2nd recent HAL cruise for my partner and myself. Boarding: We had inside information so we were quickly processed (system was partially down) and one of the first to board. Plenty of time to wander around before a Mariner's lunch at the MDR. Had a bit of problem getting on as the bar staff on duty evidently was mistaken that you could not take more than 2 bottles on even if you wanted to pay corkage. Cruise was pretty o.k. Ate almost always in the MDR with great service from the staff. Food portions were small out of Vancouver but grew massively for the first few days out of San Diego. The servers said the kitchen portioner may have been new. Seafood was pretty good so that is what we ate most days. We had fixed dining at the main sitting. Lots and lots of empty tables. I figure the restaurant was only a maximum of 60-70% utilized at this time for this cruise which may have helped in good service and warm food which is apparently no always the case. The buffet/Lido is haphazard. It is just not set up properly and a nasty place to eat. Only had breakfast once there (and decided to never again), never any dinners,and lunch only when the MDR was closed. Tea service: haphazard as always with huge gaps between getting the various things for tea. Water is also never hot enough for proper tea. Pretty frustrating if at the wrong table. Bought our own wines onboard (in the USD 15-22 range which after corkage is still a better deal than what HAL sells you). Gave it to the wine steward at the beginning of early sitting and it was waiting for us at 8p. Entertainment was o.k. on some days. Guest lecturers had interesting material but were horrible at presentation for people who had apparently delivered the material so many times. Best was the Argentinean band at the Oceans bar. CD Carlos Mendoza was a delight as usual - all the better as he is only temping these days and not a FT HAL employee anymore. The onboard song and dance troupe was quite good on their new routine which was presented only late in the cruise. No shore expert/consultant/specialist until very late in the cruise. Either a cutback and/or scheme to get people to pay for excursions. Rear swimming pool is not heated so the brave got it to themselves for most of 1-2 weeks. Center pool when enclosed was a bit too chlorine-y. Exercise room was in a good place and decently equipped so spent a lot of time here. Cutbacks in onboard activities (since late 2012) so the cuisine/cooking activity host had to round up materials on her own dime for craft activities. Partner said that the book club was frustrating with people talking pointlessly. Stopped after one session. Did a lot of trivia and won about 1/4 of them so lots of pins, and drinks towards the end. Disembarkation at Valparaiso is interesting. One walks down the ramp to a container and then down another ramp. Could be difficult for the less-than-mobile. Bus to the terminal (even though our post-disembarkatin hotel, the IBIS, was close to the ship) for clearance. Overall a good way to get to South America in comfort.

A good way to get down to South America

Zaandam Cruise Review by cruising cockroach

Trip Details
  • Sail Date: October 2014
  • Destination: South America
  • Cabin Type: Large Ocean-View Stateroom
2nd recent HAL cruise for my partner and myself.
Boarding: We had inside information so we were quickly processed (system was partially down) and one of the first to board. Plenty of time to wander around before a Mariner's lunch at the MDR. Had a bit of problem getting on as the bar staff on duty evidently was mistaken that you could not take more than 2 bottles on even if you wanted to pay corkage.
Cruise was pretty o.k. Ate almost always in the MDR with great service from the staff. Food portions were small out of Vancouver but grew massively for the first few days out of San Diego. The servers said the kitchen portioner may have been new. Seafood was pretty good so that is what we ate most days.
We had fixed dining at the main sitting. Lots and lots of empty tables. I figure the restaurant was only a maximum of 60-70% utilized at this time for this cruise which may have helped in good service and warm food which is apparently no always the case.
The buffet/Lido is haphazard. It is just not set up properly and a nasty place to eat. Only had breakfast once there (and decided to never again), never any dinners,and lunch only when the MDR was closed.
Tea service: haphazard as always with huge gaps between getting the various things for tea. Water is also never hot enough for proper tea. Pretty frustrating if at the wrong table.
Bought our own wines onboard (in the USD 15-22 range which after corkage is still a better deal than what HAL sells you). Gave it to the wine steward at the beginning of early sitting and it was waiting for us at 8p.
Entertainment was o.k. on some days. Guest lecturers had interesting material but were horrible at presentation for people who had apparently delivered the material so many times. Best was the Argentinean band at the Oceans bar. CD Carlos Mendoza was a delight as usual - all the better as he is only temping these days and not a FT HAL employee anymore. The onboard song and dance troupe was quite good on their new routine which was presented only late in the cruise.
No shore expert/consultant/specialist until very late in the cruise. Either a cutback and/or scheme to get people to pay for excursions.
Rear swimming pool is not heated so the brave got it to themselves for most of 1-2 weeks. Center pool when enclosed was a bit too chlorine-y.
Exercise room was in a good place and decently equipped so spent a lot of time here.
Cutbacks in onboard activities (since late 2012) so the cuisine/cooking activity host had to round up materials on her own dime for craft activities.
Partner said that the book club was frustrating with people talking pointlessly. Stopped after one session.
Did a lot of trivia and won about 1/4 of them so lots of pins, and drinks towards the end.
Disembarkation at Valparaiso is interesting. One walks down the ramp to a container and then down another ramp. Could be difficult for the less-than-mobile. Bus to the terminal (even though our post-disembarkatin hotel, the IBIS, was close to the ship) for clearance.
Overall a good way to get to South America in comfort.
cruising cockroach’s Full Rating Summary
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Cabin Review

Large Ocean-View Stateroom
Cabin F 1828
Cabin was nice and everything functioned (better than the N GTY we had booked) Lots of closet space but a bit short of drawers. Close to the elevator banks but no noise other than when the ship was tendering (or the hatch was open (mechanism for stairway and hatch almost right below). Got a bit warm towards/around the equator but fortunately it was cool once we got to the coast with the winter fog and all.Window was a bit dirty and that was never washed but then again, there's always sea spray at this level.Toilet did stop working one day but that was fixed relatively quickly (seems it was a system problem in our section).Didn't use the CRT tv other than for outside views and positioning, nor used the DVD player,
Dolphin Deck Inside Cabins, Outside Cabins