5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2018
The Zaandam is our new favourite ship. Its smaller size means fewer decks and less crowding. Our cabin on deck 6 was one deck above the fixed-time dining room and most public areas, and just two decks below the lido. It is practical to use ... Read More
The Zaandam is our new favourite ship. Its smaller size means fewer decks and less crowding. Our cabin on deck 6 was one deck above the fixed-time dining room and most public areas, and just two decks below the lido. It is practical to use the stairs rather than the elevators. Less crowding meant that we did not have to show up at least half an hour early to sit together for performances in the theatre. Our cabin was bright and thoughtfully laid out, our balcony was deeper and more usable than the non-suite balconies on HAL’s larger ships, the ship is in excellent cosmetic condition, and the crew are cordially efficient. One curious point is that the magnetic bulldog clips we’ve used on other ships to hold papers to the cabin walls would not stick in this one. This was our first experience of HAL’s EXC program and we like it. Lectures by the two guest speakers on sea-days were deservedly well attended. The port talks were informative, useful and a welcome change from the past pitches for ship’s tours. The EXC host went out of his way to be helpful and to offer advice for independent travel. The Zaandam’s port tendering (three ports) went as smoothly and efficiently as one could expect. Entertainment was the best we’ve experienced in some time. HAL has a reputation here on Cruise Critic for cost-cutting, and nowhere has that been more obvious in past cruises than in the quality of the entertainment. The classical group Adagio, for example, used to be a quartet. Then it became a trio and, more recently, just two indifferent players. The Adagio duo on this cruise included possibly the best violinist I’ve heard at sea, better than he should have been but unfortunately at the end of his contract. I hope he’s re-engaged. And the rest of the performers, singers and dancers were a definite step up from those on the Westerdam last year and the Eurodam the year before. The food quality and presentation were at least as good as we’ve come to expect, especially at the evening meal in the dining room. Evening meals in the Pinnacle and Canaletto were excellent. Lunch in the Pinnacle remains one of cruising’s best bargains. I’m still unhappy that HAL does not buy more provisions locally and give its chefs more rein with the menus. Why should the two Chilean wines I most wanted to order off the wine list both be out of stock for the duration of a 16 day cruise that included three Chilean ports? Why can we not see the most common regional dishes on the evening menu? Bar service was typically good but a bit slow. The prices continue to inch up, with most drinks now being between $7 and $10. It wasn’t difficult to find a server except, oddly, in the Explorers Lounge, where drinks service during Adagio’s evening performances was either missing or very scarce. Because there’s no bar in the Explorer’s Lounge, the drinks, and the servers on this cruise, come from the Mix bar one room away. That, however, is the only instance where the on-board service was less than we expected. The Zaandam’s guest-facing crew were great. The captain took us much closer to a glacier than I thought he would, and made a small route change so that we could view a large iceberg. We enjoyed this cruise and look forward to coming back for more. Read Less
7 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
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2018
The good - Our room stewards, our waiter and wine steward and most of the folks in the Lido especially Jen and "the Sandman." The cleanest of all 4 ships we have sailed on with HAL -and the crew was the fussiest about it ... Read More
The good - Our room stewards, our waiter and wine steward and most of the folks in the Lido especially Jen and "the Sandman." The cleanest of all 4 ships we have sailed on with HAL -and the crew was the fussiest about it especially in the LIDO. The best - cruise director Bruce, the Captain, Luisa in Guest services. Jim and Charles were 2 of the best lecturers we have encountered cruising Average - food still not up to other cruise ships.Good , nourishing not great. Surcharges ?. The pinnacle is just not a pinnacle , excluding the Indian dinner. Poor - trying to get a drink on the aft deck and the smokers not staying in their area. Entertainment not great except for the violinist and the first piano player. But nothing is more annoying than the lack of attention to customer complaints about maintenance in the cabin.( see cabin review below) . Guest services is put in a very difficult position because of the continual lack of response by maintenance. The head of maintenance on every HAL ship should be subjected to the complaints . Worst - Wi Fi, they have some nerve charging for it. SAD -1) There is some kind of miscommunication between departments, too many excuses and too many variations of what is going on. 2) The female officers seem to all have a chip on their shoulders. Hope a great Captain can solve that one as the guests shy away from them and it is a continual topic of conversation. That said , we always felt safe and secure which is paramount and finally the show put on by the Humpback whales who seemed so happy to see us.. Read Less
Sail Date: August 2018
I have been to Alaska the last two years with my grandson on Holland America and loved it. The crew, the staff, the Chefs like Chef Kenny and Officer Marcus were so helpful. They were the dinamic duo making sure that everything was ready ... Read More
I have been to Alaska the last two years with my grandson on Holland America and loved it. The crew, the staff, the Chefs like Chef Kenny and Officer Marcus were so helpful. They were the dinamic duo making sure that everything was ready on time. In the dinning, Charlie, Marcus and our servers were happy, and very attentive. This is a happy ship, not sure what their secret is but the crew showed that they enjoyed their jobs, took great pride in all their challenges. Positivity flourished every where.! The excursion team was super. I think Derek from Amsterdam was tops. I would recommend this cruise so much that I am planning on repeating it again next year! The destinations were so different. The other guest on the ship were outgoing and friendly. The Zandam is a happy, clean, ship being staffed by some of the best crew I have ever had the pleasure of meeting. Thank you Holland America. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: August 2018
We had cruised to Alaska before but were unable to maximise our experience because of health issues towards the end of the experience. Having cruised HAL in 2017 after a break of about 10 years cruising with one of their main competitors ... Read More
We had cruised to Alaska before but were unable to maximise our experience because of health issues towards the end of the experience. Having cruised HAL in 2017 after a break of about 10 years cruising with one of their main competitors we were keen to return to Alaska and experience it with HAL. The 14 day itinerary sttod out as a must do option travelling further north than our previous cruise. Following Cruise Critic we were made aware of the upgraded bathrooms on many of the ocean view cabins so we upgraded. The new shower is really good and we were pleased with our decision. As we prefer set dining the first night on any cruise is a little worrying - how would we get on with our dinner companions. In all our cruises we have never had to ask to be moved and indeed again we got on really well with our new friends from Florida. On this sailing second sitting was relatively empty. This was great for us as we were able to build a great rapport with our wait staff, Oka, Arie and wine steward Florence. They were a great team and we really enjoyed our dinners throughout the cruise. Some of the ports of call we had visited 5 years ago but apart from in Juneau where we went whale watching again we were able to find different independent tours. Of course on this itinerary there were new ports and we enjoyed them all, that is Anchorage, Homer and Kodiak. Icy Strait Point was particularly interesting as a whole new cruise terminal complex had been built since we were last there. There is just a little concern that the Tinglit heritage could be devalued as more and more ships visit. Being an older ship Zaandam as yet hasn't got Billboard and BB KIng's. This meant that there was live music in the bars every evening for our pre dinner drink. This is much to our liking! All the musicians were very talented and Mike in the Mix/Piano Bar was very entertaining. We also very much enjoyed the Ocean Trio in the Ocean Bar. The evening shows in Mainstage were good and there was only one show we left as being Brits we couldn't cope with one of the American comedians accent and as his act was very intactive with the audience, nothing wrong with that, and we were on the balcony and of course he was interacting with those on the lower level we couldn't catch the conversation. The staff also need to think about closing the doors to the mainstage on Deck 5 so the music from Ocean Bar does not distract from the performers on stage. Tommy Proulx, the young saxophonist was particularly good, so much so that we bought his CD! Mention must also be made of Janette the EXC guide. As a native Alaskan her talks were most interesting and relevant with no pushing of the EXC excursions. So as independent travellers this was great for us. So we had a really great cruise. There were some minor irritations, like why do they charge so much for photographs, but nothing that spoilt our holiday. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2018
We decided to try HAL as we are Carnival stockholders and usually cruise Princess -Platinum Capt Circle-We have been to Alaska once before and decided to try the smaller ship!! Great choice!! We loved it!! We embarked in Seattle and it ... Read More
We decided to try HAL as we are Carnival stockholders and usually cruise Princess -Platinum Capt Circle-We have been to Alaska once before and decided to try the smaller ship!! Great choice!! We loved it!! We embarked in Seattle and it was so fast and easy!! The staff were so friendly and helpful and America’s Test Kitchen Chef Annette welcomed us as we walked by the Test Kitchen and invited us in and showed us the great spot for her classes!! EXC Hist Jeanette was delightful as well!!We had and outside cabin and it was quite spacious and even had a couch and bathtub!! Much better than Princess!! Excellent food choices-We loved the buffet..Fresh food & lots of choices and passengers didn’t serve themselves !! Very clean and no norovirus! Entertainment was good and we enjoyed the many ports!!Cons:TVs are a bit dated an tv lineup could us a lift. Numerous people 3-4 had “service”dogs.. They need more guidelines as these dogs were clearly pets and not trained for service! The Aussie was disruptive and frequently barked !! Not fair to someone who really needs his service animal!! Read Less
Sail Date: July 2018
This was the longest cruise I have been on. Tha Zaandam is a smaller ship but everything seemed to be well maintained. The itinerary was great saw some smaller ports most people never see. The crew were all friendly and helpful. Scenery ... Read More
This was the longest cruise I have been on. Tha Zaandam is a smaller ship but everything seemed to be well maintained. The itinerary was great saw some smaller ports most people never see. The crew were all friendly and helpful. Scenery was awesome and saw lots of wildlife. Weather was really good for Alaska much sunshine. Went to Americas Test Kitchen demos and they were all informative and well organized. Only thing is I wished I had booked a balcony cabin, but Zaandam has very limited number of balconies and they are quite expensive.Food on board was generally quite good, but I really don't recommend the Italian restaurant on board not really worth the upcharge. MDR had very good food and service was really good, a life saver for me was that they had many 2 tops in the dining room which made my daughter very happy, She does not like eating with strangers. Buffet food was amazingly good. Overall I would recommend this cruise visits the itinerary it awesome, Read Less
2 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
We chose Holland America as we have cruised with them several times before and were very impressed. Things have apparently taken a turn for the worse lately. We were surprised to find there were no refrigerators in the cabins; there were ... Read More
We chose Holland America as we have cruised with them several times before and were very impressed. Things have apparently taken a turn for the worse lately. We were surprised to find there were no refrigerators in the cabins; there were no bathrobes or slippers. We had the open dining option but when we twice turned up at the dining room we were told to come back at 8pm as they were full. The Lido food was good quality but the same every single night. Ours was a 14 night cruise to Alaska departing Seattle on 16th July 2018 and many of the ports visited were fantastic. Some however I fail to see why they even slowed down let alone stopped. Icy Straight Point, nothing there. Homer, nothing there. In the Northern ports school buses were used as excursion coaches. I can see why other cruise lines do not visit these Northern ports. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2018
Having sailed with HAL many times in the past, it was a no-brainer to pick the 14-day cruise on the ms Zaandam. This was my 4th cruise to Alaska, yet the itinerary included no less than 4 ports/sites that I had not seen before (Homer, Icy ... Read More
Having sailed with HAL many times in the past, it was a no-brainer to pick the 14-day cruise on the ms Zaandam. This was my 4th cruise to Alaska, yet the itinerary included no less than 4 ports/sites that I had not seen before (Homer, Icy Strait-Hoonah, Kodiak and Anchorage). As expected, the food and beverage service was above average. HAL's history of Filipino and Indonesian service staff is time-honored and well-known. But I did notice a few things that were not characteristic of prior HAL cruises. The cabin steward service was maddeningly inconsistent. The ventilation in our ocean-view stateroom was substandard - it always seemed warm and stuffy, even with the thermostat at the lowest possible setting. The bedding and bath linens were old, rough and threadbare. However, the bath had been recently upgraded with a nice sink and shower. The mattress was a slight upgrade over a military surplus cot, and I arose every morning with a a backache. I was surprised to find only ONE electrical outlet to be used for cell phone chargers, CPAP machine, Kindle chargers, etc. We had to ask for a power strip/extension cord which we had to drape over the door handle for the adjoining stateroom, which was cumbersome and hazardous. One thing has not changed on HAL is the pricey beverage structure. $7.00 for a domestic beer and $50.00 for a bottle of wine was enough to discourage my customary couple of beers in the afternoon and a bottle of wine for dinner. I was not happy with the structure of the Lido. A buffet should be self-serve, yet you had to stand in line for any hot food selections. On the other hand, I found the quality of the food in the Lido equal to that of the Dining Room, and since I was limiting my alcoholic beverage consumption due to high prices, I visited the Lido for all afternoon and evening meals except twice during the 14-day trip. Overall, a fine cruise with several notable disappointments. 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 4.3
Value For Money 4.0 3.8
Rates 4.0 4.0

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