2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2019
I think this particular cruise is all about expectations. We read the reviews... older boat, older crowd, not the best entertainment, etc, etc. Because we already knew this going in, we had a wonderful time! We took out 12 and 5 year old ... Read More
I think this particular cruise is all about expectations. We read the reviews... older boat, older crowd, not the best entertainment, etc, etc. Because we already knew this going in, we had a wonderful time! We took out 12 and 5 year old kids and we had 2 oceanview staterooms (2525 and 2529). Pros: The food was overall very good. The buffet tasted like normal cruise food, but the dining room had some really good dinners. I would say they excelled at the meats and sides. The soups and salads were average. The desserts were amazing. There were 4 entertainment options we liked. They did a live concert to Planet Earth 2 which was really beautiful. The comic was funny enough. There was a violin duo that we enjoyed, and we liked the America's Test Kitchen presentations. We liked that the pools were not crowded and we could always find a lounge chair. We were also VERY impressed with how we really didn't wait in line for anything. Our last cruise was on Disney and we felt like a heard of cattle everywhere we went. On the Zaandam, our embarkation was immediate, our bags were in our rooms quickly, our shore excursions days were a matter of just walking off the boat and we didn't wait in line for dinners. The longest line we had was waiting for our crepes in the morning ;-) The best part of this cruise was probably the ports! We were only at sea one day. Prince Edward Island and Quebec City were what I was hoping for, and we loved Bar Harbor, Maine. If you want to enjoy Sydney, you must do an excursion. We just walked off the boat to the town and it was a major disappointment. Halifax was OK. Cons: It's an older boat. Everything was clean and nice, but having been on many other cruises, there was nothing cool or exciting to see. Just your average boat layout with shuffleboard and ping pong. I was surprised at how much you had to pay extra for things like exercise classes and soft drinks. I was also surprised at the prices of the spa options. For this reason, we didn't do the spa although we would have liked to. The kids club staff was very nice, but they were always closed. We would get flyers about kids club the morning of, but the flyer would say you needed to call the day before to reserve your spot. So that was frustrating. Overall, very smooth sailing, super friendly staff and fellow passengers and we had a delightful time! We did come across a handful of older people that did not appreciate the energy of our kids so that was a bit hard, but we also came across an equal amount of truly amazing people that treated our kids so wonderfully. My kids didn't want to get off the boat! Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: July 2019
There were 2 couples sailing on this cruise (fifth we have done together), we chose it for the itinerary. The embarkation was flawless. We arrived at the cruise terminal and we finished all the paperwork and were boarding the ship by noon, ... Read More
There were 2 couples sailing on this cruise (fifth we have done together), we chose it for the itinerary. The embarkation was flawless. We arrived at the cruise terminal and we finished all the paperwork and were boarding the ship by noon, half hour or so. The ship is older but quite lovely and well maintained. We were in Vista suite 7050 and our friends were next door. The room steward opened the balcony door between so we could share visits and happy hours etc. our room steward was phenomenal. He left ice in the bucket twice a day as well as fruit in the basket on our coffee table. We always bring a small extension cord as there are never enough outlets. We enjoyed the breakfasts in the Lido Cafe. Very wide selection of foods and if you ordered cook to order eggs,pancakes,waffles,omelets they were good. The cooks serve you mostly so as to decrease the cross contamination, which we appreciate. We never took any of HAL excursions due to cost. Over time we have found that going on private tours is much nicer and generally not a huge cost difference. We are then able to stop and take pix as often as we choose. We had the most difficulty with dinner service. We were at the second seating at 730 pm which we liked, however the shows were at 9 pm and even though we told our waiters we wanted to be out in time we never got to a show on time. The shows are only 40-45 mins long so that’s a big deal. The dinner food was ok not great. My husband who is celiac has always been visited by the maitre d on our previous cruises to choose dinner options for next evening. On this cruise we were visited a couple of times and most of the time he was on his own to choose. They did have gf next to a couple of items but we knew from previous experience that some of the other choices could be changed slightly to accommodate. No one was there consistently to help with this. We did enjoy a few of the entertainment acts such as The BBC orchestra,PJ Walsh a comedian and Mike Robinson a ventriloquist comedian who was very good. All in all we were happy with the cruise and the ports and the ship. There were a couple of areas where improvements could be made. Disembarkation was also a breeze. We were able to choose a time and we were off right on time to get our luggage and continue our trip in Boston. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2019
We booked this cruise at the last minute (just a few weeks before sailing) since I realized our three college-age daughters would be available for the week before starting summer jobs. We had two ocean-view cabins, which were midship and ... Read More
We booked this cruise at the last minute (just a few weeks before sailing) since I realized our three college-age daughters would be available for the week before starting summer jobs. We had two ocean-view cabins, which were midship and had a connecting door between the rooms. This was our first cruise on Holland America. It definitely was an older age group than we had sailed with on prior cruises, but that was OK for all of us. We are not party people or big drinkers, nor do we do a lot of group activities (such as bingo or trivia). So having the chance to see some new cities in New England and Canada was our main goal, while at the same time having some nice meals. The food in the main dining room was above average for a cruise line (our last cruise had been on Celebrity.) Two of our daughters are vegetarians, and they enjoyed having a separate menu of interesting items (in addition to the vegetarian items on the daily menu.) Our one item of contention in the main dining room was the inconsistency of service, both at breakfast and at dinner. Frankly, out of six nights, we only thought that our service was good once. The wait times seemed to be unexplainable for the most part (we did not have set dining times, but made reservations once we got on board). The specialty Italian restaurant was very good. We dined there one evening and both the food and service were very good. We also all thought that the buffet was a little nicer with a better selection than on Celebrity. The cabin itself was a little outdated, but it had a wonderful bathroom with the largest shower we have ever had on a cruise. My main complaint was the TV...it was tiny! It was difficult for us to see what was on TV. Also, along those lines, we were happy that movies were offered in a "theater", but actually it turned out that there was not even a big screen -- just two slightly larger TVs on each side of the room. While it may not be easy to replace all TVs in the cabins, certainly HM can buy a larger screen TV for the "theater"! The evening entertainment was nothing special--but it was something to do for the evening and gave us all something to talk about and critique (I do not mean this as a put down to HM because we have said the same thing about the entertainment on even higher end ships.) The real gem of an entertainer for my husband and me was Stryker the "piano man" in the piano bar. He was WONDERFUL. HM needs more seating in the piano bar. It was standing room only each night. Our daughters enjoyed the Test Kitchen presentations, and wished they would do one daily. It would have been nice if there had been some additional "game shows" or something at night in addition to the main theater shows for some of the "younger" people. And for Catholics who are considering HM, I need to tell you why we will be sailing with Holland America again: there was a priest on board who celebrated daily Mass. This was a wonderful benefit for us so that we did not need to figure out how to find a Catholic Church in one of the ports on Sunday. Keep up this practice, Holland America, and we will be back on board with you! Bar Harbor and Quebec were definitely our favorite ports. We scheduled a tour of Acadia National Park directly with the Park in advance via the internet (the bus was an easy walk from the port.) We also purchased a Hop on Hop Off bus tour of Quebec once we were in Quebec (there is a tour desk in the Fairmont Hotel lobby, which you will want to see anyway.) You can skip the Funicular up the hill in Quebec -- it truly was a waste of money. Halifax was a nice stop, and an easily walkable city. I must give a shoutout to Avis in Montreal We rented a car for our family to return to Boston in (an easy drive of about 7 hours with stops for lunch and ice cream). Avis was the only car rental agency that we found which would permit us to take a car across the border and leave it in Boston. And Avis sent a van to pick us up at the cruise port! The weather during the week was colder than we had hoped, but overall it was an enjoyable week on Holland America, even for our 20-something daughters who love to explore the world and have interesting food along the way. I would recommend Holland America and look forward to sailing again with them. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2019
We recently travelled on the zaadam for three weeks although we enjoyed the cruise It was spoilt by the lack of entertainment at night, not much going on in the day either, no sail away parties, no fun around the pools, the ship was like ... Read More
We recently travelled on the zaadam for three weeks although we enjoyed the cruise It was spoilt by the lack of entertainment at night, not much going on in the day either, no sail away parties, no fun around the pools, the ship was like an old folks home! We are entering our 70's but that does not mean that we want to be in bed by 10pm. The ship was like the Marie Celeste after dinner. There were 4 shows with the ships singers and dancers in 20 nights, the only time we saw them after this was eating, other ship we have sailed on we have seen the dancers taking part in the daytime activities, what a job they have 4 shows in 20 nights. Our evening entertainment one evening was the blue planet which has been on TVs at home it was a pleasant hour as the ships band accompanied the action on the screen. We tried the disco on several occasions only to find Erica propping up the bar with her iPad there was no acknowledgement that we were there which seemed a little rude as there were of six other people, she made no mention of what she was going to play just touched the iPad screen. The one evening we stayed in the disco until 12 midnight with four other people only to find the bar staff closed the bar switched off the lights and said goodnight! The ship was very cold in the public areas, deck 4 & 5 and particularly the theatre were guest were wearing body warmers, cardigans, shawls and jumpers, when I complained to an Officer I was told that it would get warmer closer to the equator, it didn't. Surely in would be in Holland Americas interest to have guest staying in the bars and discos longer rather than most people being in bed by 10pm . Will we travel with them again very doubtful it would have to be an exceptional itinerary. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: March 2019
Tried to put new adventure into the cruise life but the main reason was to sail Cspe Horn and see Ushuaua. And..... weather canceled so we went to some backwater ports of little interstate not history. Sad. Do not let yourselves get ... Read More
Tried to put new adventure into the cruise life but the main reason was to sail Cspe Horn and see Ushuaua. And..... weather canceled so we went to some backwater ports of little interstate not history. Sad. Do not let yourselves get booked into cabin 1964. A loud, smelly place really unfit for habitation. Ship was nice for relaxing, cards, stage shows. Happy hours were really necessary to keep the spirits up. Food was amply provided and the variety made for good sets. Guest services was helpful when our room issue was unbearable. Made many acquaintances on the cruise which helped us deal with missing the 2 key planned highlights. Room 1833 was available and a much better quality than that other nightmare. Lots of people caught the a/c hack and remained for the whole cruise. This critique is more or less to ensure that I save someone from the misery called 1964 Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2019
We wanted to travel around Cape Horn, something I thought I would probably never get to do. Had been looking at various cruises with this itinerary for quite sometime and they seem to fill up quick or had a pretty steep price/person. ... Read More
We wanted to travel around Cape Horn, something I thought I would probably never get to do. Had been looking at various cruises with this itinerary for quite sometime and they seem to fill up quick or had a pretty steep price/person. Then we saw this cruise offered at a rather reasonable rate and jumped on it. Holland America is not my first choice of cruise line but have cruised them prior and would cruise not exclude Holland in the future. Arrival in Santiago airport a little bit confusing but we made it and you can purchase Chilean pesos in the airport, no problem. Hotel prior to cruise: stayed in Santiago at the Hotel Plaza San Francisco, excellent hotel in the center of Santiago. You can arrange tours of Santiago right at the hotel and the tour will pick you up at the hotel. The service and food are great, very friendly and they speak English. Transportation from airport to hotel and then from hotel to cruise terminal in San Antonio was previously arranged through Viator, no problems. Ship: The ship is an older ship but in good condition. It is easy to navigate and there are approximately 1400 passengers and you have plenty of space, you don't feel like you are in a sardine can, which is quite nice. The crew is friendly and helpful, Capt. was excellent! Always kept you apprised of various weather conditions, ports, etc. We were in cabin 3322 and the cabins on Holland are usually a little larger than on other cruise lines. One problem encountered with this cabin is that you are right next to an exit door on the Lower Promenade deck and there is a large wooden door to the deck outside. This large heavy door would slam shut, and I mean slam shut, every time anyone used it, so if you were sleeping, it very definitely jarred you. Would not select this cabin again for this reason only. The ship has a lot of relaxation areas and is quite comfortable. The entertainment was great, and Holland does a nice job with their shore excursions. Dining Room: We were travelling with friends, and we had a nice table in the Dining Room right next to the upper railing. The problem with this was to gain access to the seats at our table for four. There was a large support post behind the seat closest to the railing and the other side of the table the chairs were abutting the chairs at the table behind. So on both sides of the table to access the seats we had to pull the chair closest to the aisle out into the aisle and let the person get in to their chair closest to the railing and then push the chair back for the next person to get in to sit at the table. The service was not so good and to top it off, our food was delivered not hot, and did not taste good at all. It was in fact, the worst meal I have ever had at sea! We decided after that that we would not eat in the Dining room the remainder of the cruise. The cruise itinerary was good, we were able to get into all the ports: San Antonio, Chile; Puerto Montt, Chile; Punta Arenas, Chile; Ushuaia, Argentina; Falkland Islands; Montevideo, Uruguay; and Buenos Aires, Agentina overnight. There are times when the weather will not permit entry into the ports as the winds are significant in this part of the world and the weather changes very quickly. Do expect seas when travelling this cruise also, so be prepared. One thing I enjoyed very much was the Shore Excursion talks given by Kevin on board the ship. He kind of tells you like it is. He talks about both private tours and ship sponsored tours. He was very informative. Shore Excursions seem to be a little high priced on Holland, so we took a private one in Puerto Montt. In Punta Arenas we did the Tycoons of Patagonia, but we did not get to see the mansion as stated in the tour and our bus broke down, probably the reason we did not get to the mansion, so the shore excursions desk gave us back a partial refund on our tour. In Ushuaia we did the Beagle Channel Wildlife and enjoyed it very much. We had a beautiful day and got to see the Lighthouse at the end of the world. Falkland Islands we did the Bluff Cove Penguin Rookery. You can only get to this place if you book through the cruise ship, good tour. But,very, very windy. In fact most of South America is quite windy. Our next port of call was in Montevideo and we did not book anything here we just toured on our own, turned out fine. Next is Buenos Aires and we wanted to see the Colon Theatre, and our excursion through the cruise line was cancelled, so we took a taxi on our own (approx. $10 US and cab driver takes US $$) and went to the Theatre and took the tour. The tour was about $20/person you can pay with credit card) What a beautiful Theatre, very well worth the trip. Our next day we departed the ship and took their Buenos Aires Highlights and Tango Show with Airport Transfer. Since our flight was not until the evening this worked our just great and it was a good tour. The Buenos Aires Airport is a little bit confusing as there are insufficient signs as to where to go to your particular airline, had to ask, finally found what we needed. Most of the ports we visited would take American dollars, but if you don't have the correct change they will give you change in their currency. The ship will also exchange pesos/dollars for you, just not in larger amounts. The Casino on the ship is small, I mean small, really small, smallest I have seen and not a large variety of one armed bandits to play. Disembarkation off the ship worked well with no problems. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2019
We chose this cruise for the multiple stops in Chile and the 4 days in Antarctica. We had been around the horn on HAL 6 yrs. ago and regretted not including Antarctica at that time. We also missed the Falkland Islands on that cruise. We ... Read More
We chose this cruise for the multiple stops in Chile and the 4 days in Antarctica. We had been around the horn on HAL 6 yrs. ago and regretted not including Antarctica at that time. We also missed the Falkland Islands on that cruise. We were told that Zaandam would get lanai cabins on the previous dry-dock so we booked a cabin that we thought would be converted but lanais were not installed.. Embarkation at San Antonio went smoothly and we found ourselves in our cabin by noon. Our suitcases arrived in good time so we were all moved into our cabin before the muster drill. We found all the staff on board to be very friendly and helpful. Our room stewards, Nengah & Romli, worked very hard and did an excellent job. We enjoyed the towel animals on our bed each evening. We were surprised that there were so few hand sanitizers on board, especially near the eating areas. We never had to wait for anytime dining because we like to eat early. However, it was annoying to be seated at a table for 6 and have to wait 15-20 minutes for the table to fill up so we could order. Food service was reasonably fast and food quality was good, although a bit too salty! We ate in the Pinnacle Grill on the first night and were not impressed. My husband's steak was over-cooked and my chicken was not that tender. We also did not like the pressure from the wine steward to buy bottles of wine rather than glasses. We did enjoy our Rijsttafel dinner at the Pinnacle Grill later in the cruise. Internet was okay if you went on early in the day or during the evening meal. This was very important to us as we had 2 grand-children undergoing surgery during our cruise. There did not seem to be as much emphasis on sales, e.g. no "inch of gold" or evening purses on sale. Kudos to HAL for printing fewer sale flyers each day. We enjoyed getting a newspaper and puzzle each day. The flowers were beautiful for the first 2 weeks but then the same bouquets became very sad and wilted and yet remained on display. We were disappointed with the music in the Ocean Bar as it was not good for dancing - they played a lot of jazz. The Adagio Strings were wonderful and we very much enjoyed listening to them. In the main theatre, we found the sound volume much too high and had to bring earplugs to performances. The tendering process worked very smoothly for us. We had an excellent Expedition Team with Scott, Bryan, and Tamara giving very interesting lectures. We learned so much about Antarctica. We also enjoyed the session with the Palmer Station staff. They answered questions and it was great to have the microphones in the audience. The port guide, Kevin, also gave wonderful, humorous talks and very practical information. He was frequently available for consultation. .Although we had to skip Puerto Montt due to high swells, we made it to the remaining ports which was fantastic. We liked that the scenic cruising in Antarctica was broken up into segments by entering different bays and channels. We were also blessed with good weather. It was good to get the commentary about where to locate wildlife. The whales were really active on our cruise! Each day we enjoyed going to the Explorations Cafe for a cup of tea & coffee. Michelle there was wonderful - she was highly organized, efficient, friendly and remembered our names and what we like to drink. We did not take any HAL excursions but all our private tours returned us to the port in plenty of time. Our cabin was comfortable with plenty of storage space. The shower was spacious. Temperature control was good. We should have asked for a lighter weight blanket as we often found the duvet too warm. Overall, this was a wonderful cruise with only minor flaws. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: December 2018
The trip to Antarctica and Patagonia is the main reason for taking this cruise plus I was told by a maritime lawyer long ago that his favorite places was Chile and South Africa so had to see for myself. Overall the cruise was OK. Weather ... Read More
The trip to Antarctica and Patagonia is the main reason for taking this cruise plus I was told by a maritime lawyer long ago that his favorite places was Chile and South Africa so had to see for myself. Overall the cruise was OK. Weather didn't cooperate in the southern ports. We missed Ushuaia which was a disappointment due to high winds and no tenders. Antarctica could have had better weather. It snowed and rained often but waves were mild. Cape Horn had bad weather so it was disappointing. Some ports were very poor or lacking in interest so a tour was probably necessary to offset this. Food was inedible in the Lido buffet. Sushi and asian food inedible, pizza worse than frozen, coffee less than tasty, teas very good, hot water machine out. Soups and appetizers overly salted or just weird in the Pinnacle Grill. Main dining room items like schnitzel and stuffed quail almost inedible. Soups good there. Wine pours very small. Service adequate but not the friendly service I've had in the past. Servers seem unhappy compared to a decade ago. Seems like 1/2 of the ship is beautiful and remodeled while cabins are very outdated and look like 1960 era apartments with pink tile in the tub. Cabin was Underneath the kitchen. By looking at the deck plans they don’t distinguish areas of the ship probably for this reason scaring off people. Do not even think of staying in the rear cabins on deck 3 under the kitchen. Noise till after 1am and then starting before 5am for breakfast. Pots and dollys banging all night. Asked to be moved but location on first floor was next to the final days 24 hour gangplank. The last few nights on the cruise the children on the ship took over the coffee, game room and library area. While they were entertaining at times, I notice that the area was clear of adults from the noise they created entertaining themselves. The cruise passengers were very international this time compared to my experiences in the past on HAL. Some passengers that were very rude and cut in line all the time at the Lido, tenders and tours. During the penguin tours we were told to stay out of the boundary areas. These tourists broke that rule so they could stand next to the penguins for pictures disturbing the penguin nests. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2018
This was a long planned bucket list trip to see South America and especially Patagonia. The on-board service was absolutely excellent with HAL's customary exemplary service in the bar, restaurants and cabin, and with the sea going and ... Read More
This was a long planned bucket list trip to see South America and especially Patagonia. The on-board service was absolutely excellent with HAL's customary exemplary service in the bar, restaurants and cabin, and with the sea going and port tender management. Although we were in gale or storm force winds for much of the open water sections of the voyage trip, the Zaandam is extremely sea kindly and the motion was never uncomfortable. We splurged on a Neptune Cabin and concierge service which was well worth the premium with just nothing to fault it. The Zaandam is a newer R class ship and although similar to the older S Class Ryndam, Veendam and Maasdam upon which we have made previous cruises, is generally much "sharper" and more salubrious. Unfortunately however the Carnival "cheapscate" ownership of HAL once again reared its ugly presence, as previously for us with an Alaska trip which included an on-shore hotel component, with a truly dreadful hotel - this time after a bait and switch where a reasonable four star hotel originally scheduled for our trip at time of booking was substituted by HAL with a truly lousy three star - in Buenos Aires. To add insult to injury my wife's designer sunglasses and costume jewelry were stolen from our room when we were taking our bags downstairs for delivery to the ship (an action necessitated by the failure of the hotel to do this job). These are my general comments; insofar as the specifics of this cruise are concerned, the following provide some summary thoughts: In addition to the lousy hotel, the BA trip was marred by the prevalence of "Argentine Time" - 45 minutes to more than an hour at least late for everything - and generally sloppy management in BA. The best part was the Delta Cruise and Tango dinner which would probably have been excellent if we had started on time. As it was we were so late that the cruise through the delta islands was in pitch darkness. Montevideo was also marred by an inadequate guide and bus service, although others on board who did not use the HAL tour enjoyed it. After a rough two days at sea the on shore components started getting much better with the stop at the Falklands - a really well managed tender experience. The shorter penguin tours - they are adorable - was more than sufficient and the quaint town and environment were most interesting. Punta Arenas was our first stop in Chile, when the different attitude between the Chileans and Argentinians became obvious, and not just because the clocks worked! We had an emergency tender operation at Punta Arenas due to a dock conflict that the ships crew managed really well. The cruising through the Magellan Straits and Beagle Passage were delightful with awesome scenery before our next stop to Ushuaia and a visit to the southermost tip of South America. After more gorgeous Patagonia cruising we had a brilliantly managed rounding of The Horn before more Fjords and a delightful stop at Puerto Montt, where the German restauranteur and market trip was brilliant. Disembarkation at San Antonio was excellent, after which we made our own, very successful independent arrangements for driver, Santiago tour and hotel - a lesson learned! Overall, an excellent cruise which, as with our Alaska trip some years ago, started out really badly by HAL's failure to provide an on-shore experience that is anywhere remotely comparable to their on ship board experience, but ended real well. Read Less
8 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2018
The Zaandam is our new favourite ship. Its smaller size means fewer decks and less crowding. Our cabin on deck 6 was one deck above the fixed-time dining room and most public areas, and just two decks below the lido. It is practical to use ... Read More
The Zaandam is our new favourite ship. Its smaller size means fewer decks and less crowding. Our cabin on deck 6 was one deck above the fixed-time dining room and most public areas, and just two decks below the lido. It is practical to use the stairs rather than the elevators. Less crowding meant that we did not have to show up at least half an hour early to sit together for performances in the theatre. Our cabin was bright and thoughtfully laid out, our balcony was deeper and more usable than the non-suite balconies on HAL’s larger ships, the ship is in excellent cosmetic condition, and the crew are cordially efficient. One curious point is that the magnetic bulldog clips we’ve used on other ships to hold papers to the cabin walls would not stick in this one. This was our first experience of HAL’s EXC program and we like it. Lectures by the two guest speakers on sea-days were deservedly well attended. The port talks were informative, useful and a welcome change from the past pitches for ship’s tours. The EXC host went out of his way to be helpful and to offer advice for independent travel. The Zaandam’s port tendering (three ports) went as smoothly and efficiently as one could expect. Entertainment was the best we’ve experienced in some time. HAL has a reputation here on Cruise Critic for cost-cutting, and nowhere has that been more obvious in past cruises than in the quality of the entertainment. The classical group Adagio, for example, used to be a quartet. Then it became a trio and, more recently, just two indifferent players. The Adagio duo on this cruise included possibly the best violinist I’ve heard at sea, better than he should have been but unfortunately at the end of his contract. I hope he’s re-engaged. And the rest of the performers, singers and dancers were a definite step up from those on the Westerdam last year and the Eurodam the year before. The food quality and presentation were at least as good as we’ve come to expect, especially at the evening meal in the dining room. Evening meals in the Pinnacle and Canaletto were excellent. Lunch in the Pinnacle remains one of cruising’s best bargains. I’m still unhappy that HAL does not buy more provisions locally and give its chefs more rein with the menus. Why should the two Chilean wines I most wanted to order off the wine list both be out of stock for the duration of a 16 day cruise that included three Chilean ports? Why can we not see the most common regional dishes on the evening menu? Bar service was typically good but a bit slow. The prices continue to inch up, with most drinks now being between $7 and $10. It wasn’t difficult to find a server except, oddly, in the Explorers Lounge, where drinks service during Adagio’s evening performances was either missing or very scarce. Because there’s no bar in the Explorer’s Lounge, the drinks, and the servers on this cruise, come from the Mix bar one room away. That, however, is the only instance where the on-board service was less than we expected. The Zaandam’s guest-facing crew were great. The captain took us much closer to a glacier than I thought he would, and made a small route change so that we could view a large iceberg. We enjoyed this cruise and look forward to coming back for more. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2018
We decided to try HAL as we are Carnival stockholders and usually cruise Princess -Platinum Capt Circle-We have been to Alaska once before and decided to try the smaller ship!! Great choice!! We loved it!! We embarked in Seattle and it ... Read More
We decided to try HAL as we are Carnival stockholders and usually cruise Princess -Platinum Capt Circle-We have been to Alaska once before and decided to try the smaller ship!! Great choice!! We loved it!! We embarked in Seattle and it was so fast and easy!! The staff were so friendly and helpful and America’s Test Kitchen Chef Annette welcomed us as we walked by the Test Kitchen and invited us in and showed us the great spot for her classes!! EXC Hist Jeanette was delightful as well!!We had and outside cabin and it was quite spacious and even had a couch and bathtub!! Much better than Princess!! Excellent food choices-We loved the buffet..Fresh food & lots of choices and passengers didn’t serve themselves !! Very clean and no norovirus! Entertainment was good and we enjoyed the many ports!!Cons:TVs are a bit dated an tv lineup could us a lift. Numerous people 3-4 had “service”dogs.. They need more guidelines as these dogs were clearly pets and not trained for service! The Aussie was disruptive and frequently barked !! Not fair to someone who really needs his service animal!! Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: July 2018
This was the longest cruise I have been on. Tha Zaandam is a smaller ship but everything seemed to be well maintained. The itinerary was great saw some smaller ports most people never see. The crew were all friendly and helpful. Scenery ... Read More
This was the longest cruise I have been on. Tha Zaandam is a smaller ship but everything seemed to be well maintained. The itinerary was great saw some smaller ports most people never see. The crew were all friendly and helpful. Scenery was awesome and saw lots of wildlife. Weather was really good for Alaska much sunshine. Went to Americas Test Kitchen demos and they were all informative and well organized. Only thing is I wished I had booked a balcony cabin, but Zaandam has very limited number of balconies and they are quite expensive.Food on board was generally quite good, but I really don't recommend the Italian restaurant on board not really worth the upcharge. MDR had very good food and service was really good, a life saver for me was that they had many 2 tops in the dining room which made my daughter very happy, She does not like eating with strangers. Buffet food was amazingly good. Overall I would recommend this cruise visits the itinerary it awesome, Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2018
Having sailed with HAL many times in the past, it was a no-brainer to pick the 14-day cruise on the ms Zaandam. This was my 4th cruise to Alaska, yet the itinerary included no less than 4 ports/sites that I had not seen before (Homer, Icy ... Read More
Having sailed with HAL many times in the past, it was a no-brainer to pick the 14-day cruise on the ms Zaandam. This was my 4th cruise to Alaska, yet the itinerary included no less than 4 ports/sites that I had not seen before (Homer, Icy Strait-Hoonah, Kodiak and Anchorage). As expected, the food and beverage service was above average. HAL's history of Filipino and Indonesian service staff is time-honored and well-known. But I did notice a few things that were not characteristic of prior HAL cruises. The cabin steward service was maddeningly inconsistent. The ventilation in our ocean-view stateroom was substandard - it always seemed warm and stuffy, even with the thermostat at the lowest possible setting. The bedding and bath linens were old, rough and threadbare. However, the bath had been recently upgraded with a nice sink and shower. The mattress was a slight upgrade over a military surplus cot, and I arose every morning with a a backache. I was surprised to find only ONE electrical outlet to be used for cell phone chargers, CPAP machine, Kindle chargers, etc. We had to ask for a power strip/extension cord which we had to drape over the door handle for the adjoining stateroom, which was cumbersome and hazardous. One thing has not changed on HAL is the pricey beverage structure. $7.00 for a domestic beer and $50.00 for a bottle of wine was enough to discourage my customary couple of beers in the afternoon and a bottle of wine for dinner. I was not happy with the structure of the Lido. A buffet should be self-serve, yet you had to stand in line for any hot food selections. On the other hand, I found the quality of the food in the Lido equal to that of the Dining Room, and since I was limiting my alcoholic beverage consumption due to high prices, I visited the Lido for all afternoon and evening meals except twice during the 14-day trip. Overall, a fine cruise with several notable disappointments. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: July 2018
We cruised with friends that asked us to join them. The service was excellent and the shore stops were great. The singers and dancers were wonderful but the rest of the entertainment was second rate. We reserved a suite. At least we ... Read More
We cruised with friends that asked us to join them. The service was excellent and the shore stops were great. The singers and dancers were wonderful but the rest of the entertainment was second rate. We reserved a suite. At least we thought that was what we were supposed to get. First, it was no larger then a standard balcony cabin. All the suites were on the 6th deck which was right under the bars and buffet. They started setting up at 5:00 AM and didn’t finish until midnight. Every time someone moved a chair or table we heard it loudly in our cabins. We can’t understand why the most expensive cabins are the noisiest. This was supposed to be an upgrade. The food was hit and miss which surprised me because we have taken Holland America before and had great food. The soups were not good and some of the meats were very chewy. Other meals were outstanding. We boarded in Seattle and cruised as far north as Kodiak. The weather was wonderful with only one afternoon with rain. The water was as smooth as glass. We met some wonderful people and all in all it was a very enjoyable cruise. Embarkation was slow, but ok and disembarkation was wonderful. If you use their transfers, they have a deal with the airlines where they transfer your luggage right to the airline and you don’t touch them until you get home. And they don’t weigh the luggage. No restrictions. We had no children with us, but there were children on board and seemed to be enjoy themselves. We did not spend time in Seattle since we have been there several times. This was our second trip to Alaska, so we probably would not go again, but the scenery is so beautiful, it’s hard to not want to go back. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: July 2018
Two wk cruise that went further north where I haven’t been; Kodiak, Homer, Anchorage Hubbard Glacier and Sitka haven’t been since .1989. The water was like glass and weather couldn’t have been better. Only rained once which was in ... Read More
Two wk cruise that went further north where I haven’t been; Kodiak, Homer, Anchorage Hubbard Glacier and Sitka haven’t been since .1989. The water was like glass and weather couldn’t have been better. Only rained once which was in Anchorage. Hubbard glacier has been the most beautiful glacier I’ve ever ween! Also did dog sledding in Juneau to Tacu Glacier by Northstar. Check off on my bucket list. Smaller ship was very nice and staff fantastic Food not as good as it used to be but that’s the way it is on all the ships now. You would have to pay for what you used to get on formal nights. Formal nights not the same galas as in the past. But all in all Holland and the two week cruise was the best AK cruise Ive taken out of the last 6. First one was in 1989 on Princess. The photography staff was the best. They came to our cabin and took pictures in each of the glaciers of my Mom and me. It was her 78th cruise. Great time!!!’ Also stayed at the Seattle Fairmont. Beautiful old hotel. Did have trouble getting the limo promised by Holland to get from airport to hotel since my Mom couldn’t get up on a bus. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2018
Great trip. 14 days soooo much better than the 7 due to ability to really settle in and be cozy. The 7 day was great, mind you, but this 14 day itinerary had so much more. We want to do it again. Service staff is consistently wonderful, ... Read More
Great trip. 14 days soooo much better than the 7 due to ability to really settle in and be cozy. The 7 day was great, mind you, but this 14 day itinerary had so much more. We want to do it again. Service staff is consistently wonderful, kind, heartful. Love the public rooms except for bad music choices in Crows Nest. Food on Lido excellent as usual. Lots of choices, usually tasty, and fresh. There were little things we would like to see improved such as the music choices in public areas and the one smoking area on back deck leaves smoke drifting across the whole back deck when the wind blows it...unfortunate as the back deck is one of our favorite places! Wi-fi is extra cost, which is a bother, but able to hit free wi-fi spots in ports. This itinerary was just super, and we had outstanding weather all but Ketchikan where rain is the norm. Homer, Sitka, Kodiak, Icy Strait Point were all great fun and beauty. We did Endicott Arm instead of Tracy Arm due to ice. Endicott was fabulous. Hubbard was amazing! Active calving was a real treat. If you use the Port Valet service reprint your boarding passes at the airport before TSA. One of ours would not scan and we had to go back. Amazing trip. Love HAL and this size ship. Zaandam and Volendam are super. Shuttle to and from airport is nice, though the departure shuttle ran an hour later than schedule which made for some nervousness. Shore excursions can be planned independently for less cost. We found public transportation and walking quite useful at various ports. Did a trip with Chugach Adventures from Anchorage and it was superb....train, wildlife center, Spencer Glacier, river float...about 11-12 hour day of greatness. Did a water taxi and hike to Grewingk Glacier from Homer...excellent! Walked to Raptor Center and Totem park in Sitka, plus public bus available to the Fortress of the Bears. SUPER. Hikes in Juneau on Mt Roberts were terrific and only cost the tram fare. Mendenhall is a great hike after shuttle also and can transport to the glacier can be arranged after you step off the ship (about $30RT). Ketchikan has a free bus which goes to Totem Heritage Center and other spots in town. You can walk to the Discovery center..,well worth a visit to both. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: June 2018
Great itinerary...fantastic staff. The workers were fantastic, they worked so hard to please. It seemed to me, though, Holland America has cut back on the number of waiters and bus boys as we experienced long delays in the dining room. ... Read More
Great itinerary...fantastic staff. The workers were fantastic, they worked so hard to please. It seemed to me, though, Holland America has cut back on the number of waiters and bus boys as we experienced long delays in the dining room. Again, I stress, this was of no fault of the servers, I think there were just not enough of them to go around, some handling 4 or 5 tables of 6 plus people. I also think there were not enough cabin stewards as our steward had a whole hallway..that is a lot of cabins! Food was good, and plenty of it, portion sizes were big. Lido Deck buffet stayed crowded and it was hard to find a table to sit at during peak times. Embarkation and disembarkation were smooth as silk as were disembarkation in ports. We did not have to tender at all. Entertainment was good and there was a good variety. There were not a lot of activities happening on the ship during the day,although, I guess I should clarify that statement. I have been on numerous Holland American cruises and they all have the computer classes, test kitchen and encounter talks. They were there but I had done a lot of them already on other ships and wasn't interested in doing them again. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2018
We choose this itinerary because of all the different ports it hit and we weren't disappointed. We got up close and personal with a couple glaciers and that was exciting. The captain always pointed out if there were whales nearby ... Read More
We choose this itinerary because of all the different ports it hit and we weren't disappointed. We got up close and personal with a couple glaciers and that was exciting. The captain always pointed out if there were whales nearby too which was really nice.The stops were interesting places and the crew on board was, as always, fantastic!! The food was good, not fantastic, but good. Their ice cream selection at dinner was great but the ice cream station in the lido was disappointing. They had vanilla, chocolate and strawberry everyday and then one other flavor which was never very exciting (rum raisin a couple days - I mean how many people do you know that like rum raisin??). Their salad bar was great! The trio in the Ocean Bar was great, as was the pianist that played there for happy hour. The shows were okay but not great and last but not least I do love to go to the movie theater and see a movie but whoever built it didn't think it out very well and there is not enough slope to see over peoples heads which is just annoying! Read Less
Sail Date: May 2018
We chose this cruise because of it's itinerary. Wasn't disappointed with what we saw. Weather wasn't the greatest but scenery still great. Service from all on the ship was very good. Crew was very friendly and we felt ... Read More
We chose this cruise because of it's itinerary. Wasn't disappointed with what we saw. Weather wasn't the greatest but scenery still great. Service from all on the ship was very good. Crew was very friendly and we felt appreciated. Room was like most balcony cabins but with lots of storage. Bathroom wasn't that great. Shower in a small tub area sufficient flow of of water but slow. Captain kept us well informed and did not disappoint in Tracy Arm or Hubbard for glacier viewing. Embarkation and disembarkation from Seattle was a breeze but beware of Seattle airport, horrible. Food menus had a wide variety and for the most part, was very good. Specialty restaurants were excellent but the main dining room wasn't far behind. TV system needs an upgrade for picture quality and on demand movies. We bought an unlimited internet package for the 14 day cruise for $239.00 and felt it was sufficient. We had the middle package for surfing and speeds were like DSL's first offerings. Not good for streaming at all. We feel this cruise was a great value and would highly recommend it. Don't be put off by the atrium monstrosity as it's the only bad thing on the ship. Someone at Holland America was hopefully fired for this HUGE mistake. Crew and the rest of what the ship offers will more than make up for this. Fellow passengers were a bit disappointing as most were 70 to 80 years of age and a lot of them with walkers of wheelchairs. Some younger than us (we are 60's) but not many. The advantage to this was that as the cruise went on we had lots of room to move around. I believe most stayed in their stateroom. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2018
2018 Alaska Cruise Log May 19 Saturday- We flew out of Green Bay to Seattle, with a layover in Minneapolis. No delays. We arrived in Seattle on schedule and so did our luggage. A quick call on the courtesy phone and the shuttle was here ... Read More
2018 Alaska Cruise Log May 19 Saturday- We flew out of Green Bay to Seattle, with a layover in Minneapolis. No delays. We arrived in Seattle on schedule and so did our luggage. A quick call on the courtesy phone and the shuttle was here to take us to La Quinta, our preferred motel. Nice room with a view of pine trees. May 21 Monday- To the ship! Starting our 14 day cruise on HAL Zaandam, round trip to Alaska. We had a 1:00 embarkation time, but the car to take us to the pier arrived early, so we were at the port by 11:45, all checked in by 12:15 and in our cabin by 12:30 (They weren’t supposed to be ready until 1:00. Outstanding! Weather, sunny and in the 70s. May 22 Tuesday- Sea day. Chance to explore the ship. Mostly cloudy in the 50s. First glitch. We went for the breakfast buffet. Food looked good. The way they serve it is not. Generally with a buffet, you take a plate, stand in line and select your food when you get to it. Here they have serving stations. One person want scrambled eggs and bacon, you need to be there at just the right time, because quantities are limited. Choppy seas this morning. Gala Event tonight. We have Open Seating and were placed with two really nice couples. It is fun to meet new people and learn about their cruising experiences. The performer tonight was a guitarist, who was excellent. His parents bought him a Les Paul guitar when he was 11, for winning a guitar competition. May 23 Wednesday- Ketchikan. They get over 200” of rain a year and it was raining when we pulled in to port. Temperature in the 40s. It stopped raining and cleared up somewhat by the time the passengers could go ashore. May 24 Thursday- Sea day today as we head into Endicott Arm. Temps in the low 40s and not likely to get any warmer as we head to the glacier. We have eaten most of our meals in the buffet, so far, which means usually being seated next to other passengers. I continue to be impressed with the friendliness of the people we have met. We went to see the magician tonight. Very entertaining. He didn’t bring his A game, but he seemed to be going more for the comedy. We were in the balcony seating for the guitarist and the way they have the seats laid out is really neat. Seatings for two even though they are all together. The lower seating, where we sat for the magician, is much smaller and more like you expect in terms of seating. May 25 Friday- Gloomy morning in the 40s here in Juneau, the capital of Alaska. Beautiful city, with lots to do. This is a good thing, since we are here from 8 am to 10 pm. One thing it looks like we will not be doing, unless it clears up, is the tram. It takes you to the top of the mountain where you have a really nice view of the surrounding area. We have done that previously. Another activity that is well worth the trip, is the Mendenhall Glacier, which is about 14 miles away. We have done that previously, both times we were here. There is also whale watching and this is a great time of year to see them as they eat as to get ready for their trip to Hawaii. We were told, on an earlier excursion that they do not eat on the way. What we do plan on doing today is going to the State Office Building to see the 77 year old Kimball Pipe Organ. There is a free concert at Noon on Fridays. May 26 Saturday- I would tell you what the weather is like, but if you have been reading the updates, you already know. Add wind to the rain and cold. Still, we found out it is in the 80s and 90s back home and this is preferable. Today we are at Icy Point Straight, Hoonah, AK. This is a new port for us, so we can learn about it together.. It is mostly woods, like we have back home. Pretty quick day in port as we sailed at 2:00. About 4 hours out we passed a yet to be identified glacier and there was enough sun to get a picture. Shortly thereafter- rain mixed with snow! The Captain warned us of rough seas and he sure was right. BTW, the ship has 12 elevators, 4 each aft, mid and forward and they seem to be fairly quick. May 27 Sunday- At Sea Day today. Temps in the 40s, now there’s a surprise. The sea is fairly calm and the clouds show signs of breaking up. On our way to Anchorage, which will be the midway point in our cruise. Pretty day today. Even have some sun. Okay, here goes my one and only RANT (hopefully). We have been on 23 cruises. Not a lot, by many standards, but enough to know what to expect from the wait staff. We like Anytime Dining. It has a lot of advantages. We almost always are able to make reservations and sit in a desired area, and the service has almost always been very good or better. The service in the MDR, for this cruise has been far short of what we have come to expect. It is like we are treated as second class citizens compared to assigned seating. We have had 3 different wait staffs in the MDR and all have been the same. I mentioned earlier that staffing might be a problem, and this could be, but they don’t even do basic things like clear the crumbs off the table cloth or fill your water glass without being asked. And the service is much slower even than the leisurely pace you expect. The band went around playing to the assigned seating guests, but never came to our dining room. In contrast to this, the wine stewards have been terrific! If we had the same one throughout, he would be getting an additional tip. We like tipping extra and it is rare that the wait staff and a bartender or two do not get an extra tip. Not yet on this cruise. It has been a very good cruise so far, so don’t let the rant get to you. It turned out to be a beautiful day today and we are getting lovely views of the snowcapped mountains. We have one excursion tomorrow, The Big Swig! Limited to 12 people and they still have 5 spots available. May 28 Monday- We have broken a pattern. The sun is out and temps are in the 50s. Our plan is to go into town this morning to do a little shopping and then do the Big Swig excursion this afternoon. The area is secured, so the only way off the pier is the free shuttle. The Big Swig was quite a tour. We toured 3 breweries, The King Street Brewery, Land Of The Midnight Sun Brewery and Resolution. At King Street, we got a lengthy explanation of the different hops and barleys they use and why. They also explained why certain regions use certain grains. It is because of the mineral content of the water in those regions. Of course, while he is talking, we get to be drinking. Midnight Sun is the 2nd largest craft brewer in the state and Resolution one of the smallest. If you appreciate beer, you should appreciate this tour. It is a privately owned company. Just one guy and a part time employee. When we got back to the ship, we went to see comedian Mark Pitta. Very funny and clean. May 29 Tuesday- Mostly cloudy, windy and in the 40s today. We are in Homer and will be doing the Best Of The Bay boat tour. There is a free shuttle to take us to the other side of the Spit, where all of the shopping is, but to actually go into Homer costs $15. The Best Of The Bay tour is rated more difficult because it is a pretty long walk to the boat and a fairly steep ramp to get to the dock. What we saw was lots of sea otters and puffins close up We also saw several Eagles and even mountain goats. There were also birds that looked a lot like penguins, but were able to fly. Very nice tour. The weather made a turn for the worse as we got back, so the afternoon tour probably won’t have it so comfortable. May 31 Thursday- I forgot to tell you yesterday about the eagles on Kodiak. They were everywhere! Today we are doing Hubbard Glacier, the largest tide water glacier in North America. It is in the 40s and will be getting colder as we approach the glacier, but the sun is reflecting off the water, so I have high hopes. This, boys and girls, is worth the price of the ticket. Cold and windy to start the day. The sky is mostly sunny and the scenery is beautiful, so just throw on an extra layer and go sit out on the balcony. O. June 1 Friday We are in Sitka today until 4:00. Docked right next to the NCL Jewel. Temp is 49 degrees, with a high of 56 expected. June 2 Saturday- Sea Day. June 4 Monday- Disembark. Disembarking and Customs was a breeze. We stayed in the stateroom until our tag color was called and had no trouble leaving the ship and getting our luggage. A taxi was right there to take us to the hotel. We had checked in online yesterday and they had a room ready. Perfect view of the Space Needle! Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2018
I cruise withy my elderly father. We originally wanted to do the May 21 - Jun 4 14 day cruise on the Zaandam but I have two nephews graduating from High School on May 31st, so we opted for the May 7 -21. We took super shuttle to SFO. ... Read More
I cruise withy my elderly father. We originally wanted to do the May 21 - Jun 4 14 day cruise on the Zaandam but I have two nephews graduating from High School on May 31st, so we opted for the May 7 -21. We took super shuttle to SFO. We were really sweating it and worried we were going to miss our flight to SEATAC. Supper Shuttle usually gives you a three hour time frame for pick-up prior to flight departure. This time we were only given two hours prior to pick-up. The shuttle was an hour late. We got to the airport 1/2 hour prior to departure. Fortunately we got our bags checked in and was able to proceed through Security. Fortunately we were Pre-TSA and our flight was the first gate after security. We made it through Security 5 minutes prior to boarding. Enough time for my dad to get his rolling walker checked at the gate. Had a great flight to Seatac. We arrived at Seatac collected our luggage, then proceeded to the Hotel courtesy Shuttles. It appeared very quiet and it turned out that there was a bomb scare and they were not allowing any vehicles in and out of the airport. We were staying at the Embassy Suites Seatac. I called the hotel to just let them know that I had arrived. They asked for my phone number to give me an update when they had one, when vehicles would be allowed in to the airport. We sat for about 45 minutes then suddenly saw taxi cabs entering and the first courtesy shuttle to show up was from the Embassy Suites. At that time I received a phone call from Embassy Suites and I told the gal the driver just showed up. It was a very interesting ride out of the airport, people were walking out of the airport to catch cabs and traffic was horrible. There were people that had just got out of their shuttles, cab, Uber, etc to catch their outbound flight out of Seatac. Our driver took through all the back roads and we arrived at the Embassy Suites safe and sound. This is a small Embassy Suites and we got a great AAA rate. The next morning our Seattle Express Shuttle arrived at 10:30 for our ride to Pier 91. We stopped by the Double Tree and Red Roof Inn for pick up then we were on our way to Pier 91. We arrived at about 11:30, dropped our luggage off, took the elevator to the 2nd floor. My father uses a rolling walker so we were allowed to check in, in the Accessibility Line. Check in took about 15 minutes and we were on the ship. My father has balancing issues so I usually request a shower stool. This time our PCC placed us in an ambulatory assessible Cabin. This was cabin 3391 on the lower promenade deck. This was a shower with a pull out seat and grab bars throughout the shower. My Dad had a place to park his walker but there is not anyway you reall could park a scooter or get around this cabin in a wheel chair. The Zaandam recently came out of dry dock. In our cabin it appeared things had not been updated with exception of the grab bars in the shower. I heard from a fellow cruiser that had requested a shower stool for her cabin but was told with new regulations they would not allow shower seats in tubs/shower combination cabins only cabins with showers only. I have not verified if this is fleet wide. The Elevators seemed to have been upgraded and new carpeting in Public Areas. I had a great time on this cruise, I found activities lacking on the ship. On this Paticular Cruise it did not matter so much because we really only had two real sea days and two days glacier viewing. The entertainment was so, so. Food is always subjective. I found the food to be good to very good. We ate all our dinners in the MDR. Service was slow in the dinning room. One night it took about 45 minutes to an hour between appetizers for the main entree to come then 15 minutes to get the dessert menu and another 15 minutes to order. There seemed to be some kind of disconnect between the wait staff and kitchen. We were in open seating and I don’t know if this would happen in fixed seating. I found the menu lacking, there would be some nights I would order the dinner salad as my appetizer and another entree for dinner. For me I found there was more variety for soup and less for salads. For a $25.00 fee you could order an Alaskan Crab dinner that included Alaskan King Crab Legs, crab bisque, drawn butter for crab legs, crab cakes, and there might have been some kind of bread. I don’t care for crab bisque. I did see a dinner delivered at a table and it looked like enough for two people. I talked to two people had purchased this and they really enjoyed it. One fellow cruiser who ordered the dinner said he called Tracy’s Crab Shack to see how much it was for the same thing and he was quoted $100.00 For me I found there was more variety for soup and less for salads. Ketchikan I booked an excursion on an enclosed Caterman. It was raining in Ketchikan, which is usual. The water was calm out to Misty Fjords. The View was awesome even though it was overcast. It was a great excursion. Endicott Glacier We were suppose to go to Tracy Arm but there was still too much ice to get to it, so we went to Endicott instead. It was great, we saw sea lions and baby sea lions on the ice. Juneau This is my 4th trip to Alaska so I have been to Mendenhall glacier twice, done whale watching, been to Mt Roberts. So Juneau was my shopping port. In Juneau I set out to do any shopping, since Juneau is the best shopping. After some window shopping and real shopping, I went to Tracy’s crab shack for lunch. Back to the ship. My father asked if I could go buy him a jacket, so I went out again. Stopped by the Red dog Saloon and stayed for a couple of hours then went out to continue my shopping. Icy Strait Point Here I booked a whale watching Excursion on an enclosed caterman. It was originally scheduled for 8:00 AM but was rescheduled to 11:00AM. Anchorage I had originally planned to go to the Alaskan Native Center and the Museum but got sick in the middle of the night and needed to take it easy in Anchorage, Homer and Kodak. Hubbard Glacier Awesome! Sitka I originally set out to go to the Sheldon Jackson Museum. On my way there I found a thrift store. I was curious as to what they had there. They also except donations. So if your luggage is in overload you can drop them off here. I started down the street and found some really neat stores with Alaska made products, Quilting Stores, Russian Items, These stores were really interesting. Never made it to the Sheldon Jackson Museum. I have done the Raptor Center and Fortress of the Bears before. They now have a shuttle bus that goes to both at the visitors center. I did not check out the price. Victoria Took the shuttle bus into town got off at the Empress Hotel. Walked around the Gardens at the Empress Hotel. The Empress Hotel is also kitty korner to the Royal BC Museaum. Right now they have an exhibit “Egypt and Phorahs” May 18-Dec 31. I will be back in Victoria the end of September so will check it out then In front of the Empress Hotel they have a hop on hop off bus that takes about 90 minutes. If you want to get off, you will need to allow an hour before the next hop on hop off bus comes around. I took this tour for $32.53 US or $40.00 Canadian. Seattle - Disembarktion About a week in the cruise, we received a Port Valet Form. If you are on Alaska, Delta, Southwest, or United (Domestic Only). You can participate in the Port Valet System at no extra cost if your flight leaves between 1:00 PM the day of disembarktion til 1:00 AM the following morning. Your luggage is taken away the night before disembarktion and you don’t see it til your final destination. They check you in for your flight, give you a boarding pass, with luggage tags to the Seattle airport. Once your luggage is at the airport they will give your luggage tags to your destination airport. If you are exempt from paying for luggage you fill out your FF number. We were not charged for our luggage, got our boarding pass and the luggage arrived at our final destination. I did have a great time on this cruise because I love Alaska. However there seemed to be some kind of disconnect between the staff. It could be that the staff had just joined the ship after drydock and they are working on meshing together, Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: April 2018
We've always wanted to do the Panama transit and Curacao has been on our bucket list for a very long time. Overall, the cruise was pretty good. The crew were amazing!!! The ship is a little smaller so we got to know a lot of our ... Read More
We've always wanted to do the Panama transit and Curacao has been on our bucket list for a very long time. Overall, the cruise was pretty good. The crew were amazing!!! The ship is a little smaller so we got to know a lot of our fellow passengers and it was easy to get around. We really enjoyed the Lido for the late night snacks opportunities. The food is always amazing on HAL but this cruise had WAY too much kale/Swiss chard. Every single meal had this greenery. Blecght! We realize the ship had just come out of dry dock so there were some issues, but the worst of it was the plumbing. Pipes were rupturing and MANY toilets were overflowing or plugged. We were lucky and only had one "plugged" moment towards the end of our trip. Our friends had to move cabins 3 times due to overflowing toilets, leaving sewage on their cabin floors. Another woman, with mobility issues, was told to use the toilets near the library as her cabin toilet wasn't working. Great idea except the toilets near the library were NOT working and overflowing water constantly. Overall we had a great time but the plumbing issues all over the ship were problematic. The entertainment in the theatre was terrible - lackluster, amateurish, repetitive. The crew shows were absolutely fantastic! The dancers and singers were horrible. We walked out of all shows. We really were hoping that we'd see more crew shows as they were truly great. Very talented!! Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2018
Embarkation: Check-in was very fast and the cabin was ready when we got on at 1:00. One suitcase came very fast, the other came later. Cabin: This was our first time in a Neptune suite and we liked it – lots of room, excellent ... Read More
Embarkation: Check-in was very fast and the cabin was ready when we got on at 1:00. One suitcase came very fast, the other came later. Cabin: This was our first time in a Neptune suite and we liked it – lots of room, excellent big balcony. Could not believe HAL is still using old technology TVs and DVD players, though – it’s well past time to upgrade to interactive TVs with on-demand movies. The lighting over the couch could have been better for reading. The cabin wasn’t particularly clean when we got on. The steward who greeted us said that his partner had left the ship that morning, so we thought maybe it was just the crew being overworked on turnaround day. However, the shelves in the bathroom stayed dirty, the floor stayed sticky, the prior occupant’s pills stayed under the sink, and the makeup stains stayed on the counter until I got sick of it and cleaned the place up myself after a couple days. We’re not really people who need to be waited on, so we didn’t use the concierge except to make dinner reservations and were amused when I went to the front desk one day and got scolded by the concierge for not giving her the chore. The concierges were really on the ball – they immediately knew our names and after we went to the lounge one morning to get a newspaper (there were never enough in the buffet), they had one delivered to our cabin every day for the rest of the cruise. The A/C in the cabin worked well, but the table on the balcony had seen better days. Kleenex in the cabin was low quality. The towel animals were excellent. The laundry lost a shirt. Shorex: Very well run. I loved that they didn’t give out stickers until the tour was called, which eliminated all the people who like to cut the line and go down to the bus early. Dining: Dining room service and food were excellent, although the food could have been hotter sometimes. Dive In grill had decent burgers and fries but the nearby Mexican buffet was never hot and the guacamole was runny. Breakfast in the buffet was very good. The omelet station was excellent on one side but so-so on the other side, where the cook seemed to rush things and they were undercooked. Breakfast in the dining room opened too late for us early risers. Not a fan of the thick crust pizza (HAL needs to get the Princess recipe!). Lunch options were very limited if you came back from a tour after 2:00. Pinnacle Grill was good but the volcano cake that I remembered as being so amazing was overcooked this time and had too much orange flavoring. We ate twice in Le Cirque, which was excellent. Shipwide, dishes that should have some flavor (like salsa and jerk chicken) were bland. I sometimes struggled to find something appealing on the buffet at lunch or dinner. The Asian station was excellent but the kitchen could never keep up – lines were long and they were frequently out of things. Desserts were good and there was always a good selection of ice cream. Thankfully, there are no Purell police on board this ship. There are dispensers and real sinks to use, but nobody treating you like you’re a child. Ship: The ship was for the most part fine but it was obvious in several ways that they had waited too long to send the ship to dry dock (the ship was going to dry dock at the end of our cruise). There was no diet Coke for the entire cruise, with conflicting excuses giving by different bars. There was water dripping through the ceiling in Explorer’s, a ladies room that had no functioning sinks for almost the entire cruise, and the A/C was terribly erratic, with some rooms too warm and some freezing cold. We didn’t find a lot of activities to go to on sea days (there were no movies or lectures during the day). Most of the activities were geared around trying to sell you something. An exception was watching Barbara’s talks in the Test Kitchen – excellent and entertaining. The seats in the Test Kitchen, however, are awful – too low to be comfortable and awful sight lines because the rows aren’t banked. Definitely go early if you go there to watch a movie. The movies were only in the evening and conflicted with dinner or the show. They don’t give out crossword puzzles anymore and the sudokus in the library were sporadic and poorly copied. We were very disappointed in HAL for not having a lecturer on this cruise, when we were seeing fascinating pre-Incan ruins in port after port and being exposed to lots of interesting pre-Colombian cultures. The Captain was pretty uncommunicative and didn’t seem to enjoy interacting with the passengers -- the noon reports were sporadic and very brief, no explanation was given for why we left San Antonio late, etc. The library was excellent. All of the crew that we interacted with were just terrific – always warm and friendly. I thought it was a nice touch that they served coffee, water, and pastries on deck during the Panama Canal transit. Entertainment: The Ocean Quartet was good. Barry from Boston is sort of an acquired taste but he was fun. The CD was good. Comedian Kevin DeVane was pretty good. Duo Yalba was excellent. Jordan Bennett (singer) had great voice but incredibly annoying habit of constantly begging for applause. Frozen Planet is a must-see – one of the best things I’ve seen on a ship. The production shows were very good but the dancers were not very synchronized. Tommy Proulx (sax player) was excellent. Alan Chamo (mentalist/hypnotist) was OK. . Ida was good but opera is not really to my taste. Jeff Burkhardt (comedian/impersonator) was OK. The orchestra played a couple of nights in one of the loungers with a singer (only on nights when they weren’t needed for the show) – don’t miss them, they are excellent Internet Access: Just assume there isn’t any. I’ve been on a lot of cruises on a lot of different ships and this was by far the worst internet at sea I’ve experienced. Constant errors so pages have to reload, incredibly slow, clock set wrong on computer so secure connection cannot be established but no one around with an administrator password who could have fixed it. Complete failure, don’t bother. Disembarkation: We did early walk-off with our own luggage, which was quick and easy. Read Less
8 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2018
I always wanted to see the Antarctic and Holland & America was the only cruiseliner that touches the top of this amazing continent, mind you they only operate 3 cruises a year so book it quick!! We started off in Santiago and ... Read More
I always wanted to see the Antarctic and Holland & America was the only cruiseliner that touches the top of this amazing continent, mind you they only operate 3 cruises a year so book it quick!! We started off in Santiago and travelled down to Cape Horn and then took 2 days to reach the top of the Antarctic. Must admit I wasent particular impressed with the ports of call on the west coast of South America but it was worth it to see the magnificent views we had sailing around the "End of the World", icebergs with seals on as well as penguins, whales playing, glaciers, beautifully formed icebergs wow!! Also we had 3 guides on board who commentated throughout the days we were sailing around the Antarctic and were very informative. Up the east coast of S.A we called into the Falkland Islands and luckily found a local who took myself and husband to see the penguins, o boy that was another amazing moment, he was very interesting and did tours only when the ships came in. The other ports of call were good and also it was nice to have a bit of sun, we ended up in Buenos Aires. The Zandaam is a lovely ship which takes approx 1400 people but must say it did not seem like it, the food was good and staff very nice. We had a basic outside cabin on deck 1 (right at the bottom) however it was great and the size of the cabin was excellent really quite big compared to a lot of other ships I have been on. Now planning a trip to the "Top of the World" Read Less
Sail Date: January 2018
We booked this cruise whilst onboard Volendam in Alaska in Oct 2016, from start to finish this cruise Itinerary was great, Antarctica was amazing and the captain did a fantastic job in making sure we got to see everything that was worth ... Read More
We booked this cruise whilst onboard Volendam in Alaska in Oct 2016, from start to finish this cruise Itinerary was great, Antarctica was amazing and the captain did a fantastic job in making sure we got to see everything that was worth seeing ,he even backtracked one day so we could see areas he missed because of bad weather, Wallis our tour EXC was more than helpful and her knowledge of the area was brilliant she was always on deck explaining everything and her colleagues were also good, the lectures about the wildlife and geology were very informative,and the info about Argentina was especially interesting, there were a lot of people on deck when there was something to see which was pretty much all the time and although tedious at times with people trying to get the best photo it was tolerable, food was good we ate mostly in the buffet, always find it takes to long in the dining room and the food is only ever warm at best, service onboard mostly from Philippines all great very polite and nice and our cabin attendants Arthur and Doi were great lots of towel animals and kept our cabin very clean, Conrad, Police,and Jeanine in Crows Nest kept us well watered always very polite and friendly. Only let down on this cruise was the cleanliness or lack of it in the buffet, to start there was no staff at the entrance to the buffet with sanitisers also a lack of sanitisers, they put cups and glasses on the tables and just replaced what was missing when guests left we watched in horror as people with colds and flu coughed and handled everything on the table which was then left for the next unsuspecting guest, i even witnessed a few times glasses being used then not removed and the next guests using the same glass which the waiters filled, when the tables were wiped down they used the same rag that was used on other tables no rincing out and when they did it was in a bucket of dirty water, basically if you wipe down a table were people have been coughing and sneezing then move on to the next table all you do is transfer germs from one to the other,What happened to sanitiser spray!!!!! i did write a long detailed letter of their bad practice and handed it in to guest services but guess what nothing changed, we then witnessed the epidemic of flu and colds sweep through the ship everyone got it including my partner who was ill for 2 weeks it was a really nasty virus that came and went and came again, we always got our cups and glasses from the stack trays and would always get our own drinks it was safer but with bad sanitary practice you stood no chance, what a shame this was as it tainted what would have been the perfect cruise, shame on you HA for not doing everything you could to protect your guests, best of it is it would cost nothing to do, a no brainer to me !! Read Less
Zaandam Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 4.0
Dining 3.0 3.9
Entertainment 3.0 3.6
Public Rooms 4.0 4.2
Fitness Recreation 4.0 3.7
Family 4.0 3.7
Shore Excursion 4.0 3.9
Enrichment 3.0 3.7
Service 3.0 4.2
Value For Money 4.0 3.7
Rates 4.0 4.0

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