5 Holland America Zaandam Entertainment Cruise Reviews

I cruise withy my elderly father. We originally wanted to do the May 21 - Jun 4 14 day cruise on the Zaandam but I have two nephews graduating from High School on May 31st, so we opted for the May 7 -21. We took super shuttle to SFO. ... Read More
I cruise withy my elderly father. We originally wanted to do the May 21 - Jun 4 14 day cruise on the Zaandam but I have two nephews graduating from High School on May 31st, so we opted for the May 7 -21. We took super shuttle to SFO. We were really sweating it and worried we were going to miss our flight to SEATAC. Supper Shuttle usually gives you a three hour time frame for pick-up prior to flight departure. This time we were only given two hours prior to pick-up. The shuttle was an hour late. We got to the airport 1/2 hour prior to departure. Fortunately we got our bags checked in and was able to proceed through Security. Fortunately we were Pre-TSA and our flight was the first gate after security. We made it through Security 5 minutes prior to boarding. Enough time for my dad to get his rolling walker checked at the gate. Had a great flight to Seatac. We arrived at Seatac collected our luggage, then proceeded to the Hotel courtesy Shuttles. It appeared very quiet and it turned out that there was a bomb scare and they were not allowing any vehicles in and out of the airport. We were staying at the Embassy Suites Seatac. I called the hotel to just let them know that I had arrived. They asked for my phone number to give me an update when they had one, when vehicles would be allowed in to the airport. We sat for about 45 minutes then suddenly saw taxi cabs entering and the first courtesy shuttle to show up was from the Embassy Suites. At that time I received a phone call from Embassy Suites and I told the gal the driver just showed up. It was a very interesting ride out of the airport, people were walking out of the airport to catch cabs and traffic was horrible. There were people that had just got out of their shuttles, cab, Uber, etc to catch their outbound flight out of Seatac. Our driver took through all the back roads and we arrived at the Embassy Suites safe and sound. This is a small Embassy Suites and we got a great AAA rate. The next morning our Seattle Express Shuttle arrived at 10:30 for our ride to Pier 91. We stopped by the Double Tree and Red Roof Inn for pick up then we were on our way to Pier 91. We arrived at about 11:30, dropped our luggage off, took the elevator to the 2nd floor. My father uses a rolling walker so we were allowed to check in, in the Accessibility Line. Check in took about 15 minutes and we were on the ship. My father has balancing issues so I usually request a shower stool. This time our PCC placed us in an ambulatory assessible Cabin. This was cabin 3391 on the lower promenade deck. This was a shower with a pull out seat and grab bars throughout the shower. My Dad had a place to park his walker but there is not anyway you reall could park a scooter or get around this cabin in a wheel chair. The Zaandam recently came out of dry dock. In our cabin it appeared things had not been updated with exception of the grab bars in the shower. I heard from a fellow cruiser that had requested a shower stool for her cabin but was told with new regulations they would not allow shower seats in tubs/shower combination cabins only cabins with showers only. I have not verified if this is fleet wide. The Elevators seemed to have been upgraded and new carpeting in Public Areas. I had a great time on this cruise, I found activities lacking on the ship. On this Paticular Cruise it did not matter so much because we really only had two real sea days and two days glacier viewing. The entertainment was so, so. Food is always subjective. I found the food to be good to very good. We ate all our dinners in the MDR. Service was slow in the dinning room. One night it took about 45 minutes to an hour between appetizers for the main entree to come then 15 minutes to get the dessert menu and another 15 minutes to order. There seemed to be some kind of disconnect between the wait staff and kitchen. We were in open seating and I don’t know if this would happen in fixed seating. I found the menu lacking, there would be some nights I would order the dinner salad as my appetizer and another entree for dinner. For me I found there was more variety for soup and less for salads. For a $25.00 fee you could order an Alaskan Crab dinner that included Alaskan King Crab Legs, crab bisque, drawn butter for crab legs, crab cakes, and there might have been some kind of bread. I don’t care for crab bisque. I did see a dinner delivered at a table and it looked like enough for two people. I talked to two people had purchased this and they really enjoyed it. One fellow cruiser who ordered the dinner said he called Tracy’s Crab Shack to see how much it was for the same thing and he was quoted $100.00 For me I found there was more variety for soup and less for salads. Ketchikan I booked an excursion on an enclosed Caterman. It was raining in Ketchikan, which is usual. The water was calm out to Misty Fjords. The View was awesome even though it was overcast. It was a great excursion. Endicott Glacier We were suppose to go to Tracy Arm but there was still too much ice to get to it, so we went to Endicott instead. It was great, we saw sea lions and baby sea lions on the ice. Juneau This is my 4th trip to Alaska so I have been to Mendenhall glacier twice, done whale watching, been to Mt Roberts. So Juneau was my shopping port. In Juneau I set out to do any shopping, since Juneau is the best shopping. After some window shopping and real shopping, I went to Tracy’s crab shack for lunch. Back to the ship. My father asked if I could go buy him a jacket, so I went out again. Stopped by the Red dog Saloon and stayed for a couple of hours then went out to continue my shopping. Icy Strait Point Here I booked a whale watching Excursion on an enclosed caterman. It was originally scheduled for 8:00 AM but was rescheduled to 11:00AM. Anchorage I had originally planned to go to the Alaskan Native Center and the Museum but got sick in the middle of the night and needed to take it easy in Anchorage, Homer and Kodak. Hubbard Glacier Awesome! Sitka I originally set out to go to the Sheldon Jackson Museum. On my way there I found a thrift store. I was curious as to what they had there. They also except donations. So if your luggage is in overload you can drop them off here. I started down the street and found some really neat stores with Alaska made products, Quilting Stores, Russian Items, These stores were really interesting. Never made it to the Sheldon Jackson Museum. I have done the Raptor Center and Fortress of the Bears before. They now have a shuttle bus that goes to both at the visitors center. I did not check out the price. Victoria Took the shuttle bus into town got off at the Empress Hotel. Walked around the Gardens at the Empress Hotel. The Empress Hotel is also kitty korner to the Royal BC Museaum. Right now they have an exhibit “Egypt and Phorahs” May 18-Dec 31. I will be back in Victoria the end of September so will check it out then In front of the Empress Hotel they have a hop on hop off bus that takes about 90 minutes. If you want to get off, you will need to allow an hour before the next hop on hop off bus comes around. I took this tour for $32.53 US or $40.00 Canadian. Seattle - Disembarktion About a week in the cruise, we received a Port Valet Form. If you are on Alaska, Delta, Southwest, or United (Domestic Only). You can participate in the Port Valet System at no extra cost if your flight leaves between 1:00 PM the day of disembarktion til 1:00 AM the following morning. Your luggage is taken away the night before disembarktion and you don’t see it til your final destination. They check you in for your flight, give you a boarding pass, with luggage tags to the Seattle airport. Once your luggage is at the airport they will give your luggage tags to your destination airport. If you are exempt from paying for luggage you fill out your FF number. We were not charged for our luggage, got our boarding pass and the luggage arrived at our final destination. I did have a great time on this cruise because I love Alaska. However there seemed to be some kind of disconnect between the staff. It could be that the staff had just joined the ship after drydock and they are working on meshing together, Read Less
Sail Date May 2018
My sister and I booked our cruse thru the cruse agent. We asked for a quiet cabin away from any ice machines, elevator, area with music etc. A quiet area. The first night we heard banging, and what sounded like something heavy rolling over ... Read More
My sister and I booked our cruse thru the cruse agent. We asked for a quiet cabin away from any ice machines, elevator, area with music etc. A quiet area. The first night we heard banging, and what sounded like something heavy rolling over concrete. We were under the 24 hour a day active ships galley. After being told there were no other cabins available, we asked for one of the ships land tours instead. They would not but sent us chocolates and a sorry card. We were stuck on a ship where could not get any sleep. Sleep deprivation is used to break down prisoners not people on vacation. Long miserable story short we got on the ship August 5th 2017 and off on the 13th. On the 13th we got off the ship and took the ships transport to Anchorage for our after cruse vacation. That very afternoon my sisters went to bed in the hotel with a fever. When the fever spiced to 103.8 I took her to Alaska Regional Hospital in Anchorage. She has a horrifying case of bacterial Pneumonia. She is still in the hospital today August 25th. PS, I also have Bronchitis and was put on Antibiotics. No ship should have a galley over cabins. Put it over the shops or anyplace where people are supposed to be able to sleep. The ship is ask horrible. To them a movie about Alaska and people talking about Alaska is considered shipboard entertainment. The food in the dining room and the coffee came out cold. The nice buttery croissants came out refrigerator cold. We met people with kids who told us that the kids went to planned events and nobody was there. When they complained they were told they were not there to entertain their children .WHAT????? Read Less
Sail Date August 2017
We did the northern Vancouver to Seward cruise that included Glacier Bay and then a land tour to Denali. We went to Vancouver early and walked around some, took the train into town from our hotel by airport. Other family went on ... Read More
We did the northern Vancouver to Seward cruise that included Glacier Bay and then a land tour to Denali. We went to Vancouver early and walked around some, took the train into town from our hotel by airport. Other family went on hop-on, hop-off trolley and enjoyed that. The ship was beautiful but could use some updates in bathroom in cabin and a second power outlet. The lido deck buffet food was good and plentiful. The dining room food was better. The burgers and fries at poolside were pretty good. Lines could be long at times. Casino was small but nice and winning was better than the other cruise I took. They had some card tournaments,but I did not do those. They had a good piano bar entertainer, Andy. Cabin service and room service were awesome. Drinks were delicious, we got the drink pkg. I think we missed out some by not going to the Crow's Nest more often. They had live music up there, I think we would've enjoyed that too. We did love Alaska and it's beauty. We stopped in Ketchikan, Juneau, and Skagway. All with their own beauty. We traveled with adult kids and had fun zip-lining, salmon fishing, trains, trams, flying misty fjords, glacier viewing, hiking and kayaking. The land tour was stunning. Bus from Seward to Denali was long but ok. We stayed in cabins at McKinley Chalet Resort which is a beautiful property. Across street from shopping, excursions available on property or across street. We hiked around property some and did a bus tour 60 miles into Denali. Saw plenty of caribou, Dallas sheep and some moose, and one bear. Got a great video of momma and baby moose walking down the road. Otherwise just stunning views. Traveled back to Anchorage by McKinley Explorer train. This is an awesome way to travel! Dining car on bottom and observation dome with our seats on top, with a bar. The hotel in Anchorage was an older building and needed renovations, particularly, elevators and lobby. The rooms were fine, with balcony and nice view. All in all it was a great trip and I highly recommend it. Holland America owns and gets you everywhere Read Less
Sail Date June 2017
We wanted to explore South America and did. We explored ports we never even heard of in Argentina, Uruguay, Chile, Peru, Ecuador and Mexico. The ports were small but very interesting and exciting. Holland America Line's ... Read More
We wanted to explore South America and did. We explored ports we never even heard of in Argentina, Uruguay, Chile, Peru, Ecuador and Mexico. The ports were small but very interesting and exciting. Holland America Line's strength is still their staff who were as always very friendly and professional, made up of, you guessed it, Phillipinos and Indonesian crew. The ship officers were not quite as friendly or visible. We were happy to discover that Holland America made arrangements to have a Pastor on Board to have an Easter service which quite a number of passengers took part in. Nathan & Cindy of Dallas, Texas also conducted bible studies on board. Most cruise lines do not look after spiritual needs of the passengers or crew. It was wonderful to see the fresh flowers all over the ship as is Holland's theme. The food and entertainment was very good. We enjoyed our Holland cruise once again. Read Less
Sail Date April 2017
I have never written a review related to my vacations, Be it cruises, or stays at hotels, etc. I have read reviews though, and found that in most cases they never represent experiences as accurately as they most likely unfolded. ... Read More
I have never written a review related to my vacations, Be it cruises, or stays at hotels, etc. I have read reviews though, and found that in most cases they never represent experiences as accurately as they most likely unfolded. Especially the cruise vacations. One must keep in mind that a review is based on the characteristics of the reviewer influenced by their values, formal and informal education, range of travel exposures, etc. etc. At the end of the day the cruiser establishes expectations that often are unrealistic relative to applying to everyone. As such the review reinforce every aspect of their voyage life from only one perspective. Too often it results in providing a negative outcome for the cruiser and a poor review. Thus their evaluation should be digested with great care. Similarly the review that gushes with perfection just might be a bit overboard as well. My wife and I are not cruisers with years of experience. We fall into the late sixties early seventies age range. We have been on two river cruises and three ocean cruises. Two of the ocean cruises were with Holland America and the most recent was on the Zaandam from Buenos Aires to Vancouver.We had a Vista suite compared to an outside ocean view cabin or inside cabin. For a long cruise (ours was 36 days) I encourage people to seriously consider the larger accommodation. There are times when one just needs to get away and enjoy the quiet and comfort of a larger room. By booking earlier the difference in cost is not that much. On the other hand taking an outside ocean view cabin fits the bill for many folks. Especially those people who are on a cruise of 7 days to 14 and are also individuals who love to socialize in the common areas. Inside cabin might also be ideal for folks who prefer spending most of their time away from their cabin. Simply -- know yourself and plan accordingly. I read a recent review submitted by a cruiser who was on the same ship as us at the same time, but for only part of the journey. The person did not have a good experience. However the examples of their concerns left me dumbfounded.To suggest there was limited leisure options for sea days based on Bingo or trivia caused me to review the daily schedule I brought home with me and to re-read my notes. I don't know how the cruiser missed the culinary shows, the guest lectures on either Global affairs or on the sea life related to places we were traveling to or seeing on sea days or the movie theatre and a host of other things that were on board.. I am amazed the cruiser did not hear the musicians who played in the lounges during the late afternoon or at night. I tried to imagine how one could not spend an hour or more observing the actions of people at the art auctions (even if you were not into art, the experience of watching others was fun). The evening entertainment was very diversified and of exceptional quality. Yes it might be that one comedian's sense of humor compared to another was not to one's liking but it was obviously appealing to others. Or perhaps one singer might not appeal to one group of folks but did to others. However, over the course of the voyage one would be hard pressed to say nothing in the way of entertainment was good. For me it was outstanding and exceeded expectations. Food seems to be a complaint most often heard from reviewers. Again what were the expectations when booking a cruise? My wife and I ate in the dining room 8 times over the 36 days. We ate in the Pinnacle dining room once and the Italian restaurant twice. We ate many meals in the Lido and enjoyed the casual hamburgers/hot dogs around the pool. The dining room service was very good. Not perhaps the same level of service one might experience in an extremely high end restaurant in a major North American or European city but I did not expect that level of service. What I received was terrific.The service was of a high quality in the other restaurants as well. Quality of food is a tough one to review. Again what are the expectations? The dining room and specialty restaurants provided food that was hot, well presented, and tasty. If one is on a long cruise and chose only to eat in the dining room it is possible the experience would prove monotonous, both in service and quality of food. But if one spreads their choice of food and venues each day or every couple of days the Zaandam offered value for money. If I offered any negative critical remark it would be for the Lido.The breakfast options were good and service was as expected for a buffet. Dinner entrees offered diversity but too often I found the food a bit on the cool side. On the other hand the temperature was just right for my wife. My recommendation when it comes to dining is be realistic about setting expectations. If you have made a great financial deal with an inside cabin and expect the cabin service and accommodation to be similar to a five star hotel you will undoubtedly be disappointed. If you expect the dining room and Lido restaurants to provide quality of food and service as if the servers were private butlers and each food item was prepared exactly as you wanted it you will be annoyed with that expectation not being achieved. Common areas are great on Zaandam. The library is well stocked. Only complaint would be with passengers who raid the shelves on the first day and take ten books and not return them until the end of their cruise. The Crows nest lounge is a great place to view the world as it slips slowly and quietly along. Other lounge areas are equally nice. Pool areas can be a bit noisy but isn't that what one should expect on a cruise ship? The Captain was very experienced and possessed a subtle sense of humor. Three cruise directors for three portions of the cruise provided us with different personalities and which one appeals to a person is anyone's best guess. All did their job well. The South America cruise from Buenos Aires to Vancouver met our expectations for exploring bits of the geography and being exposed to culture of many countries. We spent a few days in Buenos Aires before joining the ship and the city was fantastic. Many things to do and very cosmopolitan. I recommend spending at least a day and preferably more visiting the city before heading off on the Ocean waves. Montevideo was well worth touring. Due to the brief time in the city I would recommend taking either a planned Holland America cruise or local tour as there is much to see and too little time to see much of anything. Port Stanley was our first Tender port and the process was quick and easy. Don't plan a tour until you get ashore. The city is easy to walk around and there are many tour operators at dockside who will take you to any place you want to explore. A great little museum worth the visit. Punta Arenas, Chile and Ushuai Argentina are easy ports to walk around but we found the area limited for casual exploring. We did go out of the cities into the non urban places and loved the country side. Choices are many. The ship's location guide, (Ryan) was a wealth of knowledge and presented information each day on ports of call and was always at his desk. (I think he had a roll out bed in one of the drawers). Puerto Montt, Chile is another tender port and again the transfer went smoothly, (except for the periodic time when passengers chose to ignore the cruise staff directions because those passengers felt they deserved or where entitled to special considerations). I would recommend the Holland America excursion to Petrohue Falls and lake cruise. Yes, the tour is a bit touristy, but the country side is beautiful and the experience is very relaxing. Valparaiso, Chile is a city I first visited in 1964. It has changed a lot in the past fifty odd years. I am not sure what to recommend with this port. First, one needs to expect to see poverty throughout South and Central America. It can be unsettling and one needs to be prepared for it. Thus when you reach Valparaiso you will find the city, though rich in history, is also challenged with the conditions of poverty which can make the touring/visiting experience a difficult one. I encourage folks to consider taking a tour for this location. Or if one wants to see a bit of the country those people who went to Santiago, who I spoke with enjoyed the trip. Coquimbo is a small place and distance from the ship to the city requires a transfer (provided by the ship). My wife and I chose to go to the Elqui Valley and we did not regret it. Beautiful scenery and a great lunch/stop at Vicuna. Yes, it is a tourist tour but there were no other tourists, other than us, so it was not the type of rush and push one often associates with bus tours. General San Martin is one of those ports that you need to read up on to make a decision as to what you want to do. It is a desert area and not much to see unless you are into deserts. The tours that are offered by Holland America might be the best options for those who wish to go ashore. Callao/Lima is a longer stop. Most of the passengers I spoke with enjoyed this port. (Callao is a bit seedy and dangerous.and the recommendation to passengers is to not walk around the place). Interestingly, this was the same recommendation given to me and others way back in 1964 when I was in the Navy. How little things change. Some folks did the tour to Machu Pichu and loved it. We visited the area of Pachacamac and found the site quite interesting. You can walk around Lima without a concern. Salvaerry has many options and is worth trying to get a couple of other passengers to join you to arrange for a private car tour. It provides more flexibility and the cost spllt among four or six people is worth consideration. Manta, Ecuador is the home of "Panama" hats and buttons. This is another place you might want to check with the location advisor as to how best to tour the location. Puerto Caldero, Costa Rica is very limited with respect to walking around. Consider taking a tour and check with the location guide as to what is available dockside. Depending on the time of year you take the cruise the tour options might be more limited. Holland America offers many tours and perhaps folks who traveled on one of their excursions will write about them. In Puerto Chiapos we took a ship tour and went on the "Chiapas through the ages" tour. Again, for us it was an interesting tour and not too many other tourist were out and about in the town. Cabo Sans Lucas is well known to North Americans. It is very touristy and easy to walk around. It is a toss up for folks with respect to what to do. All kinds of tour operators are at dockside if one seeks a guided tour to surrounding areas. San Diego is a wonderful port. You can walk off the ship and take a Hop on Hop Off bus or arrange for guided tours or simply walk around the city. Victoria is also very easy to walk around. As soon as you walk off the ship you are in a nice neighborhood and it is an easy fifteen walk to the downtown area. There are also buses from dockside to downtown. A beautiful city, easy walking and lots to see and do in such a brief time in port. Vancouver is, in my mind, a city that cruise folks should research before making their transportation home arrangements. Spending a couple of days in this city is a great way to end their tour. A nice safe city with all kinds of areas to explore. Weather wise we hit the jack pot. Though the clouds came out in Stanley and the wind blew a bit in the Magellan Straits it never rained the entire time we were away. We were told that the ship was not able to dock at a couple of places we visited on its previous trip due to weather conditions. Also that the rain and clouds etc made some aspects of the South American cruise taken earlier in the season a bit problematic. For us the mid March to late April proved to be the best time for this cruise. Simply, this was a good introduction to people places and things associated with the "Americas". Just plan your trip with a good understanding of knowing you are and what you want out of a cruise. Oh yes, -- there was quite a range of ages on each portion of the cruise. A bit older for the first part. Mid sixties to late seventies from Buenos Aires to Valparaiso, a little younger from Valparaiso to San Diego and a number of younger families from San Diego to Vancouver. Also, keep in mind that the ship will take your passport when you board so have another piece of photo ID with you for when you go ashore. As well, American dollars are widely accepted so don't worry about currency exchange. Read Less
Sail Date March 2017
Zaandam Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.5 4.0
Dining 4.0 3.9
Entertainment 3.5 3.5
Public Rooms 4.0 4.2
Fitness Recreation 4.0 3.7
Family 3.5 3.7
Shore Excursion 4.0 3.9
Enrichment 3.5 3.6
Service 4.0 4.3
Value For Money 4.0 3.7
Rates 4.0 4.0

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