10 night Christmas cruise Zaandam ???'s (Long)



Our family of 11 has together or separately cruised most recently with Princess, Royal Caribbean & Celebrity. (1 child has never cruised previously)

Here are a list of everyone's :) questions... thus far...

Welcome any comments or suggestions on the ship, food, atmosphere....

Url's with photos and/or trip reports for the Zaandam?

There are 3 formal nights on this cruise? Other nights are??

Mini-suite with balcony on Princess vs. Verandah Suite Cat. A on HAL (balcony cabin)? Balcony size comparison?
Are there mini-fridges in these cabins for the children's snacks and drinks.

I read on the Net today that there are waiters walking around the pool area during the day offering complimentary ice teas? Would save DH the cost of one soda card, and he prefers tea anyway...

Should we bring our own videos to play on the VCR for the kids or will they have kid's movie offerings in the library to bring back to the cabin?

Children ages 15, 11, 10 & 8- HAL children's club? Types of activities?
Half Moon Cay- Treasure Hunt & Ice Cream Excursion? Beach Party (for the teen) worth the $$$

Tortola excursion suggestions for entire family including the elders? All are beach lovers. Assume the Baths would be too strenuous for the older folks?

Do they still offer free ice cream? Is there a charge for Espresso and cappuccino at the Java Bar? Heard portions are "small", not really worth the trip?

We are trying to make this cruise particularly memorable for our 8 year old foster (soon to be adopted) daughter. . .
She still believes in Santa Claus and has never traveled anywhere previously. If you ask her if she would like to go on a cruise she will tell you she would "love to try a houseboat" :) So tell me the tonnage on a houseboat is like a couple of ounces compared to a cruise ship?
Needless to say any and all suggestions for memories of a lifetime are greatly welcomed by these new parents!

Have heard the Christmas decorations are beautiful, but aren't they all?
Any info as to Christmas Activities? Carolers? Tree decorating? Gingerbread clinics?? Emailed HAL on this and received a canned email response that yes they have activities for Christmas. Duh!
Does Santa pay a visit in person? Christmas Eve or Christmas Day? Does he have a gift for each child as Royal Caribbean did?

Have heard food on HAL is better than Princess AND vice versa. Any opinion/comparisons are welcome. Will HAL offer a salad and a steak (similar to Princess offering every night "staples") to someone who does not like anything being offered on the menu that evening?

Is use of 2 way radios okay to keep track of the older child?

THIS should be enough to get everyone in our group-- You know who you are-- started.

Thank you in advance for any and all suggestions.



The ships all have beautiful decorations at Christmas. They usually go up about the second week of December and are in place until New Years Eve. Santa will definitely make a visit and he brings with him a bag of gifts for the children.

We have cruised Princess about 5 times and HAL about 45+. It is clear from that which we prefer. We have cruised Zuiderdam two sets of back-to-backs (I think it's two?) and two ten day cruises. We loved every minute aboard that great ship. Category A cabins are very comfortable and the veranda is plenty ample for two/three people to enjoy. It is precisely half the size of the "S" Suite veranda.

We do not have young children so cannot help you with Club HAL questions.

Hope you and your family has a great time on Zaandam.


We were on the Zaandam earlier this year.

The ice cream bar in the Lido was free - cones or cups with toppings to make your own sundae - and sherbet. Small portions? I guess that depends on what each person defines as "small". It's about 1 1/2 scoops of ice cream, which is more than enough for me, especially after I add hot fudge sauce, whipped cream, nuts, m&m's, etc. You can always tell the ice cream guy to add another scoop! Ice cream was on the dessert menu in the Rotterdam dining room every night and it is also free.

Cat. A mini-suites do have a little frig. It will be stocked with beer, soda, champagne, etc. You can easily remove these items to make room for the children's drinks and snacks.

The other nights, in addition to formal nights, will be a combination of casual and informal (used to be called semi-formal). If Captain Timmers is in command, he seems to like informal nights so you'll have more of them than you will if he is on vacation for the holidays.

Houseboat? :lol Your 8 year old is going to be amazed! Zaandam is 63,000 gross tons, holds 1,440 passengers and is 780 feet long.

2-way radios are ok.

Steak should be on the menu every night. If it isn't, just ask for it. One of my tablemates never looked at the menu for dinner - she just told our waiter to bring her a "nice steak" with baked potato and salad. She had the same thing for dinner every night!

Iced tea is available in the Lido all day and it's free. I don't sit around the pool so I don't know about stewards walking around offering it. But it would be very easy for your DH to walk the few feet from the pool to Lido and get himself a glass of tea whenever he wanted one.

Tortola excursions - we took the island tour that included a 1.5 hour stop to swim/sun at Cane Garden Bay. Not at all strenuous and the beach was gorgeous. Yes, getting down to The Baths and back up again is quite strenuous and might not be good for the older folks in your group.

My kids are in their 30's so I can't help with any of your questions about Club HAL and videos. Hopefully, someone else will come along and answer those questions.

Have a fabulous cruise and holiday - and best wishes through the adoption process.


Ooops....Sorry I meant to say Zaandam when commenting how many times we have cruised the ship you are interested in. (We just returned from Zuiderdam and that great ship is still on my mind.) The comments I made pertain in Zaandam.


Hi Lisa,

We are a family of 10 cruising on the Zaandam for Christmas. Our original group started at 5 but my brother and his family have decided to join us as well. We have traveling with us, 2 60ish parents, my husband and I are in our 40's my brother and his wife are 40 and 30. We'll have 2 boys 11 &10 and 2 girls 9 and 3 with us.

We cruised in February 04 on the Rotterdam and my then 10 year old son signed up for HAL kids club but really didn't find many activiites he liked. He did go a few times and met some other kids so they pretty much hung out together for the rest of the cruise. They did play tennis, basketball, volleyball. They did visit the arcade. The activities were different everyday. Many were arts and crafts type things. They did hand out a schedule of actiivites on the first night when we went to sign him up. He basically would go to the club if something fun was going on. He spent a lot of time in the pool. He liked the idea he could come and go from the club on his own.

They do serve ice tea around the pool each afternoon and on the Rotterdam they served Lemonade each morning around 11. There is always free ice tea available on the Lido deck.

Steak is available everynight in the dining room.

Not sure about your cabin questions as we will be in an outside cabin. I do know you can request that your cabin steward remove the items that they stock in fridge to amke room for the kids snacks.

I have been told that the ship is decorated beautifully. With Christmas Trees, and wreaths on all the cabin doors. Santa will be there giving out gifts on Christmas day I believe. I was told the crew sings Chrismas carols on Christams Eve.

Thats about all the information I can think of so far. Feel free to post any other questions and I will try and help answer them.



Just off the Zaandam this past weekend. Yes the ice cream is free. Usually 3 or 4 flavors to choose from. Several toppings. You can have waffle cones, sometimes sugar cones or bowls. Normal serving was two scoops but with anything else just ask and Richard the ice cream man will give you more. Also, make a point of saying hello and getting to know Richard the ice cream man. He will always remember you and make a point of pleasing you. It's the same with the soda cards. Get to know some of the bartenders and they will fill up your reuseable insulated containers with soda instead of just giving you the equivalent of one glass or partial can. Amazing how they like to think of you as their special customer and will make an effort to remember what you like.

Each night there was some sort of ice cream or sundae dish on the menu. Probably on the longer cruise you will have 2 informal nights that ask for men to wear a sport coat, or a tie. The other nights are casual and ask men to wear a button up shirt, rather than collarless shirts. They were real relaxed this cruise on the dress code on the formal and informal night.

Have fun.