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pboedeker

Zaandam - Post SOE review

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This was our 28th cruise. Our first HAL. We had a group of 6. Two parents in their 40's with four college age daughters (18-21). Sailed 3/12/05 (western)

 

1. Dining room staff, possibly as good as Celebrity. Enchanting personalities, quick wit and incredible memory capacity for likes and dislikes. Always a delight. We had late seating downstairs..ate there every night.

 

2. This ship is beautiful. The recent SOE upgrades were terrific. All cabins have flat screen TV's and DVD players (bring an S cable if you want to hook up any video equipment to the DVD player). The interior designer of this ship has done an excellent job. The lamps on this ship are artwork! Throw you own bed away..the new premium bedding on this ship is incredible. You'll want to steal the pillows! Club Oasis and the Loft were really neat places..wish they'd made one for adults. Alas, on this sailing - not enough kids to use it! Loved the midship pool lounge chairs although if you don't get out there by 8am..they are all gone! Earliest rising ship I've ever been on! The layout of the decks is very predictable and it's a quick study to learn the ship. We used the self service laundry..that was nice ($2 to wash/ $1 to dry). The gym had excellent equipment but the low ceilings kept it too hot to really be able to enjoy your workout.

 

3. Lido Restuarant was the best in the business. Food was excellent and the service was comparable to the dining room. Lots of assistance with trays and refills on drinks. Plenty of options from full meals to deli sandwiches to salad bars.

 

4. Our cabin (verandah suite 6208) was not as large as we had expected and the layout was awkward. There is a small hallway as you enter the room that's very crowding and it opens onto the foot of the bed? So you manuever around the bed and finally find some floor space at the back of the cabin. The coffee table is bolted to the floor and in the way most of the time because the vanity chair is so large it's hard to pull out and sit in with the coffee table there. The balcony is large and has nice furniture on it. Our A/C was not sufficient all week. We asked for a technician and he reported that it was working properly. Then we lost all A/C on Wednesday and it really got bad. Took 20 hours to repair and recover from that. We like our cabin cold..not cool so this was not good for us. Our cabin steward was not great..just good. Always had to ask him to replenish used items. Cool feature I hadn't seen before was the balcony doorbell in our cabin..so room service or guests could get our attention while we were on the balcony.

 

5. Personel - overall there were smiling faces all around the ship. Dining room, lido restaurant were exemplary.

 

6. Entertainment - UGH...the poolside band played "polkas!" need I say more. They turned into a dance band at night and then it gets worse, because they try to sing and play! UGH! The stringed trio were great and we loved sitting in for an after dinner drink and listening. We didn't do any shows..reviews from other cruisers didn't rate them very high. Casino is tiny. Did win some money though.

 

7. Embarkation and disembarkation were very quick! We were at MCO by 10:30!

 

8. Whirlpool tub...this is a grotesque overstatement. This tub is 40 inches long and 22 inches wide! UGH!

 

9. Time changes - this ship changes timezones 4 times in 7 days! AGH! The crew wasn't even sure what time it was and none of the ship clocks were in agreement either!

 

10. Internet was not very reliable. We had signed up for the 250 minute block..it was down so much we only used half of that!

 

11. Guest card (sail/sign or whatever you call them). These were never scanned for purchases. They ask you for your cabin number and just charge it to that room. I don't care for that. My husband couldn't remember his cabin number half the time, so I'm sure we charged drinks to the wrong room?

 

12. Noon whistle while you are at sea. Know this is going to happen - or it will scare you to death if you are standing near a horn!

 

13. We had ants in our cabin? First time for that in our cruising history.

 

We had a great time. We enjoyed the ports and had excellent service. We would prefer a younger crowed. We knew HAL caters to an older group, but figured that at Spring Break there would be some younger cruisers. That didn't happen and our kids made the best of it. The cruise staff became there friends while on board.

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Thanks for your report. We're anxious to sail the Zaandam in May. First time I've heard of ants, too.

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Thanks for the great review. I'm sailing one week from Saturday on the Zaandam (April 2nd). Were the hard and soft furnishings replaced in the staterooms during the recent drydock. They were looking very worn. What would you say the average age is. We are going with a total of 6 people in our mid 30's to 50. Will we be bored?

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The hard and soft furnishings were replaced in the staterooms during the recent drydock. The average age was probably 65+. We met very few people 40-50. You will still have a great vacation. We wished there was an gangway for wheelchairs..this really was a slow process at tendered ports. Pool deck chairs were all taken by 8:30am...we usually are earlier sunbathers..but by 9:30am there wouldn't be a chair left near the middeck pool. Older passengers would drag the lounge chairs into the shaded area and sleep?

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Wow! Great review -- The Zaandam is one of our favorite ships -- we are not in the 65 plus age group but we always have a great time! We will be on the Zaandam on Saturday so - A couple of questions:

 

1 - We have an ipod - if we wish to hook it up to the sound system in the cabin what would we need to bring with us to do that? Would you have any idea?

 

2 - One of the features that I have always liked about the verandah cabins on the Zaandam is that there have been curtains that separate the hallway (closet/bathroom area) from the rest of the cabin, and another set of curtains to separate the sleeping area from the sitting area -- do the cabins still have these curtains? Are they functional or just decorative?

 

Again thanks for the great review, and if you don't have my answers I will understand.

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Wow! Great review -- The Zaandam is one of our favorite ships -- we are not in the 65 plus age group but we always have a great time! We will be on the Zaandam on Saturday so - A couple of questions:

 

1 - We have an ipod - if we wish to hook it up to the sound system in the cabin what would we need to bring with us to do that? Would you have any idea?

 

2 - One of the features that I have always liked about the verandah cabins on the Zaandam is that there have been curtains that separate the hallway (closet/bathroom area) from the rest of the cabin, and another set of curtains to separate the sleeping area from the sitting area -- do the cabins still have these curtains? Are they functional or just decorative?

 

Again thanks for the great review, and if you don't have my answers I will understand.

 

There were 3 audio jacks on the back of the DVD player..but our digital/camcorder didn't work with those jacks. Photo gallery guys said you have to use an "S" video cable, which they didn't sale. Not sure about audio. There are 5 music stations in your room. Bring CD's they play in the DVD player. Curtains are still there..not sure if the ones in the middle of the cabin will completely separate the living/sleeping area.

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I would like to add some observations to those that have been made already. We were also on our first HAL cruise with the Zaandam on 3/12. We had made two cruises on Princess before and were interested in seeing how a different line would be.

 

My wife and I found the staff to be very nice as previously mentioned. Our dining steward at the early seating upstairs was very pleasant and we were quite pleased with the food. The Pinnacle Grill was particularly nice; we went there the first night and enjoyed the experience. The Lido Restaurant was also excellent.

 

We were in an outside cabin (3373) and we have to say that the A/C problems that PBoedeker reported matched ours exactly. I have a small travel alarm clock which has a thermometer built in. It never got much below 24 degrees centigrade (about 75 or so Fahrenheit). The evening that the A/C was out on the entire ship, we had a temperature of about 83 degrees! Some one did check out the system and said it was operating correctly, but it never got very cold with the setting at the lowest, so I don't agree. When we tried to get the front desk to give some consideration to this, we were stonewalled. We felt that they could have been more responsive and understood that a warm cabin can really put a damper on enjoying the cruise overall.

 

We did go to all of the shows and I must say they were a mixed bag. The Zaandam cast shows were really better than the invited acts, we believed. When you have young kids doing their best in musical reviews, you don't expect Broadway quality but some entertainment value. I think they hit that standard. The acts that came on board, however, weren't very good. A magician with "dumb blonde" wife and a spider monkey (who upstaged them both) and a singer/impersonator who was rather impressed with himself. Both acts had to fish for applause, we felt. I know that these things are a matter of personal taste, so some people may have enjoyed them very much. Several people we spoke to did not.

 

The piano trio (Sonata Strings) played every night at the Explorers Lounge and we made it a habit to listen for a while. As a fan of chamber music, I felt they did a great job of mixing popular arrangements with light classics. The combo in the Ocean Bar (Celebration) played good, danceable music and the piano bar was also good.

 

The noon whistle surprised us also. Nearly scared my wife to death!

 

I did get to talk to the on-board priest, Fr. Willy Verboomen. A retired Belgian missionary. Very down to earth, likeable, very casual, a man of God.

 

I can say we enjoyed most of the passengers and crew members we met. The excursions were enjoyable as well. The problem with the A/C and the way it was handled left a lot to be desired. This was the one serious defect in an otherwise enjoyable time. Hope everyone else had a better experience with the cruise.

 

David and Doreen

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Pretty comparable to any other home DVD player. You could select specific tracks on the CD and it played through the TV speakers not the ceiling speakers in the cabin.

 

DVD player was Zenith brand..TV was LG? or something similar to that?

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Thank you Pboedeker!

 

Sorry to hear the AC comments on this board -- we have sailed the Zaandam twice before and always found the AC to be cool or too cool -- I like to have the option of too cool. The thermostats always responded well so that we were able to keep the cabin any way we wished. I do hope the issue is temporary and not due to some systemic change!

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The recent A/C problems seem to go from one extreme or another. Over the many years with HAL, any A/C problems were same as arzz--too cool.

 

Thanks for the reviews.....

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Pboedeker, you mentioned that ALL cabins had the new DVD/CD players. Other posts(not here) mention that only suites have the DVD/CD players in the newSOE. Maybe you can clear it up, is it suites or ALL cabins. Very easy to bring CD's along if player is already there.

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I was on the same sailing as phoedecker, and must agree - the bedding and mattresses were superb. I was trying to figure out a way to roll uop the mattress and take it home..

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Our teens were in Cat. L on deck 2 (inside cabins) They had DVD players. We were in Verandah Suite 6208 and so did we.

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dtedac I agree with you. We also saw the magician/with monkey and the Wayne Newton wanna-be. We had the polka music by the pool, just what you want to hear when trying to sun. All activities were geared toward the over 65 age group. Every night the cruise staff invited you to the very happening lounge for some great event they were putting on. We went almost every night, boring why you ask because 90% of the passengers were asleep so no one attended. So with the possable 10 couples there most just left to go eat. Its sad but that is truly what we did, out of lack of something to do we spent a lot of time after 10:00 pm in the dining room then went to cabin to watch TV.

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This was our 28th cruise. Our first HAL. We had a group of 6. Two parents in their 40's with four college age daughters (18-21). Sailed 3/12/05 (western)

 

2. This ship is beautiful. The recent SOE upgrades were terrific. All cabins have flat screen TV's and DVD players (bring an S cable if you want to hook up any video equipment to the DVD player). The interior designer of this ship has done an excellent job.

 

Wow..thanks for the review ! Do all cabins have the flat screen TV's and DVD players. I thought that the Flat Screens were only goung in Suites .

 

Radio

;) ;)

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Cat. L inside cabins on Deck 2 had the new TV's and DVD players as well as our Verandah Suite on Deck 6. :)

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We cruised on the Zaandam the week after you. We did not have any A/C problems in our cabin on the Verandah deck. I did notice some warm areas in the stairwells a few times. We had our 2 teenage daughters cruising with us and the staff told them that the week you sailed there were 12 teens and the week we sailed there were 130 teens. We had a much younger passenger group except for the 100 "older" people from a retirement home. I was also unable to get a chair by the pool. I did not want to be a chair hog, but now I wish I had been. I did manage to secure 2 chairs after we left Half Moon Cay and leaving St. Thomas. There were many chair hogs and I never felt comfortable about moving someones things. I wish people would remove the towel from the chair when they are not using it. I think the next time I cruise I will "save" a chair. I thought it was because we had a full ship with alot of teens and young people, but I guess that was not the case since you encountered the same thing. I agree that the poolside band is not very good. The singer tried to sing regaee a few times and it reminded me of William Hung on American Idol. Most of the passengers found it amusing. They did play Santana very well. The other compliant was they only played about 1-2 hours, but since they didn't play "poolside" music very well, I guess it was for the best. We also had a problem with the internet. I think it was only up for a few hours a couple of days.

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