200 Holland America Zaandam Cruise Reviews

Zaandam's 7 Day Glacier Discovery out of Vancouver made for a great introduction to Alaska. We took advantage of both the Misty Fjords float plane and Mead Glacier helicopter excursions. They exceeded our expectations...worth every ... Read More
Zaandam's 7 Day Glacier Discovery out of Vancouver made for a great introduction to Alaska. We took advantage of both the Misty Fjords float plane and Mead Glacier helicopter excursions. They exceeded our expectations...worth every penny! Glacier Bay, specifically the John Hopkins Glacier, was a fantastic site to see. The early September sailing date allowed the captain to sail very close to the glacier since the harbor seal cub rearing season had expired. The pea soup was excellent followed by al-fresco dinning on the rear-Lido deck with food from the salmon bake. Great food and beautiful scenery...we were spoiled. Having sailed Holland America before, we found food quality up a bit from the generally very good offerings. On the first night we ate at the Pinnacle. I had a tender porterhouse so big it barely fit on the large oversized plate they served it on. Being one of only 3 or 4 couples in on this first night at the Pinnacle, service was outstanding and we were sent-off with a small ad hoc aluminum foil basket of assorted chocolates to finish in our cabin. We've done both Pinnacle and Le Cirque and these specialty dining experiences always leave me feeling like I get more than my money's worth for the upgraded dining experience. We like to relax and enjoy the sit-down breakfasts, lunches and dinners and generally skip Lido buffet dinning. Here again, service was generally excellent with one minor lapse on a breakfast that forgot to include the "whipped butter" with the pancakes. That was quickly corrected by the next day's breakfast. Cappuccino is now charged for, but I found the coffee flavor much improved over past offerings when it was included in the price. For me, it was worth it at less than $2 per cup. Room service was used for appetizers before dinner and afternoon snacks. The grilled chicken sandwich was really good with juicy slices of avocado. The assorted cheeses had nice variety, but they could include a slightly higher quality cracker in place of the saltines...minor point. The smoked salmon appertizer was just right with generous amounts of capers. The shipped never felt crowded, and the Adagio (classical) and Neptunes (jazz) musicians were top notch...made for very enjoyable, relaxing after dinner entertainment. These venues were never crowded. We took the train up to Anchorage which offered great scenery. HAL definetely knows how to do Alaska. Next time, we'll add the excursions up to Denali and will probably cruise south-bound enjoying the great food and service. If sailing out of Vancouver, I would recommend coming in a few days early. Vancouver is one of North America's most beautiful cities. Take a day trip to Vancouver Island and visit Victoria and Butchart Gardens. Read Less
Sail Date September 2013
We sailed on the Zaandam in 2008, and the ship is showing its age. cushions in the show lounge are worn and uncomfortable. We picked this cruise for its value and length, plus we only had to fly one way. We were never bored, and the 18 ... Read More
We sailed on the Zaandam in 2008, and the ship is showing its age. cushions in the show lounge are worn and uncomfortable. We picked this cruise for its value and length, plus we only had to fly one way. We were never bored, and the 18 days did not feel too long. The staff were great, and the length of the cruise let us get to know them by name. This is not a party cruise, by the time we got to San Diego the crows nest music and dance bar was empty most nights. I'm not a buffet fan and was disappointed every time we ate there pre cooked food that's never hot enough. We would usually get salad from the buffet and then go to the grill by the pool, good bbq fare including salmon fillets. The dining room food was excellent, we chose open dining, and often the two of us at alone, our choice. Hal did a good job accommodating my wife who is gluten intolerant, even though we didn't give them notice. Ports- Astoria was interesting, could walk the town easy enough, lots of volunteers to help you. San Diego was close to town also, lots to do if you chose. Cabo San Lucas was tender only, so time on shore was limited. Hualtulco had a beach right on the end of the pier, all the other piers were in industrial areas. The most disappointing port was Puerto Ciapas, a half hour shuttle (not free either) from town. The further south we got the more humid it was. Costa Rica and Columbia were great, lots of history We are disappointed to learn about Hal's change in alcohol policy in 2014, can only bring one bottle of wine on a embarkation only, members of my family cruised with Hal because previously we could bring on as much wine or champagne as we could carry in each port. At least they have multiple happy hours, one drink is $6, the 2nd is $1. The movie theater on board good, but the seats were worn. The entertainment in the show lounge was mostly great. The canal transit was well done, narrative given over the loudspeakers to give info . Read Less
Sail Date September 2013
This was our fifth cruise with HAL (and ninth overall) and also the longest we’ve ever taken with any cruise line. Our first time however on the ‘Zaandam’ which is a little smaller with fewer decks than some ships we’ve been on. ... Read More
This was our fifth cruise with HAL (and ninth overall) and also the longest we’ve ever taken with any cruise line. Our first time however on the ‘Zaandam’ which is a little smaller with fewer decks than some ships we’ve been on. Because of the time of the year and the length of the cruise, we in our fifties were among the youngest passengers there! First time that’s happened in a while. We stayed in a ‘vista suite’ on the port side verandah deck which had both lots of storage room and a nice balcony. We were concerned a little about the large number of ‘sea days’ (nine in all), made necessary by the long distance travelled between Vancouver, bc and Fort Lauderdale, FL. We needn’t have been, for HAL had all kinds of activities arranged. Not just veiled efforts to sell you things such as art or jewellery either (though they had those!), but lectures and presentations on history, art, computers, and culinary activities. That’s in addition to the usual poolside stuff. Some interesting destinations on this trip too, including a number places we’d never been. I have to single out the stop in costa rica (Puerto calderon). Though the port itself was uninspiring, our excursion to the rain forest and aerial tramway was among the best we’ve done. Goes without saying I guess that the panama canal is an engineering marvel and a sight to see. It's coming up on its centennial just as they are nearing completion of new locks able to handle larger ships. I do recommend to all travellers that they do the panama canal from a west coast port to an east coast one; that way the canal is toward the end and serves as a fitting climax to the cruise. You do take a small chance this time of year for storms and it is the rainy season but neither of these affected our cruise in the least. Just lucky I guess. Service and food was up to the usual HAL standard, but in particular the dining room staff were noteworthy for their friendly and professional attitudes. Entertainment also was very good, with comics, magicians, jugglers and singers rather than the usual tired revues you often see with lip synching and pre recorded music. I have to say that the ship’s band (the “HALcats”) were among the busiest group on board; we saw them everywhere. Worth noting that the Zaandam went into drydock immediately following the cruise for some upgrades to both cabins and public areas. From what was described to us, these changes will only improve what this ship has to offer. Nothing about this cruise changed our view that HAL is a superior cruise company and we will certainly use them again.   Read Less
Sail Date September 2013
Our group of three couples chose the Denali add on where we flew into Fairbanks, then took the scenic train to Denali, and a second scenic train to Anchorage, and a final scenic train to Seward before boarding the Zandaam for a downbound ... Read More
Our group of three couples chose the Denali add on where we flew into Fairbanks, then took the scenic train to Denali, and a second scenic train to Anchorage, and a final scenic train to Seward before boarding the Zandaam for a downbound trip to Vancouver. Downbound is recommended as it provides the relaxation of the cruise after living out of your suitcase. The land portion of the trip was most impressive. Luggage Handling HAL excelled in this area. One bag stays with you and is in your various rooms before you arrive. The other goes directly to the ship from Fairbanks and is in your room when you arrive. Likewise, your luggage will be waiting for you in the airport in Vancouver. Outstanding! Fairbanks The two tours provided by HAL and included with your add on were exceptionally well done. They were two of the best tours we have taken. The lunch provided on the gold dredge tour is so so. Hats off to the people of Fairbanks and the other locales. They truly understand how to do tourism. The Westmark is an adequate hotel. The public areas are nice. The rooms need a makeover, but are fine otherwise. The hotel is located a few short blocks from the downtown area, which is safe and clean. There are things to do there that will entertain tourists. I can highly recommend Big Daddy's BBQ, which was featured on Diners, Drive Ins, and Dives on the Food Network. Also highly recommended is the Thai House. Reservations are recommended for the latter. We split at both restaurants and had plenty to eat and paid prices similar to the lower 48. You will have plenty of salmon to eat along the way, so be patient and have it later. Scenic Train Ride to Denali This is a very nice experience! Watch for moose!!! Denali You stay at a very large resort with exceptional transportation services. The lodge is a nice facility, but seems to need some maintenance TLC. I understand HAL is buying it from the current owners. Hopefully, HAL will attend to these somewhat minor issues that the current owners may be putting off pending the sale of the development. Your best food will be found across the highway from the complex. Try the salmon bake and pizza restaurant. If you have mobility problems, call the restaurant and they will pick you up at the main chalet. The included tour is very nice. You will have beautiful scenery and will see many large animals. The animals are widely spaced and require a keen eye to find sometimes, but they are there. The Husky Homestead Tour is a hoot. Book it! Scenic Train to Anchorage Very nice! Anchorage HAL provided us with the Hilton, which is one of two venues there. It was very nice. There is not a great deal to do near the hotel, so use the time for rest. Scenic Train to Seward Beautiful scenery and the train pulls right up to the ship. Well done! Summary HAL provides a first class experience with the Denali add on. Zandaam and HAL We have cruised a lot and have our own pecking order for rating ships and cruise lines. We start with food. We like to try new things and do not insist on American style food, which is often bland with large portions. Service and staff friendliness is next. The cleanlinest of the ship follows. These are the big three. With this in mind and without adding HAL, we rate the cruise lines in the following order: Excellent 1) Celebrity, Very Good 2) Norwegian, Good (3) Princess, ranked lower due to very average food, (4) Fair Royal Caribbean, ranked lower due to below average food and a ship atmosphere not to our choosing, (5) Will Not Cruise Carnival, due to one horrendous cruise experience with them. After cruising with HAL, we would add it to the Excellent category, just a whisker behind Celebrity. Celebrity seems to do what HAL does and adds some unexpected and occasionally surprising touches, which we did not experience on Zandaam. Otherwise, the two lines are quite similar in quality. The food on Zandaam was excellent in both the dining room and Lido buffet. Oddly, food poolside was slow and below average. The cruise staff was friendly and outgoing. The dining and room staff were primarily Indonesian. They were friendly and tried very hard to give good service, but language problems sometimes were apparent. This led to somewhat uneven service. The ship was squeaky clean and the staff was very proud of its 100% cleanliness rating. With that said, Zandaam is 13 years old and shows some wear and tear, which will no doubt be addressed at the time of refurbishing. Entertainment was a strong point. The dancers and singers used the somewhat small stage well and didn't try to and put on a Vegas style extravaganza, which often looks out of place on cruise ship stages. The performers were some of the best we have seen. The outside entertainment always varies on board. We saw a fair magician and an excellent comedian. The lounge entertainment was very good. The ship itself is hard to describe. The best word I can come up with is "stately". Although built in 2000, it seems older, as if deliberately designed to harken back to a more traditional type of cruising. It has a musical and historical theme aboard. All the artwork tells a story, which we really liked. Be sure and read the gold tags next to each piece. There are some flow issues aboard and a couple of choke points, although you will never feel crowded. The ship is ideal for an Alaskan sailing as it boasts a retractable roof over the pool area. On the downside, Zandaam lacks a "wow" factor. The small atrium is filled with a concrete looking Baroque pipe organ with a number of cherubs. It occasionally has the cherubs hit a musical note. I personally found it hideous. The showroom is also a jumble of colors and does not impress visually, although it provides an intimate atmosphere for the entertainment. The pool area is so so. In addition, the shop area is ho hum. These are the areas where a ship normally makes a design statement. Zandaam does not. With that said, the ship grows on you and feels comfortable. I note that passenger reviews consistently rate Zandaam higher than the website lead review. I would guess the difference is found in the visual impression Zandaam makes. I could see the key reviewer giving a lower score for the ship because of this, while the passengers dismiss the appearance and focus on the food, service, cleanliness, entertainment, etc. Regarding children, they DO cruise on HAL. The ship has a youth program and there were 70 children on board. With that said, you will find that most cruisers would best be described as young at heart and active seniors. We found our fellow passengers to be some of the most enjoyable we have encountered. HAL keeps the same group of passengers together on the trains and buses, so you do form some nice first name relationships. Just a note on ports, Haines will give you a view of a real Alaskan community. Juneau and Ketchikan have changed so much that is almost hard to believe. Both have been transformed into Caribbean style shopping streets and even use words like "pirates" and "Caribbean". Sad. Get away from the dock area in both and search for a more authentic experience, especially in Ketchikan's historic district. Overall this was a VERY nice cruise. We will seriously consider HAL when making future cruise plans.   Read Less
Sail Date August 2013
Sometimes I get off a cruise and then read the reviews and wonder if I was on the same ship as some of the reviewers. I was a little worried about our planned trip on the Zaandam from Vancouver to Seward when I read some reviews that were ... Read More
Sometimes I get off a cruise and then read the reviews and wonder if I was on the same ship as some of the reviewers. I was a little worried about our planned trip on the Zaandam from Vancouver to Seward when I read some reviews that were so negative. The food was awful, the beds were terrible, the ship was old and the cabins and bathrooms smelled, the wait staff were surly, ETC, ETC. I don't know what ship these folks were really on, but it sure wasn't the Zaandam that I was on. We took the cruise tour and left Vancouver August 18th and cruised to Seward arriving on August 25th. From there we transferred to a train to Anchorage, spent the night there and took the next day train to Denali. We spent a day in Denali and then went on to Fairbanks and flew home from there. The ground portion of the trip was spectacular. We took the ground tour (Tundra Wilderness tour) and saw Grizzly Bears, Moose, Caribou, and Mountain Sheep, as well as eagles and maybe a wolf but couldn't positively identify that one. But since this is a review of the Zaandam, I will write mostly about our ship experience. Boarding was easy. We took a bus up from Seattle that deposited us at the pier. It took all of about 15 minutes to check in. I would give HAL an A+ for the ease of check-in. We were on board around 2 PM and our cabin was ready. Luggage was delivered in about an hour. We quickly met our cabin attendant who was always smiling and trying to please. We were on the Dolphin deck which was deck 1. We had an ocean view cabin with the beds together . The cabin itself was quite spacious and had much more storage than the Celebrity Solstice which was the last ship we sailed on. We had lots of drawer space as well as plenty of room to hang up all our clothes. The bathroom was clean and didn't smell. The cabin attendants kept it clean for our entire trip. It was old with tile that was dated but everything worked. One note is the shower was "different" to turn on. We had to call the cabin attendant to show me how to make the shower work. I wasn't the only one as we talked to others at dinner who had the same problem. Some people up on deck 6 had a sign in their room explaining how but those of us down in the basement were left to fend for ourselves. The secret is you pull down on the faucet spout but if you aren't familiar with the system you don't see where to pull down. It really isn't obvious. Other than that everything about the bathroom was functional. We even had a full bathtub although we just used it as a shower. My only complaint about the room is it did not have a refrigerator. Cabins on upper decks did but not on deck 1. Our cabin attendant did keep us supplied with a steady supply of ice in a large champaign style bucket so we could keep stuff cold. Still I would have appreciated a refrigerator. I always fill a large thermos type coffee cup with orange juice at breakfast and take it back to the room to drink later in the day. HAL only serves orange juice at breakfast so you have to get it then if you like OJ. I would keep it cold all day by putting the container in the ice bucket. It worked but would have been easier with the refrigerator. We ate all our dinners in the main dining room. I have read of people complaining about slow service and taking too long for dinner. Well it is a cruise and long relaxing dinners with many courses brought by attentive waiters is one of the reasons I like cruising. We always asked to be seated at a shared table and usually were seated at a table for 8. The first question to our table mates was (where are you from?). Even though dinner could take up to two hours, it didn't seem that long because we were deep into conversation with our new friends. We usually ate around 6 PM and normally were seated right away. I really like that HAL now has the open seating as an option. If you don't like your dinner entree, you can ask for a replacement and they bring you something else. The only bad meal I had was the Halibut. It was over done and really not very good. Other than that the food was really very good. We had surf and turf with lobster with filet mignon one night and several people opted for two lobster tails and no steak. That was not a problem, although I had both and they were both excellent Many of the food complaints were about the food served in cafeteria buffet. I really can't comment on that because I only ate there for breakfast on port days. Otherwise I was in the main dining room. I saw no need to try the specialty restaurants as the main dining room offered a good variety of choices and didn't cost extra. Shows, I went to a comedy show and a magician show. Both were excellent. In fact the comedian was actually a ventriloquist and was really really good. The theater isn't very large so if you wanted a good seat it is best to arrive at least 15 minutes early. They also had singing and dancing shows but that isn't my thing so I can't comment on those. Ports were interesting. Ketchikan we walked around over by Creek street and saw the salmon coming up the creek. There were thousands of fish and it was quite spectacular. We had been to Ketchikan before so we just walked around town, checked on our internet etc. Juneau, we took a tour out to Mendenhal glacier. You can do this on your own as they sell tours at the dock. At the glacier there is a salmon stream that had a mother bear and her two cubs fishing. I got some great photos. When we got back to town, we still had a lot of time until the ship was to leave. Mt. Roberts has a sky train that costs $31 for a ride to the top and views of the area. We decided to climb up as there is a trail. After 4.1 miles and around 2000 feet elevation gain, we made it to the top. The trail is not in good shape, lots of tree roots and pretty steep. My wife says she wouldn't do it again but if you are in decent shape it is a good way to work off some of those shipboard calories. It took us about an hour and a half from the ship to the top. We rode the tram down and that was free if you spent $10 a person at their restaurant or gift store. Not hard to spend $10 when a beer cost $6 and after that climb, the beer was very good. Skagway was our next port call and we took the White Pass train ride. It was very good but we took the morning train and it was cloudy on top. The people on the afternoon train said they had good views on top. One hint, go to the cars near the front of the train as they are less crowded. The cruise portion ended in Seward. Some people stayed on for a return back to back cruise. Others were bused or took the train to Anchorage for a flight home and we along with many others started our land tour. If I was doing it again, I would have opted to spend more time in Denali. We lucked out on the weather and had great vies of the mountain. We also took the early tour for the Tundra Wilderness Tour as that is the tour that gets you deep into the park and gives you the best chance of seeing wildlife. Our tour left at 6:20 AM so we could be back in time to catch the train to Fairbanks. By leaving early, we saw more animals than tours that left late so if you decide to take this tour, try to get on the earliest one you can. Overall, I really enjoyed my time on the Zaandam. Good food, and nice people. Really not a lot to complain about. Read Less
Sail Date August 2013
This was our first cruise. Out trip included a land tour which started in Fairbanks and we traveled by train to Denali, then on to Anchorage and Seward. Because of an excursion to the Portage Glacier, we were the last group to board the ... Read More
This was our first cruise. Out trip included a land tour which started in Fairbanks and we traveled by train to Denali, then on to Anchorage and Seward. Because of an excursion to the Portage Glacier, we were the last group to board the ship and the process was very fast and efficient. Our cabin was on the main deck, mid-ship, and comfortable, we were not bothered by excessive engine noise or vibrations. It was clean and the service was excellent. We had room service breakfasts, lunch at the Lido buffet and dinner in the Rotterdam main dining room. The food in the Rotterdam was much better than the Lido. Portions were smaller that what we Americans have come to expect, but we always came away feeling satisfied. We did not eat at the grill by the pool, nor did we go to the Pinnacle Grill or the Italian restaurant. We had open seating for dinner and some evenings were able to eat by ourselves and other evenings we were seated with others. Service was excellent and some of the servers were helpful in selecting wines. Entertainment in the lounge varied each night, and some nights were better than others. there were other activities such as art auctions and jewelry and watch events but we did not attend. The casino apparently is the one area where people can smoke, you could really smell it. We enjoyed the Explorations cafe for coffee and a snack. Internet access was pricey, we bought a plan for 100 minutes for $55 and then needed to get some additional time on the last day so we could check in and print our boarding passes. They also charged an access fee and then a continuation fee, and 25 cents for each page when we printed our passes. expensive paper. Disembarkation in Vancouver was efficient and we arrived at the airport in plenty of time to check in and go through U.S. customs and immigration before our flight. All in all this was a very good experience for us and we will not hesitate to plan another cruise.   Read Less
Sail Date July 2013
Scenery on land tour amazing. Not as impressed with other services. Was fantastic making friends on land that carried onto ship. Embarkation: we arrived around 3:30 after Kenai Fjords boat tour. No wait and quickly arrived in our cabin. ... Read More
Scenery on land tour amazing. Not as impressed with other services. Was fantastic making friends on land that carried onto ship. Embarkation: we arrived around 3:30 after Kenai Fjords boat tour. No wait and quickly arrived in our cabin. We had reserved a cabin on main floor and upgraded to a balcony on 6th deck a couple of weeks before departure. Our cabin was great. Stewart Jo-Jo was great. Fresh fruit when requested, c and clean towels. Plenty of storage, enjoyed the robes. Also enjoyed the lap blankets on the balcony. We used our port balcony most days, especially when cruising Glacier Bay. My husband spotted orca whales one morning. Food: we ate most of our meals in the Rotterdam main dining room. The food and service were great. Our evening waitor, Toby, remembered our drink preferences. We tried the Lido once for lunch and again once for dinner. Lunch I didn't find much that appealed. For dinner, I requested the salmon and had to return in ten minutes. It was fresh, hot and good, but the rest of te table was on to dessert. We ordered room service for breakfast two times. It always arrived within the requested time, was hot and fresh. Entertainment: we went to two shows in the main theatre. Northern Lights was good, bit only 35 minutes. We also went to the crews' show which was entertaining. I caught some cooking demos which I enjoyed. I also did one craft (wished they had had more craft demos.) we enjoyed the piano bar with David most evenings, also liked music in Ocean Bar. Ports: we did nature hike in Haines. Only highlight was seeing a moose with her calf. We could have done the hike on park trail and gone slower so we could have looked around. In Juneau we did the native canoe to the face of Mendellhall Glacier. We had fun, but wished we had gone whale watching with friends. My husband went up the Mt. Roberts tramway. He wanted to hike once there, but trails were closed due to snow. In Ketchikan we went zip-lining. We didn't see any bears, but the scenery was pretty. It was a rainy day, but we didn't notice it in the treetops. It was definitely a fun experience. Disembarkation: we were late getting docked, but once it was started, everything went smoothly. We watched from our balcony until it was our turn. Only downer of cruise was "scenic cruising of inside passage." We had a day at sea, followed by sailing inside passage at night. Unable to see anything in the dark! Read Less
Sail Date June 2013
We had cruised on Zaandam in 2010 on a Circle Hawaii cruise.. we met a couple from the Roll call, and have cruised with them in 2012 and this cruise plus my brother and Sister in law, who also cruised last year with us. We boarded Amtrak ... Read More
We had cruised on Zaandam in 2010 on a Circle Hawaii cruise.. we met a couple from the Roll call, and have cruised with them in 2012 and this cruise plus my brother and Sister in law, who also cruised last year with us. We boarded Amtrak from Edmonds, WA to Vancouver, there were the 4 of us on the train, and would meet the other couple on board. (they were Canadians). We arrived at Amtrak on time, and took a taxi to the ship, the cost for 2 was around $10.00 (we needed 2 taxis for all the luggage).We arrived at the ship and check in was smooth and easy! We were able to go to our cabin immediately and drop off our carry on luggage, our cabin had a red ribbon on the door, I questioned the steward, and his reply was that it had been a "show" cabin. We then went to the Welcome back Mariner lunch. We met up with our Canadian friends and had a wonderful seat in the very back of the dining room, next to the windows. after lunch we went to our cabins and unpacked. We found the Zaandam to be in better shape than when we sailed in 2010, there had been a problem with a broken window on the lido, and one of the elevators never worked all the time we had been on board... those items had been fixed! Our cabin was fine, the bed was comfortable, the air conditioning was not cool enough for my DH, I went up to the office and requested a fan, which they didn't really give me an answer to, I think they said they would see what could be done, they send someone in to check the air, and it was around 73 degrees in the cabin. We sailed the inside passage, leaving Vancouver around 5pm, the inside passage was nice and calm, however I think maybe most of it was sailed during the night. Our first port was Ketchikan, it was a nice day, no rain, my brother and I went to the "Funicul" that goes up from Creek street to a large hotel at the top of the hill. the cost was $2.00 for all day, we looked through the hotel, and the grounds, there were some totem poles in a group, and quite a few other things to look at in the hotel, a small museum upstairs, no charge, a lovely view of the ship, and a latte stand, if you like lattes! Our next port was Juneau, it was still very warm in our room, and no relief, so DH thought we should take the city bus out to Walmart, the cost...$2.00 there were vans that would take you to Walmart, but they wanted $10.00 pp!!  we bought a fan for our room, and caught the bus bus back to the ship. Most cruisers would go to Mendenhal Glacier, but we have been there many times! When boarding the ship, the security said they would have to confiscate our fan!! I protested, and they instructed me to go to the office with the fan. the office said they would have to send an electrician to our cabin to inspect the fan, and to bring us one of their extention cords! so I waited in my cabin for the inspection..... I left the fan, and went out of the cabin, when I returned the office had sent a stand up fan to our room!! we put ours in our closet and used the HAL fan. We ordered room service every morning for coffee and a roll, or muffin, a few times my husband went up to the Lido for an omelet, which he said got a little better as the cruise progressed.. I ate breakfast 4 times in the lido, and usually had lunch at the grill on the lido, we ate all of our meals in the MDR, the service was good, usually it took 1 1/2 hr to eat... we were lucky and got the same table and time all 14 days!! we were assigned open seating, there was not a choice when we booked, which was almost a full year before! I got to the tea once, there were a couple of Mariner lunches, which we attended and a nice lunch for those of us that were sailing on the B2B, which numbered 101 of us. We also had a nice cocktail party, where champagne, wine and hors de ouvers were served! We ate in the Pinnacle grill on night, I personally was not impressed by the PG or the service, I had a filet mignon, which was huge!!! my husband and my friend's husband ordered the tbone, which was also very large. my friend ordered the lobster, she said it was delicious, but it was very tiny!! My dessert in the PG was crème brulee, but didn't measure up to the one I had in the MDR one night. We all noticed that the baked potatoes seemed to not be done.... even in the PG, they were not done. This is the first cruise that had the white chair covers on the chairs for formal night, I had read about them, but never had them on any of our other cruises! The service on the ship was wonderful, and always cheerfully given. the food left a little to be desired, but we certainly didn't starve!! I was hoping for one of those chocolate extravaganzas, but there was none. Read Less
Sail Date June 2013
This was our 4th time on this class of ship and each time I fall in love all over again. The ship is small enough that you can navigate well, elevators go to most floors (forward ones go higher) and basically three floors is where ... Read More
This was our 4th time on this class of ship and each time I fall in love all over again. The ship is small enough that you can navigate well, elevators go to most floors (forward ones go higher) and basically three floors is where everything is located. My review will be formatted a bit different but I wanted to touch on some things that do not seem to be addressed in other reviews. Collector's Voyage: There are perks to this such as invites to lunches and cocktail parties and even a Pinnacle dinner. Two seven day segments were combined to make this a collector’s cruise so we were able to enjoy these extra perks. The first day we were given a list of the entertainment and movies so we could plan accordingly. My opinion of ships condition: VERY GOOD! The ship’s hull was being repainted on our voyage although it did not appear it needed it. The lower promenade was constantly being worked on with grinding, repainting and such. They will occasionally block the area so you cannot walk by, but that would be for just a short period. Please note if your cabin is on the lower promenade you may be subject to some noise during the day due to ongoing maintenance. The carpeting on the stairs and around the elevators appeared to be new. Our Cabin: We opted for a main deck quad cabin aft. Even with four of us (two teens) there was plenty of space to unpack all our stuff and there is more than one closet (we each had one). HAL hangers take up a lot of room in the closet, so you may want to bring some plastic or wire hangers from home. Not a ton of drawer space but the closets are dual purpose with shelves for folded clothes and can be lowered to create more hanging space. There is only one electrical outlet in the room so you may want to bring an extender, with one we were able to charge two things at a time. I found collapsible boxes at Walgreens and they were great for storing phones, cords, cameras and such. We were even able to put one in the window sill since it is deep. The beds have deep storage underneath and we were able to store three large suitcases and a large duffle bag. Cabin Steward: You will get in a “groove” with your stewards so they know the best time to clean the room in the morning and for turn down service at night. The kids slept later, so our room was not cleaned until 12-1, when we left the room we would always put the “Service Please” card in the door when we left the room. We kept the room very tidy with nothing laying around that had to be cleaned around or picked up, these folks work hard enough and the least we can do is pick up after ourselves (which we do at home anyway). Cabin layout: If you are in a quad with four, have the main bed separated for the duration of your cruise. The fourth bed lowers from the ceiling and will be directly above one of the lower beds. If you keep the beds together, it will be difficult for the person on that side to get out of bed easily without bumping your head. Also having the beds separated, you can easily get to the window to view wildlife outside. TV: Lots of stations, scroll with the remote and you can find the station guide. The day after the movie in shown in the theater it will play on the TV. There is also a DVD player in the room. Select from the booklet and go to the front desk to check out(have some alternatives, just in case). Bathroom: Okay the ship is older and they do their best to keep it in top condition but the tile is pink (as someone else pointed out) and may be a bit outdated. If having a totally updated cabin/bathroom you will need to do your research and most likely sail a newer vessel. They do their best to keep the caulk looking good, but with so much moisture in the bathroom it may not be perfect. There is one corner medicine cabinet that two could easily share and there is a shelf below the sink. We also used more collapsible drawers to contain the toiletries. There is a body wash, shampoo and conditioner dispenser in the shower. The hair dryer in the bathroom is useless, so don't even try! I think these must have been standard in the design at the time. You will find a dryer in the top drawer of the desk. It is a 1600 watt dryer with a 220 plug. This was convenient since there is one 220 outlet and do not have to unplug the charging phone to use the dryer! We did note a sewer smell on occasion in the bathroom, I just plugged the drain in the bathtub and sink and that took care of it. Laundry: Great value for 4 at $49.00 for each leg of the voyage. Laundry by the bag is $20.00 and would have been fine for just two of us. There are coin operated laundries on the ship at $2.00 per load but the time I peeked in, it was a party! I've noticed the same on other HAL and Princess ships, there are always a lot of people wanting to use the machines. We choose not to try and compete for the machines and just pay. Bring a stain pre-treater if you are going to be in a wet climate or have kids! The mud stains DD's boyfriends sweatshirt did not come out in the laundry. The whites were not great (dingy) and we rewashed all the whites when we got home. Dining: We had open dining the first segment and fixed the second. Something happened on HAL's side as we should have had fixed the entire time, but we made it work. We were able to make reservations for each night at the same table (not the first night… crazy!!!) all in all it worked out. They switched us to fixed seating for the second leg which we did not know about ahead of time but received a card in our mail slot. We found the dining room food to be very good, no complaints from any of us. If someone does not like something just order another dish. You will never go hungry on a cruise ship. Lido-With the exception of the first 48 hours you are able to self- serve certain sections of the Lido. All the main dishes are served to you just tell the staff what you would like and they will hand a plate to you. Terrace Grill- You can get burgers, hotdogs and fries at the window. Full Mexican spread is in hot trays as well as pizza. Pinnacle Grill- We ate there once which was very enjoyable and a nice change from the dining room, both in food quality and service. The portions are large, so bring your appetite! Canaletto: We also ate here once, food was okay. We had reservations and they did not have a table for us. A group of the HAL dancers/singers were dining in there at the time and they all got up at once and left and voila, there was our table. They must have a problem with no-shows here and allowed the HAL staff to dine earlier and would be allowed to stay longer for dessert (they were done with dinner) if the next group did not show up. I felt bad for them they were asked to leave. Explorations Café- A pay for coffee bar but you can also get soft drinks there. I did notice that they will deliver to your room between certain hours. Snacks displayed in case free of charge. Room Service: We only used room service twice for Bar Service; we did bring dollar bills to tip. Library: Plenty of hardback books to check out but also has a lending library for paperbacks. You do not have to check out the paperbacks with the librarian. Entertainment: We normally do not go the the production shows since they seem to be "cheesy" but we did enjoy the HAL singers and dancers production of Rockin Roadhouse and Northern Lights. Quite a bit of thought and creativity has been put into the sets and costumes and made for a better show. We lucked out with Joel Mason's tribute to Elton John on the second leg, we've seen him twice before and enjoyed his show very much. I wish he had been able to perform his Eagles tribute, maybe next time...The comedian and magician were good as well. Stores: Small stores but has a little bit of everything and the normal “sidewalk sales”. Shore Excursions: We pre-booked online prior to embarking. Scroll through HAL’s shore excursions (through your booking #) to see what is available for your sailing. I personally would not want to wait to hear what the shore excursion department offers, it’s the same as what’s online. Book air excursions early! Smoking: We are not smokers and there were very few smokers on each sailing. After walking through the Casino I stopped at the Casino Bar (where a no smoking sign is displayed) and asked if the Casino was non- smoking. The bartender told me there is a small section in the Casino for smoking but I never saw an ashtray or anyone smoking for that matter. I know one side of the aft pool area is smoking and signs are displayed. Nickel & Diming: I never felt pushed or even asked more than once (water) to buy anything. I knew about the water being sold in the dining room (pretty container) but the dining room water is good. Hot chocolate in the Lido is free of charge but not when you get it in the pretty cup on the Lower Promenade deck in Glacier Bay. We bought the water in the room and then refilled the bottles from the bathroom sink. THE WATER IS GOOD! Embarkation/Debarkation: We arrived at Canada Place at 11:00am walked right to check in (no wait) and were seated for a short-time but we were on the ship by 12:30pm. No complaints here. When we left the ship, our color was called right on time and we were off the ship, luggage in hand and waiting for our HAL sponsored transfer within 30 minutes. There were two ships in that morning (as well when we left) but all of it is organized chaos. There is plenty of staff for direction if you get confused. Once again we are happy cruisers and cannot wait until our next HAL voyage!   Read Less
Sail Date June 2013
The inside passage was terrific we even were lucky to have sun in all the ports.the ship never seemed crowded and other than disembarkation all went smoothly. Leaving the ship was delayed by passengers who required Canadian visas not ... Read More
The inside passage was terrific we even were lucky to have sun in all the ports.the ship never seemed crowded and other than disembarkation all went smoothly. Leaving the ship was delayed by passengers who required Canadian visas not reporting to the requested authorities , this was despite multiple requests, so the local authorities delayed all of us. We boarded the ship quickly with great assistance of a gent called Ian. Our room was ready and luggage arrived shortly. The room attendants were as good as it gets. Good new shows were offered and we liked the magician and the Northern Lights the best. The Rotterdam offered good choices and our wait staff were excellent at dinner. The Skagway trolley tour with guide Nikki was one amazing, the trolley tour in ketichikan a disappointment, little history was shared and it was overpriced and very short, the guide spent more time asking us to give him a good review and telling dumb jokes than sharing this great place. The unlimited laundry is a favorite as it allows me to pack less. Storage in our Veranda suite was extensive. WiFi service was outrageous and we choose not to use it. The"best" price was $250.00 for 1000 minutes and .75 cents per minute with out a plan. Many complained service was spotty. We enjoy the smaller ships and the traditional great service of HAL Read Less
Sail Date May 2013
We are experienced world travelers, but we had not cruised since 1976, so we weren't sure what to expect. We booked the cruise/tour on the Zaandam. The destination (Alaska) was the draw rather than the cruise. Since we haven't ... Read More
We are experienced world travelers, but we had not cruised since 1976, so we weren't sure what to expect. We booked the cruise/tour on the Zaandam. The destination (Alaska) was the draw rather than the cruise. Since we haven't cruised for many years, we have no point of comparison, as other frequent cruisers have. Four ships sailed from Vancouver the day we sailed, so there was a very long line at the terminal. Once we got through the maze of passengers for all ships and were directed to our cruise embarkation point, the process went fast. Except for the pre-prepared food in the Lido Restaurant, the cruise and land tour exceeded our expectations. The crew and staff were friendly and helpful. The activities and entertainment were enjoyable. We found the ship to be clean and well-maintained. Some painting was in progress while we were at sea. The carpets could be replaced, but they weren't threadbare. Our cabin (1954) on Deck 1 was comfortable for two persons with plenty of storage space. Our cabin was quiet, except when the ship was being maneuvered into port and the thrusters were in use, but there was a sign on the wall about this, so we weren't alarmed. We didn't feel much motion on this lower deck.My only complaint was that the pre-prepared hot food in the Lido Restaurant wasn't hot and the quality didn't meet my standards. The cooked-to-order omelets were good as were the Panini, but the everything else was served at room temperature. We preferred to eat in the Rotterdam Dining Room, it took too much time to eat breakfast on the mornings we had shore excursions, so we ate in the Lido. Breakfast in the Lido was fine, all things considered. Since luxurious accommodations are not a priority for us, and we are looking for value in our travel choices, we would travel with Holland America again. Read Less
Sail Date May 2013
Even as a solo cruiser paying nearly double the advertised rate I came away realizing that not only did I have a great time but I received much more than I paid for. The Zaandam is an exceptional experience and after reading the scores of ... Read More
Even as a solo cruiser paying nearly double the advertised rate I came away realizing that not only did I have a great time but I received much more than I paid for. The Zaandam is an exceptional experience and after reading the scores of negative reviews I fail to understand the reviewers' conception of reality. EMBARKATION: I was informed ahead of time from Holland America and my travel agent of a possible delay in boarding due to extensive construction around the pier and the fact that two ships were at the pier simultaneously. Although I arrived ahead of suggested times I found things to be very well organized and the process of boarding was seamless. Pier staff were friendly, helpful and happy to answer questions about the process. CABIN: I booked juat a guaranteed room and was very pleased to receive 2645 just slightly aft of center on deck 2. It was spacious and its sideways placement along the corridor made it seem larger than it was. It was configured as a queen and had incredibly comfortable mattresses in a spotless setting. I will book a similar room again without hesitation. PUBLIC ROOMS: I was amazed at the spaciousness of the public areas, even with 1,400 people on board it never seemed crowed and most times it appeared nearly empty. Housekeeping on the Zaandam is immaculate, staff are constantly cleaning surfaces that are touched by passengers as well as baseboards, corners behind doors and of course the brass. As a former hotelier I was impressed at the diligence to detail of the housekeeping staff. Lets be clear here, there are differences between being clean and having stains. Stains are often impossible to remove and spills on a rocking ship are expected - a stain is not dirt! I applaud the Zaandam's housekeeping department for exceptional performance. SHIPS CONDITION: The design of a ship has a lot to do with how it ages or appears to its clientele. The Zaandam had its 13th Birthday while we were on board and in that regard it was well cared for. The complaints about rust on the hull or pitted window trims are petty remarks from those who are not living in reality. Whild on board I noted maintenance crew on decks wirebrushing railing frames, resanding and varnishing railings and performing checks on the operation of tender/lifeboat lines etc. This ship is extremely seaworthy and has a knowledgable crew. DINING: WOW, what incredible choices and gourmet quality - I wanted to take the baker home with me! The Pinnacle Grill is simply pampered elegance with attentive service and artistic presentations. Well worth the premium charge. Open seating in the Rotterdam was perfect for me and being seated with others was a delightful expeience. I met many wonderful people that I would not otherwise crossed paths with. The Lido offered a wide variety of choices and I enjoyed being able to choose, point and enjoy delicacies that I would not otherwise have selected. These culinary professionals are definately trying to be #1 in the industry.s ENTERTAINMENT: I don't go out very often but I was pleased at the offerings on the Zaandam. The house band (the HAL Cats)were very competent and versatile. They filled in on other acts as well as performing on their own with May - a unique vocalist with an amazing repertoire. I totally enjoyed the individuals and groups that performed througout the ship. A highlight to me was the Philipino Crew's performance honoring their homeland and explanations of their heritage - a further exhibition of talents outside their regular assigned posts. Although it was not exactly entertainment, the Digital Workshop offerings by Tricia were excellent and I learned a great deal that I would never have devoted time to at home. Thanks Holland America for this superb facility. SHIPS STAFF: From Captain PJ on the Bridge to those we never saw below the waterline - everyone was very professional, courtious, helpful and always smiling. It was obviously a happy crew that loved one another as well as those in their care. Kudos to all of them that give their all to make our voyage memorable. DEBARKATION: Getting off was as simple as getting on, good organization just makes it work that way. ALL IN ALL: Phenomenal! Read Less
Sail Date April 2013
This was our 3rd cruise and we are planning another! The Zaandam was the smallest ship so far that we have sailed and we were not disappointed at all. Yes she was showing her age on the outside, but the inside was always clean and free ... Read More
This was our 3rd cruise and we are planning another! The Zaandam was the smallest ship so far that we have sailed and we were not disappointed at all. Yes she was showing her age on the outside, but the inside was always clean and free of odors. One thing I wish they would clean the windows while over night in port. Most of them were salt streaked and not sure when the last time they were cleaned. That's the only thing I can think of that I can say negative. We flew into San Diego 8 am the same morning we set sail. Found a taxi and headed to Albertsons for my Caffeine Free Coke. Once we were at the port we had a couple of hours to wait. Boarding was said to start at Noon, but we were on the ship by 11:45. Our room was ready for us, so we dropped off our carry on and headed to the Lido for lunch. After unpacking and touring the ship it was time for the Muster Drill. It was fairly quick then off to the bar for our sail away drink of the day. Sailing out of San Diego we had the prettiest sunset and great picture moments. The next 2 days were sea days. We did see a lot of whales the entire trip. First port of call was Puerto Vallarta and it was an over night docking. This was a first for us and enjoyed it as well. Of course we hit Walmart while in port...seems like most of the passengers did. Our Pirate ship excursion was cancelled due to lack of interest. But we were happy to go on Two If By Sea. This was a wonderful excursion! Snorkel, lunch, drinking, private beach and a wonderful sail down the coast of PV. Our underwater camera died early on this trip and we were happy to purchase the photo package from the excursion. We just got out CD in the mail yesterday and are pleased with the pictures. We opted not to hike to the water fall but now have pictures as if we were there. While on the beach, there are beggars and children trying to sell trinkets. We simply smiled and said no thank you and were left alone. We stayed on board the second day in port and enjoyed the aft pool until it was time to sail away. Cabo was our next day and I enjoyed that better but felt we had so little time to do everything. We enjoyed shopping and bartering and then had a delicious lunch at Taco Loco. It was in front of Cabo Wabo and little better of a price for us. We never felt unsafe at either port. We only stayed in the tourist areas and enjoyed both ports of call. Our last sea day was lazy pool day. Later in the day the seas were getting a little rough and by dinner time we were really rocking and rolling. The barf bags were put out on tables but we never saw any one get sick. We felt queasy while packing to go home but by the time we laid down we felt much better. We ate at the Pinnacle Grill for lunch once. We didn't find any thing special about it. Seemed like the MDR but smaller and more intimate. It wasn't bad at all. We now can say we have eaten there. We enjoyed the MDR on most nights and had Open Seating. This is my favorite because we meet new people every meal and have different servers as well. On the first night we all enjoyed Burgundy Cherry Ice cream. I loved it so much that our server made sure I had more the next few nights. We didn't even sit at his table those nights but I had the wonderful ice cream 2 more times! The Mariners brunch was also a first for us and really enjoyed that as well. We ate breakfast and snacked at the lido. There was always something good to eat. Breakfast didn't seem to change variety but we did get full. Room service for the Chocolate cake is a must!!!! Breakfast was good too. We ordered the omelets, fruit and coffee. The entertainment was just OK. It gave us something to do in the evenings. This sailing seemed to have an older crowd and the shows fit their genre. Not at all did we feel out of place. We did see a few kids on board and they were always polite and no running or pushing elevator buttons. Leaving the ship was easy but delayed due to non US citizens not being where they were supposed to be at the right time. Many calls were made for people over and over. We finally got off around 930 and headed to the airport via taxi. I love HAL and plan to sail again. The Zaandam was a nice ship. The crew was absolutely wonderful and always smiling! Read Less
Sail Date March 2013
This is only my second cruise and it's been a while since my first. This would be my first, but definitely not my last as a solo cruiser. I was determined to have a good time and to have reasonable expectations while on board, and I ... Read More
This is only my second cruise and it's been a while since my first. This would be my first, but definitely not my last as a solo cruiser. I was determined to have a good time and to have reasonable expectations while on board, and I was overwhelmingly surprised and pleased. While her exterior was weathered and showing the harsh wear and tear of the time in the salt and its previous voyage to and from Hawaii, the interior was just the opposite. Based on a lot of reviews I had read my expectation were set quite low, but evidently they have been quite busy trying to keep the Zaandam up to the standards I expected and hoped for from HAL. Embarkation was organized, fast and painless. I had my bags checked, ship identification in hand and I was aboard by noon. I got lucky and had both of my suitcases by 1:00 and after a nice lunch at the Lido buffet I was busy unpacking and using the laundry facilities to press my slightly wrinkled dress shirts. My cabin steward, Bam, would prove to be outstanding in every way possible. 5 stars! My cabin was a little larger than I anticipated and would prove to be very, very comfortable. Full shower and bath with good water pressure and the condition of the tile and fixtures were almost new. There was a little wear and tear on the edge of the sofa and the edge of the desk and a scuff or two on the wall but nothing to be concerned with or even annoyed about. I was upgraded twice from a selected cabin below the MDR as I had read about noise from the kitchen areas further forward. I ended up under that area and there was some noticeable noise but nothing that would either keep from going to sleep or wake me up as one review on the sister ship Volendam would imply. My stateroom was 3373. I was told that the Zaandam is due for a month long dry-dock this coming October, so I bet she returns to service brand new! Overall the ship was in great condition and had staff cleaning and polishing continuously. Hygiene was top priority on ship and the buffet was served by staff only for the first 48 hours. Automatic hand sanitizer dispensers are everywhere and the crew would actually make sure that you had a dollop in your hands before entering the buffet or the MDR. It was quite reassuring they intended to keep us from getting sick on the cruise. As for the food I can't complain about much. If your expectations are reasonable you will be pleased. The Lido buffet was actually very good for buffet style food. The fruit was ripe and had great flavor, the hot entrees were of decent flavor and hot if you found a table and sat down quickly as one would expect. The sandwich station became my early favorite. There was a good selection to fit all kinds of appetites. Timing when you ate at the Lido Restaurant was a big key. If you're up there when they open everything is good and piping hot. On the first day or two there was some confusion as to where the lines started and stopped at the various stations but if you just looked for the signs it was fine. It did frustrate a quite a few people and if there was one glaring issue with this cruise it was people complaining. I would learn to quickly tune them out after realizing you can't please some people at any time. Lunch and dinner in the MDR was always good and there was plenty to choose from on every menu. I had the 8:00pm sitting and other than the first night running about 10 minutes late it was like clockwork every night after. The wine steward was a bit young and needed some education but I'm sure he's getting it! There wasn't anything I regretted ordering or that I found too bland or overpowering. It became a bit of a joke after the third night but for some reason one of the stewards who filled up the water glasses always skipped my glass. It was worth a good laugh. I blamed it on being the fifth wheel with two other couples. They were great dinner companions and made me feel right at home being a solo. Dinner in the Pinnacle was a real treat and rivaled some of the top restaurants I have visited in Seattle. It was worth the additional charge. The coffee and the help at the Explorations coffee stand was middle of the road, but I am biased being from Seattle, coffee snob central. As for the entertainment on the ship I can't comment on too much. Most of the shows didn't appeal to me but the Olympic gymnast Lance Ringnald was great and the music and comedy of Dennis Blair was an absolute hoot. May and the HALcats provided some great Motown music as well. Location guide Kainoa provided some great information and commentary while whale watching and information on Puerto Vallarta, Cabo and Mexico in general. With two extra days in San Diego following the cruise, I chose late disembarkation and had a room service breakfast delivered right on time, just as ordered and nice and hot. Less than 15 minutes off the boat I had my bags and was on my way. The age demographic on the ship was older than I was but I also expected that and it was not a problem at all. I was a little discouraged by the lack of nightlife on one or two nights, but the crow's nest was still a great place to put the finishing touches on each of the great days on board. Being solo on this cruise probably made this more apparent. I suppose the only complaint I would have other than the mood of some of the passengers was the dirty windows. You would think while they were gassing up they could asked to check the oil and have the windows cleaned? This was a great cruise with great excursions and no regrets. The doctor was right and the prescription cured me, but I think the medication is addictive. Read Less
Sail Date March 2013
We booked an inside cabin and had the opportunity to upgrade, several weeks before the beginning of the cruise (for a fee). We chose to upgrade to an outside cabin on the Dolphin deck (1879). It was a wonderful cabin, large with a window ... Read More
We booked an inside cabin and had the opportunity to upgrade, several weeks before the beginning of the cruise (for a fee). We chose to upgrade to an outside cabin on the Dolphin deck (1879). It was a wonderful cabin, large with a window and bathtub. It was noisy as they were loading the ship, as a cargo door was just below the cabin. After sailing, we didn't hear a peep in our cabin, except for the last night when the crew was positioning luggage or other cargo right below us. This was the smallest ship we have sailed on, so we were a bit hesitant; however, in the end, the ship didn't fee small. In fact, the ship was among our favorites. Our summary of the cruise is as follows: Pros: -Nice ship, with big cabins -Crow's Nest is a great space, and we loved 70's, 80's and Michael Jackson nights -Pool area at the back of the ship is wonderful, although we like that it was adults only on the Oosterdam -Loved the overnight in Puerto Vallarta. We didn't have to rush to get back to the ship. Cabo is also great and we could walk to the beach. -Generally good food, with excellent food at Pinnacle Grill, for $20 a head -Scheduled LGBT event, but not hosted -Nice big and well-equipped gym although staff could have been better at ensuring a better sense of decorum from other passengers (shirtless and barefoot people working out) -HAL cats were great; loved the Adagio Duo -Photographers weren't in your face -Made extra efforts to accommodate Passover for Jewish passengers Cons: -Service a bit spotty at times. The host seating people for dinner always looked confused and never acknowledge your presence (line was a mad house). The restaurant seemed a bit under staffed. -Tea was nice, but it took 20 minutes every day to clear the line, as they were seating one by one. There never seemed to be enough food, and once again, it was under staffed. -No place to jog on the ship, except the treadmills -Invisible cruise director and no staff -Didn't use the spa services as they don't have male masseurs All and all, a lovely week. We would definitely sail on the Zaandam again. Read Less
Sail Date March 2013
We signed up for this cruise because we can drive conveniently to San Diego, and we like the HAL cruise line. It was mostly very pleasant. A few plumbing issues around the ship, but when we reported it from our cabin, a maintenance person ... Read More
We signed up for this cruise because we can drive conveniently to San Diego, and we like the HAL cruise line. It was mostly very pleasant. A few plumbing issues around the ship, but when we reported it from our cabin, a maintenance person came within the hour & had it fixed. We thought the food in the Main Dining Room was great - we are not fussy about food - and we ate most all the breakfasts and lunches there also. The buffet was OK, we just prefer not to have to walk around with plates. The public spaces were great - the lounges, library, shops, casino & bars on Deck 5 have been configured to flow with each other. We thought that was great rather than the little cubicles on most ships. The library is especially nice, right next to the coffee bar. Lots & lots of comfortable chairs arranged nicely. Drinks reasonably priced, and a "Happy Hour" buy-one-get-one-for $1 daily in some of the bars. We were disappointed that HAL doesn't have draft beer in any of the bars, but we managed. Our stateroom was spacious, bathroom with tub, 5 closets, great towels & robes. We stayed in port at Puerto Vallarta overnight. Cabo San Lucas only 6 hours. We went on shore in PV to take a taxi to a restaurant we first went to in 1982, then again in 1987. Still great service & food, some nostalgia for us. Didn't tender into Cabo, have been there several times. The service, both in the cabins & dining room, has diminished somewhat in the past couple of years, fewer stewards and waiters for more passengers?? We had Open Dining time, and seems like it is more difficult for the waiters to serve people when the passengers at each table change daily. We will try to not have this option on our next cruises. I went to one of the cooking demonstrations, and wish that I had attended more of them. Enjoyed it very much. The entertainment was pretty good. Enjoyed the singers & dancers, one comedian was really entertaining, and the Olympic gymnast was very good. The music onboard was variable. We didn't like the singer with the HalCats, or the trio in the Ocean Bar. But this is totally our opinion. We did enjoy the Adagio Strings Quartet very much. Read Less
Sail Date February 2013
After many years of travelling to exciting destinations to celebrate special occasions, we were challenged to come up with a really special trip to celebrate our 49th wedding anniversary. We have sailed on Holland America many times, so ... Read More
After many years of travelling to exciting destinations to celebrate special occasions, we were challenged to come up with a really special trip to celebrate our 49th wedding anniversary. We have sailed on Holland America many times, so our first thought was to explore possible itineraries on one of their ships. It didn't take us long to settle on a 14 day cruise to Hawaii from San Diego. Finding a Delta flight with a low fare and having a companion fare coupon made getting to San Diego from Florida affordable and sealed the deal. We stayed in at a Hilton hotel in the Gaslight district. This beautiful hotel is very conveniently located, there are many dining options nearby, and it's a short walk to the downtown marina. San Diego is a great destination in itself, with many things to do, so we decided to go two days early and enjoy San Diego before sailing away to Hawaii. We walked to the marina and toured the Midway which is docked there, and then had lunch at Anthony's where we had eaten on a previous visit. Embarkation was, as expected, very smooth and hassle-free. When we boarded the Zaandam around 11:30 we were delighted to find that our cabin was ready. After enjoying lunch in the main dining room (a perk for HAL mariners) we returned to our cabin and found our luggage had already been delivered. The cabin was roomy, clean, and had plenty of closet and storage space, so unpacking and getting settled was easy and went quickly. Then we were free to relax on our veranda and watch the sail away. Sailing to and from Hawaii we were at sea 4-5 days in high winds and rough seas. The Zaandam handled the rough conditions well and we only experienced slight to moderate rocking and rolling of the ship. Also must give much credit to the captain who did a great job of sailing around the worst of the weather and keeping the passengers as comfortable as possible. During our time at sea, we enjoyed daily presentations by Kaino, a native Hawaiian on board. Seeing Hawaii through his eyes, we learned about the history of the islands and its people, their culture and traditions. Other venues on the ship offered everything from learning to Hula to cooking Hawaiian dishes. In Hawaii we visited four of the islands: Hawaii, Maui, Kauai, and Oahu. Shore excursions were arranged through HAL, and we were not disappointed. All of the islands are beautiful and each has it's own "personality" and special things to offer. From waterfalls, to museums, to whale watching, to beautiful scenery, to eating at a famous shrimp truck on the north shore of Oahu, we enjoyed it all. For meals on the Zaandam, there are many options depending on the individual's personal preference. We ate in the main dining room, the Lido, the upscale Caneletto, and the very upscale Pinnacle restaurant. Also enjoyed room service on several occasions. All in all, I would rate the food as above average. Service was a little slow in the main dining room, but the wait staff was friendly, helpful, and always went out of their way to make sure we were pleased. This was a great cruise and I hope to do it again someday. Read Less
Sail Date February 2013
SO much to tell after two weeks! I'll try not to be ridiculously verbose... We sailed out of San Diego. This is a great port to cruise in and out of. The airport and the cruise terminal are so close together, and many hotels ... Read More
SO much to tell after two weeks! I'll try not to be ridiculously verbose... We sailed out of San Diego. This is a great port to cruise in and out of. The airport and the cruise terminal are so close together, and many hotels between the two have free shuttles. We stayed at both the Hampton Inn (Downtown) and the Holiday Inn on the Bay. Both were great, with the only exception being the noise from the train crossing in our room at the Hampton Inn. Embarkation was smooth as can be and very quick, as was debarkation. No issues there at all. We had booked a veranda guarantee, and were given an AA cabin - 7085. The cabin was really nice :) Loved our veranda, location was perfect. The cabin is under the lido aft pool, but we only ever heard noise on the veranda - the occasional shifting of deck chairs. The room itself was silent! It is a connecting cabin, and that cabin was occupied, but we never heard anything from that room. We did hear the toilet flush in the other cabin near us if everything was really quiet, but not loud enough to notice or to keep a person awake. The ship itself- what a relief! We had read so many bad reviews lately.... Very clean, the carpeting looked new, all the soft goods in our cabin were new, the public areas were sparkling clean and looked in perfect shape. No smells, no maintenance issues, nothing worn out or dirty. The food - it was good. No complaints at all. I don't have a lot to compare it to, but I will say I thought the food selection and variety on RCI Freedom of the Seas was better - but not by much. We ate in the Lido and MDR and had room service - never ate in the Pinnacle Grill or Canaletto. Canaletto got rave reviews from those we spoke to who ate there. Entertainment - so-so, but we knew that going in. The Zaandam singers and dancers were... uh... well - don't worry too much if you miss a show. The lounge acts were quite good, the individual acts in the main show lounge were pretty good - with Chipper Lowell and Mark Newell being FANTASTIC. The culinary demos were pretty cool :) We played pub trivia almost every night with four others who were wonderful companions! Had a lot of fun with that :) Ports - all were good, and detailed below. Tendering in Lahaina was a piece of cake and very efficient - just make sure to get your tender tickets from the main show lounge as early as you can in the morning. Dress code fyi: After reading many posts on this board, I thought that the dress code would be more formal than it was on smart casual nights. Very few people wore ties or sport coats and most women were wearing capris or regular skirts and pants with nice tops. Formal nights - men were far more dressed up than most of the women, which I thought was odd! About 33% of men were in tuxes, 33% in dark suits, and 33% in sport coat/tie combos (along with those who chose not to go to dinner and were just in normal clothes). Women - only a handful of long gowns, mostly black pants/skirts with sparkly tops and some cocktail dresses. As for jeans, they were allowed in the MDR on smart casual nights. Shorts were turned away the two nights we saw someone try (smart casual). We had a wonderful time, and could have stayed on forever :) I will say that we are very low-maintenance as far as being entertained, and were very happy reading books on our veranda. We would never take a kid or a teenager on this cruise! Also - if you need a, exciting night life or a busy casino, this is not the cruise for you :) Read Less
Sail Date January 2013
The Zaandam is starting to show her age at 12 years old but, she is well maintained. There were some problems like some of the areas smelled slightly of sewerage (Lido Deck Men's Restroom), and an overflowing urinal in a Men's ... Read More
The Zaandam is starting to show her age at 12 years old but, she is well maintained. There were some problems like some of the areas smelled slightly of sewerage (Lido Deck Men's Restroom), and an overflowing urinal in a Men's room by the Pinnacle Grill...Which was immediately taken care of by the Engineering Staff...Come-on, we've all had a toilet backup, and we've never had 1,500 guest in our house all at one time either! Our room was very clean and taken care of by our Steward Dedi. He was bending over backwards to take care of our needs. The one thing that stands out with the M/V Zaandam is the crew: They were beyond helpful. And the entertainment was first rate. The Food Staff was excellent. From custom made sandwiches by Bernard to chit-chat with Benny in the Dining Room and everyone in-between. The Entertainment was superb! An outstanding Elton John impersonator named "Joel Mason" really rocked it out (Even with Laryngitis) . You can preview Joel on You Tube if you don't believe me! Charlie on Guitar (Charlie Jourdan) in the "Piano Bar" gets our highest praise: Extraordinary song writer, fantastic singing and a great conversationalist between songs. You can preview him too on You Tube! The Zaandam Dancers and Singers were new to their job but gave a marvelous performance each time we viewed them. Chris Pendleton: Comedienne, Female, One each, was incredibly funny and kept it clean and fresh. Even the ships Chaplin was in the front row and laughing! She too can be viewed on You Tube...Or at funnyfiddle.com. A collection of people told us that: "Holland America is a bunch of old people!" Well, to us "Old" is a state of mind and in our mind there weren't too many old people on board....All we can say is: Holland America to St Petersburg Russia in August, 2013...My Battle Cry! Read Less
Sail Date December 2012
We chose this cruise because of all the days at sea. Titled "Hawaii Circle Cruise" the emphasis is definitely on cruise rather than Hawaii. Though we enjoyed our time in the islands, we spent more time getting there (and back) ... Read More
We chose this cruise because of all the days at sea. Titled "Hawaii Circle Cruise" the emphasis is definitely on cruise rather than Hawaii. Though we enjoyed our time in the islands, we spent more time getting there (and back) than touring. We knew this going in and were ready for the relaxation cruising affords-- no phones, no internet (unless you want it) and no TV. No access to work activities. Relaxation! Embarkation at San Diego was quick and easy. We parked across the street at the Holiday Inn on the Bay (covered parking at a great rate, plus walking distance to the port). The port has an efficient drop off system set up. I dropped Mom and the bags off at the port, parked the car and walked back. Once inside, the line moved quickly. Within about 5 minutes we were through security and registering for our ship's cards. The ship opened up for new passengers a little after 11 (the paperwork said to arrive at noon). In order to facilitate embarkation, the 200 or so of us who arrived early all received number cards. Seats were provided for waiting (we didn't have to wait). On board, staterooms were ready. We were in 2536 which is slightly forward with all the usual HAL amenities (bathtub, DVD player, plenty of storage). Our stewards, Raz & Win, were wonderful. They were friendly but discreet. They always put our mail in the room, made sure we had 2 daily planners and found extra blankets when we were cold. LoveHAL organized a Cruise Critic meet & greet. The captain, the hotel director and the cruise director all took the time to attend (and stayed afterwards to talk to individual passengers). On our last day, we received a letter from the Guests Relations officer thanking us for our participation in the CC M & G, as well as other activities. Many thanks to Marty for organizing this event-- it was nice to meet people and recognize them throughout the cruise. On board, we had a lot of fun. HAL was trying out a new idea-- calling it the Aloha Explorations series. Besides the wonderful HAL travel guide, Kainoa, whose talks about Hawaii (whether ports of call, history, culture or geography are NOT to be missed-- but get there early because seats go fast!), HAL engaged a team of people to share Hawaii with us: Henry Allen (an extraordinary ukelele and steel guitar player), Paki (a great public speaker that taught dance, Hawaiian and crafts) and Heidi & Valerie (the "Hula maidens" who were graceful and gracious, helping out in all the activities and taking the time to share their love of Hawaii with the passengers). Some of the activities including: making flower leis, making ribbon leis (am going to repurpose this idea for next year and make Xmas tree garland), making Wili bracelets, learning to hula, learning to play the ukelele, learning Hawaiian, learning Hawaiian recipes, etc. Amanda, our lovely party planner, also guided a number of these activities-- especially the culinary ones. Hopefully, HAL will make this a regular feature of its cruises. Along with the usual slate of cruise activities (which included multiple trivia competitions, mixology classes (take all 4 to get a certificate), Aloha "Olympics", bingo and more), it was a challenge to decide which activities to do every day. There was also a book club (we read Allen Brennert's "Honolulu") run by our friendly librarian, Chris; it gave multiple opportunities to share a love of books with others on board both within and outside of the club meetings. There was also a guest lecturer who gave lots of information about shipping (the Titanic, pirates, other mysteries); we didn't attend but spoke to many who really enjoyed his talks. With all of this fun on board, there were many opportunities to meet fellow passengers. Michael Headla does a great job of organizing all the fun while we are "out and about" on ship! The entertainment on board was fantastic! We don't usually attend many of the evening entertainment but things changed on this cruise. We especially enjoyed Ryan Silverman (a very talented Broadway singer who has an unbelievable range and who sang wonderful standards and Broadway classics-- his Phantom performance was one of the best renditions I've heard!), Ryan Ahern who tickled the ivories la Liberace and the Drums of Polynesia show (a local group brought aboard at Honolulu). We also enjoyed the movies (though I think Mom goes for the popcorn!) but wish they'd move the picture up about 18 inches to provide a clearer view to all. I especially appreciated HAL's efforts to make sure that there was something special during each day in port so that those who were unable to leave the ship (we had a number of mobility inspired passengers on board) would also have special memories of their time in Hawaii-- whether this be the barbecue, a Hawaiian party or special Hawaiian entertainment. On shore, we participated in two excursions, a luau and some independent activities. Our first excursion was through Roberts Hawaii to see Volcanoes National Park. The Roberts website was really easy to use-- it brought up all of their excursions after I listed the name and departure date of our ship. We also booked a trip to Waimea Canyon on Kauai but that port was canceled due to weather. Roberts greeted us warmly as we disembarked in Hilo then introduced us to our guide, Dean, who has an amazing knowledge of the flora and fauna of the islands. He was one of the best guides we've ever had-- friendly and informative without being silly. And, as it turns out, we were the only two people on the tour so we got to take a long as we wanted at each of the stops-- and he threw in a stop to an orchid farm for us, as well. Roberts is charged a flat fee for every vehicle they take into the park and it was only $5 less than what we paid for our tour. It says a lot that Roberts didn't cancel on us but instead gave us the opportunity to learn about this beautiful island. Our second tour was booked through HAL for Maui: the West Maui Snorkeling tour run through Trilogy. There were 17 HAL passengers on board the catamaran, along with a crew of three. We were served a light breakfast (variety of homemade breads) and lunch (chips & salsa, variety of wrap sandwiches) but by one week into the cruise, no one was very hungry so the crew went home with lots of leftovers! We sailed over to a spot near the Old Lahaina Luau site for snorkeling. Wet suit tops, boogie boards, snorkeling gear (including prescription lenses), life vests, etc. were all included (on many of the other snorkeling cruises, you have to pay extra for any of these). There were lots of first-time snorkelers on board. The crew was very helpful in providing instruction. After about 75 minutes snorkeling (the timing was based on when the last person decided to come back), they let out the sails and we took off on the catamaran across the bay. What fun! Our goal was to find a whale which we did (eventually) about 100 yards out. I will definitely choose Trilogy again for my Hawaii excursions! We also visited the Old Lahaina Luau in Maui. We took the bus out there (a bit tricky and not much savings: $2.50 each for the bus but only $8 plus tip for a taxi; we shared one back to port). The Luau was lots of fun. They have about 400-500 people but everything was so well-organized, you don't feel like you are part of a crowd. The site is beautiful, the food good and the dancing spectacular. The service was fine, albeit a little overly friendly. (No, I really don't want to hug a half-naked young man goodbye... but maybe others do.) In Honolulu, we pre-reserved a time for Pearl Harbor using the NPS site. We took a taxi out there and it wasn't cheap ($32). Afterwards, we took a bus to Waikiki (in other direction from ship) which took over an hour but only cost $2.50. This was my third trip to Honolulu but my first to Pearl Harbor. It's a beautiful memorial and a must-see. In Waikiki, we rented beach chairs in front of Duke's (Outrigger hotel) and enjoyed the sunshine (and a little "pineapple juice" from time to time). The water was rough, though, and pretty chilly, so we didn't swim. With warmer weather, though, this would be an easy excursion. Plus, if you take the free shuttle to Hilo Hattie's first, you can pick up some souvenirs and sarongs, then take the free shuttle down to Waikiki. Your trip back to ship from Waikiki can be on the HH shuttle or a taxi (about $20). Back on board from our day in Honolulu, we learned that the captain had to cancel Kauai due to weather so we had an extra night in Honolulu. Given how rough the seas were for our first few days en route back to San Diego and the mobility challenges of so many people on board, this made a lot of sense (even though people were disappointed). Plus, sailing out of Honolulu during the day was a lot of fun! We saw a sea turtle from up on the sports deck and we got to see the Waikiki skyline, Diamond Head and the mountains from the sea-- a very, very beautiful view. We heard people complaining about a variety of things while on board (including one man who harangued the dining room captain for 20 minutes about the lack of biscuits & gravy for breakfast) but that wasn't our experience. For me, this crew was exceptional. For example, one of the bar servers, Jesse, who we met the first night on ship, took the time every day to watch out for us so that she could say hello and make sure we were okay. If we were on Lido, she'd bring by glasses of ice water. In the Lido buffet, Dewie, Ni Luh and Antoni were our special friends but everyone was very helpful. The staff would watch out for those who needed an extra hand to carry their plates back to the table. They always had a big smile and kind word for everyone. From the front desk to the maintenance crew (we had a small leak from our air conditioner that was fixed immediately), we couldn't have asked for better service. And this service makes all the difference. We felt like pampered guests but tried not to act like spoiled ones (though I know that HAL spoiled us repeatedly throughout the trip). Many of our fellow passengers also had special relationships with different crew members which is a testament to the dedication of their staff. The staff is exceptionally gracious, attentive and kind. They are also extremely patient. Their extraordinary commitment to the highest level of service explains why 1100 of the 1400 passengers on board had already traveled with HAL before. This cruise does tend to have days where the ship is rocking and rolling, with passengers lurching from one place to another. It's the only cruise where I've felt slightly "green around the gills" at times (and we've been on several cruises with rough weather). You might want to splurge for the patches or a shot if you are susceptible to the movement. On our last evening, we went to the Hawaiian sunset hour to see the last hula performance. Two of the passengers who are also Hawaiian musicians were playing with Henry Allen. Paki, Heidi and Valerie danced. It was a bittersweet farewell-- we'd had a great vacation, learned a lot about Hawaiian culture and loved our time on board the Zaandam (especially the people we'd met aboard-- both passengers and crew). Disembarkation was swift, though there were some delays in processing the non-citizens. Once they found the 6 "missing" people who didn't report, the rest of us disembarked swiftly (starting at about 8:15 AM). Our "scheduled" time was 9:45 but we were off the ship, in the car and leaving the parking lot by 9:15. We bid the Zaandam a fond Aloha! I would sail anywhere with this crew again. They made this trip special. Mahalo to all of them. Read Less
Sail Date December 2012
I was uncertain as to what to expect of a cruise, but given the cost as a solo traveller, I expected some luxury, fine dining and excellent service. I wasn't disappointed. True, the new reservation system for the main dining room ... Read More
I was uncertain as to what to expect of a cruise, but given the cost as a solo traveller, I expected some luxury, fine dining and excellent service. I wasn't disappointed. True, the new reservation system for the main dining room was confusing people,including the booking staff, but I was able to take it in stride. I had been advised at least twice to reserve my table in advance(I had opted for open seating at a table for two-no sharing), and as I have dietary allergies I was keen to have that clarified with the kitchen, too. Admittedly, there were a couple of glitches but recovery and compensation by the staff were immediate and gracious. Of course, people were curious, and some openly sad, that I was travelling alone, but I explained that it was my choice and that I was thoroughly enjoying my own company. I did accept once or twice the kind offers to join others for dinner or dessert, but most often I declined the invitations. The wait staff were most attentive and kind. The Pinnacle and Canaletto restaurants were well worth the extra cost. The only complaint I have is about the spa. I had a wonderful massage on the second day at sea and no complaint about that experience. My manicure was another thing altogether...not recommended. The spa seemed disorganized and the nail salon was poorly equipped with questionable hygiene standards. The horseback riding excursion in Pt Vallarta on Christmas Day was fabulous. The sailing and snorkelling excursion in Cabo was fun, but the water was too cold to stay in for long and it was clear that someone had been feeding the fish in order to have them congregate in the area we were told to snorkel. Small things in the larger context. Ultimately, I enjoyed this cruise so much that I have booked another cruise with HAL for June and am taking my daughter and her husband along for the ride! Thus far, I am sold on HAL and reluctant to try another cruise line for fear they won't live up to my newly formed expectations. I'll post a review of the Mediterranean trip post-cruise. Happy cruising. Read Less
Sail Date December 2012
Previously to our cruise we visited Santiago. A nice city, not too big. We went to Santa Luccia Hill, La monneda Palace, to the market, San Cristobal with our driver Santos who did a very good job driving us around. The reason why we ... Read More
Previously to our cruise we visited Santiago. A nice city, not too big. We went to Santa Luccia Hill, La monneda Palace, to the market, San Cristobal with our driver Santos who did a very good job driving us around. The reason why we chose this cruise because it was recommended by some friends. That was a great advise. We had a wonderful time as a family. Thank you Zaadam and the crew. We had a tour in Valparaiso that was great, we loved the graffities and all the different colours displayed in the streets. In Punta Arenas, we had a great time in a full day tour with Maritza Alvarado our guide. We went to visit a sheep ranch with her and the driver Patricio who was a great man. Thank you both for all the fun we had together. In Ushuaia we met our guide Javier who did not speak a very good English but he was amazing and showed us around with a great smile. That was superb! Only good memories, thank you all for a great time we will definetely recommend your excursion to everyone. Read Less
Sail Date October 2012
There were four of us traveling on this 4 day trip from Vancouver BC to San Diego aboard the Zaandam. Not really a reposition cruise, but more a filler for a longer cruise to Hawaii. I had read the reviews prior regarding all the problems ... Read More
There were four of us traveling on this 4 day trip from Vancouver BC to San Diego aboard the Zaandam. Not really a reposition cruise, but more a filler for a longer cruise to Hawaii. I had read the reviews prior regarding all the problems coming from Mexico and hoped all was done by the time we set sail. For the most part it was. They replaced our curtains and bedding while we were out so no disruption there. Carpeting was completed and only saw minor work done on what appeared to be leaks. We did note some horrid smells in the public washrooms near the theatre and the Crows nest. The casino renamed of stale smoke so we mostly hurried through holding our breath. Embankment at Canada Place went very well in spite of some misleading info from the port staff who I found extremely rude and stressed out. Probably the fact they were heading the disembarking passengers off at the same time we were coming on. I had never seen so many walkers and wheelchairs in one place and I work in a nursing home!! Not a very welcome aboard experience as I had before at the Ballentyne pier for NCL the year before. Once aboard our cabins were ready, and our bags arrived shortly afterwards. The muster drill was done and we soon set sail to Victoria. The size of the cabin was huge in comparison to NCL for an inside but had no fridge. Thankfully our stewards kept the ice bucket full. They were great!!! We ate in the main dining for all our dinners and learned quickly to make reservations for each night. Never waited. I am not a fussy eater so I thought all the meals were wonderful and staff for the most part were polite though one had an odd sense of humor. We opted to stay on the ship in Victoria as it is our home, so we did some digital workshops that were very well run and worked out in the gym. Prior to the cruise I had requested use of the fitness centre for Zumba and were told it should be ok but once on the ship, the bored young lady said we could not use our own music. There were no aerobics classes offered so we were a little put off. She just shrugged and said she was tired listening to the same music herself and did nothing to help us or suggest any alternative. Entertainment was mixed. The comedienne was great as was the ventriloquist, though we made the mistake of returning to the second performance on the promise of something different..not enough that made it worth going but that was our error. The musical troupe seems amateur. Just ok. We then had 2 days at sea. Zzzzzzzzzz. Not a lot of activity here, this cruise is definitely geared for an older clientele. We attended a tour of the galley, self guided, a a few more digital and cooking workshops and a scavenger hunt. This being a smaller ship there was not a lot to do I guess. We did enjoy the pool and hot tub, make it warm tub. One thing we liked about HAL is that you can bring your own wine aboard without fear of confiscation. This and 2 happy hours on the sea days helped keep our bar tab reasonable. I would have bought photos too but they only took one photo when we boarded. When I asked they said passengers complained that too many were taken. Oh well, their loss as I was willing to pay for them. DJ Steve in the nightclub played great music and excellent music trivia but the dance selections were repetitive. Karaoke night was crazy busy for a Thursday night. Definitely popular and the club was hopping till 1am. Friday night however, country night was the opposite with last call and last song done by midnight. As this was our last night on board we were somewhat disappointed as the ship pretty well shut down at this point. Not at all like our previous experience on the Pearl. As this was one of our groups 30th birthday it was a big let down. Not that we wanted to party into the wee hours but 12??? All in all I may come back to this line but would find a larger ship, and maybe wait till I am older, it was hard to not compare as I had the time of my life on NCL. Even with new carpets, this ship shows her age. Older Kids or teens would be very bored Read Less
Sail Date October 2012
We have sailed to Hawaii on the Zaandam before. We were thrilled to see Michael Headla was still the cruise director and Kainoa DelaCruz was still on as the explorations expert. These two gentlemen are fantastic ambassadors for HAL. They ... Read More
We have sailed to Hawaii on the Zaandam before. We were thrilled to see Michael Headla was still the cruise director and Kainoa DelaCruz was still on as the explorations expert. These two gentlemen are fantastic ambassadors for HAL. They set a bar that we have yet to see met on any other cruise we have taken. We found there was value added on this cruise, compliments of the explorations team. An astrologist gave lectures each day and then spent two evenings out on deck star gazing with us. DJ Steve and Daffyd, the professional photographer collaborated and ran a 10 day digital scavenger hunt that had you taking photos of staff, items on board as well as on shore and allowed you to meet and interact with people you might never had got to know or meet before. The event planner Amanda conducted the normal HAL events but she was so professional and knowledgeable that they were a delight to attend and every day there was standing room only. You are never going to see zip lines on a HAL ship, but you know that before you board. What they do offer is gracious surroundings, excellent service and relaxing atmospheres. This cruise had an added bonus, the captain is a young vibrant man who was approachable, pleasant and very visible the entire cruise. It seemed to set precedence for the rest of the officers and department heads. The two head chefs walked through the dining areas daily speaking with their staff and with guests making everyone very relaxed. The waiting staff and room stewards go out of their way to make you comfortable, joke with you and attend to your every wish. Read Less
Sail Date September 2012
This is our 15th cruise but the first time on a Holland American ship. We brought my husband's parents for their anniversary and we were very impressed with several aspects of this cruise. First off, the check in was effortless ... Read More
This is our 15th cruise but the first time on a Holland American ship. We brought my husband's parents for their anniversary and we were very impressed with several aspects of this cruise. First off, the check in was effortless and the cabin was well presented and prepared. The crew was exceptionally happy and seemed to truly enjoy their jobs. This was every department! The wonderful thing about the crew was that they were attentive but never pushy. The drink servers were always available but never trying to "sell" you something. Same thing with the photographers. We thought that the two day "quarantine" was an excellent idea at the buffet. This is where they have the crew load your plate with your selections and give you your desired drink. Very smart way to keep the germs down and the guests from getting sick. This was the first time we have ever seen this on a ship. The ship itself is smaller but all of the rooms are well designed and we never felt or noticed a crowd. We really enjoyed the intimacy of the ship and did not spend our first two days getting lost. The spa and gym were very nice and the thermal suite was never crowded. I appreciated the dining room/crew's attention to detail on our dining situation, since I have a food allergy (wine). They made sure to bring me the menu for each meal the day before so I could pre-order. Each meal was so well done and the food was excellent. I always judge a good cruise by their cheese... if they buy cheap/tasteless cheese they get a low rating. The cheese on this ship was WONDERFUL! Entertainment: The shows were well done and the dancers and singers were very talented. My only complaint is that the song selections were really for the over 70 crowd (Hello Dolly??) I think they could improve that a bit. Tours: We did the kayak tour in Haines on the Chilkot lake and it was fantastic. Even in the rain, we saw a lot of wildlife and the salmon spawning. Kids: We have younger children that stayed home. There was a kid program but we only saw a handful of children (mostly European) on the ship. I don't think this ship would have been right for children. Read Less
Sail Date September 2012
Zaandam Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.5 4.0
Dining 4.0 3.9
Entertainment 3.5 3.6
Public Rooms 4.0 4.2
Fitness Recreation 4.0 3.7
Family 3.5 3.7
Shore Excursion 4.0 3.8
Enrichment 3.5 3.7
Service 4.0 4.3
Value For Money 4.0 3.7
Rates 4.0 4.0

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