This was our first cruise with Holland America, selected for its incredible itinerary to Antarctica. Little emphasis was placed on ports of call, as our primary purpose for this journey was to be captivated by the scenic cruising of the Chilean Fiords, Glacier Alley and the White Continent. The picturesque Chilean fiords were spectacular with clear blue skies, still waters and surreal reflections. Glacial melt resulted in blue-green shades of water in the areas of the glaciers. Our crossing of the Drake Passage was interrupted at Cape Horn with gale force storm winds that delayed our crossing to Antarctica, but Captain Pieter Jan “PJ” Van Maurik made up for lost time with our second attempt at crossing the next day. We awoke to snow-covered decks, as when I peeked out of our stateroom window at 4AM there was literally a horizontal blizzard outside! Our expedition team consisted of three retired gentlemen on board who were previously affiliated with, or retired from, the U.S. Antarctic Research Program and/or the National Science Foundation. David Bresnahan, our expedition team leader, presented his expertise in operations & logistics with lectures on U.S. Antarctic bases, facilities, shipping & supplies, ski planes, helicopters, ski-ways, camping, gear, intermodal surface transport with heavy equipment, snow/ice vehicles and ice road train. Guy Guthridge was a retired editor for the Antarctic Journal of the United States. He delivered lectures providing insight as to some of the technical aspects of the sciences, including topics on the ozone hole, geology, mapping of rivers and streams beneath the ice, environmental issues and the Antarctic Treaty. Scott Dreischman was our wildlife expedition team member and lectured on whales, seals, seabirds, penguins, and underwater sea life. The programming and power-point presentations delivered by these gentlemen was outstanding, informative and very educational providing depth and meaning to the Antarctic experience. We first arrived in Antarctica in close proximity to the U.S. Palmer Base Station from which several experts greeted us by zodiac, came aboard the Zaandam, and related their experiences of spending extended periods of time on the White Continent. Much information was conveyed about research being done, the presence of extensive on-site laboratories for many of the sciences, and improvements occurring over time. With the expert navigation of Captain PJ and our ice pilot, Richard Taylor, our vessel, successfully, navigated the complete Lemaire Channel, a unique experience for a commercial ship such as the Zaandam. Icebergs were numerous of all shapes, sizes and shades of white and blue. Some were tabular icebergs. Others captured the imagination and looked like model ships, bells, open books, archways, etc. Crabeater seals were plentiful and often seen taking an afternoon siesta on an iceberg. Glacial caves at the water’s edge were evident. We proceeded to navigate Bismarck Strait, Neumayer Channel alongside Port Lockroy, Gerlache Strait, Paradise Harbor, Cuverville Island, and the Danco Coast with outstanding scenic cruising and wildlife (crabeater seals, the occasional whale, seabirds & penguins), taking note of Chilean and Argentine bases, before proceeding to Deception Island to witness the presence of fur seals and Gentoo penguins. We even had a glance of Machu Picchu! In this case it was the Machu Picchu Peruvian polar scientific research facility in Antarctica on Kind George Island. We sailed along the Antarctic Sound as we made our way north to the Falkland Islands where we made our introduction to the Magellan Penguins at Gypsy Cove. The foregoing, in our opinion, were the highlights of this incredible journey. While we visited numerous South American ports, this voyage will best be remembered for our expedition to Antarctica. Many thanks are extended to the Expedition Team! This particular cruise did make all of its scheduled ports of call and Ryan communicated well as to what to expect at each port. Captain PJ is to be commended for his communication with passengers on board and Bruce was a great cruise director. Service on the ship was very good, entertainment was exceptional, and public areas also very nice in layout. It is acknowledged that keeping a ship in good condition is an ongoing task. Holland America is doing well with maintenance, given the age of the Zaandam; but there is room for improvement with plumbing and refurbishment of upholstered furnishings in public areas. We did not experience dining in the Rotterdam Dining Room nor any of the specialty restaurants. Food was plentiful, but the repeated offerings at the Lido Buffet were mundane. Desserts, while appearing delectable, were not as palatable as they appeared. We don’t necessarily cruise for the food, but make our voyage selections based on itinerary. In this case, however, the food did not impress. It was not so much the quantity, but rather the quality of the offerings. Every day, you could plan on bread pudding for a lunchtime dessert offering as they were using up their bread from the day before. Every morning you could count on diced breakfast potatoes that were the cut up roasted potato wedges from the previous day’s lunch. The omelet station and pasta bar were always popular as those are two items that would take real effort to get wrong. The meat was hit or miss as far as being dry and chicken was served too many times. Vegetables were good…potato salad bad. The “Dive-In” was a great hamburger/hotdog stand…and the ice cream at the Lido Buffet was always a good substitute for those desserts you couldn’t count on. I will say that food service did a great job with their Super Bowl spread! We realize the culinary experience is all a matter of taste. If it means anything, neither of us gained an ounce on this 21 day cruise. Overall, we were pleased with this cruise and itinerary, rating it a 4 out of 5. We would, again, sail Holland America if our cruise was itinerary specific; but would probably opt for another cruise line, otherwise.

Holland America Zaandam 21 Day South America and Antarctica Explorer

Zaandam Cruise Review by Pet72Vet

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Trip Details
  • Sail Date: January 2016
  • Destination: Antarctica
  • Cabin Type: Large Ocean-View Stateroom
This was our first cruise with Holland America, selected for its incredible itinerary to Antarctica. Little emphasis was placed on ports of call, as our primary purpose for this journey was to be captivated by the scenic cruising of the Chilean Fiords, Glacier Alley and the White Continent. The picturesque Chilean fiords were spectacular with clear blue skies, still waters and surreal reflections. Glacial melt resulted in blue-green shades of water in the areas of the glaciers. Our crossing of the Drake Passage was interrupted at Cape Horn with gale force storm winds that delayed our crossing to Antarctica, but Captain Pieter Jan “PJ” Van Maurik made up for lost time with our second attempt at crossing the next day. We awoke to snow-covered decks, as when I peeked out of our stateroom window at 4AM there was literally a horizontal blizzard outside!

Our expedition team consisted of three retired gentlemen on board who were previously affiliated with, or retired from, the U.S. Antarctic Research Program and/or the National Science Foundation. David Bresnahan, our expedition team leader, presented his expertise in operations & logistics with lectures on U.S. Antarctic bases, facilities, shipping & supplies, ski planes, helicopters, ski-ways, camping, gear, intermodal surface transport with heavy equipment, snow/ice vehicles and ice road train. Guy Guthridge was a retired editor for the Antarctic Journal of the United States. He delivered lectures providing insight as to some of the technical aspects of the sciences, including topics on the ozone hole, geology, mapping of rivers and streams beneath the ice, environmental issues and the Antarctic Treaty. Scott Dreischman was our wildlife expedition team member and lectured on whales, seals, seabirds, penguins, and underwater sea life. The programming and power-point presentations delivered by these gentlemen was outstanding, informative and very educational providing depth and meaning to the Antarctic experience.

We first arrived in Antarctica in close proximity to the U.S. Palmer Base Station from which several experts greeted us by zodiac, came aboard the Zaandam, and related their experiences of spending extended periods of time on the White Continent. Much information was conveyed about research being done, the presence of extensive on-site laboratories for many of the sciences, and improvements occurring over time.

With the expert navigation of Captain PJ and our ice pilot, Richard Taylor, our vessel, successfully, navigated the complete Lemaire Channel, a unique experience for a commercial ship such as the Zaandam.

Icebergs were numerous of all shapes, sizes and shades of white and blue. Some were tabular icebergs. Others captured the imagination and looked like model ships, bells, open books, archways, etc. Crabeater seals were plentiful and often seen taking an afternoon siesta on an iceberg. Glacial caves at the water’s edge were evident.

We proceeded to navigate Bismarck Strait, Neumayer Channel alongside Port Lockroy, Gerlache Strait, Paradise Harbor, Cuverville Island, and the Danco Coast with outstanding scenic cruising and wildlife (crabeater seals, the occasional whale, seabirds & penguins), taking note of Chilean and Argentine bases, before proceeding to Deception Island to witness the presence of fur seals and Gentoo penguins. We even had a glance of Machu Picchu! In this case it was the Machu Picchu Peruvian polar scientific research facility in Antarctica on Kind George Island. We sailed along the Antarctic Sound as we made our way north to the Falkland Islands where we made our introduction to the Magellan Penguins at Gypsy Cove.

The foregoing, in our opinion, were the highlights of this incredible journey. While we visited numerous South American ports, this voyage will best be remembered for our expedition to Antarctica. Many thanks are extended to the Expedition Team!

This particular cruise did make all of its scheduled ports of call and Ryan communicated well as to what to expect at each port. Captain PJ is to be commended for his communication with passengers on board and Bruce was a great cruise director. Service on the ship was very good, entertainment was exceptional, and public areas also very nice in layout. It is acknowledged that keeping a ship in good condition is an ongoing task. Holland America is doing well with maintenance, given the age of the Zaandam; but there is room for improvement with plumbing and refurbishment of upholstered furnishings in public areas.

We did not experience dining in the Rotterdam Dining Room nor any of the specialty restaurants. Food was plentiful, but the repeated offerings at the Lido Buffet were mundane. Desserts, while appearing delectable, were not as palatable as they appeared. We don’t necessarily cruise for the food, but make our voyage selections based on itinerary. In this case, however, the food did not impress. It was not so much the quantity, but rather the quality of the offerings. Every day, you could plan on bread pudding for a lunchtime dessert offering as they were using up their bread from the day before. Every morning you could count on diced breakfast potatoes that were the cut up roasted potato wedges from the previous day’s lunch. The omelet station and pasta bar were always popular as those are two items that would take real effort to get wrong. The meat was hit or miss as far as being dry and chicken was served too many times. Vegetables were good…potato salad bad. The “Dive-In” was a great hamburger/hotdog stand…and the ice cream at the Lido Buffet was always a good substitute for those desserts you couldn’t count on. I will say that food service did a great job with their Super Bowl spread! We realize the culinary experience is all a matter of taste. If it means anything, neither of us gained an ounce on this 21 day cruise.

Overall, we were pleased with this cruise and itinerary, rating it a 4 out of 5. We would, again, sail Holland America if our cruise was itinerary specific; but would probably opt for another cruise line, otherwise.
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Cabin Review

Large Ocean-View Stateroom
Cabin DA 2551
Our stateroom was 2551 on the Main Deck. It was well equipped with a very comfortable bed, full-length sofa, desk, chair and fine quality linens. Towels could have used a little fabric softener, but they were plentiful and in good condition. Stateroom steward was very attentive. Robes were a welcome addition to our experience on board Holland America, as were the lovely towel animals that greeted us each evening on our bed!
Verandah Deck Inside Cabins, Outside Cabins, Balcony Cabins