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Zaandam review


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Paul Tanner was aboard the Zaandam, I'm sure you remember his impressions.

Also the younger Finkel brother, they both appeared twice.

The cast show was similiar to last summer's; different costumes and sets but the same music. We only had an Indonesian show as the Fillipino show was on the Christmas cruise.

Sonya was in the piano bar... no comment!


Our cruise director was Michelle, Captain was Van der Waard. The navigator was the same scotsman as was on 2 summers ago on the Rotterdam.


We won 4 team trivias, 1 art, and one 50's and 60's music. They called us the "dam rum runners".


Just giving you the upfront info thought you'd want,

more later,


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I'm going to do this in segments.



3 cabins were emptied before we even sailed due to personal or family illnesses.


First sea day included a Code blue on the Lido deck. HAL calls it "Bright Star".

When I saw the run by with the defibrillator I knew what was going on.


This may be a non-event to most but it was eventful to us because of last summer's 34 day Rotterdam cruise: there were NO MECHANICAL FAILURES!


New Year's Eve: Everyone including MS Zaandam herself was covered with pink and silver glitter. It was still being found in the ladies' rooms 2 days later.

Debsea's DH wore it on his neck, however innocently acquired. AND we won't name the source....


Irish sing along in the piano bar was well attended and a little livelier than on the Rotterdam (for which you needed hymnals and choir robes).


Orange Bowl game in the Casino Lounge got a little heated but quieted down as the OU fans (us included) slinked out in embarrassment.



cattle call in front of our cabana. We were descended upon; one couple even tried to make off with our beach mats. The loungees were so thick we couldn't even see the ship from our deck chairs...the cabana boys had a hard time getting through, but the 3 bloody marys that I managed to rescue were wonderful.

DH went horseback riding in the surf. He tried to gallop up to the cabana but he would have trampled the huddled masses so he detoured.

more later, 'fraid I'll time out.


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We were on the ship in 30 minutes despite having to wait for the ship to allow us on. Apparently it was late in arriving as pax were still getting off when we got to the pier at 11:30.

The Lido was almost empty, even at 1:30 when we were told our cabins were ready.


Our first suite, and it was grand! All the SOE amenities were in place including the duvets and new mattresses. We had all kinds of invitations including one to use the King's room for breakfast and lunch. We took advantage of this once after the suite cocktail party and the staff made very sure that we all were suite pax before they would let us in.


The suite luncheon was held on a sea day in the Pinnacle Grill. They put on a beautiful extravagant show of food including hot and cold canapes with caviar in many forms. It appeared to be an advertisement to dine there later in the cruise which we did not do on this trip as the menus had not changed.


Even tho we had no neptune lounge, concierge service was very evident. Our concierge Liz, helped us arrange a wine and cheese party that included hot and cold hors d'ouerves, fruit, breads, and full service for which there was no charge. We had purchased the wine, cheese and pate' in Marigot.


We never had anyone say no to us anytime we asked for anything. The service was exceptional.


Dining room service was wonderful, the waiters, asst. waiter, and maitre D' actually hovered over me all 11 days after I sent my salmon back for being too mushy on the first night. There were no delays, foods were served hot or cold as they should be. The salad options were reduced to 1 selection per evening, though.


No dutch night and no chocolate tulips, but we did have white chocolate swans on the last formal night along with baked alaska. The food was actually better on this cruise than on my beloved Rotterdam.

More tomorrow,


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This was the highlight of our shorex. I was of course kidding about galloping up to the cabana, the horseback riding was on the other side of the island.


The tender service was prompt and organized. The weather was beautiful unlike the previous 3 stops at the island. The facilities are spotless and well kept. The stay there is just too short, they start packing up about an hour and a half before the last tender call.

The 24 horses were brought over from jamaica with their handlers and are beautiful retired thoroughbreds.

We didn't see the new kids facilities as we were driven directly to our cabana. There were not alot of kids on our cruise so we didn't hear comments about the new amenities.

Lunch was the traditional HAL BBQ with many options. We did have to get our own lunch as we had not opted for butler service (poor deprived us).

It is truly a paradise with marvelous soft powdery sand and groomed beaches.

HAL crew is just as efficient on the beach as on the ship, and just as loving and caring.

I would have liked to stay there for several days. I would have even slept on the beach.

There is hurricane damage to the plant life but is coming back. You really couldn't tell that a storm had gone through unless you were specifically looking for evidence.

HAL really does this well and is much deserving of the awards for HMC.


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Granny, thank you so much for all that information; it was a delight to read reports so thorough.


So Sonya isn't what I'm looking for in a Piano Lounge entertainer I take it? (You know what I like---and don't like. ;) )

Glad you had a good day at HMC---and that you were able to rescue your toys from the huddled masses yearning to take for free. From everything I've read on this board it sounds like HMC is the one thing that could get me to want a Caribbean cruise. Of course with my luck the ship wouldn't be able to get in on that cruise! :rolleyes:

Hoping all is well with you and that maybe we can meet again on another

-dam ship.

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Grannynurse, I`m really enjoying your report. We were on the two sailings prior to yours. I agree, the DR food and service were awesome even though there has been a reduction in choices on the menu. Yes we were a little late getting in from the Xmas cruise, but that wasn`t the reason pax were late getting off. The imm. officers were on board but didn`t start till late...guess they were enjoying b/fast first. Then of course there were the usual pax who don`t want to report. I sailed with Sonia Marie for 21 days in April and couldn`t stand her, but this time I quite got used to her. At least she put some variety in the quizzes, and theme nights. Actually we spent a lot of time in the piano bar because our favorite bartender, Ronaldo and his wife Margie were working there.......jean :cool:

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Okay, I'll fess up; We really loved the zaandam but the caribbean isn't my thing. The temperatures this trip were very agreeable, on the low side with less humidity than what we've experienced in the past. I'm very heat intolerant and God was being very good to me. We had some rough water, nothing like the north Atlantic, however, but we were traveling with some new cruisers so it was all for the best.


The islands have deteriorated over the years. The are dingier and more crowded. Some ports were shared with 6 other ships. I was especially disappointed in St. Maarten. The coastline was great but the interior was nasty.


I really liked Tortola. The people were so friendly, the scenery was gorgeous, and we did like the the HAL excursion to Pusser's Landing..

Cont'd later


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Thanks GN for your review. It's right on. Wish we were all still back on the Zaandam. We miss our CC group very much.


I just feel the need to reiterate that, in tems of service, I didn't notice any slippage. We had a white-gloved steward escort us to our cabin on embarkation. Our cabin steward was fun, friendly, and very efficient. Our dining room waiter, assistant waiter, and wine steward were always there, friendly, and attentive when we needed them. In the Lido, we never had to carry our trays to our table, and there were always friendly faces willing to go back to the buffet line to pick up anything we had forgotten, serve coffee, etc.


Service in the Pinnacle was excellent, but the food was not quite up to the calibre of our last transatlantic on the Rotterdam. We still enjoyed our evening there.


DH and I participated in the renewal of vows ceremony which was done very tastefully and meaningfully. I had been worried that it might be a bit tacky, but we were both very glad we had enhanced our anniversary celebration with this ceremony.


The was DH's first cruise, and while he is still not as enthused about the whole cruising experience as I am, he didn't hate it. Our scuba diving excursions were highlights for us. (Like GN, we aren't overwhelmed by the Caribbean and feel the best part is underwater.) And, of course, our dear CC friends made the trip extra special.


I'll add more later if anything comes to mind.

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We had previously arranged a dining room table for 10 but one of our traveling companion couples had to leave before sailing due to a family illness.

This made room for The Duchess and her SO. We have 2 new permanent members of our group! They are delightful, and so much fun. Where can we find a table for 12?


So here is the Cast:

Mickey and DH

Debsea and DH

Grannynurse, DH, DD, and DDIL

and the Duchess, can we call him the Duke?


Due to unforseen logistics, the CC meeting did not take place, so that left the 10 of us to fend, and did we fend? Oh Boy what a group! We laughed more than most people have a right to.


We had our own traveling trivia team, Bowl game cheering section, Cabana party,

Wine and cheese assembly, girls' high tea, and many pre and post dinner evenings. This is the way to travel!!! We also have 2 new recruits to the HAL way of life.


My daughters ( 30 ish) did not notice any disparity in age. They loved everyone. This was definitely not a dull cruise, not but of ours are anyway.


We did have some strange sitings and some un-HAL occurrences. I'll continue in the next post in order not to time out.


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Un-HAL behaviors:

These were observed by members of our group. They were inflicted on the officers and crew by some, often the same, slightly totty gals.


1 public "captain-goosing" in the Crow's Nest. Wish his facial expression could have been caught for posterity.


1 bar supervisor "ear-biting", and demand for "cabin service".... her cabin, his service.


Potty laungauge and demand for drinks after being politely asked to return to cabin.


Derriere grabbing, public solicitation of crew members.


Roudy disgruntled casino "losers" invading the Crow's Nest en masse.


None of the above behaviors were particularly appropriate or attractive, but generated a lot of conversation.


Several rude children (always the same 2) barged in and out of elevators, tried to invade the bars and demonstrate in the smoking section. They were asked to leave the Ocean bar by the bartender.


We did hear random stories about underage drinking but never saw any.


This cruise was a direct contrast to my good friend's experience on the Island Princess to Hawaii over Christmas. That truly was a cruise from HELL. She even had her glasses broken by a 7 year old who knocked her over and spilled her coffee at 2am in the Horizon room. Wheel chairs were thrown overboard, and one kiddo pooped on the dining room floor 2 separate times.


Thank God for HAL! Princess may have lost an ardent supporter.

Join us Frankie!


Ruth, we did have several "Hat lady" sitings, but I don't think it was "your" (sorry) hat lady.


More later,


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Ruth, we did have several "Hat lady" sitings, but I don't think it was "your" (sorry) hat lady.

O.K. Now I'm curious. Tell me all about her! You mean there's more than one???:eek:


If it were "My" 'Hat Lady' there would be no doubt, I'm sure. How many people wear hats that look like a Big Mac or a fish (named 'Aida')? :eek:

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She didn't look like the picture of the "hamburger hat" lady that you gave me.

This one wore different sombreros and very tame big hats. She was a short dark-haired, not very vocal lady with mobility problems.


We had some character dressers though. Some very seductive, some way too casual (cut-offs and tanks) on formal nights, I also saw jeans in the dining room. Some gentlemen thought walking shorts and T shirts were formal attire.

Lots of hawaiian shirts on informal nights, and New Year's Eve was a trip to the muppet show. Everything from fur to dishabille.


The Caribbean is certainly different from Europe.

I was good, Chuck was appropriate, daughters were beautiful.

I kind of now wish we had considered the Maasdam in July. I'd do it again.

Looking at the Baltic for June 2006 on the Prinsendam.


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The islands have deteriorated over the years. The are dingier and more crowded. Some ports were shared with 6 other ships. I was especially disappointed in St. Maarten. The coastline was great but the interior was nasty.




I think that this opinion is becoming more common. The last time I did not even get off the ship in St. Thomas.


There is another thread where the idea of a cruise that is all days at sea with the exception of two days at Half Moon is suggested. I would like that.

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Hi fellow New Year 2005 Zaandamers, Grannynurse and Debsea. So glad we did get to meet you, although it was so brief. Thought you might enjoy this photo of MHC taken off our video camera while parasailing.



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Keith Rita - thanks for the photo - it is a great picture. I can "feel" being there right now! We enjoyed seeing you all around the ship.

We were disappointed that we didn't get to meet any other CCers - probably our fault. Our oldest son surprised us by being on the ship. We had been asking them to go with us and they kept saying they couldn't get off work. Within hours of boarding, we walked out of the spa and there he was with his then girlfriend. I couldn't believe it - what a wonderful surprise! And, then, an even better surprise - they got engaged on the ship! We could not be happier! I did see the group in the Explorer's Lounge on the first Wednesday, I passed by and said I would be right back - I guess I took longer than expected because no one was there when I got back (or maybe you saw me and said the heck with that wild woman)! Oh well, maybe next time! Jeal

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Hey Jeal. We thought you sized us up as you were flying by the Explorer's Lounge and decided you wanted no part of us. Glad your cruise was such a great family experience. All the best to your DS and DIL-to-be. Getting engaged on a cruiseship - how romantic!

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Thank you for the great pictures. You got a lot of what we didn't get.


I guess you know that we were worried about you both when we initially couldn't find you, luckily the Duchess remembered your cabin number.


We all understand how things can interfere with the "best laid plans". The night we met I was on sensory overload and could barely put 2 words together, so I hope you'll forgive me for pooping out.


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Everything was wonderful until the last morning, when as elmorejj recounted from their Christmas trip, immigration and lack of people reporting delayed our departure from the ship. We held #1 and did not get off until 10:15 or so.

We were directed to the wrong shuttle, then sat on the pier for an hour waiting for the bus to fill.

We arrived at MCO at 11:45 for a 12:55 flight. At that time the lines were so long we knew we couldn't make the flight. We had been dropped off upstairs, so we dragged our luggage down and found a skycap who expedited our check-in. As the ship's internet closed at 10pm the night before, we could not check-in online for southwest which starts at 12:01 on flight day.


As it was, we got to the gate just as they were boarding.


I can see why HAL has dropped their contract with Port Canaveral. The service and facilities leave ALOT to be desired. We never had these problems in NY or Boston, and HAL's part in it is always so efficient.


I would recommend the Zaandam to anyone who loves traditional HAL cruising. Rules are followed, staff follows up on requests, and even checks for satisfaction afterward. That didn't even happen on Rotterdam.

The crew proudly wears their "Hospitality" award pins, and believe me they earned them.

Loved MS Zaandam

Didn't love the Caribbean.

Bye for now,


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