7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2018
Chose this cruise as part of our Uncommon Journeys trip and easy sailing out of San Diego. Like the small ship of 1400. Liked the entertainment brought onboard. Liked upgrade. However, meals were hit or miss! Thai lunch was great; ... Read More
Chose this cruise as part of our Uncommon Journeys trip and easy sailing out of San Diego. Like the small ship of 1400. Liked the entertainment brought onboard. Liked upgrade. However, meals were hit or miss! Thai lunch was great; lobster tails on Gala night were excellent; however, last meal on last night was inedible....lamb chops! Gluten free bread was horrible white bread they put in microwave when I asked for it toasted. Finally, on our disembarkation day we were all told we could stay in our room until they called out number/color. Staff asked to come into rooms at 7:00 and 8:00 am before we were called and it was kinda rude. Service is going downhill and so is food....getting too much like Carnival. Both we and another couple who have cruised many, many days and are 3-star mariners, do not think we will ever go HA again! Very sad! Read Less
13 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2017
HAL used to have great service and class. This was a 34 day cruise from San Diego, Calif. to Rio de Janeiro. On the first half from San Diego there were no activities except for trivia and unhosted cards.But there were a lot of ... Read More
HAL used to have great service and class. This was a 34 day cruise from San Diego, Calif. to Rio de Janeiro. On the first half from San Diego there were no activities except for trivia and unhosted cards.But there were a lot of opportunities to spend your money at bingo and on all the sales going on. It was like a floating Walmart. At the pool, it was difficult to get a glass of water or iced tea but plenty of waiters walking around to sell drinks.We went on the first half of this cruise last year on the same ship and noticed a huge difference in the service. They cut back on cabin stewards and on waiters - both in the dining room and Lido. One night in the DR, it was 25 minutes before our order was taken and over 2 hours to finally get to dessert which I was too angry to eat. Some of the entertainment was very good. The Zaandam dancers were very good the first time, good the 2nd time but really boring by about thee 5th time. American Test Kitchen was good but over the 34 days, they had repeated the same recipes several times. On several of the gala nights (which they cut down on) we got one lobster ravioli instead of lobster tail. There was no sail away party in San Diego or Neptune party when we crossed the equator like last year. The restrooms near the lounge were out of order a number of times. The best service on the ship was the front office people. They were always willing to answer questions and help. Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2017
The cruise offered a chance to circumnavigate South America with mostly interesting ports. Speedy embarkation, The ship has sophisticated/muted interiors and an outstanding display of art & musical memorabilia throughout the ship. ... Read More
The cruise offered a chance to circumnavigate South America with mostly interesting ports. Speedy embarkation, The ship has sophisticated/muted interiors and an outstanding display of art & musical memorabilia throughout the ship. Cabin 6180 looked fine, spacious with all amenities but when the ship was at sea a creaking/grating noise came from the junction of the veranda & the ceiling, the noise was pretty loud and nonstop. It was as if Sir Francis Drake's ghost has come to stay. After many complaints (most were ignored-front desk staff was useless except for Precious) wooden wedges were placed (helped) and then removed for safety reasons. Cabin was changed only at San Antonio (over 2 weeks). We dined mostly in the MDR, the food was hot, very good and the choices were ample. Service was amazing, we switched to a permanent table after a few days, Aang & Daniel our waiters remembered every request and Mr. Manik the assistant MDR manager was also very helpful. Ate a few times at the Pinnacle Grill and enjoyed the food and service. Activities were pretty limited and adjusted to the average age of the passengers. Entertainment was average. All staff was courteous and went out of their way to help. Most ports were interesting as a jump off point or in themselves, shore excursions were privately organized with shipmates met on CruiseCritic roll call (highly recommended)and only two were the ship's, they were well organized & the guides were very good. We enjoyed all aspects of the cruise apart from the cabin noise, A letter to HAL after we came back home did bring some consolation though it would have been better if the problem was resolved on board. Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2017
we chose this cruise because we just wanted a short getaway and one that did not involve a long distance plane ride. We ate dinner every night in the dining room and sat at different tables with different people every day which was OK. It ... Read More
we chose this cruise because we just wanted a short getaway and one that did not involve a long distance plane ride. We ate dinner every night in the dining room and sat at different tables with different people every day which was OK. It is cool to get to meet people for different places. We ate breakfast most days in the dining room and sat with other people. We had food at the Dive Inn a couple time and it was good. We ate lunch mostly at the lido. There were not as many activities that we were interested in on this cruise as there were on other cruises we have been on. The night life was not very good on this ship as the last cruise we were on. There was lots of trivia if you are someone who likes trivia. The shows at night were pretty good. Didnt really like the comedian to much. We only did one port on our cruise which was Victoria. Been there before but enjoyed our horse drawn carriage ride and our dinner in town. It was a long walk into town from the ship. We were glad it was not a rainy day. Read Less
10 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2017
This is my 3rd Holland America cruise, the first two were also short - but both were great with good food and impeccable service. First I will say that my room steward was STILL amazing; Heri ! Room 3410. Without him this would have ... Read More
This is my 3rd Holland America cruise, the first two were also short - but both were great with good food and impeccable service. First I will say that my room steward was STILL amazing; Heri ! Room 3410. Without him this would have been a total loss. I went with 3 girlfriends a a short fun vacation. Well, all fun that was had - was created by us. It started with cranky front desk people with extremely forced smiles when we first arrived, who also gave us wrong information about buying a drink package. I insisted to my group that we eat in the Rotterdam dining room each dinner to the dismay of my group... and later I had to end up apologizing for my insistence because it was so bad. We ended up calling the rotting ham diner. Nothing was AMAZING. LOTS was bad. Not even one great dessert that I can talk about. Steaks were OK. nothing I couldn't get at Mr. Steak or Dennys. I didnt have the lobster which everyone else did and they all thought it was good. When the lobster was served no butter came with it. Sauces were in VERY stingy supply at EVERY MEAL. We had to ask our waiter Handri (who was not obliging to us in any way- but he was the only waiter who gave us attitude.. the rest were nice. Painfully slow but nice) for the butter- which he had about 3 feet from our table in a large silver dish. He had not even offered us any. So Weird and rude. so then he came and put the button on top of the lobster. NOPE you don't get any to dip!! LOL! The appetizers were so very strange. Absolutely everything had no flavor what so ever. Now I realize that 3/4 of those passengers were over 70 but my gosh! could I have SOMETHING WITH FLAVOR!!! the one and only meal we had that I didn't have to use 1/2 the salt shaker on was the Hamburgers and tacos at the Dive in - which of course closed early every day so you better be quick if you want to eat there. The desserts were all BAD. the flourless chocolate cake was tasty - but it had said it would be a molten chocolate cake - so we were disappointed. Our shock was on the next to last night when we went by the Lido cafeteria after dinner only to see EVERY SINGLE BITE OF OUR DINNER ON THE CAFE LINE!! Why did I go into the dining room and wait at least 1 hour for my food when I could go to the Lido and get everything the exact same there without the attitude in the dining room. That was when we got really mad. The comedian was sad. Maybe with another group it would have been successful but with our audience it was really bad. He was way too young and unmarried and no kids and couldn't relate to the crowd at all. so... Basically he just kind of put us all down . I put that on Holland America. They should match the comedian up with the crowd, FAIL. OK..... the boat was really rocking during his performance and we all got sick.. I will say this is the first time I have ever encountered some snotty drink servers. Mostly in the pool area. BY the last night everything was leftovers in the cafeteria. We took so many choices and found most of it non-edible. Old, hard, stale, cold and of course...flavorless. I spent a lot of time at the spa and loved Liza who did my facials and Joji who I also worked with. I bought some product and didnt buy some others. I never felt pressured by them and they were delightful to deal with. thanks! not nearly enough things going on. oh yeah.. and I played bingo for $35 for 1 game of blackout and the prize was a Holland America Cruise for 2, Guess what I WON!! oh yeah.., then another lady yelled bingo after me and we had a run off of 4 corners and I lost.... Holland America Giveth.. and Holland America taketh away...... That stunk. I was given a $50 credit. wow. That was a low point. Especially the next day at bingo when there were 4 pots from $250 up to $475. each. I really thought a better consolation prize was warranted. Sadly I wont ever sail Holland America again- way too many negatives. Hi-lights - The bathroom products are nice. good shampoo and conditioner and body wash. a tub in the room - that was nice. comfy beds. Great room attendant. Lots of empty areas on the ship for us to go and make our own fun and play games. Loved watching and dancing with the performers in the crows nest. After convincing the DJ to play something other than Donna Summer we had fun up there.(But really what DJ does not have Flo Rida Low ? and Sir Mix a lot???) Read Less
22 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2017
We chose this cruise for a girls getaway because it was a short cruise and was fairly inexpensive. However, I would have gladly paid more if everything could have been improved. The food in the dining room was, on several occasions, cold. ... Read More
We chose this cruise for a girls getaway because it was a short cruise and was fairly inexpensive. However, I would have gladly paid more if everything could have been improved. The food in the dining room was, on several occasions, cold. The service we received was normally very good except for the lobster night when we had a horrible server - Handri - he acted as if we were inconveniencing him. There was only one electrical outlet In our room and every time I plugged my hair dryer, the lights would flicker and go off... a bit of updating wouldn't hurt either when it comes to everything and maybe use a designer that isn't stuck in the 1950s. Also, I normally like it when the ship is at sea as there are usually many, many organized activities available - so many in fact that we have difficulty deciding what to do. That was certainly not the case on the Zaandam. Bingo and trivia about did it for activities. Bingo lasted 15 minutes and trivia maybe 30 minutes. There is a casino onboard as well as a spa however, we were expecting more organized activities. We love cruising due to the diversity on the ships as far as the age of the guests. There were people onboard of all ages however, everything - including the music that was represented as "today's hits" - was targeted toward the guests that were over 70 years old. Last time I checked, "today" means 2017 and not 1917. Dancing in the Crows Nest to today's hits was ridiculous. When we walked in, music from the 1950s was playing. After we pleaded A LOT with the DJ, he finally played something from this century and when he did, the empty dance floor was packed with dancers of all ages. Everyone was laughing and smiling. When he went back to a 1950s song, again, the dance floor was empty. I think there is a lesson to be learned in this. Just because the majority of your guests are over 70 doesn't mean they are dead. THEY WANT TO HAVE FUN JUST LIKE THOSE OF US IN OUR 50s and 60s....and 20s, 30s, and 40s. I know I mentioned the food briefly above but honestly, I overheard more complaints from other guests about the horrible food than I have ever heard about any restaurant let alone a cruise ship. It was as if McDonalds cooks were hired and they were told not to use any herbs and/or spices. Even us old people want to experience excellent tasting food and that certainly didn't happen. Did we get the leftovers from this ship's previous cruises or did someone misplace their cookbook? PUT SOME FLAVOR IN THE FOOD! I have never been disappointed by the food on a cruise until now nor have I ever lost weight on a cruise until now. Weight Watchers could be a future cruising partner as I'm sure the WW members will be thrilled by the weight loss potential as they certainly aren't going to crave anything onboard other than possibly the ice cream. Lastly, the way that we were told to disembark in Victoria was nothing short of an absolute fiasco. Seriously? We were treated like cattle squished into one small hallway which is a far cry from what I expected. The one bright, shinning light on this cruise - and the ONLY positive thing - was because of our room steward, Heri. He was wonderful and everything I expected from a cruise line. He was attentive, available and an all around wonderful representation of what a cabin steward should strive for. Heri was great and I will sincerely miss him. I can only hope that at some point he realizes his potential and moves up the food chain to a much better cruise line and/or ship because he honestly deserves it. Heri was the one gem that we found on this extremely disappointing cruise. There you have it. I hope that at some point someone at Holland America realizes that just because someone's physical age is over 70, doesn't mean they don't want and know how to have fun...they also know what a good meal is and that they didn't get one on the Zaandam. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: October 2016
I had wanted to do the South America cruise but was not willing to fly all that distance and back. I loved the length of the cruise and the experience of traversing the entire pacific coast form San Diego south and around Cape Horn. ... Read More
I had wanted to do the South America cruise but was not willing to fly all that distance and back. I loved the length of the cruise and the experience of traversing the entire pacific coast form San Diego south and around Cape Horn. There are always things you can find to complain about if you want. I generally prefer to focus on what is good and then I am happier. There would have been little to complain about on this cruise. The Mexico ports were hot and steamy at this time of year but that was solved by planning swimming and snorkeling outings. Lima was better seen with a hotel room as it was an overnight and was sort of a pain to get into. The Indian Markets were well worth the trip. Much better than anything else similar I saw on the rest of the trip. Embarkation had glitches because of computer problems so there were lines. Activities are not extensive but I don't go on a cruise for those. Most people find plenty to do. I did the HAL beagle channel boat tour and it was wonderful. The Catamaran had loads of nice space with tables inside and lots of deck space outside for taking pictures. Food was of good quality. I have always found HAL food to be of good quality and varied. I got off the ship the night before disembarkation because the flights all go at 9pm and I didn't want to have to kill a day in Buenos Aires and then fly all night. They made it easy to do. About 100 passengers did this. You just need to let them know once you are onboard. Read Less
11 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2016
I came back to Holland after my experience on the Regal Princess. Holland has always been my favorite but she would be priced somewhat higher for balconies because she has fewer that other cruise lines. One thing you could always depend on ... Read More
I came back to Holland after my experience on the Regal Princess. Holland has always been my favorite but she would be priced somewhat higher for balconies because she has fewer that other cruise lines. One thing you could always depend on was the service and the food. I am now traveling alone since loosing my husband. This ship had many single cruisers traveling alone. The cruise line gave a luncheon for single cruisers and I met many many people who shared my cruise with me. I have never seen that before on any cruise I have been on. It can be daunting traveling alone. I did not have one minute of concern the entire time. I spent my 41 and 42 back to back cruises on the Zaandam out of San Diego. The checkin was flawless. I was concerned about my cabin 1808 that had been reviewed badly. I loved my cabin. Had two side by side pot holes and I divided my bed so I could walk up to the window and look out. Even had some feather friends take naps in my port holes along the way. That just tickled me to death. Ports of call were awesome especially Falkland Islands and the Bluff excursion to see the penguins. Absolutely excellent. We had wonderful weather the entire time. I was in the front of the ship on the bottom and rarely felt the ship move. I like to be rocked to sleep. This ship had amazing stabilizers. My cabin steward Mardi was top notch. I have a bad back and hip issues. He made me a wonderful bed complete with thick topper and lots of pillows. Had little problems because I slept like a hibernating bear. Afrin delivered my breakfast each morning at the right time and everything was always perfect. Lido food was decent. Food in the dining room was ok. I found the menu's to be unappetizing several nights. The people at my table and myself ordered several appetizers instead of the main entree. May was our waiter and he was a joy but worked himself to death. The matri'd was filling water glasses. Two hours plus every night for dinner. There is simply not enough people working the dining room. The guys do the best they can under the conditions they worked under. I play in the casino. Had a wonderful time because the casino staff were warm and friendly. They made my cruise so enjoyable. Only went to one show and that was the broadway hits show at 2pm in the afternoon. Four singers that were Broadway quality. They got a standing ovation with loud Bravo by the passengers. Had an issue with my flight being canceled and little help from the passenger service desk. Excursion people were fabulous and knew they stuff especially Natalie. Jonathan, one of the Casino dealers suggested the following: When you come to Montevideo, walk into town and go to the old train station.(short leisurely walk.) Order beef. Argentina and Uruguay are known for their beef. Don't miss it. The best I have ever had. 37 days is a long time on a cruise ship but I had a wonderful time. I could have easily stayed longer. Loved Capt Chris Turner who gave us historic info about each and every port. He also told us about the up coming weather and what to expect. That is so important for folks who are not avid cruisers. Disembarkment went well. Took the Buenas Aires tour with the Tango show. NOT TO BE MISSED! The ship is old but I would book her again without any concerns. Read Less
20 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2016
I did the 37 day cruise Oct 2, 2016 from San Diego to Buenos Aires on the Zaandam and have a few comments. As a four star mariner i have done quite a few HAL cruises. This was my second time on the Zaandam. The first was last year YVR ... Read More
I did the 37 day cruise Oct 2, 2016 from San Diego to Buenos Aires on the Zaandam and have a few comments. As a four star mariner i have done quite a few HAL cruises. This was my second time on the Zaandam. The first was last year YVR to Valparaiso also on the Zaandam. Embarkation at San Diego: For me it was fine but as four star I got to skip a big line of very frustrated looking people with my priority boarding. Apparently a lot of folks weren't happy with the standing in very slow moving lines. Why San Diego can't get it organized to let people sit down and then call them to check in by first come first served groups like many other ports is a bit of a mystery. Standing in line for an hour or two for a lot of the older passengers is not a pleasant way to begin a cruise. The Room: Had an ocean view towards back of ship on lower prom deck. As usual the room was very comfortable but for some reason Holland still has not replaced the very small TV's which are very difficult to watch. Why they can't put at least a 32 inch flat screen mounted directly on the wall is beyond comprehension with the price of TV's these days. I always love being on the Lower prom deck with quick access for walking. The room stewards were perhaps two of the best ever. They managed to always clean the room when we were off elsewhere and seemed to go out of their way to be aware of our typical schedule. There was nothing that we ever asked for that wasn't provided quickly and correctly. Food: All in all i thought the food was good, better than a year ago. The Lido staff is wonderful especially two girls, Yen Ten and Septi who are incredibly friendly and provide great service with big smiles. The salad bar has definitely improved in the Lido and they provide big bowls for the salads. The pinnacle steak was very good. I'm not a big MDR regular but did eat there several times and enjoyed it. They only had a couple of pool side BBQ;s which were good. The Dive in by the pool provides a nice Mexican buffet along with the hot dogs/burgers/etc. Room service as usual was great with delivery times of about 30 minutes and the orders were always correct. Itinerary: Really enjoyed the Mexican ports and especially Puerto Vallarta overnight. PV is about as easy as it gets with buses going right in front of the terminal into town very cheap and easy to use. There is a walmart and sam's club right across the street from the dock which is good for anything you forgot to bring. I won't go into details on other ports other than to say most are fine but a few are very industrial and not walking distance to anything. In a few cases Holland or port officials provided shuttles into town, a few complimentary and some with a fee. Unfortunately they don't seem to want to tell anybody about the shuttles until the day of the service. We disembarked in Buenos Aires and spent a couple of nights in a hotel. The taxis at the Buenos Aires port charge about $20 to go a few miles. The day before we got a meter taxi the same distance for less than $5. But with luggage you don't have much choice and it's not huge money. BE AWARE in Buenos Aires that you cannot change money without your passport, a copy won't work....also banks seem to change ONLY for local customers. Change places are few and far between and accept ONLY clean 50 and 100 bills. Amazingly there is no exchange place at the pier and the ship did not provide any exchange option....pain in the butt searching for exchange places which seems strange for a major city like Buenos Aires. You will see dozens of black market guys standing around trying to get u to exchange with them. The lines at the exchange places we found were about 30 to 45 minutes long. As far as I know there was no warning by Holland to let us know about this problem. The passengers on this cruise i found to be some of the better ones i have sailed with. Of course there were the usual few that jump the lines and don't understand how to ride an elevator (let people get off before u try and get on). We had one very strange situation with one passenger who was obviously suffering from some mental issues. He was a very large man that often stood at the stern YELLNG curse words at the ocean...scary guy who walked around talking to himself loudly. A few days into the cruise he apparenty had some issues in a port and the captain announced we would wait....a day or two later I was told that the captain put him off the ship. Entertainment: About typical for HAL with some good, some bad and some ugly. Cruise director for first half I found irritating with too many announcements and silly sayings. The second half CD was more professional and to my liking. Movies shown in the Wiang theatre still same horrible layout of screen being too low that you can't see the bottom of the screen due to peoples head shadows being in the way. Same as it was a year ago and boggles the mind that they can't figure out how to raise the screen a couple of feet to eliminate the problem. Complaints: Not many and most probably trivial but my biggest complaint is lack of the teak deck chairs on the lower prom. I counted total of 34 chairs. Seems a lot must have broken and not fixed or replaced. Also for some reason the 17 on each side were all kept at the front of the ship rather than spaced out as usual....many/most days the chair cushions were removed around 4 pm and sometimes the chairs were tied up even before sailing. Since the sunsets were usually at 7 to 8 pm this meant that those of us who like to sit on deck and watch the sunset had no cushions or sometimes no chairs.. Not sure why the chairs can't be put up a little bit later...when i asked the kid who did it he said that is what his boss told him to do...ANYWAY i suppose if that is my biggest complaint it was a darn good cruise. Which it was. Good job Zaandam Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2016
Check in was a breeze as we were in a Neptune suite. Others complained of a disorganised shambles and taking up to 3 hours! Suite appeared very nice, but the bathroom DEFINATELY needs a serious upgrade compared to other top suites we ... Read More
Check in was a breeze as we were in a Neptune suite. Others complained of a disorganised shambles and taking up to 3 hours! Suite appeared very nice, but the bathroom DEFINATELY needs a serious upgrade compared to other top suites we have had on other ships.Toilet was blocked. Bedding was great, very comfortable and plenty of pillows. For the size of suite TV needs to be bigger. Use of Neptune Lounge was convenient but the variety of food needs to be more varied specially the late afternoon snacks. Also complimentary cocktails would be welcomed pre dinner,as provided by other same class of other ships. Dining room food needs seriously looking at! Too much couscous,the vegetables came hidden under the meat and were too often soggy! Overall, the food in the main dining room was a breath above what was served in the Lido and was mostly very disappointing. The Pinnacle pay restaurant was very good and was the standard of food that used to be served in the main dining room of previous cruise ships! It seems now HAL is under the umbrella of Carnival, the standard has certainly dropped! Went ashore in Cabo and during that evening awoke next morning with bites on my neck and abdomen?? After going ashore in Mazatlan, I showered and took a nap to awake with more bites on my arms and legs! I very discreetly spoke to the concierge that there were bed bugs biting me. The bed linen was changed but during the night I had more bites so next port I told them again and saw a DOCTOR in Puerto Vallarta as ship doctor was on short hours while in port. Yes it was confirmed some bug had been biting me and she gave me a script for tablets and topical cream for itch and antiseptic. Concierge said I must see the ship doctor to confirm the bites were from bugs at a cost of $120! I did this and yes I was bitten, but by what? I already knew that, so I gave the bill to the concierge who duly took it and arranged for the whole bedding including the MATTRESS be changed. No more bites!! Bed bugs gone! Now, company would not accept Drs account, but the concierge did arrange a beautiful Spa complimentary for us both. So they made good in the end. I do not question that they endeavour to uphold a high standard of hygiene, but even in the best of best, a bug can get into bedding. Husband got stuck in an elevator in formal tuxedo on first formal night, nearly steamed to death as no a/c in elevator and the time it took to be released! Made good with a $50 drink card. Balcony separating door latch broken and banged all night, fixed 3 times and third time done correctly! No drink card for that. Cabin stewards were fantastic, Danny and Narn were absolutely great. They knew when we needed the ice bucket topped up and turned our cabin around in a blink each morning. Pity some one didn't check our room properly as we were shocked to find a charge on our Amex for bathrobes and binoculars! They have since agreed to credit our Amex but could take 6 weeks! Really!! We actually left the ship with money still on our drink card and our suite card...... Hoping HAL will consider this as a constructive review as there are a lot of positive things that made part of the cruise enjoyable. I would not do the trip from San Diego again but join in Valparaiso. Hoping they can lift the game up a little on the negative issues. Read Less
12 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2015
We were very disappointed with this cruise, having been on other Holland America cruises before, we definitely expected better. Some of the food quality was so poor it shouldn't have been served and some of the meals arrived cold. ... Read More
We were very disappointed with this cruise, having been on other Holland America cruises before, we definitely expected better. Some of the food quality was so poor it shouldn't have been served and some of the meals arrived cold. Dining room service was also erratic, sometimes terrible (particularly the wine stewards), sometimes very good. Food in the Pinnacle restaurant was excellent, our first meal in the Canaletto was cold. We went a 2nd time and it was fine, but by then we were getting special treatment everywhere because the staff knew we had complained. We weren't looking for special treatment, we just wanted decent food served hot. The ship also seemed to be very unorganized, the daily activities program had to be replaced several times during the cruise due to mistakes in it. The front desk did not seem to know what was going on and gave out incorrect information on several different items, advising us incorrectly which nights were Gala nights in the dining room, making mistakes with our reservations in the Pinnacle restaurant, giving out incorrect exchange rates for pesos, advising incorrectly which ports were tender vs docking,etc. It just seemed like the left hand did not know what the right hand was doing. To top it off, the ship missed 4 ports of call and substituted 3 poorer replacements. The first port cancelled was Coquimbo, Chile which they said was due to the earthquake it had had this spring. Surely it didn't take until we had left San Diego in October to figure that one out. The next port cancelled was Punta Arenas, Chile as the port was closed due to high winds (fair enough), but then the Captain tells us because of the winds they also cancelled Ushuaia, Argentina and Stanley, Falkland Islands. Well I can tell you most of the passengers were pretty upset when the following day we sailed past the port of Ushuaia and it was clear to all of us that it wasn't that rough and then after we rounded the Horn and got up to the same latitude as the Falkland Islands it wasn't rough at all. The icing on that cake was when independent tour operators who were cancelled because the ship wasn't stopping there, advised that they couldn't understand why the ship wasn't stopping when it wasn't rough and that other cruise ships were in port that day. The next time we cruise it will never be on the Zaandam and we will be checking out the ratings for the other cruise lines carefully as I don't think you could talk either one of us onto another Holland America cruise at this time. When you have looked forward to a particular trip for a long time and then spent good money to do it, it is just totally deflating and unsatisfactory when it is poorly executed. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2015
My friend & I have cruised on Holland America around 155 days. We found the Zaandam to be updated since our previous voyage on the ship. The rooms, services, meals and activities were all we expected. We enjoyed the Culinary ... Read More
My friend & I have cruised on Holland America around 155 days. We found the Zaandam to be updated since our previous voyage on the ship. The rooms, services, meals and activities were all we expected. We enjoyed the Culinary classes and demonstrations. Especially the hands-on cooking class for $29.95. One of the chefs, Sander, taught us how to make 3 different dishes. Afterwords we went to the Pinnacle for lunch where they served the same menu we had just learned. Lively conversation between classmates as we shared our foodie & cruising adventures. The lunch included your choice of a very nice chardonnay or red wine, which I heard was also good. This cooking class is not advertised, you need to go to the front desk and ask for the "hands-on" cooking class. We did on own tour in Trujillo, Peru of the Moon Temple, Museum, city center, ChanChan, and the reed boats. It was absolutely excellent & much cheaper than HAL ship tours. Air conditioned bus, fluent english speaking guide & we were returned to the ship with time left to shop at the pier. We found out about it on our CC roll call, TRUJILLODELPERU.COM TOURS. We took the ship tour called "Antigua on your own" and hired a local guide for 3 of us at $10/pp. Jerson was working on his english but was still easy to understand. We saw a few of the sites & visited a pharmacy, coffee shop, and had time for some shopping. Jerson helped us with the price negotiations. The only problem with this tour was that there was not enough time in Antigua. The trip took about about 1 1/2 hours each was. I wish the ship had stayed longer in this port. In Callao, we took 2 tours. "Walking around Plaza des Armes" was excellent at $59.95, but did not provide any time on our own for shopping or people watching. The other tour "Shopping in Miraflores" was actually a shuttle at $29.95. The drive took over an hour each way and only allowed 2 hours for shopping in the bazaar area. There was not enough time to visit Lacamar, the shopping center on the cliff, or walk along a beautiful pathways along the tops of the cliffs. I would only recommend it because the port area in Callao is very dangerous for tourists. We were supposed to stop in Coquimbo, Chile, but the port was closed because of the September earthquake and tsunami. HAL rerouted us to a Peruvian port called General San Martin, near a town called Paracas (South of Pisco). HAL provided a free 20 minute shuttle between the ship and Paracas. A lovely little seaside town situated in the middle of a desert. A new friend and I hired a tour for $35 in Paracas of the State Park by quads (4 wheel motorcycles). There was some joking by the locals because of my gray hair and I was much older then their normal clients. We wore helmets and had a great time riding over dunes, enjoying the vastness of this wilderness and visiting the Red beach (playa rioja). Our dinner mates, Mary & Mike and Bur & Jane were delightful. We had late fixed seating and we were often the last to leave the dining room...much to the chagrin of a great waiters. Lastly, we ended our cruise by staying in Valparaiso for 2 nights at Puerta Escondida Hostal. A lovely B&B ran by Andrew & Violetta. The showed us on the maps what to visit, and provided a train card & instructions for the train system to get to Vina del Mar. We hired a local tour company called MyWayChile.com for the 100 mile transfer from our hotel in Valpo to the Santiago Airport. It included stops at 2 wineries for tours and tastings and lunch at a typical Chilean roadside cafe. Pablo, from MyWayChile, arrived at the hotel on time, spoke fluent english and provided a delightful trip. We arrived at the airport 10 minutes earlier than planned and paid about $120pp. Pablo took what was left of our Chilean pesos and we paid the rest by credit card with a receipt. I highly recommend him for any tours around Valparaiso & Santiago, Wine tours, and airport transfers. Read Less
13 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2015
32 days on the Zaandam from San Diego to Buenos Aires Overall the cruise was very enjoyable, even taking into account that 4 of the ports were cancelled, 1 due to unrepaired earthquake damage to the port and 3 because of adverse ... Read More
32 days on the Zaandam from San Diego to Buenos Aires Overall the cruise was very enjoyable, even taking into account that 4 of the ports were cancelled, 1 due to unrepaired earthquake damage to the port and 3 because of adverse weather. Holland America did arrange for visits to 3 alternative ports; however 2 of these were not very interesting. The crew were 50% Indonesian, 30% Filipino and 20% the rest of the world, overall my wife and I thought the crew were the best we had come across, they appeared to be really happy and friendly, well done Hal. There were some good and some not so good points about the ship these were as follows: - The Good Main restaurant and bar staff, they were brilliant. Brett the on-board location guide was excellent. Main restaurant food was very good but not quite as good as Oceania and Princess, but far better than P & O. The Lido breakfast food was better than Oceania, Princess and P & O.. There was a British style breakfast sausage available, this might be the best sausage available at sea, the crew call them ‘bangers’. Laundry Service, this was excellent, the laundry always came back well within the stated service times and it was well pressed. The not so Good Embarkation was very slow considering the ship was probably only two thirds full when it left San Diego. Announcements made by the Cruse Director were far too many and far too loud; you receive a printed daily information sheet, it does need to be repeated. Saying ‘too-da-loo for now’ after every announcement gets a little monotonous after 32 days, and was making the cruise sound like a 1960’s holiday camp. The air conditioning in our suite was not powerful enough, it was over hot until we got down South and the outside temperature dropped. Tendering, I feel sure the tendering crews most have had training but some of them appeared to lack experience and may need a little more practice of seamanship. Once when we hit the dock very hard I heard one crew member shout to his colleague in English ‘You’ve knocked a fender off’. I thought it might be a little bit worrying if the same tender crew are used in an emergency when the tenders become lifeboats. Overall the shore excursion department staff were not bad, but there did appear to be some lack of communication between the shore side staff and the on-board staff. There was nothing wrong with our cabin door but maintenance department decided to oil it, it appears that is something they do every 3 months, but unfortunately they didn’t bother to wipe off the surplus oil, it dripped from the top to the bottom of the door, and they just left it like that. The suite was clean but looked like it was ready for some refurbishment, the wash basin was cracked and the balcony furniture might have been ready for recycling. Conculsion Would be very happy to cruise again on the Zaandam, a very happy ship, made so by the excellent crew. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2013
Even as a solo cruiser paying nearly double the advertised rate I came away realizing that not only did I have a great time but I received much more than I paid for. The Zaandam is an exceptional experience and after reading the scores of ... Read More
Even as a solo cruiser paying nearly double the advertised rate I came away realizing that not only did I have a great time but I received much more than I paid for. The Zaandam is an exceptional experience and after reading the scores of negative reviews I fail to understand the reviewers' conception of reality. EMBARKATION: I was informed ahead of time from Holland America and my travel agent of a possible delay in boarding due to extensive construction around the pier and the fact that two ships were at the pier simultaneously. Although I arrived ahead of suggested times I found things to be very well organized and the process of boarding was seamless. Pier staff were friendly, helpful and happy to answer questions about the process. CABIN: I booked juat a guaranteed room and was very pleased to receive 2645 just slightly aft of center on deck 2. It was spacious and its sideways placement along the corridor made it seem larger than it was. It was configured as a queen and had incredibly comfortable mattresses in a spotless setting. I will book a similar room again without hesitation. PUBLIC ROOMS: I was amazed at the spaciousness of the public areas, even with 1,400 people on board it never seemed crowed and most times it appeared nearly empty. Housekeeping on the Zaandam is immaculate, staff are constantly cleaning surfaces that are touched by passengers as well as baseboards, corners behind doors and of course the brass. As a former hotelier I was impressed at the diligence to detail of the housekeeping staff. Lets be clear here, there are differences between being clean and having stains. Stains are often impossible to remove and spills on a rocking ship are expected - a stain is not dirt! I applaud the Zaandam's housekeeping department for exceptional performance. SHIPS CONDITION: The design of a ship has a lot to do with how it ages or appears to its clientele. The Zaandam had its 13th Birthday while we were on board and in that regard it was well cared for. The complaints about rust on the hull or pitted window trims are petty remarks from those who are not living in reality. Whild on board I noted maintenance crew on decks wirebrushing railing frames, resanding and varnishing railings and performing checks on the operation of tender/lifeboat lines etc. This ship is extremely seaworthy and has a knowledgable crew. DINING: WOW, what incredible choices and gourmet quality - I wanted to take the baker home with me! The Pinnacle Grill is simply pampered elegance with attentive service and artistic presentations. Well worth the premium charge. Open seating in the Rotterdam was perfect for me and being seated with others was a delightful expeience. I met many wonderful people that I would not otherwise crossed paths with. The Lido offered a wide variety of choices and I enjoyed being able to choose, point and enjoy delicacies that I would not otherwise have selected. These culinary professionals are definately trying to be #1 in the industry.s ENTERTAINMENT: I don't go out very often but I was pleased at the offerings on the Zaandam. The house band (the HAL Cats)were very competent and versatile. They filled in on other acts as well as performing on their own with May - a unique vocalist with an amazing repertoire. I totally enjoyed the individuals and groups that performed througout the ship. A highlight to me was the Philipino Crew's performance honoring their homeland and explanations of their heritage - a further exhibition of talents outside their regular assigned posts. Although it was not exactly entertainment, the Digital Workshop offerings by Tricia were excellent and I learned a great deal that I would never have devoted time to at home. Thanks Holland America for this superb facility. SHIPS STAFF: From Captain PJ on the Bridge to those we never saw below the waterline - everyone was very professional, courtious, helpful and always smiling. It was obviously a happy crew that loved one another as well as those in their care. Kudos to all of them that give their all to make our voyage memorable. DEBARKATION: Getting off was as simple as getting on, good organization just makes it work that way. ALL IN ALL: Phenomenal! Read Less
Sail Date: March 2013
This was our 3rd cruise and we are planning another! The Zaandam was the smallest ship so far that we have sailed and we were not disappointed at all. Yes she was showing her age on the outside, but the inside was always clean and free ... Read More
This was our 3rd cruise and we are planning another! The Zaandam was the smallest ship so far that we have sailed and we were not disappointed at all. Yes she was showing her age on the outside, but the inside was always clean and free of odors. One thing I wish they would clean the windows while over night in port. Most of them were salt streaked and not sure when the last time they were cleaned. That's the only thing I can think of that I can say negative. We flew into San Diego 8 am the same morning we set sail. Found a taxi and headed to Albertsons for my Caffeine Free Coke. Once we were at the port we had a couple of hours to wait. Boarding was said to start at Noon, but we were on the ship by 11:45. Our room was ready for us, so we dropped off our carry on and headed to the Lido for lunch. After unpacking and touring the ship it was time for the Muster Drill. It was fairly quick then off to the bar for our sail away drink of the day. Sailing out of San Diego we had the prettiest sunset and great picture moments. The next 2 days were sea days. We did see a lot of whales the entire trip. First port of call was Puerto Vallarta and it was an over night docking. This was a first for us and enjoyed it as well. Of course we hit Walmart while in port...seems like most of the passengers did. Our Pirate ship excursion was cancelled due to lack of interest. But we were happy to go on Two If By Sea. This was a wonderful excursion! Snorkel, lunch, drinking, private beach and a wonderful sail down the coast of PV. Our underwater camera died early on this trip and we were happy to purchase the photo package from the excursion. We just got out CD in the mail yesterday and are pleased with the pictures. We opted not to hike to the water fall but now have pictures as if we were there. While on the beach, there are beggars and children trying to sell trinkets. We simply smiled and said no thank you and were left alone. We stayed on board the second day in port and enjoyed the aft pool until it was time to sail away. Cabo was our next day and I enjoyed that better but felt we had so little time to do everything. We enjoyed shopping and bartering and then had a delicious lunch at Taco Loco. It was in front of Cabo Wabo and little better of a price for us. We never felt unsafe at either port. We only stayed in the tourist areas and enjoyed both ports of call. Our last sea day was lazy pool day. Later in the day the seas were getting a little rough and by dinner time we were really rocking and rolling. The barf bags were put out on tables but we never saw any one get sick. We felt queasy while packing to go home but by the time we laid down we felt much better. We ate at the Pinnacle Grill for lunch once. We didn't find any thing special about it. Seemed like the MDR but smaller and more intimate. It wasn't bad at all. We now can say we have eaten there. We enjoyed the MDR on most nights and had Open Seating. This is my favorite because we meet new people every meal and have different servers as well. On the first night we all enjoyed Burgundy Cherry Ice cream. I loved it so much that our server made sure I had more the next few nights. We didn't even sit at his table those nights but I had the wonderful ice cream 2 more times! The Mariners brunch was also a first for us and really enjoyed that as well. We ate breakfast and snacked at the lido. There was always something good to eat. Breakfast didn't seem to change variety but we did get full. Room service for the Chocolate cake is a must!!!! Breakfast was good too. We ordered the omelets, fruit and coffee. The entertainment was just OK. It gave us something to do in the evenings. This sailing seemed to have an older crowd and the shows fit their genre. Not at all did we feel out of place. We did see a few kids on board and they were always polite and no running or pushing elevator buttons. Leaving the ship was easy but delayed due to non US citizens not being where they were supposed to be at the right time. Many calls were made for people over and over. We finally got off around 930 and headed to the airport via taxi. I love HAL and plan to sail again. The Zaandam was a nice ship. The crew was absolutely wonderful and always smiling! Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: March 2013
This is only my second cruise and it's been a while since my first. This would be my first, but definitely not my last as a solo cruiser. I was determined to have a good time and to have reasonable expectations while on board, and I ... Read More
This is only my second cruise and it's been a while since my first. This would be my first, but definitely not my last as a solo cruiser. I was determined to have a good time and to have reasonable expectations while on board, and I was overwhelmingly surprised and pleased. While her exterior was weathered and showing the harsh wear and tear of the time in the salt and its previous voyage to and from Hawaii, the interior was just the opposite. Based on a lot of reviews I had read my expectation were set quite low, but evidently they have been quite busy trying to keep the Zaandam up to the standards I expected and hoped for from HAL. Embarkation was organized, fast and painless. I had my bags checked, ship identification in hand and I was aboard by noon. I got lucky and had both of my suitcases by 1:00 and after a nice lunch at the Lido buffet I was busy unpacking and using the laundry facilities to press my slightly wrinkled dress shirts. My cabin steward, Bam, would prove to be outstanding in every way possible. 5 stars! My cabin was a little larger than I anticipated and would prove to be very, very comfortable. Full shower and bath with good water pressure and the condition of the tile and fixtures were almost new. There was a little wear and tear on the edge of the sofa and the edge of the desk and a scuff or two on the wall but nothing to be concerned with or even annoyed about. I was upgraded twice from a selected cabin below the MDR as I had read about noise from the kitchen areas further forward. I ended up under that area and there was some noticeable noise but nothing that would either keep from going to sleep or wake me up as one review on the sister ship Volendam would imply. My stateroom was 3373. I was told that the Zaandam is due for a month long dry-dock this coming October, so I bet she returns to service brand new! Overall the ship was in great condition and had staff cleaning and polishing continuously. Hygiene was top priority on ship and the buffet was served by staff only for the first 48 hours. Automatic hand sanitizer dispensers are everywhere and the crew would actually make sure that you had a dollop in your hands before entering the buffet or the MDR. It was quite reassuring they intended to keep us from getting sick on the cruise. As for the food I can't complain about much. If your expectations are reasonable you will be pleased. The Lido buffet was actually very good for buffet style food. The fruit was ripe and had great flavor, the hot entrees were of decent flavor and hot if you found a table and sat down quickly as one would expect. The sandwich station became my early favorite. There was a good selection to fit all kinds of appetites. Timing when you ate at the Lido Restaurant was a big key. If you're up there when they open everything is good and piping hot. On the first day or two there was some confusion as to where the lines started and stopped at the various stations but if you just looked for the signs it was fine. It did frustrate a quite a few people and if there was one glaring issue with this cruise it was people complaining. I would learn to quickly tune them out after realizing you can't please some people at any time. Lunch and dinner in the MDR was always good and there was plenty to choose from on every menu. I had the 8:00pm sitting and other than the first night running about 10 minutes late it was like clockwork every night after. The wine steward was a bit young and needed some education but I'm sure he's getting it! There wasn't anything I regretted ordering or that I found too bland or overpowering. It became a bit of a joke after the third night but for some reason one of the stewards who filled up the water glasses always skipped my glass. It was worth a good laugh. I blamed it on being the fifth wheel with two other couples. They were great dinner companions and made me feel right at home being a solo. Dinner in the Pinnacle was a real treat and rivaled some of the top restaurants I have visited in Seattle. It was worth the additional charge. The coffee and the help at the Explorations coffee stand was middle of the road, but I am biased being from Seattle, coffee snob central. As for the entertainment on the ship I can't comment on too much. Most of the shows didn't appeal to me but the Olympic gymnast Lance Ringnald was great and the music and comedy of Dennis Blair was an absolute hoot. May and the HALcats provided some great Motown music as well. Location guide Kainoa provided some great information and commentary while whale watching and information on Puerto Vallarta, Cabo and Mexico in general. With two extra days in San Diego following the cruise, I chose late disembarkation and had a room service breakfast delivered right on time, just as ordered and nice and hot. Less than 15 minutes off the boat I had my bags and was on my way. The age demographic on the ship was older than I was but I also expected that and it was not a problem at all. I was a little discouraged by the lack of nightlife on one or two nights, but the crow's nest was still a great place to put the finishing touches on each of the great days on board. Being solo on this cruise probably made this more apparent. I suppose the only complaint I would have other than the mood of some of the passengers was the dirty windows. You would think while they were gassing up they could asked to check the oil and have the windows cleaned? This was a great cruise with great excursions and no regrets. The doctor was right and the prescription cured me, but I think the medication is addictive. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2013
We booked an inside cabin and had the opportunity to upgrade, several weeks before the beginning of the cruise (for a fee). We chose to upgrade to an outside cabin on the Dolphin deck (1879). It was a wonderful cabin, large with a window ... Read More
We booked an inside cabin and had the opportunity to upgrade, several weeks before the beginning of the cruise (for a fee). We chose to upgrade to an outside cabin on the Dolphin deck (1879). It was a wonderful cabin, large with a window and bathtub. It was noisy as they were loading the ship, as a cargo door was just below the cabin. After sailing, we didn't hear a peep in our cabin, except for the last night when the crew was positioning luggage or other cargo right below us. This was the smallest ship we have sailed on, so we were a bit hesitant; however, in the end, the ship didn't fee small. In fact, the ship was among our favorites. Our summary of the cruise is as follows: Pros: -Nice ship, with big cabins -Crow's Nest is a great space, and we loved 70's, 80's and Michael Jackson nights -Pool area at the back of the ship is wonderful, although we like that it was adults only on the Oosterdam -Loved the overnight in Puerto Vallarta. We didn't have to rush to get back to the ship. Cabo is also great and we could walk to the beach. -Generally good food, with excellent food at Pinnacle Grill, for $20 a head -Scheduled LGBT event, but not hosted -Nice big and well-equipped gym although staff could have been better at ensuring a better sense of decorum from other passengers (shirtless and barefoot people working out) -HAL cats were great; loved the Adagio Duo -Photographers weren't in your face -Made extra efforts to accommodate Passover for Jewish passengers Cons: -Service a bit spotty at times. The host seating people for dinner always looked confused and never acknowledge your presence (line was a mad house). The restaurant seemed a bit under staffed. -Tea was nice, but it took 20 minutes every day to clear the line, as they were seating one by one. There never seemed to be enough food, and once again, it was under staffed. -No place to jog on the ship, except the treadmills -Invisible cruise director and no staff -Didn't use the spa services as they don't have male masseurs All and all, a lovely week. We would definitely sail on the Zaandam again. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2013
This was our first cruise on Holland America. We've cruised three times before on other lines. Overall, this was a good experience, not the best cruise we've taken but not the worst either. One port of call was Puerto ... Read More
This was our first cruise on Holland America. We've cruised three times before on other lines. Overall, this was a good experience, not the best cruise we've taken but not the worst either. One port of call was Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. The ship stayed overnight and this allowed us to experience some of the nightlife. This was the first cruise we took that did this. We had the time to find places to visit that was a bit off the beaten path and eat dinner in a local's restaurant rather than the usual tourist traps. The other was Cabo San Lucas, which was fine, even though it felt like visiting a mall. We found the ms Zaandam to be a nice ship. There are plenty of areas to sit and relax as well as many activities in which to participate. We took advantage of the "Techspert" several times, attending classes on the use of Microsoft Windows to edit photographs and to use a digital camera. The things we learned is evident in the much improved quality of our photos. Other classes on towel folding, flower-making, etc. were just as informative and enjoyable. Mike, the singer-guitar player in the Piano Bar was by far the most talented person we have had the pleasure to enjoy on a cruise ship, even when signing his original songs. The shows, on the other hand, were typical cruise ship fare. There was an excellent juggler but the musical shows could be easily skipped. Our cabin, 1808 on the Dolphin deck was quite a bit smaller than the online description would led one to believe. There is no sofa, only a chair and small table. We had the room configured for one bed and due to the odd, non-rectangular shape of the cabin, make moving near the bed difficult. I would recommend a twin-bed configuration. There is a DVD player in the room and the ship offers a large library of movies to check out. Our cabin steward, Dedi, could not have been nicer. He was always present but never in the way. He filled our fruit basket daily, provided an ever-increasing number of chocolates (reached 12 pieces on the last night) and an adorable towel animal every night. Food service was very spotty. The Lido Restaurant (not a buffet, more cafeteria style service) was decent, although the food seemed to not have much variety. One could eat the same meal any day of the voyage. Food quality was better in the Rotterdam dining room, but like all cruise ships, the food is more like what one receives at a wedding rather than a fine restaurant. The service was spotty (missing bread plates, missing forks, courses served out of order, etc.) Being a Californian, these really aren't issues for me but many guest seemed to be upset. Room service, on the other hand, was absolutely terrible. The first time we tried room service, the food never arrived. By the time we gave up, all other food service had ended so we didn't have any dinner the first night. The second time we tried, we were told the wait would be 1 to 1 1/2 hours. After 2 hours we called back and were told there was no order for us. The food arrived about 1/2 hour later but the order was incomplete and very cold. We tried a third time by ordering breakfast using the card we hung on the door handle the night before. The food arrived at the requested time but was also incomplete, and there was only one set of silverware and no cream for the coffee. Overall, food is the most problematic issue on this cruise. Finding the silver lining, I actually lost 1 pound. Our voyage included Easter and this probably accounted for the large number of children on board. We were told that there were 1,590 guest on board which is about 150 more than the stated capacity of the ship. Many children running around, playing on the elevators, etc. detracted from the experience. We never had the chance to use any of the pools due to the number of children. There didn't seem to be much parenting going on and the cruise line, understandably, didn't step in unless complaints were made. Although Holland America is considered to be a premium cruise, we did not find that to be true. By far they were better than our trip with Royal Caribbean, but below that we found with Princess or Carnival. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2013
I try to sail on a HAL ship once every 2 years. I normally go to the Mexican Riviera in the winter to use their excellent thermal suite and work out equipment. I consider it my spa week to relax. This was my first time on the Zaandam. ... Read More
I try to sail on a HAL ship once every 2 years. I normally go to the Mexican Riviera in the winter to use their excellent thermal suite and work out equipment. I consider it my spa week to relax. This was my first time on the Zaandam. I liked the layout of the ship; smaller than most but not crowded even though it was Easter break week. We ( my son and I ) were upgraded to a partial blocked outside cabin, 3383. This was not an upgrade. The cabin was large but from the moment we entered I knew we would have a problem. The diesel fuel smell in the cabin was overwhelming and the A/C was hardly working. We immediately called downstairs; they said the smell would go away when we started sailing and sent someone up to look at the A/C. The repair man came up and said that the cabin was hot and that they would adjust it downstairs. We went off to sign up for the thermal suite package and I did not think about it again. When we came back to the cabin after dinner the smell was still bad and the A/C was still not working well. Our cabin steward apologized and got us a fan. He did what he could but he looked like this was not the first time this cabin had a problem. I tried to sleep with the fan blowing the fumes in my face. At 1 am I gave up; I had a terrible headache from the fumes and felt sick to my stomach. I went to the front office and asked if there was anywhere I could sleep. The lady said ; sorry we are completely booked. She was sorry I was sick from the cabin fumes but there was no room in the inn. I offered to sleep in the infirmary, I just needed some sleep and some clean air. No the infirmary was closed. So I told her I would sleep in the library. I went up and slept on the library couch for 2 hours, woke up without the headache and went back to my smelly cabin. The smell did get better the next day, the A/C never did and after 2 days of asking for help we gave up and kept the fan going. The toilet in the cabin worked most of the time; only had to have it fixed 2x. Avoid this cabin. The rest of the trip was fun. Went on the whale watching trip and saw a couple of whales ( the end of March is really too late in the season). We enjoyed the thermal suite and worked out everyday on the new equipment. We spent some time in the casino , contributing to the casino's retirement fund. The casino manager was great. The comedian , Dan Grueter was wonderful and we were sad that he only did one show. The singers and dancers were good and did their best with the small stage and the simple sets. We enjoyed the cooking demo, the computer classes and the DJ in the Crow's nest. We ate in the lido restaurant for all of our meals. We have done this before on 2 other cruises with HAL and normally we found the food there to be as good as the dining room . But not this time, HAL's food quality is slipping. Overall, we had a nice time. But for me the quality of service was seriously lacking. When you are paying so much for a room on a ship ; you should be able to sleep in your room and not the library couch. I was too tired and had too bad a headache to care. I wish someone on the HAL staff could have cared a little more. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: March 2013
I should preface this review by saying that even a bad cruise isn't totally bad. On the other hand, I haven't done a Carnival Cruise in a while (ha). 4 out of my last 5 cruises have been on Holland America but this Zaandam ... Read More
I should preface this review by saying that even a bad cruise isn't totally bad. On the other hand, I haven't done a Carnival Cruise in a while (ha). 4 out of my last 5 cruises have been on Holland America but this Zaandam cruise was (by far) the worst. My first cabin was 1882 on the Dolphin deck. On the first night of the cruise the seas became a bit rough and we began to hear this loud crashing noise as the ship rolled to starboard. Then 3 or 4 seconds later there would be another crash as the ship rolled back to port. Since the crashing noises always came in pairs, I have a hunch it was a heavy door opening and closing on the ship someplace. The guy in the cabin next to mine (1878) was going nuts by the second night. Others in that area of the ship were bothered by it too. The ship's crew would not tell us exactly what the problem was. They made plenty of suggestions but none of them made any sense. I am sure they knew exactly what the noise was because after many complaints, they finally gave us a different room. The next room (2542) was not noisy but the toilets would not flush properly. I gave up complaining about that but I felt sorry for our room steward who ended up "manually" cleaning our toilet many times. We also found both of our rooms to be incredibly uncomfortable to sit in. It was almost impossible to sit in bed and watch TV without leaning back against the light switches and turning the lights on and off. The couches were also very uncomfortable to sit in. I think both of our rooms had couches that converted into sleeping beds and were not really designed for the comfort of anyone who wanted to just sit on them. Most of the food on the Lido deck was good but we found it difficult to get something as simple as ketchup. More often than not, the ketchup dispensers were empty or broken. The Asian food was good on the Lido, but trying to find a bottle of soy sauce was almost impossible. There was a ton of simple things like that could easily have been fixed but weren't. I also thought the Lido breakfast menu was a bit boring after 10 days of exactly the same menu. Most of the other cruise ships I have been on have had more variety. One thing that was almost laughable was the portions of popcorn they served in the ship's movie theater. This was the first time in 25+ years of cruising that I actually attended a movie on a cruise ship. The day I was there we had at least 150 people for which the cruise staff brought in about 24 bags of popcorn. But the funniest part was the fact each bag held no more than 2 dozen kernels of popcorn. Obviously none of the crew had ever attended an American movie theater before. Last year we took a two cruises on the Holland America Eurodam. My wife loved the free Tai-Chi classes that were held twice a day on the aft deck. Sadly, this cruise had no such classes. Obviously more cutbacks. This cruise seemed to be less organized than other cruises too. This may be my last Holland America cruise and DEFINITELY my last cruise on the Zaandam. With some of the horror stories we have been reading about in the news, I am beginning to wonder about the cruise industry in general. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2013
We signed up for this cruise because we can drive conveniently to San Diego, and we like the HAL cruise line. It was mostly very pleasant. A few plumbing issues around the ship, but when we reported it from our cabin, a maintenance person ... Read More
We signed up for this cruise because we can drive conveniently to San Diego, and we like the HAL cruise line. It was mostly very pleasant. A few plumbing issues around the ship, but when we reported it from our cabin, a maintenance person came within the hour & had it fixed. We thought the food in the Main Dining Room was great - we are not fussy about food - and we ate most all the breakfasts and lunches there also. The buffet was OK, we just prefer not to have to walk around with plates. The public spaces were great - the lounges, library, shops, casino & bars on Deck 5 have been configured to flow with each other. We thought that was great rather than the little cubicles on most ships. The library is especially nice, right next to the coffee bar. Lots & lots of comfortable chairs arranged nicely. Drinks reasonably priced, and a "Happy Hour" buy-one-get-one-for $1 daily in some of the bars. We were disappointed that HAL doesn't have draft beer in any of the bars, but we managed. Our stateroom was spacious, bathroom with tub, 5 closets, great towels & robes. We stayed in port at Puerto Vallarta overnight. Cabo San Lucas only 6 hours. We went on shore in PV to take a taxi to a restaurant we first went to in 1982, then again in 1987. Still great service & food, some nostalgia for us. Didn't tender into Cabo, have been there several times. The service, both in the cabins & dining room, has diminished somewhat in the past couple of years, fewer stewards and waiters for more passengers?? We had Open Dining time, and seems like it is more difficult for the waiters to serve people when the passengers at each table change daily. We will try to not have this option on our next cruises. I went to one of the cooking demonstrations, and wish that I had attended more of them. Enjoyed it very much. The entertainment was pretty good. Enjoyed the singers & dancers, one comedian was really entertaining, and the Olympic gymnast was very good. The music onboard was variable. We didn't like the singer with the HalCats, or the trio in the Ocean Bar. But this is totally our opinion. We did enjoy the Adagio Strings Quartet very much. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2013
After many years of travelling to exciting destinations to celebrate special occasions, we were challenged to come up with a really special trip to celebrate our 49th wedding anniversary. We have sailed on Holland America many times, so ... Read More
After many years of travelling to exciting destinations to celebrate special occasions, we were challenged to come up with a really special trip to celebrate our 49th wedding anniversary. We have sailed on Holland America many times, so our first thought was to explore possible itineraries on one of their ships. It didn't take us long to settle on a 14 day cruise to Hawaii from San Diego. Finding a Delta flight with a low fare and having a companion fare coupon made getting to San Diego from Florida affordable and sealed the deal. We stayed in at a Hilton hotel in the Gaslight district. This beautiful hotel is very conveniently located, there are many dining options nearby, and it's a short walk to the downtown marina. San Diego is a great destination in itself, with many things to do, so we decided to go two days early and enjoy San Diego before sailing away to Hawaii. We walked to the marina and toured the Midway which is docked there, and then had lunch at Anthony's where we had eaten on a previous visit. Embarkation was, as expected, very smooth and hassle-free. When we boarded the Zaandam around 11:30 we were delighted to find that our cabin was ready. After enjoying lunch in the main dining room (a perk for HAL mariners) we returned to our cabin and found our luggage had already been delivered. The cabin was roomy, clean, and had plenty of closet and storage space, so unpacking and getting settled was easy and went quickly. Then we were free to relax on our veranda and watch the sail away. Sailing to and from Hawaii we were at sea 4-5 days in high winds and rough seas. The Zaandam handled the rough conditions well and we only experienced slight to moderate rocking and rolling of the ship. Also must give much credit to the captain who did a great job of sailing around the worst of the weather and keeping the passengers as comfortable as possible. During our time at sea, we enjoyed daily presentations by Kaino, a native Hawaiian on board. Seeing Hawaii through his eyes, we learned about the history of the islands and its people, their culture and traditions. Other venues on the ship offered everything from learning to Hula to cooking Hawaiian dishes. In Hawaii we visited four of the islands: Hawaii, Maui, Kauai, and Oahu. Shore excursions were arranged through HAL, and we were not disappointed. All of the islands are beautiful and each has it's own "personality" and special things to offer. From waterfalls, to museums, to whale watching, to beautiful scenery, to eating at a famous shrimp truck on the north shore of Oahu, we enjoyed it all. For meals on the Zaandam, there are many options depending on the individual's personal preference. We ate in the main dining room, the Lido, the upscale Caneletto, and the very upscale Pinnacle restaurant. Also enjoyed room service on several occasions. All in all, I would rate the food as above average. Service was a little slow in the main dining room, but the wait staff was friendly, helpful, and always went out of their way to make sure we were pleased. This was a great cruise and I hope to do it again someday. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2013
SO much to tell after two weeks! I'll try not to be ridiculously verbose... We sailed out of San Diego. This is a great port to cruise in and out of. The airport and the cruise terminal are so close together, and many hotels ... Read More
SO much to tell after two weeks! I'll try not to be ridiculously verbose... We sailed out of San Diego. This is a great port to cruise in and out of. The airport and the cruise terminal are so close together, and many hotels between the two have free shuttles. We stayed at both the Hampton Inn (Downtown) and the Holiday Inn on the Bay. Both were great, with the only exception being the noise from the train crossing in our room at the Hampton Inn. Embarkation was smooth as can be and very quick, as was debarkation. No issues there at all. We had booked a veranda guarantee, and were given an AA cabin - 7085. The cabin was really nice :) Loved our veranda, location was perfect. The cabin is under the lido aft pool, but we only ever heard noise on the veranda - the occasional shifting of deck chairs. The room itself was silent! It is a connecting cabin, and that cabin was occupied, but we never heard anything from that room. We did hear the toilet flush in the other cabin near us if everything was really quiet, but not loud enough to notice or to keep a person awake. The ship itself- what a relief! We had read so many bad reviews lately.... Very clean, the carpeting looked new, all the soft goods in our cabin were new, the public areas were sparkling clean and looked in perfect shape. No smells, no maintenance issues, nothing worn out or dirty. The food - it was good. No complaints at all. I don't have a lot to compare it to, but I will say I thought the food selection and variety on RCI Freedom of the Seas was better - but not by much. We ate in the Lido and MDR and had room service - never ate in the Pinnacle Grill or Canaletto. Canaletto got rave reviews from those we spoke to who ate there. Entertainment - so-so, but we knew that going in. The Zaandam singers and dancers were... uh... well - don't worry too much if you miss a show. The lounge acts were quite good, the individual acts in the main show lounge were pretty good - with Chipper Lowell and Mark Newell being FANTASTIC. The culinary demos were pretty cool :) We played pub trivia almost every night with four others who were wonderful companions! Had a lot of fun with that :) Ports - all were good, and detailed below. Tendering in Lahaina was a piece of cake and very efficient - just make sure to get your tender tickets from the main show lounge as early as you can in the morning. Dress code fyi: After reading many posts on this board, I thought that the dress code would be more formal than it was on smart casual nights. Very few people wore ties or sport coats and most women were wearing capris or regular skirts and pants with nice tops. Formal nights - men were far more dressed up than most of the women, which I thought was odd! About 33% of men were in tuxes, 33% in dark suits, and 33% in sport coat/tie combos (along with those who chose not to go to dinner and were just in normal clothes). Women - only a handful of long gowns, mostly black pants/skirts with sparkly tops and some cocktail dresses. As for jeans, they were allowed in the MDR on smart casual nights. Shorts were turned away the two nights we saw someone try (smart casual). We had a wonderful time, and could have stayed on forever :) I will say that we are very low-maintenance as far as being entertained, and were very happy reading books on our veranda. We would never take a kid or a teenager on this cruise! Also - if you need a, exciting night life or a busy casino, this is not the cruise for you :) Read Less
Sail Date: January 2013
My husband and I have cruised 8 times, three on Holland America. This was our first time on the Zaadam, a smaller ship than we are used to. First of all, I want to share a great tip that I got off of Pinterest. Take a power strip with ... Read More
My husband and I have cruised 8 times, three on Holland America. This was our first time on the Zaadam, a smaller ship than we are used to. First of all, I want to share a great tip that I got off of Pinterest. Take a power strip with you on your cruise, as most state rooms only have one outlet. With the onslaught of cell phone, ipads, ipods, etc., the extra power outlets are a great way to get everything powered at one time. You can even use this in the airport. We had several people ask to use ours while waiting in the airport and we were happy to oblige. Thank me later. Back to the ship. We are boring cruisers. We go solely for Rest and Relaxation. We usually don't go on shore excursions but opt for independent art gallery shopping and local fare while in port. Sometimes we just stay on the boat and relax near the pool. One reason we choose Holland America is that they allow you to bring your own wine on board. We made a quick stop at a Walgreens in San Diego and stocked up with bottles of wine. These can be carried right on to the ship and consumed in your state room for no fee. If you wish to have this wine at dinner, there is a corkage fee. But we usually just waited until after dinner and enjoyed the wine in the room. We used the gym every morning at 6 am. The gym is well equipped and the treadmills face outward so you can enjoy the sunrise while logging in miles. Yoga, tai chi, water aerobics, etc. are all offered on the ship, as well as other classes for fitness bugs like us. The food on this ship is adequate buffet quality. Again, we did not choose this cruise line because of it's stellar dining experience. We wanted to relax, be on our own schedule and have some sustenance to keep us going. However, Holland America still confuses us with their dinner dining policy. We usually just called a day ahead and made reservations for a table for two at dinner. Walk ins still are welcomed though, which I don't quite understand but hey, it's a vacation right? Who cares? We were seated every night next to the prep. table which was not in the least a fine dining experience. Although wait staff were courteous and nice, the service from the kitchen seemed slow and disjointed. Food was adequate and desserts unimaginative. We found out that we could get basically the same food on the dining menu up stairs at the buffet and were tempted to do so a couple of times. There was a sewage smell in our cabin for about 1/2 of our trip. The smell emanated from the little hallway near the closets and surprisingly, not the bathroom. The staff came in to try to clean the smell and it did abate for a time, but came back within a few hours. Our toilets also went out one day due to blockage on our floor. Not good. But was fixed in about 6 hours. This ship seems rather dated and the staterooms show signs of wear and tear. But beds are comfy, there is an actual bathtub in bathroom and shower pressure is good.The staff is friendly, accommodating and hard working. Entertainment is limited and most venues are more intimate than in larger ships. Puerto Vallarta and Cabo were on the itinerary and we enjoyed walking around and seeing the local flavor. I understand that Mazatlan was taken off the itinerary list because of gang wars and violence in that city. Puerto and Cabo seem to be immune to that for the time being. Traveler's beware and be alert in any Mexican country these days. Lots of drug cartels and hating on travelers, so buyer beware. All in all, we had a nice vacation. Probably won't ask for this ship again and will probably stick with Holland America as we are racking up frequent cruiser points. It would be nice to have a bottle of champagne or another show of gratitude for frequent cruisers, other than the luncheon and coasters given each year. Just an observation. We got what we wanted out of this vacation. Sun, solitude, rest and relaxation. We even got to see the whales! Added bonus! Read Less
Sail Date: January 2013
Embarkation: We boarded the Zaandam in San Diego. Boarding was fast and efficient. We arrived at the pier around noon and were in our cabin by 12:30. The staff both on shore and on board were very helpful. Stateroom: We were in ... Read More
Embarkation: We boarded the Zaandam in San Diego. Boarding was fast and efficient. We arrived at the pier around noon and were in our cabin by 12:30. The staff both on shore and on board were very helpful. Stateroom: We were in cabin 2603 (center, starboard side). As with previous HAL ships, the stateroom was roomy and comfortable. Our cabin was not particularly clean.. This was brought to the attention of Guest Services. Within an hour the situation was rectified. The staff was most apologetic and included supervisory follow-up as well. Ship Condition: The Zaandam is one of the older ships in HAL fleet. For the most part it was well-maintained. The interior was excellent butr the exterior could use some attention. For example, our stateroom window was filthy and had paint spills in evidence. The robber window gaskets needed replacing. Smoking on board was severely restricted, a plus for non-smokers and former smokers. Enrichment Opportunities: Since this was a round trip cruise to Hawaii, several native Hawaiians made the trip with us. Guests were provided many opportunities for cultural presentations. The travel guide, Kainoa DeleCruz was a wonderful presenter as were the two hula dancers and Hawaiian band leader. The Digital Workshop offered complimentary workshops covering many PC applications. Theyu were well presented and easy to understand for novices. Entertainment: The ship's singers and dancers were above average for cruise ships. The choreography needed some work however, Guest entertainers ranged from very good (Paul Pappas) to average and below-average. Dining: Food on the Zaandam was well above average for cruise ships. In the Lido buffet, the staff did the serving for the first two days to minimize the incidence of nuerovirus. Breakfast was excellent with made-to-order omelets, fresh fruit, and assorted pastries. Lunch selections were varied and tasty. The short order grill was excellent. Even the pizza was pretty good. DFinners in the main dining room were above average with numerous choices. The salads needed some improvement, however. Ship and Guests: All HAL ships are configured to promote quiet conversation with numerous little sitting areas within the public areas. Having twelve elevators (forward amidships, and aft) was wonderful for passengers having difficulty with the stairs. It has been said that the HAL ships have mostly senior citizens aboard. While a number of canes and wheel chairs were evident, the number of guests using the ship's fitness center was amazing. For example, the fitness center was full at 7AM on mostly at sea days. On Board Activities: Much the same as on most cruise ships (bingo, casino, shops, etc.) The musical entertainment in the lounges and piano bar was quite good. A major complaint was the lack of organized bridge lectures and games. With ten sea days, this was inexcusable. The card room was full every sea day with informal games. Other cruise lines offer this option with even fewer sea days. On the positive side, we appreciated having a Catholic priest and Protestant minister on board offering daily and Sunday services. Overall Impression: The Zaandam was a comfortable ship with a most attentive crew. The trip was worth the cost and worth doing again in the future. 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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