This was our first time cruising on Holland America (HAL), we usually cruise on NCL & we chose the ship because it sailed further upriver on the St.Lawrence. While smaller than the smallest of Norwegian ships, the Zaandam carries only 1,432 passengers compared to our favourite ship, the Gem which carries 2,394 passengers. The demographic of the passengers was also much older than NCL ships, with very few teenagers or kids on board, which we really liked. Because of the older demographic there were less shipboard experiences with the cruise focused more on comfort & relaxation.
After making our way to our cabin, which was on the lowest deck, the Dolphin, we were impressed not only by the size of the cabin, but also by the amount of storage available. We were also surprised to see a bathtub in our bathroom even though the tiling and decor was akin to something from decades ago. While we loved the size of the room & the storage, a couple of issues stood out. Because it is an older ship there was only one electrical outlet for the whole room. Luckily, we had bought a plug extender which included extra plugs and USB plugs making it easier for us to charge our phones, watches and my iPad. We also found the tv too small to be watched from the beds, it also had really poor picture, reception and sound. We also missed a fridge in the room to keep drinks & snacks cool.
Once we were settled we decided to explore the ship. While a smaller ship we were impressed by how the ship made use of the space it had. The Lido deck, which featured one of two pools & two jacuzzis was covered by a retractable roof which was great for inclement weather. Exploring the ship we found that the decor was dark and heavy without an overall design theme with designs changing from one space to the next. While the designs kept changing in different spaces the one thing that HAL does really well is the seating. Every seat on board the ship was comfortable with lots of different types of seating throughout the ship. We also loved the fact that the ship never felt crowded, which made any events more comfortable than on larger ships.
The cabin was larger than on other ships we had cruised on with lots of storage. The downsides were only one electrical outlet, a dated tv & dated design.
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