561 Holland America Zaandam Cruise Reviews

We choose this itinerary because of all the different ports it hit and we weren't disappointed. We got up close and personal with a couple glaciers and that was exciting. The captain always pointed out if there were whales nearby ... Read More
We choose this itinerary because of all the different ports it hit and we weren't disappointed. We got up close and personal with a couple glaciers and that was exciting. The captain always pointed out if there were whales nearby too which was really nice.The stops were interesting places and the crew on board was, as always, fantastic!! The food was good, not fantastic, but good. Their ice cream selection at dinner was great but the ice cream station in the lido was disappointing. They had vanilla, chocolate and strawberry everyday and then one other flavor which was never very exciting (rum raisin a couple days - I mean how many people do you know that like rum raisin??). Their salad bar was great! The trio in the Ocean Bar was great, as was the pianist that played there for happy hour. The shows were okay but not great and last but not least I do love to go to the movie theater and see a movie but whoever built it didn't think it out very well and there is not enough slope to see over peoples heads which is just annoying! Read Less
Sail Date May 2018
We chose this cruise because of it's itinerary. Wasn't disappointed with what we saw. Weather wasn't the greatest but scenery still great. Service from all on the ship was very good. Crew was very friendly and we felt ... Read More
We chose this cruise because of it's itinerary. Wasn't disappointed with what we saw. Weather wasn't the greatest but scenery still great. Service from all on the ship was very good. Crew was very friendly and we felt appreciated. Room was like most balcony cabins but with lots of storage. Bathroom wasn't that great. Shower in a small tub area sufficient flow of of water but slow. Captain kept us well informed and did not disappoint in Tracy Arm or Hubbard for glacier viewing. Embarkation and disembarkation from Seattle was a breeze but beware of Seattle airport, horrible. Food menus had a wide variety and for the most part, was very good. Specialty restaurants were excellent but the main dining room wasn't far behind. TV system needs an upgrade for picture quality and on demand movies. We bought an unlimited internet package for the 14 day cruise for $239.00 and felt it was sufficient. We had the middle package for surfing and speeds were like DSL's first offerings. Not good for streaming at all. We feel this cruise was a great value and would highly recommend it. Don't be put off by the atrium monstrosity as it's the only bad thing on the ship. Someone at Holland America was hopefully fired for this HUGE mistake. Crew and the rest of what the ship offers will more than make up for this. Fellow passengers were a bit disappointing as most were 70 to 80 years of age and a lot of them with walkers of wheelchairs. Some younger than us (we are 60's) but not many. The advantage to this was that as the cruise went on we had lots of room to move around. I believe most stayed in their stateroom. Read Less
Sail Date May 2018
The Grand Alaskan appealed to me as I had plenty of time and was in hurry to get home. The itinerary was brilliant, loved it, all the ports and glaciers. The ship is beautiful, food and service terrific, The entertainment well ... Read More
The Grand Alaskan appealed to me as I had plenty of time and was in hurry to get home. The itinerary was brilliant, loved it, all the ports and glaciers. The ship is beautiful, food and service terrific, The entertainment well that's another story, if you like a bit of nightlife Holland America is not for you, there is no disco, karioki, no band. All the bars were closed by midnight. I reckon the average age was about eighty, navigating around walking frames, mobility scooters and wheelchairs was a challenge. I felt like i was on a floating nursing home. Holland America is second to Cunard. Never Again, Holland America. The ultimate drinks package is not ultimate, they limit you to fifteen drinks per day, which is not a lot on a ship with nothing to do and then they slug you. If you like a drink a laugh and stay up late, Stay away from Holland America Read Less
Sail Date May 2018
2018 Alaska Cruise Log May 19 Saturday- We flew out of Green Bay to Seattle, with a layover in Minneapolis. No delays. We arrived in Seattle on schedule and so did our luggage. A quick call on the courtesy phone and the shuttle was here ... Read More
2018 Alaska Cruise Log May 19 Saturday- We flew out of Green Bay to Seattle, with a layover in Minneapolis. No delays. We arrived in Seattle on schedule and so did our luggage. A quick call on the courtesy phone and the shuttle was here to take us to La Quinta, our preferred motel. Nice room with a view of pine trees. May 21 Monday- To the ship! Starting our 14 day cruise on HAL Zaandam, round trip to Alaska. We had a 1:00 embarkation time, but the car to take us to the pier arrived early, so we were at the port by 11:45, all checked in by 12:15 and in our cabin by 12:30 (They weren’t supposed to be ready until 1:00. Outstanding! Weather, sunny and in the 70s. May 22 Tuesday- Sea day. Chance to explore the ship. Mostly cloudy in the 50s. First glitch. We went for the breakfast buffet. Food looked good. The way they serve it is not. Generally with a buffet, you take a plate, stand in line and select your food when you get to it. Here they have serving stations. One person want scrambled eggs and bacon, you need to be there at just the right time, because quantities are limited. Choppy seas this morning. Gala Event tonight. We have Open Seating and were placed with two really nice couples. It is fun to meet new people and learn about their cruising experiences. The performer tonight was a guitarist, who was excellent. His parents bought him a Les Paul guitar when he was 11, for winning a guitar competition. May 23 Wednesday- Ketchikan. They get over 200” of rain a year and it was raining when we pulled in to port. Temperature in the 40s. It stopped raining and cleared up somewhat by the time the passengers could go ashore. May 24 Thursday- Sea day today as we head into Endicott Arm. Temps in the low 40s and not likely to get any warmer as we head to the glacier. We have eaten most of our meals in the buffet, so far, which means usually being seated next to other passengers. I continue to be impressed with the friendliness of the people we have met. We went to see the magician tonight. Very entertaining. He didn’t bring his A game, but he seemed to be going more for the comedy. We were in the balcony seating for the guitarist and the way they have the seats laid out is really neat. Seatings for two even though they are all together. The lower seating, where we sat for the magician, is much smaller and more like you expect in terms of seating. May 25 Friday- Gloomy morning in the 40s here in Juneau, the capital of Alaska. Beautiful city, with lots to do. This is a good thing, since we are here from 8 am to 10 pm. One thing it looks like we will not be doing, unless it clears up, is the tram. It takes you to the top of the mountain where you have a really nice view of the surrounding area. We have done that previously. Another activity that is well worth the trip, is the Mendenhall Glacier, which is about 14 miles away. We have done that previously, both times we were here. There is also whale watching and this is a great time of year to see them as they eat as to get ready for their trip to Hawaii. We were told, on an earlier excursion that they do not eat on the way. What we do plan on doing today is going to the State Office Building to see the 77 year old Kimball Pipe Organ. There is a free concert at Noon on Fridays. May 26 Saturday- I would tell you what the weather is like, but if you have been reading the updates, you already know. Add wind to the rain and cold. Still, we found out it is in the 80s and 90s back home and this is preferable. Today we are at Icy Point Straight, Hoonah, AK. This is a new port for us, so we can learn about it together.. It is mostly woods, like we have back home. Pretty quick day in port as we sailed at 2:00. About 4 hours out we passed a yet to be identified glacier and there was enough sun to get a picture. Shortly thereafter- rain mixed with snow! The Captain warned us of rough seas and he sure was right. BTW, the ship has 12 elevators, 4 each aft, mid and forward and they seem to be fairly quick. May 27 Sunday- At Sea Day today. Temps in the 40s, now there’s a surprise. The sea is fairly calm and the clouds show signs of breaking up. On our way to Anchorage, which will be the midway point in our cruise. Pretty day today. Even have some sun. Okay, here goes my one and only RANT (hopefully). We have been on 23 cruises. Not a lot, by many standards, but enough to know what to expect from the wait staff. We like Anytime Dining. It has a lot of advantages. We almost always are able to make reservations and sit in a desired area, and the service has almost always been very good or better. The service in the MDR, for this cruise has been far short of what we have come to expect. It is like we are treated as second class citizens compared to assigned seating. We have had 3 different wait staffs in the MDR and all have been the same. I mentioned earlier that staffing might be a problem, and this could be, but they don’t even do basic things like clear the crumbs off the table cloth or fill your water glass without being asked. And the service is much slower even than the leisurely pace you expect. The band went around playing to the assigned seating guests, but never came to our dining room. In contrast to this, the wine stewards have been terrific! If we had the same one throughout, he would be getting an additional tip. We like tipping extra and it is rare that the wait staff and a bartender or two do not get an extra tip. Not yet on this cruise. It has been a very good cruise so far, so don’t let the rant get to you. It turned out to be a beautiful day today and we are getting lovely views of the snowcapped mountains. We have one excursion tomorrow, The Big Swig! Limited to 12 people and they still have 5 spots available. May 28 Monday- We have broken a pattern. The sun is out and temps are in the 50s. Our plan is to go into town this morning to do a little shopping and then do the Big Swig excursion this afternoon. The area is secured, so the only way off the pier is the free shuttle. The Big Swig was quite a tour. We toured 3 breweries, The King Street Brewery, Land Of The Midnight Sun Brewery and Resolution. At King Street, we got a lengthy explanation of the different hops and barleys they use and why. They also explained why certain regions use certain grains. It is because of the mineral content of the water in those regions. Of course, while he is talking, we get to be drinking. Midnight Sun is the 2nd largest craft brewer in the state and Resolution one of the smallest. If you appreciate beer, you should appreciate this tour. It is a privately owned company. Just one guy and a part time employee. When we got back to the ship, we went to see comedian Mark Pitta. Very funny and clean. May 29 Tuesday- Mostly cloudy, windy and in the 40s today. We are in Homer and will be doing the Best Of The Bay boat tour. There is a free shuttle to take us to the other side of the Spit, where all of the shopping is, but to actually go into Homer costs $15. The Best Of The Bay tour is rated more difficult because it is a pretty long walk to the boat and a fairly steep ramp to get to the dock. What we saw was lots of sea otters and puffins close up We also saw several Eagles and even mountain goats. There were also birds that looked a lot like penguins, but were able to fly. Very nice tour. The weather made a turn for the worse as we got back, so the afternoon tour probably won’t have it so comfortable. May 31 Thursday- I forgot to tell you yesterday about the eagles on Kodiak. They were everywhere! Today we are doing Hubbard Glacier, the largest tide water glacier in North America. It is in the 40s and will be getting colder as we approach the glacier, but the sun is reflecting off the water, so I have high hopes. This, boys and girls, is worth the price of the ticket. Cold and windy to start the day. The sky is mostly sunny and the scenery is beautiful, so just throw on an extra layer and go sit out on the balcony. O. June 1 Friday We are in Sitka today until 4:00. Docked right next to the NCL Jewel. Temp is 49 degrees, with a high of 56 expected. June 2 Saturday- Sea Day. June 4 Monday- Disembark. Disembarking and Customs was a breeze. We stayed in the stateroom until our tag color was called and had no trouble leaving the ship and getting our luggage. A taxi was right there to take us to the hotel. We had checked in online yesterday and they had a room ready. Perfect view of the Space Needle! Read Less
Sail Date May 2018
I cruise withy my elderly father. We originally wanted to do the May 21 - Jun 4 14 day cruise on the Zaandam but I have two nephews graduating from High School on May 31st, so we opted for the May 7 -21. We took super shuttle to SFO. ... Read More
I cruise withy my elderly father. We originally wanted to do the May 21 - Jun 4 14 day cruise on the Zaandam but I have two nephews graduating from High School on May 31st, so we opted for the May 7 -21. We took super shuttle to SFO. We were really sweating it and worried we were going to miss our flight to SEATAC. Supper Shuttle usually gives you a three hour time frame for pick-up prior to flight departure. This time we were only given two hours prior to pick-up. The shuttle was an hour late. We got to the airport 1/2 hour prior to departure. Fortunately we got our bags checked in and was able to proceed through Security. Fortunately we were Pre-TSA and our flight was the first gate after security. We made it through Security 5 minutes prior to boarding. Enough time for my dad to get his rolling walker checked at the gate. Had a great flight to Seatac. We arrived at Seatac collected our luggage, then proceeded to the Hotel courtesy Shuttles. It appeared very quiet and it turned out that there was a bomb scare and they were not allowing any vehicles in and out of the airport. We were staying at the Embassy Suites Seatac. I called the hotel to just let them know that I had arrived. They asked for my phone number to give me an update when they had one, when vehicles would be allowed in to the airport. We sat for about 45 minutes then suddenly saw taxi cabs entering and the first courtesy shuttle to show up was from the Embassy Suites. At that time I received a phone call from Embassy Suites and I told the gal the driver just showed up. It was a very interesting ride out of the airport, people were walking out of the airport to catch cabs and traffic was horrible. There were people that had just got out of their shuttles, cab, Uber, etc to catch their outbound flight out of Seatac. Our driver took through all the back roads and we arrived at the Embassy Suites safe and sound. This is a small Embassy Suites and we got a great AAA rate. The next morning our Seattle Express Shuttle arrived at 10:30 for our ride to Pier 91. We stopped by the Double Tree and Red Roof Inn for pick up then we were on our way to Pier 91. We arrived at about 11:30, dropped our luggage off, took the elevator to the 2nd floor. My father uses a rolling walker so we were allowed to check in, in the Accessibility Line. Check in took about 15 minutes and we were on the ship. My father has balancing issues so I usually request a shower stool. This time our PCC placed us in an ambulatory assessible Cabin. This was cabin 3391 on the lower promenade deck. This was a shower with a pull out seat and grab bars throughout the shower. My Dad had a place to park his walker but there is not anyway you reall could park a scooter or get around this cabin in a wheel chair. The Zaandam recently came out of dry dock. In our cabin it appeared things had not been updated with exception of the grab bars in the shower. I heard from a fellow cruiser that had requested a shower stool for her cabin but was told with new regulations they would not allow shower seats in tubs/shower combination cabins only cabins with showers only. I have not verified if this is fleet wide. The Elevators seemed to have been upgraded and new carpeting in Public Areas. I had a great time on this cruise, I found activities lacking on the ship. On this Paticular Cruise it did not matter so much because we really only had two real sea days and two days glacier viewing. The entertainment was so, so. Food is always subjective. I found the food to be good to very good. We ate all our dinners in the MDR. Service was slow in the dinning room. One night it took about 45 minutes to an hour between appetizers for the main entree to come then 15 minutes to get the dessert menu and another 15 minutes to order. There seemed to be some kind of disconnect between the wait staff and kitchen. We were in open seating and I don’t know if this would happen in fixed seating. I found the menu lacking, there would be some nights I would order the dinner salad as my appetizer and another entree for dinner. For me I found there was more variety for soup and less for salads. For a $25.00 fee you could order an Alaskan Crab dinner that included Alaskan King Crab Legs, crab bisque, drawn butter for crab legs, crab cakes, and there might have been some kind of bread. I don’t care for crab bisque. I did see a dinner delivered at a table and it looked like enough for two people. I talked to two people had purchased this and they really enjoyed it. One fellow cruiser who ordered the dinner said he called Tracy’s Crab Shack to see how much it was for the same thing and he was quoted $100.00 For me I found there was more variety for soup and less for salads. Ketchikan I booked an excursion on an enclosed Caterman. It was raining in Ketchikan, which is usual. The water was calm out to Misty Fjords. The View was awesome even though it was overcast. It was a great excursion. Endicott Glacier We were suppose to go to Tracy Arm but there was still too much ice to get to it, so we went to Endicott instead. It was great, we saw sea lions and baby sea lions on the ice. Juneau This is my 4th trip to Alaska so I have been to Mendenhall glacier twice, done whale watching, been to Mt Roberts. So Juneau was my shopping port. In Juneau I set out to do any shopping, since Juneau is the best shopping. After some window shopping and real shopping, I went to Tracy’s crab shack for lunch. Back to the ship. My father asked if I could go buy him a jacket, so I went out again. Stopped by the Red dog Saloon and stayed for a couple of hours then went out to continue my shopping. Icy Strait Point Here I booked a whale watching Excursion on an enclosed caterman. It was originally scheduled for 8:00 AM but was rescheduled to 11:00AM. Anchorage I had originally planned to go to the Alaskan Native Center and the Museum but got sick in the middle of the night and needed to take it easy in Anchorage, Homer and Kodak. Hubbard Glacier Awesome! Sitka I originally set out to go to the Sheldon Jackson Museum. On my way there I found a thrift store. I was curious as to what they had there. They also except donations. So if your luggage is in overload you can drop them off here. I started down the street and found some really neat stores with Alaska made products, Quilting Stores, Russian Items, These stores were really interesting. Never made it to the Sheldon Jackson Museum. I have done the Raptor Center and Fortress of the Bears before. They now have a shuttle bus that goes to both at the visitors center. I did not check out the price. Victoria Took the shuttle bus into town got off at the Empress Hotel. Walked around the Gardens at the Empress Hotel. The Empress Hotel is also kitty korner to the Royal BC Museaum. Right now they have an exhibit “Egypt and Phorahs” May 18-Dec 31. I will be back in Victoria the end of September so will check it out then In front of the Empress Hotel they have a hop on hop off bus that takes about 90 minutes. If you want to get off, you will need to allow an hour before the next hop on hop off bus comes around. I took this tour for $32.53 US or $40.00 Canadian. Seattle - Disembarktion About a week in the cruise, we received a Port Valet Form. If you are on Alaska, Delta, Southwest, or United (Domestic Only). You can participate in the Port Valet System at no extra cost if your flight leaves between 1:00 PM the day of disembarktion til 1:00 AM the following morning. Your luggage is taken away the night before disembarktion and you don’t see it til your final destination. They check you in for your flight, give you a boarding pass, with luggage tags to the Seattle airport. Once your luggage is at the airport they will give your luggage tags to your destination airport. If you are exempt from paying for luggage you fill out your FF number. We were not charged for our luggage, got our boarding pass and the luggage arrived at our final destination. I did have a great time on this cruise because I love Alaska. However there seemed to be some kind of disconnect between the staff. It could be that the staff had just joined the ship after drydock and they are working on meshing together, Read Less
Sail Date May 2018
This was our third Alaskan cruise, and definitely the most uneven experience. Pros: Smaller ship Great itinerary Excellent service in the Lido and from housekeeping staff Naturalist onboard Alaskan scenery Cons: ... Read More
This was our third Alaskan cruise, and definitely the most uneven experience. Pros: Smaller ship Great itinerary Excellent service in the Lido and from housekeeping staff Naturalist onboard Alaskan scenery Cons: Horrible cabin Extremely poor service from front desk Problem with Shore Excursion Very expensive internet plans Let's start with the good: The Zaandam is a smaller ship which allows it to go to ports the bigger ships have to miss. That made for a great itinerary. The service in the Lido was excellent, the staff there really went above and beyond to make passengers happy. Our steward was also excellent, he made sure my husband's can of Coke (we brought a case onboard) was waiting for him in our room's ice bucket every afternoon. Talk about attention to detail! There was a naturalist onboard who was very informative. And of course, Alaskan scenery never disappoints! The bad: Our cabin was awful. We had continual noise problems all the way through the cruise. The first was from our neighbor in the cabin next to us (let's refer to them as NN for noisy neighbor). We've never experienced noise from another cabin like this. The TV or music was so loud that we could have sung along. After 11pm one night, we reported it, and the front desk called the room - no response - and eventually knocked on their door and told them to keep it down. Next night, same loud noise. This time the woman at the front desk refused to do anything. So that continued throughout the cruise. In addition, there were mechanical noises (sawing, drilling, and something that sounded like someone tossing metal tools against a metal wall - go figure!) at all hours of the day and night. Sleep became a near impossibility. Front desk response was "oh, if it's work on the ship it will stop at 5pm." It didn't. Front desk staff came to the room to verify the sounds (and the feel; the floor was vibrating because of whatever was going on), but didn't do anything to resolve the issue. The issue with Shore Excursions was in Kodiak, where the shuttle into the town was a 48 passenger bus. The problem was that there were probably 200+ passengers waiting in the rain and cold to get on that bus and no crowd control by the shore excursions staff. I saw two people nearly get into a fight since it wasn't clear what line to get into - indeed, it wasn't clear that there were any lines at all. And finally, HAL has changed the way they price internet. We used to be able to pay for minutes used on a per minute basis. No more. Now there is a 3 tier plan. If we wanted to be able to check our email, for example, that was on tier 2. $24.99 per day and you had to pay for each day of the cruise, not just the days you actually used it. $350 to check my email? No, thanks. Read Less
Sail Date May 2018
Chose this cruise as part of our Uncommon Journeys trip and easy sailing out of San Diego. Like the small ship of 1400. Liked the entertainment brought onboard. Liked upgrade. However, meals were hit or miss! Thai lunch was great; ... Read More
Chose this cruise as part of our Uncommon Journeys trip and easy sailing out of San Diego. Like the small ship of 1400. Liked the entertainment brought onboard. Liked upgrade. However, meals were hit or miss! Thai lunch was great; lobster tails on Gala night were excellent; however, last meal on last night was inedible....lamb chops! Gluten free bread was horrible white bread they put in microwave when I asked for it toasted. Finally, on our disembarkation day we were all told we could stay in our room until they called out number/color. Staff asked to come into rooms at 7:00 and 8:00 am before we were called and it was kinda rude. Service is going downhill and so is food....getting too much like Carnival. Both we and another couple who have cruised many, many days and are 3-star mariners, do not think we will ever go HA again! Very sad! Read Less
Sail Date May 2018
My first cruise!...And the first question asked by almost every other passenger we visited with was “How do you like cruising so far?” My honest answer each time was “What’s not to love?” ...Start every day with coffee delivered ... Read More
My first cruise!...And the first question asked by almost every other passenger we visited with was “How do you like cruising so far?” My honest answer each time was “What’s not to love?” ...Start every day with coffee delivered to your room; go up a couple of decks to find a huge selection of breakfast items; return to your room to find your bed made; check your newsletter for what you’d like to do today; stay onboard or disembark depending on where you are but at lunchtime onboard there is always a ton of food choices; enjoy a lecture or movie, go in the pool, spa, etc.; dinner is another huge selection of food options and venues, too; and after some entertainment and maybe a cocktail in one of the many lounges you return to your room to find a turned down bed with a mint on your pillow! “What’s not to love!?” Read Less
Sail Date April 2018
We've always wanted to do the Panama transit and Curacao has been on our bucket list for a very long time. Overall, the cruise was pretty good. The crew were amazing!!! The ship is a little smaller so we got to know a lot of our ... Read More
We've always wanted to do the Panama transit and Curacao has been on our bucket list for a very long time. Overall, the cruise was pretty good. The crew were amazing!!! The ship is a little smaller so we got to know a lot of our fellow passengers and it was easy to get around. We really enjoyed the Lido for the late night snacks opportunities. The food is always amazing on HAL but this cruise had WAY too much kale/Swiss chard. Every single meal had this greenery. Blecght! We realize the ship had just come out of dry dock so there were some issues, but the worst of it was the plumbing. Pipes were rupturing and MANY toilets were overflowing or plugged. We were lucky and only had one "plugged" moment towards the end of our trip. Our friends had to move cabins 3 times due to overflowing toilets, leaving sewage on their cabin floors. Another woman, with mobility issues, was told to use the toilets near the library as her cabin toilet wasn't working. Great idea except the toilets near the library were NOT working and overflowing water constantly. Overall we had a great time but the plumbing issues all over the ship were problematic. The entertainment in the theatre was terrible - lackluster, amateurish, repetitive. The crew shows were absolutely fantastic! The dancers and singers were horrible. We walked out of all shows. We really were hoping that we'd see more crew shows as they were truly great. Very talented!! Read Less
Sail Date April 2018
Spouse wanted to transit Panama Canal and this cruise was the right time, ports and price. However we found out Zaandam was coming out of dry dock for this cruise from Cruise Critic, not HAL. It was not ready. Our cabin reeked of ... Read More
Spouse wanted to transit Panama Canal and this cruise was the right time, ports and price. However we found out Zaandam was coming out of dry dock for this cruise from Cruise Critic, not HAL. It was not ready. Our cabin reeked of construction adhesive for the while 23 days as the bathroom had been completely remodelled (looked great, smelled horrible but love the new shower which replaced the tub). The ventilation was hanging and the floor was covered with lumps of adhesive. A fine coating of dust covered the flat surfaces in the room, especially in the closets. Our toilet had issues of flushing fine and then overfilling, once flowing into the bathroom and flooding into the cabin. This seemed to be an issue in port. We became paranoid and would count to 5 once the flush took place to insure the overflow situation did not happen again so we could call immediately, although our phone did not always work. The service in the main dining room was at best uneven. We spent many evenings at a table for 6 at anytime dining waiting for the main course to be served. It did not appear to have enough staff in the dining room. Waiters seemed to have 6-8 tables to work on by themselves with no staff to assist. Food was uneven. My lobster on the first gala night was undercooked but rather than wait another half hour for a new one and delay my dining partners, I said it wasn’t cooked. The Lido Market food was also just okay. The fresh items, such as salads and Asian food, were fresh and flavourful as were the cooked veggies, but the other offerings were hit and miss. Trying to figure out hiw to get served was frustrating as lines were often confusing and non existent, if the server liked you or knew you, they would serve you, otherwise you could get told to go back to the end of what appeared to be an arbitrary line. At least a few times I had to go back to the meat line when all I wanted were sides. With no signage, it was confusing. The cruise director, who was moving to a new ship after this cruise was rarely present at the events we attended other than the beginning of the nightly shows. It wasn’t like many activities were ongoing during the day aside from an evening trivia which was emceed by the assistant cruise director as were most of the sports events. Cruise director seemed to loosen up toward the end of the cruise. The activities such as America’s test kitchen or nightly shows were okay, but once we reached San Diego started repeating for the last 6 days of the cruise. We had expected better. The singers and dancers were good but we had expected to see them more often. The galley tour and backstage tours were nice additions as we the coffee talks with members of the crew. The port talks were informative to a point but outside the venue, the person seemed somewhat disinterested in talking. No pool games aside from ‘swimming in the Panama Canal’. Celebrating Kings day was a disorganised mess at tea when many more people than expected showed up. I evnturally left. Shore excursions were as always overpriced with more time spent on the bus than at the activity. The where when which told the daily activities often had errors as did the online Navigator version for use on a cell phone. This free service allowed texting with others on the ship as well as access to the bill and NY Times for free. A nice try, but inaccuracies meant I often missed the start of activities. I really liked Curacao, (where we booked an independent tuk-tuk tour), Hualtuco (with a beach right off the ship and great snorkelling nearby), and Manzanilla, (with a great fresh produce/meat market within walking distance) best. We skipped Nicaragua due to political unrest which was fine. We did SAN Diego, SAN Francisco and Vancouver on our own and had a great time. The docks in these cities were close to local transportation. The gym was great with what appeared to be new equipment, except for mats. Pilates, yoga and cycling classes at $12 each were available but not for my pocketbook. Read Less
Sail Date April 2018
Couldn’t ask for a better first time cruise! Ship is beautiful (a couple of issues from being right out of dry dock, though) and each and every crew member was helpful, friendly and willing to go above and beyond. The food was ... Read More
Couldn’t ask for a better first time cruise! Ship is beautiful (a couple of issues from being right out of dry dock, though) and each and every crew member was helpful, friendly and willing to go above and beyond. The food was dependably delicious with a large variety from which to choose. The one problem we had was there weren’t enough people working the buffet...this caused long waits for some of the stations. Sometimes it seemed we were getting nickel and dimed to death...bottled water isn’t that big a deal when you figure HAL could raise the cost of a cruise by $25 and hand out bottles of water as people leave for an excursion...not leaving a bad taste in passengers mouths. The entertainment was good mostly but the shows put on by the HAL group of entertainers was so amateurish we had to leave...we gave it a try the second time they were on and did the same thing. Read Less
Sail Date March 2018
Our cruise was chosen for Itinerary which included Panama canal and reputation of HA for good food. However unknown to us the ship was due to go into dry dock at end of cruise. Presumably to cut time in dock and costs the crew were ... Read More
Our cruise was chosen for Itinerary which included Panama canal and reputation of HA for good food. However unknown to us the ship was due to go into dry dock at end of cruise. Presumably to cut time in dock and costs the crew were constantly carrying out noisy chipping / grinding of rusting paintwork, cutting / welding with debris falling down onto public areas. On one at sea day when I asked if they could possibly postpone this endless tapping until the next port call when most passengers would be on shore, i was offered ear plugs! Trailing power leads were in corridors and across doorways to decks, lifeboat launching equipment being serviced, lifeboat cradles hanging below head height on promenade deck. Health and Safety was very slack. The food in the main dining room was inconsistent, sometimes quite good more often just OK. One excellent steak, one almost without any flavour at all, portion sizes varied from tiny to too much on two adjacent plates, some plates with all the vegetables listed on the menu, some with only one, aspargus could be only just heated or overcooked to a limp mush. The Lido buffet must prepare too far in advance as much of the food is drying out. The top surface of smoked salmon often was crusted where it had sat for so long, A steak was utterly drained of any meat juices, grapefruit halves had a dull dry top surface from dehydration. If Celebrity, Princess, Cunard etc can all offer bigger, better, fresher buffets what is HA doing wrong on this boat? We have had enough cruises to know what one should expect and this was our first HA experience - and definitely our last. Read Less
Sail Date March 2018
We chose this two week cruise as it was visiting some places we had not been to before. From Chile north through the Panama Canal to Florida. We like the ship and the size; not too large. So assume everything is good except for the ... Read More
We chose this two week cruise as it was visiting some places we had not been to before. From Chile north through the Panama Canal to Florida. We like the ship and the size; not too large. So assume everything is good except for the following comments: The daytime 'entertainment was quite poor; no lectures ; no silly sports games; no competitions for table tennis or tennis or shuffleboard. The evening entertainment was mixed and the show team improved during the cruise, though the dancers often got in the way of the singers. Too many of these evening 'showstoppers' are the same on cruises. They need to see how Thomsons do it - they are the best. Food is supposed to be premium - not so. Only on special nights was it good. And why cannot the food be served on hot plates. Food gets cold quickly. Holland America say they are a premium line; I think their cost cutting is putting them on a par with all the other cruise lines and leaving a big gap between them and the luxury lines. Lastly I reckon that 50% of the guests had a chesty cough, and we all put that down to Holland America. The trouble is that HA/cruise lines will not do anything about that publicly on board for risk of being sued by the passengers. It's a big big problem. Read Less
Sail Date March 2018
Embarkation: Check-in was very fast and the cabin was ready when we got on at 1:00. One suitcase came very fast, the other came later. Cabin: This was our first time in a Neptune suite and we liked it – lots of room, excellent ... Read More
Embarkation: Check-in was very fast and the cabin was ready when we got on at 1:00. One suitcase came very fast, the other came later. Cabin: This was our first time in a Neptune suite and we liked it – lots of room, excellent big balcony. Could not believe HAL is still using old technology TVs and DVD players, though – it’s well past time to upgrade to interactive TVs with on-demand movies. The lighting over the couch could have been better for reading. The cabin wasn’t particularly clean when we got on. The steward who greeted us said that his partner had left the ship that morning, so we thought maybe it was just the crew being overworked on turnaround day. However, the shelves in the bathroom stayed dirty, the floor stayed sticky, the prior occupant’s pills stayed under the sink, and the makeup stains stayed on the counter until I got sick of it and cleaned the place up myself after a couple days. We’re not really people who need to be waited on, so we didn’t use the concierge except to make dinner reservations and were amused when I went to the front desk one day and got scolded by the concierge for not giving her the chore. The concierges were really on the ball – they immediately knew our names and after we went to the lounge one morning to get a newspaper (there were never enough in the buffet), they had one delivered to our cabin every day for the rest of the cruise. The A/C in the cabin worked well, but the table on the balcony had seen better days. Kleenex in the cabin was low quality. The towel animals were excellent. The laundry lost a shirt. Shorex: Very well run. I loved that they didn’t give out stickers until the tour was called, which eliminated all the people who like to cut the line and go down to the bus early. Dining: Dining room service and food were excellent, although the food could have been hotter sometimes. Dive In grill had decent burgers and fries but the nearby Mexican buffet was never hot and the guacamole was runny. Breakfast in the buffet was very good. The omelet station was excellent on one side but so-so on the other side, where the cook seemed to rush things and they were undercooked. Breakfast in the dining room opened too late for us early risers. Not a fan of the thick crust pizza (HAL needs to get the Princess recipe!). Lunch options were very limited if you came back from a tour after 2:00. Pinnacle Grill was good but the volcano cake that I remembered as being so amazing was overcooked this time and had too much orange flavoring. We ate twice in Le Cirque, which was excellent. Shipwide, dishes that should have some flavor (like salsa and jerk chicken) were bland. I sometimes struggled to find something appealing on the buffet at lunch or dinner. The Asian station was excellent but the kitchen could never keep up – lines were long and they were frequently out of things. Desserts were good and there was always a good selection of ice cream. Thankfully, there are no Purell police on board this ship. There are dispensers and real sinks to use, but nobody treating you like you’re a child. Ship: The ship was for the most part fine but it was obvious in several ways that they had waited too long to send the ship to dry dock (the ship was going to dry dock at the end of our cruise). There was no diet Coke for the entire cruise, with conflicting excuses giving by different bars. There was water dripping through the ceiling in Explorer’s, a ladies room that had no functioning sinks for almost the entire cruise, and the A/C was terribly erratic, with some rooms too warm and some freezing cold. We didn’t find a lot of activities to go to on sea days (there were no movies or lectures during the day). Most of the activities were geared around trying to sell you something. An exception was watching Barbara’s talks in the Test Kitchen – excellent and entertaining. The seats in the Test Kitchen, however, are awful – too low to be comfortable and awful sight lines because the rows aren’t banked. Definitely go early if you go there to watch a movie. The movies were only in the evening and conflicted with dinner or the show. They don’t give out crossword puzzles anymore and the sudokus in the library were sporadic and poorly copied. We were very disappointed in HAL for not having a lecturer on this cruise, when we were seeing fascinating pre-Incan ruins in port after port and being exposed to lots of interesting pre-Colombian cultures. The Captain was pretty uncommunicative and didn’t seem to enjoy interacting with the passengers -- the noon reports were sporadic and very brief, no explanation was given for why we left San Antonio late, etc. The library was excellent. All of the crew that we interacted with were just terrific – always warm and friendly. I thought it was a nice touch that they served coffee, water, and pastries on deck during the Panama Canal transit. Entertainment: The Ocean Quartet was good. Barry from Boston is sort of an acquired taste but he was fun. The CD was good. Comedian Kevin DeVane was pretty good. Duo Yalba was excellent. Jordan Bennett (singer) had great voice but incredibly annoying habit of constantly begging for applause. Frozen Planet is a must-see – one of the best things I’ve seen on a ship. The production shows were very good but the dancers were not very synchronized. Tommy Proulx (sax player) was excellent. Alan Chamo (mentalist/hypnotist) was OK. . Ida was good but opera is not really to my taste. Jeff Burkhardt (comedian/impersonator) was OK. The orchestra played a couple of nights in one of the loungers with a singer (only on nights when they weren’t needed for the show) – don’t miss them, they are excellent Internet Access: Just assume there isn’t any. I’ve been on a lot of cruises on a lot of different ships and this was by far the worst internet at sea I’ve experienced. Constant errors so pages have to reload, incredibly slow, clock set wrong on computer so secure connection cannot be established but no one around with an administrator password who could have fixed it. Complete failure, don’t bother. Disembarkation: We did early walk-off with our own luggage, which was quick and easy. Read Less
Sail Date March 2018
We were on this cruise for the 14 day portion. After sailing many times with Celebrity, we did our first trip with Hal two years ago and enjoyed it. We decided to do this trip with Hal based on our previous experience on the Volendam. ... Read More
We were on this cruise for the 14 day portion. After sailing many times with Celebrity, we did our first trip with Hal two years ago and enjoyed it. We decided to do this trip with Hal based on our previous experience on the Volendam. Our cabin turned out to be under the galley and we were kept awake at night with constant noise. When we complained at 1:00am and then again at 4:00am the front desk offered ear plugs and a free dinner at the restaurant. The noise was like a construction zone above us and the front desk staff admitted that they had complaints in the past about the cabins where we were located, but that there was nothing they could do. After a few nights of this and after telling the front desk that we were going to take our bedding and sleep by the front desk, we were moved to another cabin. This cabin was quiet, but the toilet wouldn’t work and maintenance was dealing with it on a daily basis. The cabin tv had to be repaired and our safe replaced. The cruise director seemed bored with his job and added nothing to the cruise. No activities on the liddo deck whatsoever even on lovely sunny days. The ship lacked any vitality and I don’t know if I will sail with Hal again. Hal should disclose that cabins in the area we stayed have noise issues. Read Less
Sail Date March 2018
Background and Hotel information We chose this cruise for various reasons, primarily to see Antarctia, a location that both my wife and I have always yearned to see, secondly, to experience the Chilean Fiords (Fjords). We had previously ... Read More
Background and Hotel information We chose this cruise for various reasons, primarily to see Antarctia, a location that both my wife and I have always yearned to see, secondly, to experience the Chilean Fiords (Fjords). We had previously toured in Peru and cruised up the coast of Chile, however, we had not travelled to the south of Chile to see the Fiords and southern regions of Chile, parts of Argentina, Uruguay, Falkland Islands and beautiful and amazing Antarctia! The HAL cruise on Zaandam seemed to tick all the boxes for the itinerary, however, the ship itself and some of the staff were not up to the required standards. We stayed overnight near Sydney airport (new Travelodge hotel) prior to our flight to Santiago on the very next day. The hotel has a restaurant that serves breakfast and dinner, and a reasonably priced, and good variety of food in the room service menu. We were tired and chose room service meals and were pleasantly surprised with the price and quality of the meals. Breakfast was basic hot and cold buffet, however to an adequate quality standard. There is a Wilson’s car parking station conveniently behind the hotel, and a new parking station opening across the road in mid-March 2018 (ParknFly?); competition is good for better parking prices. We had an early morning flight with Air NZ to Auckland New Zealand(AKL), then connection to Buenos Aires (EZE), final connection to Santiago(SCL). We travelled Premium Economy to AKL (excellent); Economy on Air NZ to BA (EZE) (ho hum), and economy on Air NZ partner, Air Canada BA(EZE) to Santiago (just average only). Return flights (EZE) to (AKL) economy (food quite good), and (AKL) to Sydney(SYD) on an Airbus 330 and being chartered from Portuguese company, HiFly. It was an old Emirates aircraft and was not up to standard in any way, we had 4 Air NZ female ambassadors on board to perhaps ensure Air NZ standards were maintained, there was no real responsibilities for them on the flight, poor choice of charter really Air NZ. We stayed at the Holiday Inn, a short walk across pedestrian crossing from airport to the hotel, very handy indeed! We arrived perhaps around 9.30 pm at the hotel with some jetlag, hotel has a restaurant/bar and room service (expensive); it was late and we skipped dinner altogether. Next day we had arranged for a HAL transfer to San Antonio; we managed to catch an earlier coach to the ship than planned with assistance of the transfer contractor, great outcome for us! The transfer stopped at a large building in Casablanca for a rest stop and for coffee, snacks and wine tasting. It was a huge building packed full of local regional wines to taste and purchase as desired to take on the ship (I bottle per person is HAL limit). There was also a selection of local handicrafts and produce available to buy if desired. We purchased 2 bottles (1 each) to take onto the ship, good quality wine for a total of $19 US, we were over the moon, as were others with this wonderful discovery on the way to the ship! WE BOARDED THE SHIP IN SAN ANTONIO, not Vaparaiso! Embarkation was fairly swift and seamless, our room was ready and our bags arrived within two hours of embarkation, slick HAL. Ship information We sailed on sister ship Volendam in Alaska in May last year, I gave that ship a good review overall, this ship Zaandam, was a different kettle of fish, in more ways than one! Public areas appeared to be in reasonable condition however the ship is dated and is showing more than usual wear and tear. Main dining areas (restaurant) appeared to be in good condition and have old world charm, except for chandeliers that appear to resemble several entangled deer horns, not sure what the designer was thinking, however it wasn’t good! Public areas are clean, and the external condition of the ship, decks and pool areas were good. Teak decks and chairs are always refreshing and relate to the heritage of this line and others that still uphold this tradition. The ship appeared to have a problem with leaks in public areas on several decks where buckets were placed to catch water leaking from the roof, two roof leaks were about 6 to 10 metres from our cabin front door. The leaks were common the whole journey, and eventually the buckets were removed and the worn carpet floor remained wet throughout in two places described previously. Later in the review I will describe our below standard cabin and antics by the crew to manage the problems, that were at times, bizarre to say the least! Activities The activities were fairly limited apart from BBC Earth Series speakers talks in the theatre each day until after Antarctia (too hot in theatre to attend we watched on TV next day) quite good informative presentations; and tour information sessions (watched on TV again for same reason) there was little else to occupy us. Music didn’t start to 3.30 pm on most days. We hadn’t been this bored since our cruise on Azamara Journey from India to Singapore (yawn, yawn). We attended America’s test kitchen once it was very hot in that little room, the woman added a lot of salt and sugar to meals, why? We watched the TV show of the same name, and honestly cannot understand why they add so much unhealthy salt and sugar to their meals, we stopped watching after two episodes. We normally attend some of the trivia, however, it is on just before Happy Hour at 4 pm in the Crow’s Nest, it extends way beyond time and many attending Happy hour cannot be seated; we found this similarly on many HAL ships, hold Trivia elsewhere! Ship lacked atmosphere, if we weren’t going to Chilean Fiords (Fjords) and fantastic Antarctia, we would have been bored silly! Service HAL have a wonderful Captain in Christopher Norman. He really made our voyage a special one (apart from the problems with room, staff etc). He was very good at keeping us informed of the weather and anticipated changes in order to out run bad weather. He really was brilliant. His skill in handling the vessel was outstanding. Unfortunately, the standards he set for himself didn’t reflect throughout the ship! Please read on! Guest relations staff We asked for a form to reduce service charges later in the cruise for reasons stared below. One staff member refused to provide same, a second staff member came out and was very rude in reinforcing the other staff member's stance. The first staff member inferred that Zaandam had different rules to other ships in the fleet who had provided us with forms last cruise we were on another HAL ship. She said the forms were locked in the safe and couldn't be released until the last day, as it was sealed. We mentioned that HAL policies and procedures and rules were the same across all the fleet, and the forms are not legal documents until signed and should be available now. We explained we pay by cash as we go, and also pay gratuities/service charges personally to staff we know have excelled in their dealings with us. We normally do things this way on all lines, and have never had this type of refusal to carry out a fair and reasonable request. (We had a similar problem on Koningsdam, where it was resolved by the manager some days later after we spoke to her). We asked them to have the manager call us and we wanted to meet with her, they failed to pass on the message that we wished to speak to team leader/manager. On another occasion one of the same staff members was very rude and dismissive of our problem (charges for wine package), she was the Mariners' host, we were shocked when it was announced at the luncheon for Mariners. This young woman in our opinion did not meet the standards to be employed as a result of her continued unacceptable and inappropriate behaviour on all occasions we are aware of with us, and we spoke to several other people who had experienced similar behavioural problems with this person, she did not improve throughout the cruise. We arranged to speak with the team leader, she knew only part of the facts that her team members had recorded, she was very understanding and provided some small incentive for us, we thanked her. We had continual problems with some of the front office staff, their attitude to people over 40 was poor to say the least. Some front office staff were quite good; however, they are all young women, we fail to understand why HAL would not have males and females of different ages in the front office particularly experienced people that know how to treat clients, who after all, pay good money to HAL in oh so many ways, that incidentally funds their wages! Our Cabin and service issues Toilet failing to flush (18 out of 22 days this was a major problem). Reported to housekeeping who escalated it to plumber who initially dismissed problem as non-existent; toilet did flush after between ten and forty minutes after pushing button several times, following this it did flush when there was no water build up in the walls, it gurgled most of time! Then thirty minutes later after it had been flushed multiple times it failed to flush again straight away, and flushed thirty minutes later. However, the next plumber witnessed the problem and replaced the flush button mechanism. However, this did not resolve the problem. Other plumbers/maintenance people also returned to examine problem. Toilet had just flushed after the 30-minute delay and the maintenance man in overalls became quite aggressive when it flushed, he totally ignored us rang his phone and spoke to his manager whilst there, then stormed out! The other older plumber came back and put chemicals in toilet; the toilet worked okay for a couple of days and then problem returned. We had to put up with this for the rest of the cruise, not good enough!! Our cabin and service problems part 2 Stains appeared on our wall, we reported to room stewards who informed supervisor and front desk staff. Front desk staff entered our room without our knowledge or permission and had steward remove substance dribble from wall. We were informed that it may be rust and that they wished to remove ceiling to inspect the cause for the problems. We did not wish this to happen due to possibility of asbestos or other toxic substances additionally also due to the dust build up that would have occurred since ship was built 18 years previously, and the potential for respiratory distress caused by such dust. Our cabin and service problems part 3 The mattresses in our room were very old, maybe the original mattresses they were bowed on both edges and extremely uncomfortable. When placed together as a Queen bed as they were bowed both of us rolled to the middle of the bed and with the bow and gap we sunk from uncomfortable to next to no sleep. We asked the room stewards to try and build up the centre of the bed with towels in the middle or and egg shell overlays, he was very helpful and appeared very embarrassed, great blokes both of them! However, it only made it worse as the bed separated with the towels in the middle to make up the huge gap between mattresses. End result we took the towels out and pushed the beds together several times during the night. Yay, broken sleep every single night, this was becoming a nightmare!! Room service – purchasing alcohol for the room problems We also requested room service to deliver a gin and tonic package. Order taken, then he called back and stated the gin advertised in the package no longer available, this is day 3 of the cruise, and only Gordons an inferior quality brand will be substituted, I explained that this gin is significantly cheaper than the original product and we requested a discount. He spoke to management called me back and said they wouldn't reduce the price. I said provide us with similar quality to original product at same price, management refused that as well. We purchased higher quality product and tonic water also extra, $17 US dearer. Then a week later they had no tonic water left on the ship in cans, so we were substituted with diet tonic water in small bottles at the same price, no discount again! Then they had no more stock of Gordon's Gin 8 days into the cruise, consequently we had to purchase higher quality gin and diet tonic water not part of any package! Room Service staff were made aware of problem regarding drinks and spoke to manager but there was no resolution and Manager did not contact us. After all cruise lines buy the alcohol it has been reported, at less than DUTY FREE PRICES and mark it up to above shore prices, it is not playing fair at all. The price of all alcohol on cruise ships is a major profit maker for all of them, the mark up is phenomenal! The main dining room staff for anytime dining were on the whole, quite okay. However, we found that the more experienced and mature staff were very good at their jobs. They were genuinely friendly, as were some of the young people, although some were not quite up to standard as yet. Service by the inexperienced was “hit and miss” however always with a smile. Supervisors varied in age and appeared to try and make thing work better in the dining room as the cruise matured. Lunch staff were efficient and friendly and we enjoyed each lunch spent in the main dining room. We had breakfast only three times in the main dining area; we were seated usually at tables with up to six persons, we requested this, as tables of eight or more spend a very long time in the restaurant being served. We prefer to spend no more than thirty minutes at breakfast on most occasions. Lido staff on the whole were okay, the cooks and food servers were good; some of the waiters and table attendants tended to be missing in action, to clear and set table, for the first three days. After a quick word to the supervisory staff it was no surprise after day three a German Officer appeared every day to sort things out. He assisted and supervised waiters and table staff in their duties. The problem suddenly dissolved whilst he was present at breakfast and lunch, when we attended Lido. Dive-In burger staff were good and made extremely tasty burgers, near best we have encountered in over 35 cruises to date. We did have some excellent burgers on Celebrity Century and Celebrity Galaxy, both were sold by Celebrity, pity, those tasty burgers seem to have disappeared on the newer Celebrity vessels. Wine and drink stewards in the main dining room and in the Lido were overall very friendly and knew their products. We had no idea who the officers for each department were as there was no listing provided or anything that we could see on the walls of the ship anywhere. They also appeared to be quite invisible most of the time, except for eating meals in the Lido. Port & shore excursions At Puerto Montt in Chile we really enjoyed the excursion to Petrohue Falls, Lake Cruise and Chilean country side. Excellent guide and scenery was very good, including walking a short distance to the falls, and a cruise on the lake with excellent viewing of volcanoes and surrounding forests, very beautiful. At Ushuaia Argentina we undertook the excursion “The train to the end of the world”, we travelled on a narrow-gauge steam train in quaint carriages holding a maximum of eight people. We opened the windows and smelt the smoke from the train that brought back many memories from the past when steam trains were common in most parts of the world. One short stop to walk up to the waterfall, very steep ascent, make sure you are fit, as you have little time to se them. Worth the money to take this excursion. Antarctia is the jewel in the crown, so to speak, the scenery magnificent, words cannot describe how stunning beautiful it is, the landscape full of wildlife, whales, seals, sea lions, penguins, the list goes on and on! If you have the chance, save your pennies up, and book it. We were in Antarctia just over 4 days, the weather was very good, we had some misty mornings that later developed into clear days to view such a beautiful and serene place. HAL will surely get their act together and send a better ship to this destination, and sort some of their staff out one would hope! Chilean Fiords (Fjords) were also very beautiful we thoroughly enjoyed our journey throughout, an added bonus to seeing Antarctia. In Buenos Aires on day 1 we undertook Panoramic Highlights of BA, it was very interesting, we only had one stop at the graveyard where Eva Peron is buried, however, we travelled to all major highlights in 3 hours. After we disembarked the vessel we waited for over an hour for our coach to arrive at the cruise terminal to undertake The Tigre Delta shore excursion to airport. It was not good value for money and was cut short by approximately one hour 20 minutes (apparently because the traffic wasn't bad we arrived there quicker?). Additionally, we did not appreciate a 30-minute stop at a cathedral (which we couldn't really attend due to Mass being said at the time) so that the tour guide could go and have a coffee in a coffee shop. No mention was made that there were toilet facilities in the coffee shop and there was nothing else in the vicinity other than the cathedral - complete waste of time stopping there so she could have a coffee fix. A 5-hour tour should take 5 hours not significantly less time (3hr 40min). Don't let the tour guide have a coffee break in a place where there is nothing to do or see. Include some of the city sights on the way to the Tigre Delta that the guide stated we would be seeing on the way which didn't happen. In all honesty a part refund should be given due to the time taken and poor quality of tour (bus component). Travel to embarkation port See background information above for remarks. Cabin See service information above for detailed remarks Dining Restaurant staff overall were good, breakfast menu comprehensive, best menu on any ship to date, food quality is good and meals are warm to hot. Opening times were either 7.30 to 9 am on port days and on sea days 8 am to 9.30 am, we thought restaurant hours should be open from 7 am to 9.30 am, in accordance with other lines, it limits attendance at the restaurant. Lunch was open on sea days only and was open from 12 midday to 1 pm, it should be open at least from 12 midday to 2 pm, we ate there on three occasions only with the times being so limited. Lunch menu was very limited; however food quality was good, we enjoyed the three meals we ate there very much. We attended the anytime dining restaurants for dinner on most nights at varying times, they accommodated us with our walk in on every occasion, great effort HAL restaurant staff! Food on most nights was presented well, quality was of a reasonable standard, serving mashed potato or cous cous with most meals we ate, was very puzzling, we like potatoes cooked in many ways, and we would like more vegetable on the plate or offered on the side HAL. We did have the choice of “Surf and Turf” on the last formal (chic) evening, similar to Princess, not available on Celebrity now. We ate in Pinnacle Grill for lunch one day, and dinner on another occasion. Lunch is only $10 US per person, 3 courses not as comprehensive as dinner, however, delicious, and the best Coffee Gelato we have every tasted ever on a ship, and on land for that matter! Dinner is an extra $35 US per person was also delicious, beautiful jumbo shrimp, soups, and melt in your mouth fillet mignon, excellent work HAL. Desserts we as they say “to die for” well we would prefer not to die so we can experience again one day! Lido for breakfast 7 to 10 am, was very busy as the restaurant was not open at the times that suited most people and breakfast at Lido was much quicker and egg or omelettes cooked by staff while you wait. Eggs were fried, poached, scrambled or made into eggs benedict. Smoked salmon available every day on separate plates, English bacon, a little bit salty, and warm not hot, streaky bacon (not for us) pancakes, waffles, fresh fruit, cereals, fresh rolls, bread, etc. Seating was difficult to find, however, we found seating on most days in the Canaletto restaurant (not open as Italian restaurant lunch and breakfast). We ate lunch in Lido 11.30 am to 2 pm on most days due to restricted opening times on sea days of main dining room, and dining room not open when in port. Unless we arrived early for lunch, we eat after 1 pm on most days, the food was mainly dry and unappetising, big exception was the Asian food, which was cooked fresh on a regular basis and very tasty, and contained chilli and curry, and garlic, on many occasions. Sandwiches appeared to be fresh, and on the one occasion we ate one, tasted quite nice. Pizza in Lido had very limited selection, 3 pizza types, same every day. Lido food at lunch and dinner was very dry and unappetising, exceptions were Asian food at lunch, very nice, and pasta at night, also very tasty. Hamburgers when open (closed at 6 pm) were very nice indeed, chips were not great. Pizza in Lido had very limited Dive-In burger staff were good and made extremely tasty burgers, near best we have encountered in over 35 cruises to date. We did have some excellent burgers on Celebrity Century and Celebrity Galaxy, both were sold by Celebrity, pity, those tasty burgers seem to have disappeared on the newer Celebrity vessels. Entertainment We attended a few ship entertainers’ productions and they were good. We attended some of the guest entertainment shows, some were good, others just average. The entertainment around the ship usually didn’t commence to 3.30 pm each day, however, we did listen to the various groups, they were good, the piano player/singer was not our cup of tea! Disembarkation Managed to exit the terminal, then we lined up for over an hour squashed altogether to wait for various coaches to arrive to take people on tours, then to the airport, or straight to the airport. WE waited for over an hour, the transport people had no idea about when coaches were arriving, what bay the coach would arrive in, and didn’t seem to care really. Worst disembarkation ever, we have cruised in many places around the world, and this disembarkation port is the worst ever, I know I am repeating myself, however, I need to, it was an absolute nightmare! Summary Visiting Chilean Fiords and in particular Antarctia was breathtaking, we loved the sights and the serene beauty of it all, the most incredible atmosphere, we loved it? However, there were some significant downsides to our accommodation, some venues on the ship, and some crew members who left a lot to be desired! Overall there were some fantastic staff and they were rewarded as going above the norm! The fact that HAL and some other cruise lines charge additional charges for not paying their staff enough money in the first place, and except us to pick up the tab, is a thorn in their side. Add a few dollars to the fare in the beginning, not the end. It is a burden on passengers that are on the ship to enjoy their holidays, not empty all the pockets to pay wages and further boost profits on the way out! Read Less
Sail Date January 2018
We were disappointed with our Australia/New Zealand cruise for a couple of reasons: - the ship was dated, in good repair, but older looking. - we noticed an ongoing attempt to nickel and dime us along the way. Excursions were ... Read More
We were disappointed with our Australia/New Zealand cruise for a couple of reasons: - the ship was dated, in good repair, but older looking. - we noticed an ongoing attempt to nickel and dime us along the way. Excursions were seriously marked up and to eat in a good dining room cost extra along with a list of things that were all extra. - a cruise employee stole our iPhone. Quite a worry and a hassle to deal with that. We discovered who took it because the person posted pictures of himself along with identifying information. - Holland America reimbursed us for our insurance deductible, but nothing else. Considering the time and hassle of the phone problem, they could have done better. Oh yes, they offered us a $200 discount on our next cruise, but no thanks! No next cruise with Holland America. There are better cruise ships out there. Read Less
Sail Date January 2018
I always wanted to see the Antarctic and Holland & America was the only cruiseliner that touches the top of this amazing continent, mind you they only operate 3 cruises a year so book it quick!! We started off in Santiago and ... Read More
I always wanted to see the Antarctic and Holland & America was the only cruiseliner that touches the top of this amazing continent, mind you they only operate 3 cruises a year so book it quick!! We started off in Santiago and travelled down to Cape Horn and then took 2 days to reach the top of the Antarctic. Must admit I wasent particular impressed with the ports of call on the west coast of South America but it was worth it to see the magnificent views we had sailing around the "End of the World", icebergs with seals on as well as penguins, whales playing, glaciers, beautifully formed icebergs wow!! Also we had 3 guides on board who commentated throughout the days we were sailing around the Antarctic and were very informative. Up the east coast of S.A we called into the Falkland Islands and luckily found a local who took myself and husband to see the penguins, o boy that was another amazing moment, he was very interesting and did tours only when the ships came in. The other ports of call were good and also it was nice to have a bit of sun, we ended up in Buenos Aires. The Zandaam is a lovely ship which takes approx 1400 people but must say it did not seem like it, the food was good and staff very nice. We had a basic outside cabin on deck 1 (right at the bottom) however it was great and the size of the cabin was excellent really quite big compared to a lot of other ships I have been on. Now planning a trip to the "Top of the World" Read Less
Sail Date January 2018
We booked this cruise whilst onboard Volendam in Alaska in Oct 2016, from start to finish this cruise Itinerary was great, Antarctica was amazing and the captain did a fantastic job in making sure we got to see everything that was worth ... Read More
We booked this cruise whilst onboard Volendam in Alaska in Oct 2016, from start to finish this cruise Itinerary was great, Antarctica was amazing and the captain did a fantastic job in making sure we got to see everything that was worth seeing ,he even backtracked one day so we could see areas he missed because of bad weather, Wallis our tour EXC was more than helpful and her knowledge of the area was brilliant she was always on deck explaining everything and her colleagues were also good, the lectures about the wildlife and geology were very informative,and the info about Argentina was especially interesting, there were a lot of people on deck when there was something to see which was pretty much all the time and although tedious at times with people trying to get the best photo it was tolerable, food was good we ate mostly in the buffet, always find it takes to long in the dining room and the food is only ever warm at best, service onboard mostly from Philippines all great very polite and nice and our cabin attendants Arthur and Doi were great lots of towel animals and kept our cabin very clean, Conrad, Police,and Jeanine in Crows Nest kept us well watered always very polite and friendly. Only let down on this cruise was the cleanliness or lack of it in the buffet, to start there was no staff at the entrance to the buffet with sanitisers also a lack of sanitisers, they put cups and glasses on the tables and just replaced what was missing when guests left we watched in horror as people with colds and flu coughed and handled everything on the table which was then left for the next unsuspecting guest, i even witnessed a few times glasses being used then not removed and the next guests using the same glass which the waiters filled, when the tables were wiped down they used the same rag that was used on other tables no rincing out and when they did it was in a bucket of dirty water, basically if you wipe down a table were people have been coughing and sneezing then move on to the next table all you do is transfer germs from one to the other,What happened to sanitiser spray!!!!! i did write a long detailed letter of their bad practice and handed it in to guest services but guess what nothing changed, we then witnessed the epidemic of flu and colds sweep through the ship everyone got it including my partner who was ill for 2 weeks it was a really nasty virus that came and went and came again, we always got our cups and glasses from the stack trays and would always get our own drinks it was safer but with bad sanitary practice you stood no chance, what a shame this was as it tainted what would have been the perfect cruise, shame on you HA for not doing everything you could to protect your guests, best of it is it would cost nothing to do, a no brainer to me !! Read Less
Sail Date January 2018
After fourteen years of cruising with HAL and being a 4 Star Mariner, I stopped choosing them in 2014 after my sister and I together and separately had several rather disastrous experiences – ratty ships, bad food. This trip renewed my ... Read More
After fourteen years of cruising with HAL and being a 4 Star Mariner, I stopped choosing them in 2014 after my sister and I together and separately had several rather disastrous experiences – ratty ships, bad food. This trip renewed my interest in HAL. This ship was in excellent condition. Everything in the public areas and in my cabin had been refurbished, reupholstered, and freshly painted. No dings or dents and everything worked. My cabin was very big; I had three full closets and one half closet, nine large drawers for storage, many wall hooks, a real bathroom cabinet with door. The food in the main dining room was very good. They have simplified the menus. They did an excellent job of properly cooking fish. They separate fixed and at will diners on separate floors so there is calmness and continuity of service. The least appealing menus were on the ‘Gala’ nights. The Pinnacle had very good fish specials each night and the vegetables were great; the beef is not of the quality that it should be (or used to be). The Lido was nicely organized and the food was presented attractively. There were different stations for different kinds of food. The salad bar always had good choices. The sushi was quite good. The ice cream was wicked. For the most part, the shows were very good and they had a lot of variety. The production singers and dancers were excellent. They left a comment card every single night in case we wanted to say what was good or needed improvement or we had employees we wanted to compliment. The service everywhere was excellent. My room stewards were some of the best I have ever had. The two biggest weak points: 1)The transfer and embarkation process in Buenos Aires. It was five hours from the time my plane landed until I was in my cabin. Most of this time was spent waiting on enough passengers at the airport to fill up a big bus; several smaller would have made more sense due to the heavy traffic to the port. And there were two ships in port and we were not kept as separate as we should have been. 2)The lifeboat drill. HAL uses a different system than any other cruise line and it was confusing. The trip: In twenty-two days, we were in ten ports, including the embarkation and debarkation port: Buenos Aires (overnight); Montevido, Uruguay; Puerto Madryn, Argentina; Stanley, Falkland Islands; Ushuaia, Argentina; Punta Arenas, Puerto Chacabuco, Isla Chloe, Puerto Montt, Port San Antonio, Chile. Some were working ports so the logistics were different than if they had been cruise ship ports. There was not much tourist type shopping in the ports. And the areas outside some of the port gates were not always so nice. Complimentary shuttles were available in the working ports. For the most part, the tender docks were right in the towns. This is definitely a trip to do an organized shore excursion every day in order to see the places. The ship’s shore excursions I took were all good and I got to see some interesting things. In each cabin was a Port Guide. It had a map of each place, with things to see in town and out, places to eat and shop, and information about the place. And it was not just about the ‘ship approved’ places. Every cruise on every cruise line should have one of these. Having it at the beginning of the trip made planning easier. We spent four days cruising parts of Antarctica and were very close to shore. There were three destination lecturers onboard who specialized in South America and Antarctica, each with several areas of expertise such as geography, history, plants and animals. They also did narration on the deck during our days there. In addition, we had a group come from one of the U. S. scientific stations to spend the day onboard and talk about what they do and what it is like to live in Antarctica. They included scientists from various disciplines, but also the station manager, the cook, the waste guy, the marine mechanic. The scenery was spectacular – whales, penguins, seals, birds, icebergs, glaciers, craggy mountains covered in snow and ice. We lucked out on weather and seas everywhere we were. HAL has the best itinerary for this trip because of four full days in Antarctica. And because it goes through the Chilean fjords, which definitely rank up there with Norway and Alaska, and to the Falklands. Would I do this cruise again? Absolutely. Read Less
Sail Date January 2018
This cruise was everything we expected and more! Great ports of call, 4 days cruising in Antarctica waters where we saw bunches of penguins, sea lions, whales and a wide variety of birds. Onboard, they offered great lecturers on sea days ... Read More
This cruise was everything we expected and more! Great ports of call, 4 days cruising in Antarctica waters where we saw bunches of penguins, sea lions, whales and a wide variety of birds. Onboard, they offered great lecturers on sea days and even had a few interactive game shows which elated my DW. However, two areas where HAL did not meet our expectations were (1) the quality of their production shows and (2) making sure passengers sanitized their hands when going into a dining area and when reboarding the ship after a day in port. Quality of HAL production shows. The singers and dancers were fine, but the pace of the shows were that of watching a Lawrence Welk Show. That's fine if you like a slower pace, but we're in our mid 60's and grew up on rock and roll and were board stiff during most of their shows. However, they did hire some great entertainers which made up for the lack luster production shows produced by a New York-based production company from what we understand. Personal hygiene shortfalls. This 22 day cruise was during the height of the cold/flu season, but HAL didn't seem to realize this. They used to make folks going into a dining area sanitize their hands the first 48 hours of the cruise. Not any more. They used to have a crew member at the base of the gangway making sure passengers sanitize their hands before coming back on ship. Not any more. They used to have sanitizer dispensers outside the main theater entrances. Not on this cruise. As a result, this was the "sickest" HAL cruise we have ever been on as at least 1/3 of the passengers had bronchial type cold/flu symptoms the last 2+ weeks of the cruise. Going to the show in the evening was like listening to a chorus of coughing. Lesson learned. Wash your hands and use the hand sanitizers religiously and if at all possible avoid using the tongs up on the lido deck. Of course, no cruise is perfect and since we just got off a great 25 day Celebrity Eclipse cruise where all of the shows were great with many reaching the "wow" status and the ship's hygiene practices were top notch, it was just a big let down to see HAL's offerings so inferior. But, as I mentioned earlier, it wasn't all bad. The itinerary was GREAT, the guest lecturers were GREAT and the contracted evening entertainment for the most part was very entertaining. Read Less
Sail Date January 2018
I chose this cruise because of the itinerary mainly but also because of the size of the Zaandam. I had not liked the big ships I cruised on before and the Zaandam is a pleasant size indeed. We were three women in a Vista Suite on ... Read More
I chose this cruise because of the itinerary mainly but also because of the size of the Zaandam. I had not liked the big ships I cruised on before and the Zaandam is a pleasant size indeed. We were three women in a Vista Suite on deck 6 but I forgot the number, like I forgot quite a few things of this cruise because I do not even want to remember them. The cabin was small and the suitcases could not be placed under the bed, so we travelled the complete cruise with two suitcases standing near the window to the balcony. I travelled before in three and we never had this problem because the suitcases – normal size – could easily fit in under the bed. We had breakfast delivered to the cabin most of the time and that was OK apart from the coffee. I tried the coffee bar for espresso, but that was terrible too. My sister did the kitchen tour and found out that all their coffee comes from one source: Melitta filtered. I guess that is acceptable for Americans, but I find it not nice and that is an understatement. Lunch would be in the Lido and was generally nice. We liked the Asian food, the ice-creams and the sweets, some of them prepared without sugar! And dinner we had in the Main Restaurant and we found the food always of good quality with enough choice daily and variations from day to day. Sometimes we had to queue for a table. We once sat together with others but then we were hardly able to hear them across the table, so we decided to not do that again. The service was very good; in the restaurant, and for the cabin too! We dined also at the Pinnacle, which was a real good time in a very pleasant setting! I booked for myself the Master Cellar dinner and the maître put me at a table with two persons from Buenos Aires and that for me was a remarkable experience: because of this lovely couple and because of the food and the wines. Don’t miss this one! The Italian restaurant on the lidodeck was a mistake to book, nowhere near what you would expect. This should really be upgraded, especially with a cook who knows what he’s doing. Service? I lost my credit card in Buenos Aires and blocked it in time. I told the front desk and suggested I pay with my debit card – Mastercard that I used all over the world – and they said no, it had to be a credit card, or cash. So they actually suggested I go to an ATM on land, get cash – would have been pesos! – and pay them cash. I would have needed a sizeable bag for that. They were absolutely serious when suggesting this “solution”! I suggest this company take the Holland out of their name because the Dutch pay with debit cards all the time; there is no percentage taken off by the bank and the money gets transferred right away. But no, here that was not possible. I had to ask my friend – invited by me, therefore embarrassing to me – to pay the bill and then later reimburse her. Ridiculous experience this was. Activities? I once attended a travel trivial and it was like a children’s game. Lasted 20 minutes in all, so once was enough for me. Entertainment: we attended a night with dancing and singing, I think the group was German, and found that very good. Then there was a local artist from Buenos Aires with bandoneon music and he was very good, I bought his CD and went to see his second show which was very well done too; he did it all solo with a beautiful video of Buenos Aires on the big screen behind him! We tried twice to see a movie, even 15 mins before it would start, only to find the cinema completely full, not one seat left. Pity. Embarkation and disembarkation were smooth, gave no problems. Port & shore excursions was quite an issue on this ship. Their prices were sky-high and, in every port, you could see that most people had organized themselves with alternatives to the HAL excursions. But they punished you for that! We had booked an excursion to see penguins on the Falkland Islands, which was still expensive, especially when you pay for three persons. We arrived ashore after having waited an hour and a half for the tender! Those booked with HAL got precedence even when they arrived later than we did! over people like us who wanted just to go ashore and do their own thing. That was pure discrimination and indeed we were too late for our excursion! Fortunately, Patrick Watts on the Falklands saved our day by taking us to see penguins anyway. I fully recommend Patrick Watts; a knowledgeable and pleasant guide! It was the best day of our cruise. The ports I found terrible, in Buenos Aires and also Montevideo you expect a cruise terminal, but we constantly saw cargo ports. If I had wanted that, I could have booked a cargo cruise, but I didn’t, so why do they have to save money on decent ports? Especially the last one, San Antonio, was an unpleasant change from the announced Valparaiso. I had to change transfers and hotel and never saw Valparaiso. Again, the transfer I booked myself online as the HAL transfer was 3 times the price I paid! So, no, HAL, this was my first experience with you and the very last for sure. Read Less
Sail Date December 2017
No penguins! Unfortunate weather caused some cancellations both Stanley and at least one glacier as well as our Penguin tour. We did get a very good close up view of one glacier. Fog and rain made visibility around the Horn very poor. ... Read More
No penguins! Unfortunate weather caused some cancellations both Stanley and at least one glacier as well as our Penguin tour. We did get a very good close up view of one glacier. Fog and rain made visibility around the Horn very poor. Many ports were very interesting especially the warm weather ones in Uraguay and Argentina since we had lovely weather there. We made the best of it but it was still disappointing. The ship left from San Antonio intead of Valpairoso . Fortunately we stayed in Valpairoso and enjoyed that city for two nights before the cruise. We maily did private tours usually with local guides. We spent two extra days in Buenos Aires as well but the city proved so interesting i wish we were able to stay longer. Another issue for us was the two overnight flights from and to the States- made for a bit of jet lag both ways. Amazingly we managed to use air miles, however. The ship , shows and food were as we expected —fairly average and similar to the several previous cruises on Holland America. Some excellent staff, especially port and scenic cruising commentary. Unfortunately our last cruise was with Oceania and the memory if the food made the food on this cruise seem mediocre by comparison. We knew to expect some bad weather but it left us with some rough seas and and three sea days in a row. With little to do. I read several books on the cruise. The crowd was mainly international but there was a large contingent of non English speakers from Germany and austria well as Romania. Potentally interesting but difficult at mealtimes. Read Less
Sail Date November 2017
I wanted to go to South America and booked with my cousin who ended up not going as her husband became ill.I had to go on my own.Firstly they need to advise their staff not to make derogatory comments about passengers.I heard something ... Read More
I wanted to go to South America and booked with my cousin who ended up not going as her husband became ill.I had to go on my own.Firstly they need to advise their staff not to make derogatory comments about passengers.I heard something about me and I understood.I did tell her that she needs to be careful of what she says.I also found that it was all about how much money they could get out of us.IE learn how to mix martini cocktails but we would have been charged.Entertainment and activities were a joke .Activities were hardly existent and then they wanted you to pay for most of them..The excursions were not too bad.I had booked a few but one particular one I couldn’t go because the chemo drug I was on was giving me side effects that morning.She had no intention of giving me my money back.I had to go on a different one that afternoon and I had no interest in it at all.We were leaving the next day so I couldn’t go on a different one.She was trying to get me to see the doctor and was really not interested in me saying that I knew it was side effects.The ship was nice though and so were the staff.The ship was clean and the food was excellent.I am not happy about people even on formal nights dressed in shorts.Sorry it shouldn’t be allowed.They can go to the buffet bar if they do not want to dress. I have done many cruises with different lines and would I go on HA again.Definitely not. Read Less
Sail Date November 2017
We chose this cruise because of the itinerary. Ports were fantastic and weather was great. Smooth seas at their best. The ship is a different story. Dining room service was extremely slow. One night we waited over 1 1/2 hours ... Read More
We chose this cruise because of the itinerary. Ports were fantastic and weather was great. Smooth seas at their best. The ship is a different story. Dining room service was extremely slow. One night we waited over 1 1/2 hours before being served and the excuse was "The kitchen is backed up" Hard to believe at 5:30 PM--open seating. Two meals at the Pinnacle Grill were fantastic. The Cellar Master Package, Double was clearly worth the price. However, there was confusion concerning the number of meals that could have had clearer wording on the vouchers. The company made it right and credited the second meal. Cabin was filthy and the bathroom had mold, a cracked sink and a broken shower head. Cabin steward was personable but not very effective. Guest entertainers were extremely good but the ship's entertainers were terrible. All in all the cruise was worth the expense but the ship needs repair. Read Less
Sail Date November 2017
Zaandam Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.5 4.0
Dining 4.0 3.8
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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