558 Holland America Zaandam Cruise Reviews

We did the northern Vancouver to Seward cruise that included Glacier Bay and then a land tour to Denali. We went to Vancouver early and walked around some, took the train into town from our hotel by airport. Other family went on ... Read More
We did the northern Vancouver to Seward cruise that included Glacier Bay and then a land tour to Denali. We went to Vancouver early and walked around some, took the train into town from our hotel by airport. Other family went on hop-on, hop-off trolley and enjoyed that. The ship was beautiful but could use some updates in bathroom in cabin and a second power outlet. The lido deck buffet food was good and plentiful. The dining room food was better. The burgers and fries at poolside were pretty good. Lines could be long at times. Casino was small but nice and winning was better than the other cruise I took. They had some card tournaments,but I did not do those. They had a good piano bar entertainer, Andy. Cabin service and room service were awesome. Drinks were delicious, we got the drink pkg. I think we missed out some by not going to the Crow's Nest more often. They had live music up there, I think we would've enjoyed that too. We did love Alaska and it's beauty. We stopped in Ketchikan, Juneau, and Skagway. All with their own beauty. We traveled with adult kids and had fun zip-lining, salmon fishing, trains, trams, flying misty fjords, glacier viewing, hiking and kayaking. The land tour was stunning. Bus from Seward to Denali was long but ok. We stayed in cabins at McKinley Chalet Resort which is a beautiful property. Across street from shopping, excursions available on property or across street. We hiked around property some and did a bus tour 60 miles into Denali. Saw plenty of caribou, Dallas sheep and some moose, and one bear. Got a great video of momma and baby moose walking down the road. Otherwise just stunning views. Traveled back to Anchorage by McKinley Explorer train. This is an awesome way to travel! Dining car on bottom and observation dome with our seats on top, with a bar. The hotel in Anchorage was an older building and needed renovations, particularly, elevators and lobby. The rooms were fine, with balcony and nice view. All in all it was a great trip and I highly recommend it. Holland America owns and gets you everywhere Read Less
Sail Date June 2017
We had already done the inside passage but knew we wanted to do the Alaska land portion as well. We really lucked out with the weather - we may have felt differently about our experience if the weather had been bad. As it was we had some ... Read More
We had already done the inside passage but knew we wanted to do the Alaska land portion as well. We really lucked out with the weather - we may have felt differently about our experience if the weather had been bad. As it was we had some beautiful sunshine on the land portion and only one really rainy day in port at Ketchikan. The organization of the land portion of the cruise was very well done and the experience was great. Onboard the Zaandam was good too. Have to admit we like HAL - not everyone's favourite but suits us well. The cooking and computer workshops are worthwhile attending. Food very good as was the entertainment. We chose a window cabin this time as the balcony a bit more than we could afford. Weren't really keen on being on deck one but it was absolutely fine - accept for a bit of an odour in the hallway which I hope they deal with. Found the movement of the ship on this deck especially aft very limited. Felt more motion on the upper decks on previous trips. Read Less
Sail Date June 2017
Selected this cruise because it was part of our Vacation points options and it was in the time frame when we wanted to travel to Alaska. Ship is medium size, about 1250 passengers. Common areas are very nice. Cabins are OK but a ... Read More
Selected this cruise because it was part of our Vacation points options and it was in the time frame when we wanted to travel to Alaska. Ship is medium size, about 1250 passengers. Common areas are very nice. Cabins are OK but a regular stateroom with a large window felt cramped. Plenty of room for our luggage and clothes. A balcony is nice to have but we seldom used it on a previous cruise. I think it would have been nicer to have the option weather permitting. Dining room food and service was excellent. Lido was OK but service needs some help. In-room dining service was good. Technology is lacking. The ship internet service can only be used to see some menus & agendas. One cannot order excursions or shop. You have to wait in line at front desk or travel consultant area when they are opened. Onboard internet service is $55/hour. I did not receive my onboard credit and am still trying to get it resolved. We heard mixed reviews on entertainment. Most people loved the comedian. Ports visited were great. Quaint towns with lots of shops. Never realized Alaska ports were into the jewelry businesses. Heavily emphasized on the ship too. Read Less
Sail Date May 2017
Been on this cruise three times before. Great if you like days at sea, as we do. The entire staff of the Zaandam, in every department, provided excellent service, with a few monitor hiccups during the cruise. We are confused by a ... Read More
Been on this cruise three times before. Great if you like days at sea, as we do. The entire staff of the Zaandam, in every department, provided excellent service, with a few monitor hiccups during the cruise. We are confused by a couple of negative reviews of the short repositioning cruise just prior to ours - the one from San Diego to Vancouver. We heard rumours about up coming changes to the Zaandam during its next refit - such as the elimination of a library and changes to the Crow's Nest that we are concerned about, but change is constant in our current world, and we will wait to see if these rumours are true and, most importantly, if we feel they are positive ones or not. Handrie, or dining room steward, was excellent in his attention to our needs during our entire cruise, and our several visits to the Pinnacle Grill reconfirmed what we had experienced on our three Hawaii previous cruises on the Zaandam - the steaks are outstanding. We have never experienced better in our business travels around the world. Great to experience the same captain, Christopher Turner, as last year! Read Less
Sail Date April 2017
My wife and I did a similar cruise on the Zaandam from San Diego to Hawaii several years ago and wanted to try it from a different port, and to see what changes may have occurred to the ship and/or ports of call. The ship seems brighter ... Read More
My wife and I did a similar cruise on the Zaandam from San Diego to Hawaii several years ago and wanted to try it from a different port, and to see what changes may have occurred to the ship and/or ports of call. The ship seems brighter and refreshed, except for the TVs in the cabins which are from the 70s, or so they appear based on the very poor picture quality. Speaking of which I can't understand why we were void of major TV news channels on the last three days back to Seattle except for two ESPN stations, and the only TV weather updates were for South American countries through the BBC channel. HAL, it's 2017 and we have the technology so PLEASE USE IT!! Try for some better customer service here. Our primary negative perception about the cruise and the ship is about how cool/cold the ship's public areas were kept requiring us and many other passengers to habitually walk around wearing our coats, hoodies, etc. We would sit in, for example, to listen to Adagio only to have cold air conditioning blowing on our heads, as well as elsewhere about the ship. Uncalled for. The lack of a librarian/IT supervisor was another failure in customer service, and the staff at the front desk was no substitute, nor should they be. The excessive cost coupled with the poor quality of WiFi service is a slap in the face for any passengers trying to make use of that service and should be improved. One thing that seemed to have changed for the better was the overall quality of the entertainment throughout the cruise, at least in comparison to our last four cruises with HAL since 2014 on other ships. But the over amplification of the band and singers constantly corrupted what could have been a better musical experience and often took away from the quality of the singers voices who always seemed to be trying to be heard over the band; those gals and guys deserve better treatment and respect from any musical group that accompanies them. The cabin stewards were good, and the 5th floor dining staff excellent. The Lido's dining chairs need reupholstering, now. Almost every chair's cushioning has been flattened down to the frame. Our overall experience was such that, contrary to our usual practice, we didn't sign up on board for a specific future cruise; we did leave a future cruise deposit that will be good for the next several years on a cruise of our choosing. If there is one. Our next several cruises will be with Cunard and we'll just keep reading CC's blogs and look forward to hearing about improvements. I'm not going to say anything about the tours offered under the precept of, if you can't say anything nice...... But if HAL perceives all touring passengers to need a shopping stop, please do away with them on cultural tours and just organize plain old shopping tours for those who want to shop and visit markets, etc. Read Less
Sail Date April 2017
we chose this cruise because we just wanted a short getaway and one that did not involve a long distance plane ride. We ate dinner every night in the dining room and sat at different tables with different people every day which was OK. It ... Read More
we chose this cruise because we just wanted a short getaway and one that did not involve a long distance plane ride. We ate dinner every night in the dining room and sat at different tables with different people every day which was OK. It is cool to get to meet people for different places. We ate breakfast most days in the dining room and sat with other people. We had food at the Dive Inn a couple time and it was good. We ate lunch mostly at the lido. There were not as many activities that we were interested in on this cruise as there were on other cruises we have been on. The night life was not very good on this ship as the last cruise we were on. There was lots of trivia if you are someone who likes trivia. The shows at night were pretty good. Didnt really like the comedian to much. We only did one port on our cruise which was Victoria. Been there before but enjoyed our horse drawn carriage ride and our dinner in town. It was a long walk into town from the ship. We were glad it was not a rainy day. Read Less
Sail Date April 2017
This is my 3rd Holland America cruise, the first two were also short - but both were great with good food and impeccable service. First I will say that my room steward was STILL amazing; Heri ! Room 3410. Without him this would have ... Read More
This is my 3rd Holland America cruise, the first two were also short - but both were great with good food and impeccable service. First I will say that my room steward was STILL amazing; Heri ! Room 3410. Without him this would have been a total loss. I went with 3 girlfriends a a short fun vacation. Well, all fun that was had - was created by us. It started with cranky front desk people with extremely forced smiles when we first arrived, who also gave us wrong information about buying a drink package. I insisted to my group that we eat in the Rotterdam dining room each dinner to the dismay of my group... and later I had to end up apologizing for my insistence because it was so bad. We ended up calling the rotting ham diner. Nothing was AMAZING. LOTS was bad. Not even one great dessert that I can talk about. Steaks were OK. nothing I couldn't get at Mr. Steak or Dennys. I didnt have the lobster which everyone else did and they all thought it was good. When the lobster was served no butter came with it. Sauces were in VERY stingy supply at EVERY MEAL. We had to ask our waiter Handri (who was not obliging to us in any way- but he was the only waiter who gave us attitude.. the rest were nice. Painfully slow but nice) for the butter- which he had about 3 feet from our table in a large silver dish. He had not even offered us any. So Weird and rude. so then he came and put the button on top of the lobster. NOPE you don't get any to dip!! LOL! The appetizers were so very strange. Absolutely everything had no flavor what so ever. Now I realize that 3/4 of those passengers were over 70 but my gosh! could I have SOMETHING WITH FLAVOR!!! the one and only meal we had that I didn't have to use 1/2 the salt shaker on was the Hamburgers and tacos at the Dive in - which of course closed early every day so you better be quick if you want to eat there. The desserts were all BAD. the flourless chocolate cake was tasty - but it had said it would be a molten chocolate cake - so we were disappointed. Our shock was on the next to last night when we went by the Lido cafeteria after dinner only to see EVERY SINGLE BITE OF OUR DINNER ON THE CAFE LINE!! Why did I go into the dining room and wait at least 1 hour for my food when I could go to the Lido and get everything the exact same there without the attitude in the dining room. That was when we got really mad. The comedian was sad. Maybe with another group it would have been successful but with our audience it was really bad. He was way too young and unmarried and no kids and couldn't relate to the crowd at all. so... Basically he just kind of put us all down . I put that on Holland America. They should match the comedian up with the crowd, FAIL. OK..... the boat was really rocking during his performance and we all got sick.. I will say this is the first time I have ever encountered some snotty drink servers. Mostly in the pool area. BY the last night everything was leftovers in the cafeteria. We took so many choices and found most of it non-edible. Old, hard, stale, cold and of course...flavorless. I spent a lot of time at the spa and loved Liza who did my facials and Joji who I also worked with. I bought some product and didnt buy some others. I never felt pressured by them and they were delightful to deal with. thanks! not nearly enough things going on. oh yeah.. and I played bingo for $35 for 1 game of blackout and the prize was a Holland America Cruise for 2, Guess what I WON!! oh yeah.., then another lady yelled bingo after me and we had a run off of 4 corners and I lost.... Holland America Giveth.. and Holland America taketh away...... That stunk. I was given a $50 credit. wow. That was a low point. Especially the next day at bingo when there were 4 pots from $250 up to $475. each. I really thought a better consolation prize was warranted. Sadly I wont ever sail Holland America again- way too many negatives. Hi-lights - The bathroom products are nice. good shampoo and conditioner and body wash. a tub in the room - that was nice. comfy beds. Great room attendant. Lots of empty areas on the ship for us to go and make our own fun and play games. Loved watching and dancing with the performers in the crows nest. After convincing the DJ to play something other than Donna Summer we had fun up there.(But really what DJ does not have Flo Rida Low ? and Sir Mix a lot???) Read Less
Sail Date April 2017
We chose this cruise for a girls getaway because it was a short cruise and was fairly inexpensive. However, I would have gladly paid more if everything could have been improved. The food in the dining room was, on several occasions, cold. ... Read More
We chose this cruise for a girls getaway because it was a short cruise and was fairly inexpensive. However, I would have gladly paid more if everything could have been improved. The food in the dining room was, on several occasions, cold. The service we received was normally very good except for the lobster night when we had a horrible server - Handri - he acted as if we were inconveniencing him. There was only one electrical outlet In our room and every time I plugged my hair dryer, the lights would flicker and go off... a bit of updating wouldn't hurt either when it comes to everything and maybe use a designer that isn't stuck in the 1950s. Also, I normally like it when the ship is at sea as there are usually many, many organized activities available - so many in fact that we have difficulty deciding what to do. That was certainly not the case on the Zaandam. Bingo and trivia about did it for activities. Bingo lasted 15 minutes and trivia maybe 30 minutes. There is a casino onboard as well as a spa however, we were expecting more organized activities. We love cruising due to the diversity on the ships as far as the age of the guests. There were people onboard of all ages however, everything - including the music that was represented as "today's hits" - was targeted toward the guests that were over 70 years old. Last time I checked, "today" means 2017 and not 1917. Dancing in the Crows Nest to today's hits was ridiculous. When we walked in, music from the 1950s was playing. After we pleaded A LOT with the DJ, he finally played something from this century and when he did, the empty dance floor was packed with dancers of all ages. Everyone was laughing and smiling. When he went back to a 1950s song, again, the dance floor was empty. I think there is a lesson to be learned in this. Just because the majority of your guests are over 70 doesn't mean they are dead. THEY WANT TO HAVE FUN JUST LIKE THOSE OF US IN OUR 50s and 60s....and 20s, 30s, and 40s. I know I mentioned the food briefly above but honestly, I overheard more complaints from other guests about the horrible food than I have ever heard about any restaurant let alone a cruise ship. It was as if McDonalds cooks were hired and they were told not to use any herbs and/or spices. Even us old people want to experience excellent tasting food and that certainly didn't happen. Did we get the leftovers from this ship's previous cruises or did someone misplace their cookbook? PUT SOME FLAVOR IN THE FOOD! I have never been disappointed by the food on a cruise until now nor have I ever lost weight on a cruise until now. Weight Watchers could be a future cruising partner as I'm sure the WW members will be thrilled by the weight loss potential as they certainly aren't going to crave anything onboard other than possibly the ice cream. Lastly, the way that we were told to disembark in Victoria was nothing short of an absolute fiasco. Seriously? We were treated like cattle squished into one small hallway which is a far cry from what I expected. The one bright, shinning light on this cruise - and the ONLY positive thing - was because of our room steward, Heri. He was wonderful and everything I expected from a cruise line. He was attentive, available and an all around wonderful representation of what a cabin steward should strive for. Heri was great and I will sincerely miss him. I can only hope that at some point he realizes his potential and moves up the food chain to a much better cruise line and/or ship because he honestly deserves it. Heri was the one gem that we found on this extremely disappointing cruise. There you have it. I hope that at some point someone at Holland America realizes that just because someone's physical age is over 70, doesn't mean they don't want and know how to have fun...they also know what a good meal is and that they didn't get one on the Zaandam. Read Less
Sail Date April 2017
The service was very good and the food was great! Some of the ports were not very nice but it was interesting to see other parts of the world. Embarkation and disembarkation went very smoothly. The staff was friendly and well ... Read More
The service was very good and the food was great! Some of the ports were not very nice but it was interesting to see other parts of the world. Embarkation and disembarkation went very smoothly. The staff was friendly and well trained.There were great lecturers and also a chaplain for religious services. Shore excursions were well organized and there was a variety of them to choose from. We would definitely go on this cruise again. Really liked the port and sea days being spaced out so well. Would like to have had more time in San Diego, Cabo san Lucas and Victoria, BC. The stops at these ports were not long enough. The weather was great except for the days between San Diego and Victoria. We traveled on the longer cruise of 22 days from Valparaiso (Santiago) to Victoria. Overall the trip was an exceptional balance of city and nature, ports and sea days. :) Read Less
Sail Date April 2017
We chose this cruise because of the itinerary and it was our first time on HAL. We had sailed Celebrity and Norwegian before. The Guarantee room landed us in 2500 which was actually a handicap room with a spacious bathroom and smaller ... Read More
We chose this cruise because of the itinerary and it was our first time on HAL. We had sailed Celebrity and Norwegian before. The Guarantee room landed us in 2500 which was actually a handicap room with a spacious bathroom and smaller bedroom. It was pretty cramped but we were not there a lot. The embarkation in Valparaiso was quick and the transfer arranged with HAL from Valparaiso was great, some stops and a good guide. Favorite ports were Coquimbo and Jose de San Martin . Excellent tours that we organized with Ecotours and South American Secrets. The Isla Ballista tour was fantastic! The ship decor is very dated with lots of Venetian style stuff although the signed musical instruments were cool. The small shop was very limited and there is the same old jewellery that gets flogged on every cruise ship. I like the size of the ship and I thought the food was good. Maybe could have spiced up some of the dishes but overall, excellent service in the dining room and the Lido and we always found the food tasty and lots of choices. Trivia seemed to be the activity most popular but by the time we wanted to join in, there was no group to partner with.The musical team of singers and dancers are excellent. We were treated to guest singers as well and a Card Illusionist i guess you would call him that gave a stunning show of aptitude. We attended all of the lectures by the guest Naturalist and appreciated his knowledge. The Captain was interesting with his anecdotes every day. The ship was kept very clean and a big thanks to all of the cleaners and service folks. One unusual thing is there was a cardiac arrest on this ship. Because of the time it took for personnel to arrive it made me wonder why there are not Defibrillators on every floor. I never saw one at all. But maybe that is the case on all of the ships. One staff can then rush to the area and defibrillate if needed quicker than waiting for the whole crew and equipment to trundle along the deck. Just a thought. Disembarkation was smooth and efficient, we left at 0930 so most of the crowd had left. I would recommend this itinerary and this ship. Read Less
Sail Date April 2017
Just to be away from the cold time in Ontario to return home not until spring arrives. We had not been to Peru, and Equador yet which were very nice . We really liked the size of the ship which has a great crew . The archeological ... Read More
Just to be away from the cold time in Ontario to return home not until spring arrives. We had not been to Peru, and Equador yet which were very nice . We really liked the size of the ship which has a great crew . The archeological sites in Peru and Equador were very nice and we loved the South American people . The nature of these countries were also very different from what we had expected it was much dryer and in some places just like a desert . We loved our experiences in Lima a, Trujillo , and the Islas Ballestas were simply amazing . Be careful in big cities like Santiago there seem to be more pick pocket incidents and petty thievery as my wifes purse was slashes and wallet taken even though she was pretty careful . At least there was not a big loss just the inconvenience of replacing cards . Our hotel front office was extremely helpful in contacting credit card companies . Read Less
Sail Date April 2017
We wanted to explore South America and did. We explored ports we never even heard of in Argentina, Uruguay, Chile, Peru, Ecuador and Mexico. The ports were small but very interesting and exciting. Holland America Line's ... Read More
We wanted to explore South America and did. We explored ports we never even heard of in Argentina, Uruguay, Chile, Peru, Ecuador and Mexico. The ports were small but very interesting and exciting. Holland America Line's strength is still their staff who were as always very friendly and professional, made up of, you guessed it, Phillipinos and Indonesian crew. The ship officers were not quite as friendly or visible. We were happy to discover that Holland America made arrangements to have a Pastor on Board to have an Easter service which quite a number of passengers took part in. Nathan & Cindy of Dallas, Texas also conducted bible studies on board. Most cruise lines do not look after spiritual needs of the passengers or crew. It was wonderful to see the fresh flowers all over the ship as is Holland's theme. The food and entertainment was very good. We enjoyed our Holland cruise once again. Read Less
Sail Date April 2017
We chose mainly due to ports of call. Usually we go Celebrity. Comparing Celebrity: younger average age (I read that Hal was trying to get their average age lower), more entertainment (Celebrity has a great Martini bar that is very ... Read More
We chose mainly due to ports of call. Usually we go Celebrity. Comparing Celebrity: younger average age (I read that Hal was trying to get their average age lower), more entertainment (Celebrity has a great Martini bar that is very active before and after dinner and has entertainment on pool deck, in lobby). In nightclub, HAL was very quiet--it only came live when our younger average age group attended but we had to educate the DJ. Live band in nightclub only 2 nights out of 18. Food and service was excellent. Spa was great. Some ports of call was a bit disappointing but educational. Final Disembarkation in San Diego was very disorganized on board with long lineups stretching down the ship hallways. Fitness club was great--no waiting for most equipment (likely the benefit of older average age). Public rooms on Celebrity always had attendants keeping everything clean vs Hal. Celebrity always had greeters with hand sanitizers at eating hall entry ways encouraging people to sanitize hands. However on HAL, food was more secures as everything was served (i.e. not selfserved) Read Less
Sail Date April 2017
I wanted to go to South America and wanted to see Penquins. The cruise was extraordinary. Even though we missed one port due to weather I still got to see the penquins in Falkland Islands.It was awesome. I visited 4 countries and really ... Read More
I wanted to go to South America and wanted to see Penquins. The cruise was extraordinary. Even though we missed one port due to weather I still got to see the penquins in Falkland Islands.It was awesome. I visited 4 countries and really got to experience the culture and life in each country. I had booked private tours and it made the tours very personal. It was also half the cost of the ship tours. The weather this time of year is unpredictable. We had rainy weather from Valparasio to Ushuaia. If you want to see penguins I recommend you book tours to see them in more than one port. The temperature is around 47F. Tours for tips are offered in both cities. We finished in Buenos Aires. I recommend if you have a late flight take the transfer from the ship and the tour they offer.(only tour booked through the ship) WE were very pleased with Holland America. Disappointed in the WiFi. It was very slow. Used most of my minutes trying to up load pictures. I quit trying. Disappointed I could never get hot toast for breakfast, even in the dining room. In general the food was good but not superior. Great service and very friendly staff. Entertainment in the theater was superior. I would recommend this cruise to anyone that wants to see the penquins and experience the culture in four countries. Read Less
Sail Date March 2017
After returning from a Panama Canal on the Maasdam, sorting thru upcoming cruises the 32 day explore South America Passage and Inca Discovery was of great interest. Fortunately for future travelers, the Zaandam is going in to dry dock to ... Read More
After returning from a Panama Canal on the Maasdam, sorting thru upcoming cruises the 32 day explore South America Passage and Inca Discovery was of great interest. Fortunately for future travelers, the Zaandam is going in to dry dock to be rehab in 2018. In the Lido dining the chair cushions show great ware as they are sunken in. There was very little variety of foods from day to day. No specialty nights with native food from the country we were in. Randomly closed parts of each food line thus had to go from side to side to complete a meal. Food became 'same-O-same-O'. Internet very expensive, very slow, basically non functional. On some other cruise ships, internet is free. Waste many of your minutes waiting for it to connect. Entertainment has really gone down hill. No entertainment on the pool deck. Very little variety in the lounge - mostly singing and dancing. Some of the ShipFlicks permanently missing or so scratched they would not play. Returning to America and Clearing Immigration i.e. final disembarkation was an experience of disorganize chaos. This could have been handled much better. It put a big black mark on what to that date had been an excellent relaxing time. Bathrooms definitely need some attention. On the bright side, the Captain's 12 noon briefings were very interesting as were his Q/A meetings with the passengers. The staff was very attentive, nice group of young people. For the fitness bugs, the center is treat. A variety of equipment. The morning stretch class was a huge hit. I attribute this in part to the personality of the instructor. About the deserts. Too good, need I say more! The system for dismissing guests and matching them with their selected excursions was very efficient. Read Less
Sail Date March 2017
I have never written a review related to my vacations, Be it cruises, or stays at hotels, etc. I have read reviews though, and found that in most cases they never represent experiences as accurately as they most likely unfolded. ... Read More
I have never written a review related to my vacations, Be it cruises, or stays at hotels, etc. I have read reviews though, and found that in most cases they never represent experiences as accurately as they most likely unfolded. Especially the cruise vacations. One must keep in mind that a review is based on the characteristics of the reviewer influenced by their values, formal and informal education, range of travel exposures, etc. etc. At the end of the day the cruiser establishes expectations that often are unrealistic relative to applying to everyone. As such the review reinforce every aspect of their voyage life from only one perspective. Too often it results in providing a negative outcome for the cruiser and a poor review. Thus their evaluation should be digested with great care. Similarly the review that gushes with perfection just might be a bit overboard as well. My wife and I are not cruisers with years of experience. We fall into the late sixties early seventies age range. We have been on two river cruises and three ocean cruises. Two of the ocean cruises were with Holland America and the most recent was on the Zaandam from Buenos Aires to Vancouver.We had a Vista suite compared to an outside ocean view cabin or inside cabin. For a long cruise (ours was 36 days) I encourage people to seriously consider the larger accommodation. There are times when one just needs to get away and enjoy the quiet and comfort of a larger room. By booking earlier the difference in cost is not that much. On the other hand taking an outside ocean view cabin fits the bill for many folks. Especially those people who are on a cruise of 7 days to 14 and are also individuals who love to socialize in the common areas. Inside cabin might also be ideal for folks who prefer spending most of their time away from their cabin. Simply -- know yourself and plan accordingly. I read a recent review submitted by a cruiser who was on the same ship as us at the same time, but for only part of the journey. The person did not have a good experience. However the examples of their concerns left me dumbfounded.To suggest there was limited leisure options for sea days based on Bingo or trivia caused me to review the daily schedule I brought home with me and to re-read my notes. I don't know how the cruiser missed the culinary shows, the guest lectures on either Global affairs or on the sea life related to places we were traveling to or seeing on sea days or the movie theatre and a host of other things that were on board.. I am amazed the cruiser did not hear the musicians who played in the lounges during the late afternoon or at night. I tried to imagine how one could not spend an hour or more observing the actions of people at the art auctions (even if you were not into art, the experience of watching others was fun). The evening entertainment was very diversified and of exceptional quality. Yes it might be that one comedian's sense of humor compared to another was not to one's liking but it was obviously appealing to others. Or perhaps one singer might not appeal to one group of folks but did to others. However, over the course of the voyage one would be hard pressed to say nothing in the way of entertainment was good. For me it was outstanding and exceeded expectations. Food seems to be a complaint most often heard from reviewers. Again what were the expectations when booking a cruise? My wife and I ate in the dining room 8 times over the 36 days. We ate in the Pinnacle dining room once and the Italian restaurant twice. We ate many meals in the Lido and enjoyed the casual hamburgers/hot dogs around the pool. The dining room service was very good. Not perhaps the same level of service one might experience in an extremely high end restaurant in a major North American or European city but I did not expect that level of service. What I received was terrific.The service was of a high quality in the other restaurants as well. Quality of food is a tough one to review. Again what are the expectations? The dining room and specialty restaurants provided food that was hot, well presented, and tasty. If one is on a long cruise and chose only to eat in the dining room it is possible the experience would prove monotonous, both in service and quality of food. But if one spreads their choice of food and venues each day or every couple of days the Zaandam offered value for money. If I offered any negative critical remark it would be for the Lido.The breakfast options were good and service was as expected for a buffet. Dinner entrees offered diversity but too often I found the food a bit on the cool side. On the other hand the temperature was just right for my wife. My recommendation when it comes to dining is be realistic about setting expectations. If you have made a great financial deal with an inside cabin and expect the cabin service and accommodation to be similar to a five star hotel you will undoubtedly be disappointed. If you expect the dining room and Lido restaurants to provide quality of food and service as if the servers were private butlers and each food item was prepared exactly as you wanted it you will be annoyed with that expectation not being achieved. Common areas are great on Zaandam. The library is well stocked. Only complaint would be with passengers who raid the shelves on the first day and take ten books and not return them until the end of their cruise. The Crows nest lounge is a great place to view the world as it slips slowly and quietly along. Other lounge areas are equally nice. Pool areas can be a bit noisy but isn't that what one should expect on a cruise ship? The Captain was very experienced and possessed a subtle sense of humor. Three cruise directors for three portions of the cruise provided us with different personalities and which one appeals to a person is anyone's best guess. All did their job well. The South America cruise from Buenos Aires to Vancouver met our expectations for exploring bits of the geography and being exposed to culture of many countries. We spent a few days in Buenos Aires before joining the ship and the city was fantastic. Many things to do and very cosmopolitan. I recommend spending at least a day and preferably more visiting the city before heading off on the Ocean waves. Montevideo was well worth touring. Due to the brief time in the city I would recommend taking either a planned Holland America cruise or local tour as there is much to see and too little time to see much of anything. Port Stanley was our first Tender port and the process was quick and easy. Don't plan a tour until you get ashore. The city is easy to walk around and there are many tour operators at dockside who will take you to any place you want to explore. A great little museum worth the visit. Punta Arenas, Chile and Ushuai Argentina are easy ports to walk around but we found the area limited for casual exploring. We did go out of the cities into the non urban places and loved the country side. Choices are many. The ship's location guide, (Ryan) was a wealth of knowledge and presented information each day on ports of call and was always at his desk. (I think he had a roll out bed in one of the drawers). Puerto Montt, Chile is another tender port and again the transfer went smoothly, (except for the periodic time when passengers chose to ignore the cruise staff directions because those passengers felt they deserved or where entitled to special considerations). I would recommend the Holland America excursion to Petrohue Falls and lake cruise. Yes, the tour is a bit touristy, but the country side is beautiful and the experience is very relaxing. Valparaiso, Chile is a city I first visited in 1964. It has changed a lot in the past fifty odd years. I am not sure what to recommend with this port. First, one needs to expect to see poverty throughout South and Central America. It can be unsettling and one needs to be prepared for it. Thus when you reach Valparaiso you will find the city, though rich in history, is also challenged with the conditions of poverty which can make the touring/visiting experience a difficult one. I encourage folks to consider taking a tour for this location. Or if one wants to see a bit of the country those people who went to Santiago, who I spoke with enjoyed the trip. Coquimbo is a small place and distance from the ship to the city requires a transfer (provided by the ship). My wife and I chose to go to the Elqui Valley and we did not regret it. Beautiful scenery and a great lunch/stop at Vicuna. Yes, it is a tourist tour but there were no other tourists, other than us, so it was not the type of rush and push one often associates with bus tours. General San Martin is one of those ports that you need to read up on to make a decision as to what you want to do. It is a desert area and not much to see unless you are into deserts. The tours that are offered by Holland America might be the best options for those who wish to go ashore. Callao/Lima is a longer stop. Most of the passengers I spoke with enjoyed this port. (Callao is a bit seedy and dangerous.and the recommendation to passengers is to not walk around the place). Interestingly, this was the same recommendation given to me and others way back in 1964 when I was in the Navy. How little things change. Some folks did the tour to Machu Pichu and loved it. We visited the area of Pachacamac and found the site quite interesting. You can walk around Lima without a concern. Salvaerry has many options and is worth trying to get a couple of other passengers to join you to arrange for a private car tour. It provides more flexibility and the cost spllt among four or six people is worth consideration. Manta, Ecuador is the home of "Panama" hats and buttons. This is another place you might want to check with the location advisor as to how best to tour the location. Puerto Caldero, Costa Rica is very limited with respect to walking around. Consider taking a tour and check with the location guide as to what is available dockside. Depending on the time of year you take the cruise the tour options might be more limited. Holland America offers many tours and perhaps folks who traveled on one of their excursions will write about them. In Puerto Chiapos we took a ship tour and went on the "Chiapas through the ages" tour. Again, for us it was an interesting tour and not too many other tourist were out and about in the town. Cabo Sans Lucas is well known to North Americans. It is very touristy and easy to walk around. It is a toss up for folks with respect to what to do. All kinds of tour operators are at dockside if one seeks a guided tour to surrounding areas. San Diego is a wonderful port. You can walk off the ship and take a Hop on Hop Off bus or arrange for guided tours or simply walk around the city. Victoria is also very easy to walk around. As soon as you walk off the ship you are in a nice neighborhood and it is an easy fifteen walk to the downtown area. There are also buses from dockside to downtown. A beautiful city, easy walking and lots to see and do in such a brief time in port. Vancouver is, in my mind, a city that cruise folks should research before making their transportation home arrangements. Spending a couple of days in this city is a great way to end their tour. A nice safe city with all kinds of areas to explore. Weather wise we hit the jack pot. Though the clouds came out in Stanley and the wind blew a bit in the Magellan Straits it never rained the entire time we were away. We were told that the ship was not able to dock at a couple of places we visited on its previous trip due to weather conditions. Also that the rain and clouds etc made some aspects of the South American cruise taken earlier in the season a bit problematic. For us the mid March to late April proved to be the best time for this cruise. Simply, this was a good introduction to people places and things associated with the "Americas". Just plan your trip with a good understanding of knowing you are and what you want out of a cruise. Oh yes, -- there was quite a range of ages on each portion of the cruise. A bit older for the first part. Mid sixties to late seventies from Buenos Aires to Valparaiso, a little younger from Valparaiso to San Diego and a number of younger families from San Diego to Vancouver. Also, keep in mind that the ship will take your passport when you board so have another piece of photo ID with you for when you go ashore. As well, American dollars are widely accepted so don't worry about currency exchange. Read Less
Sail Date March 2017
After having sailed the Mediterranean last year we wanted to explore a part of the world that would be oh so unique. With HAL doing away with the South Pacific cruises of the last 3 years we decided to book this one. Having booked our ... Read More
After having sailed the Mediterranean last year we wanted to explore a part of the world that would be oh so unique. With HAL doing away with the South Pacific cruises of the last 3 years we decided to book this one. Having booked our flight from Vancouver to Buenos Aires through HAL's Flight Ease everything went smooth even the very tight connection in DFW. Sleepy eyed the next morning we arrived on time and made our way to the Baggage claim, where we were met with HAL greeters. Being disabled I was placed in a wheelchair and made it to the exit point of the terminal. Our guide unfortunately left my wife and I behind on the way to bus. When we found out where the bus was it was long gone. I was not impressed. Found another HAL guide outside the terminal to help out and had to wait 30 - 40 mins for the next one. Once on board the bus it didn't take long to get to cruise terminal, but is where the fun began. We were among the first persons here except for the previous bus and were told to sit towards the rear of the terminal away from the in route to ship processing. We were not given a process number but told to wait until we were notified to line up for pre process. Other groups after us we noticed were given number cards and seated adjacent to the processing gate. My wife went over and queried what was going on. She was told by staff that it was for 4 and 5 star priority guests but upon asking one of the people seated there this was their first cruise as well as others my wife again asked what was going on and told the rep that what she her was not correct. After that she went away came back with another rep with processing numbers and started handing them out to our group but after the later arriving guests already had the lower numbers. once we got started it went pretty well. A staff member found me a wheelchair and assisted us through the process, up the elevator and onto the ship. Luckily our cabin was on the Dolphin Deck which was where the embark ramp was. Into our room and then off to the front desk by 1240 pm and then the Dining Room which didn't open until 1 pm. Was seated and recognized dining staff from previous cruises what a reunion. Had a great lunch and some catch up conversation. It didn't take long to find that the food quality has declined with our first dinner in the dining room (Deck 4 open seating). Our initial dining staff didn't seem very motivated to go back to the galley and make things better. The next evening we moved to another table with different waiter and assistant. Oh did we hit the jack pot. Sony and Yoga were absolutely incredible. They made every dining experience after that beyond reproach. Our wine steward was very good as we like our wine and made some great recommendations for wine selections within the wine packages of South America and the HAL wine list . Nelson, our Maitre' D and Syariff the Dining Room Manager treated us so well. Most breakfasts and lunches when applicable were taken in the Lido Market. I met two wonderful Omellet chefs Rona and Micheal(JR), made to order delicious. Varied fresh fruit was mostly available and if you didn't see it don't be afraid to ask. Great salad and sushi bars. Enjoyed the food quality and taste at the Dive In, great burgers and fries with curry ketchup. All the staff were so gracious and helpful. Our cabin seemed so small maybe it was my memory but our room sure seemed small. Didn't like the in cabin safe where you had to use only on shipboard card or credit card etc to operate the safe. Sure made it inconvenient at times. Why not have them same as other ships within a push button code set. Beds seem be have seen better days time for a replace as well as the sofa. TVs are antiquated, terrible resolution and immovable. It would be nice also that every time we are in port that they give the windows a scrub so you can see half ass clearly out of them. Ship's Captain, Chris Turner was excellent thank you for the Cape Horn and El Brujo Glacier experience. His senior staff were very good. All of our cruise directors Mark, Mario and Jordan were very personable and professional. Other persons of note were the Local Location Specialist, Ryan Baird was exceptional. What a wonderful asset to have on board. Also the wonderful lecturers we had on board Dr Stephen Sloan on World Affairs and how these affected the areas we were travelling through and Dr Christofferson on Marine biology of varied Marine species relative to areas we were visiting. Evening stage shows were OK but didn't "wow" us. We miss the HAL Cats, instead we get "The Band" but unfortunately they don't play that often and for a short period of time. Not too lively. As always the Ship's Shore excursions as usual over promise, over charge and under deliver. We did take two with the ship because we couldn't find english speaking guides on private tours. As a rule we check out our own with online help when we can get Wifi on shore for a private tour. If you can find another couple to join you all the better. Four in a group is the most economical. Overall the food could be better, the room as well, but the Staff was incredible especially our dining staff they are in a class of their own. Our cabin staff of Widodo and Bashari thanks guys for all you do, and who could forget the wonderful Front Office staff headed by Rencel Recto, Guest Relations Officer. Captain Turner you were great, hope to sail with you again, before you retire. Read Less
Sail Date March 2017
We prefer cruises that highlight nature. Even though the weather did not cooperate at times, the glaciers, mountains, penguins and natural beauty were outstanding. We chose to board the ship immediately upon arrival in Santiago Chile. Most ... Read More
We prefer cruises that highlight nature. Even though the weather did not cooperate at times, the glaciers, mountains, penguins and natural beauty were outstanding. We chose to board the ship immediately upon arrival in Santiago Chile. Most on board had to travel long distances and boarding immediately was a mistake because you travel to the other side of the world. A do over would be to spend time in Santiago. However, there was no problem meeting HAL representatives and getting through immigration. We never saw Santiago. The trip to Valparaiso was longer than thought, an hour and a half. We did a guarantee cabin which turned out to be on the lowest deck (no problem), mid-ship, #1881 (great until our final stop in Buenos Aires). The first couple of nights at sea were a bit rocky but the ship handled it well and that was pretty much the worst of the bad ocean. Cape Horn was rocky but we were too excited to really notice it. We did Puerto Montt by public bus. It cost us a buck fifty to get to Puerto Varas. Of course, the overcast weather prevented us from seeing the snow capped volcano. A small cafe gave us excellent WIFI in Puerto Varas. Taking the public bus was easier when a nice couple from GB joined us (strength in numbers). There were many private hawkers trying to sign us up for private tours. In general, the nightly entertainment was pretty good, the food was high quality and consistent. We mostly ate in the dining room which is also helpful to discourage you from piling in the food. The lounge entertainment got a bit old after 2-weeks. The service was really excellent. The cruisers were mostly from Canada, Australia and the British isles with a German contingent to boot. We Americans were not a majority at all. The next stop was Puerto Chacabuco where we took a HAL tour to Coyhaique. This was a long bus trip that gave us a taste of Chilean life, natural beauty was interesting, Coyhaique was a hit and miss shopping option but what saved the excursion was an end of day stop at a pleasant farm like set up with snacks and wine and sour drink of Chile. Next was sailing through the fjords, which was amazing. This part of the world is not populated but is quite unique and starkly beautiful. Ship wrecks were seen along the way. We could not get into our next stop at Punta Arenas which was one of the penguin viewing options. The winds were said to be too high to dock but we circled in the bay (not all that rough) for a while until the captain (PJ) had to give up. Once we left Punta Arenas we traveled through the fjords and the glaciers. Wow and Wow, gorgeous. Many photo opportunities. We had excellent weather for our next stop in Ushuaia in Argentina. We signed up for a bus trip to Tierra Del Fuego national park. This is a lovely park bordering Argentina and Chile. Scenery was lovely but it did take up our time so we did not get to do much at this stop. All the guides we had were very good with English if not cute with some of their words. Then we headed for Cape Horn arriving at 7:30 am with choppy seas. This is one of those memories you cannot forget. We went back and forth with the Captain acknowledging the passing from the Atlantic ocean to the Pacific ocean with a ship horn sound off. Then we headed for the Falkland Islands with decent seas. The weather was chilly once we headed to Punta Arenas and in the Falklands, 50s then 40s Fahrenheit. We booked a tour with Patrick Watts in the Falklands and he was very good to meet us at the pier with our laid back Land Rover driver Hamish. We hooked up with another couple. We went quite a distance to see penguins out in the open at Bertha's beach and then to Gypsy Cove to see another kind of penguin. Comparing pictures afterwards, the HAL expensive tour option seemed to have better pictures. However, we got a good tour and excellent local flavor. We wound up at the Victory Pub where I was harassed (in jest) by Cathy the barmaid. Sailing from the Falklands to Montevideo was lovely. The temperature slowly rised and the sea was like glass. We decided to walk in Montevideo. We enjoyed a specialty coffee at a local cafe to catch up on WIFI. Internet on the ship is terrible and costly. We walked a distance from the ship, it was Sunday and much was closed. We got to a square and went to the Montevideo Leather Factory. It was a nice shop worth exploring. Outside we met Eduardo a cab driver. He offered us a tour for 20 bucks. How could we resist. He had spent time in America as a cook in New Jersey and once cooked for Frank Sinatra. It was refreshing to get a local's perspective of things. He did a nice job for us.When he dropped us back to the business area the city had awoken for Sunday and was quite busy. Then there was Buenos Aires. Bad start when we learned our cabin was situated right next to the passenger on/off ramp for Buenos Aires for two days. Oh My ! What a big city, what a big attitude ! In all, everyone we met in South America was gracious and kind but Argentina is a more feisty place. The shop keepers we dealt with were both honest and less than honest. Most money exchanges were fair, however, I preferred to do exchanges on the HAL ship. We took the HAL waterways excursion and it showed us a different part of Buenos Aires. It was a pretty good tour to saunter on the waterways and see how a community lives on the water. The last day we took the HAL tango show and transfer. The tour was ok, pointing to things out the windows, the stops were excellent. The Eva Peron burial site is unique and the Italian shopping area was good shopping but be wary of prices. The tango show at a city tango dance restaurant and bar was excellent. They treated us well and the show (from an uneducated perspective) was authentic and very good. The trip to the airport was uneventful, the process to check in was slow and tiring. The worst part of this trip was yet to come. The long trip home, consider an upgrade ! We took this trip at the end of season, summer for them. However, this made Santiago and Montevideo and Buenos Aires very bearable heat wise. Hats off to the Captain, PJ, to our cruise director, Jorge and to the local/nature expert Ryan. We are in our mid sixties and the people on the ship fit our profile. We have taken a few other cruises but this one was an adventure for us. Read Less
Sail Date March 2017
Choose this cruise as they were going where i wanted to see !! Getting on the ship in Buenos Aires was a nightmare as all computers crashed. Once on board we did'nt sale until the following evening ,just as well the heavens ... Read More
Choose this cruise as they were going where i wanted to see !! Getting on the ship in Buenos Aires was a nightmare as all computers crashed. Once on board we did'nt sale until the following evening ,just as well the heavens opened that night ,floods in quite a few area in the ship .. After sailing i realised looking at the daily programme there was not a lot to during the sea days (6) ,entertainment was poor after you had seen the dancers and singers.and it did not get better for the 14 days That all said the food was very good in the dining room and lido,I prefered the lido as you picked exactly what you want ( suprised that hand sanitizer was not available by the cruise staff) there were machines as you went in but most people went straight passed !! NOT GOOD !!! Cabin was 2519 nicknamed "the coffin",of course an inside!! The staff in the main were very good,but did notice the dinning room staff got slower as the cruise went on. Getting off was ok until we had to hang about for 2 hours while they looked for a case of one of my group (found it on the ship WOW !!) Overall i have been on much better cruise lines (NCL and CELEBRITY) so my cruise money won't go to HAl again, Read Less
Sail Date February 2017
When we sailed away from Antarctica in January 2010, aboard a Princess ship, it was with sadness that we would not be returning. However, while searching for a Canaries cruise in 2015, we came across a South America cruise, which sparked ... Read More
When we sailed away from Antarctica in January 2010, aboard a Princess ship, it was with sadness that we would not be returning. However, while searching for a Canaries cruise in 2015, we came across a South America cruise, which sparked the idea of visiting Antarctica once more. HAL provided the perfect itinerary for 2018, but just before we booked, offers too good to miss saw us join the 2017 sailing instead. This was our first cruise with HAL and we were very pleasantly impressed with the whole cruise. The only criticism would be the rather confusing and chaotic Life Boat drill, which involves a three-stage warning and then assembly at your designated life boat on deck, rather then the more comfortable gathering in a theatre or similar space. Luckily the weather was kind! After that, everything ran smoothly on board. We had chosen a port-side Vista "suite" on deck 6 at the stern, because this allowed easy access to the sheltered stern decks for better viewing of the scenery and which also provided a quick way up to deck 8 for the open deck and the Lido area. Port also was the best side for the views on this cruise from Valparaiso to Buenos Aires. The outer door leading to this rear deck was extremely difficult to open, worryingly as it was an emergency exit. We did ask for it to be made easier, but nothing was done. We had selected Freedom dining but we always, with one exception, ate in the casual dining room in the Lido because of the relaxed atmosphere and the excellent views. I liked the Market style service, which was served rather than self-service and therefore more hygienic, plus the fact that much of the food was cooked to order. At the end of the cruise was a BBQ night in the Lido area, which was too busy for us and we did visit the Rotterdam dining room on that occasion, which was peaceful and which also offered large windows so no spectacle would be missed! On board were experts on Antarctica, including a Naturalist, who was out on deck 3 early on the mornings of sea days. We joined her and many passengers on several occasions and a list of birds and animals sighted was written up regularly. There were lectures from the experts and from Wallis, the lively Location Guide. We prefer to watch these on TV in the evenings because there is too much to see outside to be seated in the theatre in daylight. Unfortunately, the lectures were not given a scheduled slot and it was pot-luck to catch one you wanted to see. Lectures on ports gone by were also repeated unnecessarily. During scenic cruising, the experts gave a commentary over the outside speakers and the room TVs. These could not be heard in the Lido dining room, which was a disadvantage. We missed a pod of Orcas early on in the cruise because the announcement could not be heard during breakfast - annoyingly, we had only just left deck 3 when they were seen. More annoyingly, announcements on tender operations in the many tendered ports were made very loudly in the accommodation corridors, so sleeping in was not an option even if you did not need to be up early! Embarkation was very smooth, other than no signing to the luggage drop-off. The terminal at Valparaiso is large and modern, with some shopping opportunities, including a wine stall with free tasting. We bought the two bottles we were allowed to take on board. Later, we saw bottles of wine being spotted by the scanners at ports; they are either stored until disembarkation or a corkage fee is payable. We chose not to join any tours, partly because we had visited some ports before and partly because we prefer to walk in the towns instead. Previously we had sailed from Buenos Aires as far as the Chilean Glaciers and then back to Buenos Aires, so most of the Chilean side was new to us. We were not particularly interested in the ports for this cruise - the scenic cruising is everything. The first port was Puerto Montt. The terminal offered free Wifi which worked! (We did have 200 free minutes of Wifi on board, but eeked it out with internet access on shore where possible.) We walked to the craft market first and then back towards the town, where there are stray dogs lazing around everywhere, but made the mistake of giving in to fatigue to soon, so we missed the town, which would have been the better option for us. Casto was the next stop and we visited the town first, stopping at the Cathedral before walking down towards the stilted houses which are about a mile out of town. We missed the access to the raised footpath and followed a well-trodden path on the other side of the road. Walking a few steps behind my OH, with my head down to watch my steps, I noticed a shadow behind me and looked round to find a dog close at my heels. We looked at each other for a moment before it bit my lower leg through my jeans; my shout of protest brought assistance and it ran back to the shack set back from the road it was "guarding". The injury was not severe but started bleeding. We continued shakily towards the village where a tour bus from the ship gave us a lift back to the port. (To cut a long story short, Chile is a low-risk Rabies area; the ship's nurse cleaned and dressed the injury that day and on the next, I had an anti-Rabies vaccination but the remaining four did not fit in with port days and I am now continuing the course at home.) Disappointingly, the Wifi did not work easily enough to bother with in Castro. We had not intended to leave the ship at the next port of Chacabuco because there is nothing to see apart from guard dogs unless you take a tour! However, a taxi took us and an interpreter to the hospital for the vaccination, which was fine; the promised extra doses for administration on the ship did not happen. The taxi ride was quite scenic but again there was no Wifi working in the port - unless you were prepared to sit and sit just in case. All the scenic cruising was wonderful and worth getting up early for on some occasions! The ship moved very slowly through the calm waters and the atmosphere was wonderful. Needless to say, many photos were taken throughout the cruise, including spectacular sunsets on many occasions. The bow deck was opened on some occasions, but we mainly used the stern or deck 9, although the front area of that deck was enclosed by glass. Punta Arenas did offer working Wifi! We walked to the Cathedral, the rather strange cemetery and a high viewing point, following a walking tour route independently. That evening and the next day were taken up by wonderful scenic cruising. Glacier Alley is NOT to be missed! (Princess Cruises went by in the evening and some passengers thought dinner was more important!) Again, the ship cruised by very slowly with hardly a ripple on the calm water. In the afternoon of that day, we visited Ushuaia, docking this time rather than tendering. Anyone with mobility issues would struggle with the many tendered ports on this cruise. I don't think free Wifi I was available in this port. We walked round the small town, enjoying the mountain scenery behind it. Cape Horn and the Drake Passage followed the next day. Although the seas were completely calm (as in our first visit) we did not circumnavigate the Cape as previously, which seemed a missed opportunity. Good weather meant we reached Antarctic waters earlier than scheduled and we had an extra afternoon there as well as the scheduled three days. Throughout, the skies were overcast but fog-free and the experience of Antarctica is one to treasure. It was a different experience from our first time there too, with different conditions and different areas visited. An approaching storm had us racing away from Antarctica eventually but the Captain made time to sail past Elephant Island at a distance before we continued on towards Stanley. The next day, at sea, was foggy with the fog horn sounding - by evening the sun broke through. It is not uncommon for ships to be unable to drop anchor at Stanley because of adverse weather, but once again we were lucky. Wifi is good but costs £5 for 50 minutes because it is so expensive to have on the Island. We walked down to the Church and the War Memorial before buying the required fluffy penguins and sea lions for our Grandchildren, taking advantage of sterling prices! We returned to the ship for lunch and experienced a much rougher sea as waves crashed over the top of the tender and found their way inside, dramatically through a poor seal in an opening window and uncomfortably into the hood of a poor passenger seated underneath a hatch! Puerto Madryn is a little bit of Wales in South America and was settled by intrepid travellers in 1865, who made their first homes in sandstone caves on the shore. We walked along the sea front, but did not go as far as the original settlement, though the walk is possible. Free Wifi is to be found in the Shopping Mall next to the Tourist Office and was slow but functional. Montevideo on a Sunday morning was very hot and humid and rather quiet. Armed police stand on street corners and are helpful for directions. We found Independence Square and also visited the Cathedral. On the way back to the ship, which was in dock, we found a wonderful, air-conditioned Tourist Office with excellent free Wifi and we enjoyed a happy catch-up time there, returning after lunch for more! Finally we reached Buenos Aires for an overnight stop. We have been on tours there before and we consider the city unsafe for independent visitors, so we went no further than the terminal for very slow Wifi. In the evening, we enjoyed watching three other cruise ships sail away. Among the many shipping containers, one had appeared to be hiding while it was docked! Disembarkation was as smooth as embarkation. We were allowed to use our room until departure at 9.30 am and our cases did not need to be put out until midnight the night before. We were at the airport earlier than necessary and could not check in our cases for a couple of hours, but the time passed quickly enough with the free Wifi! If you can, go on this cruise. It is an un-missable experience. Read Less
Sail Date January 2017
This trip was on our bucket list. We wanted to see Patagonia, Chile, and of course, Antarctica. It was a wonderful experience and we would not trade it for the world. We would highly recommend this cruise to anyone who would like to visit ... Read More
This trip was on our bucket list. We wanted to see Patagonia, Chile, and of course, Antarctica. It was a wonderful experience and we would not trade it for the world. We would highly recommend this cruise to anyone who would like to visit that part of the world. We boarded the ship in Valparaiso. Valparaiso is a working harbor and we had to take a bus from the terminal to the ship. Boarding was easy. We got to our stateroom and were wowed. We had been offered an upgrade to a Neptune Suite and since this was a 21-day cruise, we jumped at the offer. The suite was so much larger than our previously booked ocean-view room. We really got used to the special attention given to us by the staff. We enjoyed every port and booked all our excursions through HAL even though they are more expensive. We have been on several cruises where passengers were left behind because their privately-arranged tour did not get them back to the ship at time. When you are sailing between isolated ports, it would be very difficult and expensive to travel between the ports if an embarkation was missed. If you want to see penguins, this is the cruise for you!! Book your Penguin Tours before getting on board the ship. We met several people who missed out because the tours to the various penguin reserves were fully booked before the ship left Valparaiso. The touring of the Antarctic Peninsula was unbelievable. Our captain guided us through unbelievable channels where we were sailing close to glaciers and ice bergs. Onboard the ship were naturalists and Antarctic experts who not only gave lectures on the area, but also gave a commentary as we sailed through the waters of Antarctica. We saw several different types of seals, penguins, and whales. It was amazing. Some of the best advice we got was to put down the camera and just take it all in. If you want to see this part of the world, without the enormous expense of a National Geographic Cruise, we would highly recommend this cruise. Read Less
Sail Date January 2017
My wife and I flew from Sydney to Santiago. Our flights aboard Latam were excellent. We have travelled with them during our past two visits to South America. This is a good airline with a fixed menu per destination for economy ... Read More
My wife and I flew from Sydney to Santiago. Our flights aboard Latam were excellent. We have travelled with them during our past two visits to South America. This is a good airline with a fixed menu per destination for economy passengers. The food was tasty and satisfactory and the service was excellent. They served very good Chilean wines and Whisky ( indispensable for me to cope with turbulence!!)  generously, when requested. Maria and I had the quietest and turbulent free flights ever on the way to Auckland, to Santiago and then from Buenos Aires to Santiago over the Andes (even though the Captain warned us of a bumpy ride as we approached the mountain ranges) and back via Auckland to Sydney. So Whisky was an excuse and I admit, I am not comfortable flying). The only discomfort was the rather heavy landing at Kingsford Smith. The space between rows was good but when the passenger seated in front decided to recline, getting out was rather tricky and difficult. That is, however, the problem with economy seating aboard all airlines.The Flight Attendants were very nice courteous and spoke English. I always spoke to them in my broken Spanish which was much appreciated. We availed ourselves of public transport from Arturo Benetez Merino Airport to Pajaritos (a twenty minute drive from the Airport and then another TUR bus to Valparaiso (two and a half hour drive). It was so easy. The TUR bus is on the opposite side of Salida 6 on exiting the Airport. The trip from the airport to Valparaiso by taxi was $130. We spent about $15 for the entire journey. The bus was very comfortable with semi cama seats. We took a taxi from the Valparaiso Bus Station to the Hotel. We asked the same driver to meet us at the Hotel on the following day at 11 o'clock, which he did very punctually. The taxi was metered. The Ibis Hotel is in the Port Area. It was very sparse and if minimalism was ever a descriptive term, the Ibis was it. They provided one plastic cup per room, two small towels and two tiny bars of soap but the room was about 90% clean. That was important for us. Ibis Valparaiso was a far cry from Ibis Seoul and Bangkok. Nearby is a Supermarket where we bought a few food items and on the following day we had breakfast at the Melbourne Café, one block from the Hotel at the Plaza Sotomayor.We enjoyed our second visit to Valparaiso, concentrating mainly on the Piazza Sotomayor, the Port and the environs. We did not feel threatened at any moment and our whole experience was safe despite warnings from the Hotel, which we appreciated, to the contrary. We were unable to have a meal at Restoran Capri nearby as it was closed that Monday afternoon. It consistently receives good comments on tripadvisor We were driven to the Ship Terminal, just a short ride from the Hotel. The embarkation was smooth and very soon we found ourselves aboard the Zaandam. We had a beautiful lunch, offered to HAL Mariner members. The first day at sea was rough. The Chilean fjords were very beautiful and glaciers, as in Alaska and Antarctica, breathtaking. We had read many comments about the Zaandam. Sure it is a 17 year old ship but, to our eyes, it did not have any of the faults mentioned by some previous passengers. The ship was very well maintained and full of glitter but not kitsch,  spick and span without any rust. The carpets were tasteful and I did not notice any wear and tear (and believe me, I am a good sleuth especially when influenced by the Beverage Package which I took advantage of and thoroughly enjoyed on a daily basis). I searched for faults unsuccessfully. We lived in fantasyland for 21 days. The crew was excellent and the service was impeccable. Our Cabin-Small, functional clean and well presented. We did hear the noise of the stabilisers and whenever the anchor was dropped but they were not oppressive and did not prevent us from sleeping peacefully. We never felt cooped. The only negative was the infirmary two doors away from our Cabin but on the opposite side of the corridor. Most of the passengers succumbed to a viral infection (including myself), more than normal, we were told by the ship's medical practitioner. The infection did not prevent me from enjoying the cruise.The area near our Cabin was congested with patients coughing and sneezing most of the time. On another cruise, if it had not been to the cold regions of Antarctica, we would have definitely missed the balcony of a Stateroom. The food in the Lido was the same every day and perhaps monotonous. It was a good spread but lacked variety on a daily basis. The bacon was too crisp as it was prepared for American palates. As for the rest, we were not disappointed with the food but the service made the difference. It was just excellent and offered with courtesy and with a smile. The Rotterdam Dining Room-We used the fourth floor as we took advantage of Open Seating which is an excellent arrangement. We sat with Australians which is always a great pleasure as we are a friendly lot. We met many Americans. They were all anti Trump and on one occasion, I blurted my surprise to them about Trump's win when all the Americans we met had voted against Trump! Almost all the Americans we met were nice and capable of holding an interesting conversation which involved everyone at table bar one instance when two American couples talked of their military service experiences and deliberately excluded the other guests seated with them. We also sat with Germans and Dutch. They were always very gracious and our conversations with them were always pleasant. There were a few Italians and Spanish speaking people and a very small contingent of Indians and Chinese. The daily dinner menu was ample and varied. The dessert menu, however, was repetitious and  certain items like the Souffle just to mention one, uninteresting. The Crème Brule kept on appearing daily. The ice cream menu, much to my regret, lacked my favourite Rum and Raisin and Pistacchio. "tant pis pour moi"!  Ice Cream was also served at fixed times on a daily basis at the Lido. The wine, on the Beverage Package, permitted us to enjoy the excellent Chilean wines per glass. The after Theatre spread or midnight snack in the Lido was not as lavish as on the Dawn Princess but on the whole the Zaandam was far superior to the Dawn Princess which, regrettably, was a rust bucket. The Ports of call were mostly uninteresting except for Ushuia, the Falkland Islands and Montevideo but Maria and I always made it a point to disembark and enjoy the new experience. We were able to buy souvenirs, mostly  decorations for our Christmas Tree. We visited all the Ports of Call and missed none for inclement weather. That is how lucky we were. The postcards we sent from the Falkland Islands have already reached their destination. We were happily surprised. Apparently relations with Argentina have improved but Argentina is still claiming the Malvinas. We never entered the political debate but in our hearts we know that at least the British were not genocidal the way the Argentines were in 1982 during their demoniacal military dictatorship. We were told by a Falkland Islander that had Argentina waited patiently, they would have received the islands because most of the children in the Islands were sent to Argentina for their higher education. Today Britain supplies the islands with all their needs except for meat. Britan also provide higher education and health Services, if there is need, in Britain. All expenses are met by the Falkland Island authorities.   The Drake Strait was a Drake Lake for us to Antarctica and on the return journey, the Captain outran a very bad storm which yet managed to bite at our heel. We, unfortunately, were unable to sight Elephant Island because we were making a speedy retreat. We gained an extra half day thanks to the Drake Lake and thus enjoyed three and a half days of tranquil sailing through a Continent of exhilarating wonder, beauty, sacredness, pristineness, conducive to  contemplation and rapture. Australia administers 42% of Antarctica. We hope that Australia will strive to protect it and leave it the way it is for posterity. We wished to leave Antarctica  in its innocence and never felt the need to have to place our imprints upon it the way some people actually wish to set foot in some part of Antarctica. There was not need for that.Occasionally the ship came very close to mountains which we felt we could almost touch. We were mesmerized by snow capped mountains, majestic domes and spires of nature and myriads of glaciers. We witnessed chunks of ice crumble to a deafening cannonade and collapse into the waters. These caused large ripples which reached the ship. We saw dark patches in the snow, rookeries, where the male penguins held the egg tightly between their feet thus allowing it to hatch during the long, bleak wintry months.  I wore two  top and bottom thermals, trousers, a  shirt, a sweater, an Alaskan Jacket, thermal socks, boots and yet experienced the infernal cold, pardon the oxymoron. We saw towering ice bergs floating past us and were awe struck by their grandeur. We saw whales, seals and of course lots and lots of penguins. Maria and I were thoroughly prepared for our trip to Antarctica. We watched many videos on Utube. We read a lot including Douglas Mawson's "The Home of the Blizzard". However, we also attended the lectures aboard which were very informative. The ship provided a running commentary during the three and a half day cruise through Antarctica. The entertainment aboard the Zaandam was good and thoroughly enjoyable. It is with great pleasure that I wish to inform you that I leaned to dance the Tango! Even Maria was surprised. I wrote to the Hotel Director informing him of our late flights on arrival at Buenos Aires and requested that we be allowed to stay aboard until 1 pm. We were generously allowed to do so. We took a free shuttle to the Cruise Terminal in BA and then took an airport shuttle from the Cruise Terminal to the International Airport at a fraction of the price we would have paid for a taxi. Just 150 Argentine Pesos pp. This experience of ours can only be described in superlative terms. . Read Less
Sail Date January 2017
Wanted to see South America and enjoy life aboard the Zaandam. Trouble first started at the Casino where I was supposed to get $75 of free play. It took 3 days and a lot of fighting with the casino manager to get the money. Next was the ... Read More
Wanted to see South America and enjoy life aboard the Zaandam. Trouble first started at the Casino where I was supposed to get $75 of free play. It took 3 days and a lot of fighting with the casino manager to get the money. Next was the casino manager promised a free drink when playing but was nowhere around to give one. Next the Lido food court was in disarray. The server had past me up in line twice before I complained that I was next to be served. After receiving the food. It was cold. The food seemed cold or luke warm everyday because the meat would be sitting out before serving time. The shore excursions where very expensive. The only thing that was good in my opinion was the deserts. These the could not recycle like the main vegetables. I believe if you pay for the food and service it should at least be satisfying. Read Less
Sail Date January 2017
Zaandam Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.5 4.0
Dining 4.0 3.8
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 3.9
Enrichment 3.5 3.6
Service 4.0 4.3
Value For Money 4.0 3.7
Rates 4.0 4.0

Find a Zaandam Cruise

Easily compare prices from multiple sites with one click