Holland America Zaandam: Alaska Cruise

Alaska trip

To recap the earlier Alaska trip posts: We landed in Anchorage and traveled up to Denali National Park. Then, we took a bus down to Seward where we boarded our cruise ship.

I’d only been on one cruise previously, a Norwegian Pride of America cruise of Hawaii. This time, we traveled on Holland America on their ship the Zaandam.

Holland America Zaandam

Holland America Zaandam — Crew

Here it is — a beautiful boat, no doubt. It was a bit smaller than the one on our previous cruise; this one had about 1400 guests as opposed to around 2000 on the other one. And there were nearly 600 crew members as well. I have to say that the crew was marvelous. Most all of them (well, most of the housekeeping and food staff) were from Indonesia and the Philippines.

Holland America Zaandam Megan

Here’s Megan, for instance (yep, “Megan” is a man’s name there. He said it originated as a Sanskrit word and meant … well, I forget what it meant). He was the waiter at our table in the ship’s “fancy” restaurant where we ate most nights. He was so friendly, and on the nights when we didn’t eat there, he’d tell us later that he missed us. Each night, he would teach the kids a trick of some type after dinner. I have to say that I’ve never had such a personable waiter in a restaurant where I live — and most all of the employees in the restaurants on the ship were this way.

I talked to many of them, asking them how long they had worked on the ship and when they would get to go home. Jojo, the man at the salad bar who made breakfast waffles, had worked here a couple of months but had 10 more to go before he’d head home. I asked if he liked the work and he smiled and said,”Yes, I have to do it for my baby.” I asked and his daughter was just a few months old. I felt bad for him missing out on so much of her young life, but was also impressed with his work ethic.

The girls really liked the crew members, and wrote notes to many of them on our final night on the boat. Hopefully, these were encouraging to them.

Holland America Zaandam

This was a view familiar to me on the cruise. Because even surrounded by 2000 people, there are plenty of places onboard to find solitude. I loved heading to the library, or just a seat along a deck window, to read and look out at the ocean views. Peaceful and totally lovely. And, since there were only about 4 hours of darkness when we were there, there was plenty of light.

Jamm the Piano Man

Jamm the Piano Man

One treat I happened upon was Jamm the Piano Man. Each night after the featured show in the ship’s theater, this guy played piano and sang for an hour or more. And wow, was he good. He played with no music, and sang beautifully as well. One night he featured music of Andrew Lloyd Webber, another Rodgers and Hammerstein — you get the drift. I planned to read while I listened, but he was so engaging that I ended up giving him my full attention.

Holland American Zaandam auditorium Mondriaan Lounge

The big shows each evening were held in the ship’s auditorium, called the Mondriaan Lounge (the Dutch language must have a thing for double a’s). Here it is, a view from the balcony. I always wanted to sit there, but that never ended up happening. We saw a few musical shows with singers and dancers, a comedian, a magician — all were good.

Holland America Zaandam pool

Here’s one of the ship’s decks, near the top. It was a lot of fun to have beautiful views available while eating — or swimming.

And there you have a taste of life about the Zaandam. Have you taken a cruise? If so, which cruise line did you travel with, and would you use it again? I enjoyed both Norwegian and Holland America, and would go back to either. I think HA’s rooms were a little bigger and their crew was a little friendlier, but I’ll give Norwegian the edge on food quality and on offering classes and activities.




5 thoughts on “Holland America Zaandam: Alaska Cruise

  1. Obviously I have been on two cruises in my life, the same as you. For me, both were almost like a dream. As the days slowly ebb away, I was sad for our vacation time to end. I have planned, saved for, and prayed about our trip to Alaska for so long. Now at times, it is hard for me to remind myself it is over! But I have such good memories and they last forever! My roommate the entire trip was Emily. I could not have asked for a better one. She was pleasant and respectful.

  2. Your cruise sounds wonderful. I enjoyed reading about it and loved the pictures. What a great job you do when telling us about your trip. My hubby and I have taken two cruises in the last 7 years. Both were on Carnival and were great. The first was to Grand Cayman and Cancun. We made another stop but I can’t remember where. The second was for our 50th wedding anniversary, 4 years ago, and we cruised to Nassau, St. Martins (West Indies) and St. Thomas (Virgin Islands). Had such a fantastic time both times. I am always friendly with the food service people and our cabin stewards. They are always very helpful.

  3. Your cruise ship sounds better than most, although I have never been on a bad cruise. So far I have been on 5 cruises: 2 to Alaska nearly 20 years apart, 1 in Norway when I went to Scandinavia, 1 Hawaiian cruise, and a short cruise to the Bahamas. All were very good except the one to the Bahamas. That ship was very old and rickety. I was almost too scared to use the elevator due to all of the creaks, etc. The Pride of America cruise to 4 Hawaiian Islands was a large ship with lots of amenities. Free dining was delightful, because by the end of a week we had visited almost all of them. The Norwegian fjords were really outstanding and quite a bit like Alaska, as far as scenery goes with snow-capped mountains.
    I have been on two Norwegian line trips, and I highly recommend that tour company!
    On the first Alaska trip back in the 1980s, we were aboard The Sun Princess, one of the Love boats from that era. Most of your readers may not remember the Love Boat series on TV for maybe 2or 3 seasons, but we discovered that that cruise was quite similar to the one on TV. In many ways I prefer the smaller ships with 2,000 guests instead of 5,000. You will never forget your wonderful trip to Alaska! Good for your daughters doing the “thank you” notes. I feel sure that these notes were much appreciated.

  4. I’m impressed, too, that your daughters wrote thank-you notes to the crew. I’ll bet the crew members cherished the notes. I would LOVE to cruise to Alaska. As to whether or not it will ever happen, only God knows.

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