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arzz

Also back from Zaandam 3/26/05

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Ship is still beautiful - crew is still wonderful

 

Since December many crew members have new uniforms (e.g. cabin stewards wear gray and black t-shirts -- a more casual look for them but probably much more practical)

 

We had a relaxing and pleasant cruise -- sort of like coming home for us. We still highly recommend this ship.

 

We understand the “loft” area seems to attract as many adults as teens but the area is well patrolled to keep us old f---s out of there.

 

We heard that there were some 400 (some said 300) kids on board - for us not a problem -- they were having a good time and have been, in general, well behaved and well cared for.

 

The lido has had a bit of a facelift -- it is organized differently -- the bread pudding is no longer hidden in an alcove. The desserts are now on the mid-ships end of the lido line where the salads used to be. The bread pudding is proudly displayed there and the salads are now stationed where the desserts used to be. The lido food was fresh and good the times that we dined there.

 

Room service was a bit of a gamble. Our breakfast order, each morning, was delivered but it was “interpreted” in some way or other each morning. There was always something that was not there or was there a little different than the order specified. We still, however, always had plenty to eat. One morning they informed us that they had run out of croissants, and had substituted danish. They explained that they only had 200 croissants and they were out. It was common for us to receive fewer croissants than we ordered.

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People from another stateroom reported to us that they received no crackers with their cheese tray and were told that they were out of crackers. You interpret that one.

 

The Explorations Cafe has opened up an area that had been hidden and closed off in its previous life -- and it does seem VERY popular -- always people there having a good time.

 

Since the Explorations Cafe opened, the internet service on board is very busy and we found that it took us, on the average, at least twice as many minutes this trip (as compared to our Christmas cruise) to log on, get to aol, and send an e-mail message that we had composed off line. A bit of an irritation to our pocket books at $.55/minute for the 100 minute package. Based upon our 10 day Christmas experience, we thought we would have many minutes to burn on this 7 day adventure when in fact we barely had enough internet time to send and receive the news to and from home each day.

 

On the same subject, we have found many of the designated “internet hot spots”, “internet NOT SO hot spots!”

 

There was a wine package for purchase on Board. One glass each day with dinner, $23.75 + 15% gratuity. Since we are not wine drinkers we do not know anything about the selection available. If we were, however, the price does seem reasonable if the wines served are better than ripple.

 

The new “Greenhouse Spa” does look nice, used it a couple of times, but we found the services were still very “Steiner” -- not much change there.

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Grand Cayman became more than a port stop, but an adventure for many. The seas changed during the day while we were anchored off the island (with no fewer than 5 other cruise ships). We tendered in about lunch time and were surprised to see the ship’s staff on shore, including the officer in whites, on the dock, barefoot, with their pant legs rolled up -- they were standing in about 4 inches of sea water at that time. Our place on the tender docks seemed to be the lowest, and was the only one wet when we arrived on shore. We only stayed in town briefly which turned out to be a good move. By early afternoon the ocean swells had become somewhat serious and the ship tried to call all passengers back on board. From other passengers we learned that the shop keepers were telling people to return to the ship immediately. Our tender dock was moved to a better location. From what we understand, however, even in the new location, passengers waited to board the tenders in many inches of water and the tenders were bobbing in the swells so seriously that they would drop over a foot below the dock and then rise up way above the dock, far too high for people to board. Suffice it to say that the boarding process was very slow. Passengers were soaked with water, waited a long time in line to be able to board safely, and there are stories circulating that some passengers were bobbing in the tenders (complete with tenders repeatedly banging into the docks) for 2 or more hours. Instead of leaving at 5:30, it was dark and close to 8:30 before all were safely back on board. Needless to say that when we were in port in Montego Bay the next day there was quite a bit of repair to the rubber bumpers on the tenders going on. Holland America, however, seemed to handle the situation in an appropriate and professional manner. And it should be noted that we were not the only ones tendering into port that day. There were 6, that is SIX, ships in Grand Cayman, and they had all chosen to tender in -- so whatever the sea conditions were they fooled not one, but six cruise ship captains! I spoke to someone who had been on the Disney ship in Grand Cayman that day -- their stories were similar to the HAL stories, except that disney had been using two level open boats as tenders and had to discontinue that and launch some one deck tenders to finish returning their passengers to the ship. It seems the sudden swells actually bent the gang way between the Disney tender and the dock.

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Compared to December, there were really no changes that we noticed in our cabin except they no longer used the bedspreads. The beds did not have the narrow “throws” on them that are shown in the promotional pictures. In December our cabin had a wonderful, powerful, hairdryer - not the one on the wall in the bathroom -- we did not have one of those hair dryers this trip. Only the one on the bathroom wall. Both trips we were in A cabins-- deck 7 in December, deck 6 this cruise.

 

With the addition of the Explorations Cafe, the free after dinner cappuccinos and lattes have disappeared from the Explorer’s lounge. Now you have to pay. The chocolates, however, are still there.

 

In general we had a great trip -- we found the changes either improvements or minor irritations -- the ocean in all its splendor is still there, the cabin was like coming home to us -- and most of the on board experience was the same (except that the mariner’s party was at 11:30 am! This timing was a first for us -- so we skipped it). We still think that cruising is a great value, and HAL is still our favorite cruise line.

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So glad to hear that my favorite ship hasn`t changed too much since dry dock! We were also onboard at Xmas on a BtoB sailing. Could you tell me who the entertainment groups are in the different lounges now? I know Sonia isn`t in the piano bar, who replaced her? Thanks.........jean :cool:

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Arzz,

 

Thanks for the review. I was on the Zaandam last December and was very impressed. That was pre-drydock, of course. For my hips sake, the bread pudding was probably better off in the alcove. :D Out of sight, out of mind...

 

Interesting remarks about room service. I ordered from room service the first morning and was not impressed. Scrambled eggs were awful. Went to the Lido the next morning and had the same awful scrambled eggs. Moral of the story - don't order scrambled eggs! That was my only criticism of the entire cruise. I can't lay the blame on room service, it was a kitchen problem.

 

I may try that wine pkg. on my next cruise.

 

Roz

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Piano Bar -- Barrie Blythe

Explorer's Lounge - Sonata Strings (excellent)

Ocean Bar - Celebration, Nick Dussalt

Crow's Nest - Eureka, D.J. Richie Rich

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Thank you so much for taking the time to share your review with us!

 

One question if I may...

 

You stated "Compared to December, there were really no changes that we noticed in our cabin except they no longer used the bedspreads. The beds did not have the narrow “throws” on them that are shown in the promotional pictures."

 

Did they not use bedspreads at all? or were the bedspreads just different than the ones they had when you were onboard in December?

 

Very interesting review, and enjoyable to read. Interesting "tendering" story!

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arzz,

 

Good review. We (DW, DSx2) were on the cruise with you. Our bed had the 1/2 spread (runner?) put on every morning and taken off at dinner hour. I found it surprising that coffee was free in Lido buffet area at all hours, but had to pay in Explorer lounge. They did have special latte, espresso, etc. that many people were purchasing. We had hair dryer in both cabins in a drawer. Possibly yours was missing.

 

Did you go ashore in Half-Moon Cay? We had a Cabana package, and were told that they ran out of Coke, and had to give us diet-Dr.Pepper as substitute(??). Also ran out of hamburger buns and silverware before noon at the barbeque. Otherwise, beautiful experience.

 

We were lucky to get tender back from Grand Cayman early afternoon just as it was starting to get bad. Heard similar stories such as 2 to 3 hour wait in line and six foot swells which bounced people around inside tenders.

 

Number of children on board did not pose a problem possibly until last night when things got a little rambunctious in the halls and stairs. Just kids having a good time.

 

We also did not get served crab legs when they apparently ran out before our late dinner seating. I wonder if running out of things is par for this ship?

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Hi Tecumseh...:D I think I Know the reason why they ran out of crab legs...LOL:rolleyes: .. My DW ate them all...We had the 6:15 dinner and we ate everything they brought out and more....HAHAHA..I love the early dinner..:p ..Just kiddin. They seemed to have plenty of everything when we was eating. They even brought out 2nds for us with out us asking. Sorry to hear they ran out where you couldn't enjoy them.

 

As far as the tendering in Cayman, it was bad. Like I said in my other posts, it was like tring to jump on a moving roller coaster. We stood in line for about 2 hours. but everything turned out ok.. we all got back on the ship and I didn't hear of to many getting hurt.

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We sailed on the Zaandam in october and really enjoyed the ship. Did notice that the lido deck had terrible cold scrambled eggs regularly, and room service brought their interpretation of our order each morning. Otherwise this was our favorite cruise and ship that we compare all others to. Never met a friendlier crew no matter what rating they were, or what job, they were so friendly. Just love those Dam ships...

 

Jim

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The bed spreads were not there and neither were the narrow throws. We were outside, on deck 6, and as I would walk down the hall I did not see the throws on any of the beds. What was on the bed were two sheets wrapped around the blanket, and completely covering the blanket like they do in the nicer hotels. The top sheet had inch wide white on white stripes.

 

Tecumseh said that they had the narrow throw on their bed each day. Where was your cabin? Do they only have them in certain categories? Or did they run out of them, like the crabs legs?

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Thanks for posting your review .. glad to read you had a good time.

 

we board the zaandam on 5/28 / Alaska .. always nice to read experiences from others before boarding!

 

Thanks again!

 

Peggy Sue

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We were on the Zaandam on the March 19 week. The "bedspread was a 900 count (?best guess??) satin striped white sheet over the blanket. I thought it was great! It's a washable item and kept us from touching the blanket!!! I personally don't want a comfortor on my bed in any hotel or otherwise, but knowing this is washed regularly like sheets made me feel comfortable sleeping with it! We had no lower bed covering/throw besides the suitcase protector the first day. Really didn't care.:)

Laurie

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The bed spreads were not there and neither were the narrow throws. We were outside, on deck 6, and as I would walk down the hall I did not see the throws on any of the beds. What was on the bed were two sheets wrapped around the blanket, and completely covering the blanket like they do in the nicer hotels. The top sheet had inch wide white on white stripes...

 

Thank you for the information...

 

At least it sounds cool and clean, like a duvet cover - probably also washed more often! :) I was a little concerned - I tend toward "chilly."

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Thank you for the information...

 

At least it sounds cool and clean, like a duvet cover - probably also washed more often! :) I was a little concerned - I tend toward "chilly."

 

stormyc - On the Volendam last week, we had similar bedding. It was a fantastic white duvet with an unbelievably high thread count. The bedding was heavenly. We have the same type of mattresses here at home, but I have yet to come across the wonderfully soft, yet crisp white cottons they use on board. On our 10-day cruise, the linens were changed about every other day.

 

Another plus we enjoyed were the eight pillows we had for the King sized bed. There was a nice slection of firm, medium and soft. Of course, we had to give a couple of them up to the kids on the sofa bed - but we picked ours first! :)

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Hi Tecumseh...:D I think I Know the reason why they ran out of crab legs...They even brought out 2nds for us with out us asking.
No doubt this is why they ran out for second seating. Wonder why they did this?

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stormyc - On the Volendam last week, we had similar bedding. It was a fantastic white duvet with an unbelievably high thread count. The bedding was heavenly. We have the same type of mattresses here at home, but I have yet to come across the wonderfully soft, yet crisp white cottons they use on board. On our 10-day cruise, the linens were changed about every other day.

 

Another plus we enjoyed were the eight pillows we had for the King sized bed. There was a nice slection of firm, medium and soft. Of course, we had to give a couple of them up to the kids on the sofa bed - but we picked ours first! :)

 

It seems crazy to look forward to SLEEPING on a cruise, but I will blame your posting! Your description is divine!! Clean, soft, and all of those pillows! They'll have to wake me up first in order to drag me off the ship! :D

 

Thank you so much for the information.

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Tecumseh said that they had the narrow throw on their bed each day. Where was your cabin? Do they only have them in certain categories? Or did they run out of them, like the crabs legs?

 

We were on deck 7 port side rear - veranda suite. Really did not need this throw, as the same top sheet over the blanket as described in previous posts. Nice bed and bedding, really enjoyed it.

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Hi Arzz

 

We were in Grand Cayman early March and had a terrible time with swells while tendering. Going in was not bad but on our sightseeing trip the guide suggested that if we were done for the day she would take us back because a storm was coming in around 3:00 pm. We went straight for the dock and the swells would drop the tender around a foot. After we were seated we were banging against the rubber docks and a older lady boarding was knocked down and hit her head on the metal floor and broke her ankle. It was scary just getting back to the ship.

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