28 Holland America Zaandam Romantic Cruise Reviews

Chose this cruise as part of our Uncommon Journeys trip and easy sailing out of San Diego. Like the small ship of 1400. Liked the entertainment brought onboard. Liked upgrade. However, meals were hit or miss! Thai lunch was great; ... Read More
Chose this cruise as part of our Uncommon Journeys trip and easy sailing out of San Diego. Like the small ship of 1400. Liked the entertainment brought onboard. Liked upgrade. However, meals were hit or miss! Thai lunch was great; lobster tails on Gala night were excellent; however, last meal on last night was inedible....lamb chops! Gluten free bread was horrible white bread they put in microwave when I asked for it toasted. Finally, on our disembarkation day we were all told we could stay in our room until they called out number/color. Staff asked to come into rooms at 7:00 and 8:00 am before we were called and it was kinda rude. Service is going downhill and so is food....getting too much like Carnival. Both we and another couple who have cruised many, many days and are 3-star mariners, do not think we will ever go HA again! Very sad! Read Less
Sail Date May 2018
This cruise was everything we expected and more! Great ports of call, 4 days cruising in Antarctica waters where we saw bunches of penguins, sea lions, whales and a wide variety of birds. Onboard, they offered great lecturers on sea days ... Read More
This cruise was everything we expected and more! Great ports of call, 4 days cruising in Antarctica waters where we saw bunches of penguins, sea lions, whales and a wide variety of birds. Onboard, they offered great lecturers on sea days and even had a few interactive game shows which elated my DW. However, two areas where HAL did not meet our expectations were (1) the quality of their production shows and (2) making sure passengers sanitized their hands when going into a dining area and when reboarding the ship after a day in port. Quality of HAL production shows. The singers and dancers were fine, but the pace of the shows were that of watching a Lawrence Welk Show. That's fine if you like a slower pace, but we're in our mid 60's and grew up on rock and roll and were board stiff during most of their shows. However, they did hire some great entertainers which made up for the lack luster production shows produced by a New York-based production company from what we understand. Personal hygiene shortfalls. This 22 day cruise was during the height of the cold/flu season, but HAL didn't seem to realize this. They used to make folks going into a dining area sanitize their hands the first 48 hours of the cruise. Not any more. They used to have a crew member at the base of the gangway making sure passengers sanitize their hands before coming back on ship. Not any more. They used to have sanitizer dispensers outside the main theater entrances. Not on this cruise. As a result, this was the "sickest" HAL cruise we have ever been on as at least 1/3 of the passengers had bronchial type cold/flu symptoms the last 2+ weeks of the cruise. Going to the show in the evening was like listening to a chorus of coughing. Lesson learned. Wash your hands and use the hand sanitizers religiously and if at all possible avoid using the tongs up on the lido deck. Of course, no cruise is perfect and since we just got off a great 25 day Celebrity Eclipse cruise where all of the shows were great with many reaching the "wow" status and the ship's hygiene practices were top notch, it was just a big let down to see HAL's offerings so inferior. But, as I mentioned earlier, it wasn't all bad. The itinerary was GREAT, the guest lecturers were GREAT and the contracted evening entertainment for the most part was very entertaining. Read Less
Sail Date January 2018
This was a cruise my wife and I took from Vancouver to Seward. We took a five day Carnival cruise 3 weeks ago so I'll make some comparisons. In most ways, this cruise was superior to the Carnival cruise which was a five day ... Read More
This was a cruise my wife and I took from Vancouver to Seward. We took a five day Carnival cruise 3 weeks ago so I'll make some comparisons. In most ways, this cruise was superior to the Carnival cruise which was a five day Bahamas cruise from Jacksonville on the Elation. The service, food, embarkation, and ports were all preferred over Carnival. However, this was a cruise clearly meant for an older crowd. We are in our 40's and felt that most others cruising with us were older. First impressions weren't great as the word ZAANDAM on the outside of the ship needed painting. However, we didn't note any other areas where the ship showed wear, so it really was in great shape. Food was consistently very good to outstanding. Every meal was well prepared and presented with top notch service. There were hardly ever any lines at any time in Lido or the main dining room. Lunch was where this ship shined over the Carnival. Here lunch was very good every day. Lunch was typically so-so on Carnival so there was a big difference here. Our inside cabin was much larger than Carnival with room for a couch where there was not room for one in the Carnival room. HAL also included a make-up mirror which my wife appreciated. Service was consistently good for the cabin, dining, and other areas where needed. Embarkation was very good with few lines and waiting. We were on board and eating before noon. We even enjoyed a swim on the warm Vancouver afternoon. We went on a land tour following the cruise and it was well run and organized every step of the way. This made the whole trip worthwhile although we really enjoyed the cruise portion as well. We did not do any cruise operated shore excursions so we can't speak to those. Wife went to one of the cooking demonstrations but didn't like it enough to attend any others. They were very crowded so you need to arrive early to get a seat. The live music was good but I prefer at least one choice that plays something more modern and hip. Live entertainment was good but nothing edgy here. The main downfall was the degree to which this cruise catered to the more seasoned folks. There were few "fun" activities and those that were presented weren't well done. For example, there is a night club area but it was not open every evening. The music played was almost exclusively 30 or more years old so it lacked the pizazz needed to make it truly enjoyable. I appreciated the live band that played a few nights, but they played songs mostly from the 1970's. Again, play some newer music. Even older folks can like newer tunes. All that said, we still thoroughly enjoyed the cruise and would recommend it to anyone, especially those who aren't looking for fun but more a gracious cruising experience. Read Less
Sail Date August 2017
I'll start with the positive and end with the negatives... First, I've sailed on numerous cruises with a variety of cruise lines. I like the size and look of the Zaandam. The ship was clean and well-appointed. The ... Read More
I'll start with the positive and end with the negatives... First, I've sailed on numerous cruises with a variety of cruise lines. I like the size and look of the Zaandam. The ship was clean and well-appointed. The entertainment was excellent and the service of the crew was top-drawer. I have no complaints with the cabin other than it did not have a refrigerator. Now, lets get to the negatives. Without a refrigerator, you need water and ice. I was on the "Dolphin" deck or 1st Floor; meaning, I had to go up to the Lido Deck (8th Floor) to obtain water and ice. (Oh, don't tell me there was an ice bucket in the room; it was never filled.) The small size of the glasses offered (around 6-7 ounces) means you will be spending alot of time doing the rounds. (Sure, you can bring a BIG drink-holder; but this practice is frowned upon because it can pass germs from your Big Drink to others). Next, the food was sub-par. I give Carnival (even though it owns HAL) better marks for the food. Having cruised on Luxury ships (Radisson Diamond), I have a sophisticated palate. So, it was not that the choices were too complicated, it was simply that there was nothing to "fall" back on to if you were not interested in the small choices. HAL needs a COMMON meat and COMMON salad on every menu to fall back on if the choices are all UN-common. Add a common poultry, fish and pasta and your back in business. The specialty restaurants were both extremely good. The Lido restaurant was fair at best. Few daily changes and the menu was not good. I found myself eating peanut-butter for breakfast and spaghetti for lunch (at least 3 times). The way the buffet is run is "start down there"...but it breaks up and slows down due to the different sections which causes confusion and long waits. The worst problem the entire trip was the heat. I decided to travel to Alaska to get the hell away from the heat. Oh, Alaska was fine..temperature wise. It was the ship ! From the minute you board until you debark, get ready to spend alot of time trying to find ways to cool down. ALL of the common/public areas were awfully hot. The "Explorers" area was the worst. Yes, there were alot of older people on board...I presume the "Facilities Manager" thinks all older people love the heat. Well, they got plenty of it. When I first entered my room the air was on the lowest/coolest level. I told the cabin steward that the air was not working. He looked confused. And did nothing. What does this mean? It's simple. The ship had "flipped" the system. If you did not need heat, you got nothing else. The system, ship-wide, was not "geared" to allowing for air conditioning. You're only recourse; spend lots of time outside. Oh, and how about that other little thing...you know..the NoroVirus. Yes, I've been on ships when there was an outbreak. Never got it. This time, my wife did. And we did not bring it on. It was already there when we arrived I suspect. Regardless, we know that if we tell, we get isolated. Unfortunately, my wife's condition was such that she had too. And even though THEY gave us the virus; we had to pay over $250 to the doctor and medical center for medicine and an IV. Nice. Then, of course, she missed one port due to the illness even though she had recovered. If you are going to spend alot of money and time to get to Alaska; find another cruise ship with another company. HAL's reputation is overblown and false. Too few ports of call and too many days at sea. And hot. Read Less
Sail Date July 2017
From Santiago Chile to Cape Horn, then across to Antarctica for a cruise of the coastal waters for 4 days, then the Falkland Islands, Madryn Argentina, Montevideo Uruguay and then finally Buenos Aires Argentina. Was in Antarctica for New ... Read More
From Santiago Chile to Cape Horn, then across to Antarctica for a cruise of the coastal waters for 4 days, then the Falkland Islands, Madryn Argentina, Montevideo Uruguay and then finally Buenos Aires Argentina. Was in Antarctica for New Years. Have to say this was the most spectacular cruise we've ever been on. It was perfect in every way. The most friendly crew we'd ever experienced. They were having as much fun as we were, which made the whole thing just that much more fun. Nice room, great food and excellent excursions. The views from the ship were just breathtaking. So many good photos, some of them almost surreal. We signed up for the departure day waterways tour with transfer to the airport at the end, and departure went unbelievably smooth. The last day was almost a full day of adventure, and it was easily as good as any other excursion day. The night before departure, we had dinner at "a closed door restaurant" in Buenos Aires, and THAT was really special too. The perfect last meal for a perfect cruise. Like our title says ... this trip was ... S P E C T A C U L A R. really. Read Less
Sail Date December 2016
The inland passage of southern Chile fiords with glaciers and to visit relatives in Buenos Aires was our need. One glacier off the many we could see - because of the big ship we missed many others. Cabin 6141 very nice situated ... Read More
The inland passage of southern Chile fiords with glaciers and to visit relatives in Buenos Aires was our need. One glacier off the many we could see - because of the big ship we missed many others. Cabin 6141 very nice situated mid-schip, we locked forward to a relaxing cruise. We found the right cabin for restless honeymooner - sleep hard to get because of vibrating (could be felt even on the thick madrases) noise from an air duct under nice the cabin floor. 24 hours, 7 days a week, 12 month a year endless sound. The reception was unable to find a better cabin or suit for us. Even my body was affected and a visit at the medical ship nurse had to be done - very nice and helpful nurse! Mostly the reception was helpful, beside one attractive girl, dressed in blue uniform which send you to other destinations instead giving you the information and forgot to give full information. It was hard to get information about Chilean vins on board - it looked more that the special ship selection was pushed. Wenn we spook about this cabin 6141, we have been the lough of the cruise. It is a pity, most of the personal was kind and helpful, but that was the first and the last cruise with Holland America. By writing this I doubt that this critic will survive on the board, but my give some hints to the owner of HA-line!!!! Read Less
Sail Date November 2016
We had taken another Holland America Cruise and it was great. This one, not so much: 1) Travel to Anchorage was problematic. We wanted to go 2 day2 before but the agent talked us into going the day before and of course there was ... Read More
We had taken another Holland America Cruise and it was great. This one, not so much: 1) Travel to Anchorage was problematic. We wanted to go 2 day2 before but the agent talked us into going the day before and of course there was weather. So instead of getting into Anchorage at noon, we got in at Midnight. I called several time the Holland America "Help" Desk. They weren't of any help. If it had not been for DELTA, we would have missed to Trip to Denali. 2) Of course we had trouble with luggage 3) the Trip to Denali includes a 9 hour train ride and a ten hour bus ride (Lvs at 6:45am) back, so time in Denali is two evenings and one full day. So you are on the train/bus longer than you are in Denali. 4) Our Holland America bus driver talked the entire time! He also said alot of inappropriate things 5) Coffee on board was horrible. You can buy $tarbuck$ downstairs. Wait... you don’t think they have crummy coffee so as to sell…. 6) On board they are Constantly sell, sell, sell, sell,sell. I thought we were on the home shopping channel cruise. 5)Holland America STRONGLY suggests you get your boarding passes before leaving the boat. Of course that requires you to purchase internet $$$$. 7) No need for a balcony. They have dividers up between rooms which limits the view. We were mostly up in the public areas. 8) Remember 15% service charge on all alcohol. 9) No soft drinks available in the dinig rooms. So you have to buy $oft drink$. 10) No outlets near the bed so bring a long extension cord for your CPAP machine 11) Little gym with only a few treadmills, walk upstairs. The $spa is expen$ive they offer a pass into the spa fpr %250 for two, but you can only use it about once a day so do the math. However, the crew and ship were first rate, and the excursions were ok. Read Less
Sail Date August 2016
My husband and I are seniors and sail with HAL or Royal Caribbean, over a dozen cruises. We live on Vancouver Island, a 6 hour journey to Vancouver, our embarkation port. I search previous review of the Zaandam with identical cruises ... Read More
My husband and I are seniors and sail with HAL or Royal Caribbean, over a dozen cruises. We live on Vancouver Island, a 6 hour journey to Vancouver, our embarkation port. I search previous review of the Zaandam with identical cruises (time of year, ports, excursions). I appreciate all the info I was able to scrounge and that the contributors as this contributed to the success of our cruise. I will try to not repeat what previous cruisers have detailed, except to emphasize. I will touch on the Zaandam, the dining, excursions, service and ports. Zaandam We did a Caribbean cruise at Christmas on this ship in 2003. It has since had several refurbishments. We have sailed on the Prinsendam ( 750 passengers) and the Allure (6,200 passengers) and we have come to prefer this size of ship. It is easy to get around and not too many decks to challenge your climbing abilities...this is a serious factor for seniors. The elevators are located in strategic spots throughout the ship. They are not on the exterior and are not glass. Boo hoo...so what? The balcony door opens out, does not slide, so it encroaches on the balcony space. And again, so what? It's just a bit old. For great views, even if you have a balcony or suite, go to the Crow's Nest. Dining We did have an unfortunate experience in the Lido where they undercooked ( it was red and raw) our steak. But put that in perspective, thousands of meals are eaten there. I discussed the shortcomings with the Lido Manager, very courteous person. He also explained a quaint but efficient practice in the Lido. They have no trays (great!) and if you want to save your place while your dining partner is off getting their food, then you can put your (cloth) napkin OVER THE BACK OF YOUR CHAIR. How smart is that? Other diners thus know that you are sitting there, but you are off scavenging. Let's hope that the Lido Manager finds a way to tell all the Lido diners so we can make this system work. The dining hit for this cruise was the Canaletto, the $10 treasure. This is the surcharge for dinner in this intimate Italian specialty dining room. We went twice on our 7 day cruise. The cuisine is memorable and so is the service. The veal was a hit with my husband who ordered the same entree both times. The Fish Soup (translate that into Italian) is better than what we had in Italy! The pasta is the real meal deal. I hesitate to recommend this dining experience too highly as it may result in a run on the Canaletto. Activities & Excursions This was a romantic get away for my husband and I and we also had health issues, so we kept our activity level to the minimum...but even a monkey can push a button on a slot machine. So my husband and I entered and HE WON the slot tournament in the casino. I thought the machines were tough...akin to throwing your money out the window. Juneau We watched from our balcony as other cruisers tramped the streets as they held up their umbrellas. On a previous cruise we did the whale watching and Mendenhall glacier. These were well worth the money and were memorable. These excursions were in September, and this most recent cruise was in May. Worth noting. Haines/Skagway This is a breathtaking setting in a port with a population of 800. From Haines we took the Fairweather Fast Ferry ( Honest to God that is the correct name!) to Skagway where we took the train trip. Others have described this trip. It is worth the extravagant amount that they charge. Do it, if you can! Ketchican We walked from the ship through the town attractions to the Totem Park. Great exhibit of totem poles, many ancient ones, both outdoors and in a museum setting. ( Museum charge is $5 per adult.) Other than gambling in the casino and taking the railway in Skagway, we saw two movies and gazed at the scenery. The setting, the scenery and wild life are the attractions on this weather dependent cruise. We spent hours looking at the mountains, a glacier and the snow and ice. If you are a nature lover, this is a cruise for you. Service As on most HAL ships you can drop your towel and your room steward, with a smile, will deal with it. They will also make your bed, vacuum your room and clean up after you. Help them by using your room preference: Service please or Privacy Please. I combed the previous reviews for a mention of weather and how people coped. Not much help... so here's the thing. We brought hats, gloves, scarves, layers of clothes...even an umbrella. Well, we wore shorts on deck to view the glacier. We wore regular clothes on our balcony to use our binoculars to view nature. They have cosy blankets to cover you if you get cold. There was a (BIG) umbrella in our stateroom. But I purred contentedly,knowing that we had hats, scarves, gloves, layers.... So pack with layers and shed them when you can. This is the second HAL Alaska cruise we have taken and I hope it is not our last. Read Less
Sail Date May 2016
My wife and I had a wonderful cruise on board Zaandam. The ship, despite being 16 years old, is still in very top condition. The cabin washroom is equipped well and looks quite modern. All common areas are well maintained. This is our 12th ... Read More
My wife and I had a wonderful cruise on board Zaandam. The ship, despite being 16 years old, is still in very top condition. The cabin washroom is equipped well and looks quite modern. All common areas are well maintained. This is our 12th cruise and second with HAL. The previous HAL cruise was on Westerdam. Service is no doubt ahead of the other cruise lines that are of similar pricing structures. Cruise director arranged very good shows and none disappointed us. The Gala night that replaced Formal benefited many passengers, although a few tuxedos could be seen in the dining area as well as in the theatre. I played tennis with a front desk staff while off duty. That is service beyond call of duty. Food was great, especially the lobster night at one of the gala attire evenings. Tender boat arrangements of three ports were very well managed. We had enjoyed the great weather every time we went ashore. I felt so lucky that we were being toured around at Falkland Islands to see Penguins by an independent agent Patrick Watt on Tuesday, March 15th. Patrick organized about 8-10 4X4 and we travelled to Bertha’s Beach as well as other places. Bertha’s Beach is the home of a large colony of Gentoo penguins who have the freedom of a beautiful long white sand beach. We also saw two King penguins, a bonus. In addition, we also saw many Magellanic penguins. Great experience for us. Patrick is the third generation in Falklands and he knows the place, history extremely well. His expertise and actual experience of the Falkland War gave us more in-depth understanding of the historical event. On that gorgeous day of March 15th, both my wife and I really enjoyed every moment of the excursion. If you are thinking of seeing penguins in your South America cruise, you owe it to yourself not to contact Patrick Watt - pwatts@horizon.co.fk. He responded to email very promptly, and in great details. Read Less
Sail Date March 2016
We flew overnight from Miami to Santiago, arriving 8:30 a.m. We had an interesting 3-hour Turis (Pauline and driver Juan) led tour of Santiago. A very thorough introduction to the historical and cultural highlights of Santiago. Five bus ... Read More
We flew overnight from Miami to Santiago, arriving 8:30 a.m. We had an interesting 3-hour Turis (Pauline and driver Juan) led tour of Santiago. A very thorough introduction to the historical and cultural highlights of Santiago. Five bus loads of Zaandam passengers stayed at the Sheraton Santiago Hotel which made the transfer Sunday morning to the port city of Valparaiso very convenient. Sunday morning’s 1.5 hr. bus ride with one potty break transfer from Sheraton to Valparaiso terminal. Lilianna was our bus #4 guide who narrated the entire trip. Very informative. As you walk through terminal shops be sure to sample the Veremonte Reserva Sauvignon Blanc from the Villa de Casablanca vineyards, Chile. HAL registration very smooth, taking barely 25 minutes in queue and processing. Sea Days provided good opportunities to look back to reflect on activities done, classes or upcoming port expectations. Our Location Guide Ryan was inspirational and a really positive influence as we looked forward to seeing and hearing his presentations. EVENING ENTERTAINMENT: The Zaandam entertainers and the HALCat band were consistently good. Classique starred the Singers and Dancers was wonderful. Wife even commented she would have paid a fee to see; it was that good of a cruise ship show. Monday SHOWTIME WAS Jaz Danion who entertained us with world class juggling and feats of strength and balance. Tuesday SHOWTIME featured International renowned Harpist Shirley Dominguez performing "When the Harp goes Latin." Backed by the HALcats and superb theatrical smoke and lighting, we few who attended Shirley's passionate performance were really entertained. Truth be told, we went expecting to listen to her first song. We happily stayed her entire 45 minute show. Wednesday’s SHOTIME performer was British operatic Tenor Lee Brantley. We opted for March Madness. Our loss! On Friday we were entertained by both Shirley and Lee…fast paced and powerful. A very good show. Monday’s SHOWTIME was highlighted by Salvatore Hasard, singer and multi-instrumentalist performing "Life is Music." Moving effortlessly from his "Bride," his pearl white electric guitar, performing several songs with Harmonica, Piano, from which he performed several 'solo-duets,' Saxophone, and Drums from which he performed a tribute to his favorite multi-instrumentalists...Stevie Wonder. His between-song stories and solid playing and vocals made this a fun show. Tuesday’s SHOWTIME entertainer was Comedian Andrew Kennedy. Reality (family) Comedy. From his 83 year old Mister McGoo, proper Brit father to his 5'0" Columbian Latina mother, lily white Andrew looks at life (never judging a book by its cover) through the multi-cultural eyes of a bilingual boy who was born to the interpreter to his father and mother. Showtime entertainment Thursday featured PAMPAS DEVILS GAUCHOS: a traditional South American gaucho show including the Argentinean Tango, Bolas, and Argentinean tap dancing as well as a little comedy featuring show man, Juan Pablo Vino. Showtime entertainment Friday featured the HAL singers and dancers who performed a really professional program entitled simply, "DANCE." We closed each evening with Piano Man Van, a very versatile club piano man / show man. PORTS OF CALL: Tender ports—Puerto Montt, Puerto Chacabuco, and Stanley…tender operations went very smoothly. In Puerto Montt we had an easy transfer from ship to comfortable bus. I enjoyed the ride as our guide was easy to understand and very informative. First stop, after a short drive, the rushing cascades of Petrohue Falls. We spent 45 mins. there with plenty time to shop a bit at a handicraft market. Our tour took us next up the steep and winding roads to the near peak of Osorno Volcano. Unforttnately, cloud cover blocked our view of the volcano all day. Stopping for lunch at a German Restaurant was a highlight. The food was delicious, lovely atmosphere and beautiful flowers in the gardens. Lastly, we spent an hour shopping in Puerto Varas. The 7 1/2 hour excursion made for a wonderful day. In Puerto Chacabuco we took the HAL led Northern Patagonia and Coyhaique City tour, an enjoyable day exactly as the brochure describes. Not mentioned was the ‘snack’ we had halfway through the trip…awesome. In Punta Arenas we scheduled the Off the Beaten Path: Magdalena (Island) Penguin Reserve (as a Plan B in case Stanley didn’t permit entry.) There were still 20,000 to 25,000 pairs of Magelanic Penguins in residence. We had the ultimate in good fortune. The previous day’s tour was cancelled as was our afternoon’s trip. We had smooth sailing (2-4’ seas) for the 2.5 hour ferry ride to the island. Returning though seas built to 8-11’ seas and building. What a magnificent encounter with these burrowing creatures. Our dockage at Ushuaia was delayed by 1.5 hours due to high crosswinds and very choppy seas. We had an interesting excursion. Our 6:30 departure was adjusted to 7:30 so we were able to do our entire Drive to Tierra del Fuego National Park excursion during which we stopped at a lake across which was an Argentine mountain range which was lovely. We then backtracked to a visitors center / restaurant for a bite to eat / photo op. Another view of the same lake and similar mountain views. In this lake we saw five ducks bobbing in the growing swells. Then we made a stop at crazy Carlos, keeper of the End of the World Post Office in a shack on a wooden pier. Despite getting near 6:30 on Sunday afternoon, he was still open, quite happy to sell post cards, hawking some that bore images of himself in a number of different poses and designs taken over his 30 year tenure. The absolute pinnacle of our South American journey was the Patrick Watts led Bertha’s Beach / Gypsy Cove excursion which we had booked and hawked to our Cruise Critic Roll Call Family. We wound up with 26 on this excursion. We arrived Prince William Bay / Sound a little ahead of schedule. The trip to Stanley was smooth as silk. In fact, the largest swells occurred when we encountered the wake of oncoming tenders retuning to the Zaandam from Stanley. Excellent boarding of tender, really calm bay to and from Stanley pier. Patrick and his team were right where we expected him to be.. With driver Sara we were in a 7-9 SUV caravan. Tremendous colony of Gentoo penguins. A comical juvenile kept Gypsy Cove , a mine strew beach, a remnant of the Falklands war. Despite there only being 7 Magellanic penguins this late in the season, the elevated walkway around the cove provided beautiful views of the Zaandam and Stanley city in the distance. In Montevideo we ventured out into town on the suggestion of our location guide Ryan. Armed with a “Circuitous Turistico Walking Tour” map, rain suits and umbrellas, we walked the 15 blocks effortlessly to independence Square. On the way we scoped out the stores we wanted to walk through on the return to the ship. Despite the morning rains, and the persistent threat throughout the afternoon, we got to see and do everything we had set out to do. Due to our 9:50 flight home on Sunday, we had two full days in Buenos Aires. Saturday we did the HAL led Gaucho Life on the Pampas: great fun—gaucho horse ballet, trick riding, nice walk around estancia, terrific meal of b-b-q steak, chicken, sausage after which guitarists played / sang, and Tango dancers performed. Local wines were very good and, like at every other port, flowed like (excuse me) wine. And oh, those all you can eat empanadas. Sun. Mar. 20 BUENOS AIRES disembarkation was smooth as silk. Highlights & Tango Show w/airport transfer for those with flights later than 8pm. Buenos Aires tour was very interesting, esp. Recoleta cemetery (Eva Peron (Duarte) story. The Pink Palace from which she addressed her people, Pope Francis's municipal cathedral, the famous La Boca neighborhood, Camalita Street, the soccer stadium. The highlight was the luncheon Tango Show at Cafe de los Angelitos before heading to the Airport. Read Less
Sail Date March 2016
Ship could use some big time updating. Bathrooms were ancient. Plumbing issue on first morning (early) caused flooding of cabin. Maintenance came and asked us to leave the room while they made repairs. Water spilt over from the ... Read More
Ship could use some big time updating. Bathrooms were ancient. Plumbing issue on first morning (early) caused flooding of cabin. Maintenance came and asked us to leave the room while they made repairs. Water spilt over from the bathroom into the cabin, soaking the carpeting. We quickly got dressed to go to breakfast. Came back two hours later and found the problem fixed but our room had a high powered fan to dry up the cabin. Maintenance man said we could turn down the fan while we were in the cabin, and he would notify front desk of issue. We were NOT offered to move to another cabin. For two days, we put up with the fan as it tried to dry out the carpeting. My wife, who had a bit of a cold when the trip started, ended up with a lung infection, and the on ship doctor put her in quarantine for the last three days of the cruise. Food on the ship was only average. Have had better on other cruise lines. Entertainment was OK. Some nice shows, some real clunkers. Excursions were real nice and in fact, the best part of the trip. Embarkation was fairly quick, but disembarkation was LONG. We were told it was time for our group to go to the awaiting bus, only to have to stand in line for an hour waiting for a bus to arrive. I would not recommend HAL for your Alaska adventure. Go with a newer ship, which will offer the same excursions but you will have a much better time on board. I have attempted to contact HAL Client Services with no response. My travel agent, which was a HAL representative, said that it sometimes takes a few weeks for an Client Services agent to respond, but it has now been 24 days which I feel is way too long. Read Less
Sail Date June 2015
We did a land sea tour to Denali followed by the cruise through Glacier Bay to Vancouver stopping at various ports on the way. We booked all our tours through HAL. The embarkation was a breeze. Quick friendly and efficient. We ... Read More
We did a land sea tour to Denali followed by the cruise through Glacier Bay to Vancouver stopping at various ports on the way. We booked all our tours through HAL. The embarkation was a breeze. Quick friendly and efficient. We arrived at our cabin and our bags were delivered with half an hour. Well done. The ship is in good shape. The appointments are relatively tasteful and overall, I found her easy to navigate and there were plenty of areas to enjoy. The Lido Deck was all about food. I have never seen so much food and quite frankly, I found it unappealing however, I am in the minority. The buffet seemed to go on forever and this area always seemed busy. I quite liked the outdoor pool area as it was nice to sit in the sun and enjoy the peace. The Observation Deck was also quite good with huge lazy chairs and good service. At night, this turns into a dancing/music venue but not too loud...quite good fun. The Pinnacle Restaurant is excellent. Great food and good array of wines. I liked the service staff but the Maitre D was curt, arrogant and unpleasant. I did not like her or her attention. I preferred the waiting staff who were really lovely. Canaletto's was OK but just OK...I'd dodge this one next time. It is an Indian chef's interpretation of Italian food. The shows were awful. Honestly, I dragged my husband to one and we left after 20 minutes...it was so bad. One night, they had a comedian and he seemed OK but the singing and dancing was very basic. We did attend a wine tasting lesson and that was superb. Well organised and we learnt heaps from the Cellar Master, Raj. As to the tours, we did not have a bad one. All of them were brilliant. Well organised and all exceeded our expectations. My favourite was the trip to the Arctic Circle. Such a wonderful experience. I am so happy we booked through HAL as I found everyone of the tours superb. The downsides: the butlers we had drove me insane. They were basically annoying. I found they were over attentive and it doesn't appeal to me. Intrusive. The suite was noisy...one night it was so bad that the banging and clashing from upstiars went on for hours. To be fair, we complained and they did address the issue. They also gave us a USD$400 credit off our bill for the inconvenience. Also, the Managers don't consider passengers when doling out the duties to staff. We had five days in port and two at sea so they choose a sea day to grind paint outside the Explorations Library. It was so loud, you could not sit and read. Crazy!! Why not do it on a port day when most people leave the ship?? I have done a personal blog with full details and pics on all tours if it helps. ineverfeelthecold.blogspot.com Read Less
Sail Date June 2015
First time we have sailed on HAL. We did the Denali land tour prior to cruising- it was a great experience. Stunning and beautiful scenery with lots of wildlife viewing. Embarkation was fast-less than 10 minutes. Our cabin as a verandah ... Read More
First time we have sailed on HAL. We did the Denali land tour prior to cruising- it was a great experience. Stunning and beautiful scenery with lots of wildlife viewing. Embarkation was fast-less than 10 minutes. Our cabin as a verandah suite located on deck 7. The room was spacious with lots of storage. The bathroom was a little dated but everything was spotless. The cabin stewards did an excellent job in taking care of us and were always polite and professional. We prefer to dine in our room for breakfast- room service was very punctual and the order was always correct and the food was hot. As far as entertainment we only went to one show- it was lively and well done. The onboard movies were fun and we enjoyed the popcorn. Dining at the Pinnacle Grill was delicious. The main dining meals were good as well- food arrived in a timely manner and was hot. The menu throughout the ship seemed a little limited but I believe it is geared slightly towards an older crowd who tend to prefer (stereotypically) simpler meals. All staff on board that we interacted with were polite and professional-no complaints. All of the ports were fun. We only booked one excursion thru HAL- the White Pass Rail ride in Skagway and it was fabulous. The whale watching in Juneau we arranged in port at one of the kiosks. Glacier Bay was amazing and the captain/crew did an incredible job of getting us close to view the calving glaciers. We stayed in the Pan Pacific in Vancouver which makes it extremely easy to disembark. The Pan Pacific is a wonderful hotel- walking distance to lots of shops, eating and neighborhoods. We walked to Stanley Park - about 4 miles but it is a lovely walk along the water. We had a terrific trip Read Less
Sail Date May 2015
The rating of this ship is generous according to reviews. Service was awful to non existing. Out of 14 nights in dining room my husband only had one night where his iced tea or water was refilled. Gone are the days where customers ... Read More
The rating of this ship is generous according to reviews. Service was awful to non existing. Out of 14 nights in dining room my husband only had one night where his iced tea or water was refilled. Gone are the days where customers mattered. Asked for condiments when I ordered dinner so I would have them. Never came with dinner either. Again, ignored and didn't give a damn for their customers. Worse cruise I have been on. As a seasoned cruiser we know the difference. Every thing is a cost center and they don't work too well. Pinnacle specialty dinning was no different. Nothing special there!!! Lamb chops were too fatty to consume and Steak was way over cooked after ordering Rare came well done with no pink at all. Got two horrible meals with no reimbursements and they didn't even care if we ever came back. Should have offered a try again to "win" us over and satisfy their customer but did not bother! Still charged the $29.00 up charge. Went away hungry and dissatisfied. Not good if you want to keep clients coming back. One review is one thing, but every evening was the same. Food not prepared as ordered and server never did call backs or cared if we were satisfied. Many meals were delivered and thrown in front of us. I don't know about anyone else, but I certainly would not serve rotten fruit in an appetizer. I would not serve what I would not eat!!!! Waiter never bothered to even look at what he was serving and had many meals messed up between different people at the same table. This was a Wow moment for us. And we won't ever do that one again. Read Less
Sail Date April 2015
My now wife and I did our honeymoon on the Zandaam and had an absolutely wonderful time! To start out with, we are both young. I turned 30 thirty two days before we got on this boat. When we got there, we noticed that the AARP would highly ... Read More
My now wife and I did our honeymoon on the Zandaam and had an absolutely wonderful time! To start out with, we are both young. I turned 30 thirty two days before we got on this boat. When we got there, we noticed that the AARP would highly recommend this boat as it was 90% over the age of 60. That's fine though, as we realize that Holland America is the "old people" brand and one of the reasons we chose it is a lack of small children running around. That being said, there were always a ton of activities for younger folks to do and we were never bored. The assistant cruise director, the band, and the bars had a lot to do with this. The boat itself is a little tired. Not horrible, but the bathrooms could have come out of the 80's, the furniture, the 90's. Our room, a Neptune suite, had holes in the carpet and the sofa was beat to pieces. But the bed was mostly comfortable, although they did not have any "T"'s to combine the twins into a queen. Instead, we had our steward (who, by the way, like all the staff, was fantastic) stuff the bed with towels. And though it was worn, the ship was always spotless. The excursions were mostly good. There are a lot of cattle car tours where you sign up for a bus and they herd you on and off to take pictures and say, "I've been there". With the exception of Montevideo and Santiago, there was always one more active excursion that was excellent. We particularly loved hanging with Penguins, canoeing, and white water rafting. The last day, however, there were no options but bus tours. Our driver droned on and on about how capitalism is superior to socialism and communism and also stopped the whole bus so he could smoke. Yeah, glad I paid $400 for that... So if the cruise was mostly good, why would I not go with Holland America again? The food. The food was the worst food I have ever had on a cruise ship. Breakfast was two eggs, bread and a cheap piece of meat. Oh, it sounded fancy with names of foreign countries attached to it, but there is no fooling this guy, its all the same! For 14 days in a row! Lunch was bland, often cold, and tasted like I was eating a run down Piccadilly Cafeteria. Bland, often cold, no variety or variation, and all as cheap as they pencil pushers could make it. It was nasty. Dinner was OK, but there was a serious lack of flavor. It seems as opposed to offend someone with taste, they would just not have any taste at all. And here is the thing that made me so mad about it all: The Pinnacle, the specialty restaurant on the boat was hands down the best food I have ever had on a cruise. Holland America is totally capable of making food that taste good (the burger bar on the pool deck was also good), but they chose not to. The food alone will keep me from ever sailing with Holland America again. Also, the coffee was terrible. It was like they took the grounds from other cruise boats, let them sit in the sun and dry out, and then make their coffee from that. I hate that one thing was so bad that it would keep us from coming back. We really did have a great time and I have never seen such an awesome staff of people on a boat. Even the Captain was great and joined us for breakfast one day. For the most part, they really had great options of things to do and shore excursions for young couples and we were able to totally avoid large numbers of kids. It would have been perfect had the food issue not been there. Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
My husband and I honeymooned on the Zaandam over Thanksgiving. We knew that HAL is known as a cruise line for an older set but we were intrigued by the itinerary. We didn’t regret our choice for a moment. We had a large ocean view cabin ... Read More
My husband and I honeymooned on the Zaandam over Thanksgiving. We knew that HAL is known as a cruise line for an older set but we were intrigued by the itinerary. We didn’t regret our choice for a moment. We had a large ocean view cabin and honestly, it was perfect for us. It was large enough for us to unpack and the bed was extremely comfortable (we stayed in a very nice hotel in BA after the cruise and mourned the loss of the Zaandam bed). I guess we’re not very picky but everything the room was just right for us. Our amazing stewards, Dodt and Tsiot, did a fantastic job with two fairly untidy people and we so appreciated them for it. I’ve sailed on several cruises before and being kind of a foodie (even if that term is overused and silly), I wasn’t expecting much from the food on the cruise. I have to say, I was very impressed, especially with the food in the dining room. Formal night meals were also phenomenal, last night my husband and I were talking about the surf and turf dinner. It was that good. We also appreciated Sebastiano, the chef, making the rounds of the dining room and chatting with everyone. It’s a nice touch. We didn’t go to too many shows but we went to the Filipino crew show and it was spectacular. It’s lovely that HAL encourages their staff to show off their culture. They were clearly very proud and it made for an entertaining evening. Last but not least, we can’t say enough good things about the crew. Lance’s talks were informative and I never felt like he was hard selling the ship tours. Kara, the librarian, has the patience of a saint. Eka, our dining room server, was charming and remembered not just our names but our preferences. Sonny, the wine steward, was personable and always on top of things. Last, but certainly not least, Jeremy, the show host helped to make our honeymoon awesome. He got my husband (never really a joiner) to participate in activities, kept the dance parties going for us and is certainly a highlight of the Zaandam. He is cheerful, fun, energetic and everyone we spoke to loved him. We’re so glad we picked the Zaandam for our honeymoon.   Read Less
Sail Date November 2014
After having read some of the reviews for the Zaandam, We embarked with some trepidation. I kept looking for the wear and tear that was so prevalent in the reviews. Two weeks of drydock certainly did the ship well. All new carpeting, new ... Read More
After having read some of the reviews for the Zaandam, We embarked with some trepidation. I kept looking for the wear and tear that was so prevalent in the reviews. Two weeks of drydock certainly did the ship well. All new carpeting, new bar venues, new paint, new upholstery, new attitude! Our veranda suite was next to perfect. Of course the bath decor is a little dated but all the bedding and linens appeared to be new. Not a scratch or dent anywhere. The rejuvenation seemed to affect the the crew as well. The cabin stewards and our favorite bartenders and servers called us by name. Of course Mario at the Pinnacle treated us like royalty. The food was good, especially at the Pinnacle and Canaletto restaurants. Embarkation was smooth as was disembarkation in spite of the rather crude an antiquated facilities in Valparaiso. I thought the entertainment was good. I tried to get to every venue but just couldn't stay up for the late shows. Of course trivia night was popular in the Mix bar and we won the ship building contest. I thought is was a good value for the money and have booked another cruise with Holland America for next year.   Read Less
Sail Date November 2013
Scenery on land tour amazing. Not as impressed with other services. Was fantastic making friends on land that carried onto ship. Embarkation: we arrived around 3:30 after Kenai Fjords boat tour. No wait and quickly arrived in our cabin. ... Read More
Scenery on land tour amazing. Not as impressed with other services. Was fantastic making friends on land that carried onto ship. Embarkation: we arrived around 3:30 after Kenai Fjords boat tour. No wait and quickly arrived in our cabin. We had reserved a cabin on main floor and upgraded to a balcony on 6th deck a couple of weeks before departure. Our cabin was great. Stewart Jo-Jo was great. Fresh fruit when requested, c and clean towels. Plenty of storage, enjoyed the robes. Also enjoyed the lap blankets on the balcony. We used our port balcony most days, especially when cruising Glacier Bay. My husband spotted orca whales one morning. Food: we ate most of our meals in the Rotterdam main dining room. The food and service were great. Our evening waitor, Toby, remembered our drink preferences. We tried the Lido once for lunch and again once for dinner. Lunch I didn't find much that appealed. For dinner, I requested the salmon and had to return in ten minutes. It was fresh, hot and good, but the rest of te table was on to dessert. We ordered room service for breakfast two times. It always arrived within the requested time, was hot and fresh. Entertainment: we went to two shows in the main theatre. Northern Lights was good, bit only 35 minutes. We also went to the crews' show which was entertaining. I caught some cooking demos which I enjoyed. I also did one craft (wished they had had more craft demos.) we enjoyed the piano bar with David most evenings, also liked music in Ocean Bar. Ports: we did nature hike in Haines. Only highlight was seeing a moose with her calf. We could have done the hike on park trail and gone slower so we could have looked around. In Juneau we did the native canoe to the face of Mendellhall Glacier. We had fun, but wished we had gone whale watching with friends. My husband went up the Mt. Roberts tramway. He wanted to hike once there, but trails were closed due to snow. In Ketchikan we went zip-lining. We didn't see any bears, but the scenery was pretty. It was a rainy day, but we didn't notice it in the treetops. It was definitely a fun experience. Disembarkation: we were late getting docked, but once it was started, everything went smoothly. We watched from our balcony until it was our turn. Only downer of cruise was "scenic cruising of inside passage." We had a day at sea, followed by sailing inside passage at night. Unable to see anything in the dark! Read Less
Sail Date June 2013
SO much to tell after two weeks! I'll try not to be ridiculously verbose... We sailed out of San Diego. This is a great port to cruise in and out of. The airport and the cruise terminal are so close together, and many hotels ... Read More
SO much to tell after two weeks! I'll try not to be ridiculously verbose... We sailed out of San Diego. This is a great port to cruise in and out of. The airport and the cruise terminal are so close together, and many hotels between the two have free shuttles. We stayed at both the Hampton Inn (Downtown) and the Holiday Inn on the Bay. Both were great, with the only exception being the noise from the train crossing in our room at the Hampton Inn. Embarkation was smooth as can be and very quick, as was debarkation. No issues there at all. We had booked a veranda guarantee, and were given an AA cabin - 7085. The cabin was really nice :) Loved our veranda, location was perfect. The cabin is under the lido aft pool, but we only ever heard noise on the veranda - the occasional shifting of deck chairs. The room itself was silent! It is a connecting cabin, and that cabin was occupied, but we never heard anything from that room. We did hear the toilet flush in the other cabin near us if everything was really quiet, but not loud enough to notice or to keep a person awake. The ship itself- what a relief! We had read so many bad reviews lately.... Very clean, the carpeting looked new, all the soft goods in our cabin were new, the public areas were sparkling clean and looked in perfect shape. No smells, no maintenance issues, nothing worn out or dirty. The food - it was good. No complaints at all. I don't have a lot to compare it to, but I will say I thought the food selection and variety on RCI Freedom of the Seas was better - but not by much. We ate in the Lido and MDR and had room service - never ate in the Pinnacle Grill or Canaletto. Canaletto got rave reviews from those we spoke to who ate there. Entertainment - so-so, but we knew that going in. The Zaandam singers and dancers were... uh... well - don't worry too much if you miss a show. The lounge acts were quite good, the individual acts in the main show lounge were pretty good - with Chipper Lowell and Mark Newell being FANTASTIC. The culinary demos were pretty cool :) We played pub trivia almost every night with four others who were wonderful companions! Had a lot of fun with that :) Ports - all were good, and detailed below. Tendering in Lahaina was a piece of cake and very efficient - just make sure to get your tender tickets from the main show lounge as early as you can in the morning. Dress code fyi: After reading many posts on this board, I thought that the dress code would be more formal than it was on smart casual nights. Very few people wore ties or sport coats and most women were wearing capris or regular skirts and pants with nice tops. Formal nights - men were far more dressed up than most of the women, which I thought was odd! About 33% of men were in tuxes, 33% in dark suits, and 33% in sport coat/tie combos (along with those who chose not to go to dinner and were just in normal clothes). Women - only a handful of long gowns, mostly black pants/skirts with sparkly tops and some cocktail dresses. As for jeans, they were allowed in the MDR on smart casual nights. Shorts were turned away the two nights we saw someone try (smart casual). We had a wonderful time, and could have stayed on forever :) I will say that we are very low-maintenance as far as being entertained, and were very happy reading books on our veranda. We would never take a kid or a teenager on this cruise! Also - if you need a, exciting night life or a busy casino, this is not the cruise for you :) Read Less
Sail Date January 2013
My husband and I have cruised 8 times, three on Holland America. This was our first time on the Zaadam, a smaller ship than we are used to. First of all, I want to share a great tip that I got off of Pinterest. Take a power strip with ... Read More
My husband and I have cruised 8 times, three on Holland America. This was our first time on the Zaadam, a smaller ship than we are used to. First of all, I want to share a great tip that I got off of Pinterest. Take a power strip with you on your cruise, as most state rooms only have one outlet. With the onslaught of cell phone, ipads, ipods, etc., the extra power outlets are a great way to get everything powered at one time. You can even use this in the airport. We had several people ask to use ours while waiting in the airport and we were happy to oblige. Thank me later. Back to the ship. We are boring cruisers. We go solely for Rest and Relaxation. We usually don't go on shore excursions but opt for independent art gallery shopping and local fare while in port. Sometimes we just stay on the boat and relax near the pool. One reason we choose Holland America is that they allow you to bring your own wine on board. We made a quick stop at a Walgreens in San Diego and stocked up with bottles of wine. These can be carried right on to the ship and consumed in your state room for no fee. If you wish to have this wine at dinner, there is a corkage fee. But we usually just waited until after dinner and enjoyed the wine in the room. We used the gym every morning at 6 am. The gym is well equipped and the treadmills face outward so you can enjoy the sunrise while logging in miles. Yoga, tai chi, water aerobics, etc. are all offered on the ship, as well as other classes for fitness bugs like us. The food on this ship is adequate buffet quality. Again, we did not choose this cruise line because of it's stellar dining experience. We wanted to relax, be on our own schedule and have some sustenance to keep us going. However, Holland America still confuses us with their dinner dining policy. We usually just called a day ahead and made reservations for a table for two at dinner. Walk ins still are welcomed though, which I don't quite understand but hey, it's a vacation right? Who cares? We were seated every night next to the prep. table which was not in the least a fine dining experience. Although wait staff were courteous and nice, the service from the kitchen seemed slow and disjointed. Food was adequate and desserts unimaginative. We found out that we could get basically the same food on the dining menu up stairs at the buffet and were tempted to do so a couple of times. There was a sewage smell in our cabin for about 1/2 of our trip. The smell emanated from the little hallway near the closets and surprisingly, not the bathroom. The staff came in to try to clean the smell and it did abate for a time, but came back within a few hours. Our toilets also went out one day due to blockage on our floor. Not good. But was fixed in about 6 hours. This ship seems rather dated and the staterooms show signs of wear and tear. But beds are comfy, there is an actual bathtub in bathroom and shower pressure is good.The staff is friendly, accommodating and hard working. Entertainment is limited and most venues are more intimate than in larger ships. Puerto Vallarta and Cabo were on the itinerary and we enjoyed walking around and seeing the local flavor. I understand that Mazatlan was taken off the itinerary list because of gang wars and violence in that city. Puerto and Cabo seem to be immune to that for the time being. Traveler's beware and be alert in any Mexican country these days. Lots of drug cartels and hating on travelers, so buyer beware. All in all, we had a nice vacation. Probably won't ask for this ship again and will probably stick with Holland America as we are racking up frequent cruiser points. It would be nice to have a bottle of champagne or another show of gratitude for frequent cruisers, other than the luncheon and coasters given each year. Just an observation. We got what we wanted out of this vacation. Sun, solitude, rest and relaxation. We even got to see the whales! Added bonus! Read Less
Sail Date January 2013
We booked this cruise with trepidation, as the reviews of the ship (and of Holland America in general) were, at best, mixed. But boy, were we pleasantly surprised! Having sailed 30+ times, we are not novices when it comes to judging ... Read More
We booked this cruise with trepidation, as the reviews of the ship (and of Holland America in general) were, at best, mixed. But boy, were we pleasantly surprised! Having sailed 30+ times, we are not novices when it comes to judging ships. We've been on so many types, to so many places, that we do tend to overlook certain things. But still, we hadn't heard great things about this ship, and that had us a little concerned about what we were getting ourselves into. However, the Zaandam far exceeded our expectations. The staff---especially the servers in all the restaurants---were wonderful. The food was better than most and reminded us of the kind of choices we used to get on all cruiselines. Food: yes, food matters. And in recent years, it seems this is the one area you can most feel the cutbacks. We fondly recall the bygone cruising era, when surf and turf meant filet mignon and lobster. Nowadays, cruises offer their version, which includes a sirloin and a piece of fish (or, if you're lucky, a crableg or two). So imagine our surprise when, upon ordering surf and turf onboard the Zaandam, we actually got a genuine filet and a lobster tail? Want additional lobsters? Just ask. They brought us six. No kidding...six. The Lido Restaurant is the ship's buffet. We'd definitely rate this higher than on other ships. In fact, many people onboard opted to eat all their dinners in there because it was just so good. Everything is very well-organized and well-labeled, and, instead of a bunch of strangers ladling heaping helpings onto their overladen plates, they actually serve you from behind the counter. Nice touch that we greatly appreciated. One night, crablegs were offered as one of the many dinner choices. There was virtually no line, and you could just walk up and get a huge plateful. The tables are quickly bussed and cleaned, and there are lots of helpers to get you coffee, water, tea, etc. I did read one poster's complaint about the lack of an ice cream machine. Having sailed on Royal Caribbean a couple of months ago, we can honestly say thank goodness the Zaandam DOES NOT have this! The ships we've sailed on, including the recent one on RCCL, had streams of gooey ice cream all over the deck area where the ice cream machines were located. Half the time they didn't work, or were out of ice cream or cones, and always had long lines. We much prefer the civilzed way of HAL, where a smiling female server doles it into a bowl or cone for you, adding your choice of topping. Service: by far the best we've had in ages! Everyone (well, except for the snooty maitre d' in the Rotterdam Restaurant. What a tool.) is smiling, exceptionally polite, remembers you by name, and is just wonderful. Imagine coming into a cruise's buffet and having a server there remember you by name and save you a table by the window---on the second day of the cruise, no less! What impressed us most was that everyone behaved this way not for an expected tip, but because it was just the way they do things on the Zaandam. The ship is older but charming. The staff is constantly cleaning and polishing, and they seem to take pride in their ship. The cabin size was larger than on similar ships. Lines onboard were quite manageable and moved quickly. The ship's overall size (on the small size) is actually preferred over the mega ships that require one to wait in line for elevators, wait in line flor food, fight crowds for deck space, etc. Holland America includes so many nice touches that have all but disappeared on many other lines: free 24 hour room service, bowls of fruit in your cabin, personalized notes from staff, clean towels AND blankets by the pool area (no need to show a room key. Just help yourself), etc. Take it from two people that have cruised for years and years: this one is much better than they say. Read Less
Sail Date July 2012
We are relatively-seasoned cruisers, having cruised eight times (three with HAL). We spent five days in Alaska prior to boarding; highlights included the stunning scenic rail journey from Anchorage to Seward as well as a 5-hour Kenai ... Read More
We are relatively-seasoned cruisers, having cruised eight times (three with HAL). We spent five days in Alaska prior to boarding; highlights included the stunning scenic rail journey from Anchorage to Seward as well as a 5-hour Kenai Fjords wildlife tour aboard Major Marines' Star of the Northwest. Our land portion was planned independently. We recommend the Hotel Seward, which was comfortable and friendly. Embarkation in Seward took about 45 minutes. We settled into our cabin and then celebrated on the Lido deck with our traditional sailaway bucket of beer. :-) The Zaandam felt like "home" to us, having sailed on other HAL ships. We like the Dutch maritime theme of HAL ships. It was spotless, and the staff was exceptionally friendly and pleasant. (A shout out to Komang and Marivic ~ second to none!) Also, the Internet expert in the Explorer's lounge was a big help. Cruising the Gulf of Alaska was not notable, as it was a grey day, and there was nothing to see. However, our day scenic cruising in Glacier Bay was outstanding! We were blessed with sunny, comfortable weather, and our ship was able to spend a lot of time at the glaciers. Superlatives fail me ~ suffice it to say that it was exceptional, memorable, and very very special. We will never forget seeing and hearing the glaciers. We did not book any shore excursions; in ports, we simply ventured out on our own. Our stateroom was disappointing. In an effort to save money, we booked a "no-view oceanview" cabin on the lower promenade deck. While it was clean, we kept the drapes drawn most of the time due to passersby. It seemed small to us, and it was located under a noisy galley. However, the worst part was that mid-cruise we endured a disconcerting mechanical malfunction: we were awakened at midnight when a pipe burst above our room, and water began pouring into our cabin through the sprinkler. Luckily, it soaked the carpet and not our belongings or the bed. The staff moved us to a (noisy) inside cabin for the night while they fixed the problem, and they also provided a token credit on our bill to compensate for the incident. Next time we would spend more and book a more comfortable cabin. I thought the food was good; however, my husband felt that it wasn't as good as usual. We both very much enjoyed the Mariner's lunch (braised short ribs) as well as our dinner at the Pinnacle Grill. The Zaandam Singers and Dancers performed three entertaining musical reviews with Broadway, love, and southern themes. They did a good job. We also thoroughly enjoyed Julie Barr, a stand-up comedienne. Chris Cruz was great on guitar (he even played a little Dave Matthews for us!) Bill "the piano guy" did a good job as well. Disembarkation in Vancouver was a snap. We enjoyed our Alaska cruise immensely and would cruise with HAL again in a heartbeat! Read Less
Sail Date May 2012
We began our vacation on July 24, 2011 with a 2 night pre tour to the Brooks Range. Upon our arrival in Fairbanks, we were a little disappointed to find there was no packet waiting for us with tour instructions. The HAL rep at the Westmark ... Read More
We began our vacation on July 24, 2011 with a 2 night pre tour to the Brooks Range. Upon our arrival in Fairbanks, we were a little disappointed to find there was no packet waiting for us with tour instructions. The HAL rep at the Westmark was quick to take care of this and had the information for us within an hour. After a short nap (we arrived at approx 830pm Alaska time and had to be up and ready for a 415am departure), we began our pre tour. It was a 9 hour ride up the Dalton Highway to Coldfoot, Alaska. Our tour guide was very informative and the company that HAL uses for this tour made sure everything was taken care of. Upon our arrival in Coldfoot, we stayed at the Shell Creek Inn, which at first glance is extremely rustic. Twin beds, sink, small shower, and toilet. Thats about it. But it was very clean and well maintained. There is also a restaurant and saloon on the property. The restaurant had great food and we got to meet a lot of nice people; other travellers and some truck drivers. The next day we continued our trek up the Dalton Highway to the Brooks Range and across the Attigun Pass to the Continental Divide. Breathtaking is how I can describe the scenery and the beauty of that part of Alaska. Our guide was again very informative and made stops whenever we wanted to take pictures or a break. We got to see a moose, wolf, and 2 blonde grizzly bears. Then we turned around and made our way back toward Coldfoot ending with a 2 hour rafting trip down the Koyokuk River. The weather was beautiful and the scenery was again spectacular. Arriving in Coldfoot, we took an 8 seat Piper Cub to Fairbanks (1 hour and 10 minute flight). Again with an excellent pilot/guide who pointed out points of interest to us throughout the flight. We began the tour portion on the 26th and met with our HAL tour director, Justin, who gave us our packets and explained everything that we would need to know. Justin was again well informed in his job, and took care of all the needs of the approximately 50 people in his group with ease. He kept us well informed throughout the tour and handled everything. With approximately 4 or 5 groups/tour directors, you would expect chaos, but everything seemed to run very smoothly. We toured Fairbanks, the took the train to Denali, then Anchorage, and motor coach to Seward. The train rides were fun and with the domed cars, you can really see everything. They were very comfortable and the guides were again very informative and pointed out great picture opportunities along the way. We took the motor coach that was included in the price from Seward to the Ship and were glad we did. They offer an upgrade to the train, but it gets you to the ship later, and with the motor coach, we left at 830 in the morning and arrived at the ship by 1230pm and got checked in and boarded the ship in 10 minutes, then spent the remaining of the day walking around Seward which is a nice little town to walk around. About the Zaandam: I read some troublesome comments before we left and was concerned, but I can honestly say that the ship is very well kept up. She is beautiful!! The crew always had a smile and a hello every time we passed them and stopped to chat when they could. The food was very good. We ate in the Pinnacle Grille one night and it was fantastic, as was the service. We also ate in the Canelatto (which is on the Lido Deck), and the food there was also delicious. The shows were ok as far as I was concerned. It is a matter of preference as to what type of entertainment people like, and I prefer comedy and magic. The magic and comedy shows were ok. I think they need to upgrade them a bit, I heard the Broadway show was really good, and the Indonesian show could have been better, but I didn't get to go to those shows, so I have no first hand experience. We stopped in Haines, Juneau, and Ketchikan and had excursions in all ports. In Haines we booked the Takshunuk Mountain 4X4 mule tour, and were extremely pleased. Haines is a very cute little town and we found the best deals in shopping there for tee shirts and caps and that kind of stuff. In Juneau we booked on our own through Harv and Marv for whale watching and were not disappointed. Captain Sean made sure to go to all the good spots and we got to see lots of whales. We had a blast! We had a helicopter tour booked too, but they cancelled due to weather. In Ketchikan we booked the Bering Boat Tour on the Aleutian Ballad (which was the boat used in the first season of the Deadliest Catch), and it was so COOL! The Captain and crew showed us what is done when they go out on those boats and explained the perils and pitfalls that they face on a typical day at sea with great animation and information. Another truly great excursion. Sailing through the College Fjords and Inside Passage was truly beautiful!! Unfortunately the vacation of a lifetime came to an end and we were sad to go, but in true HAL style, debarkation went as smoothly as it can and we made it home safely with over 2000 pictures and lots of wonderful memories. My personal recommendation to anyone who is thinking of doing the type of vacation is to do the land part first then the cruise. The land part is a lot of touring and you will need the rest when you get to the cruise. One tip for future travellers is to take advantage of their unlimited laundry service. Its 49.00 for the week and unlimited amounts, and they do it for you. No waiting for a washer and dryer as it seems the rest of the ship is doing their laundry at the same time. We had all clothes laundered prior to disembarkation which made packing substantially easier as all clothes were neatly hung or folded leaving more room in the luggage for the souveniers. Read Less
Sail Date July 2011
We decided to take a quick 1 night cruise to Vancouver BC as part of an anniversary celebration. After checking with the HAL office in Seattle, we found we could board early, eat lunch and then relax on board before we set sail. Alas, it ... Read More
We decided to take a quick 1 night cruise to Vancouver BC as part of an anniversary celebration. After checking with the HAL office in Seattle, we found we could board early, eat lunch and then relax on board before we set sail. Alas, it was not to be. After scrambling to catch an early morning flight as planned, we were met by security officials at the terminal who said that boarding the ship had been postponed by the Coast Guard. After entering the terminal around 11am, we had to pay to have our luggage stored (adding more insult to injury). We were then directed to check in. As we checked in, we were told that we had been notified about this delay (we had not). A one page written explanation was provided to us. Apparently the ship had "gained weight" (don't we all in middle age?). This had been noted during the last time the ship was in dry dock. As part of licensing procedures, additional testing was needed. The incline test requires that there be no additional weight on board (translation - passengers, food and most of the crew). Engineering crew remained on board along with a few others, we were told. Some informal networking while enduring the 5 hour wait with fellow passengers (and some HAL employees) revealed that this indeed was known fairly well in advance, but was never disclosed to us during the booking phase. With all the information the cruise lines have for each passenger (cell phone, email, etc), the bigger question remains of why they couldn't send a text or email advising of the delay as the airlines will often do. Embarking procedures eventually occurred. The waiting was long and uncomfortable. Many people had to sit on the floor. The terminal reminded me and my husband of Ellis Island (but in reverse). HAL provided water and sympathy, as well as a free bus ride into/out of downtown Seattle to help pass the time. We were told to go get lunch (on our own), which we did. Once on board, the rest of the evening was rushed, with many services missing or incomplete. This experience was not what we had hoped for. During our wait to disembark, we counted at least 5 different groups of staff who came into our room to check on various things (mini-bar, water, linens, bed, etc.). The room stewards came in and asked if they could make up the bed (no problem!), but instead left bundled linens on the bed,towels in the bathtub and left without further discussion. Our check out assignment time had been assigned the prior evening, so we were a little surprised (and annoyed) with all of the interruptions. We just gave up and left the ship early. We guess that is what they wanted, anyway. Read Less
Sail Date October 2010
First, about us. South Alabama residents, D and I are 35 and 26. He is a contractor and I am a newspaper reporter. We don't have children -- yet -- and this cruise was one of the things to do on our "bucket list" before we ... Read More
First, about us. South Alabama residents, D and I are 35 and 26. He is a contractor and I am a newspaper reporter. We don't have children -- yet -- and this cruise was one of the things to do on our "bucket list" before we have children. Because we're young and on a budget, we always look for a good deal when planning a cruise (this was our third). We also look for great ports, where we can have new and memorable experiences! Our travel agent's parents took this same cruise a year ago, and she worried that the ship's passengers would be too "old" for us. We actually have a lot of friends who are older, so we enjoyed the older crowd on the ship. I would say the median age on the Zaandam was 55 or so. Because of that, the atmosphere was relaxed and people were well-behaved, which was a nice change from our cruises on Carnival. Now for the information about our trip! I'll tell our story in chronological order. THURSDAY, NOON. We departed the airport in Pensacola, Fla., and landed in Houston before arriving to Seattle at 5 p.m. Thursday. Because I am an obsessive planner and had researched Seattle's public transit system, I decided we would take the light rail from SeaTac to the Sheraton downtown. The light rail makes several stops before finally reaching the heart of downtown Seattle. Taking the light rail cost $2.50 per person, and took about 25 minutes to get from the airport to downtown. A cab ride would have cost $30-$40, I'm told. The only downside about the light rail was the walk from the airport terminal to the light rail station, which was probably 1/2 to 3/4 of a mile. With our luggage (one 30 pound duffle bag each, plus a backpack and my purse), it was a pretty good trek (and we're both in good shape). We felt like pack mules by the time we reached the light rail station! But getting to see different parts of Seattle from the train, plus spending only $5 on transit, was fantastic. From the light rail station at Westlake in downtown Seattle, it was a short 1 or 2 block walk to the Sheraton, where we stayed Thursday night. Our 17th floor room at the Sheraton (paid for with credit card points, so essentially free), was nice ... clean and comfortable. After settling in, we walked to P.F. Chang's (the chain Chinese restaurant) for dinner, which was pretty good. We were starving, having only eaten one small airplane meal since 9 a.m.! Armed with a map of downtown Seattle, it was easy to get around. Even though we're from a small town, I felt safe and comfortable downtown. FRIDAY, 8 A.M. Rising early the next morning, we walked down to Pike Place Market and ate breakfast at the Pike Place Bar and Grill, which overlooked the market. The food was just okay, though my husband did enjoy the all-you-can-eat waffles. The market, however, was fabulous! All the scents, sights and tastes were incredible ... we particularly loved the flower stalls. $5 for a gorgeous bouquet! I bought some really cute t-shirts from one artistic vendor who hand-draws the shirt images and screenprints the shirts by herself. We walked around for several hours, and even ended up in some alley where people's chewed-up wads of gum covered a huge wall! It was strange but interesting, just like Seattle. We scurried back to the hotel by 11 a.m., took a quick nap and checked out right before noon. We were able to easily get a cab with a porter's help, and were at Pier 91 in two shakes of a lamb's tail, at a cost of $25 (including tip). When we arrived at the cruise terminal at 12:15 p.m., we found it to be extremely well-organized, and we had our luggage turned in and our ship cards in our pockets within 45 minutes, and we were thrilled to get on the ship! We ate lunch at the Lido Buffet, and wandered the ship until our room was ready at 1:30. Our cabin was pretty spacious, with a large window. The bathroom was roomier than on other cruises, and having a tub was nice (though realistically, I couldn't see myself squeezing into that small tub). There was tons of closet space in our cabin! We spent the rest of the day wandering the ship and were pleased with what we saw. Yes, the Zaandam is aging, but it is very clean and extremely comfortable. Some of our favorite spots were the Crow's Nest, for its incredible views and the Explorations Cafe (library), for its good selection of books and very comfortable chairs (we both love to read, and also enjoyed playing board games there). We also were grateful to be able to print out our boarding passes at the Ex Cafe at the end of the cruise, though the Internet was slow and it ended up costing about $30 to get online. Friday night, we had a 5 p.m. reservation at the Pinnacle Grill, courtesy of our lovely travel agent. We had already decided not to pay extra to visit the Pinnacle Grill, but sweet Rebecca had other plans for us! The service at the Pinnacle Grill was very good, and we enjoyed the special treatment. I dined on lobster macaroni and cheese and D had cedar plank grilled fish. I had chocolate, coffee and vanilla creme brulee for dessert. Late Friday night we got back to our room and enjoyed looking over the activities for Saturday and filling out the room service breakfast card. The seas were getting rough as we sailed into the Pacific, and they only got more rough at the night progressed. By early Saturday morning, we were being tossed in our beds like rag dolls. However, D and I, being Southerners who were used to the calm Gulf of Mexico, thought this was what the ocean was supposed to feel like. How wrong we were! Apparently during the night, the seas were 30 feet and the captain had to turn the ship around and start our journey over again to get out of the Pacific. We learned that having to turn the ship around took lots of time, and would result in us cruising through Canada's Inside Passage, and missing our stop in Sitka. This was bittersweet for lots of passengers and just plain disappointing for others. We appreciated the captain's wisdom in keeping the passengers and crew safe, but we were sad to skip Sitka, where we intended to go on an amazing shore excursion to a bear refuge and then go on a wildlife-watching boat ride. You have to remember, though, you're on a ship, and plans can change quickly. You have to go with the flow, like my dad says, and we did. However, it was four days before we stepped foot on dry land again. The Inside Passage was amazing, though, and we enjoyed seeing the coastline for much of our cruise. MONDAY, 11 A.M. Finally, during all that sailing, we reached a highlight of our cruise and saw Glacier Bay. I was nearly tearful at seeing the amazing glaciers, and the captain kindly let the ship sit in front of the largest glacier, Johns Hopkins, for over an hour while we marveled at the calving. Friends who cruised on the Zaandam a few weeks before didn't see any calving, so we felt lucky to have this experience. Glacier Bay National Park is spectacular, and we really enjoyed hearing the park ranger's talk about how the land has changed and continues to change. Did you know that those massive glaciers are formed starting with one little snowflake? Snowflakes build and compress to create these huge chunks of moving ice. Amazing. TUESDAY, 8 A.M. Finally, dry land. We had originally just planned to walk around Juneau and ride the Mt. Roberts Tram, but after losing Sitka we planned a better shore excursion for Juneau. A bus (driven by the hilarious and talented poet Wendell aka "Grandpa Goose") took us 20 minutes north of Juneau to a marina where our three-story catamaran was docked. The boat was so comfortable and well-appointed, it was like taking a whale watching tour while riding around in your living room. Minutes after we left the marina, we saw killer whales (orcas) breaking through the water. The boat's naturalist said they only saw killer whales around 5 or 10 percent of the time, so we felt really lucky to see and photograph these amazing creatures. Soon after, we saw the tell-tale "blow" of 50-foot long humpback whales. Their huge backs would break the surface of the water, and then their giant tails would be visible above the waves. Again, I was getting a bit teary to see these amazing creatures, just a short distance from our boat! I will always treasure my photographs of the whales! After the left the boat, we rode the tram up Mt. Roberts, which was a great view, but would have been more fun if it hadn't been rainy. However, the Alaskans we met said it was always drizzly there! We had hoped to do some hiking around Mt. Roberts, but not in bad weather. We visited a couple shops that were having big clearance sales, because we would be the very last cruise ship to dock in Juneau until next May. WEDNESDAY, 8 A.M. We left the ship and boarded a bus in Ketchikan with 6 other people under the age of 30. We were all looking forward to our shore excursion: Mountain Point Snorkeling Adventure! The snorkeling guide told us all about the gear and other particulars on the way to their shop, where we squeezed into wetsuits, boots, masks and other gear to go snorkeling in the 52 degree Alaskan waters. Yes, it was a little bit crazy, but an amazing way to see Alaska. It took about 2 minutes for to get warmed up once we were in the water, which was 100 feet deep in some places, and a little rough. But underwater, we saw another world ... starfish in bright shades of red, yellow and purple, spiky sea urchins, long and squishy sea cucumbers, rock fish that looked like rocks, long tails of kelp, and lots of other sea life. Our two guides said they swam with a humpback whale in that same area just a few weeks before, so we were thrilled to get in the water with all this native Alaska sea life. And only our lips got cold, for the record! We snorkeled for an hour and made our way back to the ship ... although there were other things we would have liked to see in Ketchikan, the ship left port at 1:30 p.m., so we didn't have any time. Funny story: We were early getting on the shore ex bus, and we were chatting with the bus driver. We asked her if we would still be able to snorkel, since the weather was pretty rainy. She's like, what rain? You mean this drizzle? When we just have drizzle like this, we count it as a beautiful day in Ketchikan! You should have seen it raining buckets yesterday. :) Lesson learned. Alaska is rainy. That's why they tell you to pack a raincoat! Bring one and you'll be just fine! THURSDAY We sailed for much of Thursday and landed in Victoria, BC, about 7 p.m. We debated even getting off the ship, because we knew it would leave Victoria at 11:30 p.m., and that didn't leave much time to sight see. However, the lure of being able to say we had been to Canada won out, and we took a bus to downtown Victoria ($7 per person round trip) and walked Government Street for a while. An Irish linen shop's window showed lots of beautiful treasures, but unfortunately, the shop was closed for the day. Disappointing. Victoria was interesting and beautiful, though, and we enjoyed the bus driver's narration about the city. FRIDAY, 6 A.M. We woke up on our day of disembarkation back in the Emerald City and had our luggage packed, ready to run. We had a 11:30 flight to catch at SeaTac and didn't have a moment to lose. We enjoyed a final delicious breakfast in the Rotterdam Dining Room and did self-assist debarkation so we were off the ship by 8:15 (amazing!). Our cab driver took us on a fast 20 minute ride to SeaTac for about $50, and we were at our gate by 9:15, and touched down in Pensacola, Fla., at 8:30 that night, glad to be home! Here are some highlights from the ship: Entertainment: We LOVED the "Elton John" show, and really liked the PG-rated comedian. Haven't laughed that much in a long time! The productions by the ship's entertainment were also very good. Food: We ate dinner in the Rotterdam dining room nearly every day for lunch and dinner. The food was very good, and we enjoyed trying dishes that we don't have at home, like chilled fruit soup and escargot. We enjoyed the seafood: shrimp cocktail, Alaskan crab, salmon, etc. The desserts were pretty good, either hit or miss. I actually enjoyed the desserts better on our Carnival cruises, but they were still pretty good on the Zaandam. We ate breakfast in the Rotterdam dining room on two occasions, and then had room service a few days and ate in the Lido a few days. Room service breakfast was pretty good, but the selection at the Lido was hard to beat. We especially enjoyed the custom-made omelets, but missed having grits and biscuits like at home! Room service was pretty quick (food always came within 30-45 minutes). Our sandwiches that we ordered one day after the snorkeling excursion were just decent, nothing great. Still, it was nice to be able to eat in our room with our robes on, and not have to get gussied up to leave the room. That's what made the room service so great. Service: Excellent, of course. Cute towel animals every night and though our room steward seemed busy, we always came back to a clean room, if we stayed away long enough to let him do his job. Our servers in the dining room were wonderful - friendly and fun to be around. I think they related to us better because we were all around the same age. After asking for iced tea the first day, I had iced tea again every night for dinner, without even asking for it! Other: We loved the gym, with its spectacular view. It allowed us to eat multiple-course meals three times and day and not gain weight. The treadmills were easy to operate as was the other equipment. I didn't get that uncomfortable feeling you do at some gyms, when you're surrounded by people with fantastic bodies ... I felt totally at home there, surrounded by people who were just trying to keep the cruise food from sticking to them! Check out the little fridge with cold, wet, rolled-up towels ... so refreshing! We also loved the pools. In the aft pool, the water was 85 degrees, but because the air temperature was 50 degrees, no one got in, so I had it to myself! Yay! The Lido pool was chillier but still comfortable and, again, no one was in it. The Lido hot tubs were sometimes occupied, but it was easy to find a time to get in without having to share. I loved the watercolor painting class, which was taught by the artist in residence on the ship. It was really fun to try something new! Other things we loved: the third floor promenade deck, which was great for long walks; the blankets provided outside when it got chilly; reading the library's selection of good books; our comfortable cabin bed; the funny cruise director, Eric; fresh-squeezed orange juice for breakfast; the kitchen tour; having laundry facilities on nearly each floor, meaning we arrived home with only clean clothes for $3 a load; and seeing the bald eagles all around Alaska. All in all, our cruise on the Zaandam was fantastic, with little surprises around every corner. Sure, it wasn't exactly the cruise we thought we were going to take, but it was amazing nonetheless! Alaska is just a masterpiece, and Seattle and Victoria are interesting, vibrant cities. If you want a bargain and seek to avoid big crowds, and are willing to compromise a little, and endure some shaky seas and a little rain and cold, take a late-season Alaska cruise. Otherwise, go at the peak of the season! Read Less
Sail Date September 2010
Zaandam Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.5 4.0
Dining 4.0 3.9
Entertainment 3.5 3.6
Public Rooms 4.0 4.2
Fitness Recreation 4.0 3.7
Family 3.5 3.7
Shore Excursion 4.0 3.8
Enrichment 3.5 3.7
Service 4.0 4.3
Value For Money 4.0 3.7
Rates 4.0 4.0

Find a Zaandam Cruise

Easily compare prices from multiple sites with one click