Welcome to Cruise Critic! If you'd like to participate on our forums by joining in the conversation, please Register Now! Be sure to visit our FAMOUS Roll Call forums, where you can meet other cruisers sailing with you and share a tour or shore excursion and SAVE MONEY!
I'll post this review in a few segments. Here is the first:
This was our first HAL cruise. We have previously cruised on NCL, RCI and Princess.
Embarkation: We drove to Port Canaveral from Savannah, GA. We are unable to do simple math, so we underestimated how log it would take to get to the port. When we arrived at 2:30PM, the line was long, so the wait was a little over an hour. The line did seem to move swiftly, it was just long.
Disembarkation: A little slower than larger ships we have been on, but smooth.
Since our first cruise in 1996 aboard the modest NCL Seaward, the Zaandam is the smallest ship we have sailed. In her fourth year of service, the Zaandam is handsomely decorated, elegant, but somewhat dark. There was no sweeping 3-5-story atrium to fill the public spaces with light. I think we've reached the conclusion that we prefer the larger ships, but we still enjoyed the Zaandam. We appreciated the outside spaces more. The mid-ship pool with its retractable roof, hot tubs, a wide open bar area, provided a balmy, sunny place to take a dip, eat a snack or have an afternoon drink. We spent most of our timein the aft pool area, which was completely exposed to the sky and sea, and we also frequented the deck overlooking the aft pool.
The Zaandam is in general good repair, but is showing some signs of wear and tear. She’s due to enter dry-dock soon, and some updating and refurbishing are needed.
The presence of cigarette smoke onboard was often bothersome. With the exception of the dining room, Mondrian Lounge and Wajang Theatre, the public areas were smokier than we liked. I think this was because the ship is smaller without the tall atriums and open spaces we have encountered in the past.
Maybe the smoke issue was the people who were on the cruise with you? We just got off the Zaandam on Tuesday and experienced little bother from the smoke of others and we are very sensitive. We avoided the piano bar area as that tends to get smoky but had little problem other places and, we did have a wonderful cruise! We have been on many cruise ships and lines, and on other HAL ships but the Zaandam is our favorite -- right size and a great staff! We certainly had a mellow 10 days!
Thanks for taking the time to share all of your experiences -- I have read all four parts of your review. Glad you had a great time.