32 Holland America Zaandam Cruise Reviews for Family Cruises to Alaska

I have been to Alaska the last two years with my grandson on Holland America and loved it. The crew, the staff, the Chefs like Chef Kenny and Officer Marcus were so helpful. They were the dinamic duo making sure that everything was ready ... Read More
I have been to Alaska the last two years with my grandson on Holland America and loved it. The crew, the staff, the Chefs like Chef Kenny and Officer Marcus were so helpful. They were the dinamic duo making sure that everything was ready on time. In the dinning, Charlie, Marcus and our servers were happy, and very attentive. This is a happy ship, not sure what their secret is but the crew showed that they enjoyed their jobs, took great pride in all their challenges. Positivity flourished every where.! The excursion team was super. I think Derek from Amsterdam was tops. I would recommend this cruise so much that I am planning on repeating it again next year! The destinations were so different. The other guest on the ship were outgoing and friendly. The Zandam is a happy, clean, ship being staffed by some of the best crew I have ever had the pleasure of meeting. Thank you Holland America. Read Less
Sail Date August 2018
This was the longest cruise I have been on. Tha Zaandam is a smaller ship but everything seemed to be well maintained. The itinerary was great saw some smaller ports most people never see. The crew were all friendly and helpful. Scenery ... Read More
This was the longest cruise I have been on. Tha Zaandam is a smaller ship but everything seemed to be well maintained. The itinerary was great saw some smaller ports most people never see. The crew were all friendly and helpful. Scenery was awesome and saw lots of wildlife. Weather was really good for Alaska much sunshine. Went to Americas Test Kitchen demos and they were all informative and well organized. Only thing is I wished I had booked a balcony cabin, but Zaandam has very limited number of balconies and they are quite expensive.Food on board was generally quite good, but I really don't recommend the Italian restaurant on board not really worth the upcharge. MDR had very good food and service was really good, a life saver for me was that they had many 2 tops in the dining room which made my daughter very happy, She does not like eating with strangers. Buffet food was amazingly good. Overall I would recommend this cruise visits the itinerary it awesome, Read Less
Sail Date July 2018
Having sailed with HAL many times in the past, it was a no-brainer to pick the 14-day cruise on the ms Zaandam. This was my 4th cruise to Alaska, yet the itinerary included no less than 4 ports/sites that I had not seen before (Homer, Icy ... Read More
Having sailed with HAL many times in the past, it was a no-brainer to pick the 14-day cruise on the ms Zaandam. This was my 4th cruise to Alaska, yet the itinerary included no less than 4 ports/sites that I had not seen before (Homer, Icy Strait-Hoonah, Kodiak and Anchorage). As expected, the food and beverage service was above average. HAL's history of Filipino and Indonesian service staff is time-honored and well-known. But I did notice a few things that were not characteristic of prior HAL cruises. The cabin steward service was maddeningly inconsistent. The ventilation in our ocean-view stateroom was substandard - it always seemed warm and stuffy, even with the thermostat at the lowest possible setting. The bedding and bath linens were old, rough and threadbare. However, the bath had been recently upgraded with a nice sink and shower. The mattress was a slight upgrade over a military surplus cot, and I arose every morning with a a backache. I was surprised to find only ONE electrical outlet to be used for cell phone chargers, CPAP machine, Kindle chargers, etc. We had to ask for a power strip/extension cord which we had to drape over the door handle for the adjoining stateroom, which was cumbersome and hazardous. One thing has not changed on HAL is the pricey beverage structure. $7.00 for a domestic beer and $50.00 for a bottle of wine was enough to discourage my customary couple of beers in the afternoon and a bottle of wine for dinner. I was not happy with the structure of the Lido. A buffet should be self-serve, yet you had to stand in line for any hot food selections. On the other hand, I found the quality of the food in the Lido equal to that of the Dining Room, and since I was limiting my alcoholic beverage consumption due to high prices, I visited the Lido for all afternoon and evening meals except twice during the 14-day trip. Overall, a fine cruise with several notable disappointments. Read Less
Sail Date July 2018
Wanted a 2 week cruise to get out of the heat and this one had stops at places we haven't been to before. Like the smaller ship and getting an elevator was easy with no waiting. The crew and food were very good. The library was ... Read More
Wanted a 2 week cruise to get out of the heat and this one had stops at places we haven't been to before. Like the smaller ship and getting an elevator was easy with no waiting. The crew and food were very good. The library was excellent, stocked with books and games. We had an outside cabin with a newly renovated bathroom which was great. We are not fond of HAL's room setup and prefer Princess design better. HAL hallway into the room was cramped with the closet setup. Did not like having to stand up to turn the change on the tv. The bed was under the window and in Alaska you still get a lot of daylight coming in under the drapes.HAL is doing room steward care differently. There are no carts in the hallway and somehow your room would get taken care of. Saw very little of our room steward and miss talking to them during the day. You had to call guest services if you needed something and they would contact your steward. The portage glacier excursion was excellent in Anchorage. Read Less
Sail Date July 2018
I booked this cruise through a local travel agent. All the connections went smoothly to and from the ship. Our staterooms were cozy and cleaned daily by friendly staff. There were many places to eat onboard and the early dining was the ... Read More
I booked this cruise through a local travel agent. All the connections went smoothly to and from the ship. Our staterooms were cozy and cleaned daily by friendly staff. There were many places to eat onboard and the early dining was the best! We enjoyed all the excursions and the staff made sure we all found our activities after the ship docked. Had a terrific 2 week cruise we’ll never forget!! We also had a person using a walker and the handicapped room proved spacious enough to store it. The hot tubs and pools were very much enjoyed. Very clean and provided many towels. We also enjoyed the many ports with free shuttles to and from the activities right from the pier. While we were enjoying the glaciers the captain spent at least an hour at the scene so we could take many pictures and enjoy the wildlife while he turned the boat around. Read Less
Sail Date May 2018
I chose this cruise because it offered a visit to the Denali Wilderness Park. It also visited Skagway and Fairbanks, both places I had not visited. My first mistake was booking through a secondary seller. My usual travel agent was told ... Read More
I chose this cruise because it offered a visit to the Denali Wilderness Park. It also visited Skagway and Fairbanks, both places I had not visited. My first mistake was booking through a secondary seller. My usual travel agent was told by Holland America that they had not heard of the trip I was trying to book. So my friend and I booked through the secondary seller. The price was very low and as the trip progressed we discovered why. A complimentary cabin upgrade was offered. When we asked, no such upgrade was available. Gratuities were advertised as included. We were billed onboard for gratuities. Holland America's response to my inquiry about this was to politely say that it was my fault for taking such a cheap trip. The food on board ranged from acceptable to mediocre. Things that had been complimentary when I last travelled on Holland America were now charged for. Service was acceptable but orders in the dining room were frequently incorrect. There seemed to be an expectation that every service person you encountered was owed a tip. Shore excursions were aggressively marketed and overpriced. The hotel we overnighted in in Anchorage was badly in need of renovations. It was advertised as three star. I would call it closer to two stars. The breakfast buffet was terrible and outrageously priced. Read Less
Sail Date August 2017
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
This was our first time on HAL and to Alaska. I have been on two other cruises with Carnival and Royal Carribean. Overall it was a very good experience. The rooms were bigger than I expected and very clean. The attendants were friendly ... Read More
This was our first time on HAL and to Alaska. I have been on two other cruises with Carnival and Royal Carribean. Overall it was a very good experience. The rooms were bigger than I expected and very clean. The attendants were friendly and prompt with anything we needed. The entire crew was the most friendly we've ever experienced and could not have been better. The entertainment was pretty much what you would expect. I only have a few suggestions for HAL: Please provide music in the dining areas other than the elevator music loop that plays continuously. Also, if you take the land cruise portion of this cruise, you will likely be staying at HAL's hotel chain (Westmark Hotels). In Fairbanks and at Denali Park, these were very nice, however; the Anchorage location is very sub par and the kind of hotel I would never stay in. It smelled funky, had stains all over the carpet and looked very tired. Have them put you in the Captain Cook Hotel instead if headed to Anchorage. Read Less
Sail Date September 2016
This was my first cruise. All in all it went well. The positives: cabin very clean, ship very clean, staff extremely attentive (except the front desk people who were not always helpful). Negatives: in my cabin you could hear the music ... Read More
This was my first cruise. All in all it went well. The positives: cabin very clean, ship very clean, staff extremely attentive (except the front desk people who were not always helpful). Negatives: in my cabin you could hear the music being played from the floor below, the cabin had an odor as if the there was an issue with the plumbing system. The entertainment was not very good and that was disappointing. Also the port of Haines was VERY boring as there really is not much to do there. There are not many activities to do on the ship and the ship needs updating. We took the train from Anchorage to Seward. The ride was nice but they messed up our registration on the train so when we were going to the ship we had to wait for our boarding cards. Getting off the ship also did not go very smoothly as we purchased the package for transportation to the airport and for the ship to take our bags to the airport. They call EVERYONE at the same time to the lounge at 7:50am. We did not board our bus until 10:00am! We sat for over 2 hours in the lounge doing nothing. No reason for that. We had dietary restrictions (kosher) and the food specially ordered was NOT edible. The cruise line needs to get a new supplier. Read Less
Sail Date August 2016
We did the land and sea trip, landing first in Fairbanks AK. The arrival to Fairbanks Airport was seamless and staff were waiting for us with envelopes in hand. Communication was excellent and we proceeded by coach to the hotel. Was a ... Read More
We did the land and sea trip, landing first in Fairbanks AK. The arrival to Fairbanks Airport was seamless and staff were waiting for us with envelopes in hand. Communication was excellent and we proceeded by coach to the hotel. Was a quick night stay in a lovely hotel before being shuttled off to the Riverboat tour. This was an informative, relaxing and enjoyable tour with a hearty meal afterwards. We then proceeded by coach to the McKinley Westmark Hotel in Denali. Took a bit of a learning curve to figure how to get about the grounds and where things were located but otherwise the beauty of this area is astounding. Cost to eat meals is quite expensive and most of the entire area is owned by Holland America or Princess Cruise lines. We learnt that after the last cruise of the season, the entire area is boarded up, stop lights shut off and everything is closed till spring. Took part in the bus tour into Denali National Park in attempts to see Mt. McKinley or Denali Mountain. Only about 30% of visitors get to witness the highest mountain in Alaska. We weren't part of the lucky ones, however we did see plenty of wildlife and enjoyed the rugged scenery along the way. Our driver and guide "Becky" was extremely knowledgeable of the area and the animals/birds we were seeing. Had one day of tour free time. Glad we didn't book anything extra as we truly needed some relaxation time as the itinerary thus far was go, go, go. Travelled via train to Anchorage. They sold us on the Trolley City Tour of Anchorage which in my opinion was a total waste of money. Unfortunately, when our luggage was being transported via truck to Anchorage it was totally destroyed and unusable. We spent a good portion of our limited time in Anchorage searching for a replacement piece of luggage at our cost. Upon arriving back home, we'll need to see if we can be reimbursed. (not what wants to deal with on, nor after a vacation). Back onto a train for a scenic rail ride to Seward. This train ride was very picturesque and loved that our embarkation paperwork etc was completed on the train so that when we did arrive in Seward we could go directly onto the ship. First day at sea was a bit rough but once again needed the relaxation time. Sailing through the Glacier Bay area was breathtaking and pictures, nor video captures the vast beauty of this area. We were within 4 football fields of the glacier itself and I was magnified to its glorious colours, hugeness and the way its noises of crackling seemed to tell a story. Definitely a highlight. We ate our dinners primarily in the Rottingham Dining room. Saw many people not meeting the dress code and this to me was demeaning the classiness of the dining experience. I don't think pants and a collared shirt is much to ask. The Lido dining was very slow in the mornings, especially for a personal omelette. Did the specialty restaurant one night to celebrate anniversary and birthdays. Ordered the King Crab and it was the most tasteless piece of crab I have ever had. All the others enjoyed their meals but hadn't ordered the king crab. Haines port was very small and we didn't spend much time there as we took a ferry into Skagway for the White Pass Summit train ride. This was a beautiful tour with great views and information regarding the gold rush. We even got to go to the Yukon, Canada where the train then began to travel back the way in which we came. Shopping in Skagway was expensive and in many of the jewelry stores one felt like you were prey for the store clerks to pounce upon when you walked into the door. However this prey like behaviour lessened and the jewelry prices got better the further down Broadway one walked. In Juneau we took a bus excursion from a local company at a cheaper rate than offered on the ship. Was a fantastic excursion to Mendenhall Glacier, city tour, panoramic photo op of the port and city itself. The driver/guide was born in Juneau and had much information to offer. While at the glacier we saw the salmon swimming upstream to spawn. Fortunate for us there was a Momma Black Bear and her 3 cubs along the riverside. We watched as Momma splashed about in the river and caught a salmon, bringing it on shore for all to feast upon. The shopping in Juneau was primarily Jewelry store with a few trinket stores dispersed within. I did but a pair of black "fuzzies" comfortable leather shoes/slippers/moccasins at a reasonable price. Also to note there is free Wifi in the library located on the top of the parking garage for anyone wanting to check emails but not wanting to buy the internet package on board. BTW I heard it was very intermittent on the ship with frequent cut offs from service. We had an inside cabin in the middle of the ship. Was very comfortable and room stewards were actively cleaning all the time. There was a terrible rotting cabbage/garbage smell in the hallways for several days on our floor. It seeped into the rooms a bit but I had brought room deodorizer with me that seemed to help keep the smell to the hallway. The weather was cloudy most of the days with the odd peaking out of sunshine. Fog was standard in the mornings and usually had cleared by 9:30 - 10:00 am, although some lingered along the mountain tops playing peek-a-boo with the peaks of the mountains. Temperatures ranged from lows in the evenings in high 50'sF or teens C to almost 80F or 26C in Ketchikan. We didn't require sweatshirts, scarves, gloves etc. Unless you plan on walking onto the glaciers. A long sleeved shirt with a jacket seemed to suffice, but shorts and t-shirt was needed in Ketchikan on our visit. Washed laundry while on the ship in the laundry room. Wash was $3.00 and dry was $1.50. Machines did a good job only there weren't enough of them. Often there was a line up and people waiting. Somewhat of an organized chaos. The cost of $50.00 for the ship to wash a small brown paper bag of clothes after being on shore for 5 days prior to the cruise itself was a bit much I think. Obviously, given the number of people doing their own laundry they all felt the same. Several times while eating a meal we caught a glimpse of whales, otters and even bald eagles in the distance. The entertainment was a good quality but many of the entertainers we had seem before on a HAL cruise. Thought the shows themselves could have been a bit longer. The next stopped was in Ketchikan. This is the most affordable stop for souvenirs. Jewelry was still too expensive in most stores. We ate a fantastic "Halibut" sandwich at a place called "Dairy Queen" located by the vehicle tunnel across the street from the port dock. We looked into attending the Lumberjack show but thought $39.95 each for a 1 hour show was too expensive so we just walked about. Considering the cloudiness of most days, the pool temperature was very nice. The hot tubs were at 2 different temperature in each and quite enjoyable. Often there were kids in them unsupervised, so we usually went after dinner. They close the hot tubs and pool at 10 pm and although I understand the reasoning behind this, it would be nice if they were opened longer. We had the late disembarkation into Vancouver and found it went well considering the amount of people leaving the ship. Customs was easy so long as you had your declaration paperwork completed before you left. The line-ups to obtain a taxi was crazy long and something needs to be done to manage that better. We ended up walking with our luggage to the Budget Rent a Car about 1.5 km or 1 mile away. Keep in mind it was uphill most of the way. Not for the faint at heart. We stayed in Vancouver for 4 days to take in the sights. Driving in Vancouver is treacherous and crazy. Its more like a moving parking lot intertwined with bicycles and pedestrians coming out of nowhere. I'm a professional driver and advise if you are a nervous driver at all, take the public transportation instead of renting a vehicle. Vancouver is a refined beauty compared the rugged beauty of Alaska. Read Less
Sail Date August 2016
We chose this cruise because of the free cruise for 3rd and 4th passengers and excellent price for the cruise/land package. This is an older ship but well maintained and our only complaint was a smelly hallway on deck one from time to ... Read More
We chose this cruise because of the free cruise for 3rd and 4th passengers and excellent price for the cruise/land package. This is an older ship but well maintained and our only complaint was a smelly hallway on deck one from time to time. Our ocean view cabin was a little bigger than we expected and we had enough room for clothes and luggage storage. Dining was above average, we ate second sitting for Dinner in the main dining room. Waiters were friendly and spoiled our grandkids. Service was outstanding and every detail for the transition from cruise to land tour was very smooth. We booked our own shore excursions and saved a few bucks but we didn't skimp on the activities that appealed to us. We did a whale tour in Juneau, the Deadliest Catch tour in Ketchikan, and a wonderful Glacier Point Adventure tour in Skagway. Glacier Bay National Park was a highlight. Alaska was on our bucket list for traveling with our grandkids and this trip met all our expectations and will be a highlight for our family. Read Less
Sail Date July 2016
This was my first cruise and the experience was wonderful. We had chosen HAL on the recommendation of a friend. The other 5 in my group had all done at least one cruise before, so I was the lone "rookie". A bit of concern the ... Read More
This was my first cruise and the experience was wonderful. We had chosen HAL on the recommendation of a friend. The other 5 in my group had all done at least one cruise before, so I was the lone "rookie". A bit of concern the night before we left Vancouver (we had flown in from New Jersey a day early) as we saw there were also 2 other ships in port at 1 Canada Place. But, we were able to arrive early enough to get on the ship without much hassle. And, as a bonus, our staterooms were already serviced and ready for us. The dining package and our included drink package was the best part of being onboard. We could eat as our time allowed (always breakfast and then around the day's scheduled excursions) and it was almost always a good quality meal. The main dinner setting had a fine choice of foods, but we also ate on the Lido Deck a few times, which was also very good. We were fortunate that for 2 of our 4 excursions, it was just the 3 of us. But it was well organized, as we never had an issue finding the right bus or van just off the boat or right outside the main lodge once we reached Denali National Park (McKinley Chalet Resort). For each of our excursions, we had both knowledgeable and entertaining guides. In Ketchikan, we went to the Bear Creek Zip Line excursion, where Jake and Justin were highly skilled in all facets while also keeping us laughing the whole time. Since I was initially a bit nervous abut zip lining, it was very helpful. In Juneau, I went on a photography themes hike to the Mendenhall Glacier, followed by a whale watching tour. Shane was our main guide and was very helpful with his photo tips, both while hiking and on the boat. Capt. Jim, working with his nearby associates, got us in perfect position to catch first 2 humpbacks (a mom and a calf) and then a whole group of about 12-15 more. We then reached port in Skagway, where we took the White Pass & Yukon Rail tour up to Fraser, British Coulmbia. A fantastic train ride from sea level up 2,800 feet and 28 miles into the mountains led us to the excursion we were anticipating the most.....kayaking in Lake Bernard. While the weather made it a bit cooler than we had hoped, it was still a great experience. Our new friends from Packer Expeditions _ Alex, Brent and Megan _ were fantastic in teaching us kayak safety (even though we are all experienced kayakers!) and what to expect on the tandem vessels. The remainder of the cruise portion of our trip took us back down into Glacier Bay before travelling on to Seward. The trip the Glacier Bay National Park was another of the trip's highlights. Though we learned the weather along the Alaska coast can be a bit of a bummer with the overcast and rainy nature, it always seemed to be nice enough when we needed it to be. We were able to get many great photos around the glaciers, even catching quite a few chances to see/hear ice breaking off. Our disembarkation in Seward was a little difficult, only because we had to do so at 6 AM!!! That was a bit rough. However, the ship had made the decision to open the kitchen an hour earlier than usual (5 AM), so we were able to eat before leaving for the train ride up to Anchorage. The land portion was equally enjoyable, if a bit short. When I go back, I will plan to spend more time on land, as I would've liked to do more exploring there. But both the first train ride up to Anchorage (4 hours) and the second day from Anchorage to our resort in Healy (8 hours) were wonderfully scenic. Our first full day in the park, HAL had scheduled a tour of the park that was pretty amazing. We saw 4 of the "Big 5" in terms of wildlife (moose, bear, caribou and dall sheep, no wolves) and the beauty and just vast landscape were overwhelming! Our last chosen excursion was the Black Diamond ATV adventure, a second time we were lucky inthat we were the only ones who had chosen that particular journey. Again, we had a blast with our guides Braden and Nickolai. They were very funny and made sure we were educated on the machines we used. The only complaint I had was HAL trying to separate from our luggage when we left the ship. They wanted us to ship any bags we felt we didn't need directly to Fairbanks, our last scheduled stop before flying home. As I had brought 2 smaller bags instead of 1 very large one, this was very inconvenient. It took a great deal of discussion to get the second tag I needed. I'm not sure why they did it that way, but in the end they did allow me to keep both bags with me the entire time. I would definitely go again and have been constantly telling friends they should go if/when they get the chance. I have had many vacations in my 53+ years, and can honestly say that this was the best one yet. Read Less
Sail Date July 2016
we traveled with our daughter and 3 granddaughters. we had 2 oceanview cabins next to each other. It was on the main deck. they were very good cabins and location.we thought the food at the Lido deck was very good, with many cooked to ... Read More
we traveled with our daughter and 3 granddaughters. we had 2 oceanview cabins next to each other. It was on the main deck. they were very good cabins and location.we thought the food at the Lido deck was very good, with many cooked to order fresh at breakfast. We like that most items at the Lido restruant was not serve yourself. and the crew went out of their way to serve you. The main dining room was another story they were very slow and at times seemed like they would rather that we were not there, with our 3 grandchildern. so after three days we quit going to the main dining. Now the Canaletto dining was fantastic with great service and waiters not able to do enough for you. yes we would go again even on the same ship, because a trip is more than one or two misfortunes. Read Less
Sail Date June 2015
This ship should be taken out of service for a maajor overhaul. Bathroom tiles were mildew stained. Vinyl on restaurant booths were torn Dining tables had cracks in Formica that collected dirt. Line cooks were nice unless you had a ... Read More
This ship should be taken out of service for a maajor overhaul. Bathroom tiles were mildew stained. Vinyl on restaurant booths were torn Dining tables had cracks in Formica that collected dirt. Line cooks were nice unless you had a request then they were snippy. Buffet often closed early or opened late. Food variety was good and it looked great but was bland. Bar service was spotty. One of the chefs and one of the muscians obviously hated their job as they were miserable. Also I didn't like the fact that they often turned the cruise into a floating market by putting up tables to sell wares. Also several of the "activities" and "services" that they offered was just a ploy to get you to buy things. The only reason I didn't give it a one star is because the desk agents and stewards were great and they responded quickly to a broken AC unit and toilet. Read Less
Sail Date June 2015
Overall, this was an excellent trip. Of course, we enjoyed some uncommonly phenomenal weather, so that set the tone for most of the trip. The pre-cruise hotel stay at the Pan Pacific Hotel in Vancouver was the perfect place to kick ... Read More
Overall, this was an excellent trip. Of course, we enjoyed some uncommonly phenomenal weather, so that set the tone for most of the trip. The pre-cruise hotel stay at the Pan Pacific Hotel in Vancouver was the perfect place to kick things off. The hotel couldn't be in a better location (at Canada Place overlooking the pier), and the accommodations and service were wonderful. Having read some of the other reviews, I had some concerns about whether I had made the best choice of ship for our family group of 4 adults (2 in their early 50s and 2 in their early 70s). I chose the Zaandam because I was looking for a smaller, more elegant ship that would be easy to navigate and would hopefully allow us to avoid congestion and long lines. The ship is in very good condition, and I think it was a perfect choice for our group. For the most part, there were never lines, congestion or waiting for anything. The ship's common areas are tastefully decorate and spacious, and allow for easy traffic movement. We elected to upgrade to the Neptune Suites, and we had adjacent staterooms and adjoining balconies. There are certainly far less expensive stateroom options on the ship, but we definitely wanted access to balconies for this trip to Alaska, and the up charge from a balcony cabin to a suite was quite reasonable. In my opinion, the extra space of the stateroom (about 450 sq. ft.) and access to the Neptune Lounge alone justified the modest additional expense. With the Neptune Lounge, you have delicious food and beverages available all day (many days we ate breakfast and lunch in the lounge), and the services of a personal concierge. It is a terrific perk, among others that are afforded suites passengers (e.g., daily laundry and dry cleaning service). The stateroom itself was also tastefully decorated and quite spacious. My only criticism would be that the bathrooms, which are perfectly functional, are quite dated looking. I know the ship was christened in 2000, but I can't imagine when in the last 15 years the color palate in the bath areas was ever "in." The food onboard the ship was, for the most part, excellent. We particularly enjoyed The Pinnacle Grill, but we had several excellent meals in the Rotterdam Dining Room. Our experience at Le Cirque was very good, although we all agreed that we preferred our meals at The Pinnacle Grill, and we didn't feel the significant up charge for Le Cirque was justified. I think the real standout of this cruise with HAL, though, was the customer service we encountered while on the ship. The service was very warm and personal; in fact, it was not uncommon to be addressed by name if we encountered staff members outside of our cabins. They really seem to have a "whatever, whenever" philosophy about offering assistance in any way they can, and their enthusiasm and quick smiles and greetings really made us feel like special guests. We enjoyed excursions in every port (several of which I scheduled on my own before the cruise due to cost savings), and the disembarkation/embarkation process in every port was quick and hassle free. My two criticisms of the entire almost two-week trip concern the disembarkation process on the final day (Seward) and the post-cruise/post-Denali hotel stay in Anchorage. First, the land tour specialist on the boat completely mishandled the disembarkation process for those of us continuing on a land tour to Denali, and it resulted in a lot of hurry up and wait time at 7:00am. When we were finally cleared to leave the ship, it was a cluster to secure seats on the bus and our group was separated. It was unnecessary and frustrating, and set a bad tone for an all-day bus trip to Denali. Once in Denali, the McKinley Chalet was clean and comfortable, but it was the Wilderness Tour the following day that more than made up for the hassle of getting there. On an 8-hour tour, we saw dall sheep, moose, caribou, and 4 adult grizzlies and 4 grizzly cubs. It was phenomenal! The return trip to Anchorage the following day aboard the McKinley Explorer train was also a highlight. In addition to the amazing sight-seeing aboard the domed rail cars, the food and service onboard the train was top-notch. In fact, HAL impressed us with the caliber of the guides and drivers. They were all genuinely engaging, informative and entertaining. Now, back to the other criticism, and a big sore point of the trip: The post-cruise hotel stay at the Westmark Hotel in Anchorage. In a nutshell, it's a dump and really should be removed from the itinerary. After having kicked off the trip at the Pan Pacific Hotel in Vancouver and then spent a week in a suite onboard the ship, to end the trip at the Westmark was a real letdown. The Westmark enjoys a great location in Anchorage, but there was a Hilton and a Marriott within a stone's throw of our hotel, and I would insist on staying in one of those properties if I had it to do all over again. Fortunately, our time there amounted to less than 24 hours of entire trip, and it didn't kill us (at least nothing we've been diagnosed with yet), but it was sure a low-light of the trip and definitely a misstep on HAL's part. Read Less
Sail Date May 2015
About 20 years ago we took a Holland America cruise to Alaska on the Noordam with my parents, and an Uncle and Aunt. We all had very positive memories of that experience. This time we took the same trip with 2 of our children, and their ... Read More
About 20 years ago we took a Holland America cruise to Alaska on the Noordam with my parents, and an Uncle and Aunt. We all had very positive memories of that experience. This time we took the same trip with 2 of our children, and their spouses, to celebrate our 60th wedding anniversary. Unfortunately I had some extremely upsetting times on the cruise this time. We had asked for a handicap room because I have balance problems, especially in the shower. The 2 foot wide shower was not helpful, especially with with a pulldown chair up against the wall that took up some of the 2 feet. l I can't imagine a very handicapped person showering sitting on the chair with such limited space. I have experienced much better to say the least. Also, the very first morning the very odd toilet you you provide didn't work so a plumber was called. Latter that same morning the shower head kept drooping, making showering a challenge. My handyman husband fix it but again the plumber had to be called. He installed a completely new unit. Then, on the very last day the toilet didn't work again. Our son in law thought it was because too many people were trying to use the toilet at the same time. Our son also had a toilet problem on the first day. In my opinion your bath towels were too big and bulky. We have traveled a lot of the world, and the USA, and never experienced such huge towels. I have to wonder if the person who collects the towels off the floor is the same one who replaces clean towels without hand washing? The process for debarking the ship was a problem for us. If it weren't for a few courteous passengers in our crowded hallway we would have been trapped in our room. Your new rendition of Baked Alaska was pathetic compared to our first trip tears ago. It was a big disappointment after telling our kids they'd love it. On the positive side, we found all the workers to be friendly and helpful, which we did appreciate. It may be a good idea to suggest that all passengers try to be courteous. Most were but some only thought of themselves. I very much appreciated the emphasis on handwashing before going through the food lines. The cost of pictures taken of passengers was too high. A lower price would be an incentive to buy, and would result in more profit for the photographers. A good on line photo system would save dollars as only copies ordered would be printed. Read Less
Sail Date August 2014
We were a group of three, 2 daughters and their mother. This was my 8th cruise, my mother's second and my sister's first. None of us had ever been to Alaska before. We stayed one night pre-cruise at the Pan Pacific Hotel in ... Read More
We were a group of three, 2 daughters and their mother. This was my 8th cruise, my mother's second and my sister's first. None of us had ever been to Alaska before. We stayed one night pre-cruise at the Pan Pacific Hotel in Vancouver, which we booked throught HAL. It was such a convenient location and a really nice hotel. One nice thing about it was that the hotel takes care of transferring your luggage to the ship, making it so much easier for us. We decided to treat ourselves to a Neptune suite and we loved everything about it. There was tons of space, lots of storage, a large balcony, wonderful cabin stewards and all the perks of a Neptune Suite including the Neptune Lounge. Our concierges were welcoming and friendly and took good care of us. The Zaandam was in great shape and we found the crew to be friendly and eager to please. The food was excellent. The service in the dining room was quick and attentive. We ate once in the Pinnacle Grill and quite enjoyed it. We only ate in the Lido a few times - it was good but we prefered the MDR. We booked 3 excursions through HAL and enjoyed them all. The weather in Juneau was awful - rainy and very foggy, but the whales we saw on our whale watching excursion didn't seem to mind the bad weather. The White Pass railway excursion in Skagway took us through beautiful scenery and the guide was full of knowledge about the area and it's history. In Ketchikan we went on the crab feast - first we saw how they fish for the Dungeness crabs. Then we got to eat as much as we liked. They were delicious. The best part of the cruise we all agree was Tracy Arm. The scenery was breathtaking, and when we were lucky enough to get all the way to the glacier we were in awe. It was a magical day with stunning scenery and beautiful weather. Embarkation and disembarkation were both organized and easy. I would recommend this itinerary, HAL and especialy the Zaandam to anyone. Read Less
Sail Date July 2014
We were on a Land/Sea tour that went to the Yukon and Denali so only spent 3 nights on the ship. I was initially unhappy with the cabin location, but it ended up being OK. It was a long walk from elevators to the very back of our deck and ... Read More
We were on a Land/Sea tour that went to the Yukon and Denali so only spent 3 nights on the ship. I was initially unhappy with the cabin location, but it ended up being OK. It was a long walk from elevators to the very back of our deck and we were always on the elevators to get to meals or coffee or Crows Nest. Noise was not terrible except for one morning we awoke to unusual engine noise for about 30 mins. The cabin was good sized for 2 people and the bed was comfortable. Our steward was efficient and invisible. The food at the Lido was varied. We had no problem finding something we liked. The ship seemed in good repair.We did not notice any shabby areas, though we were not looking for this. Only saw one show with Leon and Romy, Rock Illusionists. Enjoyed this very much. The Land portion of our trip was wonderful. All the Westmark hotels were fine. Each was different, but rooms were quite acceptable. Hectic schedule for each day, but we covered a lot of distance in a short time. Seeing Grizzly bears in Denali was a thrill and seeing Jeff King's presentation about Iditarod and his huskies was great. The history of the Gold Rush came alive in Whitehorse and Dawson City Yukon Territory. The biggest problem with our trip was that it needed to be longer. I would have loved to have more than one night in each place. Maybe after we retire we could take an extended trip. Read Less
Sail Date July 2014
Getting underway on a ship was a much more enjoying experience than the last time. Having spent 6 years in the Navy and 4 of those on a ship, I understand tight quarters, limited food and boredom. Exterior: Overall I think the exterior ... Read More
Getting underway on a ship was a much more enjoying experience than the last time. Having spent 6 years in the Navy and 4 of those on a ship, I understand tight quarters, limited food and boredom. Exterior: Overall I think the exterior of the ship was in good condition based on her age. There were a few days that I could hear the rattle of needle guns and chipping hammers. Fresh paint and primer was in the air and ventilation while we were on shore. It's just a smell you don't forget, not that bad, but not good. So while most people would complain, it is a fact of life that maintenance and cleaning in a salt-water environment must be constant. Interior: There were a few areas in the lounges where I could see corrosion take it's toll on the base of window frames. The carpets are showing their age, but those were mainly around the area that we entered and exited the ship. I also noticed several area where stains were left from people spilling items. Stateroom: My wife and I had plenty of room in our stateroom for the excessive clothes we brought. I think I only used 1/2 of what I took. Our daughters had an adjoining room and although it looked like a clothing bomb exploded, they could have space to store their stuff. As one of both of my teens were in and out of our room, I would say that 3 people is crowded and 4 is crazy in a standard room. We had ample room to store our suitcases under the bed and keep them out of the way. I did run out of hangers and used some from our other room. Our cabin stewards were the best. They knew our names and habits as well as when to jump in and clean up. Since we brought soda with us, they managed to keep a large stocked ice bucket in our room. I didn't watch too much TV, as I could have done that at home, but the channels were limited and the volume was either too loud or too soft. Perhaps it was the acoustics or I am getting old. Dining: We had open seating as there were 14 people in our group. Breakfast was usually at the Lido and the prepared hot items were OK, I opted for eggs to order or omelets. They had a great selection of juices, fruits and cereal. I would usually eat about 6:30-7 after my morning walk. I was still stuck on CST until the end of my trip. Lunch again was at the Lido and only once in the MDR, mainly due to the hours of operation. The food wasn't bad, but more of an OK, and I want to eat. They had a large selection of items and I should disclose that I was trying to limit myself to low-fat items. Most of the items just seems to be missing flavor. I did eat a lot of fish for lunch and dinner and they were all great pieces cooked right. Dinner was unique as some times it was 4 or other times it was 14. We ate in the MDR almost every night. The food was delivered timely, but again the flavor aspect was missing. I will say that we had plenty to choose from and was never hungry when I left. The desserts were good (from what I was told) and I opted for the fruit plate that became the running joke of the cruise. Read Less
Sail Date July 2013
First, I am not a Holland America "homer". I've now sailed with them 3 times but my allegience is with Princess thanks to the great amenities we've earned over 22 sailings. I wish CCL would allow Captain's Circle ... Read More
First, I am not a Holland America "homer". I've now sailed with them 3 times but my allegience is with Princess thanks to the great amenities we've earned over 22 sailings. I wish CCL would allow Captain's Circle members the same amenities on Holland as the Mariner Society members receive and vice versa. It would be really good for CCL business if they allowed that type of arrangement among all of their cruise companies. Our cruise was booked close to a year in advance. As the date got closer I looked into Zaandam reviews on cruisecritic and was somewhat alarmed at what was written by some people who must be very difficult to please. It's not the rundown vessel plagued by poor service some would like others to believe. Yes, there is a little rust here and there but I challenge everyone to try not to find rust on a 10 year old vessel. I noted only one burned out lightbulb on the ship. The overall service was outstanding. Boarding: We arrived at Seattle pier 91 a bit later than we had hoped and waited 20 minutes to get our keys Cabin: We switched to a 4 person cabin about 6 weeks from departure when it appeared Grammie's work schedule would allow her to join us. We ended up as far forward and inside as one can be on the Dolphin Deck. Great exercise going up and down the stairways to the dining areas and very convenient to the Mondrian Lounge where all the shows were held. Twin beds with a pull down bunk for grandson #2 and a pull out sofa for grandson #1. Lots of closet space and space under beds for luggage. Bathroom was quite adequate and the shower seemed a little roomier than what we find on Princess. Only detractor for the cruise was the intermittent operation of the toilet flushing mechanism. It was tempermental but the resident plumber showed us how to use a "magic pencil" to flush the toilet manually when necessary. (There's a little hole on the right side of the bowl at the wall, insert the pencil and whoosh). The trouble was noted and scheduled for fixing. Flat screen TV worked well with a decent selection of channels like CNN (constantly nothing new), cartoons, the bow channel, a couple of movie channels (one showed the movie NO SIGNAL for most of the cruise). Cabin attendent Aden did a good job keeping the room squared away. Dining: Dining manager Indra assigned us a window seat at table 110 every evening at 5:15 in the anytime (Deck 4) section of the Rotterdam Dining Room. Our waiter Tono was quite special and very good with the boys. All of his recommendations during our 6 nights with him were spot on and he and his assistant kept the meals going at a reasonable yet unrushed pace. When he had a moment, Tono conversed with us and even showed us some magic tricks. We enjoyed our final dinner at Caneletto a nice, no-surcharge, Italian focused dining area set aside from the Lido buffet on Deck 8. The antipasto, minestrone, lasagne, fruitti de mare and tiramisu were quite good. From conversations we heard at tables nearby it seemed as if many folks spent the majority of their dinners at Caneletto which had a superb varied menu that I would have enjoyed multiple times. The meals in the Rotterdam Dining Room were stellar. Breakfast choices were limitless and those we ordered were wonderful. Our dinner choices of crab legs, steak, seafood, lamb chops, soups, salads and desserts were served at the proper temperature and all thoroughly enjoyed. (The lobster was a bit salty.) The Lido breakfasts and lunches were equally impressive regarding variety and quality. The staff was right on top of cleanliness in all eating venues. Tried the poolside taco bar once and was completely satisfied. Entertainment: Cruise Director Erik put together great shows for us. I generally sat through both early and late shows because the boys were at Club HAL during the early show and they wanted to see the stage shows as well. Lee Bayless' comedy was totally family oriented and fun proving one doesn't require profanity to be successful. Well Done Lee! Joel Mason's Elton John tribute was done to perfection and interlaced with family suitable comedy. What a talented musician he is. The Zaandam singers and dancers were energetic and technically very proficient and the band was fantastic. The dueling drummer and bongo player during a break in the Elton John act was top notch...well done ladies! Club HAL: The boys spent nearly every waking onboard moment with new friends and a kid-passionate counselor, Cassandra, immersed in numerous, never boring, Club HAL activities. Everything they got involved with was judged to have passed with flying colors according to the boys. They even had some high quality one on eight interaction with a Park Ranger in Glacier Bay. Itinerary: I chose this cruise with the boys because I wanted them to experience Sitka's Russian heritage, the Raptor Center, and also a wildlife expedition. Princess does not visit Sitka very often and not out of Seattle. Unfortunately, on the first night out Zaandam ran into very high seas (30+ft swells) that really pounded the ship. With an unfavorable forecast for better conditions the Captain wisely turned around and detoured the ship into the Inside Passage. A lot of meclizine was consumed that night. Being berthed well forward we had e-ticket thrills for quite a while. I resurrected my USN sealegs and was thankful to have them come back so quickly. Unfortunately, the change in routing caused Sitka to be axed from the schedule. Disappointing to everyone? Yes, but the Captain did the right thing for our comfort and safety. The weather in Juneau was good enough for us to enjoy a visit to Mendenhall Glacier and a trip up the Mt. Roberts Tram before the weather turned foul. People who took helo rides up to the glaciers were not disappointed. Despite the rainy (what else?) weather in Ketchikan, The Great Alaskan Lumberjack Show was a big hit with those who attended. Having visited Victoria several times in the past, we stayed aboard during the 4 hour stop in that port. Disembarkation: Very smooth as we enjoyed a leisurely breakfast, let most everyone off ahead of us and we took care of our own luggage. No heartburn here! Other comments: Paula the Party Planner was a joy. She hosted numerous activities in the Wajang Theatre/Culinary Arts Center that were quite popular. The cooking demonstrations and the galley tour were fun. Pilar in the gift shop was also very personable as was Maki, the barrista in the Explorers Cafe. The daily sudoku and trivia contests in the library were challenging and the musicians (especially the "Adagio Strings") did a fine job of entertaining the passengers throughout the ship. The Front Office staff were well-groomed, professional, personable, and helpful. I did not miss the Park West art program but couldn't get too excited by its replacement. John and Miriam who run the future cruise assistance desk are fine HAL representatives and very knowledgeable about the HAL vessels and itineraries. The material condition of Zaandam was good and effort continues daily to keep the ship up to HAL's high standards. I didn't see a frown on the face of any crewmember the entire week. Even the deckhands cleaning the lower promenade wraparound deck at 5am were in good spirits. Reflecting back on some derogatory comments I read by recent posters on cruisecritic.com I wonder if we were on the same ship. Read Less
Sail Date September 2010
We were prepared for things to go south, rather than north considering that we had such a diverse group going on this cruise. 2 very active seniors both quite hard of hearing and both very opinionated were with us, both truly believing ... Read More
We were prepared for things to go south, rather than north considering that we had such a diverse group going on this cruise. 2 very active seniors both quite hard of hearing and both very opinionated were with us, both truly believing that we would be walking through a foot of snow in ports because we were going so early in the season. Never cruised before, so we at least knew the ship would impress them. 1 semi senior, smoker, single, who injured herself 2 weeks before we left which made walking very difficult. Has cruised many years ago, but only Caribbean destinations. 2 mid thirties who have cruised twice before, honeymoon cruise to Alaska, and a 3 day quickie out of Miami. I have a gluten allergy, which makes eating tricky. Holland America was the only line that was reasonable for a single, I applaud them for that. They also made me believe that they would take care of me as far as my gluten allergy, I will give them a 3.5 out of 5 on that, but forms went back and forth prior to the cruise and I felt good about it prior to boarding. Embarkation was a zoo, it really would have been daunting to someone who didn't have a lot of time (we were quite early) or a complete newbie. There was not good instructions regarding tagging of luggage or where it went while you were outside the terminal in line. The lines did move surprisingly quickly, so don't get bent out of shape over the long lines, it moves along rapidly. It would be nice if the embarkation photo spot had a place to set down jackets and carry ons so you could get a nice picture...I would have like one that was good of us all. The first two days there were some rough seas, and Grandma did get sick. After that she was touchy, but not bad. Make sure you get scopolamine or whatever it is called, it works very well. The Lido buffet was, in my opinion, poorly set up as a buffet, but I don't know how else you could do it. Breakfast hours were extremely short in both the Lido and the Rotterdam dining so make sure you are an early bird... I chose for the family to eat sit down meals in the dining room. I just hate buffets, and I felt we all enjoyed the meals much better and had more control over the meals. No elbow football in the Lido line up, with vultures hovering over your table and kids screaming. Be prepared for about and 1.5 for lunch and breakfast in the Rotterdam, but hey, dining is half the experience. I was very disappointed to find that after the hours of paperwork I submitted to ensure they had gluten free breads on board, the bagels I requested never were to be found. I would have been pleased to simply have had the bread, except that I did all this extra paperwork to ensure what I wanted each day. The dining room servers for the most part were good, and after day two they were getting the hang of the gluten free. Don't be scared to tell them something was wrong or you can't eat something, but for goodness sakes, do it politely, I couldn't believe the treatment some people gave these poor servers. English was definitely a second language, which provided some difficulties at times, but overall, the meals were fantastic. One of our seniors partial broke on day one of the trip, making chewing difficult, and he couldn't believe that the meat was so tender he could still eat it. Even our fussiest eater was impressed with the food, and that says something. As you wish dining was all we could get by the time we booked our cruise. That is a bit of a pain in the butt with a group of 5 as there was limited tables for our group. We tried just showing up as they suggested only once, and they did accomodate us quickly, but if you have evening plans your plans might go out the door as there are no guarantees for seating. We had wanted the early seating...no such luck. So, if you get stuck with as you wish dining instead, CALL right away at 8:00 am and get a reservation, usually you will get 5:15 or 5:30, if you wait you likely will get 7:15. Shipboard activities were excellent, but a few of my favorites never appeared again, like the icecarving that would be done on deck for the evening display. There were ice molds I would say, not hand carved, for the chocolate extravaganza and a couple of meals, but not the carvings of old. I enjoyed the three ports and glacier bay, but beware of the 7.50 park tax that has "suddenly" been imposed and will be charged to your room for going into glacier bay. No one informed us of this. This particular cruise was a nice mix of port time and ship time. Sitka, in my opinion, was a poor port, and should have been a half day excursion, rather than taking Ketchikan down to a half day. Sitka was nice, but not much to see on land. I understand the need to stop for 3 hours in Victoria because of the foreign port rules, but they sure don't do anything for ship tourism like the other ports do LOL! The shore excursions people really push Butchart gardens as a fabulous evening tour...by the time you manage to get off the ship as they don't give any preference to excursion people, get to your bus get loaded, it is almost dark. Unless you want to see plant lit up, I can't say it is worth your money and the rush. It was cold rainy and miserable and then our bus broke down. At that point I was proactive and asked for our money back as it would have been 9 in the evening before we even got there. They were accommodating...so maybe try to find someone who has done the evening tour before booking it to ensure you get what you think you are paying for. My husband was taking care of the room bills for the group, and while we were struggling to figure out whether we were going to Butchart gardens, he was making sure our bills were in order for departure. He asked for a gratuity adjustment so we could tip cash to some of the people we wanted to. 3 times he tried to adjust, 3 times they screwed it up. We ended up still in our room at 9:30 the next morning as he tried to fix it, as they now had over charged. In frustration he finally removed all gratuities and scrambled over the ship finding the people we had wanted to tip and got off just before they were going to yell. I will say I accidentally left behind 2 cameras in our cabin, realizing after we disembarked. I had all the pictures off of them, so at least the memories were intact, my pocket book was squealing a bit as I waited heart in my throat to see if they would find them. 15 minutes later they were safe and sound in my hands, so kudos to the staff for that. Overall ship decor and shape 7 out of 10, I had a little higher expectations of the music ship, the piano was a big music box, nothing exciting, played 3 times a day, I thought it was a pipe organ...don't pick this ship for that reason. Smoking is still allowed on the ship and in the rooms, there was a lot of grumbling about this, and a survey on ship too. I am disappointed in this day and age that there was indoor and outdoor smoking wherever on this ship...theatres and dining rooms excepted. I hope this policy changes as it will certainly influence my decision next time around. Food was an 8.5 out of 10, only because of my difficulties with food, which is to be expected, but not after all the pre travel legwork I did. Everyone else would rate the food 10 out of 10 for the dining room, 7.5 for the Lido. Ports of call 7 out of 10 as I was disappointed with Victoria timing and would want to switch the half day to Sitka rather than Ketchikan, or just do both a full days and simply stop in Victoria later and do an evening tour of something else to fulfill the port rules. At the end of the day, we loved Alaska, we enjoyed the Zaandam, the rooms and beds were fabulous as we had been told on Cruise Critic, and we would do it again. Read Less
Sail Date May 2010
Background Information: My husband, two year old daughter, and I booked this cruise for three reasons 1) Visited glacier bay, a must, 2)Round trip out of Seattle (yes there are more scenic venues, but cost was a factor), and 3) Value for ... Read More
Background Information: My husband, two year old daughter, and I booked this cruise for three reasons 1) Visited glacier bay, a must, 2)Round trip out of Seattle (yes there are more scenic venues, but cost was a factor), and 3) Value for money. Holland America has a fairly good product and has a legacy in Alaska. Hotel Info (if any): Stayed at homewood suite s post cruise. Enjoyed the small kitchen and roomy suite with seperate bedroom. Ship Info: The Zaadam is still a servicable ship. Although she did have areas where she showed her age (slight rust, wear in elevators), she was fairly well maintained. This ship has a full promenade, which is missing in some newer ships, and has a covered pool area which is a must in Alaska. She does not have all the recent hype features (rock climbing, skating rink, flowrider, poolside screen), but the reality is that in Alaska the trip is port intensive and sea days are best spent recooperating or viewing glacier bay on deck. Very limited (NO) activities for toddler set, but staff was generally very friendly to young passengers. Self service laundry available, but beware that signs will point you to a phantom laundry room on deck one that does not exist. Activities: A wide variety of more sedate activities are available (bingo, movies, trivia, cooking demos, wine tastings), but there are some fitness options available with an occassional free workout class in the gym. The gym is functional. Avoid the port shopping talk, as this was 45 minutes of time I will never get back- I wanted to know what eash port's unique items were, not about diamonds international or other generic stores found in any port worldwide. The talks about destinations were somewhat interesting. Service: The service was typically excellent on an individual staff level, but I had to wonder if staff had been cut since we last sailed Holland America. They were eager to please but at times had problems with promptness or personalized service due to being overtasked. For example, while wondering while dinner was taking so long I noticed that our waiter was literally speed walking between tables. Room stewards do a typically good job, but do not seem to have the quirks of individuals passengers in mind as much as in the past.On the other hand, the ice cream lady Elly was very nice to my daughter and had her name memorized. They were too business oriented as a rule, although perhaps they had to be to complete the required tasks. Port & Shore Excursions- We did not book through the ship. We booked family air in Ketchican and for 200 less than the similar cruise ship excursion, had a small private float plane with a personable guide. Highly recommend them as a great way to see Mysty Fjords from the air. Travel To Port of Embarkation- By plane on Southwest. Highly recommend them as there are not as many fees and your luggage actually arrives. Used a towncar $45 for roughly the same price of a taxi, but with the benefit of being picked up by bag claim vs toting suitcases up stairs to wait for a taxi. Stateroom: Oceanview. In May it is typically too cold to fully enjoy a balcony and when cruising glacier bay the promenade is probably you best viewing spot as you can change sides based on view. My only complaint- Room 1958, was that at one point a strong diesel smell was in the room and we woke with major headaches. My concern was if diesel fumes can get into the room, can co as well? The front desk did deodorize the room but a quick check with a co gas monitor should have been performed for safety (this is coming from a firefighter). Room had two singles joined together and a couch that converted to a bed. The toddler actually enjoyed this as it was fairly close to the ground and was like a big girl bed. One feature we enjoyed was the bath tub- a must for young kids. We did miss the refridgerator (none in the room). Dining: Open, which is a mixed bag. Excellent for Alaska as port times are sometimes random, but a negative as the waiters do not learn your quirks. For example, with a toddler serving in a glass vs a goblet and removing extra silverware is a must. Typical fare at the Lido buffet, on par with just about every cruise line and nothing to write home about. In spite an occassional dud in main dining room, rumors of food quality going down seem to be only that. In general the food in main dining rooms seemed to be cooked well, with lobster and crab legs correct vs. rubbery on other lines. Lobster was actually a decent size. Ingredients were of a good quality. Do avoid the salmon- dry and overdone. Children's Clubs: Nothing for under threes or unpotty trained. For two year olds, I do like NCl's policy where they will page you if your child needs to be changed vs. no acess at all with Holland. They did offer to loan a book or toy, but in general was treated as if she had the plague and was not even allowed to play under adult supervision. In room sitting is offered, but we are somewhat hesitant to use strangers. Just a couple hours small group sitting would have been appreciated. Entertainment: Average stage shows. We did enjoy a few of the music groups that played dance music. Movies that were recently out on DVD were available. Disembarkation: Fairly smooth. Out in under 15 minutes after assigned disembarkation time. Summary: Excellent cruise for money that visited scenic ports. Ship was not a destination in itself, but still provided an enjoyable getaway. Read Less
Sail Date May 2010
This is my 23rd cruise, (crossings not included) and my 4th on HAL. I've done a variety of cruise lines from Carnival to Crystal, the most recent being a Panama Canal trip on the Celebrity Mercury in January. Embarkation: The ... Read More
This is my 23rd cruise, (crossings not included) and my 4th on HAL. I've done a variety of cruise lines from Carnival to Crystal, the most recent being a Panama Canal trip on the Celebrity Mercury in January. Embarkation: The commute to the ship was a grueling 7-minute drive from my home. I could have made it in 6 minutes, but there was a red light. I arrived at Pier 91 at 1:15pm, and I kid you not was onboard by 1:30pm. The longest and slowest line I encounter was for the welcome aboard picture, which I by-passed. The Crowd: It is summer, school is out and it was a diverse crowd. Seniors, toddlers, teenagers, large family groups, everything and everyone were represented. Any thought that the Lido (covered) pool was adult only was abandoned immediately. The place reverberated with the screams and laughter of children. It was so chilly in the aft pool area that they had to go somewhere, and I'm not that much of a curmudgeon that I would deny them their fun. If you want a less kid (verses kid-less) cruise book before the end of May or in September when school is in session. Stateroom, Public Rooms, Condition in General: The Zaandam is not a new ship. Are there loose carpet seams here and there and a bit of wear and tear? Yes. Is it tired and dirty? No way. The ship has great flow, attractive public areas, fantastic art and is extremely comfortable with cushy and inviting furniture throughout. Of special note, the mattress in my cabin wasn't a thin piece of foam over a plastic platform (like the Mercury for example) it was a real, honest to goodness thick mattress. My stateroom was functional and clean and kept that way by my stealthy room attendants. Food: My expectations were in check due to a lot of comments about the decline in the quality of HAL's food from the Boards. I'm a foodie and to be honest can be critical of sub-par food and service. With all that said, I thought the food was good to excellent throughout the cruise. I tend to lean more towards beef and chicken so take that into account. The portions aren't huge in the dining room, but with 5 courses they shouldn't be. If that is a concern just order an additional entrEe and the waiters will gladly comply. The service in the dining room was professional and appropriate. The food in the Lido was equally a pleasant surprise. Entertainment: More "ugh" than "awe". Quality entertainment at night on the Zaandam was not so easy to find. The Showroom: I've learned never to expect much from the Production Shows on a cruise. The ships don't pay enough to get top tier talent, the stage isn't big enough, and the production values (props, costumes and special effects) are about squeezing one more season out of what is already paid for then investing in anything new or fresh. HAL exceed my expectations, but probably not the way they intended. The Production Shows were so tired, cheesy, poorly danced and sung I had to wonder if I was missing something. Was this a parody of a production show? The Headliners, a musician billed as a young Kenny G (is that a compliment?) and magician/comic did provide some good moments and was worth checking out. A most welcomed surprise. Lounge Acts: The Zaandam has beautiful Lounges but less than half the Lounge bands were competent and entertaining. Additionally, kudos to the D.J. in the Crows-Nest who always seemed to find the right songs to get people out of their seats and on to the dance floor. From there it falls off the face of the earth. A venue I love, the Piano Bar was a wasteland every night when it should be packed because of a guy that doesn't play very well, sings worse and appears to not to like people very much. At the bottom of the entertainment heap was a very good band, with lead singer so vocally challenged she dragged them to the bottom faster than one of the Zaandam's huge anchors. I really had to wonder if anyone in the corporate offices of HAL even bothers listening to the audition tapes. The other alternative is that they are trying to drive people into the Casino by having such limited quality entertainment at night. Stuff to Do: While the daily program aren't as packed as the most of the recent cruises I've been on, the activities were well paced and interesting. The culinary demonstrations, lectures and computer classes blend well with the regular cruise ship fare of trivia, pool games and bingo. There is no reason to be bored if you want to get involved. A major plus was the Cruise Director Michael who was seemingly everywhere at once, with boundless energy delivered in an engaging and believable manner. The Captain joked at a function that Michael was the best Cruise Director in a 250 mile radius. Personally, I thought he was one of the best I've seen in 23 cruises. Things I should have believed: No matter how hot it is in your part of the country or even in Seattle, be prepared and dress appropriately for chilly weather and rain, fog or drizzle. Remember even if it is 65 degrees (F) with the speed of the ship underway the wind chill on deck is substantial. Don't think I ever was not wearing fleece of some sort. Ports: Personally the trip for me was about seeing Glacier Bay, and it did not disappoint. Imagine if the Teton's or Rockies had an Ocean at 10,000 feet and you were right next to them? It was magnificent. A Ranger from the US National Parks Service who appears not only to have a degree in geology but also drama narrated the trip. Despite his over to top moments of poetry, native flute interludes and asking us to spiritually become one with the Glacier, he kept us well informed of the history and conditions in the area. I was reluctant to pre book excursions due to fluctuating weather conditions in Juneau, Sitka and Ketchikan. A floatplane trip in the fog would not be my idea of fun. As for wild life watching, we saw so many Whales and Eagles from the ship that after a few days it became commonplace. I just got off the ship and wandered around without paying attention to the ships shopping guides, as they only include stores that pay huge kickbacks to the cruise line. If I had to do it over I would do the salmon bake in Juneau, which drew rave reviews. What HAL does best in one word: Service. From the Officers to the people who clear the tables HAL gets it right. Here are a few adjectives I jotted down during the cruise: Friendly, familiar yet respectful, impeccable, smiling, seamless and gracious. And in the end: A solid performance, more hits than misses and a comfortable platform to enjoy the sights of Alaska. Read Less
Sail Date August 2009
Seattle: We flew in late the night before, so there was no time to spend in the city, something I would definitely change next time. Lots to do. Embarkation: We arrived early (10:15) on the HAL transfer bus, and breezed through the ... Read More
Seattle: We flew in late the night before, so there was no time to spend in the city, something I would definitely change next time. Lots to do. Embarkation: We arrived early (10:15) on the HAL transfer bus, and breezed through the check-in process (thanks to the on-line process beforehand). We were in Group 2 to board, and were on the ship at 11:40! The Zaandam: We loved the ship, which is 10 years old, but still looking good. The staff is so friendly and helpful. My SO's 13 year old had such a great time in The Loft and making new friends that we only saw him when we insisted that he join us for dinner!! Activities: I was recovering from a disc problem, but my SO made full use of the gym facilities, which were always busy, even at 6 am. I had a facial, and the experience was blissful. Entertainment: The Show Lounge shows that we attended were very good. The Comedian (Elliot Maxx) was hysterical!! Rachel and the Hal Cats were a conundrum: Rachel couldn't hold the pitch if her life depended on it, but the Hal Cats (backup band) were really great. The String Quartet was very good. The Neptunes (jazz combo) were easy to listen to. Dale in the Piano Bar was dreadful..... Bear in mind that I sing and am a musician, so I tend to be very critical! Food: Absolutely no complaints in this department. Stateroom: We loved our Verandah Suite. Plenty of room for the three of us. The bed was very comfortable, and having a back problem, I was very pleased. Stewards: Our cabin stewards were very sweet, and always looking to please. Laundry: We made use of the washers and driers and ironing board. Disembarkation: Not ever having done a "silent disembarkation", I was amazed at how smoothly the process could go. We only waited 5 minutes for our luggage to be available to claim. We were in the 8:00 am Black #2 group, and we were in the bus and on the way to SeaTac at 8:30. The least pleasant part of the cruise was Day 2, which was our day at sea, and was a seasick day for many. Going west of the Queen Charlotte Islands in the open Pacific was very rough. HAL gives out Meclazine tablets for free, which is a helpful perk. Read Less
Sail Date August 2009
Zaandam Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.5 4.0
Dining 4.0 3.9
Entertainment 3.5 3.6
Public Rooms 4.0 4.2
Fitness Recreation 4.0 3.7
Family 3.5 3.7
Shore Excursion 4.0 3.8
Enrichment 3.5 3.7
Service 4.0 4.3
Value For Money 4.0 3.7
Rates 4.0 4.0

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