16 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2018
My wife and I are recently retired and have long wanted to cruise an "around the horn" itinerary. This Holland America cruise fit the bill the perfectly. Overall, an outstanding cruise, a decent value and a great itinerary. ... Read More
My wife and I are recently retired and have long wanted to cruise an "around the horn" itinerary. This Holland America cruise fit the bill the perfectly. Overall, an outstanding cruise, a decent value and a great itinerary. We departed from Rio de Janeiro. Our flight departed the east coast for Miami on Halloween. Many of the airport and airline employees were in costume and having a good time. We ended up,with a business class upgrade for the overnight flight from Miami to Rio. Since we have been to Rio before, we didn't do anything touristy other than stroll on Copacabana Beach. I paid for our Airbnb for the night of the 31st so we could check in immediately upon arrival the morning of the first. HAL emailed us the day before embarkation to warn us that check in was going to involve two security checks and to expect delays. Because of this, we left early for the pier. Our uber driver was completely unfamiliar with the cruise port but found it without too much difficulty. Other than confusion about where to drop our bags and where to line up for check in, things went relatively smoothly. There was almost no signage but following the heard and gentle inquiries had us on board in about 30 minutes. We were very pleased with the ship almost as soon as we boarded. Our cabin was ready for immediate occupancy and our bags all arrived shortly after lunch. We were expecting a small ship having recently cruised Carnival Horizon but the ship seemed plenty large with plenty of amenities. The public areas were all very tidy and clean and outside on the decks, conscientious maintenance was evident everywhere. We found the flow of the ship very easy to get around. As always, we selected an interior cabin for economy and for the dark cave sleeping experience. We were on the second deck so we felt almost no roll and the pitching was quite sleep inducing. The cabin could serve four passengers with two beds, a drop down bunk and a sofa bed. The beds were made up as twins, apparently our request for one bed was not received but this was fixed while we were at lunch. There was an astonishing amount of closet space for two people. The tile in the bathroom looked like a 1960s motel room but otherwise, we found the cabin spacious, comfortable and appropriately updated. Dining was very good to excellent. We tried the main dining room for breakfast once and the service was so slow, we never returned. The buffet on the Lido deck, however, had outstanding breakfast options so we went there every subsequent day. The omelette station rarely had more than three people in line, the eggs Benedict were fresher and better than the dining room and the waffles were hot and freshly made. It could get crowded around 9 am so we often ate outside by the pool. We never did try the dining room for lunch instead using the buffet every day. The salads were excellent and days we wanted to try sandwiches, soups, pasta or other offerings, everything was good except the pizza. The Dive In burgers could be a bit of a hot mess but good and the dogs were also nice. The fries were always hot and crispy. We enjoyed open seating dinners in the main dining room. The food was hit or miss but the service was usually good and we had a wonderful group of dining companions almost every night. A few nights, we did not feel up to a long dinner and ate at the buffet. We had some unbelievably tender and flavorful steaks at the buffet one evening. A friend had treated us to a dinner at the Pinnacle Grill and it was outstanding. The steaks were superb and the service perfect. There were three formal nights but we only attended one. My wife felt unwell the night of the first one and the second one was during our scenic cruising of the glacier channel. Because it was light so late and we enjoying the spectacular scenery, I think many people opted to skip that formal night and hit a buffet for late dinner. The entertainment was also hit or miss. The singers/dancers are, I'm sure, very talented and hardworking but the show was poor. I think the performers were saddled with repetitive choreography and uninspired music selection. On the other hand, it was great to see a real live band performing. A guest juggler was just so so and a guest flautist was unusual but extremely talented and a good show. The highlight of the entertainment was a spectacular combo of BBC cinematography with live music. High definition films of polar regions and animals were accompanied by the live band playing the original score. We caught a few of the other acts in the bars and lounges and all were very talented. The enrichment opportunities were one of the ship highlights for us. Guest speakers addressed topics of maritime history, ship construction, glaciers, environmental concerns and applied oceanography. The port lectures were outstanding also; real and practical information about the ports without a word about shopping. The ask the captain presentation was very informative and well done. Our absolute favorite offering was the America's Test Kitchen. Once or twice on sea days, the presenter, Allison, would demonstrate two to three recipes along with advice on kitchen techniques, cookware and gadgets. The set was completely professional, the production engineer was very slick and the entire program was perfectly executed and utterly enjoyable. We found service to be very good throughout. Our cabin steward, Edward, was fantastic. The servers in the buffet were very personable even when trying to keep up with clearing tables at busy times. The bar staffs were all excellent. No complaints about service. My wife and I treated ourselves to the Thermasuite package. For the two of us, it was $349 for the entire 16 day cruise. It gave us unlimited use of the Thermasuite in the spa area. Most of the time, we were only two there. Sometimes, there was another couple there. Only once was there more than four people. I thoroughly enjoyed the steamrooms and hot tub and we both enjoyed the heated loungers. The ports on this cruise were all great. In Punte del Este, we just did a short walkabout the port. We saw a few sights and enjoyed the sea lions but were back on board in time for a late breakfast. Buenos Aires was a first time visit for both of us and we walked several miles and thoroughly enjoyed the city. We had a scheduled tour in Montevideo which showed us the highlights but left plenty of time for lunch and exploring on our own. Our arrival to the Falkland Islands coincided with Armistice Day and we were privileged to be able to attend a church service and a military parade and memorial ceremony. In Ushuaia, we had a prearranged tour to the Tierra del Fuego National Park which was outstanding. Our third And final prearranged tour was in Punta Arenas and it was a bit disappointing. There is absolutely nothing at the port so you need to take a shuttle into town if you don't have anything set up. Our tour went to a scenic overlook, spent way too much time at a mediocre museum, then had a very brief stop in the downtown plaza. For Puerto Montt, I went ahead and paid for a cruise line tour of Petrohue Cataracts and Puerto Varas. We were very happy with this tour. At the end of the cruise, I purchased a cruise line tour/airport transfer. The tour to two wineries, lunch, a bus tour of Santiago and a shopping stop with airport drop off was very expensive at $200 per person but it was extremely well executed. In addition to the ports, the scenic cruising days were just a spectacular. We went around Cape Horn, the Straits of Magellan, the Beagle Channel, the Sarmiento Channel and the Chilean Fjords. We were privileged to see glaciers, fjords and even an iceberg. For us, this was the highlight of the cruise. As far as complaints, there were a few. During the scenic cruising, commentary was provided in the Crow's Nest, outside decks and on the cabin TV. The Crow's Nest got uncomfortably crowded and even then, the sound system was terrible and the commentary was inaudible. I think the commentary should be broadcast in all common areas so regardless of where you choose to observe the beauty, you can hear the details. Also, the ship seemed to be very poorly provisioned. We purchased an eight bottle wine program. By the fourth night, it seemed they never had anything on our wine list. To their credit, a substitute bottle was provided and usually a higher level wine but it seems silly to create a wine list, sell a program, and then be told almost every night, that your choice of wine is not available. Also, by about day three, there was no draft beer. By the end of the cruise, only a fraction of advertised bottled beers were available. I found alcohol prices extremely high. Overall, a great experience. We were reluctant to disembark and would have gladly sailed back to Buenos Aires. If you are interested in Patagonia and seeing some great scenery and exciting cities, this is a highly recommended cruise. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: August 2018
we choose this cruse as an upgrade to the other lines available. paid more but got way less than expected. the rooms were much smaller than described the full size tub was anything but and the ADA equipment that I requested and was assured ... Read More
we choose this cruse as an upgrade to the other lines available. paid more but got way less than expected. the rooms were much smaller than described the full size tub was anything but and the ADA equipment that I requested and was assured would be available, wasn't. of course we were not informed of this till we were outside the 12 mile boundary of the USA. the air conditioning system never worked the entire trip and they continued to do dry dock repairs while at sea. the anytime dinning for the few times we tried it was always substandard while if you were willing to pay the upcharge the food was excellent. the all inclusive drink package had limits not divulged prior to purchase. during repairs of the interior pool the passengers were exposed to toxic paint of some type which my wife has final recovered from but with my COPD I have not and the Captain, to this date refuses to describe what the exposure was. the crew / service personnel were great, the views were great, and we did not have a tour that was not outstanding the biggest issue is that with the line flying a non US flag you as an individual have no recourse against them and they can deny all written comments sent while at sea and ignore you arrive back in the US Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2018
We have been on the Zaandam for the 14 day Alaska Explorer. I really like the size of the ship with 1400 passengers. The food was good overall. Not really a fan of cafeteria style service in the buffet but it does keep contamination at a ... Read More
We have been on the Zaandam for the 14 day Alaska Explorer. I really like the size of the ship with 1400 passengers. The food was good overall. Not really a fan of cafeteria style service in the buffet but it does keep contamination at a minimum. Breakfast had a nice selection of fruits, omelette station, Belgian waffles, and eggs cooked to order. Really everything imaginable was available. I wish the omelets could have been made with fresh eggs instead of pasteurized eggs but again they are going for food safety. The Taco Bar in the Solarium was open from 11:30-5 and had a good selection of Mexican food. The most popular place for fast food was the Dive shop in the Solarium serving excellent hamburgers, hot dogs, and grilled chicken along with French fries. Dinner in the main dining room had a good selection of appetizers and main courses. Halibut was on the menu several times. Overall the food was very good with the exception of the desserts which were a little mediocre. We were disappointed at the lack of green vegetables at lunch and dinner. We find that to be true on most cruises. The tables were well spaced so it did not feel crowded and the large windows were great for viewing the beautiful scenery. The layout of the ship is excellent. A Favorite space was the Exploration Cafe on Deck 5 which was a library/lounge with lots of chairs and even recliners/tables with puzzles and games. Especially loved the big windows which let in lots of light. It was the most well stocked library I have seen on any ship. The promenade deck on Level 3 was perfect for walking since it went completely around the ship. Both pools were heated to a comfortable temperature. The Solarium on Deck 8 had plenty of tables and chairs for lounging. They opened the roof frequently to let in fresh air, although sometimes it was too breezy. One thing to be aware of is cabin selection. We had an Oceanview cabin on Deck 3. Cabins 3360-3394 are directly under the kitchen so we were awakened at 4:30am with the sound of pans banging and carts be rolled across the metal floor. Another thing to be aware of with any Oceanview cabins on Deck 3 is that the Windows look directly onto the promenade walking deck. The glass is coated so no one can see in but we felt we needed to close the curtains for privacy. In the future I will certainly pay more attention to the ship layout and location of cabins. I would definitely enjoy cruising on the Zaandam again and I enjoyed it more than cruising on a different Holland ship on my last Alaskan cruise. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: July 2018
Two wk cruise that went further north where I haven’t been; Kodiak, Homer, Anchorage Hubbard Glacier and Sitka haven’t been since .1989. The water was like glass and weather couldn’t have been better. Only rained once which was in ... Read More
Two wk cruise that went further north where I haven’t been; Kodiak, Homer, Anchorage Hubbard Glacier and Sitka haven’t been since .1989. The water was like glass and weather couldn’t have been better. Only rained once which was in Anchorage. Hubbard glacier has been the most beautiful glacier I’ve ever ween! Also did dog sledding in Juneau to Tacu Glacier by Northstar. Check off on my bucket list. Smaller ship was very nice and staff fantastic Food not as good as it used to be but that’s the way it is on all the ships now. You would have to pay for what you used to get on formal nights. Formal nights not the same galas as in the past. But all in all Holland and the two week cruise was the best AK cruise Ive taken out of the last 6. First one was in 1989 on Princess. The photography staff was the best. They came to our cabin and took pictures in each of the glaciers of my Mom and me. It was her 78th cruise. Great time!!!’ Also stayed at the Seattle Fairmont. Beautiful old hotel. Did have trouble getting the limo promised by Holland to get from airport to hotel since my Mom couldn’t get up on a bus. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2018
I cruise withy my elderly father. We originally wanted to do the May 21 - Jun 4 14 day cruise on the Zaandam but I have two nephews graduating from High School on May 31st, so we opted for the May 7 -21. We took super shuttle to SFO. ... Read More
I cruise withy my elderly father. We originally wanted to do the May 21 - Jun 4 14 day cruise on the Zaandam but I have two nephews graduating from High School on May 31st, so we opted for the May 7 -21. We took super shuttle to SFO. We were really sweating it and worried we were going to miss our flight to SEATAC. Supper Shuttle usually gives you a three hour time frame for pick-up prior to flight departure. This time we were only given two hours prior to pick-up. The shuttle was an hour late. We got to the airport 1/2 hour prior to departure. Fortunately we got our bags checked in and was able to proceed through Security. Fortunately we were Pre-TSA and our flight was the first gate after security. We made it through Security 5 minutes prior to boarding. Enough time for my dad to get his rolling walker checked at the gate. Had a great flight to Seatac. We arrived at Seatac collected our luggage, then proceeded to the Hotel courtesy Shuttles. It appeared very quiet and it turned out that there was a bomb scare and they were not allowing any vehicles in and out of the airport. We were staying at the Embassy Suites Seatac. I called the hotel to just let them know that I had arrived. They asked for my phone number to give me an update when they had one, when vehicles would be allowed in to the airport. We sat for about 45 minutes then suddenly saw taxi cabs entering and the first courtesy shuttle to show up was from the Embassy Suites. At that time I received a phone call from Embassy Suites and I told the gal the driver just showed up. It was a very interesting ride out of the airport, people were walking out of the airport to catch cabs and traffic was horrible. There were people that had just got out of their shuttles, cab, Uber, etc to catch their outbound flight out of Seatac. Our driver took through all the back roads and we arrived at the Embassy Suites safe and sound. This is a small Embassy Suites and we got a great AAA rate. The next morning our Seattle Express Shuttle arrived at 10:30 for our ride to Pier 91. We stopped by the Double Tree and Red Roof Inn for pick up then we were on our way to Pier 91. We arrived at about 11:30, dropped our luggage off, took the elevator to the 2nd floor. My father uses a rolling walker so we were allowed to check in, in the Accessibility Line. Check in took about 15 minutes and we were on the ship. My father has balancing issues so I usually request a shower stool. This time our PCC placed us in an ambulatory assessible Cabin. This was cabin 3391 on the lower promenade deck. This was a shower with a pull out seat and grab bars throughout the shower. My Dad had a place to park his walker but there is not anyway you reall could park a scooter or get around this cabin in a wheel chair. The Zaandam recently came out of dry dock. In our cabin it appeared things had not been updated with exception of the grab bars in the shower. I heard from a fellow cruiser that had requested a shower stool for her cabin but was told with new regulations they would not allow shower seats in tubs/shower combination cabins only cabins with showers only. I have not verified if this is fleet wide. The Elevators seemed to have been upgraded and new carpeting in Public Areas. I had a great time on this cruise, I found activities lacking on the ship. On this Paticular Cruise it did not matter so much because we really only had two real sea days and two days glacier viewing. The entertainment was so, so. Food is always subjective. I found the food to be good to very good. We ate all our dinners in the MDR. Service was slow in the dinning room. One night it took about 45 minutes to an hour between appetizers for the main entree to come then 15 minutes to get the dessert menu and another 15 minutes to order. There seemed to be some kind of disconnect between the wait staff and kitchen. We were in open seating and I don’t know if this would happen in fixed seating. I found the menu lacking, there would be some nights I would order the dinner salad as my appetizer and another entree for dinner. For me I found there was more variety for soup and less for salads. For a $25.00 fee you could order an Alaskan Crab dinner that included Alaskan King Crab Legs, crab bisque, drawn butter for crab legs, crab cakes, and there might have been some kind of bread. I don’t care for crab bisque. I did see a dinner delivered at a table and it looked like enough for two people. I talked to two people had purchased this and they really enjoyed it. One fellow cruiser who ordered the dinner said he called Tracy’s Crab Shack to see how much it was for the same thing and he was quoted $100.00 For me I found there was more variety for soup and less for salads. Ketchikan I booked an excursion on an enclosed Caterman. It was raining in Ketchikan, which is usual. The water was calm out to Misty Fjords. The View was awesome even though it was overcast. It was a great excursion. Endicott Glacier We were suppose to go to Tracy Arm but there was still too much ice to get to it, so we went to Endicott instead. It was great, we saw sea lions and baby sea lions on the ice. Juneau This is my 4th trip to Alaska so I have been to Mendenhall glacier twice, done whale watching, been to Mt Roberts. So Juneau was my shopping port. In Juneau I set out to do any shopping, since Juneau is the best shopping. After some window shopping and real shopping, I went to Tracy’s crab shack for lunch. Back to the ship. My father asked if I could go buy him a jacket, so I went out again. Stopped by the Red dog Saloon and stayed for a couple of hours then went out to continue my shopping. Icy Strait Point Here I booked a whale watching Excursion on an enclosed caterman. It was originally scheduled for 8:00 AM but was rescheduled to 11:00AM. Anchorage I had originally planned to go to the Alaskan Native Center and the Museum but got sick in the middle of the night and needed to take it easy in Anchorage, Homer and Kodak. Hubbard Glacier Awesome! Sitka I originally set out to go to the Sheldon Jackson Museum. On my way there I found a thrift store. I was curious as to what they had there. They also except donations. So if your luggage is in overload you can drop them off here. I started down the street and found some really neat stores with Alaska made products, Quilting Stores, Russian Items, These stores were really interesting. Never made it to the Sheldon Jackson Museum. I have done the Raptor Center and Fortress of the Bears before. They now have a shuttle bus that goes to both at the visitors center. I did not check out the price. Victoria Took the shuttle bus into town got off at the Empress Hotel. Walked around the Gardens at the Empress Hotel. The Empress Hotel is also kitty korner to the Royal BC Museaum. Right now they have an exhibit “Egypt and Phorahs” May 18-Dec 31. I will be back in Victoria the end of September so will check it out then In front of the Empress Hotel they have a hop on hop off bus that takes about 90 minutes. If you want to get off, you will need to allow an hour before the next hop on hop off bus comes around. I took this tour for $32.53 US or $40.00 Canadian. Seattle - Disembarktion About a week in the cruise, we received a Port Valet Form. If you are on Alaska, Delta, Southwest, or United (Domestic Only). You can participate in the Port Valet System at no extra cost if your flight leaves between 1:00 PM the day of disembarktion til 1:00 AM the following morning. Your luggage is taken away the night before disembarktion and you don’t see it til your final destination. They check you in for your flight, give you a boarding pass, with luggage tags to the Seattle airport. Once your luggage is at the airport they will give your luggage tags to your destination airport. If you are exempt from paying for luggage you fill out your FF number. We were not charged for our luggage, got our boarding pass and the luggage arrived at our final destination. I did have a great time on this cruise because I love Alaska. However there seemed to be some kind of disconnect between the staff. It could be that the staff had just joined the ship after drydock and they are working on meshing together, Read Less
10 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2016
We have sailed before with Holland America and enjoyed previous cruises. They were our first choice for a cruise to Alaska. Used their shuttle service from the airport to the port and had excellent device from them. The driver was ... Read More
We have sailed before with Holland America and enjoyed previous cruises. They were our first choice for a cruise to Alaska. Used their shuttle service from the airport to the port and had excellent device from them. The driver was knowledgeable and entertaining. We found the Vancouver port terminal extremely busy due to the number of ships in port, and pretty inconvenient as they shuffled you from one floor to another. We ended up having excellent weather in Haines and Ketchikan. We went on the Mendenhall Glacier tour - good. The Haines Off the Beaten Path - Very good. Rented a van in Ketchikan - easy to get around in. We usually ate in the dining room - the wait staff was very good and we enjoyed meeting other people and learning about their cruise experiences. The cabin stewards were awesome. The staff and entertainers in the bars were very good as well. The front office staff tried their best to accommodate our needs due to travelling with a mobility scooter. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2011
We chose the sea of cortez cruise because we had never been in this area before.I would have liked another ship just for variety. The event that marked my change of heart was the upsell to a superior suite.We have never experienced such a ... Read More
We chose the sea of cortez cruise because we had never been in this area before.I would have liked another ship just for variety. The event that marked my change of heart was the upsell to a superior suite.We have never experienced such a spacious lovely cabin before.I ordered a scooter this year and there was a lot of room to store the scooter in the entrance. The neptune lounge is amazing with Paul our concierge ( what a nice young man)a fantastic coffee machine that replaced the regular ship coffee ( weak) and lots of gatherings of the captain and officers and interesting people.We always choose as you wish dining and did find one evening when people seemed a little grumpy waiting.Our cruis had some engine and weather problems so ports were changed and skipped.This did not impact us but others were disappointed.We love to play trivia and this proved popular with a large group. Little cost and lots of bonus.I think HAL should promote Karaoke as well. Again low cost big turnout. Some cruise lines run Karaoke 2x a day with a contest at the end.We attended cooking demos but did not find the evening entertainment to our liking.I think our cabin service meals were better than the dining rooms. I would recommend the sommelier dinner to anyone that enjoys good food and wine and interesting dinner mates. We were honoured to be invited to a renewal of a couples wedding vows.The couple had travelled from Bermuda for this cruise..We enjoyed our cruise and look forward to the next. I just have to figure out how to afford a suite again. 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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