Zaandam Cruise Review to Alaska - Inside Passage

Deck Hand

Experience
7+ cruises

Review
1

Helpful Votes
18

5 out of 5

Incredible Cruise to Alaska!

Sail Date: September 22, 2006

Reviewed: 6 years ago

Traveled As: Couple

Room Type: Oceanview

This was a special trip arranged so that we could meet my parents in Seattle and enjoy an Alaskan Cruise together. The Zaandam lived up to the high expectations I had of Holland America Line. It was a beautiful, well maintained ship with an outstanding crew that provided exceptional service. The majority of the passengers were mature (my Dad is over 70 and he referred to the "elderly" passengers), which we expected for a sailing in late September during the school year. My parents enjoyed meeting and interacting with the other passengers and we didn't find that we significantly missed the late night scene we have enjoyed on other cruise lines.
The Cruise Director, Eric Holland and his staff were wonderful - and arranged a "Red Hat Society" event that my Mother and 6 other "Red Hat" passengers attended. We went to every show - as they were the best I have ever seen on a cruise ship for the variety of costumes, stage design and quality of performers. We appreciated the fact that HAL is supporting the Komen Foundation "Walk for a Cure" and offers an "On Deck for the Cure" 5K walk on the promenade deck, which my husband and I joined for a small donation. We proudly wear our t-shirts we received when we completed the 13 laps around the ship.
We sailed on the very last sailing of the Alaskan season, and found that the onboard activities and shore excursions were not curtailed, even though late in the year. We took full advantage of the variety of games, lectures and activities on board - one of our favorite locations was the coffee bar and extensive library. One afternoon we took in a movie in the theatre and attended special lectures on the art of the Native Alaskans and a discussion on the wildlife.
Dining was one of our highlights - although late dining was difficult and did not encourage a leisurely dinner, we found the variety of dishes and quality of preparation outstanding. We had a memorable meal our night we booked into the Pinnacle Grill. My filet and my husbands 22 oz porterhouse steaks were melt in your mouth delicious!

All in all, this was a delightful trip that I would recommend to other adults who would enjoy traveling with friends and family.

Pros: Our day in Glacier Bay was spectacular and the onboard service was outstanding

Cons: Dining at the final seating (8:15pm) was just a bit too late to really enjoy a leisurely meal.

Ship Quality
The Zaandam was an exceptionally well maintained ship. The public spaces were cleaned and polished regularly, the fresh flowers enhanced the ambiance and the design of the public areas was easy to understand and get around.
Food and Dining
We were extremely impressed with the quality of the food. My father is diabetic, and there were a large variety of low or no sugar added food items and desserts. As a highlight of our visit to Alaska, every night there were two entrees prepared from fresh salmon. The Lido provided excellent casual dining and we enjoyed the salmon barbecue on deck one day for lunch. The Pinnacle Grill (speciality dining) was outstanding with a variety of choices of beef, lamb or pork.
Cabin / Stateroom
We had the highest outside cabin category. The room was clean and well maintained. The bathroom was large with a full tub. The room was a bit crowded, with a chair, stool, loveseat and small table. There was only one electrical outlet at the vanity - and we often needed two for our electronics to re-charge (cell phone, blackberry, digital camera, etc.)
Service and Staff
The HAL staff lived up to it's reputation and provided outstanding service. Our waiter, Rex, would greet everyone by name when he saw us in any dining venue on the ship. During our day in Glacier Bay, despite the chill - the staff were serving all of us die-hard observers on deck with a smile, providing hot drinks and soup as we enjoyed the scenery from the bow of the Zaandam. Our cabin steward was invisible - no carts to trip over in the hallways, and prompt attention to making up our cabin twice a day. The Phillipino crew held a talent show one afternoon, singing and dancing for a packed out theatre.
Entertainment
A full roster of activities were offered everyday. My family attended every session of Team Trivia, and won two hard fought rounds! From lectures to games, pool side activities to quiet corners with classical music - there was something for everyone. The highlight were the excellent muscial shows on four nights. Singing, dancing with multiple set changes, a variety of costumes and engaging music - we enjoyed every moment.
Victoria, British Columbia
We arrived at 8pm. Being late in the season, it was already dark. The transfer service into the Inner Harbor area of Victoria (where the Empress Hotel is located) was easy and inexpensive at $5 Canadian. We wanted to pick up tea to bring home - but the Hotel shops were closed. We found a fun Irish pub, right along the main street and enjoyed the live celtic music.
Victoria, British Columbia
We arrived at 8pm. Being late in the season, it was already dark. The transfer service into the Inner Harbor area of Victoria (where the Empress Hotel is located) was easy and inexpensive at $5 Canadian. We wanted to pick up tea to bring home - but the Hotel shops were closed. We found a fun Irish pub, right along the main street and enjoyed the live celtic music.
Juneau, Alaska
The HAL pier location was excellent - allowing us to get off the ship right downtown Juneau. We arranged for a transfer from a local vendor to provide us with a round trip ride out to Mendenhall Glacier. No need to spend extra money on a fancy excursion - we wanted to view the glacier, go to the Visitor Center and walk the trails. We enjoyed a local lager at the Red Dog Saloon, just across the street from the ship. Sawdust on the floor, ragtime music & sing-alongs to go along with pub-fare food. Don't forget to buy the t-shirt!
Don't Miss: Mendenhall Glacier - for the wonderful visitor center and viewing area.
Ketchikan, Alaska
We had a great time in Ketchikan. With the easy access to the town, from the ship - you can walk all over and never be out of sight of the ship. We explored Creek Street and enjoyed our time in the Discovery Center. Lots of hands on exhibits and you learn all about Southeastern Alaska - its heritage and its natural resources. We hired a taxi to take us out to Totem Bight State Historical Site to see the fabulous totem poles.
Don't Miss: Southeast Alaska Discovery Center - a short walk from the pier
Ketchikan, Alaska
We had a great time in Ketchikan. With the easy access to the town, from the ship - you can walk all over and never be out of sight of the ship. We explored Creek Street and enjoyed our time in the Discovery Center. Lots of hands on exhibits and you learn all about Southeastern Alaska - its heritage and its natural resources. We hired a taxi to take us out to Totem Bight State Historical Site to see the fabulous totem poles.
Don't Miss: Southeast Alaska Discovery Center - a short walk from the pier
Juneau, Alaska
The HAL pier location was excellent - allowing us to get off the ship right downtown Juneau. We arranged for a transfer from a local vendor to provide us with a round trip ride out to Mendenhall Glacier. No need to spend extra money on a fancy excursion - we wanted to view the glacier, go to the Visitor Center and walk the trails. We enjoyed a local lager at the Red Dog Saloon, just across the street from the ship. Sawdust on the floor, ragtime music & sing-alongs to go along with pub-fare food. Don't forget to buy the t-shirt!
Don't Miss: Mendenhall Glacier - for the wonderful visitor center and viewing area.
Sitka, Alaska
We didn't realize that Sitka requires a tender - not my favorite activity, to wait to go to shore. Nice surprise - our excursion boat picked us up at the ship! We saw otters, eagles, harbor seals, humpback whales and orca whales. We finished up at the Sitka Raptor Center, which rehabilitates eagles and other birds of prey. Due to rain, did not see much of the rest of town.
Don't Miss: Otter & Wildlife Excursion and Raptor Rehabilitation Center
Sitka, Alaska
We didn't realize that Sitka requires a tender - not my favorite activity, to wait to go to shore. Nice surprise - our excursion boat picked us up at the ship! We saw otters, eagles, harbor seals, humpback whales and orca whales. We finished up at the Sitka Raptor Center, which rehabilitates eagles and other birds of prey. Due to rain, did not see much of the rest of town.
Don't Miss: Otter & Wildlife Excursion and Raptor Rehabilitation Center


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