October 23, 2009 MS Zaandam to Hawaii Summary: Hawaii is always a great cruise destination and Holland America just makes it better. While a cruise does not give a lot of time in the islands, it does offer access to all four islands and the sea days are a relaxing beginning and end to the vacation experience. Background: Mary and I are an early 60s couple, recently retired and living in Brooklyn, NY. This is our 30th cruise, mostly Holland America with a number of cruises with Celebrity, Princess and NCL thrown in. We booked this cruise about six months out and due to the recession, we got a modest discount. The Ship: The Zaandam is a Rotterdam class ship of about 61,000 GRT and carries about 1,400 pax. A lot has been written about this and other R class ships and I leave them for your perusal. The Zaandam appeared to be in good working order with some wear and rust spots, but nothing indicating any deferred maintenance issues. Deck 3 has a wide wrap-around promenade and deck 6 has a forward observation area accessible by going forward on the portside. The aft sections of decks 6 and 7 offer a wind shaded quiet area to relax if you do not have a veranda cabin and find the promenade deck too busy. Self-service laundry rooms are available on decks 2, 3 and 6 with four washer-dryer units each ($2 for wash and $1 for dry, quarters only) for standard sized loads. They provide soap but not fabric softener. Pre-cruise: We arranged air separately using JetBlue direct from JFK to SAN. JetBlue has good seat pitch and LCD displays for in-flight entertainment. While they provide drinks and snacks, you have to provide your own meals on board or beforehand which can be done once you clear security at JFK and SAN. Selections of meals are better in the terminal and offer wider choices. Yes, I know that the airlines used to provide in-flight meals but I got tired of having to read the emergency procedures manuals that come with them. We also booked hotel separately with a two day stay at the Hampton Inn Downtown which is on Pacific Highway, a few blocks away from the cruise port. Taxi fare to the hotel from the airport is about $10. The Amtrak and San Diego light rail pass right behind the hotel and we had a north facing room so we heard the trains sounding for the crossings on a regular basis. We had no problem with it, others may. The Hampton Inn provides hot and cold breakfast items and hot coffee all day. Room size is adequate though our room was a bit dim. About 11 AM on the 23rd, we walked our bags over to the port; it is about three long blocks from the hotel to the port entry. If you cross over Pac Highway to the west side where the county admin building is, the sidewalks are much wider and smoother. Post-cruise, we stayed at the Best Western on Ash Street. You may want to use their shuttle bus since the hotel is a few blocks uphill from the port. They also shuttled us to the airport on the last day. The Best Western provides a hot and cold breakfast and they have larger and more sunlit rooms. Then again, they were more expensive. For last minute items including liquor, there is a Rite-Aid on Ash and Kettner Boulevard on the uphill side of the railroad tracks. HAL has no problems with wine being brought on board and there are a number of wine shops near the port. San Diego's Little Italy is just north of these hotels on India Street and it has a number of good restaurants. Port check-in required that you first present the boarding pass and ID at the port entry, then deposit your bags in a luggage cage in the middle of the parking area then go inside to clear security. We did the pre-printed HAL paper bag tags but I reinforced them with clear plastic packing tape. For some reason, security clearance required removal of belts and shoes, just like at the airports. Not sure if this is a new requirement or just a California thing. After clearing security, check in was quick with a health questionnaire to fill out and then we were able to board. Lunch was available in the Rotterdam dining room. We had to take our carry-ons into the dining rooms since the fire doors closed off access to the rooms until after lunch. The Cabin: We booked a veranda suite 6116 (port forward) which is about 220 sq feet with a 60 sq foot veranda, plenty deep for a lounger, a regular chair and small cocktail table. The cabin is long and narrow and has in addition to a king bed; a desk with TV/DVD player and shelves for books and barware. The ice bucket sits on the desktop. The desk has a small hassock with a removable top that can be used for additional storage (laundry?) and a single 110V outlet. Do bring a power strip or you can get one from the front office. Opposite the desk is a couch and minifridge, a coffee table that can be raised to dining table height and a small chair. Even on deck 6, there can be some salt spray especially when it is windy. I did have to clean the dried salt off the railings and glass partition a few times. The bathroom is compact but has adequate shelf space and countertop along with a shelf beneath the sink for additional storage. The built-in hairdryer did not work in our cabin and a separate handheld dryer was provided in the desk drawer (of which there are 9). More than adequate closet space completes the room layout. We chose the port side since we would be passing Kilauea on that side after leaving Kailua-Kona, our last port. The Itinerary: From San Diego, the Zaandam sailed west by southwest four days to our first port Lahaina, Maui at which we arrived Wednesday October 28th at 10 AM and commenced tender operations. We booked a day tour of the Iao Needle and Mt. Haleakula with lunch at the Maui Tropic Plantation. Through HAL, it cost about $120 each. Definitely bring your own water bottles along for this trip. The Iao Needle is a basaltic core of a volcano whose outer casing eroded away leaving a needle like column reaching up 2,200 feet. It is nestled in a narrow valley reachable by bus with a visitor's center that was not open when we were there. Porta-potties are available. From there we back tracked down towards the town of Maalaea to the Maui Tropic Plantation for a light lunch of BBQ chicken, rice, salad and dessert. We had about an hour to walk around though no tours of the plantation were included. You can buy various tropical food products and also bottled water if you did not bring any. After lunch, we traveled east through some sugar cane and pineapple fields to pick up Crater Road to the top of Haleakula. Much of the way up, we were in clouds until about 8,000 feet when we broke through the top cloud deck into clear skies and sunshine. From the top of Haleakula about 10,000 feet high, we could see and photograph the top of Mauna Kea on the Big Island about 80 miles away poking through the cloud deck. There is a visitor's center at the 7,000 foot level with souvenir shop and rest rooms and a smaller one at the top which was closed that day. The temperature is about 30 F cooler at the top so dress accordingly. There was not much wind so I was comfortable in shorts and a short sleeve shirt but YMMV. The next port was Hilo on the windward (east) side of the Island of Hawaii. There we booked independently (through Hawaii Discounts) a helo tour of Volcanos National Park with Paradise Helicopter Tours. Although expensive, a helo tour gets you up close to any flowing lava without having to hike for miles across a broken up lava field. Doing it independently does require that you pick up the cost of a taxi between the port and Hilo Airport which is about $20 each way with tip. For us the cost of a 50 minute flight for two was $460 plus $40 for taxis. HAL charges $300 per person so there are some savings available. The main reason we booked independently was Paradise does some flights "doors off" with the cockpit open to the slipstream. Definitely not for everyone but I must agree with one of the ground personnel that once you fly doors off, you will always want to fly that way. I sat up front on the right side (pilot was on the left and Mary in the middle) with a four point harness to keep me in the cockpit. I felt very secure and had no qualms about leaning out the door to get photos of the lava. Doors off, you can feel the heat from the lava and smell the sulfur fumes. While there was some lava flows, it was gray not red hot. Still, worth every penny. In the terminal building (just a warehouse), there are a number of vendors selling lei, flower arrangements and other Island souvenirs. For $10 we got a floral bouquet for our stateroom that lasted the remainder of the cruise. After lunch, we took the shuttle bus (just outside the terminal) to Hilo Hattie's and picked up a few Hawaiian shirts. Note that Hilo can be rainy in the morning and evenings but the rains do not last long. Friday found us docked at Aloha Tower Marketplace in Honolulu, Oahu. We took the Arizona Memorial tour booked through HAL for $39 each. The tour bus driver picked us up at about 8:30 and we arrived at the memorial about 9:15. He went to get our tour tickets which had us on the 10:15 movie presentation and then the water shuttle to the memorial. That gave us enough time to tour the museum and bookstore before the 20 minute movie presentation. Afterward, we rode out to the memorial and quietly paid our respects. Yes, there is still fuel oil leaking out of the Arizona and it is said that the day the last Arizona survivor dies, the oil will stop leaking. After the memorial tour, our driver took around various parts of Honolulu including the Iolani Palace and Punchbowl National Cemetery along with an obligatory customer drop off at Hilo Hattie's. Bring bottled water and eat a hearty breakfast as the tour will last until 2 PM. Afterwards, we had planned on climbing Diamond Head but with temps near 90F, we opted to stay near Aloha Tower and do a round of beers at a local brew pub. If you need a drugstore, there is a Longs Drugstore on the corner of Bishop and Hotel Street three blocks from the port. We picked up 2-7 oz packages of 100% Kona coffee there for $16. Longs also sells wines. That night there was a Halloween party at the Aloha Marketplace. The ship refuels and resupplies at Honolulu as well. Nawiliwili, Kauai was the fourth port and there I booked independently a zipline excursion with Kauai Backcountry Adventures (KBA). Booking independently it cost about $120 plus cab fare, $20 each way. HAL charged $195 for the same excursion but they do provide transportation to KBA's office. Mary took a ship's tour of the Kauai Plantation. A zipline for those not familiar with the term is a ½ to ¾ inch steel cable stretched between a high point and a low point on which you slide suspended from an overhead trolley device. KBA has access to a private upcountry area for their zipline operation. They use an off-road vehicle to go to the site which takes about 40 minutes. There are a total of 7 lines ranging from 300 to about 800 feet in length and 20 to 150 feet in height that zigzag across a stream. They provide a comprehensive safety lecture both at the office and at the zipline site. The staff assists you in suiting up and they rig you on and off the lines. I felt quite safe doing this though I must admit that the first step off does overrev the heart a bit. After meeting back at the ship, we went over to Kalapaki beach at the Marriot nearby (less than a half mile walk) had lunch at Duke's Canoe Club and a quick swim. Watch the undertow at the beach. Note that the ship must thread a tight zig-zag channel into the harbor and there have been reports that during the winter, sea or wind conditions may prevent the ship from safely negotiating this channel. Keep that in mind if you book an independent excursion. Our last port was Kailua-Kona on the west (dry) side of the Island of Hawaii. By this point, we were somewhat tired of the ports and we did not do anything other than tender ashore and walk around a bit. That evening about 10:30 PM, we passed by Kilauea which was spewing modest amount of glowing lava. Then it was five days back to San Diego with a four hour stop in Ensenada, Mexico. The seas in the islands and heading back were moderate without the rough seas and beam wind we had going out. Food. We ate mostly in the Rotterdam dining room and service there was excellent. There is a fixed menu for breakfast with four daily specials. Lunches had a selection of appetizers, salads and soups and four entrees. Dinner offered four appetizers, three soups and a salad and five dinner entrees with a red meat, poultry, fish and vegetarian option. Dinner also had an always available selection of French onion soup, Caesar salad, grilled chicken, broiled salmon and New York strip steak. While the soups and sauces tended to be salty, everything else was good. We tried the Pinnacle Grill for dinner and all I have to say is bring your appetite. Service was excellent and the food was exceptional. Dinner once in the Pinnacle is definitely worth considering. The Lido cafe no longer has the long lines that snake past everything. For lunch, there are separate areas for salads, Asian, Italian and other hot foods plus a separate station for sandwiches which also does made to order omelets at breakfast. We found this to work better since you can go directly to the food type you want with only one or two people ahead of you. The busboys come around with refills for coffee at breakfast and ice tea and water at lunch. Tableware and napkins are set up at the tables. Not having trays was not much of an issue and does cut down on crowding, food waste and additional cleaning. In the islands, the Lido and Terrace Grill are your only lunch choices. Pizza is available next to the taco bar. On sea days, additional buffet items are available in the lido pool area. Shipboard Activities. If you link up with shipmates on the cruise critics site (they have roll calls for most cruises), you will have a readymade group of people to meet and mingle with. I worked with HAL's main office to set up a meet and greet on the first sea day which was in the Piano Bar. HAL provided coffee, tea, cookies and a round of complementary mimosas. The Food and Beverage Manager Bas Van Es and the Cruise Director Mike Headla dropped by to say hello. I scheduled a second meet and greet with Mr. Van Es for a sea day after we left the islands and he was very helpful. Through cruise critics, we were able to set up a group to share a cab to the zipline excursion and field a successful trivia team. Mary got some nice swag for her efforts. HAL now schedules the main seating entertainment before dinner at 7 PM rather than 10 PM. Since we like a pre-dinner cocktail, we usually missed the shows. The only musical group we heard regularly was Katrina and the HAL Cats which were just OK. On the other hand, the Explorations Cafe is an excellent setup with internet connectivity and an extensive library. HAL also offers classes on digital photography and related applications from Microsoft several times a day. They also had a Windows 7 roll-out party on Oct 28th. Public bridge sessions are offered on sea days in the Rotterdam dining room. There was also a private bridge group that took up the Explorer's Lounge and the small Hudson room mornings and afternoons on sea days. Sea days also saw culinary presentations in the Wajang Theater which has been modded for live cooking demonstrations. As three star Mariners (100+ days), we were invited to the Mariners champagne brunch which was held in the Rotterdam Dining room on the first and second sea days out of Kailua-Kona. They were handing out gold medallions for 500 days and platinum for 700 days. It appears that their revised mariner program is still evolving. In addition, we were invited to a cocktail party with the senior officers after departing Kauai on Halloween night in a sectioned off part of the Crows Nest bar. Later that night also in the Crows Nest bar was a costume party with prizes for the best costumes. A number of the cruise staff did dress up to add to the festivities.

Sail Away to Paradise

Zaandam Cruise Review by speakertosuits

Trip Details
  • Sail Date: October 2009
  • Destination: Hawaii
  • Cabin Type: Vista Suite with Verandah
October 23, 2009 MS Zaandam to Hawaii
Summary: Hawaii is always a great cruise destination and Holland America just makes it better. While a cruise does not give a lot of time in the islands, it does offer access to all four islands and the sea days are a relaxing beginning and end to the vacation experience.
Background: Mary and I are an early 60s couple, recently retired and living in Brooklyn, NY. This is our 30th cruise, mostly Holland America with a number of cruises with Celebrity, Princess and NCL thrown in. We booked this cruise about six months out and due to the recession, we got a modest discount.
The Ship: The Zaandam is a Rotterdam class ship of about 61,000 GRT and carries about 1,400 pax. A lot has been written about this and other R class ships and I leave them for your perusal. The Zaandam appeared to be in good working order with some wear and rust spots, but nothing indicating any deferred maintenance issues. Deck 3 has a wide wrap-around promenade and deck 6 has a forward observation area accessible by going forward on the portside. The aft sections of decks 6 and 7 offer a wind shaded quiet area to relax if you do not have a veranda cabin and find the promenade deck too busy. Self-service laundry rooms are available on decks 2, 3 and 6 with four washer-dryer units each ($2 for wash and $1 for dry, quarters only) for standard sized loads. They provide soap but not fabric softener.
Pre-cruise: We arranged air separately using JetBlue direct from JFK to SAN. JetBlue has good seat pitch and LCD displays for in-flight entertainment. While they provide drinks and snacks, you have to provide your own meals on board or beforehand which can be done once you clear security at JFK and SAN. Selections of meals are better in the terminal and offer wider choices. Yes, I know that the airlines used to provide in-flight meals but I got tired of having to read the emergency procedures manuals that come with them.
We also booked hotel separately with a two day stay at the Hampton Inn Downtown which is on Pacific Highway, a few blocks away from the cruise port. Taxi fare to the hotel from the airport is about $10. The Amtrak and San Diego light rail pass right behind the hotel and we had a north facing room so we heard the trains sounding for the crossings on a regular basis. We had no problem with it, others may. The Hampton Inn provides hot and cold breakfast items and hot coffee all day. Room size is adequate though our room was a bit dim. About 11 AM on the 23rd, we walked our bags over to the port; it is about three long blocks from the hotel to the port entry. If you cross over Pac Highway to the west side where the county admin building is, the sidewalks are much wider and smoother.
Post-cruise, we stayed at the Best Western on Ash Street. You may want to use their shuttle bus since the hotel is a few blocks uphill from the port. They also shuttled us to the airport on the last day. The Best Western provides a hot and cold breakfast and they have larger and more sunlit rooms. Then again, they were more expensive. For last minute items including liquor, there is a Rite-Aid on Ash and Kettner Boulevard on the uphill side of the railroad tracks. HAL has no problems with wine being brought on board and there are a number of wine shops near the port. San Diego's Little Italy is just north of these hotels on India Street and it has a number of good restaurants.
Port check-in required that you first present the boarding pass and ID at the port entry, then deposit your bags in a luggage cage in the middle of the parking area then go inside to clear security. We did the pre-printed HAL paper bag tags but I reinforced them with clear plastic packing tape. For some reason, security clearance required removal of belts and shoes, just like at the airports. Not sure if this is a new requirement or just a California thing. After clearing security, check in was quick with a health questionnaire to fill out and then we were able to board. Lunch was available in the Rotterdam dining room. We had to take our carry-ons into the dining rooms since the fire doors closed off access to the rooms until after lunch.
The Cabin: We booked a veranda suite 6116 (port forward) which is about 220 sq feet with a 60 sq foot veranda, plenty deep for a lounger, a regular chair and small cocktail table. The cabin is long and narrow and has in addition to a king bed; a desk with TV/DVD player and shelves for books and barware. The ice bucket sits on the desktop. The desk has a small hassock with a removable top that can be used for additional storage (laundry?) and a single 110V outlet. Do bring a power strip or you can get one from the front office. Opposite the desk is a couch and minifridge, a coffee table that can be raised to dining table height and a small chair. Even on deck 6, there can be some salt spray especially when it is windy. I did have to clean the dried salt off the railings and glass partition a few times. The bathroom is compact but has adequate shelf space and countertop along with a shelf beneath the sink for additional storage. The built-in hairdryer did not work in our cabin and a separate handheld dryer was provided in the desk drawer (of which there are 9). More than adequate closet space completes the room layout. We chose the port side since we would be passing Kilauea on that side after leaving Kailua-Kona, our last port.
The Itinerary: From San Diego, the Zaandam sailed west by southwest four days to our first port Lahaina, Maui at which we arrived Wednesday October 28th at 10 AM and commenced tender operations. We booked a day tour of the Iao Needle and Mt. Haleakula with lunch at the Maui Tropic Plantation. Through HAL, it cost about $120 each. Definitely bring your own water bottles along for this trip. The Iao Needle is a basaltic core of a volcano whose outer casing eroded away leaving a needle like column reaching up 2,200 feet. It is nestled in a narrow valley reachable by bus with a visitor's center that was not open when we were there. Porta-potties are available. From there we back tracked down towards the town of Maalaea to the Maui Tropic Plantation for a light lunch of BBQ chicken, rice, salad and dessert. We had about an hour to walk around though no tours of the plantation were included. You can buy various tropical food products and also bottled water if you did not bring any. After lunch, we traveled east through some sugar cane and pineapple fields to pick up Crater Road to the top of Haleakula. Much of the way up, we were in clouds until about 8,000 feet when we broke through the top cloud deck into clear skies and sunshine. From the top of Haleakula about 10,000 feet high, we could see and photograph the top of Mauna Kea on the Big Island about 80 miles away poking through the cloud deck. There is a visitor's center at the 7,000 foot level with souvenir shop and rest rooms and a smaller one at the top which was closed that day. The temperature is about 30 F cooler at the top so dress accordingly. There was not much wind so I was comfortable in shorts and a short sleeve shirt but YMMV.
The next port was Hilo on the windward (east) side of the Island of Hawaii. There we booked independently (through Hawaii Discounts) a helo tour of Volcanos National Park with Paradise Helicopter Tours. Although expensive, a helo tour gets you up close to any flowing lava without having to hike for miles across a broken up lava field. Doing it independently does require that you pick up the cost of a taxi between the port and Hilo Airport which is about $20 each way with tip. For us the cost of a 50 minute flight for two was $460 plus $40 for taxis. HAL charges $300 per person so there are some savings available. The main reason we booked independently was Paradise does some flights "doors off" with the cockpit open to the slipstream. Definitely not for everyone but I must agree with one of the ground personnel that once you fly doors off, you will always want to fly that way. I sat up front on the right side (pilot was on the left and Mary in the middle) with a four point harness to keep me in the cockpit. I felt very secure and had no qualms about leaning out the door to get photos of the lava. Doors off, you can feel the heat from the lava and smell the sulfur fumes. While there was some lava flows, it was gray not red hot. Still, worth every penny. In the terminal building (just a warehouse), there are a number of vendors selling lei, flower arrangements and other Island souvenirs. For $10 we got a floral bouquet for our stateroom that lasted the remainder of the cruise. After lunch, we took the shuttle bus (just outside the terminal) to Hilo Hattie's and picked up a few Hawaiian shirts. Note that Hilo can be rainy in the morning and evenings but the rains do not last long.
Friday found us docked at Aloha Tower Marketplace in Honolulu, Oahu. We took the Arizona Memorial tour booked through HAL for $39 each. The tour bus driver picked us up at about 8:30 and we arrived at the memorial about 9:15. He went to get our tour tickets which had us on the 10:15 movie presentation and then the water shuttle to the memorial. That gave us enough time to tour the museum and bookstore before the 20 minute movie presentation. Afterward, we rode out to the memorial and quietly paid our respects. Yes, there is still fuel oil leaking out of the Arizona and it is said that the day the last Arizona survivor dies, the oil will stop leaking. After the memorial tour, our driver took around various parts of Honolulu including the Iolani Palace and Punchbowl National Cemetery along with an obligatory customer drop off at Hilo Hattie's. Bring bottled water and eat a hearty breakfast as the tour will last until 2 PM. Afterwards, we had planned on climbing Diamond Head but with temps near 90F, we opted to stay near Aloha Tower and do a round of beers at a local brew pub. If you need a drugstore, there is a Longs Drugstore on the corner of Bishop and Hotel Street three blocks from the port. We picked up 2-7 oz packages of 100% Kona coffee there for $16. Longs also sells wines. That night there was a Halloween party at the Aloha Marketplace. The ship refuels and resupplies at Honolulu as well.
Nawiliwili, Kauai was the fourth port and there I booked independently a zipline excursion with Kauai Backcountry Adventures (KBA). Booking independently it cost about $120 plus cab fare, $20 each way. HAL charged $195 for the same excursion but they do provide transportation to KBA's office. Mary took a ship's tour of the Kauai Plantation. A zipline for those not familiar with the term is a ½ to ¾ inch steel cable stretched between a high point and a low point on which you slide suspended from an overhead trolley device. KBA has access to a private upcountry area for their zipline operation. They use an off-road vehicle to go to the site which takes about 40 minutes. There are a total of 7 lines ranging from 300 to about 800 feet in length and 20 to 150 feet in height that zigzag across a stream. They provide a comprehensive safety lecture both at the office and at the zipline site. The staff assists you in suiting up and they rig you on and off the lines. I felt quite safe doing this though I must admit that the first step off does overrev the heart a bit. After meeting back at the ship, we went over to Kalapaki beach at the Marriot nearby (less than a half mile walk) had lunch at Duke's Canoe Club and a quick swim. Watch the undertow at the beach. Note that the ship must thread a tight zig-zag channel into the harbor and there have been reports that during the winter, sea or wind conditions may prevent the ship from safely negotiating this channel. Keep that in mind if you book an independent excursion.
Our last port was Kailua-Kona on the west (dry) side of the Island of Hawaii. By this point, we were somewhat tired of the ports and we did not do anything other than tender ashore and walk around a bit. That evening about 10:30 PM, we passed by Kilauea which was spewing modest amount of glowing lava. Then it was five days back to San Diego with a four hour stop in Ensenada, Mexico. The seas in the islands and heading back were moderate without the rough seas and beam wind we had going out.
Food. We ate mostly in the Rotterdam dining room and service there was excellent. There is a fixed menu for breakfast with four daily specials. Lunches had a selection of appetizers, salads and soups and four entrees. Dinner offered four appetizers, three soups and a salad and five dinner entrees with a red meat, poultry, fish and vegetarian option. Dinner also had an always available selection of French onion soup, Caesar salad, grilled chicken, broiled salmon and New York strip steak. While the soups and sauces tended to be salty, everything else was good. We tried the Pinnacle Grill for dinner and all I have to say is bring your appetite. Service was excellent and the food was exceptional. Dinner once in the Pinnacle is definitely worth considering.
The Lido cafe no longer has the long lines that snake past everything. For lunch, there are separate areas for salads, Asian, Italian and other hot foods plus a separate station for sandwiches which also does made to order omelets at breakfast. We found this to work better since you can go directly to the food type you want with only one or two people ahead of you. The busboys come around with refills for coffee at breakfast and ice tea and water at lunch. Tableware and napkins are set up at the tables. Not having trays was not much of an issue and does cut down on crowding, food waste and additional cleaning. In the islands, the Lido and Terrace Grill are your only lunch choices. Pizza is available next to the taco bar. On sea days, additional buffet items are available in the lido pool area.
Shipboard Activities. If you link up with shipmates on the cruise critics site (they have roll calls for most cruises), you will have a readymade group of people to meet and mingle with. I worked with HAL's main office to set up a meet and greet on the first sea day which was in the Piano Bar. HAL provided coffee, tea, cookies and a round of complementary mimosas. The Food and Beverage Manager Bas Van Es and the Cruise Director Mike Headla dropped by to say hello. I scheduled a second meet and greet with Mr. Van Es for a sea day after we left the islands and he was very helpful. Through cruise critics, we were able to set up a group to share a cab to the zipline excursion and field a successful trivia team. Mary got some nice swag for her efforts.
HAL now schedules the main seating entertainment before dinner at 7 PM rather than 10 PM. Since we like a pre-dinner cocktail, we usually missed the shows. The only musical group we heard regularly was Katrina and the HAL Cats which were just OK. On the other hand, the Explorations Cafe is an excellent setup with internet connectivity and an extensive library. HAL also offers classes on digital photography and related applications from Microsoft several times a day. They also had a Windows 7 roll-out party on Oct 28th. Public bridge sessions are offered on sea days in the Rotterdam dining room. There was also a private bridge group that took up the Explorer's Lounge and the small Hudson room mornings and afternoons on sea days. Sea days also saw culinary presentations in the Wajang Theater which has been modded for live cooking demonstrations.
As three star Mariners (100+ days), we were invited to the Mariners champagne brunch which was held in the Rotterdam Dining room on the first and second sea days out of Kailua-Kona. They were handing out gold medallions for 500 days and platinum for 700 days. It appears that their revised mariner program is still evolving. In addition, we were invited to a cocktail party with the senior officers after departing Kauai on Halloween night in a sectioned off part of the Crows Nest bar. Later that night also in the Crows Nest bar was a costume party with prizes for the best costumes. A number of the cruise staff did dress up to add to the festivities.
speakertosuits’s Full Rating Summary
Enrichment Activities
Value For Money
Embarkation
Dining
Public Rooms
Cabin
Shore Excursions
Rates
Service
Free Price Drop Alerts
Get Holland America Zaandam price drops
250,000+ people have entered their email

Cabin Review

Vista Suite with Verandah
Cabin B 6116
Cat B veranda cabin 6116. Forward port side. Cabin is long and narrow (22x10) with good sized veranda (6x10). Some motion due to being forward and can get some spray. Quiet location but near elevators and stairs.
Navigation Deck Inside Cabins, Outside Cabins, Balcony Cabins, Suite Cabins