10 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 up. As ... 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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3 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
20 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2018
INTRO This is a long report, because the voyage around Cape Horn includes so many different ports, environments, scenery and weather that it is impossible to describe it in just a few paragraphs: there is just so much to see, ... Read More
INTRO This is a long report, because the voyage around Cape Horn includes so many different ports, environments, scenery and weather that it is impossible to describe it in just a few paragraphs: there is just so much to see, experience, and enjoy. In all, we sailed a total of 4385 miles from San Antonio to Buenos Aires. OUR ITINERARY Our main objectives for this trip were to visit Ushuaia, Cape Horn and the Falkland Islands, so everything else we saw was a bonus – and what a bonus! This was a cruise par excellence and it delivered so many new vistas, day after day. ARRIVAL IN SANTIAGO After the seemingly endless lines of shuffling passengers at Santiago airport, we were finally able to connect with the excellent Sebastian, who organised our baggage, and then directed us to a minibus that transferred us to the Sheraton Hotel in San Antonio. TIP: at the Sheraton we sampled the local brew called Catafelte (named after a berry that resembles a blueberry) we can definitely recommend it. EMBARKATION Coaches transferred us to the port of San Antonio. Embarkation was very smooth and very well co-ordinated. As we were embarking, passengers from the previous cruise (westwards) were disembarking, but the HAL staff kept everything under control. TIP: this is a busy container port, so you have to wait after check-in until another coach can ferry you safely to the ship. After you check-in with Guest Services, your passport will be held on board the ship by HAL staff, and you will receive a Passport Reclaim slip that you can use to reclaim it when you reach the Falklands. Being separated from your passport is a bit unnerving, but rest assured your passport is safe. TIP: when you reclaim your passport from Guest Services, you will find it contains an Exit stamp for Chile, an Entry stamp for Argentina, and a 7-day Visitor Permit stamp for the Falklands! Note: we are not sure how this routine works when you sail in the opposite direction. THE SHIP The Zaandam seems to be the ideal sized cruise ship. Nothing is very far from anything else, and as you might expect, she is very clean and tidy above decks and below. We found the ship layout very easy to navigate, and really appreciated the unobstructed Promenade Deck (3 times around = 1.6 km). She is one of the smaller HAL ships, but never seems crowded (in our opinion). DÉCOR We found the décor on the Zaandam to be very interesting, with a strong emphasis on music (displays of musical instruments). There are a few good paintings of ships in the stairwells, and some amazing 3-D trompe l’oeil pictures at the entry to the Main Dining Room (MDR). The public rooms are bright and colourfully decorated. TIP: the Main Stage theatre is small and the sightlines are not always good from the balcony seats on deck 5 (except for those seated in the middle section). The seating is comfortable and the acoustics are great. THE CREW The crew of the Zaandam always manage to be upbeat and are very pleasant company. They are busy, but always seem able to find a few minutes to share a joke or a comment, and their hard work makes life as pleasant as possible for the passengers, so we want them to know how much we appreciate their efforts. Our cabin stewards (Putu and Made) were excellent. They kept our cabin neat and tidy and were always cheerful and friendly. FOOD We found no reasons to complain about the food in any of the restaurants onboard the Zaandam. The Lido Market serves a range of interesting dishes from all over the world including Asia and Italy. It tends to get a bit hectic at times, especially when people are lining up to get served at the buffet stations. We usually ate dinner in the Main Dining Room and never regretted any of our menu choices. The menu is always very inventive, and every day it lists some dishes that you might call standards for the less-adventurous diners (for example, salmon and strip-loin steak). We like to take one dinner in the Canaletto restaurant, and we were encouraged one lunch time to try the Italian Cellar Master’s Dinner. This event takes place only once per voyage, and it was scheduled for the evening that we set sail from Punta Arenas. For the princely sum of $49 per person, we enjoyed an outstanding 4-course dinner, where each course is paired with an appropriate wine! We don’t think you could buy 4 glasses of wine for that amount! Our first course was a Lobster and Shrimp salad, paired with Prosseco. After that we moved on to a Mushroom Risotto paired with Chianti. Next came a Chateaubriand (meltingly tender) paired with a Cabernet Sauvignon, and if you can manage to find space for dessert, you can enjoy a Mascarpone and Pistachio plate paired with Limoncello! Each dish is beautifully prepared and presented by the delightful Canaletto Team – catch it if you can! TIP: a quiet word with the maitre d’ can get you a table with delightful dinner companions – we were lucky every evening. MARINERS’ LUNCH This is a special event for members of the HAL Mariners Club (aka, repeat customers). The food was excellent (it’s a set menu) and you get an opportunity to meet the Captain and the Cruise Director in person. Mariners also receive a small Delft tile featuring the ship, as we have at other Mariner Lunches. ACTIVITIES AND ENTERTAINMENT In the Main Stage we were entertained by a comedian (Martin Beaumont) and a Chilean flautist called Viviana. Song and dance shows featured on two nights, and these were very good indeed – we appreciated them because they added to the variety. There were no aerialists/acrobatics on this cruise, perhaps because of the many sea days or the stage wasn’t large enough to accommodate them. Crew members from the Philippines gave a very good cultural show one evening. Although it started at 11:00 p.m. (after their days work!), the show was very well attended. Guest speaker Al Trujillo presented entertaining lectures on oceanography and related topics, and Kevin from the EXC Tours group presented well well-researched talks on each of our destinations and the excursions on offer. America’s Test Kitchen, trivia and other games were available. The covered pool area and the pool water were warm and could be used every day. FELLOW PASSENGERS A much younger demographic (our opinion) than those we have met on other HAL voyages. The number of passengers using walking frames, wheelchairs, scooters, or sticks was minimal. Most passengers seemed to be experienced cruisers, and were prepared for the roughest seas at the bottom of the world (although some confessed to this being their first cruise!). There were large groups of travellers from France and Germany, a few Australians and New Zealanders, some Americans, but the largest group seemed to be from Britain. As most of the Europeans chose later dining times, there was no problem getting seats for early dining. SMOKING Smoking is restricted to the starboard side of the Lido deck aft (deck 8), allowing most of us to avoid the deadly cancer fumes. However, on certain days smokers are still allowed to poison themselves (and others) in the casino. We could detect the smell of smoke in the MIX bar, in the shops area, in the Ocean bar, and in the Atrium. We can always find a detour to avoid the fumes, but staff who work in these areas don’t have that option. Come on HAL, prohibit smoking throughout the inside areas! CLOTHING TIPS You need to carefully consider your clothing choices for this trip, because you will be sailing from a sub-tropical zone, through southern latitudes to the sub-Antarctic, and then back to sub-tropical again. Bring a hat, gloves and a waterproof jacket and dress in layers as required. It is often too windy for an umbrella to be useful. Read Less
6 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
12 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
9 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
1 Helpful Vote
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
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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