Holland America Line Zaandam by homeatlast Alaska May 16, 2007
We just returned from an 8 day Inland Passage cruise to Alaska on board the HAL Zaandam. We had cruised with HAL almost 14 years ago and were very pleased so stayed with that particular cruise line. We were not disappointed. There has been a lot said about HAL being an older crowd with fewer choices of entertainment onboard. My husband and I were in our early 40's the first time and now 50's and we like the way HAL still clings to the "traditional way" of cruising.
Our particular cruise had only about 4 or 5 children on it, our cabin was much quieter then ever being in a hotel, and we enjoy getting dressed up for dinner. The Zaandam is mid sized and is perfect for us. There was plenty of opportunity to be among other cruisers or find a quiet place on deck for the two of us.
My husband enjoyed the spa experience for a massage the first sea day and was very pleased with the staff. Our cabin was plenty roomy for two and I wanted to take my cabin steward home with me when the cruise ended. He was very helpful in locating our luggage the first day (which seemed to not show up with the others on our deck) and was always ready with a "Good Morning" or a friendly "Hello" when we would see him in the hallways. Our cabin was always kept spotless and I couldn't wait every evening to get back to the cabin to see what "cabin animal" awaited me.
We had early dining which we had requested and everything about the dining room was excellent from the service to the food. We really had no complaints even when we tried things we had not had before. The supervisor of the dining staff always made it a point to go to each table and ask how everything was without being obtrusive. We went to the evening shows about 5 nights out of 7. The singers/dancers were excellent (and how they dance when the ship is rolling is beyond me). We eat at the Lido restaurant for breakfast 3 mornings. The only downside is that at particular times it is difficult to get a seat which results in cooler food than you want. My husband particularly liked the ice cream and desert station which was pretty much available throughout the day. (If I was missing him I usually checked there first). The other mornings we either had room service or eat at the dinning room which was great.
Our ports of call were Juneau, Skagway and Ketchikan. Luckily we had perfect weather for all three, very unusual according to the ship's crew.
Embarkation and getting off the ship, in my opinion, was handled about as organized and smoothly as can be. Staying in your cabin until it is time for you to disembark is great. We had room service in our cabin the last morning while we were waiting and it worked out perfectly. You can listen to the announcements inside your cabin on the radio.
The ship itself was in excellent condition and everything was kept in perfect order. The entire staff, from the Captain, the officers, dining staff, cabin stewards, everyone was very friendly. If you enjoy a romantic, traditional style of cruising, without a lot of children or loud activities than HAL is for you. I am not saying there is nothing to do, just no rock climbing walls, or water slides, you get the picture.