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: July 2009
This was our first cruise, so many of you may know all this.  Despite reading reviews I didn't.  First, although internet access is available 24/7 (ex for sat issues), it was expensive: $.75/min pay as you go; $.55/min for 100 ... Read More
This was our first cruise, so many of you may know all this.  Despite reading reviews I didn't.  First, although internet access is available 24/7 (ex for sat issues), it was expensive: $.75/min pay as you go; $.55/min for 100 min($55); $.40/min for 250 min ($100).  Obviously if you can work offline and up/download you will save money.  If your room is near a 'hot spot' you can pick up the signal in your room.  Do NOT let your kids play on the i-net unless you are prepared to pay.   Obviously a sat card will get you on, if you have one.  Second, I brought a VirginMobile Broadband2GO, it didn't work in AK, although in ports we had cell service on T-mobile and Tracfone.  The VM worked great in Seattle.  Third, finding people on the ship can be tough.  I did see folks with 2-way radios.  Set up meeting spots or fav eating seats. Fourth, I brought along a GPS that worked fine, but a TV channel has similar info.  Fifth, the ship channel RADIO was in our headboard..one 'station' has ship announcements; if you can't find yours, ask. Sixth, if you bring lots of 'toys' bring along a small power strip; we had one convenient outlet in the dresser/desk.   Seventh, the in-room TV is great, but it makes you cycle thru all the channels (one of which is info on the ship's position; another, the bridge cam) to the one you want, no pressing numbers..an annoyance.  Eighth, bring along the best binocs you have; often that was the best way to see wildlife and scenery. I have Canon IS, was advised to bring them, and am so glad I did.  But, the two excursions we went on provided them.  Ninth, there was an inroom safe, but I didn't feel the need to use it.  Tenth, there is laundry service, and self service laundry areas; they need quarters, $3.00/load covers wash and dry.       Generally it was a great experience.  I endorse all the good comments in the other reviews of this ship.  I can't say we had one bad experience.  The cooking & computer demos/classes were excellent.  These are not paperless cruises, however.  Each day you get a ship's schedule, often a shore program, and a daily news summary..the NYT in our case..If you want to save, bring file folders. I did notice a Friend of Bills meeting was offered daily, as well as religious services as appropriate.  The food is excellent, the grill for hamburgers is everything the other reviews say..outstanding!  The Lido deck has more choices daily then you can possibly eat.    The only flaw was the chocolate dessert night...a mob scene.  I'm sure they will work on it.  Entering/exiting was smooth..get to the dock before the busses from the hotels and you avoid lines.  The seas were calm, so I can't comment on seasickness; but i heard it wasn't always so.  Come prepared. The entertainment was excellent; go to them all, if you don't like them, you can leave without a fuss if you sit in the back.  Every seat offers a great view.. Would I go again..yes. On HAL..most definitely. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: July 2009
We were a family of 6. My husband, me two kids and husband's parents. Cabin:Our cabin was the lowest level and far stern. There was noise from the thrusters whenever we docked, or pulled away from dock. This didn't bother us, ... Read More
We were a family of 6. My husband, me two kids and husband's parents. Cabin:Our cabin was the lowest level and far stern. There was noise from the thrusters whenever we docked, or pulled away from dock. This didn't bother us, because we were already up, either enjoying the Lido breakfast buffett or getting ready to go there! The housekeeping steward were amzingly efficient. No sooner than we'd come back before lunch or sometimes earlier, the cabin would be spotless and new fresh towels delivered. Wish I could have that at home. With 4 people in the cabin it never seemed really tight. The bathroom was spacious, full tub/shoer combo. Nice sink space and shelf underneath.Food:A lot of people claim the food isin't good or noting special. I have no idea what they were talking about. The food was so  so good. I try to cut back, but everything was so yummy it was hard. We ate in the Lido buffet for breakfast and lunch, and sometimes late night snack 11pm-12am. For dinner we ate at the upper Rotterdam dining room. Our dining room steward and his assistant were so attentive and funny, we really got to know and appreciate them so much. Each course was great. We all ordered differnt things and no one had anything left on their plates. Entertainment:There are a lot of activities going on. You get a daily program the night before that lists them all out. At times we were conflicted as we wanted to see 2 things that were offered at the same time. There is a movie theater that show a selected movie at 3 different times during the day. Bingo and trivia games  were fun. They also had a lot of games with other passengers they choose out of the crowd. Those were always good for a laugh. The Comic was funny, and the magician/comedian was good as well. We passed on the saxaphonist.Itinerary:Alaska was amazing. We cruised Glacial Bay and the scenery was so breathtaking. We were lucky as we had sunny, blue skys the entire trip. The ship got so close to Margorie Glacier we could see the blue fissures from our cabin. We had lots of time in Juneau, Sitka and even Ketchikan which was only half a day.  The only negative was Victoria. We had booked the Buutchart Garden excursion with the ship and the captain announced the day were were to arrive, that we'd be getting into Victoria at 6:30pm.  We'll he didn't dock until 7:45pm, the ship didn't clear to let passengers off until 8:00pm. There were passengers blocking stairwells, crammed though hallways all pushing to finally get off the ship. Our bus didn't leave till 8:30 and the bus driver insted on driving the long way to give a tour of the town. So when we got to the gardens we had enough light for 2 pictures and that was it. Darkness in a garden, even lit by pathway lights is not all that wrothwhile. You get no scale of how big it is, or views of sculptures. Definately NOT worth the money.Other than Victoria, our cruise though was really amazing and we'd sail Zaandam again! Read Less
Sail Date: June 2009
     Embarkation was easy and fast. My wife and I booked a verandah suite.  Overall the cruise to Alaska was OK...but not as good as previous cruises with HAL.  The food was bland, the portions were very small,  and the service was ... Read More
     Embarkation was easy and fast. My wife and I booked a verandah suite.  Overall the cruise to Alaska was OK...but not as good as previous cruises with HAL.  The food was bland, the portions were very small,  and the service was very slow.  It took ten minutes to get an iced tea and I always had to ask for refills.  The dining room stewards were working the tails off but there were not enough of them.  It appears that HAL is trying to save money on labor costs.  The Lido buffet served the exact same food as the dining room...so we ate at the buffet often.  The service was better and faster.  The Pinnacle Grill served the "premium" food...but at an extra cost.  I remember the days of cruising when we ate the premium food every night in the dining room (no extra cost) and the buffets served various foods around the clock.  It appears that HAL is trying to cut costs on food service as well.        The toilets on the ship worked only part time.  I made numerous calls to guest services and finally got someone to answer the phone on the fourth attempt.  They said they were doing tank repairs.  The toilet issues lasted the duration of the cruise.  I called the dining room to cancel a  5:15 dinner reservation (again numerous attempts) and no one answered the phone...ever.  I called guest services (they answered the phone on the first attempt) and they informed the dining room telephone line "closes" after 4pm.  No recording...no answer machine...no automatic call forwarding...simply rings and rings with no answer.       The gym was nice but the air conditioning seemed weak...it was very hot up there.  The gym was adequately equiped and had a nice view.     Room service was so so...I ordered breakfast every morning with coffee. On one occasion they forgot to bring cream for my coffee.  I called room service and they informed me that I had to actually order cream.  I thought it would be automatically included with a coffee order.  They advised me they would bring cream right away...it never showed up.   The next day's breakfast (I saw there actually was a check box for cream on the order form) came much earlier than it was supposed to.  The room service steward seem upset that it took me extra time to wake up, put on clothes, get dressed, and answer the door.  I asked him to remove a tray from last night's burger and he frowned and sighed with disgust as he took the tray. Another employee got upset with me because I couldnt understand his broken english.     Now to disembarkation....we were told we could wait in our rooms or a lounge until our scheduled time to leave the ship.  Our scheduled disembarkation time was 9:00 am.  We had breakfast and went back to the room at 8:30 to wait.  We are sitting on the bed waiting and we see a door open on our PRIVATE balcony and a HAL employee steps on to our balcony and looks into our stateroom.  I guess its a good thing we weren't changing clothes or something other.  I couldn't believe HAL couldn't wait until all passengers left the ship before they started invading private balconies. After this we decided to leave our room and wait in a lounge. Disembarkation went smoothly and quickly.  I'm not sure I would sail with HAL again...it appears they are cutting costs too much.  Service and food quality suffered a huge decline from from the past.  We spoke with other passengers and they noticed the decline in quality and service as well. Read Less
Sail Date: June 2009
HAL Zaandam Alaska Blog/Review June 5-12 Thursday - June 4th. Seven of us flew on Delta from Florida the day before the cruise.  Flight was uneventful.  We had 10 checked bags that arrived in baggage claim right when we walked up.  ... Read More
HAL Zaandam Alaska Blog/Review June 5-12 Thursday - June 4th. Seven of us flew on Delta from Florida the day before the cruise.  Flight was uneventful.  We had 10 checked bags that arrived in baggage claim right when we walked up.  We then waited 20 minutes or so for my aunt and cousin who were arriving from Michigan.  After the whole gang was together, we went to the Shuttle Express kiosk and waited for our pre-booked van.  The van arrived within 10 minutes.  The driver was VERY talkative on the trip to our hotel.  Arrived at the Residence Inn Marriot in Lake Union. We had originally booked 3 rooms at this hotel for $200 a night via the Marriott website, but we later bid via Priceline and got the rooms for $60 a night.  We then got a free upgrade to a 2 bedroom suite.  Very nice hotel - friendly staff.   We had dinner at Buck's Charter house right across the street.  Good chowder and food - nice view of the lake. Friday - June 5th Woke up and had a wonderful free buffet at the hotel.  Then 6 of us took the trolley (located right down the street) to downtown Seattle.  Trolley stopped right at Nordstrom's, so we shopped for last minute items there and at Macy's .  Hopped back on the trolley and went back to hotel.  We had made reservations for Shuttle Express for 11:25 and they were there waiting for us - great service! Arrived at Pier 91 in 15 minutes or so.  Although there were hardly any cars there - we were required to park at the very end of the drop off area and had to walk quite far (my Aunt is 87 and has some difficulty walking long distances).  We checked all our bags and headed right up the escalator.  At the top of the escalator we were all handed a piece of paper and then directed to stand in line.  I didn't read the paper as I was the designated organizer and since we had 9 of us, ranging in age from 16 to 87, there wasn't much time.  (More on this later).  Within 5 minutes, all of us were sent to different desks to check - in.  We were done within 10 minutes - pictures and all.  We were each given numbers of when to board.  I had group 1 as I was in a suite. The others were given group 6.  I waited with the others and we were all boarded within 20 minutes.  This was by far the easiest embarkation I have ever had.  (I have cruised 5 other times - a Baltic cruise with HAL and several Caribbean cruises with Carnival.)  Everyone was directed to the Lido for lunch - which wasn't too crowded.  After our lunch we all headed to the Navigation Deck where our cabins were located.  My daughters' and sister and niece had the "secret cabins" on the aft deck.  Both rooms were set up with the beds together.  There was a room steward finishing up down the hall so we asked if he could separate the beds - his facial expression was one of disgust!  He said.. "yes, yes -I will do it!"  We all looked at each other like - "oh gee, hope he isn't our room steward."  We then headed down to my aunt's room right down the hall and hers was fine.  My Aunt has some difficulty walking long distances so we had arranged with Care Vacations to have a wheelchair rental for the week.  The wheelchair was waiting for her in her cabin. Next up, our suite.  We were in cabin 7016.  The room was ready, so we all went out and sat on the balcony.  It was really nice out there.  We brought out 2 of the chairs from the living room and still had plenty of room to move around. An hour later our luggage arrived and we spent a little time unpacking prior to the muster.  There was plenty of room for all our luggage - although not enough hangers. Muster went well -the weather in Seattle was beautiful so it wasn't too bad in the life jackets. After the muster, we headed back to the cabin and then went exploring the ship.  The Zaandam is in good condition.  Seemed very clean and had no problem getting around (although my Mom got lost throughout the cruise.) I then checked out the Neptune Lounge.  I was really looking forward to the lounge as I love lattes and espressos in the morning.  Our suite was just down the hall from the Neptune. No key card was needed to get in.  Nette was the concierge on duty when I first arrived. She introduced herself to me and I inquired about possibly changing one of the key cards.   We had paid for my younger daughter (16 years old) to be in our Suite so she did have access to the Lounge, but she wanted to hang out with her sister whenever she wanted.  Her sister was in cabin 7086.  Nette informed me that if we changed key cards, my daughter would not "be allowed in the Neptune Lounge."  This I did not understand.  We paid for her in the Suite - we just wanted her to have access to my other daughter's room.  The accounts were all under my name so this was not the problem.  I spoke with my daughter, and she figured it was more important for her to get into her sisters room - so she gave up the Neptune Lounge access.  I did, however, occasionally bring my daughter a cookie or two from the Lounge when she wanted one. We were assigned fixed traditional early seating on deck 4 of the Rotterdam.  However, after I inquired, I was told that half of this floor was for "anytime dining", so there was a line at the maitre d stand (Ronny).  We were informed to pass the line and go to our table - which we did, but it seemed that we did get some strange looks on our way -  like "why are those people cutting the line?" The meal was very good - although the desserts were not that great (I am a huge dessert fan!) and my Mom said that the meat  was very "chewy." Our server (I believe his name was Eric) was very nice and accommodating.  Later that night as I was getting ready for bed I happened to see the letter that was given to us just prior to checking in... I was quite surprised.  It said that on the previous cruise there were reported cases of the swine flu and we were given the option of cancelling our cruise with a full refund. Wow!  I am quite sure that no one took this option as they most likely did not have time to read the letter prior to checking in??  Anyway, we all vowed to be even more diligent in our cleansing and hand washing! Saturday June 6th  - Sea Day The trip to Juneau was smooth (for me anyway).  A few in our group felt a little seasick and had to take Bonine and Dramamine.   My Mom went to Mass and said it was nice. After breakfast in the lido I went to the gym.  This area is smaller than what I had seen on other cruise ships.  It was also difficult to get any of the machines.  The treadmills, elliptical, and recumbent bikes were full. After waiting for 10-15 minutes, I was able to jump on an elliptical and got a pretty good workout. We all went to the Battle of the Sexes game show.  Two in our group were selected to be on stage.  If they hadn't, we probably would have found this a bit boring.  But, since we knew the competitors, it was funny to see them up on the stage. My Mom went to the Pilates class in the gym - she said it was pretty good - a little slower than what she was used to at home. A few went to the Bingo game - but didn't win. Dinner was formal. Most were dressed very nice - some tuxes but not a lot.  The food was good - but, again the dessert was disappointing. This night we had Aquis? for our server.  He was great - very accommodating.  My daughter was a bit seasick and he brought her tea and ginger.  He also had her meal come right away as he said it would be helpful.  We all wished he would have been our server the rest of the cruise (more on this later.)  Later we went to the Wajang Theater and watched the Yes Man - which was pretty funny.  It was rated PG - although it did have a few risquE scenes.  Right after a particularly risquE scene, several older folks got up and left the theatre.  The rest of the movie I sat and worried that my Mom might be offended (she is 76) but she ended up falling asleep.  Ha! Sunday June 7th - Juneau Beautiful day.  Weather was perfect - maybe even a little too warm. We arrived at the pier a little before noon.  It was a little chaotic disembarking.  Long lines (we were right up front as our shore excursion began at 12:30. Within 20 minutes we got off and were on our way. We had a private whale watching tour booked with Orca enterprises.  Captain Larry.  They seemed a bit disorganized at check-in but soon enough we were all on the van to the pier. There were maybe 20-30 folks on our boat.  Smooth waters.  Saw bald eagles, humpback whales (mom and baby), and orcas.  Got great pictures of all.  I spent most of my time on the top deck (when we weren't moving fast).  Did not feel crowded at all.  I saw the boat the cruise ships use for their shore excursions and was happy I hadn't gone that route.  They were 2-3 deep with people. They did seem to be following us a lot that day, though! After the tour, Orca took 6 of us in one van to meet up with Coastal Helicopters for our helicopter/dog sled tour.  3 others were taken via Orca to Mendenhall Glacier. Coastal was wonderful!  We had to get on the scale to get our weight and then they set us up in our gear - nice pants, boots, etc.  We then waited a few minutes for our helicopter.  Our pilot, Brad was super nice.  I was a bit nervous, but he made us all very comfortable.  I was surprised to hear that we were going over 100 mph as it felt like we were hardly moving.  At the dog camp, we met our mushers - Jessica and Robert.  These 2 are veterinary students and couldn't have been nicer.  It was just our party at the camp.  Everyone had a great time and we all had a chance to "mush."  The dogs were all very friendly and we were able to spend some time visiting with the dogs and took a lot of pictures.  It was such a gorgeous day - we didn't even need jackets. On the helicopter trip back, my sister was the co-pilot and got to "help" start the helicopter.  She loved it!  Great experience and well worth the money spent here.  My kids and niece said that this excursion was their favorite of all. We were dropped off by coastal back at the pier - it was still early as we weren't leaving until 10 pm so we headed to a pizza place right next to the pier and the kids had a pizza.  We then went back to the ship and went right to the Lido for a late dinner.  Dinner there was nice - not too many choices.  The dessert was OK.  Ice cream line was very long and had to wait a while.  It was a long day, so we all headed to the cabin and went to bed. The 3 that had gone to Mendenhall Glacier after our whale watching tour were picked up by Orca and taken back to the pier at the designated time.  All 3 said the Mendenhall Glacier was not that great.  They got back to the ship early, but were too tired to go to dinner, so they all ordered room service.  My Mom said the BLT and chocolate cake were wonderful. Monday - June 8th Tracy Arm (NOT!) I had set the alarm to get up early so as not to miss any of the glacier trip, but unfortunately, we were not able to go into Tracy Arm.  The captain made an announcement and from what I could hear (it was difficult at times to understand him in the room), is that they had attempted twice to assess the channel into Tracy Arm and found there to be too much ice? Therefore, he made the decision to go into Endicott arm instead and see the Dawes glacier.  I had not heard anything about this area in the message boards so I really didn't know what to expect.  We saw some small "icebergs" heading toward the glacier.  There were a ton of seals on the pieces of ice.  It was nice to sit out on the balcony and enjoy the scenery, however it was a little disappointing.  The glacier itself was just "there"-  nothing to really view. The ship turned left and right to give us different viewing of the glacier...it got old very fast.  We walked the lower promenade deck and then spent most of the day playing catchphrase and spoons in the cabin - that was fun! We had ordered an appetizer party for 3 that afternoon from the Neptune Lounge.  It arrived right on time and consisted of chicken wings and some cold appetizers.  Dinner was smart casual. This night we had Eddi? for our server.  I am sorry... but, he was awful.  He was not pleasant and we felt uncomfortable asking for anything "special."  My sister was even afraid to ask for extra caramel on her ice cream.    We all went to bed fairly early tonight. Tuesday -  June 9th - Sitka Another nice day - a bit overcast but cleared up later.  We arrived in Sitka a little after 8 am. We had booked 2 separate private tours for 1 pm, but we wanted to explore the town first, so we went down to the tender level shortly after 9.  We only had to wait a few minutes to get on the tender.  The staff was very helpful with my Aunt's wheelchair - they carried it on the tender and took it off for us.  It was difficult to get her up the ramp at the pier as it was quite steep.  Once in Sitka, we walked to the Raptor center.  This was an easy walk for us but was made a little difficult because of the wheelchair.  We had walked through the park (which was very pretty) and it was dirt and stone, so my Aunt had to walk.  The Raptor center was very nice.  The staff there was informative and the animals were beautiful.  We ended up taking a taxi/van service back to the pier.  I had been given a card at the pier, so I called them and they were there in 5 minutes to pick us all up.  5 of us then met with Jim Seeland of Sitka Sound Tours. I had had many emails with Jim to set this excursion up and he was very patient and knowledgeable.  Unfortunately, his boat had some mechanical problems on the day of the excursion, but he was able to get another boat chartered.  The group that went with him had a great time and said Jim was very informative - they saw whales, otters, seals, puffins, etc.  My sister was in the group and got seasick.  The waters were very calm  -  like glass in most areas - but, whenever they stopped the motion got to her.  My younger daughter and I went with Capt. Davey on the Esther G.  There were 3 other folks on our tour.  We saw the same animals as the other group, except we spent a little more time with the grey whales (one was right by our boat) and more time near a rocky island that had a ton of seals lounging. This was an exhilarating experience.  I would have to say that this was one of my favorite excursions.  Capt. Davey was terrific! And we also were given some amazing chocolate chip cookies - remember, I am all about the dessertsJ  Last tender back to our ship was at 4:30, so Capt Davey got us back just in time. My daughter and her boyfriend had an excursion through HAL - the Ultimate Adventure - Boat raft and 4 X 4.  They both loved it and said it was a great excursion.  They did come back quite dirty as the paths on the trail had not seen rain for a week. Once onboard, we got dressed for the second formal dinner.  Some in our group were tired and my sister was still a little seasick so it was just me and 4 of the "kids" (16-19 years old) for dinner.  Since we were not our usual 9, I asked if we could be seated at a different table and were given a 6 top.  It was perfect - right by the windows and thankfully, we had a different server.  He was very accommodating, and friendly.  My niece had ordered the night before for today's dinner (a vegetarian meal) and he was able to find her order and she loved it. Again, most dressed appropriately - some tuxes, but not the majority.  The food was good.. just not great   We had an early day scheduled in Ketchikan so we went to bed pretty early. Wednesday -  June 10th  - Ketchikan Gorgeous day - really could not have asked for a more beautiful day! Today 7 of us were scheduled for a floatplane tour (5 with Michelle on Island Wings and 2 through HAL) and the other 2 (my daughter and her boyfriend) were booked with HAL to zipline. The 5 with Michelle met her van at the pier and had a very short trip to the plane.  We met Michelle and soon headed off in the plane.  The water was calm and take off smooth.  It was truly beautiful to be in the air and see all of the beauty this area has to offer.  We were all given headsets and were able to communicate with Michelle and the others in our party. Michelle also played pretty music while we were flying.  It was very surreal.  Michelle pointed out different areas and was very knowledgeable about the area.  Michelle landed so smoothly in a lake I didn't even know we had landed.  We stopped on a small island to enjoy the majestic view.  Quite beautiful and amazing...no words can describe the beauty. On the way back to Ketchikan, we saw Orcas "playing" in the water and Michelle circled around 3 times so we could get good views (and pictures).  The other 2 on the HAL floatplane said they also had a wonderful trip - however, they did not get off on an island and they didn't see the Orcas.  Later, Michelle mentioned that she could have taken our whole group although there would have been 7 of us.  I was surprised as I had thought there could only be 6 on the plane, but I guess I was thinking of the boat tours?  Michelle said the limit was 8 as long as the weight was under 1200.  Since we were all thin, we would not have had a problem meeting the weight requirement L  We didn't tell the other 2 this information as I know they would have been disappointed to know that they could have flown with Michelle, too.  Anyway - Michelle was absolutely wonderful.  It is very apparent that she loves her job.  It is now difficult to decide which the best excursion was for me as all were more than we could have asked for... After another super smooth landing, we got off the plane and a young man drove us back to the pier.  We inquired about good places to eat and he recommended several in the area.  My sister and I went to Burger Queen just past the tunnel - great burgers.  My aunt, Mom and cousin ate at Annabelles - right across from the pier.  They said it was very good.  My daughter and niece ate at a "wrap restaurant" down the street from the Ketchikan sign (Mission Ave I believe).  They loved them. We got back on the ship just in time for sail away.  We would have like to have had much more time here in Ketchikan as it seemed to be a nice little town. We all got dressed - smart casual- and headed to dinner.  We were back at our regular table and again we had Eddi as our server- not good.  My daughter's boyfriend asked for another appetizer after we had finished our first appetizer and he said "no - it is not allowed" very rudely.  Aquis had no problem bringing extra appetizers or desserts to any of our party, yet Eddi said that it would mess everything up in the kitchen.  My niece again had ordered her vegetarian dinner the night before (like we were instructed to do) so we told Eddi this... his reply "oh, really?"  We said yes, he said there was no order for this.  I told him we had given the order to Nette in the Neptune and she had told us that morning that she had placed the order.  Eddi stated that it would be very difficult to have her order now and she would need to order from the regular menu.  Well, my niece is a strict vegetarian and was somewhat disappointed.  When Eddi passed the table we asked again if he could check with Nette and he looked very displeased but said he would.  Lo and behold, he comes out with her vegetarian appetizer and meal. When our desserts came we liked the chocolate mousse so we asked for extras - again, his expression showed disgust.  He brought the extra desserts and practically threw them in the middle of the table.  Later, I spoke with the maitre d about why we had different servers every night.  He said the first few nights, our server was sick so we had others "fill in" for him.  Obviously, Eddi was considered our server for the trip and we were not too happy about this.  Never once did we see him smile.  I think this might have been related to being on the anytime dining floor (although, we had traditional dining.) Went to the Magic/Comedy Show - Jeff Peterson.  He was really good - funny too.  And the dog was adorable! Thursday June 11th - Victoria Another beautiful day... We were scheduled to arrive at 7 pm today so we planned a leisurely day.  I worked out in the gym for 2 hours. Very few people were there that day.  By the time I was done, I was the only one in the gym - it was great.  We went to bingo - no winners in our group.  We played board games in the suite.  Had a relaxing day. None in our group wanted to eat in the Rotterdam dining room due to Eddi - so, we went to the Lido and had a nice meal.  The Lido was not very organized.  It took a long time to get our meals and many people were quite rude and cutting in lines.  Also, we had a difficult time finding a place to all sit together as many folks that only had 2 (or even 1) person in their party sat at the bigger tables.  We ended up having to eat out by the pool and just pushed 3 round tables together. We were in Victoria sometime after 7.  When they made the announcement that we could disembark, we headed down and found very long lines so we went back to the room and waited 30 minutes.  At that time, there weren't too many folks and we were off the ship within 10 minutes.   We all boarded a bus right out front ($6.50 roundtrip) and headed to Victoria.  Beautiful city - weather was gorgeous.  A little windy and chillier than the other days, but still very nice.  We just walked around and looked at the street vendors - people playing music, dancing, etc.  We shopped a little. I found the prices to be quite high.  The chocolate shop was charging $4.75 for a Lindt chocolate bar that I just paid $2.50 for at Walgreens in Florida. They had a good chocolate covered cheesecake on a stick. We all really enjoyed Victoria and wished we could have stayed a bit longer. After being dropped off at the pier, we stopped in Customs and got our passports souvenir stamped. The security guards were very nice - one volunteered to take pictures of all us next to the mural. We had signed up for Signature Luggage so we put our bags in the hall by 1:00 am and didn't see them again until we arrived home.  (Although, some of our luggage was ruined - we had brand new nice luggage that arrived with broken wheels and handles - not sure if this was Delta or HAL so couldn't really do anything about it.) Friday - June 12th - Seattle Disembarkation After such a wonderful cruise, this was a real disappointment.  Thursday afternoon, we had been given a letter saying which group we were in for disembarkation.  The form said 8:00 - However, since our flight was not departing until 10:20 pm we had plenty of time.  Therefore, I had requested a late disembarkation.  I talked with Nette in the Neptune Lounge and she stated that was fine... we could all leave anytime after 8:00 up until 9:45.  I told her 9:00 would be good.  So, we all ordered room service from 7:30 to 8:00. However, at 7:50 I hear someone trying to get in our room.  I arrive to the door just as the door was opening and it was Putu - our room steward.  He said  "oh, are you just getting up."  I said no, but we weren't ready to leave yet as we had not had our breakfast yet.  I told him that we planned to leave by 9:00.  He had a garbage bag in his hands and he wanted to come in and "clean the garbage"... I asked if he could wait as my Mom was still dressing.  He didn't seem too happy about this.  I understand that there are new people coming and they need to clean the rooms, but why tell someone they have until 9:45 and then come in before 8 to clean??  A few minutes later an overhead announcement was made that disembarkation had begun and passengers could begin to leave the ship. Not 5 minutes later the door is opening again (no one knocked) and it is the honor bar man.  He walked right in, saw us and said "I just need to check the refrigerator" - he proceeded to empty out the champagne we had on the counter and take the orange juice out of the fridge.  I was in total shock of the rudeness.   A few minutes later our breakfast arrived.  My Mom and I sat down to have our last meal and a quick cup of coffee before we did a final check of the room.  Just as I sit down, someone knocks again and starts to enter our room - it is a man wearing a tan jumpsuit - he says "oh" and turns around and leaves.   Not 2 minutes later he is on our balcony (he had crossed over from the next suite) and he was hosing down the balcony - picking up the rug - moving the furniture.  A few minutes later, another man joined him on the balcony. My Mom hurried off the couch and finished getting dressed. Read Less
Sail Date: June 2009
This is my first cruise on Holland American.  Most of my cruises have been on Disney and I must say I am rather spoiled by Disney's service and ships and was a bit Leery that any ship could live up to my expectations.  That being ... Read More
This is my first cruise on Holland American.  Most of my cruises have been on Disney and I must say I am rather spoiled by Disney's service and ships and was a bit Leery that any ship could live up to my expectations.  That being said, HAL was right up there with DCL!  Embarking-Getting to the pier is a tad bit confusing, I do think that they need more signs to get to the drop off area!  Beyond that small hump embarkation was a breeze.  The porter was very helpful and got us moving right along.  From listening to other cc members we got there at about 1030am, perfect timing!   We were handed a letter informing us that swine flu had been confirmed onboard and that we had the option of walking away with a full refund.  We glanced at it and thought for about 2 seconds before filing it away and deciding not to worry about it.  We were on board by about 1115am.  Made our way to the Lido deck, had lunch, only confusion was seeing people with food we couldn't find!  LOL  We then discovered the Lido buffet and loaded up.  I was happy to find my favorite cheese, which is hard to find, that was a nice touch.Room, 2678 cat E-We loved our room, it was small but the storage!  WOW  Having all beds on the ready meant some bumped heads:)   The couch bed made my mom's high standards, it was comfortable(thank goodness).  The pull down was fun for the 9 yr old.  Only complaint here is that the ladder was not really attached and when you did get it to attach it was really loose, it could be a problem if you aren't ready for that.  The main bed was really super comfy!  Our view was always nice to have.  Location of the room was great, pretty easy to find.  Steward was really great, always available for us if we needed anything.  Laundry Service: We purchased the 45 dollar unlimited laundry package on our first day.  This was the best 45 dollars I have ever spent!  Not only was getting four peoples laundry done well it was done fast.  Typically within the same day.  Only once was it ever a bit later and that was the last night of the cruise.  My guess is that more people send out the "by the bag" towards the end?  Nothing to complain about, everything came to us folded in a neat basket or on hangers, pressed and super clean.  If you are even thinking about it DO IT!  If we had known how wonderful this service was we would have not packed about half of what we took!  Kids Club:  Traveling with a rather shy 9 yr old I was concerned about her participating in kids club.  Wow was I ever wrong!  She loved it...so much so that we had to plan events around kids club activities!  The tween program was run by Fifi(nickname), and she was really great.  She always greeted us by name!  They had everything you can imagine to do up there.  Some of what I remember were, tag, board games, arcade, scavenger hunts, dress up contests, coloring contests, bingo, survivor game, camp out(not really), superstar, made t-shirts, chef cooking experience, and probably a bunch of other things!  Well run and enjoyed by all the kids that were in there.  I was worried over nothing!  Spa-I did the thermal suite for 2 for 149 dollars, I was surprised because I had been told it would be 175:)  Well worth it for the thermal suite.  The chairs were just perfect for me, and as an avid reader I could sit and read in comfort and also could really relax completely!   The hot tub was awesome, only the last night the tub was not hot:(  The views were great.  I didn't do any treatments but wish I had, I kept thinking that I would be spending money I needed for other things.  Turns out I would have been fine on money...oh well.  Highly enjoyed the thermal suite!Dining-As  you Wish was perfect for us!  Loved the Lido as I am not a big fan of the 2 hour meals:)   Did eat in the dinning room once with my mom and it was just fine.  All the food was good.  Only small thing was that I wished the hamburger, pizza, hot dog thing was open more.  The hamburger was one of the best I have had!  Alvin in the Lido was so friendly and kind, he is a great guy!  Ship-I was impressed, it was really nice.  I didn't care for the Atrium area but again I am comparing it to Disney.  I also for some odd reason got more turned around on this ship than any I have been on, but that is not HAL's fault, I think I was just relaxed and not thinking fully.  The elevators were fast!  Only small issue that I wish they would have fixed was cleaning the outside of the windows on the Lido deck, I saw them washing them from the inside but this was from the outside and it really needed some work.  It was impossible to take pictures from there and I had a kiddo in the pool so it was where I needed to be.  Techspert sessions!  One word GREAT!   If you are thinking about it go!  I learned a TON and I thought I knew a lot to begin with.  He did go slow to make sure everyone got what they needed but I just worked ahead and listened so it was not a problem, he wants everyone to enjoy it.  Only wish I could have gone to more!  One important note about this cruise....movement!  I have cruised a bunch but this ship had the weirdest motion to it!  Even in calm waters it just seemed off.  Now it could have been just our group but it just felt ... hum... listy?  A lot of vibration as well on each and every deck I was on.  We had rough seas the first day at sea and that night was even worse, I woke up and checked at one point and water was splashing up to our second floor window.  Looked at the tv and it said that there were force 9 winds and 25-30 foot seas.  Woah it was rocky!  In looking at cruises to Alaska again I will highly consider the route and even maybe not do a roundtrip from Seattle.  I think I would want to stick to the inside where we can see land:)  Like I said above, it just felt funny, I read somewhere that maybe a stabilizer was broken and maybe that was it?  Overall it was close to a perfect trip!  And weather!!!  WOW it was like hitting the lottery, amazing weather! 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Sail Date: June 2009
We are a family of 3. Myself and DH (in our 40's) and our 16year old DS.Thanks to folks here on HAL board we planned our arrival to pier 91with Already There Town Cars for $60 (1 way) from seatac, same as cab(425-445-9101)Easy ... Read More
We are a family of 3. Myself and DH (in our 40's) and our 16year old DS.Thanks to folks here on HAL board we planned our arrival to pier 91with Already There Town Cars for $60 (1 way) from seatac, same as cab(425-445-9101)Easy EmbarkWe loved the Neptune Lounge! Great iced tea & snacks!Nette was so friendly and helpful! Loved our room stewards! Ullysys in the Rotterdam was perfect, always offering extra appetizersand deserts (we were late fixed seating) No exageration on the need for dramamine on first sea day!!I am a light sleeper and the rough open seas kept me awake..my DH and DS slept like babies through it all Also, the first night the Captain announced the clocks would be set an hour backwards that night. At 2:00 AM..an annoying SQUEAK-SQUEAK sound (for at least 2 minutes)of our suite's clock being turned backwards. Again...I'm wide awake...the men just snoozed on..Our favorite part of the cruise was sitting in the hot-tub while cruising through the glacier!I had the in port special (included time in thermal suite) at the greenhouse spa.My DH tried the accupuncture.....perhaps he'll try it on land.Magician -comedian was wonderful..and his little dog, too!The only negative of the whole trip was the other pax smoking on balconies.We invested in a deluxe verandah suite so our son could really seethe glacier (he loved all the seals!!)but my DH is so sensitive to smoke he couldn't stay out there for very long. So we ended up going to the hot-tubs!In the survey at the end of cruise, a section on smoking policy was included. The only way we'll sail HAL again w/verandah is if they adoptno smoking policy...Disembark was easy...We asked for, and were able to borrow a scale to weigh our luggage (keep it under 50 lbs) night before8:00am walked off ship...our towncar was there waiting Read Less
Sail Date: May 2009
Just got back off the HAL Zanndam Alaska.. Took my husband and 2 sons. 10 and 15.   HAL just emailed me same cruise for a lot less $. How tacky! Must say this cruise is a snoozer!! We had a cute elderly lady in a wheelchair tell us how ... Read More
Just got back off the HAL Zanndam Alaska.. Took my husband and 2 sons. 10 and 15.   HAL just emailed me same cruise for a lot less $. How tacky! Must say this cruise is a snoozer!! We had a cute elderly lady in a wheelchair tell us how board she was!      The day schedule never seemed to have much on it. I know it is a cruise usually for an older crowd. I don't think that was the problem cause they were a lot of fun!!  My son also loved the Hal kids club. He spent a lot of time there. The food in the Lido was awful!! I felt like they were trying to be creative with yesterdays leftovers.. And we had a hard time catching them open anyway..  The poor workers worked so hard to serve up the nasty crap! I spent a lot of our trip feeling sorry for them and how hard they tried!  My kids called it the "Pig troff slop"  Pinnical grill lunch was good but small servings. We also tried to order room service twice. Both times they never answered the phone. When I called the front desk they told me "they must be busy"    I spent a lot of time and money on this trip for my men.. I felt from the get go I was getting ripped off! I was a past cruiser with them which got me nothing! They dropped the price 50 bucks a person and upgraded to a window room after we booked  which I didn't get and no break on my kids staying in the same room.. Sorry HAL... cant say your corp made me very happy!   We also waited 4 hours to disembark. I guess a problem with luggage unloading.  Read Less
Sail Date: December 2008
We spent a couple days in San Diego exploring and recovering from the long flight from Alabama! My daughter's brand new in box watch listed at $900, my husbands cuff links, new in box cumberbun and bow tie and out new binoculars were ... Read More
We spent a couple days in San Diego exploring and recovering from the long flight from Alabama! My daughter's brand new in box watch listed at $900, my husbands cuff links, new in box cumberbun and bow tie and out new binoculars were all stolen out of luggage on AA. The watch I didn't realize was put in there so that should have been expected, but the rest?... Anyway, we had a restful time at a nice hotel in the gaslamp district. We boarded the ship on a rainy day, but had short lines and very nice people helping us with the abbreviated paperwork. We had all pre-boarding passes etc. taken care of. The ship is in very nice condition. We traveled on her a few years ago shortly after she was refurbished and the upgrades have been mostly maintained. The only things I could comment on were the stain on the sofa in our room (not a problem for us) and the fact that we had a regular blanket as opposed to a feather comforter between the sheets (no duvet) on our bed. Our cabin stewards were fantastic and our waiter (late set seating) was wonderful! We had ice in our room when we needed it and our food came quickly as our waiter took note of the 3 teens who would rather not spend much time eating! Very thoughtful! The shows were quite good. We only went to 3 but enjoyed them! We played a lot of Bingo. The girls love this so we went every day. One daughter won a little once which kept us coming back. I do have to say my praises for DJ Matt! He is always cheerful and entertaining. I did several of the Dam bucks events and had a blast! I have 2 coffee mugs to show for my (non)golfing/hockey/tennis etc. lack of talent. Lizbeth was sweet and a good hostess as well as a good sport as she got in the pool and played volleyball! I would not have put myself in that pool for money as it was a little chilly! We had a lot of fun in the casino. It wasn't a winning trip (understatement) but the people were absolutely wonderful - a big and welcome difference from our last trip! Our ports were Hilo - we rented a car and went to VNP - beautiful and fun, Honolulu - again rented a car and did some sightseeing, Maui - we did the river kayak trip which was great fun and the waterfalls were lovely, kauai we did the whale watch tour and a luau and we just vegged in sunshine on Kona at a lovely beach bar and tiny beach. The food on the ship was good! We had no complaints about dinner in the dining room and the food in the Lido was mostly good. You can't expect good crispy bacon when cooked in in bulk and eggs are something best ordered at the window so they are cooked to your preference! I do love the pizza and sandwich station! REALLY GREAT! This was a really special trip as it was or longest cruise yet and our first trip to Hawaii! Thank you Holland for another special experience!!! Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2008
Background We are a married couple, 30 years old. My mother also cruised with us and she is 67. We have cruised on Holland America, Princess, Carnival, Celebrity, Royal Caribbean and Norwegian. This cruise was the 15 day Circle Hawaii ... Read More
Background We are a married couple, 30 years old. My mother also cruised with us and she is 67. We have cruised on Holland America, Princess, Carnival, Celebrity, Royal Caribbean and Norwegian. This cruise was the 15 day Circle Hawaii cruise that sailed roundtrip to the islands from San Diego, CA. We visited Hilo, Lahaina, 2 days in Honolulu and Kona. Embarkation We arrived at the pier around noon. There were lots of people there already but check in was easy and we only had to wait in line a few minutes. When we boarded the ship the staterooms were not ready so we headed to Lido for a bite to eat. Our Stateroom Our Stateroom was an outside cabin on Deck 1 - Dolphin Deck, Midship Category E. The cabin was very nice with plenty of storage for all three of us. The third bed is a sofa which makes into a bed. My mother said it was not very comfortable. Our bed was two twins pushed together and was comfortable. The bathroom had a tub/shower combo. The service form the cabin stewards were excellent. Sea Days and Things to do on the Ship There were 10 sea days on this 15 day cruise. Most of the passengers on this cruise were 65 years or older. We only saw a few young people and 2 small children. The ship was very peaceful and quiet. No drunk people and no kids running around. We like cruising with the older people so we fit in great. However, due to the average age of the passengers there were not many activities geared toward the younger crowd. Every day there would be cooking demonstrations, trivia, live music, bingo and sports events. We took place in the sports events to collect the Dam Dollars to redeem at the end of the cruise for souvenirs. There were also dance lessons, coffee chats, travel talks, and various other events during the sea days. The library had many books, magazines, games and puzzles for people to use. Most sea days the library was packed with people reading or playing games. DVDs were also available to check out for $3 each. Every cabin has a TV and DVD player. Big screen movies would play in the culinary theatre at night. The selection of movies was very good. But the theatre is not set up very well with the position of the chairs and the screen. It helped very much that there were 2 large screen TVs on each side of the big screen to see the movie as well. These were much clearer and provided for an unobstructed view of the movie. They also provided popcorn and sold drinks. I wish they would have played the movies during the sea days as well. But usually that lounge was used for cooking demonstrations during the sea days. They also played these movies on the cabin TVs the next day. There was also a travel guide aboard the ship to tell us all about Hawaii. He was very knowledgeable and fun to listen to. He would give talks during the day and they would be shown on the cabin TVs as well. The Casino is very small but all of the staff was very friendly. They had the usual table games and the limit was low at $5. Every sea day they would hold 2 sessions of Texas Hold'em Poker. The slots machines were very tight and did not pay anything. The shops were your average souvenir and jewelry stores you find on cruise ships. Entertainment The cruise director on the ship was Lizabeth and she was a very nice lady. She fit the older crowd but was not very entertaining. The production shows with the singers and dancers were great shows. However, the singing was awful and the shows were missing the live music that Carnival always has. The other entertainers included singers, comedians, ventriloquists, and jugglers. All of these shows were fantastic. The live music around the ship was very nice as well. There were also 2 crew shows - one Indonesian and one Filipino. Both were excellent shows! Food The food on the ship was very good. I would not say it was outstanding but it was very good. Every night in the dining room there would be one dish of either chicken, beef, fish, pasta and vegetable. These were accompanied by appetizers, soup, salad and of course dessert. The service in the dining room was excellent. The lido buffet was good as well serving almost the same thing for dinner each night as was served in the dining room. Lunch offered a variety of items as well as a deli, salad bar, Mexican bar and hamburger/hot dog/pizza station by the pool. Dessert and ice cream was offered as well. Late night snacks were also provided on lido deck starting around 11pm. Drinks On this cruise you could purchase a drink card for soda, wine or cocktails. Each card has its own price and offers a certain amount of drinks. Your card is punched every time you have a drink. The price you pay initially includes the tips and taxes. My husband purchased the wine card for $67 + tax and tip. This provided 20 glasses of house wines which he could use anywhere on the ship. The best deal was the happy hours in the Ocean Bar. Almost every day from 4pm-5pm they would offer half price drinks in the Ocean Bar. This was a great deal and better than purchasing any of the drink cards. Gym/Spa We did not purchase any spa services but took a tour of the area. It was very nice and the gym was quite busy on sea days. They offered specials throughout the cruise. Photographs The photographs were very expensive. We only purchased our embarkation photo along with a photo of the ship in a Folio album. This cost $53. There were only a few photographers on the ship and they did not hound you to take photos like on other cruise lines. They didn't follow you around or make you take photos. They would usually ask first if you wanted a photo. This was a great feature. Hawaiian Ports We did not take any of the HAL shore excursions as they were very expensive. With 3 people we found it cheaper and better to rent a car in each port. We explored the islands and saw the sights we chose and did it all on our own time schedule. I think this is a great way to see the islands. We calculated that the cost of the car plus gas averaged $24 per person per day. This is a great way to see many places at your own pace and for a low cost. We were supposed to sail past the Volcano on the big island once we departed Hawaii on the last port day. The captain switched the schedule so that we would sail past the Volcano after the first port day in Hilo. He did this because we would be sailing past at an earlier time so more people would be awake to view this. Unfortunately, it was raining and we could not see the volcano very well. We did see the glowing red lava but it was very far away and hard to see through the fog/rain. I believe each person can make the best or worst of their port days so I won't go into detail about each stop. I will say that we really enjoyed Hawaii and there is a lot to see and do. Make the best of your time there! ? Debarkation Originally we were going to have a silent debarkation. This means you are given your designated time to leave the ship and you go at this time. However, it was changed and they did make announcements for when we could leave the ship. We got off the ship early and with no problems. However, there were a lot of people trying to get of the ship and it seems like they needed more time between each color being called. The elevators were slow as were they people walking off the ship with their luggage. More time for each group of people to leave the ship would have been better. Conclusion This was a wonderful cruise with excellent service. The food was very good and the entertainment was great. We really enjoyed the long cruise experience. It provided for relaxing sea days and plenty of time to enjoy all areas of the ship. Expect an older crowd with the average age of the guest being 65 years and older. Most of the passengers have been to Hawaii before and cruise mainly for the experience. We did not encounter any long lines, party atmospheres or kids running loose. It was a very quiet and peaceful cruise. We had a great time and would take this cruise again! Read Less
Zaandam Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 0.0
Dining 3.0 0.0
Entertainment 3.0 0.0
Public Rooms 4.0 0.0
Fitness Recreation 4.0 0.0
Family 4.0 0.0
Shore Excursion 4.0 0.0
Enrichment 3.0 0.0
Service 3.0 0.0
Value For Money 4.0 0.0
Rates 4.0 0.0

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