Sail Date: February 2019
Booked a Vista Suite on the Navigation Deck (#7046) and soon discovered after embankment that it sat directly beneath the Lido kitchen area. Needless to say the noise from above our cabin ceiling was unbearable and went well into the night ... Read More
Booked a Vista Suite on the Navigation Deck (#7046) and soon discovered after embankment that it sat directly beneath the Lido kitchen area. Needless to say the noise from above our cabin ceiling was unbearable and went well into the night and then began again at around 3:30 a.m. There was no remedy for the problem and guest services did not follow up after we complained. We were on a 15 day South American cruise and got very little undisturbed sleep throughout the voyage. This was the major problem we encountered on this particular cruise but there were also many minor to medium issues on the ship which is well past it's prime. We have cruised with Holland three times previous to this 4th cruise but it will most likely be our last. There should have been some sort of disclosure regarding this particular cabin and the related noise problems in the initial booking information. We did not eat in the dining room but had all meals in the Lido Cafe. The food was good and the Lido service people friendly and attentive. The new hand washing stations were barely used and the majority of the people entering the Lido walked right by them on their way to dine. We don't do the shows so cannot comment on the entertainment. The shore excursions left something to be desired and we missed two ports due to bad weather. The future cruise consultant had a slight attitude and acted like she could care less about questions we asked her. The customer service desk was also average and the people manning it were not consistent regarding DVD rentals. The shipboard talks regarding ports we would visit were full of bad information and twice one seating was about two separate ports combined which was confusing to say the least. Overall I would say that the cruise was not up to the normal standards that we have seen from Holland in the past. Our next two cruises will be with Viking which has a newer fleet of ships and offers features that Holland is now lacking. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: January 2019
We chose this cruise for the multiple stops in Chile and the 4 days in Antarctica. We had been around the horn on HAL 6 yrs. ago and regretted not including Antarctica at that time. We also missed the Falkland Islands on that cruise. We ... Read More
We chose this cruise for the multiple stops in Chile and the 4 days in Antarctica. We had been around the horn on HAL 6 yrs. ago and regretted not including Antarctica at that time. We also missed the Falkland Islands on that cruise. We were told that Zaandam would get lanai cabins on the previous dry-dock so we booked a cabin that we thought would be converted but lanais were not installed.. Embarkation at San Antonio went smoothly and we found ourselves in our cabin by noon. Our suitcases arrived in good time so we were all moved into our cabin before the muster drill. We found all the staff on board to be very friendly and helpful. Our room stewards, Nengah & Romli, worked very hard and did an excellent job. We enjoyed the towel animals on our bed each evening. We were surprised that there were so few hand sanitizers on board, especially near the eating areas. We never had to wait for anytime dining because we like to eat early. However, it was annoying to be seated at a table for 6 and have to wait 15-20 minutes for the table to fill up so we could order. Food service was reasonably fast and food quality was good, although a bit too salty! We ate in the Pinnacle Grill on the first night and were not impressed. My husband's steak was over-cooked and my chicken was not that tender. We also did not like the pressure from the wine steward to buy bottles of wine rather than glasses. We did enjoy our Rijsttafel dinner at the Pinnacle Grill later in the cruise. Internet was okay if you went on early in the day or during the evening meal. This was very important to us as we had 2 grand-children undergoing surgery during our cruise. There did not seem to be as much emphasis on sales, e.g. no "inch of gold" or evening purses on sale. Kudos to HAL for printing fewer sale flyers each day. We enjoyed getting a newspaper and puzzle each day. The flowers were beautiful for the first 2 weeks but then the same bouquets became very sad and wilted and yet remained on display. We were disappointed with the music in the Ocean Bar as it was not good for dancing - they played a lot of jazz. The Adagio Strings were wonderful and we very much enjoyed listening to them. In the main theatre, we found the sound volume much too high and had to bring earplugs to performances. The tendering process worked very smoothly for us. We had an excellent Expedition Team with Scott, Bryan, and Tamara giving very interesting lectures. We learned so much about Antarctica. We also enjoyed the session with the Palmer Station staff. They answered questions and it was great to have the microphones in the audience. The port guide, Kevin, also gave wonderful, humorous talks and very practical information. He was frequently available for consultation. .Although we had to skip Puerto Montt due to high swells, we made it to the remaining ports which was fantastic. We liked that the scenic cruising in Antarctica was broken up into segments by entering different bays and channels. We were also blessed with good weather. It was good to get the commentary about where to locate wildlife. The whales were really active on our cruise! Each day we enjoyed going to the Explorations Cafe for a cup of tea & coffee. Michelle there was wonderful - she was highly organized, efficient, friendly and remembered our names and what we like to drink. We did not take any HAL excursions but all our private tours returned us to the port in plenty of time. Our cabin was comfortable with plenty of storage space. The shower was spacious. Temperature control was good. We should have asked for a lighter weight blanket as we often found the duvet too warm. Overall, this was a wonderful cruise with only minor flaws. Read Less
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2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2019
We selected this cruise because of the itinerary: South America (from Chile to Argentina), with sailing around Cape Horn and then along the Antarctic Peninsula. The itinerary did not disappoint us. Except for being unable to dock at Puerto ... Read More
We selected this cruise because of the itinerary: South America (from Chile to Argentina), with sailing around Cape Horn and then along the Antarctic Peninsula. The itinerary did not disappoint us. Except for being unable to dock at Puerto Montt (Chile) due to strong winds, everywhere else the weather was excellent and docking (if applicable) went without any issues. Even notorious Drake Passage felt more like a lake. Every port was different and we did not regret that actually we did not set foot on Antarctica (only sailing along). The scenery was magnificent and diverse, wildlife was plentiful to see and to enjoy. The enrichment lectures by the experts led by Scott were excellent; all of them had real Antarctic experience. We even had a visit by the members of the US team from the Palmer Station who boarded the ship for a few hours and gave us another dimension what it means to work as a researcher in Antarctica. The onboard experts were equally good who had skills in public speaking, did not trivialize subjects and were always available to answer additional queries. You appreciated the scenery even more with this background. Shore excursions: overall good but clearly overpriced. The excursion staff very nice and helpful. Nonetheless, you can do yourself a big favor booking ahead of time the same or better tours at 50% discount price via independent tour operators (we did this in the Falklands, Montevideo, and Buenos Aires)--you have more intimate experience at much lower cost. HA should also consider adding more active (strenuous) options on shore and in smaller groups. Some specifics about the tours: don't waste your money on the flight to Antarctica, most of the time flights are canceled and you will see more from the ship. Do not take an excursion in Puerto Madryn to Valdez Peninsula, unless you like to seat on the bus for 6 hours and see for 20 min (and from the distance) colonies of sea lions. Dinning experience/food: of course, HA experience is not the same as cruising with some boutique lines catering to culinary experiences. Nevertheless, we found food plentiful, very good selections at any time of day or night, and the service always pleasant. The dinning staff was above expectations, personal, attentive, and at your service. We dined couple of times in Canaletto, nice and more intimate experience, though you will not be tired of the Main Dinning Room. Overall ambiance/entertainment: HA cruises cater to mature customers. I found enjoyable not to see hordes of children running around the pool or in the Lido. Zaandam is tastefully arranged and easy to get around. If you like the glitz and phony party atmosphere, this will not be the cruise for you. The entertainment was good (except for comedian/magician), the selection of movies was well arranged, consistent with South American and Antarctic itinerary. The cruise director (Bruce) deserves thumbs up, tactful and understated, on the top of everything in his line of duty. Staff: overall, we had excellent impressions, comparing to past experiences on HA and other lines. From the captain to our cabin steward we felt being treated with courtesy and professionalism. Overall, this was one of the best cruising experiences. Those who are interested in this itinerary should invest in right clothing (layers, layers, layers) to enjoy the sights of Antarctica from the deck and the Falklands on land. Take advantage of every port, see natural beauty and appreciate culture. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2019
We were keen to visit Antarctica but did not cherish the idea of being tossed around in the Drake passage aboard a small vessel. We therefore chose HAL Zaandam although it did mean no setting foot on Antarctica. It was the best decision ... Read More
We were keen to visit Antarctica but did not cherish the idea of being tossed around in the Drake passage aboard a small vessel. We therefore chose HAL Zaandam although it did mean no setting foot on Antarctica. It was the best decision that we made and right from the word go, the cruise was just great. The sights, especially during the 4 days in Antarctica were unforgettable. Living on board for 22 days was every bit comfortable with great food, service and stateroom no 3365. Talks by expedition team leaders were highly informative. Other entertainment activities were also good but perhaps not great.. Getting off the ship for shore excursions was very well managed with no one getting rushed even at the tender ports. Disembarkation and luggage handling was efficient. Only somewhat unsatisfactory experience was the late embarkation process at Buenos Aires. The HAL transfer person simply left us at the kerb outside the port building. We had to ask around for directions to get to the ship, carrying our bags and it was some distance away. Overall, it was a memorable holiday trip Read Less
11 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2018
This was my 20th cruise on HAL, third to Antarctica, and one on which I attained 4-star Mariner status, so I was looking forward to a wonderful celebration of all the quality and excellence which introduced me to HAL 20 years ago. ... Read More
This was my 20th cruise on HAL, third to Antarctica, and one on which I attained 4-star Mariner status, so I was looking forward to a wonderful celebration of all the quality and excellence which introduced me to HAL 20 years ago. Instead, I found a cruise whose guests included too high a proportion of those for whom etiquette was never a strong point, an indifferent cruise director and front staff, a captain conspicuous by his absence, and a ship whose dining room and Crow's Nest were an ice box (16 degrees Celsius). That the weather was foul for all but eight days did not help, and I feel truly sorry for the dining room and cabin stewards who now have to service four times as many guests, per staff member, as they did 20 years ago. How they manage to remain polite and cheerful under such strenuous conditions is beyond me. They deserve every dollar in gratuities that they receive, yet still many, especially those from countries in which tipping is not expected, remove tips from their onboard accounts. In addition, there were many customers who selfishly cut in lines in the Lido, when obtaining tender tickets, and boarding. At times it felt like we were with football hooligans, which management did nothing to control. I have been taking this specific cruise now every five years, just to research for myself the ice depths in Antarctica as the itinerary is always the same, and it is interesting to compare what I observe with my own eyes to what other groups claim with regard to whether or not there is evidence of global warming. On this occasion, within Antarctica, the weather was worse than ideal, however, the Captain chose not to go even visit the Lemaire Channel (he announced he had spoken to other ships who said it was icy), and blamed ice for his decision not to sail behind Couverville Island, even though a Silversea boat traversed the channel, and which a different Captain on Zaandam had done five years ago. As with most experienced cruisers, I rarely buy the HAL excursions because they are often two to three times the price of locally arranged tours, they see less, they have a mandatory shopping opportunity, and they cater to the slowest traveler. I have repeatedly suggested in my after-cruise questionnaire that HAL provide at least one full day, strenuous excursion for active customers, but to no avail. I arranged exceptional local tours in Castro, Puerto Chacabuco and Montevideo, and because I had been to BA and Santiago twice before, arranged my own walking tours there. At 3 mph, you can see almost everything of historical interest in both cities in a day. With this itinerary, you have to be aware that the weather is usually bad, and so scenic cruising, which is the most unbelievable when the sun shines, can turn a tour called Symphony of Lakes and Volcanoes into a symphony of wind and rain, with absolutely nothing to see. But with that in mind, the ship should be a welcoming refuge where you can heat up and dry off. As the self-service laundries have been removed, there is now no way to dry wet clothes. And because I had experienced an ice box on the Prinzendam to Norway in June, I brought a thermometer with me on this trip, and on occasion, the main dining room and Crows Nest were at an Arctic 16 degrees Celsius (61F). Initially the Maitre d denied it, refusing to look at my thermometer, then when I requested an appointment with the chief engineer, was told that there was a problem with the heating. By half way through the cruise, the number of people with hacking coughs was significant. Tendering was disappointing. At Falklands, because I not on a HAL tour, I was unable to get off the ship until two hours after the first tender departed (tender tickets were required and 800 guests were on HAL tours). And with all aboard always being half an hour before Stated departure time, an eight hour docking can turn into only five hours being available on shore. I am convinced that HALs goal is to get to international waters ASAP so they can open the casino. Given that the ship can sail at 23kts, but most of the time, cruised at 13 - 15kts, it was totally unnecessary to leave any of the ports as early as we did, and on a 22 day cruise with only eight opportunities to disembark, this is a serious error of planning. Etiquette was lacking everywhere. People cutting in line for tender tickets, cutting in line in the Lido, and surprisingly, given that the ship departs at the same time for everyone, pushing and shoving to get up the gangway ahead of the next person. A number of us took matters into our own hands on occasion telling people to get back, but no one from HAL would do so. The worst was in the Main Stage, where it seems that certain groups believe it is OK to talk loudly while performers are on stage, destroying the ambience for polite guests. Despite being requested to do so as part of his nightly welcome to guests, Bruce (cruise director) refused to ask attendees to refrain from talking during the show. As a real disappointment, my son had his jacket stolen from the lounge. HAL markets this trip as an expedition and employs an expedition team, which on my previous two trips have been genuine experts in their fields willing to impart knowledge to guests no matter what their political leanings or level of understanding. They would also provide running commentary during the scenic cruising about WHAT we were seeing and HOW it got there. However, on this one, with the exception of Bryan, who was fantastic, all they could do was point out snow, icebergs, and many whales, AFTER guests on the bow had seen them first! The leader, Scott, spent much of his lecture time making anti-Trump jibes, and refusing to engage in an actual discussion about causes and solutions. The two best staff members on this cruise (besides the delightful cabin stewards and waiters), were the Assistant Cruise Director, Sandra, and the EXC Guide Kevin, an Argentinian who was knowledgeable and pleasant, and who provided a very in-depth and factual, unbiased view of the UK/Argentinian dispute over the Falklands. As usual, up-selling by staff continues to intrude. It really is annoying when one is wearing headphones in the Crow's Nest to be tapped on the shoulder by a staff member asking if I want to make a reservation in the Canalletto. And taking away the two self-service laundries is a real slap in the face when you are on a three week cruise with a need to pack for both warm and cold clothes. While HAL may think that converting a laundry to a cabin garners $2,000 more per week in room fees, you can never calculate with certainty how many guests stop cruising with HAL because this amenity is no longer provided. And given that the ship had 100 empty cabins, what good did it do to take away the laundry? After 20 years of cruising with HAL, unless they return to the elegant days - by setting expectations such as a REQUIRED dress code in the main dining room, and enforcing silence in the Main Stage - I will probably be trying something different. A real shame, because I achieved 4-star status on this cruise, and have had many happy memories. 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5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2018
The cruise exceeded my expectations in every way. The high point was the 4 days in the Antarctic. I will never forget the joy of watching an iceberg float by with penguins on it - with one every once in a while waving to you, or so it ... Read More
The cruise exceeded my expectations in every way. The high point was the 4 days in the Antarctic. I will never forget the joy of watching an iceberg float by with penguins on it - with one every once in a while waving to you, or so it appears. Than you watch some of them dive off and go porpoising across the waters. Later on, an iceberg goes by and they are jumping on. A little further an iceberg goes by with a solitary penguin on it. Your camera is your best friend at this point to help capture this unbelievable spectacle and all the Antarctic beauty ever present around you. And as if that wasn't enough there were the frequent whale spouts, some so close you could hear them, followed by their majestic arch and gigantic tail appearing as they take a deep dive. Than there was, for me, the beauty of the many variety of antarctic birds that followed the ship. One, the wandering albatross has the largest wing span of any bird, up to 10 feet (over 3 meters). The ever changing sea state, ocean color and sun angle made each soaring maneuver another art piece I had to capture. And haven't even mentioned the icebergs - a prime attraction to say the least. As for the ship, it has been maintained in excellent shape. You couldn't ask for a better crew. Very friendly and as one who can testify to their around the clock effort to keep the ship clean, I was often up at all hours to photograph the sun set at midnight or a sun rise at 3:00 AM. My wife and I had a balcony suite, room 7038, port side on deck 7. Perfect in location and size. We had no problem with motion sickness for the moderate sea states we were in. As I have learned from previous cruses, food can be a problematic. If something is too good, I have a hard time passing it up. I would give the food on this cruise a Goldilocks rating - just right. Except perhaps their soups, which I had to try every night, they were so good. The entertainment was all very well done, particularly the dance routines. My wife and I enjoyed dancing to The Ocean Quartet, whenever the sea state permitted. A cruise setting I will always remember is listening to the Adagio violinist and pianist play. Their music made you slow down and take in the moment. I am so thankful they had a CD, Duo Dolce, of their music for sale in the ship's store. Holland American also has to be given a lot of credit for the holiday decoration they had throughout the Zaandam. I knew it was going to be good when I saw 4 pallets of fresh poinsettias waiting to be loaded at San Antonio. Two shore excisions that were exceptional and you should not miss are, first the Volunteer Point King Penguin Rookery when dock at Stanley/Falkland Is/Islas Malvinas. We opted for the ship's excursion package here as this port requires a rather long tender, about 30 minutes, and a jeep ride to Volunteer Point is such you need to get on the first tenders. The Land Rover ride was half the enjoyment and truly a great King penguin experience. The second excursion was a city and tango show in Buenos Aires. We used LIZ ANDREA (liz2arg@yahoo.com. We were a small group and that gives you more flexibility. Liz is a native of the city so she really knows its story and tells it very well. Great command of English and she has very engaging dialog. Not like some recording or scripted speech. Her stories at the cemetery show she is very knowledgeable and passionate about the history like no other. She arranged a Tango show for us that was top notch. What a perfect way to end our cruise. We also used her for our trip to the airport and for a tour day ending at the airport for our flight out that evening. Very responsible guide and driver. You couldn't do better. Would I do it again - in a heart beat. Would I recommend it to a friend - already have. Truly a once in a life time experience for us. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2018
The trip to Antarctica and Patagonia is the main reason for taking this cruise plus I was told by a maritime lawyer long ago that his favorite places was Chile and South Africa so had to see for myself. Overall the cruise was OK. Weather ... Read More
The trip to Antarctica and Patagonia is the main reason for taking this cruise plus I was told by a maritime lawyer long ago that his favorite places was Chile and South Africa so had to see for myself. Overall the cruise was OK. Weather didn't cooperate in the southern ports. We missed Ushuaia which was a disappointment due to high winds and no tenders. Antarctica could have had better weather. It snowed and rained often but waves were mild. Cape Horn had bad weather so it was disappointing. Some ports were very poor or lacking in interest so a tour was probably necessary to offset this. Food was inedible in the Lido buffet. Sushi and asian food inedible, pizza worse than frozen, coffee less than tasty, teas very good, hot water machine out. Soups and appetizers overly salted or just weird in the Pinnacle Grill. Main dining room items like schnitzel and stuffed quail almost inedible. Soups good there. Wine pours very small. Service adequate but not the friendly service I've had in the past. Servers seem unhappy compared to a decade ago. Seems like 1/2 of the ship is beautiful and remodeled while cabins are very outdated and look like 1960 era apartments with pink tile in the tub. Cabin was Underneath the kitchen. By looking at the deck plans they don’t distinguish areas of the ship probably for this reason scaring off people. Do not even think of staying in the rear cabins on deck 3 under the kitchen. Noise till after 1am and then starting before 5am for breakfast. Pots and dollys banging all night. Asked to be moved but location on first floor was next to the final days 24 hour gangplank. The last few nights on the cruise the children on the ship took over the coffee, game room and library area. While they were entertaining at times, I notice that the area was clear of adults from the noise they created entertaining themselves. The cruise passengers were very international this time compared to my experiences in the past on HAL. Some passengers that were very rude and cut in line all the time at the Lido, tenders and tours. During the penguin tours we were told to stay out of the boundary areas. These tourists broke that rule so they could stand next to the penguins for pictures disturbing the penguin nests. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2018
This was a long planned bucket list trip to see South America and especially Patagonia. The on-board service was absolutely excellent with HAL's customary exemplary service in the bar, restaurants and cabin, and with the sea going and ... Read More
This was a long planned bucket list trip to see South America and especially Patagonia. The on-board service was absolutely excellent with HAL's customary exemplary service in the bar, restaurants and cabin, and with the sea going and port tender management. Although we were in gale or storm force winds for much of the open water sections of the voyage trip, the Zaandam is extremely sea kindly and the motion was never uncomfortable. We splurged on a Neptune Cabin and concierge service which was well worth the premium with just nothing to fault it. The Zaandam is a newer R class ship and although similar to the older S Class Ryndam, Veendam and Maasdam upon which we have made previous cruises, is generally much "sharper" and more salubrious. Unfortunately however the Carnival "cheapscate" ownership of HAL once again reared its ugly presence, as previously for us with an Alaska trip which included an on-shore hotel component, with a truly dreadful hotel - this time after a bait and switch where a reasonable four star hotel originally scheduled for our trip at time of booking was substituted by HAL with a truly lousy three star - in Buenos Aires. To add insult to injury my wife's designer sunglasses and costume jewelry were stolen from our room when we were taking our bags downstairs for delivery to the ship (an action necessitated by the failure of the hotel to do this job). These are my general comments; insofar as the specifics of this cruise are concerned, the following provide some summary thoughts: In addition to the lousy hotel, the BA trip was marred by the prevalence of "Argentine Time" - 45 minutes to more than an hour at least late for everything - and generally sloppy management in BA. The best part was the Delta Cruise and Tango dinner which would probably have been excellent if we had started on time. As it was we were so late that the cruise through the delta islands was in pitch darkness. Montevideo was also marred by an inadequate guide and bus service, although others on board who did not use the HAL tour enjoyed it. After a rough two days at sea the on shore components started getting much better with the stop at the Falklands - a really well managed tender experience. The shorter penguin tours - they are adorable - was more than sufficient and the quaint town and environment were most interesting. Punta Arenas was our first stop in Chile, when the different attitude between the Chileans and Argentinians became obvious, and not just because the clocks worked! We had an emergency tender operation at Punta Arenas due to a dock conflict that the ships crew managed really well. The cruising through the Magellan Straits and Beagle Passage were delightful with awesome scenery before our next stop to Ushuaia and a visit to the southermost tip of South America. After more gorgeous Patagonia cruising we had a brilliantly managed rounding of The Horn before more Fjords and a delightful stop at Puerto Montt, where the German restauranteur and market trip was brilliant. Disembarkation at San Antonio was excellent, after which we made our own, very successful independent arrangements for driver, Santiago tour and hotel - a lesson learned! Overall, an excellent cruise which, as with our Alaska trip some years ago, started out really badly by HAL's failure to provide an on-shore experience that is anywhere remotely comparable to their on ship board experience, but ended real well. Read Less
13 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2018
Our ninth cruise with HAL. It's likely going to be our last with the awful experience we're having on this cruise from Buenos Aires to Santiago. Currently enroute from Stanley, Falkland Islands and the problems just keep piling ... Read More
Our ninth cruise with HAL. It's likely going to be our last with the awful experience we're having on this cruise from Buenos Aires to Santiago. Currently enroute from Stanley, Falkland Islands and the problems just keep piling up. As we're in an upper-end cabin, we had the "Signature Experience" which included two nights in a Buenos Aires hotel, an "event", and appropriate transfers. At virtually the last minute we were moved from a 5-star hotel to a hotel only open two weeks in a less-than-desirable area of Recoleta (downtown). This hotel was filled with problems - apparently HAL saved a few bucks in the process however. When we arrived at the ship we had (for the first time on any cruise) our passports confiscated by HAL staff! We were given a printed card as a receipt for the passports - which had a signature line NO ONE would sign! We've asked repeatedly on board for HAL to explain this unusual situation, but no one in management will return our calls. This ship is 20 years old. And perhaps not much longer for HAL's inventory, as they are now ignoring maintenance items that would seem to be routine. Examples: *. Heat/cooling in our cabin is generally non-functional •. Overnight today our thermostat even quit working •. Sun curtains in the dining rooms (on the back windows) are "stuck" in a midway position (our waiter said they haven't worked in months) •. Hallway carpets are worn and dirty as are the deck areas around the Lido pools Internet service is unusable despite the high cost and claims that the service supports "video and audio streaming". This is a bald-faced lie - it rarely is even able to send email! Service on this ship is provided by Speedcast.com, who are well aware of the problems and blame HAL for "overselling" the system. We have been continually annoyed with the aggressive solicitations by crew members for dubious up-sells and "special events". They bothered us during dinner with these phony wine tastings, and then started calling our room just before dinner and offering the Pinnacle Grill or Cannalato Restaurant "experience" for $5 less than the published (upgrade) price! I've asked the office repeatedly to put us on the "Do Not Call" list without any positive results. HAL is engaged in other, airline-type "upgrades" to what used to be an all-inclusive experience. The breakfast room service menu has few choices now but several pricey "Upgrades" available. So does the dining room menu. We are offended by these changes. Dining room food has been its usual high-quality, with friendly and competent waiters. However service has been slow with long waits between the starters and main course common. We were also surprised to see primary-school-aged children on this cruise. HAL staff refuses to intervene with the parents of some of the more troublesome in the group. Much of the rest of the crew seems sullen and disinterested. This is especially true with the servers in the Lido deck food areas. Food service and quality there has been lackadaisical to say the least. However by far the biggest shamozzle was the issuance of "tender ticket" reservations. You'd think that HAL had never done this before. At 7:30am almost 100 people were already in a queue down the hallway for an 8am ticket call. These tickets are meant for people who have firm (non HAL) day trip bookings so they can go ashore as early as possible. But it has turned into a free-for-all, with non-English speaking passengers in particular not understanding the process and no one from HAL available to speak to them in Chinese. When the ticket issuance started, the Chinese passengers were being given individually 2, 4, up to 8 tickets on the earliest tender transfers despite these people neither NEEDING the early transfers nor everyone standing in line like the rest of us. The day of the tender to Stanley, these same passengers were giving the additional cards away to others without cards, or holding much later tender times. HAL staff ignored the complaints by the other passengers who were prepared to follow the system, such as it is. In Ushuaia, at the last minute we were forced to tender due to some problem with the pier. This meant an even bigger free-for-all trying to get tender tickets. This showed how ill-prepared the crew is for any unplanned change. With a short port call at Ushuaia scheduled (Noon to 7PM), this left large numbers of passengers with shortened or missed tours - extremely unfortunate as Ushuaia is an especially scenic location. The last passengers who wanted to go ashore got there over four hours later than planned, with only 3 hours left for touring. HAL would not extend the onboard time (even though we had daylight until after 10pm). When any cruise line actively markets to newer cruise markets like China and don't do anything to educate these new cruisers on the experience, it does a disservice to all the passengers. HAL management admitted that they had no Chinese-speakers on their staff. We had a large number of Chinese who were doing things that were out of the ordinary - for example filling up plastic bags with food from the Lido. Bad food handling practices in particular are often the cause of norovirus on these ships. HAL staff just shrugged when they saw these things occurring. Haven't these passengers been told they can use room service 24/7? We did enjoy the cooking demonstrations on most days, and many of the musicians on board seemed very talented. We aren't much for the late night shows so didn't attend them. We used the spa area for massages and the staff in these areas is always competent and friendly. As the cruise progresses pricing goes down - we always wait for the inevitable "sale" flyer. 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8 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2018
Overall the first week' s weather was poor, rainy, misty and windy although the temperature was about what we expected ie cool, at times even cold. The ship was pleasant enough, with good food and cleanliness and excellent service. ... Read More
Overall the first week' s weather was poor, rainy, misty and windy although the temperature was about what we expected ie cool, at times even cold. The ship was pleasant enough, with good food and cleanliness and excellent service. However, being used to UK cruise lines such as Fred Olsen and P&O we found the on board activities sadly lacking. Many of the activities seemed to be designed to make you spend money ie art auctions, jewellery talks, shoe insert sales, a huge casino- all of which we've had on UK ships, but the latter also had social activities such as choirs, art classes, crafts, creative writing, even ukelele lessons. The regular day time activities were cookery demonstrations, sponsored by an American TV show, Windows lessons, sponsored by Microsoft, and one lecturer talking about geology which although interesting would have been more relevent if it had included more about the history and wildlife of the places visited. Evening entertainment was mixed, but the outstanding contributions were made by the on board tango dancers who were the best dancers we've seen in twenty cruises. Kevin who gave the port talks and a history of the Falklands War was also top rate. Excursions were extremely expensive. We only bought the tour of Buenos Aires and the transfer to the airport as we had no choice. This however meant that we had to sit in the airport for over ten hours waiting for our flight back to the UK. Mostly we bought tours dockside, all of which worked out much cheaper and as good considering the frequent poor weather which hid the views. Outstanding was Rex Eagle's minibus tour on the Falklands, an easy going informative trip on our one glorious day to see penguins and much more, and all at a fraction of the ship's price. Some towns such Puerto Chacabuco and Montevideo were a serious disappointment, but Cape Horn itself seen at dawn in appropriately rough weather was strangely moving. Go if you want something different, and to visit the Falklands, but bear in mind that the Fiords, which are really island channels, are not nearly as picturesque as those of Norway, and much more difficult to get to. Gala evenings are also not up to the standard we've had on UK ships, often with little dressing up and formality,or the free cocktail parties at least twice a cruise. The captain's welcome was brief, coming only with a glass of fizz. However the captain did a sterling job getting us ashore, often by tender, in often extremely windy conditions. Overall, a cruise with ups and down, literally, but this is of course, my personal view. 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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