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1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: December 2011
I was looking forward to my trip from Sydney to the South Pacific islands and then up to Singapore via Indonesia. The cruise ran over Christmas and New Year but we hardly noticed those events, so little effort having been made by the ... Read More
I was looking forward to my trip from Sydney to the South Pacific islands and then up to Singapore via Indonesia. The cruise ran over Christmas and New Year but we hardly noticed those events, so little effort having been made by the company to make those days extra special. Christmas was really flat - the only change to the dining was that a fancy piece of ribbon was placed across each table and the menus for lunch and dinner was just like the usual menus. They did make a little more effort at new year and there were various events at different venues on board to see the new year in but no special entertainers were booked. We just had the usual Zandaam singers and dancers (who were dire and who seemed to think volume was everything). My cabin was the first disappointment. On boarding at Sydney at 2 pm the cabin was still occupied and had not been cleaned. The departing passenger was being moved out of the room as I went to occupy my cabin to unpack. However, I had to wait for the steward to clean it and when I returned the cabin was very unpleasant, it stank! I asked for it to be cleaned again and even then, it stank! It took at least a week with the air conditioning running and lots of water running through the shower to finally clear the air. In the meantime I had been to the front desk and they told me I had been upgraded and, in any case, the ship was full so there was no other cabin available. In addition to the stink in the cabin I discovered it was designed for a wheelchair user and did not have all the facilities I would have had in the guaranteed MM grade and this was supposedly an upgrade to category L. It was shabby as well as dirty and there was no where to sit to read or watch TV except on the bed. The bathrobes were rags - I asked the steward if they were clean and he said they had just come from the laundry but got me another one - it was still a tatty old rag. How I wanted to be "downgraded" to the better cabin that I had been expecting! The tours were a bit of a rip off but something we have come to expect with cruise lines. The most disappointing of all was at Komodo Island where we booked for a tour of "approximately 2 1/2 hours" and what we got was approximately 1 hour. Yes, we did see dragons but very little of the island and we were not permitted to go off under our own steam without a pre-booked ranger. The entertainment was poor all the way through, particularly as it was the so-called festive season. We had comedians who weren't funny; one unfortunate chap who came on board 2 days after the previous one left was telling the same cruise related jokes that we had heard 2 days before. He was becoming rather peevish when he barely raised a titter from the audience; not surprising really. In the first two weeks of the cruise there were lots of Australian school students on board and a certain amount of bad behaviour around the pools. The bar staff in each case were supposed to supervise things but were doing nothing. When I complained at the front desk they were as unhelpful as previously when I went to them about my cabin. In general they were unhelpful and really didn't want to know about problems. I paid a lot more than many other travellers because I was travelling alone but in spite of this I think I and fellow lone travellers are treated as 2nd class passengers. Because of the chaos around my cabin when I boarded and the fact that the daily programme was not delivered to my cabin I missed out on various events such as being able to join other single travellers for lunch on the first day. It was only when I went to the front desk to acquire a copy later that I discovered what was on the programme. The seating arrangements in the dining room didn't make it any easier to meet other people travelling alone. The port lectures were unbelievably amateurish. The talks were run by a man who claimed to have been educated at universities on several continents and also claimed to be well travelled. Well, he appeared to be reading from notes cobbled together (from the internet?) and were poorly presented alongside the photographs he got "from a friend" and which were of too low resolution to be shown on a large screen, consequently they were rather blurry. The leaflet we were given prior to each port produced by HAL was much more informative. So much for enrichment. The foregoing are just the main "highlights" from the cruise and there were a lot more points that I raised in my letter to HAL. Overall the cruise was a tremendous disappointment and I won't be travelling with Holland America again. Holland America, particularly with the Zaandam, seems to be living on their past reputation but standards seem to have slipped drastically. The reason I booked on this cruise was because of the reputation they previously had and seemed to have a lot of positive reviews on this site and others. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2011
We are long time HAL 4-star Mariners. We selected this cruise for the itinerary, since we had never been to any of these South Pacific ports. We sail HAL for it's consistency in product and experience, and this cruise met our ... Read More
We are long time HAL 4-star Mariners. We selected this cruise for the itinerary, since we had never been to any of these South Pacific ports. We sail HAL for it's consistency in product and experience, and this cruise met our expectations for HAL. We booked an "open reservation" for a future HAL cruise while onboard. Positives: 1. The staff and crew are fantastic. Endearing and always with a helpful smile. They truly make you feel at home. 2. There is no better way to cruise than in a suite on HAL. The amenities, service and access to the Neptune Lounge made this cruise very enjoyable. 3. Food and service in the Pinnacle Grille, especially for the two special themed dinners (Dining with the Chef and Cellar Master Dinner) were equal to any ship afloat and the finest restaurants ashore. 4. The guest entertainers were very professional, enjoyable, and a few were world-class and at the top of their skills. 5. Disembarkation very well organized and efficient. 6. The ship is spotless, albeit a bit worn around the edges (see below). The staff and crew are continuously cleaning, scrubbing, painting, etc. The teak decks are spotless! 7. We would return to Caneletto just for the cotton candy dessert! 8. The port lecturer was outstanding and offered many helpful tips and suggestions. He was available at his desk for several hours every afternoon and was at the gangway at every port for at least two hours to answer last minute questions and offer self-touring advice. 9. The mattresses and pillows are new and sooooooooo comfortable! 10. According to the staff, there were over 190 guests under the age of 17 onboard. The onboard coordinators (as well as their parents) did a fantastic job of keeping the younger cruisers entertained. We never even knew there were so many children and teens sailing until we asked one of the officers. Negatives: 1. There are very annoying a/c issues throughout the ship, in the upper level of the main dining room especially. Sometimes many public rooms are freezing cold. Often they are uncomfortably warm. After a sweltering formal night in the MDR, we ate in the Pinnacle Grille for the other formal nights (the Pinnacle never had a/c issues). Our cabin remained comfortable enough with the a/c set to the coldest setting, but we would have preferred the temperature a bit cooler. We understand that the crew quarters had no a/c for several days as all a/c capacity was being diverted to the passenger cabins and public rooms. The issues were never really reconciled during the entire cruise and we noticed that several very large pallets of equipment were loaded on the ship when we returned to Sydney; hopefully they are a/c parts. 2. Food quantity in the Lido buffet for breakfast and lunch was plentiful, but taste and variety were lacking. 3. The "Zaandam cast of singers and dancers" need to return to acting school. They are very young (ages 22-26), so maybe their skills will improve with more practice. 4. The ship is spotless, but in need of a refurbishing update. We sailed on the Zaandam's third cruise in 2000 and many of the carpets, upholstery, color schemes, etc. are original and a bit dated aesthetically. It appears as though corridor carpets have been updated on Decks 1-3, but the upper decks still have the original finishes. The Lido appears recently refurbished, but other public areas, as well as the cabins are not as up-to-date as the more recently refurbished HAL ships (i.e. Rotterdam and Veendam). 5. Embarkation was a bit better than the usual HAL disorganized mess, but can still use improvement. We arrived at the pier in Sydney about 11:15am and were onboard and in our cabin by noon. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: November 2011
For us, this cruise was "A trip of a lifetime". The hints and suggestions that we received from other Cruise Critic participants were very helpful as we prepared for our cruise. Our cruise started from Sydney, Australia after ... Read More
For us, this cruise was "A trip of a lifetime". The hints and suggestions that we received from other Cruise Critic participants were very helpful as we prepared for our cruise. Our cruise started from Sydney, Australia after a long plane ride from Los Angeles, and a night spent at the Jolly Swagman's Backpacker Hotel. At 10am, on our day of departure, we were able to drop our bags at HAL's baggage drop tent at the Overseas Passenger Terminal on Circular Quay, and spend some time looking around the area. We boarded the Zaandam at 11:30am, went to our stateroom to freshen up, and proceeded to the MDR for the Mariner's lunch. After attending the mandatory safety drill, we returned to our stateroom to discover our bags and unpack. The Zaandam proved to meet our expectations in every way. We enjoyed the wide variety of appetizers, soups, salads, entrees, and desserts that were available in the dinning rooms and the Lido. The Zaandam staff made us feel very welcome, and went out of their way to answer questions and meet our requests. During the 28 days that we spent on the Zaandam, we attended information sessions, visited the casino, discovered great observation decks, spent relaxing time in the lounge chairs on lower promenade deck, attended productions, watched performers, and frequented the Explorations Cafe where the jigsaw puzzles were kept. The great thing about the Zaandam is the fact that a person can always find a comfortable place to sit and relax. It was not economically possible for us to take all of the ship's excursions that were available, but we were able to go on a 7-hour excursion in Port Villa, Vanuatu, which was very informative. The cultural center we visited was quite similar to the one we went to on our own the day before, but did not include the "fire walker" or the "Water music" presentations. Unfortunately, the ship's tour to Ulva Island was canceled, and we had to arrange to go there on our own. It was wonderful! The best excursion we went on was the Elm Wildlife Tour on the Otago Peninsula. We saw Royal Albatross at the Royal Albatross Center, and were witness to the birth of a New Zealand fur seal at their private reserve. It was there that we also saw a yellow-eyed penguin up close. We opted for the late dining time, and thoroughly enjoyed our dining companions on both legs of our cruise. We found that meeting, and visiting, with other passengers while eating breakfast in the MDR was one of the better experiences of the cruise. Our overall assessment of our cruise experience is very positive, and we will be considering another cruise with HAL as time and finances allow. 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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