Zaandam A to Z on the Mexican Riviera

This guest post is the 2nd of a three part series from Howard Hian, aboard the ms Zaandam of the Holland America Line

You can read Part One Here:

photos courtesy of Howard Hian

A:  Acapulco – We saw the wonderful and surprising Diego Riviera murals as well as the daring La Quebrada Cliff Divers.

B:  Bars – Eight distinctly different watering holes aboard ship with daily cocktail specials.

C:  Cabo San Lucas – We walked around the marina and into town where we purchased a chiseled stone domino set and, best of all, the store sold $1 beers.

D:  Digital Workshops – Free help for your camera and computer/photo needs.

photos courtesy of Howard Hian

E:  Entertainment – Everything from classical and pop, singers, comedians, magicians, musical shows, movies, lectures and cooking demonstrations.

F:  Fine Dining – The steaks at the Pinnacle Grill are not to be missed; slight charge for lunch or dinner, but well worth it.  Attentive service in classy surroundings.

G:  Greenhouse Spa & Salon – Tranquil environment featuring a full spa menu; look for their in-port specials for discounts. Very helpful staff.

H:  Huatulco – Great beach right off the dock for an afternoon of swimming and relaxing.

I:  Internet – Fee for service, but terrific support if you need help; located in the well stocked library.

J:  Jackpot Bingo – A progressive payoff added to the excitement (last day it was up to $100,000).  The casino features craps, blackjack, Hold ‘em and roulette; lots of action.

K:  Kitchen – Feeds 1400 guest and 600 crew members 24/7.

L:  Le Cirque – The Zaandam’s Pinnacle Grill pays homage to Manhattan’s legendary restaurant for one evening.  The menu is well worth the surcharge; wine pairings enhance the experience.

photos courtesy of Howard Hian

M:  Manzanillo – The largest commercial port in Mexico, sometimes referred to as the #1 China Gate.

N:  News – Daily headline stories delivered to your cabin via the New York Times Digest.

O:  Open Seating – Take your choice of when and where you want to eat in the Rotterdam Dining Room and Lido Restaurant.

P:  Puerto Vallarta – A catamaran ride led to “A Duck Landed on My Lap.”  Look for it at my website.

Q:  Quiet – With all that’s going on, there are lots of nooks and crannies for alone time, reading, and people watching.

R:  Restaurants – So many choices, so few days!  The Rotterdam Dining Room features an open atrium and is the main spot for breakfast, lunch and dinner served to you. The Lido is where we ate most of our meals; buffet style for all meals.  We loved the ice cream bar with its daily rotation of flavors.  Canaletto’s offers an Italian menu and, of course, there is always the in-cabin dining option.  The Bistro Café serves pastries, coffee and tea.

S:  Shopping – Whether onboard or in port, lots of opportunities. Crazy sales on the ship; love my $20 watch, pen, cuff-link and card holder set.

T:  Terrace Grill – Poolside buffet featuring burgers, hotdogs and pizza, plus a themed ethnic lunch each day.

U:  United Nations – Crew members and staff come from 28 different countries

V:  Vacation Value – Cruise deals abound at Holland America; check online.  Compare prices to a “land-locked” vacation and you might be surprised how affordable cruising can be.

photos courtesy of Howard Hian

W:  Wajang Theater – Daily movies plus other special programs including cooking demonstrations, religious services, etc.

X:  iXtapa – OK, I cheated,  but the I is almost silent.  This port is twinned with Zihuatanejo where you should take timeout from shopping and stroll the malecon/boardwalk for great views and to see the local mermaid.

Y:  Year-round – The schedule for all seasons, all destinations and all ships in the Holland America fleet can be found at

Z: Zaandam – From A to Z, it was a great trip!

Safe travels and enjoy the journey…

Howard Hian was recently awarded a Gold Medal/First Place Award from the North American Travel Journalists Association’s annual international writing contest.  His prize winning story, Houseboating with My Pirate Pals, was in the Intergenerational Travel category.  In 2010 he also received a second place award in the Cancun International writers competition for his feature, Quintessential Quintana Roo.