Occupation:Real Estate Broker
Number of Cruises: 7
Cruise Line: Holland America
Sailing Date: November 10th, 2001
Itinerary: Southern Caribbean
The Ms Zaandam is a lovely cruise ship with antiques and interesting artifacts strategically placed around the ship. The public rooms are nicely placed with many of them having beautiful ocean views. The main atrium is tastefully done. Nothing glitzy about the Holland America Lines. The Rotterdam dining room was beautiful with the brass rail stair case, the piano playing music as we entered and live music on the formal nights and the lovely table settings, complete with interesting napkins folded into a different design each meal. The food was good, very attractively served, but the menu wasn't all that exciting to us. I ended up eating a lot of steak and prime rib because I didn't care for any of the other entrees. The appetizers and soups were terrific. The salads were fair, not very imaginative. The desserts were disappointing. The only time we had 'great' desserts was when we ate lunch in the Lido restaurant. On previous cruises, our wait staff always knew our names and always knew our favorite drink and would have it waiting for us when we arrived. I found it took several nights before they knew I wanted a soft drink with dinner. They did however always remember my significant other's martini. On several nights, I got an ice tea. I think I was mixed up with someone else. However, the staff is very courteous and you can't help but love them for serving you all this food! This is the 3rd cruise we have been in a suite, and this is the 2nd cruise with Holland America. We remembered a few things about the suite and they were similar to this cruise. However, we both commented that we thought this suite may have been a bit smaller than our last one. It is still a nice size room, but we both remembered the Ryndam's suite to be a bit larger. We mentioned it to another passenger who also sailed on the Ryndam in a suite. They thought both suites were the same size, so maybe it was just us. Our suite was perfect. We had all the drawer space we needed plus extras. The 3 closets were ample and I found the extra drawers in the vanity not needed. But the vanity is always a nice touch. We enjoy the 'extras' being in a suite. In particular, the cocktail parties, the special dinners, the corsage for the 1st formal night, champagne, the fluffy bathrobes, even the stationery. One thing we didn't get on this cruise was the pre-dinner hors d’oeuvres. Perhaps they have done away with this. We ate breakfast several mornings on our balcony while watching the sea go by. Very enjoyable! We enjoyed the tour of the bridge as well. This cruise was our first 10-day cruise. We chose this particular cruise itinerary for the variety in ports. We have taken other Caribbean cruises but have missed some of the ports that this cruise offered. In particular: Bonaire, Margarita Island, and St Kitts. Bonaire is a divers paradise . . that's all. No beaches to speak of, and what they have is full of coral fragments so it is difficult to not only walk on the sand but also swim in the water. Margarita Island was a destination I had wanted to visit for a land trip. I'm glad I didn't waste my money on that trip! The island is off Venezuela and is used for the rich and famous for vacations. But the island is really dirty. Trash littered everywhere. We were on a tour and didn't get to a beach, but from I saw of the island I would say I wouldn't visit Margarita again! Now we have St Kitts, St Lucia, St Thomas! All 3 islands are terrific. Well worth the short daily cruise visit and certainly worth a week's vacation any time! We shopped, went to the beaches and toured. All winners in my book! Our last stop was Nassau, Bahamas. It turned out to be an OK day. We've been to the Bahamas before and didn't find it to be great. However, this trip over exceeded my expectations. Our tour was good, a bit long as the driver took us through some residential areas on the way back to the ship, but we went to a nature reserve and I played with the flamingos. Also got my photo taken with some parrots. We also toured a fortress which I hadn't seen before. The tours offered by the ship were basically for high energy type people or for snorkelers. If you are looking for a day at the beach or a small tour of an island it is probably better to do it on your own. We ventured to a beach on our own on 2 islands (St Lucia and St Thomas). The taxi driver on St Lucia told us he would pick us up at the time we decided on. He was very prompt, in fact he was there early. However, on St Thomas, not only did the taxi not pick us up at the designated time, the taxi we did take back to the ship broke down. We only had 1 hour to get back to the ship so I wasn't happy about that. The taxi was eventually fixed by one of the passengers, not the driver, and we got to the ship in time. So a word of caution if you venture off yourselves, leave a little extra time for any unusual happenings! The shows aboard the ship were good. The 2 nights of their 'spectacular' shows were terrific. Excellent costumes and dancing. I have to say the other nights were just fair. The male singer was flat. The performer who played the oboe, saxophone and violin was very talented. The other nights they had a magician and a comedienne which we did not see. We did spend some time and money in the casino. Nothing serious as I haven't a clue how to gamble! But we did play the slots and found one that paid me back! So I was happy! I found that the on-board shops were ok. I bought several gifts as well as some t-shirts. If memory serves me the Ryndam may have had 1 more shop. But we were pleased with the ones onboard the Ms Zaandam. The photographers are great. The formal night photos came out fine and we bought several. I was disappointed however that they didn't seem to take a lot of candids as some other ships do. The pool was good. The newer ships all have the movable cover so if the weather is windy or rainy you are well protected. We didn't seem to need to 'save' a lounge chair as there were plenty most of the time. The passengers on this cruise were much older than us and not many of them were at the pool. One thing we miss aboard the Holland America Ships are the fancy drinks served at the pool. Most ships push you to buy one, which also is a fun thing. Holland America is more of a relaxed ship and doesn't want you to think they are trying to sell you anything. But I could have been sold on a few fancy drinks if they were offered! A word about the 'no-tipping' policy: This is nonsense. Not only should you tip, the crew is expecting a tip, like on all ships. When was the last time you went to dinner and didn't tip? The company should remove this 'no-tipping' from all their brochures as it is not only confusing to passengers but also an insult to the crew. The boarding of the ship took too long for me. The area was over air conditioned and we froze. The disembarking was ok, a tad early, but necessary for the crew and staff to get ready for the next cruise. We were obviously given the incorrect disembarking number, and we were questioned by the person at the gangplank. A letter was given to all suite passengers saying that once the ship had cleared immigration, we could disembark at our leisure, which we did. However, our number did not match the suite number we were in. She questioned this, but I gave her our suite number and we left. We opted for the travel voucher from the ship to the airport. This went smoothly. The lines at the airport were long due to the high security. That was ok with us. We don't have anything to hide so they can search us all they want. Most passengers also feel this same way. All in all, this was a very pleasant cruise. Some surprises and some predictables. I highly recommend a longer than a week's cruise vacation. It really makes a difference, and if your budget allows, choose a suite next time. Happy cruising!