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Zaandam Cruise Review
4.0 / 5.0
Cruise Critic Editor Rating
558 Reviews

First Time (and Last Time) on Holland America

Zaandam Cruise Review by FormerDon

2 people found this helpful
Trip Details
  • Sail Date: Aug 2015
  • Destination: Alaska
  • Cabin Type: Neptune Deluxe Verandah Suite

I booked the 7-day cruise in suite class along with land 6 months in advance and looked forward to our first cruise. Our journey began in Fairbanks where after arriving off our flight we were greeted by Holland American staff who pointed us in the direction of the luggage team and our bus to the hotel. The staff (from beginning to end of our 14 day trip) did a wonderful job with moving people and baggage.

I was surprised in Fairbanks, Denali, and in Anchorage that our accommodations (part of Holland America's Westmark Properties) were subpar at best; a step above a Super 8 motel. The hotels in both Fairbanks and Anchorage were dirty, loud, and just quick stop over for 1000s of cruisers - and it shows in the staffs’ customer service attitude (or lack there off) and in the facilities themselves. I would have expected to have a similar level of service and accommodation based on the level that was paid for on the ship - i.e. Suite Class would afford a few additional luxuries (for example a bathroom with soap and shampoo that were in individual bottles rather than a few soap pumps hanging on the wall in the shower!).

Two highlights prior to boarding the cruise were (1) the Kenai Forge National Park and (2) the train ride from Denali to Anchorage. In Kenai Forge, we booked a 6-hour boat tour of the park and glacier through Kenai Forge Tours - well worth the time and money as we saw whales, otters, birds, eagles, orca, and some of the best close up scenery of the glaciers. Wonderful Cruise and Crew. We truly enjoyed the rail journey from Denali to Anchorage - booked as part of the Holland America Cruise. Other then having to wait for 40+ others to have lunch on the train (finally getting to my wife and I close to 2pm) the journey was wonderful.

We boarded our cruise in Seward following our afternoon cruising the Fjord. The process was quick, simple, and easy - from start to finish it took less that 5 mins for my wife and I (we did do all of the necessary pre-boarding online). Once on board we found our stateroom, met up with our luggage, and began to get our sea legs.

Our stateroom was good sized, only it lacked today’s required hotel features (i.e. more than one working plug in the room). In today’s environment of electronics, charging phones, iPads, camera, and camcorder batteries you would think that the rooms would offer more than one plug. Our bathroom was good sized and included a dressing room with ample closet space. The bathroom itself was dated and needed a complete make over. Just as in our rooms on land, the bathroom did not offer any shampoo or bath soap besides the plastic canisters hanging from within the shower, akin to a Super 8 motel. Certianly not what is expected from a cruise line that prides itself on A Signature of Excellence.

I was disappointed in the dining options on the ship - only two specialty restaurants, the main dining room, the buffet, and poolside snack bar. On one night of the cruise one of the restaurants was transformed (Holland America’s word, not mine) into NYC Le Cirque and for an additional $49 per person. The plates changed, some of the decorations were changed, and a different menu. Certainly not worth the $100 up-charge. The staff in each of the restaurants was attentive - but when asking about specific menu items or options were ill informed or just didn’t understand what we were asking. The buffet did not met expectations whatsoever – from tired décor’ to a lack of diversity in options. I was surprised that I could not find a cocktail waitress during our dinner at the buffet. Our only option was to get our drink at the bar, drop it off at a table and fight the buffet line… only in my evening, when I returned to my table my drink was gone, my seat was taken by someone else and I was left standing with my plate in my hand, no table, and no drink!

The main dining room offers two options – set seating time and open seating. We opted for open seating and ended up having dinner only twice in the main dining room (night one and night 6). The food was good, plenty of options, and best of all the opportunity to sit next to a window and watch for wildlife.

The entertainment on the ship was average at best...comedian, ships dancers, and a Dancing with the Stars Competition. In the main show room we found it impossible to find a cocktail waitress any of the nights. A highlight of the week in the show room was some of the presentations while we were cruising though Glacier National Park.

We took advantage of the embarkation special in the spa and purchased the Thermal Spa package… allowing for unlimited usage of the hot top, sauna, steam room, and locker room throughout the voyage. It was WONDERFUL the first few days as we sat in the hot tub while cruise to Glacier Bay… but after that, the word got out and folks began to come to the thermal spa with beers in hand – hard to believe that the ship would allow this. We did mention this to the staff – but no action was taken in front of us.

Booking in the suite class we were able to take advantage of the Neptune Lounge. After boarding we were able to get a free glass of champagn, meet some of our fellow passengers, and check on dining reservations. The team in the lounge were very helpful in getting dining reservations and making last minute shore excursion bookings.

I would be hard pressed to rebook on Holland American, until they upgrade their boats.

FormerDon's Full Rating Summary
Enrichment Activities
Value For Money
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Shore Excursions
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Cabin Review

Neptune Deluxe Verandah Suite
Cabin SA 7006

The Neptune Suite had 2 lower beds convertible which were converted to 1 king-size bed for our cruise. The room was larger than expected (approximately 550 sq ft) including the room, sitting area, bathroom, dressing room, and large verandah. The verandah was large enough to house a table with 4 chairs and 2 lounge chairs.

Unfortunately during our stay the age of the boat was evident. The pipe above our dressing room/bath room burst causing an indoor rainstorm/flood - ruining all of our toiletries and my wife's cosmetics. In response we received a $400 onboard credit, removal from our stateroom for a day, and the wonderful stench of mold/mildew for the remaining 3 days of the trip.

Port & Shore Excursion Reviews


Great trip - highlight of our 2 week Alaska Adventure. Saw all types of wildlife and took great photos during the 6 hour trip.

Wildlife Tour

This is a wacky place! From the guys that run the place and tour you around to the animal interaction - you will never do something like this again in your life. We even got to feed a moose! Seeing these animals up close and being able to pet many of them isn’t something most people can say they will have an opportunity to do in their life! We were able to get up close to a wolf, falcon, foxes, a marten, weasels, mink, lynx, porcupine...

View All 11 Wildlife Tour Reviews

Good opportunity to see the sight of Juneau while learning more about your camera. We spend 1/2 of the time near Mendenhall Glacier taking photos, hiking, and spotting a bear... then we spent the remainder of the time on a boat tracking whales.

Wilderness Tour & Crab Feast

45 mins on a bus each way, to jump on a boat for a 30 min trip to see the crew pull up a crab pot, show a crab, drop it back in the ocean and then to the lodge for a (so called) all you can eat crab feast. You are given 30 mins to eat all you can (along with one drink for free) then you are hustled back to the boat for the return trip back to the ship. Not worth it! Stay in town and eat crab there... avoid the bus and uneventful boat ride.

View All 129 Wilderness Tour & Crab Feast Reviews
Glacier Bay

Nice day of cruising through the National Park. The Park Rangers board the ship in the AM and provide narration throughout the day of our journey. Make sure you visit the National Park pop-up-shop in the Crows Nest to pick up a Glacier Bay trinket.

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