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ZAANDAM - Alaska Review

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We just returned from a 7-day cruise on the HAL Zaandam and wanted to post our review of the trip and itinerary. Much abreviated due to the new board restrictions on the size of postings. Let me know and I'll email you the full review.

Pros:

 

 

  • Any cruise is a great cruise and HAL provides a good product. Great cabins and excellent service.
  • Many have commented on the noticeable age of passengers on HAL and I would guess that at least 90% of our passengers were in their late 60’s and up. We are in our 40’s and love to cruise with this older generation. We find them gracious, engaging and excellent conversationalists.
  • We love the size of these smaller ships with plenty of room, but fewer passengers. We felt that we got to know a lot more people and the lines moved quickly. We could always find a seat in the Mondriaan Lounge and a deck chair at the Lido Pools, (not to mention the unlimited supply of pool towels).
  • I said it before, and I’ll say it again: The Promenade Decks on HAL ships are simply the best place in the world to read a good book and catch a quick nap. I could spend every day out there. (My wife won’t let me, but I could do it.) Padded deck chairs are a real luxury.
  • The HAL steam room (just wish it opened earlier). What a life!
  • The new beds and bedding. Best sleep on the seas!

 

Cons:

 

 

  • HAL ships are usually a bit more formal than many other cruise lines; although we thought this was a very casual crowd for HAL. On formal night, we saw very few tuxedos, but most men were wearing dark suits. Several however wore sport coats or no coat at all. Semi-formal night is also a “jacket required” night but there were several who appeared to ignore this dress code. I’m more of a casual wear kind of guy and while I observe a cruise lines dress code, I am more comfortable with the Princess or RCI standard. This was the most casual HAL cruise we’ve ever been on, so I guess for us this was actually a positive.
  • Food was disappointing on this cruise compared to what we’ve experienced on other ships, including HAL. Lido food and desserts were the biggest disappointments. They are definitely cutting back in this area.
  • Spa prices are still way too high, but the staff in this area was exceptionally friendly and I couldn’t believe how quickly they learned my name and remembered it throughout the cruise. This ship has an exceptional spa director, so that should be listed as a positive. And though the steam room opened at 8:00 a.m., that is also the time they turn it on, so it doesn’t really warm up until about an hour later.
  • There really are limited eating options on this ship. By that I mean that there are times during the day when there is no place to get something to eat. For example, the Lido closes from 8:00 pm to 11:00 pm. We boarded late in Ketchikan at 8:30 p.m. and there was simply no place to eat except room service. We were hot, tired and hungry and I didn’t want to have to sit in my room and eat dinner. I love the fact that on Princess and RCI, I can find pizza or a late night dessert at almost any time of the day and show up as I am.
  • No outdoor whirlpool tubs other than those in the covered Lido Pool area. Worse, the pools don’t open until 10:00 a.m. This is just plain stupid. We love the outdoor whirlpools up on deck in the cool air for sunrise, and how about an early morning swim.
  • All in all, the schedule for venues and activities on this ship is very regimented and is a bit restrictive. On Thursday, they announced an exciting and fun filled day for our Friday Sea Day; all beginning at 10:00 a.m. In my opinion, this is a late start and there really wasn’t much going on. I prefer a more active and flexible approach to vacationing.

 

And finally, for what its worth, some updated comparisons (based on our own impressions): HAL can be a great cruising experience, but RCI and Princess may be more in line with my casual and flexible vacation lifestyle. Princess and Celebrity provide a better dining experience, but the service on HAL and RCI is much better. RCI, Celebrity and Princess have the most beautiful ships. Entertainment on HAL is equal to or better than anything we’ve seen on RCI, Princess or Celebrity. In my opinion the friendliest people cruise HAL, Princess and RCI. Based on our experiences, I would rate these lines: 1) Princess, 2) RCI, 3) HAL, 4) Celebrity and 5) Carnival. Now we’re looking forward to our next Caribbean cruise in January, 2005. We will be looking at Princess or RCI.

 

 

I would be happy to answer any questions you might have.

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If you don't mind my asking, how would you rate the value of the cruise on HAL versus the other cruise lines?

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balanceok,

 

Thanks for the review of the Zaandam. I'll be boarding her in less than 3 months and I really am interested in reading reviews of her.

 

If you read my review of the Volendam from my Alaska Cruise last year you may note that I saw much the same kind of thing you did relative to "dress code violations." Perhaps Alaska is becoming more "informal"? That was true for me last year, and it sounds like it was true for you this year.

 

Again, thanks for your review of the Zaandam. If you have any other remarks about how she looks, I'd love to read them. What category cabin did you have?

 

If you like, email the full review! Thanks!

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We are leaving for Alaska on the Sapphire Princess by the end of this week. We will need to find and book the next cruise soon ;). Additional question: Is the ship clean?

 

Thanks for your time:cool:

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I'm impressed! I submitted the full review yesterday, and the board reps already have it posted in the Reviews section.

 

They are really after it to get it up so quickly.

 

Thanks.

 

:)

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We just returned from a 7-day cruise on the HAL Zaandam and wanted to post our review of the trip and itinerary. Much abreviated due to the new board restrictions on the size of postings. Let me know and I'll email you the full review.

 

Pros:

 

 

 

  • Any cruise is a great cruise and HAL provides a good product. Great cabins and excellent service.
  • Many have commented on the noticeable age of passengers on HAL and I would guess that at least 90% of our passengers were in their late 60’s and up. We are in our 40’s and love to cruise with this older generation. We find them gracious, engaging and excellent conversationalists.
  • We love the size of these smaller ships with plenty of room, but fewer passengers. We felt that we got to know a lot more people and the lines moved quickly. We could always find a seat in the Mondriaan Lounge and a deck chair at the Lido Pools, (not to mention the unlimited supply of pool towels).
  • I said it before, and I’ll say it again: The Promenade Decks on HAL ships are simply the best place in the world to read a good book and catch a quick nap. I could spend every day out there. (My wife won’t let me, but I could do it.) Padded deck chairs are a real luxury.
  • The HAL steam room (just wish it opened earlier). What a life!
  • The new beds and bedding. Best sleep on the seas!

 

 

Cons:

 

 

 

  • HAL ships are usually a bit more formal than many other cruise lines; although we thought this was a very casual crowd for HAL. On formal night, we saw very few tuxedos, but most men were wearing dark suits. Several however wore sport coats or no coat at all. Semi-formal night is also a “jacket required” night but there were several who appeared to ignore this dress code. I’m more of a casual wear kind of guy and while I observe a cruise lines dress code, I am more comfortable with the Princess or RCI standard. This was the most casual HAL cruise we’ve ever been on, so I guess for us this was actually a positive.
  • Food was disappointing on this cruise compared to what we’ve experienced on other ships, including HAL. Lido food and desserts were the biggest disappointments. They are definitely cutting back in this area.
  • Spa prices are still way too high, but the staff in this area was exceptionally friendly and I couldn’t believe how quickly they learned my name and remembered it throughout the cruise. This ship has an exceptional spa director, so that should be listed as a positive. And though the steam room opened at 8:00 a.m., that is also the time they turn it on, so it doesn’t really warm up until about an hour later.
  • There really are limited eating options on this ship. By that I mean that there are times during the day when there is no place to get something to eat. For example, the Lido closes from 8:00 pm to 11:00 pm. We boarded late in Ketchikan at 8:30 p.m. and there was simply no place to eat except room service. We were hot, tired and hungry and I didn’t want to have to sit in my room and eat dinner. I love the fact that on Princess and RCI, I can find pizza or a late night dessert at almost any time of the day and show up as I am.
  • No outdoor whirlpool tubs other than those in the covered Lido Pool area. Worse, the pools don’t open until 10:00 a.m. This is just plain stupid. We love the outdoor whirlpools up on deck in the cool air for sunrise, and how about an early morning swim.
  • All in all, the schedule for venues and activities on this ship is very regimented and is a bit restrictive. On Thursday, they announced an exciting and fun filled day for our Friday Sea Day; all beginning at 10:00 a.m. In my opinion, this is a late start and there really wasn’t much going on. I prefer a more active and flexible approach to vacationing.

 

 

And finally, for what its worth, some updated comparisons (based on our own impressions): HAL can be a great cruising experience, but RCI and Princess may be more in line with my casual and flexible vacation lifestyle. Princess and Celebrity provide a better dining experience, but the service on HAL and RCI is much better. RCI, Celebrity and Princess have the most beautiful ships. Entertainment on HAL is equal to or better than anything we’ve seen on RCI, Princess or Celebrity. In my opinion the friendliest people cruise HAL, Princess and RCI. Based on our experiences, I would rate these lines: 1) Princess, 2) RCI, 3) HAL, 4) Celebrity and 5) Carnival. Now we’re looking forward to our next Caribbean cruise in January, 2005. We will be looking at Princess or RCI.

 

 

 

I would be happy to answer any questions you might have.

 

It sounds like your biggest problems with the cruise stem from the fact that you are younger the other passengers, and you should probably not select HAL for future cruises.

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It sounds like your biggest problems with the cruise stem from the fact that you are younger the other passengers, and you should probably not select HAL for future cruises.

 

Are you aware that this thread is from 2004???

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It sounds like your biggest problems with the cruise stem from the fact that you are younger the other passengers, and you should probably not select HAL for future cruises.

 

Not only is this thread from 2004, but the OP also states under "Pros" that "We are in our 40’s and love to cruise with this older generation. We find them gracious, engaging and excellent conversationalists." Their problem wasn't the age of their fellow passengers. They just wanted more late night options and flexibility.

 

In any case, I'm sure whatever the issue was, they're over it by now. They've had 7 years to move on ;):)

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Had to laugh when I saw this.

 

We really didn't have any issues and we are no longer in our 40's. And it was, by the way, our last HAL cruise, although we wouldn't hesitate to cruise HAL again if the itinerary and price fit.

 

:D:D

Edited by balanceok
addition

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