Embarkation in Vancouver at the Canada Place Pier was a breeze. Granted we have cruised once before a few years back so had a good idea of where to go, what to do, and what to expect. We stayed the day prior at the Sutton Place (a US TV celebrity was checking in behind us - pretty nifty) and had booked this hotel for one night pre and post cruise to make travel less stressful. We booked through AMEX platinum travel so was automatically upgraded to a 2 room executive suite+breakfast+$75 food/bev credit. Kudos to American Express Platinum Travel (AMEX PTS)! We checked out of the hotel Sunday after breakfast, around 10:00am and took a $6.00 cab ride to the pier where we were literally dropped of at the longshoremans luggage crib and the next time we saw our luggage was neatly placed in our room onboard. From that moment we were through customs, through HAL check-in, and sitting down to Beef Wellington and a long island iced tea within 45minutes! Whoo Hooo! The verandah suite cabin was clean and everything in working order however was in need of woodwork touch up and upholstery updating. Incredibly comfortable bed and sheets. Flat screen TV. Booking through AMEX PTS had a bottle of champagne waiting on ice, a fresh flower arrangement, and 2 free Pinnacle Grill reservations waiting on us in the room. The comedy entertainment was 100% top notch as was the guest female singer. The HAL "broadway production" completely sucked and 30% of those in the Mondorian Theatre left mid-performance because it was so bad. The overweight cruise director "Lizabeth" was snooty/stuck-up and seemed to care less about her job or the quality of the entertainment/activities her job dictates she spearhead. After 7 days we were sick of her using the phrase DAM SHIP in every other sentence. We met the captain for the one cocktail hour in which he stood shoulder to shoulder with Lizabeth like an embalmed corpse and spoke "hello welcome, hi, good evening, enjoy the cruise...(repeat 100 times).  The food was a Carnival buffet in disguise and the Pinnacle Grill steak tasted just as overcooked as in the Rotterdam Dining Room. The Pinnacle Grill service was intrusive and clumsy. Too many people doing too many things constantly in your space reaching across you and interrupting conversation. The food in general was good but Royal C was a bit better and totally consistent whereas this HAL Zaandam experience was like a Golden Corral / Ryans Steakhouse experience. The wine steward (we called him the porn star as he got excessively romantic with the ladies) was an idiot. I asked for a Penfold Merlot and he said they do not stock any Brazilian wine...what an idiot. The gym was very nice with well placed and maintained equipment. The gym manager was an ass trying to hard sell $1200 worth of "detox" herbs to us as well as the spa manager who put my wife on a guilt trip for not engaging her in a $300 acupuncture session - good grief! On Saturday the Front desk called our room at 6:32 A M to advise us we needed to reregister our credit card for onboard expenses. This kind of crap never happened on Windstar or Royal C for that matter. The one shore excursion was the Saddle & Paddle which was OK. I can now say I rode a horse in the Yukon. We saw 0 wildlife and the paddle portion had our canoe guide yelling so loud that any moose/bear/deer were long gone before we would have ever seen them. The saddle portion was a nice slow horse ride in a group of 6 along a worn the hell out trail that lasted a whopping 25 minutes. The lunch was a gas station type sandwich, bowl of progresso soup, a slice of pie, and a little plastic cup of tap water, all in a "lodge" that felt like a mobile home. Last but not least.....CIGARETTE SMOKE PERMEATED virtually every area of this ship, especially our room/bathroom. I will never book a HAL cruise for this single reason. It totally ruined the cruise experience. If you think staying in a Ramada or a Radisson is 1st class accommodations than you are going to love Holland America and the Zaandam.  I think we'll cruise less often so as to save our money for lines like Windstar, Seabourn, or Silvesea.  

Good Value Cruising

Zaandam Cruise Review by Josef P

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Trip Details
  • Sail Date: September 2008
  • Destination: Alaska
  • Cabin Type: Vista Suite with Verandah
Embarkation in Vancouver at the Canada Place Pier was a breeze. Granted we have cruised once before a few years back so had a good idea of where to go, what to do, and what to expect. We stayed the day prior at the Sutton Place (a US TV celebrity was checking in behind us - pretty nifty) and had booked this hotel for one night pre and post cruise to make travel less stressful. We booked through AMEX platinum travel so was automatically upgraded to a 2 room executive suite+breakfast+$75 food/bev credit. Kudos to American Express Platinum Travel (AMEX PTS)! We checked out of the hotel Sunday after breakfast, around 10:00am and took a $6.00 cab ride to the pier where we were literally dropped of at the longshoremans luggage crib and the next time we saw our luggage was neatly placed in our room onboard. From that moment we were through customs, through HAL check-in, and sitting down to Beef Wellington and a long island iced tea within 45minutes! Whoo Hooo! The verandah suite cabin was clean and everything in working order however was in need of woodwork touch up and upholstery updating. Incredibly comfortable bed and sheets. Flat screen TV. Booking through AMEX PTS had a bottle of champagne waiting on ice, a fresh flower arrangement, and 2 free Pinnacle Grill reservations waiting on us in the room. The comedy entertainment was 100% top notch as was the guest female singer. The HAL "broadway production" completely sucked and 30% of those in the Mondorian Theatre left mid-performance because it was so bad. The overweight cruise director "Lizabeth" was snooty/stuck-up and seemed to care less about her job or the quality of the entertainment/activities her job dictates she spearhead. After 7 days we were sick of her using the phrase DAM SHIP in every other sentence. We met the captain for the one cocktail hour in which he stood shoulder to shoulder with Lizabeth like an embalmed corpse and spoke "hello welcome, hi, good evening, enjoy the cruise...(repeat 100 times).
 The food was a Carnival buffet in disguise and the Pinnacle Grill steak tasted just as overcooked as in the Rotterdam Dining Room. The Pinnacle Grill service was intrusive and clumsy. Too many people doing too many things constantly in your space reaching across you and interrupting conversation. The food in general was good but Royal C was a bit better and totally consistent whereas this HAL Zaandam experience was like a Golden Corral / Ryans Steakhouse experience. The wine steward (we called him the porn star as he got excessively romantic with the ladies) was an idiot. I asked for a Penfold Merlot and he said they do not stock any Brazilian wine...what an idiot. The gym was very nice with well placed and maintained equipment. The gym manager was an ass trying to hard sell $1200 worth of "detox" herbs to us as well as the spa manager who put my wife on a guilt trip for not engaging her in a $300 acupuncture session - good grief! On Saturday the Front desk called our room at 6:32 A M to advise us we needed to reregister our credit card for onboard expenses. This kind of crap never happened on Windstar or Royal C for that matter. The one shore excursion was the Saddle & Paddle which was OK. I can now say I rode a horse in the Yukon. We saw 0 wildlife and the paddle portion had our canoe guide yelling so loud that any moose/bear/deer were long gone before we would have ever seen them. The saddle portion was a nice slow horse ride in a group of 6 along a worn the hell out trail that lasted a whopping 25 minutes. The lunch was a gas station type sandwich, bowl of progresso soup, a slice of pie, and a little plastic cup of tap water, all in a "lodge" that felt like a mobile home. Last but not least.....CIGARETTE SMOKE PERMEATED virtually every area of this ship, especially our room/bathroom. I will never book a HAL cruise for this single reason. It totally ruined the cruise experience. If you think staying in a Ramada or a Radisson is 1st class accommodations than you are going to love Holland America and the Zaandam.
 I think we'll cruise less often so as to save our money for lines like Windstar, Seabourn, or Silvesea.
 
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Cabin Review

Vista Suite with Verandah
Cabin AA 6155
Clean but crampt and dated. Musty and reaked of cigerette smoke. Hallway quiet and far from elevators but across from busy self-service laundry. Toilet configuration causes knees to shove into bathtub whilst pooping.
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