Sail Date: September 2012
From the time of boarding the Zaandam to leaving her, the staff of this ship found many ways to please us with great service and courtesy. For the first time ever we never went in the main dining room, which is really unusual as on most ... Read More
From the time of boarding the Zaandam to leaving her, the staff of this ship found many ways to please us with great service and courtesy. For the first time ever we never went in the main dining room, which is really unusual as on most ships the best meals and service are found there. With the first meal at the Lido the selection and variety were so great that we thought that we would just make this our regular meal stop and not worry about eating at set times. The salad selection was varied and fresh, the Asian dishes were tasty and having the pasta bar service was tops. Confidence in health was provided by having the staff serve the plates to you and not having to hold implements handled by the person in front of you. Given the lack of proper hygiene by some guests, this is a great way to stay healthy. The pork roasts, roasted turkey, baked chicken dishes and steamed vegetables all were terrific. It was great to see the Chef around checking on his staff and talking freely with the passengers. The cooking demonstrations with the staff were not only great at sharing tips but were actually funny. The Company Men playing in the Theatre were really a high energy group that challenged the older crowd to come alive. They were fun and their talent promised long and successful careers. The ship is well maintained and carries an air of eloquence from the teak decks on the promenade deck to the intriquing artwork on display everywhere. The Hawaiian speaker really knows the Pacific and provided a great way to learn and enjoy the trip. The maritime history speaker was excellent as well. 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
8 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2017
My sister and I booked our cruse thru the cruse agent. We asked for a quiet cabin away from any ice machines, elevator, area with music etc. A quiet area. The first night we heard banging, and what sounded like something heavy rolling over ... Read More
My sister and I booked our cruse thru the cruse agent. We asked for a quiet cabin away from any ice machines, elevator, area with music etc. A quiet area. The first night we heard banging, and what sounded like something heavy rolling over concrete. We were under the 24 hour a day active ships galley. After being told there were no other cabins available, we asked for one of the ships land tours instead. They would not but sent us chocolates and a sorry card. We were stuck on a ship where could not get any sleep. Sleep deprivation is used to break down prisoners not people on vacation. Long miserable story short we got on the ship August 5th 2017 and off on the 13th. On the 13th we got off the ship and took the ships transport to Anchorage for our after cruse vacation. That very afternoon my sisters went to bed in the hotel with a fever. When the fever spiced to 103.8 I took her to Alaska Regional Hospital in Anchorage. She has a horrifying case of bacterial Pneumonia. She is still in the hospital today August 25th. PS, I also have Bronchitis and was put on Antibiotics. No ship should have a galley over cabins. Put it over the shops or anyplace where people are supposed to be able to sleep. The ship is ask horrible. To them a movie about Alaska and people talking about Alaska is considered shipboard entertainment. The food in the dining room and the coffee came out cold. The nice buttery croissants came out refrigerator cold. We met people with kids who told us that the kids went to planned events and nobody was there. When they complained they were told they were not there to entertain their children .WHAT????? Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2017
We chose this cruise to sail through Antarctica. Having been on several HAL cruises we were not concerned with quality. We were convinced that the quality would be the same on this ship as it had been on our previous three cruises. It was ... Read More
We chose this cruise to sail through Antarctica. Having been on several HAL cruises we were not concerned with quality. We were convinced that the quality would be the same on this ship as it had been on our previous three cruises. It was definitely not! If you have food allergies BEWARE! The Lido deck is fraught with dangers for those with allergies. My adult daughters suffer from some fairly severe allergies and had a most difficult time finding anything to eat. Bread and butter became their best friend. Our cabin cleanliness was quite lacking as well. Several times our stateroom door was left open. So much fo safety on the ship. The only time we had hot food was in the specialty restaurants, which of course cost extra. There's something inherently wrong with that. Service is another big issue on this ship or should I say lack of service. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: October 2010
My mom and I cruised previously with NCL, Royal Caribbean and Holland America Line. This was our eighth cruise overall and our second time on Zaandam. We have sailed on Zandaam about a year ago and we have enjoyed it but the latest 15-day ... Read More
My mom and I cruised previously with NCL, Royal Caribbean and Holland America Line. This was our eighth cruise overall and our second time on Zaandam. We have sailed on Zandaam about a year ago and we have enjoyed it but the latest 15-day Hawaii cruise was awful experience. After embarkation we were told that the staterooms are not ready and the crew told us to go up in the Lido buffet and wait. Around 3:00 pm there was an announcement that the staterooms are ready and we went down to our cabin. To our surprise the beds were not separated, the toilet bowl was dirty, there was some garbage in the closet, bed sheets had holes and hair, and the blankets were old and worn. The air conditioner did not work and it was hot in the stateroom. We immediately have reported all these problems to the front office and they told us that someone will be there shortly. We waited for several hours but nobody came. We have visited the front office again and insisted that the bathroom needs to be cleaned, beds has to be separated and A/C has to be repaired as soon as possible. After some arguments with the front office personnel they finally sent a cabin steward to clean the bathroom and separate the beds. The technicians also came to repair the A/C. They told us that the A/C is working now and that we can adjust the temperature to our liking. They lied to us as they simply set the temperature to minimum. We have set the temperature controller to maximum but it did not work as the A/C was blowing cold air. Because of cold temperature we couldn't sleep all night. In the morning we went to the front office again and insisted on a meeting with a hotel manager. After several arguments with front office clerks they have made an appointment with Guest Relations Manager, Mrs. Grace Zerna. She was 20 min late and no one even care to let us know that she is late. We have explained the situation to her but she was rude and kept interrupting us. We insisted on a meeting with Hotel Manager, Mr. Kees B. Streuding. She has refused and said that she could not find him. We said that we will not leave the front desk area until we meet with the Hotel Manager. In about half an hour the Hotel Manager finally met with us. We informed him about A/C problem and asked to repair the A/C or move us to another stateroom. He said that there are no available staterooms and promised us that the A/C will be repaired. The technicians came again and told us that they have replaced the thermostat and that we can adjust the temperature, but it was a lie again. The A/C blew cold air again... The clerk from the front office checked the temperature in our stateroom. It was 64 F. After many stressful visits to the front desk during the first 3 days of the cruise we gave up as there was no help from management to solve the problem. They simply ignored us. It seemed that the hotel manager does not exist at all as during the 15 day cruise we have not seen him except our short and useless appointment. We had no choice but to sleep in the cold room with our clothes on and using extra blankets. We got cold for several days and had a sore throat and cough. Two days before the end of the cruise we wrote an official letter to the Hotel Manager, Mr. Kees B. Streuding, and demanding compensation. There was no response. We have enquired at the front desk about response to our letter but they said that there will be no compensation... Other problems during the cruise include: 1. During the cruise there were constant painting and varnishing in the public areas on outside decks. The ship was repaired all day long and the crew was wearing protective respirators. It was awful because instead of enjoying fresh air during our 9 sea days we were forced to breathe poisonous chemical fumes and vapors. 2. Another disappointment was the food. It was of low quality, very repetitive and mostly tasteless, except for formal nights. At lunch there were mostly 3 or 4 chicken dishes with fries, rice, noodles and vegetables. Watery oatmeal, expired granola boxes, salty soups, most meat and fish dishes had no taste or had strange odor. The fruits and desserts lacked any variety. There were no grapes, mangos, peaches or nectarines in the buffet. You can also see other cutbacks. 3. There were fruit flies in the glasses with water and juice, on bread and fruits in the main dining room and in the Lido buffet. The windows throughout the ship were dirty and some dust streaks were hanging from the ceilings in the Lido buffet. 4. In the middle of cruise there were general plumbing problem and toilets did not flush for about 12 hours. The administration tried to hide that it is a general problem and there were no announcements or apologies given. 5. Many passengers were waiting for beautiful Napali Coast passage but for some reason the captain has changed the course and no information given. On the plus side we have enjoyed the cooking demonstrations in the Culinary Arts Center, The Neptunes trio in the Ocean Bar and Kimika show. Hawaii ambassador, Kainoa, has provided very interesting and informative lectures. Our dining room stewards, Tono and Ariana also provided excellent professional service. We are extremely disappointed with this cruise on Zaandam as our vacation was ruined and we will never sail on Holland America Line again unless HAL will greately improve their customer service and dining. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2017
I had not sailed this portion of coast north of Valpraiso. This trip from San Diego to Valpraiso was changed or diverted from Valprqiso to San Antonio two weeks before us all being willing to npay for decent food by going to a sailing. ... Read More
I had not sailed this portion of coast north of Valpraiso. This trip from San Diego to Valpraiso was changed or diverted from Valprqiso to San Antonio two weeks before us all being willing to npay for decent food by going to a sailing. Many of us had prepaid car and hotel reservations in or near Valpraiso that were non refundable. We spent $150 USD getting backce t way.o our hotel and rental car and Holland America would make no arrangement unless you purchased a $86 excursion to the Santiago Airport. Not Sure why I should have paid as it wasn't my screw-up. The food was mediorcre as we have witnessed the last several years across thee cruise fleet. This was facilitated by going to up-charge restaurants so they could let the food quality decline. So we who use the up charge restaurants. These ports are mostly industrial ports,normally you could visit them only on a freighter cruise. Many excursions from these ports inviolve 2 hour or more bus rides each way. Not much here for any tourist. Read Less
Sail Date: August 2017
I chose this cruise because it offered a visit to the Denali Wilderness Park. It also visited Skagway and Fairbanks, both places I had not visited. My first mistake was booking through a secondary seller. My usual travel agent was told ... Read More
I chose this cruise because it offered a visit to the Denali Wilderness Park. It also visited Skagway and Fairbanks, both places I had not visited. My first mistake was booking through a secondary seller. My usual travel agent was told by Holland America that they had not heard of the trip I was trying to book. So my friend and I booked through the secondary seller. The price was very low and as the trip progressed we discovered why. A complimentary cabin upgrade was offered. When we asked, no such upgrade was available. Gratuities were advertised as included. We were billed onboard for gratuities. Holland America's response to my inquiry about this was to politely say that it was my fault for taking such a cheap trip. The food on board ranged from acceptable to mediocre. Things that had been complimentary when I last travelled on Holland America were now charged for. Service was acceptable but orders in the dining room were frequently incorrect. There seemed to be an expectation that every service person you encountered was owed a tip. Shore excursions were aggressively marketed and overpriced. The hotel we overnighted in in Anchorage was badly in need of renovations. It was advertised as three star. I would call it closer to two stars. The breakfast buffet was terrible and outrageously priced. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: June 2015
This ship should be taken out of service for a maajor overhaul. Bathroom tiles were mildew stained. Vinyl on restaurant booths were torn Dining tables had cracks in Formica that collected dirt. Line cooks were nice unless you had a ... Read More
This ship should be taken out of service for a maajor overhaul. Bathroom tiles were mildew stained. Vinyl on restaurant booths were torn Dining tables had cracks in Formica that collected dirt. Line cooks were nice unless you had a request then they were snippy. Buffet often closed early or opened late. Food variety was good and it looked great but was bland. Bar service was spotty. One of the chefs and one of the muscians obviously hated their job as they were miserable. Also I didn't like the fact that they often turned the cruise into a floating market by putting up tables to sell wares. Also several of the "activities" and "services" that they offered was just a ploy to get you to buy things. The only reason I didn't give it a one star is because the desk agents and stewards were great and they responded quickly to a broken AC unit and toilet. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2015
This was the “14-day South America Passage” during the first and second weeks of March, 2015, on the MS Zaandam. First, the up-side. Holland America Line (HAL) delivered on its itinerary. We embarked in Valparaiso, Chile. ... Read More
This was the “14-day South America Passage” during the first and second weeks of March, 2015, on the MS Zaandam. First, the up-side. Holland America Line (HAL) delivered on its itinerary. We embarked in Valparaiso, Chile. We disembarked two weeks later in Buenos Aires having sailed around the Horn. There were two ports along the way where we were supposed to stop, but didn’t. The Captain probably made the right decisions in the interest of safety. One was weather-related. The other due to a forest fire and a lot of smoke. The food was great, plentiful, and available just about every minute of the day. The cabin was clean and everything worked well. The boat is getting a little old, but it is well maintained. Our cabin steward was excellent. He was incredibly cooperative, conscientious, and attentive. Now, for the downside. HAL maximizes its revenue by selling use of limited boat space to vendors who make good use of a captive audience. There’s a wrist watch shop, a jewelry store, people bugging you all day long to buy photos of yourself, a place that sells clothing, and a smoky casino. Pardon me, but if I want to buy a watch, some earrings, or a sweatshirt, then I’ll do it on land before I leave for the trip. And I won’t pay an inflated price. We would like for HAL to use all that vendor space for something more productive - like a place to sit and look out the window at the fantastic scenery. The most amazing hustle of all is the Park West Gallery art “auction,” complete with the “auctioneer’s” confederates circling behind you, telling you when to raise your card. It was offensive. HAL seems to be a generation behind in the areas of on-board entertainment, restaurant décor, and mid-ship sculpture. The comedy and dance presentations could compete for the Lawrence Welk audience. The fancy restaurants looked like 19th century brothels, complete with servers sporting costumes and a level of fake formality calculated to encourage heavy drinking. A hideous, organ-shaped sculpture consumes the middle of the ship, unavoidable on decks three through five. HAL would make more friends if it traded the artificial opulence for brighter, more contemporary furnishings and service. In short HAL, as an independent company, was a first-class cruise line for the first nine decades of the last century. Carnival bought it in 1989, and has now completed the culture shift. Today HAL is a reflection of the lowest common denominator. Read Less
8 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2019
We chose this cruise because of the ports of call. Due to the weather ( which was awful) we were not able to stop in Sydney, Nova Scotia. I did enjoy Quebec and our private tour with Tours By Locals, Claude was our guide and he was beyond ... Read More
We chose this cruise because of the ports of call. Due to the weather ( which was awful) we were not able to stop in Sydney, Nova Scotia. I did enjoy Quebec and our private tour with Tours By Locals, Claude was our guide and he was beyond excellent, I would recommend Clause to everyone going to Quebec . I also enjoy a private tour to the Bay of Fundy in Halifax by Bruce's Tours, I recommend him to all, he also was excellent. The weather is Bar Harbor caused trip to Callilac mountain to be cancelled. We were told o free bus service until July to the national park, but weather was an issue.Back to the ship. The service in the dining room was very slow, each and every night. Food was just ok. To get a good steak or fish dinner you needed to go to the speciality dining which they charge extra for. One good night in the dining room, the second gala night, the food was very good. Our room steward was excellent, always a clean room and kind friendly service.The test kitchen is located in a small room if you don't get there early you are out of luck. Same room for bingo same problem. I do not recommend going on this cruise in May weather is not good. Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2019
This was a tailor made holiday to Brazil and ended with the cruise from Bueno Aries to Santiago. The facilities were fine. Food in buffet was excellant but in restaurant I was underwhelmed. Tendering was a shambles. Missed my private ... Read More
This was a tailor made holiday to Brazil and ended with the cruise from Bueno Aries to Santiago. The facilities were fine. Food in buffet was excellant but in restaurant I was underwhelmed. Tendering was a shambles. Missed my private pre booked trip because the steward would not allow me off the ship although I explained I needed to leave to meet my tour. Even when I booked a ship tour I had to ask permission to leave to make tour. Also price of tours are now so expensive . Not good value. Entertainment on main stage was O.K. Some shows were excellant ,others were not suitable for the main entertainment. Staff were friendly but there was not many on dockside to help when going ashore for trips. This was my second cruise with Holland America , I chose them because last cruise I was very happy with them. This time I felt the standard had fallen slightly, However I would cruise with them again if cruise itinerary was what I required Read Less
16 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2016
This was my first cruise. All in all it went well. The positives: cabin very clean, ship very clean, staff extremely attentive (except the front desk people who were not always helpful). Negatives: in my cabin you could hear the music ... Read More
This was my first cruise. All in all it went well. The positives: cabin very clean, ship very clean, staff extremely attentive (except the front desk people who were not always helpful). Negatives: in my cabin you could hear the music being played from the floor below, the cabin had an odor as if the there was an issue with the plumbing system. The entertainment was not very good and that was disappointing. Also the port of Haines was VERY boring as there really is not much to do there. There are not many activities to do on the ship and the ship needs updating. We took the train from Anchorage to Seward. The ride was nice but they messed up our registration on the train so when we were going to the ship we had to wait for our boarding cards. Getting off the ship also did not go very smoothly as we purchased the package for transportation to the airport and for the ship to take our bags to the airport. They call EVERYONE at the same time to the lounge at 7:50am. We did not board our bus until 10:00am! We sat for over 2 hours in the lounge doing nothing. No reason for that. We had dietary restrictions (kosher) and the food specially ordered was NOT edible. The cruise line needs to get a new supplier. Read Less
Sail Date: September 2014
Just returned from this cruise,I do really like sea days but there just was not any thing to do during the day Cooking class MEH who ever goes home and makes this stuff,because of this there were no movie during the day.And when they did ... Read More
Just returned from this cruise,I do really like sea days but there just was not any thing to do during the day Cooking class MEH who ever goes home and makes this stuff,because of this there were no movie during the day.And when they did have an evening movie it was so very old "Hawaii" come on, that movie must have been 30 years old! Trivia on the ships has become very old All the fun stuff they would do during the late seating dinner hour(The Marriage)game and the word definition game...these are usually fun to watch The HAL Cats band was very good but, The Hal cat singers sang so load you could not understand them,now I know why they have been know as The Screaming Hal cats on other reviews. Then they had two repeat shows,come on spend a little more on the entertainment and I am not talking about the eight and ten o clock show I mean two of the same shows the following nights.Back by popular demand they called it... right Makes wonder if we will sail again for a while The food was always great, no issue there Read Less
Sail Date: February 2011
REVIEW OF ZAANDAM: San Diego-Hawaii-San Diego February 27-March 13, 2011 Being from the Midwest, the best place to be in February is Not in the Midwest. Therefore we booked this cruise to paradise. We chose HAL principally because ... Read More
REVIEW OF ZAANDAM: San Diego-Hawaii-San Diego February 27-March 13, 2011 Being from the Midwest, the best place to be in February is Not in the Midwest. Therefore we booked this cruise to paradise. We chose HAL principally because it left from San Diego, one of our most favorite cities.. We also decided to arrive a day early as San Diego was guaranteed to be warmer than where we were. We were lucky to escape from a seven-inch snowfall the day before we left. However, in San Diego we were greeted with rain, clouds, brisk winds, record snowfalls in the mountains above the town and unseasonably cold weather. We were glad we brought our sweaters and jackets from the North. On Sunday we boarded the ship. Now, at last, the good weather. Not so fast. Departure was sunny but still chilly. Standing on the upper decks as the ship departed the bay was not a comfortable situation with wind gusts that echoed life in the snow belt. It did not get better for days. On the second full day at sea, 35 know winds, rough seas and high waves made the ship roll back and forth so much, the outside was declared off limits. Many fell sick; others just fell due to the high amount of rocking onboard; the movement just made us tired and we went to bed earlier than usual. By Wednesday first week, the worst was over. And by Thursday, the expected warm weather finally appeared for good. The Zaandam is a relatively small ship compared to the giants out there now (70,000 tons and 1500 passengers). We enjoy the Navigator class from RCI which is double the size. One plus was the relatively small number of passengers, thus insuring you would see the same faces (new friends) often during the cruise. Some of the amenities we enjoyed on RCI were lacking (notably the promenade). Crew members were friendly and helpful but service often was absent when you most needed it (see below). It often seemed that if it were not their responsibility, they would comment they would pass the word to others and then as soon as they were out of eyesight, soon forget about you and go on their own business. The Zaandam has a beautiful three story ornate pipe organ in the atrium of the ship. We heard it only once during the entire cruise (although I heard others indicate it played several times during the day). I would think HAL would have at least one if not several formal shows (playings) of the organ during the cruise; it has a great asset that is not being effectively utilized. Pluses: The embarkation was a breeze. Even though we arrived at 11am, before debarkation was all completed (the ship was several hours late arriving due to bad storms the night before), we were checked in and boarding before noon. Our luggage arrived by mid afternoon and we were totally unpacked before departure. Can't say much for Pier B and the old warehouse used as dock facilities by San Diego. But that was not HAL's fault. For the first three days, all food was handled directly to the passengers by the staff and no self-service was available. This was a new policy to combat the ever present dangerous noroviruses. Seemed to work. Since I am an independent sort, I felt somewhat embarrassed to be waited on when I could just as easily do it myself but I understand the reasoning for the service. We enjoyed the Canaletto, the specialty non-premium restaurant offered by HAL. More of these should be the norm in every ship: enriched variety between the MDR, the Buffet, and the premium extra-pay restaurants. Food was good but servings were too generous and we left food on the plate rather than stuff ourselves. Kudos to Kainoa, the Hawaiian travel guide for the ship. A native Hawaiian, very knowledgeable, very friendly, helpful and accessible to all passengers. He made the trip so much easier and enjoyable. He was present dockside on all the Hawaiian ports, readily available to answer questions and direct you to where you wanted to go. Also kudos to Eric, cruise director, a very talented, funny individual who made the cruise more eventful with his one liners, his stories, and his Georgian accent. The Culinary Arts center was a great hit. Not that we are great chefs or have the inclination to be so back home. It was fine entertainment, good learning, and just a good time was had by all. Paula, the party planner, was always a jovial, friendly, delightful, knowledgeable hostess whom we can't say enough good things about. We were especially delighted by the Executive Cook-Captain battle one day. The Theatre seating was not typical movie theater hard seats but cushioned seats more of a cocktail lounge act seating. It made the ambiance of the theater better. Entertainment was good not great. Justin Miller, guitarist, was outstanding and played an afternoon matinee in addition to his night show (and substituted a second night when one of the regularly scheduled entertainers came down sick. That is above and beyond the call of duty!!). The singers and dancers were excellent. The comedian for two days was hilarious and played perfectly to the senior crowd. For the first time ever we saw an acrobatic act on a cruise ship stage and had to agree it was different and kept the crowd's attention throughout the show. We were pleasantly pleased with the library and exploration (computer center) on the Zaandam. Very spacious, many volumes, well organized, quite a few comfortable chairs and tables and an onboard librarian. It would set a great example for other ships. The Zaandam has a retractable roof that covers the 8th Lido deck pool area. Great for rainy/bad weather. But often they leave it up instead of opening it when weather is good. Nice feature though. Afternoon Tea (3pm) was a daily stop for us. Light finger food and pastries with your choice of tea or coffee. A chance to reconnect with friends or make new friends. A midafternoon break. A delightful tradition that I would recommend all cruise lines partake in. Negatives: As usual the number one negative in my book was the high cost and inversely proportional low speed of the Internet. I make my living on the Internet and can cruise during off-season only by working while cruising. You would think that with current technology, reasonable speeds can be obtained. I hate paying the high rates for Internet and I hate it worst when I wait for minutes for a page to load, meanwhile watching the minute meter keep increasing without accomplishing anything. First cruise line that provides fast, inexpensive, reliable internet service will have us as lifetime loyal customers. Better yet, offer an unlimited internet rate and all the pressure and stress will disappear for us road warriors. Food was adequate. Portions were large, too large and half portions should have been offered. Our goal for every cruise was to come back the same weight as we arrived. We sampled all the restaurants. Ample variety. Good but no better than other cruise lines we had been on (this comment we would remark many times during the duration of the cruise and hear others). We found the variety lacking (and found this seconded by other passengers with experiences from other lines) and assortment limited on the menus. As the cruise went on, the quality of the food decreased. The Zaandam must have a new pastry chef; with the exception of large cookies and ice cream (which you can hardly mess up even if you tried), the special deserts lacked flavor and texture. This is a petty concern of mine but I must express it: The Zaandam only offers water and tea as complementary beverages; other ships we have been on include Lemonade and Fruit Punch. These additional drinks add to the variety of the food offered. We chose "anytime dining" as a means to be flexible. As I understood it, you could go to the Main Dining Room anytime during dinner hours (or make a reservation). The ship likes the flexibility as it provides some flattening of the usual dinner hour traffic jams. Well, as we learned much to our disappointment, a better name is "Anything but" dining. We tried most of the two weeks to make a reservation and the only time they had was 7:45 (if we wanted that late we would have chosen the 8pm seating). We also tried numerous times to show up and every time was told 7:45pm. Either offer it sincerely or do not offer it. We had two room stewards. Why two? Not enough work for two and we did not see them for days. DW marked our sheets and they were not changed for several days. One night by nine, our room had yet to be serviced for the night. That is getting late in anyone's book. We enjoy a few minutes in the jacuzzi before bedtime. The 'hot tub' was more accurately named "luke warm tub." It was the only hot tub I have ever been in that was at room temperature. DW tried to call the desk for 30 minutes (and then a further 30 minutes back in the room) without the phone being answered. DW also cornered four or five crew members (including one officer) and asked about the problem, "We will contact someone for you." Thirty minutes later no one had yet surfaced to assist us. For a premium line, we expected a hot Jacuzzi and prompt service, neither of which was forthcoming. After numerous phone calls, we were told they closed the Jacuzzi at 7pm. This is nonsense and idiotic. Do they roll up the streets at 6:30 too? I know the average age for HAL is in the seventies but there are some that want something to do after dinner. Oh and no towels on the pool deck; we dripped and dried ourselves all the way back to our room. To be quite honest, they did fix the situation and sent us an apology letter with a special food gift. But it did take them the better part of two days whereas it should never have occurred in the first place. We also enjoy playing the penny slots. We were glad to see two-cent slots. However, upon closer examination the minimum bet one could play was 40 cents (twenty lines minimum at 2 cents). This, at the very least, was false and misleading advertising. Needless to say, we did not play the slots or the casino. What else, we wondered, were they misleading us on there? The crew is mostly Filipino with Dutch officers. They were excellent and made every attempt to assist you when necessary. We did find their grasp of English to be substandard and it was hard at times to understand what they were trying to say. Holland-America uses a negative check-off system (similar to that used by record/book companies when you must send back a card otherwise they send you the next selection). Tips are automatically charged to your unless you intentionally fill out a form at the Front office. And to make it more difficult, you can only do it the last night before debarking. They are obviously trying to make it as difficult as possible in the hopes you will forget or just give up. We believe in determining for ourselves the gratuities given staff. And feel insulted that HAL wants to force us into a system instead of letting us decide for ourselves. We had an aft cabin that was only two cabins short of being on the stern of the ship. Often when we sat on the verandah (note not balcony, verandah), the smoke from the ship's smokestack could be seen in a downward spiral on our side of the ship. Often we could smell the fumes and had residue on the verandah occasionally. It did not make for a fitful sleep knowing fumes were nearby. The ship needs a good overall and maintenance checkup. Rust could be seen throughout the ship. It was clearly showing its age. When we on the tender to/from Maui, the rust was clearly visible all along the waterline. Not a comforting sight to say the least. We found service to be substandard. Not just us but others attempted to contact the Front Desk and Guest Relations and spent 30-40 minutes without anyone picking up the phone. The Front Desk was basically afraid of their own shadows and could not make decisions or make allowances to the guest. And the computer guru said to DW, "If you have any more problems, I am going to have to sever your connection." Not fix it, not assist it but eliminate the source and the problem will go away; she got my award for the Best effort to dissuade you from every returning to HAL. The room stewards did not have a direct extension; to contact them you had to phone the front desk (whom never did answer their phone so how do you communicate with them when you needed them? Still not certain how) Not exactly service oriented displays by a cruise line that portrays itself as a superior service line. Conclusion HAL considers itself a premium line (it is a legend in its own mind as the joke goes). It offers excellent service but at a considerable monetary premium to other lines. The question in our mind is whether the service and amenities offered are worth the premium paid to cruise with HAL. IMHO (and DW concurs), HAL is overrated and is not worthy of the premium prices paid (Not just us but many of those we spoke too had the same feeling including several who had cruised many times at HAL). Its service is no better and in many fashions worse than other lines. DW would not recommend them at half the price. We do like some of the innovative itineraries they have proposed (whereupon you leave and return to the same American port but get to visit Europe, South America or the South Pacific, thus eliminating the dreaded 9 hour cross Atlantic flights). But this is not enough to overcome their basic service problems. We have therefore scratched HAL from further consideration for our future cruises. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2010
This was my family's first-ever trip to Hawaii - so we were looking forward to this trip w/ much anticipation. We went with a group of experienced cruisers - some had cruised to Hawaii before aboard Zaandam, others had been to Hawaii ... Read More
This was my family's first-ever trip to Hawaii - so we were looking forward to this trip w/ much anticipation. We went with a group of experienced cruisers - some had cruised to Hawaii before aboard Zaandam, others had been to Hawaii but not aboard a ship, and others had cruised but not to Hawaii. Our friend and travel agent made the arrangements for our group and also for our shore excursions, pre-cruise hotel, Bon Voyage dinner, Meet and Greet - plus she procured HAL luggage tags for our group! Can't say enough good things about her. Embarcation was fine despite the fact that the [I]Carnival Spirit[/I] was embarking on her 8 day cruise the same day - the hotel across the street where we were staying was full and the lines on the pier were tremendous: We were glad to stay at the hotel for a couple extra hours to enjoy breakfast on the terrace and a couple of drinks at the bar as the lines on the pier dissipated. One thing to note is that HAL no longer takes your CC for the shipboard account on the pier - either you do it online or you must swing by the front office to set up your account: I waited a couple days to go to the desk to do this to avoid the lines. Service was splendid and the staff and crew were outstanding - I cannot say enough about how wonderful the crew are aboard Zaandam: CD Anthony is the best I've ever experienced. Edy, Geoffrey, Wayou, Rafael, the guys in the Crow's Nest, the Ocean Bar and Lido Bar and our cabin stewards as well as the spa staff and Kris and Iris at the Front Office took really great care of us. The band was good and the activities were plentiful, if one wished to participate - otherwise, there was plenty of time and space to relax and read a good book (for this itinerary I recommend "Letters from Hawaii" by Mark Twain - available thru Amazon) I also cannot say enough good things about our waiter's conscientiousness regarding my Gluten-Free diet. Scotty and I also caught sinus infections (it seemed to be going around) on the return trip and we both went to the infirmary on separate days - and we were both dealt with kindly and professionally by the staff and the same Doctor we met last year aboard Noordam. Iris helped us have two Meet and Greets in the Crow's Nest - which I highly recommend, particularly on a longer itinerary, as folks seem to have so much more to share at the end of the cruise. I was also invited to a tea w/ our HM, Fierman, and GRM, Iris, who asked us group leaders how we felt about the cruise - I thought this was a nice touch and showed genuine concern for our well-being. The ship did schedule some LGBT unhosted meetings in the Crow's Nest but they weren't well attended. Seems that our group was nearly all the LGBT that were aboard and we knew one another already. Never went to a show. The very idea of scheduling the main seating show before dinner during cocktail hour is ridiculous - and scheduling the Ocean Bar band to take their break during cocktail hour is even dumber! The trio in the Ocean Bar was good despite the drummer's apparent surliness for the first half of the cruise - Thankfully he managed to get himself thrown off the ship in Hawaii during a Coast Guard inspection and the remaining duo seemed much happier without him. The HAL Cats were rather good - but as with most HAL Cats combos, they need to turn down the amplification... The itinerary was wonderful and we saw so much - every Hawaiian port was truly enjoyable. Some highlights of the trip included encountering a huge herd of dolphins mid-ocean westbound who raced to meet the ship in such great numbers as if we were offering free crack in the ghetto. We also saw a great many whales frolicking off the port of Lahaina, Maui all about the ship all day long. Our friend, Mary, rented a van and drove a number of us around Honolulu to Pearl Harbor, Iolani Palace and the state government buildings, and afterwards to the Royal Hawaiian on Waikiki for a delightful lunch (I could stay there forever...) Kona is a lovely port just to wander around: much better than Hilo where one must take a taxi or bus to get out of the former Military installation and into town, and Kauai is a gorgeous rustic island which is very much the way I imagined Hawaii to be. I think of my short time in Hawaii, I'd have to say that my favorite ports were Kawai, Honolulu and Kona. Sadly - [I]Zaandam[/I] herself was not up to the standard of what I expected a HAL ship to look like after the recent January drydock (I could see it from my apartment here in SF for two weeks so I know it was there!) The cabins were in good condition, and the dining room chairs were brand new - but other than that, I could not tell you what had been done: Hull and Superstructure are in desperate need of paint - Rust streaks are everywhere, the paint was scraped away beneath the bow anchors to such an extent that it appeared more rust than blue (Some painting was done on the portside bow while we were in Kauai - nowhere else) and paint is bubbling and peeling around the windows and hull-doors so that one can easily see the rust streaks on the white superstructure from pier or tender. Lightbulbs burnt out all over the place - and of the 6 chandeliers in the MDR, 1 was never lit for the entire cruise. Lamps in the Lido were broken or crooked. Torn and frayed upholstery in the Lido and certain public rooms on Upper Promenade Deck. Broken out windows in the Lido. Filthy windows, including the Magrodome itself until after we had had some rain in Hilo and Kauai. Decorative decals that wrap around the bulkhead surrounding the opening for the Magrodome are decayed and peeling off in the central areas. Ships clocks are unsynchronized, and the TV channel that gives time and date was often wrong. Forward Lido clock under the Magrodome is correct - Aft Lido clock under the Magrodome is off by 3 1/2 hours. Scuffs and scrapes in the hard flooring around the Lido bar. (It wouldn't take a couple hours one night w/ a floor polisher to get rid of those scrapes, says the Old Military man...) Cracking and peeling finishes on the wooden tables near the Lido Bar. Broken chairs in the Lido Restaurant (I pinched my finger in the loose arm joint of one chair while pulling it beneath me - nearly fell through the broken seat of another...) Hair Salon only had one cape to cover clients - the beauticians had to share back and forth while doing Mother's hair and mine. Also, a chair in the salon had broken brakes: After Mom had her hair washed, the ship rolled and she rolled helplessly towards the windows scaring her half-to-death! Dirty tile in the Thermal Spa - I could take my hand and wipe the dirt away from the tile around the T-Pool. I really wanted to take a scrub-brush to the place! Frayed and poorly laid carpets in the corridors - I could easily see the concrete between the gaps in the cuts! Of the 8 lamp standards around the aft pool: 2 had new lamp globes, 4 had yellowed and filthy globes, and 2 had no globes at all! Damaged artwork: One of the carved marble sculptures outside the Sports Bar was tied up with rope to hold it together throughout the cruise, and the great circular painting at the top of the midship stairwell had gilding from the frame peeled off from what appeared to be tape that had been applied here & there. Broken Lifeboat Davit? Portside-Aft davit was left extended throughout the return trip to California - Didn't notice if it was extended for the entire cruise... Broken Granite floor tiles in the elevators and a huge gouge in the door of one elevator. When I asked the Captain during one of his talks what happens during a drydock, he mentioned that there's quite a lot of maintenance that goes on - cleaning the hull, polishing the propellers, etc - which is all well and good. I later asked our kind Hotel Manager, Fierman, about the poor condition of the ship to which he replied, "I know". He did say that many ports prohibit painting and window-washing nowadays - but again, one would think that the floors and tiles could have been scrubbed, lightbulbs could have been changed and a good coat of paint could have been slapped on the ship as she sat in the drydock for two weeks, don't you? Yes, it's a 10 year old ship, but it's not going to make it another 10 years unless Seattle puts some time and effort into the condition of this ship - Ryndam and Statendam were in better condition last fall than Zaandam today! IMO, who cares about new showroom furniture, rearranged cocktail lounges and shops and the sliding glass door staterooms that are being installed on the ships when the basics go ignored? Would I go to Hawaii again? In a heartbeat. Would I take a Hawaii cruise again? I believe that seeing Hawaii by ship is probably the best way to go - I wouldn't know which island to go to first and think that I might get bored had I been on only one island. However, I honestly don't think that it's worth the time away to only spend 4 days in port and not 5 - All those days at sea got to be a bit much on the return trip that a mere 4 ports just wouldn't be worth it unless an overnight were planned someplace like Honolulu. I'd either book the one 15-day cruise in January 2011 that still includes Kona or the 30-day Polynesian/Pacific Cruise that includes Hawaii - but I wouldn't do the 14-day Hawaiian cruise from San Diego. ...and despite the exceptional staff and crew - whom I've realized is very much the reason I continue to sail HAL - until HAL gets its act in order and cleans up the ship and does some necessary repairs, I wouldn't book any cruise aboard Zaandam as the sad condition of the ship was the most disappointing aspect of the entire cruise. 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
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2019
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
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: July 2018
This was the longest cruise I have been on. Tha Zaandam is a smaller ship but everything seemed to be well maintained. The itinerary was great saw some smaller ports most people never see. The crew were all friendly and helpful. Scenery ... Read More
This was the longest cruise I have been on. Tha Zaandam is a smaller ship but everything seemed to be well maintained. The itinerary was great saw some smaller ports most people never see. The crew were all friendly and helpful. Scenery was awesome and saw lots of wildlife. Weather was really good for Alaska much sunshine. Went to Americas Test Kitchen demos and they were all informative and well organized. Only thing is I wished I had booked a balcony cabin, but Zaandam has very limited number of balconies and they are quite expensive.Food on board was generally quite good, but I really don't recommend the Italian restaurant on board not really worth the upcharge. MDR had very good food and service was really good, a life saver for me was that they had many 2 tops in the dining room which made my daughter very happy, She does not like eating with strangers. Buffet food was amazingly good. Overall I would recommend this cruise visits the itinerary it awesome, Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
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
13 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2016
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
10 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 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
18 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2016
We did the land and sea trip, landing first in Fairbanks AK. The arrival to Fairbanks Airport was seamless and staff were waiting for us with envelopes in hand. Communication was excellent and we proceeded by coach to the hotel. Was a ... Read More
We did the land and sea trip, landing first in Fairbanks AK. The arrival to Fairbanks Airport was seamless and staff were waiting for us with envelopes in hand. Communication was excellent and we proceeded by coach to the hotel. Was a quick night stay in a lovely hotel before being shuttled off to the Riverboat tour. This was an informative, relaxing and enjoyable tour with a hearty meal afterwards. We then proceeded by coach to the McKinley Westmark Hotel in Denali. Took a bit of a learning curve to figure how to get about the grounds and where things were located but otherwise the beauty of this area is astounding. Cost to eat meals is quite expensive and most of the entire area is owned by Holland America or Princess Cruise lines. We learnt that after the last cruise of the season, the entire area is boarded up, stop lights shut off and everything is closed till spring. Took part in the bus tour into Denali National Park in attempts to see Mt. McKinley or Denali Mountain. Only about 30% of visitors get to witness the highest mountain in Alaska. We weren't part of the lucky ones, however we did see plenty of wildlife and enjoyed the rugged scenery along the way. Our driver and guide "Becky" was extremely knowledgeable of the area and the animals/birds we were seeing. Had one day of tour free time. Glad we didn't book anything extra as we truly needed some relaxation time as the itinerary thus far was go, go, go. Travelled via train to Anchorage. They sold us on the Trolley City Tour of Anchorage which in my opinion was a total waste of money. Unfortunately, when our luggage was being transported via truck to Anchorage it was totally destroyed and unusable. We spent a good portion of our limited time in Anchorage searching for a replacement piece of luggage at our cost. Upon arriving back home, we'll need to see if we can be reimbursed. (not what wants to deal with on, nor after a vacation). Back onto a train for a scenic rail ride to Seward. This train ride was very picturesque and loved that our embarkation paperwork etc was completed on the train so that when we did arrive in Seward we could go directly onto the ship. First day at sea was a bit rough but once again needed the relaxation time. Sailing through the Glacier Bay area was breathtaking and pictures, nor video captures the vast beauty of this area. We were within 4 football fields of the glacier itself and I was magnified to its glorious colours, hugeness and the way its noises of crackling seemed to tell a story. Definitely a highlight. We ate our dinners primarily in the Rottingham Dining room. Saw many people not meeting the dress code and this to me was demeaning the classiness of the dining experience. I don't think pants and a collared shirt is much to ask. The Lido dining was very slow in the mornings, especially for a personal omelette. Did the specialty restaurant one night to celebrate anniversary and birthdays. Ordered the King Crab and it was the most tasteless piece of crab I have ever had. All the others enjoyed their meals but hadn't ordered the king crab. Haines port was very small and we didn't spend much time there as we took a ferry into Skagway for the White Pass Summit train ride. This was a beautiful tour with great views and information regarding the gold rush. We even got to go to the Yukon, Canada where the train then began to travel back the way in which we came. Shopping in Skagway was expensive and in many of the jewelry stores one felt like you were prey for the store clerks to pounce upon when you walked into the door. However this prey like behaviour lessened and the jewelry prices got better the further down Broadway one walked. In Juneau we took a bus excursion from a local company at a cheaper rate than offered on the ship. Was a fantastic excursion to Mendenhall Glacier, city tour, panoramic photo op of the port and city itself. The driver/guide was born in Juneau and had much information to offer. While at the glacier we saw the salmon swimming upstream to spawn. Fortunate for us there was a Momma Black Bear and her 3 cubs along the riverside. We watched as Momma splashed about in the river and caught a salmon, bringing it on shore for all to feast upon. The shopping in Juneau was primarily Jewelry store with a few trinket stores dispersed within. I did but a pair of black "fuzzies" comfortable leather shoes/slippers/moccasins at a reasonable price. Also to note there is free Wifi in the library located on the top of the parking garage for anyone wanting to check emails but not wanting to buy the internet package on board. BTW I heard it was very intermittent on the ship with frequent cut offs from service. We had an inside cabin in the middle of the ship. Was very comfortable and room stewards were actively cleaning all the time. There was a terrible rotting cabbage/garbage smell in the hallways for several days on our floor. It seeped into the rooms a bit but I had brought room deodorizer with me that seemed to help keep the smell to the hallway. The weather was cloudy most of the days with the odd peaking out of sunshine. Fog was standard in the mornings and usually had cleared by 9:30 - 10:00 am, although some lingered along the mountain tops playing peek-a-boo with the peaks of the mountains. Temperatures ranged from lows in the evenings in high 50'sF or teens C to almost 80F or 26C in Ketchikan. We didn't require sweatshirts, scarves, gloves etc. Unless you plan on walking onto the glaciers. A long sleeved shirt with a jacket seemed to suffice, but shorts and t-shirt was needed in Ketchikan on our visit. Washed laundry while on the ship in the laundry room. Wash was $3.00 and dry was $1.50. Machines did a good job only there weren't enough of them. Often there was a line up and people waiting. Somewhat of an organized chaos. The cost of $50.00 for the ship to wash a small brown paper bag of clothes after being on shore for 5 days prior to the cruise itself was a bit much I think. Obviously, given the number of people doing their own laundry they all felt the same. Several times while eating a meal we caught a glimpse of whales, otters and even bald eagles in the distance. The entertainment was a good quality but many of the entertainers we had seem before on a HAL cruise. Thought the shows themselves could have been a bit longer. The next stopped was in Ketchikan. This is the most affordable stop for souvenirs. Jewelry was still too expensive in most stores. We ate a fantastic "Halibut" sandwich at a place called "Dairy Queen" located by the vehicle tunnel across the street from the port dock. We looked into attending the Lumberjack show but thought $39.95 each for a 1 hour show was too expensive so we just walked about. Considering the cloudiness of most days, the pool temperature was very nice. The hot tubs were at 2 different temperature in each and quite enjoyable. Often there were kids in them unsupervised, so we usually went after dinner. They close the hot tubs and pool at 10 pm and although I understand the reasoning behind this, it would be nice if they were opened longer. We had the late disembarkation into Vancouver and found it went well considering the amount of people leaving the ship. Customs was easy so long as you had your declaration paperwork completed before you left. The line-ups to obtain a taxi was crazy long and something needs to be done to manage that better. We ended up walking with our luggage to the Budget Rent a Car about 1.5 km or 1 mile away. Keep in mind it was uphill most of the way. Not for the faint at heart. We stayed in Vancouver for 4 days to take in the sights. Driving in Vancouver is treacherous and crazy. Its more like a moving parking lot intertwined with bicycles and pedestrians coming out of nowhere. I'm a professional driver and advise if you are a nervous driver at all, take the public transportation instead of renting a vehicle. Vancouver is a refined beauty compared the rugged beauty of Alaska. Read Less
9 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 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
8 Helpful Votes
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
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2015
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
Zaandam Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 4.0
Dining 3.0 3.9
Entertainment 3.0 3.6
Public Rooms 4.0 4.2
Fitness Recreation 4.0 3.7
Family 4.0 3.7
Shore Excursion 4.0 3.9
Enrichment 3.0 3.7
Service 3.0 4.2
Value For Money 4.0 3.7
Rates 4.0 4.0

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