Sail Date: April 2019
Like the maritime provinces and wanted to see more. Embarkation was somewhat disorganized; we arrived in Boston on a redeye at 7:30 am but couldn't board until 11:00 am. Spent most of this time on folding chairs. Enjoyed room ... Read More
Like the maritime provinces and wanted to see more. Embarkation was somewhat disorganized; we arrived in Boston on a redeye at 7:30 am but couldn't board until 11:00 am. Spent most of this time on folding chairs. Enjoyed room service breakfast EVERY MORNING! My husband went early to Lido Deck each morning for his favorite SMOKED SALMON! Puff pastry sweet rolls every morning, also! Lido Deck pool area was great, 2 hot tubs and pool 81 degrees F. Never too crowded. I sat at a table for lunch occasionally; taco bar/hamburger/french fries stand open until 5pm. Service was exemplary. Sometimes a bit too obsequious, but staff were very well trained. Magician show and ventriloquist shows were very, very funny. Disappointed that the organ recital was recorded; thought there would be an actual organist (was not made clear). Met some interesting Canadians on the cruise who were familiar with the area, but still enjoyed the cruise!! Read Less
Sail Date: April 2019
My review is written from this perspective: During our forty-two married years together my wife and I have previously cruised twenty-four times. We’ve been on Holland America four times already, plus multiple cruises on Royal Caribbean, ... Read More
My review is written from this perspective: During our forty-two married years together my wife and I have previously cruised twenty-four times. We’ve been on Holland America four times already, plus multiple cruises on Royal Caribbean, Windstar, Uniworld Europe River Cruises, and once on Oceania. We enjoy cruising, especially the at-sea days. We liked this itinerary for its two up-front at-sea northbound days from Fort Lauderdale as our opportunity to decompress from our everyday lives at home, plus the anticipated at-sea day towards the end of the cruise while watching the St. Lawrence shoreline glide past. Spoiler Alert: We had a really nice cruise! Embarkation & Disembarking: Getting on the ship in Fort Lauderdale was one of the most efficient and fast processes we’ve ever experienced. Even though we arrived a bit early for our posted boarding time, we were able to get right on the ship. A great start for our cruise. Disembarkation day was unusual. The St. Lawrence River was very high and overflowing its banks because of the combination of a late snow melt from the shoreline mountains together with recent heavy rains. That kept our ship from sailing from Quebec City to its final destination in Montreal because the ship couldn’t fit under a bridge between the two cities even at low tide. So we stayed moored in Quebec City overnight instead of moving on to Montreal. Holland America had to put all of us on coaches extra early on disembarkation day for the 3-hour ride to Montreal. We saw lots of flooding along the way to Montreal, but we arrived at the airport with minimal hassles. Good for Holland America, since they also had the nightmare of getting all of the incoming passengers transported from Montreal to meet the ship in Quebec City, too. The ship: ms Zaandam is looking terrific for being nineteen-years-old. I’m not sure when she had her last major refit/refurb, but there was hardly any rust anywhere on her exterior, and the interior and outside public spaces looked great. No worn-out seats, carpets, railings, decks, pools, etc. Well done Holland America. There was one surprise. On our first night, at 1:15 AM the ship’s emergency fire alarm blared loudly: “FIRE! Passengers remain in your cabins and await further instructions!”, which was given in that official loudspeaker voice we all heard at the mandatory lifeboats drill before we set sail. My wife and I could visualize all of the passengers and crew sitting bolt upright in their beds (like we did) waiting for the next announcement. Then there was a second announcement calling for the fire crew to report to a coded location. In another few minutes the captain came over the loudspeakers to announce the fire emergency was over. He said an unoccupied smoke-filled incinerator area had a detector that set off an alarm which was relayed to the ship’s bridge. The dispatched fire team discovered there was a fire in one of the incinerator’s “silos” (whatever that is), and the automatic steam fire extinguishers had quickly dealt with the problem. The captain apologized for the early morning “inconvenience”, said the crew had properly responded to the situation as they’d been trained, and then he said everyone could go back to sleep. He ended his speech by promising to give more information in his noon announcements later in the day (which he did). Passengers and crew had lots to talk about at breakfast, albeit sleepy-eyed. Our cabin: Excellent. We were fortunate to be able to book a Neptune suite on deck 7. It had lots of daylight from the wall-to-wall windows, with enough room for a sofa sitting area. There were plenty of closets and drawers, fresh/clean fabrics, carpets, and soft goods, a king bed, a vanity area, a fully-furnished mini bar, a big verandah with table/chairs and two lounge chairs, an efficient air conditioner/heater that we could set to our preference, and a nice bathroom with a brand-new-looking Jacuzzi-style tub and a toilet that flushed every single time. (Yay!). Our cabin stewards were excellent. We were never in need of anything for the whole cruise. The Neptune Lounge, reserved for Neptune and Pinnacle suites guests, was just down the corridor. It was a great place to get a snack, coffee, check email, read, socialize a bit with other passengers, have a drink from the honor bar before supper, or ask either one of the two excellent Concierges for assistance with anything simple or complex around the ship. We were definitely spoiled with our Neptune suite. Dining: Overall very good. The Pinnacle Grill (“PG”) was the single disappointment. Our incentive package included one PG supper which was to be scheduled at HAL’s discretion. At first we were surprised when we discovered our PG invitation/reservation was set for 7:00 PM on our departure/first day. After seeing “Pinnacle Grill 25% discount first night” coupons all over the ship when we boarded, though, we realized HAL must have a need to fill seats in the Pinnacle that first night, especially with those of us who had an incentive package visit. We’ve really enjoyed our Pinnacle Grill experiences as an upgrade/extra-cost treat on our prior HAL sailings, and that’s what we were anticipating this time, too. Unfortunately, it didn’t turn out that way. Although the room was nice, and the staff was friendly, the food wasn’t up to the “Wow!” quality we’d experienced before. Our filet mignon entrees were “okay”, but our side dishes weren’t served hot. That wouldn’t have been a problem if someone had come to check on us after our entrees were served, but nobody came back until our plates were being pulled at the end of our meal. It seemed as though the PG’s galley couldn’t keep up with what was required, which was surprising because the room was only half occupied when we were there. We politely thanked our servers as we left, but we never returned to the Pinnacle Grill for the remainder of our cruise for a supper (or for no-extra-charge breakfasts offered to suites guests). To be fair, the PG manager later heard of our experience that first night, and offered to comp us another supper to make up for it, but we chose not to return, mainly because we were more than happy with everything in the Main Dining Room. “Open seating” for supper in the Main Dining Room (“MDR”) initially seemed to be problematic when we first tried to phone in a 6:00 PM seating request for the night after our Pinnacle Grill supper. “Unavailable” we were told. When we showed up at the MDR check-in desk on deck 4 at 6:00 PM that evening, though, we were immediately seated at a 2-person table as requested. Our server, assistant, wine steward, floor manager, and food that evening were all excellent. On our way out of the MDR after this first supper we asked if we could be seated at the same table at approximately the same time every evening. “Absolutely” was the response. We enjoyed our suppers at the same table with the same staff every evening after that. What a terrific time we had. There seemed to be something on the changing daily menu for each of us, but even when there wasn’t, we always had the “available every day” alternatives. Our server, assistant, and wine steward were cordial, professional, conversational, and happy every single supper. They certainly made us feel special and welcome. Well done, MDR. The Lido Market was, well, a typical Lido. Always crowded, as anticipated on at-sea days, but even at breakfast and lunch on port days when we tried it. The food was good with a nice variety. There’s always the same passenger confusion on where to enter the buffet food service lines, but that’s to be expected. We enjoyed the made-to-order omelets and Belgian waffles at breakfast plus salads at lunch, and the soups and breads at lunch. The room seemed short-staffed for clearing tables and offering water/coffee/tea/lemonade/etc., but staff did their best. After a couple breakfasts here we decided to just awaken a bit earlier every morning, and we had really nice breakfasts served in the MDR. On this cruise we didn’t take advantage of any of the several other places around the ship to get food, or try around-the-clock in-cabin service. Maybe next time. Activities around the ship: We enjoyed most of the evening entertainment in the two-decks-high The Main Stage. Our MDR suppers were completed most nights in plenty of time for a leisurely stroll through the ship to the 8:00 PM shows. Get there before 7:30, though, if you want to easily find a pair of seats together. There was some of the usual, “These seats are saved” going on, with one person showing up to grab six or eight vacant seats together for their last-minute family/friends, but it wasn’t too bad. We didn’t make it to any of the well-attended lounges/clubs around the ship, although we did stop to enjoy the classical piano/violin duet one evening. Because we both brought our Kindles, after the evening entertainment in the main show room we instead read either in our cabin or in the Neptune lounge. The weather: We anticipated two seasons, a warm beginning at our embarkation in FL, and getting cooler as we sailed north. On our second at-sea day the huge sliding dome cover over the Lido pool was closed for the remainder of the cruise. Then it turned really cold, (upper 30s F to low 40s F) and windy (20-25 mph) beginning with our first port call in Boston, but every day had clear blue skies and full sun. At each port there was at least one local who told us it was the first time they’d seen the sun in weeks. Only our last port call in Quebec City was rainy. Our seas weren’t overly active, but the winds did blow pretty hard a couple of times, which gave the ship a gentle rocking motion which we enjoy. One overnight there was heavy fog, which meant the ship’s loud fog horn boomed every few minutes for hours on end, but only that one night. We were so lucky with the weather on this cruise. Ports and Shore Excursions: Holland America offered a good variety of (mostly-expensive) excursion choices in each port. We discovered beginning at our first port stop we were the very first cruise ship from any company sailing a US East Coast and Canada itinerary this “summer” season. That was both good and bad. The good: there were few crowds/tourists anywhere except for Boston, which is a busy city in any season, and in Bar Harbor it was really easy to find a warm jacket on winter clearance sale to wear on this cruise. The bad: everywhere other than Boston it was still “winter season”. That meant most store fronts and tourist/excursion sites were either still shuttered for the winter, were undergoing late-winter-delayed construction or just cleaning out the winter cobwebs and not ready for tourists, or they were significantly reduced to only a minimal operation compared to what was said to be available beginning in mid-May. For us, Boston was a fun day with lots to see and do on our own with hop-on-hop-off trolley tickets we’d purchased before the cruise. Our Bar Harbor excursion was cancelled by Holland America, but that was okay with us because we’d been there before, and we enjoyed just strolling around the Norman Rockwell-like streets while stopping in one of the local pubs for a delicious lobstah roll. Halifax was a very long day due to our choice of a 7-hour coach excursion to Peggy’s Cove (beautiful but mostly closed for our less-than-an-hour stop), Lunenberg (also a beautiful waterfront village but still mostly closed for the season during our hour-long stop), and Mahone Bay (beautiful, too, but really closed during our forty-minutes stop). In Sydney we went to the restored Louisbourg fortress which was historically interesting, but disappointing because only three of the many buildings were open, and only a small handful of reenactors were around. We absolutely loved the Charlottetown/Prince Edward Island excursion for its drive through rolling hills, expansive farmers’ fields, and the Anne of Green Gables House stop. Quebec City was interesting even in the rain. On our walking excursion around both the old and new parts of the city there was a constant drone of loud construction and traffic noise, along with competing noise from other early-season tourist groups. It was impossible to hear our excursion guide, but it was still an interesting port stop. Conclusion: If you’ve survived to the end of this too-long review, you’ve seen why overall we had another great cruise experience. Zaandam and her crew/staff were top notch, and this itinerary had interesting ports. Will we be more aware of the potential good and bad characteristics of a “shoulder season” cruise in the future? Yep. And we’ll certainly cruise with Holland America again. Cheers! Read Less
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
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
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
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2018
The cruise exceeded my expectations in every way. The high point was the 4 days in the Antarctic. I will never forget the joy of watching an iceberg float by with penguins on it - with one every once in a while waving to you, or so it ... Read More
The cruise exceeded my expectations in every way. The high point was the 4 days in the Antarctic. I will never forget the joy of watching an iceberg float by with penguins on it - with one every once in a while waving to you, or so it appears. Than you watch some of them dive off and go porpoising across the waters. Later on, an iceberg goes by and they are jumping on. A little further an iceberg goes by with a solitary penguin on it. Your camera is your best friend at this point to help capture this unbelievable spectacle and all the Antarctic beauty ever present around you. And as if that wasn't enough there were the frequent whale spouts, some so close you could hear them, followed by their majestic arch and gigantic tail appearing as they take a deep dive. Than there was, for me, the beauty of the many variety of antarctic birds that followed the ship. One, the wandering albatross has the largest wing span of any bird, up to 10 feet (over 3 meters). The ever changing sea state, ocean color and sun angle made each soaring maneuver another art piece I had to capture. And haven't even mentioned the icebergs - a prime attraction to say the least. As for the ship, it has been maintained in excellent shape. You couldn't ask for a better crew. Very friendly and as one who can testify to their around the clock effort to keep the ship clean, I was often up at all hours to photograph the sun set at midnight or a sun rise at 3:00 AM. My wife and I had a balcony suite, room 7038, port side on deck 7. Perfect in location and size. We had no problem with motion sickness for the moderate sea states we were in. As I have learned from previous cruses, food can be a problematic. If something is too good, I have a hard time passing it up. I would give the food on this cruise a Goldilocks rating - just right. Except perhaps their soups, which I had to try every night, they were so good. The entertainment was all very well done, particularly the dance routines. My wife and I enjoyed dancing to The Ocean Quartet, whenever the sea state permitted. A cruise setting I will always remember is listening to the Adagio violinist and pianist play. Their music made you slow down and take in the moment. I am so thankful they had a CD, Duo Dolce, of their music for sale in the ship's store. Holland American also has to be given a lot of credit for the holiday decoration they had throughout the Zaandam. I knew it was going to be good when I saw 4 pallets of fresh poinsettias waiting to be loaded at San Antonio. Two shore excisions that were exceptional and you should not miss are, first the Volunteer Point King Penguin Rookery when dock at Stanley/Falkland Is/Islas Malvinas. We opted for the ship's excursion package here as this port requires a rather long tender, about 30 minutes, and a jeep ride to Volunteer Point is such you need to get on the first tenders. The Land Rover ride was half the enjoyment and truly a great King penguin experience. The second excursion was a city and tango show in Buenos Aires. We used LIZ ANDREA ( We were a small group and that gives you more flexibility. Liz is a native of the city so she really knows its story and tells it very well. Great command of English and she has very engaging dialog. Not like some recording or scripted speech. Her stories at the cemetery show she is very knowledgeable and passionate about the history like no other. She arranged a Tango show for us that was top notch. What a perfect way to end our cruise. We also used her for our trip to the airport and for a tour day ending at the airport for our flight out that evening. Very responsible guide and driver. You couldn't do better. Would I do it again - in a heart beat. Would I recommend it to a friend - already have. Truly a once in a life time experience for us. Read Less
27 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2018
INTRO This is a long report, because the voyage around Cape Horn includes so many different ports, environments, scenery and weather that it is impossible to describe it in just a few paragraphs: there is just so much to see, ... Read More
INTRO This is a long report, because the voyage around Cape Horn includes so many different ports, environments, scenery and weather that it is impossible to describe it in just a few paragraphs: there is just so much to see, experience, and enjoy. In all, we sailed a total of 4385 miles from San Antonio to Buenos Aires. OUR ITINERARY Our main objectives for this trip were to visit Ushuaia, Cape Horn and the Falkland Islands, so everything else we saw was a bonus – and what a bonus! This was a cruise par excellence and it delivered so many new vistas, day after day. ARRIVAL IN SANTIAGO After the seemingly endless lines of shuffling passengers at Santiago airport, we were finally able to connect with the excellent Sebastian, who organised our baggage, and then directed us to a minibus that transferred us to the Sheraton Hotel in San Antonio. TIP: at the Sheraton we sampled the local brew called Catafelte (named after a berry that resembles a blueberry) we can definitely recommend it. EMBARKATION Coaches transferred us to the port of San Antonio. Embarkation was very smooth and very well co-ordinated. As we were embarking, passengers from the previous cruise (westwards) were disembarking, but the HAL staff kept everything under control. TIP: this is a busy container port, so you have to wait after check-in until another coach can ferry you safely to the ship. After you check-in with Guest Services, your passport will be held on board the ship by HAL staff, and you will receive a Passport Reclaim slip that you can use to reclaim it when you reach the Falklands. Being separated from your passport is a bit unnerving, but rest assured your passport is safe. TIP: when you reclaim your passport from Guest Services, you will find it contains an Exit stamp for Chile, an Entry stamp for Argentina, and a 7-day Visitor Permit stamp for the Falklands! Note: we are not sure how this routine works when you sail in the opposite direction. THE SHIP The Zaandam seems to be the ideal sized cruise ship. Nothing is very far from anything else, and as you might expect, she is very clean and tidy above decks and below. We found the ship layout very easy to navigate, and really appreciated the unobstructed Promenade Deck (3 times around = 1.6 km). She is one of the smaller HAL ships, but never seems crowded (in our opinion). DÉCOR We found the décor on the Zaandam to be very interesting, with a strong emphasis on music (displays of musical instruments). There are a few good paintings of ships in the stairwells, and some amazing 3-D trompe l’oeil pictures at the entry to the Main Dining Room (MDR). The public rooms are bright and colourfully decorated. TIP: the Main Stage theatre is small and the sightlines are not always good from the balcony seats on deck 5 (except for those seated in the middle section). The seating is comfortable and the acoustics are great. THE CREW The crew of the Zaandam always manage to be upbeat and are very pleasant company. They are busy, but always seem able to find a few minutes to share a joke or a comment, and their hard work makes life as pleasant as possible for the passengers, so we want them to know how much we appreciate their efforts. Our cabin stewards (Putu and Made) were excellent. They kept our cabin neat and tidy and were always cheerful and friendly. FOOD We found no reasons to complain about the food in any of the restaurants onboard the Zaandam. The Lido Market serves a range of interesting dishes from all over the world including Asia and Italy. It tends to get a bit hectic at times, especially when people are lining up to get served at the buffet stations. We usually ate dinner in the Main Dining Room and never regretted any of our menu choices. The menu is always very inventive, and every day it lists some dishes that you might call standards for the less-adventurous diners (for example, salmon and strip-loin steak). We like to take one dinner in the Canaletto restaurant, and we were encouraged one lunch time to try the Italian Cellar Master’s Dinner. This event takes place only once per voyage, and it was scheduled for the evening that we set sail from Punta Arenas. For the princely sum of $49 per person, we enjoyed an outstanding 4-course dinner, where each course is paired with an appropriate wine! We don’t think you could buy 4 glasses of wine for that amount! Our first course was a Lobster and Shrimp salad, paired with Prosseco. After that we moved on to a Mushroom Risotto paired with Chianti. Next came a Chateaubriand (meltingly tender) paired with a Cabernet Sauvignon, and if you can manage to find space for dessert, you can enjoy a Mascarpone and Pistachio plate paired with Limoncello! Each dish is beautifully prepared and presented by the delightful Canaletto Team – catch it if you can! TIP: a quiet word with the maitre d’ can get you a table with delightful dinner companions – we were lucky every evening. MARINERS’ LUNCH This is a special event for members of the HAL Mariners Club (aka, repeat customers). The food was excellent (it’s a set menu) and you get an opportunity to meet the Captain and the Cruise Director in person. Mariners also receive a small Delft tile featuring the ship, as we have at other Mariner Lunches. ACTIVITIES AND ENTERTAINMENT In the Main Stage we were entertained by a comedian (Martin Beaumont) and a Chilean flautist called Viviana. Song and dance shows featured on two nights, and these were very good indeed – we appreciated them because they added to the variety. There were no aerialists/acrobatics on this cruise, perhaps because of the many sea days or the stage wasn’t large enough to accommodate them. Crew members from the Philippines gave a very good cultural show one evening. Although it started at 11:00 p.m. (after their days work!), the show was very well attended. Guest speaker Al Trujillo presented entertaining lectures on oceanography and related topics, and Kevin from the EXC Tours group presented well well-researched talks on each of our destinations and the excursions on offer. America’s Test Kitchen, trivia and other games were available. The covered pool area and the pool water were warm and could be used every day. FELLOW PASSENGERS A much younger demographic (our opinion) than those we have met on other HAL voyages. The number of passengers using walking frames, wheelchairs, scooters, or sticks was minimal. Most passengers seemed to be experienced cruisers, and were prepared for the roughest seas at the bottom of the world (although some confessed to this being their first cruise!). There were large groups of travellers from France and Germany, a few Australians and New Zealanders, some Americans, but the largest group seemed to be from Britain. As most of the Europeans chose later dining times, there was no problem getting seats for early dining. SMOKING Smoking is restricted to the starboard side of the Lido deck aft (deck 8), allowing most of us to avoid the deadly cancer fumes. However, on certain days smokers are still allowed to poison themselves (and others) in the casino. We could detect the smell of smoke in the MIX bar, in the shops area, in the Ocean bar, and in the Atrium. We can always find a detour to avoid the fumes, but staff who work in these areas don’t have that option. Come on HAL, prohibit smoking throughout the inside areas! CLOTHING TIPS You need to carefully consider your clothing choices for this trip, because you will be sailing from a sub-tropical zone, through southern latitudes to the sub-Antarctic, and then back to sub-tropical again. Bring a hat, gloves and a waterproof jacket and dress in layers as required. It is often too windy for an umbrella to be useful. Read Less
16 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2018
My wife and I are recently retired and have long wanted to cruise an "around the horn" itinerary. This Holland America cruise fit the bill the perfectly. Overall, an outstanding cruise, a decent value and a great itinerary. ... Read More
My wife and I are recently retired and have long wanted to cruise an "around the horn" itinerary. This Holland America cruise fit the bill the perfectly. Overall, an outstanding cruise, a decent value and a great itinerary. We departed from Rio de Janeiro. Our flight departed the east coast for Miami on Halloween. Many of the airport and airline employees were in costume and having a good time. We ended up,with a business class upgrade for the overnight flight from Miami to Rio. Since we have been to Rio before, we didn't do anything touristy other than stroll on Copacabana Beach. I paid for our Airbnb for the night of the 31st so we could check in immediately upon arrival the morning of the first. HAL emailed us the day before embarkation to warn us that check in was going to involve two security checks and to expect delays. Because of this, we left early for the pier. Our uber driver was completely unfamiliar with the cruise port but found it without too much difficulty. Other than confusion about where to drop our bags and where to line up for check in, things went relatively smoothly. There was almost no signage but following the heard and gentle inquiries had us on board in about 30 minutes. We were very pleased with the ship almost as soon as we boarded. Our cabin was ready for immediate occupancy and our bags all arrived shortly after lunch. We were expecting a small ship having recently cruised Carnival Horizon but the ship seemed plenty large with plenty of amenities. The public areas were all very tidy and clean and outside on the decks, conscientious maintenance was evident everywhere. We found the flow of the ship very easy to get around. As always, we selected an interior cabin for economy and for the dark cave sleeping experience. We were on the second deck so we felt almost no roll and the pitching was quite sleep inducing. The cabin could serve four passengers with two beds, a drop down bunk and a sofa bed. The beds were made up as twins, apparently our request for one bed was not received but this was fixed while we were at lunch. There was an astonishing amount of closet space for two people. The tile in the bathroom looked like a 1960s motel room but otherwise, we found the cabin spacious, comfortable and appropriately updated. Dining was very good to excellent. We tried the main dining room for breakfast once and the service was so slow, we never returned. The buffet on the Lido deck, however, had outstanding breakfast options so we went there every subsequent day. The omelette station rarely had more than three people in line, the eggs Benedict were fresher and better than the dining room and the waffles were hot and freshly made. It could get crowded around 9 am so we often ate outside by the pool. We never did try the dining room for lunch instead using the buffet every day. The salads were excellent and days we wanted to try sandwiches, soups, pasta or other offerings, everything was good except the pizza. The Dive In burgers could be a bit of a hot mess but good and the dogs were also nice. The fries were always hot and crispy. We enjoyed open seating dinners in the main dining room. The food was hit or miss but the service was usually good and we had a wonderful group of dining companions almost every night. A few nights, we did not feel up to a long dinner and ate at the buffet. We had some unbelievably tender and flavorful steaks at the buffet one evening. A friend had treated us to a dinner at the Pinnacle Grill and it was outstanding. The steaks were superb and the service perfect. There were three formal nights but we only attended one. My wife felt unwell the night of the first one and the second one was during our scenic cruising of the glacier channel. Because it was light so late and we enjoying the spectacular scenery, I think many people opted to skip that formal night and hit a buffet for late dinner. The entertainment was also hit or miss. The singers/dancers are, I'm sure, very talented and hardworking but the show was poor. I think the performers were saddled with repetitive choreography and uninspired music selection. On the other hand, it was great to see a real live band performing. A guest juggler was just so so and a guest flautist was unusual but extremely talented and a good show. The highlight of the entertainment was a spectacular combo of BBC cinematography with live music. High definition films of polar regions and animals were accompanied by the live band playing the original score. We caught a few of the other acts in the bars and lounges and all were very talented. The enrichment opportunities were one of the ship highlights for us. Guest speakers addressed topics of maritime history, ship construction, glaciers, environmental concerns and applied oceanography. The port lectures were outstanding also; real and practical information about the ports without a word about shopping. The ask the captain presentation was very informative and well done. Our absolute favorite offering was the America's Test Kitchen. Once or twice on sea days, the presenter, Allison, would demonstrate two to three recipes along with advice on kitchen techniques, cookware and gadgets. The set was completely professional, the production engineer was very slick and the entire program was perfectly executed and utterly enjoyable. We found service to be very good throughout. Our cabin steward, Edward, was fantastic. The servers in the buffet were very personable even when trying to keep up with clearing tables at busy times. The bar staffs were all excellent. No complaints about service. My wife and I treated ourselves to the Thermasuite package. For the two of us, it was $349 for the entire 16 day cruise. It gave us unlimited use of the Thermasuite in the spa area. Most of the time, we were only two there. Sometimes, there was another couple there. Only once was there more than four people. I thoroughly enjoyed the steamrooms and hot tub and we both enjoyed the heated loungers. The ports on this cruise were all great. In Punte del Este, we just did a short walkabout the port. We saw a few sights and enjoyed the sea lions but were back on board in time for a late breakfast. Buenos Aires was a first time visit for both of us and we walked several miles and thoroughly enjoyed the city. We had a scheduled tour in Montevideo which showed us the highlights but left plenty of time for lunch and exploring on our own. Our arrival to the Falkland Islands coincided with Armistice Day and we were privileged to be able to attend a church service and a military parade and memorial ceremony. In Ushuaia, we had a prearranged tour to the Tierra del Fuego National Park which was outstanding. Our third And final prearranged tour was in Punta Arenas and it was a bit disappointing. There is absolutely nothing at the port so you need to take a shuttle into town if you don't have anything set up. Our tour went to a scenic overlook, spent way too much time at a mediocre museum, then had a very brief stop in the downtown plaza. For Puerto Montt, I went ahead and paid for a cruise line tour of Petrohue Cataracts and Puerto Varas. We were very happy with this tour. At the end of the cruise, I purchased a cruise line tour/airport transfer. The tour to two wineries, lunch, a bus tour of Santiago and a shopping stop with airport drop off was very expensive at $200 per person but it was extremely well executed. In addition to the ports, the scenic cruising days were just a spectacular. We went around Cape Horn, the Straits of Magellan, the Beagle Channel, the Sarmiento Channel and the Chilean Fjords. We were privileged to see glaciers, fjords and even an iceberg. For us, this was the highlight of the cruise. As far as complaints, there were a few. During the scenic cruising, commentary was provided in the Crow's Nest, outside decks and on the cabin TV. The Crow's Nest got uncomfortably crowded and even then, the sound system was terrible and the commentary was inaudible. I think the commentary should be broadcast in all common areas so regardless of where you choose to observe the beauty, you can hear the details. Also, the ship seemed to be very poorly provisioned. We purchased an eight bottle wine program. By the fourth night, it seemed they never had anything on our wine list. To their credit, a substitute bottle was provided and usually a higher level wine but it seems silly to create a wine list, sell a program, and then be told almost every night, that your choice of wine is not available. Also, by about day three, there was no draft beer. By the end of the cruise, only a fraction of advertised bottled beers were available. I found alcohol prices extremely high. Overall, a great experience. We were reluctant to disembark and would have gladly sailed back to Buenos Aires. If you are interested in Patagonia and seeing some great scenery and exciting cities, this is a highly recommended cruise. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2018
My first ever cruise - wanted to visit as many South American countries as possible. 14 hour flight from London direct to Santiago (spent 3 days there beforehand which was amazing). Cabin on Dolphin deck very adequate, if slightly dated. ... Read More
My first ever cruise - wanted to visit as many South American countries as possible. 14 hour flight from London direct to Santiago (spent 3 days there beforehand which was amazing). Cabin on Dolphin deck very adequate, if slightly dated. Had 16 nights on board and visited some amazing places including ports in Chile, Argentina and Uruguay. Chilean fjords were spectacular and weather on the whole cruise was gorgeous - blue skies, sun and calm seas everywhere. Only rained once in Buenos Aires! We went to every port - my favourite was Stanley in the Falkland Islands. As weather was so good, we were able to go on the bow when we rounded "The Horn" which was as calm as a mill pond! Ship's facilities all good. Food was very good - only downsize was not too much veggie fare and you had to book your lunch/evening food in the main restaurant the night before or at breakfast. We didn't do this much as we didn't want to have to plan where we ate every day. We took water bottles which were a bit of a trial to fill several times a day. We were told to refill them at the "Lido" (buffet style restaurant) from the jugs, but lots of the waiters told us we had to use the glasses to avoid contamination. After a while we asked at various bars throughout the ship. Mostly accommodating but we did get hot water a few times! Zaandam could really benefit from a water fountain somewhere on board. When we were on board they were charging $5 (plus surcharge) for Evian water bottle so beware of these extra charges. Staff mostly all lovely and polite, especially our stewards and serving staff at main restaurant. Captain very informative and enjoyed the 12.00 daily updates. Entertainment was fun and we particularly liked the Zaandam dancers. There was so much going on that you would never be bored - we enjoyed just chilling in the various bars, whale watching (we saw some tails!) and indulging in the odd cocktail - expensive so we bought them in happy hour. All in all, Zaandam is a lovely ship - walking round the deck every day was just a joy in the amazing weather. Loved my first cruise and hope to save up for another one next year. 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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