We choose this cruise because of departure port, itinerary, bonus of getting us up to Denali and general age demographics. We're late 50's/early 60's and really have no interest in the mega cruise ship experience and shudder at the thought of a few thousand people aboard. The Zaandam was the perfect size ship for us and felt like a pair of comfortable shoes or favorite pullover. Not all sparkly and new but loved and clean. She looked so tiny sandwiched in between the PCL ships in port. We hoped for smooth cruising as one of our companions was prone to sea sickness and fortunately had calm seas the entire trip. Since we had good weather we found ourselves spending a lot of time on the uncrowded Sea View pool deck enjoying the views. I imagine it's cold early and later on during Alaska cruise season but it felt pretty much like San Francisco in July to us. Go down the stairway right at the center of the back of the deck to the very private public deck on deck 7. Thank us later. :-) Ship - We passed through but never stayed in the Lido pool area as that seemed to be where all the families with kids congregated. It was fine, the ship had many different places to spend time according to your likes. Exploration area with library, individual and family games, computers. Other quiet spots to sit, relax, read and take in the view from inside. Crow's nest for that great forward looking view. We enjoyed the jazz trio at the Ocean Bar and wished they played a little later into the evening. We didn't take in any shows but did enjoy the Thermal Suite and had it to ourselves 2 out of 3 times for a couple hours a pop - score! You can split a couple's pass with someone other than your significant other. Great glassed forward looking view and we spotted Orcas while soaking in the hot tub cruising up the inside passage. Food - We ate all dinners in the main dining room under the open dining plan. First two nights service was very spotty as was one rushed breakfast but we found good service on third evening and made reservations for that table and waitstaff for the rest of the our evening meals. We found the menu options were quite good with appetizers, salads, soups, a fish, poultry, pasta, meat, vegetarian, gluten free, sugar free offerings for deserts every night. Portions were appropriately sized, not huge so no waste. Would rate the MDR meals a respectable 7 on a 10 scale. We've had better and worse. Some of the same items were available in the Lido if you wanted to brave the buffet. Do make sure you get to the Lido buffet at least 30 mins before they stop serving because they cut off about 10 mins earlier than expected. Almost missed 1st breakfast because we slept in. It was tense to say the least to get food when they were pulling everything closed. This was our most negative experience. Otherwise we ate lunch (almost at closing every time so no crowds) and late night tea and snack there. Nice selection but we mainly ate from the Asian Counter, hey, when in Rome! Food 6.5 on a 10 scale. We ordered room service for breakfast (eggs & omelettes) on port days and it was delivered promptly. Food 5.5 on 10 scale (pretty meh). Drinks - we don't really drink but the best value we saw had to be the pitchers of Alaska Brewery beer at the Alaska Bar on the Lido pool deck (around $17/pitcher + grat). Good coffee can be found at the Exploration Cafe for a small price. Excursions - We rented a car in each port and self toured away from the souvenir and jewelry shops. Glacier Bay cruising - amazing! Good weather blessed us with fabulous views. We were outside almost the entire time, wear layers and a waterproof/windproof outer top/bottom and you will be fine. Go up to the verandah deck above the bow. On board activities - We skipped most of them but it just happened that way. There were some that looked really good but we found ourselves looking at the amazing scenery most of the time when on the ship. Naturalist and rangers were good. Embarkation - Initial was delayed due to ship sanitizing from a NoroVirus outbreak on the previous cruise(!!). The crew continued wipe down efforts well into the cruise which we thanked every staff member we saw doing this most important task. Wash your hands often people! We didn't hear of any outbreaks during our 7 day journey. Otherwise getting on/off the ship while in port was quick and easy. Staff - hard working, give them the thanks they deserve for the long hours they put in week in and week out to make our vacations memorable. Laundry room - good luck with that one but happy to be able to have clean clothes before transferring to Denali Go very late or very early and stay with your load. You have been forewarned. ;-) Overall our cruise experience was very enjoyable and relaxing. A nice balance of at sea and in port days. We went in knowing this is not luxury cruise nor one designed to keep you entertained 24hrs a day. The ship was pretty quiet by 10PM and that's ok.

Impressions from first time cruise - a little long

Zaandam Cruise Review by Happicamper

6 people found this helpful
Trip Details
  • Sail Date: July 2017
  • Destination: Alaska
  • Cabin Type: Large Interior Stateroom
We choose this cruise because of departure port, itinerary, bonus of getting us up to Denali and general age demographics. We're late 50's/early 60's and really have no interest in the mega cruise ship experience and shudder at the thought of a few thousand people aboard. The Zaandam was the perfect size ship for us and felt like a pair of comfortable shoes or favorite pullover. Not all sparkly and new but loved and clean. She looked so tiny sandwiched in between the PCL ships in port. We hoped for smooth cruising as one of our companions was prone to sea sickness and fortunately had calm seas the entire trip. Since we had good weather we found ourselves spending a lot of time on the uncrowded Sea View pool deck enjoying the views. I imagine it's cold early and later on during Alaska cruise season but it felt pretty much like San Francisco in July to us. Go down the stairway right at the center of the back of the deck to the very private public deck on deck 7. Thank us later. :-)

Ship - We passed through but never stayed in the Lido pool area as that seemed to be where all the families with kids congregated. It was fine, the ship had many different places to spend time according to your likes. Exploration area with library, individual and family games, computers. Other quiet spots to sit, relax, read and take in the view from inside. Crow's nest for that great forward looking view. We enjoyed the jazz trio at the Ocean Bar and wished they played a little later into the evening. We didn't take in any shows but did enjoy the Thermal Suite and had it to ourselves 2 out of 3 times for a couple hours a pop - score! You can split a couple's pass with someone other than your significant other. Great glassed forward looking view and we spotted Orcas while soaking in the hot tub cruising up the inside passage.

Food - We ate all dinners in the main dining room under the open dining plan. First two nights service was very spotty as was one rushed breakfast but we found good service on third evening and made reservations for that table and waitstaff for the rest of the our evening meals. We found the menu options were quite good with appetizers, salads, soups, a fish, poultry, pasta, meat, vegetarian, gluten free, sugar free offerings for deserts every night. Portions were appropriately sized, not huge so no waste. Would rate the MDR meals a respectable 7 on a 10 scale. We've had better and worse. Some of the same items were available in the Lido if you wanted to brave the buffet. Do make sure you get to the Lido buffet at least 30 mins before they stop serving because they cut off about 10 mins earlier than expected. Almost missed 1st breakfast because we slept in. It was tense to say the least to get food when they were pulling everything closed. This was our most negative experience. Otherwise we ate lunch (almost at closing every time so no crowds) and late night tea and snack there. Nice selection but we mainly ate from the Asian Counter, hey, when in Rome! Food 6.5 on a 10 scale. We ordered room service for breakfast (eggs & omelettes) on port days and it was delivered promptly. Food 5.5 on 10 scale (pretty meh). Drinks - we don't really drink but the best value we saw had to be the pitchers of Alaska Brewery beer at the Alaska Bar on the Lido pool deck (around $17/pitcher + grat). Good coffee can be found at the Exploration Cafe for a small price.

Excursions - We rented a car in each port and self toured away from the souvenir and jewelry shops. Glacier Bay cruising - amazing! Good weather blessed us with fabulous views. We were outside almost the entire time, wear layers and a waterproof/windproof outer top/bottom and you will be fine. Go up to the verandah deck above the bow.

On board activities - We skipped most of them but it just happened that way. There were some that looked really good but we found ourselves looking at the amazing scenery most of the time when on the ship. Naturalist and rangers were good.

Embarkation - Initial was delayed due to ship sanitizing from a NoroVirus outbreak on the previous cruise(!!). The crew continued wipe down efforts well into the cruise which we thanked every staff member we saw doing this most important task. Wash your hands often people! We didn't hear of any outbreaks during our 7 day journey. Otherwise getting on/off the ship while in port was quick and easy.

Staff - hard working, give them the thanks they deserve for the long hours they put in week in and week out to make our vacations memorable.

Laundry room - good luck with that one but happy to be able to have clean clothes before transferring to Denali Go very late or very early and stay with your load. You have been forewarned. ;-)

Overall our cruise experience was very enjoyable and relaxing. A nice balance of at sea and in port days. We went in knowing this is not luxury cruise nor one designed to keep you entertained 24hrs a day. The ship was pretty quiet by 10PM and that's ok.
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Cabin Review

Large Interior Stateroom
Cabin K 2660
Main deck aft, quiet and convenient. Plenty of room, closet and drawer space for three, best to split the bed and get another 15sqf+ of usable space. Bathroom is dated so maybe they will update when in dry dock. Bring a 3 outlet wall tap and you should be good to go to charge up items with an added plug in multi USB port adapter. Nothing surge protected due to fire danger. Beds and linens were good, sofa was comfortable.
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