Ranked #7 Holland America fleet
Ranked #61 among all ships
Regions: Alaska, Central America, Hawaii, Mexico, South America, West Coast
Sister ship to the Volendam - but on the wild side with a musical-theme decor ...Read the CruiseMates report
Ranked #7 Holland America fleet
Ranked #61 among all ships
Regions: Alaska, Central America, Hawaii, Mexico, South America, West Coast
Sister ship to the Volendam - but on the wild side with a musical-theme decor ...Read the CruiseMates report
Holland America Line Zaandam by edieg Alaska September 16, 2012
We booked the Alaska cruise through Olivia. That information is important, as it increases the cost of the cabin, and some of the other amenities. That is not a HAL controlled matter.
We found the food to be quite poor on this cruise. The hot food was rarely even warm and the cold food was usually unpleasantly tepid. The Pinnacle Grill was a disappointment with soggy mushrooms, bland creamed spinach, and burnt (one side) filet mignon. We ate in port restaurants as often as possible, and found some lovely places. Looking for that silver lining.
The real disappointment of this cruise was being assigned cabin 1964 and as we were told, with no option for change. It is such a miserable cabin, if someone were to be assigned this cabin, we'd recommend they cancel the cruise. Yes, it was that bad. The thrusters cause the cabin to vibrate so much that all items rattle. The engines are loud and will keep you awake unless you are used to sleeping in the middle of a high level of noise. The open aft caused thecabin to be very cold, the bathroom in particular. We kept the bathroom door propped open, but that didn't make it comfortable. We did ask for additional duvets and that helped us somewhat. It did lend an "air of authenticity" to the Alaska aspect.
This was our fifth cruise, our second with HAL. What's that old saying? First time shame on you, second time shame on me? I think the "third time you're out" will not be tried.
As for booking through Olivia, that was a disappointment as well. The staff were no help with the concerns about the cabin, and they conducted this cruise (unlike the other Olivia cruise we have been on) like a private party for Solos. All well and good, if you were solo. If you were not, you felt like an interloper.
We work very hard for our vacation dollars. We'll be much more particular in how we spend them in the immediate future.
Holland America Line Zaandam by Vicki Alaska September 10, 2010
Loved the ship, the food, and the service. Highly recommend the ship. Do not recommend shore excursion Fly out Fly fishing Juneau very expensive all hike no fishing
Holland America Line Zaandam by sailorsquirrel Hawaii November 7, 2008 by DougMacP Alaska August 7, 2009
This is my 23rd cruise, (crossings not included) and my 4th on HAL. I've done a variety of cruise lines from Carnival to Crystal, the most recent being a Panama Canal trip on the Celebrity Mercury in January.
Embarkation: The commute to the ship was a grueling 7-minute drive from my home. I could have made it in 6 minutes, but there was a red light. I arrived at Pier 91 at 1:15pm, and I kid you not was onboard by 1:30pm. The longest and slowest line I encounter was for the welcome aboard picture, which I by-passed.
The Crowd: It is summer, school is out and it was a diverse crowd. Seniors, toddlers, teenagers, large family groups, everything and everyone were represented. Any thought that the Lido (covered) pool was adult only was abandoned immediately. The place reverberated with the screams and laughter of children. It was so chilly in the aft pool area that they had to go somewhere, and I'm not that much of a curmudgeon that I would deny them their fun.If you want a less kid (verses kid-less) cruise book before the end of May or in September when school is in session.
Stateroom, Public Rooms, Condition in General: The Zaandam is not a new ship. Are there loose carpet seams here and there and a bit of wear and tear? Yes. Is it tired and dirty? No way. The ship has great flow, attractive public areas, fantastic art and is extremely comfortable with cushy and inviting furniture throughout. Of special note, the mattress in my cabin wasn't a thin piece of foam over a plastic platform (like the Mercury for example) it was a real, honest to goodness thick mattress. My stateroom was functional and clean and kept that way by my stealthy room attendants.
Food: My expectations were in check due to a lot of comments about the decline in the quality of HAL's food from the Boards. I'm a foodie and to be honest can be critical of sub-par food and service. With all that said, I thought the food was good to excellent throughout the cruise. I tend to lean more towards beef and chicken so take that into account. The portions aren't huge in the dining room, but with 5 courses they shouldn't be. If that is a concern just order an additional entrée and the waiters will gladly comply. The service in the dining room was professional and appropriate. The food in the Lido was equally a pleasant surprise.
Entertainment: More "ugh" than "awe". Quality entertainment at night on the Zaandam was not so easy to find.
The Showroom: I've learned never to expect much from the Production Shows on a cruise. The ships don't pay enough to get top tier talent, the stage isn't big enough, and the production values (props, costumes and special effects) are about squeezing one more season out of what is already paid for then investing in anything new or fresh. HAL exceed my expectations, but probably not the way they intended. The Production Shows were so tired, cheesy, poorly danced and sung I had to wonder if I was missing something. Was this a parody of a production show? The Headliners, a musician billed as a young Kenny G (is that a compliment?) and magician/comic did provide some good moments and was worth checking out. A most welcomed surprise.
Lounge Acts: The Zaandam has beautiful Lounges but less than half the Lounge bands were competent and entertaining. Additionally, kudos to the D.J. in the Crows-Nest who always seemed to find the right songs to get people out of their seats and on to the dance floor. From there it falls off the face of the earth. A venue I love, the Piano Bar was a wasteland every night when it should be packed because of a guy that doesn't play very well, sings worse and appears to not to like people very much. At the bottom of the entertainment heap was a very good band, with lead singer so vocally challenged she dragged them to the bottom faster than one of the Zaandam's huge anchors. I really had to wonder if anyone in the corporate offices of HAL even bothers listening to the audition tapes. The other alternative is that they are trying to drive people into the Casino by having such limited quality entertainment at night.
Stuff to Do: While the daily program aren't as packed as the most of the recent cruises I've been on, the activities were well paced and interesting. The culinary demonstrations, lectures and computer classes blend well with the regular cruise ship fare of trivia, pool games and bingo. There is no reason to be bored if you want to get involved. A major plus was the Cruise Director Michael who was seemingly everywhere at once, with boundless energy delivered in an engaging and believable manner. The Captain joked at a function that Michael was the best Cruise Director in a 250 mile radius. Personally, I thought he was one of the best I've seen in 23 cruises.
Things I should have believed: No matter how hot it is in your part of the country or even in Seattle, be prepared and dress appropriately for chilly weather and rain, fog or drizzle. Remember even if it is 65 degrees (F) with the speed of the ship underway the wind chill on deck is substantial. Don't think I ever was not wearing fleece of some sort.
Ports: Personally the trip for me was about seeing Glacier Bay, and it did not disappoint. Imagine if the Teton's or Rockies had an Ocean at 10,000 feet and you were right next to them? It was magnificent. A Ranger from the US National Parks Service who appears not only to have a degree in geology but also drama narrated the trip. Despite his over to top moments of poetry, native flute interludes and asking us to spiritually become one with the Glacier, he kept us well informed of the history and conditions in the area.
I was reluctant to pre book excursions due to fluctuating weather conditions in Juneau, Sitka and Ketchikan. A floatplane trip in the fog would not be my idea of fun. As for wild life watching, we saw so many Whales and Eagles from the ship that after a few days it became commonplace. I just got off the ship and wandered around without paying attention to the ships shopping guides, as they only include stores that pay huge kickbacks to the cruise line. If I had to do it over I would do the salmon bake in Juneau, which drew rave reviews.
What HAL does best in one word: Service. From the Officers to the people who clear the tables HAL gets it right. Here are a few adjectives I jotted down during the cruise: Friendly, familiar yet respectful, impeccable, smiling, seamless and gracious.
And in the end: A solid performance, more hits than misses and a comfortable platform to enjoy the sights of Alaska.
Holland America Line Zaandam by sailorsquirrel Hawaii November 7, 2008
We are a married couple, 30 years old. My mother also cruised with us and she is 67. We have cruised on Holland America, Princess, Carnival, Celebrity, Royal Caribbean and Norwegian.
This cruise was the 15 day Circle Hawaii cruise that sailed roundtrip to the islands from San Diego, CA. We visited Hilo, Lahaina, 2 days in Honolulu and Kona.
Embarkation We arrived at the pier around noon. There were lots of people there already but check in was easy and we only had to wait in line a few minutes. When we boarded the ship the staterooms were not ready so we headed to Lido for a bite to eat.
Stateroom Our Stateroom was an outside cabin on Deck 1 -- Dolphin Deck, Midship Category E. The cabin was very nice with plenty of storage for all three of us. The third bed is a sofa which makes into a bed. My mother said it was not very comfortable. Our bed was two twins pushed together and was comfortable. The bathroom had a tub/shower combo. The service form the cabin stewards wasexcellent.
Sea Days and Things to do on the Ship There were 10 sea days on this 15 day cruise. Most of the passengers on this cruise were 65 years or older. We only saw a few young people and 2 small children. The ship was very peaceful and quiet. No drunk people and no kids running around. We like cruising with the older people so we fit in great.
However, due to the average age of the passengers there were not many activities geared toward the younger crowd. Every day there would be cooking demonstrations, trivia, live music, bingo and sports events. We took part in the sports events to collect the Dam Dollars to redeem at the end of the cruise for souvenirs.
There were also dance lessons, coffee chats, travel talks, and various other events during the sea days. The library had many books, magazines, games and puzzles for people to use. Most sea days the library was packed with people reading or playing games. DVDs were also available to check out for $3 each. Every cabin has a TV and DVD player.
Big screen movies would play in the culinary theatre at night. The selection of movies was very good. But the theatre is not set up very well with the position of the chairs and the screen. It helped very much that there were 2 large screen TVs on each side of the big screen to see the movie as well. These were much clearer and provided for an unobstructed view of the movie. They also provided popcorn and sold drinks. I wish they would have played the movies during the sea days as well. But usually that lounge was used for cooking demonstrations during the sea days. They also played these movies on the cabin TVs the next day.
There was also a travel guide aboard the ship to tell us all about Hawaii. He was very knowledgeable and fun to listen to. He would give talks during the day and they would be shown on the cabin TVs as well.
The Casino is very small but all of the staff was very friendly. They had the usual table games and the limit was low at $5. Every sea day they would hold 2 sessions of Texas Hold'em Poker. The slot machines were very tight and did not pay anything.
The shops were your average souvenir and jewelry stores you find on cruise ships.
Entertainment The cruise director on the ship was Lizabeth and she was a very nice lady. She fit the older crowd but was not very entertaining. The production shows with the singers and dancers were great shows. However, the singing was awful and the shows were missing the live music that Carnival always has.
The other entertainers included singers, comedians, ventriloquists, and jugglers. All of these shows were fantastic.
The live music around the ship was very nice as well.
There were also 2 crew shows -- one Indonesian and one Filipino. Both were excellent shows!
Food The food on the ship was very good. I would not say it was outstanding but it was very good. Every night in the dining room there would be one dish of either chicken, beef, fish, pasta and vegetable. These were accompanied by appetizers, soup, salad and of course dessert. The service in the dining room was excellent.
The lido buffet was good as well serving almost the same thing for dinner each night as was served in the dining room.
Lunch offered a variety of items as well as a deli, salad bar, Mexican bar and hamburger/hot dog/pizza station by the pool. Dessert and ice cream was offered as well.
Late night snacks were also provided on lido deck starting around 11pm.
Drinks On this cruise you could purchase a drink card for soda, wine or cocktails. Each card has its own price and offers a certain amount of drinks. Your card is punched every time you have a drink. The price you pay initially includes the tips and taxes. My husband purchased the wine card for $67 + tax and tip. This provided 20 glasses of house wines which he could use anywhere on the ship.
The best deal was the happy hours in the Ocean Bar. Almost every day from 4pm-5pm they would offer half price drinks in the Ocean Bar. This was a great deal and better than purchasing any of the drink cards.
Gym/Spa We did not purchase any spa services but took a tour of the area. It was very nice and the gym was quite busy on sea days. They offered specials throughout the cruise.
Photographs The photographs were very expensive. We only purchased our embarkation photo along with a photo of the ship in a Folio album. This cost $53. There were only a few photographers on the ship and they did not hound you to take photos like on other cruise lines. They didn't follow you around or make you take photos. They would usually ask first if you wanted a photo. This was a great feature.
Hawaiian Ports We did not take any of the HAL shore excursions as they were very expensive. With 3 people we found it cheaper and better to rent a car in each port. We explored the islands and saw the sights we chose and did it all on our own time schedule. I think this is a great way to see the islands. We calculated that the cost of the car plus gas averaged $24 per person per day. This is a great way to see many places at your own pace and for a low cost.
We were supposed to sail past the Volcano on the big island once we departed Hawaii on the last port day. The captain switched the schedule so that we would sail past the Volcano after the first port day in Hilo. He did this because we would be sailing past at an earlier time so more people would be awake to view this. Unfortunately, it was raining and we could not see the volcano very well. We did see the glowing red lava but it was very far away and hard to see through the fog/rain.
I believe each person can make the best or worst of their port days so I won't go into detail about each stop. I will say that we really enjoyed Hawaii and there is a lot to see and do. Make the best of your time there!
Disembarkation Originally we were going to have a silent debarkation. This means you are given your designated time to leave the ship and you go at this time. However, it was changed and they did make announcements for when we could leave the ship. We got off the ship early and with no problems. However, there were a lot of people trying to get off the ship and it seems like they needed more time between each color being called. The elevators were slow as were there were people walking off the ship with their luggage. More time for each group of people to leave the ship would have been better.
Conclusion This was a wonderful cruise with excellent service. The food was very good and the entertainment was great. We really enjoyed the long cruise experience. It provided for relaxing sea days and plenty of time to enjoy all areas of the ship.
Expect an older crowd with the average age of the guests being 65 years and older. Most of the passengers have been to Hawaii before and cruise mainly for the experience.
We did not encounter any long lines, party atmospheres or kids running loose. It was a very quiet and peaceful cruise. We had a great time and would take this cruise again!
Holland America Line Zaandam by GARY TYLER Alaska June 8, 2008
The destination was great. The ports were great.
The ship had no pulse at all. The average age of the people had to have been 75 to 80. I'm 56 and I felt like a kid compared to these people!
The ship reflected the average age of the people sailing. It was so low key onboard that it was boring.
The crew had no pulse. The cabin steward was DOA and the dining staff couldn't care less.
I will never take another Holland America cruise again. I'm sticking with Princess!
Holland America Line Zaandam by sassyredhat Hawaii April 3, 2008
We are 61 and 59 years old. This was our 7th cruise, 5 with HAL, and our 2nd cruise to Hawaii.
Embarkation port was San Diego. We arrived at 12:30, which is when we usually get to the terminal. We knew, from reading cruise boards, that the ship had sailed Code Red on the previous cruise. HAL offered a full refund if we wanted to cancel. Some did, but we chose to stay.
Zaandam is a beautiful ship, well maintained (I only saw some minor wear and tear), and very easy to navigate. We were on deck 6, Verandah, near the aft elevators. We loved the location! Very quiet.
Verandah suites are very spacious, have a lot of storage, whirlpool tubs, Elemis bathroom products in small bottles, hairdryer in the drawer, stocked mini bar, flat screen TV w/DVD player. Balcony has a lounger, a chair, and a small table. Petitions are metal and go to the floor on one side, almost to the floor on the other side, clear plexiglass on front side.
As usual, service was absolutely outstanding. Dining room food was very, verygood, as well as was food in Lido. We had early, traditional seating. We ate most of our breakfasts and lunches in Lido, and dinners in the dining room. We thought breakfast and lunch was just ok in the dining room, however, dinners were great.
There was live music throughout the ship, and numerous huge floral arrangements.
HAL ships have a movie theater (Wajang), which we love for all those sea days. Movies were fairly current.
Our favorite place is Explorations Cafe. The library is fairly extensive, comfortable computer areas, ample seating, and good game area.
Entertainment was actually pretty good. The Indonesian and Filipino crew shows were held late, but they were good also.
A "must see" is the chocolate extravaganza ! See the carved fruits, chocolates, cakes, breads, ice carvings -- everything was really something.
There were no announcements in the cabins at all, and no photograpers except on formal nights. There were 4 formal nights -- days 3, 5, 11, 14.
We had been to Hawaii before and seen all the main attractions, so we opted for smaller tours. In Hilo, we did the Waves and Waterfalls tour, which included the Tsunami Museum. It was an interesting tour, the falls were beautiful.
Honolulu was the Little Circle Island tour. The tide was out when we arrived at Halona Blow Hole, so we didn't get to see the geyser, but it was a nice tour.
Kauai we took the Wailua River cruise, mostly because of my walking limitations. It also was a nice tour. The Fern Grotto is just now getting back to normal after Hurricane Iniki decimated most of the foilage.
Maui was Ulelena Theater. This is the reason we went back to Hawaii. I didn't see it last time, and DH wanted me to see it. It's hard to describe this experience. It is so much more than a Cirque de Soliel adaptation, and was worth the effort to see it.
Kona we saw the Seahorse Farm, and what a fun treat. This is a "bare bones" facility, but so educational and fun. We got to hold a seahorse! This is a good tour for anyone.
The weather in Kona was cloudy, due to the volcano eruptions. The locals call it "VOG" -- volcano fog.
This was our favorite cruise, although we sometimes didn't have enough to do. We aren't pool people, and what activities were scheduled sometimes overlapped. We played Trivia everyday, and met some nice people.
Holland America Line Zaandam by homeatlast Alaska May 16, 2007
We just returned from an 8 day Inland Passage cruise to Alaska on board the HAL Zaandam. We had cruised with HAL almost 14 years ago and were very pleased so stayed with that particular cruise line. We were not disappointed. There has been a lot said about HAL being an older crowd with fewer choices of entertainment onboard. My husband and I were in our early 40's the first time and now 50's and we like the way HAL still clings to the "traditional way" of cruising.
Our particular cruise had only about 4 or 5 children on it, our cabin was much quieter then ever being in a hotel, and we enjoy getting dressed up for dinner. The Zaandam is mid sized and is perfect for us. There was plenty of opportunity to be among other cruisers or find a quiet place on deck for the two of us.
My husband enjoyed the spa experience for a massage the first sea day and was very pleased with the staff. Our cabin was plenty roomy for two and I wanted totake my cabin steward home with me when the cruise ended. He was very helpful in locating our luggage the first day (which seemed to not show up with the others on our deck) and was always ready with a "Good Morning" or a friendly "Hello" when we would see him in the hallways. Our cabin was always kept spotless and I couldn't wait every evening to get back to the cabin to see what "cabin animal" awaited me.
We had early dining which we had requested and everything about the dining room was excellent from the service to the food. We really had no complaints even when we tried things we had not had before. The supervisor of the dining staff always made it a point to go to each table and ask how everything was without being obtrusive. We went to the evening shows about 5 nights out of 7. The singers/dancers were excellent (and how they dance when the ship is rolling is beyond me). We eat at the Lido restaurant for breakfast 3 mornings. The only downside is that at particular times it is difficult to get a seat which results in cooler food than you want. My husband particularly liked the ice cream and desert station which was pretty much available throughout the day. (If I was missing him I usually checked there first). The other mornings we either had room service or eat at the dinning room which was great.
Our ports of call were Juneau, Skagway and Ketchikan. Luckily we had perfect weather for all three, very unusual according to the ship's crew.
Embarkation and getting off the ship, in my opinion, was handled about as organized and smoothly as can be. Staying in your cabin until it is time for you to disembark is great. We had room service in our cabin the last morning while we were waiting and it worked out perfectly. You can listen to the announcements inside your cabin on the radio.
The ship itself was in excellent condition and everything was kept in perfect order. The entire staff, from the Captain, the officers, dining staff, cabin stewards, everyone was very friendly. If you enjoy a romantic, traditional style of cruising, without a lot of children or loud activities than HAL is for you. I am not saying there is nothing to do, just no rock climbing walls, or water slides, you get the picture.
Holland America Line Zaandam by Lee Patton Panama Canal April 23, 2005
21 day Port Canaveral to Vancouver repositioning cruise. Ports were wonderful and the food and entertainment was very good. Costa Rica and Guatamala were especially intereesting and friendly. In Cartagena, Colombia street vendors very agressive and caused need for arm security.
AC unit in our cabin would nont cool it below 78 degrees for 10 nights and made it difficult for us to sleep. They gave us a fan which helpled a little. Problem was 3rd floor main outside doors which would not stay closed and allowed the cool air to escape.
Holland America Line Zaandam by Kathleen Crain Panama Canal April 23, 2005
The ship itself had many problems. We were in cabin 6161 over the Piano Bar and it sounded as if Barry Blythe were with us in the cabin singing late at night. When we complained to the front desk we were told "Michelle is looking into it" and nothing was done. The people in the next cabin also complained. We finally spoke to Sherry, the guest relations person, and that very night there was no more noise in our cabins nor was there the rest of the cruise.
The toilets on our section of the ship were constantly plugged up .
There was an electrical fire one night.
The ship seems to be badly designed and built.
I'd travel Holland America again but not on this ship.