This is only my second cruise and it's been a while since my first. This would be my first, but definitely not my last as a solo cruiser. I was determined to have a good time and to have reasonable expectations while on board, and I was overwhelmingly surprised and pleased.
While her exterior was weathered and showing the harsh wear and tear of the time in the salt and its previous voyage to and from Hawaii, the interior was just the opposite. Based on a lot of reviews I had read my expectation were set quite low, but evidently they have been quite busy trying to keep the Zaandam up to the standards I expected and hoped for from HAL.
Embarkation was organized, fast and painless. I had my bags checked, ship identification in hand and I was aboard by noon. I got lucky and had both of my suitcases by 1:00 and after a nice lunch at the Lido buffet I was busy unpacking and using the laundry facilities to press my slightly wrinkled dress shirts. My cabin steward, Bam, would prove to be outstanding in every way possible. 5 stars!
The cabin was in very good condition overall. Full shower and tub with good water pressure and clean fixtures in great shape. While located under kitchen/service areas, I noticed little noise but it wasn't enough to keep me awake or wake me up. Good unobstructed view and near mid-ship elevators and stairs.
Great scenery and photography opportunities. Shopping options were endless but too many people pushing their product. It was almost oppressive. Try not to make eye contact and just say no thank you unless you are looking for something specific. Walked to Cabo Wabo Cantina and had a drink just to see it and say that "I've been there". Highlight of the day for me as I didn't choose an excursion.