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DJP

1st HAL Cruise: Zaandam was Terrific!

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DH and I just returned Saturday from our first HAL cruise and it was on the Zaandam. Wow, HAL is wonderful and definitely a cut above Royal Caribbean, Norwegian, and Carnival, and we would absolutely return to HAL in a heartbeat. This was our 8th cruise and we loved them all, but this was definitely outstanding. The ship is elegant, the high beds with lovely linens were very comfortable, and we loved the Egyptian bath sheets and other towels in the bathroom (also liked the bathtub). We had a large outside (Category E) on the Dolphin Deck, about mid-ship, so very convenient. The Lido Buffet was very nice and we never had to wait in line for our food. Dining Room food was usually very good, although there were a few dishes that didn't quite appear as described in the menu. Our tablemates (two couples) were terrific and made dinnertime very special and enjoyable (8:30pm seating). We celebrated my birthday in the Pinnacle Grill and it was as wonderful as any 5 star restaurant on land and I heartily recommend it. DH made reservations, but we hardly ever saw any more than a few tables filled whever we walked by there. Service was excellent in the Lido, casino, and bar; our dining room waiter was efficient, but not terribly friendly and he ignored us the last night out for some reason although he took our orders that evening; room steward service was a mixed bag in that he did a terrific job, but most days our cabin was not cleaned until 2-3pm and we were used to our cabins on previous cruises being cleaned during breakfast.

The casino was the smallest we'd ever seen on a ship and definitely has the tightest poker machines. However, the casino staff were very congenial and we had fun playing Caribbean Stud Poker and Craps. We stayed away from Blackjack because we are serious players and have found that most people playing BJ on cruises don't really understand the nuances of the game and screw it up for everyone else.

The big (only) negative on the cruise concerned the badly behaved children in the pool areas. There were 250 kids on board and I am curious where their parents were because they certainly weren't at the pools enforcing the written rules posted right there. I was jumped on twice by the same young girl and told her she was being very annoying and would she please watch out for people trying to swim. Kids were doing cannonballs and generally just took over the pool by the bar every day. One 12-year old boy kept doing cannonballs and his father talked to him about it....as he walked away the boy did it again and the father just shook his head. The boy's mother spoke to him 4 times over the next hour and he kept doing it......so why didn't the mother just pull him out of the pool instead? My suggestion to HAL is to make one pool for children (the one on the aft Lido Deck) and make the one by the bar on the Lido Deck for adults only and then enforce it. Also, come on parents with kids in diapers....don't bring those kids into the pools (signs also say not to)! I am an avid swimmer, so as you can tell, the pool experience was ruined for me every day. Waiting for an elevator one day, a youngster was whining about wanting to do something and his parents said no to which the boy threatened to call the police and claim child abuse. Kids rule, parents drool!

Ports were the usual we've been to and Grand Cayman is recovering, although the devastation was still pretty evident once you got away from downtown. Jamaica was a new port for us and past messages were very correct about the aggressive vendors and taxi drivers not letting you alone. We still had a great time in each port.

The weather was perfect except for a little rain the morning of Half Moon Cay, but it eventually cleared up. HAL, please make this a longer stop because it was such a lovely place to end our cruise!

In closing, a wonderful and memorable cruise on the Zaandam and I would highly recommend HAL! Something funny happened while waiting in line for a luggage porter on Saturday.......a man in back of us said this was the worst cruise he'd ever been on! When I asked him why, he couldn't articulate why but just kept saying it was the worst cruise. Oh well, go figure! I would be happy to answer any Zaandam questions.

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Thanks for sharing your review with us :) Sounds like you are a positive person and really enjoyed your cruise! I'm glad to hear Grand Cayman is recovering, we will be there in May for the first time :) Hurricane Charlye chased us away last time.

Welcome home! :)

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Nice review, I guess the kids were out of school for thanksgiving. Note to self, never cruise at thanksgiving! :D

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Glad you enjoyed your first HAL cruise on the Zaandam. We have sailed her several times and love the ship. Will be glad when she moves back to Ft Lauderdale in 2006.

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We have gotten away from cruising during the holidays - used to love it.

But so many people on so many ships are reporting about how bad the kids and how they tend to take over everything.

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Nice review, I guess the kids were out of school for thanksgiving. Note to self, never cruise at thanksgiving! :D

Recommend also avoiding Christmas and Easter time frames. That said, I am a parent taking her teens on the Zaandam for Easter break. Shame on those parents who let there kids run wild like that!!!:eek: My children would be "in the brig" after that behavior (even though they are taller than me)!!! But being that there will be a new "teen only" area on the Zaandam, my guess is we will never see them!!;)

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I have been on many ships but the ZAANDAM is not one of them. I enjoyed your review very much.

 

Sorry you had problem with the children at the pool--or some of them. Sounds like too many home loose ships.

 

Himself

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Diapers in the pool is just plain gross :(

 

We sailed last Thanksgiving on the Golden Princess and we were in heaven with the Aft Swimming Pool being "Adult Only". It was enforced much to our delight AND amazement...

 

Will let you know how the kids behave on the Christmas sailing. I know 4 kids on the sailing who will be on their best behavior...

 

===>>> he sees you when your sleeping, he knows when you're awake......................... :D

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Thanks for your review. Happy you enjoyed your cruise.

 

 

BUT...PLEASE don't send the monster brats out to Aft pool. That's the 'quiet pool' that many of us head to in order to avoid those children who are ill behaved. The kids mostly like Lido pool as it's bigger and near the taco/burger bar etc

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YES, keep them in the Lido pool! :D

 

I still cannot understand why some parents think the posted rules do not apply to them.. go figure! Especially the diaper one, yuck. Aside from being gross, it is a huge health risk.

 

Thanks for the review - glad you enjoyed your first HAL cruise! As parents who cruise frequently with their children (ages 16 & 11) - I can tell you, not all kids behave that way. Like localady, ours would never dream of acting impolitely.

 

I can't wait to cruise on a ship with the new teen area. I think many pax will notice a difference in the number of older kids in the Lido area - they will now have a cool place away from most everyone else. :)

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Thanks for the all but positive review, I know how you feel when there are so many kids on a sailing. Wish HAL would limit the number of kids on any one cruise, 250 is far too many on a ship of this size. We have sailed the Zaandam several times and will be on her again for BtoBs in December, hope the kid population is lower than on your cruise!!.....jean :cool:

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Thanks for the positive review of the Zaandam. We will be on it for the New Year's sailing. This is our eighth cruise also - our first with Holland America. We can hardly wait.

We sailed on Carnival last year at the same time - lots of kids but luckily for us any time we saw any of them they were behaving appropriately.

Did you have a room safe? If you did, was it operated with a credit card or key pad?

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We have met some great kids on cruises. Unfortunately, it's the few who can wreak havoc on someone's vacation. Yes, shame on the parents for allowing this misbehavior. I, too, wish HAL would enforce their own rules in this regard; but past discussions have revealed that they don't.

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Nice review, I guess the kids were out of school for thanksgiving. Note to self, never cruise at thanksgiving! :D

I have also learned to never cruise during President's Week. The east coast has the week off and the kids are @&%#@!!! I now cruise weeks were I think that kids will not be on the ship. I am anxious for the day that I can afford a Seabourne cruise and won't need to be concerned about kids onboard.

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Thanks for the info about the room safe - my husband has been in law enforcement for 36 years and he is fanatical about leaving anything of any value lying around the room.

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We end up usually cruising Thanksgiving and Christmas weeks because we receive a number of days off as holidays and do not have to use so many vacation days. That will change after retirement when we can cruise whenever we want to, but that won't be for another 10 years. Both our parents/siblings live in the cold north and who wants to go there for the holidays? We live in the mid-South and the thought of battling snow and cold just isn't on our radar screen anymore. Cruising the sunny and warm Caribbean during the holidays is much more pleasurable, so we'll put up with some misbehaving children on the ships for another 10 years :-)

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We will be sailing on the Zaandam on December 11 - my second HAL cruise. The first on the Zuiderdam in August 2003 was woiuld I would call not a good cruise. We had awful service and I did not like the layout of the ship or her decor. However, I have heard such wonderful things about HAL I wanted to give her another try, so I booked ont he Zaandam.

 

The reviews I have read have been mixed. As far back as a review in 2000, folks were complaining about the children being out of control, guess it hasn't changed. I an hopeful that there won't be too many kids on our cruise. Guess the next big kids cruise will be Christmaas and News Years.

 

I will come back to the boards after our cruise and put in my 2 cents about the Zaandam when we return.

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The first on the Zuiderdam in August 2003 was woiuld I would call not a good cruise. We had awful service and I did not like the layout of the ship or her decor.

 

Mparis184 - Which date did you sail in August 2003? Just curious, we were on the 8/20/03 sailing and we thought it left alot to be desired... there were a ton of older teens and young 20's - also the most kids we've ever sailed with on HAL. It was very noticeable.

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