16 Holland America Zaandam Family Cruise Reviews

We booked this cruise at the last minute (just a few weeks before sailing) since I realized our three college-age daughters would be available for the week before starting summer jobs. We had two ocean-view cabins, which were midship and ... Read More
We booked this cruise at the last minute (just a few weeks before sailing) since I realized our three college-age daughters would be available for the week before starting summer jobs. We had two ocean-view cabins, which were midship and had a connecting door between the rooms. This was our first cruise on Holland America. It definitely was an older age group than we had sailed with on prior cruises, but that was OK for all of us. We are not party people or big drinkers, nor do we do a lot of group activities (such as bingo or trivia). So having the chance to see some new cities in New England and Canada was our main goal, while at the same time having some nice meals. The food in the main dining room was above average for a cruise line (our last cruise had been on Celebrity.) Two of our daughters are vegetarians, and they enjoyed having a separate menu of interesting items (in addition to the vegetarian items on the daily menu.) Our one item of contention in the main dining room was the inconsistency of service, both at breakfast and at dinner. Frankly, out of six nights, we only thought that our service was good once. The wait times seemed to be unexplainable for the most part (we did not have set dining times, but made reservations once we got on board). The specialty Italian restaurant was very good. We dined there one evening and both the food and service were very good. We also all thought that the buffet was a little nicer with a better selection than on Celebrity. The cabin itself was a little outdated, but it had a wonderful bathroom with the largest shower we have ever had on a cruise. My main complaint was the TV...it was tiny! It was difficult for us to see what was on TV. Also, along those lines, we were happy that movies were offered in a "theater", but actually it turned out that there was not even a big screen -- just two slightly larger TVs on each side of the room. While it may not be easy to replace all TVs in the cabins, certainly HM can buy a larger screen TV for the "theater"! The evening entertainment was nothing special--but it was something to do for the evening and gave us all something to talk about and critique (I do not mean this as a put down to HM because we have said the same thing about the entertainment on even higher end ships.) The real gem of an entertainer for my husband and me was Stryker the "piano man" in the piano bar. He was WONDERFUL. HM needs more seating in the piano bar. It was standing room only each night. Our daughters enjoyed the Test Kitchen presentations, and wished they would do one daily. It would have been nice if there had been some additional "game shows" or something at night in addition to the main theater shows for some of the "younger" people. And for Catholics who are considering HM, I need to tell you why we will be sailing with Holland America again: there was a priest on board who celebrated daily Mass. This was a wonderful benefit for us so that we did not need to figure out how to find a Catholic Church in one of the ports on Sunday. Keep up this practice, Holland America, and we will be back on board with you! Bar Harbor and Quebec were definitely our favorite ports. We scheduled a tour of Acadia National Park directly with the Park in advance via the internet (the bus was an easy walk from the port.) We also purchased a Hop on Hop Off bus tour of Quebec once we were in Quebec (there is a tour desk in the Fairmont Hotel lobby, which you will want to see anyway.) You can skip the Funicular up the hill in Quebec -- it truly was a waste of money. Halifax was a nice stop, and an easily walkable city. I must give a shoutout to Avis in Montreal We rented a car for our family to return to Boston in (an easy drive of about 7 hours with stops for lunch and ice cream). Avis was the only car rental agency that we found which would permit us to take a car across the border and leave it in Boston. And Avis sent a van to pick us up at the cruise port! The weather during the week was colder than we had hoped, but overall it was an enjoyable week on Holland America, even for our 20-something daughters who love to explore the world and have interesting food along the way. I would recommend Holland America and look forward to sailing again with them. Read Less
Sail Date May 2019
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
We chose this cruise to see penguins. We have 3 penguin loving boys and we like to take a big trip at Christmas rather than give them toys they don't need. We had 2 adjoining Ocean View rooms on Deck 2. Our rooms were decent sized ... Read More
We chose this cruise to see penguins. We have 3 penguin loving boys and we like to take a big trip at Christmas rather than give them toys they don't need. We had 2 adjoining Ocean View rooms on Deck 2. Our rooms were decent sized for what they were. My only complaint about the room was the bathroom. It was dated. Everything else about the room was fine and our room steward was fantastic. I would highly recommend this trip to anyone looking to see penguins and experience Antarctica. I'm still going through our photos but I can't even choose my top 1000 pictures because we have so many great shots. We only booked a couple excursion through HAL. We did mostly private excursions. We booked private guides for the stops in Chile (except Punta Arenas). We saw many of the same sits as the HAL tours but I feel like we really got a better flavor for the region and culture by have our own personal guide and driver and frankly, it with 5 of us it was cheaper than than the HAL excursions. In Punta Arenas we booked the Magellanic penguin tour through HAL. That tour was fantastic. It was amazing to be up close and personal with so many penguins. I'm glad we booked the slow boat tour vs. the speed boat tour as the speed boat was cancelled due to high winds and there was no space for those folks on the slow boat so they missed out the penguins. Next stop was Ushuaia. What an interesting town! We had booked the Wildlife Boat tour through HAL but it was cancelled because of high winds. We explored the port and had the most amazing "submarinos" (hot chocolate) at a local chocolate shop. Our journey around Cape Horn and Drake's Passage was smooth and we got to Antarctica early. What an amazing experience. The sights were breath taking. Even when we weren't out of deck looking, we would sit in the Lido Pool area and watch out both sides. The Falklands were amazing. I absolutely loved our time there. We did a private tour with Patrick Watts to Volunteer Point. We got some amazing pictures of penguins but oh my that bog ride was so much fun and quite the adventure. Because we were 5 we had two drivers. All of us thought we had the best driver. We learned a lot about the island and the war from our drivers and even just daily life. I would highly recommend the Volunteer Point excursion. Next stop was Puerto Madryn. I probably could have skipped this port. We did the Penisula Valdes tour through HAL. After having private guides in Chile this one was a bit of a let down. Yes we saw a lot of seals, but it wasn't very close (on cliff overlooking the beach). It was a lot of time on bus and not a lot of time actually on foot exploring. Next stop was Montevideo. I wasn't all that impressed with this stop. It could have been because at this point I was just getting tired. We had been on board for 18 days. We didn't book at tour in Montevideo thinking we could just walk around. Well we stopped in Montevideo on a Sunday and there wasn't much open. We couldn't find a bank ATM to get local currency and the stores that were open for the most part didn't accept credit cards. We ended up heading back to the boat and enjoying the afternoon swimming in the pool lido which had opened roof. One nice thing about Montevideo was HAL did a great bar-b-que as we were leaving port at the Lido Pool. I wish they done more regional meals like this during the cruise. It was fantastic. When we arrived in BA I was excited because I was ready to go home, but first we had 2 days in BA. We did our own excursions. The first day we did a 1/2 day bike tour through Biking BA. It was fantastic. Our guides were great and also it was an intimate way to see the city. Much better than in a tour bus but also able to see more than if we were on foot. After our bike tour we came back to the boat for our "siesta". For dinner that night we booked the "Argentine Experience". We took a cab from the boat. that was an experience. A storm popped up. It was incredibly fast and severe with tree limbs falling and localized flooding, but our cab driver got us there. The actual Argentine experience was great. It was full of laughs and good foods. My kids loved learning how to make Empanadas and how to use their hands like an Argentine. Our 2d day in BA was also Disembarkation day. The disembarkation was incredibly smooth. We were purple 2 and were off the boat by 9:15. We booked a van and guide through VIP tours for the 2d day as we needed a place for our luggage and a way to get to the airport. Our guide was great. He showed us all the different parts of BA that we didn't see on bike and was really informative. When preparing for BA, I didn't quite get what was the big deal about the Recoleta cemetery, but we went there and it is definitely not to be missed. The kids club program was fantastic and my kids really enjoyed going and making friends with the other kids on the boat. It was great that there were other kids in the same age bracket as mine onboard (8-11) This is definitely a bucket list trip and I can't recommend it enough. I loved the Zaandam's size. It felt just right for the trip. Last year we did the caribbean on a princess ship and it just felt like a floating hotel the Zaandam even though it is a little dated was perfect. I would highly recommend this trip to anyone but pick your excursions well as I do think that made a difference for us. Read Less
Sail Date December 2016
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
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
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
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
Mexico, 14 days and no flights. This sounds like a great cruise. It will be our second time on Holland America. So after the initial shock of it not being Celebrity I had to stop with the expectations and from there things felt better. ... Read More
Mexico, 14 days and no flights. This sounds like a great cruise. It will be our second time on Holland America. So after the initial shock of it not being Celebrity I had to stop with the expectations and from there things felt better. Embarkation: we got there early and once they opened the ship were quickly on board and exploring. Main Dining Room: they messed up our dinner reservations, again. Despite the confirmation for dinner time and linking reservations we were seated late and not with our travel companions. However Iggy was awesome and by the third night we had a table at 5:45 every night for 11. The food was usually good with a varied selection. They brought the menu the night before for one in our party who has food issues and after a bit of a hiccup things went well for her. The cafe was okay, I liked the fresh sandwiches and appreciated the daily salad and fruit. Lido dining: I think if I had one complaint it would be that food was often not hot...I liked the build your own sandwich, the sushi and the Indonesian day. Activities: The population on this ship is elderly and the activities reflect this. Generally they are quieter and off to bed early. Just don't be in a rush as the walkers and wheelchairs, and canes are plentiful. They pack the early shows and the ship becomes very quiet by mid evening. There has been only a few line dancing classes and we would have appreciated some ballroom. There is a couple of trivia every day with the name that tune during our dinner every night. We have enjoyed the digital treasure hunt that has lasted the whole cruise. We have gone for creativity in staging our photos and had a ball setting the 'scenes' up. The shuffle board deck needs refinishing, it was impossible to use it. Our guys like karaoke and they all sang and three of them made the cut for the superstar performance. Entertainment: we have made the piano bar our last stop every night and have enjoyed the sing a longs, requests, dances and chat with Piano Man Lee and the others that hung out here. Lee has a wide range of material although he does admit Broadway is his weak link. The shows have been great. Production numbers. This is a new team and their inexperience shows. They attack the numbers with enthusiasm and energy, what most of them are lacking at this point is a connection to what they are doing. One male dancer in particular was awesome and we learned this is his sixth contract so he is comfortable with his material. I am sure the others will begin to relax and enjoy themselves. Tony Pace, a Las Vegas headliner is talented and knows how to work a crowd, even an elderly sun baked crowd. His blend of song, impersonation, and comedy made for a show you wouldn't want to miss. Ronn Lucas, The ventriloquist again had such charm and talent we were tired from laughing by the end. I volunteered my husband to be a dummy and he added to the humour. Alfreda Gerald did a tribute to the Divas. Her vocal skills and personality were a huge hit and we were honoured to chat with her the next night before she headed home. Rose Ranger played guitar and sang in the piano bar. She has a nice voice and so was easy listening before supper. Adagio Strings also gave another easy listening venue. The Neptunes, a trio were cool and played the Ocean bar where the ballroom dancing took place. Hal cats were great! I did not see the Stander Dance Duo perform in the theatre, but heard negative comments about their performance. I will say when I saw them dance in the piano bar they were relaxed and did great especially the woman. Activity staff lead entertainment such as Call my Bluff, Majority Rules, the Marriage game were entertaining and fun. Jeff Peterson was next up as a magician who is funny. He bills himself as 'Comedy Magic'. He was good, but the audience was pretty slow. We tried to get them worked up, but they were a hard sell. Dale Gonyea was up next with piano and comedy with photos. He had lots of funny stuff to say pertaining to this cruise such as the fact the walking deck was always blocked off in one way or another, about the carpeting and the missed port. He had an interesting voice and had us all laughing. This particular night I could not keep my eyes open so missed bits and pieces of his performance. DJ Steve was awesome, he kept music levels balanced and at a volume you could hear the music and still chat with friends. The ship: Okay...we got a letter saying "We would like to advise you that during our stay in Puerto Vallarta, we will be enhancing the atrium and stair towers by adding brand new carpeting. We expect the work to proceed quickly and anticipate that any inconvenience to our guests will be minimal. Nonetheless, as a gesture of goodwill, we want to offer each of you a complimentary excursion on that day, October 16, 2012, to help you enjoy your time ashore in Puerto Vallarta." They were however carpeting during the whole cruise making it challenging to navigate the ship safely. The fumes at times were trying as well, both the new glue and the heat they were using to get up the old stuff. The ship does need some work, but in general is okay. Well maybe I should add that we had a hydrolic problem that kept us late in Cabo San Lucas that caused us to miss our excursion in Puerto Vallarta and then more problems there which had us in Puerto Vallarta for an extra 10 hours. Then the stop again in Cabo to get the tender and then late to San Diego. We cleared customs late in the evening and went on shore to connect with friends. We were able to get together with one of our friends but missed the other. Our visit to Alcatraz in San Fran is off since we will not stop at that port. We did get our money back from The Alcatraz booking company. To make up a bit for all the issues the ship offered free drinks for two and a half hours. Room: Our room 1820 was quiet and we were very happy with our room steward Denen. Even the traffic to the medical center was not really an issue. Lots of wonderful towel creations and anything we needed. Excursions/ Ports. Seattle: dropped from the itinerary very early in the booking process. San Pedro was our first port and it was a testing ground for our group. Our group was too big to go together. I enjoy the people I was with, but with limited time we could have done more in small groups. As it was we wandered up the coast line reading the descriptions for the sites that I had downloaded. We did a little geocaching too. Puerto Vallarta. I can't comment on the one we missed, but the Pirate Ship Ahoy was a blast. Of course it was packed because it was one of the free ones offered. A number of people Who went this one were not really fit enough especially since the waves were big due to a storm on the Pacific. They were lifting people in and out of the tenders who were... well... anyone who was slow or limited mobility because the waves were crashing. It was very hot and very humid, but we loved it. Cabo San Lucas. We booked our own Kayak trip in Cabo. We were picked up by Cabo Outfitters and we were the only ones on the trip. We had an awesome time in the building waves kayaking and snorkeling. Kasey and his wife were excellent. We did have concerns about getting off the ship in time since there were delays, but we went down early to wait and got on the first tender. San Diego: We wandered around Balboa Park. Just wish we had had more time there! San Fransisco: Cancelled. Read Less
Sail Date October 2012
I am in my 60's and my wife 50's and travelled with our son 12. We are seasoned cruisers and have been on Carnival, Celebrity and this was the 3rd time on HAL. We lived in Hong Kong and it is only 5 minutes walk from my home ... Read More
I am in my 60's and my wife 50's and travelled with our son 12. We are seasoned cruisers and have been on Carnival, Celebrity and this was the 3rd time on HAL. We lived in Hong Kong and it is only 5 minutes walk from my home to the pier. We booked this cruise through an local agent.On the day of embarkation we met the guide at the pier. Before we checked in we had to carry our luggages to the rear of the pier for collection which is quite a walk. Then we went upstair for checkin. The was a long que and the process took about 30 minutes. The room was ready when we were on board. We booked an outside but were upgraded to a veranda. The cabin was spacious ,similar to the Westerdam we were on 2 years ago. The bathroom was big with a full bathtub. After we unpacked we went to Lido for some food.It was difficult to find a table. The ship was chartered by the Japanese and 90% of the passengers were Japanese. Even the announcements were in English and Japanese. It was a direct cruise from Hong Kong to Kobe without visiting any port. Food in Lido was good. Lots of variations, international and Japanese. However food in MDR was mediocre, cannot compare with Celebrity. But our waiter from Indonisia was excellent. One setback about HAL is their entertainment. We did go the shows every night but found that they are very amateur. I almost fell asleep. The second day we were hit by a big storm with 60mph wind and 8meter wave. About half of the passengers were sick. It lasted for over 10 hours. Surprisingly there was no announcement from the captain. It was pretty bad as we couldn't even walk without holding the wall. I used the gym every day. It is quite spacious with adequate equipments and not crowded. There were 2 ping pong tables and my son spent a lot of time playing with other kids. Zaandam is an old ship but it was kept very well and very clean.We could hardly notice any wear and tear. I was told it will be refitted this Octobein in Vancouver. Disembarkation was a breeze but getting through Japanese immigration was a nightmare.They have only one line for foreigners and it was extremely long. We stayed in Kobe and Osaka for 2 more nights, did sightseeing and flew back to Hong Kong. All in all we enjoyed Zaandam. We loved the library, the pool and the basketball court. All the staffs were so friendly and always with a smile. We definitely will go back if the itinerary is attractive. Read Less
Sail Date April 2012
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
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
Zaandam Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.5 4.0
Dining 4.0 3.8
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 3.9
Enrichment 3.5 3.6
Service 4.0 4.3
Value For Money 4.0 3.7
Rates 4.0 4.0

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