143 Holland America Zaandam Cruise Reviews

Overall, we had a great trip. I did the inside passage in the 1960's, and the whole trip was foggy with cold rain; definitely no fun. As a result, we did not pre-book any excursions until we got on board and knew what the weather ... Read More
Overall, we had a great trip. I did the inside passage in the 1960's, and the whole trip was foggy with cold rain; definitely no fun. As a result, we did not pre-book any excursions until we got on board and knew what the weather would be. The weather was great, so we spent a lot on shore excursions. Some were worth the price, others not so fun. We would have saved a lot if we pre-booked them independently before the trip, but I didn't want to pay for a trip in the rain. We prefer outdoor, hiking type things which would have been awful in 54 degree rain. The rooms are old. We had a veranda room. Some things definitely need updating. There was only one outlet in the room, very inconvenient if you want to charge things. The water in the shower was cold if I waited too late in the morning - I really needed to shower before 7:00 if I wanted a warm shower. The ventilation system was inadequate - we slept with the patio door blocked open, which they said not to do, but we made the choice to breathe fresh air. Other people said their room were too hot and stuffy, and some said they were too cold. Obviously, Zaandam has an old HVAC system. The bathroom sink was cracked. The room steward was great, and the room service was impeccable, and the room was always clean. Dining was okay, not super. The Lido deck for breakfast was good, but if you wanted an omelet, the wait was a joke. One cook, no helper. The attendants in the Lido were very good. The main dining room was okay, but the food was certainly not deluxe. Do not order the halibut - it will come overcooked and tough. Waiters were inconsistent - some were great, some were very inattentive. HAL has a policy of allowing one bottle of wine to be bought off-ship. That means at the embarkation port - if you buy a bottle at one of the other ports, they confiscate it, and give it back to you when you leave. Entertainment: We really enjoyed the piano/violin duo. There was also a combo band that wasn't bad. We saw a short part of one of the nightclub acts. It wasn't our style, so we left. On board WiFi is really expensive and really slow. Disembarkation at Seward happened at 6:00 A.M. Way too early, and left a bad taste. We took the train to Anchorage, which I would recommend over the busses. It takes longer, but is much more scenic. Overall we enjoyed ourselves. Zaandam is an older, smaller ship, and does need some updating. It isn't for the younger crowd who might want more entertainment. Most of the passengers were over 60, and there were very few children or families. If the weather had been bad on the trip instead of gorgeous, it would have been difficult to enjoy the ship with its lack of things to do. Read Less
Sail Date May 2015
This is a review the Zaandam South America and Antarctic cruise that began January 30 in Valparaiso. The reason for this review is that I have appreciated others for doing reviews of sailings that we have considered over the years. ... Read More
This is a review the Zaandam South America and Antarctic cruise that began January 30 in Valparaiso. The reason for this review is that I have appreciated others for doing reviews of sailings that we have considered over the years. Reading other peoples` opinions is so helpful even if you don`t always agree. The cruise was fantastic and we saw and did amazing things. I have just a couple of negatives that I will add at the end to inform others but they in no way take away from the fantastic voyage that we had. First, the Captain and every one of the crew were outstanding. Captain PJ`s sense of humor fits very well with this sailing as does his serious side when the weather was a little rough. We had 3 expedition leaders who gave outstanding presentations as we progressed. HAL has truly found experts- who spent many years in Antarctica or have a personal history with Antarctica- to provide the extra information to make this cruise so special. There was also an ice specialist who gave a wonderful talk on his duties during our cruise through the ice areas. The port lecturer Lance has also been adequate but occasionally abrupt with passenger questions. We had very good luck with our weather and made all of our stops including the Falklands. Antarctica was absolutely unbelievable and the Captain adjusted the planned route to see the most and avoid some of the more foggy areas. It was all that we could have imagined and more- just as we have heard from others. Beginning with our arrival in Santiago- we booked at the Sheraton Miramar in Vina del Mar. We asked them for a car service recommendation and they set us up with a service that is located right in the hotel lobby. He met us with a sign right outside of the secure area at Santiago airport and we had a nice hour and a half ride to the hotel. It was $180 that we added to our hotel bill so we got Sheraton points on the amount. We also set up a ride to the port in Valparaiso and that was fine also. The hotel itself is good but the staff is a little uneven. We waited quite awhile past our promised check in time only to be given a different type room than we had booked. When we asked to be moved to our booked room type, the manager got involved and everything was straightened out. She even sent chocolates as a gift for our trouble. We walked to the Casino and beyond in Vina and had a nice look around and lunch. There is not too much nearby but it was a pleasant stay and a nice start to our vacation. Check in at Valparaiso was the fastest we have ever had. We arrived about 10:30 and we immediately checked in. There were a couple of souvenir and wine stands in the terminal and then we boarded a bus to the ship. We got on board the Zaandam but were told the rooms were not ready. This was expected as it was not even 11:30 yet. We wandered around and then the announcement for rooms came about noon. We quickly unpacked- we only do carry on- and then went for lunch in the dining room. Everything was very nice and we had the afternoon to look around the ship. Our first sea day was good and we had a very good meeting with our Cruise Critic Roll Call. Unfortunately there was a safety drill for crew during this time so none of the officers were there in the beginning. But about a half hour later, the Cruise Director and a few of her staff arrived so that was very nice. Our Roll Call also planned a lunch for later in the cruise and that was good to see everyone again. Porto Montt was as expected. We had done an around the Horn (not Antarctica) on Celebrity Mercury about 15 years ago and had taken shore excursions at each stop. Since we had already seen most of the western ports, we just got off here, Punta Arenas, and Ushuaia and walked around the towns. They are all very pleasant and had shops and grocery stores if you need anything. Puerto Chacabuco was new for us but since there is nothing at the port, we stayed onboard and sat out on the back deck for most of the day and enjoyed the scenery and sunshine. Cruising the Chilean Fjords was also new for us and we really enjoyed the scenery. The port side- where most of the viewing was- in a veranda cabin was an excellent way to spend the day. The Drake Passage was a little rough but certainly nothing too bad. We had very good views of Cape Horn from all sides of the ship and then headed south to Antarctica. The icebergs, mountains, and fjords were magnificent and I cannot do them justice in a description. Viewing the penguins on the beaches (and smelling them!) and swimming was unbelievable. And we saw many whales and sea lions in the water as well. This is the reason to do a cruise of Antarctica. We had a little rough weather going back through the Drake but again not as bad as some peoples` sailings. The Falkland Islands were a question as the winds were predicted to be a little too much. But the Captain decided it was a go so we all headed to get tender tickets or cruise stickers. The Staff Captain was at the exit to the tender and we thanked him for letting us stop. He replied that it was very close to being cancelled as the weather was borderline. The tender distance is about 2 miles and outside of the harbor part of the way. They said it could take 25 minutes but ours was more like 20. The water was very rough looking but I thought the tenders handled it well and no one looked too distressed. We had an afternoon double decker bus tour and spent the morning walking around the small town and shopping. There are more souvenir stores than I expected and they had a good variety of merchandise at fairly reasonable prices. And when are you coming back to the Falkland Islands? One place not to miss- The West Store is a huge grocery store with lots of British products. It is just past the church near the dock. My husband makes fun of my going to a grocery store in most every port we have ever visited but I just tell him to wait outside. Montevideo is a fine port especially if you want to do some walking. We had taken shore excursions on our last visit here so we just walked up to the main downtown area. There are lots of restaurants and souvenir stands and even a McDonalds and Radisson Hotel near the main square. As experienced travelers know, these are both good places to find the rest rooms. We disembarked the next day in Buenos Aries. The Zaandam overnights in Buenos Aires and most everyone else is stayed aboard until the second day. We made our flight reservations using United miles and the flights home were only available if we departed the ship one day early. This was no problem for Holland America- and it was one of the options on the paperwork we filled out at the beginning of our cruise. We had a car service that was recommended online pick us up at the cruise terminal and we paid ahead with Paypal. There was a driver with a sign with our name on it near the shops in the cruise terminal. We came out a different exit- after passing through the customs line which was empty. We made our way to the next building where the taxis were located and found our driver. The drive was about an hour to the airport. Be aware that you cannot check in with your airline or drop off bags until about 3 hours before your flight. We were early but there were a few restaurants and shops to occupy our time. Full disclosure- we are enjoyed our cruise so much that I hate to mention anything negative. But the following are meant to be educational for others. First, the smoking on the balconies. We did have a veranda and liked to use it often. This was not possible because of the smoke smell that came over whenever the people next door were smoking. And they did smoke a lot. The only good thing is that in Antarctic waters, smoking is only allowed by the back pool and not on the verandas. This was great as we spent much time on our verandah. FYI- there is no eating or drinking allowed on open decks in Antarctica waters. Second, we do frequent the bars but we also enjoy a late coffee and dessert some evenings. The coffee bar closes at 9 and the Lido at 8:30. The Lido opens again at 11 with hot food- we assume more for the staff than passengers- but it is available. But during the prime time- for us- to get a coffee and small dessert, there is nothing available. Yes, we could do room service but the point is we want to be out and about. Third, and this is more for your information only. We saw a watch at the shop that was just what my husband wanted. We have never bought much onboard but this was a very nice watch in just the style he wanted. The sign said tax and duty free and we match prices. We had always assumed that these items would be less on any ship than you could find elsewhere. Since we were not that familiar with the brand, we Googled it. Amazingly, we found the exact same watch for almost a third less on Amazon. Now we didn`t expect them to lower the price to Amazon`s, but there was the price match guarantee sign. We went back to the same salesman and showed him the Amazon listing. He immediately said that they don`t match online pricing. OK- so what store do you think we can find to compare with here in South America and Antarctica? He mumbled something about it would need to be full service dealer so there probably was not one. So for anyone thinking about a major watch or other purchase- check the price either before you go or online to make sure the price is fair. We did not buy onboard but we did purchase the watch from Amazon when we got home. Hope this info is helpful to others. We have truly enjoyed our voyage. We may not sail HAL again (we are 3 star Mariners) but who knows. The balcony smoking and lack of late evening coffee and snacks are our biggest issues- and we admit they are very insignificant. But when you have a choice, you always consider the small things too.   Read Less
Sail Date January 2015
2nd recent HAL cruise for my partner and myself. Boarding: We had inside information so we were quickly processed (system was partially down) and one of the first to board. Plenty of time to wander around before a Mariner's lunch at ... Read More
2nd recent HAL cruise for my partner and myself. Boarding: We had inside information so we were quickly processed (system was partially down) and one of the first to board. Plenty of time to wander around before a Mariner's lunch at the MDR. Had a bit of problem getting on as the bar staff on duty evidently was mistaken that you could not take more than 2 bottles on even if you wanted to pay corkage. Cruise was pretty o.k. Ate almost always in the MDR with great service from the staff. Food portions were small out of Vancouver but grew massively for the first few days out of San Diego. The servers said the kitchen portioner may have been new. Seafood was pretty good so that is what we ate most days. We had fixed dining at the main sitting. Lots and lots of empty tables. I figure the restaurant was only a maximum of 60-70% utilized at this time for this cruise which may have helped in good service and warm food which is apparently no always the case. The buffet/Lido is haphazard. It is just not set up properly and a nasty place to eat. Only had breakfast once there (and decided to never again), never any dinners,and lunch only when the MDR was closed. Tea service: haphazard as always with huge gaps between getting the various things for tea. Water is also never hot enough for proper tea. Pretty frustrating if at the wrong table. Bought our own wines onboard (in the USD 15-22 range which after corkage is still a better deal than what HAL sells you). Gave it to the wine steward at the beginning of early sitting and it was waiting for us at 8p. Entertainment was o.k. on some days. Guest lecturers had interesting material but were horrible at presentation for people who had apparently delivered the material so many times. Best was the Argentinean band at the Oceans bar. CD Carlos Mendoza was a delight as usual - all the better as he is only temping these days and not a FT HAL employee anymore. The onboard song and dance troupe was quite good on their new routine which was presented only late in the cruise. No shore expert/consultant/specialist until very late in the cruise. Either a cutback and/or scheme to get people to pay for excursions. Rear swimming pool is not heated so the brave got it to themselves for most of 1-2 weeks. Center pool when enclosed was a bit too chlorine-y. Exercise room was in a good place and decently equipped so spent a lot of time here. Cutbacks in onboard activities (since late 2012) so the cuisine/cooking activity host had to round up materials on her own dime for craft activities. Partner said that the book club was frustrating with people talking pointlessly. Stopped after one session. Did a lot of trivia and won about 1/4 of them so lots of pins, and drinks towards the end. Disembarkation at Valparaiso is interesting. One walks down the ramp to a container and then down another ramp. Could be difficult for the less-than-mobile. Bus to the terminal (even though our post-disembarkatin hotel, the IBIS, was close to the ship) for clearance. Overall a good way to get to South America in comfort. Read Less
Sail Date October 2014
I took this cruise to Hawaii because of the long days at see. I was in Cabin 6127 on the Veranda Deck. Great stateroom, cabin stewards very attentive. Loved spending time on my balcony - private sunbathing, private reading and late night ... Read More
I took this cruise to Hawaii because of the long days at see. I was in Cabin 6127 on the Veranda Deck. Great stateroom, cabin stewards very attentive. Loved spending time on my balcony - private sunbathing, private reading and late night drink. Dining in the main " walk in" dining room was awful. You could walk in but you would have to wait forever. Finally, when I wanted to dine there I made a reservation. Also, they did not like to seat me by myself, which I preferred, had to be very pushy. Once seated I generally waited a long time to get a menu, then another long time to place my order. I avoided that experience as much as possible. I found the Pinnacle Grill to be wonderful! Wait staff amazing, food selections varied and cooked to perfection. I did not mind paying a bit extra for that level of service. The other special restaurant had Italian fare it was right by the Lido food lines. The service was OK, it seemed to me that some of the food came right off the Lido food lines. Only ate there once. The Lido restaurant was self serve, not allowed to use a tray, very crowded and noisy. Room service was wonderful. I ate breakfast in my cabin every morning. Also, several lunches and dinners and late nite tea and cookies. Timely, friendly and the food was well prepared. Explorations Café was nice. The barista made great lattes for a very reasonable price and they had all kinds of delightful snacks for free. Frequently did lunch there. The computer access was expensive and very, very slow. The Librarian was pleasant and helpful. The Spa was wonderful I had several fabulous Swedish massages. Facilities were great and the staff very skilled. Front desk staff was very pleasant and helpful. They were kept very busy. Entertainment ran from fair to excellent. Adagio violin and piano were terrific, a joy to hear. Oceans Bar music as good and danceable. Guitar player was fair and the piano bar player a bit better. The shows in the Lounge were fair, some of the individual entertainers were excellent. The ship was clean. Smoothly run. Plenty of hand cleaning stations. Docking was done very smoothly. Embarkation and disembarkation were handled very efficiently, with minimum waiting even on tender day. As a nurse I was concerned about the 30+- passengers who had to leave the ship via ambulance. One night we had left port and had to return due to the severity of a patient's condition. It was my understanding that the medical staff was kept very, very busy. A great many of the passengers were physically challenged. Obviously, certain aspects of the cruise did not please me. I'm not sure if I would travel with Holland American again.   Read Less
Sail Date September 2014
About 20 years ago we took a Holland America cruise to Alaska on the Noordam with my parents, and an Uncle and Aunt. We all had very positive memories of that experience. This time we took the same trip with 2 of our children, and their ... Read More
About 20 years ago we took a Holland America cruise to Alaska on the Noordam with my parents, and an Uncle and Aunt. We all had very positive memories of that experience. This time we took the same trip with 2 of our children, and their spouses, to celebrate our 60th wedding anniversary. Unfortunately I had some extremely upsetting times on the cruise this time. We had asked for a handicap room because I have balance problems, especially in the shower. The 2 foot wide shower was not helpful, especially with with a pulldown chair up against the wall that took up some of the 2 feet. l I can't imagine a very handicapped person showering sitting on the chair with such limited space. I have experienced much better to say the least. Also, the very first morning the very odd toilet you you provide didn't work so a plumber was called. Latter that same morning the shower head kept drooping, making showering a challenge. My handyman husband fix it but again the plumber had to be called. He installed a completely new unit. Then, on the very last day the toilet didn't work again. Our son in law thought it was because too many people were trying to use the toilet at the same time. Our son also had a toilet problem on the first day. In my opinion your bath towels were too big and bulky. We have traveled a lot of the world, and the USA, and never experienced such huge towels. I have to wonder if the person who collects the towels off the floor is the same one who replaces clean towels without hand washing? The process for debarking the ship was a problem for us. If it weren't for a few courteous passengers in our crowded hallway we would have been trapped in our room. Your new rendition of Baked Alaska was pathetic compared to our first trip tears ago. It was a big disappointment after telling our kids they'd love it. On the positive side, we found all the workers to be friendly and helpful, which we did appreciate. It may be a good idea to suggest that all passengers try to be courteous. Most were but some only thought of themselves. I very much appreciated the emphasis on handwashing before going through the food lines. The cost of pictures taken of passengers was too high. A lower price would be an incentive to buy, and would result in more profit for the photographers. A good on line photo system would save dollars as only copies ordered would be printed. Read Less
Sail Date August 2014
I recently went on the Alaskan cruise with my grandmother, June 20th - 27th, room 3350, and it was a wonderful trip. The views were breathtaking, the scenery was beautiful, and back on the ship everyone was friendly and helpful. As my ... Read More
I recently went on the Alaskan cruise with my grandmother, June 20th - 27th, room 3350, and it was a wonderful trip. The views were breathtaking, the scenery was beautiful, and back on the ship everyone was friendly and helpful. As my first-ever cruise, I was starstruck by the ship's layout and décor, and, overall, truly enjoyed everything. The hard-working crew is truly the heart of the Zaandam, and they made my trip as amazing as it was for my grandmother and I (the tiny towel animals left behind after the cabin was cleaned up each time were adorable and truly a nice touch). My only complaint, however, were the shows. Now, it is unfair to lump all the shows together, because the overwhelming majority of them were fantastic! The dancers and singers are truly talented people, and I'm grateful I got to experience such talent (especially when they were leaping and belting out tunes while the sea was rough and bumpy). I actually would have no complaints at all if it had not been for the last show, the Showcase of Alaska I believe it was called. It started off as great as all the other shows before it, but honestly, by the end of it, I was extremely upset. The hostess warned us that there would be cheeky humour involved, but honestly, it was poor taste to insult Mounties in such a manner, particularly after the tragedy of three Mounties being shot not too long ago. It is one thing to insult Canada, as jokes against my country aren't really a new thing, let's be real here, but have some tact and decency. Furthermore, it would have been lesser of an insult if it had not just been Canada insulted. The dance numbers ranged from sweet to serious to touching, but the Mountie number was an abrupt change, as it was goofy and horribly rude. I cannot blame the singers and dancers, because they are talented at their job, but whoever believed this to be a 'hilarious' part of the show - please, think about your choices. I spent the dinner after the show feeling uncomfortable and admittedly angry, along with the other Canadians I was fortunate enough to dine with. This was unnecessary and very poor judgment in allowing to happen at all. With that said, overall, this was a pleasant, great experience. Thank you to the crew and talent of the Zaandam for making me look forward to more cruises in my future - hopefully without scenarios where I'm left with a bad taste in my mouth due to bad 'humour' against my country. Read Less
Sail Date June 2014
Had a great time on the MS Zaandam. I was with my mother ( a senior) and she was thrilled to go on her first ever cruise on a Dutch ship ( she is born Dutch). The MS Zaandam has a musical theme with the multi level organ in the Atrium. ... Read More
Had a great time on the MS Zaandam. I was with my mother ( a senior) and she was thrilled to go on her first ever cruise on a Dutch ship ( she is born Dutch). The MS Zaandam has a musical theme with the multi level organ in the Atrium. It also has a figure of Queen ( now Princess Beatrix and the now new King and Queen's photo is there in the lobby. She was emotional seeing them. Our room steward Edwin was wonderful. Super professional and personable. We had a balcony suite. The bed is top notch. Super comfortable. I was impressed. Full breakfast room service ( no extra charge). Buffets were great. Very good with cleanliness and the first 48 hrs you could not serve yourself. For health reasons, they pass you the food that you request for everything including tea. A bit of a slow down but I understood the need. The evening entertainment was ok. Nothing to spectacular. A song and dance group doing a western. One night did have a comedian / impressionist. She was good. Then they also had the philipino song/dance group. There was a small band outside by the Lido bar which seemed to attract some louder types. The band moved to the Crows nest at night. There was music all over the ship during the evening but mostly lounge style. Piano, harp. Not my style but geared to seniors. We are not gamblers and did not use the casino. The day had a cooking demonstration and it lasted about 15-20 minutes. My mother enjoyed it. Again a bit sleepy for me. This trip for us wasn't about the entertainment though. It was about relaxing and spending quality time with my mom. Dress code is more than business casual except for the Lido buffet. Although I worried about Formal night and bought a dress it turns out I could easily have worn dress pants with a glitter top or jacket. Many women did just that. For those of you not participating in formal night, you are not banned to your rooms. You can still hit the Lido. Although this mid ship attracts more seniors at this time of year and the entertainment matches, I would definately consider them again. The service and room exceeded my expectations. Read Less
Sail Date May 2014
We enjoyed our cruise thru the Inside Passage to Alaska. Had a verandah room on the 6th floor and found it quite spacious. The glasses in the room were dirty and when I complained to the room steward I was told the glasses went thru a ... Read More
We enjoyed our cruise thru the Inside Passage to Alaska. Had a verandah room on the 6th floor and found it quite spacious. The glasses in the room were dirty and when I complained to the room steward I was told the glasses went thru a dishwasher. These definitely did not! Found myself washing glasses all week. The bottle of sparkling wine the family had ordered for us to enjoy as we sailed out of Vancouver was sitting at room temperature on the desk. The ice bucket was half full of tepid water (Celebrity did an outstanding job organizing the wine two years ago when we went to Alaska with them.) Apart from the glitches with the room, there was lots of entertainment, the ship was clean and well decorated. The food was generally good although the dining room staff could have been trained a bit better or maybe they don't put as much effort into the open seating guests? A second cup of coffee was never offered. The views were spectacular, the prices for souvenirs and drinks were competitive, and the thermostats in the rooms were responsive. Read Less
Sail Date May 2014
Very pleasant ship, nicely understated and attracting an older demographic, so no unruly kids or noise from drunken passengers. Cabin, a vista suite, nicely furnished good size balcony. All in all a good first impression after a fairly ... Read More
Very pleasant ship, nicely understated and attracting an older demographic, so no unruly kids or noise from drunken passengers. Cabin, a vista suite, nicely furnished good size balcony. All in all a good first impression after a fairly chaotic embarkation process in Buenos Aries. Straight to lunch on day one and this is where the first of several culinary disappointments happened. If food is cooked directly for you or it is something which is designed to be eaten cold then the results are just fine. They do, however, seem incapable of keeping food hot for long periods without allowing it to dry out or in some cases keeping food hot at all. Even tepid would have been an improvement on occasions. I mentioned this to both the 1st Executive Chef and his second in command. The second in command complaining that giving the serving staff instructions was difficult and that he may lose his job-(you couldn’t make it up!) I really wanted to know why no one had the common sense to circulate food in its containers to maintain an even temperature and to avoid the top bit from drying out. I got nowhere. I don’t like cold food. I don’t like dry food so I avoided quite a lot of what they produced. What was left over wasn’t bad at all. On my birthday, which was also Thanksgiving Day, we ate in the Pinnacle which was beyond excellent. Clearly the knowledge is on the ship if anybody could be bothered. Ports of call were fascinating special mention should be made of the guy who provided explanatory narration as we sailed along, sailing round Cape Horn, seeing penguins dolphins and glaciers. all made it worthwhile and I am glad we went   Read Less
Sail Date November 2013
We're active independent travelers who have done a handful of cruises, most recently in the Mediterranean with Oceania, which we loved, but the Zaandam fit our schedule out of Buenos Aires. Headlines: The boat: you get nice ... Read More
We're active independent travelers who have done a handful of cruises, most recently in the Mediterranean with Oceania, which we loved, but the Zaandam fit our schedule out of Buenos Aires. Headlines: The boat: you get nice privileges for a suite, including preferred boarding, tendering and disembarkation, free overnight laundry service, a private lounge, personalized service and meet/greets with the captain, not to mention plenty of space. The ship was recently refurbished but still felt aged, with wear and tear throughout. The food was unremarkable, including the desserts and the specialty restaurants--which is just as well--though the fish was surprisingly, consistently good. The exercise room was good but the two fitness guys need customer service training--and maybe new personalities. The spa was underwhelming--you get a key to a locker in which is bundled a frayed robe--not exactly setting a soothing tone. The casino was often deserted--a small group of us bonded during the twice-day-day Texas Hold 'Em tourneys on sea days. There were 1407 guests, 615 crew; it felt like fewer. The cruise: There are a lot of sea days, which is soothing, but kind of boring and occasionally very rough. The views are good but the glaciers and mountains are similar to Alaska or the Canadian Rockies while the fjords are like Puget Sound. We imagine this is much more exciting during whale season. We saw dolphins and flying fish but not much else. The ports were good but fairly similar in their offerings. Tracking the early journeys through the Magellan Straits and going around the horn, hitting the point where the Atlantic meets the Pacific, was very cool--just to say you did. We did one ship excursion which was well run if not overwhelming. A few port details that may be of use: Puerto Madryn: it's a long long way to the Valdes Peninsula and you only get to see penguins and sea lions from a distance. This would be much cooler if whales were about as this is a feeding area! Punta Arenas: We had invested in the $1000+ each for the ship excursion to Torres del Paine, which includes getting going at 6:15 a.m. to the airport, an hour-long flight to Puerto Natales, then a two-hour bus ride into the park for lunch--after which you come right back. Nice views of mountains and glaciers; we were thrilled to see the full distinctive Torres del Paine salmon pink granite towers. A few added touches could have easily made this more memorable, like telling us they would provide coffee and rolls, and providing a bottle of water. Ushuaia: Spend your day here, going up the town ski lift to the foot of Glaciar Martial (it's very cold so be prepared!). Because Tierra del Fuego park had nothing to offer after previous stops. (Our independent group booed down a guide’s plan to walk to see a beaver dam as a highlight!) if you go to the post office so you can send it from the furthest south city in the world, get your card ready as it's a mob and the cards there are costly. I bought and mailed two postcards for about $8. Puerto Montt: We had a great time with GV tours, which happily customizes for you. We asked to get as close to the volcanoes as possible so they drove us up to the ski lifts at Osorno volcano. Unfortunately, it’s too misty and would take too long to go up and back—darn. We did get some nice views of the peak. A quick jaunt into the Vicente Perez Rosales national park to see the picturesque Petrohue Falls and rapids, with Osorno in the background. We never saw the peak of the Calbuco volcano, which last erupted in 1972, but got great views from the ship. Had a nice lunch, then stopped by Puerto Varas for a quick stroll, then back to the boat. Towns are built by Germans who had been enticed here and the area feels like Europe. Valparaiso: Surprisingly picturesque town! If you're wondering whether to stay here or Santiago before flying out, we recommend Valparaiso. It's got coastline, funiculars, colorful communities scattered across 23 hills, and one of the few Easter Island statues not on the island. Thomas Poussard was a wonderful tour guide. We stayed overnight in Santiago and flew home the next morning. Enjoy! Read Less
Sail Date November 2013
My husband and I thoroughly enjoyed our cruise on Zaandam from Valparaiso to Rio. Staff were always friendly, fun and efficient. Food was very good in the restaurant, which catered best for my gluten-free requests (coeliac), but staff in ... Read More
My husband and I thoroughly enjoyed our cruise on Zaandam from Valparaiso to Rio. Staff were always friendly, fun and efficient. Food was very good in the restaurant, which catered best for my gluten-free requests (coeliac), but staff in the buffet areas were not familiar with coeliac requirements. Just be patient and ask them to check with the chef. Loved the trivia nights, piano bar, cooking demos, and all the other activities. You can join in as much or as little as you would like. Shore excursions are mostly good value but research before you go and decide what you want out of the trip. The passengers were an older demographic 60 plus, which suited us as we are past the spoilt whinging kid and teenager stage. There was a nice mix of us Aussies, Canadians, Americans and other nationalities and we loved hearing about other people's experiences and lifestyles. Our cabin staff were excellent and we loved the cute towel animals. Friends recommended HAL and we were not disappointed.   Read Less
Sail Date November 2013
Having no experience on which to gauge anything cruise related...well, except the reviews on this web site, I had only my own set of expectations to act as guide. Embarkations/Disembarkations. Very well managed and executed - obviously ... Read More
Having no experience on which to gauge anything cruise related...well, except the reviews on this web site, I had only my own set of expectations to act as guide. Embarkations/Disembarkations. Very well managed and executed - obviously done all this millions of times, and learned how to do it well. Well done HAL and partners! Safety procedures. I have to say I found this process somewhat chaotic! Thank goodness it was never needed in real life. Passengers were talking above the crew, who were trying to get some sense of organisation in place on decks, Those crew whose first language wasn't English, had difficulty being understood, and, of course some passengers were either in the wrong places, or not there at all. Not a good first impression to a first time cruiser...or any cruiser for that matter. Cabin/Stateroom. Bijou, but with plenty of storage for 2 people for a week's stay. Needed to stay tidy though throughout the ship!! Bathroom - again, more bijou. Unforunately the toilet system went out of action for about a day...one of the days we were ashore thankfully. Both cabin and bathroom could do with a make over decor wise, as looked somewhat tired. Room service very efficient - no complaints. Compulsory tip added to the bill....no say in that matter then! Dining. We had an open dining arrangement, which I thought meant you could wander into the dining room during the evening and just sit anywhere you wanted! Not so......first register your request at the restaurant front desk...then wait. Sometimes as much as 30 minutes before you were 'allocated' a table. In the meantime, nowhere to sit, have a drink in the area...just standing, with lots of others. The Pinnacle Restaurant was very good...but at a premium of $25pp, not something I'd budgetted for. Interestingly, the officers ate there.... Dining waiting staff were generally very polite, helpful and efficient. But, the noise level in the Rotterdam, was quite staggering...if you are hard of hearing, your aid would have been working overtime to cut out all the chattering noises. Not pleasant. The Lido was ok food wise - plenty of choices, just finding a table could be the morning challenge! The formal evenings were a bit of a joke really....if what some people wore as formal, wouldn't like to see their day clothes. Smart casual would better cover off this requirement I think. Spending your money. On top of what I paid for this 'inclusive' cruise, I ended up spending another 1,000 (2 people) on extras. By the way, this way not wild extravagances like bottles of champagne ....just the odd cocktail, glass of wine with meal type of expense. And, everything you paid came with a hefty service charge - that certainly wasn't in my budget! Didn't like the idea that you couldn't even make a cup of tea in your cabin...sorry, stateroom. Maybe that was against health and safety, perhaps....! A lot of the activities also came with a fee, and of course the service charge too. All these expenditures mounting up over the week, didn't particularly want a 'surprise' on the last day when the bill arrived, which meant keeping a reasonable tally of what expenses were going out each day... Entertainment. You could be 'entertained' from 7am to late, if you wanted what was on offer. I found it quite difficult to find a quiet space on board. Even the Discovery Cafe area wasn't particularly quiet as it is situated in a through way to other areas. The best entertainment I found was in the Piano Bar of an evening...though some of the best 'slots' were quite late into the evening. General ship's management. Just about every hour of every day, staff were cleaning (outside and in), the public areas were kept pretty spick and span. Crew were mainly polite and helpful throughout the voyage. Summary. Not sure if the above is just a HAL experience, or whether my expectations were/are generally misplaced particularly in relation to dining, 'optional' extra expenses on board, 'busy-ness' and noise levels and the hefty charges. Maybe the cruise environment isn't for me - having said that the locations on the voyages, were certainly places I wouldn't normally have had access to, so maybe that what any future cruise needs to offer me and the rest....well, do others 'do cruising' better than the HAL group, which I'd been led to believe was one of 'the better Lines' The jury is obviously still out. Read Less
Sail Date July 2013
Getting underway on a ship was a much more enjoying experience than the last time. Having spent 6 years in the Navy and 4 of those on a ship, I understand tight quarters, limited food and boredom. Exterior: Overall I think the exterior ... Read More
Getting underway on a ship was a much more enjoying experience than the last time. Having spent 6 years in the Navy and 4 of those on a ship, I understand tight quarters, limited food and boredom. Exterior: Overall I think the exterior of the ship was in good condition based on her age. There were a few days that I could hear the rattle of needle guns and chipping hammers. Fresh paint and primer was in the air and ventilation while we were on shore. It's just a smell you don't forget, not that bad, but not good. So while most people would complain, it is a fact of life that maintenance and cleaning in a salt-water environment must be constant. Interior: There were a few areas in the lounges where I could see corrosion take it's toll on the base of window frames. The carpets are showing their age, but those were mainly around the area that we entered and exited the ship. I also noticed several area where stains were left from people spilling items. Stateroom: My wife and I had plenty of room in our stateroom for the excessive clothes we brought. I think I only used 1/2 of what I took. Our daughters had an adjoining room and although it looked like a clothing bomb exploded, they could have space to store their stuff. As one of both of my teens were in and out of our room, I would say that 3 people is crowded and 4 is crazy in a standard room. We had ample room to store our suitcases under the bed and keep them out of the way. I did run out of hangers and used some from our other room. Our cabin stewards were the best. They knew our names and habits as well as when to jump in and clean up. Since we brought soda with us, they managed to keep a large stocked ice bucket in our room. I didn't watch too much TV, as I could have done that at home, but the channels were limited and the volume was either too loud or too soft. Perhaps it was the acoustics or I am getting old. Dining: We had open seating as there were 14 people in our group. Breakfast was usually at the Lido and the prepared hot items were OK, I opted for eggs to order or omelets. They had a great selection of juices, fruits and cereal. I would usually eat about 6:30-7 after my morning walk. I was still stuck on CST until the end of my trip. Lunch again was at the Lido and only once in the MDR, mainly due to the hours of operation. The food wasn't bad, but more of an OK, and I want to eat. They had a large selection of items and I should disclose that I was trying to limit myself to low-fat items. Most of the items just seems to be missing flavor. I did eat a lot of fish for lunch and dinner and they were all great pieces cooked right. Dinner was unique as some times it was 4 or other times it was 14. We ate in the MDR almost every night. The food was delivered timely, but again the flavor aspect was missing. I will say that we had plenty to choose from and was never hungry when I left. The desserts were good (from what I was told) and I opted for the fruit plate that became the running joke of the cruise. Read Less
Sail Date July 2013
The cruise was a last minute decision and we were excited about it. We had been to Alaska twice before but this took us to two places we had not explored. The food in the lido deck buffet wasn't very good. By the second week I was ... Read More
The cruise was a last minute decision and we were excited about it. We had been to Alaska twice before but this took us to two places we had not explored. The food in the lido deck buffet wasn't very good. By the second week I was tired of it, not enough variety and the desserts were for the most part dreadful. We liked the ice cream, fruit crumble and the bread pudding the best. The pie pastry was like shoe leather. The dining room food was much better and I really enjoyed being waited on and many of the meals were really delicious, perfectly cooked lobster! The Grill area by the pool had Mexican fare and pizza every day and was pretty good. We were last time to Alaska on the Celebrity Infinity and the food in their lido deck was amazing, but Celebrity it a higher priced cruise. This is the 5th Holland America ship we have been on and I'm not a fan of these smaller ships except that for an Alaskan cruise the sliding roof over the Lido pool is a real bonus in bad weather. Other ships lose the use of this area when it's cold or rainy. We prefer about 2400 passenger ships and that gives more space, more venues and more shopping on board. Not a huge difference, on Holland it's 4 times round the deck equals 1 mile whereas on the slightly bigger ships it's 3 times around. We felt that is was the friendliest ship we've been on. All the staff were amazing. This attitude has to come from the top down. The captain was a young man and the crew said he'd often wander around the ship and eat in the Lido deck and make himself visible to guests and staff. That was a good thing a happy atmosphere. We had so many invitations to luncheons and receptions with free drinks it was amazing. Must have had occasions where champagne or cocktails were supplied at least 7 times in two weeks! Yes the ship is older but most of Holland America Ships are but they are constantly being well maintained. We had an inside cabin midship on main deck. It is due for a refitting in Oct. 2013. We find the bow to have the most motion so try to avoid a cabin there. These smaller ships tend to have more motion, but our cruise was like glass! The ship shore excursions tend to be expensive and we don't usually go on them from the ship but others were raving about helicopter rides and whales watching experiences. Check ahead by going on line and see what excursions are available privately. Sometimes (most of the time) they are cheaper and better and the people giving them are really enthusiastic, not just using you as a 'meal ticket'. We had a wonderful excursion with Kenai Fjords Tours in Seward, a 6 hr. boat trip and we saw Orcas, humpbacks, dolphins, seals, sea lions and glaciers. I also recommend Halibut Hole fish and chips in Ketchikan, at the end of Creek Street overlooking the water (we saw seals swimming by). After seeing Creek Steet, take the tram ($2.00 for all day) up to the Cape Fox Lodge and see the Native art work in the lodge and the totem poles outside. Take the path to your left and walk through the forest (trail, walkway and steps) back down to where you started. Didn't try Tracy's Crab shack in Juneau but sure wish we had, it's right next to the big parkade near the dock. I liked the amount of time that we were in the ports, no rushing. All and all it was a wonderful relaxing cruise great ports of call, magnificent scenery and who doesn't enjoy unpacking once and being waited on!   Read Less
Sail Date June 2013
I should preface this review by saying that even a bad cruise isn't totally bad. On the other hand, I haven't done a Carnival Cruise in a while (ha). 4 out of my last 5 cruises have been on Holland America but this Zaandam ... Read More
I should preface this review by saying that even a bad cruise isn't totally bad. On the other hand, I haven't done a Carnival Cruise in a while (ha). 4 out of my last 5 cruises have been on Holland America but this Zaandam cruise was (by far) the worst. My first cabin was 1882 on the Dolphin deck. On the first night of the cruise the seas became a bit rough and we began to hear this loud crashing noise as the ship rolled to starboard. Then 3 or 4 seconds later there would be another crash as the ship rolled back to port. Since the crashing noises always came in pairs, I have a hunch it was a heavy door opening and closing on the ship someplace. The guy in the cabin next to mine (1878) was going nuts by the second night. Others in that area of the ship were bothered by it too. The ship's crew would not tell us exactly what the problem was. They made plenty of suggestions but none of them made any sense. I am sure they knew exactly what the noise was because after many complaints, they finally gave us a different room. The next room (2542) was not noisy but the toilets would not flush properly. I gave up complaining about that but I felt sorry for our room steward who ended up "manually" cleaning our toilet many times. We also found both of our rooms to be incredibly uncomfortable to sit in. It was almost impossible to sit in bed and watch TV without leaning back against the light switches and turning the lights on and off. The couches were also very uncomfortable to sit in. I think both of our rooms had couches that converted into sleeping beds and were not really designed for the comfort of anyone who wanted to just sit on them. Most of the food on the Lido deck was good but we found it difficult to get something as simple as ketchup. More often than not, the ketchup dispensers were empty or broken. The Asian food was good on the Lido, but trying to find a bottle of soy sauce was almost impossible. There was a ton of simple things like that could easily have been fixed but weren't. I also thought the Lido breakfast menu was a bit boring after 10 days of exactly the same menu. Most of the other cruise ships I have been on have had more variety. One thing that was almost laughable was the portions of popcorn they served in the ship's movie theater. This was the first time in 25+ years of cruising that I actually attended a movie on a cruise ship. The day I was there we had at least 150 people for which the cruise staff brought in about 24 bags of popcorn. But the funniest part was the fact each bag held no more than 2 dozen kernels of popcorn. Obviously none of the crew had ever attended an American movie theater before. Last year we took a two cruises on the Holland America Eurodam. My wife loved the free Tai-Chi classes that were held twice a day on the aft deck. Sadly, this cruise had no such classes. Obviously more cutbacks. This cruise seemed to be less organized than other cruises too. This may be my last Holland America cruise and DEFINITELY my last cruise on the Zaandam. With some of the horror stories we have been reading about in the news, I am beginning to wonder about the cruise industry in general. Read Less
Sail Date March 2013
My husband and I have cruised 8 times, three on Holland America. This was our first time on the Zaadam, a smaller ship than we are used to. First of all, I want to share a great tip that I got off of Pinterest. Take a power strip with ... Read More
My husband and I have cruised 8 times, three on Holland America. This was our first time on the Zaadam, a smaller ship than we are used to. First of all, I want to share a great tip that I got off of Pinterest. Take a power strip with you on your cruise, as most state rooms only have one outlet. With the onslaught of cell phone, ipads, ipods, etc., the extra power outlets are a great way to get everything powered at one time. You can even use this in the airport. We had several people ask to use ours while waiting in the airport and we were happy to oblige. Thank me later. Back to the ship. We are boring cruisers. We go solely for Rest and Relaxation. We usually don't go on shore excursions but opt for independent art gallery shopping and local fare while in port. Sometimes we just stay on the boat and relax near the pool. One reason we choose Holland America is that they allow you to bring your own wine on board. We made a quick stop at a Walgreens in San Diego and stocked up with bottles of wine. These can be carried right on to the ship and consumed in your state room for no fee. If you wish to have this wine at dinner, there is a corkage fee. But we usually just waited until after dinner and enjoyed the wine in the room. We used the gym every morning at 6 am. The gym is well equipped and the treadmills face outward so you can enjoy the sunrise while logging in miles. Yoga, tai chi, water aerobics, etc. are all offered on the ship, as well as other classes for fitness bugs like us. The food on this ship is adequate buffet quality. Again, we did not choose this cruise line because of it's stellar dining experience. We wanted to relax, be on our own schedule and have some sustenance to keep us going. However, Holland America still confuses us with their dinner dining policy. We usually just called a day ahead and made reservations for a table for two at dinner. Walk ins still are welcomed though, which I don't quite understand but hey, it's a vacation right? Who cares? We were seated every night next to the prep. table which was not in the least a fine dining experience. Although wait staff were courteous and nice, the service from the kitchen seemed slow and disjointed. Food was adequate and desserts unimaginative. We found out that we could get basically the same food on the dining menu up stairs at the buffet and were tempted to do so a couple of times. There was a sewage smell in our cabin for about 1/2 of our trip. The smell emanated from the little hallway near the closets and surprisingly, not the bathroom. The staff came in to try to clean the smell and it did abate for a time, but came back within a few hours. Our toilets also went out one day due to blockage on our floor. Not good. But was fixed in about 6 hours. This ship seems rather dated and the staterooms show signs of wear and tear. But beds are comfy, there is an actual bathtub in bathroom and shower pressure is good.The staff is friendly, accommodating and hard working. Entertainment is limited and most venues are more intimate than in larger ships. Puerto Vallarta and Cabo were on the itinerary and we enjoyed walking around and seeing the local flavor. I understand that Mazatlan was taken off the itinerary list because of gang wars and violence in that city. Puerto and Cabo seem to be immune to that for the time being. Traveler's beware and be alert in any Mexican country these days. Lots of drug cartels and hating on travelers, so buyer beware. All in all, we had a nice vacation. Probably won't ask for this ship again and will probably stick with Holland America as we are racking up frequent cruiser points. It would be nice to have a bottle of champagne or another show of gratitude for frequent cruisers, other than the luncheon and coasters given each year. Just an observation. We got what we wanted out of this vacation. Sun, solitude, rest and relaxation. We even got to see the whales! Added bonus! Read Less
Sail Date January 2013
Embarkation: We boarded the Zaandam in San Diego. Boarding was fast and efficient. We arrived at the pier around noon and were in our cabin by 12:30. The staff both on shore and on board were very helpful. Stateroom: We were in ... Read More
Embarkation: We boarded the Zaandam in San Diego. Boarding was fast and efficient. We arrived at the pier around noon and were in our cabin by 12:30. The staff both on shore and on board were very helpful. Stateroom: We were in cabin 2603 (center, starboard side). As with previous HAL ships, the stateroom was roomy and comfortable. Our cabin was not particularly clean.. This was brought to the attention of Guest Services. Within an hour the situation was rectified. The staff was most apologetic and included supervisory follow-up as well. Ship Condition: The Zaandam is one of the older ships in HAL fleet. For the most part it was well-maintained. The interior was excellent butr the exterior could use some attention. For example, our stateroom window was filthy and had paint spills in evidence. The robber window gaskets needed replacing. Smoking on board was severely restricted, a plus for non-smokers and former smokers. Enrichment Opportunities: Since this was a round trip cruise to Hawaii, several native Hawaiians made the trip with us. Guests were provided many opportunities for cultural presentations. The travel guide, Kainoa DeleCruz was a wonderful presenter as were the two hula dancers and Hawaiian band leader. The Digital Workshop offered complimentary workshops covering many PC applications. Theyu were well presented and easy to understand for novices. Entertainment: The ship's singers and dancers were above average for cruise ships. The choreography needed some work however, Guest entertainers ranged from very good (Paul Pappas) to average and below-average. Dining: Food on the Zaandam was well above average for cruise ships. In the Lido buffet, the staff did the serving for the first two days to minimize the incidence of nuerovirus. Breakfast was excellent with made-to-order omelets, fresh fruit, and assorted pastries. Lunch selections were varied and tasty. The short order grill was excellent. Even the pizza was pretty good. DFinners in the main dining room were above average with numerous choices. The salads needed some improvement, however. Ship and Guests: All HAL ships are configured to promote quiet conversation with numerous little sitting areas within the public areas. Having twelve elevators (forward amidships, and aft) was wonderful for passengers having difficulty with the stairs. It has been said that the HAL ships have mostly senior citizens aboard. While a number of canes and wheel chairs were evident, the number of guests using the ship's fitness center was amazing. For example, the fitness center was full at 7AM on mostly at sea days. On Board Activities: Much the same as on most cruise ships (bingo, casino, shops, etc.) The musical entertainment in the lounges and piano bar was quite good. A major complaint was the lack of organized bridge lectures and games. With ten sea days, this was inexcusable. The card room was full every sea day with informal games. Other cruise lines offer this option with even fewer sea days. On the positive side, we appreciated having a Catholic priest and Protestant minister on board offering daily and Sunday services. Overall Impression: The Zaandam was a comfortable ship with a most attentive crew. The trip was worth the cost and worth doing again in the future. Read Less
Sail Date January 2013
Good points: -Zaandam much better than the Oosterdam in decor, service and company response to problems. Had a bad leak in my suite ceiling that took days to correct, but received a very generous shipboard credit and a cookbook plus ... Read More
Good points: -Zaandam much better than the Oosterdam in decor, service and company response to problems. Had a bad leak in my suite ceiling that took days to correct, but received a very generous shipboard credit and a cookbook plus apology note as compensation. Compared to the Oosterdam, where I had worse problems with cabin and an injury caused by HAL and I got no compensation or apology. -Shore excursions were excellent -Food was pretty good, Pinnacle Grill filet was outstanding, La Cirque fantastic -Entertainment at times was excellent -Embarkation and disembarkation very smooth -Hotel the night before, booked through my travel agent, Sheraton Marina in San Diego very good (not necessarily affiliated with HAL.) -Although I had a very bad spa experience with a too-young and experienced staff person, the spa manager quickly refunded the hefty sum I had paid in advance. -LOVE the Thermal Suite on HAL, though this one was WAY small. Pool was the size of a hot tub. BUT there was rarely anyone in the room, and what a way to relax! -Explorations Cafe really spacious, comfortable, and service was good there. -HAL continues to have the best guest to tonnage ratio, with lots of space and non-crowded atmosphere. However, at times this could be a negative for a solo traveler! Not so good points: -Service was not up to par for the price and supposed reputation of HAL Dining room staff seemed worn out or overworked, repeated requests needed for simple items like iced tea, etc. Chaotic, unacceptable situation with dining room seating. Some sort of "reservations needed" policy we were never notified about- "on your own" dining turned out to receive annoyance from restaurant manager, no table or a very long wait, and never could figure out what kind of system or lack of they were using. Many people annoyed, very long lines. 75% of the time, service overall could not in any way be described as "luxury," "gracious," or "outstanding." -Even though the restaurant food was good, the room service food was HORRIBLE. Unacceptable, poorly presented, served with resentment, and hardly edible. -Cabin steward(s) just okay. Just doing their job, and since you pay $11.50 per day for tips overall, felt underwhelmed so didn't tip them more. Was slightly put off by Cruise Director's heavy pitch on the last day for tips to the staff, when indeed, no staff member stood out for doing anything other than their job. -Unavoidable but still annoying culture/ language gap makes trying to complain or explain needs met with blank looks, non-responsiveness, or incorrect/ poor resolution, if any. Tendency to insinuate blame on the guest and a constant theme of NOT showing the kind of gracious, over the top service HAL advertises. A big gap here! -Very unclear when formal nights were- advance notice was the typical 2, but turns out there were 3, with hardly any advance and not clear notice. How are you supposed to pack or plan for that? Lack of enforcement of dress code for formal nights. -For the price I paid for my verandah suite, it was a rip-off. Very small, the bathroom was tiny, and the "jetted" tub was a disgrace. Not big enough for an adult, and all the jets didn't work. -The Zaandam is looking a little shabby, and for the price of my cruise, would expect stain-free carpet and not to see taped-together wood in a couple places. -This is the nature of HAL, so is more a mis-match for me as a youthful solo traveler, but a total lack of fun atmosphere. No club to dance, people my age acting much older, grumpy (how can you be unhappy when you get to go on a cruise???) and not everyone was unfriendly, but almost everyone seemed confused why someone would cruise alone. -NO gathering for solo travelers as I had seen on the Oosterdam schedule!! Read Less
Sail Date December 2012
I had read with caution the recent cruise stories and reviews for the Zaandam but I must say it was truly a pleasure to sail on her last week. The ship has been refurbished and we had zero problems with maintenance during our cruise. ... Read More
I had read with caution the recent cruise stories and reviews for the Zaandam but I must say it was truly a pleasure to sail on her last week. The ship has been refurbished and we had zero problems with maintenance during our cruise. The embarkation process in San Diego was one of the easiest and fastest I can remember. We literally were able to walk right up to the cruise agent, turn in our paperwork, get our room keys, walk up the gangway, enter the ship and be shown right to our freshly cleaned cabin within about 10 to 15 minutes! We dropped off our things and headed right to the Lido for some lunch which was already in full swing. As noted on many previous reviews the carpeting throughout the ship has been replaced and otherwise the ship and furnishings have been refreshed tastefully. I was very happy with the number and condition of the public areas on this ship and found them all to be very comfortable and almost never crowded at all. The first few days service in the main dining room was quite slow and not as attentive as it should have been but that was due to the diversion of staff to the Lido for that first 48 hours to combat the spread of viruses. After that things improved and the servers were always friendly and helpful even if a bit overwhelmed at the beginning. Throughout the ship the staff and crew were always eager to assist us with anything and always smiling and saying hello regardless of where we ran into them. We personally met the cruise director, Michael Headla and the events coordinator, Kelly at one of the meet and greet events on the second day. They were extraordinarily gracious and helpful and from that day on they were always smiling, waving and addressing us by our names as if they had known us forever. The food was quite good, typical I suppose of the other cruises I have been on. Sometimes the food was 5-star and at others sort of bland and uninteresting but again I find that typical. Both the main dining room and the Lido Buffet carried a good selection to suit almost anyone. The entertainment was great and the performers worked hard to make everyone have a great time. The comedienne Chris Pendleton and the pianist Joel Mason were a real treat and we were able to see them both perform twice during the cruise. Overall the cruise was wonderful, restful and just what was needed. If that's what you need then I would highly recommend this cruise. Read Less
Sail Date December 2012
Took advantage of the opportunity to do the 4 repositioning (Vancouver to Victoria to San Diego)+ 14 days Hawai'i (from and to San Diego). Group of passengers on the 4 day cruise was very different from the usual HAL niche: several ... Read More
Took advantage of the opportunity to do the 4 repositioning (Vancouver to Victoria to San Diego)+ 14 days Hawai'i (from and to San Diego). Group of passengers on the 4 day cruise was very different from the usual HAL niche: several children and babies and a much younger crowd. This leg of the trip was not a typical HAL cruise as the activities were very different. It was still an enjoyable cruise. 300 stayed on for the next leg and 1100 new passengers came on. Average age and passenger mix was more typical of most HAL cruises. Having read the flooding incidents that had occurred in previous cruises we were a bit worried as to what types of problems the ship might have. (Zaandam had been scheduled to go in dry dock early October and this was cancelled, giving way to the 2 week cruise to Mexico). Overall there were some negative problems but certainly not to the extent as to what previous passengers experienced. Some toilets overflowed but the problem was limited to a single bathroom. There were vacuum problems with the flushing of some toilets: it was intermittent and finally got settled. Since dry dock had been cancelled the maintenance was occurring during the cruise: -Carpet changing in some areas: no major mishaps. -Curtains & cushions... changing: not unpleasant. -Lower promenade deck removal of paint from the railing: daily occurrence which was noisy and messy. This started early in the morning; some inconveniences for passengers who had staterooms nearby. Overall it was a very good cruise. Food was good. Personnel was friendly, helpful and went out of their way to make our cruise wonderful. One disappointment was the fact that we did not stay long enough on some islands. Why does the ship take 4 days to go to Hawai'i but needs 5 1/2 days to come back (we could have sailed around Hilo to see the volcano at night or stayed overnight in Honolulu and have spent a full day in Lahaina). Answer: by sailing at 16-18 knots instead of of 20+ it saves fuel and reduces carbon footprint. Shows were OK but not great. Smoking is still permitted in the Casino (some parts are non smoking but it reeks of cigarette smoke). Casino has no doors so there is cigarette smell in the halls and the shops. Why not put doors, or better yet, do as other cruise lines did...ban smoking in the casino. Enjoyed lectures by Dr. Losey (guest lecturer) and Kainoa (on board guide). Read Less
Sail Date October 2012
Mexico, 14 days and no flights. This sounds like a great cruise. It will be our second time on Holland America. So after the initial shock of it not being Celebrity I had to stop with the expectations and from there things felt better. ... Read More
Mexico, 14 days and no flights. This sounds like a great cruise. It will be our second time on Holland America. So after the initial shock of it not being Celebrity I had to stop with the expectations and from there things felt better. Embarkation: we got there early and once they opened the ship were quickly on board and exploring. Main Dining Room: they messed up our dinner reservations, again. Despite the confirmation for dinner time and linking reservations we were seated late and not with our travel companions. However Iggy was awesome and by the third night we had a table at 5:45 every night for 11. The food was usually good with a varied selection. They brought the menu the night before for one in our party who has food issues and after a bit of a hiccup things went well for her. The cafe was okay, I liked the fresh sandwiches and appreciated the daily salad and fruit. Lido dining: I think if I had one complaint it would be that food was often not hot...I liked the build your own sandwich, the sushi and the Indonesian day. Activities: The population on this ship is elderly and the activities reflect this. Generally they are quieter and off to bed early. Just don't be in a rush as the walkers and wheelchairs, and canes are plentiful. They pack the early shows and the ship becomes very quiet by mid evening. There has been only a few line dancing classes and we would have appreciated some ballroom. There is a couple of trivia every day with the name that tune during our dinner every night. We have enjoyed the digital treasure hunt that has lasted the whole cruise. We have gone for creativity in staging our photos and had a ball setting the 'scenes' up. The shuffle board deck needs refinishing, it was impossible to use it. Our guys like karaoke and they all sang and three of them made the cut for the superstar performance. Entertainment: we have made the piano bar our last stop every night and have enjoyed the sing a longs, requests, dances and chat with Piano Man Lee and the others that hung out here. Lee has a wide range of material although he does admit Broadway is his weak link. The shows have been great. Production numbers. This is a new team and their inexperience shows. They attack the numbers with enthusiasm and energy, what most of them are lacking at this point is a connection to what they are doing. One male dancer in particular was awesome and we learned this is his sixth contract so he is comfortable with his material. I am sure the others will begin to relax and enjoy themselves. Tony Pace, a Las Vegas headliner is talented and knows how to work a crowd, even an elderly sun baked crowd. His blend of song, impersonation, and comedy made for a show you wouldn't want to miss. Ronn Lucas, The ventriloquist again had such charm and talent we were tired from laughing by the end. I volunteered my husband to be a dummy and he added to the humour. Alfreda Gerald did a tribute to the Divas. Her vocal skills and personality were a huge hit and we were honoured to chat with her the next night before she headed home. Rose Ranger played guitar and sang in the piano bar. She has a nice voice and so was easy listening before supper. Adagio Strings also gave another easy listening venue. The Neptunes, a trio were cool and played the Ocean bar where the ballroom dancing took place. Hal cats were great! I did not see the Stander Dance Duo perform in the theatre, but heard negative comments about their performance. I will say when I saw them dance in the piano bar they were relaxed and did great especially the woman. Activity staff lead entertainment such as Call my Bluff, Majority Rules, the Marriage game were entertaining and fun. Jeff Peterson was next up as a magician who is funny. He bills himself as 'Comedy Magic'. He was good, but the audience was pretty slow. We tried to get them worked up, but they were a hard sell. Dale Gonyea was up next with piano and comedy with photos. He had lots of funny stuff to say pertaining to this cruise such as the fact the walking deck was always blocked off in one way or another, about the carpeting and the missed port. He had an interesting voice and had us all laughing. This particular night I could not keep my eyes open so missed bits and pieces of his performance. DJ Steve was awesome, he kept music levels balanced and at a volume you could hear the music and still chat with friends. The ship: Okay...we got a letter saying "We would like to advise you that during our stay in Puerto Vallarta, we will be enhancing the atrium and stair towers by adding brand new carpeting. We expect the work to proceed quickly and anticipate that any inconvenience to our guests will be minimal. Nonetheless, as a gesture of goodwill, we want to offer each of you a complimentary excursion on that day, October 16, 2012, to help you enjoy your time ashore in Puerto Vallarta." They were however carpeting during the whole cruise making it challenging to navigate the ship safely. The fumes at times were trying as well, both the new glue and the heat they were using to get up the old stuff. The ship does need some work, but in general is okay. Well maybe I should add that we had a hydrolic problem that kept us late in Cabo San Lucas that caused us to miss our excursion in Puerto Vallarta and then more problems there which had us in Puerto Vallarta for an extra 10 hours. Then the stop again in Cabo to get the tender and then late to San Diego. We cleared customs late in the evening and went on shore to connect with friends. We were able to get together with one of our friends but missed the other. Our visit to Alcatraz in San Fran is off since we will not stop at that port. We did get our money back from The Alcatraz booking company. To make up a bit for all the issues the ship offered free drinks for two and a half hours. Room: Our room 1820 was quiet and we were very happy with our room steward Denen. Even the traffic to the medical center was not really an issue. Lots of wonderful towel creations and anything we needed. Excursions/ Ports. Seattle: dropped from the itinerary very early in the booking process. San Pedro was our first port and it was a testing ground for our group. Our group was too big to go together. I enjoy the people I was with, but with limited time we could have done more in small groups. As it was we wandered up the coast line reading the descriptions for the sites that I had downloaded. We did a little geocaching too. Puerto Vallarta. I can't comment on the one we missed, but the Pirate Ship Ahoy was a blast. Of course it was packed because it was one of the free ones offered. A number of people Who went this one were not really fit enough especially since the waves were big due to a storm on the Pacific. They were lifting people in and out of the tenders who were... well... anyone who was slow or limited mobility because the waves were crashing. It was very hot and very humid, but we loved it. Cabo San Lucas. We booked our own Kayak trip in Cabo. We were picked up by Cabo Outfitters and we were the only ones on the trip. We had an awesome time in the building waves kayaking and snorkeling. Kasey and his wife were excellent. We did have concerns about getting off the ship in time since there were delays, but we went down early to wait and got on the first tender. San Diego: We wandered around Balboa Park. Just wish we had had more time there! San Fransisco: Cancelled. Read Less
Sail Date October 2012
We were on Holland America D1T which began in Fairbanks on Sept. 5th. The ship departed Seward on the 9th. We arrived a day early. It was good to have the extra day in Fairbanks as we toured the Museum at the University (great museum), ... Read More
We were on Holland America D1T which began in Fairbanks on Sept. 5th. The ship departed Seward on the 9th. We arrived a day early. It was good to have the extra day in Fairbanks as we toured the Museum at the University (great museum), went to Santa's house in North Pole, AK. We had a good dinner at the hotel restaurant... The HAL hotel is the Westmark in Fairbanks. Nice hotel but the rooms are a little small and its in need of an update. HAL has a desk at the hotel which was good. Our tour included a very fun and informative ride on a paddle-wheel boat, lunch and panning for gold during the day. We recommend the land tour in Fairbanks. We also went on the salmon bake that evening, which we all agreed was not worth it. The next day we were transported to Denali on the train in very nice observation cars. The observation cars have comfortalbe seats and a bar upstairs and a restaurant area below the seating area and great visibility of the scenery and quite pleasant. The guides were attentive and informative. At the train station in Denali we were transported to our hotel, The McKinley Chalets Resort. Our group was in a separate full sized hotel near the main lodge. It is a 5 minute walk from there to the main lodge and there's a shuttle running every few minutes. Our impression is that building was owned by HAL. The main lodge has a couple of restaurants, a bar and a gift shop. Across the street is the commercial area with many shops, ice cream, pizza, etc. We took the white water river rafting trio down the Neenana River. Since it was September the weather was on the cool side, but they provided "dry" suits that are water tight and go over your clothing (water tight at wrists, ankles, and neck). It was about 1.5 hours of non-stop class 3 rapids. We have river rafted several rivers, and this was one of the best rides...we all had to paddle and being on the point (up front) is "the" place to be. A great trip and worth it. The bus tour of Denali was in a refurbished school bus. The seats were uncomfortable and the heat was almost non-existent. The outside temperature was barely 50 degrees. The tour guide was very informative. We saw bears and mountain sheep. Despite the temperature and the seats everyone thought it was a good tour, although I thought that it was too long actually,,,,four hours in and four ours back gets old on an uncomfortable bus. Its definitely NOT a tour bus...small windows, bad seats, bad heater. But we did sear bears, moose, and Doll mountain sheep. The next day we boarded modern "deluxe" motorcoaches for transport to Seward. Much much better than the old school bus in Denali. It is a full-day with great scenery all of the way. Our bus driver/guide was very informative. The lunch stop was in Wasilla at a very nice restaurant. We were a little ahead of schedule and got to do an unscheduled stop at the Iditerod headquarters in Wasilla where we had up close encounter with the dogs and the had rides available which was fun and a great photo op. Some of the family of racers were there and we held sled dog puppies. If you go on this and can convince your driver to fit it in, it is well worth the 20 or 30 minutes, and it was free except they do charge for the sled rides (the sled is an ATV pulled by dogs since there is no snow in Sept) We did no sight seeing at Seward. The boarding was straight forward. At Glacier bay: we got an informative narrative about the Marjorie glacier and the Grand Pacific glacier. At Haines, we went on a Bald Eagle river float. This is the only tour we took that was not Holland American. It starts at Porcupine Creek...yes the same local where the Discover Channel TV program "Alaskan Gold Rush". We did see many eagles on the Chilkat River, but you don't get all that close to them. Our guide was a real treat as he paddled our rubber raft while telling us about all the things were were seeing. His name is Delbert,,,,if you go on this tour, you will want him. Think of Gabby Hayes who graduated from the Air Force Academy, flew F4's, got an MBA at Stanford University, was a consultant for Arthur Anderson, and left it all to be a river guide on the colorado river in the Grand Canyon, then spend the last several years in Alaska. I enjoyed this trip, but I wish I could have been in two places at the same time. Others went salmon fishing and had a blast. This tour is run by Chilkat Tours Ltd, and is called the Chilkat Bald Eagle Preserve Float. Each raft holds a guide and max of 6 passengers which worked out well for us as we were three couples. Do a google search and you will find this tour. We got back in plenty of time to make our boarding deadline. This tour included a lunch. In Juneau: It rained alot, which we were told, if you go to Juneau, expect rain. We took a whale watching boat (holds about 120 people). We did see some hump back whales, but no breaches, but that is the luck of the draw. Sometimes they breach and mostly they don't. We had a good red salmon lunch at Orca Point which is an island restuarant. We also took a bus over to the Mendenhall Glacier and adjacent water fall. This was a beautiful area, and there is a gift shop and you can walk over to a creek and see 18 inch or more salmon swimming in the clear water. At Ketchikan: We went on the HAL tour "Alaska Rain Forest Sanctuary, Raptor Center and Totems." The rain forest sanctuary walking tour was the best part. We saw four bears and video'd three of them for perhaps two minutes as they strolled down a creek near us, catching and eating Salmon. They were as close as 40 or 50 feet. As our guide said, "if they cross to this side of the creek, we're leaving!:" After the tour we enjoyed walking around town. Even though this is the place on earth with the most rainfall, on this cruise it was the only port in which it was not raining! The next day our cruise ended at Vancouver. We recommend the cruise. The best parts are the wildlife and the scenery. Dress for the climate. Read Less
Sail Date September 2012
We were scheduled on the Holland America D1T which began in Fairbanks on Sept. 5th. The ship departed Seward on the 9th. The land package took place on Sept 5-9. There were three couples in our group and we had made reservations at the ... Read More
We were scheduled on the Holland America D1T which began in Fairbanks on Sept. 5th. The ship departed Seward on the 9th. The land package took place on Sept 5-9. There were three couples in our group and we had made reservations at the tour hotel to arrive one day early, on Sept. 4th. At the airport in Fairbanks we saw a Holland America agent greeting customers coming in for other land tours. When we identified ourselves we were warmly received and we were transported on the Holland America buses to the hotel (even though we were a day early). It was good to have the extra day in Fairbanks as we toured the Museum at the University (great museum), went to Santa's house in North Pole, AK, and had a nice dinner at an Italian restaurant. The HAL hotel is the Westmark in Fairbanks. Nice hotel. HAL has a desk at the hotel. Our tour included a very fun and informative ride on a paddle-wheel boat, lunch and panning for gold during the day. We recommend the land tour in Fairbanks. We also went on the salmon bake that evening, which we all agreed was not worth it. The next day we were transported to Denali on the train in observation cars. The observation cars have seats and a bar upstairs and a restaurant area below the seating area. The guides were attentive and informative. At the train station in Denali we were transported to our hotel, The McKinley Chalets Resort. Our group was in a separate full sized hotel near the main lodge. It is a 5 minute walk from there to the main lodge and there's a shuttle running every few minutes. Our impression is that building was owned by HAL. The main lodge has a couple of restaurants, a bar and a gift shop. Across the street is the commercial area with many shops, ice cream, pizza, etc. We took the flightseeing tour around Mount McKinley. Denali Air picked us up at the main lodge and took us to the airstrip. We flew in an 8-passenger twin engine airplane with retractable landing gear. The flight lasted about an hour. We loved it even though it was a little cloudy that day. Highly recommended. The bus tour of Denali was in a refurbished school bus. The seats were uncomfortable and the heat was almost non-existent. The outside temperature was barely 50 degrees. The tour guide was very informative. We saw bears and mountain sheep. Despite the temperature and the seats everyone thought it was a good tour. The next day we boarded modern "deluxe" motorcoaches for transport to Seward. It is a full-day with great scenery all of the way. Our bus driver/guide was very informative. The lunch stop was in Wasilla at a very nice restaurant. Port reviews are below, except for Ketchikan. Here are our comments on Ketchikan: We went on the HAL tour "Alaska Rain Forest Sanctuary, Raptor Center and Totems." The rain forest sanctuary was the best part. We saw four bears and filmed three of them for perhaps two minutes as they strolled down a creek near us. As our guide said, "if they cross to this side of the creek, we're leaving!:" After the tour we enjoyed walking around town. Even though this is the place on earth with the most rainfall, on this cruise it was the only port in which it was not raining! The next day our cruise ended at Vancouver. We recommend the cruise. The best parts are the wildlife and the scenery. Dress for the climate. Read Less
Sail Date September 2012
This was our first Alaska Cruise after 14 Caribbean cruises(as we live in Florida). It was also our first HAL experience after having cruised with all other cruise companies.Zaandam has been the smallest size ship in all our travels. ... Read More
This was our first Alaska Cruise after 14 Caribbean cruises(as we live in Florida). It was also our first HAL experience after having cruised with all other cruise companies.Zaandam has been the smallest size ship in all our travels. Our 7 day southbound started off in Seward Alaska, a lovely port.The embarkation was great. Our room was very nice. Large bath with a tub.The room and the service was immaculate (as on all ships).The food at the LIDO was comparable with other ships (mediocre).The LIDO waiter/table service was EXCELLENT. But the food servers behind the sneeze guards were VERY RUDE, not paying attention because they were not listening and restless. Most of them made the passengers feel as they were begging for food slipped from under the sneeze guards.The deserts were cordoned off !! I have witnessed the mess and waste created by a lot of passengers in our previous cruises and I can understand the sanity issues and avoiding waste. But on our Zaandam cruise of 8/26 - 9/2 the Lido food service was rude and rushed.It was the only one REALLY BAD experience The dining room reception and waiter service was great (as on many ships).Our waiters ANHAR and AAM were 1st class.Tried to please us anyway they could. But the menu choices were extemely limited. The food was so-so.Some were good, some were left untouched,especially any and all soups !! Worst soups ever !!! Regarding the number and age average of the passengers the small pool and 2 hot tubs were never over crowded.The cleanliness of the ship was SUPER.All the port calls were timely. The captain was generous in stopping,spending time at the Glacier Bay and cruising down the inside passage. The piano bars, the Crow's nest were all great. The library was very nice and accomodating. The shows and entertainement were poor.The casino was pathetic for slot machine players. The shops were not up to par compared with the larger ships. OVERALL we had a PLEASENT CRUISE on ZAANDAM. The total price of our 7 day cruise was almost equal to one of the excursions we took.CRUISES are the BEST VALUE Vacations. Read Less
Sail Date August 2012
We're seniors who wanted a relaxing yet interesting cruise experience. This was our 5th cruise, our second on HAL. We actually booked two 7-day cruises, back-to-back, which worked out fine, as we'd done the Alaskan land tour ... Read More
We're seniors who wanted a relaxing yet interesting cruise experience. This was our 5th cruise, our second on HAL. We actually booked two 7-day cruises, back-to-back, which worked out fine, as we'd done the Alaskan land tour previously. The Zaandam was very nice, well-maintained and clean. It was laid out almost the same as the other HAL ship we were on, so we had no learning curve. We had an ocean-view room on the second level near the forward elevators and stairs. The location was quiet and convenient. The room was spacious and clean with more than enough storage for us. The food was uneven, but okay generally. We upgraded to the Pinnacle Grill on 2 occasions and were very impressed with the quality of the food and the high level of personal service. The reservation policy for the open seating in the main dining room was confusing and administered inconsistently by the staff. But otherwise the staff were pleasant, courteous and helpful. Our favorite shore excursions were the whale watching out of Juneau, and the Misty Fjords boat trip out of Ketchikan. Heed the advise about warm clothing and rain gear. Although we had generally very good weather for the area, we certainly needed our jackets, hats and gloves. Bottom line: We liked the trip so much that we hope to repeat it in 2 years along with several family members. Read Less
Sail Date July 2012
Zaandam Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.5 4.0
Dining 4.0 3.9
Entertainment 3.5 3.5
Public Rooms 4.0 4.2
Fitness Recreation 4.0 3.7
Family 3.5 3.7
Shore Excursion 4.0 3.9
Enrichment 3.5 3.6
Service 4.0 4.3
Value For Money 4.0 3.7
Rates 4.0 4.0

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