This was a great, low key trip to Alaska on the Oosterdam. We had cabin 4006. The cabin is at the front of the ship. It was clean and a nice size cabin. No bath tub but we didn't miss the tub at all. The cabin is near the side ... Read More
This was a great, low key trip to Alaska on the Oosterdam. We had cabin 4006. The cabin is at the front of the ship. It was clean and a nice size cabin. No bath tub but we didn't miss the tub at all. The cabin is near the side thruster, external door, and main stage. It was generally quiet, but there were times when engines, entertainment, or door drop were very noticable. Food was good across the board, although room service had warm cold items and cold warm items for breakfast. Entertainment was great with the Lincoln Center Stage being wonderful. The BB King Blues Club and Billboard groups were fun as well. If you fly in, make sure to check out the Port of Seattle program for luggage coming and going. Also, we suggest not buying any drinks until you are out of the Washington state area...otherwise you will have to pay 10% sales tax on things like sodas, wine, beer. The staff is quite friendly and helpful. We also suggest using the Navigator phone application so you can see daily events and check your bill. We had a great server in the Lido named Yasmeen. The Pinnacle Grill food was excellent. It is a great first night dinner as you cruise out the Puget Sound. We also picked the night at Victoria for the Pinnacle as the time is quite short in port. Read Less
We were handed beepers our first three dinners because the dining room was too full and had to wait for 45 minutes...it felt like we were at a Chili's or something... Not a good first impression
The food is pretentious and portions ... Read More
We were handed beepers our first three dinners because the dining room was too full and had to wait for 45 minutes...it felt like we were at a Chili's or something... Not a good first impression
The food is pretentious and portions are very small.
The Lido deck is not a buffet and you are forced to ask someone to plate your food for you. This causes lines and long waits for something as simple as a Caesar salad.
There was also a fire on our cruise that was announced over the ships intercoms. My wife was in tears after that and left a very poor taste in our mouths.
Usually there was only one vegetarian option. We asked to have meals just without the meat multiple times are we're told no... If you love beets and mushrooms, this is your ship though.
Cilantro is on everything... Lots of people hate this stuff...beware.
Portion sizes are TINY compared to a cruise lines like Princess. Where I received a full beef wellington on princess, I only received a slice on HAL. Also, it was cooked medium and the breading was a soggy mess when I got it...
The entertainment is awful. They have one good band (BB King band) and the rest is shockingly bad. There was an hour long presentation on the "art of towel folding".... If thats not bad enough, Microsoft also has daily seminars on how to use Windows 10...I'm not joking, this is the entertainment on your cruise.
The staff is really the only shining light on this ship. All of them were incredibly friendly, but there are just so many drawbacks about this ship. We will never come back and definitely would not recommend sailing with them unless you get a massive deal. Read Less
We chose this cruise because there was a great deal (including gratuities) just a few weeks before sailing.
We live in Vancouver, so the transportation to and from the ship was easy, as was the embarkation and disembarkation (just ... Read More
We chose this cruise because there was a great deal (including gratuities) just a few weeks before sailing.
We live in Vancouver, so the transportation to and from the ship was easy, as was the embarkation and disembarkation (just about the smoothest we have experienced).
We would consider the Noordam to be a mid-sized ship and although we generally prefer smaller vessels, the Noordam has retained some of the charm of the past (which we enjoy). Our sail-away inside cabin assignment was roomier than many and convenient (10th floor outside the Crow's Nest) although I think that we got an extra dose of the fog horn when it needed to be sounded (just a couple of nights). We also suffered from poor sound insulation and neighbours who kept their TV on loud all day and all night. A sound machine function on my phone managed to drown/muffle the sound enough for us to sleep. The cabin steward team was very capable and provided good service without being intrusive.
The food in the main dining-room was generally very good as was the service. We ate breakfast and lunch at the Lido Market and generally enjoyed the food there as well, although sticky buns (dry), French toast (little egg content) and pancakes (under-cooked) were disappointments.
Fortunately, they have kept the tea and that wonderful opportunity to relax and meet some interesting new people (a highlight of cruising for us).
The vast majority of the crew were friendly and helpful. The Cruise Director (Stone) was very polished in her delivery and we valued her engaged but not hyped approach to her announcements and presentations. Entertainment was a bit hit and miss. The EXC and BBC enrichment presentations were very good, but not up to the standard we are used to with live presentations by people with real knowledge and experience. The production singers and dancers were about average. The comedians were mostly good, but one experiment with a comedy club style comedian died an ugly death. He just didn't research the demographics well and wasn't able to figure it out to adjust his material on the fly. I doubt that HAL or the comedian will try that again. The Lincoln Center musicians were very skilled, but a bit too stuffy for my tastes. I prefer the older Adagio duo approach with a mix of classical and popular music. Speaking of stuffy, the room they played in was way too small and way too hot for comfort. They did schedule some ballroom dancing on a few days at 5 pm, but really didn't make much of an effort. The first day they just plain forgot about it until someone called the front desk. Thereafter, music just started playing in BB Kings at 5 pm from an invisible DJ. Most of the time we were the only couple there. Bad venue, Bad timing and Bad music... A real disappointment after our last Amsterdam cruise with a trio playing dance music in Oceans Bar most evenings.
It sad that there is so little live music and it all starts in the evening (even on sea days). It is too bad that they don't spread their entertainment investment a bit further and more frequently.
We didn't do any excursions as we have been to the ports multiple times, but were able to find great hiking trails within walking distance at each port.
All in all, it was a great experience, but sadly, some of the charm of HAL is slipping away and they seem to be following the bad example of bigger ships and less class. Read Less
Our cruise on the VeenDam was not a pleasant one. The food was terrible and the ship was dirty. We had dinner at our assigned table only 3-4 times. We just could not tolerate the food. After finding a hair in my salad we didn’t go back ... Read More
Our cruise on the VeenDam was not a pleasant one. The food was terrible and the ship was dirty. We had dinner at our assigned table only 3-4 times. We just could not tolerate the food. After finding a hair in my salad we didn’t go back to the dinning room. Janet almost threw up when I found the hair. One morning we were having an omelets and I discovered a hair in my omelet. (picture attached) Another morning I grabbed a fruit cup and was eating the fruit when I looked down and saw a filthy glass the fruit was in. I took my finger nail and scratched the crud. This was disgusting. I took the cup to the front desk and heard crickets. (picture attached) After this incident we lived on scrambled eggs, yogurt, fruit, salad and pizza for the majority of the cruise. Anything that was prepacked or would be killed in high heat.
The fruit juices were watered down just like their cocktail drinks. We went one evening to the Crow’s Nest for happy hour. The Holland America app said happy hour was from 4:00-4:30. This crated a lot of confusion with the bartender. The guy in front of me had a discussion with the bartender about the time. I showed the bartender the H.A. app which clearly said 4:00, but the bartender insisted it was 4:30 as printed in the daily ships guide. The bartender eventually gave the guy his drinks at first one at regular price and the 2nd for $2.00. When it came my turn, he said I had to pay full price or wait until 4:30. I told him this was discrimination and the people behind me agreed. It is obvious some of the ships personnel need to be retrained. It gets more interesting. Every evening at happy hour there was trivia. The cruise director Tom Webber was great as was Eileya who did the trivia in the evening. One evening we ordered Mojitos. The bartender never mulled the lime and mint together, so on this evening I discovered a bug in my drink. (picture attached) There was dust everywhere. No one ever dusted the bases of the fixed table.(picture attached)
I called for a meeting and Mr. Bashir met with me in the lobby, outside of the customer service desk. I went through my list of issues and was told “there are 1,350 on board the ship. “We are trying to make everyone happy”. You are the only complaint”, which is a lie. We did excursion with many people who complained about the services and quality aboard the ship. I showed Mr. Bashir my pictures and he didn’t believe me. I told him “I bet you that spinach is still on the wall”. He said “they clean every day”. I took Mr. Bashir up to the Lido deck and showed him the spinach on the wall. He too was unhappy about the quality of the food. I was at breakfast one morning, before I met him, and he was complaining about how his food was cooked.
We did a lot of excursion. One had only one excursion that was not good and that was the trip to Corfu. The WORST excursion we EVER had. I complained about this excursion, as did others. We did not get a refund, only crickets. As for Holland America, I will not cruise with them. This was our 3rd cruise. This was our gift to each other for our 45th anniversary. Not a glass of wine, not a glass of Champaign nothing! Holland America’s was all about separating you from you money and if you didn’t like what you got, well that was just too bad. See you later sucker, they just didn’t care because they had their money. We paid high dollar for a low budget, low quality return. Read Less
We made the decision to do an Alaskan cruise on the Volendam with HAL earlier in the spring when some friends suggested we join them as they knew we were cruise fanatics (10 previous cruises in the past 5 years). We had never cruised with ... Read More
We made the decision to do an Alaskan cruise on the Volendam with HAL earlier in the spring when some friends suggested we join them as they knew we were cruise fanatics (10 previous cruises in the past 5 years). We had never cruised with HAL before and 8 of our previous cruises were with NCL. I had the impression that HAL cruises were for an older, quieter demographic and they seemed to offer less flash and dash as NCL so we had previously avoided booking.
When we finally made the decision to join our friends and found out it was an older smaller ship we lowered our expectations accordingly and felt it would be an affordable way to see Alaska as the fare was quite low in comparison to what we usually pay. We booked a deck 3 promenade ocean view stateroom (3418) and over the course of three months added a few extras such as a couples thermal suite pass, specialty dining for the Pinnacle and Canaletto restaurants and two excursions (Tracy Arm explorer and Skagway White Pass rail, Yukon tour). We arrived the night before and stayed at the Fairmont at Vancouver airport. The skytrain goes from the airport to Waterfront station and then a 1.5 block walk to the Canada Place cruise terminal. There were three ships embarking that day and we were impressed with how smooth everything went. I felt our 10:30 arrival time was too early though and a noon arrival would have likely allowed us less in terminal waiting time.
The ship is twenty years old and the decor shows its age but it appeared to be very clean throughout and our cabin was clean and roomy compared to some Ocean view cabins we've had in the past. A nice surprise was the renovated washroom which I felt was just as nice as the NCL Bliss' washrooms. Our cabin steward Bach was very friendly and efficient with any requests we had. He was around and interacted with us just the right amount of time and we enjoyed our chats with him. He made it clear he was always available if anthing was not to our liking with the stateroom and provided excellent service throughout the entire cruise.
The main dining room food was above average and breakfast was fine every morning as well. The Pinnicule was incredible. My surf and turf was delicious and my wife really enjoyed her salmon. It was a fine dining experience with incredible service from our waitress Sharin. Overall the food was as good as any NCL ship including the specialty restaurants. The cruise had an authentic traditional cruise feel to it and we were able to focus on the awesome scenery and wildlife that we seen throughout our cruise. All of the activities and information sessions we went to were informative and interesting. The Alaska beer tasting was fun and we met people from all over the world and shared a few laughs. I would have to give the entire cruise a solid 8 out of 10 and our low expectations were greatly exceeded in all areas. We now will put HAL on our "do again" list. Read Less
We are a couple in our early 60’s. We traveled with another couple. We stayed at the Homewood Suites downtown. We took an Uber to the port which was very close to the port at around 10:00 AM. We were on the ship by 11:45. We were ... Read More
We are a couple in our early 60’s. We traveled with another couple. We stayed at the Homewood Suites downtown. We took an Uber to the port which was very close to the port at around 10:00 AM. We were on the ship by 11:45. We were able to go straight to our rooms. We had a nice quiet lunch in the main dining room. The Amsterdam is an amazing ship! Very clean and nicely decorated! Smaller ship but easy to get around. Since our cabin was on the 3rd floor it was very easy to get to the main dining room which was one floor up. Love being in the back of the ship.
Dining: We went to the Pinnacle Grill three times. Love the menu and the waiters and waitresses. Lobster bisque, shrimp cocktail, crab cakes, lobster tail and filet were all so amazing! Also had the scallops, candy bacon and porterhouse! All were amazing. Wahyu and Kay were so amazing in the Pinnacle. We also went to the Canalleto one night. Liked their menu also. Mira and Carla were amazing and always friendly and nice when ever we saw them! The main dining room was great. We ate most of our meals there including a couple of lunches and breakfast. Amazing Amin, was one of our favorite waiters! Always had a smile on his face. The last at sea day they served surf and turf and shrimp cocktail in the dining room. Very good! The Lido serves an awesome breakfast. Lots of different juices.
Egg making station, pancakes etc station. Lunch they have a great salad station.
Ports: Awesome itinerary! Picked this cruise for all the amazing ports!
Ketchikan: Bering Sea Fisherman Tour was excellent. We did this tour 11 years ago and couldn’t wait to go back. It was rainy and cold but they provided raincoats and they had heaters on the boat. We watched them catch fish and crabs in the pots. You could hold rock crabs etc. They threw herring and we watched the eagles fly down and catch them . An awesome shore excursion not to be missed! The boat docks right in town. Lots of nice shops etc.
Sawyer Glacier at Tracy Arm was beautiful. Nice relaxing day.
Juneau: We took the Jeep Wrangler 4 Door Jeep tour. We booked through the ship. We went on our own to the Mendenhall glacier and hiked to Nugget Falls. So nice to take our time and explore at our own pace. We also went to Saint Therese Chapel which was beautiful location in the woods. Amazing area! Then onto the Fish hatchery. Very cool to see that many fish!
Icy Strait Point: TOK River Outfitters is a company we found on line. They were awesome!
We went halibut fishing! Between the six of us we caught about 25 halibut! The boat was in pristine shape and Nick the captain and Tammy were so amazing! They baited our lines and released all our catches for us. They went out of their way to make our day so awesome! It was a rainy and cold day but we were having so much fun catching fish we didn’t even notice the weather.
Anchorage: There is a free shuttle to town. We booked the Glacier Quest Cruise through Phillips 26 Glacier Cruises on line. We actually called direct and got a AAA discount for the cruise. We booked the motor coach for transportation to Whittier which is where the tour begins. The glaciers we visited were beautiful! The lunch was great! This excursion takes all day but it was so amazing to get up so close to the glaciers. We chose the glacier quest which was a shorter cruise because we worried we would not have enough time for the longer 26 glacier cruise. As it turned out though, there was just enough time for the time we had at port to take either cruise.
Homer: We took the free shuttle to the Spit. Nice area for souvenir shopping for some unusual things. We booked a private tour through Bay Excursions for a Marine Wildlife Tour. The tour was right down by the water at the spit. We saw puffins and otters and eagles. Very
Knowledgeable guys on board our boat. The captain was great!
Kodiak: We took the free shuttle to town. The guys booked a Bear Viewing tour through Island Air Service. Expensive but the best tour! Up close to see bears in the wild. They flew them to Fraser Lake in float planes and you are very near where the salmon are. The bears were very close to where they stood and watched them. My friend and I booked a floatplane tour with Andrews Air. We were so close to the mountain peaks that I felt like I could touch them. The take off and landing on the water was so smooth. We highly recommend either place, which were next door to each other, for floatplane trips.
Hubbard Glacier: Amazing day to see the Hubbard Glacier up close. The ship offers an excursion to get off the ship to go see the glacier even closer. We didn’t do it though since we had been very close to glaciers in Whittier when we were there. The scenery is just undesirable at the passage into the glacier.
Sitka: We took the shuttle to town. We booked a tour on our own with Captain Gary’s Sitka Adventures for a Whale watch. Gary met us in town and took us out on his pristine boat. It was just the four of us. Gary was amazing! We saw so many whales. We saw otters. Beautiful area! Gary was the best!
Victoria: The shuttle offered by the ship is $15.95/pp to town. We took a taxi directly to the Butchart Gardens on our own. Way cheaper. The Gardens are about 40 minutes from where the shuttle drops you off at the Empress Hotel in town. The gardens are the most amazing gardens we have ever seen. Highly recommend going there.
Embarkation: The Port Valet offered by SEA/TAC is an awesome way to go. Put your bags out at midnight and you don’t have to deal with them until you get to your baggage claim at your final destination. FREE too!!!
This itinerary was so awesome! We hoped to go to these same ports next year but they changed them. No Kodiak or Sitka! We hope they bring them back. This was our 16 cruise. 6th cruise with Holland America. We really love Holland!! One big plus for us is that Holland America Line has a priest on board for all their cruises. We really love that they do this! All in all, we can’t say enough how wonderful this cruise was. Alaska is an awesome place to visit! So much untouched amazingly beautiful scenery!! Read Less
We chose this cruise because of the itinerary and the stops in Greece did not disappoint they were amazing. This is our 17th cruise and have been on all the major lines. Getting on the ship was very easy and very quick. The ship itself is ... Read More
We chose this cruise because of the itinerary and the stops in Greece did not disappoint they were amazing. This is our 17th cruise and have been on all the major lines. Getting on the ship was very easy and very quick. The ship itself is still fairly new and is in great shape. The main pool is very nice, one of the nicest I have seen in a while there is plenty of room and you don't feel sandwiched in. There are many spots to sit including areas by the outside glass that have curtains that partition off areas. The level above the pool also has lovely seating sofas which are very stylish and an eatery that not many people go to, they serve salads and pizzas and snacks. All this being said this ship is not designed for kids as there is no kids pool so the 500 or so kids on this ship made the main pool their home and at times the area was really noisy. The pool on the back of the ship is just plain, really did not like hanging out there. I was shocked that there was no sail away party, with music and dancing like they have on most ships.
The food on this ship was good, we did anytime dining and hardly ever had to wait for a table, this includes the main dining room.
All of the public washrooms on this ship were always clean and working, they were in pristine shape. They were also centrally located.
In the buffet they dish out of the food for you and I thought this was a plus, it minimized people touching food that they shouldn't.
The band that played in the BBKing lounge was amazing, we listened and danced to them many nights. They also had dueling pianos which were good. There was a hard rock band which was not very good and we listened for a couple of songs and never went back. This ship did not have any major shows, with singers and dancers. They had three male singers from the UK who all came from Broadway shows, they were very good and we saw their three shows. They also had a comedian for one night, but then he did not have anymore shows anywhere during our sailing. One night they had a local group come in and sing and dance we walked in and did not even sit down. One night they had a documentary in the main theatre and they called this one of their main shows.... In the pool area at night they had films, one night the film was not starting and there was no one around to ask so after 20 minutes or so we went up to one of the staff and they said they had technical difficulties but failed to let anyone know. We like a lot of entertainment and thought that this ship came up short in that regard.
We did however like the chat with the captain that they held in the main theatre, it was very informative. We also attended one of the Americas test kitchen shows in the day time and the flower arranging demonstrations. We did the kitchen tour, it was fairly quick but interesting to see.
There was no live music by either pool during the day.
This ship was one of the smoothest that we have been on, the weather on this specific cruise was also very good.
Getting off the ship was also very easy and quick.
Katakolon-We did the winery and the beach with the tourist train, very easy and fun.
Athens-We bought a two day pass for the Red hop on hop off bus,it picks you up at the port and went to the Acropolis the first day and did other sites. Had lunch at Gods restaurant in the Plaka, we ordered calamari and salad. The calamari was so huge and very tender, probably the best I have ever tasted. The second day we took the beach line and went to a beach club. You can ride the bus all the way down to the end, it then turns around and heads the other way, very pretty views.
Mykonos-walked around the port area,very pretty and had lunch at one of the restaurants. We walked to the windmills and continued past them to two beaches.
Kuadasi-went to Ladies beach , which was crazy busy. Had lunch at Ladies Beach restaurant which was amazing.
Rhodes-went to the Palace of the grandmasters it is open from 8 to 20:00 and costs 6 euro to get in, what an amazing castle.Then we went to Ellie beach restaurant beach club. Very nice chairs 16 euro for 2 loungers and an umbrella
Santorini- We took the boat to Oia, spent the morning there, it was crazy busy. Very scenic. Then took the bus back to Fira in the afternoon, had lunch at Salt & Pepper which was very good. Took the cable car down to the port.
Chania- I knew very little about this port, it turned out to be my favourite stop. We took the bus from the port into town. It drops you off across the street from the market. We went to the waterfront which looks like Venice, very scenic. We walked to the lighthouse and stopped to put our feet in the water in a mini beach. We walked around that whole area and the many streets behind the waterfront that have restaurants and shops. We also walked down to the beach, but only stayed for a short while. Then went to the market.
Naples-We took the hydrofoil to Sorrento. It was very pretty. If you have never been to this area of Italy before my recommendations would be to go either to the Amalfi coast or to Capri, which we did last year. Read Less
We picked this cruise completely for the Itinerary. It had the stops that we wanted. I didn't even look at ship reviews. The room was very nice and pretty good sized with a great bathroom. We had the Vista Suite I believe. The people ... Read More
We picked this cruise completely for the Itinerary. It had the stops that we wanted. I didn't even look at ship reviews. The room was very nice and pretty good sized with a great bathroom. We had the Vista Suite I believe. The people working the ship were very good and professional.
The ship is old and dated. Poorly layed out and not designed for the older passengers that go on this trip. Lots of space used for shopping stuff and recreational stuff. Not very many good outside quiet spots to enjoy the view. The one pool is worthless! It was dominated by kids and screaming. We went there once and never went back. There should be an adult pool. (Dont ask me why kids were on this cruise, not a kids ship or intenerary). Lots of things were broke on the ship. You could never get the water and ice machine to work properly in the Lido Market. Many times a sign was up that it was broke. The Lido market had decent food but was only open until 8pm. There was viryually no casual dinner after 8. The many restaurant was open until 9:30 but you should be dress appropriately for that. The Pinnicle Grill was very good and we ate there 3 times but that is an extra charge. None of the bars had the same beer and wine. One bar would say they were out of a beer and another had the same beer. Frustrating when you have a beverage package.
I would say go for the itenerary not for the ship. The ship was only a means to get us where we wanted to go! Read Less
The best thing about this ship are the four extra elevators they added either as an afterthought or in retrofit — Two on each side of the ship in the middle give us a total of seven elevators at entry point. These glass elevators on the ... Read More
The best thing about this ship are the four extra elevators they added either as an afterthought or in retrofit — Two on each side of the ship in the middle give us a total of seven elevators at entry point. These glass elevators on the side of the ship are much faster than the normal elevators and so wait time was actually quite minimal.
A cruise ship leads a hard life, the cabins are constantly occupied 12 months a year the elevators are constantly moving so things do you wear out quick... noordam isn’t bad at all But too many elevator button lights are burned out, Drain on bathtub broken,the toilet stopped working for a while, There is some wear on the furniture in the cabins. The TV reception and remote isn’t very good.
I certainly can’t mark it down because it caters to an older crowd, 80 percent 50 plus, but be aware of that when you are looking at cruise lines. The entertainment budget goes for a string Quartet that does Bach, not trapeze artists.
Relatively limited dining options. Food is just OK. Wine is prohibitively overpriced even for a cruise line. Read Less
The stateroom was perfect aside from the air not working. It was clean and roomy for the two of us. We had great shows to watch and cozy veranda. There was plenty of storage room, and we even had numerous USB ports. Standard plugin was ... Read More
The stateroom was perfect aside from the air not working. It was clean and roomy for the two of us. We had great shows to watch and cozy veranda. There was plenty of storage room, and we even had numerous USB ports. Standard plugin was limited, but we were prepared for that. There was no outlet near the bed. My husband has a cpap and they brought a power trip to help it reach. Our air didn’t work the entire trip so thank goodness we had the veranda to leave open all day. They called everyday to check on it but didn’t do anything about it.
Awful experience. The back of the ship was so loud and shaking you had to talk quite loudly to have a conversation. Therefore, everyone around you talked loudly as well. We ordered the Spinach and artichoke dip with bread which came with two breadsticks from Nutella. While we were eating, the captain came on to talk about the evening festivities, weather, location and more. We could not make out but a couple words that he said something about Glacier Bay and the spa. You can never hear any of the announcements because they only are in the hallways and stairwells.
My husband ordered a New York strip steak medium and I ordered one done. Besides the fact that there were flank steak and not NY strip wasn’t the worst part. I received his steak and he received mine. The asparagus and carrots were saturated in butter.
The pecan pie was stale and about two bites worth of pie. The NY cheesecake was not your typical cheesecake. It had more of a cake texture than a cream cheese texture.
There is only food available during certain times so it throws off the eastern time zone people. Then when it’s time to eat, there are 1000 people in line waiting for two people to serve you food. The food is not buffet style or self serve. If you want a piece of pizza, it can be an hour wait. There are 30 people selling beer and two people serving food and clearing tables. You have to clear off your own table because there aren’t enough outside. If you want a waffle for breakfast, it can be up to a 7 minute wait.
The food isn’t even all that tasty. Most of the choices are the same every day. The ranch for salads is watered down, scrambled eggs are runny and bacon is transparent. The chicken Caesar salad was divine. The omlet station was really good too but there again one person making omelets for 40 people.
I’m sure like every other cruise line it’s all about tourism. I paid $4000 to see Alaska. Not buy $3000 jewelry made in China worth $10. I want genuine jewels and custom made things. I want to support Alaska while supporting Holland America.
The only activities on the ship were targeted towards women. Jason paid $120 to just play Texas holdem for a bit. We did not know that it was a Chuck Swindoll cruise - that would have been nice to know because most of the rooms and events were for those people. They took the main stage most days so the shows weren’t till 8 and 10:00 at night. That’s 2:00 in the morning for Easterners. I spoke with an employee who said they had most of the ship most of the day.
Our travel agent was incredible and really help tailor our trip ideas to our desires. When we went to the excursion desk, she told us that our travel agent booked us for all the old people tours and obviously didn’t know what she was talking about because there was no way we could get a cap for $70 an hour in Juneau. When we arrived in Juneau the taxis said right on the doors, $70 an hour! Felt like we were lied to from most of the cruise line employees.
Alaska was breathtaking and so glad we went to Sitka. I had no idea Juneau was as commercialized as it was. I wouldn’t ever have to go back there. It was totally not what we were expecting. Even our family members who go on cruises to and three times a year it said it was unlike anything they had ever experienced I would not be traveling Holland America again. Read Less
This was our 13th cruise and the 2nd on HAL. We sailed the Baltic on the Zuiderdam last year and it was so wonderful that we tried to re-create it with a different itinerary. The Baltic definitely wins the weather contest, as this time we ... Read More
This was our 13th cruise and the 2nd on HAL. We sailed the Baltic on the Zuiderdam last year and it was so wonderful that we tried to re-create it with a different itinerary. The Baltic definitely wins the weather contest, as this time we were in the Mediterranean during a heat wave, but we still had a very good cruise.
The Koningsdam is beautiful and service on HAL continues to be a high point. Most of the staff seemed to go out of their way to demonstrate genuine warmth. Our cabin stewards, Edi and Rangga, and our dining staff, Sang and Eka, were top notch. We loved that this ship has a full promenade deck for us to stroll every evening, although the view is somewhat blocked by life boats. The activities on HAL suit us; we don’t need a rock climbing wall! We especially enjoyed the America’s Test Kitchen demonstrations, since we are fans of the show at home. I have seen reviews in which people were disappointed in the entertainment, but we were not. We did not go to everything, but some highlights were the fabulous pianist Tian Jiang, the local Croatian singers and dancers, and the BBC Earth movie set to live music. The Lincoln Center performers were stellar, and the “music walk” bars are a fun and creative feature.
Food in the main dining room ranged from good to great, and our meal in the Pinnacle Grill was excellent. We found some good things in the Lido buffet, but it seemed that there were less choices than on the Zuiderdam and one side was often closed even at busy times. I notice that some reviewers did not like that the Lido staff serves the items rather than self-service, but I appreciate the attempt to control the spread of germs. In fact there were a few side dishes that were self-serve this time and I didn’t like it. I don’t remember that from the Zuiderdam.
A few complaints: Smoking is allowed in the casino. I think it’s only supposed to be in a certain part but the smoke doesn’t know that. I respect people’s right to smoke, but in a closed area it affects non-smokers too. The casino usually was not crowded so it wasn’t too bad, but one night I had to leave my favorite slot machine when someone beside me lit up.
I like the way HAL does happy hour. You buy a drink and the second one is only $2, plus they have some pretty good snacks. However, our dinner time was at 5:30 and happy hour was from 5:00 to 6:00! No fair! There was another one at 10:00 but we enjoy drinks before dinner.
This was the first time I have ever used the ship salon but the humidity in the Mediterranean was not my friend. I was impressed both visits, first with Jalena and then with the young man from Bosnia.
Disembarkation was the best we’ve ever experienced. Embarkation could have been better. We arrived at 7:00 a.m. and were met by lovely staff who showed us where to sit and wait. It was a rather long wait, because they had to get the ship ready after the previous cruise. When the buses finally arrived, however, a lady with a HAL sign led a group of new arrivals to the bus first, while motioning impatiently for our group, who had been waiting the longest, to sit back down and wait some more. It was another half hour before the next bus came. Once we were at the cruise terminal, we waited another hour or so but it was a pleasant place to wait. My suggestion would be for the airport welcome staff to keep a list of arrivals and call them in that order when the buses come.
We enjoyed all of our ports, although there were a few mishaps.
DUBROVNIK - We need a do-over here. We walked the city walls but unfortunately it was 91 degrees with extreme humidity, and I felt ill after climbing the many steps. I exercise and believe myself to be in good shape, but this was hard for me. My husband did not have difficulty, however, so maybe it was just me. Anyway, it affected the rest of our time there. I would love to try again at a cooler time. Dubrovnik is beautiful. HAL charges about 16 euro per person for their shuttle to town.
KOTOR - One of the most beautiful places we have ever seen! We strolled the old city and had lunch. There is a wall to climb but we didn’t because of my previous experience. When we arrived in the tender, lots of young men tried to sell us boat tours. They offered a 1.5 hour tour at a reasonable price to Perast and Lady of the Rock that I might try next time.
SPLIT - We visited Diocletian’s Palace and Saint Domnius Cathedral, where we climbed the bell tower for beautiful views. Then we strolled the waterfront. This is an easy port to do on your own.
RIJEKA - We were originally scheduled to visit Ravenna, Italy but our itinerary was changed. We had rather low expectations for this port but ended up enjoying it. Go to the friendly tourist office at Korso 14 and they will tell you everything you need to know. We bought city bus tickets across the street from their office and visited Trsat Castle, a lovely place to walk and take in the views. Rijeka does not seem as touristy as some ports and the people there were especially nice.
TRIESTE - In retrospect, we should have done an excursion here. We went to see the Roman ruins and San Giusto castle and they were fine but nothing spectacular. HAL offered excursions to Slovenia and to Venice that were tempting but expensive, as well as some shorter tours. But they sold out fast!
CORFU - Lovely, fun, friendly town to stroll and have lunch. There were 5 ships in town, however, and the crowd for security at the cruise terminal was a disorganized madhouse. There has got to be a better way.
CATANIA - The HAL excursion to beautiful Taormina was great. It would have been easy to walk back into town from the ship afterwards but our tour guide took us through on our way back and we felt like we had seen it.
VALLETTA - We could easily have spent two days here. If you like military history, you will love it. We visited the Malta at War Museum and Fort St. Elmo, but there’s lots more to see and it’s easy to do on your own.
NAPLES - We went with HAL to Pompeii. Great tour.
Overall, we loved our cruise and we look forward to sailing with HAL again. Read Less
Overall we had a great cruise in the Mediterranean on board the Koningsdam. It's a newer ship and very pretty inside and out. The public spaces, music walk bars, pool areas, lido deck buffets were are all well organized and staffed. ... Read More
Overall we had a great cruise in the Mediterranean on board the Koningsdam. It's a newer ship and very pretty inside and out. The public spaces, music walk bars, pool areas, lido deck buffets were are all well organized and staffed. The Crow's Nest lounge was one of our favorite places on the ship. The outdoor exercise track was the best place for taking pictures when coming into port or passing a really interesting geographic feature.
Cabin - We had a nice aft facing vista suite. Nothing to complain about except the toilet is mounted at a 45 deg angle that really leave no leg room when seated, so if you happen to have legs you be forced to sit at a very awkward angle to use this appliance for its intended purpose. (I can only image the arguments that happened in the design phase of this ship over this "compromise" solution. I'm sure there were some great exchanges! Maybe an interview by Cruise Critic? Would certainly be entertaining.)
Food - The food was simply fantastic. Most people said it was the best on any cruise they've had. Chocolate desserts were varied and outstanding. MDR was run efficiently and other than the sommeliers being stretched a bit too thin, things went fine there for us. Pinnacle grill was a very nice meal for us, too. If you like espresso drinks, the Dutch Cafe and Explorer's cafe in the crow's nest are great too.
Entertainment - This was probably their weakest suit but this was really an excursion cruise so not a big deal to us. The BB King blues band was the best thing on the boat featuring a great group of musicians. The Billboard lounge dueling piano players were second rate and the rock band was okay at best. There were some shows on the world stage, I did not see much of that but one act I caught was a cheesy singer putting on a show for an unenthusiastic audience.
Plenty of opportunities to socialize and make friends and we enjoyed that greatly. Try trivia or some of the other ship activities. Whiskey tasting at the Notes bar is a great idea but needs to move to a quieter location where you can have a conversation. The casino was lightly attended.
Two pools on lido are available, mid ship and an adult only pool aft. Most of the smokers hang out by the aft pool but it wasn't overwhelming as the smokers congregated mainly in one covered section and it was easily avoided. I swam there every day so I did not find it to be an issue.
Service - I really cannot say enough about how good the service staff is. From servers to housekeeping these folks hustle and work hard, are polite, remember names and drinks you've ordered. I was impressed.
Ports - Everywhere we went was pretty interesting and fun. Due to it being high season, we encountered some crowds at main attractions like the old town of Dubrovnik (truly over run with tourists, tacky tourist trip shops, but some side street cafe's were still bright spots and I would still recommend walking the walls of this city for the history and views.)
Among the highlights were Kotor, Sicily and Malta. I cannot say enough about sailing into the ancient seaport of Velletta, Malta. Don't sleep in! I got my camera and took some amazing photos in the early morning light. You won't see a port like this anywhere else in the world, it's a time capsule.
The last sea day was a cruise past the active volcano, Stromboli. Since it had just erupted 2 days earlier there was a lot to witness. The Italian Navy was present to be ready for an evacuation of the island and there were 2 firefighting sea plane dowsing out lava spawned fires that threatened the town at the foot of the volcano. Everyone on board was treated to front row seat to a fascinating operation and a string of small eruptions of lava that were plainly visible.
Excursions are not our thing so I will not comment other than to say these folks were highly organized and will get you a good guide and tightly run tour if that is your thing.
Wifi services were pricey and not that great but if you need to be online, you can be.
Pick-ups and transfers were handled extremely well.
The hallmark of this ship was that a great deal of professionalism and organization allowed guests to relax and enjoy the trip. Read Less
We chose this cruise as part of a Land/Sea cruise for our 25th Annivrsary. The ship is in great shape, the staff is always friendly and the services can't be beat. We started in Seattle for the beginning of our R6L. We flew to Alaska ... Read More
We chose this cruise as part of a Land/Sea cruise for our 25th Annivrsary. The ship is in great shape, the staff is always friendly and the services can't be beat. We started in Seattle for the beginning of our R6L. We flew to Alaska on Alaska Airlines, SEATAC is a bit chaotic.. We wandered around Anchorage, went to the Huli knife shop, began souvenoir hubting and a headed back to get something to eat at a Brewery across the street from the Westmark Anchorage, a a good hotel to get some sleep. We picked up a snack for our breakfast the next morning, choosing to eat on the train. The next morning we were bused to the train station, got on our assigned train car and settled in. Once the train was moving we ate breakfast (1/2 the hotel pric) which was excellent!. Back in the train car we enjoyed our train attendan and his knowledge of Alaska while having a couple cocktails. We had an afternoon snack and arrived in Denali 9 hrs later. Debarking the train we were bused to out lodge, we were in the new lodge, Ridge View. These are very nice! Our luggage was waiting for us in the room, we changed and went for a stroll and enjoyed a dinner at Kartstens, good food. After a good night's sleep we had an early start to the day, meeting the Denali Tundra Wilderness Tour at 0530! It was worth it though, seeing allot of animals and great views of Denali. The next day we took a bus from Denali to Seward, another 9hrs! We stopped half way for a very nice make your ouwn sandwich at the Settles Bay Lodge. T
he boarding was quick, and we were on the Westerdam. Cruising Glacier bay was beautiful, They expect the glaciers to be completely receeded in 5 years! Haines is a nice small town, Alaska Rod's is a great souvenoir shop, most items are hand made by Rod himself or elsewhere in Alaska. Junea is anothe great port, be sure to see the Medenhall Glacier, it is also quickly receeding! Ketchikan is a busy place, uualy 5 ships in at a time. The Lumberjack show is very entertaining! If you want real canned Salmon, go to Salmon Etc. It is privately owned and operated. Another day of relaxing and then disembarking in Vancouver, we were qulified for direct to ship. You meet in the mainstage area and then are quided to your coach on a seperate brow from everyone else. Yur luggage is already in the bus. After a stop at the borde and passing US customs it's off to SEATAC. Read Less
This cruise fit our time and budget. We also like HA cruises as we find them slightly better than the other cruise lines. HA is one of the few that sails into Glacier Bay, which is a highlight of the cruise. i would not cruise to Alaska ... Read More
This cruise fit our time and budget. We also like HA cruises as we find them slightly better than the other cruise lines. HA is one of the few that sails into Glacier Bay, which is a highlight of the cruise. i would not cruise to Alaska without going to Glacier Bay.
The food and service was excellent. There was a minor issue with the balcony divider that rattled, which they fixed - they also fixed a minor issue in the bathroom shower without us even telling them.
The ship was impeccably clean, and the state room service was great.
Maybe we are getting old, but we also found that the lack of party atmosphere was refreshing and relaxing.
We tried BB kings lounge, which was the heart of the ship, and while the musicians were very skilled, we found the Blues and R&B was not our thing, I am more of a classic rock guy. The shows in the main theater were very good, but don't expect the extravaganza that you see on the Mega Ships.
We booked our own shore excursions and did not use the cruise line for this.
The White pass railroad was GREAT and very scenic.
We booked a Seaplane in Ketchikan for a Misty Fjiords flight which I highly recommend. I am plane buff and this was the highlight of the trip for me. In jueau we took public transit to Mendenhall Glacier and walked 1.5 miles to the park from the bus stop. This cost us $18 for everything, round trip.
A couple of things. You have to pay for soft drinks, which I found odd. Also they serve you at the buffet, which I guess they do for sanitary reasons (and also to cut down on food waste) but I did find it slower than a help yourself buffet.
The Dive in Burger joint was great, and we ate lunch here twice. The Pizza was also good. We also ate at the three specialty restaurants (Asian food, Steak House, and Italian) We rec'd these dinners for free for some reason. The food and service was excellent, however, I find the main dining hall food to be excellent as well. I don't think that I would pay extra for the specialty restaurants.
We first took this cruise on our honeymoon 26 years ago, and we enjoyed this cruise just as much Read Less
We chose Holland America and Eurodam because it was going where we wanted, when we wanted to go and we are so glad we did! This was an amazing experience. From the moment we boarded the ship until we stepped off to head home it exceeded ... Read More
We chose Holland America and Eurodam because it was going where we wanted, when we wanted to go and we are so glad we did! This was an amazing experience. From the moment we boarded the ship until we stepped off to head home it exceeded our expectations. The ship itself is just beautiful, no detail overlooked. Having never cruised before, we wanted to ensure a memorable experience and so we booked a Neptune Suite. If you can do this, I highly recommend it. The suite was gorgeous, had plenty of room for the two of us, and the "perks" that come with being in a suite are fantastic.
The crew are all wonderful, full of smiles and very helpful regardless of what the question may be. We had a unique situation in that we recently lost my mother in law and she had wanted a burial at sea after being cremated. We worked with the ship prior to boarding to ensure we knew what we could expect and they were absolutely phenomenal in guiding us through the process. Once on board we worked with Inge, the Concierge in the Neptune Lounge, who made sure everything went beautifully. We cannot thank her enough for all she did.
I have seen people comment about the ship vibrating, or that you can hear the engines. For those who may not quite understand, it's a moving vehicle. It is going to sway, and rumble, and vibrate. That was actually comforting to me, because if I could hear it and feel it I knew it was moving and taking us to the next amazing location. I am prone to motion sickness, so while many people say "You can't even feel it moving", yeah, you actually can and even though the crew indicated we had calm seas on this particular voyage, I did have to take Dramamine a couple times which fixed me right up.
All that is left to say is thank you Holland America for making our first cruise so perfect. Read Less
This cruise had a good itinerary. We stayed for 3 days in Rome, it was a disgrace, with rubbish piled up in the streets everywhere. Embarkation was very efficient. However, the entertainmemt is very poor. There is no orchestra, no big ... Read More
This cruise had a good itinerary. We stayed for 3 days in Rome, it was a disgrace, with rubbish piled up in the streets everywhere. Embarkation was very efficient. However, the entertainmemt is very poor. There is no orchestra, no big dance productions, just 6 ballet style dancers. hALmust be cost cutting.
There was no library.
BB Kings played the same music every night.
The Lido buffet was always crowded , with lines for everything, no self service so you had to explain what you wanted. Some of the servers had difficulty understanding English.
Activities consisted of bingo or trivia, no dancing classes at all. The computer classes were impossible to access as ithey. were always packed. Internet expensive.
Hard sell constantly for beauty salon.
The decor on the ship is dingy.
The Cruise Director did very little, apart from introducing stage acts. He rarely smiled and ever made a joke!!
Overall a big disappointment. We will never sail o HL again. Read Less
We chose this cruise as I had previously used HA for Med cruises and really enjoyed the experience, rated it as the best cruise line I had been on
This time was quite different and although the staff are still fantastic the changes to ... Read More
We chose this cruise as I had previously used HA for Med cruises and really enjoyed the experience, rated it as the best cruise line I had been on
This time was quite different and although the staff are still fantastic the changes to the ship made it impossible to find a quiet place to sit and read or talk
The promenade deck was reduced to a very small area with no room for loungers in the shade where you could have a quiet rest looking at the sea and the lifeboats hung in the way so not much view
There wasn’t anywhere on the boat we could get away from loud piped pop music and the only loungers were in the full sun
There were so many children in the pool area that made it noisy and a very hot place too
The adults pool and spa were in a smoking area so smelly and hot!
The lunch dining room is not available now and there are no libraries
They don’t have the events like they used to and the free drink and nibbles for sail away and last night is no more
The shows are not nearly as elaborate although this ship had a great screen background and technical capability for laser shows
You are constantly bombarded with requests to buy alcohol if you sit anywhere on the ship
The jogging area was really tiny
Everything is now designed to make more money
We won’t hurry back and will try other lines now Read Less
We chose this cruise for the itinerary and were not disappointed in any way. The refurbished ship is beautiful, clean, and everything looks brand new. The staff were all friendly and helpful, and the food in the MDR was very good. We ... Read More
We chose this cruise for the itinerary and were not disappointed in any way. The refurbished ship is beautiful, clean, and everything looks brand new. The staff were all friendly and helpful, and the food in the MDR was very good. We ate in the Pinnacle once; it was OK but we enjoyed the MDR more. Entertainment was good if not excellent; there were some but not many activities during the day, but most everyone was off the ship anyway, as we only had one day at sea, and on that day there were many activities at all times. Embarkation was easy, as was disembarkation at the end of the trip. The Veendam is a small ship, so the staff/guest ration is much better than on the larger ships. It is comfortable, and we much prefer the smaller ships for this reason. Sailing up the Adriatic into Venice was an amazing and beautiful ending to our voyage. Read Less
Sailed HAL for 10 of 12 cruises. Last cruise 34 years ago. First vacation in 8 years and first vacation with wife in 28 years (never had honeymoon and always had kids)?? Basically, the shore system didn’t match the onboard system. I ... Read More
Sailed HAL for 10 of 12 cruises. Last cruise 34 years ago. First vacation in 8 years and first vacation with wife in 28 years (never had honeymoon and always had kids)?? Basically, the shore system didn’t match the onboard system. I bought 4 indulgences and packages and none were ready for us. We never received the excursion tickets or most of the Add-ons without multiple trips to Guest services. They never notified us of Port Valet services or shopping specials that were supposed to be delivered to room. HAL completely missed our anniversary. They were quick with ‘I’m so sorry’ but slow on resolutions. Missed several onboard events while waiting in line at Guest Services. They don’t answer the phone so don’t bother. MDR was nice but if you share a table, they may make you wait 30 minutes until the table is full. Lincoln Center Stage was the best. I wish they would let me throat punch the drunks and obnoxious passengers that walked by and disrupted the performance. Weather was rough 1 day (18’ swells) and passengers felt the need to vomit on the common area carpets instead of staying in their cabins. Everything is an add on. Better meals in MDR ($25+ extra), candid photos ($20 each or 5 for $60). Portraits at Gala, $40 each or $160 for 5). Bingo was about $40 plus the $2.50 dauber. Staff was always pushing drinks, pictures, spa treatments, etc. Had 2 of 8 days without problems and trying to get what we paid for. Well possibly travel on HAL again if they fix their problems. I’m a 3 star Mariner and have a long way until 4 stars. Read Less
My husband and I have just returned from an 11-day cruise to the Mediterranean, our first cruise with Holland America. We chose this cruise because of the itinerary, it covered pretty much all the places we wanted to see (except Venice). ... Read More
My husband and I have just returned from an 11-day cruise to the Mediterranean, our first cruise with Holland America. We chose this cruise because of the itinerary, it covered pretty much all the places we wanted to see (except Venice). We are not big drinkers or late night activity seekers, and we are easy to please with food. We are all about sightseeing. We spent 4 days in Rome first (on our own). We were very pleased. I had some concern with the entertainment based on other reviews however we were very pleased with what we saw. The ship was very clean and the staff was, we thought, happier than other cruises we have been to. Embarkation and disembarkation were very organized and quick. I saw many advantages of it being a newer ship. The bathroom had a real shower which we greatly appreciated, very roomy, for a nice shower after a sweaty day of sightseeing. The angle of the toilet was really not a problem. There are electrical outlets and USB ports all around the cabin. The balcony was roomy and the glass door was immaculately clean. There is ample storage. We purchased the unlimited laundry service and it was so worth it. Our stewards Christina and Agu were wonderful. We did not go to any of the specialty restaurants and had most of our dinners in the dining room. The quality of the food was a bit inconsistent, and presentation was generally better than flavor/texture. The Lido buffet was very varied and I liked the fact that most of the time you need to be served, which contributes to hygiene and illness prevention. They have these awesome hand washing stations. We would have liked to see food available at all times. One day we wanted to have a late lunch and all the stations were closed (we went to the grill instead, no big deal). There were no lines for the big theater as I had read. In the dining room, we did have a wait (approx 20 minutes) on both formal nights. We loved the Planet Earth show with the string quartet and the dueling pianos shows. The Knights (3 guys) were fabulous, so talented. We did not have any complaints about the service in general. This is a large operation and everyone seemed focused on service. Every time I cruise I think about these people, away from their families for months... We did all our excursions with Shore Excursions instead of the cruise line's, to save money. Now that I know that in Santorini the the passengers who bought the excursion with them are given priority into the tenders, I would have purchased that one with HAL. We ended up losing about an hour on land. Santorini is absolutely beautiful. We liked everything we saw (again, easy to please). I guess Athens was my least favorite one although the Acropolis was memorable. We saw a lot of decay and graffiti. Lastly, HAL offers Catholic masses and this was so wonderful (and convenient). Read Less
Loved the Westerdam. Great cabin 10018 with excellent location. Good viewing when on a southbound cruise. Entertainment great and went late into the night. BB Kings good. The 2 piano players in the Billboard Bar were also great. ... Read More
Loved the Westerdam. Great cabin 10018 with excellent location. Good viewing when on a southbound cruise. Entertainment great and went late into the night. BB Kings good. The 2 piano players in the Billboard Bar were also great. Food good. Only disappointment was lunch in the Pinnacle Restaurant. Not worth the extra $. Not sure why a Coconut Trifle would gave 2 layers of rich chocolate that overpowered the taste of anything else...inedible. Strawberry pavlova...better pavlova in the Lido. Crab cakes for appetizer were excellent. Entrees (mains) pretty ordinary. Dinner may have been better. Santos and Otto did a great job in looking after us in our stateroom on Deck 10. Recommend this Stateroom, in particular location. Great service with a smile everywhere. Plenty of updates from the Captain. Smooth sailing. Embarkation was easy and we were able to board earlier than designated. Disembarkation needed more signs for lines of group colours. Easy to look up everything on TV in cabin, e.g. account and dining menus for the day. Good movies too. Read Less
We chose this cruise for a quick break to Alaska. We live close to Vancouver so with no flights it is an easy holiday. We have been doing this twice a year and have enjoyed everything. However, this time there was a a significant ... Read More
We chose this cruise for a quick break to Alaska. We live close to Vancouver so with no flights it is an easy holiday. We have been doing this twice a year and have enjoyed everything. However, this time there was a a significant decline in the entertainment. HA have introduced a new Step 1 dance company which didn't appeal to us. They were 6 dancers, with no singers, no band, and a poor sound system. This is no doubt another effort to reduce costs but not for us. We used to recommend HA to friends, but not now with this decline. Other on stage performances were an illusionist and a comedian which were both good. The BB King band on board was absolutely fantastic - this is what will bring us back to HA. Cherise and Steven were the vocalists and were terrific, and so were the other band members.
The "Cruise Director" was very sweet, but not the ever present role of the previous CDs. There was no activities staff, no dance lessons, so Celebrity is way ahead in this area.
HA claim the best perks at sea, but we dispute that as we get much better perks on Princess and Celebrity where we have similar status. Read Less
My wife and I are seasoned travelers but we have never experienced a cruise. She choose a crossing of the Panama Canal for our 4oth wedding anniversary. A bit daring as it was 21 days and I am known to get sea sick and/or bored rather ... Read More
My wife and I are seasoned travelers but we have never experienced a cruise. She choose a crossing of the Panama Canal for our 4oth wedding anniversary. A bit daring as it was 21 days and I am known to get sea sick and/or bored rather easily.....
-Booking was easy with Vacations to Go and Max Richardson (the agent) was friendly, professional and helpful.
Our stateroom on board was # 1922 allowing a view to the outside but without balcony. The price difference was unjustifiable for the time that we actually planned to be in the room. However I recommend to ask for a fan, as the A/C was not sufficient to cool the room to our liking. With the fan it was perfect (and it helped to dry some of our minor laundry items!). Bed was comfortable (we also had extra pillows), bathroom and shower were fine and also was the water pressure. The room was adequate in size for our purpose.
The stateroom was serviced by TRI and ANTON who did an extraordinarily efficient and friendly job.
Food on board was plentiful, well presented, tasty and varied (although you should not expect "extravagances", Atlantic lobsters and/or Caspian caviar!) Service was outstanding
(Our THANKS to JOJIT, EDGAR, RAT-TEE, GIOVANI, MICAH, NITTAYA, ANN, DAN, JASON,GUSTI, ANDRI (w/glasses!), FRANCISCO, WEMICK, etc, etc..... everybody on board went the"extra mile" to make us feel happy, and well looked after!) Our very special THANKS to HENRY and JANELLE and the harder worker on board, HIQMAL...(found mostly around the Lido pool) Entertainment was 50/50, some acts were good and some not so much .None were a Vegas act but they filled the time and were adequate..
Be aware that alcohol was extremely expensive! We drink very little so we did not "suffer" at all but we were a bit outraged at the prices on board.and some "drinkers" were quite upset and angry as Holland America does not allow anybody to bring any alcohol to the ship (So they make sure to sale their own!!) The trip went smoothly with minor waves and movement that I did not enjoy but were tolerable. Pool was small but fortunately not overcrowded, and there were no children! Lots of really elder people, but, I guess, that there are the ones with money....Regardless they were very pleasant and quiet indeed...!
Time on ports of call were too short and did not allow for too much to do except buy souvenirs (which we do not do!). Some excursions were fine and, overall we had a good time. Maybe because communication was not a problem as between both of us we speak five languages! On the Volendam I was learning Indonesian, Tagalog and Thailand from the crew, and improving just about every day! Captain and officers were approachable and friendly and it was a pleasure meeting them........Our best regards to everyone and hopefully we will meet again..... Read Less
always wanted to visit Denmark, the homeland of my husband and since the cruise started in Copenhagen, this was our opportunity to do the Baltic Sea cruise. We always choose Holland America as the mid size ships are our preference. The ... Read More
always wanted to visit Denmark, the homeland of my husband and since the cruise started in Copenhagen, this was our opportunity to do the Baltic Sea cruise. We always choose Holland America as the mid size ships are our preference. The HAL ships are always relaxing and comfortable. The staff is fantastic, very friendly, approachable and well informed. The safety of the passengers is very evident and welcomed. The captain of the MS Zuiderdam was very visible and hands on. Dined at the Pinnacle restaurant and the food was superb. The ship was very clean and the décor tasteful. We chose a balcony suite on the fifth deck and it was convenient located to access both the Explorers Lounge, Main Stage as well as the main dining room. Both the embarkation as well as the dis-embarkment went very smoothly. Look forward to our next adventure with Holland America, it is always a well satisfying experience. Read Less
The Celtic Explorer started in Dover and traveled to Jersey, Falmouth, Fishguard, Greenock, Skye, Mull, Dublin (2 days), Zebrugge, Antwerp (2 days) and Amsterdam. The main problem with this 12-day itinerary was that with only two sea ... Read More
The Celtic Explorer started in Dover and traveled to Jersey, Falmouth, Fishguard, Greenock, Skye, Mull, Dublin (2 days), Zebrugge, Antwerp (2 days) and Amsterdam. The main problem with this 12-day itinerary was that with only two sea days, ports came fast and furious. There was no sea day between embarkation and Jersey. For folks flying directly from the States there was no time to recover from jet lag.
If you get travel fatigue or suffer from jet lag this is something to consider.
This itinerary also had 4 tender ports. Two of them (Jersey and Fishguard) tended in rough seas. Some people opted not to go ashore or could not because of disability. Other tender ports were Skye, Mull.
We enjoyed all the ports. In Jersey we went to the Maritime Museum and while we hadn’t intended it, the museum took up most of our day, it was so engaging. We walked around town a little after the museum.
In Falmouth we walked around town, went to the Maritime Museum and took the train to Truro. If you do that you may should know that there is a railway station at Falmouth Port, not just downtown. We walked to the downtown station, it was a nice walk, and returned to the port station..
In Fishguard we wanted to go to St. Davids, but because of the short port call we could not get there and back on public transport, so we took the HAL tour. It was worth it, with an engaging guide who was a natural story teller. St. Davids has a beautiful gothic cathedral, bishop’s house ruins. It is a charming small town where we enjoyed tea and scones before walking through the town market,
In Greenock we visited with friends in Glasgow, but also took time to go to St. Mungo’s Museum, a museum presenting information and art from the different religions practiced in Glasgow. The art was inspiring but the exhibit I liked the best took us through the stages of life as celebrated by each of the religions covered, birth, coming of age, marriage, adulthood, elderhood and death.
We arrived in Skye (Portee) on a Sunday so local buses were not running. We went ashore and found a skipper giving wildlife tours from a boat. When the tour was over some of our cruise mates who had booked taxis for a morning tour were back and we were able to take a taxi to some of the places outside of town that we wanted to see. Helen, our cab driver, was the last baby born in the Skye hospital before it closed down. She was full of stories and local lore.
On Mull (Tobermory) we enjoyed walking around town, stopping at the aquarium where all the inmates are there only for a month before being returned to the sea. There was a touch tank and exhibitions on local sea life. The Tobermory distillery offers scotch tastings. The shops were multi-purpose, books and fishing tackle or iron monger (hardware) with wine and spirits. We lost ourselves in the book store for a while, got into conversation with the book seller, and the iron monger. We enjoyed scones and tea in a café that used to be a church.
Dublin was a two day stop. The dock is away from downtown. There was a shuttle bus available for a hefty fee. It drops you off across from the Oscar Wilde statue in Marion Park. I recommend being on deck for the docking. The ship had to make some tight maneuvers interesting to watch. We pulled up close to downtown before turning around to face the mouth of the River Liffey when we docked. In Dublin we wandered the streets and when we saw something interesting, we went in. This included The Church, a bar set in the former St. Mary’s church which, appropriately, had been the family church of the Guinness family. We also had tea and scones in Brewley’s Café, which houses a luncheon theater, where we enjoyed a one act play. We found several small galleries and exhibits and wandered Temple Bar. When we heard music we liked we went in to listen. This was a relaxing way to see Dublin. It’s not our first time so we were not in a rush to see the Book of Kells and other well knows sights.
After a much-needed sea day it was Zeebrugge. Since we’ve spent a lot of time in Belgium, we had no need to take the train to either Bruges or Ghent. Instead we bought a day pass on the tram that runs along the coast from the Dutch border practically to France. We could get on and off whenever we wanted. We had lunch in De Hann Ann Zee, a charming late 19 century beach resort where Albert Einstein spent some time after leaving Germany. If you’ve been to Bruges or Ghent this is a good alternative.
Two days in Antwerp were not enough. We bought a mass transit day pass and enjoyed going the Art Nouveau neighborhoods. We also enjoyed the Cathedral, the Central Railway Station, Antwerp’s “second cathedral” and visiting churches filled with baroque art, including works by Rubens. We went to the Mas Museum and walked the old town and red-light districts. As much time as we had spent in Belgium we had never been to Antwerp. It was the most wonderful surprise of the cruise.
We were tired when we arrived in Amsterdam because of the fast pace of the cruise so we took the tram to Central Station and enjoyed an hour-long cruise on the canals before getting on for the Norwegian Fjords Explorer cruise.
When we got off the ship in Amsterdam from the Celtic Explorer, they did not stamp our passport because we were going back on the ship. When we got off after the Norwegian Fjords Explorer there was no one to stamp our passport because everyone had gotten on in Amsterdam. As a result We were detained at the airport leaving Amsterdam because we did not have a proper entry stamp. The immigration people were polite and helpful, there was no problem there, but it was time consuming. Had we not arrived at the airport three and a half hours before the flight, instead of the recommended two we would have missed our flight. We finally got to the plane at the tail end of boarding. Part of the problem was the 30-minute walk from immigration to the gate. Be prepared if you fly out of AMS.
Here are a couple of other notes. Because of the small number of sea days there was no outside lecturer on board. We missed this but Brett, the EXC Guide gave good port talks.
May was a good time to cruise. We had unusually good weather and the ship was not nearly full. Prinsendam has a capacity of 835. On the Celtic Explorer there were 567 passengers on board, no lines for dinner, an uncrowded lido, no need to arrive early to get a good seat for evening shows, and for less hassle tendering.
I’m sorry to see Prinsendam go out of Holland America service. We’ve enjoyed Prinsendam in the past. She’s an older ship but we like her size, her aft saltwater pool good for swimming laps, her classic but understated appointments, her generous cabins and her walk-in closets. We’ve been on other HAL ships and enjoyed ourselves, but not as much as on Prinsendam. We will be reading Cruise Critic Reviews to try to find an new favorite. Read Less