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.

We were bound from Valparaiso, round the Horn!

Zaandam Cruise Review by 2freespirits

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Trip Details
  • Sail Date: November 2018
  • Destination: South America
  • Cabin Type: Large Ocean-View Stateroom
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.
2freespirits’s Full Rating Summary
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Cabin Review

Large Ocean-View Stateroom
Cabin F 1921
Our ocean view cabin was located on Deck 1, starboard side near the aft elevator.
It was comfortable and very roomy after we asked our stewards to separate the double bed into two singles, thus creating a central aisle that gives the cabin an appearance of being larger than it really is.

As well as the beds, there is a foldable couch (to make a bed for a 3rd occupant, if required) and a bathroom off to the right as you enter. The bathroom suite includes a bath/shower combination and the usual vacuum toilet, washbasin and storage cabinet.
TIPS: the bath tap/shower head assembly was a design we had not seen previously, and getting the flow to divert to the shower took some experimentation. The mixer-tap mechanism includes a temperature control on the right hand side, a flow control on the top, but no obvious means of diverting the flow from the spout to the shower head. Here’s the secret: there is a movable collar around the spout. After you have set the temperature and the flow you want, pull the collar downwards, and water begins to flow from the shower head. The shower stops after you turn off the flow.

There is no refrigerator in the cabin, so the mini-bar is just a collection of cans and bottle of Evian water sitting on the dressing table. The safe does not use a numerical keypad; you have to swipe a card with a magnetic stripe to lock and unlock it.

In this part of the ship, you will inevitably hear the noise made by the powerful stern thrusters as the ship manoeuvres during docking. These noises don’t bother us, but others may be more sensitive to noise. This is an important consideration when selecting a cabin.
In port, people working on the dock can see into cabins on this deck – just be aware!
Dolphin Deck Inside Cabins, Outside Cabins

Port & Shore Excursion Reviews

  • Buenos Aires
    At a Pizzeria in La Boca we ate some very mediocre empanadas.
    View All 237 Buenos Aires Cruise Port Reviews
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  • Recoleta Cemetery
    Buenos Aires Day 1
    Buenos Aires traffic is chaotic and not for the faint-hearted. We took a $10 US taxi ride to the Jardin Botanico. This is an interesting, well laid out display of southern hemisphere plants, but unfortunately the fern house was closed during our visit (a Sunday). TIP: the washrooms are hidden in a building at the far end from the main entrance and they are dreadful. The doors do not have functional latches, the toilets do not have seats, neither toilet paper nor towels are supplied. If you decide to visit, be prepared to provide your own supplies, or visit the Café La Estancia (opposite the main entrance). Here you will find clean washrooms (fully equipped) good coffee and croissants (media-lunas in Spanish).

    Buenos Aires Day 2
    Because our flight did not depart from B.A until 10:00 p.m. we decided to take a coach tour of B.A. This was interesting, but not really relaxing, because the traffic in the city on weekdays is horrendous. Our coach ground its way through heavy traffic, along narrow streets, and around nail-biting corners. We visited a cemetery to see the grave of Eva Peron, and the La Boca area.

    B.A. airport is not passenger friendly. We waited for hours before we could check-in and even that process proved to be difficult. TIP: before you board the aircraft, security staff conduct an examination of hand luggage, and you may get pulled aside for unexplained reasons. Be aware.
    View All 16 Recoleta Cemetery Reviews
  • Montevideo
    Montevideo (alongside) We wandered around a rather decrepit part of town to a flea market in the main square. Sellers here accept pesos or US dollars and their prices are reasonable. On our way back to the dock we explored the meat market. Part of the inner harbour seems to be a ship graveyard – there must be a fortune in scrap metal here! TIP: Montevideo is perhaps best known for the Battle of the River Plate that took place during WWII. On the dock you can examine the recovered rangefinder from the German battleship Admiral Graf Spee, the vessel that was at the centre of the battle before being scuttled by her captain.
    View All 248 Montevideo Cruise Port Reviews
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  • Puerto Montt
    In Puerto Montt we were greeted by intense rain, so much so that the roof of the Crow’s Nest developed a small leak, and crew needed to place towels on some seats to absorb the drips. We never saw rain of such intensity anywhere else during the voyage: needless to say, we stayed on board in that day.
    View All 153 Puerto Montt Cruise Port Reviews
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  • Punta Arenas
    Very strong winds required 18 lines and 2 tugs to keep us up against the dock! From the dock you can catch buses into town. TIP: the buses are supposedly free, but we are not sure how frequently these free buses run, so instead we opted to pay $3 US per person to travel each way. Operators quote the prices in both Chilean pesos and US dollars, and seem happy to accept either currency. Walking in high winds can be difficult and we were really glad we had followed the layered clothing advice.
    View All 152 Punta Arenas Cruise Port Reviews
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  • Gentoo Penguins in Bluff Cove
    Port Stanley (tendering port) Ships the size of the Zaandam are too large to enter Stanley Harbour, so getting ashore requires a long tender ride (15-20 minutes depending on sea conditions). We were very lucky because the day we arrived brought unusually warm, sunny conditions and a relatively calm sea. TIP: you can’t actually see your ship from Port Stanley – there is a spit of land in the way. On very windy days, you may not be able to go ashore.
    We took an excursion to see Joe’s Gentoo penguins at their nesting colony. This is a short trip (2.5 hours), but it does require a short stretch of off-road travel in Land-Rovers. These are not uncomfortable, but you get bumped around a bit, something to consider if you suffer from back trouble. Other excursions to see other penguin species take much longer and involve more off-roading.
    View All 29 Gentoo Penguins in Bluff Cove Reviews
  • Train to the End of the World
    Ushuaia (tendering port). The world’s most southerly city is located in a beautiful setting between the ocean and a range of snow-capped peaks. We took an excursion on the Train-At-The-End-Of-The-World, and enjoyed ourselves immensely. This railway was built as a logging line by convict labour at a time when Ushuaia was a penal colony. It is narrow gauge (50 cm) line using reproductions of the original steam locos to haul trains on 7 miles of track through a variety of scenery. TIP: we suggest this excursion is a MUST for rail enthusiasts of all ages, and it was VERY popular with passengers from our ship.
    After our train ride our excursion took us to the Tierra del Fuego National Park. This is an interesting place, but the parking lot is crammed with taxis, coaches and private cars so you need to exercise extreme care when walking. TIP: there is a Post Office here from which you can mail cards or letters from the bottom of the world; however, it does tend to get VERY crowded.
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