Sail Date: March 2019
I wanted to write this review because I saw a number of poor ratings for Holland America and since we had a good experience, I thought it would be fair to write a good one. This was our first cruise with HAL and we were on the Zaandam. ... Read More
I wanted to write this review because I saw a number of poor ratings for Holland America and since we had a good experience, I thought it would be fair to write a good one. This was our first cruise with HAL and we were on the Zaandam. This is a beautiful ship with a musical theme. We liked the baroque organ. We ran into two storms on the Pacific Ocean with 6.5 meter waves and the Captain changed our port of call from Ushuaia to Castro and also gave us the beautiful Brujo glacier. We were good with the decision since it was a bit of a rough ride that day. We had booked mostly private excursions since we like the smaller groups. Except for the tendering ports, all the ports of call on our cruise were well managed. We have travelled with at least 4 other cruise lines and we found the food selection to be good better than some of the others. We liked having less choices but better quality. Cabin crew were good. Enrichment activities were good. Entertainment were okay. Embarkation and Disembarkation were spot on. All in all, we liked Holland America and have already booked another cruise with them on the Westerdam. Hoping to be able to have the same level of service or better. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: March 2019
The ship was badly affected by what can only be described as the Holland America cost cutting strategy. This was evident everywhere on the ship and throughout the 34 day cruise. The main restaurant should be the main attraction of any ... Read More
The ship was badly affected by what can only be described as the Holland America cost cutting strategy. This was evident everywhere on the ship and throughout the 34 day cruise. The main restaurant should be the main attraction of any cruise ship, this was our 22nd cruise on various cruise lines and ships and our worst possible main restaurant experience by far. The plates were very nice, but night after night no variation in the menus, "no taste", too often "rice" or mashed potato", mass catering vegetables, nearly always cold, very small portions. Service was always good, but what value is good service when dinner each evening and also gala evenings, was such a disappointment. We therefore moved to the Lido Buffet on deck 8, which was always much better and very often the same selection of food available as in the main restaurant. It was no surprise the main restaurant was often half empty. One niggle at the Lido Buffet, breakfast, lunch and dinner was the frequency of "crew and staff" sitting 1 or 2 persons for a table of 4 or 6, when passengers could not find tables which were free. Reduced service staff at the Lido also caused tables not to be cleared and cleaned, leaving passengers "waiting" for a clean table, Bar service was almost non-existent due to not enough Bar staff, again a result of cost cutting. Bars are normally a profit center so why not enough service staff? Bar and restaurant Service" was generally excellent and so very friendly, the service staff could not do enough for you. But in some areas and at certain time there were not enough service staff, again a clear indication of cost cutting. Entertainment - The main theater dancers and singers were an exceptionally good and very talented team, the theater band was also of the highest quantity. But outside the theater entertainment was also non-existent. The quality of music around the ship was poor, HAL get what they pay for, but why should cruise passengers who pay high prices have the quality of their vacation reduced because of cost cutting in the entertainment area. After about 21:00 hours each evening it seemed like HAL wanted passengers in bed so as to save money on entertainment. The Crow's Nest was almost empty every night, there was no dance band. The "singer" each evening in the Ocean Bar lounge was like a "sleeping tablet". Music at the Lido and Sear View bars was the same day after day. Excursions - Far too expensive and did not fully provide value for money. In future we will book in advance our own private tours, for a cost 60 - 70% lower. It was also very noticeable the HAL staff organizing the tour departures out of the theater and off the ship, were not in any way identified with the Holland America brand. We liked the Zaandam very much as a medium size, passenger friendly, easy to find your way around, very comfortable cruise ship, but we were very disappointed and disturbed by the effects of cost cutting, an awful main restaurant where only "the plates were nice", poor entertainment, over-priced excursions, and our biggest niggle, 15% service charges continually being added to our main cruise invoice. We objected very strongly to the Holland America policy of "15% service charges" being added to Beverage Packages purchased in the Internet. This was in effect an additional 15% "administration charge", because we were also expected to pay 14.50 USD per person per day, which is also stated to be a "service charge", so yes, passengers are being asked to pay double service charges. We went to the reception and insisted that our service charges be reduced to the absolute minimum. Partly because we wanted the 15% internet administration charges refunded and partly because cost cutting has created a quality of service which does not meet our cruise expectations, especially for the price we pay. This does also affect any future purchase decision when we book a future cruise. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2019
My husband and I had recently a 13 days cruise from San Antonio ,Chile ,crossing Chelian Patagonia,Falkland islands, Montevideo and finally ended in Buenos Aires. The ship was tired and needs to be refubrished, all furnishing equipment ... Read More
My husband and I had recently a 13 days cruise from San Antonio ,Chile ,crossing Chelian Patagonia,Falkland islands, Montevideo and finally ended in Buenos Aires. The ship was tired and needs to be refubrished, all furnishing equipment also. Food in the self service ,Lido deck was monotonous and with limited variety.The quality of food was medium. The same quality was in the Dine In restaurant since the chef and kitchen was the same. During all cruise long we had the sense that everything was under economic restrictions Eg. During our stay we had only one hand soap(!) and only one shower cap(!)The personnel in Lido deck was serving you the quantity of the main course probably for the same reason. Entertainment was very cheap and childish (!) All TV sets in the staterooms were very old fashioned and the programme was limited i.e Only 3 movies per day ,and 3 news stations. Of course there was a video player in the stateroom and you could borrow movies if the player was not out of order!! The Wi Fi was very expensive. We tried to purchase 1 day for 15 $ but with this amount you could be able to see only your facebook and therefore you have to upgrade the quality by adding 10 more US$ ie. totally 25 US$ per day. Last but not least were the alcoholic prices(more expensive) which differed from the price list that we have found in the internet. Finally we have to admit that the whole ship was very clean, also the state rooms,and the public toilets.Embarkation was easy and disembarkation also Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2019
We chose this cruise for the itinerary- leaving from the Santiago area (port of San Antonio) and cruising around Cape Horn to the Falkland Islands, ending in Buenos Aires. Originally we had booked a similar cruise with Celebrity but ... Read More
We chose this cruise for the itinerary- leaving from the Santiago area (port of San Antonio) and cruising around Cape Horn to the Falkland Islands, ending in Buenos Aires. Originally we had booked a similar cruise with Celebrity but realized that HAL went to the Falklands and switched for that reason. We booked 18 months in advance because we wanted a Vista Suite (with balcony) mid-ship, facing land (the port side in this case). The ports and general enjoyment of a cruise around Cape Horn is very dependent on the weather as we heard from the Captain and crew, who let us know that the previous cruise which went in the reverse did not had very good luck and missed three ports. Our weather was spectacular for the most part, even in Ushuaia, where they never see sun. We even made it to the Falklands, a long tender which was calm heading in during the morning but a bit rough coming back in the afternoon after penguin watching when the wind picked up. The ship took us through the Darwin Channel, Beagle Strait and Straits of Magellan, each early in the morning where we had close up views of glaciers and the sunrise. The balcony was worth the extra cost just for these amazing days as we didn't need to fight the crowd on deck for a good view. The ship had experts on board who gave excellent talks every sea day on wildlife, South American Culture and history, and the night sky. We also had a port expert who provided a lot of information on what to do each port day. They did not push shore excursions like some cruises, instead showed you what to see and how to do it if you wanted to do it yourself, hire a local guide, or use the ship resources which was very much appreciated. Entertainment was provided part of the time by the ships's group, but we also had excellent shows brought on locally including a Tango show and Bolo dancers which were amazing. Cabin was excellent, food and service top-notch, and the experience one we will never forget. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2019
We wanted to travel around Cape Horn, something I thought I would probably never get to do. Had been looking at various cruises with this itinerary for quite sometime and they seem to fill up quick or had a pretty steep price/person. ... Read More
We wanted to travel around Cape Horn, something I thought I would probably never get to do. Had been looking at various cruises with this itinerary for quite sometime and they seem to fill up quick or had a pretty steep price/person. Then we saw this cruise offered at a rather reasonable rate and jumped on it. Holland America is not my first choice of cruise line but have cruised them prior and would cruise not exclude Holland in the future. Arrival in Santiago airport a little bit confusing but we made it and you can purchase Chilean pesos in the airport, no problem. Hotel prior to cruise: stayed in Santiago at the Hotel Plaza San Francisco, excellent hotel in the center of Santiago. You can arrange tours of Santiago right at the hotel and the tour will pick you up at the hotel. The service and food are great, very friendly and they speak English. Transportation from airport to hotel and then from hotel to cruise terminal in San Antonio was previously arranged through Viator, no problems. Ship: The ship is an older ship but in good condition. It is easy to navigate and there are approximately 1400 passengers and you have plenty of space, you don't feel like you are in a sardine can, which is quite nice. The crew is friendly and helpful, Capt. was excellent! Always kept you apprised of various weather conditions, ports, etc. We were in cabin 3322 and the cabins on Holland are usually a little larger than on other cruise lines. One problem encountered with this cabin is that you are right next to an exit door on the Lower Promenade deck and there is a large wooden door to the deck outside. This large heavy door would slam shut, and I mean slam shut, every time anyone used it, so if you were sleeping, it very definitely jarred you. Would not select this cabin again for this reason only. The ship has a lot of relaxation areas and is quite comfortable. The entertainment was great, and Holland does a nice job with their shore excursions. Dining Room: We were travelling with friends, and we had a nice table in the Dining Room right next to the upper railing. The problem with this was to gain access to the seats at our table for four. There was a large support post behind the seat closest to the railing and the other side of the table the chairs were abutting the chairs at the table behind. So on both sides of the table to access the seats we had to pull the chair closest to the aisle out into the aisle and let the person get in to their chair closest to the railing and then push the chair back for the next person to get in to sit at the table. The service was not so good and to top it off, our food was delivered not hot, and did not taste good at all. It was in fact, the worst meal I have ever had at sea! We decided after that that we would not eat in the Dining room the remainder of the cruise. The cruise itinerary was good, we were able to get into all the ports: San Antonio, Chile; Puerto Montt, Chile; Punta Arenas, Chile; Ushuaia, Argentina; Falkland Islands; Montevideo, Uruguay; and Buenos Aires, Agentina overnight. There are times when the weather will not permit entry into the ports as the winds are significant in this part of the world and the weather changes very quickly. Do expect seas when travelling this cruise also, so be prepared. One thing I enjoyed very much was the Shore Excursion talks given by Kevin on board the ship. He kind of tells you like it is. He talks about both private tours and ship sponsored tours. He was very informative. Shore Excursions seem to be a little high priced on Holland, so we took a private one in Puerto Montt. In Punta Arenas we did the Tycoons of Patagonia, but we did not get to see the mansion as stated in the tour and our bus broke down, probably the reason we did not get to the mansion, so the shore excursions desk gave us back a partial refund on our tour. In Ushuaia we did the Beagle Channel Wildlife and enjoyed it very much. We had a beautiful day and got to see the Lighthouse at the end of the world. Falkland Islands we did the Bluff Cove Penguin Rookery. You can only get to this place if you book through the cruise ship, good tour. But,very, very windy. In fact most of South America is quite windy. Our next port of call was in Montevideo and we did not book anything here we just toured on our own, turned out fine. Next is Buenos Aires and we wanted to see the Colon Theatre, and our excursion through the cruise line was cancelled, so we took a taxi on our own (approx. $10 US and cab driver takes US $$) and went to the Theatre and took the tour. The tour was about $20/person you can pay with credit card) What a beautiful Theatre, very well worth the trip. Our next day we departed the ship and took their Buenos Aires Highlights and Tango Show with Airport Transfer. Since our flight was not until the evening this worked our just great and it was a good tour. The Buenos Aires Airport is a little bit confusing as there are insufficient signs as to where to go to your particular airline, had to ask, finally found what we needed. Most of the ports we visited would take American dollars, but if you don't have the correct change they will give you change in their currency. The ship will also exchange pesos/dollars for you, just not in larger amounts. The Casino on the ship is small, I mean small, really small, smallest I have seen and not a large variety of one armed bandits to play. Disembarkation off the ship worked well with no problems. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: March 2019
Wanted to passage the Panama Canal again - to see the new larger locks that were being built the last time we passed this way - Holland America was recommended to us - we were disappointed at the poor meals - not much choice and constantly ... Read More
Wanted to passage the Panama Canal again - to see the new larger locks that were being built the last time we passed this way - Holland America was recommended to us - we were disappointed at the poor meals - not much choice and constantly had rice (which we are not keen on) - the expensive poor trips - some of which did not actually visit all the places listed. As the cruise went on - things that had really grated seemed less important - unlike many other cruise ships there were plenty of places to just sit and read. Thoughtful touches like snacks and drinks available outside the ship when on deck watching the entry and exit to the locks on the Panama Canal - a bit disappointed that the majority of our fellow guests did not seem to grasp that on 'Gala Nights' - you are supposed to dress up - many men wearing Beach shirts and shorts - amazing - very few men seemed to own jackets and certainly not ties ! The resident dancers and singers very good. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2019
Booked a Vista Suite on the Navigation Deck (#7046) and soon discovered after embankment that it sat directly beneath the Lido kitchen area. Needless to say the noise from above our cabin ceiling was unbearable and went well into the night ... Read More
Booked a Vista Suite on the Navigation Deck (#7046) and soon discovered after embankment that it sat directly beneath the Lido kitchen area. Needless to say the noise from above our cabin ceiling was unbearable and went well into the night and then began again at around 3:30 a.m. There was no remedy for the problem and guest services did not follow up after we complained. We were on a 15 day South American cruise and got very little undisturbed sleep throughout the voyage. This was the major problem we encountered on this particular cruise but there were also many minor to medium issues on the ship which is well past it's prime. We have cruised with Holland three times previous to this 4th cruise but it will most likely be our last. There should have been some sort of disclosure regarding this particular cabin and the related noise problems in the initial booking information. We did not eat in the dining room but had all meals in the Lido Cafe. The food was good and the Lido service people friendly and attentive. The new hand washing stations were barely used and the majority of the people entering the Lido walked right by them on their way to dine. We don't do the shows so cannot comment on the entertainment. The shore excursions left something to be desired and we missed two ports due to bad weather. The future cruise consultant had a slight attitude and acted like she could care less about questions we asked her. The customer service desk was also average and the people manning it were not consistent regarding DVD rentals. The shipboard talks regarding ports we would visit were full of bad information and twice one seating was about two separate ports combined which was confusing to say the least. Overall I would say that the cruise was not up to the normal standards that we have seen from Holland in the past. Our next two cruises will be with Viking which has a newer fleet of ships and offers features that Holland is now lacking. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2019
We chose this cruise for the multiple stops in Chile and the 4 days in Antarctica. We had been around the horn on HAL 6 yrs. ago and regretted not including Antarctica at that time. We also missed the Falkland Islands on that cruise. We ... Read More
We chose this cruise for the multiple stops in Chile and the 4 days in Antarctica. We had been around the horn on HAL 6 yrs. ago and regretted not including Antarctica at that time. We also missed the Falkland Islands on that cruise. We were told that Zaandam would get lanai cabins on the previous dry-dock so we booked a cabin that we thought would be converted but lanais were not installed.. Embarkation at San Antonio went smoothly and we found ourselves in our cabin by noon. Our suitcases arrived in good time so we were all moved into our cabin before the muster drill. We found all the staff on board to be very friendly and helpful. Our room stewards, Nengah & Romli, worked very hard and did an excellent job. We enjoyed the towel animals on our bed each evening. We were surprised that there were so few hand sanitizers on board, especially near the eating areas. We never had to wait for anytime dining because we like to eat early. However, it was annoying to be seated at a table for 6 and have to wait 15-20 minutes for the table to fill up so we could order. Food service was reasonably fast and food quality was good, although a bit too salty! We ate in the Pinnacle Grill on the first night and were not impressed. My husband's steak was over-cooked and my chicken was not that tender. We also did not like the pressure from the wine steward to buy bottles of wine rather than glasses. We did enjoy our Rijsttafel dinner at the Pinnacle Grill later in the cruise. Internet was okay if you went on early in the day or during the evening meal. This was very important to us as we had 2 grand-children undergoing surgery during our cruise. There did not seem to be as much emphasis on sales, e.g. no "inch of gold" or evening purses on sale. Kudos to HAL for printing fewer sale flyers each day. We enjoyed getting a newspaper and puzzle each day. The flowers were beautiful for the first 2 weeks but then the same bouquets became very sad and wilted and yet remained on display. We were disappointed with the music in the Ocean Bar as it was not good for dancing - they played a lot of jazz. The Adagio Strings were wonderful and we very much enjoyed listening to them. In the main theatre, we found the sound volume much too high and had to bring earplugs to performances. The tendering process worked very smoothly for us. We had an excellent Expedition Team with Scott, Bryan, and Tamara giving very interesting lectures. We learned so much about Antarctica. We also enjoyed the session with the Palmer Station staff. They answered questions and it was great to have the microphones in the audience. The port guide, Kevin, also gave wonderful, humorous talks and very practical information. He was frequently available for consultation. .Although we had to skip Puerto Montt due to high swells, we made it to the remaining ports which was fantastic. We liked that the scenic cruising in Antarctica was broken up into segments by entering different bays and channels. We were also blessed with good weather. It was good to get the commentary about where to locate wildlife. The whales were really active on our cruise! Each day we enjoyed going to the Explorations Cafe for a cup of tea & coffee. Michelle there was wonderful - she was highly organized, efficient, friendly and remembered our names and what we like to drink. We did not take any HAL excursions but all our private tours returned us to the port in plenty of time. Our cabin was comfortable with plenty of storage space. The shower was spacious. Temperature control was good. We should have asked for a lighter weight blanket as we often found the duvet too warm. Overall, this was a wonderful cruise with only minor flaws. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2019
We selected this cruise because of the itinerary: South America (from Chile to Argentina), with sailing around Cape Horn and then along the Antarctic Peninsula. The itinerary did not disappoint us. Except for being unable to dock at Puerto ... Read More
We selected this cruise because of the itinerary: South America (from Chile to Argentina), with sailing around Cape Horn and then along the Antarctic Peninsula. The itinerary did not disappoint us. Except for being unable to dock at Puerto Montt (Chile) due to strong winds, everywhere else the weather was excellent and docking (if applicable) went without any issues. Even notorious Drake Passage felt more like a lake. Every port was different and we did not regret that actually we did not set foot on Antarctica (only sailing along). The scenery was magnificent and diverse, wildlife was plentiful to see and to enjoy. The enrichment lectures by the experts led by Scott were excellent; all of them had real Antarctic experience. We even had a visit by the members of the US team from the Palmer Station who boarded the ship for a few hours and gave us another dimension what it means to work as a researcher in Antarctica. The onboard experts were equally good who had skills in public speaking, did not trivialize subjects and were always available to answer additional queries. You appreciated the scenery even more with this background. Shore excursions: overall good but clearly overpriced. The excursion staff very nice and helpful. Nonetheless, you can do yourself a big favor booking ahead of time the same or better tours at 50% discount price via independent tour operators (we did this in the Falklands, Montevideo, and Buenos Aires)--you have more intimate experience at much lower cost. HA should also consider adding more active (strenuous) options on shore and in smaller groups. Some specifics about the tours: don't waste your money on the flight to Antarctica, most of the time flights are canceled and you will see more from the ship. Do not take an excursion in Puerto Madryn to Valdez Peninsula, unless you like to seat on the bus for 6 hours and see for 20 min (and from the distance) colonies of sea lions. Dinning experience/food: of course, HA experience is not the same as cruising with some boutique lines catering to culinary experiences. Nevertheless, we found food plentiful, very good selections at any time of day or night, and the service always pleasant. The dinning staff was above expectations, personal, attentive, and at your service. We dined couple of times in Canaletto, nice and more intimate experience, though you will not be tired of the Main Dinning Room. Overall ambiance/entertainment: HA cruises cater to mature customers. I found enjoyable not to see hordes of children running around the pool or in the Lido. Zaandam is tastefully arranged and easy to get around. If you like the glitz and phony party atmosphere, this will not be the cruise for you. The entertainment was good (except for comedian/magician), the selection of movies was well arranged, consistent with South American and Antarctic itinerary. The cruise director (Bruce) deserves thumbs up, tactful and understated, on the top of everything in his line of duty. Staff: overall, we had excellent impressions, comparing to past experiences on HA and other lines. From the captain to our cabin steward we felt being treated with courtesy and professionalism. Overall, this was one of the best cruising experiences. Those who are interested in this itinerary should invest in right clothing (layers, layers, layers) to enjoy the sights of Antarctica from the deck and the Falklands on land. Take advantage of every port, see natural beauty and appreciate culture. Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2019
We were keen to visit Antarctica but did not cherish the idea of being tossed around in the Drake passage aboard a small vessel. We therefore chose HAL Zaandam although it did mean no setting foot on Antarctica. It was the best decision ... Read More
We were keen to visit Antarctica but did not cherish the idea of being tossed around in the Drake passage aboard a small vessel. We therefore chose HAL Zaandam although it did mean no setting foot on Antarctica. It was the best decision that we made and right from the word go, the cruise was just great. The sights, especially during the 4 days in Antarctica were unforgettable. Living on board for 22 days was every bit comfortable with great food, service and stateroom no 3365. Talks by expedition team leaders were highly informative. Other entertainment activities were also good but perhaps not great.. Getting off the ship for shore excursions was very well managed with no one getting rushed even at the tender ports. Disembarkation and luggage handling was efficient. Only somewhat unsatisfactory experience was the late embarkation process at Buenos Aires. The HAL transfer person simply left us at the kerb outside the port building. We had to ask around for directions to get to the ship, carrying our bags and it was some distance away. Overall, it was a memorable holiday trip Read Less
Zaandam Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 0.0
Dining 3.0 0.0
Entertainment 3.0 0.0
Public Rooms 4.0 0.0
Fitness Recreation 4.0 0.0
Family 4.0 0.0
Shore Excursion 4.0 0.0
Enrichment 3.0 0.0
Service 3.0 0.0
Value For Money 4.0 0.0
Rates 4.0 0.0

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