We've cruised Carnival, Princess & NCL and enjoyed all 5 trips. So, I expected a good experience with Holland since it appears to be highly regarded. When we had the chance to take a quick 4-nites between San Diego/Vancouver (with 1-stop in Victoria) on the Zaandam, I jumped on it. We arrived a day early in San Diego to avoid any airline snafu and over-nighted at the Holiday Inn On The Bay, which is directly across the street from the Cruise Terminal where the Zaandam would dock. Convenience is thy middle name! We've stayed at this Holiday Inn before but now, the rooms have been nicely refurbished. Most of the major hotel chains seem to be bringing in new comfortable beds with top-rate linens; no exception here. We boarded the Zaandam at noon; embarkation was easy. Our stateroom was large & well-designed with a deep balcony, an actual tub (plus shower) in the nice sized bathroom, good lighting & heavy drapes you can use to separate the comfortable sitting area from the bedroom. The storage space looked adequate at first glance but there wasn't much room to hang long garments. The beds were even better than the Holiday Inn with luxurious Egyptian cotton linens & 3 pillows for each guest. All in all, this was the best balcony cabin we've had so far. I wish I could say the same for the cruise itself! Thank goodness this was only a 4-nite trip. Daily activities were limited to bingo, seminars, reading rooms, cards & an overly expensive Art Auction. I usually attend the art auctions but felt the pricing at this show was over the top, possibly because Holland appears to cater to the older crowd who may have money. There was, however, a short daily culinary demonstration plus cocktail/wine tasting. We found the small Casino entertaining & generous but did not attend the evening shows. You have your choice of assigned or open seating in the 2-story dining room. We chose open seating but found it necessary to phone ahead for reservations to avoid a somewhat long wait for a table. Personally, we found the meals tastier, with a good variety of dishes, in the Lido Buffet. Steaks (served twice at the buffet)seemed to be a better grade of meat than the daily steak option in main dining. Real mashed potatoes were available every nite along with your choice of two soups, a variety of well-prepared vegetables, a few choices of meat entrees but the desserts were uninteresting. Too much cut-up watermelon & cantaloupe, bland cakes and the diabetic selections had absolutely no taste. Breakfast at the buffet was a treat with fluffy scrambled eggs, made-to-order omelets, crisp bacon, ham on/the/bone and breakfast breads. The turkey sandwich I had for lunch was so-so; I expected carved turkey, not slices. And the potato chips looked like they came from the bottom of the bag - all broken! My husband enjoyed the stir-fry and fried rice and thought the salad selection was more than adequate. I've got to admit the Zaandam's iced tea was simply delicious. Regarding service, the waiters in the Lido buffet were pleasant enough and carried your tray to the table which was a nice touch. Waiters in the main dining room made no personal connection with the table guests from what we observed. Our cabin steward did his job, smiled a lot but no connection there either. Honestly, we only ran into one bartender that went out of his way to mix with us. Least I forget, the Captain. The Captain made no extra effort to reassure his passengers that all's well during 36-hours of very rough seas, 14' waves and a ship that was dipping and rolling Ad-nauseam. No announcement was made that meds were available if needed for sea sickness. The bad weather and rolling ship were simply ignored by staff unless you, as the passenger, made it your business to react. I cannot imagine a first-time cruiser EVER going back for a second try! That major lapse of judgment, along with the dead flowers on the dining tables, chipped paint, broken lounge chairs in the Observation Deck, (tasted like)watered down orange juice, uninterested cruiseship employees, etc. told me Holland America is not for me. I realize it's unfair to judge an entire line by one ship but, unless I'm given a free cruise, I will not use Holland in the future.

First & Last Time...

Zaandam Cruise Review by Kay

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Trip Details
We've cruised Carnival, Princess & NCL and enjoyed all 5 trips. So, I expected a good experience with Holland since it appears to be highly regarded. When we had the chance to take a quick 4-nites between San Diego/Vancouver (with 1-stop in Victoria) on the Zaandam, I jumped on it. We arrived a day early in San Diego to avoid any airline snafu and over-nighted at the Holiday Inn On The Bay, which is directly across the street from the Cruise Terminal where the Zaandam would dock. Convenience is thy middle name! We've stayed at this Holiday Inn before but now, the rooms have been nicely refurbished. Most of the major hotel chains seem to be bringing in new comfortable beds with top-rate linens; no exception here.
We boarded the Zaandam at noon; embarkation was easy. Our stateroom was large & well-designed with a deep balcony, an actual tub (plus shower) in the nice sized bathroom, good lighting & heavy drapes you can use to separate the comfortable sitting area from the bedroom. The storage space looked adequate at first glance but there wasn't much room to hang long garments. The beds were even better than the Holiday Inn with luxurious Egyptian cotton linens & 3 pillows for each guest. All in all, this was the best balcony cabin we've had so far. I wish I could say the same for the cruise itself! Thank goodness this was only a 4-nite trip. Daily activities were limited to bingo, seminars, reading rooms, cards & an overly expensive Art Auction. I usually attend the art auctions but felt the pricing at this show was over the top, possibly because Holland appears to cater to the older crowd who may have money. There was, however, a short daily culinary demonstration plus cocktail/wine tasting. We found the small Casino entertaining & generous but did not attend the evening shows.
You have your choice of assigned or open seating in the 2-story dining room. We chose open seating but found it necessary to phone ahead for reservations to avoid a somewhat long wait for a table. Personally, we found the meals tastier, with a good variety of dishes, in the Lido Buffet. Steaks (served twice at the buffet)seemed to be a better grade of meat than the daily steak option in main dining. Real mashed potatoes were available every nite along with your choice of two soups, a variety of well-prepared vegetables, a few choices of meat entrees but the desserts were uninteresting. Too much cut-up watermelon & cantaloupe, bland cakes and the diabetic selections had absolutely no taste.
Breakfast at the buffet was a treat with fluffy scrambled eggs, made-to-order omelets, crisp bacon, ham on/the/bone and breakfast breads. The turkey sandwich I had for lunch was so-so; I expected carved turkey, not slices. And the potato chips looked like they came from the bottom of the bag - all broken! My husband enjoyed the stir-fry and fried rice and thought the salad selection was more than adequate. I've got to admit the Zaandam's iced tea was simply delicious. Regarding service, the waiters in the Lido buffet were pleasant enough and carried your tray to the table which was a nice touch. Waiters in the main dining room made no personal connection with the table guests from what we observed. Our cabin steward did his job, smiled a lot but no connection there either. Honestly, we only ran into one bartender that went out of his way to mix with us.
Least I forget, the Captain. The Captain made no extra effort to reassure his passengers that all's well during 36-hours of very rough seas, 14' waves and a ship that was dipping and rolling Ad-nauseam. No announcement was made that meds were available if needed for sea sickness. The bad weather and rolling ship were simply ignored by staff unless you, as the passenger, made it your business to react. I cannot imagine a first-time cruiser EVER going back for a second try!
That major lapse of judgment, along with the dead flowers on the dining tables, chipped paint, broken lounge chairs in the Observation Deck, (tasted like)watered down orange juice, uninterested cruiseship employees, etc. told me Holland America is not for me. I realize it's unfair to judge an entire line by one ship but, unless I'm given a free cruise, I will not use Holland in the future.
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