549 Holland America Zaandam Cruise Reviews

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
I was a little nervous after reading reviews here, but was very happy with the Zaandam. The ship is a little old, but is well kept and our group of 15 had very few problems. We had balcony rooms on the 6th and 7th deck which were nice, but ... Read More
I was a little nervous after reading reviews here, but was very happy with the Zaandam. The ship is a little old, but is well kept and our group of 15 had very few problems. We had balcony rooms on the 6th and 7th deck which were nice, but the TV's are tiny and nearly useless (some rooms had newer TVs). We had ports of call every day but one and enjoyed all of the stops. We were 40 minutes late to Halifax which put a wrench in my plans. And we were several hours late to Quebec which made us cancel a walking tour, but the weather, which was supposed to be half rainy turned out great just about every day. Even saw a whale on the day at sea. Service was always excellent and cheerful from the dining and room staff. HAL isn't overly pushy on shopping and excursions (unlike Carnival). The food in the dining room was good (not always great, but never bad) with good variety, but sort of random portions, sometimes huge, sometimes not much more than an appetizer for the main course. The Lido cafeteria had a lot of variety and the food was also good. Some in our party really enjoyed the shows, but that isn't really my thing. I did enjoy the live music by a piano and violin duo. Lots of room on board to hang out. Happy hour drink specials (buy 1 at full price get another for $2) made the drinks more reasonable and the hours weren't bad. I didn't do any HAL excursion due to the price, but had a great time at Bar Harbor using Acadia NP's free shuttles, rented cars in Halifax and Sydney for side trips (to Peggy's Cove and for a boat tour to see puffins), and enjoyed walking around Charlottetown, Quebec, and Montreal. Great trip and very thankful for the excellent weather. Read Less
Sail Date July 2019
Interesting ports and sights. Husband and Wife have cruised Holland America 3 times and other mid line ships 12 times. We are active early 70's. Chose window cabin over balcony due to past experience with the weather being too cold ... Read More
Interesting ports and sights. Husband and Wife have cruised Holland America 3 times and other mid line ships 12 times. We are active early 70's. Chose window cabin over balcony due to past experience with the weather being too cold to enjoy the balcony. PRO: . Interior and exterior of the ship is in superb condition for a 19 year old ship. Not so much for the Hull. . Food was tasty and plentiful. . Staff were all very friendly and unusually outgoing. . Bathroom nicely updated and modern. . The first Comedian show of one hour was the best ever experienced. . "Frosty Chocolate Mint Buzz", a Holland America recipe is a great drink choice. Similar to an adult milkshake. . Enjoyed the Fiddle and Kitchen dance party in Charlottetown. Too $$$. . We split eating between the MDR, the Buffet and specialty restaurants. All fine. CON: . Weak to non-existent entertainment, excluding the three main stage shows. . Bar & lounge entertainment geared to those born in the 1930's or maybe before. *Cabin person entered cabin (last morning) between 7:00 to 7:30 AM and made the bed, put fresh linens in bathroom all while we were at breakfast. Our personal belongings were not fully packed for departure and we were not finished with the bathroom, etc. How unsanitary for the arriving guests. He also left the arriving guest names and their Signature Beverage package cards on the desk. So much for privacy! . Bathroom has a consistent urine smell even after we requested the floor be cleaned with Bleach. . Crows Nest dance music guy just doesn't select the right music for the vast majority of those who wish to dance. Only takes place after 10 PM. each night. SUMMARY: Go for the ports even though the weather is iffy. Generally the Pro and Con balance out but H.A. needs to curtail cabin entry, by staff, prior to guests final departure. If you find these details in my review are helpful to you...please let me know. Read Less
Sail Date June 2019
We chose this cruise because of the ports of call. Due to the weather ( which was awful) we were not able to stop in Sydney, Nova Scotia. I did enjoy Quebec and our private tour with Tours By Locals, Claude was our guide and he was beyond ... Read More
We chose this cruise because of the ports of call. Due to the weather ( which was awful) we were not able to stop in Sydney, Nova Scotia. I did enjoy Quebec and our private tour with Tours By Locals, Claude was our guide and he was beyond excellent, I would recommend Clause to everyone going to Quebec . I also enjoy a private tour to the Bay of Fundy in Halifax by Bruce's Tours, I recommend him to all, he also was excellent. The weather is Bar Harbor caused trip to Callilac mountain to be cancelled. We were told o free bus service until July to the national park, but weather was an issue.Back to the ship. The service in the dining room was very slow, each and every night. Food was just ok. To get a good steak or fish dinner you needed to go to the speciality dining which they charge extra for. One good night in the dining room, the second gala night, the food was very good. Our room steward was excellent, always a clean room and kind friendly service.The test kitchen is located in a small room if you don't get there early you are out of luck. Same room for bingo same problem. I do not recommend going on this cruise in May weather is not good. Read Less
Sail Date May 2019
We booked this cruise at the last minute (just a few weeks before sailing) since I realized our three college-age daughters would be available for the week before starting summer jobs. We had two ocean-view cabins, which were midship and ... Read More
We booked this cruise at the last minute (just a few weeks before sailing) since I realized our three college-age daughters would be available for the week before starting summer jobs. We had two ocean-view cabins, which were midship and had a connecting door between the rooms. This was our first cruise on Holland America. It definitely was an older age group than we had sailed with on prior cruises, but that was OK for all of us. We are not party people or big drinkers, nor do we do a lot of group activities (such as bingo or trivia). So having the chance to see some new cities in New England and Canada was our main goal, while at the same time having some nice meals. The food in the main dining room was above average for a cruise line (our last cruise had been on Celebrity.) Two of our daughters are vegetarians, and they enjoyed having a separate menu of interesting items (in addition to the vegetarian items on the daily menu.) Our one item of contention in the main dining room was the inconsistency of service, both at breakfast and at dinner. Frankly, out of six nights, we only thought that our service was good once. The wait times seemed to be unexplainable for the most part (we did not have set dining times, but made reservations once we got on board). The specialty Italian restaurant was very good. We dined there one evening and both the food and service were very good. We also all thought that the buffet was a little nicer with a better selection than on Celebrity. The cabin itself was a little outdated, but it had a wonderful bathroom with the largest shower we have ever had on a cruise. My main complaint was the TV...it was tiny! It was difficult for us to see what was on TV. Also, along those lines, we were happy that movies were offered in a "theater", but actually it turned out that there was not even a big screen -- just two slightly larger TVs on each side of the room. While it may not be easy to replace all TVs in the cabins, certainly HM can buy a larger screen TV for the "theater"! The evening entertainment was nothing special--but it was something to do for the evening and gave us all something to talk about and critique (I do not mean this as a put down to HM because we have said the same thing about the entertainment on even higher end ships.) The real gem of an entertainer for my husband and me was Stryker the "piano man" in the piano bar. He was WONDERFUL. HM needs more seating in the piano bar. It was standing room only each night. Our daughters enjoyed the Test Kitchen presentations, and wished they would do one daily. It would have been nice if there had been some additional "game shows" or something at night in addition to the main theater shows for some of the "younger" people. And for Catholics who are considering HM, I need to tell you why we will be sailing with Holland America again: there was a priest on board who celebrated daily Mass. This was a wonderful benefit for us so that we did not need to figure out how to find a Catholic Church in one of the ports on Sunday. Keep up this practice, Holland America, and we will be back on board with you! Bar Harbor and Quebec were definitely our favorite ports. We scheduled a tour of Acadia National Park directly with the Park in advance via the internet (the bus was an easy walk from the port.) We also purchased a Hop on Hop Off bus tour of Quebec once we were in Quebec (there is a tour desk in the Fairmont Hotel lobby, which you will want to see anyway.) You can skip the Funicular up the hill in Quebec -- it truly was a waste of money. Halifax was a nice stop, and an easily walkable city. I must give a shoutout to Avis in Montreal We rented a car for our family to return to Boston in (an easy drive of about 7 hours with stops for lunch and ice cream). Avis was the only car rental agency that we found which would permit us to take a car across the border and leave it in Boston. And Avis sent a van to pick us up at the cruise port! The weather during the week was colder than we had hoped, but overall it was an enjoyable week on Holland America, even for our 20-something daughters who love to explore the world and have interesting food along the way. I would recommend Holland America and look forward to sailing again with them. Read Less
Sail Date May 2019
Like the maritime provinces and wanted to see more. Embarkation was somewhat disorganized; we arrived in Boston on a redeye at 7:30 am but couldn't board until 11:00 am. Spent most of this time on folding chairs. Enjoyed room ... Read More
Like the maritime provinces and wanted to see more. Embarkation was somewhat disorganized; we arrived in Boston on a redeye at 7:30 am but couldn't board until 11:00 am. Spent most of this time on folding chairs. Enjoyed room service breakfast EVERY MORNING! My husband went early to Lido Deck each morning for his favorite SMOKED SALMON! Puff pastry sweet rolls every morning, also! Lido Deck pool area was great, 2 hot tubs and pool 81 degrees F. Never too crowded. I sat at a table for lunch occasionally; taco bar/hamburger/french fries stand open until 5pm. Service was exemplary. Sometimes a bit too obsequious, but staff were very well trained. Magician show and ventriloquist shows were very, very funny. Disappointed that the organ recital was recorded; thought there would be an actual organist (was not made clear). Met some interesting Canadians on the cruise who were familiar with the area, but still enjoyed the cruise!! Read Less
Sail Date April 2019
OVERVIEW I usually cruise on luxury lines like Seabourn (SB), either solo or with DH, but a cruise I had booked got cancelled short notice. I was in cruise withdrawal and determined to use the time off I had arranged to cruise. Four ... Read More
OVERVIEW I usually cruise on luxury lines like Seabourn (SB), either solo or with DH, but a cruise I had booked got cancelled short notice. I was in cruise withdrawal and determined to use the time off I had arranged to cruise. Four years ago I had surprisingly enjoyed a HAL cruise to Alaska in a Neptune suite on a large group themed cruise, so thought I would try HAL again, this time as a solo in a vista ( basic balcony) cabin, and with no group to bias my experience. The HAL website price for a vista cabin ( private balcony and bathroom with a jacuzzi bathtub, which I greatly value) seemed fine per diem, especially for a solo, $2200 for one week, ( though non- nclusive), compared with 2-3x that for a luxury line solo offering ( “inclusive” of beverages, i.e., fancy coffees, basic wines and cocktails). I embarked in Boston after enjoying two cold and wet days there seeing sites and eating great food (had brought two umbrellas, in case one broke :). This was a cold weather cruise, 40’s with icy wind, ( some unmelted snow was piled up in parts of Quebec City) . In hindsight, it was a bit too early in the season to best enjoy this area but fortunately most days were clear. It was a lot like northern CA, though colder, and also like Alaska, but without as much dramatic scenery. The beauty here is more subtle. Ports visited included Bar Harbor ( lovely for walks and fresh seafood ) , Halifax ,Sydney,Charlottetown ( Anne of Green Gables fame) Quebec City, and Montreal. Quebec City and Montreal are a bit like going to France, but closer, cheaper, and people don’t mind if you speak English or broken French. The old and new contrasts, history, and great food make this area must-see, at least once, be it on a cruise or land tour. The cruise was supposed to end in Montreal but the river had high water, so we had to disembark in Quebec City and got bused to Montreal, ( three hours on a crowded old bus with torn and non-reclining cramped seats, but we got there). Overall despite some service problems I enjoyed myself and am glad I went, but have to rate the cruise around 3.4, so round down to a 3, even after adjusting for the costs. I had expected MDR and Lido food and service quality differences compared with SB, and there were plenty, though they had not been obvious to me on my 2015 HAL cruise where I was happy. I was impressed with the efficient cabin layout and comfort ( it reminded me of the small balcony suites on Crystal but here there was a bigger balcony, better closet space, and a more comfortable sofa).The main issue of concern was the indifferent or annoying service attitude by too many crew, on top of obvious understaffing ( see below). GENERAL AMBIENCE The ship holds 1400 pax and about 500 crew, ( higher ratio than on SB, and it showed). It seemed pretty full but other than on the main deck and Lido, was quiet at night with few rowdy partiers. Public sitting areas are a bit old-fashioned in style but I loved them, they were wonderfully comfortable for my muscles and bones, nicer for me than on SB, with soft couches and padded, high backed chairs in most venues. Pax were mostly seniors, with quite a few superseniors, only a few kids ( note there is a separate kids and teen area) , some extended families, a few solos. Unlike SB which caters to (on average) an affluent and/or special occasion splurge crowd, people on this short cruise generally appeared to be more budget conscious middle class vacationers ( nased on overheard conversations). Pax were primarily from the U.S. ( and by accents, many were from the northeastern U.S. which had convenient embarkation, Canada, some from Mexico, a few from Germany, and Australia. Some pax were Chinese-speaking. The good-sized casino was usually busy, and though I overheard frequent discussions amongst pax about pricing, discounts, sales, budgets, and deals, and the shops were large, there were thankfully very few overhead announcements, and no hard sells on merchandise. There was photography service, but it was subtle. Oddly, there also seemed to be ( compared with other cruises) a disproportionate number of couples who tended to argue with each other, (perhaps they were on a first cruise, as this was only seven days and cruising turned out not suitable for them).The average Body Mass Index was clearly higher than on SB, for whatever reason, which created a bit of a problem on the tight and packed excursion buses in that as a solo, I got to share more personal space and body parts with males next to me than I would have preferred ( especially when people were sneezing or sweating). If I cruise HAL again, I will absolutely avoid the crowded bus excursions. Luxury lines usually limit the number of people on buses, so pax can spread out more, but then pax pay more up front even (if the excursions are similar in price, as they use comparable vendors). DRESS Casual. “Elegant Casual” officially at dinner for MDR. But even on the two “gala nights,” many people preferred the same jeans and sneakers they wore during the day, even in MDR (allowed) while others dressed up in something prettier. Waiters were in waiter black, however. The most common MDR evening and show male attire was mid-way, non-jeans comfortable trousers and a simple collared shirt. A man in front of me at a show, however, had on gray sweat pants like from a gym, which fell down below his buttocks when he got up. I had an unavoidable view of them before he hitched them up and was on his way. Many people wore T shirts, caps, and sweatshirts with logos or messages on them. If you are looking for a special ambience to match a special evening on a special trip, or enjoy looking at creative special outfits as part of the evening cruise scenery, this was not the cruise to be on. Many people love an anything-goes dress style these days (I am from CA so I know), and even on luxury lines the trend is towards more and more casual and requiring less care and attention, but so far waiters are still dressed up, which I found especially odd on this cruise. FOOD AND BEVERAGES You can pick open seating or fixed seating for dinner ( early or late), share or not share . I joined communal tables twice, once for tea and once for dinner, that was enough as I really did not want to risk hearing more one-sided political monologues within five minutes of sitting down to dine, much less hear lore about cannibalism. Maybe I was just unlucky this cruise, but I was definitely not in synch with the tablemates I tried. So I mostly dined solo, which was not a problem except for the fact that food area crew young enough to be my grandkids automatically addressed me by my first name, repeatedly, without permission. I was told by a senior crew member that they are taught in Holland training to address pax by last name unless instructed otherwise, but many probably assume American women like to be first named by crew they do not know to create a (false) sense of friendliness, but I do not, many do not (overheard), and neither do most older Europeans. In contrast, SB does not first name pax without permission. I did not have the first-naming experience in 2015. Food and beverages offered were abundant and variable in quality, with some outstanding dishes in the upcharged specialty restaurants ( steak tatar and dover sole in the Pinnacle Grill on the french themed night was even better than at the Thomas Keller grill on SB). The Lido cafeteria also regularly offered fresh hearty farmers bread which I loved, and is hard to get on SB ( unfortunately there were only sad and limited meats and cheeses to put on the wonderful hearty bread on this cruise. So this was not a ship for people who like European breakfasts with interesting cold meats and cheeses. There were omelette stations, pasta stations, and grill stations, some pre-made entrees at dinner, or crew would grill a steak. There was not much in the way of interesting salads, but there was some greenery, and vegetables in MDR and specialty venues were well-prepared. Canoletti, the Italian specialty venue ($15 upcharge) had great gourmet food but irritating invasive service and ambience at a late dinner. Six crew people, within ten minutes, asked me how my food was (of course using my first name), usually right after I had filled my mouth with food, one even looked over my shoulder at my ipad messages and asked what I was reading, presumably to make conversation. But they then ignored me when I stated the only thing I did not like about my meal was the loud screeching rock music in the background playing songs with lyrics like “ I want to get away, yeah, yeah, yeah”. So I did, and did not come back. The restaurant manager had come over but all he was interested in is going through the motions to have me tell him everything was great. His tone changed when I mentioned the music, and he said he would check with his “production manager” , then disappeared. The $38 surcharge ( more on French night) dining area Pinnacle Grill was easy to get into and was a true fine dining experience. I should have eaten here every night. Breakfast in the quiet MDR was available 7:30-9, but I am not a big sit down breakfast eater unless there is something special. I ate early local lunches mostly off the ship, so my food disappointments were mostly in the MDR and Lido cafeteria style area at dinner. Room service choices were limited without upcharge but met my needs, e.g., , continental breakfast was fine, including two fluffy small pastries, no food wastage. In hindsight, if not dining in the Pinnacle Grill, just getting a burger to my balcony room for dinner would have been better than dining in the Lido cafeteria buffet or MDR ( note there is upcharge for a better room service burger or hot dog , but you can get a basic one free) . Neptune Suite guests can breakfast in Pinnacle Grill, as I did three years ago on another HAL ship, and they have a separate small snacking and drinking area accessed by key cards, with a dedicated concierge. There is a decent wine list on board with a wide range of price options, so I was happy enough with that. However, wines were marked up 2-3x from retail, that is just part of HAL business strategy. The couple sommeliers I dealt with seemed a bit unhappy and did not add much to my wine pairing ideas, and did not seem to enjoy their jobs, maybe they were just tired. Note you can bring one free bottle of wine per person on board with you. Fee is $18 corkage if not drunk in your room, same for more than one per person or if purchased at ports, unless part of a wine tour ( there were lots of packages and rules to get discounts that I did not bother to learn but would if cruising HAL more). There is also a coffee bar that opens at 7 am , charges $6 or so for a cappuccino style drink in a paper cup. Room service coffee was surprisingly drinkable and arrived when requested. I actually had better room service consistency here than on SB, ( everything ordered came, as expected, at correct temperature, and on time) but they are not set up for customization, unusual requests or big selection options like SB is. You can get vegetarian and gluten free, however, and other health food accomodations reportedly can be made. “ Orange juice” was unfortunately a thin diluted substance that tasted like Tang so I stuck with cranberry. Bacon in the Lido I tried once was perfectly crispy, and they do basic American style breakfast food just fine if you like that, many pax do. Desserts were not very interesting or worth expending calorie budgets on even in specialty areas. Ice cream was bland, sorbet worse. Salad choices were minimal as was fruit variety ( every time I had the room service continental breakfast it had nice watermelon, which I fortunately love, and a few berries, which I also enjoy, yoghurt, and two mini-danish, perfect). Apples and oranges were available, berries not so much. No fruit was brought to my room, but there was a bowl, presumably you can ask for it. Bartenders varied , from excellent at the beautiful but cold water ( 81 F) aft pool and kidless Sea View lounging area, to friendly, or sullen and borderline rude at times elsewhere . I had ordered a $7.50 spanish coffee in the Crows Nest bar which is supposed to come with whipped cream. It arrived without whipped cream ( that is the key part of the drink!) and the bartender just shrugged, said he was out of whipped cream ( not even squirt top or cool whip)and did not even try to apologize. It would have been nice to be warned as I would not have ordered it without the whipped cream . He then unhappily offered me unwhipped cream, which made the coffee lukewarm. A German couple nearby immediately left when they heard there was no whipped cream ( they understood the problem!). :) Drinks in the Ocean Bar, however, were lovely, and one day during “Happy Hour” included a delicious asparagus mousse canape I engulfed, and a smoked sausage that I would have liked on the farmers bread buffet. Tipping is included, as aa 15% service charge automatically added on to beverages and other charged extra services , plus I had a $16/day hotel service charge. So there may have been little incentive to do more if crew sensed I was not a regular and not likely to fuss. The crew quality variability I experienced was striking. Fortunately no one stuck their hands out for extra tips. You can remove the charge if you complain about bad service, but most pax are apparently happy and do not. MDR was closed for lunch every day, only Lido and Dive-In burger stand were open, so there was no quiet table service option. I was off the ship anyway at lunch seeking out local cuisine, except on the sea day, but it would have been disappointing on a cruise with many sea days not to be able to have a quiet full service lunch, DH and I greatly enjoyed those on luxury lines. SERVICE I had frequent English communication issues with both the cabin team and non-Pinnacle dining area crew (mostly Filipino or other Asian personnel) more than on the sister luxury line SB. With one exception, several guest services crew were indifferent to sullen with me, maybe because I reported problems and did not just automatically reply that everything was great. A surprisingly common theme everywhere was annoyance at polite negative feedback with constructive criticism I offered. For example, when I noticed that the Gala menu I was handed was covered with food and grease spots, after I ordered ,I quietly pointed it out to the waiter and suggested he tell his team to clean it before the next guest. He acted perturbed and just shoved it back into the pile of clean menus. There was also a tendency not to apologize for anything that was broken or an error, ( exceptions) and to either get defensive, dodge the issue, ignore me, try and bluff a way out by pretending I don’t understand technology ( a common phenomenon in my solo female travels even on luxury lines or hotels) or otherwise avoid resolving the problem, and frankly act like low level government employees, secure in their positions. As the world gets more affluent, it is getting harder to get good crew without paying more and more, so it likely takes a lot for a crew member to be let go. EX: The second time a waitress swooped in and hurriedly topped off my (separately paid for )sparkling water with regular water, I politely asked her to be careful and not mix them. She denied having mixed, and argued with me that she had not. I calmly told her she had indeed mixed them up , I just wanted to let her know, since she asked how my meal was, to improve. She did not apologize, but then decided to bring me a new bottle of sparkling, even though I was not asking for free stuff, I was just trying to help avoid the same problem. ENTERTAINMENT I repeatedly enjoyed the Adagio piano and violin duo which sometimes included classical music, though they were not world class musicians. A bar pianist ( Stryker) in MIX bar was also a crowd pleaser. In room TV service was mediocre to bad (for this day and age) ,small poorly positioned screen , fuzzy, only two music options ( Musaak and Musaak), you cannot go directly to a channel of choice, and have to scroll through all channels including blank ones . There are no on demand in room movies ( have to call for a Dvd from front desk, from a non descriptive list, but then after delays it turned out I had a broken DVD player ). There were protracted service comedies trying to get anything fixed. Other tech also did not go well. The HAL website is not user friendly, and the morning of my cruise when I logged on to see if the ship was in port, the website erroneously told me my ship had already sailed! This created some needless anxiety, as did the later failure to accurately scan my room card during the muster, resulting in a written warning I would be disembarked for alleged failure to do muster ( no call or knock on door) though I had done it, attentively, and been scanned. SB, a five-start line per Berlitz, also has a poor website, so HAL is not alone ( both run by Carnival). There were two stage performances in one week with four singers and six dancers, one called Classique ( had loud piped in music that drowned out a lone violin player) , the other was called Variations ( with a small live band). The costumes and young bodies were nice to look at but both shows lacked coherence. Everything was overly dramatized which made nothing dramatic, and always passionate which made nothing passionate. Focus was on old saccharin love songs, some Broadway tunes, but it was hard to suspend reality when the singer microphones were very big and obvious and glued with visible tape to the singers’ cheeks. If you cruise for shows, there are better options. Other ship entertainment options were the usual puzzles, yoga ( fee), board games, trivia, basketball court ( brrr), gym, spa, an Oprah book club discussion, big screen movie options including a story about Ruth Bader Ginsburg cases, a library, shuffleboard. Crows Nest, the high forward observation bar, had recliner chairs which were very, very popular for lounging, especially on the sea day. There were also performances by a ventriloquist ( lame) and an illusionist ( better but long-winded). Shows on SB Odyssey, a much smaller ship with a smaller cast, were to my taste much better just a few months ago. CABIN I was happy with the vista “suite”, ( no suite lounge privileges, however, just a room with areas) except for the archaic and broken TV and DVD system. Only 225 square feet , but with a balcony, all nicely arranged, big bed ( a bit hard, so I got a topper), soft linens, long sofa, lots of storage, fridge with a fee minibar, and a cozy solo jacuzzi tub (shower above it), one sink, lots of closet space. Only one electrical outlet. All the fluffy towels I wanted were provided as were six pillows on a bed designed for two. A Bible was in a drawer. You can get your shoes shined. Cruise information was well laid out though some of it had seen many fingers. Overall it was clean enough, except for a dirty remote, a greasy DVD information cover, and corner dust accumulations. A lot of the ship areas could have used a good scrubbing, more frequent public toilet servicing, and more touchup paint, which would take more labor, but overall at least the visible parts were adequately clean for hygienic purposes. The Do Not Disturb sign was always respected. Cabin was made up quickly every morning and evening. Towel animals came, some cute, some just looked like someone forgot a cleaning towel on the bed. Laundry service was wonderful and timely, reasonable pricing for an “unlimited” plan. Internet was — well, ship internet quality, even with the upgraded plan, unreliable and variable, like on all ships including SB, but good enough to get some work done and to prevent pax insurrections. I used my LTE in ports for major internet. ENRICHMENT An excursion rep gave short but helpful talks about ports. I wished they were longer. There was not very much about the history, so I read on my own. There is a library, plus your internet for this. PORTS PORTS Bar Harbor This was a great walking around DIY town, though we did need to tender to it. Along the shore from port is a 45 minute walk. I had “lazy lobster” ( shelled, drawn butter) at the unlikely fun Route 66 restaurant, with comfortable booths, 50’s memorabilia, and home made fries, not frozen. The ladies’ room was demarcated with a frilly pink prom dress, mens with Castrol, so feminists beware. There are fun shops, historic little buildings, and excursion options to Acadia National Park ( I suggest doing it independently as I had done in the past, so as to savor) and other scenic areas. Halifax A larger city, and though there are things to do in town, but best is to travel outside. You have to take a short shuttle ride from the ship to the terminal, people lined up. I did a packed ship’s excursion to Peggy’s Cove, Lunenberg, and Mahone. The restaurant at Peggy’s , Sou’est, had wonderful seafood and great service in a stunning setting, is a lot like northern CA. Lunenberg is a cute town with Germanic history and a sad memorial to hundreds of local men who died at sea, but most venues were closed, as it was too early in the season. It would be lovely in warmer weather and independently. Mahone did not have enough to justify a 50 minute stop. Sydney Not much to do near port in this blue collar town trying to become a chic international cruise port. There is a giant fiddle at the terminal. Irish Triangle nearby had good lobster, and an Irish coffee with cream :). I had pre-researched this town and took a cab two miles with a colorful local to a hidden nature area, Baille Ard, ( good instructions on Internet on how to get there) walked along a stream, snacked on a scenically located bench, then walked back to town. This is a great place to have a calm picnic and get some exercise, 3 km loop, or mix it up. It was junk pickup day, with some interesting Canadain junk set out in front of modest unfenced homes, like a lobster trap, a bidet, and pieces of an old canoe. Excursions out of town into nature were available through HAL, that is where most people went. Charlottetown Great for walking and quality shopping in town but a main attraction is the Anne of Green Gables museum. My excursion had been cancelled, so I did a substitute afternoon crowded Island Tour and museum excursion. The best part is the woods behind the house, there is a 40 minute scenic loop, and there are picnic tables, beautiful, but the guided did not tell people about them. So pax complained the one hour stop was too long, I thought it was too short as I wanted to walk more. Best to come here on your own. Quebec City French is the main language, easy to tour on your own or jump on a hop on type bus. Many great food options, shops, history. We spent the night here as could not sail on to Montreal. DISEMBARKATION, QUEBEC CITY, BUS TO MONTREAL Done efficiently, by group, no long lines at port. There were some pax on the bus back who complained about unloading delays when we got to the cruise terminal in Montreal, which were not HAL’s fault, e.g., yelling at the bus driver, “What’s the game plan?” People lined up in a long taxi line, I called an Ueber, which arrived within 10 minutes and was on my way to my hotel for a couple days enjoying wonderful Montreal. CONCLUSION: I enjoyed my vacation overall, the ports, and my good value vista balcony cabin, the Sea View pool area, and the Pinnacle Grill. I did not care for most of the entertainment, and did not like how service problems were handled. I despised the crowded buses. I also did not like crew familiarity, e.g., automatic first-naming me. Even though there are also issues on luxury lines, there is an expectation there that they will be dealt with, and they are, here they often were not (they simply have less staffing, because they are cheaper). The passenger mix and style here was also annoying at times, and the general ambience was less than inspiring or elegant. But it may be different on longer HAL cruises with more experienced cruisers on board. The price was definitely low, especially for a solo, a major benefit.. I would consider HAL again, especially with DH, on a port intense good itinerary (they have many), but would focus on Pinnacle dinner dining as much as possible, and private excursions. Meanwhile I will continue to to seek out higher rated lines as a first choice (HAL is rated 3 start by Berlitz). Read Less
Sail Date April 2019
We have cruised over 30 times, but this was our first on HA. I had wanted to try HA, but had heard several times that they were boring. I wish I had listened. Since HA has so many good itineraries, we decided to give it a try on this 10N ... Read More
We have cruised over 30 times, but this was our first on HA. I had wanted to try HA, but had heard several times that they were boring. I wish I had listened. Since HA has so many good itineraries, we decided to give it a try on this 10N to NE/Canada. We booked about 2 weeks ahead and got a good price. Embarkation in FLL was a breeze and the easiest we have ever experienced. We booked an interior guarantee and were not told our cabin number until we checked in at the pier(we always book guarantees and have always been told almost as soon as we book our cabin number). Our cabin was fine, bigger than most interiors. It was on level one, and it was a sideway cabin. These are not the best because it is difficult to get into the closet, but otherwise it was fine. The ship seems to be in good shape. It is the smallest ship we have ever sailed on. It was very quiet and we never had to wait for elevators and we never had problems finding seats in the theater. At the taste kitchen you had to go early or there were no seats, also at the computer classes there were never any seats. The entertainment, or lack of, was one thing we disliked. It was BORING!! A typical day looked like it was full of activities until you see it was just sales pitches for acupuncture, jewelry sales, etc. There really was nothing to do on sea days. There were usually two trivia's a day, sometimes 3. A few computer/photo workshops. But, nothing that involved any fun really. There was a morning trivia, which we attended (we attended every trivia because there was nothing else to do). They did not even give a cheap trinket(pen, cards, magnet) for the winners!! That was shocking. The assistant cruise director, Nick, worked hard to make it fun. Tino, the cruise director, not so much. The other entertainment on the ship was rest home type. A few live music groups, but it was very sedate and could easily put you to sleep. There was a piano player, Styker, who was very good and personable, his shows were filled everynight. He was the only thing to do in the evening after the shows. They had an orange party to celebrate King's day...it was to be the funniest party ever........it was the WORST party ever. Boring, boring boring. They should take lessons on how NCL does their white hot party. The main shows were good for the most part. The stage band only joined the cruise on the 7th day. One the first day, on the main stage was a movie! Also on the last day......what kind of entertainment is that? Casino, save your money!! I never saw anyone win. There was no sailaway party, no game shows(one toward the end, totally boring), no dance instructions, nothing. Literally nothing to do at all. We ended up watching TV!!! That is a first on the cruise. Even then, they had Jaws on!! Jaws, over 35 year old movie!! Come on! The other big problem was the buffet. There was very little variety. The worst was at dinner, there would be long lines and one side of the buffet would be closed (they had to use it for their specialty restaurant that had maybe 10 people in it and make the other 200 people wait in line). One night to get a main course the line was 40 people long with one server! I complained to the manager in the dining room, he said it couldn't be helped. If they are going to insist on serving people instead of passengers serving themselves, they need to get more people to serve. I waited 25 minutes to get a salad!! Another problem with the buffet was the hours. They closed at 2pm, right when people are returning to the ship from shore. Finally, after many complaints I am sure, they kept a few areas open later, maybe 2:30, but then the lines were very long. The dive in hamburger place was good, but it was 20-30 minute wait after ordering. The taco bar was good, but it always was messy and unappealing to want to eat the food and the food was never to temperature. I am surprised we didn't get sick eating there. Then the buffet closed at 8pm! 8pm, really? Right when the show let out. So, if for some reason you wanted to see the show at 7pm, but didn't eat before the show because of the very long lines, there were no other options. I could not believe this. I complained to the hotel director in the notes left in the atrium. I never heard a thing from him or his staff. Why have the notes if you aren't going to address the problem? HA must really not care about customer service at all. There was a fire on the ship the second night. The captain came on at 1am to tell us about it. I thought he did a good job keeping us informed. We were not able to sail to Montreal, our final destination due to high water in the River and the ship could not safely sail under it. It was announced on Thursday at 5pm when we were about to sail away that we would be transported to Montreal via bus. The following day was a sea day and since we did not have internet it was hard to adjust our travel plans. I can understand not being able to sail, but it seems like the staff at guest services gave out different information to every passenger. We even got 3 different answers to the same question. So, it was frustrating to us to not know for sure what was happening and more stressful to have to get up at 4am, and take a bus to Montreal from Quebec. The port fees from Montreal were not reimbursed, which was also a first for me when missing ports and ports being replaced we have always been reimbursed. Needless to say, first and last HA cruise for us. It was all true what everyone said about HA...........boring, no fun and no customer service. I wish I would have spent my cruise money else where and will do so in the the future. You missed out HA, we cruise a lot, are young and have the money and time to cruise. See ya! Read Less
Sail Date April 2019
We book the cruise from Ft Lauderdale Fl to Montreal with stops in Boston, Bar Harbour, Halifax, Sydney, Charlottetown, and Quebec City. The Ship is a smaller vessel the rooms are good and the stewards are friendly and did a good job. ... Read More
We book the cruise from Ft Lauderdale Fl to Montreal with stops in Boston, Bar Harbour, Halifax, Sydney, Charlottetown, and Quebec City. The Ship is a smaller vessel the rooms are good and the stewards are friendly and did a good job. The entertainment is also fairly good depending on your tastes. There was a couple comedians, a magician, movies as well as piano bar entertainer and Holland Americans regular entertainment events. The food was not up to the standards we expected. We experienced over cooked, undercooked, many variations on the menu. For example the menu would say polenta and we would be served white rice. The salad that was listed as beet and goat cheese had less than a teaspoon on goat cheese in it. The service in all food venues was lacking but especially in the Lido (buffet). Due to unforeseen circumstances we were unable to go all the way to Montreal via ship so we were disembarked in Quebec. This we understood and accepted however we were required to be off the ship at 6am to bus to Montreal for a 4:30 pm flight. This left us in the Montreal airport for 8 hours. They did not offer any later departures from the ship to get us to Montreal. Read Less
Sail Date April 2019
My review is written from this perspective: During our forty-two married years together my wife and I have previously cruised twenty-four times. We’ve been on Holland America four times already, plus multiple cruises on Royal Caribbean, ... Read More
My review is written from this perspective: During our forty-two married years together my wife and I have previously cruised twenty-four times. We’ve been on Holland America four times already, plus multiple cruises on Royal Caribbean, Windstar, Uniworld Europe River Cruises, and once on Oceania. We enjoy cruising, especially the at-sea days. We liked this itinerary for its two up-front at-sea northbound days from Fort Lauderdale as our opportunity to decompress from our everyday lives at home, plus the anticipated at-sea day towards the end of the cruise while watching the St. Lawrence shoreline glide past. Spoiler Alert: We had a really nice cruise! Embarkation & Disembarking: Getting on the ship in Fort Lauderdale was one of the most efficient and fast processes we’ve ever experienced. Even though we arrived a bit early for our posted boarding time, we were able to get right on the ship. A great start for our cruise. Disembarkation day was unusual. The St. Lawrence River was very high and overflowing its banks because of the combination of a late snow melt from the shoreline mountains together with recent heavy rains. That kept our ship from sailing from Quebec City to its final destination in Montreal because the ship couldn’t fit under a bridge between the two cities even at low tide. So we stayed moored in Quebec City overnight instead of moving on to Montreal. Holland America had to put all of us on coaches extra early on disembarkation day for the 3-hour ride to Montreal. We saw lots of flooding along the way to Montreal, but we arrived at the airport with minimal hassles. Good for Holland America, since they also had the nightmare of getting all of the incoming passengers transported from Montreal to meet the ship in Quebec City, too. The ship: ms Zaandam is looking terrific for being nineteen-years-old. I’m not sure when she had her last major refit/refurb, but there was hardly any rust anywhere on her exterior, and the interior and outside public spaces looked great. No worn-out seats, carpets, railings, decks, pools, etc. Well done Holland America. There was one surprise. On our first night, at 1:15 AM the ship’s emergency fire alarm blared loudly: “FIRE! Passengers remain in your cabins and await further instructions!”, which was given in that official loudspeaker voice we all heard at the mandatory lifeboats drill before we set sail. My wife and I could visualize all of the passengers and crew sitting bolt upright in their beds (like we did) waiting for the next announcement. Then there was a second announcement calling for the fire crew to report to a coded location. In another few minutes the captain came over the loudspeakers to announce the fire emergency was over. He said an unoccupied smoke-filled incinerator area had a detector that set off an alarm which was relayed to the ship’s bridge. The dispatched fire team discovered there was a fire in one of the incinerator’s “silos” (whatever that is), and the automatic steam fire extinguishers had quickly dealt with the problem. The captain apologized for the early morning “inconvenience”, said the crew had properly responded to the situation as they’d been trained, and then he said everyone could go back to sleep. He ended his speech by promising to give more information in his noon announcements later in the day (which he did). Passengers and crew had lots to talk about at breakfast, albeit sleepy-eyed. Our cabin: Excellent. We were fortunate to be able to book a Neptune suite on deck 7. It had lots of daylight from the wall-to-wall windows, with enough room for a sofa sitting area. There were plenty of closets and drawers, fresh/clean fabrics, carpets, and soft goods, a king bed, a vanity area, a fully-furnished mini bar, a big verandah with table/chairs and two lounge chairs, an efficient air conditioner/heater that we could set to our preference, and a nice bathroom with a brand-new-looking Jacuzzi-style tub and a toilet that flushed every single time. (Yay!). Our cabin stewards were excellent. We were never in need of anything for the whole cruise. The Neptune Lounge, reserved for Neptune and Pinnacle suites guests, was just down the corridor. It was a great place to get a snack, coffee, check email, read, socialize a bit with other passengers, have a drink from the honor bar before supper, or ask either one of the two excellent Concierges for assistance with anything simple or complex around the ship. We were definitely spoiled with our Neptune suite. Dining: Overall very good. The Pinnacle Grill (“PG”) was the single disappointment. Our incentive package included one PG supper which was to be scheduled at HAL’s discretion. At first we were surprised when we discovered our PG invitation/reservation was set for 7:00 PM on our departure/first day. After seeing “Pinnacle Grill 25% discount first night” coupons all over the ship when we boarded, though, we realized HAL must have a need to fill seats in the Pinnacle that first night, especially with those of us who had an incentive package visit. We’ve really enjoyed our Pinnacle Grill experiences as an upgrade/extra-cost treat on our prior HAL sailings, and that’s what we were anticipating this time, too. Unfortunately, it didn’t turn out that way. Although the room was nice, and the staff was friendly, the food wasn’t up to the “Wow!” quality we’d experienced before. Our filet mignon entrees were “okay”, but our side dishes weren’t served hot. That wouldn’t have been a problem if someone had come to check on us after our entrees were served, but nobody came back until our plates were being pulled at the end of our meal. It seemed as though the PG’s galley couldn’t keep up with what was required, which was surprising because the room was only half occupied when we were there. We politely thanked our servers as we left, but we never returned to the Pinnacle Grill for the remainder of our cruise for a supper (or for no-extra-charge breakfasts offered to suites guests). To be fair, the PG manager later heard of our experience that first night, and offered to comp us another supper to make up for it, but we chose not to return, mainly because we were more than happy with everything in the Main Dining Room. “Open seating” for supper in the Main Dining Room (“MDR”) initially seemed to be problematic when we first tried to phone in a 6:00 PM seating request for the night after our Pinnacle Grill supper. “Unavailable” we were told. When we showed up at the MDR check-in desk on deck 4 at 6:00 PM that evening, though, we were immediately seated at a 2-person table as requested. Our server, assistant, wine steward, floor manager, and food that evening were all excellent. On our way out of the MDR after this first supper we asked if we could be seated at the same table at approximately the same time every evening. “Absolutely” was the response. We enjoyed our suppers at the same table with the same staff every evening after that. What a terrific time we had. There seemed to be something on the changing daily menu for each of us, but even when there wasn’t, we always had the “available every day” alternatives. Our server, assistant, and wine steward were cordial, professional, conversational, and happy every single supper. They certainly made us feel special and welcome. Well done, MDR. The Lido Market was, well, a typical Lido. Always crowded, as anticipated on at-sea days, but even at breakfast and lunch on port days when we tried it. The food was good with a nice variety. There’s always the same passenger confusion on where to enter the buffet food service lines, but that’s to be expected. We enjoyed the made-to-order omelets and Belgian waffles at breakfast plus salads at lunch, and the soups and breads at lunch. The room seemed short-staffed for clearing tables and offering water/coffee/tea/lemonade/etc., but staff did their best. After a couple breakfasts here we decided to just awaken a bit earlier every morning, and we had really nice breakfasts served in the MDR. On this cruise we didn’t take advantage of any of the several other places around the ship to get food, or try around-the-clock in-cabin service. Maybe next time. Activities around the ship: We enjoyed most of the evening entertainment in the two-decks-high The Main Stage. Our MDR suppers were completed most nights in plenty of time for a leisurely stroll through the ship to the 8:00 PM shows. Get there before 7:30, though, if you want to easily find a pair of seats together. There was some of the usual, “These seats are saved” going on, with one person showing up to grab six or eight vacant seats together for their last-minute family/friends, but it wasn’t too bad. We didn’t make it to any of the well-attended lounges/clubs around the ship, although we did stop to enjoy the classical piano/violin duet one evening. Because we both brought our Kindles, after the evening entertainment in the main show room we instead read either in our cabin or in the Neptune lounge. The weather: We anticipated two seasons, a warm beginning at our embarkation in FL, and getting cooler as we sailed north. On our second at-sea day the huge sliding dome cover over the Lido pool was closed for the remainder of the cruise. Then it turned really cold, (upper 30s F to low 40s F) and windy (20-25 mph) beginning with our first port call in Boston, but every day had clear blue skies and full sun. At each port there was at least one local who told us it was the first time they’d seen the sun in weeks. Only our last port call in Quebec City was rainy. Our seas weren’t overly active, but the winds did blow pretty hard a couple of times, which gave the ship a gentle rocking motion which we enjoy. One overnight there was heavy fog, which meant the ship’s loud fog horn boomed every few minutes for hours on end, but only that one night. We were so lucky with the weather on this cruise. Ports and Shore Excursions: Holland America offered a good variety of (mostly-expensive) excursion choices in each port. We discovered beginning at our first port stop we were the very first cruise ship from any company sailing a US East Coast and Canada itinerary this “summer” season. That was both good and bad. The good: there were few crowds/tourists anywhere except for Boston, which is a busy city in any season, and in Bar Harbor it was really easy to find a warm jacket on winter clearance sale to wear on this cruise. The bad: everywhere other than Boston it was still “winter season”. That meant most store fronts and tourist/excursion sites were either still shuttered for the winter, were undergoing late-winter-delayed construction or just cleaning out the winter cobwebs and not ready for tourists, or they were significantly reduced to only a minimal operation compared to what was said to be available beginning in mid-May. For us, Boston was a fun day with lots to see and do on our own with hop-on-hop-off trolley tickets we’d purchased before the cruise. Our Bar Harbor excursion was cancelled by Holland America, but that was okay with us because we’d been there before, and we enjoyed just strolling around the Norman Rockwell-like streets while stopping in one of the local pubs for a delicious lobstah roll. Halifax was a very long day due to our choice of a 7-hour coach excursion to Peggy’s Cove (beautiful but mostly closed for our less-than-an-hour stop), Lunenberg (also a beautiful waterfront village but still mostly closed for the season during our hour-long stop), and Mahone Bay (beautiful, too, but really closed during our forty-minutes stop). In Sydney we went to the restored Louisbourg fortress which was historically interesting, but disappointing because only three of the many buildings were open, and only a small handful of reenactors were around. We absolutely loved the Charlottetown/Prince Edward Island excursion for its drive through rolling hills, expansive farmers’ fields, and the Anne of Green Gables House stop. Quebec City was interesting even in the rain. On our walking excursion around both the old and new parts of the city there was a constant drone of loud construction and traffic noise, along with competing noise from other early-season tourist groups. It was impossible to hear our excursion guide, but it was still an interesting port stop. Conclusion: If you’ve survived to the end of this too-long review, you’ve seen why overall we had another great cruise experience. Zaandam and her crew/staff were top notch, and this itinerary had interesting ports. Will we be more aware of the potential good and bad characteristics of a “shoulder season” cruise in the future? Yep. And we’ll certainly cruise with Holland America again. Cheers! Read Less
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
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
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
Sail Date April 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
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
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
Sail Date March 2019
Zaandam Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.5 4.0
Dining 4.0 3.9
Entertainment 3.5 3.6
Public Rooms 4.0 4.2
Fitness Recreation 4.0 3.7
Family 3.5 3.7
Shore Excursion 4.0 3.8
Enrichment 3.5 3.7
Service 4.0 4.3
Value For Money 4.0 3.7
Rates 4.0 4.0

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