Holland America, Still A Very Good Cruise Line, But, Used To Be Better
Zaandam Cruise Review to U.S. - Pacific, Northwest
Holland America (HAL) provides a very enjoyable cruise experience. I would rate both their service and food as being very good.
However, after sailing HAL eight times since 2003, we have observed that their level and quality of food and service has continued to decline during our last three voyages over the last several years. Up to a few years ago, it was consistently excellent. HAL is owned by Carnival, and I would like to think that the overall decline we have observed is just an aberration and has nothing to do with parent Carnival applying cutbacks on the prestigious HAL.
The attitude of the crewmembers is superb and they always do their best to make your cruise a memorable experience. However, while the crewmembers always have a good attitude, their capability to meet your expectations is sometimes lacking perhaps due to their empowerment, support or training. This lacking in meeting your expectations has become more and more present over the last several years. Still, overall, we did find our expectations fulfilled.
The condition of the ship was fair to good. When we were last on this same ship, the Zaandam, in February of 2012 for an 14 Day Hong Kong to Hong Kong cruise, we commented to the ship management that we felt the ship was showing it’s age. They assured us that the Zaandam was going to dry dock to be refurbished. We were looking forward to being on the Zaandam again, in part, to see how well it was refurbished. In fact, we had the very same cabin this time, the Pinnacle Suite, Cabin 7001, as we had the last time so it was easy to see the improvements if any. For some reason, they changed he name of the suite from the Penthouse Suite to the Pinnacle Suite. While we did see some improvements, we were still disappointed in areas that were not improved or the use of lower grade replacements such as cheaper carpets. Plus over the years we have noticed little things such as they use to have beautiful towels with the Holland America color logos and now they have just plain old white towels without logos. They use to have glasses that would fit into the glass holders in the bathroom so they would not slip off during rough seas and now they just plain glasses that do fit into the holders and they slip off the counter. The glass shower door that broke while we were on this ship in February of 2012 has been replaced with an ugly curtain that does not even fit the opening. All of these are small details, but they add up and it is the little details that sometimes can tell the whole story. All of this seems to confirm a possible sad pattern that perhaps parent Carnival is simply making too many cutback on what was once a great cruise line. Holland America is still a very good line and I am sure that to any passenger who is new to Holland America, that all they would see is a very good cruise line, as they would not know how Holland America used to be even better. I do hope that either Holland America gets back to the greatness that they once were or that our experiences are just aberrations.
Food and Dining
Service and Staff
Cabin / Stateroom
When you first get on the ship, make sure to make a reservation for the Pinnacle Grill. It is a speciality restaurant with an added fee but is well worth the extra charge. They book up quickly, especially for popular times.