Background and Hotel information We chose this cruise for various reasons, primarily to see Antarctia, a location that both my wife and I have always yearned to see, secondly, to experience the Chilean Fiords (Fjords). We had previously toured in Peru and cruised up the coast of Chile, however, we had not travelled to the south of Chile to see the Fiords and southern regions of Chile, parts of Argentina, Uruguay, Falkland Islands and beautiful and amazing Antarctia! The HAL cruise on Zaandam seemed to tick all the boxes for the itinerary, however, the ship itself and some of the staff were not up to the required standards. We stayed overnight near Sydney airport (new Travelodge hotel) prior to our flight to Santiago on the very next day. The hotel has a restaurant that serves breakfast and dinner, and a reasonably priced, and good variety of food in the room service menu. We were tired and chose room service meals and were pleasantly surprised with the price and quality of the meals. Breakfast was basic hot and cold buffet, however to an adequate quality standard. There is a Wilson’s car parking station conveniently behind the hotel, and a new parking station opening across the road in mid-March 2018 (ParknFly?); competition is good for better parking prices. We had an early morning flight with Air NZ to Auckland New Zealand(AKL), then connection to Buenos Aires (EZE), final connection to Santiago(SCL). We travelled Premium Economy to AKL (excellent); Economy on Air NZ to BA (EZE) (ho hum), and economy on Air NZ partner, Air Canada BA(EZE) to Santiago (just average only). Return flights (EZE) to (AKL) economy (food quite good), and (AKL) to Sydney(SYD) on an Airbus 330 and being chartered from Portuguese company, HiFly. It was an old Emirates aircraft and was not up to standard in any way, we had 4 Air NZ female ambassadors on board to perhaps ensure Air NZ standards were maintained, there was no real responsibilities for them on the flight, poor choice of charter really Air NZ. We stayed at the Holiday Inn, a short walk across pedestrian crossing from airport to the hotel, very handy indeed! We arrived perhaps around 9.30 pm at the hotel with some jetlag, hotel has a restaurant/bar and room service (expensive); it was late and we skipped dinner altogether. Next day we had arranged for a HAL transfer to San Antonio; we managed to catch an earlier coach to the ship than planned with assistance of the transfer contractor, great outcome for us! The transfer stopped at a large building in Casablanca for a rest stop and for coffee, snacks and wine tasting. It was a huge building packed full of local regional wines to taste and purchase as desired to take on the ship (I bottle per person is HAL limit). There was also a selection of local handicrafts and produce available to buy if desired. We purchased 2 bottles (1 each) to take onto the ship, good quality wine for a total of $19 US, we were over the moon, as were others with this wonderful discovery on the way to the ship! WE BOARDED THE SHIP IN SAN ANTONIO, not Vaparaiso! Embarkation was fairly swift and seamless, our room was ready and our bags arrived within two hours of embarkation, slick HAL. Ship information We sailed on sister ship Volendam in Alaska in May last year, I gave that ship a good review overall, this ship Zaandam, was a different kettle of fish, in more ways than one! Public areas appeared to be in reasonable condition however the ship is dated and is showing more than usual wear and tear. Main dining areas (restaurant) appeared to be in good condition and have old world charm, except for chandeliers that appear to resemble several entangled deer horns, not sure what the designer was thinking, however it wasn’t good! Public areas are clean, and the external condition of the ship, decks and pool areas were good. Teak decks and chairs are always refreshing and relate to the heritage of this line and others that still uphold this tradition. The ship appeared to have a problem with leaks in public areas on several decks where buckets were placed to catch water leaking from the roof, two roof leaks were about 6 to 10 metres from our cabin front door. The leaks were common the whole journey, and eventually the buckets were removed and the worn carpet floor remained wet throughout in two places described previously. Later in the review I will describe our below standard cabin and antics by the crew to manage the problems, that were at times, bizarre to say the least! Activities The activities were fairly limited apart from BBC Earth Series speakers talks in the theatre each day until after Antarctia (too hot in theatre to attend we watched on TV next day) quite good informative presentations; and tour information sessions (watched on TV again for same reason) there was little else to occupy us. Music didn’t start to 3.30 pm on most days. We hadn’t been this bored since our cruise on Azamara Journey from India to Singapore (yawn, yawn). We attended America’s test kitchen once it was very hot in that little room, the woman added a lot of salt and sugar to meals, why? We watched the TV show of the same name, and honestly cannot understand why they add so much unhealthy salt and sugar to their meals, we stopped watching after two episodes. We normally attend some of the trivia, however, it is on just before Happy Hour at 4 pm in the Crow’s Nest, it extends way beyond time and many attending Happy hour cannot be seated; we found this similarly on many HAL ships, hold Trivia elsewhere! Ship lacked atmosphere, if we weren’t going to Chilean Fiords (Fjords) and fantastic Antarctia, we would have been bored silly! Service HAL have a wonderful Captain in Christopher Norman. He really made our voyage a special one (apart from the problems with room, staff etc). He was very good at keeping us informed of the weather and anticipated changes in order to out run bad weather. He really was brilliant. His skill in handling the vessel was outstanding. Unfortunately, the standards he set for himself didn’t reflect throughout the ship! Please read on! Guest relations staff We asked for a form to reduce service charges later in the cruise for reasons stared below. One staff member refused to provide same, a second staff member came out and was very rude in reinforcing the other staff member's stance. The first staff member inferred that Zaandam had different rules to other ships in the fleet who had provided us with forms last cruise we were on another HAL ship. She said the forms were locked in the safe and couldn't be released until the last day, as it was sealed. We mentioned that HAL policies and procedures and rules were the same across all the fleet, and the forms are not legal documents until signed and should be available now. We explained we pay by cash as we go, and also pay gratuities/service charges personally to staff we know have excelled in their dealings with us. We normally do things this way on all lines, and have never had this type of refusal to carry out a fair and reasonable request. (We had a similar problem on Koningsdam, where it was resolved by the manager some days later after we spoke to her). We asked them to have the manager call us and we wanted to meet with her, they failed to pass on the message that we wished to speak to team leader/manager. On another occasion one of the same staff members was very rude and dismissive of our problem (charges for wine package), she was the Mariners' host, we were shocked when it was announced at the luncheon for Mariners. This young woman in our opinion did not meet the standards to be employed as a result of her continued unacceptable and inappropriate behaviour on all occasions we are aware of with us, and we spoke to several other people who had experienced similar behavioural problems with this person, she did not improve throughout the cruise. We arranged to speak with the team leader, she knew only part of the facts that her team members had recorded, she was very understanding and provided some small incentive for us, we thanked her. We had continual problems with some of the front office staff, their attitude to people over 40 was poor to say the least. Some front office staff were quite good; however, they are all young women, we fail to understand why HAL would not have males and females of different ages in the front office particularly experienced people that know how to treat clients, who after all, pay good money to HAL in oh so many ways, that incidentally funds their wages! Our Cabin and service issues Toilet failing to flush (18 out of 22 days this was a major problem). Reported to housekeeping who escalated it to plumber who initially dismissed problem as non-existent; toilet did flush after between ten and forty minutes after pushing button several times, following this it did flush when there was no water build up in the walls, it gurgled most of time! Then thirty minutes later after it had been flushed multiple times it failed to flush again straight away, and flushed thirty minutes later. However, the next plumber witnessed the problem and replaced the flush button mechanism. However, this did not resolve the problem. Other plumbers/maintenance people also returned to examine problem. Toilet had just flushed after the 30-minute delay and the maintenance man in overalls became quite aggressive when it flushed, he totally ignored us rang his phone and spoke to his manager whilst there, then stormed out! The other older plumber came back and put chemicals in toilet; the toilet worked okay for a couple of days and then problem returned. We had to put up with this for the rest of the cruise, not good enough!! Our cabin and service problems part 2 Stains appeared on our wall, we reported to room stewards who informed supervisor and front desk staff. Front desk staff entered our room without our knowledge or permission and had steward remove substance dribble from wall. We were informed that it may be rust and that they wished to remove ceiling to inspect the cause for the problems. We did not wish this to happen due to possibility of asbestos or other toxic substances additionally also due to the dust build up that would have occurred since ship was built 18 years previously, and the potential for respiratory distress caused by such dust. Our cabin and service problems part 3 The mattresses in our room were very old, maybe the original mattresses they were bowed on both edges and extremely uncomfortable. When placed together as a Queen bed as they were bowed both of us rolled to the middle of the bed and with the bow and gap we sunk from uncomfortable to next to no sleep. We asked the room stewards to try and build up the centre of the bed with towels in the middle or and egg shell overlays, he was very helpful and appeared very embarrassed, great blokes both of them! However, it only made it worse as the bed separated with the towels in the middle to make up the huge gap between mattresses. End result we took the towels out and pushed the beds together several times during the night. Yay, broken sleep every single night, this was becoming a nightmare!! Room service – purchasing alcohol for the room problems We also requested room service to deliver a gin and tonic package. Order taken, then he called back and stated the gin advertised in the package no longer available, this is day 3 of the cruise, and only Gordons an inferior quality brand will be substituted, I explained that this gin is significantly cheaper than the original product and we requested a discount. He spoke to management called me back and said they wouldn't reduce the price. I said provide us with similar quality to original product at same price, management refused that as well. We purchased higher quality product and tonic water also extra, $17 US dearer. Then a week later they had no tonic water left on the ship in cans, so we were substituted with diet tonic water in small bottles at the same price, no discount again! Then they had no more stock of Gordon's Gin 8 days into the cruise, consequently we had to purchase higher quality gin and diet tonic water not part of any package! Room Service staff were made aware of problem regarding drinks and spoke to manager but there was no resolution and Manager did not contact us. After all cruise lines buy the alcohol it has been reported, at less than DUTY FREE PRICES and mark it up to above shore prices, it is not playing fair at all. The price of all alcohol on cruise ships is a major profit maker for all of them, the mark up is phenomenal! The main dining room staff for anytime dining were on the whole, quite okay. However, we found that the more experienced and mature staff were very good at their jobs. They were genuinely friendly, as were some of the young people, although some were not quite up to standard as yet. Service by the inexperienced was “hit and miss” however always with a smile. Supervisors varied in age and appeared to try and make thing work better in the dining room as the cruise matured. Lunch staff were efficient and friendly and we enjoyed each lunch spent in the main dining room. We had breakfast only three times in the main dining area; we were seated usually at tables with up to six persons, we requested this, as tables of eight or more spend a very long time in the restaurant being served. We prefer to spend no more than thirty minutes at breakfast on most occasions. Lido staff on the whole were okay, the cooks and food servers were good; some of the waiters and table attendants tended to be missing in action, to clear and set table, for the first three days. After a quick word to the supervisory staff it was no surprise after day three a German Officer appeared every day to sort things out. He assisted and supervised waiters and table staff in their duties. The problem suddenly dissolved whilst he was present at breakfast and lunch, when we attended Lido. Dive-In burger staff were good and made extremely tasty burgers, near best we have encountered in over 35 cruises to date. We did have some excellent burgers on Celebrity Century and Celebrity Galaxy, both were sold by Celebrity, pity, those tasty burgers seem to have disappeared on the newer Celebrity vessels. Wine and drink stewards in the main dining room and in the Lido were overall very friendly and knew their products. We had no idea who the officers for each department were as there was no listing provided or anything that we could see on the walls of the ship anywhere. They also appeared to be quite invisible most of the time, except for eating meals in the Lido. Port & shore excursions At Puerto Montt in Chile we really enjoyed the excursion to Petrohue Falls, Lake Cruise and Chilean country side. Excellent guide and scenery was very good, including walking a short distance to the falls, and a cruise on the lake with excellent viewing of volcanoes and surrounding forests, very beautiful. At Ushuaia Argentina we undertook the excursion “The train to the end of the world”, we travelled on a narrow-gauge steam train in quaint carriages holding a maximum of eight people. We opened the windows and smelt the smoke from the train that brought back many memories from the past when steam trains were common in most parts of the world. One short stop to walk up to the waterfall, very steep ascent, make sure you are fit, as you have little time to se them. Worth the money to take this excursion. Antarctia is the jewel in the crown, so to speak, the scenery magnificent, words cannot describe how stunning beautiful it is, the landscape full of wildlife, whales, seals, sea lions, penguins, the list goes on and on! If you have the chance, save your pennies up, and book it. We were in Antarctia just over 4 days, the weather was very good, we had some misty mornings that later developed into clear days to view such a beautiful and serene place. HAL will surely get their act together and send a better ship to this destination, and sort some of their staff out one would hope! Chilean Fiords (Fjords) were also very beautiful we thoroughly enjoyed our journey throughout, an added bonus to seeing Antarctia. In Buenos Aires on day 1 we undertook Panoramic Highlights of BA, it was very interesting, we only had one stop at the graveyard where Eva Peron is buried, however, we travelled to all major highlights in 3 hours. After we disembarked the vessel we waited for over an hour for our coach to arrive at the cruise terminal to undertake The Tigre Delta shore excursion to airport. It was not good value for money and was cut short by approximately one hour 20 minutes (apparently because the traffic wasn't bad we arrived there quicker?). Additionally, we did not appreciate a 30-minute stop at a cathedral (which we couldn't really attend due to Mass being said at the time) so that the tour guide could go and have a coffee in a coffee shop. No mention was made that there were toilet facilities in the coffee shop and there was nothing else in the vicinity other than the cathedral - complete waste of time stopping there so she could have a coffee fix. A 5-hour tour should take 5 hours not significantly less time (3hr 40min). Don't let the tour guide have a coffee break in a place where there is nothing to do or see. Include some of the city sights on the way to the Tigre Delta that the guide stated we would be seeing on the way which didn't happen. In all honesty a part refund should be given due to the time taken and poor quality of tour (bus component). Travel to embarkation port See background information above for remarks. Cabin See service information above for detailed remarks Dining Restaurant staff overall were good, breakfast menu comprehensive, best menu on any ship to date, food quality is good and meals are warm to hot. Opening times were either 7.30 to 9 am on port days and on sea days 8 am to 9.30 am, we thought restaurant hours should be open from 7 am to 9.30 am, in accordance with other lines, it limits attendance at the restaurant. Lunch was open on sea days only and was open from 12 midday to 1 pm, it should be open at least from 12 midday to 2 pm, we ate there on three occasions only with the times being so limited. Lunch menu was very limited; however food quality was good, we enjoyed the three meals we ate there very much. We attended the anytime dining restaurants for dinner on most nights at varying times, they accommodated us with our walk in on every occasion, great effort HAL restaurant staff! Food on most nights was presented well, quality was of a reasonable standard, serving mashed potato or cous cous with most meals we ate, was very puzzling, we like potatoes cooked in many ways, and we would like more vegetable on the plate or offered on the side HAL. We did have the choice of “Surf and Turf” on the last formal (chic) evening, similar to Princess, not available on Celebrity now. We ate in Pinnacle Grill for lunch one day, and dinner on another occasion. Lunch is only $10 US per person, 3 courses not as comprehensive as dinner, however, delicious, and the best Coffee Gelato we have every tasted ever on a ship, and on land for that matter! Dinner is an extra $35 US per person was also delicious, beautiful jumbo shrimp, soups, and melt in your mouth fillet mignon, excellent work HAL. Desserts we as they say “to die for” well we would prefer not to die so we can experience again one day! Lido for breakfast 7 to 10 am, was very busy as the restaurant was not open at the times that suited most people and breakfast at Lido was much quicker and egg or omelettes cooked by staff while you wait. Eggs were fried, poached, scrambled or made into eggs benedict. Smoked salmon available every day on separate plates, English bacon, a little bit salty, and warm not hot, streaky bacon (not for us) pancakes, waffles, fresh fruit, cereals, fresh rolls, bread, etc. Seating was difficult to find, however, we found seating on most days in the Canaletto restaurant (not open as Italian restaurant lunch and breakfast). We ate lunch in Lido 11.30 am to 2 pm on most days due to restricted opening times on sea days of main dining room, and dining room not open when in port. Unless we arrived early for lunch, we eat after 1 pm on most days, the food was mainly dry and unappetising, big exception was the Asian food, which was cooked fresh on a regular basis and very tasty, and contained chilli and curry, and garlic, on many occasions. Sandwiches appeared to be fresh, and on the one occasion we ate one, tasted quite nice. Pizza in Lido had very limited selection, 3 pizza types, same every day. Lido food at lunch and dinner was very dry and unappetising, exceptions were Asian food at lunch, very nice, and pasta at night, also very tasty. Hamburgers when open (closed at 6 pm) were very nice indeed, chips were not great. Pizza in Lido had very limited Dive-In burger staff were good and made extremely tasty burgers, near best we have encountered in over 35 cruises to date. We did have some excellent burgers on Celebrity Century and Celebrity Galaxy, both were sold by Celebrity, pity, those tasty burgers seem to have disappeared on the newer Celebrity vessels. Entertainment We attended a few ship entertainers’ productions and they were good. We attended some of the guest entertainment shows, some were good, others just average. The entertainment around the ship usually didn’t commence to 3.30 pm each day, however, we did listen to the various groups, they were good, the piano player/singer was not our cup of tea! Disembarkation Managed to exit the terminal, then we lined up for over an hour squashed altogether to wait for various coaches to arrive to take people on tours, then to the airport, or straight to the airport. WE waited for over an hour, the transport people had no idea about when coaches were arriving, what bay the coach would arrive in, and didn’t seem to care really. Worst disembarkation ever, we have cruised in many places around the world, and this disembarkation port is the worst ever, I know I am repeating myself, however, I need to, it was an absolute nightmare! Summary Visiting Chilean Fiords and in particular Antarctia was breathtaking, we loved the sights and the serene beauty of it all, the most incredible atmosphere, we loved it? However, there were some significant downsides to our accommodation, some venues on the ship, and some crew members who left a lot to be desired! Overall there were some fantastic staff and they were rewarded as going above the norm! The fact that HAL and some other cruise lines charge additional charges for not paying their staff enough money in the first place, and except us to pick up the tab, is a thorn in their side. Add a few dollars to the fare in the beginning, not the end. It is a burden on passengers that are on the ship to enjoy their holidays, not empty all the pockets to pay wages and further boost profits on the way out!

Antarctia best scenery of all time, Zaandam well, not quite up to standard!

Zaandam Cruise Review by realisticus1

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Trip Details
  • Sail Date: January 2018
  • Destination: South America
  • Cabin Type: Large Ocean-View Stateroom
Background and Hotel information

We chose this cruise for various reasons, primarily to see Antarctia, a location that both my wife and I have always yearned to see, secondly, to experience the Chilean Fiords (Fjords). We had previously toured in Peru and cruised up the coast of Chile, however, we had not travelled to the south of Chile to see the Fiords and southern regions of Chile, parts of Argentina, Uruguay, Falkland Islands and beautiful and amazing Antarctia! The HAL cruise on Zaandam seemed to tick all the boxes for the itinerary, however, the ship itself and some of the staff were not up to the required standards.

We stayed overnight near Sydney airport (new Travelodge hotel) prior to our flight to Santiago on the very next day. The hotel has a restaurant that serves breakfast and dinner, and a reasonably priced, and good variety of food in the room service menu. We were tired and chose room service meals and were pleasantly surprised with the price and quality of the meals. Breakfast was basic hot and cold buffet, however to an adequate quality standard. There is a Wilson’s car parking station conveniently behind the hotel, and a new parking station opening across the road in mid-March 2018 (ParknFly?); competition is good for better parking prices. We had an early morning flight with Air NZ to Auckland New Zealand(AKL), then connection to Buenos Aires (EZE), final connection to Santiago(SCL). We travelled Premium Economy to AKL (excellent); Economy on Air NZ to BA (EZE) (ho hum), and economy on Air NZ partner, Air Canada BA(EZE) to Santiago (just average only). Return flights (EZE) to (AKL) economy (food quite good), and (AKL) to Sydney(SYD) on an Airbus 330 and being chartered from Portuguese company, HiFly. It was an old Emirates aircraft and was not up to standard in any way, we had 4 Air NZ female ambassadors on board to perhaps ensure Air NZ standards were maintained, there was no real responsibilities for them on the flight, poor choice of charter really Air NZ.

We stayed at the Holiday Inn, a short walk across pedestrian crossing from airport to the hotel, very handy indeed! We arrived perhaps around 9.30 pm at the hotel with some jetlag, hotel has a restaurant/bar and room service (expensive); it was late and we skipped dinner altogether. Next day we had arranged for a HAL transfer to San Antonio; we managed to catch an earlier coach to the ship than planned with assistance of the transfer contractor, great outcome for us! The transfer stopped at a large building in Casablanca for a rest stop and for coffee, snacks and wine tasting. It was a huge building packed full of local regional wines to taste and purchase as desired to take on the ship (I bottle per person is HAL limit). There was also a selection of local handicrafts and produce available to buy if desired. We purchased 2 bottles (1 each) to take onto the ship, good quality wine for a total of $19 US, we were over the moon, as were others with this wonderful discovery on the way to the ship! WE BOARDED THE SHIP IN SAN ANTONIO, not Vaparaiso!

Embarkation was fairly swift and seamless, our room was ready and our bags arrived within two hours of embarkation, slick HAL.

Ship information

We sailed on sister ship Volendam in Alaska in May last year, I gave that ship a good review overall, this ship Zaandam, was a different kettle of fish, in more ways than one! Public areas appeared to be in reasonable condition however the ship is dated and is showing more than usual wear and tear. Main dining areas (restaurant) appeared to be in good condition and have old world charm, except for chandeliers that appear to resemble several entangled deer horns, not sure what the designer was thinking, however it wasn’t good!

Public areas are clean, and the external condition of the ship, decks and pool areas were good. Teak decks and chairs are always refreshing and relate to the heritage of this line and others that still uphold this tradition. The ship appeared to have a problem with leaks in public areas on several decks where buckets were placed to catch water leaking from the roof, two roof leaks were about 6 to 10 metres from our cabin front door. The leaks were common the whole journey, and eventually the buckets were removed and the worn carpet floor remained wet throughout in two places described previously. Later in the review I will describe our below standard cabin and antics by the crew to manage the problems, that were at times, bizarre to say the least!

Activities

The activities were fairly limited apart from BBC Earth Series speakers talks in the theatre each day until after Antarctia (too hot in theatre to attend we watched on TV next day) quite good informative presentations; and tour information sessions (watched on TV again for same reason) there was little else to occupy us. Music didn’t start to 3.30 pm on most days. We hadn’t been this bored since our cruise on Azamara Journey from India to Singapore (yawn, yawn).

We attended America’s test kitchen once it was very hot in that little room, the woman added a lot of salt and sugar to meals, why? We watched the TV show of the same name, and honestly cannot understand why they add so much unhealthy salt and sugar to their meals, we stopped watching after two episodes. We normally attend some of the trivia, however, it is on just before Happy Hour at 4 pm in the Crow’s Nest, it extends way beyond time and many attending Happy hour cannot be seated; we found this similarly on many HAL ships, hold Trivia elsewhere! Ship lacked atmosphere, if we weren’t going to Chilean Fiords (Fjords) and fantastic Antarctia, we would have been bored silly!

Service

HAL have a wonderful Captain in Christopher Norman. He really made our voyage a special one (apart from the problems with room, staff etc). He was very good at keeping us informed of the weather and anticipated changes in order to out run bad weather. He really was brilliant. His skill in handling the vessel was outstanding.

Unfortunately, the standards he set for himself didn’t reflect throughout the ship! Please read on!

Guest relations staff

We asked for a form to reduce service charges later in the cruise for reasons stared below. One staff member refused to provide same, a second staff member came out and was very rude in reinforcing the other staff member's stance. The first staff member inferred that Zaandam had different rules to other ships in the fleet who had provided us with forms last cruise we were on another HAL ship. She said the forms were locked in the safe and couldn't be released until the last day, as it was sealed. We mentioned that HAL policies and procedures and rules were the same across all the fleet, and the forms are not legal documents until signed and should be available now.

We explained we pay by cash as we go, and also pay gratuities/service charges personally to staff we know have excelled in their dealings with us. We normally do things this way on all lines, and have never had this type of refusal to carry out a fair and reasonable request. (We had a similar problem on Koningsdam, where it was resolved by the manager some days later after we spoke to her). We asked them to have the manager call us and we wanted to meet with her, they failed to pass on the message that we wished to speak to team leader/manager.

On another occasion one of the same staff members was very rude and dismissive of our problem (charges for wine package), she was the Mariners' host, we were shocked when it was announced at the luncheon for Mariners. This young woman in our opinion did not meet the standards to be employed as a result of her continued unacceptable and inappropriate behaviour on all occasions we are aware of with us, and we spoke to several other people who had experienced similar behavioural problems with this person, she did not improve throughout the cruise.

We arranged to speak with the team leader, she knew only part of the facts that her team members had recorded, she was very understanding and provided some small incentive for us, we thanked her. We had continual problems with some of the front office staff, their attitude to people over 40 was poor to say the least. Some front office staff were quite good; however, they are all young women, we fail to understand why HAL would not have males and females of different ages in the front office particularly experienced people that know how to treat clients, who after all, pay good money to HAL in oh so many ways, that incidentally funds their wages!

Our Cabin and service issues

Toilet failing to flush (18 out of 22 days this was a major problem). Reported to housekeeping who escalated it to plumber who initially dismissed problem as non-existent; toilet did flush after between ten and forty minutes after pushing button several times, following this it did flush when there was no water build up in the walls, it gurgled most of time! Then thirty minutes later after it had been flushed multiple times it failed to flush again straight away, and flushed thirty minutes later. However, the next plumber witnessed the problem and replaced the flush button mechanism. However, this did not resolve the problem. Other plumbers/maintenance people also returned to examine problem. Toilet had just flushed after the 30-minute delay and the maintenance man in overalls became quite aggressive when it flushed, he totally ignored us rang his phone and spoke to his manager whilst there, then stormed out! The other older plumber came back and put chemicals in toilet; the toilet worked okay for a couple of days and then problem returned. We had to put up with this for the rest of the cruise, not good enough!!

Our cabin and service problems part 2

Stains appeared on our wall, we reported to room stewards who informed supervisor and front desk staff. Front desk staff entered our room without our knowledge or permission and had steward remove substance dribble from wall. We were informed that it may be rust and that they wished to remove ceiling to inspect the cause for the problems. We did not wish this to happen due to possibility of asbestos or other toxic substances additionally also due to the dust build up that would have occurred since ship was built 18 years previously, and the potential for respiratory distress caused by such dust.

Our cabin and service problems part 3

The mattresses in our room were very old, maybe the original mattresses they were bowed on both edges and extremely uncomfortable. When placed together as a Queen bed as they were bowed both of us rolled to the middle of the bed and with the bow and gap we sunk from uncomfortable to next to no sleep. We asked the room stewards to try and build up the centre of the bed with towels in the middle or and egg shell overlays, he was very helpful and appeared very embarrassed, great blokes both of them! However, it only made it worse as the bed separated with the towels in the middle to make up the huge gap between mattresses. End result we took the towels out and pushed the beds together several times during the night. Yay, broken sleep every single night, this was becoming a nightmare!!

Room service – purchasing alcohol for the room problems

We also requested room service to deliver a gin and tonic package. Order taken, then he called back and stated the gin advertised in the package no longer available, this is day 3 of the cruise, and only Gordons an inferior quality brand will be substituted, I explained that this gin is significantly cheaper than the original product and we requested a discount. He spoke to management called me back and said they wouldn't reduce the price. I said provide us with similar quality to original product at same price, management refused that as well. We purchased higher quality product and tonic water also extra, $17 US dearer. Then a week later they had no tonic water left on the ship in cans, so we were substituted with diet tonic water in small bottles at the same price, no discount again! Then they had no more stock of Gordon's Gin 8 days into the cruise, consequently we had to purchase higher quality gin and diet tonic water not part of any package! Room Service staff were made aware of problem regarding drinks and spoke to manager but there was no resolution and Manager did not contact us.

After all cruise lines buy the alcohol it has been reported, at less than DUTY FREE PRICES and mark it up to above shore prices, it is not playing fair at all. The price of all alcohol on cruise ships is a major profit maker for all of them, the mark up is phenomenal!

The main dining room staff for anytime dining were on the whole, quite okay. However, we found that the more experienced and mature staff were very good at their jobs. They were genuinely friendly, as were some of the young people, although some were not quite up to standard as yet. Service by the inexperienced was “hit and miss” however always with a smile. Supervisors varied in age and appeared to try and make thing work better in the dining room as the cruise matured. Lunch staff were efficient and friendly and we enjoyed each lunch spent in the main dining room. We had breakfast only three times in the main dining area; we were seated usually at tables with up to six persons, we requested this, as tables of eight or more spend a very long time in the restaurant being served. We prefer to spend no more than thirty minutes at breakfast on most occasions.

Lido staff on the whole were okay, the cooks and food servers were good; some of the waiters and table attendants tended to be missing in action, to clear and set table, for the first three days. After a quick word to the supervisory staff it was no surprise after day three a German Officer appeared every day to sort things out. He assisted and supervised waiters and table staff in their duties. The problem suddenly dissolved whilst he was present at breakfast and lunch, when we attended Lido.

Dive-In burger staff were good and made extremely tasty burgers, near best we have encountered in over 35 cruises to date. We did have some excellent burgers on Celebrity Century and Celebrity Galaxy, both were sold by Celebrity, pity, those tasty burgers seem to have disappeared on the newer Celebrity vessels.

Wine and drink stewards in the main dining room and in the Lido were overall very friendly and knew their products.

We had no idea who the officers for each department were as there was no listing provided or anything that we could see on the walls of the ship anywhere. They also appeared to be quite invisible most of the time, except for eating meals in the Lido.

Port & shore excursions

At Puerto Montt in Chile we really enjoyed the excursion to Petrohue Falls, Lake Cruise and Chilean country side. Excellent guide and scenery was very good, including walking a short distance to the falls, and a cruise on the lake with excellent viewing of volcanoes and surrounding forests, very beautiful.

At Ushuaia Argentina we undertook the excursion “The train to the end of the world”, we travelled on a narrow-gauge steam train in quaint carriages holding a maximum of eight people. We opened the windows and smelt the smoke from the train that brought back many memories from the past when steam trains were common in most parts of the world. One short stop to walk up to the waterfall, very steep ascent, make sure you are fit, as you have little time to se them. Worth the money to take this excursion.

Antarctia is the jewel in the crown, so to speak, the scenery magnificent, words cannot describe how stunning beautiful it is, the landscape full of wildlife, whales, seals, sea lions, penguins, the list goes on and on! If you have the chance, save your pennies up, and book it. We were in Antarctia just over 4 days, the weather was very good, we had some misty mornings that later developed into clear days to view such a beautiful and serene place. HAL will surely get their act together and send a better ship to this destination, and sort some of their staff out one would hope!

Chilean Fiords (Fjords) were also very beautiful we thoroughly enjoyed our journey throughout, an added bonus to seeing Antarctia.

In Buenos Aires on day 1 we undertook Panoramic Highlights of BA, it was very interesting, we only had one stop at the graveyard where Eva Peron is buried, however, we travelled to all major highlights in 3 hours.

After we disembarked the vessel we waited for over an hour for our coach to arrive at the cruise terminal to undertake The Tigre Delta shore excursion to airport. It was not good value for money and was cut short by approximately one hour 20 minutes (apparently because the traffic wasn't bad we arrived there quicker?). Additionally, we did not appreciate a 30-minute stop at a cathedral (which we couldn't really attend due to Mass being said at the time) so that the tour guide could go and have a coffee in a coffee shop. No mention was made that there were toilet facilities in the coffee shop and there was nothing else in the vicinity other than the cathedral - complete waste of time stopping there so she could have a coffee fix.

A 5-hour tour should take 5 hours not significantly less time (3hr 40min). Don't let the tour guide have a coffee break in a place where there is nothing to do or see. Include some of the city sights on the way to the Tigre Delta that the guide stated we would be seeing on the way which didn't happen. In all honesty a part refund should be given due to the time taken and poor quality of tour (bus component).

Travel to embarkation port

See background information above for remarks.

Cabin

See service information above for detailed remarks

Dining

Restaurant staff overall were good, breakfast menu comprehensive, best menu on any ship to date, food quality is good and meals are warm to hot. Opening times were either 7.30 to 9 am on port days and on sea days 8 am to 9.30 am, we thought restaurant hours should be open from 7 am to 9.30 am, in accordance with other lines, it limits attendance at the restaurant. Lunch was open on sea days only and was open from 12 midday to 1 pm, it should be open at least from 12 midday to 2 pm, we ate there on three occasions only with the times being so limited. Lunch menu was very limited; however food quality was good, we enjoyed the three meals we ate there very much.

We attended the anytime dining restaurants for dinner on most nights at varying times, they accommodated us with our walk in on every occasion, great effort HAL restaurant staff! Food on most nights was presented well, quality was of a reasonable standard, serving mashed potato or cous cous with most meals we ate, was very puzzling, we like potatoes cooked in many ways, and we would like more vegetable on the plate or offered on the side HAL. We did have the choice of “Surf and Turf” on the last formal (chic) evening, similar to Princess, not available on Celebrity now.

We ate in Pinnacle Grill for lunch one day, and dinner on another occasion. Lunch is only $10 US per person, 3 courses not as comprehensive as dinner, however, delicious, and the best Coffee Gelato we have every tasted ever on a ship, and on land for that matter! Dinner is an extra $35 US per person was also delicious, beautiful jumbo shrimp, soups, and melt in your mouth fillet mignon, excellent work HAL. Desserts we as they say “to die for” well we would prefer not to die so we can experience again one day!

Lido for breakfast 7 to 10 am, was very busy as the restaurant was not open at the times that suited most people and breakfast at Lido was much quicker and egg or omelettes cooked by staff while you wait. Eggs were fried, poached, scrambled or made into eggs benedict. Smoked salmon available every day on separate plates, English bacon, a little bit salty, and warm not hot, streaky bacon (not for us) pancakes, waffles, fresh fruit, cereals, fresh rolls, bread, etc. Seating was difficult to find, however, we found seating on most days in the Canaletto restaurant (not open as Italian restaurant lunch and breakfast). We ate lunch in Lido 11.30 am to 2 pm on most days due to restricted opening times on sea days of main dining room, and dining room not open when in port. Unless we arrived early for lunch, we eat after 1 pm on most days, the food was mainly dry and unappetising, big exception was the Asian food, which was cooked fresh on a regular basis and very tasty, and contained chilli and curry, and garlic, on many occasions. Sandwiches appeared to be fresh, and on the one occasion we ate one, tasted quite nice. Pizza in Lido had very limited selection, 3 pizza types, same every day.

Lido food at lunch and dinner was very dry and unappetising, exceptions were Asian food at lunch, very nice, and pasta at night, also very tasty.

Hamburgers when open (closed at 6 pm) were very nice indeed, chips were not great. Pizza in Lido had very limited

Dive-In burger staff were good and made extremely tasty burgers, near best we have encountered in over 35 cruises to date. We did have some excellent burgers on Celebrity Century and Celebrity Galaxy, both were sold by Celebrity, pity, those tasty burgers seem to have disappeared on the newer Celebrity vessels.

Entertainment

We attended a few ship entertainers’ productions and they were good. We attended some of the guest entertainment shows, some were good, others just average. The entertainment around the ship usually didn’t commence to 3.30 pm each day, however, we did listen to the various groups, they were good, the piano player/singer was not our cup of tea!

Disembarkation

Managed to exit the terminal, then we lined up for over an hour squashed altogether to wait for various coaches to arrive to take people on tours, then to the airport, or straight to the airport. WE waited for over an hour, the transport people had no idea about when coaches were arriving, what bay the coach would arrive in, and didn’t seem to care really. Worst disembarkation ever, we have cruised in many places around the world, and this disembarkation port is the worst ever, I know I am repeating myself, however, I need to, it was an absolute nightmare!

Summary

Visiting Chilean Fiords and in particular Antarctia was breathtaking, we loved the sights and the serene beauty of it all, the most incredible atmosphere, we loved it? However, there were some significant downsides to our accommodation, some venues on the ship, and some crew members who left a lot to be desired! Overall there were some fantastic staff and they were rewarded as going above the norm! The fact that HAL and some other cruise lines charge additional charges for not paying their staff enough money in the first place, and except us to pick up the tab, is a thorn in their side. Add a few dollars to the fare in the beginning, not the end. It is a burden on passengers that are on the ship to enjoy their holidays, not empty all the pockets to pay wages and further boost profits on the way out!
realisticus1’s Full Rating Summary
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Cabin Review

Large Ocean-View Stateroom
Cabin DA
Our Cabin and service issues

Toilet failing to flush (18 out of 22 days this was a major problem). Reported to housekeeping who escalated it to plumber who initially dismissed problem as non-existent; toilet did flush after between ten and forty minutes after pushing button several times, following this it did flush when there was no water build up in the walls, it gurgled most of time! Then thirty minutes later after it had been flushed multiple times it failed to flush again straight away, and flushed thirty minutes later. However, the next plumber witnessed the problem and replaced the flush button mechanism. However, this did not resolve the problem. Other plumbers/maintenance people also returned to examine problem. Toilet had just flushed after the 30-minute delay and the maintenance man in overalls became quite aggressive when it flushed, he totally ignored us rang his phone and spoke to his manager whilst there, then stormed out! The other older plumber came back and put chemicals in toilet; the toilet worked okay for a couple of days and then problem returned. We had to put up with this for the rest of the cruise, not good enough!!
Our cabin and service problems part 2

Stains appeared on our wall, we reported to room stewards who informed supervisor and front desk staff. Front desk staff entered our room without our knowledge or permission and had steward remove substance dribble from wall. We were informed that it may be rust and that they wished to remove ceiling to inspect the cause for the problems. We did not wish this to happen due to possibility of asbestos or other toxic substances additionally also due to the dust build up that would have occurred since ship was built 18 years previously, and the potential for respiratory distress caused by such dust.
Our cabin and service problems part 3

The mattresses in our room were very old, maybe the original mattresses they were bowed on both edges and extremely uncomfortable. When placed together as a Queen bed as they were bowed both of us rolled to the middle of the bed and with the bow and gap we sunk from uncomfortable to next to no sleep. We asked the room stewards to try and build up the centre of the bed with towels in the middle or and egg shell overlays, he was very helpful and appeared very embarrassed, great blokes both of them! However, it only made it worse as the bed separated with the towels in the middle to make up the huge gap between mattresses. End result we took the towels out and pushed the beds together several times during the night. Yay, broken sleep every single night, this was becoming a nightmare!!
Verandah Deck Inside Cabins, Outside Cabins, Balcony Cabins

Port & Shore Excursion Reviews