We have cruised on Holland America several times before, once on Disney, and once on Royal Caribbean.
We booked this cruise over a year ago. We were traveling with my husband's brother and sister-in-law. We love to cruise for the rest and relaxation and getting away from our hectic jobs. Now our journey ...
We arrived in Vancouver 10/01, the day before our cruise. We had booked the Fairmont Waterfront through HAL and we met the HAL representative at the airport and they ushered us to a taxi and straight to the hotel (a breeze). Room was on the port side (beautiful view). We woke up a little before 6:00 a.m. and saw the Zaandam arrive. There were also two other ships in port that day (1 Princess and 1 NCL).
We had transfers to the ship that also included a city tour. The tour started at 9:00 a.m. and was nice at first but they did not want us on the ship until 2:00 p.m. The ship sailed at 3:00 p.m.!!!! Needless to say, most on the bus were not happy campers. We finally got to the ship and just barely got our lunch when the Lido was closing. We have always boarded the ship early .... so excited to get there. So, if you have booked the transfers, I would just skip the city tour and walk over to the ship yourself. On the plus side, there were no lines since we were boarding so late and our luggage was in our rooms when we boarded.
Our room was great!! We booked the secret rooms (there are two 7086 & 7083). They are classified as insides but actually have a large window on the aft/stern of the ship. Great location .... just one quick flight up to the Lido.
We ate all our meals in the Lido. This was to be our first (and NOT last) cruise where we packed lightly (no formal clothes). YIKES, some would say but we loved it!! This is a vacation after all!! We were surprised that the Lido was so busy every night. Seems lots of other cruisers have the same idea. I have to say that service in the Lido was fantastic. We tend to eat at the same table (if we can get it) on the port side and met Andi who was our waiter/go getter. He was great .... always smiling and happy. He learned our names and after the second day, he remembered us. The first couple of days we were served and that made service slower but once we could serve ourselves and get drinks it went much quicker. I loved the Asian Cuisine and that is what I ate almost every day at lunch (along with bread pudding, or course). Wish they had more selections on the nightly buffet though.
We had a great turnout for our cruise critic meeting. It was great seeing everyone and putting names with faces. Ran into several of them all through the cruise and it was like meeting up with family. The ship provided cookies, coffee and refreshments but none of the officers showed up.
Well ... as for the ship. We have been on the Zaandam before (back in 2006) and it was in better shape then but the Zaandam is still a great ship. It could use a little TLC. Seems like they have cut way back on the staff, service is still good but maybe they need more staff to maintain the ship. It wouldn't hurt them to wash the windows. I put that on the survey by the way. There was a contact crew that got on when we were getting off. They had taken down some lightning on the aft pool deck and was hauling plywood up the stairs outside our room. Couldn't figure out exactly what they were going to do.
The organ in the atrium is beautiful. We got to see it play on one of the sea days when we happened to be at the front desk. It started playing and the little figures on the sides started moving. It was very nice. I made a comment to the desk clerk that I had not seen it play and I believe he said it played on sea days at 10:00 a.m. and Noon.
Now for the sea days .... I love sea days, I really do. Time to relax and do nothing, if you so chose, BUT we have decided that four and lastly five are way too many for us!! The last couple of days we were wishing we were back home and that is a first for us.
We didn't see any of the shows. Sat in on one Liars Club - that's a HOOT!! Went to all of Kainoa's (the native travel guide) talks and lectures. You sure learn a lot about Hawaii from him.
Disembarkation was a breeze ... we chose expedited which means you can carry off all your luggage without any help and get to leave the ship first. We left the ship at 8:30 a.m. and grabbed a waiting taxi and was at the airport before 9:00 a.m.
All in all, we had a great time. Not the best way to see Hawaii. My husband had never been and we did not get enough time in each port but we knew that going into it. We got to cruise (which we love) and see a little of Hawaii - What more can you ask???
This room was great for our needs. There are only the two of us. It had plenty of closet space (3), a flat screen TV, there were three night stands with two drawers each and there were two set of drawers under the foot of the bed that we did not find until the last day. The bathroom has plenty of space with a walk-in shower (no tub). A glass front corner medicine cabinet for storage and a shelf under the vanity. Plenty of storage in the bath. No odors or problems with toilet.
Can be a little noisy for some people. We usually stay on the aft/stern so the vibrations/noise does not bother us. The motion did not seem any different in this room that anywhere else on the ship when we walked around. Carpet looked brand new and they shampooed the carpet one day while we were in port.
Rented a car and visited Volcano National Park. Can't say enough about it. We could have stayed there all day but just didn't have the time. We also drove another 25 miles or so down Hwy. 130 until the rode just ended. Why did it end? Well back in 1983 the volcano erupted and wiped out a whole area of town, Hwy 130 and homes. We got out of the car and walked as far as we could go. You could see the steam where it was flowing into the ocean. The devastation was incredible. Some have built shacks, pitched tents, and a couple of nice homes have been rebuilt but they are still on an active volcano. You can see steam vents all along the way. Unbelievable!! There were some residents who would take you for a closer view (for a price, we didn't ask). The cruise ship would sail past this point leaving Kona for a night time view of the Lava.
We got off the ship and shopped some here. Went back to the ship and got ready for our Luau. We had reservations at Old Lahaina Luau and it was beautiful. Right on the beach ... a traditional Luau. The dancers told the story of Pele (goddess of fire) and the dancing, lighting, food, everything was worth every penny and more.
Took the ship's excursion of Pearl Harbor and Mighty Mo. The bus took us through Punch Bowl Crater (military cemetery) before the tour. Very sobering. We all enjoyed this excursion (they guys especially). Their dad was in the Navy.
Booked Blue Hawaiian Helicopters online for a 55 minute Eco-Star Helicopter tour over Kauai. Breathtaking views!! Loved it!!
Didn't have anything planned here. Just got off the ship and walked around the quaint little town. Very Hawaiian!! Sailed past the Volcano at 11:00 p.m. with red lava pouring into the Ocean and Kainoa narrating over the intercom system - awesome!!