Oh that Zany Zaandam: Zaandam Cruise Review by Golfer-at-sea

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Oh that Zany Zaandam

Sail Date: September 2011
Destination: Alaska
Embarkation: Vancouver
Well, what a trip. Not sure that it's what a first cruise should have been, but I did have fun anyway.

We arrived at the Vancouver airport from Phoenix on time and supposedly with plenty of time for the 5 PM sailing. The HAL greeter was there looking for us at baggage pick up and was rushing us along. We discovered that the Captain had hoped to leave port early and they were waiting on us and one other couple from the US. We hurried through the airport, met the other couple on the bus and off the 4 of us went. As it turned out, we didn't leave until 5:30 so actually were at the ship in plenty of time though it is a good lesson to try to get there early. Unfortunately, we took the earliest flight of the day from Phoenix as it was.

Yes it did rain almost every day. Yes we had 92 mph winds one night (that ship pitched, rolled, and yawed). In retrospect it is a bit unsettling to remember the Captain mentioning that he felt like George Clooney the night that the barometer More dropped further and faster than he had ever seen at sea. It's made a great conversation piece since our return.

Our bad luck started in Juneau where we were told that our excursion to Taku Lodge was cancelled by, I assume, bad flying or landing conditions. Since that was the only excursion that we had planned on, it did put us in a bind, but I do understand and appreciate safety first. We quickly dashed off the ship and decided to take one of the impromptu whale watching trips and as it turned out, we actually did see whales which seemed to be almost playing with our boat. The weather was fairly miserable but you know, most were having fun. A word of advice here, absolutely do use the rest room before you depart. It was way too rocky and bouncy to do so while out on the water. At least in the small boat we were on. But you know, we were down on the water and could actual feel part of the action.

Skagway was mostly for shopping, in the rain. Apparently we were supposed to be the only ship in port but the bad weather had forced three other ships to come to Skagway so it was definitely a hustling time. I am sure glad that we didn't take the eagle watching excursion because those people were stuck in Hanes when it was decided that it would have been unsafe for the ferry to return to Skagway. The plan was for us to wait in port until the next morning when it was anticipated that the ferry could run and get the people back. Best laid plans, that didn't happen. The weather worsened and a Princess ship that was sheltering us decided to leave that night so we had no choice but to follow her out to sea since would no longer have shelter from the winds.

During the night, things got worse and unfortunately we didn't stop in Ketchikan. (Wonder what they ever did with those 6 passengers that were stuck in Hanes and missed the Skagway departure?) And to be "good neighbors of the sea" we only went part way into Tracy Arm so missed the glacier.

But you know, I had a great time. Netted $175 from the casino. Ate a year's worth of salmon. Enjoyed dinner two times at the Pinnacle (their charge restaurant) where they truly treated us like valued guests. The staff and maitre'd kept plying us with extra appetizers and desserts and it served one of the best steaks I've had. Both times I had to waddle out of there. It was disappointing to miss out on some of the itinerary but that can happen this late in the season.

The crew went out of their way to be accommodating under the circumstances. Everyone was cheerful and friendly and I don't think because they had to be.

Would I go again, absolutely. And this time, now that I know where the gym is, I'll not feel so bad about the second chocolate volcano cake.

Alex Less

Published 10/01/11

Cabin review: A6190 Vista Suite with Verandah

The cabin was reasonable and I gather the bathroom large in comparison to some stories that I've heard from cruising friends. The center portion of decks 5 and 6 (and maybe 7 but I didn't go up there) were taken up by equipment. I don't know if it was the engine or generator room but the cabin was fairly noisy especially during night time. One would probably get used to it, i did, but the noise was there all the time and could be annoying to a light sleeper. The balcony was a great place to hang out during the day, quite sheltered from the wind or maybe because we were on the lee side most of the time.

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