10 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2018
I have been on PO, carnival, and celebrity. I wanted to try holland America. So the pros: 1. Ship ok, but very poorly designed. 2 Laundry cheap, photos cheap 3. Food was good 4 service ok, but Not great. 5 getting on and ... Read More
I have been on PO, carnival, and celebrity. I wanted to try holland America. So the pros: 1. Ship ok, but very poorly designed. 2 Laundry cheap, photos cheap 3. Food was good 4 service ok, but Not great. 5 getting on and off ship easy 6 ship on time Cons Wow, where do i start: 1 smoking in casino and it spreads. Smoking outside in some public areas allowed. I found the smoking quite annoying. 2 entertainment at night rarely above b grade. 3 my biggest gripe no activities, except paid ones. Not even dance glasses. Outside the daily quiz night, there was little. The ship had no spirit, one couple mentioned to me the only excitement was going to their room to see the towel animal created. The ship needs to be fully audited, it just was a platform with no energy, nothing, staff were in large part not engaged. Sad really. So let me put it this way, celebrity is 200% better. If you want plain, with nothing to do on ship days, then this ship is for you. I was underwhelmed. Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2018
We spent 22 nights from the 16th September on Koningsdam and this was even better than the first time we cruised on her back in September 2016. The food was amazing whether it was in Lido or the main dining room. Tamarind where there is a ... Read More
We spent 22 nights from the 16th September on Koningsdam and this was even better than the first time we cruised on her back in September 2016. The food was amazing whether it was in Lido or the main dining room. Tamarind where there is a surcharge to eat once again exceeded our expectations. Crew was as usual on HAL ships incredible and the Captain very informative and funny. We love this ship, we've cruised on several cruiselines and this is our favourite. We also spoke to a number of people who have cruised a lot more times than us who were on Koningsdam for the first time and they also said that it was the best ship they had been on. If your looking at taking a cruise in Europe we believe that you cant go past HAL for a wonderful itinerary, brilliant ships which are great value for money. We look forward to hopefully boarding Koningsdam again in the not to distant future. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2018
We chose the cruise because the dates suited our vacation and because of the destinations. We boarded in Amsterdam and did the 12 days to Rome. The ship was very nice and the crew were great. I thought the main stage entertainment ... Read More
We chose the cruise because the dates suited our vacation and because of the destinations. We boarded in Amsterdam and did the 12 days to Rome. The ship was very nice and the crew were great. I thought the main stage entertainment was a bit boring and wasn’t for us. I actually fell asleep in one of the shows, that’s how much I thought of it. The comedian Jo Little was good but her humour was lost to a lot of the Americans. One night there was an opera singer on? We didn’t go as not for us, also a saxophonist one night. I like a saxophone when it’s part of a song or a solo but not the full show. They had the blues band and they weren’t bad but one night the 2 singers didn’t come out for the last set as BOTH of them had sore throats. So the band played their instruments and tried to do a so called funny ed and he said mime act. It wasn’t funny and they did that again on another night and it still wasn’t funny. The highlight of the entertainment for us was the piano bar 2 very talented girls. I think their names were Ivy & Paulini. Thank god for them as we would have went insane of a night. They entertained us every night except for their night off. Thank you The only bar that was open after midnight was the casino. We didn’t want to go there as we don’t gamble and we don’t smoke. Speaking of smoking in the casino we walked through there on the non smoking night to find people smoking and no one stopping them. Why wasn’t there any other bars open? It was like we were school kids being sent to bed. Totally unacceptable as far as we were concerned. We did enjoy the crows nest bar of an afternoon when we were set to sail. Food was good but on our last day it was an at sea day. At lunch in the buffet it closed at 2:30pm. I asked to speak with someone about this and an officer came and I asked him why it closed and he said because it’s time too. I pointed out to him that most people on the ship us included had a later breakfast and was hoping to have a later lunch. I also asked him what lunch finished the day before and he replied 4:00pm. So why are the times inconsistent? He really couldn’t answer just saying that they were the times. We had been through there earlier and I knew what I was going to have but wasn’t hungry thinking we could eat later. There are 2 sides of the buffet nearly a mirror image each side. I asked why they couldn’t have kept one side open at least? The officer was very good to try and accomodate us by saying he would get us what we were looking for. I wanted the buffet open I knew what my protein was but wanted other things as well. He also reminded us that there was the burger and pizza bars open and we could go there. That’s what we were going to do. I give him credit he pursued us and offered to make a reservation for us in the Italian restaurant free of charge. I thanked him but declined as I was upset with what had happened and wasn’t thinking about dinner I wanted lunch. In the end I said thank you please make the reservation but no sure if we will go. We ended up taking the offer up. The cabin was great and our room stewards were fabulous. The biggest disappointment though was when we went to the port of Heulva (I think that’s what it was called). It was Sunday and we didn’t really feel like going to Saville 90 minutes each way by bus. So we thought we will stay in the port town relax wonder around see what they have. There was a free shuttle bus from the port into the city. It was on the bus that we and most of the other passengers found out that the only places in town that would be open was food and drink places. The guide on the bus told us and she was 100% correct. That’s all that was open, I couldn’t even get a souvenir not even a fridge magnet. The bus dropped us off at the “tourist information centre” where there was 1 person working and a line up of about 50 people and they ran out of maps. Why would Holland America do this? What sort of itinerary is this? Honestly absolutely ridiculous. We weren’t the only ones unhappy with this. I did the survey that they sent us and they asked could they get in touch with us to discuss our rating. I said yes but we still haven’t heard so that’s why I have put my review here Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2018
The crew were exceptional. Especially in the Lido restaurant. They were attentive and willing to assist you with everything; whether it was to find a table, get condiments, more coffee etc. We have not had this kind of service in a ... Read More
The crew were exceptional. Especially in the Lido restaurant. They were attentive and willing to assist you with everything; whether it was to find a table, get condiments, more coffee etc. We have not had this kind of service in a very long time. It used to be the norm on most cruise ships but were surprised that this wasn't the case any more. But, on the Koningsdam, you truly felt special. They even remembered your names. The food was good from the pizza, deli sandwiches, hamburger and food in the main dining room. We always get room service in the mornings for some hot coffee and danishes. The coffee was always hot and danishes very flaky. We've had luke warm coffee with most other ship's room service. If you enjoy staying in your room to watch some TV or movies, there were so many choices from the news, movies, sitcoms etc. We've never seen so many choices. The guest services stafff were always helpful and friendly; unlike some other ships we have been on. Everything else was up to standard. Will definitely try to find more cruises on the Koningsdam that we can take. Read Less
12 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2018
My purpose in writing this review of my cruise on the Koningsdam is to give future guests some insight on the 14-Day Viking Sagas & Norse Legends cruise and to provide helpful tips that could save you time or money on your future ... Read More
My purpose in writing this review of my cruise on the Koningsdam is to give future guests some insight on the 14-Day Viking Sagas & Norse Legends cruise and to provide helpful tips that could save you time or money on your future cruise. My wife and I have been on other Holland America Line (HAL) cruises in the past. We stopped sailing for HAL for several years. However, the itinerary and this new ship piqued our interest, so we decided to do this cruise, which was really two back-to-back 7-days cruises leaving out of Amsterdam. The Koningsdam is a Pinnacle class ship, and the largest ship in HAL’s fleet (as of Sep. 2018), and the largest ship we have sailed on for HAL. The ship can hold about 2650 passengers. Other than the breakfasts being crowded on the Lido deck, we didn’t see any problems with the larger ship. There were several advantages. There are now more nightly entertainment options. In addition to the traditional piano bar and World Stage, there are Lincoln Center Stage (classical musicians), B.B. King’s Blues Club, and Billboard Onboard (dueling pianos). There are 2 levels of seating for the World Stage shows. There was 1 preview show and 2 shows by the Koningsdam’s Dancers for each 7-day segment. For my cruise, the same shows were repeated each of the two weeks. The dancers put their hearts and minds into their performances; they were enthusiastic, but there was no “wow” factor. I think some of the shows I saw on past HAL cruises were better, more impressive, more Broadway-like. I was not impressed with the quality of the other entertainers (singers, comedians, etc.) who performed on the World Stage. They were “B” or “C” level performers. Some of the singing was not enjoyable. My favorite show was “Planet Earth II in Concert”. The Lincoln Center Stage performers played live classical music to accompany scenes from the BBC Earth television show that were projected on several large screens at the World Stage. I enjoyed the Lincoln Center Stage shows; the classical musicians were talented. I especially liked the B.B. King’s Blues Club; the musicians and singers were soulful and quite good. My wife and I spent the most time at the Blues Club. The Billboard Onboard was a disappointment; the voices were so-so. Another advantage of the larger ship is that there are more specialty restaurants and casual dining opportunities. There is the usual Pinnacle Grill (with a surcharge of $35 per person) and Canaletto (with a surcharge of $15 per person). There are also the Tamarind & Sushi Bar (with a surcharge of $25 per person), the Sel de Mer (a la carte pricing), and the Culinary Arts Center (don’t remember their pricing). We enjoyed the Indonesian food at the Tamarind so much the first week, that we dined there again the second week. For casual dining, there is the Dive-In (have to pay for hot dogs, burgers and most food), the Grand Dutch Café (charge for food and drink), and the New York Deli & Pizza (no cost). We liked the salads and pizza at the New York Deli & Pizza which overlooks the swimming pool area on the Lido Deck. There was a lot of variety of tasty food for all meals at the Lido Market on the Lido Deck. I was disappointed that the soft serve ice cream place closed down about 9 pm each night. On HAL cruises in the past, I used to go for ice cream after the last show of the evening. But no more. Sigh! Also, be aware that the Lido Market closes for breakfast at 10:30 am; you could always do room service if you got up late. Be aware that there are now 2 formal nights on each 7-day cruise segment. They are called Gala Nights. Years ago I only remember 1 formal night for such a cruise segment. Nevertheless, the trend seems to be that guests are more casual–perhaps due to weight limitations on checked baggage when flying into Amsterdam; fewer clothes are better. I saw very few passengers with tuxedos and evening dresses. I saw more sport jackets (without ties) and a few suits. Some men just wore a nice dress shirt and pants. Another change from past HAL Cruises is that the Chocolate Extravaganza has been scaled back. I enjoyed seeing all the different creations on past cruises. But I can understand that a lot of the chocolate creations were probably thrown away. Now each week on a pre-announced night, there is the Chocolate Surprise. Servers would come through the lounge areas with different items to sample, served like hors d’oeuvres. They were tasty, and you could have seconds (and thirds and more). I liked the mix of passengers during the August-September cruise. It was different from my past experience with HAL cruises. For both weeks, there was a mix of nationalities (Dutch, British, Australians, Americans, Canadians, Chinese, Spanish, New Zealanders) and age ranges. The first week, most of the passengers were Dutch, and there was a mix of ages, from babies, to young kids and teenagers, to adults and senior citizens. I figure the average age was about 40-50. The second week, most were North American and the average age was maybe 45-55. Both weeks there were 150+ people with Edward Jones (employees or retirees with spouses or friends). The Edward Jones people had several private receptions. They occasionally ate as a group in the Main Dining Room. Unfortunately when that happened they tended to eat about 7:30 pm, and the dining room had to hold open lots of tables starting about 5:30 pm so that they would be available when the group arrived. (Hint to Edwards Jones: eat earlier and be considerate of the other guests who want to dine at an open table from 5:30-7:30 pm). My wife and I had a Category A Vista Suite (stateroom #6122). There were some narrow spaces, but there was enough room to move around. The bed was comfortable. We had a queen bed, sofa/sitting area, and an outdoor balcony with 2 chairs and a table. The bathroom was smaller than I expected with only 1 sink. The shower was “cozy” (compact, but oblong in shape). There was plenty of storage in the room. There were 2 drawers under the bed (and room for suitcases under the bed). There were 2 hooks in the room and 2 on the bathroom door. [Tip: bring some additional magnetic hooks to put on the walls of the room to give you more hooks.] The two nightstands had 2 drawers and a shelf. The sitting area had a small table and cabinet with 2 drawers. The desk has 3 drawers. The corner hutch has 3 available shelves. The closet has 2 sides; 1 side has 2 shelves, a tie rack, and hanging space; the other side has 4 shelves, a mirror, and hanging space. Another area has a shelf, a shelf with the safe, a refrigerator behind a swinging door, and 3 drawers. There are 3 small shelves in the bathroom to the upper left of the vanity counter; There is no actual storage space under the vanity. Be aware that the refrigerator vents heat into the shelf compartment above it which has the safe. I would advise not storing anything heat sensitive in that area. Some evenings, I would leave the swinging door to the refrigerator compartment open to add some heat to the room (the refrigerator remained closed, of course). The flat screen TV in the room provided access to a variety of entertainment. There was a My Journey selection with ship information, ship location, and weather. I accessed the ship location information frequently to see where the ship was located relative to the ports we were visiting. The TV had an On Board selection with information on America’s Test Kitchen, Blend, and Digital Workshop. There was a Dining selection, a Movies selection, and TV & Music selection. This last selection provided access to quite a few entertaining and educational British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) wildlife documentaries. There was a large movie screen mid-ship on the Lido deck by the family swimming pool. On a Princess Cruise a couple of years ago, my wife and I enjoyed a similar screen. Princess would show movies at night and then wildlife shows during the day; we really liked that. On this HAL cruise, there were evening movies on the screen (with popcorn and blankets). Very occasionally, there were “making of wildlife show” videos during the day. I think HAL is not taking full advantage of its partnership with BBC Earth. You could watch a lot of BBC Earth shows on the TV in your room. HAL could have also shown those videos on the large screen during the day to entertain passengers. Like other cruise lines, HAL has a very useful app for passengers to find out what is going on during the cruise. The HAL app is called Navigator. You basically connect via Wi-Fi to the ship network, set up an account, and you can access all of the features. It apparently does not work on some Android phones. It did work with iPhones and on my Mac laptop. I used it to check on my ship charges, to bring up a list of daily activities, to get some limited info on EXC tours, and to add items to a daily personal itinerary. I also used it to access the New York Times online for daily news. (There was still a daily mini-newspaper that was printed and available to passengers in the morning.) There are a few things that HAL can do to improve the app: show the ship location (as do other cruise lines’ apps), show the Lido dining times, and show event times as active until the event (e.g., piano bar session) is over. I only purchased a few minutes of Internet service during the cruise, but only on the last night at sea, so my wife and I could check in for our return flight home. I find the prices high ($0.75 per minute, or package plans like 100 minutes for $55). And Internet service by ship sometimes does not work well. I relied on finding free Wi-Fi using a Virtual Private Network (VPN) in the ports of call so that I could download email. Some ports had good Wi-Fi; others did not. Free Wi-Fi was available in the building outside the ship on the dock in Oslo; it is better to go earlier; the later in the day, the more limited the connectivity because of the number of people using Wi-Fi; some people were doing video chatting which uses a lot of bandwidth. You just had to keep trying to get connected if you tried later in the day. There was good Wi-Fi at the passenger terminal building in Stavanger. In Flåm, I found Wi-Fi at 2 of the stops on the tour I was on, one at the Voss Park hotel and one at the Gudvangen Information Center (look for the posted password for the private network). The Wi-Fi was poor at the Haugesund passenger terminal building; I took a free shuttle into town and found free Wi-Fi by the waterfront at a hotel (or you could go to a restaurant and buy something). In Eidfjord, there was no Internet service for the ship while docked, probably due to the height of the canyon walls in the fjord. There was unusable Wi-Fi at the Tourist Information Center; you could get 2-3 bars of coverage, but you couldn’t access Internet content. In Ålesund, the Wi-Fi was poor. I went into town to the Kremmergarden Café, but the WI-FI was not working properly. In the basement of the Kremmergarden mall, there was free Wi-Fi by the Kundemart, but no VPN connection was allowed. The Wi-Fi was poor in Geiranger by the dock area when there were lots of people (there were at least 2 ships in port); it was marginally better at the Café Ole, but not great. In Bergen there was great (fast) Wi-Fi at an outdoor café by the wharf and at the Tourist Information Center by the harbor. Another advantage to being on a larger ship is that the Koningsdam has excellent stabilizers. Even when the ship was in big waves, you didn’t feel a lot of jostling from side to side. There was one night when we had to jam a towel in the shower door, because the wave action and speed of the ship was making the shower door open and close, open and close. The towel prevented the door from closing and making a “slamming” noise. If you are a traveler who likes to use the spa, consider signing up for 3 treatments and getting the 10-20-30 package. You get 10% off one treatment, 20% off another, and 30% off a third (the most expensive treatment you select). My wife and I splurged and got a discount for 14 days of access to the Greenhouse Spa Thermal Suite and Hydropool for a total of $370. It was a relaxing experience. I forget the price for 7 days, but the longer period of time we selected was cheaper on a per day basis. We would go into the large steam room in the thermal suite area, come out and lie on the heated reclining ceramic-like chairs, then go into the hydropool (with mineral-infused water) and make sure the jets were on, and come back to lie on the chairs again. Then I would go outside of the thermal suite area to use the public men’s sauna (nice and toasty). My only disappointment was finding the hydropool closed one morning for cleaning. Hint to HAL: the Spa should provide some advance notice of the cleaning schedule so that passengers can plan their time better. There was a well-outfitted gym on the ship. There were free classes like morning stretch and Abs Class. Yoga, Cycling, and TRX Suspension classes were available for a nominal fee. There were no Tai Chi classes. I was a little disappointed that my wife and I could not use the gym on the day we returned to Amsterdam and were waiting for passengers to arrive for the second 7-day cruise segment. I really liked that HAL is now offering more active shore excursions, as part of their renamed EXC [Exploration Central] Tours. My wife and I did a 2.5-mile hike (tour) and a kayaking tour (in picturesque Geirangerfjord). If you want to visit Geirangerfjord, do so before 2025. I learned that after 2025, large cruise ships like the Koningsdam will no longer be allowed in Geirangerfjord. I think this has to do with preserving the UNESCO World Heritage Site status of the fjord. Whether the ship will dock at a larger and farther out fjord and shuttle passengers into Geirangerfjord is unknown at this time. One thing to be aware of is what appears to be a new policy for shore excursions, aka EXC Tours. In the past, passengers were told that the ship would not leave you if you were on a HAL shore excursion. Now the HAL website states about EXC Tours, “Worry-free return to the ship. In the very rare event that your tour is late and the ship must leave, we will arrange at our expense to get you to the next port of call.” I think HAL is still getting its processes in place for active tours. I know that 3 passengers were left behind on one of the hiking tours without ship personnel being aware of the situation, but the passengers managed to get back to the ship in plenty of time. As a backup precaution, passengers should always carry the phone number for reaching the ship if this ever happens, and perhaps even carry local currency for getting a bus or taxi ride back to the ship. My wife and I did 2 other tours with HAL; at other ports we went out on our own. Twenty years before, I had hiked Preikestolen (Pulpit Rock) near Stavanger in the fog and rain. I had hoped to repeat the hike on this cruise. However, the stopover in Stavanger was not long enough. So, I did a cruise of Lysefjord so that I could see Pulpit Rock from below. Unfortunately it was raining most of the time, and it was hot inside the main cabin with all the passengers on the tour. The air conditioning was not working on the boat; the ship personnel complained if we opened the doors to allow some fresh air into the main cabin. HAL should have a discussion with the tour operator about passenger comfort. The other tour was the “Best of Flam”. I had hoped to re-do most of the “Norway in a Nutshell” tour that I had done about 20 years ago on my own. But I didn’t read the tour description carefully enough. I got to ride the Flåm Railway train from Flåm to Myrdal Station to Voss (birthplace of Knute Rockne, a famous football coach at the University of Notre Dame, but unknown to the local guides in Voss), with a stopover at the well-known Kjosfoss Waterfall. I rode a bus from Voss to Gudvangen with a stop at the Tvinde Waterfall. Then the bus took us back to the ship after driving through 2 long tunnels (about 7-miles and 3-miles long). What I missed was doing the scenic cruise on the Nærøyfjord. That was a separate shore excursion that overlapped with the Best of Flam tour. But I did get to cruise on lots of others beautiful fjords during my cruise, so it wasn’t a big disappointment. HAL excursions are still pricey. I heard from a number of passengers that they liked doing their own thing at each port. Catching the Hop On-Hop Off bus seemed to be very popular with such guests. The price of the bus was apparently very affordable. One of the highlights of the cruise was scenic cruising in the fjords with commentary by the Head EXC Guide. On Day 3 of the first week, we did Oslofjord (though not a traditional fjord with steep canyon walls). On Day 5, we did Sognefjord. On Day 3 of the second week, we did Eidfjord and Hardangerfjord. On Day 5, we did Geirangerfjord. Wear a warm jacket, bring a glass of wine, and enjoy the magnificent views and all the waterfalls along the (traditional) fjords. My wife and I both came away with a deeper appreciation of the natural beauty of Norway. There were lots of activities and events going on throughout the day on the ship, including informative talks about Nordic history, culture, and … trolls. There was no excuse for being bored on the cruise. I did not notice any emphasis by HAL personnel on handwashing before dining, other than a “Guest Stateroom Health Advisory” in my stateroom. There were hand sanitizer stations throughout the ship, and there were special hand washing stations at the Lido Market. But it was up to passengers to decide whether to use them; many did not. The Lido Market mitigated some potential problems by having their dining staff serve most of the “buffet” food to guests on plates. There were only a few food items that guests could touch themselves. When my wife and I arrived on ship, we looked at the different beverage packages being offered to passengers. The unlimited drink packages seemed very pricey: basic, non-alcoholic “quench” package at $17.95 per day; “signature” package with some cocktails, wines, ports, beers, and spirits for $49.95 per day; and the “elite package” with higher end alcohol for $54.95 per day. Be aware that a package has to be purchased by all stateroom guests of legal drinking age. However, you can still find a bargain. I liked the wine packages. There were three categories to choose from in “The Sommelier Suite” with both red and white wines; Mariner members get their eligible discount with those packages. The categories were popularly priced white and red wines (e.g., Estancia Pinot Noir from California), premium wines (e.g., Meiomi Pinot Noir from California), and cellar master’s favorites (e.g., Hangtime Pinot Noir from California). All these wine packages had New World and Old World wines. You could select 4, 6, or 8 bottles. Because my wife and I were on a 14-day cruise, we opted for the 8-bottle package. That allowed us to drink part of a bottle one night, and have the dining staff save the bottle for us to finish another night. (We also brought two bottles of wine ourselves onboard in our checked luggage to enjoy during the cruise.) The dinner menu featured other wines that were available for purchase. There was one wine tasting each week, for $19.95, that featured wines from “The Sommelier Suite”. There was a second wine tasting each week that featured Wines of the World, for $25. Fortunately, the wines were different each week. The world wine tasting allowed you to try 10 wines, a red and a white from each of 5 countries. I enjoyed chatting with my tablemates and sipping on the wines. I learned to get all 10 wines poured and have them on my table before the event ended an hour and 15 minutes after it started. After that the pouring stations were removed, but I could finish my wines at my leisure. There were also beer tastings (and a bar hop), whiskey, bourbon and rye tastings, and mixology classes. Each cruise segment, there is also a Cellar Master’s Dinner, a 6-course tasting menu paired with the Cellar Master’s wine selections. My wife and I did not participate, because we did not like some of the food selections. I enjoyed looking at all the artwork on the walls of the ship, especially along the stairwells to different floors. Some of it was unusual and visually arresting. The ship decorator did a good job. You can get a really good deal on laundry. I hope HAL doesn’t change the price. HAL offers a “Laundry by the Bag” option for $30 each bag. Put as many clothes as you can in the blue HAL laundry bag in your stateroom and pay that one price—much cheaper that doing the clothes items individually. You get your clean laundry back the next day, if you have it picked up by approximately 9 am. For Mariners, there was the Mariner Lunch (for each 7-day cruise segment), at which time you would receive your souvenir coaster. There was also a new (to me) event each cruise–the Collector’s Voyage Cocktail Party in the Crow’s Nest for 3-star, 4-star, and 5-star Mariner guests. I’m glad HAL’s Mariner Society is doing more events to celebrate the loyalty of its return passengers. My wife and I have longed talked about doing a back-to-back cruise. This was our opportunity to experience it. I liked not having to pack when the ship first returned to Amsterdam. The next morning, my wife and I had a leisurely breakfast. We could not use the gym or the thermal suite until embarkation was complete and the ship started sailing away. We got off the ship and went to the cruise terminal on the pier to get free Wi-Fi; we were allowed to reboard when we wanted. We decided not to go sightseeing in town, because we have been to Amsterdam often. We watched a movie in our stateroom. In the afternoon, we decided to go to the hot tubs on the Lido Deck and drink some of the sparkling wine we brought onboard the ship in our checked luggage. We liked seeing all the new passengers mill around during departure while we sat in one of the hot tubs and had our own sail-away party. When you return to Amsterdam for disembarkation, and if you are first traveling to the train station (Centraal Station), you can save some money by walking from the cruise terminal. It’s only a 15-20 minute easy walk along the waterfront. If you need to buy a train ticket in Centraal Station, the Information Center/Ticket Office is about halfway down the building from where you enter, on the left hand side. There is a saying in Norway: “There is never bad weather, only bad clothes.” Norwegians love to do outdoor activities, in all seasons of the year. You can understand that after visiting different parts of the country. The scenery is gorgeous. The fjords are idyllic. Towns like Oslo and Bergen are inviting and friendly. If you want to see Norway, then a Vikings Sagas and/or the Norse Legends cruise is for you. Read Less
32 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2018
This is a long review because I have tried to convey things other reviewers have not. My husband and I are in our mid 60’s, have traveled extensively, and this was our fourth cruise: 1 with RCL and 2 with Princess. We had 14 day ... Read More
This is a long review because I have tried to convey things other reviewers have not. My husband and I are in our mid 60’s, have traveled extensively, and this was our fourth cruise: 1 with RCL and 2 with Princess. We had 14 day cruise through the fjords with HAL on the Koningsdam that was split into two seven day cruises returning to Amsterdam after seven days. We did our own airfare. My problem with booking through the cruise line is that as long as everything goes right, it’s great. But, when things go wrong, and on the international leg of a journey anything can and does go wrong, you do not have the contract with the airline, HAL does. So, you have a third party involved, which complicates changes when things go wrong. It has to go through HAL. We used Dutch Limo to pick us up from the airport and take us to our hotel, and Dutch Limo to take us to the ship from the hotel. Excellent, as one other reviewer remarked. It was nice after being up all night to see your name and follow the driver to your hotel. We stayed at the Ibis Styles Amstel, which was an excellent choice. The Ibis Styles Central Station (across from the Central Station) was sold out a year in advance, as were many hotels. Our room was ready at 7:00 in the morning which made us very happy. The staff is great and this is a great part of town with a street market and nice restaurants right down the canal from the Rijksmuseum. The Cruise The Good: There are some things worth mentioning. The food overall (if you can get to it) was relatively good. The crew was outstanding doing the best they could under very trying circumstances. Because you are served in the Lido, fewer hands actually touch the food, so in that sense, it is a lot more sanitary. There are hand washing stations (a nice touch) at either end of the Lido and hand sanitizer everywhere. The beds were great and the bathrooms, as mentioned by so many, are a vast improvement. Hand lotion in the women’s bathroom, Happy Hour every day for an hour with some eats put out (with the second drink $2) were fine touches and very popular. They had two female piano players in the evening, who I thought were good and in the afternoon every day they had a solo piano player in the billboard area. Some of the classical music was also nice. We did not go into the theatre but heard many complaints that it was “too small.” Embarkation. Be ready to stand in several lines for over an hour. Of course, others boarded earlier and got on much easier. You have to endure a terminal with no air conditioning and it was chaos with families and children. Cabin: I have to say the cabin was OK if not much smaller than we had on RCL and Princess in the same category (inside). There was sufficient storage for items and clothes. The bathroom on our inside cabin was one of the best we have ever had. As others have noted, the shower was exceptional. Unfortunately, there was garbage under our bed and behind the vanity when we arrived. That’s what happens when you have overloaded cabin stewards. In addition, our bathroom on the Gershwin Deck rear had a constant sewer smell, although it did not go into the room. Dining: Lido: If you do not make the early cut-off for breakfast in the dining room (9:00 am), you can battle it out in line at the Lido. Now, remember, the dining room is only open for lunch when you have days at sea, and not even then since there were two Mariner lunches to which the general public was not invited. Over 14 days on our cruise, you can only have lunch in the dining room maybe 2 days. What does that mean? The Lido. While any of the alternative dining rooms are available for lunch, they will set you back additional money. Obviously, the message is if you want a nice lunch and to be waited on, you will have to pay extra. Ordinarily, at any buffet you would have trays. Why? Because then you can gather your meal in an organized fashion all at once. There are no trays in the overcrowded Lido. So, this is a two person operation. You would think on a new ship seating would be appropriate for the number of people on the ship. Not so. There is a GROSS shortage of tables. Therefore, you have to have one person find a table first, no small matter. People can be aggressive, and you have to be if you want a seat to enjoy the meal you have already paid for. Next, once you find a table, it is most likely dirty. So, you have to wait for the staff to clear it off, or failing that, do the work yourself. Amazingly, the waiter stations in the Lido area have no running water. Your table will be wiped with a rag that is rung from a bucket of water (not kidding). Once you have the table clean and have claimed it, you will remain in the middle of those jostling with their plates and those who are aggressively seeking a place to sit. Not a pleasant experience. There are literally hundreds of people along with walkers and wheelchairs, young kids and staff moving in what is basically a confined space. So, be ready for contact. They do have pizza also in a separate venue above the pool. It was OK. There was a place to order but no place to pick up so you had to insert yourself in the bar to pick up your pizza. If you are sitting in the Lido area around the pool, you will have to negotiate a winding staircase to your table with your pizza in hand. The burger and fries area was much more organized and on the same level as the Lido. They had something missing from the Lido: trays. Actually, there was almost a fight over a table while we were sitting there in the Lido by the pool. The staff kind of broke it up before it got out of hand. With tensions high and people hungry, this can happen. The Lido is obviously too small and not well thought out. It is equivalent to a college cafeteria with better food. Sharpen those elbows before you hit the crowds. Dining Room: Forget fine dining if you are in the main dining room. The dining room is a two story beer hall that echoes loudly before you even enter. It is so loud it eliminates any possibility of a nice dinner. We requested late seating and found out at the last minute we did not get it, even though we paid our nonrefundable deposit almost a year in advance. All tables for two were eliminated for reservations after the first day. And, of course, the table for two you want may not be worth going after. One of the reasons to try and get a reservation is that anytime dining is even worse. Most of the decent two-tops are taken already by well-heeled passengers and fixed seating. We went early to dinner one night just to see if the chaos and noise were a figment of our imagination or real. We requested a table for two and turned down the first offer (a table next to a double stack of clean glasses and the exit to the waiter station). So, we were given a table for two (which actually was fairly good by HAL standards), up against the front part of the waiters’ station. The waiter stations are too small for what goes on and as a result, there are trays of wine glasses and waters glasses stacked outside the stations. Also, on the outside of the stations are the dirty dishes and silverware that must sit there because of the stations poor design. No cabinets for glasses. So, as you sit down you are looking at wine glasses stacked on these trays that are going on your table, like you are eating in the kitchen. The noise from the station, which has low walls so you hear everything, interferes with hearing the person sitting across from you. If you are at a large table, no one can hear across the table. In addition, people seem to be permitted to wander around the dining room during dinner, looking at you, what’s on your plate and just standing around in the middle of the floor. This is what occurred on the night we had dinner there. Where the head waiter was, I have no idea but these people stood in the middle of floor, hovering over tables with kids hanging out with them for over a half hour when we were there. So, we ordered a bottle of white wine. We get the bottle in the ice bucket that is placed behind us right next to a tray that holds all the dirty silverware that is literally next to the bucket. The noise becomes deafening as this group of about 30 or 40 enters the dining room to find their seats (and of course there is controversy about who sits where) and this adds to feeling of chaos in the dining room. One thing I did do was get to breakfast as many times as I could, but you could not stay up late at night. In addition, they never ask your name, they ask your room number when you want a table. You are linked forever with the cabin you get. I will also add that there is NO ambiance in any of the main dining areas. The Lido is a buffet, with all that it implies. The dining room, as mentioned before, is chaos. So, what do you do? You have to spend additional money to get some peace and quiet and service, which is why many suite clients end up eating solely at the Pinnacle Grill and the other alternative (read “extra money”) venues. Even they don’t want to eat in the dining room. One review I read from a suite passenger stated emphatically that they never once ate in the main dining room. FYI: If you dine in the Canaletto, as we did one night for extra money ($30), your meal will be less noisy than the Lido proper, but then your meal will be served directly from the Lido to your table. We were seated right next to the waiter’s station with all the noise. There were many negative comments I heard about the noise in the dining room from other people who were from other countries. There were many Aussies, Brits and Dutch on board. One man I heard comment (not American) said he was seated in the dining room by a main thoroughfare and the waiters along with those being seated kept banging into his chair during the entire meal. The tables are also too close together. He said he had to resort to the private dining venues to get a reasonable dinner without the noise. The two tops are all pretty bad. They are either up against a noisy station, and if you are lucky you don’t have to sit next to dirty dishes and silverware. Otherwise, you will be having dinner similar to the experience of an Olive Garden. There are just too many tables jammed into the dining space. It appears that HAL cannot handle the anytime dining with the size of their dining room. It also appears that their goal is to get you to pay to dine after you have already paid for the cruise. We had a lunch given to us by our travel agent in the Pinnacle Grill. It was nice but dinner will set you back $50.00. You get peace and quiet that you supposedly already paid for. Don’t plan on the Crow’s Nest for take off. It was closed for a private function on both embarkation days. However, if you can stake out a place 2 to 3 hours before sail away at the various ports, you can get a seat. They need to eliminate the “computer area” and remove the tables blocking the windows on the other side. What I did not know was that the hull of the Koningsdam is the same as QE2 and the Queen Victoria. What was noted by someone who actually traveled on the QE2 and this ship was the breaking up of space for “pay” venues. I never saw anyone in the Retreat the two weeks we were there, but the place takes up significant space. Her main criticism was that there were many little spaces that had limited seating and were too small for the number of people on board. A perfect example of that, and here I totally agreed, was the Dutch Café. The concept was nice; however, it is way too small for its purpose. There is a small area with tables that are continually filled and it pushes out into the Atrium. People park there, which is understandable, but it makes it impossible for you to get a seat. This should be much larger. Other wasted space includes the walkway around the Culinary Arts area. This is next to the dining room on the second floor. Instead of putting small sofas by the windows where people could sit and look out, there are these ridiculous dining chairs, in an awful color to boot, lined up facing the hallway. In addition, there are these ugly metal structures containing promotions blocking the windows to make sure you can’t see out. It would have been nice if they put seating there with some tables so people waiting for dinner have a place to sit and wait close to the dining room. We were sitting in the classical area listening to music from the other music venue. Supposedly, this problem will be fixed in dry dock in December. Poorly designed. We did attend some of the lectures which were not exceptional but informative. The big problem is that when you get an announcement throughout the ship it will not come in your cabin. People were mystified why HAL did not put the main intercom (including the Captain’s updates) in the cabin so you didn’t to open your cabin door to listen. All in all, we will not be back on Holland America. My concept was being served breakfast, lunch and dinner. Instead, I found out the dining room is closed for lunch and you have to get up early on vacation to catch breakfast. Why breakfast was not extended until at least 10:00, considering they don’t serve lunch, I do not know. Dinner was such a production to get a table, and a bad table at that, it was not worth it. Please note that when you get in line in the Lido for your entrée, you may be waiting behind the staff. Yes, the staff gets in line and you have to wait behind them to eat. They do not have their own dining room and you will be in line behind them and in some cases, they will get waited on before you. Laundry: We did three bags of clothes for $30 each. Be sure to bring Spray and Wash. The first round of laundry had to be redone because none of the grease came off the shirts and as a result we had to pick up some Spray & Wash in Amsterdam and have the clothes rewashed. They have no room for laundry where you can iron your clothes and the staff will not bring you an iron. Disembarkation: That was easy because we left the ship with our luggage. It felt good to be off the ship. I was looking forward to getting waited on and having some relaxing dinners with a little atmosphere for a change. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2018
We are Australians who were in Europe visiting family so we added this cruise to Norway leaving from Amsterdam. We were a little taken aback by the size and number of passengers but the public spaces are many and we didn't feel ... Read More
We are Australians who were in Europe visiting family so we added this cruise to Norway leaving from Amsterdam. We were a little taken aback by the size and number of passengers but the public spaces are many and we didn't feel crowded except at breaksfast in the Market at 0900 or thereabouts. We loved the quality of the food - far superior to what we have had on cruises before - especially the rib filet steak and lobster tails - supurb. The dining staff were friendly, attentitive and efficient. The quality of the entertainment suprised and delighted us. Particularly the Lincoln Centre Stage classical quintet and BB King's jazz room. The cabin staff were wonderful and kept everthing tidy and clean. We took the cycling tour in Oslo and can highly recommend it. Only medium fitness is needed - we are both in our late 60s and found it easy. Read Less
10 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2018
Ship: HAL's flagship suppose to be stunning, but I agree with previous reviews which mentioned "...more of the Carnival Ship's ambiance rather than a true HAL". Dining: Complimentary dining options were Lido ... Read More
Ship: HAL's flagship suppose to be stunning, but I agree with previous reviews which mentioned "...more of the Carnival Ship's ambiance rather than a true HAL". Dining: Complimentary dining options were Lido Market Place, formal dining room, poolside New York Pizza, poolside Dive In fast food, or room service. Dining room seatings were always instant availability despite not having reservation most of the time. Food selection were always good, so were the services. The highllights dishes were foie gras, lobster tail, quails and escargot. Sadly the days of regular cruise lines serving caviars were over a long time ago. Lido food selection were plentiful, but became very tedious after a week. Menu largely unchanged for the duration of cruise, save for a few variations here and there. However, available seatings were constant challenge, specially during peak dining hours. I notice the opening hours and availability have been noticeably reduced compared to the past. I brought this matter to the dining room supervisors and the standard response always "If you require food out of normal dining hours, you could always go to poolside dining options." Not good enough in my opinion. Fee based dining options were Pinnacle Grill (steakhouse), Sel de Mer (seafood), Cullinary Art Centre (Latin/Southern USA cuisine), Canaletto (Italian), and Tamarind (various Asia). Entertainment: Main nightly show auditorium were mostly of mediocre or bland quality. Consist of 2No of tribute artists, 2No solo instrumentalists, 2No HAL dance troupes shows, a comedian and an orchestra while BBC Earth documentary shown on background. The worst having to endure a solo pianist played 10 consecutive pieces of classical music for an hour. Stage background wraparound video display wall is impressive, more in the taste of X-Factor studio. Shore Excursion: We only 1 official shore excursion, which was to bathe the Blue Lagoon in Iceland. It was suppose to be the highlight of the cruise, instead the Icelandic tour guide was boring and his English was difficult to understand. The bathing experience at the lagoon was very rushed and unfortunately ruined by unprofesionalism/mishaps/incompetecy of the tour guide. Certainly not worth the $500+ for the 3 of us. The good: 1. Food and beverage services were excellent. And the staffs really took care of us. 2. Room stewards were courteous and attentive most of the time. 3. Excitement of vacation in the flagship of Holland America Line. HAL's largest ship at the time. 4. Luggage deliveries in the beginning and end of cruise were efficient. 5. I feel unlimited laundry service for $126 was a good value. 6. Club HAL for children were staffed with friendly leaders and provide excellent children activities. Our kid thoroughly enjoyed very much. The bad (Where do I start?): 1. Initial embarkation process at Amsterdam Port for such size of ship was very poor experience. Constantly being led from one long line to another. 2. Being the size of the ship of 2800 passengers, any half decent organized activities fills up very quickly. Main auditorium often fills up quickly even 30 minutes before the start if shows. 3. This ship no longer has cinema room, and dedicated library. Instead paid internet terminals were provided at the usual HAL prices. Nightly films were shown on big screen over the mid ship swimming pool. 4. I feel HAL policy to extract as much revenue from every passenger has moved up a notch. Everything from Spas, health, wellness, events sold as complimentary ship activities, specialty dining, shore excursions, etc. are geared for revenue generation. 5. Corridors outside cabins are devoid of artworks and decorated solely in light brown wallpaper. Not something expected from HAL flagship, but more like the Stena Line ferries. 6. Once a cruise BBQ event usually conducted at middle pool area has been discontinued. We were told due to health and safety grounds. 7. Opportunity to adjust/cancel the automatic gratuity consigned to only the last day of cruise. Consequently the line up to guest services desk stretched around the block. It is appalling that HAL conduct such practice. I predict HAL will soon implement mandatory gratuity for all passengers. 8. Availability of Crow's Nest lounge for general passengers have been reduced. I feel events such as arts auctions and other private engagements puts Crow's Nest out of bound. For the times it is available, generally competition to get available seats were intense. Unlike past cruise on Zuiderdam, there were no live music performed in Crow's Nest this time. Verdict: Experience certainly below my expectation for a flagship of HAL. I hope HAL will not repeat the same mistakes on their upcoming new sister ship (MS Nieuw Statendam). Which was heavily promoted during my cruise. My past cruises: Crown Princess (West Caribbean), Norwegian Wind (Inside Passage Alaska), HAL MS Ryndam (Norway fjord), HAL MS Zuiderdam (Inside Passage Alaska), HAL Nieuw Amsterdam (West Mediterranean), and HAL Eurodam (Baltic). Read Less
Sail Date: August 2018
We were told the ship would accommodate our needs. Had Neptune "handicapped" suite. Had no assistance boarding ship, getting off at all ports, and leaving the ship when returned to Amsterdam. First time ever in 30 plus cruises ... Read More
We were told the ship would accommodate our needs. Had Neptune "handicapped" suite. Had no assistance boarding ship, getting off at all ports, and leaving the ship when returned to Amsterdam. First time ever in 30 plus cruises this has happened. This despite wife being in wheelchair unable to stand at all, me pushing with 2 carry on bags, etc.. Arrived at cabin Fully Accessible (SA7094) to find the wheelchair could not access the side of the bed on either side. This despite the web site saying it would (and still does by the way). Additionally bed was to high for her to access it from the chair. Cabin attendants turned the bed sideways so she could access it from one side and removed the top mattress from the bed. Pretty expensive suite for not being able to sleep in the bed. No tours buses we signed up to tour on prior to boarding were accessible despite being told on the phone by HA ExcTours they would be. We did get our money back. We took no tours. Computer room a disaster; paid for 60 minutes and all told got 15 minutes when it was working. Computer assistant apologized to everyone for how bad it was but no one got money back. Handicapped platform for wheelchair access to the tender boats I'm sure would have worked fine had the attendants been trained on how to use it. As it turned out the whole loading procedure was held up each time they tried to use it. And I suppose we got the blame for holding up the boarding. I could go on but no need adding insult to injury. Bottom line is this: if you are disabled and cannot stand DO NOT GO ON THIS CRUISE LINE! I think they have orders to "don't touch the wheelchairs". Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2018
Overall, a great trip, would highly recommend. We enjoyed the new features of the Koningsdam - same HAL experience for us. Embarkation: went very smoothly – was in our room by noon. No waiting at all. Notes from the trip: No ... Read More
Overall, a great trip, would highly recommend. We enjoyed the new features of the Koningsdam - same HAL experience for us. Embarkation: went very smoothly – was in our room by noon. No waiting at all. Notes from the trip: No Library - no big deal - plan ahead Food service - dinners in MDR - done in 1.5 hrs - 4 courses - servers not as personable as we have seen but did a good job. Lido - good - lines minimal - on worse day there were up to 6 people in line - most days 1-2 people in line. No trouble finding a place to sit and eat. You can move to pool area if necessary. If eating after initial opening of stations – say 30 to 45 min after opening – food was not always hot enough. Dine-In burger ok - not as good as 5 Guys. NY Deli - excellent pizza - Rubin ok - breakfast there was good if you want a bagel and lox and avoid the Lido. Dutch cafe - great fries - other stuff good – nothing that great but another good place to get something to eat besides the Lido. Don’t Like the $15/day/person add-on – I didn’t try to get it changed but also didn’t leave tips for MDR or stateroom staff as I have in the past. $420 in tips included in bill for the 14 days. Additionally, the spa adds on their own 15% tip. Didn’t use any specialty restaurants - I didn’t think their menus were that great. Used HAL excursions at all ports - well run but pricey - but if the excursion ran late the ship will wait for their tours – not sure they will for individuals out on their own. There was some confusion when they changed the excursion and tender boat process. They had people take tenders and meet at the dock - heard that at least one person missed. Excursion goals met: saw whales - puffins and a lot of great scenery. Cleanliness – recommendation to HAL staff - sit where customers sit and look around - crumbs along and on window of lido / tape pieces along lighting top edge of ceiling in Crow’s Nest. Not a big deal, but . . . Staff behavior - singing at serving station in main dining room - heads down trying to sleep during safety drill. Despite the negative comments, I consider everything to be generally well run. Read Less
Koningsdam Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.5 0.0
Dining 4.5 0.0
Entertainment 4.5 0.0
Public Rooms 4.5 0.0
Fitness Recreation 5.0 0.0
Family 4.0 0.0
Shore Excursion 4.0 0.0
Enrichment 4.0 0.0
Service 5.0 0.0
Value For Money 5.0 0.0

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