15 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2018
After fourteen years of cruising with HAL and being a 4 Star Mariner, I stopped choosing them in 2014 after my sister and I together and separately had several rather disastrous experiences – ratty ships, bad food. This trip renewed my ... Read More
After fourteen years of cruising with HAL and being a 4 Star Mariner, I stopped choosing them in 2014 after my sister and I together and separately had several rather disastrous experiences – ratty ships, bad food. This trip renewed my interest in HAL. This ship was in excellent condition. Everything in the public areas and in my cabin had been refurbished, reupholstered, and freshly painted. No dings or dents and everything worked. My cabin was very big; I had three full closets and one half closet, nine large drawers for storage, many wall hooks, a real bathroom cabinet with door. The food in the main dining room was very good. They have simplified the menus. They did an excellent job of properly cooking fish. They separate fixed and at will diners on separate floors so there is calmness and continuity of service. The least appealing menus were on the ‘Gala’ nights. The Pinnacle had very good fish specials each night and the vegetables were great; the beef is not of the quality that it should be (or used to be). The Lido was nicely organized and the food was presented attractively. There were different stations for different kinds of food. The salad bar always had good choices. The sushi was quite good. The ice cream was wicked. For the most part, the shows were very good and they had a lot of variety. The production singers and dancers were excellent. They left a comment card every single night in case we wanted to say what was good or needed improvement or we had employees we wanted to compliment. The service everywhere was excellent. My room stewards were some of the best I have ever had. The two biggest weak points: 1)The transfer and embarkation process in Buenos Aires. It was five hours from the time my plane landed until I was in my cabin. Most of this time was spent waiting on enough passengers at the airport to fill up a big bus; several smaller would have made more sense due to the heavy traffic to the port. And there were two ships in port and we were not kept as separate as we should have been. 2)The lifeboat drill. HAL uses a different system than any other cruise line and it was confusing. The trip: In twenty-two days, we were in ten ports, including the embarkation and debarkation port: Buenos Aires (overnight); Montevido, Uruguay; Puerto Madryn, Argentina; Stanley, Falkland Islands; Ushuaia, Argentina; Punta Arenas, Puerto Chacabuco, Isla Chloe, Puerto Montt, Port San Antonio, Chile. Some were working ports so the logistics were different than if they had been cruise ship ports. There was not much tourist type shopping in the ports. And the areas outside some of the port gates were not always so nice. Complimentary shuttles were available in the working ports. For the most part, the tender docks were right in the towns. This is definitely a trip to do an organized shore excursion every day in order to see the places. The ship’s shore excursions I took were all good and I got to see some interesting things. In each cabin was a Port Guide. It had a map of each place, with things to see in town and out, places to eat and shop, and information about the place. And it was not just about the ‘ship approved’ places. Every cruise on every cruise line should have one of these. Having it at the beginning of the trip made planning easier. We spent four days cruising parts of Antarctica and were very close to shore. There were three destination lecturers onboard who specialized in South America and Antarctica, each with several areas of expertise such as geography, history, plants and animals. They also did narration on the deck during our days there. In addition, we had a group come from one of the U. S. scientific stations to spend the day onboard and talk about what they do and what it is like to live in Antarctica. They included scientists from various disciplines, but also the station manager, the cook, the waste guy, the marine mechanic. The scenery was spectacular – whales, penguins, seals, birds, icebergs, glaciers, craggy mountains covered in snow and ice. We lucked out on weather and seas everywhere we were. HAL has the best itinerary for this trip because of four full days in Antarctica. And because it goes through the Chilean fjords, which definitely rank up there with Norway and Alaska, and to the Falklands. Would I do this cruise again? Absolutely. Read Less
12 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2018
This cruise was everything we expected and more! Great ports of call, 4 days cruising in Antarctica waters where we saw bunches of penguins, sea lions, whales and a wide variety of birds. Onboard, they offered great lecturers on sea days ... Read More
This cruise was everything we expected and more! Great ports of call, 4 days cruising in Antarctica waters where we saw bunches of penguins, sea lions, whales and a wide variety of birds. Onboard, they offered great lecturers on sea days and even had a few interactive game shows which elated my DW. However, two areas where HAL did not meet our expectations were (1) the quality of their production shows and (2) making sure passengers sanitized their hands when going into a dining area and when reboarding the ship after a day in port. Quality of HAL production shows. The singers and dancers were fine, but the pace of the shows were that of watching a Lawrence Welk Show. That's fine if you like a slower pace, but we're in our mid 60's and grew up on rock and roll and were board stiff during most of their shows. However, they did hire some great entertainers which made up for the lack luster production shows produced by a New York-based production company from what we understand. Personal hygiene shortfalls. This 22 day cruise was during the height of the cold/flu season, but HAL didn't seem to realize this. They used to make folks going into a dining area sanitize their hands the first 48 hours of the cruise. Not any more. They used to have a crew member at the base of the gangway making sure passengers sanitize their hands before coming back on ship. Not any more. They used to have sanitizer dispensers outside the main theater entrances. Not on this cruise. As a result, this was the "sickest" HAL cruise we have ever been on as at least 1/3 of the passengers had bronchial type cold/flu symptoms the last 2+ weeks of the cruise. Going to the show in the evening was like listening to a chorus of coughing. Lesson learned. Wash your hands and use the hand sanitizers religiously and if at all possible avoid using the tongs up on the lido deck. Of course, no cruise is perfect and since we just got off a great 25 day Celebrity Eclipse cruise where all of the shows were great with many reaching the "wow" status and the ship's hygiene practices were top notch, it was just a big let down to see HAL's offerings so inferior. But, as I mentioned earlier, it wasn't all bad. The itinerary was GREAT, the guest lecturers were GREAT and the contracted evening entertainment for the most part was very entertaining. Read Less
9 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2017
I chose this cruise because of the itinerary mainly but also because of the size of the Zaandam. I had not liked the big ships I cruised on before and the Zaandam is a pleasant size indeed. We were three women in a Vista Suite on ... Read More
I chose this cruise because of the itinerary mainly but also because of the size of the Zaandam. I had not liked the big ships I cruised on before and the Zaandam is a pleasant size indeed. We were three women in a Vista Suite on deck 6 but I forgot the number, like I forgot quite a few things of this cruise because I do not even want to remember them. The cabin was small and the suitcases could not be placed under the bed, so we travelled the complete cruise with two suitcases standing near the window to the balcony. I travelled before in three and we never had this problem because the suitcases – normal size – could easily fit in under the bed. We had breakfast delivered to the cabin most of the time and that was OK apart from the coffee. I tried the coffee bar for espresso, but that was terrible too. My sister did the kitchen tour and found out that all their coffee comes from one source: Melitta filtered. I guess that is acceptable for Americans, but I find it not nice and that is an understatement. Lunch would be in the Lido and was generally nice. We liked the Asian food, the ice-creams and the sweets, some of them prepared without sugar! And dinner we had in the Main Restaurant and we found the food always of good quality with enough choice daily and variations from day to day. Sometimes we had to queue for a table. We once sat together with others but then we were hardly able to hear them across the table, so we decided to not do that again. The service was very good; in the restaurant, and for the cabin too! We dined also at the Pinnacle, which was a real good time in a very pleasant setting! I booked for myself the Master Cellar dinner and the maître put me at a table with two persons from Buenos Aires and that for me was a remarkable experience: because of this lovely couple and because of the food and the wines. Don’t miss this one! The Italian restaurant on the lidodeck was a mistake to book, nowhere near what you would expect. This should really be upgraded, especially with a cook who knows what he’s doing. Service? I lost my credit card in Buenos Aires and blocked it in time. I told the front desk and suggested I pay with my debit card – Mastercard that I used all over the world – and they said no, it had to be a credit card, or cash. So they actually suggested I go to an ATM on land, get cash – would have been pesos! – and pay them cash. I would have needed a sizeable bag for that. They were absolutely serious when suggesting this “solution”! I suggest this company take the Holland out of their name because the Dutch pay with debit cards all the time; there is no percentage taken off by the bank and the money gets transferred right away. But no, here that was not possible. I had to ask my friend – invited by me, therefore embarrassing to me – to pay the bill and then later reimburse her. Ridiculous experience this was. Activities? I once attended a travel trivial and it was like a children’s game. Lasted 20 minutes in all, so once was enough for me. Entertainment: we attended a night with dancing and singing, I think the group was German, and found that very good. Then there was a local artist from Buenos Aires with bandoneon music and he was very good, I bought his CD and went to see his second show which was very well done too; he did it all solo with a beautiful video of Buenos Aires on the big screen behind him! We tried twice to see a movie, even 15 mins before it would start, only to find the cinema completely full, not one seat left. Pity. Embarkation and disembarkation were smooth, gave no problems. Port & shore excursions was quite an issue on this ship. Their prices were sky-high and, in every port, you could see that most people had organized themselves with alternatives to the HAL excursions. But they punished you for that! We had booked an excursion to see penguins on the Falkland Islands, which was still expensive, especially when you pay for three persons. We arrived ashore after having waited an hour and a half for the tender! Those booked with HAL got precedence even when they arrived later than we did! over people like us who wanted just to go ashore and do their own thing. That was pure discrimination and indeed we were too late for our excursion! Fortunately, Patrick Watts on the Falklands saved our day by taking us to see penguins anyway. I fully recommend Patrick Watts; a knowledgeable and pleasant guide! It was the best day of our cruise. The ports I found terrible, in Buenos Aires and also Montevideo you expect a cruise terminal, but we constantly saw cargo ports. If I had wanted that, I could have booked a cargo cruise, but I didn’t, so why do they have to save money on decent ports? Especially the last one, San Antonio, was an unpleasant change from the announced Valparaiso. I had to change transfers and hotel and never saw Valparaiso. Again, the transfer I booked myself online as the HAL transfer was 3 times the price I paid! So, no, HAL, this was my first experience with you and the very last for sure. Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2017
No penguins! Unfortunate weather caused some cancellations both Stanley and at least one glacier as well as our Penguin tour. We did get a very good close up view of one glacier. Fog and rain made visibility around the Horn very poor. ... Read More
No penguins! Unfortunate weather caused some cancellations both Stanley and at least one glacier as well as our Penguin tour. We did get a very good close up view of one glacier. Fog and rain made visibility around the Horn very poor. Many ports were very interesting especially the warm weather ones in Uraguay and Argentina since we had lovely weather there. We made the best of it but it was still disappointing. The ship left from San Antonio intead of Valpairoso . Fortunately we stayed in Valpairoso and enjoyed that city for two nights before the cruise. We maily did private tours usually with local guides. We spent two extra days in Buenos Aires as well but the city proved so interesting i wish we were able to stay longer. Another issue for us was the two overnight flights from and to the States- made for a bit of jet lag both ways. Amazingly we managed to use air miles, however. The ship , shows and food were as we expected —fairly average and similar to the several previous cruises on Holland America. Some excellent staff, especially port and scenic cruising commentary. Unfortunately our last cruise was with Oceania and the memory if the food made the food on this cruise seem mediocre by comparison. We knew to expect some bad weather but it left us with some rough seas and and three sea days in a row. With little to do. I read several books on the cruise. The crowd was mainly international but there was a large contingent of non English speakers from Germany and austria well as Romania. Potentally interesting but difficult at mealtimes. Read Less
10 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2017
I wanted to go to South America and booked with my cousin who ended up not going as her husband became ill.I had to go on my own.Firstly they need to advise their staff not to make derogatory comments about passengers.I heard something ... Read More
I wanted to go to South America and booked with my cousin who ended up not going as her husband became ill.I had to go on my own.Firstly they need to advise their staff not to make derogatory comments about passengers.I heard something about me and I understood.I did tell her that she needs to be careful of what she says.I also found that it was all about how much money they could get out of us.IE learn how to mix martini cocktails but we would have been charged.Entertainment and activities were a joke .Activities were hardly existent and then they wanted you to pay for most of them..The excursions were not too bad.I had booked a few but one particular one I couldn’t go because the chemo drug I was on was giving me side effects that morning.She had no intention of giving me my money back.I had to go on a different one that afternoon and I had no interest in it at all.We were leaving the next day so I couldn’t go on a different one.She was trying to get me to see the doctor and was really not interested in me saying that I knew it was side effects.The ship was nice though and so were the staff.The ship was clean and the food was excellent.I am not happy about people even on formal nights dressed in shorts.Sorry it shouldn’t be allowed.They can go to the buffet bar if they do not want to dress. I have done many cruises with different lines and would I go on HA again.Definitely not. Read Less
16 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2017
We chose this cruise because of the itinerary. Ports were fantastic and weather was great. Smooth seas at their best. The ship is a different story. Dining room service was extremely slow. One night we waited over 1 1/2 hours ... Read More
We chose this cruise because of the itinerary. Ports were fantastic and weather was great. Smooth seas at their best. The ship is a different story. Dining room service was extremely slow. One night we waited over 1 1/2 hours before being served and the excuse was "The kitchen is backed up" Hard to believe at 5:30 PM--open seating. Two meals at the Pinnacle Grill were fantastic. The Cellar Master Package, Double was clearly worth the price. However, there was confusion concerning the number of meals that could have had clearer wording on the vouchers. The company made it right and credited the second meal. Cabin was filthy and the bathroom had mold, a cracked sink and a broken shower head. Cabin steward was personable but not very effective. Guest entertainers were extremely good but the ship's entertainers were terrible. All in all the cruise was worth the expense but the ship needs repair. Read Less
12 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2017
We chose this cruise specifically for the itinerary and what a wonderful itinerary it was helped by settled weather conditions for most of the passage. I had however reservations about the ship being a little dated and reserved ie the ... Read More
We chose this cruise specifically for the itinerary and what a wonderful itinerary it was helped by settled weather conditions for most of the passage. I had however reservations about the ship being a little dated and reserved ie the entertainment onboard was quite possibly the poorest we had ever been unfortunate enough to be subjected to. There was also unacceptable delays in the main dining room which ultimately led us to dine in the lido. Embarkation was poor with elderly guests having to queue for long periods of time, although this can't be helped perhaps cool hand/face towels and iced water? I was also quite disappointed to witness 'engineering' staff in contaminated overalls using the lido as a passageway whilst guests were eating. And as for the price of the ships excursions, by far the most expensive I have witnessed on any of the many trips I have completed. Read Less
11 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2017
Chose this cruise for the itinerary, not the line or the ship. After reading some negative reviews, we didn't have really high hopes, but the ship turned out to be pretty nice even with a few hiccups. We are a couple in our ... Read More
Chose this cruise for the itinerary, not the line or the ship. After reading some negative reviews, we didn't have really high hopes, but the ship turned out to be pretty nice even with a few hiccups. We are a couple in our 60's and have cruised 26 times before on most of the major lines, this was the third time with Holland America. We brought our 11 year old granddaughter with us, and while there were only about six kids total onboard, the youth director Lisa did a fine job of allieviating their boredom. The ports were fascinating, unlike anything we had ever seen, but on sea days we found very little to do. Most folks played bridge, napped in the solarium, or read. Very few activities. Overall, it was a trip of a lifetime! We had smooth seas, not at all like what we expected. A word to the wise: if you're sailing out of Rio, you must have a Brazilian visa, which we quite expensive (over $1000.00 for the three of us) and it took about 3 months and many phone calls to get. The visas showed up 4 days before we left home, and it was a big hassle. Glad we got to see Rio, but we will not ever be going back to Brazil! Read Less
13 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2017
HAL used to have great service and class. This was a 34 day cruise from San Diego, Calif. to Rio de Janeiro. On the first half from San Diego there were no activities except for trivia and unhosted cards.But there were a lot of ... Read More
HAL used to have great service and class. This was a 34 day cruise from San Diego, Calif. to Rio de Janeiro. On the first half from San Diego there were no activities except for trivia and unhosted cards.But there were a lot of opportunities to spend your money at bingo and on all the sales going on. It was like a floating Walmart. At the pool, it was difficult to get a glass of water or iced tea but plenty of waiters walking around to sell drinks.We went on the first half of this cruise last year on the same ship and noticed a huge difference in the service. They cut back on cabin stewards and on waiters - both in the dining room and Lido. One night in the DR, it was 25 minutes before our order was taken and over 2 hours to finally get to dessert which I was too angry to eat. Some of the entertainment was very good. The Zaandam dancers were very good the first time, good the 2nd time but really boring by about thee 5th time. American Test Kitchen was good but over the 34 days, they had repeated the same recipes several times. On several of the gala nights (which they cut down on) we got one lobster ravioli instead of lobster tail. There was no sail away party in San Diego or Neptune party when we crossed the equator like last year. The restrooms near the lounge were out of order a number of times. The best service on the ship was the front office people. They were always willing to answer questions and help. Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2017
The cruise offered a chance to circumnavigate South America with mostly interesting ports. Speedy embarkation, The ship has sophisticated/muted interiors and an outstanding display of art & musical memorabilia throughout the ship. ... Read More
The cruise offered a chance to circumnavigate South America with mostly interesting ports. Speedy embarkation, The ship has sophisticated/muted interiors and an outstanding display of art & musical memorabilia throughout the ship. Cabin 6180 looked fine, spacious with all amenities but when the ship was at sea a creaking/grating noise came from the junction of the veranda & the ceiling, the noise was pretty loud and nonstop. It was as if Sir Francis Drake's ghost has come to stay. After many complaints (most were ignored-front desk staff was useless except for Precious) wooden wedges were placed (helped) and then removed for safety reasons. Cabin was changed only at San Antonio (over 2 weeks). We dined mostly in the MDR, the food was hot, very good and the choices were ample. Service was amazing, we switched to a permanent table after a few days, Aang & Daniel our waiters remembered every request and Mr. Manik the assistant MDR manager was also very helpful. Ate a few times at the Pinnacle Grill and enjoyed the food and service. Activities were pretty limited and adjusted to the average age of the passengers. Entertainment was average. All staff was courteous and went out of their way to help. Most ports were interesting as a jump off point or in themselves, shore excursions were privately organized with shipmates met on CruiseCritic roll call (highly recommended)and only two were the ship's, they were well organized & the guides were very good. We enjoyed all aspects of the cruise apart from the cabin noise, A letter to HAL after we came back home did bring some consolation though it would have been better if the problem was resolved on board. Read Less
15 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2017
That was our second cruise with Holland America, out of tens of cruises with 10+ cruise companies over the last 20 years or so. First Holland America cruise was aboard the Maasdam, years ago, and it was a pleasant experience. We choosed ... Read More
That was our second cruise with Holland America, out of tens of cruises with 10+ cruise companies over the last 20 years or so. First Holland America cruise was aboard the Maasdam, years ago, and it was a pleasant experience. We choosed this second one based upon our prior experience and because we wanted a cruise back home, from US, along South America's Pacific coast - the 34-day San Diego to Rio cruise. Embarkation process was straightforward. Ok, as suite guests, we had a dedicated line, but the ordinary line was also empty by the time we arrived at San Diego Cruise Terminal. Stateroom condition, on the other hand, wasn't that good. The deck that runs along the windows was dirty and greasy. TV remote was greasy, as well, so that we had to point it to the steward and ask him for a thorough cleaning. Cereal remnants under the bed and chocolate behind the curtains were also not very nice findings. Dining was an experience that swung between heaven and hell. We had most of our meals at the Main Dining Room, with excellent service. We had most of our breakfast and lunch at the Lido Market, with the most terrible experience of all cruises. Apart from a very few attendants and their managers, Lido crew was the worse ever. Most of the times we could see managers doing attendants' chores, like cleaning tables and serving drinks. I guess this is not what managers are for. Entertainment and Activities are a little more of the same - the fabulous ship's dancers and singers, comedians, performers, lecturers, movies - one will always find something to enjoy. Port and Shore Excursions staff does a very good job. Some flaws here and there but, in the end, things worked fine. I still cannot understand why cruise companies insist in choosing ports like Puerto Chiapas or Huatulco (MX), with absolutely NO activity one could do on his own - options were to stay on board or to join a ship excursion. We expected far more than this. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2017
This cruise offered me an opportunity to explore some locations that I would not be able to travel to on my own. I hear that this ship is going in to dry dock to have an update. It is a good thing because it coud use a little face ... Read More
This cruise offered me an opportunity to explore some locations that I would not be able to travel to on my own. I hear that this ship is going in to dry dock to have an update. It is a good thing because it coud use a little face lift. My cabin was fine but the heat did not work as well as other boats I have been in, the sink kept dripping but all in all they kept the cabin clean. Dining, well once you get the hang of it it is great. the staff are very accommodating. Just ask and often they will do anything to make it happen. How do they remember names so well? regarding the food - good portion control, very tasty usually. we had breakfast in the didning room. I would HIGHLY reccomment it regarding the service, I am jewsih and I really appreciated HAL had the egg bread adn the wine available. Kudos Entertainment and activities - needs work there were a few brilliant acts Bailamos from Canada, Tutti, wow!the magician, the argentinian singer. were fabulous . Also the band in the ocean bar was good. the crouwd was old that is why there was not htat much going on. the crows nest had some great live entertainers, but it was all one kind of music, not my kind of music. the entertainment just needed a little more and a little more polish. some entertainers were wonderful some were less than okay Everyone loved Richard adn abby. Richard was the martini specialist - even though I am not a drinker it was treat to have that esprit de corps. regarding the ports- It depends on your port experience. I know HAL in hypervigillant about safety but they scared many peope from going in to lima. Lima was a highlight. the HAL tours are too expensive. I took the HAL casa blanca wine tour - that was wonderful.The tourguide was terrific My shore excursions were all great. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2017
Hadn't cruised since last fall and the So. American ports was something new and the e-mailed price was very good. Much of the HAL experience is excellent as always. Dining Room, Cabin Stewards and Bar staff do a great job. Am a ... Read More
Hadn't cruised since last fall and the So. American ports was something new and the e-mailed price was very good. Much of the HAL experience is excellent as always. Dining Room, Cabin Stewards and Bar staff do a great job. Am a 4 star mariner with HAL and have witnessed a continual reduction of standards. Evening dinning menu choices were just OK. Number of options have been reduced a good deal. Flavor was lacking on such items as crab, lamb & beef. Crab was described as "King Crab", but legs were less than 1/2" in diameter, dry and tasteless. Leg of lamb had no taste. Beef was at times good, not always. Have typically looked forward to the evening dinning experience. Not so much this time. Interesting. Adagio was more popular and greater attended than the quartet at the Ocean Bar. Things in the world have changed in many ways. But, if the dress code is established as "smart Casual" the standard should be maintained. "Ragged Casual" should not be tolerated. "Gala", previously "Formal", should at least require a jacket for the men and something more than capris for the ladies. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2017
i needed a short dcruise to be able to go to a family wedding, this was the winner. i did the full 37 day cruise last year and didn't mind the 22 day shorter segment.i am a loyal mariner and find a lack of respect by HAL for these ... Read More
i needed a short dcruise to be able to go to a family wedding, this was the winner. i did the full 37 day cruise last year and didn't mind the 22 day shorter segment.i am a loyal mariner and find a lack of respect by HAL for these people. for the past few years there has never been a mariners cocktail party to meet the crew and captain.i can buy my own drink it's just the thought that they care about loyal mariners.over the years the food in the didning room has become less fine, still okay but too many inexpensive selections on the one page menu. in the past it was 2 pages.the ship is being redone after the winter season, some cabins and public area are showing their age but not terrible looking .the shore excursions were plentiful and expensive for what was received.the description is better than the reality on many of the tours. the entertainment was adequate but not great each night. the dancers and singers, had their first show after almost 9 days.the ship is a perfect size large but not that big as compared to many others.the cabins are adequate and have good clostes and storage space. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: September 2017
We chose this ship because of the smaller size and weren’t disappointed. Superior service from all departments, everyone was so friendly. Great food! We took advantage of all the dining venues on offer and enjoyed the variety, we found ... Read More
We chose this ship because of the smaller size and weren’t disappointed. Superior service from all departments, everyone was so friendly. Great food! We took advantage of all the dining venues on offer and enjoyed the variety, we found the dining staff always ready and able to accommodate special requests. Room service was speedy and accurate. Love the lemonade in the buffet. Balcony cabin included some extras that were appreciated, like bathrobes, umbrella and binoculars. We used the safe and fridge, and would find it hard to be without them. The South American ports were all new to us, and we found the excursions to be as described, well organized and professionally run. The lemonade or hot chocolate at the gangway on return was a welcome sight. Shopping at the pier was always available with quality merchandise on offer. Disembarkation was organized better than what we have experienced before. We found very little to complain about. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2017
The Zaandam lived up to our four star mariner expectations clean, we'll run, great food, no sickness in 38 days, much better entertainment than in the past, the best staff in the world from captain to cabin boy. Good itinery of places ... Read More
The Zaandam lived up to our four star mariner expectations clean, we'll run, great food, no sickness in 38 days, much better entertainment than in the past, the best staff in the world from captain to cabin boy. Good itinery of places that are hard to get to except at great expense making this very good value for money. Sea day activities were lacking especially to those who are regular holland America guest as things such as BBC trivea and films And test kitchen are repeated on a two week schedule. Most ports had inexpensive tours offered on the dock we did one in nearly every port. They were very reasonable safe and proffessionally run. The natural beauty at the tip of South America was well worth the trip. To bird enthusiast this is heaven, so many diff kinds of sea birds it is like a nature cruise. For the first boat of the season the weather was ver good we even had great weather in Stanley the Falklands although to earlier to go to the king penguins as track still to wet for vehicles Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2017
I liked this itinerary and that's why I chose this cruise. The crew was excellent, as usual, but the HAL ships are falling behind the marketplace. Last year I took six cruise lines in 12 months to check out the state of the art in ... Read More
I liked this itinerary and that's why I chose this cruise. The crew was excellent, as usual, but the HAL ships are falling behind the marketplace. Last year I took six cruise lines in 12 months to check out the state of the art in the industry. Lines cruised were HAL, Norwegian, Royal Caribbean, Princess, Disney, and Carnival. I have also recently cruised on Celebrity. Holland America appeals to the older, Anglo, traveler, personally I would like more age and ethnic diversity. The Zaandam was very similar in this manner with the older Anglo folks. I took one excursion on the ship which departed nearly an hour and a half after the scheduled departure time, thus I lost time to wander in the port area. Entertainment was very mixed in quality on the Zaandam with only 2 being outstanding. The Wifi arrangement is an embarrassment as it's a system that lacks speed, efficiency, and an affordable price. HAL needs to look at Carnival as a model of having a wifi system that is in the 21st century with fast access to social media and even streaming. Quality has noticeably dropped on HAL (I'm a four star) over the years as the lecturers were weak and basically read their power point presentations to us. Where are the dynamic speakers? The dinner meal options were lacking and seem to be going to lesser cuts of meat and seafood. Breakfast meals were good and seem to be about the same as in the past. Being a four star, I probably would sail on the Zaandam again if the itinerary were of interest. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2017
I had not sailed this portion of coast north of Valpraiso. This trip from San Diego to Valpraiso was changed or diverted from Valprqiso to San Antonio two weeks before us all being willing to npay for decent food by going to a sailing. ... Read More
I had not sailed this portion of coast north of Valpraiso. This trip from San Diego to Valpraiso was changed or diverted from Valprqiso to San Antonio two weeks before us all being willing to npay for decent food by going to a sailing. Many of us had prepaid car and hotel reservations in or near Valpraiso that were non refundable. We spent $150 USD getting backce t way.o our hotel and rental car and Holland America would make no arrangement unless you purchased a $86 excursion to the Santiago Airport. Not Sure why I should have paid as it wasn't my screw-up. The food was mediorcre as we have witnessed the last several years across thee cruise fleet. This was facilitated by going to up-charge restaurants so they could let the food quality decline. So we who use the up charge restaurants. These ports are mostly industrial ports,normally you could visit them only on a freighter cruise. Many excursions from these ports inviolve 2 hour or more bus rides each way. Not much here for any tourist. Read Less
10 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2017
We chose this cruise after narrowing down the date range and what we wanted to do. I was happy to sail with Holland America again. I had a great experience with them many years ago. We were looking for a cruise and land package and ... Read More
We chose this cruise after narrowing down the date range and what we wanted to do. I was happy to sail with Holland America again. I had a great experience with them many years ago. We were looking for a cruise and land package and Holland America had just what we wanted. We booked a vista suite and it was spacious and comfortable. We enjoyed the balcony quite a bit. The food was excellent, we ate in the main dining room, the Lido market, the Dive In and Pinnacle Grill. We never had a bad meal. The entertainers onboard were fun and engaging. We enjoyed all of our excursions; fishing, gold panning, whale watching, northern lights, dog mushing. The ports were very safe and charming. The staff onboard were all professional, knowledgeable and friendly. The spa was wonderful, I took advantage of one of their specials while my husband did our laundry. It was so convenient to have a self-serve laundry room on a 12 day vacation. All transfers were handled smoothly. I have never experienced such a speedy embarkation or debarkation from a cruise ship. The land portion of our trip included train rides, Denali and seeing the northern lights, which was a highlight of the trip. Sadly, we did not see any bears, caribou or moose, but we saw plenty of sea life and eagles. It was a great and memorable way to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary. Read Less
8 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2017
This was a cruise my wife and I took from Vancouver to Seward. We took a five day Carnival cruise 3 weeks ago so I'll make some comparisons. In most ways, this cruise was superior to the Carnival cruise which was a five day ... Read More
This was a cruise my wife and I took from Vancouver to Seward. We took a five day Carnival cruise 3 weeks ago so I'll make some comparisons. In most ways, this cruise was superior to the Carnival cruise which was a five day Bahamas cruise from Jacksonville on the Elation. The service, food, embarkation, and ports were all preferred over Carnival. However, this was a cruise clearly meant for an older crowd. We are in our 40's and felt that most others cruising with us were older. First impressions weren't great as the word ZAANDAM on the outside of the ship needed painting. However, we didn't note any other areas where the ship showed wear, so it really was in great shape. Food was consistently very good to outstanding. Every meal was well prepared and presented with top notch service. There were hardly ever any lines at any time in Lido or the main dining room. Lunch was where this ship shined over the Carnival. Here lunch was very good every day. Lunch was typically so-so on Carnival so there was a big difference here. Our inside cabin was much larger than Carnival with room for a couch where there was not room for one in the Carnival room. HAL also included a make-up mirror which my wife appreciated. Service was consistently good for the cabin, dining, and other areas where needed. Embarkation was very good with few lines and waiting. We were on board and eating before noon. We even enjoyed a swim on the warm Vancouver afternoon. We went on a land tour following the cruise and it was well run and organized every step of the way. This made the whole trip worthwhile although we really enjoyed the cruise portion as well. We did not do any cruise operated shore excursions so we can't speak to those. Wife went to one of the cooking demonstrations but didn't like it enough to attend any others. They were very crowded so you need to arrive early to get a seat. The live music was good but I prefer at least one choice that plays something more modern and hip. Live entertainment was good but nothing edgy here. The main downfall was the degree to which this cruise catered to the more seasoned folks. There were few "fun" activities and those that were presented weren't well done. For example, there is a night club area but it was not open every evening. The music played was almost exclusively 30 or more years old so it lacked the pizazz needed to make it truly enjoyable. I appreciated the live band that played a few nights, but they played songs mostly from the 1970's. Again, play some newer music. Even older folks can like newer tunes. All that said, we still thoroughly enjoyed the cruise and would recommend it to anyone, especially those who aren't looking for fun but more a gracious cruising experience. Read Less
8 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2017
Did the 7 day north bound cruise from Vancouver to Seward. We had a Neptune Suite on Deck 7. Even though the Zaandam is a little tired internally, it is clean, comfortable and everything works as it should. Being in a Neptune Suite really ... Read More
Did the 7 day north bound cruise from Vancouver to Seward. We had a Neptune Suite on Deck 7. Even though the Zaandam is a little tired internally, it is clean, comfortable and everything works as it should. Being in a Neptune Suite really made the cruise for us as it was a large suite. We also had access to our own lounge, concierge and priority in the dining areas. There was quite a bit to do on the ship but we really didn't partake in many of the activities so can't comment. The ports were really only a stopover to appreciate the beauty of Alaska as there wasn't much else to see in any of them. Probably the highlight was the day cruising in Glacier Bay, in particular the onboard commentary by the park ranger. All in all, our first cruise with HAL and we'd be happy to join them again. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2017
Seeing Alaska was on our bucket list and the Zaandam fit our schedule and budget. We loved everything: the ports, size of the ship, nice size of stateroom, good food, wonderful staff. They also offered $20 laundry service for anything fit ... Read More
Seeing Alaska was on our bucket list and the Zaandam fit our schedule and budget. We loved everything: the ports, size of the ship, nice size of stateroom, good food, wonderful staff. They also offered $20 laundry service for anything fit in one fairly good-sized bag. Self-service laundry was available too. We were surprised to see a priest on board. He informed us that Mass was offered every day and would be noted on the daily itinerary. He said all Holland America ships have a priest on-board. Jewish service was also offered on Friday. Other thoughts - delicious sugar-free desserts, smooth handling of people and passports in and out of Canada, easy transition of passengers and luggage to "land" portion of trip into Denali. We would definitely go again! Things I might like to see improved: More availability in reservation times for open dining Completion of "virtual tour presentation" on workings of ship Crab legs one evening were pretty subpar (I was looking forward to this!) All pretty minor stuff! Read Less
Sail Date: August 2017
I chose this cruise because it offered a visit to the Denali Wilderness Park. It also visited Skagway and Fairbanks, both places I had not visited. My first mistake was booking through a secondary seller. My usual travel agent was told ... Read More
I chose this cruise because it offered a visit to the Denali Wilderness Park. It also visited Skagway and Fairbanks, both places I had not visited. My first mistake was booking through a secondary seller. My usual travel agent was told by Holland America that they had not heard of the trip I was trying to book. So my friend and I booked through the secondary seller. The price was very low and as the trip progressed we discovered why. A complimentary cabin upgrade was offered. When we asked, no such upgrade was available. Gratuities were advertised as included. We were billed onboard for gratuities. Holland America's response to my inquiry about this was to politely say that it was my fault for taking such a cheap trip. The food on board ranged from acceptable to mediocre. Things that had been complimentary when I last travelled on Holland America were now charged for. Service was acceptable but orders in the dining room were frequently incorrect. There seemed to be an expectation that every service person you encountered was owed a tip. Shore excursions were aggressively marketed and overpriced. The hotel we overnighted in in Anchorage was badly in need of renovations. It was advertised as three star. I would call it closer to two stars. The breakfast buffet was terrible and outrageously priced. Read Less
14 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2017
We were excited to be boarding the Holland America Zaandam for our recent Alaska cruise Our assigned stateroom was a category H partially obstructed view cabin close to the outdoors on the lower promenade deck… the next best thing to ... Read More
We were excited to be boarding the Holland America Zaandam for our recent Alaska cruise Our assigned stateroom was a category H partially obstructed view cabin close to the outdoors on the lower promenade deck… the next best thing to having a veranda stateroom. However a few days prior to boarding we were upgraded to a full ocean view stateroom with portholes, And there is the catch. We found ourselves descending into the bowel of the ship. Traces of stale air lingered as we passed the coughs and sniffles of the unfortunates in the infirmary. Our fears were confirmed when we opened the door of our cabin to discover the smallest, darkest oddly shaped cabin we had yet seen on a Holland America ship. We could get a view out of the deeply set portholes only by crawling across the bed, and that only after requesting the other person in the cabin to step aside. The ceilings were lower than in other cabins. There was less storage space and no refrigerator. A sign posted in the cabin advised us not to be alarmed about the noise and vibration caused by the bow thrusters. This was supposedly an “upgrade” from our previously assigned cabin. “Wait”, we said to the staff, “don’t we deserve a little better treatment as 4 star mariners?” The answer was no… the ship was full. This was a decision from on high: Corporate Inventory Management. It would appear that passengers commonly complain about these and a few other similarly undesirable cabins. We were assured the cabins are an indeed an upgrade. Who are these people in “Corporate Inventory Management”? We speculate that: They are new employees that have never been passengers on a HAL ship, or They have a grudge against Holland America and are trying to devalue the Mariner frequent traveler program, or They don’t understand the word “upgrade”, or Their approach to inventory management is just rolling the dice, or Inventory management is just a mythical department covering up for a defective software program. Holland America is an excellent cruise company: good food, beautiful public areas, well organized tours, friendly ship staff, etc. But please understand that these porthole staterooms are not an upgrade from the H or HH cabins on the Lower Promenade deck. Those are really delightful due to their location and partial view of the water and can actually be enjoyed without climbing into a window ledge and sticking one's neck into a tubular opening. Read Less
8 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2017
My sister and I booked our cruse thru the cruse agent. We asked for a quiet cabin away from any ice machines, elevator, area with music etc. A quiet area. The first night we heard banging, and what sounded like something heavy rolling over ... Read More
My sister and I booked our cruse thru the cruse agent. We asked for a quiet cabin away from any ice machines, elevator, area with music etc. A quiet area. The first night we heard banging, and what sounded like something heavy rolling over concrete. We were under the 24 hour a day active ships galley. After being told there were no other cabins available, we asked for one of the ships land tours instead. They would not but sent us chocolates and a sorry card. We were stuck on a ship where could not get any sleep. Sleep deprivation is used to break down prisoners not people on vacation. Long miserable story short we got on the ship August 5th 2017 and off on the 13th. On the 13th we got off the ship and took the ships transport to Anchorage for our after cruse vacation. That very afternoon my sisters went to bed in the hotel with a fever. When the fever spiced to 103.8 I took her to Alaska Regional Hospital in Anchorage. She has a horrifying case of bacterial Pneumonia. She is still in the hospital today August 25th. PS, I also have Bronchitis and was put on Antibiotics. No ship should have a galley over cabins. Put it over the shops or anyplace where people are supposed to be able to sleep. The ship is ask horrible. To them a movie about Alaska and people talking about Alaska is considered shipboard entertainment. The food in the dining room and the coffee came out cold. The nice buttery croissants came out refrigerator cold. We met people with kids who told us that the kids went to planned events and nobody was there. When they complained they were told they were not there to entertain their children .WHAT????? Read Less
Zaandam Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 4.0
Dining 3.0 3.9
Entertainment 3.0 3.6
Public Rooms 4.0 4.2
Fitness Recreation 4.0 3.7
Family 4.0 3.7
Shore Excursion 4.0 3.9
Enrichment 3.0 3.7
Service 3.0 4.2
Value For Money 4.0 3.7
Rates 4.0 4.0

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