Sail Date: January 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
Embarkation: We boarded the Zaandam in San Diego. Boarding was fast and efficient. We arrived at the pier around noon and were in our cabin by 12:30. The staff both on shore and on board were very helpful. Stateroom: We were in ... Read More
Embarkation: We boarded the Zaandam in San Diego. Boarding was fast and efficient. We arrived at the pier around noon and were in our cabin by 12:30. The staff both on shore and on board were very helpful. Stateroom: We were in cabin 2603 (center, starboard side). As with previous HAL ships, the stateroom was roomy and comfortable. Our cabin was not particularly clean.. This was brought to the attention of Guest Services. Within an hour the situation was rectified. The staff was most apologetic and included supervisory follow-up as well. Ship Condition: The Zaandam is one of the older ships in HAL fleet. For the most part it was well-maintained. The interior was excellent butr the exterior could use some attention. For example, our stateroom window was filthy and had paint spills in evidence. The robber window gaskets needed replacing. Smoking on board was severely restricted, a plus for non-smokers and former smokers. Enrichment Opportunities: Since this was a round trip cruise to Hawaii, several native Hawaiians made the trip with us. Guests were provided many opportunities for cultural presentations. The travel guide, Kainoa DeleCruz was a wonderful presenter as were the two hula dancers and Hawaiian band leader. The Digital Workshop offered complimentary workshops covering many PC applications. Theyu were well presented and easy to understand for novices. Entertainment: The ship's singers and dancers were above average for cruise ships. The choreography needed some work however, Guest entertainers ranged from very good (Paul Pappas) to average and below-average. Dining: Food on the Zaandam was well above average for cruise ships. In the Lido buffet, the staff did the serving for the first two days to minimize the incidence of nuerovirus. Breakfast was excellent with made-to-order omelets, fresh fruit, and assorted pastries. Lunch selections were varied and tasty. The short order grill was excellent. Even the pizza was pretty good. DFinners in the main dining room were above average with numerous choices. The salads needed some improvement, however. Ship and Guests: All HAL ships are configured to promote quiet conversation with numerous little sitting areas within the public areas. Having twelve elevators (forward amidships, and aft) was wonderful for passengers having difficulty with the stairs. It has been said that the HAL ships have mostly senior citizens aboard. While a number of canes and wheel chairs were evident, the number of guests using the ship's fitness center was amazing. For example, the fitness center was full at 7AM on mostly at sea days. On Board Activities: Much the same as on most cruise ships (bingo, casino, shops, etc.) The musical entertainment in the lounges and piano bar was quite good. A major complaint was the lack of organized bridge lectures and games. With ten sea days, this was inexcusable. The card room was full every sea day with informal games. Other cruise lines offer this option with even fewer sea days. On the positive side, we appreciated having a Catholic priest and Protestant minister on board offering daily and Sunday services. Overall Impression: The Zaandam was a comfortable ship with a most attentive crew. The trip was worth the cost and worth doing again in the future. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2012
Good points: -Zaandam much better than the Oosterdam in decor, service and company response to problems. Had a bad leak in my suite ceiling that took days to correct, but received a very generous shipboard credit and a cookbook plus ... Read More
Good points: -Zaandam much better than the Oosterdam in decor, service and company response to problems. Had a bad leak in my suite ceiling that took days to correct, but received a very generous shipboard credit and a cookbook plus apology note as compensation. Compared to the Oosterdam, where I had worse problems with cabin and an injury caused by HAL and I got no compensation or apology. -Shore excursions were excellent -Food was pretty good, Pinnacle Grill filet was outstanding, La Cirque fantastic -Entertainment at times was excellent -Embarkation and disembarkation very smooth -Hotel the night before, booked through my travel agent, Sheraton Marina in San Diego very good (not necessarily affiliated with HAL.) -Although I had a very bad spa experience with a too-young and experienced staff person, the spa manager quickly refunded the hefty sum I had paid in advance. -LOVE the Thermal Suite on HAL, though this one was WAY small. Pool was the size of a hot tub. BUT there was rarely anyone in the room, and what a way to relax! -Explorations Cafe really spacious, comfortable, and service was good there. -HAL continues to have the best guest to tonnage ratio, with lots of space and non-crowded atmosphere. However, at times this could be a negative for a solo traveler! Not so good points: -Service was not up to par for the price and supposed reputation of HAL Dining room staff seemed worn out or overworked, repeated requests needed for simple items like iced tea, etc. Chaotic, unacceptable situation with dining room seating. Some sort of "reservations needed" policy we were never notified about- "on your own" dining turned out to receive annoyance from restaurant manager, no table or a very long wait, and never could figure out what kind of system or lack of they were using. Many people annoyed, very long lines. 75% of the time, service overall could not in any way be described as "luxury," "gracious," or "outstanding." -Even though the restaurant food was good, the room service food was HORRIBLE. Unacceptable, poorly presented, served with resentment, and hardly edible. -Cabin steward(s) just okay. Just doing their job, and since you pay $11.50 per day for tips overall, felt underwhelmed so didn't tip them more. Was slightly put off by Cruise Director's heavy pitch on the last day for tips to the staff, when indeed, no staff member stood out for doing anything other than their job. -Unavoidable but still annoying culture/ language gap makes trying to complain or explain needs met with blank looks, non-responsiveness, or incorrect/ poor resolution, if any. Tendency to insinuate blame on the guest and a constant theme of NOT showing the kind of gracious, over the top service HAL advertises. A big gap here! -Very unclear when formal nights were- advance notice was the typical 2, but turns out there were 3, with hardly any advance and not clear notice. How are you supposed to pack or plan for that? Lack of enforcement of dress code for formal nights. -For the price I paid for my verandah suite, it was a rip-off. Very small, the bathroom was tiny, and the "jetted" tub was a disgrace. Not big enough for an adult, and all the jets didn't work. -The Zaandam is looking a little shabby, and for the price of my cruise, would expect stain-free carpet and not to see taped-together wood in a couple places. -This is the nature of HAL, so is more a mis-match for me as a youthful solo traveler, but a total lack of fun atmosphere. No club to dance, people my age acting much older, grumpy (how can you be unhappy when you get to go on a cruise???) and not everyone was unfriendly, but almost everyone seemed confused why someone would cruise alone. -NO gathering for solo travelers as I had seen on the Oosterdam schedule!! Read Less
Sail Date: December 2012
The Zaandam is starting to show her age at 12 years old but, she is well maintained. There were some problems like some of the areas smelled slightly of sewerage (Lido Deck Men's Restroom), and an overflowing urinal in a Men's ... Read More
The Zaandam is starting to show her age at 12 years old but, she is well maintained. There were some problems like some of the areas smelled slightly of sewerage (Lido Deck Men's Restroom), and an overflowing urinal in a Men's room by the Pinnacle Grill...Which was immediately taken care of by the Engineering Staff...Come-on, we've all had a toilet backup, and we've never had 1,500 guest in our house all at one time either! Our room was very clean and taken care of by our Steward Dedi. He was bending over backwards to take care of our needs. The one thing that stands out with the M/V Zaandam is the crew: They were beyond helpful. And the entertainment was first rate. The Food Staff was excellent. From custom made sandwiches by Bernard to chit-chat with Benny in the Dining Room and everyone in-between. The Entertainment was superb! An outstanding Elton John impersonator named "Joel Mason" really rocked it out (Even with Laryngitis) . You can preview Joel on You Tube if you don't believe me! Charlie on Guitar (Charlie Jourdan) in the "Piano Bar" gets our highest praise: Extraordinary song writer, fantastic singing and a great conversationalist between songs. You can preview him too on You Tube! The Zaandam Dancers and Singers were new to their job but gave a marvelous performance each time we viewed them. Chris Pendleton: Comedienne, Female, One each, was incredibly funny and kept it clean and fresh. Even the ships Chaplin was in the front row and laughing! She too can be viewed on You Tube...Or at funnyfiddle.com. A collection of people told us that: "Holland America is a bunch of old people!" Well, to us "Old" is a state of mind and in our mind there weren't too many old people on board....All we can say is: Holland America to St Petersburg Russia in August, 2013...My Battle Cry! Read Less
Sail Date: December 2012
I had read with caution the recent cruise stories and reviews for the Zaandam but I must say it was truly a pleasure to sail on her last week. The ship has been refurbished and we had zero problems with maintenance during our cruise. ... Read More
I had read with caution the recent cruise stories and reviews for the Zaandam but I must say it was truly a pleasure to sail on her last week. The ship has been refurbished and we had zero problems with maintenance during our cruise. The embarkation process in San Diego was one of the easiest and fastest I can remember. We literally were able to walk right up to the cruise agent, turn in our paperwork, get our room keys, walk up the gangway, enter the ship and be shown right to our freshly cleaned cabin within about 10 to 15 minutes! We dropped off our things and headed right to the Lido for some lunch which was already in full swing. As noted on many previous reviews the carpeting throughout the ship has been replaced and otherwise the ship and furnishings have been refreshed tastefully. I was very happy with the number and condition of the public areas on this ship and found them all to be very comfortable and almost never crowded at all. The first few days service in the main dining room was quite slow and not as attentive as it should have been but that was due to the diversion of staff to the Lido for that first 48 hours to combat the spread of viruses. After that things improved and the servers were always friendly and helpful even if a bit overwhelmed at the beginning. Throughout the ship the staff and crew were always eager to assist us with anything and always smiling and saying hello regardless of where we ran into them. We personally met the cruise director, Michael Headla and the events coordinator, Kelly at one of the meet and greet events on the second day. They were extraordinarily gracious and helpful and from that day on they were always smiling, waving and addressing us by our names as if they had known us forever. The food was quite good, typical I suppose of the other cruises I have been on. Sometimes the food was 5-star and at others sort of bland and uninteresting but again I find that typical. Both the main dining room and the Lido Buffet carried a good selection to suit almost anyone. The entertainment was great and the performers worked hard to make everyone have a great time. The comedienne Chris Pendleton and the pianist Joel Mason were a real treat and we were able to see them both perform twice during the cruise. Overall the cruise was wonderful, restful and just what was needed. If that's what you need then I would highly recommend this cruise. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2012
We chose this cruise because of all the days at sea. Titled "Hawaii Circle Cruise" the emphasis is definitely on cruise rather than Hawaii. Though we enjoyed our time in the islands, we spent more time getting there (and back) ... Read More
We chose this cruise because of all the days at sea. Titled "Hawaii Circle Cruise" the emphasis is definitely on cruise rather than Hawaii. Though we enjoyed our time in the islands, we spent more time getting there (and back) than touring. We knew this going in and were ready for the relaxation cruising affords-- no phones, no internet (unless you want it) and no TV. No access to work activities. Relaxation! Embarkation at San Diego was quick and easy. We parked across the street at the Holiday Inn on the Bay (covered parking at a great rate, plus walking distance to the port). The port has an efficient drop off system set up. I dropped Mom and the bags off at the port, parked the car and walked back. Once inside, the line moved quickly. Within about 5 minutes we were through security and registering for our ship's cards. The ship opened up for new passengers a little after 11 (the paperwork said to arrive at noon). In order to facilitate embarkation, the 200 or so of us who arrived early all received number cards. Seats were provided for waiting (we didn't have to wait). On board, staterooms were ready. We were in 2536 which is slightly forward with all the usual HAL amenities (bathtub, DVD player, plenty of storage). Our stewards, Raz & Win, were wonderful. They were friendly but discreet. They always put our mail in the room, made sure we had 2 daily planners and found extra blankets when we were cold. LoveHAL organized a Cruise Critic meet & greet. The captain, the hotel director and the cruise director all took the time to attend (and stayed afterwards to talk to individual passengers). On our last day, we received a letter from the Guests Relations officer thanking us for our participation in the CC M & G, as well as other activities. Many thanks to Marty for organizing this event-- it was nice to meet people and recognize them throughout the cruise. On board, we had a lot of fun. HAL was trying out a new idea-- calling it the Aloha Explorations series. Besides the wonderful HAL travel guide, Kainoa, whose talks about Hawaii (whether ports of call, history, culture or geography are NOT to be missed-- but get there early because seats go fast!), HAL engaged a team of people to share Hawaii with us: Henry Allen (an extraordinary ukelele and steel guitar player), Paki (a great public speaker that taught dance, Hawaiian and crafts) and Heidi & Valerie (the "Hula maidens" who were graceful and gracious, helping out in all the activities and taking the time to share their love of Hawaii with the passengers). Some of the activities including: making flower leis, making ribbon leis (am going to repurpose this idea for next year and make Xmas tree garland), making Wili bracelets, learning to hula, learning to play the ukelele, learning Hawaiian, learning Hawaiian recipes, etc. Amanda, our lovely party planner, also guided a number of these activities-- especially the culinary ones. Hopefully, HAL will make this a regular feature of its cruises. Along with the usual slate of cruise activities (which included multiple trivia competitions, mixology classes (take all 4 to get a certificate), Aloha "Olympics", bingo and more), it was a challenge to decide which activities to do every day. There was also a book club (we read Allen Brennert's "Honolulu") run by our friendly librarian, Chris; it gave multiple opportunities to share a love of books with others on board both within and outside of the club meetings. There was also a guest lecturer who gave lots of information about shipping (the Titanic, pirates, other mysteries); we didn't attend but spoke to many who really enjoyed his talks. With all of this fun on board, there were many opportunities to meet fellow passengers. Michael Headla does a great job of organizing all the fun while we are "out and about" on ship! The entertainment on board was fantastic! We don't usually attend many of the evening entertainment but things changed on this cruise. We especially enjoyed Ryan Silverman (a very talented Broadway singer who has an unbelievable range and who sang wonderful standards and Broadway classics-- his Phantom performance was one of the best renditions I've heard!), Ryan Ahern who tickled the ivories la Liberace and the Drums of Polynesia show (a local group brought aboard at Honolulu). We also enjoyed the movies (though I think Mom goes for the popcorn!) but wish they'd move the picture up about 18 inches to provide a clearer view to all. I especially appreciated HAL's efforts to make sure that there was something special during each day in port so that those who were unable to leave the ship (we had a number of mobility inspired passengers on board) would also have special memories of their time in Hawaii-- whether this be the barbecue, a Hawaiian party or special Hawaiian entertainment. On shore, we participated in two excursions, a luau and some independent activities. Our first excursion was through Roberts Hawaii to see Volcanoes National Park. The Roberts website was really easy to use-- it brought up all of their excursions after I listed the name and departure date of our ship. We also booked a trip to Waimea Canyon on Kauai but that port was canceled due to weather. Roberts greeted us warmly as we disembarked in Hilo then introduced us to our guide, Dean, who has an amazing knowledge of the flora and fauna of the islands. He was one of the best guides we've ever had-- friendly and informative without being silly. And, as it turns out, we were the only two people on the tour so we got to take a long as we wanted at each of the stops-- and he threw in a stop to an orchid farm for us, as well. Roberts is charged a flat fee for every vehicle they take into the park and it was only $5 less than what we paid for our tour. It says a lot that Roberts didn't cancel on us but instead gave us the opportunity to learn about this beautiful island. Our second tour was booked through HAL for Maui: the West Maui Snorkeling tour run through Trilogy. There were 17 HAL passengers on board the catamaran, along with a crew of three. We were served a light breakfast (variety of homemade breads) and lunch (chips & salsa, variety of wrap sandwiches) but by one week into the cruise, no one was very hungry so the crew went home with lots of leftovers! We sailed over to a spot near the Old Lahaina Luau site for snorkeling. Wet suit tops, boogie boards, snorkeling gear (including prescription lenses), life vests, etc. were all included (on many of the other snorkeling cruises, you have to pay extra for any of these). There were lots of first-time snorkelers on board. The crew was very helpful in providing instruction. After about 75 minutes snorkeling (the timing was based on when the last person decided to come back), they let out the sails and we took off on the catamaran across the bay. What fun! Our goal was to find a whale which we did (eventually) about 100 yards out. I will definitely choose Trilogy again for my Hawaii excursions! We also visited the Old Lahaina Luau in Maui. We took the bus out there (a bit tricky and not much savings: $2.50 each for the bus but only $8 plus tip for a taxi; we shared one back to port). The Luau was lots of fun. They have about 400-500 people but everything was so well-organized, you don't feel like you are part of a crowd. The site is beautiful, the food good and the dancing spectacular. The service was fine, albeit a little overly friendly. (No, I really don't want to hug a half-naked young man goodbye... but maybe others do.) In Honolulu, we pre-reserved a time for Pearl Harbor using the NPS site. We took a taxi out there and it wasn't cheap ($32). Afterwards, we took a bus to Waikiki (in other direction from ship) which took over an hour but only cost $2.50. This was my third trip to Honolulu but my first to Pearl Harbor. It's a beautiful memorial and a must-see. In Waikiki, we rented beach chairs in front of Duke's (Outrigger hotel) and enjoyed the sunshine (and a little "pineapple juice" from time to time). The water was rough, though, and pretty chilly, so we didn't swim. With warmer weather, though, this would be an easy excursion. Plus, if you take the free shuttle to Hilo Hattie's first, you can pick up some souvenirs and sarongs, then take the free shuttle down to Waikiki. Your trip back to ship from Waikiki can be on the HH shuttle or a taxi (about $20). Back on board from our day in Honolulu, we learned that the captain had to cancel Kauai due to weather so we had an extra night in Honolulu. Given how rough the seas were for our first few days en route back to San Diego and the mobility challenges of so many people on board, this made a lot of sense (even though people were disappointed). Plus, sailing out of Honolulu during the day was a lot of fun! We saw a sea turtle from up on the sports deck and we got to see the Waikiki skyline, Diamond Head and the mountains from the sea-- a very, very beautiful view. We heard people complaining about a variety of things while on board (including one man who harangued the dining room captain for 20 minutes about the lack of biscuits & gravy for breakfast) but that wasn't our experience. For me, this crew was exceptional. For example, one of the bar servers, Jesse, who we met the first night on ship, took the time every day to watch out for us so that she could say hello and make sure we were okay. If we were on Lido, she'd bring by glasses of ice water. In the Lido buffet, Dewie, Ni Luh and Antoni were our special friends but everyone was very helpful. The staff would watch out for those who needed an extra hand to carry their plates back to the table. They always had a big smile and kind word for everyone. From the front desk to the maintenance crew (we had a small leak from our air conditioner that was fixed immediately), we couldn't have asked for better service. And this service makes all the difference. We felt like pampered guests but tried not to act like spoiled ones (though I know that HAL spoiled us repeatedly throughout the trip). Many of our fellow passengers also had special relationships with different crew members which is a testament to the dedication of their staff. The staff is exceptionally gracious, attentive and kind. They are also extremely patient. Their extraordinary commitment to the highest level of service explains why 1100 of the 1400 passengers on board had already traveled with HAL before. This cruise does tend to have days where the ship is rocking and rolling, with passengers lurching from one place to another. It's the only cruise where I've felt slightly "green around the gills" at times (and we've been on several cruises with rough weather). You might want to splurge for the patches or a shot if you are susceptible to the movement. On our last evening, we went to the Hawaiian sunset hour to see the last hula performance. Two of the passengers who are also Hawaiian musicians were playing with Henry Allen. Paki, Heidi and Valerie danced. It was a bittersweet farewell-- we'd had a great vacation, learned a lot about Hawaiian culture and loved our time on board the Zaandam (especially the people we'd met aboard-- both passengers and crew). Disembarkation was swift, though there were some delays in processing the non-citizens. Once they found the 6 "missing" people who didn't report, the rest of us disembarked swiftly (starting at about 8:15 AM). Our "scheduled" time was 9:45 but we were off the ship, in the car and leaving the parking lot by 9:15. We bid the Zaandam a fond Aloha! I would sail anywhere with this crew again. They made this trip special. Mahalo to all of them. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: December 2012
Ship: The ship is dated and many items just do not work. Coffee machines (two broken for 3 day straight), steam rooms for which you pay an upgrade fee and do not work for two days of complaining and flickering stateroom lights. The ship ... Read More
Ship: The ship is dated and many items just do not work. Coffee machines (two broken for 3 day straight), steam rooms for which you pay an upgrade fee and do not work for two days of complaining and flickering stateroom lights. The ship served a Mexican buffet lunch out on the Lido deck one day...the next day, the same food, now looking a bit onry , was re-served. They even ran out of milk on Day 6 and served chocolate milk at the buffet with the cereal. In a very small fitness center, one elliptical and one treadmill were broken the entire 7 days. Nobody around to fix things it seemed...and people were always standing around waiting to use the machines... Service: But the ship's shortcomings were nothing compared to the staff 1. Room stewards being clueless as to when you are in or out-- and barging in to aggressively clean (or check the box) 2. A random breakfast we did not order left on the bed and not removed even after three phone calls to do so (ended up just putting it out in the hall) 3. The restaurant waiter asked what we wanted for dessert--then told us the souffle would be 30 minutes--why were we not told that at the beginning of the meal? 4. Multiple times the wrong food brought to our table in the restaurant 5. Tofu Korma with no tofu!...the explanation: "ooops....typo" 6. Even though the entire second level of the restaurant had empty tables, a refusal to seat us for dinner at 630PM because of concern about the 800PM reservations...we were told to "go to the buffet" 7. An upgrade restaurant that would not seat us on one of its several open tables because they could not guarantee we would get good service! 8. Incompetence in accounting....my son's "tips" were not put on the bill. We received a frantic phone call at 730AM the last day asking us to pay the bill which we did. But someone forgot to tell the gorilla bouncers who screen you as passengers leave the ship at the end of the cruise. My son was "detained" for 10 minutes because the computer told the bouncer he was a slacker. Then I heard the bouncer yell into his phone "this is the third passenger I have had to detain whose bill was already paid!" 9. Spa staff comes 20 minutes late to a treatment, short changes me on the time and then tells me afterwards I need to see her two more times to get "rid of tension" 10. The cruise director was AWOL at times except when it was time to push the port shops that provide HAL with a kickback...part of the guaranteed shopping experience. 11. Apple juice that looked like water with food coloring--"the machine is broken" we were told 12. Scoffing when simple requests were made like "Can he have cheese on his pasta?" 13. "nothing we can do" about broken fitness center machines. We have sailed Carnival twice and had been told that HAL is "so much better", but in fact, Carnival runs a much better ship. As does Celebrity.... The PV and Cabo ports were fun and generally the Mexican Riviera is a good choice for a week's cruise. But HAL is not. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2012
I was uncertain as to what to expect of a cruise, but given the cost as a solo traveller, I expected some luxury, fine dining and excellent service. I wasn't disappointed. True, the new reservation system for the main dining room ... Read More
I was uncertain as to what to expect of a cruise, but given the cost as a solo traveller, I expected some luxury, fine dining and excellent service. I wasn't disappointed. True, the new reservation system for the main dining room was confusing people,including the booking staff, but I was able to take it in stride. I had been advised at least twice to reserve my table in advance(I had opted for open seating at a table for two-no sharing), and as I have dietary allergies I was keen to have that clarified with the kitchen, too. Admittedly, there were a couple of glitches but recovery and compensation by the staff were immediate and gracious. Of course, people were curious, and some openly sad, that I was travelling alone, but I explained that it was my choice and that I was thoroughly enjoying my own company. I did accept once or twice the kind offers to join others for dinner or dessert, but most often I declined the invitations. The wait staff were most attentive and kind. The Pinnacle and Canaletto restaurants were well worth the extra cost. The only complaint I have is about the spa. I had a wonderful massage on the second day at sea and no complaint about that experience. My manicure was another thing altogether...not recommended. The spa seemed disorganized and the nail salon was poorly equipped with questionable hygiene standards. The horseback riding excursion in Pt Vallarta on Christmas Day was fabulous. The sailing and snorkelling excursion in Cabo was fun, but the water was too cold to stay in for long and it was clear that someone had been feeding the fish in order to have them congregate in the area we were told to snorkel. Small things in the larger context. Ultimately, I enjoyed this cruise so much that I have booked another cruise with HAL for June and am taking my daughter and her husband along for the ride! Thus far, I am sold on HAL and reluctant to try another cruise line for fear they won't live up to my newly formed expectations. I'll post a review of the Mediterranean trip post-cruise. Happy cruising. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2012
If you like a budget vacation that fits a budget vacation in every way this is for you! I have been on a few cruises with Carnival and the last one was in 2009. Now maybe Carnival has deteriorated to the level of this cruise so comparing ... Read More
If you like a budget vacation that fits a budget vacation in every way this is for you! I have been on a few cruises with Carnival and the last one was in 2009. Now maybe Carnival has deteriorated to the level of this cruise so comparing the 2 may not be fair but compared to the 2009 carnival cruise this was pathetic! Quantity over quality best describes the food! If you like a lot of food and taste isn't important than you will be happy! Everything about this cruise was cutting corners to save money! The food, the entertainment every thing was done in a Wal-mart manner. Very disappointing! There were very few games which is surprising because they don't cost HAL anything and it keeps the people from eating more food! We were ready to get off when it was over and had a plan to take our own luggage and get out first when one of us was called to the front desk which had a 30 minute wait. We couldn't get off the ship until we cleared up the problem which was so ridiculous! we had an $11.00 credit due us! That 30 minute delay put us into the busiest part of the disembarkation process! carrying our own luggage this was a major pain! Dining room experience was pitiful, While the waiters were fine it was the front dining staff that was very arrogant, we had trouble getting any flexibility in our seating because we had to accept open seating...don't do this if at all possible! My advice over all...look into Carnival.... Read Less
Sail Date: November 2012
This was my second experience sailing, and my partner's first. I want to make clear that we did enjoy ourselves. So it isn't necessarily that it was a horrible experience. But it was definitely less than I expected. First, the ... Read More
This was my second experience sailing, and my partner's first. I want to make clear that we did enjoy ourselves. So it isn't necessarily that it was a horrible experience. But it was definitely less than I expected. First, the good. Zaandam is a small ship. I had previously sailed on a large Royal Caribbean ship, and I had a hard time getting to know people. On this sailing, we made a lot of friends. Because the ship is smaller, you see people more frequently and thus there are more chances to make connections. That's a good thing if you are sociable, like we are. The cabin steward was a real gem. He had this knack for knowing exactly when we had left the cabin without seeming like he was hovering, waiting for us to leave. He always greeted us with a smile and called us by name. The front desk crew was also very professional. I felt that embarkation was a lot easier on this line than my previous experience on Royal Caribbean. The fact is that the ship pulls into port at 7 am. From 7 until roughly 8:30 they are waiting for port clearance. And the rest of their passengers are not off until around 10 am. And they start boarding new passengers at noon. That gives them only about 2 hours of time to get the ship ready. Given that, it is simply amazing what they do. The nighttime shows were particularly good, particularly the comedians. I haven't laughed that hard in years. They also have a pretty decent movie theater, and showed a selection of pretty good movies at night. Now the bad: First, from the start it seems like everything is about money with them. I would be interested in more seminars on interesting stuff, but apart from the cooking classes and fitness classes, it seems like most of their activities are really only thinly disguised attempts to sell you something. If your idea of a good vacation is not constant attempts to sell you things, then the day can be a bit boring, until nighttime, when the ship does start to come to life. There are movies, shows, and the bars come to life at night. So the nights were definitely far more entertaining than the days. During the day you can use the pool, but that gets old after awhile. They need to plan more interesting daytime activities. Before you reach the port, Holland America will offer you information on the ports. This is really a spoiled opportunity. They could have taken this chance to tell us about all the "off the beaten track" sorts of things you can do in these truly interesting ports. Instead, for the most part they use the information session to promote their own favorite shops in the ports. And how does one become one of Holland America's favorite shops? Simple. You give Holland America money. We found this out in a really interesting way. We took our little Holland America port map into town, and one of the proprietors tried to get us into his shop, telling us that he is one of "Holland America's Guaranteed Shops". We told him that he wasn't on our map! He said, "really, can I see?" Sure enough, he wasn't on our map. He was furious! "We paid them a lot of money to be on that map!" He told us, "we should be on there!" On ship, his story turned out to be true. The Holland America port director told us that his shop had accidentally been left off, but that his shop, "The Real McCoy" was one of their guaranteed shops. So there you have it. The man's credibility was confirmed: Their "guaranteed shops" is just a synonym for their advertisers. I gave the owner of "The Real McCoy" my map so he would have proof, and I truly hope he gets a refund. Service around the ship for the most part was pretty good, and people were pretty friendly. But on several occasions ships staff were rude to us. This seemed more common at the drink station in the Lido. At one point, a crew member scolded me for grabbing something myself rather than waiting for her to give it to me. (Keep in mind, the Lido restaurant is a buffet!!!!) And another crew member blatantly refused to give me an empty cup at dinner time when I requested it. I then asked for a glass of water, which I then poured into a bowl and handed the bowl to him. One shouldn't have to go to such lengths to get an empty cup. I got another lecture from a crew member respecting some sort of "tender ticket." I still have no idea what that was about. Apparently, they have some sort of odd, nonsensical procedure for getting off the boat in Cabo, which they poorly explain to passengers and then try to cover for by scolding passengers who don't know what to do. The Main Dining Room was an atrocious experience for us. We ate there only one night, the rest of the nights preferring the Lido restaurant. Our first night in the Main Dining Room They chose to seat us right next to a server station. There really is nothing more uncomfortable than sitting right next to the server station. You feel constantly like you are in the way, as waiters fly by with trays only a few inches above your head. You feel like you are in the way. Service was beyond slow. And while the food quality was decent, the food arrived in such small quantities that we were left hungry. Granted, we could have ordered more, but given how long it took them to bring everything, we opted to simply go to the Lido afterwards and eat a little more. On top of all that, the waiter treated us rudely because we didn't want to pay $10 for a carafe of water. He wouldn't take "no" for an answer and made us feel like we were bad people for refusing the offer. The ship is gay-friendly because it is small, so you get a chance to really know the other passengers. But Holland America doesn't really do much to help that. On our voyage, there was an LGBT meeting only one night. And now, for the ugly: debarkation. I have heard that debarkation is bad in San Diego. But nothing prepared me for how bad. Ok. I understand. This is not totally Holland America's fault. They are dealing with the government. When I complained to Holland, this was the answer I got. Fine. I understand. But that is not all there is to the story. Holland America may not have the power to control the government, but they certainly can put pressure on them. Holland America could go to the port of San Diego and tell them, "Hey, you guys need to get your act together and stop being so rude to our passengers. If you can't get it under control, we won't be coming here anymore." If San Diego wants the tourism dollars, (and they do!), they would make it right. I will say this: foreign ports always make you feel welcome. For some reason, our country has got to the point where we are so xenophobic that we are even suspicious of U.S. citizens who travel. U.S. ports are by far the least friendly of any in the world, and San Diego is the worst of all of them. How is this Holland's fault? Well, it isn't ALL Holland's fault. But we did have a particularly horrible experience that was all Holland's fault. My partner is a Mexican citizen who happens to be a U.S. resident who has a green card. I am a U.S. citizen. On the final day, non-U.S. citizens have to go through an additional screening. So my partner had to report to the Mondriian lounge before debarkation. I went with him, in part just for the security of it all. If they gave him any trouble, at least I would know what was going on. Well, one of Holland's officers forced me to leave the line. I was told that U.S. citizens are not allowed to accompany their non-citizen family members. However, this appears to be a very selectively enforced rule. In fact, only the gay family members were separated from their families. The people in front of us and behind us both had U.S. citizen husbands who were permitted to stay with them. When I brought this to the attention of the crew member who separated us, she said that she did not know, and that if she had known she would have forced them to leave as well. That was a blatant lie. I overheard her discussion with the man behind me, who was a U.S. citizen who made it very clear that he did not want to leave his wife. She knew full well that he was a U.S. citizen. The only explanation I can give for this is that I wasn't a "real" family member because I am gay and they were straight. If there is another explanation, I would love to know what it is. On top of all this, the officer led me to an area where I could at least observe the proceedings. After a few minutes, a member of U.S. Customs came over and was verbally abusive to me and threatened me, ordering me to leave the area. I can think of nothing I was doing to deserve this treatment. I was simply sitting silently watching the proceedings trying to make sure that my loved one had gained entry. And how did Holland react to this? The only proper thing for her to do would have been to stand up to the Customs officer, and say, "Excuse me! You do not speak to our Passengers in that manner! What is your name and badge number!" Instead, she meekly ushered me out of the area, muttering her apologies under her breath. When I was out of the lounge, I asked to speak to the Captain, since I had been verbally threatened and treated abusively on the ship. The Captain refused to see me. When I said I was never sailing with Holland again, then another officer came up to me and tried to explain that the poor treatment wasn't Holland America's fault, it was the fault of the U.S. Government. Sorry. That doesn't cut it. Holland let it happen, and it only happened because I had been forced out of line in the first place, something none of the straight spouses were forced to do. Overall, we do not recommend this cruise line. Although we had a good time overall, there were far too many glitches. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: October 2012
Previously to our cruise we visited Santiago. A nice city, not too big. We went to Santa Luccia Hill, La monneda Palace, to the market, San Cristobal with our driver Santos who did a very good job driving us around. The reason why we ... Read More
Previously to our cruise we visited Santiago. A nice city, not too big. We went to Santa Luccia Hill, La monneda Palace, to the market, San Cristobal with our driver Santos who did a very good job driving us around. The reason why we chose this cruise because it was recommended by some friends. That was a great advise. We had a wonderful time as a family. Thank you Zaadam and the crew. We had a tour in Valparaiso that was great, we loved the graffities and all the different colours displayed in the streets. In Punta Arenas, we had a great time in a full day tour with Maritza Alvarado our guide. We went to visit a sheep ranch with her and the driver Patricio who was a great man. Thank you both for all the fun we had together. In Ushuaia we met our guide Javier who did not speak a very good English but he was amazing and showed us around with a great smile. That was superb! Only good memories, thank you all for a great time we will definetely recommend your excursion to everyone. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2012
Took advantage of the opportunity to do the 4 repositioning (Vancouver to Victoria to San Diego)+ 14 days Hawai'i (from and to San Diego). Group of passengers on the 4 day cruise was very different from the usual HAL niche: several ... Read More
Took advantage of the opportunity to do the 4 repositioning (Vancouver to Victoria to San Diego)+ 14 days Hawai'i (from and to San Diego). Group of passengers on the 4 day cruise was very different from the usual HAL niche: several children and babies and a much younger crowd. This leg of the trip was not a typical HAL cruise as the activities were very different. It was still an enjoyable cruise. 300 stayed on for the next leg and 1100 new passengers came on. Average age and passenger mix was more typical of most HAL cruises. Having read the flooding incidents that had occurred in previous cruises we were a bit worried as to what types of problems the ship might have. (Zaandam had been scheduled to go in dry dock early October and this was cancelled, giving way to the 2 week cruise to Mexico). Overall there were some negative problems but certainly not to the extent as to what previous passengers experienced. Some toilets overflowed but the problem was limited to a single bathroom. There were vacuum problems with the flushing of some toilets: it was intermittent and finally got settled. Since dry dock had been cancelled the maintenance was occurring during the cruise: -Carpet changing in some areas: no major mishaps. -Curtains & cushions... changing: not unpleasant. -Lower promenade deck removal of paint from the railing: daily occurrence which was noisy and messy. This started early in the morning; some inconveniences for passengers who had staterooms nearby. Overall it was a very good cruise. Food was good. Personnel was friendly, helpful and went out of their way to make our cruise wonderful. One disappointment was the fact that we did not stay long enough on some islands. Why does the ship take 4 days to go to Hawai'i but needs 5 1/2 days to come back (we could have sailed around Hilo to see the volcano at night or stayed overnight in Honolulu and have spent a full day in Lahaina). Answer: by sailing at 16-18 knots instead of of 20+ it saves fuel and reduces carbon footprint. Shows were OK but not great. Smoking is still permitted in the Casino (some parts are non smoking but it reeks of cigarette smoke). Casino has no doors so there is cigarette smell in the halls and the shops. Why not put doors, or better yet, do as other cruise lines did...ban smoking in the casino. Enjoyed lectures by Dr. Losey (guest lecturer) and Kainoa (on board guide). Read Less
Sail Date: October 2012
Mexico, 14 days and no flights. This sounds like a great cruise. It will be our second time on Holland America. So after the initial shock of it not being Celebrity I had to stop with the expectations and from there things felt better. ... Read More
Mexico, 14 days and no flights. This sounds like a great cruise. It will be our second time on Holland America. So after the initial shock of it not being Celebrity I had to stop with the expectations and from there things felt better. Embarkation: we got there early and once they opened the ship were quickly on board and exploring. Main Dining Room: they messed up our dinner reservations, again. Despite the confirmation for dinner time and linking reservations we were seated late and not with our travel companions. However Iggy was awesome and by the third night we had a table at 5:45 every night for 11. The food was usually good with a varied selection. They brought the menu the night before for one in our party who has food issues and after a bit of a hiccup things went well for her. The cafe was okay, I liked the fresh sandwiches and appreciated the daily salad and fruit. Lido dining: I think if I had one complaint it would be that food was often not hot...I liked the build your own sandwich, the sushi and the Indonesian day. Activities: The population on this ship is elderly and the activities reflect this. Generally they are quieter and off to bed early. Just don't be in a rush as the walkers and wheelchairs, and canes are plentiful. They pack the early shows and the ship becomes very quiet by mid evening. There has been only a few line dancing classes and we would have appreciated some ballroom. There is a couple of trivia every day with the name that tune during our dinner every night. We have enjoyed the digital treasure hunt that has lasted the whole cruise. We have gone for creativity in staging our photos and had a ball setting the 'scenes' up. The shuffle board deck needs refinishing, it was impossible to use it. Our guys like karaoke and they all sang and three of them made the cut for the superstar performance. Entertainment: we have made the piano bar our last stop every night and have enjoyed the sing a longs, requests, dances and chat with Piano Man Lee and the others that hung out here. Lee has a wide range of material although he does admit Broadway is his weak link. The shows have been great. Production numbers. This is a new team and their inexperience shows. They attack the numbers with enthusiasm and energy, what most of them are lacking at this point is a connection to what they are doing. One male dancer in particular was awesome and we learned this is his sixth contract so he is comfortable with his material. I am sure the others will begin to relax and enjoy themselves. Tony Pace, a Las Vegas headliner is talented and knows how to work a crowd, even an elderly sun baked crowd. His blend of song, impersonation, and comedy made for a show you wouldn't want to miss. Ronn Lucas, The ventriloquist again had such charm and talent we were tired from laughing by the end. I volunteered my husband to be a dummy and he added to the humour. Alfreda Gerald did a tribute to the Divas. Her vocal skills and personality were a huge hit and we were honoured to chat with her the next night before she headed home. Rose Ranger played guitar and sang in the piano bar. She has a nice voice and so was easy listening before supper. Adagio Strings also gave another easy listening venue. The Neptunes, a trio were cool and played the Ocean bar where the ballroom dancing took place. Hal cats were great! I did not see the Stander Dance Duo perform in the theatre, but heard negative comments about their performance. I will say when I saw them dance in the piano bar they were relaxed and did great especially the woman. Activity staff lead entertainment such as Call my Bluff, Majority Rules, the Marriage game were entertaining and fun. Jeff Peterson was next up as a magician who is funny. He bills himself as 'Comedy Magic'. He was good, but the audience was pretty slow. We tried to get them worked up, but they were a hard sell. Dale Gonyea was up next with piano and comedy with photos. He had lots of funny stuff to say pertaining to this cruise such as the fact the walking deck was always blocked off in one way or another, about the carpeting and the missed port. He had an interesting voice and had us all laughing. This particular night I could not keep my eyes open so missed bits and pieces of his performance. DJ Steve was awesome, he kept music levels balanced and at a volume you could hear the music and still chat with friends. The ship: Okay...we got a letter saying "We would like to advise you that during our stay in Puerto Vallarta, we will be enhancing the atrium and stair towers by adding brand new carpeting. We expect the work to proceed quickly and anticipate that any inconvenience to our guests will be minimal. Nonetheless, as a gesture of goodwill, we want to offer each of you a complimentary excursion on that day, October 16, 2012, to help you enjoy your time ashore in Puerto Vallarta." They were however carpeting during the whole cruise making it challenging to navigate the ship safely. The fumes at times were trying as well, both the new glue and the heat they were using to get up the old stuff. The ship does need some work, but in general is okay. Well maybe I should add that we had a hydrolic problem that kept us late in Cabo San Lucas that caused us to miss our excursion in Puerto Vallarta and then more problems there which had us in Puerto Vallarta for an extra 10 hours. Then the stop again in Cabo to get the tender and then late to San Diego. We cleared customs late in the evening and went on shore to connect with friends. We were able to get together with one of our friends but missed the other. Our visit to Alcatraz in San Fran is off since we will not stop at that port. We did get our money back from The Alcatraz booking company. To make up a bit for all the issues the ship offered free drinks for two and a half hours. Room: Our room 1820 was quiet and we were very happy with our room steward Denen. Even the traffic to the medical center was not really an issue. Lots of wonderful towel creations and anything we needed. Excursions/ Ports. Seattle: dropped from the itinerary very early in the booking process. San Pedro was our first port and it was a testing ground for our group. Our group was too big to go together. I enjoy the people I was with, but with limited time we could have done more in small groups. As it was we wandered up the coast line reading the descriptions for the sites that I had downloaded. We did a little geocaching too. Puerto Vallarta. I can't comment on the one we missed, but the Pirate Ship Ahoy was a blast. Of course it was packed because it was one of the free ones offered. A number of people Who went this one were not really fit enough especially since the waves were big due to a storm on the Pacific. They were lifting people in and out of the tenders who were... well... anyone who was slow or limited mobility because the waves were crashing. It was very hot and very humid, but we loved it. Cabo San Lucas. We booked our own Kayak trip in Cabo. We were picked up by Cabo Outfitters and we were the only ones on the trip. We had an awesome time in the building waves kayaking and snorkeling. Kasey and his wife were excellent. We did have concerns about getting off the ship in time since there were delays, but we went down early to wait and got on the first tender. San Diego: We wandered around Balboa Park. Just wish we had had more time there! San Fransisco: Cancelled. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: October 2012
There were four of us traveling on this 4 day trip from Vancouver BC to San Diego aboard the Zaandam. Not really a reposition cruise, but more a filler for a longer cruise to Hawaii. I had read the reviews prior regarding all the problems ... Read More
There were four of us traveling on this 4 day trip from Vancouver BC to San Diego aboard the Zaandam. Not really a reposition cruise, but more a filler for a longer cruise to Hawaii. I had read the reviews prior regarding all the problems coming from Mexico and hoped all was done by the time we set sail. For the most part it was. They replaced our curtains and bedding while we were out so no disruption there. Carpeting was completed and only saw minor work done on what appeared to be leaks. We did note some horrid smells in the public washrooms near the theatre and the Crows nest. The casino renamed of stale smoke so we mostly hurried through holding our breath. Embankment at Canada Place went very well in spite of some misleading info from the port staff who I found extremely rude and stressed out. Probably the fact they were heading the disembarking passengers off at the same time we were coming on. I had never seen so many walkers and wheelchairs in one place and I work in a nursing home!! Not a very welcome aboard experience as I had before at the Ballentyne pier for NCL the year before. Once aboard our cabins were ready, and our bags arrived shortly afterwards. The muster drill was done and we soon set sail to Victoria. The size of the cabin was huge in comparison to NCL for an inside but had no fridge. Thankfully our stewards kept the ice bucket full. They were great!!! We ate in the main dining for all our dinners and learned quickly to make reservations for each night. Never waited. I am not a fussy eater so I thought all the meals were wonderful and staff for the most part were polite though one had an odd sense of humor. We opted to stay on the ship in Victoria as it is our home, so we did some digital workshops that were very well run and worked out in the gym. Prior to the cruise I had requested use of the fitness centre for Zumba and were told it should be ok but once on the ship, the bored young lady said we could not use our own music. There were no aerobics classes offered so we were a little put off. She just shrugged and said she was tired listening to the same music herself and did nothing to help us or suggest any alternative. Entertainment was mixed. The comedienne was great as was the ventriloquist, though we made the mistake of returning to the second performance on the promise of something different..not enough that made it worth going but that was our error. The musical troupe seems amateur. Just ok. We then had 2 days at sea. Zzzzzzzzzz. Not a lot of activity here, this cruise is definitely geared for an older clientele. We attended a tour of the galley, self guided, a a few more digital and cooking workshops and a scavenger hunt. This being a smaller ship there was not a lot to do I guess. We did enjoy the pool and hot tub, make it warm tub. One thing we liked about HAL is that you can bring your own wine aboard without fear of confiscation. This and 2 happy hours on the sea days helped keep our bar tab reasonable. I would have bought photos too but they only took one photo when we boarded. When I asked they said passengers complained that too many were taken. Oh well, their loss as I was willing to pay for them. DJ Steve in the nightclub played great music and excellent music trivia but the dance selections were repetitive. Karaoke night was crazy busy for a Thursday night. Definitely popular and the club was hopping till 1am. Friday night however, country night was the opposite with last call and last song done by midnight. As this was our last night on board we were somewhat disappointed as the ship pretty well shut down at this point. Not at all like our previous experience on the Pearl. As this was one of our groups 30th birthday it was a big let down. Not that we wanted to party into the wee hours but 12??? All in all I may come back to this line but would find a larger ship, and maybe wait till I am older, it was hard to not compare as I had the time of my life on NCL. Even with new carpets, this ship shows her age. Older Kids or teens would be very bored Read Less
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: September 2012
We have sailed to Hawaii on the Zaandam before. We were thrilled to see Michael Headla was still the cruise director and Kainoa DelaCruz was still on as the explorations expert. These two gentlemen are fantastic ambassadors for HAL. They ... Read More
We have sailed to Hawaii on the Zaandam before. We were thrilled to see Michael Headla was still the cruise director and Kainoa DelaCruz was still on as the explorations expert. These two gentlemen are fantastic ambassadors for HAL. They set a bar that we have yet to see met on any other cruise we have taken. We found there was value added on this cruise, compliments of the explorations team. An astrologist gave lectures each day and then spent two evenings out on deck star gazing with us. DJ Steve and Daffyd, the professional photographer collaborated and ran a 10 day digital scavenger hunt that had you taking photos of staff, items on board as well as on shore and allowed you to meet and interact with people you might never had got to know or meet before. The event planner Amanda conducted the normal HAL events but she was so professional and knowledgeable that they were a delight to attend and every day there was standing room only. You are never going to see zip lines on a HAL ship, but you know that before you board. What they do offer is gracious surroundings, excellent service and relaxing atmospheres. This cruise had an added bonus, the captain is a young vibrant man who was approachable, pleasant and very visible the entire cruise. It seemed to set precedence for the rest of the officers and department heads. The two head chefs walked through the dining areas daily speaking with their staff and with guests making everyone very relaxed. The waiting staff and room stewards go out of their way to make you comfortable, joke with you and attend to your every wish. Read Less
Sail Date: September 2012
Just returned from a 16 day round trip Vancouver -- Hawaiian Islands on the Zaandam, September 23 to October 9, 2012. The cruisers -- my 82 year old father (walks short distances but we have a travel, folding wheelchair), my husband, ... Read More
Just returned from a 16 day round trip Vancouver -- Hawaiian Islands on the Zaandam, September 23 to October 9, 2012. The cruisers -- my 82 year old father (walks short distances but we have a travel, folding wheelchair), my husband, and myself. Check in: this is the first time I've cruised out of Vancouver and gone down to Parking 2. HAL's Statendam and the Golden Princess were also in port. We arrived around 11:30am. It took a few minutes in a car line up before we got out. While we waited in the car we saw a huge line up of people in the parkade lining the sidewalk just to get in the building. A porter showed up and whisked off all our luggage and we got in the line which 30 minutes later got us through security. Then on to US customs. There were so many handicapped passengers we would have probably been better off getting in the fully mobile line up but we have to go where the staff send us and they have different lines for mobile people and handicapped. Usually it's a benefit traveling with a person in a wheelchair but not this time. I've never seen so many walkers, wheelchairs, and scooters on any other cruise! When we finally get to the check in there is a problem with the computers. Really slow. All the staff working the desk are very frustrated. Our check in lady was really grouchy, probably brought on by the stress of the slowpoke computers but whatever, thanks for the snarly attitude. We changed the credit card we were using and I made it very clear that all 3 of us were using this one card for all of our onboard charges. We finally get onboard at 1:15pm. Going back to the check in process, the next day my husband gets a letter saying he has not let HAL know how he will be paying for his onboard account and to contact the front desk. So thanks for screwing up grouchy check in lady! Now we are inconvenienced by having to go stand in a line at the front desk to do the credit card thing one more time because they won't do it over the phone. Toilets: no problem with the toilet in our bathroom nor any of the public ones on the ship. I heard no complaints from other passengers about toilets not working. Air conditioning: worked. In fact it worked overtime. It was very cold in some areas including our cabin even though we had the setting on midway between heat and air conditioning. Sewer smell: very strong only on Deck 4 outside the Pinnacle restaurant. Now that's gotta be a joy eating in there! After the shows a large group of passengers would make their way down this hallway to the midship elevators and everyone commented on the stench. Woowee!!! Peeyew!!! There are restrooms nearby but I don't think the overpowering stink was coming from there. My husband said there was most likely a hole or leak in an outtake pipe of the ship's waste storage system causing the stink. Something like that is very hard to find or repair. The last 2 days the staff was using an air freshener outside the Pinnacle trying to mask the sewer stink. Swimming pools -- usually open 7am to 7pm no matter how late the Explorer says they're open. The crew were netting them just after 7 each night and turning off the lights in the Lido pool area. Hot tubs supposedly open to 10pm if you can find them in the dark! Bedtime: 9pm bedtime on the Zaandam. The place becomes a ghost town after that. Must be discouraging for the entertainers on the late shift who are playing to an almost empty room. Passenger accommodations and comfort: We were in a triple cabin, deluxe veranda B category, on Deck 6, Veranda deck, #6203, near the aft elevators. Good location. We chose our cabin, did not book a guarantee. Twin beds for my father and husband. I bunked on the couch that coverts to a single bed made up by the stewards each night. The first couple of days they left it as a bed but I asked them to turn it into a couch by day. Room was good enough. I know a lot of people complain about dingy, and color schemes, etc but I'm not all about that. This is ocean life. Salt air and moisture, they choose colors and furniture that will stand up. The only thing I'll say is that there was a long gouge in the desk and a previous cruiser gouged their cigarette multiple times into the couch and the chair. Passengers in cabins on Deck 1 and 2 were suffering from flooded cabins. One woman told us their bed/bedding was flooded, along with everything else in the cabin. They asked for a new cabin but were told the ship was sold out. 3 days before sailing HAL contacted us and asked if we wanted to pay extra to upgrade to a superior suite or a penthouse but we turned it down and other passengers I spoke with also got similar offers. So that tells me unless they sold out at the last minute there probably were available cabins but Zaandam unwilling to upgrade a passenger on Deck 1 up to Deck 7. Instead they put two cots into the housekeeping room for these passengers and offered them a $500 future cruise credit. The woman was livid. What makes HAL think they'd ever cruise with them again after this? A woman on our trivia team told us one of her dinner tablemates had water flowing down her wall the entire cruise. There were about 20 cabins flooding on these 2 decks and affected passengers were offered $300 future cruise credit. All the Zaandam staff could do was mop up these cabins as best they could but I got the feeling from the flooded out passengers that there was no sense of urgency. The flooding issues were not fixed and that would be tough to do without ripping out walls and ceilings and they'd need a dry dock to do that. Ironically the Zaandam was supposed to be in dry dock right now but it was cancelled and instead they're sailing to Mexico and back to Vancouver instead. One of our friends was on Deck 1 and their cabin was not wet but the cabins that were leaking the water came out under the doors and onto the hallway so they had to walk over wet carpets and said the staff were out there occasionally with mops and shop vacs trying to keep up with the water. Deck 5 main dining room last Friday had the elevator area closed off. There was a ladder set up and several ceiling panels on the floor so pipes had sprung a leak there too. The hotel manager/director Edwin Brunwink happened to be standing there looking up at it when we walked past. My husband asked him what happened and he said "Routine scheduled maintenance." My husband asks "You scheduled a flood?" Brunwink glared at him and turned and walked away without a word. I mean why lie? Most people through life experience have probably had a leaky roof or a toilet or bathtub overflow. The ceiling below gets a water stain and the drywall puffs out. Why lie to the passengers? Later on we saw a staff member up the ladder working on the leaky pipe. He was a lot friendlier and smiling. I don't know if they fixed it but the ceiling was replaced later that day. Deck 3 -- this is the Lower Promenade Deck even though it's the deck that is usually called Promenade deck on most other cruise ships with the outside walk around. There are passenger cabins here. The outside view cabins look out on the walkaround. And vice versa. People who are going walkaround can look in on theses cabins. HAL might try to fool you into thinking these are mirrored windows and people can't see in but I could see in just fine if the curtains were open. And I wasn't pressing my nose up to the window. I was just going walkabout and I could see in. Day or night I saw people inside these cabins. Though at night time in addition to the curtains being open the lights also had to be on for me to see in. Sorry future Zaandam cruisers. If someone at HAL told you that people walking around on the deck can't see in, they lied. If you book an outside cabin on Deck 3 on the Zaandam and you want privacy -- keep your curtains closed! Meal service and accessibility: the absolute worst I have ever encountered on any cruise line. The first problem is getting to and from the MDR on Deck 4 which is only accessible by stairs or elevator. We are anytime dining. Works better for us. My father never knows when he might be hungry but usually we go down around 5:30 to 5:45. First night we ate in the MDR and we had a good server and all was more or less fine. The food would have been better if it was served hot. Very noticeable is the lack of assistants. Cut backs, sick staff, or not all servers get an assistant I don't know. Second night we went down around 5:30 and they were already giving out pagers. We had about 15/20 minute wait and then were seated at a table for 12 with several other passengers which was fine, we're happy with any sized table. But no way did 12 people eat and leave in the last half hour. It just took the staff a long time to set up due to lack of MDR staff. The next night was formal night so we ate in the Lido. The following night we went to the MDR around 5:45 and were given a pager. We were the 16th person to get a pager. Finally got paged at 7:10pm for a table and sat with others again which was fine. A table is a table. There are a lot of angry passengers. What happened is for anytime dining the Zaandam staff are taking reservations? I mean what??? This is anytime dining. Go down when you're ready to eat and instead throughout the day the Zaandam is taking reservations and screwing up the whole anytime dining concept. What is the point of having anytime dining? When our pager went off and we came back to the MDR one person we talked to had pager #32. When we got our food it was cold. That was actually pretty much normal for the MDR any meal we took there, cold food. Total passenger mutiny in the MDR that night and the manager started bringing complimentary champagne around to the passengers around 8:30 as an apology for the bad service. We tried the MDR a couple of other times on the cruise and they tried to pass me a pager and I said forget it we'll eat the Lido instead. Our last night at sea we tried the MDR one more time. Got there around 6pm and was handed a pager. Fortunately my father wasn't hungry yet and that's why we planned it figuring by the time we got seated he might be. They tell you to go up to Deck 5 and wait in the lounge which we did all 3 times we got a pager. Got paged nearly 30 minutes later. I ran down the stairs to let them know we're coming just that my husband and father were waiting for an elevator. The maitre'd tells me they paged me 15 minutes earlier and I didn't show up so they gave my table away. So for the first time ever on a cruise I argue with the sucker telling him no the pager just went off a couple of minutes ago. Those pagers make a fair amount of racket. They vibrate, lights flash, and a loud voice tells you to return to the dining room your table is ready. I had the pager sitting on the table in front of us. 3 of us watching a pager are not going to miss it. No way it went off 15 minutes earlier like he insisted. Like I said its very obvious when the pager goes off so I'm arguing with the guy that they may have paged me 15 minutes ago but the pager went off just now. So he assures me we'll get the very next table which we got about 2 minutes after my father and husband arrived on the elevator. Meanwhile these two jokers behind the ma'tre d station decide to test my pager and call it. Nothing happens. Hah! Told you! Apparently this particular pager has a delayed reaction. Which I guess I should be fortunate was only 15 minutes delay otherwise I could have been sitting up there for a couple of hours! We get seated and the server ignores us. No water in our goblets, no bread on the table. Though the people who got seated at the table next to us 10 minutes after us got their bread and water right away. After we'd been sitting there 25 minutes the server brings us water and bread and returns 5 minutes later to take our order. Meanwhile the people seated 10 minutes after us already have their appetizers. We should have just bailed and gone up to the Lido. As it was we didn't stick around for dessert and got up to the Lido just before they closed and got our dessert there. What I've learned about the Zaandam's dining room service is if you are physically handicapped to the point you need to use an elevator and if you like to eat in the MDR -- the Zaandam is a BAD choice. If you like to get good dining room service - the Zaandam is a BAD choice. If you like to get your food hot and eat it while it's hot in a dining room - the Zaandam is a BAD choice. We chatted with a man who has over 200 days with HAL and has sailed on the Zaandam several times. He was very disappointed with the deterioration of the meal service. Likewise hundreds of other frustrated Zaandam passengers on our cruise were also fed up with this crappy meal service in the MDR. The Lido buffet area. Decent food and at least passengers had a higher rate of success of getting hot food here instead of in the main dining room. Continental breakfast starts at 6am, with a full breakfast starting around 6:30 or 7, really depended on the day if it was a sea or port day. Lunch same story, maybe 11:30 to 2 but sandwiches and desserts available all afternoon. Dinner 5pm to 8pm. Dinner at the Lido was decent enough and this is the place to be on the Zaandam if you actually like to eat hot food because they keep it under warmers. There was one female cook/server who hated her job and hated the passengers. Because I'm not sure of censoring of bad words on Cruise Critic, I'll call her Witchy, but substitute that w with a b if you want to know what we really called her! One little old lady made the mistake of telling Witchy she put too much food on her plate. Witchy made a huge point of sighing loudly, scraping all the food off the plate and into the garbage, and glaring at the little old lady making sure she got her point across how inconvenient the old biddy was making her life. My husband asked her to put a little gravy on the meat for my father's plate. Instead she dumped gravy on everything on the plate. One time my husband and I were both standing in line getting a plate of food for him and my father. He asked for small portions for only the plate for my father who has a small appetite. Then for his plate he said load it up so Witchy made a point of putting tiny portions on his plate too and when he asked for more she glared at him and flung the food across the plate making the food presentation match her attitude -- lousy. There is a pasta bar just before the main entree area with one fellow operating it. Fortunately Witchy never got assigned pasta detail! Or maybe it would have been better if she had because the fellow serving pasta ignored the passengers. Mostly he kept his back turned to them and kept busy doing something across from the pasta station though he kept looking over and knew people were waiting for the pasta. I usually gave up trying to get him to serve up some pasta and moved on to eat something else. Hello Witchy! And what do they do with all that leftover pasta the fellow refuses to serve in the Lido that night? My guess is they serve it in the Canaletto the next night! $10. Signs in all the elevators. Dinner is served in the Lido between 5pm and 8pm. One side is closed down. The Canaletto is on that side of the Lido and takes up around 1/3 of the seating area, perhaps a little less but let's call it a third. The rest of this side is reserved for officers and staff during the 3 hours. Hunh??? I'm not saying the crew don't deserve to eat but they seem to have no problem fitting in with the passengers during lunch and breakfast so what's the issue with fitting in with the lowly passengers at dinnertime too? If they had to have their own private time in the Lido can't they choose a less busy time. So 5 tables or less were usually in use by staff leaving a lot of empty tables on that one side of the Lido. Meanwhile on the passenger side of the Lido all the tables are full of passengers who've given up on the crap service and food in the MDR so its hard to find somewhere to eat. Several times we went to one of the pool decks with our food. So one night my husband went upstairs to check things out around 6pm and came back down to tell me that one man was arguing with the staff member in charge of keeping the lowly passengers out of the staff side of the Lido during dinnertime. He was complaining there was nowhere to sit on the passenger side and no staff were eating on the side reserved for them and there were lots of empty tables and he should open them up for everyone. Then more passengers got involved in the argument. 20 minutes later we came up to the Lido to eat and the crew member must have gotten worried about a mutiny and removed the sign stating crew only and allowed the passengers to come in and use the tables. What's the big deal why they separate staff and passengers? Beverage services: My father used the bar service a few times in the Mondrian Lounge prior to a show. Staff were friendly and efficient and very good at remembering what he liked to drink. There was one woman who I think was a senior bar staff because she was the one on stage serving the officers on the night of the champagne toast. I saw her before shows in the lounge and I nicknamed her The Scowler because she never smiled and just glared around the room. One time I was in the Lido pool and the roof was open and it was windy and there was a bit of swell to the ocean. The bar staff had a display table with various drinks on it including bottles of beer. A bottle of beer rolled off the table and smashed onto the deck. Could smell that from where I was in the pool. The Scowler appears from nowhere putting on this dramatic performance like the busted beer bottle mess was the greatest tragedy the world has ever seen. You'd think the cost of the beer was coming out of her paycheck or something the way she was carrying on! You'd think the main priority would be to clean up the mess -- or call in whoever's responsibility that belongs to and make sure there is no broken glass in the area because this is an area where its very likely barefoot passengers are walking around. Instead she spends much time lamenting the death of this beer before clean up begins. Bizarre. Elevators: Remember my father and the wheelchair? At our aft elevators only 3 out of 4 were working. One was always dark. Out of the other 3 it seemed like 2 of them rarely budged. This became a nightmare at chow time when walkers, scooters, and wheelchairs are all trying to get to the food. The problem is Deck 4 MDR can only be accessed by stairs or elevator. The galley is on the other side of the stairs so there is no hallway that accesses the forward areas of Deck 4. You got to go up or down a floor and walk that floor's hallway until you reach the midship stairs or elevators. One time when we came out of the MDR there were 20 wheelchairs/scooters/walkers waiting for an elevator. I went up the stairs and hotfooted it to the lounge to hold seats for my father and husband who was pushing the wheelchair. It took them 15 minutes to get there. I have no idea how long that one elevator was out of service -- sometime during the Alaska runs. If it broke down on the last run and they needed a part or an elevator technician to get it going again, I know of two companies in Vancouver who service elevators and there's probably more. I'm also going out on a limb and saying there are probably companies in Honolulu that service elevators and the Zaandam couldn't get that sucker going? Who knows how long it's been down? So one elevator never working and for whatever reason out of the other 3 elevators only one would be working. You'd see it going up and down and the other two elevators would be stuck on the same floor the whole time. Listen up Zaandam. Not everyone can use the stairs! Get the elevators running! Entertainment: Zaandam singers and dancers -- I've got good news and I've got bad news. Out of all the HAL ships I've been on the Zaandam singers and dancers are the best I've ever seen. Energy, talent, great routines. Incredible! Loved them! The bad news? This was their farewell voyage. Their contracts are up, they've gone on to whatever it is cruise ship workers do at the end of their contract. Our travel guide/port lecturer Kainoa was wonderful. Loved his talks! Very passionate about Hawaii as a destination partly because that's his heritage. He's great. Can't say enough nice things about him. Other entertainers included: comedian/magician Rich Purpura pianist Juan Pablo Subirana ventriloquist Patrick Murray and Matilda -- the passengers loved him but this was the Edgar Bergen/Charlie Maccarthy crowd. He was great. Comedian/juggler Billy Prudhomme The Stander Dance Duo (skip this one!) The Drums of Polynesia Show -- came on board on Honolulu. Wonderful hula show. Comedian Mack Dryden The Company Men (quartet singers) more appealing to a younger crowd. And of course the Filipino and Indonesian crew shows on different nights at 11pm, not well attended because it was past the bedtimes of 99% of the passengers. Barbi and the Halcats performed throughout the ship -- sailaways, pool party, and Crow's Nest. In the main show theater, Mondrian Lounge, the first show is at 8pm. To get a semi-good seat you must arrive by 7:30. By 7:40 the lounge will be packed. No seats left. Come back for the 10pm show. Oops, no, can't do that. 9pm bedtime! We came to the 10pm shows a few times. Us and 30 others. Kind of tough on comedian Billy Prudhomme who thanked all the people who showed up for his performance disguised as couches and chairs. At one point he's yelling "wake up, wake up" and I turn around and an old man sitting by himself a few rows behind me is sleeping. And Billy tells him "I don't come to your cabin and juggle." One time my husband and I came up to the Crow's Nest at 8:50pm and caught Barbi and the Halcats last couple of songs. We were their only audience. We came up a couple of times after 11pm to listen to them. Its pretty sad when a 5 piece band outnumbers the audience but can't keep people up past their bedtime can you! Ports of call: I prebooked cars in all the Hawaiian Islands. Cost including GPS ran between $45 and $55 depending on island plus between $10 and $30 for gas. Not bad for entertaining 3 people. Hilo -- it was a free day at Volcano National Park so we drove up there and around the rim and stopped at the lookouts for photos. Then we drove back to Mauna Loa macadamia nut farm and bought some goodies. We drove back to Hilo and checked out Rainbow Falls and went to Big Island Candies and Cookies. Tons of free samples in that place and bought some more goodies here too. My father wasn't hungry when we got back to the ship. Gee I wonder why! We found a parking spot half a block from the farmer's market. I bought an incredible bouquet of orchids for $5 that I kept in my cabin for the cruise. That would have cost me $50+ back home. We also bought various jams and honeys from the vendors. Lahaina -- this is a tender port. Another reason the Zaandam is an extremely bad choice for disabled passengers is you have to walk down a flight of steps (and back up upon return) to get to the tender launch. There are no lifts for handicapped passengers. Walk the stairs or stay on board. We knew about this in advance and yes my father can walk up/down stairs. Slowly. The staff will assist with a steadying hand and carrying wheelchairs or scooters on and off the tender. We've all been to Maui numerous times so we just did a scenic drive and had lunch in Kihei and took the car back to the rental place to catch the 3pm shuttle back to the dock. Last shuttle is at 4pm. Miss it and take a taxi. Anyway we get back on the tender and the floor is really wet so I figured surf was up and water was sloshing in because the doors are open with just a rope keeping people in. When we got off the captain was standing there greeting passengers. A little odd. First time ever I've seen a captain do that. My father wanted to nap so we dropped him off at the cabin and went back to the tender about 15 minutes later. The captain is no longer there at the security station. Oddly enough an engineer also gets on our tender and is giving the pilot some tips. He drove to the dock very slowly and carefully. Only one other couple is on the tender going back to Lahaina. They told us they were on a tender back to the ship about half an hour earlier and the waves were high and the fellow piloting the tender decided to run it fast and full tilt into the oncoming waves. Yee haw!!! Unfortunately he forgot to close a hatch and a woman sitting in the front got drenched. Twice! And a crew member was injured. So that would account for why the captain was down greeting tender passengers. Must have happened a boat or two before us. Something serious enough like that would bring him down to check that all involved were OK. And probably to relieve the tender driver of his duties! Then he stayed there awhile keeping an eye on how the tenders were being operated. Kauai -- we drove out to the Waimea Canyon -- the grand canyon of the Pacific. Gorgeous. Afterwards we stopped at the Kauai Coffee Plantation where they have free samples of about 16 or 20 different types of coffees. Different roasts and flavors. I don't drink coffee but my father loves the stuff. Then on to Red Dirt Shirt Factory because we saw it on Dirty Jobs a couple of years ago. I'm distracted because right across the street I see the Kauai Chocolate Company. I help my husband pick out a couple of nice polo shirts then I run across the street and buy dark chocolate macadamia nut fudge and 3 other chocolates, some local creation that was very good with caramel, cookies, macadamias, and covered in chocolate. We went for lunch at Puka Dogs. I'd heard about these Hawaiian hot dogs and we decided to give them a try. They're OK. Can say we've done it. Then we visited the nearby spouting horn blowhole. Honolulu -- again been here so this time did a circle tour of the island. Stopped at the Dole Pineapple Plantation where I annoyed my husband by buying my father a bag of coconut pineapple popcorn that he munched on for the whole drive. We stopped at a shrimp truck on the north shore and I tried coconut shrimp. It was very good. Nice drive. Lots of photo opportunities. Last stop the big Hilo Hattie not too far from the cruise ship where we bought our last souvenirs. We overnighted in Honolulu. The next day my husband and I caught a bus down to the International Marketplace -- its gone downhill since I was last there -- and walked on Waikiki Beach. 5 days at sea coming and going. The weather was good. No rain though overcast on our last sea day. First night at sea after we exited the Juan de Fuca and got into the Pacific was very rough. I woke up around 3 or 4 in the morning -- take your pick, the time turned back an hour that night -- and wandered out on the balcony to see how high the waves were. Probably about 10 feet. Enough to keep me awake. A lot of passengers were seasick that night and the next day. The front desk staff said they'd passed out LOTS of motion sickness pills. Fortunately none of us were sick. All staff we dealt with were professional, courteous, and smiled. But there is something very, very wrong on this ship especially with the food and beverage service staff. When they're not dealing with passengers they get into small groups and talk in their own language and they're very angry. Must be huge management or supervisor problems in these departments -- not sure if they're separate departments or come under same management. But after Brunwink stomped off after we caught him in a lie, if he has that same attitude with his staff maybe he's the problem or maybe its lower down, I don't know. I've seen employees unhappy with their workplace and the Zaandam screams it. Staff moral sucks on this ship. Final words about the Zaandam. For a small cruise ship it is very badly managed. The Zaandam has created a lot of problems that they seem incapable or unwilling to fix. The main dining room is a fiasco and joke. A place to be avoided if you like eating your meals hot or if you are physically unable to walk up and down stairs. Loved the destination -- who couldn't love the beautiful Hawaiian Islands - but the overall cruise experience on the Zaandam is the worst I've ever had. I will never sail on the Zaandam. In fact I might not ever come back to Holland America. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: September 2012
We were on Holland America D1T which began in Fairbanks on Sept. 5th. The ship departed Seward on the 9th. We arrived a day early. It was good to have the extra day in Fairbanks as we toured the Museum at the University (great museum), ... Read More
We were on Holland America D1T which began in Fairbanks on Sept. 5th. The ship departed Seward on the 9th. We arrived a day early. It was good to have the extra day in Fairbanks as we toured the Museum at the University (great museum), went to Santa's house in North Pole, AK. We had a good dinner at the hotel restaurant... The HAL hotel is the Westmark in Fairbanks. Nice hotel but the rooms are a little small and its in need of an update. HAL has a desk at the hotel which was good. Our tour included a very fun and informative ride on a paddle-wheel boat, lunch and panning for gold during the day. We recommend the land tour in Fairbanks. We also went on the salmon bake that evening, which we all agreed was not worth it. The next day we were transported to Denali on the train in very nice observation cars. The observation cars have comfortalbe seats and a bar upstairs and a restaurant area below the seating area and great visibility of the scenery and quite pleasant. The guides were attentive and informative. At the train station in Denali we were transported to our hotel, The McKinley Chalets Resort. Our group was in a separate full sized hotel near the main lodge. It is a 5 minute walk from there to the main lodge and there's a shuttle running every few minutes. Our impression is that building was owned by HAL. The main lodge has a couple of restaurants, a bar and a gift shop. Across the street is the commercial area with many shops, ice cream, pizza, etc. We took the white water river rafting trio down the Neenana River. Since it was September the weather was on the cool side, but they provided "dry" suits that are water tight and go over your clothing (water tight at wrists, ankles, and neck). It was about 1.5 hours of non-stop class 3 rapids. We have river rafted several rivers, and this was one of the best rides...we all had to paddle and being on the point (up front) is "the" place to be. A great trip and worth it. The bus tour of Denali was in a refurbished school bus. The seats were uncomfortable and the heat was almost non-existent. The outside temperature was barely 50 degrees. The tour guide was very informative. We saw bears and mountain sheep. Despite the temperature and the seats everyone thought it was a good tour, although I thought that it was too long actually,,,,four hours in and four ours back gets old on an uncomfortable bus. Its definitely NOT a tour bus...small windows, bad seats, bad heater. But we did sear bears, moose, and Doll mountain sheep. The next day we boarded modern "deluxe" motorcoaches for transport to Seward. Much much better than the old school bus in Denali. It is a full-day with great scenery all of the way. Our bus driver/guide was very informative. The lunch stop was in Wasilla at a very nice restaurant. We were a little ahead of schedule and got to do an unscheduled stop at the Iditerod headquarters in Wasilla where we had up close encounter with the dogs and the had rides available which was fun and a great photo op. Some of the family of racers were there and we held sled dog puppies. If you go on this and can convince your driver to fit it in, it is well worth the 20 or 30 minutes, and it was free except they do charge for the sled rides (the sled is an ATV pulled by dogs since there is no snow in Sept) We did no sight seeing at Seward. The boarding was straight forward. At Glacier bay: we got an informative narrative about the Marjorie glacier and the Grand Pacific glacier. At Haines, we went on a Bald Eagle river float. This is the only tour we took that was not Holland American. It starts at Porcupine Creek...yes the same local where the Discover Channel TV program "Alaskan Gold Rush". We did see many eagles on the Chilkat River, but you don't get all that close to them. Our guide was a real treat as he paddled our rubber raft while telling us about all the things were were seeing. His name is Delbert,,,,if you go on this tour, you will want him. Think of Gabby Hayes who graduated from the Air Force Academy, flew F4's, got an MBA at Stanford University, was a consultant for Arthur Anderson, and left it all to be a river guide on the colorado river in the Grand Canyon, then spend the last several years in Alaska. I enjoyed this trip, but I wish I could have been in two places at the same time. Others went salmon fishing and had a blast. This tour is run by Chilkat Tours Ltd, and is called the Chilkat Bald Eagle Preserve Float. Each raft holds a guide and max of 6 passengers which worked out well for us as we were three couples. Do a google search and you will find this tour. We got back in plenty of time to make our boarding deadline. This tour included a lunch. In Juneau: It rained alot, which we were told, if you go to Juneau, expect rain. We took a whale watching boat (holds about 120 people). We did see some hump back whales, but no breaches, but that is the luck of the draw. Sometimes they breach and mostly they don't. We had a good red salmon lunch at Orca Point which is an island restuarant. We also took a bus over to the Mendenhall Glacier and adjacent water fall. This was a beautiful area, and there is a gift shop and you can walk over to a creek and see 18 inch or more salmon swimming in the clear water. At Ketchikan: We went on the HAL tour "Alaska Rain Forest Sanctuary, Raptor Center and Totems." The rain forest sanctuary walking tour was the best part. We saw four bears and video'd three of them for perhaps two minutes as they strolled down a creek near us, catching and eating Salmon. They were as close as 40 or 50 feet. As our guide said, "if they cross to this side of the creek, we're leaving!:" After the tour we enjoyed walking around town. Even though this is the place on earth with the most rainfall, on this cruise it was the only port in which it was not raining! The next day our cruise ended at Vancouver. We recommend the cruise. The best parts are the wildlife and the scenery. Dress for the climate. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: September 2012
As a first time cruiser, we booked months in advance and were very excited. We were cruising with four other experienced cruisers. The first impression upon boarding the ship was that everyone seemed to move very slow. It soon became ... Read More
As a first time cruiser, we booked months in advance and were very excited. We were cruising with four other experienced cruisers. The first impression upon boarding the ship was that everyone seemed to move very slow. It soon became evident at the supper meal when all the wheelchairs and walkers showed up. It wasn't long before my wife commented that it felt like we were in an old-folks home. A couple of days later a senior officer commented that 70 percent of the passengers were over the age of 80!! We are retired in our late 60's and were have many friends that are over the age of 80, but when it comes to an expensive cruise for 16 days, I think that Holland America should have let us know in advance the passenger demographics of the cruise. The food in the buffet was excellent whereas the dining room was so packed with the oldies that it took one hour to two hours to get fed. As for the entertainment we had 3 good shows out of 16. The other activities were very laid back as you would be needed for people 80+. We had been upgraded to a veranda stateroom and it was great as was the service of the crew...but who wants a 16 day holiday in a old folks home. Eventually we all will end up there, but lets not rush it. Another thing that we found annoying is that everything cost extra. We had read reviews on CruiseCritic and were aware of the costs of the no-host bar, but there was no sign in the stateroom when we arrived so we didn't know that the bottled water cost $4.00/bottle. The sign went up the second day and then we understood why everyone was filling up their containers in the buffet. We may have taken an excursion or two, but we chose to get away from the other passengers as it was too depressing being around them. Read Less
Sail Date: September 2012
We were scheduled on the Holland America D1T which began in Fairbanks on Sept. 5th. The ship departed Seward on the 9th. The land package took place on Sept 5-9. There were three couples in our group and we had made reservations at the ... Read More
We were scheduled on the Holland America D1T which began in Fairbanks on Sept. 5th. The ship departed Seward on the 9th. The land package took place on Sept 5-9. There were three couples in our group and we had made reservations at the tour hotel to arrive one day early, on Sept. 4th. At the airport in Fairbanks we saw a Holland America agent greeting customers coming in for other land tours. When we identified ourselves we were warmly received and we were transported on the Holland America buses to the hotel (even though we were a day early). It was good to have the extra day in Fairbanks as we toured the Museum at the University (great museum), went to Santa's house in North Pole, AK, and had a nice dinner at an Italian restaurant. The HAL hotel is the Westmark in Fairbanks. Nice hotel. HAL has a desk at the hotel. Our tour included a very fun and informative ride on a paddle-wheel boat, lunch and panning for gold during the day. We recommend the land tour in Fairbanks. We also went on the salmon bake that evening, which we all agreed was not worth it. The next day we were transported to Denali on the train in observation cars. The observation cars have seats and a bar upstairs and a restaurant area below the seating area. The guides were attentive and informative. At the train station in Denali we were transported to our hotel, The McKinley Chalets Resort. Our group was in a separate full sized hotel near the main lodge. It is a 5 minute walk from there to the main lodge and there's a shuttle running every few minutes. Our impression is that building was owned by HAL. The main lodge has a couple of restaurants, a bar and a gift shop. Across the street is the commercial area with many shops, ice cream, pizza, etc. We took the flightseeing tour around Mount McKinley. Denali Air picked us up at the main lodge and took us to the airstrip. We flew in an 8-passenger twin engine airplane with retractable landing gear. The flight lasted about an hour. We loved it even though it was a little cloudy that day. Highly recommended. The bus tour of Denali was in a refurbished school bus. The seats were uncomfortable and the heat was almost non-existent. The outside temperature was barely 50 degrees. The tour guide was very informative. We saw bears and mountain sheep. Despite the temperature and the seats everyone thought it was a good tour. The next day we boarded modern "deluxe" motorcoaches for transport to Seward. It is a full-day with great scenery all of the way. Our bus driver/guide was very informative. The lunch stop was in Wasilla at a very nice restaurant. Port reviews are below, except for Ketchikan. Here are our comments on Ketchikan: We went on the HAL tour "Alaska Rain Forest Sanctuary, Raptor Center and Totems." The rain forest sanctuary was the best part. We saw four bears and filmed three of them for perhaps two minutes as they strolled down a creek near us. As our guide said, "if they cross to this side of the creek, we're leaving!:" After the tour we enjoyed walking around town. Even though this is the place on earth with the most rainfall, on this cruise it was the only port in which it was not raining! The next day our cruise ended at Vancouver. We recommend the cruise. The best parts are the wildlife and the scenery. Dress for the climate. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: September 2012
Well, we've given it a second try, these HAL cruises booked through Olivia. This is most likely (never say never, eh?) our last cruise with both HAL and Olivia. We purchased this cruise via a charity auction. The cruise had been ... Read More
Well, we've given it a second try, these HAL cruises booked through Olivia. This is most likely (never say never, eh?) our last cruise with both HAL and Olivia. We purchased this cruise via a charity auction. The cruise had been donated by Olivia on behalf of HRC and we ended up being the winning bidders. The good points: Vancouver is the single nicest port we've ever sailed from! What a beautiful city, and fabulous Canada Place port. If you ever have the opportunity to sail from here, do so! The weather was incredible. It really could not have been better in any port, or in Vancouver. Sun, and a touch of rain (at night) with moderate temperatures for the time of year. Lovely on all counts. The HAL staff are amazing!! They are ALWAYS cheerful and smiling and so very willing to help. This cruise line has done some incredible training of staff, and it shows. On the extremely rare instance when a staff member is having an off day or moment it shows, but it's very rare. They are the highlight of this cruise and earn every single cent they are paid. The cleanliness of this ship was remarkable. Although the ship itself is showing wear and some shabbiness there were no unpleasant odors or obvious unclean areas. The not so great points: The food. It was passable for the most part, inedible once or twice, and the Pinnacle ended up not being worth the extra dollars. The filet mignon we ordered was cooked correctly for mine, but my wife's was burnt crunch on one side. The lobster bisque was odd. Just odd, no other real way to explain it. After a few tastes we gave up. The side dishes of mushrooms were soggy and generally not worth eating; the creamed spinach was boring with little cream flavor; the asparagus was ok. All food was either tepid or downright cold. Not much pleasant about stone cold egg yolk in a poached egg for the morning meal. We ended up dining off ship whenever possible. Olivia itself. Not sure what happened for this cruise but it was a completely different vibe from our previous Olivia Cruise. Where the focus once was on "Ladies of OLIVIA" with announcements for all activities, and encouragement to attend the activities, reminders, building up of excitement for the commitment ceremony (for those who chose to attend) etc. there was none of that this time. The focus seemed to be clearly on the solos (which is all well and good, but some of us have been in committed relationships for years and like to have "special" things too) and we often felt like we were intruding on a private party. What's with the male staffers of Olivia being on board? Everyone has a right to a job, but if men are now to be included in the Olivia group, please let us know ahead of time, thanks. The really not so good: The stateroom was terrible. Yes, terrible. Not "just not ok, " not "could have been better, " downright terrible. If this had been a hotel, we would have checked out. We did think about flying out of a port, but chose to endure. The stateroom was assigned to us, and we had no opportunity to change it. The noise from the engines kept us awake the entire first night. The vibrations from the engines and the thrusters shook the stateroom so badly, personal possessions rattled, and cause us to feel that we were on a perpetual vibration machine. All jokes aside, NOT conducive to sleeping, relaxing or even hearing one another speak (from time to time). We can honestly say that if you are assigned this stateroom, cancel the cruise. Seriously. Olivia staff and HAL staff both stated there was nothing to do about it as there were no other staterooms to be moved to. Well, that happens from time to time, but it doesn't make the experience any better. The stateroom was also very shabby with uneven flooring (dips in the floor) white and black mildew and mold in the bathroom. The bathroom was stone cold all the time, which necessitated our propping the door open trying to get some heat in there. The stateroom itself was quite chilly too. The condition of this stateroom is one of the primary reasons we'll think very long and hard about booking with Olivia or with HAL again. The really good: The Bearing Sea Excursion in Ketchikan is worth every cent! Do it!! In Juneau be sure to have crab at Tracy's Crab Shack. Delicious!! Also in Juneau seek out Wild Oven. It's a TINY bakery run by two young women who surely know how to employ their 60 year old sour dough starter!! Really nice bread and huge cookies! In Skagway be sure to visit Broadway Bites and have a cheese and sausage "biscuit" along with a lemon cake (cupcake size) for dessert. They had some very nice mulled cider when we were there too. So, after all is said and done, no regrets. We refuse to live our lives with regret, but we now consider ourselves a bit wiser with regard to choosing where to spend our very hard earned vacation dollars. Read Less
Sail Date: September 2012
Just finished a 16 day cruise, Vancouver to Hawaii. I would place the ship in the "banana boat" category. Rusty hull, window ledges. Evidence of electrolysis on the inside of the aluminum windows. Vibration coming from the ... Read More
Just finished a 16 day cruise, Vancouver to Hawaii. I would place the ship in the "banana boat" category. Rusty hull, window ledges. Evidence of electrolysis on the inside of the aluminum windows. Vibration coming from the bulkheads, (walls) loud enough to keep you awake at night. The faster the speed the more the vibration. The air conditioning was full blast in most of the public areas so if you wanted to enjoy reading in the library you had to wear a sweater, even in Hawaii. To relax with a drink outside your room you would wander around the ship until you found a slightly warmer area. I would be ashamed to be an engineering officer on board this ship. Seats are usually designed to be comfortable for set periods of time. Fast food places come in at 20 minutes. Most of the ships seats fit the fast food criteria. I would go to a show in the theater and by 20 minutes be suffering with a sore butt. We were on the 1st deck and just down the hall several cabins had serious water problems. For the first few days we would be woken up at 1:30 AM by the noise of a wet vacuum cleaning up the water. It was a repeating problem. Another reason why I would be ashamed to be an engineering officer aboard this ship. We had the open seating for our meals and before they sat us they would ask for our room number. When I asked why they did this they said that if they had to get in touch with us in the event of an emergency, they would know where we where. Yeh, right. Then why didn't they check for my room number when I went to the pool or the bar? All this did was delay the seating and frustrate the guests. I've been on other ships and we weren't bothered with this. It's not like someone was trying to sneak into the dining room. I never did get warm or hot eggs in the dining room. The good things? Great hard working staff, easy check in, good entertainment but only 45 minutes in the theater. The jazz trio was fantastic. Overall a substandard cruise with a high standard price. Will be moving on to other cruise lines the next time. Read Less
Sail Date: September 2012
This is our 15th cruise but the first time on a Holland American ship. We brought my husband's parents for their anniversary and we were very impressed with several aspects of this cruise. First off, the check in was effortless ... Read More
This is our 15th cruise but the first time on a Holland American ship. We brought my husband's parents for their anniversary and we were very impressed with several aspects of this cruise. First off, the check in was effortless and the cabin was well presented and prepared. The crew was exceptionally happy and seemed to truly enjoy their jobs. This was every department! The wonderful thing about the crew was that they were attentive but never pushy. The drink servers were always available but never trying to "sell" you something. Same thing with the photographers. We thought that the two day "quarantine" was an excellent idea at the buffet. This is where they have the crew load your plate with your selections and give you your desired drink. Very smart way to keep the germs down and the guests from getting sick. This was the first time we have ever seen this on a ship. The ship itself is smaller but all of the rooms are well designed and we never felt or noticed a crowd. We really enjoyed the intimacy of the ship and did not spend our first two days getting lost. The spa and gym were very nice and the thermal suite was never crowded. I appreciated the dining room/crew's attention to detail on our dining situation, since I have a food allergy (wine). They made sure to bring me the menu for each meal the day before so I could pre-order. Each meal was so well done and the food was excellent. I always judge a good cruise by their cheese... if they buy cheap/tasteless cheese they get a low rating. The cheese on this ship was WONDERFUL! Entertainment: The shows were well done and the dancers and singers were very talented. My only complaint is that the song selections were really for the over 70 crowd (Hello Dolly??) I think they could improve that a bit. Tours: We did the kayak tour in Haines on the Chilkot lake and it was fantastic. Even in the rain, we saw a lot of wildlife and the salmon spawning. Kids: We have younger children that stayed home. There was a kid program but we only saw a handful of children (mostly European) on the ship. I don't think this ship would have been right for children. Read Less
Sail Date: August 2012
My wife and I were very impressed with our Alaska cruise and tour. Everything ran extremely smooth.We were met at the Seattle airport by a representive from Holland American. We were taken to the Hilton Hotel in Seattle. Received ... Read More
My wife and I were very impressed with our Alaska cruise and tour. Everything ran extremely smooth.We were met at the Seattle airport by a representive from Holland American. We were taken to the Hilton Hotel in Seattle. Received information regarding our departure for Vancouver the next morning. Had a great meal and was told to leave our luggage outside our room in the morning. We were give colored tags to attach. Our luggage was picked up in the morning and we boarded a bus for the trip to Vancouve. Our luggage was waiting for us when we arrived. After a rather slow trip through security and customes our luggage we taken to our cabin. . We spent 7 days cruising the inter-passage. We visited Ketchikan, Juneau,Skagway, and Glacier Bay Our final stop was Seward. We boarded a Bus for a very long trip to Denali. The Holland America lodge in Denali was a little dispointing, The ice machines on each floor did not work and we had to go outside and walk up a pretty steep hill to retrieve ice. I think everyone was a little distressed over that.The Lodge was just aross the highway from several places to eat. There was a great diner in the Lodge, but after several hour on the bus it felt good to move around. One thing though, when we left Seward they told us to only take enouge clothe for three days and leave the rest in Seward, they would make sure they were at our next destination.We did and renting a gator and riding arount the park, we were pretty dirty the rest of the tour.( Take bug spray). At the end of our time in Denali,e boarded a train andent to Anchorage. Spent a night in Anchorage . Our bags were there. Next morning boarded a plane to Chicago and home. This was our fourth cruise and we are planning another cruise on Holland American in January 2014. Holland America planned the entire cruise and tour for us. They did a fantastic job. 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 4.3
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
Compare and book excursions for your next cruise