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1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: August 2019
We enjoyed this cruise on the Maasdam. We paid a low price, less than $100 a day per person plus port fees and gratuities. Our stateroom was clean and roomy for an inside and we appreciated the full size sofa. The food was very good in ... Read More
We enjoyed this cruise on the Maasdam. We paid a low price, less than $100 a day per person plus port fees and gratuities. Our stateroom was clean and roomy for an inside and we appreciated the full size sofa. The food was very good in both the dining room and the Lido. It seemed that HAL tried to have something for everyone. As a pescatarian and a vegetarian we could almost always find something we wanted to eat. We knew we could have availed ourselves of the special menu service and ordered a day in advance, but meals in the dining room tended to take one and a half plus hours. We didn't want to do that three times a day. The staff was friendly and competent. No complaints. The muster drill was disorganized with staff members shouting out names and cabin numbers to take attendance. Quite a number didn't appear to be there but people were walking back and forth while this was going on. After 45 minutes of this some elderly people left. HAL has a range of activities on offer, some revenue generating. There were many talks and we attended and enjoyed most of them. We also played trivia twice a day. The shopping was there but more subdued than other lines. The small pool was closed on multiple days due to the weather, which was not great; a typhoon in the general area was blamed for two missed ports. You couldn't swim laps in the pool. One main point to mention is not to rely on the times posted on the HAL websites as to times in port for arranging independent shore excursions. They are misleading. The actual times vary considerably. Sometimes it seemed the weather was responsible but other times there was no reason that we could see. For example, when we missed a port due to weather making tendering not possible, rather than arrive that much earlier at the next port, we had another day at sea. Especially since that next port was in a different country with difficult immigration requirements, an earlier arrival would have been preferable. In that particular port, Otaru in Japan, we were given a 1:30 time slot to meet with Japanese immigration officials who came on board to fingerprint and photograph. About eight officials for 1250 passengers, so you can imagine the length of that line. We objected to the time, which after the formalities and shuttle to town would have given us less than two hours in that port. We were given an earlier time but I feel sorry for those who said nothing. Further in that vein, we objected to the late disclosure of the HAL requirements for our independent tour of a Russian port. It is not helpful to advise us after we are on board that tour vouchers must contain the name, DOB, and passport numbers on separate vouchers for each person plus a separate list/letter about the tour containing similar information. HAL did telephone the tour company from the ship when we complained about this policy, which the tour company said is not accurate, and eventually things were fixed up but it was aggravating. No Russian officials looked at our voucher when we got off the ship. We appreciated the shuttle buses in each Japanese port which I believe were arranged by the town. If it was HAL, then I commend them for this. There were also information booths set up with free wifi tents in some locations and we were welcomed by dancers and drummers in some towns. The bar staff and photographers were low key. There were no production shows but entertainment in several lounges as well as a singer, violinist or pianist in the show lounge in the evenings. This was not a scenic cruise. Sometimes we were shrouded in fog all day and mostly there was nothing but water to see - no visible coastline. We enjoyed the afternoon teas and partook a couple of times after our return from time in a port. There were many DVD's to obtain from guest services for free and the regular channels were fine. For some reasons the news channels were blocked in Russian ports. There is a design flaw with the remote as you had to extend your arm completely over your head to change channels. Or stand up. The TV was too far back on the shelf which blocked the signal from the remote. The ship was otherwise fine in repair and appearance. There were a few roof leaks in the Crows Nest which were quickly attended to. Three ports were cancelled in this port intensive cruise out of nine, due to weather. I appreciated that the port talks were about how to get around and what to see in each stop not a thinly veiled attempt to sell HAL shore excursions. We were each given a $100 account credit, in addition to port charge refunds, to make up for the missed ports. This was a generous gesture. All in all we were satisfied with our cruise for what we paid, however, my millennial daughters who travelled with me advised she will not cruise again until there is fast and free wifi on board, something she thinks should be a given. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2019
Maasdam is the oldest vessel of HAL. I was skeptical about the condition of the ship. I was wrong. The ship is in excellent condition, very clean and easy to navigate. The cabin is big with lots of storage .. However the TV was ... Read More
Maasdam is the oldest vessel of HAL. I was skeptical about the condition of the ship. I was wrong. The ship is in excellent condition, very clean and easy to navigate. The cabin is big with lots of storage .. However the TV was disappointing, very old and usually there was no signal in in port like Yokohama. There is only one outlet and we had to ask for an extension cord. Food in the dining is good. We had dinner one night in Pinnacle Grill. It was good but not much better than the dining room and we didn't go back. Canaletto is of good value. We had extremely hot weather, 35 plus degrees in the first week, except in Korsakov, Russia which I think is a waste of time. There is absolutely nothing interesting there. Japan was hit by two storms during our trip. In Hakodate we had to sail early to return to Yokohama . Hakodate is an interesting little town. Five hours is absolutely not enough. We enjoyed all the entertainments especially the lady pianist. We love HAL. We will definitely return soon Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: July 2019
This cruise on the Maasdam has managed to achieve what no other HAL cruise has managed to achieve, make us regret booking it. With well over 75 cruises under our belt, this cruise scores the highest in its ability to underachieve and show ... Read More
This cruise on the Maasdam has managed to achieve what no other HAL cruise has managed to achieve, make us regret booking it. With well over 75 cruises under our belt, this cruise scores the highest in its ability to underachieve and show indifference to guests. What more can I say other than when we got to Yokohama after the first segment, if we could have changed our air ticket we would have left the ship two weeks early and prepared for our September voyage on the RTDM. Aside from our DR steward Jaka, wine stewards Dave and Von, Lido manager Budi and his staff, Assistant Maitre'D Yudi, coffee gal Amee, our cabin stewards Roby, his assistant, Yusuf and Nicks and all of the other Indonesian, Filipino and Thai servers and stewards who were all terrific, serviceable, friendly and a delight to be around like most HAL crews we have experienced, I can honestly say the management, especially officers, have been the most uninterested, least receptive, least hospitable, unresponsive and aloof that we have ever had. Following is a review that I sent on one of the “Let us know how we are doing” (sic) cards": We just had the second of our complimentary dinners at the Pinnacle Grill, after which we decided the food was so below the level of the main dining room, we are choosing to give up our complimentary Pinnacle dinners to eat in the main dining room. On our first dinner, notwithstanding the salads which any mediocre cook can prepare, I ordered a petite filet, medium rare and fries, my wife ordered the Cioppino, almost two hours later I received a charred and grossly overdone, cold, flavorless steak and my wife received a Cioppino who’s broth was nothing more than hot water flavored with ketchup with a few measly pieces of seafood. Today’s dinner was as appalling, salad again, lamb chops medium rare for me with a side of hashed potatoes and my wife not wanting to risk it ordered a double portion of crab cakes for her entree, I received two lamb chops, grossly overdone again, tough as nails, grisly, cold and no flavor, the hashed potatoes were soggy and cold, my wife’s baked potato was half baked and inedible (because baking a potato takes real chef artistry maybe), the “crab cakes”, well, they were really bread crumb cakes, you would be hard pressed to find any crab, imitation or otherwise. If these dinners had not been free, it would have been catastrophic, the fact that you have the courage to charge $39 per person for food that is not as good as the Lido Market is outrageous. You would think that a restaurant that has “grill” in it’s name would have a cook that can cook a steak. Apparently you took a third level tier cook from the Lido and have him as a cook at the Pinnacle Grill hoping that the razzmatazz and glamour of the room would fool people into thinking they are eating something good. Perhaps this works for a few who really have no idea what decent food is, but from hearing people talk about their dinners there, perhaps not. Let’s not lose sight that a trained monkey could cook a steak medium rare, hot grill, two minutes per side, hot oven for one or two minutes and serve, tough huh? We will never attend the Pinnacle again even though it’s free. If possible, change our two complimentary Pinnacle Grill dinners on our next segment to two complimentary Canaletto dinners, otherwise we will just eat in the main dining room. The Pinnacle Grill is an embarrassment. You chose to raise the prices in all premium dining rooms and lowered the quality drastically, REALLY? Amazingly, You would think that such a review from a five star gold mariner would elicit some comment, any comment!, maybe a defense for such poor dinners or a response from somebody on board, anybody, maybe a cleaning person, perhaps Thomas the F&B manager, Sylvie the ROM or some Maitre'D, how about the PGM who sat there staring blankly at my plate with all the food remaining uneaten? As I show him the disastrous meal to which he acknowledged was prepared horribly. Perhaps: “ bury my head in the sand and pretend it did not happen and it will go away” is a poor management strategy. Clearly nobody could have cared less. Management (anybody with more than one stripe who is not Indonesian or Filipino ) shows an incredible arrogance, aloofness, invisibility and air of superiority. The food quality and prep in general on the entire ship was nothing short of terrible. The food was of poor quality, ill prepared and tasteless. How much more proof would you need than to realizie that while we get two complimentary Pinnacle dinners per cruise, we did not exercise that right because the food is so poorly prepared in that venue, and quite frankly not better than the main dining room and cannot hold a candle to the Canaletto food. To add insult to injury, on the 15th of August, most food stations were close to empty, apparently Thomas didn’t think he needed to think about food for the day after he left the ship. Interesting since we were docked in Yokohama on the 14th for almost 24 hours and then anchored in the bay for two days due to the Typhoon. Further, I would venture to bet that other than the executive chef all the chefs were apprentices or close to it. Aside from the inability to properly cook a simple piece of meat, we had braised short rib Stroganoff on buttered noodles which was nothing more than greasy brisket tossed with regular boxed spaghetti all doused in the same fake jarred stroganoff sauce, Caesar Salad made with Iceberg instead of Romaine lettuce, on the 14th the only greens in the salad bar at lunch were Iceberg, on the 15th and 16th no greens at all ( a salad bar with no greens whatsoever), Thomas leaves this mess for Ali and Ali continues on the same program. French Onion soup with no onions and a broth that is just salted warm water, mashed potatoes which were clearly instant potatoes prepared with water, always undercooked veggies as sides to all dishes, stuffed cabbage leaves served with raw (blood red) beef, Chef Rudy’s special roasted chicken was basically a dried hockey puck, roasted beet salad served with basically raw beets, advertised morel mushrooms when you serve button mushrooms, not even criminis, baked potatoes that are hard as bricks because they are grossly undercooked, If you would like I can keep going, honestly, I can fill a book with how bad the food and this cruise was. Your only saving grace was Budi in the Lido Market/Canaletto, he tried his butt off. Budi does a great job of managing The Lido Market and Canaletto. Budi is jovial, efficient and very hard working. As is true of all companies, the staff takes on the attitude of management. His staff works hard, are very friendly and highly efficient. Continuing with management principles, this addresses the Hotel management in general. From Florin on down, all officers on the Hotel side are aloof, arrogant and invisible especially the new F&B manager Ali and the new ROM Tony, I know for a fact that Tony was left a note from Sylvie to offer us a complimentary dinner (Sel de Mer) for the night of August 18 (Kochi) sent to us by an HD from another ship (Colin Jacob on the WEDM). we never heard from him. We could not accept this offer from Sylvie on our first segment (she insinuated she would be dining with us and said sadly she would not be there on the next segment since she was going home) because we were booked at various places already and the only dates left were on special dinners nights which were not part of the offer so she had to leave it for the second segment. Sylvie called our cabin on or about August 3 and told us that the offer would be forthcoming from Tony, for the night of the 18th when he came aboard, she would leave him a note to that effect. We never heard from him, or anyone else so we had dinner in the main dining room that evening. By some miracle on August 24, while at lunch, the PGM walked by us, waved and said “see you tonight”. I asked what he meant? He mentioned that tonight we had a complimentary dinner for Sel de Mer sent to us by our friend Colin Jacob, HD on the WEDM. We were dumbfounded, nobody had mentioned it or sent us an invitation. This is not a big deal except that for a chance meeting, with three days to go on the cruise, we would have never known about this very kind offer from a wonderful man who we have the pleasure to call friend. This is yet one more example of the right hand not having a clue what the left is doing on this ship. The HD is unresponsive and indifferent, we tried with three letters sent to him placed in his box by us, no response from him or anyone on his behalf, maybe 28 days is not enough time. Leaving the food situation, our cabin’s interior temperature measured 80 degrees (by guest services measure with digital thermometers) for five days! Exterior temperature was 107 with the heat index. I begged the guest relations desk every day, many times a day for help, the excuse was that the ship just came from Alaska and was set up for cold weather. Really? So you have 20 engineers on board scratching their butts, weather radars blinking everywhere, direct connection to NOAA and yet nobody knew we were going into oppressively hot weather which has been the case at this time of the year for several hundred years? Or maybe this was everyone’s maiden voyage and knew nothing! The geniuses at guest relations offered us a fan! How about we put Orlando Ashford and Stein Cruse in a cabin that has an interior temperature of 80 degrees and offer them a fan to keep them comfortable? Any bets on how many people would still have jobs? The immigration situation on our return to Otaru from our second Russian port was handled like beginners were doing it. We docked at 8:00 a.m. and all aboard was 5:00. Some people did not disembark until 2:30! We received a number 3 for disembarkation. For the second round. I approached “Guest Services”, which should actually be named the “Go to Hell Department”. The gal with the shaved head and the little blond with braids on both sides of the head are both nasty and condescending. I was informed that as a five star gold Mariner I had no priority in disembarkation, only in tendering. Priority was given for other reasons ( many to people who never intended to go ashore or just wanted off in the afternoon to use the internet had number one) I was told Disembarkation is when you leave a ship. Nowhere does that benefit get qualified, disembarkation is anytime you leave the ship there should be some benefit for supporting HAL for 15 years and spending almost 700 days cruising on HAL ships. At the very least, I should expect to not walk away from “guest services” feeling like some little girl told me to F off. Due to the Typhoon we had to anchor in the bay for two days (August 14 docked, 15 & 16 anchored) Did anybody think to politically maneuver with the Japanese government so that we could stay in the Yokohama mooring since other ships could not come in, allowing us to at least go ashore since we were going to be “at sea” for three unscheduled days? How about reversing the itinerary where the Typhoon had no impact? How about maybe going to an alternative port Northeast since the typhoon was tracking northwest? I am not questioning the Captain‘s call on safety, God bless him, but there had to be alternatives. You only need to look on Cruise Mapper and see all of the other ports schedules where weather was not impacting them and no other or at most one other ship was there on any alternative day. On the second round in Korsakov we know for a fact that the captain put on a show by lowering a tender into the water and announced that it was too rough and we would not be tendering there. I know he had a meeting the night before and announced to upper management that he had no intention of tendering but he would put on a show so as to justify his decision. Liar! On the 16th of August we departed our anchorage in Tokyo Bay and made our way to Kobe. As we left Tokyo Bay we received the tail end of the Typhoon experiencing 40 knot winds, driving rain and 5 meters seas. Apparently, some brainless wonder thought that this would be a good time to have a crew of Filipino workers go out to scrape and paint deck railings and some of the ladders going up to the tenders. So let’s see, let’s take a guy that weighs 85 pounds, give him a bucket filled with tools and have him climb up a wet metal ladder while wearing rubber soled shoes during a rainy, howling wind while the ship feels like you are on a roller coaster. Humm.. you certainly didn’t see that officer out there supervising or climbing the ladder in those conditions! You couldn’t wait until tomorrow, when we are docked, so that if the poor bastard falls into the sea he can at least swim to a dock instead of dying? On the 20th of August, they decided to repair the rails and various sections of the railings and exit gates to the tenders (in case of emergency, deck 6) along the starboard side. This was an area about 40 yards long. The wood rails were taken off, as were the gates in order to sand, zinc oxide, prime and paint. Everything was left off unattended for about four hours. You have wet decks (raining), three meters swells and large gaps left open along the railings for a few hours (I have photos if you care to see them, they are date stamped and obviously not shopped). You must admit, under the kindest of opinions the supervisor who ordered this and then did not have a watch person there while whoever was working on this and leaving it unattended is a moron. The old paint scrapings, rust and debris was hosed off into the sea! Having just paid a huge fine for polluting Glacier Bay, can you imagine the reaction of the environmental agencies if they were aware of this!. “Sea of Japan polluted by Holland America Line” reads the headlines. Future cruises? That was something. We tried to book three cruises, 54 days in total. We had received a private sale offer and wanted to take advantage of it. We approached Joanne to book it for us wanting to take advantage of the price and the onboard booking credits. Joanne could not make the offer discount code work or “see” the price we could see on the internet so we left her with all the information and trusted it would suffice, after all, she is a HAL corporate employee. Five days later, not hearing anything, we went to future cruises to find out what was going on. Joanne said that she was unable to book it. Mind you, these offers do not last long. She could have called and let us know what was happening. My wife said “How is that possible? I can do it on my iPad, why can’t you?” No response. My wife asked if she called Seattle (right in front of her at her desk) and was able to book it would she (Joanne), be able to get us the onboard booking credits? She said she should be able to was the reply. My wife called Seattle FROM THE SEA OF JAPAN! She booked the cruises in ten minutes and emailed Joanne the confirmations to try to get us the onboard credits and her commission. The incredibly helpful gal who helped us in Seattle is named Lisa Mayette who actually should get the commission, she was friendly, realized the problem and solved it with great efficiency and speed. Put her on a ship if she is willing. Except for a couple, most onboard future cruise consultants are generally not very efficient and uninterested in getting the job done, if it works, great, if it doesn’t, great. For basically being order takers within a target rich environment, you would think that their ability to book a cruise would match a guest’s ability since they have direct access to HAL and we go through the internet site. In addition to the three cruises we booked, three days prior to leaving we submitted a request for future cruise deposits (3). Having not heard anything, we stopped by as we were preparing to disembark and asked Joanne if she had processed them. Her reply was she didn’t recall ever receiving our request. We then waited while she sorted through about 50 unprocessed forms until she found ours - hopefully it will get processed sometime. I could go on but it would be beating a dead horse, I am sure you get the feel of how unimpressive this cruise was! No question, this was the worst managed cruise we have ever been on. We like to think that they transplanted the ms Jakarta or ms Manila (the training schools) and put it out to sea and we are the guinea pigs for the students. Apparently this must be your worst rated, lowest scoring, least revenue producing ship. WORST CRUISE EVER!! Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2019
We have cruised HAL in a number of locations but really wanted to try one of their smaller ships. We also were very interested in the EXC program and the itinerary around Japan. As always HAL knows what its doing-embarkation, ... Read More
We have cruised HAL in a number of locations but really wanted to try one of their smaller ships. We also were very interested in the EXC program and the itinerary around Japan. As always HAL knows what its doing-embarkation, disembarkation were fine. The captain did an excellent job of avoiding (as much as he could) typhoons which caused him to shorten our time in the last port. The lectures/talks were good. Dr. Kam was excellent and covered a variety of topics related to Japanese culture, art, customs. He explained much about Japanese society, habits and norms. The ship is a bit 'tired' and needs some renovation especially in the cabins. There were scratches/mars all along the baseboards, there was a crack in the sink, a dent in the tub and signs of rust/wear in many places. Wallpaper was beginning to peel. Public spaces seemed to be okay but cabins not so much. HAL personnel were friendly,helpful and efficient (except when they got to chatting with customers and ignored other customers). Entertainment-the jazz quartet was very good; the piano/violin not quite as good and the other singer in the lounge was pretty bad although he attracted a large following. Shore excursions-we took 2 HAL excursions for Shimizu and Otaru. They lived down to our expectations. The guide on the bus for Shimizu was not very good, did not give us good instructions (like wait for her to pay for our admission to the shrine) and that was disappointing. In Otaru-the guide was marginally better and the Herring Mansion was well worth seeing but I'd recommend grabbing a taxi and doing that on your own. We used "Tours by Locals" for Osaka, Vladivostok, Hakodate-they were great and that is definitely the way to go. While the HAL tours sped by, we were getting in depth information as well as seeing things the tours missed. In Kanazawa we used Kanazawa Tours and they also did a very good job. HAL ran shuttle buses in a couple of ports and that was very good. In some of the smaller cities, the 'passenger terminal for ships' was located far from the downtown or other areas of interest. But many of the cities were clearly delighted to see the ship and sent out bands, entertainment,balloons to welcome us which was fun. The other issue with the cruise was the weather especially in the Southern Japanese ports. It was hot and Very humid-to the point of sapping energy and really making it difficult to enjoy doing much of anything. I realize that HAL was running this cruise as part of a trip from the West Coast of the US but perhaps it should consider doing it in the spring or fall when the humidity might be more manageable and less chance of typhoons/cyclones. Read Less
13 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2019
I choose this 15 day cruise to get away from my regular daily life and it was great for that. 6 days at sea, including 5-6m waves for a couple days. The food ands staff was great as I remember it from my other HAL cruises. But the ... Read More
I choose this 15 day cruise to get away from my regular daily life and it was great for that. 6 days at sea, including 5-6m waves for a couple days. The food ands staff was great as I remember it from my other HAL cruises. But the Westerdam state of repair is sad. So many little things broken. Lights in public bathroom about to fall out, fan in elevator running at full speed as it is burning up (you could smell the plastic melting), hot bench in Thermal Suite out of order since February (3 months). 1 sauna not working at all, 1 sauna on its last leg, including a thermometer just wedged into mount and could have fallen during heavy sea and create tiny glass splinters, etc. etc. The central sound system for the Greenhouse Spa was also broken for weeks and so it was music everywhere or no music at all. This meant on one of massage I asked for music, but it was turned off 2 minutes later as someone else requested it to be turned off. I never was able to relax at all. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2019
Previous trip on HAL Westerdam was so nice that we made a special effort to get the same cabin on this trip. Partially obstructed view, but twofold panels of glass kept the room bright even on the cloudiest day (and we had about 5 of ... Read More
Previous trip on HAL Westerdam was so nice that we made a special effort to get the same cabin on this trip. Partially obstructed view, but twofold panels of glass kept the room bright even on the cloudiest day (and we had about 5 of them). Cheerful, gracious crew always seemed to be looking for a way to improve the experience. They were available without being intrusive. In various lounges and bars, if you declined a drink, they just leave a napkin there so that you won't be approached by every last server. Great idea. As I said, 5 rainy, windy days across the north Pacific, and the crew were resolutely cheerful at all times. Captain Mark took us a bit out of the way to avoid the worst weather, which was so very thoughtful. We stopped at Kushiro in Japan, and the rain was blowing, but many us took the free shuttle to a kind of mall which gave us an insight into some of the Japanese culture. Stops in Alaska were fortunately sunny, and Icy Straits is one of the most hauntingly beautiful place I've seen. We were sorry to leave, and we learned how difficult it had been to dock due to winds and nearby reefs. We saw a couple of whales, which for most of us was a first. Overall, a serenely beautiful cruise with the most amazingly gracious staff ever. Once again, Denny and Theo, thanks for taking such good care of us. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2019
We chose this cruise for the itinerary. Never cruised with Holland And America before heard good reports. Ship size is good do not like really big ships. Cabin smaller than I’d expected. Dinning good had one very slow night put a comment ... Read More
We chose this cruise for the itinerary. Never cruised with Holland And America before heard good reports. Ship size is good do not like really big ships. Cabin smaller than I’d expected. Dinning good had one very slow night put a comment card in stating this and was always better after that. We found there are a lot of rooms and she’s on this ship not always being used to full potential. Entertainment on the main stage was average, BB Kings blues club the band and singers were very good, sometimes the band had solo spots which went on too long, only spent two or three occasions in here. Billboard on Board, two piano players and singers here Rachael and Ian very good spent every night with these guys, different era and type of music played each slot, they both had very good voices and soon became very popular. The only problem we found was when these guys had there well earned break nothing else carried on here to encourage people to stay for the next part of the evening, it was the same everywhere one slot finished that was it until their next slot came around. If it wasn’t for Rachael and Ian we wouldn’t have rated entertainment very high on this ship a lot of room for improvement. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2019
We chose this cruise to experience Japan in Cherry Blossom season and experience the culture and history of the country. The tours provided by EXC (HA's onboard service) were good. I feel I saw most of the attractions I wanted ... Read More
We chose this cruise to experience Japan in Cherry Blossom season and experience the culture and history of the country. The tours provided by EXC (HA's onboard service) were good. I feel I saw most of the attractions I wanted through these tours, while being guaranteed I wouldn't miss the boat at the end! The price was up there, but after sorting out some private tours at either end of the cruise, the costs were comparable for the amount we experienced. The ports we stopped at were new for Holland America. There really weren't any ports that were in the centre of town. It was at least a 20 minute bus ride into the town centres if you were wondering around by yourself for the day. The frequency of busses was adequate. Due to Japanese law we had to visit a different country at least once before we made it the whole way around Japan. This is the only reason why we went to Russia for one day. The port was Vladivostok. Don't bother doing a tour here, the town is run down and you have to go on a HA tour for Visa reasons. The customs debacle for this one day out of Japan was appalling. I understand all customs issues are never fun, but HA was definitely did not make it any better. For a cruse company that is meant to be professional at this stuff, they could have made their clients a lot more comfortable through the process. We had a lot of older guests on the ship, I felt horrible for the them. The quality of the ship was a little tired, with maintenance undertaken at every port we stopped at. Sometimes this was an inconvenience to the patrons. We were on level 8 in a stateroom. They had asked us if we minded being in a an 'accessible/disabled' stateroom before the cruise. We agreed, but we would not do this again. Mum and I were twin sharing, but if this room was used for a disabled person, you could only fit one person in there. We missed out on a good shower, cupboard space and a sitting area because of this, and we paid jut as much as the other guests. The food in the main dining areas was good, tasty and well presented but not as fresh as I am used to. The dining experiences in the premium restaurants was much better. Don't worry about the special events like seafood nights or degustations and wine pairing, these are much steeper in price and not much better in quality to any other night. The hospitality, bar and dining staff were great, nothing was a problem, my mother and I came down with illness on the ship and they were very accommodating. Our waiters and bar staff knew us by name from the second day and remembered what we liked to drink - which was an extensive list! Drinks packages - definitely get one. we got the 'Signature' package for approx $50USD/day. The wine options were a little too limited for us, if we had the time again, we would have purchased the top drink package for approx $10USD/day extra. The most disappointing this was the accounts department of HA. We printed our statement every morning to check our account. Almost every second day there were charges on there that shouldn't have been - we were charged for drinks that were covered in our pre paid package, room service charges that we didn't order, etc. On the last night, the whole cruise was taken over by chocolate and towel animals as a bit of fun, but I can't help thinking this type of activity is to 'smooth everyone over' at the end so we leave happy and recommend them to our friends. At the end of the cruise, we went to pay our bill, and they held the amount on our credit card. On the last day we received an account that they had charged us. This was fine, apart from they still had the amount on hold as well, effectively holding twice the amount of money they owed us. This can be quite debilitation if you are only half way through your entire holiday. Through waiting for statements to reflect charges and calling HA a couple of times to sort it out, I am still waiting for this money to be released 7 days after disembarking their ship. The HA girl assured me this would be released no later than 72 hours after the cruise finished. After trying to explain that didn't happen, I am also chasing this through with my bank. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: April 2019
Our first cruise with Holland America was to South America and Antarctica on Zaandam in January 2017. We were very happy with life on board and were particularly impressed by the Lido Market, the informal food outlet, where food is often ... Read More
Our first cruise with Holland America was to South America and Antarctica on Zaandam in January 2017. We were very happy with life on board and were particularly impressed by the Lido Market, the informal food outlet, where food is often cooked to order. Therefore, we were pleased to come across back-to-back cruises, including a Pacific crossing, on Westerdam in April and May this year. The first cruise took us around the Japanese Islands, a location we would not normally have considered, while the second, repositioning, cruise completed the Japanese itinerary before crossing the sea to Alaska, a place we have visited on two previous occasions and were very happy to revisit. We flew into Narita Airport directly from Manchester and stayed overnight in the Hilton Tokyo Narita Airport hotel before a private taxi took us into Yokohama the next day to commence our cruise. Embarkation was swift and easy. Lunch was first on the agenda because our room was not ready until early afternoon. As before, we only used the Lido Market for our meals and we were very impressed by the friendliness of the staff there and throughout the ship. Our individual preferences were remembered from the start, which was remarkable. One point of concern was that the use of hand sanitizers was not promoted as on other ships, which we did discuss with the Hotel Manager. There is less self service on HAL than on other cruise lines, but there are common utensils and other opportunities for contamination. We had chosen a Signature Suite, a larger room than normal because of the length of the cruise and it certainly offered all the space we could wish for. We had selected the Starboard side and we were amused that at almost every port we were against the dock and our views ranged from enormous scrap heaps to piles of sand or coal, covered by flapping tarpaulin and old tyres! The ship docked in rather industrial areas because of its size, requiring the use of shuttle buses at several ports. However, public transport was easy to use and allowed us to venture further afield, as the places of interest were not all conveniently within walking distance. We don't attend the evening entertainment (or use the fitness facilities, so I have scored both as average below) because we prefer to look outside as much as possible, from the open deck or the shelter and convenience of our balcony. We had managed a very hazy glimpse of Mount Fuji in Yokohama, but Shimizu on Day 2 allowed us to watch her unveil from behind cloud as the sky cleared in the afternoon. Osaka on Day 3 and Kochi on Day 4 had castles and their gardens to explore. Osaka Castle has a lift, but also extremely long queues to use it, so we climbed the stairs, but Kochi Castle had no lift and we were unfortunate to visit at the same time as a large group, meaning that we shuffled slowly from floor to floor, negotiating extremely steep, narrow stairs with two-way traffic, which was dangerous. Coming down backwards or sideways was safest! This rather spoiled our visit but the gardens, with their emerging Cherry blossom, made up for it. Being over 65, we had free entry into some places we visited. On Day 5, we cruised the Kanmon Strait, perhaps not exactly scenic, but interesting nevertheless.The next day, Good Friday, was spent in Sakaiminato. We had expected there to be little to see independently, as the Yuushien Garden we wanted to visit appeared to be a complicated bus journey away, confirmed by information from the ship, but fortunately we called into the local Tourist Office before leaving, after enjoying the many fascinating bronze statues of cartoon characters created by a resident of the town. There we were told about a free shuttle bus to and from the Gardens, including a ride over the famous “Wonky” Bridge, the Eshima Ohashi Bridge. The Garden is very small but is what we think of as a typical Japanese garden, with raked gravel and moss gardens. The two other, much larger, gardens we visited were, to us, far less typical. Kenrokuen Garden, in Kanazawa on Day 7, is considered to be one of the top three gardens in Japan and the darker Cherry blossom was in flower. There is also another castle to visit, with views of snow-capped hills. Day 8, Easter Sunday, was spent at sea, before an obligatory non-Japanese port, Vladivostok, on Day 9. To avoid the need for independent Visas, we booked a walking tour with the ship, which was enjoyable, with the advantage of a sunny day as we were shown the town. Unfortunately, the result of this visit caused considerable delays on our return to Japan after another sea day, on Day 11, because we had to go through Immigration before disembarking, which took several hours. We did no more than visit the town on foot, involving a longer walk than expected, so a shuttle bus might have been useful. The best part for us was a Steam Clock, similar to the one in Vancouver, but otherwise there was little of interest. Hakodate, on Day 12, was another matter, with a viewing tower and a star-shaped fort and garden with hundreds of the paler Cherry blossom trees just about coming into flower. We had intended to take the Rope Way, or cable car, to the top of Mount Hakodate, but it was closed because of strong winds. Instead, we walked part of the way through the woodland, until we found a viewpoint over the town. We could see that the Ropeway had reopened after we returned to the ship, but our alternative walk was very enjoyable. Day 13, in Aomori, offered little to do before another sea day on the way back to Yokohama. We like to look out for wildlife while at sea, but there was remarkably little on this cruise, other than welcome Leysan Albatross and the smaller Short Legged Shearwaters, which were migrating. Oriental Turtle Doves heading for Alaska were also seen circling the ship occasionally and once perched for a while on wires in front of the large windows in the Crow’s Nest lounge. Black Kites were common in the ports and were interesting to watch and attempt to photograph. Day 15, the change-over day in Yokohama, was spent visiting the Sankeien Gardens, where we found another good view of Mount Fuji. The garden is obviously a popular place for wedding photographs and we enjoyed the beautiful traditional dress of brides and grooms. The Garden contains many ancient buildings, removed from their original locations and preserved in the Gardens by the founder. Another sea day took us to Muroran on Day 17. We took a tour of the town on a Hop On, Hop Off bus, with an interesting view point at Cape Chikyu, but not much else. Day 18, our last Japanese port, was spent at Kushiro, the only wet day of the cruise. A bus took us to the amusingly named MOO (Marine Our Ocean) and EGG (Ever Green Garden) buildings, where at last we found local craft for souvenirs, including that of the local Ainu people. The EGG building held craft sessions and an archery demonstration involving local school students, although the day was part of an extended public holiday for the start of a New Era in Japan. The Nusamai Bridge is famous for its statues of the Seasons, the first bridge to be so decorated in Japan. However, they all look as though they should represent Summer! The next six days were spent at sea, as we crossed the Pacific Ocean. Stormy weather at the beginning meant that the Promenade Deck was closed, during which time an Albatross took refuge in a corner of the deck for several days. Its presence and the reopening of the deck were not publicized and we did not see it. We also missed a pod of Orca which passed the ship, observed by people sitting in the bar in the warm. We were told about them several times, after the event, as we braved the Promenade deck on a wildlife watch. A significant part of the voyage for me was crossing the IDL. To see the beginning of a day in the far East, among the first to do so, then see its ending two days later in the far West, among the last to witness it, is special. The International Date Line diverts from the 180° line of longitude, the Antimeridian, to avoid dividing the Aleutian Island from the rest of Alaska, so knowing when we would cross it was not easy. The itinerary initially named it as our first day at sea, then our second, but both were clearly wrong. Even so, Day 21, the second after leaving Japan, was indeed selected as the day to be repeated and this is probably explained by the fact that the correct day, Day 22, was May 4th and Holland’s Remembrance Day. We decided to go by the ship’s position instead. We were advised that we would cross the IDL at around 04.00 on Sunday morning by our calendar and, by following the ship on a tracking web site, we could see it approach the Antimeridian. We did wake at 04.00 to photograph the changing morning light, but there was no sunrise, unfortunately. We crossed the 180° line of longitude at approximately 10.00 and took photographs of the view in front of us as we approached, which was for us, still in the East, yesterday in the West, Saturday; the view to the side which was briefly today, Sunday and the view behind, the East, which would soon become for us as we reached the West, a day in the past, Sunday. One of my favourite hymns sums it up beautifully as it describes the day passing from evening in the West to morning in the East, “The Day Thou Gavest, Lord is Ended.” https://library.timelesstruths.org/music/The_Day_Thou_Gavest_Lord_Is_Ended/ So, Sunday became Saturday once again and we agreed with the ship’s calendar as we crossed into the Western Hemisphere. We had been given a certificate to mark the incorrect crossing, but we returned it and asked for a correct one, which we received. We marked our second Sunday evening the next day with photographs as the light faded and the day was finally complete around the globe. Our days at sea provided the occasional evidence of a whale from its blow, but little else. Each day had included losing an hour as we worked towards Alaskan time, with a second hour being necessary on the last day. Japan does not have Daylight Saving Time, so it was dark very early there and it was pleasant to have longer light evenings as we moved further towards Alaska. We arrived at Kodiak, a new port for us, on Day 25. We were delayed getting into the port, through a narrow channel because of the rocky coastline, by strong winds, but we were able to dock about two hours later. The Captain added two hours to the departure time in compensation. We spent the day walking around the small town, visiting the Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Centre and the Russian Orthodox Cathedral. Although the famous bears are usually not in the town, we did have a welcome opportunity to watch a Sea Otter having a wash-and-brush-up in the harbour, close enough to see clearly and Bald Eagles on a slope directly opposite our balcony. One more sea day took us to Icy Strait Point on Day 27, another new port. We had booked a whale watching trip, which was good but very misty and chilly. After exploring the Visitor Centre, we returned to the ship and enjoyed several whales which were using the bay, from the comfort and warmth of the now sunny, outside deck. As we sailed away from Icy Strait Point, on a beautiful evening, an NCL ship was about an hour ahead of us and her exhaust seemed to hang on one side of the valley as ours filled the other side. Legal, but unpleasant and also a matter of concern. Day 28 was spent at Ketchikan, which we have visited several times before, so we used the time to shop for family souvenirs. There were three other ships in port in the morning, but two left surprisingly early and the town was much quieter in the afternoon. Our departure was delayed because the Captain had to go to hospital with appendicitis; luckily for him it had not happened in the middle of the Pacific. Day 29 saw us cruising through the Inside Passage, on a beautiful day to enjoy the scenery, logs being hauled on the water and fishing lodges being towed to their Summer location, before arriving at our final destination, Vancouver. We had chosen to spend a night there before flying home, so disembarkation was not rushed and we could enjoy a final breakfast in the Lido Market before leaving the ship after a long and interesting journey. Read Less
17 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2019
We chose this cruise primarily to visit Japan at a specific time of year.Now regretting choice of cruise line.READ on what to find out what you can expect. PROS. First of all the ship is clean although ageing. The signature suite ... Read More
We chose this cruise primarily to visit Japan at a specific time of year.Now regretting choice of cruise line.READ on what to find out what you can expect. PROS. First of all the ship is clean although ageing. The signature suite we had was clean and comfortable although its furnishings were dated ,the sofa bed was also past its best. Crew and staff generally ok no problems. CONS (litterally in respect of wine package) Bottled water is available in your room at $5 dollars a bottle and on going ashore. .Reluctantly we purchased a signature drinks package ($1486 plus %15 service charge ).You have to buy 2 if you are in a two person cabin..The drinks package. allows you to get any wines on the wine menue at $9 dollars or under. However most of these are undrinkable and even then you only have two choices of a white wine or three of a red.Within a few days of sailing they even ran out of a cheap white leaving you no choice unless you paid an extra full price for a wine above $9.. One.,evening we were even charged full price for a higher priced glass of wine that we had paid extra for even though they had run out of it.( we were given a cheaper plonk in its place) .'In previous reviews it has been stated that the food in the Lido Market is cold , unapettising and very repetitive.Apparently on this ship it is difficult to keep warm so you need to go early to take advantage of the hot food at the start. OK if you like to eat early.In the evening by 8pm they are closing down.Having said that, after visiting several more times every hot item is almost cold A word of warning for those of you who want a spa bath. The water jets in the bath initially spewed out a torrent of dirty water leaving the bottom of the bath full of scumand slime..Advise you run it several times before use with soap. Internet cost $170 dollars for 14 days and is very slow. A bagfull of laundry cost $30 dollars. but came back clean and pressed within 24 hours..Apparently the self service laundry on this ship was removed several years ago .(presumably so that they can extort more money out of you).. All the above issues have been raised with customer services but the ship is what it is. One other thing that needs mentioning is that at 11pm at night save for a few areas the ship is like the Marie Celeste IT DOES NOT OFFER VALUE FOR MONEY AND WE WILL NOT SALE WITH HOLLAND AMERICA AGAIN Generally entertainment on the ship is ok ,the resident band is very good with no complaints.The service is variable.. depending on what part of the ship you are in.. We have not been on any excursions as we feel they are overpriced Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2019
We selected this cruise because we had never been to Japan. We typically cruise with Holland America but have found on our last couple of cruises that their standards are starting to slip. The quality of the food and the ... Read More
We selected this cruise because we had never been to Japan. We typically cruise with Holland America but have found on our last couple of cruises that their standards are starting to slip. The quality of the food and the selection/variety is not what it used to be. As well, even though the staff are all dedicated and hardworking and do their best to keep the cruisers happy, HAL seems to have reduced the number of staff and so the service is also not what it used to be. Embarkation, in our opinion, was poorly handled and slow and we spent a lot of time simply standing in line. Disembarkation, on the other hand, was quite efficient and quick. The selection of ports for the 14 day Japan portion of the cruise was very good and we enjoyed all of them. We arranged private tours for all but one of the ports and so were always in a very small group, which meant we had more flexibility and usually were able to see more than the large groups. We had an inside cabin and it was quite comfortable and our room stewards were great. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2019
We chose this cruise because of the 2 day stop in Shanghai and Beijing and ending in Japan. This was our first time cruising on HAL. It was just the 2 of us cruising and we stayed in a balcony cabin, which was very nice. We arrived at ... Read More
We chose this cruise because of the 2 day stop in Shanghai and Beijing and ending in Japan. This was our first time cruising on HAL. It was just the 2 of us cruising and we stayed in a balcony cabin, which was very nice. We arrived at embarkation to find out we needed copies of our Passports and Visas on separate sheets of paper. We waiting in a line for 15 minutes + to have this done. If we knew prior to arriving, everyone would have these copies available. There were numerous agents to check us in and was quick. Unlike other cruise lines we've been on, the ship does not have a bright center atrium. It's quite small and dark. The ship as a whole in the interior is dark, the evening entertainment is just so-so, MANY people walk around with their bathrobes on visiting the pool/spa/buffet which we found strange and their were limited activities on sea days, All our tours were private with 8 people so can't comment on the ship's tours. We did attend several information sessions about ports, culture and various topics and found them well done and interesting. The service and food options in the Lido Marketplace, buffet, was very good. We ate our meals here for the variety and did not participate in the formal nights. We met friendly people since most times you share a table in the Lido Marketplace. For the first time ever, we took our luggage off by ourselves since we had reserved tickets for the bullet train. This worked well since we each only had 1 suitcase. Depending on the ports/cost, we would consider going again on HAL. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2019
We had AFT suite which had the perfect outlook as a panoramic view including the side. Vibration can take a little getting used to during the night but this only occurred when we were making up time or docking. Steward service was hit ... Read More
We had AFT suite which had the perfect outlook as a panoramic view including the side. Vibration can take a little getting used to during the night but this only occurred when we were making up time or docking. Steward service was hit and miss for a suite as we were surrounded by non suite staterooms and the allocation to each steward would be higher. Rarely did we see a child(I think there were 2 on board), most passengers were American Australian UK then South African average age 65. Loved the free laundry and staff in Neptune lounge were fantastic. Shows were nothing like the big ships so were a bit hit and miss. Pinnacle restaurant was great especially their degustation but MDR food was also great and service perfect. Always hard to compare different ships particularly of different size. Suite benefits vary dramatically in different cruise lines so check what suites you. As a 1900 passenger ship it is less crowded with fast elevators less queuing but the trade off is less shops and activities and shows of a lower standard. Tours in china and Japan were poor value with communication issues with the guides but they were well organised. Internet even on the premium package was hit and miss. Would definitely recommend this ship. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2019
The exotic itinerary and smaller port destinations made this voyage our choice. Papua New Guinea, 3 stops including the Trobriand Islands and Conflict Islands; Timor Leste, 2 stops on Borneo. Palawan in the Philippines to see the ... Read More
The exotic itinerary and smaller port destinations made this voyage our choice. Papua New Guinea, 3 stops including the Trobriand Islands and Conflict Islands; Timor Leste, 2 stops on Borneo. Palawan in the Philippines to see the underground river. Starting from Singapore, a favorite city of ours, allowed us to take a few days before leaving to explore the wonderful Gardens by the Bay and delicious multicultural city, on to the night zoo and Jurong Bird Park. We also enjoyed staying on in Brisbane at the end. Outstanding! What made this cruise truly exceptional (besides our most excellent large cabin) was that it is on the Maasdam which is now an EXC ship. That means in depth destination lectures and shore excursions. Every sea day there were multiple experts giving interesting lectures on South-East Asia, history, culture, ecology, coral reefs and the danger they are in, sea life, photography, local cooking demonstrations. For once there were more enrichment lectures than I could manage to get to, because sometimes you just want some quiet time to enjoy the sea and the ship. Now I can say I know something about this area and it's extraordinarily diverse marine life, and the ancient cultures that still live a natural life. This is really different and I hope Holland America keeps up EXC cruises! I can't wait to go on another one. There were also more traditional fun events like a St. Patrick's day bar crawl with silly games for those who aren't interested in more in-depth destination knowledge. Also the association of BBC with Holland America had BBC specials shown, such as about Birds of Paradise and those who chase after them, behind the scenes specials and more. Plus a live-orchestra showing of BBC Earth. Very special. It was rather awe-inspiring to see the 5 tribes of Kitava Island sail away at the end of the day in their hand hewn ships after lining up to sell us carvings and other crafts. We also rode in one of their craft from the beach to a small island, Nuratu, where we snorkeled a bit despite a bit of rain. A view of another life that you don't often see. How often do you get to islands with no banks or hotels? Also the Conflict Islands, owned by an Australian and now a center of research on reefs and marine life. Excellent snorkeling there. A real paradise. I do wish the shore excursions were more reasonably priced. But we were able to get together with others on cruise critic for some tours ahead of time, also I arranged private tours for the 4 of us in our party at some stops. Plus taxi tours and local parks make good destinations. As for onboard experience, the food was very good, better than some other cruise lines I've been on. Is there the occasional miss? Sure, but also dishes that were creative and delicious. (I didn't think the French Onion soup was good for example.) But overall, good menus with a number of choices including vegetarian, excellent service from the staff throughout the ship, and always something I wanted to eat. I rather looked forward to ordering the steak on the always available menu in the dining room, very tasty with good sides. The buffet had the staff dishing up the food which sometimes created lines, but usually waiting a little bit would see a lull where you could walk right up and get what you wanted. The salads were delish for lunch, and again, if there's a line, just wait a little while or try the other side - ready made sandwiches were easy to pick up. The pool side grill had great Chicago style hot dogs (other styles available), yummy crispy fries, and good burgers too. And a taco bar. Enjoyed that! Room stewards are very good and I enjoyed the towel animals every night, and the big display they did on the last day around the pool, hundreds of towel creatures, some life sized and fully dressed. Another nice touch: the presentation of the next day schedule along with a card with a different travel quote, and other communications such as time changes placed in a nice folio on the bed. So I high recommend Maasdam especially for the EXC expert lectures. Best daily schedule of any ship I've ever been on for my taste. Read Less
12 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2019
I booked this cruise mainly due to the itinerary it offered to East Asia, the brand of Holland America was the second reason. The Westerdam is a nice, clean and comfortable cruise ship and offered all the amenities that cruise lines ... Read More
I booked this cruise mainly due to the itinerary it offered to East Asia, the brand of Holland America was the second reason. The Westerdam is a nice, clean and comfortable cruise ship and offered all the amenities that cruise lines offer. I enjoyed the itinerary and all the ports visited. However, my experience of the Westerdam was a little disappointing and although the staff were polite and welcoming that really hid the lack of attention to detail and lack of service in some areas. Having spoken to a few guests who had travelled on the Westerdam previously it appeared I was not the only one experiencing a lack of service that would be expected on a ship of this calibre. Keeping it brief I experienced: A wait of over 20 minutes for food from the Dive Inn take-out only to find they had not switched on the little box that notifies you when the food is ready and then served me cold food. Having clothes returned from the laundry where on 3 occasions the clothes were not pressed or part pressed. For the whole cruise (apart form the last 2 nights after I had to highlight this to the waiter) I was not offered any alcoholic drinks with my dinner whilst watching other passengers arriving at their tables with wine, beer or soft drinks waiting for them. Whilst staff would acknowledge you with the obligatory good morning, afternoon or evening the Officers must of believed I was a member of staff because they were arrogant and rude on some occasions and this even includes the Captain who passed me one day and whilst I was attempting to see what his name was I got such a look of distaste, no hello or how can I help you. Being lied to by the EXC team (excursions) in regards to dis-embarkation resulting in many passengers paying $15 for a transfer when in fact there were plenty of options at the dis-embarkation port. The EXC team presented that taxis would be not available and even provided pictures of lines of people queuing for a taxi, there were lots of taxis on stand by! There were other little things which you normally brush off as 'oh well things happen' but a lot of these things add up and just highlighted the lack of control the management had on its staff and service suffered. First time on Holland America and not a good experience. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2019
We have traveled on many HA cruises and still believe that it offers value; but over the years there appears to be a greater focus on profit and less on quality of service. They have definitely lost out to the more luxury lines and it ... Read More
We have traveled on many HA cruises and still believe that it offers value; but over the years there appears to be a greater focus on profit and less on quality of service. They have definitely lost out to the more luxury lines and it shows. We selected this trip as the ports were exotic and the cost of cabin reasonable; and that proved to be true. What changed is the up-charge for everything from bottled water to premium steak in the dining room. We were actually told that on some HA ships that top-of-the menu and second portions are at an added charge; and that this is scheduled to implemented on all ships later this year. The wait staff in both the dining room and the Lido deck were attentive and well trained; there was always someone at the buffet willing to help either carry a plate or find a table. The Lido menu was a bit boring and would imagine to be redundant to those passengers on for 28 days. At times the food on the serving line looked old and dried out but that is likely the effect of heat lamps on less popular dishes that are not replenished as often. Additionally thee should be better crowd control at the more popular food stations as wait times are long and crowd gets anxious. The 3rd deck main dining room is rarely filled and the menu is much leaner than on past cruises. Gone are the cold soups and a lack of a greater variety of appetizers. While steak, fish and chicken plus a vegetarian offering are available every evening, the variety is sometime lacking. I do not cruise to eat meatloaf, fried chicken and liver. The cabin attendants were friendly and did a reasonable job replenishing towels and linens. In earlier cruises HA always supplied a "goody basket" in the BR but that is long gone, as is additional bars of soap. We were in a veranda cabin and unfortunately the weather generally was not conducive to using it but on the one day that we could it was so grimy with sea salt that one wondered if it had been cleaned between cruises. Otherwise ship was older but appeared maintained; public spaces were a bit cramped and lacked areas where one could sit and read or just relax without traffic. We will sail on HA again but only if the trip entices us and the price is right. Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2019
This was the friendliest cruise ship, we have been on. The crew were helpful and happy to serve. Stateroom was comfortable and larger than those on the newer ships. Good selection of tv programmes and movies available. The only problem ... Read More
This was the friendliest cruise ship, we have been on. The crew were helpful and happy to serve. Stateroom was comfortable and larger than those on the newer ships. Good selection of tv programmes and movies available. The only problem we had was with the air conditioning was not strong enough to cool the room enough during the night. The main dining room was good especially in the anytime dining restaurant, food was well presented and there were plenty of menu choices available including regional specialities to suit everyone. The lido was a little bit of a let down, due mainly to the way it was arranged for service. Breakfast was the worst as I had to wait at two different counters to be served my bacon and eggs as the english bacon and sausage were not available on the same counter as the fried eggs or the omelette counter. The dive in was excellent as the burgers are cooked to order with fries etc.... The salad bar was also good with a lot of choice. Entertainment on the main stage was a little disappointing and repetitive, the enrichment program was better and I especially enjoyed the port talks and lectures on the places we visited. The entertainment staff were very visible and I especially enjoyed the trivia and games. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: March 2019
Great ports, lots of activities aboard ship on sea days. Services were outstanding; staff was pleasant and aimed to please. Food in the main dining room included options that were specific to our ports of call, and Lido Market dinners ... Read More
Great ports, lots of activities aboard ship on sea days. Services were outstanding; staff was pleasant and aimed to please. Food in the main dining room included options that were specific to our ports of call, and Lido Market dinners often reflected that as well. Ship is well-maintained. Would sail on this ship again and again. Embarkation process was a little slower than other cruise lines but disembarkation was efficient and smooth. Lectures by Master Kam enhanced the experience in understanding the histories and cultures of the Asian countries we visited. He also conducted tai chi classes that were open to all. Shore excursions were a bit pricey but the Holland American EXC tours that we took were run efficiently and showed us the highlights of the regions that we visited. We also booked some tours with friends. These were less expensive than the HAL tours and often covered the same areas. The ship-sponsored tours have the "convenience factor" and consistently expert guides. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2019
We joined the Westerdam in Shanghai having spent a great week discovering the exciting city of Shanghai. This was my third HAL cruise so my expectations were high. Unfortunately it was very disappointing overall. As a plus Embarkation and ... Read More
We joined the Westerdam in Shanghai having spent a great week discovering the exciting city of Shanghai. This was my third HAL cruise so my expectations were high. Unfortunately it was very disappointing overall. As a plus Embarkation and disembarkation had improved from previous trips. Cabin was standard and clean. Meals were very ordinary and on multiple occasions came to the table cold. Many experienced mariners commented on the HAL deterioration in food/meals compared to previous experiences. Senior staff were informed on several nights but nothing was done. Entertainment by HAL troupe was geared to a younger audience ( screeching, loud nightclub type of music) whenost of the target audience were seniors. Several nights there were excellent classical and pop performers ( one Australian & one English). They made up for the other nights. Initially two nights In Seoul were scheduled but this was changed to one after we booked. Very disappointing. Shore excursions were expensive and most we could have organised ourselves for half the cost ( as we did with Beijing two day trip). I would hesitate to travel with HAL again. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2019
We chose this cruise because the itinerary included some places we had not yet visited. We chose a Signature Suite because it afforded more room for not a large premium. The veranda, although larger than many ships, was not important ... Read More
We chose this cruise because the itinerary included some places we had not yet visited. We chose a Signature Suite because it afforded more room for not a large premium. The veranda, although larger than many ships, was not important since the weather was too cold to sit out there for even a short amount of time. We were very pleased with our cabin choice (8053) as it was very conveniently located. The cabin had a bathroom with a double bowl vanity, shower stall and tub with shower. Unfortunately, storage space in the bathroom is poor and not very convenient to use. There was only one shelf under the sink, so storage could not be organized. Our two big disappointments were the food, primarily, and the entertainment and shipboard activities, but less so. The menu choices were not as good as we have had on Celebrity, which is a similarly rated ship. On several occasions, food had to be sent back because it arrived cold. Entree choices were somewhat limited; however, the entrees available every day could be substituted, although they were not always very tasty. Portions for the most part are skimpy. I ordered rack of lamb, one of my favorites normally, but was disappointed when the entree came with only 3 small pieces of lamb chops, totalling probably less than 4 ounces of meat. Skimpy was typical of most dinner entrees. Desserts always sounded better than they tasted. They too were skimpy most of the time. The entertainment that was brought onto the ship was fairly good, but shows were short, most of the time less than 45 minutes. The production shows were uninspiring and most of the time lasted only 30 minutes or so. One show was stopped with no explanation and was not finished. We suspected a backstage "event" had occurred - perhaps an injury to a performer. The B. B. King Blues Club was very good and the sing along piano bar, with two pianos and male and female vocalsts, was also very good. Programming on sea days was limited and uninspiring. There were computer classes that were 30 minutes long, but not all computers were connected to the internet, making some of the people unable to fully participate. The one enrichment speaker was very entertaining but he seemed to always run out of time and have to rush through his usually good talks. Overall, it was an average cruise at best. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: February 2019
The ports on this cruise were fabulous. Even though it was cold for the first few weeks, it was well worth going. The crew on Westerdam are some of the best I've come across on any HAL ship. ALL of them were wonderful. The ... Read More
The ports on this cruise were fabulous. Even though it was cold for the first few weeks, it was well worth going. The crew on Westerdam are some of the best I've come across on any HAL ship. ALL of them were wonderful. The cabins however, are tired & need an upgrade. Our bath had a crack in it & poured water all over the floor every time we had a shower. We tried to get them to fix it but, in the end, we fixed it ourselves with gaff tape!! The public rooms however, had been upgraded & were excellent. Food in the MDR was great, as was the service. The Lido however, was another story. Food was usually cold or luke warm & some of the service attendants less than friendly, so we stopped eating there. The entertainment was OK. Production shows were ordinary & so were the guest entertainers. BB's Blues club band were fantastic but played VERY little blues so we stopped going!! The ports were excellent & the guest lecturer Master Kam fantastic. Also, they are now giving lots on talks with info about upcoming ports which, if you are an independent traveller, is invaluable going ashore by yourself. The ship's shore excursions that we went on were all good. Only problem, of course, is rude inconsiderate people who WON'T be back at the bus at the specified time making everyone else wait for them & losing sightseeing time at the next stop. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2019
We chose this cruise because we love cruising in Asia and we prefer cooler weather over hot and humid weather. Holland America has a kind of a laid back atmosphere that we enjoy but their sea days are lacking in things to do. We did enjoy ... Read More
We chose this cruise because we love cruising in Asia and we prefer cooler weather over hot and humid weather. Holland America has a kind of a laid back atmosphere that we enjoy but their sea days are lacking in things to do. We did enjoy the lecturers on the various ports of call. They have worked on having better entertainment with piano players in the billboard on board lounge and BB King in the other lounge which was really good. The main show room was kind of a hit or miss, sometimes good and other times not so good. The singers and dancers from the ship were talented but the routines they did needs improvement because they sang a lot of songs we didn't recognize. The food in the Lido and Main Dining room was above average but a lot of the same kind of food. We did enjoy going to the Pinnacle Grill Restaurant (specialty restaurant) to have their crab legs and that was really good! The crew's overall service was very good. Had trouble 3 times with the guest services, 1st one was with exchanging money, they had me stand in 3 lines which took up a lot of time waiting, 2nd was when we received a note saying that after the first leg of our cruise (14 days, we were upgraded to 4 star Mariner), sent our laundry out but they charged our room for the service, eventually they took if off our bill but have to meet with them twice before it happened. 3rd, we received a note stating that on disembarking if we needed a wheelchair to report to the Pinnacle Bar 15 minutes prior to when we want to get off. We did report with other people but no one there with wheel chairs so I went to guest services and they said to just go back to the Pinnacle Bar and someone will meet us. We waited another 1/2 hour (1 hour by now), no one came so we decided to get off since we made private transportation reservations only to find the wheel chairs located on the second floor at the Ocean Bar. It was upsetting because when we got there and asked to have a wheel chair, the staff said there were a lot of people waiting and we would have to patient and wait our turn and that our color and number has not been called yet which really upset me. I told her our number was called over a hour ago and then she gave us the next wheel chair that was available. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2019
WE took this cruise because we were interested in the ports of call. If we had known in advance that HAL was only interested in the passengers going of EXC tours we wouldn't have taken this cruise. Most of the stops we out of the way ... Read More
WE took this cruise because we were interested in the ports of call. If we had known in advance that HAL was only interested in the passengers going of EXC tours we wouldn't have taken this cruise. Most of the stops we out of the way at some large container port. The cruise director failed to inform us in advance about possible shuttles our of the port. At some of the ports they offered no free shuttle and you could only get out by expensive taxi. As 5 star mariners we have known better cruises with HAL. When in Hongkong they forgot to inform their staff that ONLY the people who went to Macau were not allowed to get off the ship after returning from Macau. We still had half a day left to explore. After a big row with the staff the cruise direction eventually gave out a message that we could leave the ship again. Bad work!!! The entertainment was not exsistent or poor except for the Chinese lady playing the accordeon.On seadays there was NO entertainment except talks for the EXC people. There was no music band on the deck and elevator music played the same music every day. Our cabin was good and spacious as it was a suite and the staff their usual friendly self. Everything was clean. As there were many people with bad cold including me we expected staff to make sure people didn't touch the food or fill their water bottles at the macine themselves.This did not happen. What happened to the coctail party for the past mariners? We didn't get one invitation although we are 5 star.All in all I would say this was not the best cuise we have been on. We will think twice about booking HAL again. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2019
We chose this cruise because of the itinerary. What we didn’t know was the cruise was not only an EXC voyage but an In Depth sailing as well ( Holland America needs to do a better job marketing this product). Every sea day was packed ... Read More
We chose this cruise because of the itinerary. What we didn’t know was the cruise was not only an EXC voyage but an In Depth sailing as well ( Holland America needs to do a better job marketing this product). Every sea day was packed with guest speakers and specialists in history, culture, science and nature, art, photography, food and vine for the regions and countries we would be visiting. Plus the EXC ship staff prepared us for each port visit with practical information to get out on your own or to take an organized ship tour. The staff on the Maasdam were outstanding. We found everyone to be warm, friendly, professional, and service oriented. To mention several exceptional staff, Florin, the Hotel Director, John and Frances from Guest Services, Best, Evi, Christopher, Sara Jane, Nutdawana and Robert provided an excellent experience in the Lido as well. Because of our wonderful experience, we are now Holland America loyalists!! Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2019
We have travelled on the Maasdam 9 years ago. Everything about the cruise (Panama Canal) was A+. This cruise in S.E. Asia was terrible. Embarkation was very slow (11/2 hour wait). The ship has gotten old and run down. It should be ... Read More
We have travelled on the Maasdam 9 years ago. Everything about the cruise (Panama Canal) was A+. This cruise in S.E. Asia was terrible. Embarkation was very slow (11/2 hour wait). The ship has gotten old and run down. It should be taken out of service. The cabin was nothing special, run of the mill outside cabin. The food in the dining room was was way below average, worse in the buffet. Not as much selection, and the quality well below Holland America standards. The entertainment was sub par whenever there was any. Mostly movies and talks. This was an EXC cruise. Don't go on these cruises. The service was below Holland America standards. The excursions were expensive and not worth the price. Many passengers hired a taxi for half the price. In our opinion, Holland America standards have depreciated considerably. We did a Celebrity cruise after the Maasdam. Infinitly better. Read Less
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