Sail Date: October 2014
My wife and I just returned from a 36 day cruises on the HAL Zandamm. This is the first time we travelled with HAL, however, we have done other trips with Celebrity, Voyages of Discovery, etc. As a general comment I would say we got value ... Read More
My wife and I just returned from a 36 day cruises on the HAL Zandamm. This is the first time we travelled with HAL, however, we have done other trips with Celebrity, Voyages of Discovery, etc. As a general comment I would say we got value for our money. The ship is kept in top notch condition and staff are polite, attentive and the meals good. The one major exception is the way they enforce their wine/alcohol policy. Most cruise lines have a similar embargo against bringing spirits aboard. However, my experience is that few attempt to enforce this realizing most people would like to have a drink in the privacy of their rooms. I have been making wine for over fifty years and enjoy discovering new brands and traveling the coast of Chile and Argentina are ideal for this. This was totally prevented by HAL. They have x-ray equipment when you go on board. You would think this was to keep hazardous items off the ship but I soon discovered it’s sole purpose is to discover wine and liquor bottles so they can confiscate them (they let you have them back the last day of your trip). Just to show that the x-ray machine had no other purpose, on the last day in port it was gone even though people continued to enter and exit the ship. Obviously the machine was not used to detect dangerous goods. They had no fear of wine because in one day everyone was leaving! Complaints about this policy brought out all kinds of ridiculous responses like ‘we need to make sure guest aren’t over indulging etc.’ This leveled at people who’s average age is in the sixties being treated like teenagers! They have no similar conscience when it comes to selling their own booze on board at three times the going price! On one occasion they even kept the bar open during a safety drill! They even sent passengers off on shore excursions to a rum distillery – Cana de Flora Corinto Nicaragua and then promptly seized all their purchased products on return to the ship. And they are not all that nice about seizures either. In Valparaiso we were told you could bring two bottles of wine on (this a so called embarkation point) I went first with my bottle but when my wife tootling along later they physically tried to take it from her. She resisted and told them to leave her alone. It shows you the length they will go to enforce this ineffective policy. It is interesting to note that new passengers who have been on the cruise less than three days can bring on wine but those who have been on much longer are prevented. The policy itself makes no real sense because you can buy a bottle of wine or liquor (albeit no name) from the bar and take it to your room. You can even take a glass to your dining table so it thwarts their real objective of forcing you to buy their $30 + wine at the table. In conclusion if you enjoy experimenting with new brands, enjoy having an occasional wine of your own choosing and cheese in your cabin or generally are offended by being treated like a second class passenger while you paid the full price, HAL is not for you.   Read Less
Sail Date: December 2013
For those who have seen "the world", Antarctica is "out of this world". Especially when you get the 1% weather window of two consecutive sunny, cloudless, windless days during which you can take the "brochure ... Read More
For those who have seen "the world", Antarctica is "out of this world". Especially when you get the 1% weather window of two consecutive sunny, cloudless, windless days during which you can take the "brochure pictures". This cruise is fantastic for those who have been around a bit, been to the third world, experienced mud, rain, wind, hail, rough seas, and rude and intolerant whingers who complain that it is too windy/rainy/cold/rough on the boat, and are annoyed that he hot tubs and swimming pools are drained, because if they aren't, the decks will flood. Where did these morons think they were going? St. Thomas? Either they are ignorant, or their travel agent failed to advise them that they were going to be part of a unique, wild, desolate, but SPECTACULAR experience. Let us be honest about this - you go on the 17 day Holland Cruise because you don' want to pay three times the amount for the mediocre Crystal Symphony (at least based on the complaints I heard at the SCL check in to go home), or $20k to go with National Geographic in a small cork from Ushuaia. Thus, for your three days in Antarctica, you have to tolerate 5 pure sea days, and 5 days of the disorganization, graffiti, and daily mini riots of the South American ports you visit as part of the equation. It is clearly your fault when you get robbed in the favelas. The cruise director and literature give you many warnings to dress down, stay on the beaten track, and leave EVERYTHING of value on the boat. So you only have yourself to blame when your Gucci hand bag is ripped from your shoulders by a motorcycle hoodlum. Or some petty thief swipes your wallet when you fall for the "Cambio" ruse in BA. That said, there are many safe areas of all the cities, and 98% of the passengers have no problems whatsoever. The Museo Belles Artes in BA, the Governor's museum in Montevideo, the Prison museum in Ushuaia, and the Plaza de Armas in Punta Arenas are all interesting and safe spots to visit. And taxis are uniformly cheap - about $1 per mile. But the piece de resistance of the ports of call, if you are lucky enough to have a Captain who is not intimidated by the Argentine threat to make life difficult for ships who dock there, is the Falklands. Either a history tour led by a former Marine, who liberated the islands, or if you can stand 4 hours of extreme 4x4 off roading, the King Penguin Colony, almost makes the entire trip worthwhile. Veteran travelers know that after the Falklands, they will then spend the next sea day sleeping, so that once the most northerly islands of the Antarctic Peninsular are spotted, they can stay up for 21 hours of each of the next 3 days, taking pictures every minute or so. The scenery, if the weather cooperates, is spectacular. If it doesn't, the whingers will be at it, all day long. I believe it is sacrilegious for people to be "sunning on the Lido" when they are in Antarctica, as though this is the garden variety cruise from Fort Lauderdale. But there were many. Maybe I should be thankful that that left the outer promenade decks and the bow less crowded for me! The "expedition team" for HAL of previous Antarctic researchers and explorers made sure that at least 4 hours of every sea day had lectures on the history, geography and biology of the region. In particular, Chris Wilson, great nephew of the late Ed Wilson, who died with Scott in 1912, made our trip come alive. This cruise was my second with HAL to the bottom of the world. I highly recommend it, but only if you want to "experience" it, not just look at it, through the tinted windows of the Crow's Nest.   Read Less
Sail Date: June 2013
The ship appeared "old and tired" when we boarded, and our large verandah level stateroom smelled stale and musty on entering and had to be re-cleaned, with an ozone machine being used to eliminate some odors. The bathroom was ... Read More
The ship appeared "old and tired" when we boarded, and our large verandah level stateroom smelled stale and musty on entering and had to be re-cleaned, with an ozone machine being used to eliminate some odors. The bathroom was right out of the 70's, complete with peach/pink tiles and a wall mounted hair dryer usually found only in museums. A drain in the bathroom floor had to be opened and cleaned to eliminate sewer gases. The desk/dressing area was badly chipped and poorly repaired long past the point where it should have been replaced. The food in the main (Lido Deck) dining room was marginal. On the first night, some of the food was virtually inedible, with pork chops about 1/4" thick or less and cooked to the consistency of shoe sole material taking the lead. There was also very little variety of the "C average" food throughout the week. The fitness room was quite well equipped, although water was provided (other than for sale) only via a drinking fountain with paper cups, and they ran out of paper cups toward the end of the cruise. The wait staff, cabin stewards and others at that level of service were polite but less friendly and accommodating than we have experienced with other cruise lines. Fortunately, the places visited were so spectacular that it made the shipboard accommodations relatively unimportant, but it is highly unlikely that we will ever travel on a Holland America ship again. 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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