We approached our first cruise with some trepidation after hearing stories of stomach ailments and unavoidable weight gain. Our fears were unfounded. Our experience on the elegant Zaandam was most enjoyable and relaxing. The ship is luxurious and scrupulously clean. It never seemed crowded. The staff was always helpful, attentive, friendly and never intrusive. We chose HAL for its accommodations. Our suite was large and comfortable with more storage space than we could possibly use. The verandah was a great place to eat and read. A bottle of champagne was waiting in our suite when we boarded. We frequented the modern gym, ate gourmet meals and enjoyed a few theatre shows along with a couple of movies in the cinema. Many of the bars had live music and dancing in the evening. The coffee bar outside of the cinema was very popular second only to the casino where some of the older passengers happily disposed of their Social Security. Dining in the Rotterdam where we ate most of our meals is superlative. The service is excellent. Dinner was a gourmet affair often lasting an hour. We looked forward to the varied menu our steward brought to our cabin every evening. Portions were just the right size, well prepared and tastefully presented. We often skipped the tempting desserts and repaired to our room for wine on the verandah. The ship allows you to bring wine on board. We also brought port and sherry. Although we did not run a bar tab we were never lacking for an after-dinner drink. Our efficient and unobtrusive steward kept our room immaculate and replenished the bowl of fresh fruit every day. There is also a buffet restaurant with a pasta bar on the Lido deck. A hamburger, taco and pizza stand always seemed to be open by the pool. Coffee and tea were always available. We could order room service at any time. We once ordered High Tea and got enough desserts to last us the rest of the trip. The ship is quite stable. It slowed down during the day for a smoother ride. Rocking was noticeable one day when we ran into gale force winds. I rather enjoyed it but the motion disturbed my wife. She felt better when she could see the horizon and preferred to be on the verandah despite the wind and spray. Most people seemed to purchase shore trips from the ship but we opted to try it on our own. The ship first stopped at Road Town, Tortola. We ignored the dockside hawkers, asked for directions then walked a couple of blocks over to the ferry landing. We were just in time to catch Speedy's motor catamaran to Virgin Gorda. The round trip for two cost $50 including a taxi to the Baths. The ride was fun. The Baths are a national park that charges $3 per person. Fortunately we brought some cash. Down the hill at the end of a forested path was a beach strewn with large boulders. The swimming and snorkeling were good there. We took off left clambering through the rocks following wet footprints to a great beach. Snorkeling was great. Colorful fish were everywhere. Many sailboats were anchored offshore to enjoy the diving and swimming. We stayed a few hours before heading back. Too late for the Hilltop restaurant we headed back to the ship and ate at the Lido buffet. The next stop was St. Thomas. We were unimpressed by the town of Charlotte Amalie. It looked like a slum. The much vaunted shopping area was more like an over-priced run-down outlet mall. We compared prices of brand-name items and found them to be double the prices in the US. The stop must be a US government requirement. Smart travelers can tour the island for $1 simply by walking to the bus stop and taking advantage of the public bus. The final stop was the HAL private beach, Half Moon Cay, on Little San Salvador in the Bahamas. It is simply paradise. We took the first tender over, enjoyed the beach, the barbecue and stayed as long as we could. We greatly enjoyed the cruise. It is amazing how efficiently the staff meets the needs of so many different people. The ship was superb and HAL really pampers its passengers.

Zaandam - Eastern Caribbean

Zaandam Cruise Review by Firstimer

Trip Details
  • Sail Date: December 2004
  • Destination: Eastern Caribbean
  • Cabin Type: Neptune Suite with Verandah
We approached our first cruise with some trepidation after hearing stories of stomach ailments and unavoidable weight gain. Our fears were unfounded. Our experience on the elegant Zaandam was most enjoyable and relaxing. The ship is luxurious and scrupulously clean. It never seemed crowded. The staff was always helpful, attentive, friendly and never intrusive. We chose HAL for its accommodations. Our suite was large and comfortable with more storage space than we could possibly use. The verandah was a great place to eat and read. A bottle of champagne was waiting in our suite when we boarded. We frequented the modern gym, ate gourmet meals and enjoyed a few theatre shows along with a couple of movies in the cinema. Many of the bars had live music and dancing in the evening. The coffee bar outside of the cinema was very popular second only to the casino where some of the older passengers happily disposed of their Social Security.
Dining in the Rotterdam where we ate most of our meals is superlative. The service is excellent. Dinner was a gourmet affair often lasting an hour. We looked forward to the varied menu our steward brought to our cabin every evening. Portions were just the right size, well prepared and tastefully presented. We often skipped the tempting desserts and repaired to our room for wine on the verandah. The ship allows you to bring wine on board. We also brought port and sherry. Although we did not run a bar tab we were never lacking for an after-dinner drink. Our efficient and unobtrusive steward kept our room immaculate and replenished the bowl of fresh fruit every day. There is also a buffet restaurant with a pasta bar on the Lido deck. A hamburger, taco and pizza stand always seemed to be open by the pool. Coffee and tea were always available. We could order room service at any time. We once ordered High Tea and got enough desserts to last us the rest of the trip.
The ship is quite stable. It slowed down during the day for a smoother ride. Rocking was noticeable one day when we ran into gale force winds. I rather enjoyed it but the motion disturbed my wife. She felt better when she could see the horizon and preferred to be on the verandah despite the wind and spray.
Most people seemed to purchase shore trips from the ship but we opted to try it on our own. The ship first stopped at Road Town, Tortola. We ignored the dockside hawkers, asked for directions then walked a couple of blocks over to the ferry landing. We were just in time to catch Speedy's motor catamaran to Virgin Gorda. The round trip for two cost $50 including a taxi to the Baths. The ride was fun. The Baths are a national park that charges $3 per person. Fortunately we brought some cash. Down the hill at the end of a forested path was a beach strewn with large boulders. The swimming and snorkeling were good there. We took off left clambering through the rocks following wet footprints to a great beach. Snorkeling was great. Colorful fish were everywhere. Many sailboats were anchored offshore to enjoy the diving and swimming. We stayed a few hours before heading back. Too late for the Hilltop restaurant we headed back to the ship and ate at the Lido buffet.
The next stop was St. Thomas. We were unimpressed by the town of Charlotte Amalie. It looked like a slum. The much vaunted shopping area was more like an over-priced run-down outlet mall. We compared prices of brand-name items and found them to be double the prices in the US. The stop must be a US government requirement. Smart travelers can tour the island for $1 simply by walking to the bus stop and taking advantage of the public bus.
The final stop was the HAL private beach, Half Moon Cay, on Little San Salvador in the Bahamas. It is simply paradise. We took the first tender over, enjoyed the beach, the barbecue and stayed as long as we could.
We greatly enjoyed the cruise. It is amazing how efficiently the staff meets the needs of so many different people. The ship was superb and HAL really pampers its passengers.
Firstimer’s Full Rating Summary
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