564 Holland America Zaandam Cruise Reviews

We chose this cruise because of the itinerary to the Antarctic. We flew down to Buenos Aires a day early so we could enjoy a little of the city before. Embarkation was fairly smooth - we arrived early and our luggage was taken right ... Read More
We chose this cruise because of the itinerary to the Antarctic. We flew down to Buenos Aires a day early so we could enjoy a little of the city before. Embarkation was fairly smooth - we arrived early and our luggage was taken right away and we checked in. By about 11:30 we were on the ship and went straight to our room. It was ready. We then went to the MDR to enjoy a lovely lunch - we met another couple at lunch and remained friends with them the rest of the cruise. After lunch we went back to our room and our luggage was there so we put all our things away and went out to explore the ship. We hadn't been on the Zaandam before and weren't quite sure what to expect. It ended up being one of our favorite ships - it was always spotlessly clean, with crew constantly cleaning railings, door handles, etc. We did not travel with children and given the time of the year there were very few children on this cruise. The children that were there were very well behaved and pleasant. Cabin - Our cabin was a Neptune Suite and one disappointment was the size of the bathroom - it only had one sink and a tub/shower. All other Neptune Suites we had been in in the other ships had double sinks and a separate tub and shower. This was our fault for not looking in to it more closely, but it was disappointing. The balcony on the Neptune Suite was much larger than other Neptune Suite balconies we have had - this was great when we went thru the Antarctic as we spent a lot of time on the balcony. It was very roomy with a round table w/4 chairs and 2 lounge chairs - and still a lot of room! Our room steward was very attentive, kept our room cleaned and freshened up all throughout the day. The 2 concierges in the Neptune Lounge were very attentive and took care of every detail - they were always ready and willing to help us out. Dining - Our other experience on a smaller HAL ship we had "ok" dining, so we weren't sure what to expect here. We ended up having the best wait staff we have ever had - our 2 servers were extremely attentive and knew all of our wants and needs before we got there. Even though we don't drink alcohol, the wine steward knew what we liked to drink and always had it there for us. Activities - there were always several things doing on throughout the day. We especially enjoyed all of the many lectures by our Expedition Team. These Antarctic scientists kept us up on everything we were doing, had done and were looking forward to doing. Entertainment - We went to several of the nightly musical venues. We always enjoy the Lincoln Center Stage/Adagio. We also enjoyed the various pianos at different locations and also the bad in the Ocean Bar. The nightly shows on the Main Stage were good and varied - groups, comedians, and individual performers. We didn't go every night - not because we didn't like them, but because we were tired from everything we did during the day and knowing we'd be getting up early the next day. Service - What can I say about the service - it was exceptional! - Everything was top notch and always done with smile! Ports and Excursions - We did this cruise because of the Antarctic - friends had done a similar cruise without the Antarctic and thought it was one of the most boring cruises they had ever been on. While the ports were mostly small, most of them had a wide variety of things to do - just find what you like and do it! We didn't do any excursions from the ship, but found our own excursions. This is where one problem came in. Being in a Neptune Suite we were supposed to have priority boarding on the tenders - the first time it worked well, but at the 2nd tender port we went where we were supposed to wait - and wait - and wait. We were told to please wait there - and we saw tenders leaving with guests on them. Finally, most of us left and went on a tender without our crew person taking us down. In talking with the Neptune Lounge Concierge, there was some confusion from the crew person with us, and all was well. Would we do this cruise again? - In a Heartbeat! The ship, the crew and staff and the itinerary were super!!!!! Read Less
Sail Date January 2020
Included 4 days of sailing in Antarctica . Highlights- 1- Food selection: The food selection on this cruise was one of the highlights for us. We usually like to have dinner in the Main Dining room, but the selections in the Lido ... Read More
Included 4 days of sailing in Antarctica . Highlights- 1- Food selection: The food selection on this cruise was one of the highlights for us. We usually like to have dinner in the Main Dining room, but the selections in the Lido usually included everything that was offered in the Main Dining room and more. 2- Holland America Happy Hour- Liked the happy hour sessions. The 2nd drink only cost $2. The pool deck had 2 for 1 beer during the day. 3- Buenos Areas- One of our highlights was visiting the oldest coffee shops in Argentina called Tortoni's. Another highlight was visiting Recoleta Cemetery. 4- Montevideo- In port on a Sunday. Walked through the old town. 5- Puerto Madryn- We rented a car and went to Punta Tumbo where we saw many Magellanic Penguins. 6- Faukland Islands- Went to Volunteer Point with Patrick Watts Tours. Highly recommend this tour. Saw thousands of King Penguins up close. Also saw Gento and Magellanic Penguins. Read Less
Sail Date January 2020
This was a bucket list cruise for my wife. All the ports and excursions surpassed both our expectations. The narration by Exploration Team as we sailed into and around Antarctica was superb. Zaandam is a typical HA ship, one of their ... Read More
This was a bucket list cruise for my wife. All the ports and excursions surpassed both our expectations. The narration by Exploration Team as we sailed into and around Antarctica was superb. Zaandam is a typical HA ship, one of their smaller ones with a nice cozy feel. We are 4 Star Mariners, with lots of cruising experience and always appreciate HA’s itineraries and attention to detail on their ships. The major problem with this cruise was with an unknown outbreak on the ship at about day 3. CabIn attendants in full body protective garb stripping and cleaning rooms. Ship doctor with clipboard not entering room, but staying in hallway to supervise. Hand sanitizer stations suddenly appearing on Lido deck manned wIth attendants telling people to use them. Many passengers that we spoke to observed same thing on their decks. Not sure if it was a norovirus outbreak, or something else. Disappointing that there was no communication from captain about the issue, which continued for most of the trip. Would have liked to seen some communication on what the situation was, as well as measures that passengers could/should have taken. Read Less
Sail Date January 2020
We had previously cancelled 2 cruises to South America, and I am glad that we did, because we found this one going to S America and Antarctica. We gained much information and ideas from those who had previously done this trip so I hope we ... Read More
We had previously cancelled 2 cruises to South America, and I am glad that we did, because we found this one going to S America and Antarctica. We gained much information and ideas from those who had previously done this trip so I hope we can also provide the same for others who are considering this cruise. I will TRY to be brief. PRE-CRUISE: We flew to Santiago for a 3 day visit prior to embarkation. We booked our air tickets through Holland America's Flight Ease and were very satisfied with the price compared to booking on our own. If we travel this far, then we are going to see as much as possible. There had been much rioting in Santiago and some people actually cancelled the cruise out of fear for their safety. We had no problems at all. We stayed at the Doubletree by Hilton-Vitacura and HIGHLY RECOMMEND this hotel. It is in a very nice area and within 5 minute walk to much shopping and restaurants. We had the hotel arrange a private guide for a 4 hour tour of the city and also used UBER, on our own, to visit the Vina Cousino Macul for a wonderful winery tour. Easy to do on our own. We enjoyed our time in Santiago. EMBARKATION: We had made arrangements with others on our roll call to use Stamp's Tours for a tour of Valparaiso and a winery visit during our transfer to San Antonio for embarkation. Although there was a little nervousness on our part since we were at several different hotels, it all worked out well and we reached the ship about 3 hours before scheduled departure. I HIGHLY RECOMMEND Stamp's Tours. THE SHIP: I said "scheduled departure" because once we arrived, we were told there had been a problem with the refueling, and we would not leave until the next afternoon. We would be missing the port of Castro, which was the only port we had nothing planned. So, no loss of a scheduled tour. We had an inside cabin, 3352. Great service and good storage. Really enjoyed the cabin-very quiet. The Zaandam is an "older" smaller ship, but for this cruise was perfect size for us. THE STAFF: Everyone we encountered was friendly and eager to please. The cruise director gave VERY good talks about our upcoming ports. There were 3 special speakers on the ship who gave daily talks about Antarctica while we were sailing to it, and then gave narrations from the bridge during the days we were there. Excellent presentations. The only short coming is the lounge entertainment, which is basically 1 quartet, 2 string players, and a sing-along piano bar. It does get tiresome for 22 nights, but this cruise is not about entertainment. We were so busy each day running from one activity to another that we were usually asleep by 11:00. The main stage entertainment was fine. I do wish the quartet could have done a little "rock". Most of the people our age (70s) grew up with it. It is not all dancing to waltzes. THE PORTS: This ship does Santiago to Buenos Aires and then the reverse of it. We questioned which way was best and decided to do the Santiago to BA. This is the best way because the "excitement" builds as you cruise fjords and glaciers until you reach Antarctica. From then on it is sea days and penguin stops. I think if you had the reverse itinerary, you would find the second part of the journey a let down. Puerto Montt: We had arranged a private group tour with Patagonia Austral (Petrohue Falls, Lakes, City, and buffet lunch) It was a good tour and I HIGHLY RECOMMEND this company. Castro: Port was cancelled Puerto Chacabuco: We had booked a private tour with EnPatagonia Tours. This tour was somewhat boring, as we had already done similar tour in Puerto Montt, UNTIL we got to the lunch part-a BBQ in a farmhouse with music, wine, pisco sours, dancing, etc-One of the best days of the entire trip I VERY HIGHLY RECOMMEND this tour. Punta Arenas: We did our own thing here. We got off and "negotiated" with a taxi driver-where we wanted to go and how long we would stay. Price was $25 USD. Reasonable to us and off we went to visit the replica sailing ships, then to the beautiful cemetery, and a drop off in town for lunch and drinks at the famous Shackleton Bar. We also did some shopping and took the free shuttle back to the ship. An enjoyable day. Ushuaia: We had heard of a wonderful guide named Ruben. We booked him months ahead of the cruise for a tour of the town and Tierra del Fuego park. We shared his taxi with another couple. This tour was a big disappointment to us. He was fine and we got what we paid for, but after our previous tours, this was a let down. And the drizzly day did not help. However, this may be the best port for simple souveniers. Antarctica: BEAUTIFUL. 4 days of amazing scenery, whale watching, bird watching, etc Falkland Islands: We did a ship tour-Bluff Cove. I HIGHLY RECOMMEND this tour. Many people go to Volunteer Point, which is an amazing experience. We preferred a shorter transit time over more even ground. And we were with the penguins about the same amount of time as the Volunteer Point people. This tour also allowed us a good amount of time to explore the town and stop for lunch and drinks. One of our best days. Puerto Madryn: We had joined others to arrange a private tour to El Pedral, and were really looking forward to seeing more penguins, but it was too windy to dock, so we missed this port. .Very disappointing. I did not understand the big deal about seeing penguins, up close, until I saw them in the Falklands. Montevideo: We booked a private tour with ShoreExcursionsGroup. BIG mistake for us, as it was a large bus of maybe 40-50 people and we rode around hearing commentary for several hours with about 5 stops to take a picture. We do not like this kind of tour. Several of us left the tour before it finished and strolled the old town stopping at a nice pub for lunch. Found out, later, that some people had simply walked off the ship, stopped to pick up a free map and done a suggested walking our on their own. A better choice this would have been for us. Dis-Embarkation: The ship was to overnight in Buenos Aires. We left on the day of arrival. Stayed that night at the A Q Tailored Suites. Enjoyed a little of the city and then left the next morning to fly to Iguazu Falls. The hotel kept our big luggage until we returned and we took small bags with us. I highly recommend this hotel. Post Cruise: Some people told us that after this cruise, Iguazu would be the "icing on the cake". For us, that became true. We stayed at the Melia Iguazu inside the park. One of the most beautiful places I have ever visited. We strolled the pathways around the falls and had time to enjoy the HUGE infinity pool. We stayed 2 nights and I wish we would have arranged for a third. A wonderful "end" to an amazing journey. IF you can, visit Iguazu and stay at the Melia. After 2 nights, we returned to BA and our hotel. We spent 2 more nights there enjoying BA, although it was about 94 degrees (F). We did a very enjoyable Free Walking Tour and on our last night, we went to the Argentine Experience, which had been recommended to us. We did not enjoy it as much as other people did. It just was not our type of thing. FINAL THOUGHTS: I am a planner. I review as much information and recommendations as I can, and then plan what I want to do. Sometimes it works out and sometimes it does not. We booked this cruise almost 2 years before embarkation. Other people booked at the last minute. However, if you want to do certain tours, you had better book early. Many people were disappointed that they could not get a tour, although in most ports you can walk off the ship and find something to do. We were "lucky" to have good weather most of the time and only miss 2 ports. Some ships miss more than that. It is my understanding that due to changes in the laws, the big ships can only do this Antarctica visit for one more year. As expensive as it is, the prices will probably be triple when only the small ships can visit such a beautiful place. But there is always Iguazu. Read Less
Sail Date January 2020
We (Married couple in our 30's, no kids) choose this cruise because of the itinerary, because of Antarctica. Because we really wanted to see penguins in the region where they belong. And this was the only affordable way to do it. ... Read More
We (Married couple in our 30's, no kids) choose this cruise because of the itinerary, because of Antarctica. Because we really wanted to see penguins in the region where they belong. And this was the only affordable way to do it. It was our first cruise ever. We know now that cruising is not our favorite way to travel, and I'm sure we will wait at least another 30-40 years before we ever book a cruise again, but the nature, the surroundings; Patagonia, Falkland islands, Antarctica, that made it worth it! We took the public bus from our hostel to the cruise port. Public transportation is very easy in Buenos Aires, just get a Sube card (at a subway station), and you can use the bus, subway and trains. One card can be used by more then one person. We used public transportation a lot there. It's cheap and easy. Embarkation went well. We were early but were allowed to go on the ship at that time. No long lines, no problems. The ship was okay. It's not new and you can see what parts of the ship are recently upgraded, and what parts not. In our cabin, the bathroom and tv were in need of replacement. But it was clean. Spacious enough. Friendly staff. We ate only in the lido buffet, which was fine, but not really good or special. Most food is very fat (much oil is used) and unhealthy. I am actually a vegan, but that was very, very hard during this cruise. The entertainment was not really meant for our age. Soms things were fun, but most entertainment was for older people. There were some events for the holidays, like Santa's arrival and the lighting of the Christmas tree. The new years party was the most boring and strange party we ever went to in our lives. Not really a party at all. For holiday festivities I would not recommend this cruise. We did like the band the Runaround kids. We stayed in Buenos Aires a few days before the cruise. There is enough to do and see there. We took our time to visit the different parts of the city and took a train to the tigre delta, before we went on the cruise. The first port was Montevideo. We walked on our own trough Montevideo, a city we liked more then Buenos Aires. In the next ports we did a few shore excursions trough HAL, they were all good. Groups were not too big. We did see a lot of nature and animals, which for us was the reason we booked the tour. Peninsula Valdes & San Lorenzo, to see the Magellanic penguins. We also booked the Rockhopper penguins at the Falklands and a wildlife cruise trough the beagle channel at Ushuaia. The ports in Chile were not that interesting, but it was nice to get off the ship and walk around the towns. In Punta Arenas the free bus to the city center is a long wait, they are not arranged by HAL but by the city itself. Only 2 buses for the ship. We walked around in the city center and went to the cemetery there. In Puerto Chacabucco we walked around to see the dogs in town, there are a lot of dogs there. Not much else to do tough. We did skip Puerto Montt on this cruise, because of bad weather. We arrived in San Antonio a day earlier because of that. We went to the fish market there to see the sea lions, but it's very smelly and there are a lot of sea gulls (that sh*t on you). We did self embarkation, we took our own bags of the ship. That was very fast and easy. After the cruise we took a public (pullman) bus to Santiago, to continue our travels trough Chile over land. The bus had an extra stop at the cruise terminal, so it was easy to find. Read Less
Sail Date December 2019
I really wanted to go to Antarctica, I booked this entire cruise with the plan to do the excursion. It ended up getting canceled due to insurance problems and Holland America gave us (everyone on the excursion) future cruise credit. I ... Read More
I really wanted to go to Antarctica, I booked this entire cruise with the plan to do the excursion. It ended up getting canceled due to insurance problems and Holland America gave us (everyone on the excursion) future cruise credit. I think I'm going to let mine go to waste, I have no desire to ever go on another cruise and certainly not a Holland America one. Aside from that: my shower was super tiny and I say that as a 5'3 small woman, I have no idea how a bigger person would shower in there. The bathroom and room were some of the largest I've seen on a ship, so I'm not quite sure why the shower is so tiny. I do know these cabins are getting renovated April 2020. They serve almost the same food every day and after the first week, I just wanted off. The talks were pretty good but they seemed to be all or nothing, there were either a whole bunch all day or none for days. I went to the comedy and the one show was pretty good but the other one was not good at all. Of note, I went in the hot tub a handful of times and was mostly okay. My friend however developed a horrible infection and had to have surgery once we returned to the states to get his leg cleaned out. I'm glad we skipped Puerto Montt, I traded in my plane ticket and got a sooner plane ticket home. I just wish they had said sooner they were going to skip Puerto Montt and I could have canceled my excursion sooner. On that line, I noticed talking to people most of the Holland America shore excursions were the same prices as other ones and the other ones usually went to more places, saw more things, were smaller groups, etc. Essentially,, don't book excursions through the ship for most things. Also the casino and shops were tiny and usually empty. Everything onboard closes at midnight, so don't bank on drinking or going to a midnight buffet or midnight show if that's your thing. Read Less
Sail Date December 2019
Chose this cruise on a whim, as we saw an advertisement from a consolidator, contacted our agent to see what she could do, and then jumped. It gave me bragging rights, whatever that means, to say I was on all seven continents before I ... Read More
Chose this cruise on a whim, as we saw an advertisement from a consolidator, contacted our agent to see what she could do, and then jumped. It gave me bragging rights, whatever that means, to say I was on all seven continents before I turned 70. (Okay, I didn't 'touch' Antarctica, but it touched me, so close enough.) We also had kids who had other plans for Christmas so we were free to travel. We flew into Buenos Aires a couple days early and explored. I suggest this because of the long flight from the US, particularly the Pacific Northwest. We stayed in the city so were able to walk to the Recoleta area, a ten minute cab ride to the ship. The cemetery where Eva Peron was buried was a highlight, as was the Teatro Colon'. Great walking city, with some taxi work. Enjoyed Buenos Aires, knew nothing about the rest of the itinerary except Antarctica and the Falkland Islands, but was willing to learn. And learn we did. This cruise is an education, with loads of lectures from specialists. The ports are touch and go because of the weather, as is the route in the Antarctica, so for totally uptight, obsessed with "what I was told" folks might want to rethink this. Montevideo, Uruguay is a large, poor city that gives an interesting counterpoint to Buenos Aires. Puerto Madryn had an amazing boardwalk, so it was a great Sunday stroll, watching the locals play on a beautiful beach. Stanley, in the Falklands, was a reminder that wars are occasionally fought for stupid reasons. This bleak, but beautiful bunch of small islands, was a great visit and our first penguin experience. From there it was six days at sea, one to Antarctica, four in Antarctica, one back to South America. The weather cooperated, which isn't necessarily normal, so we were able to be outside, watching ice flows, animals, wind, water, and all the rest. We had to adjust our route constantly so our experience will not necessarily the same for others. We dreaded Drake Passage, but it wasn't bad. The other ports, Ushuaia, Puenta Arenas, Chacabuco, and Castro were small, unique, and really needed one to take an excursion. We missed Puerto Montt because of weather, arriving at Santiago early. HAL did a great job of adjusting and taking precautions, so it was all good. The dining room was exceptional. We enjoyed the entertainment, both around the ship and on the main stage. Scheduling that must be a nightmare as opinions vary so much. We spent most of our time in the Mix bar listening to Dan, the piano man. The Lido was fine, not a real buffet fan, but the Asian food and the salad bar were exceptional. Omelettes to order are not to be missed. We were comped a meal at the Canaletto, one of the upscale restaurants, and we were not that impressed. It was fine, but not if we were paying. In fact, we turned down another comp meal there as we preferred the Main Dining Room, mostly because of our wonderful server, Eka and his crew. Actually the crew is the highlight. Our dining room group was amazing as were our four cabin stewards (yes, four-to be explained). Our one negative would be our room, actually an issue with the room and the initial way in which the problem was handled. We ended up moving half way through the cruise, which worked out, but we felt it would not have been necessary if words moved to action, rather than just being words. Read Less
Sail Date December 2019
We've been on a number of cruises with HAL and sailed on 6 different ships. I wasn't too thrilled about being on Zaandam due to it's smaller size but understand that the larger ships don't go to Antarctica. This ... Read More
We've been on a number of cruises with HAL and sailed on 6 different ships. I wasn't too thrilled about being on Zaandam due to it's smaller size but understand that the larger ships don't go to Antarctica. This was a first voyage on Zaandam, and even though it is a BIT smaller than what we've sailed on, I was pleased overall. I think I was a bit surprised that the food quality seemed to be a bit better than past sailings. Perhaps this was due to the itinerary...I don't know. I also noticed that the passengers seemed to be more relaxed and shall I say, on better behavior? Again, I don't know if it is due to the itinerary and cost of this particular cruise, but my husband and I both noticed this. The ship is a bit smaller, as I said but I still found many quiet spaces on the ship when I just wanted somewhere by myself. We found a great group in the Crow's Nest daily at trivia and happy hour times. The Crow's Nest was lively and fun then. As usual there were nearly no children on this cruise, and that suits us well. The average passenger age was probably 65-70, and that suited us also. Most of the "seniors" we hung out with were well traveled and fun. I noticed many people in the Hudson room daily playing bridge and other card games. We enjoyed the movies in the screening room, AKA, America's Test Kitchen although the main pull down screen was well worn. I sat out on deck a few times, but walked the Promenade almost everyday. Depending on the time of day, I had the entire Promenade to myself depending when I chose to get my exercise in. I thought the number of sea days was going to grow weary, but I always found something to do, and I think that is key. If you are a well seasoned HAL cruiser, the it's easy to get that feeling of "been there, done that" when you look at the daily offerings for activities. I think it is key to meet up with people and figure out your own activities to fill those voids. We keep going back to Holland America so I guess the fit is good for us. Read Less
Sail Date December 2019
My wife loves cruises; this was our 4th cruise this year (Oceania, Royal Caribbean, Princess, and Holland America). We enjoyed this cruise the most— largely because of the destinations. The lake regions of Chile and Argentina are ... Read More
My wife loves cruises; this was our 4th cruise this year (Oceania, Royal Caribbean, Princess, and Holland America). We enjoyed this cruise the most— largely because of the destinations. The lake regions of Chile and Argentina are spectacular and going around the Horn was a treat. Buenos Aires and Montevideo are beautiful, interesting cities. We enjoyed seeing the penguins on the Falkland Islands. We arranged our own tours, which saved us a lot of money and gave us more flexibility. At each stop, I negotiated with taxi drivers to take us where we wanted to go. Well worth the effort. The food and service were excellent. We bought the drink package, which was cheaper than other companies. We ate at each of the specialty restaurants, but they weren’t any better than the main dining room. The baked goods were superb. I loved the breakfast buffet. The room was the only negative. I thought we were getting a mini suite but got an ordinary balcony room. The rooms were small and dated— one electrical outlet, a poor quality small TV, and a DVD player. Most people on this cruise were old and use CPAP machines. It was impossible to run the CPAP, phone charger, and DVD player. Every one of the DVDs we checked out were scratched and worn. The Internet was expensive and almost worthless. Other ships are much better. The casino borders on crooked. I like to play video poker. Their machines have the worst odds possible (6-5 machine)and automatically switch to the highest bet possible. I complained, but the casino manager was arrogant and condescending. The service, ports, food, and bar service was terrific. They more than made up for the dated room, lousy internet, and dreadful casino. I recommend this cruise. Read Less
Sail Date December 2019
Cruise selected based on the itinerary. We had 2 issues that we escalated to guest services and were made to feel they did not care at all. Our cabin was hot and after technician checked and temperature was 22.9 Celcius,. i was told by ... Read More
Cruise selected based on the itinerary. We had 2 issues that we escalated to guest services and were made to feel they did not care at all. Our cabin was hot and after technician checked and temperature was 22.9 Celcius,. i was told by Guest Services, they could do nothing andthere were no other cabins to move. it was a blatant lie, I know this because due to flooding of several cabins later in the cruise people were relocated. After 4 nights of no sleep due to the heat I went back to Guest Services requesting a fan. We were provided with a fan, put it on and went to bed, at 12:45 that night the fan shorted and filled the cabin with smoke. Luckily I'm a light sleeper and woke up. The fire alarm nor sprinkler alerted us. I called Guest Services to report this and they showed no concern. We reported this in writing to the Hotel Director and recieved no acknowledgement of our issue. Our second issue relates to what is published in the Quench Beverage Package and what is actually available on board. basically there is a misrepresentation of the product. This issue was supposedly escalated to the HAL Coorpration. It took over 10 days and many follow ups by us with Guest Services and F&B department and we failed to get the package purchased and advertised online. Guest Services continually blocked any escalation of these 2 issues. Based on this experience, lack of activities and enthusiasm from cruise director and his offsider running activities, lots of food but either often cold, if eating in the dining room, or dry and overcooked in the Lido. We will never cruise with HAL again. In discussion with many other passengers, we are not alone with our opinion. We have done over 20 cruises, this was our 3rd cruise in 8 weeks, 1 with Royal Carribbean and the other with Princess, both cruise companies offered outstanding customer service, activities, food and fun. Read Less
Sail Date November 2019
Having read fellow travellers reviews, I wanted to provide our opinion following our South America trip recently. Ship The Zaandam ship is on the small side by today’s standards (1400 passengers) but that does mean you do get to ... Read More
Having read fellow travellers reviews, I wanted to provide our opinion following our South America trip recently. Ship The Zaandam ship is on the small side by today’s standards (1400 passengers) but that does mean you do get to know the staff and fellow cruisers. The ship was well maintained, clean and comfortable. We opted for an outside cabin, mid ships, on the main deck due to the sailing around Cape Horn. We had good weather on the day itself but were glad of our cabin position as the sea still had considerable sized waves and motion. Even with good weather there was still quite a lot of movement so I would recommend thinking about your cabin position for this route. The cabin was comfortable with plenty of storage space even for 16 nights. The bathroom in our cabin had been updated and include a walk in shower which is much better than the small baths that used to be in the bathrooms. One very small niggle in the cabin is that the light switches are in the middle of the headboard and so every time you lean back to relax and read on the bed you end up turning the lights on/off. In our experience HAL are not “party ships” and so there are no real themed parties and most nights see guests in bed by 10.30pm. This suited us as we were able to wake early for some lovely scenery and sunrises. We would have liked more information on our surroundings, wildlife and history. As the ship is small the cruise director doubled as the travel director and he did provide some commentary on the scenic cruising but it would have been good to have had an expert lecturer on board. Dining We ate breakfast in the dining room on sea days ( it opens a bit too late on port days for us as we like to be out and about early) The menu does not vary year to year, but the quality is still excellent and the staff are more than happy to make a few tweaks if you want to mix and match some options. For lunch we used the salad bar and Asian bar in the Lido which were both superb. There were mandarin segments, nuts, seeds, dried cherries etc...on the salad bar which you don’t often see on other cruise lines. The Asian bar had a varied choice each day. Even if you are not generally a fan, I would suggest you try it. The ice cream was also consistently excellent as was the fresh fruit counter. Dinner for us was in the dining room, late seating. The food and service were great and the cellar master really helped us make some great choices from even the cheapest wine package. We thought the dining room evening food was some of the best we’ve ever experienced and a chef was round most nights to check we we happy, asking for what dishes we’d enjoyed and what we might like to see again. We had a table for 2 and my only real moan of the trip was that our table was near the entrance .There were a large group of guests with a travel company on our sailing who always arrived late (some nights up to 45 minutes) and they were chaperoned in by their tour guides as they arrived. This meant the waiters were trying to work as these guests arriving which created a bottleneck right next to our table and it was impossible to relax. We had a word with the Maitre D and on night 4 we were moved to another table. Once moved we really enjoyed our evenings in there. We were asked most Breakfast, lunch and dinner times if we wanted to try the Specialty Dining. One lunch time we were asked 3 times by three different waiters. The cruise director also started some of his announcements with an advert for it and it did get rather tiresome. I am sure it is lovely but we were more than happy with the dining room food and could not see the benefit of paying to eat elsewhere. It is also the most expensive speciailty dining we have seen, especially when the pound is weak against the dollar. Tours Apart from an independent tour in Rio we used the Shore Excursions for the whole cruise. I prefer to know they are then responsible for getting us back to the ship/next port etc.. We were specifically warned about a recent spike in tourism petty crime and to dress down, no jewellery etc...We found being in a group felt much safer and allowed my husband to take his large camera as opposed to being concerned about having it stolen and leaving it behind. In Rio, There were police cars at the entrance to our hotel so we were pleased we had an independent tour organised there. We’d booked the whole holiday with Holland America and the Sheraton was the only hotel we were offered. It has a lovely beach but also has a large slum area quite near so we were encouraged not to venture out on our own, especially at night. We had flown in one day earlier and booked a day trip with Viator which took in all the main highlights with a BBQ lunch. Once onboard, In Santos we just used the free shuttle into the town to a mall ( we didn’t fancy any of the trips there) you could then taxi around from there if you wanted to. I found it the most low key of all the stops. A tour may of helped that day as the Port is very industrial and you cannot really walk into the town. In Buenos Airies the highlights tour was terrific. We visited the cemetery where Eva Perone is buried and it is a quite beautiful cemetery which was very unexpected. In Montevideo we did the highlights tour which again was great, And from Montevideo onwards we felt much safer. If you are interested in penguins or real off-roading, I would recommend the trip to Volunteer point in the Falklands. It’s a long day. 30 minute tender, 1 hour on good road, 1.5 hours “off road” but the penguin colony is such a privilege to see. It’s the largest outside of Antarctic and watching the King Penguins enjoying the sea and beach was amazing. You can get quite close to them ( 6 meters is allowed) but they will then approach you as they are very curious. We saw Kings, Gentoos and Mangellec with lots of birds too. it was one of the highlights of the whole trip for us. In Ushuaia we visited the National Park, good wether prevailed and the scenery was lovely. Later that day we cruised Glacier Alley with the cruise ship and the scenery is spectacular. It outdid Norway, Alaska and New Zealand for us. The weather makes such a difference on this tour, we were lucky but the staff told us that the previous sailing had poor visibility in Ushuaia and a tough sailing around the Horn, which is not unusual and sick bags are provided in the cabins. In Punto Arenas we did a chairlift ride and a trek which was a pleasant morning and again sunshine helped. In Puerto Montt we visited the cascades, Orsono Volcano (but no view due to cloud cover) and Puerto Varas. The volcano did become partly visible late afternoon which we could see from the ship. It’s 90 mins to the cascades and Puerto Varas is a small town. It got us off the ship but I’m not sure I’d choose this tour if I had my time over. All towns in Chile are experiencing evening riots and so lots of shop windows are boarded over which gives a rather depressing look to the towns at the moment. Staff The waiters got to know us, remembered our names and our nightly drinks/fruit juice preference orders at breakfast which was impressive. The crew show was funny too. The ships photographers seem intent on getting a picture with other cruisers in the background/gangways etc...I suggested that a spot with a nicer backdrop might help encourage a few more guests to have a picture but he told me their job was hard enough getting people to stop for a picture. Usual high pressure sales culture in the Spa. I always avoid these now but had to get a nail repaired during the trip. Some eye cream was put on without me asking as a “complimentary treatment” which of course leads to them telling you how much difference it makes ( it didn’t) and despite me saying “no“ to a foot spray, I was given one and charged for it so I had to get the bill amended before I left. I’ve provided feedback many times, but this sales technique must work as it’s never changed. Shows All the shows were enjoyable that we saw ( we missed out a couple) My experience is that HAL don’t spend the same amount on their shows as other cruise companies but the quality of food is better so it depends what your own preference is. There was a classical group, a jazz type quartet and a pianist. Due to our dining times, we just watched the late show each evening. Gym Reasonable amount of equipment but the free classes were heaving. I only did one and found it too cramped so I decided to walk on deck instead. Overall for us a great cruise. Undoubtedly the weather played a massive part in our enjoyment. We enjoyed the Zandaam and would definitely cruise on this ship again. Read Less
Sail Date November 2019
We chose this cruise because we wanted to get a first impression of South America and go round Cape Horn. It was also one of the few cruises that took in Rio de Janeiro too. What was good 1. The captain was very good and, to my ... Read More
We chose this cruise because we wanted to get a first impression of South America and go round Cape Horn. It was also one of the few cruises that took in Rio de Janeiro too. What was good 1. The captain was very good and, to my mind, made the right decision to leave out Puerto Montt becuase of the bad weather and so try and get ahead of even worse weather. 2. Kevin, the entertainment director from Buenos Aires was also very good. What was bad 1. The ship's target audience is obviously the 80+. Entertainment for younger people was virutally non-existent. We were totally bored on the many sea days. Too many of the things on offer were about health issues. We had the feeling we were in a sanatorium rather than on a holiday cruise. 2. The food was not good. I love fish and, apart from salmon and the fish offered on the Asian stand that was always in some kind of sauce, all the fish was in batter or breadcrumbs and overcooked. One day they had fresh tuna in the dining room so I ordered it rare. It came totally cooked to hell and not a sign of a pink colour. Awful. In general I would say that the quality of the meat and fish was good but it was cooked badly. What a shame! The desserts also had too much sugar in them. 3. The staff in the jewellery shops were too pushy for Europeans. I love jewellery and regularly buy pieces on holiday. This time I was looking for something for our daughter's birthday. On the first evening I looked at some of the window display cases but every time I stopped to look, I was pounced on by a salesman who wanted to get something out and work out the price and make me an offer. This happened 5 times in succession and so I left. They didn't understand the phrase "I'm just looking". Three days later I tried again and the experience was the same so I left it. HAL you lost a sale because I actually loved your jewellery. 4. The tender tickets for the Falkland Islands were only available to queue for on the day we arrived there from 8 a.m. onwards despite the fact that the day before was a sea day and everybody could easily have queued then. This meant that some people not on HAL excursions got off the ship late and had not enough time on the Falklands. The whole process could have been organised better. 5. The prices of the drinks were too high as were the prices for the excursions. Read Less
Sail Date November 2019
This is by far the worst cruise line I have ever sailed with. It was like travelling on a free holiday where you have to go to a few lectures about time share apartments and be sold the whole story about buying into it, except that this ... Read More
This is by far the worst cruise line I have ever sailed with. It was like travelling on a free holiday where you have to go to a few lectures about time share apartments and be sold the whole story about buying into it, except that this holiday wasn't free and you couldn't get away from it. I wasn't alone in my thinking either as there were so many agreived passengers on board that it was ridiculous. Managers would come around the tables in the evening trying to persuade you to go to the specialist restaurants on board - extra cost. Food at the standard restaurant was mediocre - same things over and over. This was I assume to make you want to cave in and go to the Specialist restaurants. If you've ever been on a Cunard cruise you will realise that it doesn't have to be like this to get decent food on board included. Waiters always offered you bottled water - pay more. After dinner 'would you like a cappuccino'- pay more. (Standard coffee was free). This takes us on to the other annoying thing. There was almost nothing to do on board. The quality of entertainment was poor. The first performer summed it up, advertised as America's best unknown comedian and talks during the day were almost 100% biased towards selling something - come and learn about dancing diamonds - oh now we have a 60% sale on. How irritating! During the trip I wanted 3 shirts laundered - oh yes sir we have a package for laundry. Let's see, unlimited laundry on 16 day cruise that's over $100. But I only wanted 3 shirts done.... A lady wanted a lipstick -, sorry mam we only sell them in packs of 3 - $100 'Next destination' talks were only held once on the main stage area which was small and held around a third of the passengers who, naturally all wanted to go. Films shown in the theatre were only held once in a small theatre. We decided to go to learn the Tango - held on a tiny dance floor of one of the bars. About 30 wanted to go but it was so ridiculous that we gave up. I could go on and on. Read Less
Sail Date November 2019
Having been on the Zaandam in January 2018 and been very impressed with the ship and its amenities, I chose this cruise for the chance to be on her again and to transit the Panama Canal again with stops in South America. ... Read More
Having been on the Zaandam in January 2018 and been very impressed with the ship and its amenities, I chose this cruise for the chance to be on her again and to transit the Panama Canal again with stops in South America. Embarkation/debarkation: As always, HAL did these impeccably for a mass market cruise line. Both were a breeze and I was onboard for a nice lunch in the MDR in minutes. The guarantee that one's cabin will be ready when boarding is a nice touch. The ship: The Zaandam is a nice sized ship and is easy to get around. The public rooms and walkways have been left as they were intended when the ship was built. It has a real, wide, walk-around promenade deck: a large library space even though few books; wide internal hallways; excellent, easy to read signage. It was well maintained. The cabin: I had a standard verandah cabin in the aft part of the ship, It was a very good size with many more closets and drawers than I could use. The beds were comfortable and I had the best pillows I have ever had on a cruise ship in my 44 years of cruising. The furniture and bathroom had been refurbished and the floor coverings were new. The verandah furniture was new and very nice, with a foot stool. The dining: The food in the MDR has definitely taken a downturn since my prior cruise. The appetizers, soups, vegetables, and desserts were good. They managed to overcook all the fish. The only good fish we had was fresh tuna brought on in Ecuador and prepared seared on the outside and rare on the inside, the correct way to cook it. I skipped the meat. We were in some of the best South American fishing grounds and some of the best wine countries in the world; they should have been bringing on local foods and wines in every port. The entertainment and activities: The shows done by the production cast of singers and dancers were all very good. Some of the contract performers were also good. In general, nothing was too loud; I hate sitting through performances with my fingers in my ears and only had to do it once on this cruise. There was always live music in multiple venues in the evening. The only underused space was the Crow's Nest, where there should have been a ballroom dance ensemble all evening. There were two enrichment lecturers who were excellent. One was a flora and fauna specialist and also did a very good talk on the Galapagos. The other was a specialist in South America, particularly the music and dance. HAL has chosen to combine the cruise director position with the EXC or port lecturer position. In general, this is a mistake since the cruise directors aren't knowledgeable enough to do it. However, we lucked out -- our cruise director had been an EXC manager. He did very good presentations on the ports. The service: I had excellent room stewards. They were efficient, personable and attentive; and they fulfilled every request I had. The first two nights in the MDR, there was a general service issue; it was corrected by the third night. I had early fixed seating and had excellent waiters and wine steward. The service at breakfast and lunch in the MDR was always limited and slow. I only used the Lido buffet a couple of times and found it to be well laid out and well supplied with a variety of foods. The ice cream was exceptional everywhere. As always, I attribute the food service issues to staff cutbacks. As always, the Guest Relations representatives were less than helpful. They have few problem solving skills and no authority to fix anything. Up until the last night, I actually thought I was going to experience a first for all my HAL cruises -- no error on my onboard statement. Alas, it was not to be. When the error was pointed out to the GR rep, she agreed that it should be removed from my final bill before I left the ship; but, of course, it was not. I had to take it up with the corporate office and still don't have my refund. If a request is made in the initial booking for a twin bed cabin configuration, why is this not transmitted to the cabin steward? If the embarkation day's program is supposed to be distributed at check-in, why isn't it? With this many sea days, a passenger book exchange must be provided and properly promoted and labelled. The Canal: I had done the full transit from Ft. Lauderdale to Santiago once before on Celebrity and chose this cruise because it was a similar itinerary. The Canal is endlessly fascinating. Unfortunately the Canal guide provided to the ship was not very informative; we certainly learned nothing about the ships we were seeing, their cargoes, the new canal, the flora and fauna around us. In addition to the provided Canal guide, Celebrity had an enrichment lecturer who did talks about the canal before we got there and did an extensive and informative narrative while we were in the canal. I was expecting the same from HAL and was disappointed. The ports and shore excursions: The first port was Aruba; there are many better ones in the Caribbean that could have been chosen. In South America, all the ports are working ports and require special transportation; it was provided at no charge which was quite nice. I thought all the ports were worth a visit -- Fuerte Amador, Panama; Manta, Ecuador; Trujillo, Lima, and Pisco, Peru. We had to skip Coquimbo, Chile, due to civil unrest. I would highly recommend that the cruise line find another termination port than Santiago. The airline flights from this port are not until late in the evening; the air lines do not open their check-in desks until about three hours before flights; there is no comfortable place to wait in the airport with one's luggage; HAL does not provide a day room in a hotel or at the airport for those who are waiting. This requires an expensive all day shore excursion to be purchased. HAL has really upped its game on shore excursions. In many ports, food and wine focused excursions were offered. I took them all and they were excellent. I read the HAL online shore excursion descriptions, make my decisions based on them, and purchase them before leaving home. For the most part, the excursions as executed were exactly as described. This does not always happen with cruise lines and I expect a refund when it does not. Miscellaneous comments: Approaching Chile, there was a great deal of concern about ongoing civil unrest. I felt that HAL and the captain handled this well and I felt safe with their decisions. The captain kept us well-informed. Indeed, there was a contingency plan in place in case we needed to remain on the ship and disembark in Argentina. If there was ever a time I was glad that I had purchased my air and transfer arrangements from HAL. I felt comfortable in the thought that they would take care of me in this event. Read Less
Sail Date October 2019
Why? The Itenary A not so common one, long and much to see. Done out of Europe, by a German travel office: Berge und Meer Yes we know it's an old ship wich had the atmosphere of faded grandeur But the compagny ... Read More
Why? The Itenary A not so common one, long and much to see. Done out of Europe, by a German travel office: Berge und Meer Yes we know it's an old ship wich had the atmosphere of faded grandeur But the compagny plays it all very poche, a bit pathetic... This was our 23rd cruise, and the first with HAL. There was a cabin on the promenade deck confirmed by the HAL 5 months in advance. However, 5 days before this was moved to a so-called upgrade, I was not happy with that. after complaining seems nobody could change it any more. cabin 6100 was a terrible loft, I could not get up straight from bed, the desk was unusable and the layout unlogical, curtains had to be closed with Velcro tape. In the afternoon was no sleep possible, 2x 1.5 hours were practiced with the music, so noise, in the evening, 2x1.5 hours the performance, again noise till 22.00 hour and sometimes from 00.00 hour to 2.00 hour practice with the staff presentation for a few hours. After difficult reaching the hotel director, (permanently protected by guest service employees), I got the cabin that was originally promised after a week by grace. Incidentally, with that rediculous small bathtub it is difficult to shower, you cannot take a shower over you, but shower against you. Later I got out of the bath and fell because I had the handle in my hand, it was not stuck in the wall, the next day it was screwed in another place in the wall. Evening meals were good, but monotonous, and not always in accordance with what was on the menu (but that happens with more ships; drinks were extremele expensive. Breakfast and lunch in Lido and restaurants were exellent. Read Less
Sail Date October 2019
Had to be bussed 4 hours to the second port because the ship was under repair. Had to wait in the lobby for hours for a bus because they had no idea when we would go. We were compensated $75 for the trouble. Communication for ... Read More
Had to be bussed 4 hours to the second port because the ship was under repair. Had to wait in the lobby for hours for a bus because they had no idea when we would go. We were compensated $75 for the trouble. Communication for Immigration back into the country and tendering were also very poorly handled. The good news was the food was better than other lines I’ve been on and the ship was very clean. We paid extra for Club Orange which I thought was worth it. Our upgraded stateroom was clean but in need of updating. There was NO outlet in the bathroom and only one in the room. More closet space than expected. The staff in general were very pleasant. The highlight of the trip was when we got off of the cruise to spend time in Boston. We were with some friends or else this itinerary (Montreal to Boston) would have been too boring for us. Unless you really, really want to see these ports I don’t recommend it. Read Less
Sail Date September 2019
My wife and I chose this last minute cruise since she had never seen Canada. We are frequent cruisers of the Caribbean and thought this might be a nice change. The ship is fairly small and the clientele for this cruise is definitely ... Read More
My wife and I chose this last minute cruise since she had never seen Canada. We are frequent cruisers of the Caribbean and thought this might be a nice change. The ship is fairly small and the clientele for this cruise is definitely older. The food was good on the cruise. The best part for us was all the food is actually served even on the buffet. Was nice to not have other guests touching serving spoons and kept things very fresh and appetizing. Had not seen this on most lines and was a nice feature. This cruise had ports every day so that kept daytime activities onboard minimal which was ok since we took cruise to see the sights. However in evening there was still little to do but eat, casino or drink. They did have ESPN on at one of bars to watch sports which was nice. Bars are actually minimal too so had to go out of way usually to find drinks. Very friendly staff but amenities from most ships are lacking here. So if onboard activities are your preference pick a different cruise. We chose to do our own activities in port so didn’t do the planned excursions. They also seemed very pricey for what they offered. There was a nice theater onboard with a couple nice movies that were shown. Also, the shows were decent though nothing special. The cabin was good size and had a tub. We had a window cabin and it was comfortable with lots of storage. Only one outlet on desk but will bring you a power strip. This is difficult though if you have lots of devices and also the desk is far from bed. The tv is also small and far from bed. They will give you dvds to watch but again hard to see in 13 inch screen that is the long way across the room. Overall happy with room though. The bad now. This is an older boat and it actually broke down in Quebec City so we couldn’t continue to our last port in Montreal. In talking to staff this wasn’t the first time it broke down either in the last year as they all knew the drill. This kept casino closed the last night and took away one of the few entertainment things on the ship. This also meant the decided to bus us to Quebec starting at 4 am for a 3 hour bus ride to the port. This was the only information given. When we got to bus it was an old yellow school bus! So no facilities in bus and no information prior to leaving the ship this would be the case. People had just eaten and now had to ride in a tight bus, no facilities and no air conditioning. They did stop about 2 hours into trip at rest area but by then people had resorted to using bottles etc. when we got to the port they had our luggage on a truck that was at port but not unloading. Instead they chose to spend an hour loading the next group on those buses to take them to Quebec City to board the boat. So we sat at the port an hour waiting for luggage with no Holland America rep present to explain where to go for luggage, timing, etc. For the inconvience e were given $50 ship credit on our account. Also, offered 15% off future cruise where details of discount were supposed to be on other side of letter but was blank. So really no offer at all there. I would have rated the cruise about a 3 had the end not happened or been handled better. However the lack of communication and really poor accommodation at the end made this a terrible cruise. Given age of boat and past problems I would tell anyone to avoid this ship at all costs. So sort of buyer beware situation. Read Less
Sail Date September 2019
I chose this cruise because my family decided a last minute trip and this trip was the only itinerary would fit our schedule and we wanted to explore the East coast of Canada. I would rated the experience better if it was our trip ended so ... Read More
I chose this cruise because my family decided a last minute trip and this trip was the only itinerary would fit our schedule and we wanted to explore the East coast of Canada. I would rated the experience better if it was our trip ended so terribly on the last day of our cruise trip. The crew members were hardworking and friendly. The food was good overall. I think they ship needs a major update in many areas as it looks really outdated. On the first night of our trip, there was a fire alarm triggered at 2 a.m due to some leak of a smoke. We were super terrified. On the last day of our trip, the ship broke down at Quebec City and was not able to make it to Montreal. We were told that we would be transported from Quebec City to Montreal by bus. They started to transport passengers starting at 4 a.m.! As we didn't pre-arrange any transportation with the cruise line, they would only be willing to transport us to the cruise port. When we were in line to wait for the bus, we found out that we had to travel by old small Yellow school bus!!!! Our luggage were loaded in other trucks as no space in these tiny smelly Yellow bus! We waited for at least 45 minutes at the Montreal port to get our luggage! There was no one from Holland American to assist passengers. They were just shipping these passengers from Montreal to Quebec City so they can board on the broken ship! No one cares about the passengers. There were a huge line up at the taxi and I barely made it to the Montreal airport to board my 3 o'clock flight. There were other passengers have missed their flights/train due to this delay! No one from HAL would offer any help! The compensation was a joke. We were given a piece of paper that we can get discount for the future HAL cruise and referred the terms and conditions in the back but it was blank!!! This was a super terrible experience and HAL handled it poorly! Who wants to travel again with them!? Read Less
Sail Date September 2019
We choose this cruise for the itinerary. It was leaving from Boston and we don't live to far away. Also we had heard great things about Holland America. We loved the first 5 days of the cruise but the last two were where Holland ... Read More
We choose this cruise for the itinerary. It was leaving from Boston and we don't live to far away. Also we had heard great things about Holland America. We loved the first 5 days of the cruise but the last two were where Holland America totally lost us. We loved the service, food and ship until the last two days. Two nights from the end of the cruise a pipe burst on our deck and 6 or 7 rooms not far from us were flooded. We heard others on another deck were also affected. They had to move the people on our deck at 4 am. They woke us up with all of the noises but at least we were dry. We had a fire alarm go off on one of the first nights of the cruise at 2 am and it ended up being a steam leak in the galley but alarms and speakers going off so wrecked up that night's sleep. The worst thing was that the ship started having propulsion problems before Quebec City which slowed us down so we were several hours late getting into that port. They worked on the problem while we were ashore and acted as if it was fixed but by dinner that night it was clear we were not going anywhere. They finally told us at 10pm we were not going to Montreal on the ship and were to be bused in the morning. When we showed up to disembark we were put into a yellow school bus for an estimated 3 hour ride which ended up being over 4 hours. No room for luggage or carryons. No room for knees. No room for senior citizens. When we got to the Montreal Port Terminal we had to wait for 40 minutes to unload because they were first loading up the next cruise guests for the next week and they had to get them to Quebec City. I was livid that they had the gall to make us wait in the parking lot (as we had already paid) so they could load up the new guests. We also found out that other guests got to be on nice air conditioned custom buses as they were waiting in the parking lot with us. We were supposed to disembark in Montreal at 8am. We didn't get to leave with our bags (had to wait on them as they came by u-haul truck as no room on a school bus) until 2pm. So pretty much whole day lost in touring Montreal due to riding on a bus and waiting at terminal and waiting on bags. Then we had to drag our bags several blocks aways from the terminal to get a ride as the taxi line was very long and not moving. But Holland America did give us a $50 pp credit for all of this situation so I guess in their minds they took care of us. Terrible communications on the issues. If they would have advised we were going to be stuck on a school bus I would have looked for a train, plane or automobile instead. Due t the issues on the boat, I also wonder whether this boat should be active right now. I'm no expert but it sounds like dry dock is where it should be. Read Less
Sail Date September 2019
We booked quite late, so missed out on a verandah cabin, we had a cabin on the lower promenade deck with a window view. The room was fine, but you do need to fully unpack suitcases because there is not room to have them out. The room was ... Read More
We booked quite late, so missed out on a verandah cabin, we had a cabin on the lower promenade deck with a window view. The room was fine, but you do need to fully unpack suitcases because there is not room to have them out. The room was super clean. The room attendants so helpful. Go to the talks on the first day, they are very helpful about shore excursions and the ship layout. We didnt book any shore excursions and so glad we didn’t. Most of the passengers are in their twilight years, elderly with walkers, sticks, wheelchairs.. and mobility is an issue. At times it seemed like a floating nursing home. Here’s my dos and donts. All the port stops are walkable into the town - dont pay $40-80 for a guided walk. Don’t pay $140 for internet per device, it didn’t work most of the time and you could only access a few sites. Don’t dress up for Gala night - its a have to get professional photos you pay for, and book the pay for restaurants. Do - be kind and polite to the staff, go to the evening entertainment, research what you want to see and do but bear in mind there will be elderly folks slowing down tours with their mobility. Dining - there are queues in the lido market no matter what time. Read Less
Sail Date August 2019
I chose this cruise because of the itinerary. I really wanted to do the east coast of Canada. And the departure from Montreal was very appealing. The destinations did not disappoint. I was totally charmed by the east coast, and will ... Read More
I chose this cruise because of the itinerary. I really wanted to do the east coast of Canada. And the departure from Montreal was very appealing. The destinations did not disappoint. I was totally charmed by the east coast, and will definitely return! The reason that I felt compelled to write the review was because of the outstanding service and dining on this ship. I have been on many different cruise lines and am an experienced cruiser. Up until this point my favorite cruise line was Celebrity. I have to admit that Holland American Lines lived up to it's hype. The food was amazing, and the service was impeccable! I especially want to give a shout out to our dining room staff, Mahendra, Subatra Smith our waiter, and Jonathan our wine steward! The cabins were larger than I have experienced on other cruise lines, which was a nice surprise. They were also kept spotless by our cabin stewards. The shower allowed enough room to shower and shave comfortably! The entertainment was geared more towards an older crowd and would probably be my only slight criticism. Although we enjoyed the trios, quartets, and piano man...people on the younger side may have found it boring. And the shows although well performed, were definitely a little dated. But that would be my only complaint. We took two ship excursions, one in Sydney and one in Bar Harbor. The Sydney one was the hiking tour to Ban Usige Falls, and was very picturesque. I fell in love with Baddeck. And the tour guide Wendell was a very spry 78 years old! The other excursion was the small group guided tour of Acadia National Park. Once again our tour guide was very knowledgeable. I did go to the gym once, and attended a body stretching class. The instructor was quite good and was constantly checking to see that everyone was doing the moves properly. Overall I would rate my experience on HAL as 5 stars, and I would not hesitate to recommend them to anyone! Read Less
Sail Date August 2019
This was our second cruise with HAL. The first was through the Panama Canal and was memorable. This one was more memorable for the Cons than the Pros: Pros: We like the Neptune suites because they are spacious and there is access ... Read More
This was our second cruise with HAL. The first was through the Panama Canal and was memorable. This one was more memorable for the Cons than the Pros: Pros: We like the Neptune suites because they are spacious and there is access to the Neptune Lounge, breakfast in the Pinnacle Restaurant, the complementry laundry, and the Concierge who is very helpful for anything that comes up. The crew was excellent and our cabin stewards were very helpful. The drinks were well made and reasonable, but they do tack on a 15% gratuity in spite of the $16 per day gratuity assessment. Who does that go to? The hamburgers by the pool were very good. The no sugar added desserts were excellent. WIFI was faster than other ships. That means it was adequate. LOL Cons I thought the food was lacking, except for the Pinnacle Restaurant. We ate in the main dining room twice. The first time I had halibut which was overcooked and dry. The second time I had pot roast which was bland and required salt and pepper. I mentioned the overcooked halibut to the concierge and got a phone call from the head waiter offering to make another reservation and also the food services officer stopped by at our table at breakfast to apologize. This would indicate that the crew is very serious about the food. That's why I feel it is a budget constraint causing the "just average" food. The food in the buffet was just average, except for the fried shrimp, which were so small that you could not see the shrimp in the breading and the NY steaks were somewhat tough. I think the budget was screwed down pretty tight. A big problem was that the buffet seemed understaffed, causing lines at the various stations. By the time we found a table, our food was usually cold. Kids were running around everywhere and the table density in the buffet was very high and made it hard to walk between tables. WIFI is not included, but is available at a flat rate. $139 per week per device. The per device sucked as you had to knock off the other person to get on wifi. The speed was pretty good for shipboard wifi. Read Less
Sail Date July 2019
This was my third Holland America cruise. My two prior experiences were very good. Food in the main dining room in the past was good to excellent. On my past trips there was sufficient entertainment and on board activities. Not so on ... Read More
This was my third Holland America cruise. My two prior experiences were very good. Food in the main dining room in the past was good to excellent. On my past trips there was sufficient entertainment and on board activities. Not so on this cruise. Food in the main dining room was okay to poor. On the gala evening, the lobster in the surf and turf was old and cooked to death. So too was the filet which was tasteless. I opted for the optional Rudi's Sel de Mer dinner and was well pleased. Excellent food, excellent service. As to the entertainment, the dance numbers in the variety show entertainment were pretty good, but the vocal numbers were aimed at a 12 year old audience and you had to endure them to see the dancers. There was a very good jazz band playing in the ocean lounge, which unfortunately was not the best venue for engaging with the music. A violinist and pianist were the bids for classical type entertainment but the pianist was not very talented. The staff was, as always on HA, excellent. That is, my cabin stewards, the restaurant servers and wine stewards all were exemplary. My suite was always clean and well provisioned. Not so the customer no service staff in the atrium. When they did not know the answer to a questions, they sent me away instead of trying to find the answer for me. Read Less
Sail Date July 2019
I think this particular cruise is all about expectations. We read the reviews... older boat, older crowd, not the best entertainment, etc, etc. Because we already knew this going in, we had a wonderful time! We took out 12 and 5 year old ... Read More
I think this particular cruise is all about expectations. We read the reviews... older boat, older crowd, not the best entertainment, etc, etc. Because we already knew this going in, we had a wonderful time! We took out 12 and 5 year old kids and we had 2 oceanview staterooms (2525 and 2529). Pros: The food was overall very good. The buffet tasted like normal cruise food, but the dining room had some really good dinners. I would say they excelled at the meats and sides. The soups and salads were average. The desserts were amazing. There were 4 entertainment options we liked. They did a live concert to Planet Earth 2 which was really beautiful. The comic was funny enough. There was a violin duo that we enjoyed, and we liked the America's Test Kitchen presentations. We liked that the pools were not crowded and we could always find a lounge chair. We were also VERY impressed with how we really didn't wait in line for anything. Our last cruise was on Disney and we felt like a heard of cattle everywhere we went. On the Zaandam, our embarkation was immediate, our bags were in our rooms quickly, our shore excursions days were a matter of just walking off the boat and we didn't wait in line for dinners. The longest line we had was waiting for our crepes in the morning ;-) The best part of this cruise was probably the ports! We were only at sea one day. Prince Edward Island and Quebec City were what I was hoping for, and we loved Bar Harbor, Maine. If you want to enjoy Sydney, you must do an excursion. We just walked off the boat to the town and it was a major disappointment. Halifax was OK. Cons: It's an older boat. Everything was clean and nice, but having been on many other cruises, there was nothing cool or exciting to see. Just your average boat layout with shuffleboard and ping pong. I was surprised at how much you had to pay extra for things like exercise classes and soft drinks. I was also surprised at the prices of the spa options. For this reason, we didn't do the spa although we would have liked to. The kids club staff was very nice, but they were always closed. We would get flyers about kids club the morning of, but the flyer would say you needed to call the day before to reserve your spot. So that was frustrating. Overall, very smooth sailing, super friendly staff and fellow passengers and we had a delightful time! We did come across a handful of older people that did not appreciate the energy of our kids so that was a bit hard, but we also came across an equal amount of truly amazing people that treated our kids so wonderfully. My kids didn't want to get off the boat! Read Less
Sail Date July 2019
There were 2 couples sailing on this cruise (fifth we have done together), we chose it for the itinerary. The embarkation was flawless. We arrived at the cruise terminal and we finished all the paperwork and were boarding the ship by noon, ... Read More
There were 2 couples sailing on this cruise (fifth we have done together), we chose it for the itinerary. The embarkation was flawless. We arrived at the cruise terminal and we finished all the paperwork and were boarding the ship by noon, half hour or so. The ship is older but quite lovely and well maintained. We were in Vista suite 7050 and our friends were next door. The room steward opened the balcony door between so we could share visits and happy hours etc. our room steward was phenomenal. He left ice in the bucket twice a day as well as fruit in the basket on our coffee table. We always bring a small extension cord as there are never enough outlets. We enjoyed the breakfasts in the Lido Cafe. Very wide selection of foods and if you ordered cook to order eggs,pancakes,waffles,omelets they were good. The cooks serve you mostly so as to decrease the cross contamination, which we appreciate. We never took any of HAL excursions due to cost. Over time we have found that going on private tours is much nicer and generally not a huge cost difference. We are then able to stop and take pix as often as we choose. We had the most difficulty with dinner service. We were at the second seating at 730 pm which we liked, however the shows were at 9 pm and even though we told our waiters we wanted to be out in time we never got to a show on time. The shows are only 40-45 mins long so that’s a big deal. The dinner food was ok not great. My husband who is celiac has always been visited by the maitre d on our previous cruises to choose dinner options for next evening. On this cruise we were visited a couple of times and most of the time he was on his own to choose. They did have gf next to a couple of items but we knew from previous experience that some of the other choices could be changed slightly to accommodate. No one was there consistently to help with this. We did enjoy a few of the entertainment acts such as The BBC orchestra,PJ Walsh a comedian and Mike Robinson a ventriloquist comedian who was very good. All in all we were happy with the cruise and the ports and the ship. There were a couple of areas where improvements could be made. Disembarkation was also a breeze. We were able to choose a time and we were off right on time to get our luggage and continue our trip in Boston. Read Less
Sail Date July 2019
Zaandam Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.5 4.0
Dining 4.0 3.9
Entertainment 3.5 3.5
Public Rooms 4.0 4.2
Fitness Recreation 4.0 3.7
Family 3.5 3.7
Shore Excursion 4.0 3.9
Enrichment 3.5 3.6
Service 4.0 4.3
Value For Money 4.0 3.7
Rates 4.0 4.0

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