This was our first HAL cruise. We have cruised about 12 other times on Carnival, Norwegian and Celebrity. This was a cruise/land combination (Double Denali). The Zaandam is smaller so that it can go through the inside passage (about 1200 passengers). The cabin was very nice and spacious (ocean view). The decor of the ship was clean and simple with a musical theme. Lots of space to move about. The staff was very good, especially the casino staff who were probably the most friendly and helpful that we have ever met. The food quality was good in the dining room and service good. We found dining options lacking compared to other cruises that we have taken. We found it very odd that the Lido buffet closed at 8 p.m. reopening at 10:30 p.m. which left a gap where there was zero food available during the evening unless you wanted to wait until later. If you didn't want to make it to the dining times, you were out of luck. There is only 1 optional dining bar (a hamburger joint on the Lido deck) and it is only open until 5 p.m. daily. The service was incredibly slow and, of the two times that we went there, the orders were wrong both times. The lounge entertainment was the most disappointing part of our cruise. There were 4 options: A jazz trio in a lounge that were decent but played very low key music. An individual guitar player that played some modern music but preferred to fall back on his Irish roots. He was the best choice to listen to for us. A piano player who was an excellent musician but played Gershwin, Streisand, Sinatra and mostly show tunes. The HALcats who played in the Crows nest and I assume were trying to be the upbeat group - not particulary good to listen to and appeared to be a few musicians who had been thrown together by HAL. I know that HAL caters to an older crowd and many people would probably love to listen to showtunes every night but I am 60 years old and these entertainment choices were far too low key for us. "Sedate" would be a polite word. Guest services staff were very polite and helpful. I found the Tour desk staff to be very methodical and just want to process the line. Port excursions were plentiful (we did Snorkeling in Ketchikan, whale watching in Juneau and Glacier Wilderness in Skagway) - definitely recommend the Glacier Wilderness tour. We continued on to the land tour after our cruise and really enjoyed the included activities. The Discovery Riverboat excursion (included) was excellent and I booked Golf at Black Diamond in Denali - would definitely recommend the Golf and Dinner combination - amazing food and lots of fun golfing at night! Hotels on the land portion were better than expected with good service. **** WARNING: When we boarded in Vancouver, Customs was experiencing significant slowdowns with boarding. Passengers were waiting up to 4 hours to get through security. If you have a NEXUS card, use it! We had ours and only took 15 minutes to bypass the chaos. Overall, we enjoyed our tour (no such thing as a bad cruise in my mind) but don't think that we will go with HAL again based on the Food and Entertainment experiences. As I said, at 60 I have to consider myself older but apparently HAL is catering to people with different expectations than us. For us, Norwegian is probably the choice.

Good cruise and land tour but HAL not for us!

Zaandam Cruise Review by Newcomkj

22 people found this helpful
Trip Details
  • Sail Date: June 2016
  • Destination: Alaska
  • Cabin Type: Large Ocean-View Stateroom
This was our first HAL cruise. We have cruised about 12 other times on Carnival, Norwegian and Celebrity. This was a cruise/land combination (Double Denali).

The Zaandam is smaller so that it can go through the inside passage (about 1200 passengers). The cabin was very nice and spacious (ocean view). The decor of the ship was clean and simple with a musical theme. Lots of space to move about.

The staff was very good, especially the casino staff who were probably the most friendly and helpful that we have ever met.

The food quality was good in the dining room and service good.

We found dining options lacking compared to other cruises that we have taken.

We found it very odd that the Lido buffet closed at 8 p.m. reopening at 10:30 p.m. which left a gap where there was zero food available during the evening unless you wanted to wait until later. If you didn't want to make it to the dining times, you were out of luck.

There is only 1 optional dining bar (a hamburger joint on the Lido deck) and it is only open until 5 p.m. daily. The service was incredibly slow and, of the two times that we went there, the orders were wrong both times.

The lounge entertainment was the most disappointing part of our cruise.

There were 4 options:

A jazz trio in a lounge that were decent but played very low key music.

An individual guitar player that played some modern music but preferred to fall back on his Irish roots. He was the best choice to listen to for us.

A piano player who was an excellent musician but played Gershwin, Streisand, Sinatra and mostly show tunes.

The HALcats who played in the Crows nest and I assume were trying to be the upbeat group - not particulary good to listen to and appeared to be a few musicians who had been thrown together by HAL.

I know that HAL caters to an older crowd and many people would probably love to listen to showtunes every night but I am 60 years old and these entertainment choices were far too low key for us. "Sedate" would be a polite word.

Guest services staff were very polite and helpful. I found the Tour desk staff to be very methodical and just want to process the line.

Port excursions were plentiful (we did Snorkeling in Ketchikan, whale watching in Juneau and Glacier Wilderness in Skagway) - definitely recommend the Glacier Wilderness tour.

We continued on to the land tour after our cruise and really enjoyed the included activities. The Discovery Riverboat excursion (included) was excellent and I booked Golf at Black Diamond in Denali - would definitely recommend the Golf and Dinner combination - amazing food and lots of fun golfing at night!

Hotels on the land portion were better than expected with good service.

**** WARNING: When we boarded in Vancouver, Customs was experiencing significant slowdowns with boarding. Passengers were waiting up to 4 hours to get through security. If you have a NEXUS card, use it! We had ours and only took 15 minutes to bypass the chaos.

Overall, we enjoyed our tour (no such thing as a bad cruise in my mind) but don't think that we will go with HAL again based on the Food and Entertainment experiences. As I said, at 60 I have to consider myself older but apparently HAL is catering to people with different expectations than us. For us, Norwegian is probably the choice.
Newcomkj’s Full Rating Summary
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Cabin Review

Large Ocean-View Stateroom
Cabin EE 2056
Large, clean. Very nice.
Lower Promenade Deck Inside Cabins, Outside Cabins

Port & Shore Excursion Reviews

  • Snorkeling
    Snorkel Alaska - Great staff who really cared about their customers. Neat location to snorkel in.
    View All 30 Snorkeling Reviews
  • Glacier Point Wilderness Safari
    Excellent - Guides really know their stuff and have fun doing it. Great day at the glacier. Canoes are motorized so not stressful. Short walk to canoes through forest may be tough for people with walking difficulties.
    View All 39 Glacier Point Wilderness Safari Reviews