We had a a group that ranged from kids to seniors on a Thanksgiving Cruise. We are avid cruisers but had never been on Holland America. We all loved it! The food was amazing and the entertainment was better than we expected. The evening ... Read More
We had a a group that ranged from kids to seniors on a Thanksgiving Cruise. We are avid cruisers but had never been on Holland America. We all loved it! The food was amazing and the entertainment was better than we expected. The evening music options were fantastic. The ship was kept immaculate and had the most attentive crew onboard. They definitely had less of a party vibe and a more relaxed, calmer mature feel to the ship. I heard that there are plenty of kids on board when it’s a holiday or summer. I enjoyed the quieter aspects of it but could see how a younger adult crowd might want a little more excitement. The kids club was fun for the kids but very basic as far as the activities planned. It was a mixture of games with a little arts and crafts mixed in. Their private island was fantastic with plenty of beach chairs and a gorgeous beach and view. Read Less
This is my 12th cruise, but the first time cruising with HAL.
The cruise was a 7-Day “Western Caribbean” tour from/to Fort Lauderdale with stops at Half Moon Cay, Falmouth, George Town and Cozumel.
I selected this cruise with MS ... Read More
This is my 12th cruise, but the first time cruising with HAL.
The cruise was a 7-Day “Western Caribbean” tour from/to Fort Lauderdale with stops at Half Moon Cay, Falmouth, George Town and Cozumel.
I selected this cruise with MS Oosterdam as I found a very good Suite offer for this cruise during the thanks-giving week.
MS Oosterdam is a mid-size ship that has space for ~2500 Passengers & 800 Crew. The ship (Fincantieri - Vista Class) is a standard sandwich built with cabins in the lowest decks, public areas including restaurants, shops and casino right above, again cabins in the middle decks and finally the open public area including Lido restaurant, swimming pools / bars and spa in the upper open decks.
Special: This ship has a nice lounge, called Crows Nest in the fully forward upper section above the navigation bridge.
I booked a “Guaranty Signature Suite” and received SY Suite 5001.
This Suite is located at Deck 5, fully forward.
It is a very nice and spacious suite with a window in the ships front and a little balcony. The suite 5001 is an accessible suite, means it is bigger than normal suites and the bathroom has only one sink (normally, suites has double sink) and there is next to the toilet a shower area for wheel chair passengers.
The furniture in the room are “old style” but fully functional.
Due to the fact, the suite is fully forward located, the wind deflecting around the bow can generate a huge under-pressure and in this case, the balcony door is whistling like hell. As the ship is already at a certain age, the door has some gaps that can’t be really closed even not when the balcony door is locked with the key. This permanent whistling is disturbing from good sleep.
I had two nice cabin stewards, which serviced the cabin twice per day and tried their best to close the balcony the best as they can.
For me the most disappointing item on this cruise:
As I had a suite cabin, for dinner, I was privileged to open your time dinner seating in the main restaurant at deck 2. Anyway, every day, a register at the restaurant entrance was required. Twice, I had to wait at the entrance with a device like at a steakhouse in the US. Ones, I waited 30min until my device has flashed and a table was available for me.
The service in the main was very slow. Often, up to 2 hours were required for a starter and a main course!!!!!!. Dessert would require additional time that make me then to skip this.
Eating in the Lido Buffet Restaurant had like on other ships a lot of disadvantage. Often, there were ques to get the food and at the end, the meal is cold when you receive your table to eat.
New for me: Chefs served the Buffet. Means, you have not collected the food you like by yourself, always you need to explain to somebody (mostly a Chef) behind the desk what you want and how much you want. Hence, it was not possible to task a bit and if you like it take more or less of this item.
The ship offers different kind of entertainment during the night.
There is a Jazz club, Piano entertainment and classic music which offers programs on different evenings (but not every day). Further is the theatre with productions and the casino.
During the day, there is no entertainment at all. Neither at the pool nor in the adult serenade area is live music offered.
I heart, that there were games trivia & quiz offered during the day, but I haven’t participated at these events.
Ports of call:
The ports had absolutely nothing special.
Half moon cay is nothing than a beach with one Lunch self service restaurant and some bars.
Falmouth, George Town and Cozumel are heavily overcrowded ports with up to 6 big cruise ships together in the port.
Cruising with HAL is different to every other company, I was cruising with before.
Cruising in the Caribbean area is boring, as all destinations are similar and there are always too many cruise ships who are at the same time in the same port.
Anyway, the experience on the ship, beside the poor dinner, was nice and I enjoyed this out time.
Wouldn’t mind to select again HAL, but not again for a Caribbean cruise. Read Less
We chose this cruise because friends had already booked. The ship recently went through a renovation but it was clear the renovation was only in certain common areas. Our stateroom was filthy, old and very tired. Overall the food was ... Read More
We chose this cruise because friends had already booked. The ship recently went through a renovation but it was clear the renovation was only in certain common areas. Our stateroom was filthy, old and very tired. Overall the food was good except in the Lido area. I'm attaching some pictures of our stateroom so you can see how neglected it is. The overall entertainment was sparse, however, the cruise director was very friendly and asked for suggesions on how to make things better. Most of the staff was very helpful and attentive but the overall feeling we got from the cruise was there wasn't enough to do unless you wanted to go and sit and listen to people speak about different topics. We knew going into this cruise that HAL caters to a much older crowd but even older people enjoy some live music by the pool and clean updated accomodations. Read Less
2018_11 Holland America Oosterdam Caribbean cruise
Our first cruise and we were excited in the weeks before but once we boarded, we were awed way beyond expectations by the ship and our cabin. Everything was fantastic ! I think our ... Read More
2018_11 Holland America Oosterdam Caribbean cruise
Our first cruise and we were excited in the weeks before but once we boarded, we were awed way beyond expectations by the ship and our cabin. Everything was fantastic ! I think our Signature Suite 8055, which was way larger than we expected, was largely responsible. There was *nothing* wrong with this cabin - wonderful air conditioning around the clock, the most comfortable beds ever, 3 lockers, a shower and jet tub in the bathroom, and a generous balcony - it was fantastic and we loved every minute of it. I guess the one issue was - we were under the pool deck (I think) and there was a lot of sound from lounge chairs being setup in the morning - but it did not bother us - and I am someone who is sensitive to sound.
The fitness center was fantastic - large with lots of machines and great views over the bow. I stuck to dumbbells and the Precor upright bikes which offered lots of resistance.
The $20 "fill a bag" laundry service was fantastic - I thought they would just wash and fold - but they pressed - and well!
Pinnacle Grill was great - beautiful decor and great food although my steak was a wee bit overcooked. Lovely service.
Cannaletto - the other premium restaurant - seemed like it was just a money grab. It's merely a carved out section of the Lido Market - not a separate restaurant - and TBH I think they're serving the same food you'd get in the Market. Get a salad and a build-your-own-pasta from Lido Grill instead - there I just saved you $15.
Speaking of Lido Market - we thought it was pretty good generally but there were some real misses such as the filet mignon which was quite a disappointment, and the soups which never were that good. The salad bar was great, the "build your own pasta" was great, the asian section was great.
Here's the thing tho - HAL mentions "legendary service" on their website. When it comes to the eating and drinking areas, I'd call it "questionable service". We were served water/tea only about 30% of the time in the Lido Grill. The bartenders were noticeably not pleasant - not angry or anything - just sort of procedural. In the 'fancy' dining room, I watched waiters traverse back and forth by our table for 15 minutes before I raised my arms to get one to stop for a bread refill. (Apart from that, we did enjoy The Dining Room on 3 different nights including Thanksgiving dinner which was quite good). Our cabin stewards were delightful and never failed to greet us by name from the moment we boarded. If all of the mandatory daily tip went to them, I would be ok with that.
We didn't attend much on-board entertainment - we were too tired by 9pm! The trivia games were fun, and the casino, tho small, was enjoyable. The lounges / bars / common areas were mostly gorgeous. The Lincoln Center venue was good, tho small, and there were only brief performances here and there. The Digital presentations were pretty good - good instructor. The "Onshore Shopping" presentation was merely a diamond sales pitch, I'm willing to bet by employees of the diamon sellers. The shops were meh.
The pool areas always seemed to have chairs and pool space available. I thought they would be chock-full but they weren't. We bought the thermal suite 7-day pass for $219/couple (we paid $250 in advance but they reversed the charge to $219 altho as I think about it they may have double-charged us - need to check). Thermal pool is great but wish it was a degree or two hotter. Never crowded. We enjoyed the Thermal Suite altho we used it only 4 or 5 times so next time, maybe just pay the daily fee.
Couple gripes I have with their Navigator smartphone app. Missing/Incorrect information is a pet peeve of mine, especially when it is so easy to get it right, to everyone's benefit.
- it says there are no ATMs onboard. This is wrong. There is one adjacent to customer service. Which I learned after waiting in line at customer service. BTW customer service charges 3% for cash advance, the ATM is flat $6.
- I had to go to Infirmary one day. Navigator says *nothing* about infirmary. Turns out, it is open only certain hours, and you have to go to the *front* of the ship to get there. Navigator offers all sorts of ways to buy dining and excursions, but zero about a possible necessity like the infirmary.
Disembarkation was annoying (is it ever not?) - the printed instructions were not clear - and we did not appreciate seeing a HAL employee bark at everyone, roll his eyes and shake his head at guests (who were paying his salary), when they failed to follow the routine, quite likely due to the poor/incomplete printed instructions. Read Less
We chose this ship specifically because of its BB King’s Blue Club. We’d been on another Holland America ship where the same club was the best part of the voyage. But no—this club barely played any blues at all. Imagine ordering ... Read More
We chose this ship specifically because of its BB King’s Blue Club. We’d been on another Holland America ship where the same club was the best part of the voyage. But no—this club barely played any blues at all. Imagine ordering steak at a restaurant and being served a hot dog. “But this is what we call a steak.” OK, HAL, you want to play to a different market, fine. But don’t advertise as something you’re not.
The food was sub par. Having ordered a dessert with fruit and macadamia nuts, the plate arrived with one blueberry cut in half, a thin slice of a strawberry, and one macadamia nut cut into pieces. Order a hot dog with onions at the outdoor grill, and it comes with onions and relish. Instead of buying into anything with scrambled eggs at breakfast (never made with freshly prepared eggs), we ordered eggs over. More often than not, we had to send them back to the kitchen because they arrived too hard or too soft. (This occurred in the restaurant reserved for suite guests—not many people there in the morning.). Sandwiches were gross: the roast beef had more fat than beef.
Another annoyance. Given that the main breakfast and lunch venue was generally overcrowded, you’d expect that the crew would be quick to clean tables. It often took up to three requests for a table to be cleaned so we could sit down (this while we were holding plates of food).
The women’s locker room at the spa was a real disappointment. All three showers had wet mats, and dirty towels were strewn around the changing rooms. Undraped windows (docked next to another ship)—how uncomfortable to realize that people could look directly into the massage and locker rooms. The women’s spa had showers but no combs, no Q-tips, no spray deodorant.
Did I mention that the WiFi was very spotty and didn’t work with all Kindle readers?
Unless you travel in a scooter or wheelchair and prefer a ship with many other people who do as well, you might want to stay away from the Holland America line. In short, the ship was a disappointment at a high cost. Read Less
It was recommended to us for first time cruisers,l but we will not be last time cruisers. Really enjoyed the whole week. "Staff could not do enough for you, always smile on their faces, always a hi or morning. Ports were excellent, ... Read More
It was recommended to us for first time cruisers,l but we will not be last time cruisers. Really enjoyed the whole week. "Staff could not do enough for you, always smile on their faces, always a hi or morning. Ports were excellent, staff on the beach were great, always towels in the pool areas, food always hot and fresh,
The staff were not pushy for drinks if you did not want any, of they would come ask and replenish when needed.
Weather was super, not much swaying of the ship either and if there was going to be the capitan woud certainly let us know in plenty of advance. Room service was always available for any meal and inbetween as well and on time.
I am looking into booking another cruise for next November to Turks and Cacos on the same ship and hopefully the same room and same staff Read Less
The Nieuw Amsterdam to the Eastern Caribbean was an excellent choice for an anniversary getaway - we enjoyed exceptional service, good to very good food, a quiet stateroom with a spacious balcony, and extended time in the four ports of ... Read More
The Nieuw Amsterdam to the Eastern Caribbean was an excellent choice for an anniversary getaway - we enjoyed exceptional service, good to very good food, a quiet stateroom with a spacious balcony, and extended time in the four ports of call. My wife an I are in our mid 40s, and found that we were definitely younger than the average age, there was a wide range of passengers from young to old on our mid-november sailing.
Embarkation: from Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale was organized, but slower than previous HAL cruises. We arrived at the port at 10:30, were fully checked in by 11, boarding began at 11:30, and we were finally onboard by 12:15. On previous cruises we were onboard by 11:30. Our cabin was ready when we boarded, however, and disembarkation was quick and efficient.
The Ship: we have sailed on Holland America's R-class vessels previously; this was our first cruise on a larger Signature class ship. While we enjoyed the additional dining and entertainment options, and found the Nieuw Amsterdam to be very well maintained, the larger size and passenger numbers were noticeable at times. My wife and I prefer traditional, uncrowded ships -- and while we greatly enjoyed our cruise on the Nieuw Amsterdam, we concluded the smaller ships are more to our liking.
Cabin: We had a forward VE class balcony stateroom, 7013. The room was just right for two passengers, well appointed, very quiet, and with a wonderful balcony. We spent every evening and many hours of the day on the balcony, enjoying sound of the sea and the view of the water and stars. There were two reclinable chairs, separate footrests / ottomans, and a small table on the balcony. As there are staterooms above and below deck 7, we never heard noise from other areas of the ship. The interactive TV has 150+ movies on demand, the daily menus, five live TV channels (all news), and information about weather, ship position, and ports of call. The bathroom features a single sink, tub/shower combination, and Elemis toiletries.
Service: Outstanding, as always for HAL. We were greeted by name by our cabin attendants, and everyone on the ship looked for opportunities to attend to and anticipate our needs. The one exception was staff onshore at HAL's private island, Half Moon Cay. Some of the Half Moon Cay staff were helpful, but several were brusque or rude when we asked questions or requested directions to places on the island. When a horseback riding shore excursion on Half Moon Cay ran long, we were dropped off at the island BBQ at 12:50, ahead of their 1 PM closing. Staff were already taking down the buffet, and refused to serve us lunch. As a result, we had to head back to the ship early for lunch rather than enjoying Half Moon Cay's beach.
Dining: Food ranged from good to very good. As a foodie, none of the dishes were outstanding, but none of them were poor either. Dinner in the Tamarind restaurant was the best meal and dinner service we have experienced on a Holland America ship. Room service was efficient and complimentary - we enjoyed two dinners in our cabin, and had coffee and tea delivered to the room every morning. We also loved the high tea, served in the main dining room on fine china at 3 PM each afternoon.
Entertainment: We loved Lincoln Center Stage - world class, classical chamber music performed in a dedicated concert venue - and attended their performances almost every night. BBC Earth, highlights from the series set to a live performance of the score, was wonderful. We also attended two enjoyable, if simple, America's Test Kitchen cooking demonstrations. HAL does not have the showy, nonstop entertainment offered by some other lines, and young children would find entertainment outside of the kids club to be limited to swimming in the pool, but we loved the more sophisticated approach to entertainment. Read Less
We booked this cruise because we were joining fellow submarine veterans for our annual convention. The check-in and embarkation was very well handled. We were told that our cabin was not ready and that we should have lunch in the Lido. ... Read More
We booked this cruise because we were joining fellow submarine veterans for our annual convention. The check-in and embarkation was very well handled. We were told that our cabin was not ready and that we should have lunch in the Lido. The dining room was not open. The lunch was mediocre.
No. 1: Sunday, October 21, we moved into our cabin, 8026, at 12:30 and it was warm. I turned the warmer/cooler gauge to the coolest setting but not much happened. I called Guest Services at 1:30 and someone came about an hour later with a temperature sensor. She stated that the temperature was 75°F, and “that’s cool”. I have asthma and keep my house at 66°F so I don’t consider 75°F cool. It was still warm all night and I didn’t sleep at all. I called again on Monday and someone came but nothing really happened until late that afternoon. On and off, the cabin was overly warm during the cruise. On a previous HAL cruise on the Köingsdam I could actually set the temperature to 66°F.
No. 2: Sunday, October 21, when I went into the bathroom to use the toilet and opened the lid, the stench was that of the dirty men’s room in a run down gas station. Before I had an opportunity to call Guest Services, our cabin steward delivered our luggage and I asked him to clean the toilet. I could tell that he didn’t believe me when I said it stank, until he opened the lid. He made a face so I know he thought it was bad.
No. 3: While the steward was cleaning the toilet, I noticed that a crew was chipping paint above our veranda. I looked out and saw that the chairs, the deck and the railings were covered in debris. I asked the steward to please clean the veranda. I could tell he wasn’t pleased to see how dirty it was. This is a classic example of the maintenance supervisor not talking to the housekeeping supervisor. If they did speak with each other, maintenance would have told housekeeping that the verandas would need cleaning. I spoke with my neighbors when out on the veranda the next morning and their verandas were filthy; I told them about the chipping and that they should ask to have them cleaned.
No. 4: The grout lines in the shower area of the bathroom were covered in mildew. I ran my fingernail on one of them and was able to remove some mildew; however, most was completely ingrained in the grout. I didn’t bother to ask that it be cleaned because it will take hours to properly clean it.
No. 5: The plastic cover on the shower seat was badly cracked and the plastic was rather sharp. There does not appear to be anyone who actually inspects the cabins and the stewards certainly don’t have time.
No. 6: The hem of the shower curtain was filthy; obviously it is not washed between passengers. Again, attention to detail is lacking.
No. 7: The first morning when I used the hair dryer it caught fire. I called Guest Services to report it and request another and was asked “did you unplug it?” Of course I unplugged it as soon as it started burning, I am not stupid. The hair dryer catching fire is not what I am unhappy about, it was the suggestion that I was so stupid that I would not know to unplug a burning hair dryer.
No. 8: There are only 2 outlets in the cabin and none by the bedsides. I have a CPAP machine so I had to request an extension cord. I was given a heavy duty yellow one to run under the bed from the desk. More than 2 outlets should be available and they should be on the bedsides.
No. 9: The TV is hung to the left of the bed so that the person on the far side has to get a crick in their neck if they want to watch. It wouldn’t be so bad if it could be swiveled out to face the bed. But really, why would they hang a picture in the center of the wall at the foot of the bed and the TV off to the left side? Do they think that we want to line up the 2 chairs by the desk to watch?
No. 10: Robe hooks should be either on the inside of the closet doors or high enough on the bathroom door to hang a robe. Because we had a handicap shower, someone thought that the hooks should be only waist high. This is of no use to anyone, including someone in a wheelchair because you cannot hang up the robes in the bathroom unless you want 3 feet of them dragging the floor. I would think that the chances of having both occupants of the cabin in a wheelchair are rather slim. The non-wheelchair bound passenger can hang the robes for both. Also, at their current height, the hooks easily catch you on the arm when going in or out of the bathroom. I did more than once.
No. 11: Accumulated dust and debris in most corners and around most baseboards throughout the ship. I was an officer in the US Navy and they trained us to look high and look low because those are the areas that most don’t see. Old habits never die; I still look high and low everywhere I go. The Navy takes cleanliness very seriously because of the threat of seaborne illnesses. I don’t think the ship is staffed to actually keep the ship as clean as it should be and the turnover time between cruises is insufficient to for the cabin stewards to properly clean the cabins. I know that port costs are high and they want the ship at sea as quickly as possible. However, if passengers were told that they would embark, that the ship would get underway and that they would eat lunch before they could get into their cabins in order for them to be thoroughly cleaned, I think that most would appreciate that their cabins were actually clean when they moved in. There are plenty of public spaces and lunch could be served in the dining room as well as the Lido to keep everyone comfortable while they waited for their cabins. I am glad I brought sanitizing wipes to go over every surface in the cabin.
No. 12: The food served in the dining room was merely OK. I would rate the food to that of a chain restaurant. The desserts were especially disappointing. The service in the dining room was generally very good, however, the timing of courses was off; we finished our coffee before dessert arrived or finished our dessert before the coffee arrived, it was never the same 2 nights in a row. The Lido is nothing more than a cafeteria and I only eat there when forced; unfortunately this was every lunch when in port.
No. 13: I am allergic to capsaicin, the chemical that makes all chilies hot. I have sailed with HAL before and recorded my allergy when I checked in on-line and not had a problem. I informed our waiter the first time we ate in the dining room. Most evenings I asked what had chilies in it and was steered away, it was never volunteered. At one meal every menu item had some sort of chili in it. I was given a piece of fish that was prepared without the chilies, or much taste and it was overcooked. On the final night I ordered the seafood deviled eggs as my first course. I was not warned away from them. After I had eaten both eggs I felt a slight tingling in my mouth, the signal that capsaicin was present. At this point, it is too late to stop the reaction; I had sores in my mouth and down my throat for the next week. When a member of the culinary staff stopped by the table I mentioned that I did not appreciate getting something with chilies in it, and I said that I thought it was cayenne in the eggs. He did report my unhappiness to the supervisor who came over and said that they didn’t realize that cayenne was a chili! She also said I should have been given the menu the night before (which did happen on the Köingsdam) but that was not offered during this cruise. I am not sure what culinary training the kitchen staff receives, but I would think that they should know what is and what isn’t a chili. I also believe that the use of chilies is overdone these days, especially if catering to an older crowd who may have dietary restrictions and problems, but that, of coarse, is just my opinion.
No. 14: No specialty coffee card; just a very expensive $60+ per day per person in the cabin beverage packages. We don’t drink much alcohol and might have 1 bottle of wine and a couple of drinks during the entire cruise. We also don’t ever drink sodas and would never buy bottled water and only want 1 latte a day. We certainly could not possibly drink $120+ in one day to make the beverage package worth while. Sell a speciality card with a price break like Princess Cruises. And, sell specialty coffee in more than the Crow’s Nest. It is quite the trek to get one if you happen to be aft when the urge strikes.
No. 15 Previously we sailed the Köingsdam from Ft. Lauderdale through the Mediterranean and the afternoon tea was a very different and more enjoyable experience than on the nieuw Amsterdam. There we were served in one of the lounges and had individual tea pots and the sandwiches and sweets were very nice. On the nieuw Amsterdam it was held in the dining room and we were served tasteless/watery tea by a waiter and had to beg for a second cup. The sandwiches were rather stale as were the sweets. We felt very rushed and were even told we needed to leave so that they could set up for dinner. We decided to avoid any future afternoon teas since we thought that we could make our own “tea” by going to the Crow’s Nest and getting some tea sandwiches and sweets as we could on the Köingsdam, but no, there are no tea sandwiches served in the Crow’s Nest on the nieuw Amsterdam. We did without.
As I said, we were part of a large group and the ship did their best to take care of the large meetings. We just did not think it was the advertised 5 star experience. More 2 stars. Read Less
Just back from a 7 night voyage on the Holland America ms Nieuw Amsterdam from Ft. Lauderdale to Half Moon Cay, Ocho Rios, Grand Cayman, and Cozumel, October 21-28, 2018. Commanded by Capt. Jeroen van Donselaar with Nick Reirsgard as our ... Read More
Just back from a 7 night voyage on the Holland America ms Nieuw Amsterdam from Ft. Lauderdale to Half Moon Cay, Ocho Rios, Grand Cayman, and Cozumel, October 21-28, 2018. Commanded by Capt. Jeroen van Donselaar with Nick Reirsgard as our cruise director.
I tend to sail HAL most. I enjoy the more classic sailings with some degree of refinement, yet with a spectrum of live music and activities. I prefer smaller ship so I can get to know people. The state rooms on HAL are very generous and there are a lot of little touches that make a difference.
Prior to this sailing, it had been nearly 4 years since being on HAL, and I did note a few changes. Some not necessarily for the best, but in all, as you will read, it was a great vacation on a wonderful ship. I also have a fun cruise blog at http://penguinlust.blogspot.com/2018/10/nieuw-amsterdam-for-new-penguin.html
Checking in: 8 of 10
The port terminal in Ft. Lauderdale (terminal 26) is a nice terminal. I arrived from my hotel around 1045am. There was a small line to get through security, but it only took about 3 minutes to get to the screeners. I did have some liquids, and a bottle of wine, but no one made mention of it. I fully expected to be called out on the alcohol in my bag.
The line to check in was much slower than usual, however, when I got to the counter, it was very quick. Perhaps not everyone was checked in on line and ready to go. Next, to the waiting area, which was comfortable, but not remarkable. There was a time I recall there being cookies and water/lemonade, but there was no sign of this until going upstairs, where the suite guests can wait separately from us heathens. I would think suite guests would get better than just cookies and water/lemonade.
I don’t recall the exact time, but around noon, the announcements were made to go upstairs to board the ship. The group numbers were called fairly quickly. It’s easy to bypass the photographers if you don’t want to pose for a photo as you board. I always do.
On the ship, we were welcomed by staff and it was easy to find directions. State rooms were not ready yet, but the restaurants were all open. I went straight to deck 9 for a pizza. By the time I was done with lunch, the announcement had been made that state rooms were ready. My bag would be waiting for me within 3 hours. If you plan on changing or need anything from your checked bag, make sure you have it in your smaller carry on.
Staff: 10 of 10
I am not sure why I rate staff. Every ship has about the best. There are a few things of note, however, so I’ll start with that.
Cabin attendants are happy and cheerful. I always have a few minor requests, such as removing the down blanket and instead, using 2 sheets, removing all items from the mini bar/fridge, and making sure I had plenty of ice every afternoon and evening. They were happy to oblige and never failed. They even quickly learned that I do not like my trash can under the desk, and by day 3, I no longer had to move it out every day- they knew. I really appreciated that.
Day one, I left my cabin for breakfast and explored the ship while we were in Half Moon Cay. I didn’t plan on leaving the ship, so there was a lot to explore. I returned to my cabin around 1pm to find that it had not been made up! I didn’t see anyone in the hall. I called to inquire what was amiss. I was asked if I had placed the small card in the key slot. One side of the card is do not disturb. The other side is make up room. I learned fast that one must put this card in the door. Gone are the days when you’d see the attendants in the hallway, where they could see you come and go and know when to attack your room. Maybe it’s better on them, and once I understood this new system, it worked just fine for me.
I stopped by a wine table before we embarked to ask about a wine package I saw on line. It was not in the printed materials on the ship. A steward took my room and name info and told me he’d call with the information on the wine package. I never heard from him again.
Bar attendants are much less pushy than in the past. There were quite a few times I would enter a bar area and never was approached by anyone. I feel, for the most part, they know when someone wants something, so in a way, I’m very happy they no longer come right over to ask what you want from the bar. There were, however, a few times I did want something, it took a long time to get someone to come over. I would rather it be this way, than the old. So this was good.
Everyone I encountered was friendly and polite, even if they were not part of the team who normally interfaces with passengers. I never did see the cruise director or captain outside of their functions. Maybe I’m used to ocean crossings, where you tend to see them mingling with the passengers more, but outside of a show, I never saw them, and I never left the ship and stayed mainly in public spaces.
There were 2 times (in a row) where I ordered pizza and they got the order wrong. The first time, an extra ingredient was added. The next, one topping I wanted was not included. The 2nd day I ordered a burger from The Dive In, it took over half an hour before I was notified. I think something happened to my order.
There were a few times I noticed things overlooked. In the thermal spa whirlpool, for 2 days sat a collection of bobby pins and hair bands someone left behind. For 3 days, the same spoon rested next to the whirlpool of the Sea View Pool. I finally called someone over and asked if they could remove it. Good thing I’m not reviewing the kindness of fellow passengers!
Other than these few incidents, the ship and pool areas were clean and tidy.
Ship: 10 of 10
What a great ship! There was never a time where I saw anything and thought to myself that this ship was in need of repairs or modernizing. There were no stains or worn fabric on chairs, scuff marks or major issues. Sure, there were a few leaks, one in the Ocean Bar, another in the lounge area of the spa, but those happen and were dealt with accordingly.
The decor was very stately in all public areas. I loved the rich reds in the main dining room. The Lido looked professional. They also did a very good job of keeping most public space windows clean, doing so in ports of call.
This is about as large a ship as I ever want to sail on. It never felt crowded or full, and I highly suspect that there were open cabins, based on the empty seats nightly in the MDR. She was easy to get around on, but also, it was easy to get turned around.
Cabin: 6 of 10
Here is where I found the greatest amount of unease on this ship. While a great size with lots of storage and drawers, and plenty of room for my large suitcase under the bed, there were several areas that needed attention.
The water knob in the sink was broken. It was functional, but not attractive. Next to the ice bucket, the counter top laminate was buckling and worn. There was a similar issue on my night stand. It was a bit awkward trying to navigate the hallway between the bathroom and the closets when the closet doors were open, such as when unpacking or getting dressed for dinner. The doors only open to 90 degrees.
The view was better than I expected, considering I booked an ocean view room with fully obstructed views. I could still the horizon and much of the sky. Lucky for me, one day was a life boat drill, so the life boat was lowered and I had a full view.
I was impressed with the fitness center. It was a large space with a great variety of machines (no butterfly machine for arm day) and a great view over the bow. So glad there were no annoying TVs in your face on the machines. You can watch TV on the machines at home. You’re at sea, you should be seeing the sea!
I paid for the thermal spa package, which includes steam rooms, relaxing loungers, use of the lockers, and the large whirlpool. I’ve had issues in the past using this package when having to share it with people who don’t know the meaning of a quiet room, or who think it’s OK to eat lunch with your glass (real glass) of wine next to the whirlpool. I do wish they would give other passengers a list of spa etiquette suggestions (rules, if you must), but on this voyage, that was not necessary.
No more art auctions. There is a gallery on board, and art can be purchased, however, on this sailing, they had culled much art inspired by the Caribbean. I came half expecting to buy a new Peter Max or find some other great inspired piece for my new dining room, but that didn’t happen.
The photographers were on board, and never pushy to take photos or ask for sales. In fact, I had an issue arise with my new camera, and they were quite willing to bend over backwards to assist me.
Food: 10 of 10
As always, HAL has outdone themselves in the food department. To this day, I still have yet to have a bad meal on HAL. The food is always fresh and for the most part, flavorful. There were a few times I had to salt up soup or spice up a dish to my liking, but that’s normal when feeding hundreds of guests with varying tastes.
I expected the normal halved lobster tales on steak and lobster night, and regretted ordering 4 tales. Fortunately, they only brought out 2 at a time! These were no halves, and while not huge, 2 was plenty. The steak was delicious. Every dinner had eyes rolling and conversations go quiet.
I only ate in the Lido buffet one day for lunch and 2 nights at the late buffet. It was always hot and tasty and surprisingly crisp. The Dive In burgers were very good and the pizza was delicious! My only issue, as stated above, was in having 2 pizzas made incorrectly in a row. There were a great variety of breakfast items, ranging from healthy to not at all.
There was never really a time when it was hard to find food. The Lido Market was open 7am-1030am, then 1130-2 for lunch, 530-830pm for dinner and only a scant hour, 1030-1130pm for late night dining. The New York pizza station was open 1130-1130pm every day, and Dive In was open 1130-530pm. In room dining was 24 hours and 90% was free of charge. They now charge for burgers and have a few other items on the menu as well. I ordered a few times, enjoying the fruit plate and a sandwich with chips and some coffee.
The famous bread pudding is now kept out of reach, in the dessert station. At first, I thought it was gone, but later saw it sitting back there. The desserts are all very good, unfortunately. My first few sailings found the desserts to be a bit bland, which I loved, meaning I’d eat less of them. Not the case here!
I can save HAL a bit of money. Order fewer onions. They are everywhere! Egg salad? Check. Tuna salad? Check. Sandwiches? Check. The extra ingredient I got on my pizza? You guessed, it, they added onions!!!! For the life of me, I don’t understand why they don’t just point out that the sandwich area has onions. If you want it in your egg and tuna salad, you can easily add it. But for those of us with onion phobia, if you will, it cannot be removed. I so wanted a tuna sandwich on this voyage!
The breads are still made fresh daily. I could smell them on deck! You can tell in the texture and taste that they were made only a few hours prior. Fantastic food on this voyage, as usual.
My big gripe is the timing of the late night buffet. It’s only open for one hour and so close following the main seating, that it was always gone by the time I wanted to eat again, around midnight! Plus, with all the action going on down on deck 2 forward, you have to go all the way up to deck 8 aft to grab a bite.
I really wish they could bring a table of food out near the casino. Pre wrapped sandwiches with chips, a tray of hot snacks with serviettes and tooth picks, set up a water station or something. It would just be nice to have a snack option available at 1230am when you’re down partying on 2 forward.
With my wine package was included one dinner in the Pinnacle Grill. I would never have purchased the meal, otherwise. First of all, I had a very hard time getting a reservation. On Wednesday morning, I called to make one for Thursday night, being told it was booked. It was the same on Friday. Saturday, I had dinner plans with staff in the MDR. A few calls were made and I was now told I could be sat at a table for 2 at 530 or 8pm. I chose 530 because there was only one show at 930, and I didn’t want to miss it. When I arrived at 530, I was told I was on the standby list, they were booked, and no one had yet to cancel. I protested that had I known this, I would have made other plans. A few comments were made between the two at the host stand, and soon I was being sat at a 2-top near the window.
The last time I ate here, 4 years ago, I was enabled to order, or taste, 2 of the main dishes. I was told they now charge another fee for ordering more than one dish. I never saw this in writing on the menu, but maybe I wasn’t looking, going on past experience. The food was very good and the service quite nice. The dining room is elegant. I thought the food in the MDR was equally as good, however, especially considering that it had already been paid for. I really just have no desire to experience the specialty restaurants!
What really upset me as I left at 645pm, was counting 9 open tables, two of which were 2-tops, and they had remained open since my arrival at 530, when I had been told I was wait listed because they were booked! Something smells funny in Denmark!
Entertainment: 8 of 10
As a brand ambassador, I’m always asked what I like so much about HAL. I always include how much I love to sit and listen to classical music with a glass of wine before dinner. Was a time they started playing just before the early dining. They took a break, played a few songs in the dining room, then returned for another round before the second seating. Gone.
Now, there are scheduled shows in what is now called the Lincoln Center Stage. Some nights, the band was off, so there was nothing. I’m so disappointed in this change. I was unable to attend a single show of the group who performed. I heard wonderful things about them. I hope you can make a show!
The main stage still had a cast, and they performed 3 times for us. The first night was a little showcase teaser. The second show, called One World, was one of the best shows at sea that I’ve ever seen. The dancing was spot-on, the voices tremendous, the sets were dazzling, and the costuming amazing! Sure, the songs were mostly from what you might have heard in the 80s, such as from Enya, Toto and the like, but it was terrific! I was never impressed with what Stiletto Entertainment provided, the new company seems much better. Plus, HAL has invested over $3 million in the new lighted panels on the stage. Much improved!
After the show, one can enjoy the newly billed “Music Walk”, from the BB Kings All Stars, who really get booties shaking with great live music of the blues and rock genres. The Billboard Onboard bar has a piano duo (Michael and Megan on this cruise) who were amazing! Each night they hammered out hit after hit, inviting everyone to sing along. Lots of requests, so keep your favorites in mind!
One night was a brilliant show, Planet Earth in Concert- a combination of live music set against a backdrop of breathtaking footage from BBC Earth. Another night was comedian Derrick Cameron, and a third act brought on board was vocalist and comedy impressionist, Tricia Kelly, who in her second act had lost much of her voice, which was disappointing, as she was talented.
The HALCats are gone, but there is still a band on board, who seem to have a lot of time free. I wish they played live music for the sail aways, as there really was not a single sail away party in the entirety of the week. Sure, they were too loud playing by the Lido Pool at 1pm, but unplug their instruments or let them play in the Sea View area out back, where the sound won’t be as contained. There are so many musicians on board, and I just felt like they were being under utilized.
There is a lot of talk about entertainment changes coming to HAL. I did get confirmation that on the larger ships, there will no longer be a HAL cast putting on shows, but they will rely more and more on smaller acts. HAL hopes to add more to the Music Walk, but as I mentioned to Nick, our CD, I enjoy dinner and a show and don’t want to be expected to have to chase down my entertainment, even if it might help work off dinner!
The HAL VP of entertainment was boarding the ship the day we returned. How I wish I could have sailed with him. I would have loved to bend his ear.
Overall: 9 of 10
You’ve read that I had a few issues. All were minor and none impacted my vacation to a point that I would have taken notice, except that I am a travel expert and truly enjoy posting reviews. I loved the ship and staff. I loved that there were never more than 2 announcements in a given day.
There is a new app you can use on board, called Navigator. It was very handy, but needs improvement. On your personal device, you can see the When and Where guide, you can create your own agenda, which really helps one figure out what they decided they wanted to do earlier in the day without having to look at the entire paper guide. My issue with this method is that one must open the Wi-Fi on their device to access the Navigator. Then, you have to turn it back off, or your device will keep looking to connect and burn through it’s battery charge. I wish you could keep a copy of your agenda off line, and that you could also add your own agenda items, if you make plans that are not included in the guide.
I had a few customer service issues before my trip that I’m still in need of working out with corporate, and I have a feeling they won’t be decided in my favor. In one case, I was given bad info by one of their reps that cost me more money. The other issue is a timed issue that I wish they would give me a small compensation for having missed the window of opportunity, but since the reason I had to do so was related to home damage from Hurricane Harvey, I’d like to think that HAL would bend over backwards to accommodate my needs just a bit. I’m not asking for the face value of the original offer, I’d accept less to feel compensated. Again, these are issues that didn’t affect the quality of my vacation time. I am, however, concerned that I was hearing quite a few other passengers mention CS issues, as well. So it seems CS standards are being eroded, which is a shame. Sometimes, if you offer someone something that costs only $50, they’ll end up spending a few thousand more!
I’m anxious to see what happens with the entertainment on board HAL ships, as this could be one of the things that has me venture out to try other cruise lines. I’ve stated before, one of the biggest reasons I cruise is for dinner and a show. I do love the live music, but found it lacking on this cruise, especially missed the band that used to play every night in the Ocean Bar.
Many people were met and numbers exchanged. I had a relaxing time in the Spa. Singing along with Megan and Michael was a blast. I so appreciate that smoking is now banned everywhere inside, especially in the casino. The aft Sea View always smelled like an ash tray, so maybe one day we can give smokers a little room, as their numbers seem to be dwindling. I had a wonderful time and I’m happy I booked and sailed on another HAL vacation. As long as they don’t change too much from where they are now, things will be great. There are so many cruise lines out there, and a line for each person. I hope they realize that many of us stick with HAL for what we’ve found, not what we hope for.
If you are interested in reading my more comedic version of my cruise, with photos, be sure to check out my blog:
http://penguinlust.blogspot.com/2018/10/nieuw-amsterdam-for-new-penguin.html Read Less
We are a couple - I am 54 and DH 63 and while we have cruised a few times (around 20), this was our first cruise with HAL. We were a bit cautious about going on an older ship but this was alleviated soon after boarding. What a great ... Read More
We are a couple - I am 54 and DH 63 and while we have cruised a few times (around 20), this was our first cruise with HAL. We were a bit cautious about going on an older ship but this was alleviated soon after boarding. What a great ship! She is in very good condition and lovingly cared for by a top notch crew. Without exception, all staff we encountered appeared to be happy to be onboard and genuinely wanted to please the passengers. We also loved the small size of the ship (we had ~1350 passengers). It felt like our first cruise on Celebrity Horizon - could walk end to end in less than 3 minutes.
Food - excellent in all locations. Appreciate that most of the food is served (instead of a free-for-all germ exchange in the buffet area). We had a lunch in the Pinnacle Grill - what a bargain at $10 for a super lunch! The pizza and burger offerings were very nice. Liked they were made to order versus getting a piece of pizza that might have been lying under the heat lamp for a while. Also like that ice cream was served (versus self-serve machines) - ate way too many waffle cones! We had some B,L,Ds in the MDR and all meals were great. Finally, we ordered coffee and some food from room service from the breakfast menu. Quick in delivery and got what we ordered.
Entertainment - good. The ship's singers and dancers did a good job with better than average costumes. Wow, the couple that did a tango dance was wonderful. The "bar entertainment" was nice - good mix of offerings and good locations. However, please note the ship is very laid back and there just isn't a lot going on. No sail away party, no big screen on the pool deck blasting away constantly - simply not a lot of noise. We LOVED it, but some we talked to were surprised at the lack of action (first time HAL cruisers that didn't research before hand). Oh, almost forgot, I very much enjoyed the America's Test Kitchen classes. I wasn't looking to become a certified chef after attending the classes (some say the classes are too pedestrian for "real" cooks), but she shared some good ideas and I appreciated having an alternative to port shopping talks.
Shops - meh. While I don't go onboard to shop, I was surprised at the lack of buying opportunities, except for jewelry, liquor and cosmetics. Not a huge deal for us at all, but had we forgotten something (like toothpaste) or had our luggage been delayed, we would have been hurting for the basics. The $10 t-shirt sale had around 20 shirts (total) on offer. Just thought it interesting they don't tap into that revenue.
Pool area - would have liked to had some loungers in the shaded area. However, there was always somewhere to sit, even on sea days. Also love the retractable roof. While we had good weather and it wasn't needed, it would be so nice to have in cooler climates or on rainy days. Why, oh why does Princess insist on building ships without indoor pool areas?! But this is a HAL review, and I give them props for keeping these older girls around that have these comfortable indoor areas.
Transportation - We purchased transfers with HAL and used Luggage Direct, along with our airfare. There was some kind of glitch with Luggage Direct and long story short, we (and all that had it) didn't get our boarding passes and luggage tags until around midnight of the last cruise day. I think this was highly unusual (from talking with others) but still not a great way to end the cruise - in able to sleep until we got the luggage info. But all was well and we got to the airport on time and our luggage was waiting for us at our home airport.
All in all, we really like HAL and the small ship experience. It is so nice to add another choice to our cruising options. Read Less
Chose this cruise because of time of year I can vacation and amount of days that I can do.
Let's start with embarkation,some of the fastest that I have ever done and have done quite a few.Room was OK but small for a handicap room ... Read More
Chose this cruise because of time of year I can vacation and amount of days that I can do.
Let's start with embarkation,some of the fastest that I have ever done and have done quite a few.Room was OK but small for a handicap room (8026). Room was well taken care of and any thing we needed was handed very promptly.
The one thing that did not impress me was the food ,especially in the dining room . Only ate 2 nights ,but was not impressed at all. Food was cold and when it was sent back it came back cold again but the plate was so hot but it didn't change temperature of the food.Hope they do better on the other ships .It's pretty bad when the best meal of the day is breakfast. The food in the lido deck was very good and I like that they serve you your food ,Another thing I dont' understand is why people do not use the hand sanitizer that is furnished,not 100% guaranteed to help keep illness from taking over a cruise but it doesn't hurt. Read Less
Embarkation and disembarkation both were handled efficiently. The cabin was comfortable but lacked for storage compared to other ships. This was our first cabin with a balcony, and we enjoyed the ability to step out and/or sit for a bit. ... Read More
Embarkation and disembarkation both were handled efficiently. The cabin was comfortable but lacked for storage compared to other ships. This was our first cabin with a balcony, and we enjoyed the ability to step out and/or sit for a bit. The self-chosen dining option worked well, and we never waited more than 5 minutes for a table. The dining staff were capable, and we enjoyed the food, although my traveling companion wished for a little more of it. Portions are very small, but of course you can order all you like. The buffet was average; but the hours open are limited. Never mind that dessert before bed! Not open. I would be remiss if I didn't mention the Tamaraind restaurant. Worth every extra penny! There was a definite lack of options for activities on the ship. Also, the evening shows were limited and not inspired. The same 3 people sang the lead on every song, and the individual songs dragged along. We enjoyed the BB King band, but were never sure if it was a dance band or a concert band.
The excursions were fun and well run. And the cabin steward took good care of us.
All in all, the cruise was just average. We will look for a more exciting cruise line and ship for our next cruise. Read Less
We wanted just a little getaway with some sun and beaches. Amber Cove is nothing special, we took a catamaran snorkel tour instead. Not a huge variety of fishes, but plenty came when the guide feeded them with bread. I don´t want to jugde ... Read More
We wanted just a little getaway with some sun and beaches. Amber Cove is nothing special, we took a catamaran snorkel tour instead. Not a huge variety of fishes, but plenty came when the guide feeded them with bread. I don´t want to jugde if this is ecological correct. St. Maarten still suffers from hurrican Irma but beach was ok. Just crowded when an excursion from the Allure of the Seas came to the same beach. If we had known this before we had choses a different location. Puerto Rico (San Juan) was interesting, good to do it on your own. Half Moon Cay is beautiful but we had to leave at 2:30 pm, way to early!
It was the last cruise before drydock, your could see at a few places that the ship needs some repair but it was still ok. Service war good to very good (our steward ABA fulfilled wishes before we could tell him).
We booked a VH guar and got an VB Aft Cabin, very nice! Cabin and Balcony are slightly bigger than average.
Entertainment was good (Mainstage and B.B. King Club). Fitness Center has up to date equipment. Read Less
My friend and I chose Holland America hoping to to avoid Spring Breakers, a lot of children and a drinking party atmosphere. We were looking for a relaxing vacation with entertainment that would appeal to us. This was a perfect choice. The ... Read More
My friend and I chose Holland America hoping to to avoid Spring Breakers, a lot of children and a drinking party atmosphere. We were looking for a relaxing vacation with entertainment that would appeal to us. This was a perfect choice. The guests' ages appeared to be 30's - 70's and included a few families w/ well behaved children. It was a very nice diverse group of people and the service was extraordinary. The staff is friendly, always helpful and always professional. I have sailed on two other cruise lines and there is no comparison. Holland America is a class act. The entertainment was great with different types of music offered every day; the shows were wonderful too. Embarkation and disembarkation went smoothly as well. We paid a little more to have a veranda (balcony) and loved every minute we spent there - sipping our wine from the mini bar. My favorite excursion was to HA's private island in the Bahamas.The white sand beach is absolutely beautiful. I rode a horse on land and in the ocean w/ no problem and I'm 63. (Hadn't ridden one in many yrs). If you want a wonderful vacation, choose Holland America!
Only one hint/complaint..... bring a sweater to wear in the room where the shows take place. It is very chilly in there! Read Less
DH, DS, DD, DB (DD's Boyfriend) and I (DW) cruised on the Eurodam over the spring holiday break. Although the ship was reported to be full (nice eclectic passenger group), we never noticed any crowds, perhaps because we spent much of ... Read More
DH, DS, DD, DB (DD's Boyfriend) and I (DW) cruised on the Eurodam over the spring holiday break. Although the ship was reported to be full (nice eclectic passenger group), we never noticed any crowds, perhaps because we spent much of our time lounging in our Retreat and Lido Cabanas. We all enjoyed the cabana experience more than we thought and it was money well spent!
I was quite concerned about excessive motion since our veranda cabins were more forward than I would have preferred, but honestly we were never uncomfortable. The location was especially convenient when getting up to our cabanas and he Lido. We enjoyed great room stewards but they are desperately overworked with 26 rooms between the pair.
Since the ship was going into dry dock following our sailing, I was worried that construction projects might be started early, effecting our experience. The only sign of the upcoming rehab were the new rolls of carpeting stored in a corner of the promenade deck!
Sadly, our MDR experiences weren't consistently good and we noticed a dramatic decline from our last Eurodam cruise 5 years ago. We all enjoyed our Tamarind dining experience the first night, with the service as delightful as the food! On the second night, we arrived at Table 57 (nice location) for our early seating and met our stewards, Alex and Dadi. While they both did an excellent job, the food was generally lackluster and appeared to have been plated too long before serving. We reluctantly expressed our concerns to the head waiter when he asked for our comments. After that, poor Alex appeared to be jumping through hoops trying to please us but the menu choices and food quality were beyond his control. We did seek out his nightly recommendations (which helped) and repeatedly praised him to his supervisors.
The quality of the entertainment on the ship varied from extraordinary to deplorable. The Billboard Onboard musicians (Megan and Michael) were among the most talented performers we've experienced. Gifted pianists and delightful vocalists, they took requests, put on themed shows, and encouraged audience participation with infectious personalities. We actually planned our evenings around their schedules! Even our young adult children became huge fans. We would book a cruise if we knew they would be onboard. (Lucky Oosterdam passengers, they are in for a treat for the next 3 months.) The audience (not nearly enough seats) usually lined the hallway and spilled over into the casino. Shame on HAL for not providing a better venue for these superstars!
The Main Stage entertainment was not consistently good. While the Eurodam singers and dancers seemed enthusiastic, their shows were not memorable or particularly pleasant. Yes, the nature film collaboration with the Lincoln Center musicians was wonderful and shouldn't be missed. The male comedian, Anthony Padilla was atrocious. Not only was he just not funny but he crossed the line from "edgy" to completely offensive and we walked out in protest. Sadly, others did too which depleted the audience for the next act!
In planning our port activities, I scoured the Cruisecritic boards as well as TripAdvisor forums for suggestions.
Amber Cove was far more enjoyable than we expected. The perfect weather made for a laid back few hours of zip lining, swimming (really lovely pool), and sliding (great water slides) before we headed back for a late lunch.
San Juan was as hot and humid as predicted, especially since we arrived in port after 10am. My plan was to hop on the free trolley to tour the forts. We waited in the designated spot for 35min but no trolley so we opted for a nice, air conditioned mini van taxi for $20.
We enjoyed our walk and the beautiful vistas but were eager to return to the ship and our cabana oasises.
In St Martin, I had arranged for a snorkeling trip for my family with Capt. Bob. Our boat captain, Sam, made the experience memorable for us all. We had great swims (saw a wonderful variety of fish and sea turtles swimming just inches away) and an exhilarating speed boat ride, but we also experienced, first hand, the devastation on the island through Sam's descriptions. Hopefully, tourists will continue to offer support for the island's recovery.
We had another perfect day at Half Moon Key. Although we preordered a clamshell, there were plenty of loungers in the shade so it might not have really been needed. The BBQ lunch was pretty good but try to eat early to avoid the long lines that form. The tenders were efficient but we noticed that several passengers with mobility issues had difficulty negotiating the steep stairs.
Disembarkation was as smooth as embarkation. We had a leisurely breakfast in the dining room and chose to manage our own luggage. The "global entry" lane wasn't open but there was no need since we zipped right through customs.
Outside the terminal, we called Alamo for the shuttle pickup and within 30 min, we were headed to the Everglades for an airboat adventure. Read Less
This cruise was a last minute decision for us. My husband's company opens hotels, and last year all of them were majorly affected and shut down due to hurricanes. We had to airlift our employees out of the British West Indies, and ... Read More
This cruise was a last minute decision for us. My husband's company opens hotels, and last year all of them were majorly affected and shut down due to hurricanes. We had to airlift our employees out of the British West Indies, and then Puerto Rico. But the stories we heard of the residents there, were heartbreaking. So, the cruise we went on cost us practically nothing, and we wanted to support the recovery in these places, as they desperately needed the tourists to come back. I know, not much of a sacrifice on our part!
Anyway, it was a lovely cruise. The islands are making their way back, and although we'd been there before, it was heartening to see the progress (at least where we were in port) being made. I'm sure since that time, even more progress has been made.
As far as the Eurodam, it was an easy ship to navigate around. I loved the piano bar and The Blues Band. It was perfect for us (or me!) I stay up late, and felt perfectly comfortable going to the music venues alone.My husband loved the pool during the day, which wasn't too crowded or overrun with rowdy kids.
What really though, always brings us back to Holland is the hardworking friendly staff. If I can just name a few, I would like to recognize a few: Kasamaporn, Olivia, Warittha, and Paulina from Caneletto's (the specialty Italian restaurant) This was our favorite place to eat, and the food and service were wonderful.
I also need to thank our wonderful bartenders, who learned our names early, and had great senses of humor to deal with some of the not so nice people. So humor me while I compliment Jerwin, Armando, Von, and Noel.
The Tamarind dining venue was also excellent.Seriously, a lot of people just eat the buffet or go to the main dining room, which is very good, but the specialty restaurants that you don't have to pay all that much for, are just really good.
And finally, Jose, who led the Pub Crawl, that I somehow managed to convince my husband to go on, because all my new friends convinced him he should come with us, was hilarious, entertaining, and we will never miss that again on a Holland cruise.
We are a little younger than the average demographic on a Holland cruise, but I don't mind that. It makes it relaxing, and maybe I feel a little safer at night alone going to the bars and music venues. It was a great cruise. And, I was happy to see the islands making progress, and all the service industry workers having their jobs available again.It had been (and still has been) a long and difficult time during recovery. Read Less
For my wife and me, this was our 24th cruise (8th on a Holland America ship). BE FOREWARNED --- if internet access is important to you, you need to choose another cruise line or be prepared to deal with HORRIBLE (virtually non-existent) ... Read More
For my wife and me, this was our 24th cruise (8th on a Holland America ship). BE FOREWARNED --- if internet access is important to you, you need to choose another cruise line or be prepared to deal with HORRIBLE (virtually non-existent) Wi-Fi service. We had also been on the Nieuw Amsterdam several years ago, and the internet access was much better even back then. Every other cruise line used by us (e.g. Royal Caribbean and Princess) has been far better at providing Wi-Fi Service. The only other practical option for internet access on this ship was to wait for a port call and go to places there that offer Wi-Fi service. In some ports you can use the $10 per day cellular service international packages (e.g. Verizon and AT&T), and get good internet access that way, and also then make any desired telephone calls. But, don’t count on anything in this regard on this ship. Since we highly rely upon internet access, we will not be cruising with Holland America again until they get this problem solved. The people at guest services were nice, and they admitted the problem. But, they said that they were unable to do anything about it. We left about 600 unused minutes (for which we prepaid and were not reimbursed) because lack of service made that available internet time totally useless. ALSO, the ship only had two computers for use by passengers --- and these are buried down across from guest services on Deck 1. Previously, the ship had a number of computers up in the Explorations Café. Those are no longer there. This factor (combined with the poor internet service) resulted in lines at those two computers the day before return as many passengers needed to print out boarding passes for their flights back home.
Otherwise, our cruise was a positive experience. The ship was renovated over the winter, and this favorably shows. Virtually everything looks new. Compared to our last cruise on this ship, it seems like the crew had been given a “pep-talk” about being nicer to passengers. Every member of the crew/staff was friendly and engaging --- and they always did their utmost to assist.
Here are some specifics that might be helpful:
1. Cabin --- Consider a Signature Suite. In our view, these are a bargain. There is plenty of room (with a large balcony) and the bathroom has two sinks with a whirlpool tub and separate shower. There are multiple electrical outlets with multiple separate USB ports for charging portable IT devices. There are two desk areas (one that I used as an “office” and the other that my wife used as a “vanity/make-up area”). There is so much available storage that about half of it we did not even use. The large wall-mounted LED TV screen is great compared to the desk top TV’s previously provided. We were impressed with the soundproofing of the cabin. Little, if anything, could ever be heard from other cabins (adjoining, above or below).
In the past, we have had to wait until mid-afternoon to get access to our cabins. More recently, cruise lines have been providing immediate access upon boarding (which is nice). We boarded around noon, and our room was immediately available for us, with our luggage getting to our room within an hour after that.
2. Pools --- There are fresh water rather than salt water (which is a major plus in our opinion). The main pool has a retractable roof. If it is raining or too cold, the roof can be entirely or partially closed. So, the main pool is usable at just about all times. One problem concerns the deck at the main pool. It is brown vinyl that burns bare feet when the hot sun is shining on it.
There were plenty of available towels on deck (without any special check out process). We really did not have much of a problem finding available lounges. However, passengers seem to be adopting a new approach to things. If someone has not used a lounge for a while, a passenger “in need” just uses it anyway and prepares himself or herself to apologetically move if the original “stakeout” user returns (which often is many hours later).
The ship now has drape-surrounded “cabanas” on the main pool deck on one side of the pool, which cabana areas are rented out for a reasonable daily charge. If you have a family that wants something like that as a “home base” then those can be useful. But, there is not much ventilation in these cabanas, so they can get too hot/uncomfortable to use. Attendants did provide fans to set up in the cabanas to help make things more comfortable for those using them.
3. Dining --- We had, and like, fixed time dining at an assigned table. Being served by (and getting to better know) the same waiters prompts those waiters to do a “little more” for you. On a couple of evenings, we mixed things up and dined (later than our fixed dining time) at two of the specialty restaurants. Each (the Pinnacle Grill for steaks and Canelleto’s for Italian) were outstanding. Overall, we find that the food on Holland America ships are the best (as compared to other cruise lines that we have used). The breakfast buffet on the Lido Deck has most of the usual food choices, but also adds special stations for preparation (while you watch) of: i) omelets and eggs to order; and ii) pancakes, crepes or Belgian waffles. We never found ourselves waiting in a line of more than a few people, which is one of the special values of a mid-size ship (with less passengers) as opposed to the mega-ships.
4. Ports of Call --- Both San Juan (Puerto Rico) and St. Thomas appear to have recovered pretty well from the hurricanes of last fall. We had been to both ports on previous cruises, and we really did not notice much difference from those previous times. We like the wide array of shopping and restaurants closely available in each of these ports, as opposed to ports at smaller places. Half Moon Cay is the best private island facility of all of the cruise lines that we have used (great beach). There really is no meaningful shopping there. This cruise did not give sufficient time to really enjoy this stop. This is especially the case since the tendering process from ship to shore takes a fair amount of time. Since we had to be back on board by 2:30 p.m., most passengers were returning shortly after the lunch barbeque. Put another way, a good sunny “beach day” was wasted. At Turks and Caicos, the Margaritaville near the pier there is great (nice pool --- much bigger than the one in Falmouth, Jamaica which is also near the pier there).
5. Excursions --- We had (multiple times) previously been to each of the ports of call. There was hardly any offered shore excursion that we had not done in the past. Any of them (depending upon a person’s special interest) we could recommend. So, under the circumstances, we just went into town and casually walked/shopped, and stopped at some interesting cafes or restaurants for a drink and a snack (AND TO USE WIFI THAT WAS HORRIBLE ON THE SHIP). This made this cruise actually one of the more relaxing ones that we have had. Simply put, we did very little and enjoyed it.
6. Spa --- My wife and her sister (who accompanied us on this cruise with her husband) especially enjoyed the spa. For a reasonable weekly charge they had access to all of the facilities there (e.g. heated ceramic lounges, saunas and a hydra pool), and they used them often. Each booked a couple of treatments (for which there were special discounts), and they were pleased with them.
7. Miscellaneous ----
Walkie-talkies. As mentioned above, we had others that accompanied us on this cruise. To communicate with each other, we used small hand held walkie-talkies and found them to be quite helpful. Good ones (e.g. with better than a 10 mile point-to-point range) worked to and from just about any point on the ship, in spite of all of the metal and walls. While the ship was anchored off of Half Moon Cay, those of us on shore could easily communicate that way with others that had stayed on the ship.
Hotel shuttles. If you stay at a nearby hotel the night before embarking, we would encourage you to avoid using their hotel shuttle services. First, we are finding that the hotels now use a service that charges for that service in an amount that is almost as much as taking Uber or a taxi. Second, with these outside services, you can often end up in a large van or bus like we did this time. We were the only two people going to our ship and were the last one’s off of the bus. We had to wait and wait as each other ship terminal preceded our drop off. It took us over an hour to go from the hotel to our ship terminal. Others that chose to take Uber or cabs paid only $5 to $10 more than we did, and it took them around only 10 minutes to get to the terminal. So, use Uber or a taxi rather than the companies that provide shuttle service for the hotels.
Formal nights. When we started “cruising” years ago, many people dressed in tuxedos/cocktail dresses for the formal nights. That is seldom done any more. Some people wore sport coats/dresses. But, the vast majority just wore what I would label as sport casual. So, nowadays, we would suggest that you save luggage space and leave your formal attire at home.
Direct Luggage. At Port Everglades (for certain participating airlines), passengers are offered the ability (at $25 per person) to have their luggage “checked-in” on the ship. After attaching certain special “tagging”, you leave your luggage outside of your cabin the night before return --- the same way as everybody else does this. But, after that, you do not see your luggage again until you pick it up from the baggage claim at your final point of destination. It is nice to not have to mess with luggage through customs or at check in at the airport. We have used this service on several cruises now, and we have been pleased with it.
Mobile Passport App. Port Everglades provides for the use of the Mobile Passport App on your smart phone for going through customs. This really speeds the process at disembarkation, and passengers should download this app and use it where available. Read Less
We have previously sailed on Oceania and Crystal and choose HAL as an alternative to the luxury lines we've sailed on previously. We loved the newly updated ship and the size of the Neptune Suite. The Caribbean waters were ... Read More
We have previously sailed on Oceania and Crystal and choose HAL as an alternative to the luxury lines we've sailed on previously. We loved the newly updated ship and the size of the Neptune Suite. The Caribbean waters were wonderfully smooth and a brilliant blue. The Retreat cabana was a perfect retreat and the service in was fantastic. My only complaint was the food in the main dining room was salty and bland thankfully we spent the rest of the cruise eating in the specialty restaurants. The entertainment is exceptional and we went to the main stage every night for the late show. We'd cap off the night with a visit to the BB's Blues Club. The musicians were amazing and we enjoyed watching them. Finally, the private island, Half Moon Cay was perfect. We loved being alone on the island and had private bike/hike tour along with a relaxing day at the beach. Read Less
It has been a few years since I sailed on Holland America as friends have chosen Princess and family is now happier on Disney. First, let me say that the boarding process was very good and my room was ready when I boarded right around ... Read More
It has been a few years since I sailed on Holland America as friends have chosen Princess and family is now happier on Disney. First, let me say that the boarding process was very good and my room was ready when I boarded right around noon. The ship was spotless and the crew was among the best I have encountered in 20+ cruises. Why does this review say "very good" instead of "Excellent"?
The fact is that at age 70 I am not content to sit around and vegetate when I really want activities and participation. Both of the aforementioned cruise lines seem to be better at making things happen as opposed to letting me sit and watch things. The shows were OK, but not great. The selection of entertainment was somewhat limited compared to the bigger ships I have been on but that is not always true for ships of this size. Even the comparable ships from other lines have multiple lounges and game areas. If I want to learn to play the Ukulele, or sing in a choir or make balloon animals or fold towels or try out the water slide or glide along the zip line, it's nice to have the choice to do so as opposed to listening to lectures or performances. There was not even a good dance band that I can think of.
Food in the main dining room was very good as was the lido deck fare.
The Holland private island is a great place and has to be included as part of the cruise experience although it is still a tender port wasting time compared to others.
In short, love the ship and the staff, while to that pleased with the opportunities to have fun. For a cruise in the Mediterranean or Asia where the ports are historic and full of culture this would be an appropriate transport. For a week in the Caribbean I'd have to look at other options closely and weigh the benefits carefully. Read Less
During this cruise, I got married on board. We had our wedding party and officiant sailing with us. The hotel manager caught wind of this and apparently emailed heads of staff on board. Unbeknownst to us, we had so many areas fulfill the ... Read More
During this cruise, I got married on board. We had our wedding party and officiant sailing with us. The hotel manager caught wind of this and apparently emailed heads of staff on board. Unbeknownst to us, we had so many areas fulfill the day of our dreams. There was an amazing cake brought to dinner, towel swans and rose petals in our room, and even our own private photographer at no additional charge. The cruise and my wedding was amazing, thanks to an incredible staff and cruise experience. I am now a 3 star mariner and will continue to sail with HAL!!!
Our cabin was always cleaned in a timely manner, including my request for extra ice at all times.
Our dining stewards were always on top of things, including my order for an extra lobster tail on Gala night.
The duo at Billboard on Board made our evening entertainment - we never wanted to venture to other venues.
The evening entertainment by guest entertainers were not the best on this sailing, but the cruise entertainers put on amazing shows. Read Less
This was our third cruise with Holland America. Previous cruises were aboard Maasdam and Noordam, smaller ships than the Nieuw Amsterdam. The ship still felt like a perfect size. We never felt crowded except for occasional moments when ... Read More
This was our third cruise with Holland America. Previous cruises were aboard Maasdam and Noordam, smaller ships than the Nieuw Amsterdam. The ship still felt like a perfect size. We never felt crowded except for occasional moments when embarking or disembarking at ports. The recent upgrades were lovely. We love the elegance that we see on Holland America ships. Lots of people have made negative comments on the new Crow’s Nest area but I still felt there were plenty of areas for people to sit and gather. I loved the EXC lounge where the guides gave talks on ports and general interest for our cruise region. The ship was always clean and easy to navigate. The food options were great. We dined at the Pinnacle Grill our first evening and thoroughly enjoyed the experience. It wasn’t crowded so provided a romantic ambience. We ate breakfast once at the Lido Market (buffet) and it was enjoyable. All dinners were in the Dining Room. We loved the 8pm set seating. So nice to just walk in to your table and get to know the staff. Port days we ate lunch off ship but enjoyed the Dive In burger bar or New York Pizza if we were aboard. Read Less
A bit of a belated review of our cruise. This was posted on my travel blog Please see the link in my signature if you would like to read more about our cruise and view the pictures and the Ports we visited!!!
This was our first time ... Read More
A bit of a belated review of our cruise. This was posted on my travel blog Please see the link in my signature if you would like to read more about our cruise and view the pictures and the Ports we visited!!!
This was our first time sailing on Holland and I must say I was very pleasantly surprised. I had expected the demographics to skew much higher in age. I don’t know whether or not it was because it was Easter that were far more children aboard than expected. It seemed as though there were many family groups and not nearly as many older people on this trip.
Despite being platinum on Carnival, I was not happy with how the dining experienced has been cheapened on that line. I love the white tablecloths, charger plates, extra services etc and that does not happen on Carnival any longer. I was feeling like I was eating at Chili’s or someplace similar. That is not the experience I want on my vacation. I want that ‘extra’.
Carnival has also increased the number of cabins a steward has to clean and the last cruise we were on, we were asked to choose either morning or evening cabin service and Ice is now a special request.
So, we were searching for a line that still provides the level of service we want on our vacation.
We had two inside cabins, aft on Deck 6. I would highly recommend this location. Three floors up to the Lido and three down for dinner. I didn’t notice excessive movement in this area but then I don’t notice it unless it’s really bad.
The cabins themselves were nicely appointed. Large bed, 2 nightstands, a desk/dressing area with chair, the mini bar to the right of the desk area—built in and a small table. Closet space was ample and I loved the fold-down shelves in the closets!
I also loved that there were USB ports on either side of the beds! No need to fight over outlets on the desk.
The bathroom was a standard cruise ship design—our rooms had a shower and no tub. The shower was equipped with Spa shampoo, conditioner and body wash and also had 2 grab bars. The sink was wide and had glass shelves on the right side.
One thing I noticed in all the hallways were the bars on one side of the hallways to the cabins. These would come in handy for those not so steady on their feet.
The Lido Market
We ate here many times and enjoyed the variety of food that was served. The thing I liked the most is EVERYTHING was served by employees. That appeals greatly to my germophobic personality and has got to cut down on the spread of Noro-Virus. There are also hand sanitizer placed in the entrances.
Back to the food though. We loved the cooked to order eggs station. It was very organized and the line moved quickly. You could also get bacon, turkey bacon, sausages, hash browns, bagels and toast here. Depending on the day, they also served pancakes or French Toast too.
There were self-serve plated items on chill trays such as Yogurt, fresh fruit, cereals & milk.
In my opinion, lunch was the best meal. Again the Lido deck had such variety. They had one station completed devoted to fresh fruit and another making these huge fresh salads to order. They had sandwiches made up and wrapped with varied ingredients too.
They had a made to order Thai food area as well as made to order pasta. The Thai food was wonderful and I ate there twice. The pasta bar should have been wonderful as well, but I found the sauces very bland despite having them add lots of garlic and some other seasoning. I think that was really the only “miss” we had.
We ate at the Burger Joint and the Pizza place a few times and enjoyed the food. The French Fries were a huge hit.
The Ice Cream station was also a huge hit (and this is also where you can find Bread Pudding!) They serve regular ice cream and soft serve in waffle cones or bowls. Toppings can also be added. They did have varying flavors or regular ice cream too.
Late Night Snacks
The Lido also provided a surprising amount of food between 10:30pm and 11:30pm. You could get an entire meal if you wanted to. Mostly my companions hit it up for the French fries!
Dinner-Main Dining Room- late seating
We ate in the main dining room 5 of the 7 days and most everything we ordered was good—but nothing over the top. We did not go hungry by any means, but I felt most of the food was just average. The only below average item I had was the French Onion Soup. The broth tasted like dishwater. On another night, all the croutons in the Caesar Salad were soft. Blah. The group at the table next to ours did mention this to their water and one of the Chefs came out to apologize.
The one standout for me was the Lobster Tail. It was cooked perfectly and very tasty. The steak that was served with it was “meh”. I think I just prefer things a bit more seasoned.
Regarding desserts—the items we chose were good, but I have to say I miss the Warm Chocolate Melting Cake on Carnival’s dessert menu every night!
We ate here the last night and the food was amazing. Between the 3 of us we got: Filet Mignon, King Crab Legs and Halibut with Shrimp Scampi. Each main dish was excellent. The portion of Crab legs was enormous—far more than one person could eat. The sides were very good, beginning with a Caesar Salad mixed at the table. Shareable sides included mashed potatoes and asparagus. I ordered a baked potato.
For dessert, the Molten Lava Chocolate cake with a side of ice cream and raspberry cheesecake. Both were delicious but we couldn’t finish them—we were too full.
I felt it was worth the money and normally would tip here. However, our waiter was not the caliber we expected. Not once, did he notice our water glasses needed to be filled. And we had to ask him more than once for more water. He did not check back with us regarding our entries to see if everything was good. He just acted like he didn’t want to be there and that we were disturbing him with our requests. We did not let that stop us from enjoying the meal—we all loved it and would go back there again.
The only show we managed to see was the BB King Tribute. The performers were so talented and the show seemed to be full always. We enjoyed the set and at only about 45 minutes to an hour long, it was just the perfect length.
They relocated the Piano bar and increased the space to allow more people to attend. For us, and others on the cruise, the fact that they moved it to an area directly across from the casino was rather painful. Had the dueling piano players been talented, I’m sure it would have been entertaining. However, I think I can speak for the majority of people on the cruise and report that they were AWFUL. The dealers were grimacing at the off-tone, voice cracking noises and we actually heard more than one person say they were leaving the casino because they couldn’t stand it any longer. Not good news for the casino.
The casino is quite small on the ship but does have a nice selection of slots. The table game area is small and they only had 1 3-Card Poker table. Most nights it was challenging to get a seat. They did not increase the number of tables yet Black Jack table were idle. Not sure about the purpose—but I did manage to spend some time at 3 Card Poker-with decent results I might add.
Seaview Pool and bar area
We spent most of our time in this area. The pool was a decent size and over seven feet deep. Plenty of loungers were set out each day but during peak hours you had to watch and wait for a chair. (The chair hogs were out in force as they are on every line) There was no policing by any staff that I saw despite the notice about the 30 minute rule.
The pool itself is supposed to be for adults only and, again, that was not being enforced. I know the Lido pool was closed one day for cleaning due to someone vomiting in the pool so all the kids were allowed. However, on days when the Lido pool was open, I still saw children in and out of the Seaview pool all day.
The starboard side of the bar area is the only place to smoke on the entire ship. (The info in the room stated the Casino would allow smoking on certain nights. However, they did not allow smoking there at all as far as I know.
There were quite a few smokers onboard and, at times, it was challenging to find a spot to sit. I understand the non-smoker’s point of view, but smoking is LEGAL and they should have more than one spot for smokers to congregate.
There was a small area of shops on the ship but the biggest surprise for me—and others: They did not have cartons of cigarettes for sale, and their liquor selection tended toward the very high end stuff and was quite small.
They did have a shop with all the cruise wear you expect, a perfume cosmetics area and several higher end jewelry stores.
I absolutely loved how this ship was decorated. You could spend hours just wandering around looking at all the interesting art. The NYC skyline piece hanging in the atrium was gorgeous. The walls in the passenger cabin hallways were filled with black and white photos of people and places in NYC ‘back in the day’.
There were comfy seating areas scattered all over the ship making it very easy to rest your tired self. The Crow’s nest area, we only visited once but it was also very nice and ‘user friendly’. There was a bar up there and lots of seating, including tables where folks could play cards or boards game or just sit and look at the ocean. Lovely area.
We did not have a drink package but did indulge in 3-4 adult beverages most days. They had a nice variety of alcohol and I thought the drinks were very good. I heard people complaining about the prices, but I think $10 including a tip is about the norm on any ship.
There are an adequate number of bars on the ship for the size.
The service was excellent (with the exception of Sterling!) Most of the staff went out of their way to make sure you were comfortable and had what you needed. For example, one morning I stumbled up to the Lido deck to wake up a bit before breakfast and right there was our favorite waiter, Noel, asking if he could bring me a coffee. Ice water, iced tea or lemonade was served to you in the Lido seating area. Our cabin stewards were like genies, popping in and out of our cabins and leaving them made up beautifully even if we were only gone for 15 minutes or so.
I would put this service on-par with what I experienced on the Pacific Princess 2 years ago.
The size of the ship is great. I think it’s about 2000 guests. Perfect size. The mega-ships are not for me and I’m glad Holland still has a variety of smaller ships to choose from.
Overall, I felt the ship is very elegant and one I am looking forward to sailing on again. Our vacation was perfect and just what we all needed. For details on the ports, please see the lin Read Less
A wonderful cruise on one of our favorite ships! Staff and crew were exceptional! Everyone from the officer passing me in the hall, to the matre d staff in the dining room, our room stewards, and dining staff were not only attentive to ... Read More
A wonderful cruise on one of our favorite ships! Staff and crew were exceptional! Everyone from the officer passing me in the hall, to the matre d staff in the dining room, our room stewards, and dining staff were not only attentive to their job, but went out of their way to speak to us, help us, and greet us cheerfully, day after day. I listened one day in the Lido to a cheerful server guide cranky patrons thru choosing food, cheerfully and kindly, over and over.
We saw crew that we had met previously on other cruises and they actually remembered us and seemed happy to see us! What a nice feeling!
Ship had lovely new carpeting in foyers, lobbies, common areas. Does need it in the rooms. Our balcony room (6148) was comfortable, roomy enough, and everything worked well. I do miss the extra storage space that was in the stool by the desk, now it's a nice chair but no storage. We asked for some extra towels, got them every day after that. Room was kept spotless. Tried out the laundry service, sent things that had been previously washed and marked it "cold wash only" and everything came back wonderfully clean! Our balcony was lovely, both chairs had footstools, which made it more comfortable. Love stepping out on the balcony to look at the water and the stars at night before bed., our AC worked fine. Bed was very comfortable
We switched to "Dine as you wish" and met terrific people, the staff was so patient and seated us as we requested each night (a large table if we felt social, a table for 2 when we just wanted to be alone) and we had to wait only a few nights: by the time we took our beeper to the bar and got drinks, table was ready! I think the food was improved from other cruises, I do miss baked Alaska! But the desserts overall were much better, and meat was always tender and good. Only 1 night out of 14 did the meat arrive over cooked, and then they replaced it quickly. Service was always very attentive. For some reason the fruit was also better than before!
I miss small treats at the explorer's coffee café. I REALLY miss a library, the books they have are coffee table books, not fiction or biographies or something you want to curl up in a loungechair and read. the EXE stuff is dumb, meant for 3 minute info bites about the ports. I never saw anyone spend much time. how hard is it to have some extra book shelves? the best books I found were ones left by fellow passengers. Oprah's book club was interesting and I enjoyed the book and the discussion, but they do the same book over and over.
Lincoln Center was awesome, especially at the BBC movie in the theatre. BB King was ok, rather loud (and I'm not that old) Billboard Onbard with the piano duo is something I've enjoyed on other cruises: this time, they were awful. Awful patter, and off key. it was, as a fellow passenger noted, "Like an ice pick in the ear" I actually left the casino a few times, the singing I was hearing was so bad. Please, you still need to hire people with talent for singing.
Grand Turk: we went on our own to Bohio resort on Pillory Beach, it was nice and we we had a lovely afternoon tea. Beaches are beautiful. Very built up from when I was there 20 years ago!
Key West: We walked over and took the train around, interesting. Fun to walk around the town and a great shell shop by Pier.
Fort Lauderdale: LAND and Sea. It was excellent. Our guide "strolled" the Riverwalk and gave a wonderful history information lecture, the bus drove by the Beach area for us to see, and the paddle boat ride was great fun! Excellent commentary on whose yacht was whose, and whose giant mansion was sold to who and rebuilt. Very interesting and fun!
St Thomas: took the excursion to Mountaintop and saw terrific scenery and the shop had some very reasonable and nice jewelry. Worth the trip.
Puerto Rico: we thought the tour ride around the island was sold out, just walked around. Later, I did find out that even though a tour would be listed as "sold out" on the kiosk, if I went to the EXE office, I could purchase it. Don't know why, but always check with the office before you assume the kiosk is correct.
Grand Cayman: Did Stingray City and it was wonderful. I had been there before, but wanted my elderly to see it from the boat. If she had been able to, the entrance to the water would have been easy for her, big set of steps that went down into the water. The crew made sure to take the stingrays over to the boat so she could see them. It was a fun experience for us. Top rated!
Half Moon Cay: nice beach, wish they had a tram to take older people or people with walking disabilities down the beach. we rented a clam shell and it was too HOT! even with the back part up to let in air, way too hot. there were free loungers and we used those. water was lovely. didn't eat lunch there, went back to the ship. the second week, waves were too high for the tenders to go in, had to skip HMC>
Cozumel: we just shopped by the pier!! Best liquor prices were here.
For some reason, they no longer have the detailed drink menu in our favorite, the Ocean Bar. I used to love reading thru that and trying something new. But the staff is very attentive, and the honey roasted peanuts and tapas addictive, as well as the Lemon drop martinis. Pina Coladas were excellent too!
We did learn that the dinner and lunch menus for the dining room and the specialty restaurants are now available each day on your TV. I still would like to have a menu available in the bars, it was fun to sit before dinner and peruse what was on the menu that night. And how hard would that be? Edward was nice enough to grab a menu for us each evening to look at.
I attended Yoga one morning, it was fine. not a very friendly teacher, but she did the job fine. I was disappointed in the computer classes, usually I love them and learn a lot, but this gentlemen went too fast, and I had trouble when he zoomed thru q few questions I asked. only attended two.
Room service has definitely improved! came to the room HOT and on time, and they read thru the order every time to make sure everything was there and it always was! one time, we were ready early enough we decided to go to the Dining room and I called to ask if we could cancel the room service and they did without any problem.
I think the best part of the cruise that impressed me the most was sincere and friendly atmosphere of the crew. Even the officers, who can sometimes be stand offish, were friendly and kind. Worst part was the Piano bar. oh, and we didn't win at Bingo.
I have to say, they have cut back on things to do on the ship. especially sea days. would like to see movies offered more in the small movie theatre at night, they were offered in the afternoon, or at 6pm, when the movie was over 2 hours and it would have made dinner either really early or really late for us. I really don't want to sit in my room to watch a movie, I can do that at home. they do need more on board activities Read Less
Booked after final deposit deadlines on a reach out from Holland America on a Casino offer. Accepted the offer for a Verandah Suite, and then several weeks later received an upgrade offer for the Neptune Suite, which we took.
... Read More
Booked after final deposit deadlines on a reach out from Holland America on a Casino offer. Accepted the offer for a Verandah Suite, and then several weeks later received an upgrade offer for the Neptune Suite, which we took.
Embarkation: The Veendam arrived later than expected from the prior cruise, so when we arrived at 11:30am, most of the passengers were waiting in the hall, as boarding did not proceed until approx. noon or just after. It was not a long wait, but we had never experienced a wait in boarding in our 10 HAL cruises, so this was an exception.
Cabin: SA009 on Navigation Deck (Deck 10). A standard Neptune Suite on HALs smaller ships with 575 sq ft of space including a pull out sofa, dressing room, and large deck with table/4 chairs, and two loungers. The new "suite" look for HAL had not been completed, and instead of having two sinks in the bathroom, there was one and an additional in the dressing area. Unlike Vista class ships, there was not a separate shower and tub, but instead a combined shower/tub combo. The decor was from the last revision (I believe 2009, I think) with the Hawaiian style prints in orange and browns and leather brown couch.
My wife and I surmised that Veendam may be utilized soon for another Carnival brand line, such as P&O soon, which is why the Suite changes had not taken place yet. However, for being a 22 year old ship, everything was in fine working order and we especially liked the artwork in our cabin of large watercolors. The flat screen appeared to be the same size as my IPAD Pro (about 12-14 inches) was was what I would call - minimalist.
Dining: We absolutely adore the Pinnacle, so we had pre-reserved every evening, except one in Canaletto for the Pinnacle. We dined at 7pm each evening and loved getting to know the staff, not only from breakfast each day in the Pinnacle, but also the same team in the evening. Ordering a la carte each evening, we worked our way almost through the menu by the end of the cruise. Service was impeccable and we appreciated getting to know most of our wait team. Lin was exceptional as the wine steward (now on to Nieuw Amsterdam) as we had brought a week's worth of wine on board, but she was eager to make recommendations based on what we had brought and shared.
Entertainment: We were surprised that on Veendam, even with the venues similar to the Vista class - the branding of experiences was completely different. No Billboard, Lincoln Center or BBKings here, but the much more traditional entertainment at each venue. Also, we walked into several of the dance/singing shows and found the quality significantly below our expectations in pitch, movement and energy. While we had a great cruise, we found the main showroom entertainment not to our taste, and missed the branded experiences that HAL has moved to on other ships. A distinct exception was the America's Test Kitchen and EXC services, which were superb.
Service: It is what HAL is known for, and we found that standards were maintained and exceeded. The Neptune attendants in Tyson and team were SUPERB and very ready to accommodate any need.
Ports and Shore Excursions: Most of the ports on this cruise were the HAL or Carnival produced variety, with shopping centers, pools and bars in the port area (HMC, Amber Cove and Grand Turk) These were functional, but we especially enjoyed the cabana in HMC, and the "Tours with a purpose" to the Women's Cooperative Chocolate Factory in the Domincan Republic. Old San Juan on Easter Sunday was a highlight as well with many shops open as well as churches.
The ship overall looks fantastic and has constant upkeep. We noticed this especially in the Thermal Suite, which looked like the day it was new and was FABULOUS.
Great cruise to get away on a smaller ship with HAL, where we got to know our neighbors and saw people onboard multiple times to catch up. Read Less
This was my first cruise, so I chose a 7 day cruise. Our cabin was amazing (Neptune Suite). The Neptune lounge was great. Plenty of goodies to nibble on. It's just a shame the only beverage (free) in the lounge was coffee (free) ... Read More
This was my first cruise, so I chose a 7 day cruise. Our cabin was amazing (Neptune Suite). The Neptune lounge was great. Plenty of goodies to nibble on. It's just a shame the only beverage (free) in the lounge was coffee (free) beverages. Even soda was charged for. (I can see charging for alcohol, but imo soda should be free in the lounge. The concierge (Vincent), was awesome. He fixed and problem, or potential problem, that we had. The cruise is the perfect size. Not too big or too small. Very few children were seen. Those we did see were VERY well behaved. This is a cruise line that is geared to folks middle aged or older. The activities are geared towards that age group. (Which is great if you want to AVOID a ship full of kids (like Disney etc). The entire ship had a relaxed feel to it. Everything was spotless on the ship. The only thing that was disappointing was the food. Nothing we had all week "knocked our socks off". The food was OK...but just OK. We had plenty of shore excursions to choose from and the ones we took were great. Read Less