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May 06, 2014

Holland America Line - Zaandam



In mid July I sailed on Holland America's Zaandam to Alaska with my husband and his parents. We chose the Zaandam for its intimate size (we did not want a mega ship) and the traditional style of cruising for which Holland America is famous. We were looking for a ship that offered comfortable accommodations, classic decor, good food and service, and quiet shipboard life, all of which we found onboard the Zaandam.

Our oceanview stateroom included the newly upgraded mattress, fluffy bathrobes and plush oversized towels. The bathroom also had a tub which is appreciated as most ships on other lines do not offer a tub unless you are in a balcony or suite category. A fruit bowl was replenished as it was consumed but we were disappointed not to find a fridge. Instead a selection of soft drinks and bottled water were placed on the vanity next to the ice bucket.


The Zaandam exudes classiness with cozy public rooms adorned with antiques and historical artworks, spectacular fresh flower arrangements at every corner, wraparound promenade deck with teak loungers, and quiet corners to chat with friends or watch the passing seas. Food and service in the Rotterdam dining room was superb. Each menu had a wide choice catering to all taste buds. A nice touch is the Indonesian dishes that are offered at a few dinners and lunches, allowing guests to try different flavours. By the second night all of us were sold on the complimentary cappuccinos after dinner and soon our assistant waiter brought them to us without having to ask. We also dined at the Pinnacle Grill which was superb in its sterling beef selection and a variety of seafood and rack of lamb. There is a cover charge of $20 but on the first night it is offered at half price and once more in the middle of the cruise. It is well worth the price for an excellent meal.

Onboard staff is friendly and smiles are everywhere, however many have minimal fluency in English and if anything out of the ordinary was asked for, it often received confused looks and not carried out properly. In 3 different lounges my father in-law ordered a single malt scotch which he asked for water to be brought in a separate glass (so he can add it himself) and all 3 times the scotch arrived in different glassware (once in a sherry glass and once in a tall glass with a straw!). It was clear that they did not understand what he wanted because he did not order a regular scotch on the rocks.

This being an Alaska cruise, daily activities was kept to a minimum so that guests can enjoy the scenery and shore side visits. On sea days as well as in Glacier Bay National Park, naturalists provided commentary on the wildlife and landscape. Each evening after dinner we had a chance to listen to various musicians and danced in the lounges. We noticed however, that if a production show was in progress all other entertainment venues shut down, so it forced guests to watch the shows, which unfortunately were not all that great. The headline singers were not the best we have heard, and the productions seemed very hokey. But Holland America was never known for its entertainment so we were not surprised. The performance that got the best reviews was the Crew Show in which the Indonesian and Filipino crew donned traditional costumes and performed their countries song and dance.

One element which we did not expect onboard a Holland America ship was the number of announcements. Especially annoying were the calls to bingo every day. As you are out on deck enjoying the spectacular glaciers or whale watching, the PA comes alive with The Bingo Cash King calling you to the latest jackpot game. As well in the afternoons we had to endure the Cruise Director's announcements on what activities are happening onboard today. We commented in our guest questionnaire to let the daily newspaper do its job rather than filling the air with announcements. Announcements may be more acceptable in the Caribbean or on a more casual party ship but on a classy vessel in the serene landscape of Alaska it just is out of place.

We must praise Holland America for its efforts in keeping guests from catching or spreading the dreadful gastrointestinal germs that have plagued many ships. At embarkation each guest had to pass by a disinfectant dispenser which sanitized your hands. At the start of the buffet line a steward hands out a disinfectant wipe as you collected your tray, and upon returning to the ship from ashore, a disinfectant dispenser is set up at the gangway and a steward ensured you washed your hands before continuing on.

Holland America continues to attract loyal guests who favour the olden days of cruising onboard classic ships. Because of its traditional style, onboard ambiance and decor, it attracts an older clientele which in turn brings about a quieter shipboard life. Nightlife is subdued especially in Alaska as most people are active during the day. So after dinner they go to the show, maybe a couple of dances, and are off to bed by 11pm. So don't expect the disco to be going on til the wee hours. If you are looking for a quiet relaxing vacation a Holland America cruise will be perfect for you.

Click Here To View More Information About Holland America Line Alaska Cruises

Written By a Cruise Specialist at Cruising2Alaska.com

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Posted by Denise at May 6, 2014 08:46 AM

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