Towel in

One of the Many Towel Sculptures Left by Our Attentive Cabin Boys

Arrival   Hong Kong   Halong Bay   Sanya, China   Nha Trang, Vietnam   Phu My, Vietnam  

Sihanoukville, Cambodia   Laem Chabang (Day 1)   Laem Chabang (Day 2)   Koh Samui, Thailand   Singapore  

Life Aboard the Zaandam

Think of how convenient it is for a turtle to carry his house on his back, so wherever he goes, he's home! Well, of course, carting our big houses with us wouldn't be practical, but sailing along in a five-star hotel is not only practical, but downright luxurious! What better way to visit several countries without packing and unpacking, without grabbing unreliable, uncomfortable transportation from town to town, and without risking food poisoning with questionable local eateries. But now in this stage of life, why not pamper ourselves?

So, chose cruising along in the luxury of your five-star hotel, sleeping in the same room every night, eating gourmet, well-prepared meals, choosing from a variety of entertainment and activities, selecting professionally guided shore excursions, and in between stops, just lazing around with a good book by the pool — now that's the way to go! All of this while being pampered by personal cabin boys and professional waiters.


Upon entering our staterooms, we found a welcoming bottle of Champagne on ice. Not cheap méthode champagnoise sparkling wine, but real French Champagne!

Champagne When We Boarded the Zaandam

Greeted by a Fine Bottle of French Champagne!

Our room had a king size bed, which was really two singles pushed together, which worked fine for partnered guys. The unpartnered guys who booked double-occupancy had their cabin boys separate the beds with no problem. Each room also had a sitting area and a nice flat screen TV. Although we found so much to do that we rarely watched TV except in the morning while getting dressed for breakfast or late at night before bedtime.

Dean's and My Stateroom

Verandah Stateroom

In the Rotterdam dining room, we happened to spot a floor manager who looked familiar. It turned out he was the floor manager on the Mature Friends' repositioning cruise two years earlier. When we told him about that trip, he remembered, and so from then on we got the royal treatment, which included a permanently reserved table for two for dinner. This setup was flexible enough so that we could cancel and when the group decided on other arrangements, such as the big birthday party in the Pinnacle Grill on January 26 and also for our last meal aboard ship when we all sat at a big round table in the dining room.

Party Time!

Once at sea, the leader of our group, Bob McQ, organized a cocktail party in the Crow's Nest bar on top of the ship. We sat for an hour in our own cordoned off area, where we could chat, enjoy complimentary appetizers, and drinks courtesy of Linda Lane of Cruiseworld, who organized this trip for us. We had a wonderful time as the hour flew by. Then it was time to get ready for dinner.

Along with the cocktail party, we each got a free pass for dinner in the exclusive Pinnacle Grill dining room. Bob suggested we all use those passes to celebrate Dean's and my birthdays on January 26 (Dean's was two days earlier).

Birthday Party in Pinnacle Grill

The Birthday Party, January 26, 2012

Going down the left side of the table and coming back up the right side we have: Dean, Jeff, John B., Joe, Bob, Ralph, John L., Ted, and Harry. And where was I? Well, somebody had to take the picture! In addition to the free pass for dinner, we each got two free passes for lunch in the Pinnacle Grill. Talk about being pampered!

Not satiated with parties by a long shot, later in the voyage, we had another party. This time, Dean and I threw the party in our stateroom.

Knowing one of the dining-room managers made it very easy for us to organize a cocktail party in our stateroom. This party took place after our tour of Sihanoukville, Cambodia. Like clockwork, the drinks and complimentary hors-d'oeuvres showed up on time, along with enough glasses, plates, napkins, and utensils. As you can see, we enjoyed a fine evening of partying out on the verandah as we sailed along on the azure South China Sea.

Party in Our Stateroom

Ted, John, Bob, and Curt (me)


Aboard ship, we had a choice of several options for eating our meals:

Dean and I took most of our dinners in the Rotterdam dining-room, where we had a table for two on permanent reservation, with the same waiters every night. Having the same staff worked out great, because they could anticipate what we liked the most. For example, the wine steward, John, always brought the same Washington State Cabernet to our table, once he figured out what wine we preferred. Our head waiter also knew we liked coffee after the meal with no cream or sugar.

Our Waiters

Our Waiters, John (Wine Steward), Nyoman (Head Waiter), Me, and Pasek (Assistant Waiter and Busboy)


What did we do after dinner? The ship offered lots of choices for after dinner entertainment:

To keep fit, the ship had a fantastic spa and gym and on one of the upper decks outside, you could play tennis, completely enclosed in netting, so no need to worry about smacking the ball overboard.

For those who preferred quiet reflection, they could go sit in a spacious library filled with books that could be checked out, or guests could bring their own reading material.

Anybody wanting to learn more about gourmet cooking could attend demonstrations and lessons in the Culinary Arts Center.

As you can see, there was no end of activities that guests could take advantage of. So, cruising along in a five star hotel had its advantages, advantages beyond just the luxury of not having to pack and unpack at every stop.

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Laem Chabang, Thailand (Day 1)