1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: March 2012
My husband and I have cruised many times, some with family and some on our own. Living in Miami, we covered the Caribbean pretty well. Now that we live in Hawaii, we looked to the East (well, to the west from here!) and decided to give ... Read More
My husband and I have cruised many times, some with family and some on our own. Living in Miami, we covered the Caribbean pretty well. Now that we live in Hawaii, we looked to the East (well, to the west from here!) and decided to give Holland America a try with their Asia cruise on the MS Zaandam. We started our voyage in Singapore. It was simple enough to reach the port on the MRT from our hotel, but signage neglected to point us to the baggage check-in on the lower floor so we dragged our bags all the way to our cabin. At least that meant we didn't have to wait to unpack! Our cabin steward Komang was right there to provide extra hangers and very helpful the entire cruise. The stateroom was a good size and we had a small bathtub which was unexpected. We were upgraded to an outside cabin with a partial view and really enjoyed having the window. The location of our cabin on Deck 3 was also great - not too much motion and close to everything. The ship is smaller than some we've sailed on and the atrium area is much less glitzy. Overall I would say the ship is nicely decorated and understated, something I appreciate. The tile in the bathroom and some of the carpet in the common areas needs replacing, but I understand that will happen later this year. Otherwise, I can't find much to fault about the decor. It was nice to find the cooking theatre and attend the demonstrations, even if they didn't provide samples to the audience on most occasions (take note Holland America - don't tantalize your guests with fabulous food and then not feed them!) Craft classes with Elizabeth were fun and I also enjoyed the trivia contests. Presentations on ports needed a lot of work - travel guide Wallis did her best, but it was obvious she didn't know a lot about the ports (new to the job?) and we could have used more detailed info. As travelers who do a lot of research before leaving home and steer clear of ship shore excursions, we were okay but maps of the port area and location of transportation would have been nice. We unexpectedly had a shuttle in Sanya that dropped us off at a shopping mall completely off the map provided by the ship. Thanks to a helpful passenger, we found out how to get to the beach. Otherwise we might have spent 15 minutes in the area and returned to the ship! I would give the ship a good rating when it came to dining. Except for a delay in seating the first night or two, we had no problem eating when we wanted to in the Rotterdam dining room. I don't know how they matched people up who were willing to share tables, but we always had interesting people at our table. The food was well above average and portions were just right. We also ate at the Lido buffet and found they had many of the same entrees as the dining room. Breakfast was always good, especially the omelet station. The Terrace Grill by the pool was nice for a quick snack and they made a great guacamole. We also dined in the Canaletto restaurant twice and really enjoyed the special attention. We didn't spend the extra money on the Pinnacle Grill, but others raved about the food. We attended most of the evening shows. For the most part I think the musical shows were well done, although the choreography was a little frenetic. We enjoyed the magician and the singer, but passed on the comedian. Only made it to one movie, but the selection was good and movies were almost all recent releases. Finally, service was uniformly excellent. The entire crew was always helpful, smiling and eager to please. This was our first time on Holland America and this cruise exceeded our expectations. It was an older crowd than previous cruises and that showed in the shore excursions offered (and was why we chose to book our own) but the few children we did see were well behaved. Another aspect we enjoyed was the international diversity in passengers. Instead of a mostly American crowd, we were pleased to meet people from all over the world. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2012
Background Information It was cruise no. 47. We went before on HAL's EURODAM and WESTERDAM and had some concerns. We made already the experience that you CAN make very good experiences with HAL but also few single items ended in a ... Read More
Background Information It was cruise no. 47. We went before on HAL's EURODAM and WESTERDAM and had some concerns. We made already the experience that you CAN make very good experiences with HAL but also few single items ended in a desaster. We loved the Signature-/Vista-Class Ships and had some concerns before because the price of the balconies was extremely high. Furthermore we booked originally Hong Kong - Kobe but they just changed the itinerary without notification. You learned about the changes in cruisecritic.com or when you were wondering where your booking dissappeared to. My parents (end 70s) went with us. So we know that HAL has a certain infra-structure for this range of ages. Hotel Info (if any) We booked the Inter-Continental in Singapore ourselves. Great hotel. We liked it. Ship Info Well - we really had concerns going on board since we already read some bad reviews on cruisecritic.com. But we were nicely surprised how good the ship's condition was. We had a great space ratio and we had only minor problems in our cabin which mostly were solved within hours. We loved the ship. When you are used to travel on Vista-/Signature-Class Ships you miss some options. But maybe it was only because of the length of the cruise. Activities/Entertainment I loved the musicians on the stage but also in the bars and lounges. Especially the bar pianist James Blackmon and the Adagio Strings. The shows were too old-fashioned for my flavour. Once the CD announced: "The music your parents and grandparents loved" - well I am mid 40s but it was more for my friend's parents and grandparents and he is mid 60s!!! We had no chance to participate other major activities but the M&G with the facebook and cruisecritic.com-members. Service 99% outstanding-fantastic-cordial-personal-wonderful etc. 1% idiots you always have on ships (like giving 4 pieces of candy for a table of 6) Three samples for outstanding service: 1. we had so many vouchers for the Pinnacle Grill and asked instead for a beverage value card and they did. 2. we asked for a dragon fruit and someone walked up to the Lido and got it for us in the MDR. 3. a port call was cancelled due to weather conditions and so my birthday party which I paid was just gone. But they give me a table in the Pinnacle Grill for lunch and dinner so I had a wonderful day onboard. Port & Shore Excursions Because of the size of our group and the high prices we arranged all tours ourselves. Singapore - Singapore Flyer - Ducktours - honestly it was too hot and too humid to do anything. Just stayed at the hotel. Koh Somui - Half Day Tour on the island Laem Chabang - First day: Bangkok highlights with delivery to the airport We flew to Siem Reap to stay there two nights for Angkor Wat. For this arrangement we paid about 500 USD per person while the ship wanted more than 3,000 USD pp for their arrangement. We flew to Phnom Penh and had a small tour there before we returned to Sihanoukville to join the ship. Phu My - Tour to Saigon but with some desaster and stolen iPhone Nha Trang - was cancelled due to weather condition Sanya - We had a private tour as we had independent visa Halong Bay - I became my own Hotel and Cruise Director... We chartered a junk incl. two cabins so my parents could rest. So we could stay after sunset. Hong Kong - I did one day Macao and the 2nd day Ladies' Street, Aberdeen and tram ride and finally Victoria Peak. Here you find pictures of our tours and more detailed information in this cruisecritic.com-Thread: http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=1609426 Summary Excellent: so many things were 120%. So what was good was really good. But what was bad (especially outside SOP) it was really bad. Travel To Port of Embarkation We were lucky as Lufthansa sold for 1,111 EUR business class tickets on November 11, 2011. So it was a perfect way to travel to the port as it was an Airbus 380. Stateroom Wonderful - due to location easy access to promenade and larger than standard rooms. We loved it: 2715 - and it was so cheap as it was sold as obstructed view but we did not feel like in one. Dining It was good. Due to the length of cruise towards the end of the cruise I had the wish to have something different. Terrible the new "healthy" low fat cream they used. I loved their desserts before but with the new cream it was terrible. Best was the Pinnacle Grill - the lunch was wonderful. But I had only once chance to get access. Wondering how other get the tables as they never advertised for them for lunch. Two dinners: just outstanding - especially the service. Le Cirque: due to the high level of Pinnacle Grill it could not meet my expectations and was just a disappointment - although the food was good. But as said: due the performance you get in the Pinnacle Grill itself, Le Cirque is a big disappointment as the cover charge is 39.00 USD pp. Children's Clubs We did not used. Disembarkation Smooth - but very crowd due to fascilities. But anyhow we want to have the good things again that we accept all bad things: so the next HAL cruise is booked. Pictures of the cruise and detailed comments can be found in this thread: http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=1609426 Read Less
Sail Date: February 2012
We were on the 28 day cruise - Singapore - Hong Kong via Cambodia, Thailand, Vietnam, China and Korea. This cruise was advertised as a Collectors cruise. To our disappointment this was a back - back cruise. With that concept we were ... Read More
We were on the 28 day cruise - Singapore - Hong Kong via Cambodia, Thailand, Vietnam, China and Korea. This cruise was advertised as a Collectors cruise. To our disappointment this was a back - back cruise. With that concept we were subjected to the same food selections in the dinning room, and repeat entertainment (the ships singers & dancers) on the second segment of the cruise. Having experienced this syndrome before we would not have picked this cruise. We were duped by the phrase "Collectors" a grand substitute for back to back. Embarkation and immigration Not good, in fact down right bad in Singapore. Total chaos, took us almost 2 hours to embark. China ( Beijing) was a disaster. Took us 3 hours to be cleared and a delay of 5 and a half hours to leave. No explanation was ever offered. Had us concerned. HAL appears to be struggling to get ASIA right. The ship and cabin The ship and the cabin was extremely cold. We literally froze for the 3 days in Beijing, extra blankets, placing towels against the door, socks to bed etc, made little difference. The cabin was clean but dated. The fabrics faded and the toilet was smelling (In spite of the cabin steward's efforts). This ship is well past its prime according to other Holland America cruisers. The lighting was poor, a hardship as we were constantly filling immigration related forms. Service Superb. Many staff we encountered only briefly, addressed us by name and were always ready to go the extra mile to help. In fact they made up for the many inconsistencies and irritants on this cruise. We must note HAL have cut back on numbers which means their willing staff have more to do with less, explains the delays in the dinning room and the room stewards, rushing like crazy. The entertainment Mediocre, sufficient maybe for this port intensive cruise. Some of the headliners were pathetic, basing their acts more on action and antics as opposed to content and quality. Annie Francis and Vincenzo Gentiles were outstanding. The Adagio strings were exceptional, the piano bar entertainment was very good. Our pet peeve and disappointment was the music in the Ocean Bar. This is the one place dedicated to and advertised as the place for 'Ballroom Dancing'. The floor was good, the music was beyond bad. It was a jazz club (not a good one either), with a rude and sometimes down right snaky leader ( Mark Dunn). He would not play music you could dance to. When requested he invited the requesting guests to take themselves to the rock band (was referring to the HAL cats in the Crows Nest?). We brought this music fiasco to the attention of management days into the cruise, no improvement. We stopped patronizing the Ocean bar. The various workshops were well presented. The Digital Photography workshops very good. Kristen was remarkable in her knowledge and presentation skills. The Library dated. We missed the guest speakers to talk about the history of the places we visited. Travel Guide, Spencer Brown was excellent and unbiased and dealt mostly with what to see, do, avoid and how to get about. Mariners recognition - a PR disaster. What was HAL thinking when they selected a few and ignored the rest to invite for the captain's reception, some were awarded medals for 100 days, others ignored, some had over 200 Days. There are lots of things that must be improved if HAL expects to stay competitive and to keep its loyal customers. We were disappointed, tried hard not to let them spoil our trip to an unforgettable part of the world. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2012
Have never before complained about a cruise, but our experience, coupled with comments by veteran HAL cruisers on this same cruise, convinced us this was a disaster experience. GENERAL APPEARANCE of Zaandam: Others commented on worn ... Read More
Have never before complained about a cruise, but our experience, coupled with comments by veteran HAL cruisers on this same cruise, convinced us this was a disaster experience. GENERAL APPEARANCE of Zaandam: Others commented on worn interiors (and even ship's exterior) so I won't repeat those criticisms. CUISINE: Expected excellent cuisine but this was not the case. Menus repeated in second 14 day segment which was was not consistent with the way the "Explorer" format was explained. Very good food and wait staff in the 2 specialty restaurants but at these prices, meals should be of higher culinary and creative quality throughout ship. Desserts in MDR and Lido looked good, hyper infused with sugar, and unexciting in taste. The six people at our table often omitted desserts or took only a few bites. COST CUTTING MEASURES: *Wait staff were so downsized, meals were sometimes served very slowly. At one to point we were rushed along to finish and leave so the next dinner seating could occur. The problem was not that we were slow eaters, but the food service was extremely slow. *Adequate planning did not occur to enable smooth customs clearances at several ports. We were held aboard while procedures were worked out. Having traveled to many of these same countries before, I don't understand the reason for such delays. *Someone made a decision to turn down the heat in dining rooms, spa, and staterooms. This cost saving strategy was reversed only when the front desk was stormed by angry, freezing passengers. A trip to the medical clinic proved interesting. Many passengers AND crew were being treated for colds and respiratory symptoms and no wonder! * Educational lectures on history, culture, politics did not occur. For us, learning new things about countries we visit is part of the cruise experience we have enjoyed most but such learning opportunities did not exist INACCESSIBILITY OF EXECUTIVE PERSONNEL: We asked to meet with the Hotel Manager at one point, and we made our request quietly and tactfully. Our request was deflected by other front office staff and ultimately we were refused. What kind of an organization is this? HAL if you think you are above meeting such requests, your business and PR will suffer greatly. On other cruises the Captain was highly visible. Such was not the case on either segment of this 28 day cruiseSHORE EXCURSIONS: Very worthwhile in every port although the majority of passengers we met arranged independent tours because, as they explained, the costs were "too dear". CABIN ATTENDANTS: Were fabulous, attentive, eager to please, and over-worked although they would never have admitted this. Our pair of attendants were assigned 29 rooms to clean daily! WILL WE GIVE HAL ANOTHER TRY? Think once was enough, too bad! Read Less
Sail Date: February 2012
Background:I consider myself an experienced cruiser, and have sailed most of the world. While my favorite line is Crystal, I like to cruise more than I can afford with them and have also sailed with Windstar, Silversea, RCI, Cunard, and ... Read More
Background:I consider myself an experienced cruiser, and have sailed most of the world. While my favorite line is Crystal, I like to cruise more than I can afford with them and have also sailed with Windstar, Silversea, RCI, Cunard, and HAL. Hotel Info: Pre-cruise I booked one of the hotels HAL uses in Singapore, the Fairmont, but booked it independently at a significantly lower price. It was a very nice hotel in a great location. One tip here: The Fairmont's internet access is quite pricy, but I joined their frequent stay group and on checking out found it is free for their members. Post-cruiseIn Hong Kong, I stayed post cruise at the Langham. It's a very nice hotel just 2 blocks from Ocean Terminal, and I would gladly recommend it (although others may be just as good). Ship: The Zaandam is one of HAL's 4 R-Class ships. Roughly 60,000 tons and 1,400 passengers it is a nice size. Built in 2000 it is actually the near the middle of the age range of their ships. I thought it was mechanically in excellent condition but did have some cosmetic issues which detracted somewhat from the feel of the ship. The most significant one was carpeting near the elevator landings which appeared to have suffered from unequal application of cleaning products and had large discolored sections. Activities: To me this is HAL's biggest weakness. They tend to cater to sophisticated travelers and other lines like Cunard offer extensive enrichment programs with a variety of speakers. HAL's program is are arranged around 4 areas (World,Food,Technology,and Wellbeing) Wellbeing is typically handled by the fitness center and is usually considered in addition to the activities. Technology is a bit too closely tied to their exclusive relationship with Microsoft and for me lacks depth. I am not really big on food as a topic. The World area had mostly offerings from the Travel Guide, Spencer Brown. Brown was excellent and unbiased but dealt mostly with what to see and do and did not go deeply into the history and background of the area. Service: Superb. Many staff I had previously encountered only briefly addressed me by name and were always ready to go the extra mile to help. Personal but unobtrusive. Port & Shore Excursions: One of the challenges of this area is that many of the key cities (Bangkok, Saigon, Hanoi) are quite distant from their nearest ports, making shore tours challenging and tiring. Excursions were generally pretty well done given the circumstances. They might better be seen by land, but independent travel in this region is a challenge I wouldn't tackle. Summary: A wonderful cruise to an unforgettable part of the world Travel To Port of Embarkation: While not staying in the hotel through HAL, their hospitality desk did sell me a transfer at a reasonable price. The transfer was smooth, although embarkation was slow. I think the problem was an immigration delay in getting guests disembarked from the previous cruise. Stateroom: My oceanview stateroom on the Lower Promenade (outdoor walking) deck was comfortable and well laid out. This class ship provides fridges only on verandah cabins but the ice bucket was kept filled (Fridges are available for rent). There was a bath tub but it was quite small. The cabin temperature was always comfortable. Dining: One of the dining rooms's levels was for traditional dining with early and late fixed seatings, while the other was "anytime". I was unable to get my request for traditional dining, and ended up in the anytime despite my wishes. I missed having the opportunity to get familiar with my waiters, but was alwas promptly seated when I arrived. The meals wouldn't be called gourmet but were more than satisfactory. The selection and quality of food in the Lido restaurant were generally quite good. I did not use the specialty restaurants on this voyage. Children's Clubs: There were only a small smattering of youth on this voyage. I seldom saw them while at sea, and have to assume they were occupied and engaged with the activities for them. Entertainment: The Zaandam singers and dancers performed 4 excellent shows. Most of the other nights we had headline acts (singer, instrumentalist, and so on). They ranged from good to excellent. Of the 4 bars, one had a latin dance band, one a classical string group, a third alternated between guitar (early) and piano (after 9PM), and finally the Crows Nest with a band or DJ. Disembarkation: Hong Kong authorities came on board by the last sea day and processed immigration in the background. There was a delay in their processing and we did not get our passports back until the final morning but from then everything went very smoothly and on schedule. There were no border formalities the final morning. I walked off the ship at 8:50, walked away from the terminal with my luggage, and was at my hotel at 9:10. Read Less
Zaandam Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 4.0
Dining 3.0 3.9
Entertainment 3.0 3.6
Public Rooms 4.0 4.2
Fitness Recreation 4.0 3.7
Family 4.0 3.7
Shore Excursion 4.0 3.9
Enrichment 3.0 3.7
Service 3.0 4.2
Value For Money 4.0 3.7
Rates 4.0 4.0

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