This was our first cruise, so many of you may know all this.  Despite reading reviews I didn't.  First, although internet access is available 24/7 (ex for sat issues), it was expensive: $.75/min pay as you go; $.55/min for 100 min($55); $.40/min for 250 min ($100).  Obviously if you can work offline and up/download you will save money.  If your room is near a 'hot spot' you can pick up the signal in your room.  Do NOT let your kids play on the i-net unless you are prepared to pay.   Obviously a sat card will get you on, if you have one.  Second, I brought a VirginMobile Broadband2GO, it didn't work in AK, although in ports we had cell service on T-mobile and Tracfone.  The VM worked great in Seattle.  Third, finding people on the ship can be tough.  I did see folks with 2-way radios.  Set up meeting spots or fav eating seats. Fourth, I brought along a GPS that worked fine, but a TV channel has similar info.  Fifth, the ship channel RADIO was in our headboard..one 'station' has ship announcements; if you can't find yours, ask. Sixth, if you bring lots of 'toys' bring along a small power strip; we had one convenient outlet in the dresser/desk.   Seventh, the in-room TV is great, but it makes you cycle thru all the channels (one of which is info on the ship's position; another, the bridge cam) to the one you want, no pressing numbers..an annoyance.  Eighth, bring along the best binocs you have; often that was the best way to see wildlife and scenery. I have Canon IS, was advised to bring them, and am so glad I did.  But, the two excursions we went on provided them.  Ninth, there was an inroom safe, but I didn't feel the need to use it.  Tenth, there is laundry service, and self service laundry areas; they need quarters, $3.00/load covers wash and dry.       Generally it was a great experience.  I endorse all the good comments in the other reviews of this ship.  I can't say we had one bad experience.  The cooking & computer demos/classes were excellent.  These are not paperless cruises, however.  Each day you get a ship's schedule, often a shore program, and a daily news summary..the NYT in our case..If you want to save, bring file folders. I did notice a Friend of Bills meeting was offered daily, as well as religious services as appropriate.  The food is excellent, the grill for hamburgers is everything the other reviews say..outstanding!  The Lido deck has more choices daily then you can possibly eat.    The only flaw was the chocolate dessert night...a mob scene.  I'm sure they will work on it.  Entering/exiting was smooth..get to the dock before the busses from the hotels and you avoid lines.  The seas were calm, so I can't comment on seasickness; but i heard it wasn't always so.  Come prepared. The entertainment was excellent; go to them all, if you don't like them, you can leave without a fuss if you sit in the back.  Every seat offers a great view.. Would I go again..yes. On HAL..most definitely.

Wish I Had Known

Zaandam Cruise Review by Inetcruiser

Trip Details
  • Sail Date: July 2009
  • Destination: Alaska
This was our first cruise, so many of you may know all this.  Despite reading reviews I didn't.  First, although internet access is available 24/7 (ex for sat issues), it was expensive: $.75/min pay as you go; $.55/min for 100 min($55); $.40/min for 250 min ($100).  Obviously if you can work offline and up/download you will save money.  If your room is near a 'hot spot' you can pick up the signal in your room.  Do NOT let your kids play on the i-net unless you are prepared to pay.   Obviously a sat card will get you on, if you have one.  Second, I brought a VirginMobile Broadband2GO, it didn't work in AK, although in ports we had cell service on T-mobile and Tracfone.  The VM worked great in Seattle.  Third, finding people on the ship can be tough.  I did see folks with 2-way radios.  Set up meeting spots or fav eating seats. Fourth, I brought along a GPS that worked fine, but a TV channel has similar info.  Fifth, the ship channel RADIO was in our headboard..one 'station' has ship announcements; if you can't find yours, ask. Sixth, if you bring lots of 'toys' bring along a small power strip; we had one convenient outlet in the dresser/desk.   Seventh, the in-room TV is great, but it makes you cycle thru all the channels (one of which is info on the ship's position; another, the bridge cam) to the one you want, no pressing numbers..an annoyance.  Eighth, bring along the best binocs you have; often that was the best way to see wildlife and scenery. I have Canon IS, was advised to bring them, and am so glad I did.  But, the two excursions we went on provided them.  Ninth, there was an inroom safe, but I didn't feel the need to use it.  Tenth, there is laundry service, and self service laundry areas; they need quarters, $3.00/load covers wash and dry.
     
Generally it was a great experience.  I endorse all the good comments in the other reviews of this ship.  I can't say we had one bad experience.  The cooking & computer demos/classes were excellent.  These are not paperless cruises, however.  Each day you get a ship's schedule, often a shore program, and a daily news summary..the NYT in our case..If you want to save, bring file folders. I did notice a Friend of Bills meeting was offered daily, as well as religious services as appropriate.  The food is excellent, the grill for hamburgers is everything the other reviews say..outstanding!  The Lido deck has more choices daily then you can possibly eat.    The only flaw was the chocolate dessert night...a mob scene.  I'm sure they will work on it.  Entering/exiting was smooth..get to the dock before the busses from the hotels and you avoid lines.  The seas were calm, so I can't comment on seasickness; but i heard it wasn't always so.  Come prepared. The entertainment was excellent; go to them all, if you don't like them, you can leave without a fuss if you sit in the back.  Every seat offers a great view..

Would I go again..yes. On HAL..most definitely.
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Cabin Review

Cabin
Veranda; deck 6, impressed by the total size, lots of closets/hangers/luggage; bed a king, very comfortable; actually sat on balcony often. Never a noise issue.
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Port & Shore Excursion Reviews