego – February 15 to March 4 , 2019 Why this cruise? We had sailed from San Diego to Callao/Lima 5 years ago on the “old” Statendam and wanted to do the return trip. This time we would be on ... Read More
Finishing the Trip – Lima to San Diego – February 15 to March 4 , 2019 Why this cruise? We had sailed from San Diego to Callao/Lima 5 years ago on the “old” Statendam and wanted to do the return trip. This time we would be on Volendam, and there were fewer port stops and more sea days, but we were looking for a relaxing experience which we found. Holland America is not our most favorite cruise line; but deserves a 4 star rating for its efforts and wide ranging itinerary selections. Getting there. We flew American Airlines to LAX, and then boarded a LATAM Airlines plane. This company was formed by a merger of a Chilean airline and a Brazilian airline, and they bought some Boeing 987 Dreamliners, one of which we flew. It was a very nice plane with excellent service, although I can never sleep on planes, even when stretched out in Business class as on this flight. Lima. We arrived on Saturday, and stayed at a hotel in Lima that night since we could not board the ship until Sunday. We also contacted our tour guide from our prior trip – Monica of Monica Tours Peru, for tours on Saturday and Monday. We booked transportation from the airport to our hotel on line before we left and would highly recommend the company – taxidatum@gmail.com. The cost was $18.00 with a senior discount, although I paid the driver $20.00. We stayed at the BTH Hotel which we found on both Trip Advisor and Trivago. It was very reasonable, and a fairly nice place with an extremely helpful desk staff that spoke excellent English. The restaurant was quite nice, with a decent dinner and excellent breakfast. The breakfast was included in the $108.00 hotel price! Getting on board can be a problem in Lima/Callao. One must have a pass to get on the dock. The cruise lines pick up passengers who have purchased air through them at the airport and drive them to the ship. All others must go to a hotel site to catch a cruise bus. We were able to get hold of taxidatum and they picked us up at the BTH hotel on Sunday and drove us to the Marriot Hotel in Miraflores for $15.00where we caught the shuttle bus to the ship. Boarding was actually on board the ship since there were few of us, so we made it to our stateroom and unpacked quickly. We stayed on board the rest of the day, and met Monica for another tour of Lima on Monday before we did our own little muster drill and sailed away that afternoon The Volendam Our ship was constructed in 1999 and had been refurbished a few years ago. Its normal passenger complement is 1400 in a 60,000 gross tonnage craft which makes for a decent space ratio of 42.85 cubic feet per passenger. The public spaces have lots of seating and tend to have dark wood with old fashioned prints and decorative pieces. There are three elevator/stair banks which allow very decent passenger flow. It is easy to get around and the only crowds are in the theater for shows. There are two pools, one midships and the other aft – both on the Lido deck. The library is part of the computer room, but was never crowded. There is a separate Digital Workshop room. Our Stateroom We had a standard verandah cabin on Deck 6. Volendam shows its age in its offering of cabins. Only the upper two stateroom decks, 6 and 7 have verandahs. Decks 3, 4 and 5 staterooms have only windows. Our layout had a fair amount of room with a full length leather couch opposite a nice desk with 6 full drawers. The closets were opposite the bath which had a tub/ shower. The lighting was good, and we managed to get the temperature to a decent level. The verandah had a lounge chair as well as a side chair. We were only a few steps from the mid ships elevators, two decks below the Lido deck, and two above the main dining room and theater. Entertainment The production shows, with four singers and six dancers were not bad, although quite loud as is common. There was one other musician playing a variety of instruments, with a comic patter. There were three comedians, which we skipped. There was a trio of lady singers who were not bad. The classical music was provided by a violinist with a piano accompanist. They played 4 sets on most nights, but did not play at all on a few nights. We gave the whole entertainment panoply a 5 out of 10 rating. On Board Information Presentations. These were fairly extensive and well done. There was a Digital Workshop host – Frank – who did from one to four presentations every day and was quite knowledgeable. There were regular talks about the places we would visit. The ship has a large demonstration kitchen with a presentation cook doing at least one cooking show each morning and afternoon. In addition there were the usual bridge and mah jong games, along with arts and crafts, and the Wajang Theater showed movies three three times a day. All told, there was plenty to do on board. Food Holland America does a pretty good job with food, although it does not come close to Crystal or Oceania. The main dining room is on Decks 4 and 5, with 4 being for open seating and 5 for set seating. Service for dinner starts at 5:15 and is busy immediately sine the evening shows start at 8:00 and people start arriving at the theater at 7:00. In addition to the dining room, there is the Pinnacle Room with a charge of $50.00 per person. We ate there one night as the guest of our travel agent, and it was quite good. We also were guests at Canaletto, which is an Italian Restaurant set up each night at a section of the Lido buffet. For $15.00 extra per person it was quite good. The Lido buffet itself has good selections and keeps the food hot, but the service is somewhat short handed, both on the serving line and in the restaurant portion. Getting coffee in the morning was often a struggle. There was only one soup for lunch, but sushi was always available. The pastries were quite fine. My wife is a vegetarian and was almost always able to obtain a decent selection. I would rate the food experience at 8.5 out of 10, below the 9.4 and 9.5 of Oceania and Crystal; and in the same range as Princess and Celebrity. Fellow Passengers Holland America does not cater much to children, and there were only 3 on board. The overwhelming number of us were in the Medicare set, and mostly American and Canadian, with a few Germans. The clothing style was very casual, with only a slight improvement on the “formal” nights. This seems to be the way cruising is headed these days. Many had extensive cruising experience, and we had lots of pleasant conversations. The Crew As always, the crew was friendly and generally helpful. Most of the dining room and buffet staff, and all of the cabin workers were Indonesian, a practice this line has followed dating back to when Indonesia was the Dutch East Indies. They are uniformly friendly and smiling. The Captain, a German, was often seen about the ship. Holland America has a long sea faring history, and knows how to sail a ship quite well, thank you. Ports of Call. The first stop was 130 miles south of Callao at a place called General San Martin. It is only a pier and the town of Paracas is about 10 miles away. The area is the most barren desert we have ever seen. It probably could be called the Peruvian extension of Chile’s Atacama Desert, just about the driest place on earth. But, here was an excellent tour available to the off shore Ballestas Islands. I had found this tour on line and we paid $15.75 apiece. The ship’s tour cost $164.95 per person! That was a nice savings of $300.00 indeed. The tour was in an open boat holding about 40 people. There were several such boats and ours did not have any cruise passengers because we boarded through the company (Paracas Explorer – bookings@findlocaltrips.com) that sold us the tickets. The Ballestas Islands contain a variety of birds such as boobies, cormorants, pelicans and penguins as well as seals and dolphins. The birds provide a huge amount of guano, which is carefully guarded until it is removed and sold at a high price. The birds are evidently undisturbed by the removal process. On the way out we saw a huge carving on the side of a hill in the style of the ancient Nazca tribe. The boat trip took about two + hours and was well worth it, especially at $30.00 for both of us. All the rest of our tour were HAL tours. A very nice guide book showing all the tours was provided, and there was a wide selection in most ports. After three sea, days we arrived at Punta Arenas, Costa Rica where we took a ships bus tour and enjoyed a local dance show and later a stop at a souvenir shop. Costa Rica is a very nice country with a stable democratic government, no army and one of the highest literacy rates in the world. We did not get off the ship in Nicaragua, the next stop. The following day we toured the city of Antigua in Guatemala. This city is a UNESCO World Heritage site which means a real effort has been made at preservation. The first stop was the Jade Museum, where the presenter was a lady from Yorkshire. The individuals who discovered the jade were from Texas and the wife was present in the museum and store. The collection was quite beautiful. We also drove around town with a guide who was quite frank about the poor state of affairs in her country due to corruption and a concentration of wealth in 20 families. The literacy rate here is one of the worst in the world. But the cost of living is quite low. After two sea days we arrived at Manzanillo, Mexico, which is a pleasant town, where we did a typical tour which was hardly memorable. The next day was spent in Puerto Vallarta, where we have spent some time in the past. The tour was fairly short and again, not exciting, but pleasant. After two sea days we arrived in San Diego. Disembarkation went smoothly. Overall Rating We took this cruise for two reasons. The first was to finish the Inca Empire cruise which we had started five years ago. The second attraction was the number of sea days, and the way they were spaced. We find these days most relaxing. I was able to enjoy exercising in the pools, do a lot of reading, staring at the ocean, and of course, eat. So, while this was not our most exciting trip, it provided just what we wanted, 15 days at ease. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2019
My wife and I booked this cruise due to its itinerary. However, it appears to us that HAL is relying on its past reputation with older cruise passengers and not putting much effort into providing a new shipboard experience. For example, ... Read More
My wife and I booked this cruise due to its itinerary. However, it appears to us that HAL is relying on its past reputation with older cruise passengers and not putting much effort into providing a new shipboard experience. For example, the Canaletto and Pinnacle restaurant menus have not changed in at least 10 years. Boarding in Fort Lauderdale was quick and easy. A dedicated ‘Mariner 4 and 5 Star’ line combined with a priority boarding card meant we were on board by midday. Our verandah suite towards the rear of deck 9 was not quite ready but we were able to leave our carry-on luggage in it while we went for lunch. At 12.45 pm they conducted a 3, 4 & 5 star Mariners welcome drinks in the Crows Nest. The compulsory lifeboat drill was on the open deck 6 at 3.15 pm on time for our departure at 4.15 pm. The young captain was very visible throughout the ship and was very approachable, spending time talking to passengers. He and the officers ate mainly in the Lido. The captain was also compassionate – he had no hesitation in turning the ship around and heading full-speed for Rio as a passenger required immediate medical attention not available on the ship. Well done. Two of the four front elevators were out-of-action for most of the 50 days, which meant a slow ride when the gangway and tender platforms were forward. On the second day of the cruise we noticed that HAL had garnashied (a “credit hold”) our Mastercard to the amount of US3k (=$30 each x 50 days). The front desk explained that the “may” in the fine print actually meant “will”. This was an unnecessary intrusion. The ship’s internet was fast and reliable. We purchased it for the second half of the trip, at $199.99 for 21 days. On this trip, talks in the auditorium mainly centred around World War II sea battles, which were irrelevant. However, an excellent idea was a “Beginner’s Guide to Portuguese” (the language of Brazil) session in the showroom on the day after Devils Island. The HAL shops are a waste of space. They need to visit Princess and Royal Caribbean to learn how to sell goods to cruise ship passengers. The only ones we saw liberally using the perfumes were the staff as they came into work each day. Yves St Laurent men’s eau de toilette was $122 on the ship, $79 at Key West. My wife went to the poorly advertised “Shops Farewell Party” on the last night – 12 people turned up and they had to draw the raffle 8 times before a winner was found. The prize consisted of two t-shirts from a previous cruise to places we had not been plus a hat (11 people were glad they hadn’t won!). Daily ‘Trivia’ on the ship was basically a mess. Initially they concentrated on American sports and after complaints decided that “trivia” actually meant “obscure” (like ‘how many stomachs does a cockroach have’) and their fact sheets were out-of-date, to the extent that some of their answers were categorically wrong. Daily ‘Trivia’ was really a frustrating and annoying waste of time, which was a pity as we have enjoyed it on every one of our previous cruises. After leaving Key West, the last American port, they announced there would be no currency exchange with Brazilian Real on board and suggested trying to exchange at upcoming Ports’ banks. They also stated that all currency exchanges in Rio would be closed during carnival. This should have been advised well prior to the cruise starting. After some complaints, they later announced that on board currency exchange would be available in Salvador, our third Brazilian port. The ‘Captain’s Toast’ on the evening of the third day was held in the auditorium on decks 7 and 8, but drinks to toast by were only available on Deck 7. The Port talks by the “Exc” person and Port expert were excellent – well worth attending. Also excellent were the constant reminders in the ‘Where & When’ daily newssheet to be very careful when in port in regard to personal safety. We learned from taking to tourists on shore that other cruise ships did not provide this advice. There were warnings about not to wear any jewellery whatsoever, keep cameras and phones hidden and only to take off cash or cards you would need for the day. As it was, we heard of one fellow losing, from a Velcro flapped pants pocket, his credit card, drivers licence and $200 cash (in Rio), a lady and a man who each had a necklace ripped off from around their necks (in Recife) and a lady on a walker who was pushed over and her purse stolen (in Manaus). No doubt there were others. Food on the ship was “the usual”, except for the very good Pizza Bar manned by James and Ronald. They remembered our order from the first night, even though we did not eat there very often. At Port-of-Spain the captain announced he was cancelling Vitoria and replacing it with Buzios, due to a low bridge and tides. As it happened this was an excellent decision! We had one fellow on the first half of the trip who only wore his HAL-logoed bathrobe and flip-flops – on the ship, to meals, walking around the ports and into the towns. HAL said they could not prevent it as how he dressed was his decision. This should save me a lot of packing for our next cruise! Passports and Brazil visas were collected a few days out from Brazil and were returned after we had left Brazil. At Recife, our first major Brazil port, passengers from 3 cabins were not allowed off the ship due to not having correct documentation (presumable the Brazilian Visa). There were rumours that the laundry service would be cut in the Amazon due to the brown muddy water but a response by the passengers to the captain’s plea to save water meant that this did not eventuate and the service continued as normal. Disembarkation at Fort Lauderdale was quick and efficient, although we were glad we were not in the “US citizens” line which snaked around like waiting for a ride at Disneyland. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2019
I found this trip as a special in January and booked it true HAL, I'm so glad I did it was amazing. From the captain down the crew was outstanding, one of my best cruises yet. Fun facts of the day were my highlights, captain and ... Read More
I found this trip as a special in January and booked it true HAL, I'm so glad I did it was amazing. From the captain down the crew was outstanding, one of my best cruises yet. Fun facts of the day were my highlights, captain and staff captain very friendly and eat meals in the Lido. From the cabin stewards to the dinning room stewards it was excellent, off course on a long cruise you get to know the crew. Only the ports of call in Brazil I did not feel safe. The ship shows it age a bit with no HD tv or other fancy things but then I don't spend much time in the cabin. My reason to use Holland America is that I like the mature crowd and love the small ship feel. The next cruise is on another HAL ship the new Statendam. Look forward to a new ship even she is a lot bigger. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2019
The ports were new to us and the timing worked so we chose the 30-day Incan Empire Voyage. Embarkation was OK, we heard later this year the ship will be under review as to updates. Cabin fine, but the tiny TV and limited channels was ... Read More
The ports were new to us and the timing worked so we chose the 30-day Incan Empire Voyage. Embarkation was OK, we heard later this year the ship will be under review as to updates. Cabin fine, but the tiny TV and limited channels was annoying when in quarantine. Staff were friendly and helpful. Entertainment seems to have improved, enjoyed most of the comedians, but music still too loud. Good selection of presenters. Wish the port talks were available on TV in rooms, not just the excursion sales. We didn’t realize that some of the ports were industrial and how long the free shuttles would be. Also the poverty, so I recommend taking a lot of $1 bills. We are so fortunate. The biggest disappointment was the food. On the first night, Feb. 2, there was about an hour+ wait for the dining room (we chose anytime dining) so we went to the Lido. I chose a baked potato, chicken and green beans. The butter just sat in my potato, the chicken was not hot and the lovely green beans were not crisp or hot. Second night was Super Bowl so the boys went to watch the game and the girls went to the dining room. Third night, couldn’t get into the dining room again without a long wait so spoke with the Hotel Manager, I mentioned the disappointing cold dinner on the first night and our friends (4 star mariners) complained they never had to wait long for dinner. We were comped to the Pinacle Dining room, meals good. My husband got sick and went to the medical centre on Feb. 11, staff caring and prescribed Tamilflu for him and recommended I take some too. He returned on Feb. 17, had X-ray and new prescription. This is March 9 at time of writing and my husband is still congested and coughing. I sent a message about the cold dinners and a very nice staff member came to the table that evening to see if my meal was hot - it wasn’t. He returned other nights but seldom heard it was. Had a good Indian lunch one day, nice spices and hot temperature. I don’t know what the temperature of the food is in the kitchen, or when it is picked up by the servers, or brought to the serving stations, served and finally eaten, but it is too long. Manners dictate we wait for everyone at the table to be served before diving into our meals, but with staff cutbacks, there are not enough bodies to clear tables and serve the food while it is still hot. HAL May think it is elegant to have your server present everyone with their dinner, but perhaps they could take a tip from places where more than one server delivers meals while they are hot. Their DiveIn snack bar with make your own fajitas and tacos was also a huge disappointment with cold foil wrapped soft taco shells, barely warm meat fillings, cold cheese. I can’t help but think poorly kept food adds to sickness, and there was a lot of heavy congested coughing and people quarantined to their cabins on this trip. First and last 30-day voyage for us. Air conditioning on ship, especially in the Atrium worked overtime. Captain tried to explain why it was so cold. Took about six excursions. Enjoyed Lima’s water fountains at night. Disembarkation was best ever! I doubt we will travel with HAL again. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: February 2019
Did this cruise before twice, and really liked the ports. So much more to see in each area. The excursions were really great, on board a different story. The EXC events were lacking in quality speakers, related to the itinerary. There was ... Read More
Did this cruise before twice, and really liked the ports. So much more to see in each area. The excursions were really great, on board a different story. The EXC events were lacking in quality speakers, related to the itinerary. There was one naturalist that was great but only gave 3 lectures. The Mexican Ambassadors gave a great performance on deck. On the down side, the usual lectures on culture, history or the region were lacking. The speakers seemed to talk down to the audience and read from brochures. They were not experts in the field. The EXC person talked to the audience as if they were kinder-gardeners. The food was outstanding as was the in stateroom staff. The service was great and the ship was well organized and on time. The culinary classes did not emphasize health promotion. There was heavy emphasis on taste drawn from fats and salts, hardly appropriate for the middle aged audience or above. The last time we did this same cruise there were more on board activities, lectures and enrichment programming. Considering the number of fabulous ports offering rich history, art, culture and welcoming people, it is too bad there was such a lack of enrichment opportunities. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2019
This cruise was chosen because the ports were places we had not visited yet. While 15 nights on board were about 7 too many, we were able to visit 6 new cities during that time. Our days at sea were restful & quiet overall, because ... Read More
This cruise was chosen because the ports were places we had not visited yet. While 15 nights on board were about 7 too many, we were able to visit 6 new cities during that time. Our days at sea were restful & quiet overall, because most of the passengers were well past 80 years of age. The noise level was low & service by staff attentive & friendly. Holland does a good job overall. Internet service should be offered & fresher fruit served on the buffet table. The 'nickel & diming' of the passengers is annoying & why many choose other cruise lines for future trips. The on shore excursions were better than those on the Westerdam Mediterranean cruise 2018. I feel for the staff who have to accommodate so many seriously handicapped individuals who often put others in jeopardy due to there physical limitations. May the staff receive extra pay for these duties. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2019
We chose this cruise for the multiple stops in Chile and the 4 days in Antarctica. We had been around the horn on HAL 6 yrs. ago and regretted not including Antarctica at that time. We also missed the Falkland Islands on that cruise. We ... Read More
We chose this cruise for the multiple stops in Chile and the 4 days in Antarctica. We had been around the horn on HAL 6 yrs. ago and regretted not including Antarctica at that time. We also missed the Falkland Islands on that cruise. We were told that Zaandam would get lanai cabins on the previous dry-dock so we booked a cabin that we thought would be converted but lanais were not installed.. Embarkation at San Antonio went smoothly and we found ourselves in our cabin by noon. Our suitcases arrived in good time so we were all moved into our cabin before the muster drill. We found all the staff on board to be very friendly and helpful. Our room stewards, Nengah & Romli, worked very hard and did an excellent job. We enjoyed the towel animals on our bed each evening. We were surprised that there were so few hand sanitizers on board, especially near the eating areas. We never had to wait for anytime dining because we like to eat early. However, it was annoying to be seated at a table for 6 and have to wait 15-20 minutes for the table to fill up so we could order. Food service was reasonably fast and food quality was good, although a bit too salty! We ate in the Pinnacle Grill on the first night and were not impressed. My husband's steak was over-cooked and my chicken was not that tender. We also did not like the pressure from the wine steward to buy bottles of wine rather than glasses. We did enjoy our Rijsttafel dinner at the Pinnacle Grill later in the cruise. Internet was okay if you went on early in the day or during the evening meal. This was very important to us as we had 2 grand-children undergoing surgery during our cruise. There did not seem to be as much emphasis on sales, e.g. no "inch of gold" or evening purses on sale. Kudos to HAL for printing fewer sale flyers each day. We enjoyed getting a newspaper and puzzle each day. The flowers were beautiful for the first 2 weeks but then the same bouquets became very sad and wilted and yet remained on display. We were disappointed with the music in the Ocean Bar as it was not good for dancing - they played a lot of jazz. The Adagio Strings were wonderful and we very much enjoyed listening to them. In the main theatre, we found the sound volume much too high and had to bring earplugs to performances. The tendering process worked very smoothly for us. We had an excellent Expedition Team with Scott, Bryan, and Tamara giving very interesting lectures. We learned so much about Antarctica. We also enjoyed the session with the Palmer Station staff. They answered questions and it was great to have the microphones in the audience. The port guide, Kevin, also gave wonderful, humorous talks and very practical information. He was frequently available for consultation. .Although we had to skip Puerto Montt due to high swells, we made it to the remaining ports which was fantastic. We liked that the scenic cruising in Antarctica was broken up into segments by entering different bays and channels. We were also blessed with good weather. It was good to get the commentary about where to locate wildlife. The whales were really active on our cruise! Each day we enjoyed going to the Explorations Cafe for a cup of tea & coffee. Michelle there was wonderful - she was highly organized, efficient, friendly and remembered our names and what we like to drink. We did not take any HAL excursions but all our private tours returned us to the port in plenty of time. Our cabin was comfortable with plenty of storage space. The shower was spacious. Temperature control was good. We should have asked for a lighter weight blanket as we often found the duvet too warm. Overall, this was a wonderful cruise with only minor flaws. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2019
We selected this cruise because of the itinerary: South America (from Chile to Argentina), with sailing around Cape Horn and then along the Antarctic Peninsula. The itinerary did not disappoint us. Except for being unable to dock at Puerto ... Read More
We selected this cruise because of the itinerary: South America (from Chile to Argentina), with sailing around Cape Horn and then along the Antarctic Peninsula. The itinerary did not disappoint us. Except for being unable to dock at Puerto Montt (Chile) due to strong winds, everywhere else the weather was excellent and docking (if applicable) went without any issues. Even notorious Drake Passage felt more like a lake. Every port was different and we did not regret that actually we did not set foot on Antarctica (only sailing along). The scenery was magnificent and diverse, wildlife was plentiful to see and to enjoy. The enrichment lectures by the experts led by Scott were excellent; all of them had real Antarctic experience. We even had a visit by the members of the US team from the Palmer Station who boarded the ship for a few hours and gave us another dimension what it means to work as a researcher in Antarctica. The onboard experts were equally good who had skills in public speaking, did not trivialize subjects and were always available to answer additional queries. You appreciated the scenery even more with this background. Shore excursions: overall good but clearly overpriced. The excursion staff very nice and helpful. Nonetheless, you can do yourself a big favor booking ahead of time the same or better tours at 50% discount price via independent tour operators (we did this in the Falklands, Montevideo, and Buenos Aires)--you have more intimate experience at much lower cost. HA should also consider adding more active (strenuous) options on shore and in smaller groups. Some specifics about the tours: don't waste your money on the flight to Antarctica, most of the time flights are canceled and you will see more from the ship. Do not take an excursion in Puerto Madryn to Valdez Peninsula, unless you like to seat on the bus for 6 hours and see for 20 min (and from the distance) colonies of sea lions. Dinning experience/food: of course, HA experience is not the same as cruising with some boutique lines catering to culinary experiences. Nevertheless, we found food plentiful, very good selections at any time of day or night, and the service always pleasant. The dinning staff was above expectations, personal, attentive, and at your service. We dined couple of times in Canaletto, nice and more intimate experience, though you will not be tired of the Main Dinning Room. Overall ambiance/entertainment: HA cruises cater to mature customers. I found enjoyable not to see hordes of children running around the pool or in the Lido. Zaandam is tastefully arranged and easy to get around. If you like the glitz and phony party atmosphere, this will not be the cruise for you. The entertainment was good (except for comedian/magician), the selection of movies was well arranged, consistent with South American and Antarctic itinerary. The cruise director (Bruce) deserves thumbs up, tactful and understated, on the top of everything in his line of duty. Staff: overall, we had excellent impressions, comparing to past experiences on HA and other lines. From the captain to our cabin steward we felt being treated with courtesy and professionalism. Overall, this was one of the best cruising experiences. Those who are interested in this itinerary should invest in right clothing (layers, layers, layers) to enjoy the sights of Antarctica from the deck and the Falklands on land. Take advantage of every port, see natural beauty and appreciate culture. Read Less
8 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2019
We were keen to visit Antarctica but did not cherish the idea of being tossed around in the Drake passage aboard a small vessel. We therefore chose HAL Zaandam although it did mean no setting foot on Antarctica. It was the best decision ... Read More
We were keen to visit Antarctica but did not cherish the idea of being tossed around in the Drake passage aboard a small vessel. We therefore chose HAL Zaandam although it did mean no setting foot on Antarctica. It was the best decision that we made and right from the word go, the cruise was just great. The sights, especially during the 4 days in Antarctica were unforgettable. Living on board for 22 days was every bit comfortable with great food, service and stateroom no 3365. Talks by expedition team leaders were highly informative. Other entertainment activities were also good but perhaps not great.. Getting off the ship for shore excursions was very well managed with no one getting rushed even at the tender ports. Disembarkation and luggage handling was efficient. Only somewhat unsatisfactory experience was the late embarkation process at Buenos Aires. The HAL transfer person simply left us at the kerb outside the port building. We had to ask around for directions to get to the ship, carrying our bags and it was some distance away. Overall, it was a memorable holiday trip Read Less
12 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2018
This was my 20th cruise on HAL, third to Antarctica, and one on which I attained 4-star Mariner status, so I was looking forward to a wonderful celebration of all the quality and excellence which introduced me to HAL 20 years ago. ... Read More
This was my 20th cruise on HAL, third to Antarctica, and one on which I attained 4-star Mariner status, so I was looking forward to a wonderful celebration of all the quality and excellence which introduced me to HAL 20 years ago. Instead, I found a cruise whose guests included too high a proportion of those for whom etiquette was never a strong point, an indifferent cruise director and front staff, a captain conspicuous by his absence, and a ship whose dining room and Crow's Nest were an ice box (16 degrees Celsius). That the weather was foul for all but eight days did not help, and I feel truly sorry for the dining room and cabin stewards who now have to service four times as many guests, per staff member, as they did 20 years ago. How they manage to remain polite and cheerful under such strenuous conditions is beyond me. They deserve every dollar in gratuities that they receive, yet still many, especially those from countries in which tipping is not expected, remove tips from their onboard accounts. In addition, there were many customers who selfishly cut in lines in the Lido, when obtaining tender tickets, and boarding. At times it felt like we were with football hooligans, which management did nothing to control. I have been taking this specific cruise now every five years, just to research for myself the ice depths in Antarctica as the itinerary is always the same, and it is interesting to compare what I observe with my own eyes to what other groups claim with regard to whether or not there is evidence of global warming. On this occasion, within Antarctica, the weather was worse than ideal, however, the Captain chose not to go even visit the Lemaire Channel (he announced he had spoken to other ships who said it was icy), and blamed ice for his decision not to sail behind Couverville Island, even though a Silversea boat traversed the channel, and which a different Captain on Zaandam had done five years ago. As with most experienced cruisers, I rarely buy the HAL excursions because they are often two to three times the price of locally arranged tours, they see less, they have a mandatory shopping opportunity, and they cater to the slowest traveler. I have repeatedly suggested in my after-cruise questionnaire that HAL provide at least one full day, strenuous excursion for active customers, but to no avail. I arranged exceptional local tours in Castro, Puerto Chacabuco and Montevideo, and because I had been to BA and Santiago twice before, arranged my own walking tours there. At 3 mph, you can see almost everything of historical interest in both cities in a day. With this itinerary, you have to be aware that the weather is usually bad, and so scenic cruising, which is the most unbelievable when the sun shines, can turn a tour called Symphony of Lakes and Volcanoes into a symphony of wind and rain, with absolutely nothing to see. But with that in mind, the ship should be a welcoming refuge where you can heat up and dry off. As the self-service laundries have been removed, there is now no way to dry wet clothes. And because I had experienced an ice box on the Prinzendam to Norway in June, I brought a thermometer with me on this trip, and on occasion, the main dining room and Crows Nest were at an Arctic 16 degrees Celsius (61F). Initially the Maitre d denied it, refusing to look at my thermometer, then when I requested an appointment with the chief engineer, was told that there was a problem with the heating. By half way through the cruise, the number of people with hacking coughs was significant. Tendering was disappointing. At Falklands, because I not on a HAL tour, I was unable to get off the ship until two hours after the first tender departed (tender tickets were required and 800 guests were on HAL tours). And with all aboard always being half an hour before Stated departure time, an eight hour docking can turn into only five hours being available on shore. I am convinced that HALs goal is to get to international waters ASAP so they can open the casino. Given that the ship can sail at 23kts, but most of the time, cruised at 13 - 15kts, it was totally unnecessary to leave any of the ports as early as we did, and on a 22 day cruise with only eight opportunities to disembark, this is a serious error of planning. Etiquette was lacking everywhere. People cutting in line for tender tickets, cutting in line in the Lido, and surprisingly, given that the ship departs at the same time for everyone, pushing and shoving to get up the gangway ahead of the next person. A number of us took matters into our own hands on occasion telling people to get back, but no one from HAL would do so. The worst was in the Main Stage, where it seems that certain groups believe it is OK to talk loudly while performers are on stage, destroying the ambience for polite guests. Despite being requested to do so as part of his nightly welcome to guests, Bruce (cruise director) refused to ask attendees to refrain from talking during the show. As a real disappointment, my son had his jacket stolen from the lounge. HAL markets this trip as an expedition and employs an expedition team, which on my previous two trips have been genuine experts in their fields willing to impart knowledge to guests no matter what their political leanings or level of understanding. They would also provide running commentary during the scenic cruising about WHAT we were seeing and HOW it got there. However, on this one, with the exception of Bryan, who was fantastic, all they could do was point out snow, icebergs, and many whales, AFTER guests on the bow had seen them first! The leader, Scott, spent much of his lecture time making anti-Trump jibes, and refusing to engage in an actual discussion about causes and solutions. The two best staff members on this cruise (besides the delightful cabin stewards and waiters), were the Assistant Cruise Director, Sandra, and the EXC Guide Kevin, an Argentinian who was knowledgeable and pleasant, and who provided a very in-depth and factual, unbiased view of the UK/Argentinian dispute over the Falklands. As usual, up-selling by staff continues to intrude. It really is annoying when one is wearing headphones in the Crow's Nest to be tapped on the shoulder by a staff member asking if I want to make a reservation in the Canalletto. And taking away the two self-service laundries is a real slap in the face when you are on a three week cruise with a need to pack for both warm and cold clothes. While HAL may think that converting a laundry to a cabin garners $2,000 more per week in room fees, you can never calculate with certainty how many guests stop cruising with HAL because this amenity is no longer provided. And given that the ship had 100 empty cabins, what good did it do to take away the laundry? After 20 years of cruising with HAL, unless they return to the elegant days - by setting expectations such as a REQUIRED dress code in the main dining room, and enforcing silence in the Main Stage - I will probably be trying something different. A real shame, because I achieved 4-star status on this cruise, and have had many happy memories. 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1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: December 2018
The trip to Antarctica and Patagonia is the main reason for taking this cruise plus I was told by a maritime lawyer long ago that his favorite places was Chile and South Africa so had to see for myself. Overall the cruise was OK. Weather ... Read More
The trip to Antarctica and Patagonia is the main reason for taking this cruise plus I was told by a maritime lawyer long ago that his favorite places was Chile and South Africa so had to see for myself. Overall the cruise was OK. Weather didn't cooperate in the southern ports. We missed Ushuaia which was a disappointment due to high winds and no tenders. Antarctica could have had better weather. It snowed and rained often but waves were mild. Cape Horn had bad weather so it was disappointing. Some ports were very poor or lacking in interest so a tour was probably necessary to offset this. Food was inedible in the Lido buffet. Sushi and asian food inedible, pizza worse than frozen, coffee less than tasty, teas very good, hot water machine out. Soups and appetizers overly salted or just weird in the Pinnacle Grill. Main dining room items like schnitzel and stuffed quail almost inedible. Soups good there. Wine pours very small. Service adequate but not the friendly service I've had in the past. Servers seem unhappy compared to a decade ago. Seems like 1/2 of the ship is beautiful and remodeled while cabins are very outdated and look like 1960 era apartments with pink tile in the tub. Cabin was Underneath the kitchen. By looking at the deck plans they don’t distinguish areas of the ship probably for this reason scaring off people. Do not even think of staying in the rear cabins on deck 3 under the kitchen. Noise till after 1am and then starting before 5am for breakfast. Pots and dollys banging all night. Asked to be moved but location on first floor was next to the final days 24 hour gangplank. The last few nights on the cruise the children on the ship took over the coffee, game room and library area. While they were entertaining at times, I notice that the area was clear of adults from the noise they created entertaining themselves. The cruise passengers were very international this time compared to my experiences in the past on HAL. Some passengers that were very rude and cut in line all the time at the Lido, tenders and tours. During the penguin tours we were told to stay out of the boundary areas. These tourists broke that rule so they could stand next to the penguins for pictures disturbing the penguin nests. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2018
The cruise exceeded my expectations in every way. The high point was the 4 days in the Antarctic. I will never forget the joy of watching an iceberg float by with penguins on it - with one every once in a while waving to you, or so it ... Read More
The cruise exceeded my expectations in every way. The high point was the 4 days in the Antarctic. I will never forget the joy of watching an iceberg float by with penguins on it - with one every once in a while waving to you, or so it appears. Than you watch some of them dive off and go porpoising across the waters. Later on, an iceberg goes by and they are jumping on. A little further an iceberg goes by with a solitary penguin on it. Your camera is your best friend at this point to help capture this unbelievable spectacle and all the Antarctic beauty ever present around you. And as if that wasn't enough there were the frequent whale spouts, some so close you could hear them, followed by their majestic arch and gigantic tail appearing as they take a deep dive. Than there was, for me, the beauty of the many variety of antarctic birds that followed the ship. One, the wandering albatross has the largest wing span of any bird, up to 10 feet (over 3 meters). The ever changing sea state, ocean color and sun angle made each soaring maneuver another art piece I had to capture. And haven't even mentioned the icebergs - a prime attraction to say the least. As for the ship, it has been maintained in excellent shape. You couldn't ask for a better crew. Very friendly and as one who can testify to their around the clock effort to keep the ship clean, I was often up at all hours to photograph the sun set at midnight or a sun rise at 3:00 AM. My wife and I had a balcony suite, room 7038, port side on deck 7. Perfect in location and size. We had no problem with motion sickness for the moderate sea states we were in. As I have learned from previous cruses, food can be a problematic. If something is too good, I have a hard time passing it up. I would give the food on this cruise a Goldilocks rating - just right. Except perhaps their soups, which I had to try every night, they were so good. The entertainment was all very well done, particularly the dance routines. My wife and I enjoyed dancing to The Ocean Quartet, whenever the sea state permitted. A cruise setting I will always remember is listening to the Adagio violinist and pianist play. Their music made you slow down and take in the moment. I am so thankful they had a CD, Duo Dolce, of their music for sale in the ship's store. Holland American also has to be given a lot of credit for the holiday decoration they had throughout the Zaandam. I knew it was going to be good when I saw 4 pallets of fresh poinsettias waiting to be loaded at San Antonio. Two shore excisions that were exceptional and you should not miss are, first the Volunteer Point King Penguin Rookery when dock at Stanley/Falkland Is/Islas Malvinas. We opted for the ship's excursion package here as this port requires a rather long tender, about 30 minutes, and a jeep ride to Volunteer Point is such you need to get on the first tenders. The Land Rover ride was half the enjoyment and truly a great King penguin experience. The second excursion was a city and tango show in Buenos Aires. We used LIZ ANDREA (liz2arg@yahoo.com. We were a small group and that gives you more flexibility. Liz is a native of the city so she really knows its story and tells it very well. Great command of English and she has very engaging dialog. Not like some recording or scripted speech. Her stories at the cemetery show she is very knowledgeable and passionate about the history like no other. She arranged a Tango show for us that was top notch. What a perfect way to end our cruise. We also used her for our trip to the airport and for a tour day ending at the airport for our flight out that evening. Very responsible guide and driver. You couldn't do better. Would I do it again - in a heart beat. Would I recommend it to a friend - already have. Truly a once in a life time experience for us. Read Less
16 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2018
Our ninth cruise with HAL. It's likely going to be our last with the awful experience we're having on this cruise from Buenos Aires to Santiago. Currently enroute from Stanley, Falkland Islands and the problems just keep piling ... Read More
Our ninth cruise with HAL. It's likely going to be our last with the awful experience we're having on this cruise from Buenos Aires to Santiago. Currently enroute from Stanley, Falkland Islands and the problems just keep piling up. As we're in an upper-end cabin, we had the "Signature Experience" which included two nights in a Buenos Aires hotel, an "event", and appropriate transfers. At virtually the last minute we were moved from a 5-star hotel to a hotel only open two weeks in a less-than-desirable area of Recoleta (downtown). This hotel was filled with problems - apparently HAL saved a few bucks in the process however. When we arrived at the ship we had (for the first time on any cruise) our passports confiscated by HAL staff! We were given a printed card as a receipt for the passports - which had a signature line NO ONE would sign! We've asked repeatedly on board for HAL to explain this unusual situation, but no one in management will return our calls. This ship is 20 years old. And perhaps not much longer for HAL's inventory, as they are now ignoring maintenance items that would seem to be routine. Examples: *. Heat/cooling in our cabin is generally non-functional •. Overnight today our thermostat even quit working •. Sun curtains in the dining rooms (on the back windows) are "stuck" in a midway position (our waiter said they haven't worked in months) •. Hallway carpets are worn and dirty as are the deck areas around the Lido pools Internet service is unusable despite the high cost and claims that the service supports "video and audio streaming". This is a bald-faced lie - it rarely is even able to send email! Service on this ship is provided by Speedcast.com, who are well aware of the problems and blame HAL for "overselling" the system. We have been continually annoyed with the aggressive solicitations by crew members for dubious up-sells and "special events". They bothered us during dinner with these phony wine tastings, and then started calling our room just before dinner and offering the Pinnacle Grill or Cannalato Restaurant "experience" for $5 less than the published (upgrade) price! I've asked the office repeatedly to put us on the "Do Not Call" list without any positive results. HAL is engaged in other, airline-type "upgrades" to what used to be an all-inclusive experience. The breakfast room service menu has few choices now but several pricey "Upgrades" available. So does the dining room menu. We are offended by these changes. Dining room food has been its usual high-quality, with friendly and competent waiters. However service has been slow with long waits between the starters and main course common. We were also surprised to see primary-school-aged children on this cruise. HAL staff refuses to intervene with the parents of some of the more troublesome in the group. Much of the rest of the crew seems sullen and disinterested. This is especially true with the servers in the Lido deck food areas. Food service and quality there has been lackadaisical to say the least. However by far the biggest shamozzle was the issuance of "tender ticket" reservations. You'd think that HAL had never done this before. At 7:30am almost 100 people were already in a queue down the hallway for an 8am ticket call. These tickets are meant for people who have firm (non HAL) day trip bookings so they can go ashore as early as possible. But it has turned into a free-for-all, with non-English speaking passengers in particular not understanding the process and no one from HAL available to speak to them in Chinese. When the ticket issuance started, the Chinese passengers were being given individually 2, 4, up to 8 tickets on the earliest tender transfers despite these people neither NEEDING the early transfers nor everyone standing in line like the rest of us. The day of the tender to Stanley, these same passengers were giving the additional cards away to others without cards, or holding much later tender times. HAL staff ignored the complaints by the other passengers who were prepared to follow the system, such as it is. In Ushuaia, at the last minute we were forced to tender due to some problem with the pier. This meant an even bigger free-for-all trying to get tender tickets. This showed how ill-prepared the crew is for any unplanned change. With a short port call at Ushuaia scheduled (Noon to 7PM), this left large numbers of passengers with shortened or missed tours - extremely unfortunate as Ushuaia is an especially scenic location. The last passengers who wanted to go ashore got there over four hours later than planned, with only 3 hours left for touring. HAL would not extend the onboard time (even though we had daylight until after 10pm). When any cruise line actively markets to newer cruise markets like China and don't do anything to educate these new cruisers on the experience, it does a disservice to all the passengers. HAL management admitted that they had no Chinese-speakers on their staff. We had a large number of Chinese who were doing things that were out of the ordinary - for example filling up plastic bags with food from the Lido. Bad food handling practices in particular are often the cause of norovirus on these ships. HAL staff just shrugged when they saw these things occurring. Haven't these passengers been told they can use room service 24/7? We did enjoy the cooking demonstrations on most days, and many of the musicians on board seemed very talented. We aren't much for the late night shows so didn't attend them. We used the spa area for massages and the staff in these areas is always competent and friendly. As the cruise progresses pricing goes down - we always wait for the inevitable "sale" flyer. 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