Since we just got back from the Zaandam on Saturday and our memories are still very fresh, I'll try to give you a few highlights.
Boarding went very smoothly, we were aboard within 40 minutes of arriving at Canada Place. The ship is beautiful, and your cabin is not all that far from the aft elevator bank. Although you'll be quite a ways aft, this is a very quiet ship, so engine noise shouldn't be a factor in any way. besides, you're right below the dining room, so it's handy!
The level of service is extremely high, typical of HAL. Our cabin steward was great, it seemed like he was hiding down the hall, watching our door so that every time we left the cabin, he rushed in to tidy up. As for cabins, although we were booked in H category (the 1800 series) we arrived to find we had been moved up to the lower promenade deck. Lots of room, great closet space (five of them) and light switches everywhere. That was probably the only issue we had;light switches. I'm an early riser, Marcy isn't, so when I'd try to turn on the bathroom light, invariably I'd wind up turning on nearly every light in the cabin and waking her in the process.
Then there's the food...man is there food! We stopped referring to it as "dining", reverting to our cattle country roots and calling it "grazing" instead. You can eat almost non-stop (and the 15 lbs I gained will attest to that!). Dining room and Lido staff are very pleasant and attentive, asking your name the first time they see you, then never forgetting it, what you prefer to drink, etc. No small feat when they're feeding 1400 guests!
The food was consistantly very high quality, and that was regardless of where or when you chose to eat. If you take breakfast in your cabin, be prepared to eat at precisely the time you specify on your order. Although the forms indicate a 1/2 hour span during which you can expect your order to be delivered, we never waited more than 3 minutes past the start time on the order before our food was there. one thing that is a "do not miss" is the Dessert extraviganza....I took one look at 200 feet of beautifully prepared desserts and went to the cabin for the video camera. It has to be seen to be believed!
We enjoyed the Zaandam enormously, and plan on returning to her in the winter to sail the Carribean. She's a beautiful ship, the crew is great and it's an experience you will treasure
Wayne & Marcy
Buddy (the yum-yum guy) is hilarious