I really did not have any intention of booking this cruise because I did the round trip itinerary in March. The relaxed feeling I had after coming home did not last as I started working on a software upgrade at work.
I knew I would not make the Alaska season so I started looking at a Panama Canal Cruise on the Zuiderdam that was embarking close to my home. It hadn't come down in price. Than I noticed this repositioning from Vancouver to San Diego via Hawaii at a great price. I was intrigued because the ship was in port til 11:00 PM in 3 of the 5 ports.
We flew to Vancouver from SFO the day before and stayed at the Hampton Inn Suites Downtown on Robson. The hotel provided a free shuttle from the Hotel to Canada Place. Since the ship was leaving at 3:00 embarkation was at 12:00 so I requested the 11:00 shuttle but it was full so we had to take the 10:30
Shuttle. By 11:30 A.M. we were checked in and waited in the holding place til we could board the ship. We were on the ship by 11:45. We went to the Lido to get a cup of coffee til the MDR opened for lunch.
After Lunch we walked around and cheated a little and made our way to our cabin. We were forward on the Lower Promenade Deck. About 15 minutes they announced that the rooms were ready. We found our gifts from our travel agent
2 $50.00 soda cards, a bottle of champagne and 3 bottles of Wine. The soda cards did come in handy although I only used half of it. I could only purchase soda with it. I wasn't able to purchase bottled water to take ashore with the soda card.
Our Cabin Stewards Eddy & Harry were the greatest Stewards I have ever had on a HAL Ship. Believe me they were busy in my section. On the first day at Sea a pipe burst in one of the cabins and affected the cabins on both sides. They were able to relocate the passengers in the cabin with the bursted water pipe til we got to Hilo. The Hal Staff responded promptly to this situation. I was concerned on how it might affect my cabin. We did end up with a plumbing problem 3 days before the end of the cruise which was responded to promptly.
The first two days out of Vancouver were a little chilly, by the 3rd day things started warming up and as we got closer to Hawaii the weather was great.
Day 3 we had a meet and greet in the crow's nest. It was really great to meet everyone on the roll call.
We had open seating. I have always been an advocate of open seating. This time I was very disappointed. This is the 4th Hal Ship I have sailed on and there has never been a problem getting a table within 5 minutes when you walk up and you don't mind sitting with others. The first four days they sure didn't have it together. We got a pager and waited 30 - 45 minutes to get a table. Even people with reservations had problems. The night before we hit Hilo the wait time was down to 10 minutes. When we were in Hilo, Lahina and Honolulu there wasn't a problem. After that the Dining room looked empty so I don't know if people got fed up and just decided to go to the Lido. The food was hit and miss (I know this is subjective) There was always something to find so I didn't starve. I did think the food was better when I did this trip in March. Breakfast and Lunch we ate in the Lido and dinner we had in the dining room.
The show times this trip for the most part were 8:00PM and 10:00PM a great improvement from 7:00PM and 9:00PM. On the nights when there was one show the show was at 9:30 and the night of the Black and White Ball the show was the old 7:00 PM and 9:00 PM. I only went to half of the shows. One really great act was a Husband and Wife team from England called Kimka. For the most part I did book Hal Excursions.
For the most part they were very good except for the Planetarium Tour in Hilo.
This problem was due to a technical error. They couldn't get the show to work.
HAL did refund this excursion 50%. The excursion also included a trip to Rainbow Falls, tour through downtown Hilo and to the Island Candy Co. which did take place.
I have been to this Port several times before and have toured allot of the area. This Port has the Volcanoes National Park and great Water Falls. I opted for the Planetarium because it was something different.
Lahaina - 5
This is a tendering Port and some people had problems. Since the ship was in lahaina til 11:00 I booked the road to Hana Excursion. It was a long day but so worth it.
Honolulu - 5
There is something always to do here. My Dad and I took the Free Hilo Haties shuttle to Hilo Haties than took the free Shopping Shuttle to Ala moana Shopping Center. This is the pick up point to pick up the bus that goes around the island. My Dad was $1.00 and I was $2.50. We were in Honolulu on a Saturday so all the local kids were getting on with their surf boards and checking out all the beaches on North Shore. We got off at the Polynesian Cultural Center. Admission and Lunch was $60.00 which was over $100.00 cheaper than the ships excursion. We couldn't stay for the night show. We got the 5:04 bus back to Honolulu and had to transfer at Ala Moana Shopping Center and got back to the ship at 7:30. Before leaving Honolulu we were all ready to go when they opened the gangway again due to a Medical Emergency. We were about 15 minutes leaving. Nawiliwili, Kauai - 5
Waimea Canyon was wonderful and a great view. Tons of Chickens on Kauai
Tour went along the coast. This would be an easy place to rent a car.
Kona - 5
Did a Sail and Snorkel Tour on a Catamaran. This port was very hot so it was a great day to go swimming. This is a tendering port with limited time.
Kainoa the travel guide is great. You really learn allot from his lectures and you can tell he has real passion for his heritage. If you are taking this trip and you really don't know what you want to do, go listen to him. He is also available in the explorations lounge during certain hours to ask questions.
This trip did what I needed it to due. "Chill" Allot of Sea Days are not for everyone. I had a great time and everything does not have to be perfect to have great time.
The Zaandam is an older ship and not as spruce as some of the newer ships. The crew was always working hard and responded to things that needed attending too.
When booking this cruise my Dad insisted on the Lower Promenade Deck. We picked our cabin instead of taking the HH guarantee. We were Forward and very bouncy the first few days. Heard allot of hydraulic noises going on. The cabin was very warm at night.