18 Day Inca Discovery tour was wonderful!: Zaandam Cruise Review by jkmarbles

Zaandam 5
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18 Day Inca Discovery tour was wonderful!

Sail Date: October 2015
Destination: South America
Embarkation: San Diego
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 More 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. Less

Published 03/11/15
5 Helpful Votes

Cabin review: E3690 Large Ocean-View Stateroom

Very nice location. Typical HAL Room. Had a bit of a problem with the air conditioning not cooling enough, but they promptly looked into it and fixed it right away!

Read All Large Ocean-View Stateroom (E) Reviews >>

Port and Shore Excursions

Staff at our hotel, Puerta Escondida, recommended some lovely activities such as riding a funicular (ascensor), paseo atkinson, and walking various colorful passageways. They also recommended wonderful restaurants that we loved: Fauna hotel and Pastevina.

Took the train from Valparaiso station near Plaza Sotomayer. Got off at Mirimar station and walked to the flower clock, and around the coast near Wulff Castle. Stopped at the Sheraton for drinks and a snack before walking back to Mirimar train station.

Wonderful transfer from Valparaiso hotel, 100 miles, to Santiago Airport with wine tours and lunch (we paid for our own lunch).

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