Jump to content
Cruise Critic Community
Match Game 72

HAL Zaandam Montreal to Boston Aug 10, 2019 Review with Pictures

Recommended Posts

Welcome to my trip report/review of the Zaandam Montreal to Boston cruise. We left Montreal on Saturday, August 10, 2019 for this 7 night cruise. We disembarked in Boston on August 17, 2019.  

 

Please feel free to ask any questions, and I will try my best to answer them. I realize that not everyone's experience will be the same, and keep in mind this was our experience. Travelers were me and my husband (40's), our son (13), and my mother (70s). My husband and I have cruised about 14 or 15 times on mass market cruise lines such as NCL, RCCL, Princess, Carnival, MSC, and Premier (remember the little blue boat?).  We tend to cruise in a balcony cabin. For the Zaandam, we had 2 oceanview cabins on deck 2 near the bow. Cabins were adjacent but not connecting.

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Google maps predicted a five hour drive from the Portland, Maine area to Montreal. We rented a one-way car from the local airport to be returned at the Montreal airport. We picked up the rental on Friday evening and were on the road to Montreal at 6 am on Saturday. Normally I would not arrive the day of embarkation, but since it's an easy drive with little traffic, we chanced it.  I figured worse case scenario was that we could meet the ship in Quebec City the next day of we missed embarkation.

 

But no worries, we made it to the airport around 11:30, returned the rental car, and ordered an Uber. My Lyft app would not work in Montreal. If you are using Uber, keep in mind that our driver picked us up on the departure level (not arrival). Montreal roads were under heavy construction, and the traffic was thick on the Saturday.

 

We made it to the port around 12:30. There was a full queue for check-in (which was very easy).

Here's a picture of the port from onboard the ship.

 

 

DSCN5526.JPG

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We went straight to the cabins: 2512 and 2508. Both have 2 portholes. I was a little unsure of how much light we would get, but it was really just fine.

 

Here's 2508.

 

DSCN5516.JPG

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Cabin 2508 does not have a sofa - just a sitting chair. Also, the desk is shorter than 2512. Curtains were limp and in need of replacement. The walls were chipped in several areas.  In general, I was not pleased with the condition of the cabins.

 

On the other hand, the cabin had plenty of storage space in the closets which was convenient.

 

 

DSCN5517.JPG

DSCN5518.JPG

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Cabin 2512 was a bit longer because of the curve of the bow. It had a small sofa.

 

Other differences between the cabins seemed like service issues. There were minor things. For example, 2512 had a notice for a free shoe shine. 2508 did not. 2512 had a notepad and pen. 2508 did not. This was strange since we had the same cabin steward who knew we were traveling together.

 

 

DSCN5520.JPG

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We dropped off our bags and headed to the buffet. It was around 1:30, and we had missed the MDR lunch. 

 

Throughout the cruise, we were very pleased with the quality of the food. The buffet always had something to please us. My husband really liked the Asian section at lunchtime. My son visited the ice cream section at least once a day. They offer both hard and soft serve ice cream at no additional charge - he was enamored.

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We discovered the fun, day-specific rugs in the elevators. I wondered were the rugs were stored. Later in the cruise, I saw a storage closet with all the folded rugs. Such a task to swap them out every day!

 

 

DSCN5521.JPG

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We started touring the ship. We started at the top deck and worked our way down. In general, the ship's public areas were up to date and seemed to have been refreshed more recently than our limp cabin. The size of the Zaandam was wonderful for getting around. Compared to the mega ships, Zaandam was easy to navigate and compact.

 

 A view looking up from the Sports deck and the small basketball court. Basketball is allowed after 2 pm since it is directly above the Lido buffet. This was a disappointment for us. There is also a shuffleboard game and pickle ball.

DSCN5532.JPG

DSCN5533.JPG

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

HAL's kids clubs are also on the Sports deck. The spaces looked very nice. Here are some pictures taken through the glass doors.  No one was at the clubs when we we touring.

 

When booking this cruise, we understood it was geared for an older traveler - not families. However, the kids club was disappointing because the teen club, the Loft, was only open each day from 9 - 11 pm (once the Club HAL kids were picked up). We were told this was because they were short staffed. 

 

While we had been prepared for fewer teens onboard, my son was very disappointed with the limited hours. Compared to other cruise evenings, he was bored from dinner to 9 pm.

 

 

DSCN5522.JPG

DSCN5523.JPG

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
5 minutes ago, puppycanducruise said:

You're off to a great start.

Looking forward to more!

Thanks for doing this.

Thanks for following along!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Also on the top deck is the Crow's Nest. We all enjoyed the trivia held here. My husband and I could be found many evenings at happy hour (9 - 11 pm) when the second, duplicate drink was $2. We did not have a drink package. I had preordered the drink cards, and they worked out very well.  I took advice from the CC boards about keeping the most recent receipt to track our spending. We had a few dollars left on the cards at the end of the cruise, and HAL promptly refunded our credit card.

 

 

DSCN5548.JPG

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Here are some additional photos from walking along the top deck. I really liked having the outdoor space on this deck, and I liked the promenade on deck 3. Having the ability to walk completely around a deck without turning around is lovely. It's missing from many newer ship designs.

 

In these pictures you can see the retractable roof from the Lido pool. The crew used the rook to our advantage on cooler days. It made the pool a really nice area to sit regardless of the weather.

DSCN5537.JPG

DSCN5541.JPG

DSCN5543.JPG

DSCN5544.JPG

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Here are some views of the Lido pool and Dive In, the burger place.

 

We often ate lunch at the tables surrounding the pool. It was a sure thing that we could find a spot to eat. Also, our family liked both the buffet and choices from Dive In. So it made a good place to wait with the pager while our burgers and fires were made.

 

The Dive In had good burgers, fries, hot dogs and even a chicken sandwich. The small buffet nearby was always tacos and fajitas. It did not seem to vary.

 

Here's where I will mention our disappointment in the buffet hours. The Dive In closed at 5 or 5:30. The buffet closed after dinner at maybe 8:30 and did not open until 10:30. So from 8:30 - 10:30 your only option for fast food was room service. Sometimes we were ready for a snack at 10, but the buffet was closed. It seemed strange that they did not keep a small area open for the entire evening.

DSCN5550.JPG

DSCN5551.JPG

DSCN5552.JPG

DSCN5553.JPG

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Evening entertainment on the Zaandam was composed of the shows on the Main Stage, a piano player in Mix, Adagio (a violinist and pianist), and a jazz quartet. 

 

The Main Stage shows were very good. I think we saw two production shows and three comedy shows. All were family friendly and very well done. The two comedians were very funny!

 

Adagio was amazingly talented. Never have I seen classical artists take suggestions from the audience. But they did it with style!

 

And the jazz quartet (maybe named The Quartet?) was excellent as well. They played a mix of standards, French tunes and even a tiny bit of rock.

DSCN5561.JPG

DSCN5568.JPG

DSCN5569.JPG

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We had open seating for dining. This meant that we were seated on the lower level of the MDR.

 

The MDR was nicely decorated. We were lucky enough on the first night to get a terrific wait staff at the table near the window. We requested a reservation for them, and sat there 6 out of 7 nights. (One night we went to the buffet).

 

I had read a mixed bag of reviews about the quality of food in the MDR. I am happy to say that we were very pleased with the food selections. In fact, I think there was just one dessert that we did not like. My son had ordered a chocolate cake, and it tasted boozy. No problem, though, the waiter brought him an ice cream sundae instead. 🙂

 

We did not eat at either of the upcharge restaurants. We considered it, but the MDR was really very good. 

20190810_173643.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Each evening, we had turndown service with a towel animal for each cabin. The next day's schedule was provided in a gray, hardback folder. This was just something to have to store on our tiny desk. And two chocolates were provided. Sometimes it was dark chocolate and sometimes it was milk chocolate.

 

We also used the Navigator app to help plan our days. Be aware that the app events and the paper events sometimes were different. For example, we had planned to meet my mother for a movie one afternoon based on the app information. When she got to the theatre, she was asked to leave for a private event. We checked the paper events, and the movie was not listed.

 

On the other hand, the app could be useful for checking that evening's MDR menu. It also has a chat function which is good if you are both looking at the app.  But the app did not notify us when there was a chat message. So we just learned to check it periodically.

DSCN5574.JPG

DSCN5575.JPG

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)
28 minutes ago, Krazy Kruizers said:

I am enjoying your review.

 

Looking forward to follow your adventures.

 

Great pictures.

Thanks so much.

 

I need to sign off in a bit, but I will be back to post about 5 ports and what we did there.

Edited by Match Game 72

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We indulged in room service for breakfast on a few days.

It was a luxury since hot food like eggs, bacon and sausage was available at no extra charge.

Delivery was prompt and polite. In fact, each and every interaction throughout the entire cruise that we had with the crew was delightful. They really made us feel welcome and valued.

 

 

DSCN5604.JPG

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Enjoying your detailed review & photos.  I love the days of the week in the elevator, the towel animals at night, the room service.  

 

The staff are all so polite and friendly greeting you all the time.  It keeps us coming back as it just feels like home stepping into a HAL ship.  

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
5 hours ago, Match Game 72 said:

Welcome to my trip report/review of the Zaandam Montreal to Boston cruise. We left Montreal on Saturday, August 10, 2019 for this 7 night cruise. We disembarked in Boston on August 17, 2019.  

 

Please feel free to ask any questions, and I will try my best to answer them. I realize that not everyone's experience will be the same, and keep in mind this was our experience. Travelers were me and my husband (40's), our son (13), and my mother (70s). My husband and I have cruised about 14 or 15 times on mass market cruise lines such as NCL, RCCL, Princess, Carnival, MSC, and Premier (remember the little blue boat?).  We tend to cruise in a balcony cabin. For the Zaandam, we had 2 oceanview cabins on deck 2 near the bow. Cabins were adjacent but not connecting.

 

 

Quick question MG 72....We are taking this cruise in a few weeks on the Veendam...was there an Orange Party on your trip?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
6 hours ago, canadianbear said:

Enjoying your detailed review & photos.  I love the days of the week in the elevator, the towel animals at night, the room service.  

 

The staff are all so polite and friendly greeting you all the time.  It keeps us coming back as it just feels like home stepping into a HAL ship.  

 

 

I have to agree with you about the staff.  Comparing all of our cruises, this crew was the best and most consistent. Jude, the cruise director, was spot-on with her attitude and demeanor. Also, she is the only one in any of our cruise directors who was perfectly clear on the intercom. I could understand everything she said. She provided very clear instruction about what to expect getting off the ship at various ports.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, kucherov said:

Quick question MG 72....We are taking this cruise in a few weeks on the Veendam...was there an Orange Party on your trip?

Yes, the Orange party was held in the Crow's Nest one night.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

  • Forum Jump
    • Categories
      • Q&A with the Coral Expeditions Team
      • Forum Assistance
      • New Cruisers
      • Cruise Lines “A – O”
      • Cruise Lines “P – Z”
      • River Cruising
      • ROLL CALLS
      • Digital Photography & Cruise Technology
      • Member Cruise Reviews
      • Special Interest Cruising
      • Cruise Discussion Topics
      • UK Cruising
      • Australia & New Zealand Cruisers
      • North American Homeports
      • Ports of Call
      • Cruise Conversations
×
×
  • Create New...