11 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2019
My wife and I sailed on the ms Koningsdam last August on a cruise to Norway. Apparently the ship went into drydock for some updates and new officers, not long after that cruise. I’ll describe some of the updates in my review, many of ... Read More
My wife and I sailed on the ms Koningsdam last August on a cruise to Norway. Apparently the ship went into drydock for some updates and new officers, not long after that cruise. I’ll describe some of the updates in my review, many of which enhance your cruising experience. I provided a lot of details and tips about cruising on the Koningsdam in my review last October for Cruise Critic; I will not repeat that information here; please read my earlier review to learn more. We only did the 10-day Southern Caribbean Seafarer cruise. Here are some of the changes. The Lincoln Center Stage area has been combined with the BB King's Blues Club; they perform at different times. The area formerly used by Lincoln Center Stage is now the Rolling Stone Rock Room. The rock & roll band there was excellent; it seems like every performance had overflow crowds with standing in the hallway. It was a big hit with the passengers. The band members were enthusiastic and put on great shows. The Assignments restaurant near the 2nd floor Main Dining Room entrance is now part of Club Orange, and serves “private” lunch and dinners for club members. My wife and I got an offer to join Club Orange prior to the cruise for about $50 a day per person; you get the private dining venue, priority boarding and tenders, and some other benefits. This is an alternative to the pricier Neptune Club. Another change since our last cruise is that hot dogs, burgers, and other food at the Dive-In by the Lido Pool are now free (as they used to be on Caribbean cruises; Norway was probably an anomaly). There was an Elvis impersonator on the ship with his girlfriend and an entourage of fans who travel with him. I think he was trying to get Holland America Line (HAL) interested in hiring him for a future cruise. I attended one of his impromptu performances, when a couple at dinner (open dining) told me about the upcoming event in the Hudson Room. He sang Elvis, Johnny Cash, and Conway Twitty songs. He should be hired; he is good enough to be a performer for a nightly World Stage show. Another change is that the Tamarind Restaurant—with excellent Asian cuisine, one of our favorite specialty restaurants—has been split into Tamarind and the Nami Sushi bar. You pay a la carte for the sushi (about $6-8 for a long sushi roll) at the bar; you can order sushi if you dine at Tamarind, but you pay the a la carte price in addition to the $25 per person surcharge for the Tamarind. Other changes: the handy Navigator app now lists events until they finish. There is a motion-sensor-activated night light in the room under one of the closets. And there are kiosks by the Guest Services desk where you can print out your room charges (statement) without having to wait in line. People seemed to stay healthy on the ship. We had no issues with norovirus or the like. I still wish more guests could be encouraged to use the hand washing stations before entering the Lido Market to eat. We did arrive about 4 hours early back to Fort Lauderdale, because a passenger needed medical assistance. Even though there were about 3000 passengers on the ship, it didn’t feel that big. And the size of the ship does allow for all the entertainment venues and restaurants on the ship. The only time the size was somewhat apparent was in Grand Turk. Ship personnel only opened one gangway. In the afternoon, 2 hours before departure, there was a long line to get back on the ship, about a 15-minute wait. At other ports, there were 2 gangways available and hardly any lines. There was a mix of ages on this cruise from young children to teenagers to older senior citizens. I think the average age was late 50s to early 60s for the approximately 3000 passengers. Someone told me that about 40% of the passengers were Canadians, who were escaping from the very cold temperatures back home (well below freezing). Unlike with the Norway cruise, there were hardly any active excursions (e.g., hiking, kayaking), known as EXC [Exploration Central] Tours, except for snorkeling. Some people did their own tours (e.g., mentioned on Cruise Critic’s helpful resource, the “Roll Call” for the Koningsdam cruise in the months prior to sailing). My wife and I did a couple of active excursions through a company recommended by my travel agent, Shore Excursions Group. They were small group excursions, which I liked. One of the reasons my wife and I selected this cruise was the itinerary which included Aruba, Bonaire, and Curacao, and, of course Holland America’s private island, Half Moon Cay. The port at Amber Cove, Dominican Republic, was apparently built by Carnival. It is very nice. There is a free pool area with loungers and hammocks to the right of the duty-free building. I was told that Carnival also built the port used at Grand Turk, Turks & Caicos. There is a free swimming pool area behind the Margaritaville bar/café at the port in Grand Turk. We met many people who were doing back-to-back cruises in the warm, sunny Caribbean. We heard, though, that either US Customs or the TSA requires those passengers to get off the ship and wait in the cruise terminal at Fort Lauderdale before they can reboard on the transition day between cruises. My wife and I did a back-to-back in Amsterdam for the Norway cruises, and we got to stay on the ship there. Some procedures don’t seem to make sense. My wife and I did open dining again. We would typically go to the Main Dining Room about 7:30 pm and get seated almost immediately at a table for 6 or 8 people. We had interesting dinner companions each night. Be prepared for a wait on some nights. On the first Gala Night (of two), the Main Dining Room was not able to handle the number of guests for open seating. There was a wait of 30-45 minutes or longer by 7:30 pm. It was nice of the Dining Room to hand out vouchers for a glass of champagne in the Ocean Bar, along with a beeper. There was a minimal wait for the second Gala Night. When you get to your stateroom, you should find a “Plan Your Voyage” brochure. It lists key events for each day, including World Stage entertainers. It lists the first Gala Night, but not the second. You have to ask when that will be, if you don’t want it to conflict with going to one of the specialty restaurants. It’s easy to lose track of the days on the cruise. Helpfully, the staff puts rugs in the elevators showing you the current day of the week. One of the highlights of the cruise was watching the total lunar eclipse as the ship sailed from Aruba. The overhead lights on the deck could not be turned off. (I asked and was told that would be a Security issue, although Princess Cruises has done that on its ships for preplanned stargazing, with no apparent security problem.) Fortunately, you could still see the eclipse well enough. A change for this cruise is that HAL offered dining packages which provided a discount for eating at several of the specialty restaurants on the ship (e.g., Signature Dining Package, $44 per person for the Pinnacle Grill and Canaletto, a savings of $6). All of the packages included Canaletto which suggests that it is underutilized by passengers. The entertainment was mostly very good on this cruise. Kudos go to solo pianist Indre, the Lincoln Center Stage performers (classical music), the Billboard Onboard performers (2 guys this cruise), the BB King's Blues Club (soulful voices), and the Rolling Stone Rock Room (rock ’n roll energy). We saw the first performance by the onboard dance troupe, Stage One; the second performance was cancelled when one of the dancers sustained an injury. The dancing still lacks the “wow” factor of cruises years ago. We enjoyed comedian Derrick Cameron, but not Nikki Carr. We missed the performance by Tom Franek. The juggling and comedy of Hilby was entertaining. With a company like HAL, you would not think that entertainment would still be hit or miss on a cruise. One thing I was more aware of this cruise was the noise level for the entertainers and the need for hearing protection. I have an app for my smartphone called SoundPrint that can measure the ambient noise in decibels (dB). One night it was 94 dB (average) for Billboard Online. On several nights, the reading was 96-97 dB for BB King's sitting away from the stage, and 108 dB on the dance floor. For the Rock Room, the reading was 96-98 dB, and 106 dB on the dance floor. At 106 dB, hearing loss can occur after 3-3/4 minutes; songs last longer than that. At 97 dB, permissible exposure is 30 minutes; performers played at least 45-minute sets with a pause between lyrics. Bring your own ear plugs if you want to be close to the music. I feel sorry for the small child who was held by his mother on the dance floor one night; he is likely to suffer some permanent hearing loss. If you’re a Mariner member, when you check in, be sure to ask when and where the Mariner Welcome Onboard Lunch and Mariner Welcome Onboard Reception will be held. The Check-in Desk was supposed to tell us, but they didn’t, and we missed both events. While you’re waiting to board the ship, go ahead and sign into the Navigator app (really just a website). Select the Koningsdam Guest website for Wi-Fi. Open a browser on your phone and type in “login.com”. You are taken to the website “navigator.hollandamerica.com”. Then register for an account (provide your stateroom number and last name). It’s a handy app for finding out about activities on the ship and seeing your shipboard account. This is free to use on the ship. You can pay for Internet access to the “outside world” and access it through the Navigator. There are many other features for the app; see my previous review for more info. If you’re buying a new smartphone to bring on the cruise, be sure to activate it and download any software updates before you get on the ship. You need a working smartphone to use the Wi-Fi and Navigator app. As a general rule, there was not free Wi-Fi at the ports. You’d have to go into a bar or restaurant and buy something to get Wi-Fi access: e.g., Froots or Margaritaville bar/café in Grand Turk; the Café at Amber Cove, Dominican Republic. I think Curacao was the only port with free Wi-Fi (over by the fort). In the past, when my wife and I would sign up for wine tastings, we would get reminders delivered to our room the day before the event. That was not happening this cruise, until we called up Guest Services and asked to specifically get such reminders. Until changes are made to the ship, avoid booking stateroom 4068 and nearby rooms. We met the couple staying in that room. They said they could hear the BB King band in their room when the band practiced in the afternoon (so no napping) and when it played at night. The Hotel Manager was able to find a different, quieter room which they could use for sleeping. There was an ugly altercation among passengers, and between one passenger and the Assistant Cruise Director, in the Billboard lounge one afternoon. This occurred when the second US football (quarterfinal) game ran late and afternoon Trivia was scheduled in the lounge at the same time. Words were exchanged, Security was called (but did not show up for about 10 minutes), and Trivia was cancelled. The cruise staff should have better anticipated the situation and come up with an alternative location (like right across the hall in the Rolling Stone Rock Room). The situation was aggravated by bar staff apparently serving alcohol to footfall fans for 3+ hours. If you plan to disembark yourself, expect a long line. It seems to be very popular to take your own luggage off the ship. You do get to leave the ship first. Just be patient with the line. And, if you have Global Entry membership, follow the signs in the cruise building to get expedited passport control back into the USA. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2018
We were looking to get out of town (Ohio) for the Christmas Holiday. So why not go someplace tropical. We have been on 20+ cruises and chose this one for the cabin location and and Koningsdam. The ship turned out to be just what we had ... Read More
We were looking to get out of town (Ohio) for the Christmas Holiday. So why not go someplace tropical. We have been on 20+ cruises and chose this one for the cabin location and and Koningsdam. The ship turned out to be just what we had expected. It is a very beautifully appointed ship a little over 2 years old with lots of food and entertainment options from fancy to very casual. We fall more on the casual side and tend to not enjoy 2 hour dinners in the MDR. Being in a suite, you have access to the "Orange" restaurant for breakfast and dinner It is a little on the fancy side but faster with excellent service. Lido deck buffet has all kinds of options...it does get a little crowded at time and the only negatives I heard had to do with the fact that servers behind the glass serve the food. Personally I don't have a problem with that because they will give you exactly what you as for in the quantity you ask for. And I prefer my food to only be touched by one person as opposed to everyone on the ship. Cuts way down on the sickness factor for me. Dive In for hamburgers and a Gelato and pizza place are opened quit late. Room service was not up to par on Koningsdam compared to the other 6 HAL ships we have been on. Entertainment, there is a lot of it on board from Rock and Roll bands, BB King Band was outstanding and love the music every night, Lincoln Center performances for classical music and recorded music in several of the venues. Stage shows in the 270 degree two story theater and numerous lecture on different subjects. Casino was fun but if smoking bothers you there was only one night that was smoke-free....HAL needs to get on the ball and make their ships NON-SMOKING. Several pools on the ship that never seemed overcrowded and a movie under the stars ever night at 7 and 10. Santa came on Christmas Eve and they had a beautiful tree in the atrium. Being a Christmas cruise there were way more kids that you would expect on HAL but most were under control and if not several hundred Grand Parents were there to say something. Service on board was very good from a cheerful staff but the folks in Management staff could use a little Customer Service training as most seemed a tad on the aloof side. Ports were pretty standard for an Eastern Caribbean cruise. Turks and Caicos we took a two hour tour around the island on a tram open air bus. Interesting to see how they have mostly recovered from Irma and Maria hurricanes. San Juan, Puerto Rico a little shopping and back to our balcony. St Thomas, a little shopping and lunch at Gladys' restaurant in down town CA. Half Moon Cay spent most of the day on our balcony as we have been here many time. All in all this was a nice get away on a beautiful ship. I probably missed a number of thing and places on the ship but that will be for our next voyage...there is only so much time every day for eating, drinking, reading, relaxing and entertainment. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: December 2018
Love HAL this is my 4 th cruise with them. Service is outstanding as is the food. Several lectures on culture and food offered as was America’s Test Kitchen. Music was great in the new Rolling Stone Rock Room. The band was ... Read More
Love HAL this is my 4 th cruise with them. Service is outstanding as is the food. Several lectures on culture and food offered as was America’s Test Kitchen. Music was great in the new Rolling Stone Rock Room. The band was awesome. Excursions were well worth the money. Because of the weather we missed our last stop Bahamas Half Mom Cay but it was obvious to all it was the correct decision by the captain. We also attended the meet and greet or “Ask the Captain” and that was very entertaining. He had a very dry sense of humor and had the room laughing as if he were the comedian onstage for the night. I will do another HAL cruise in the near future and hopefully get to see the same band or at least some of them. I hear their next stop is the Nieuw Statendam. Love those dam ships! Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2018
We are Australians who were in Europe visiting family so we added this cruise to Norway leaving from Amsterdam. We were a little taken aback by the size and number of passengers but the public spaces are many and we didn't feel ... Read More
We are Australians who were in Europe visiting family so we added this cruise to Norway leaving from Amsterdam. We were a little taken aback by the size and number of passengers but the public spaces are many and we didn't feel crowded except at breaksfast in the Market at 0900 or thereabouts. We loved the quality of the food - far superior to what we have had on cruises before - especially the rib filet steak and lobster tails - supurb. The dining staff were friendly, attentitive and efficient. The quality of the entertainment suprised and delighted us. Particularly the Lincoln Centre Stage classical quintet and BB King's jazz room. The cabin staff were wonderful and kept everthing tidy and clean. We took the cycling tour in Oslo and can highly recommend it. Only medium fitness is needed - we are both in our late 60s and found it easy. Read Less
21 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2018
This review will be a comparison with a very similar ship, the Celebrity Silhouette. I think many people might like the comparison since they are similar in size and offer a similar cruise experience. The Koningsdam easily wins for ... Read More
This review will be a comparison with a very similar ship, the Celebrity Silhouette. I think many people might like the comparison since they are similar in size and offer a similar cruise experience. The Koningsdam easily wins for destination since Norway Fjords are way more interesting than the caribbean beaches. Plus the scenery while cruising the fjords is really breathtaking! In terms of food it is really tough, I would say that the people who work on Koningsdam are the friendliest I have ever seen, everyone smiles and wishes you a good day. The Lido buffet on the Koningsdam is better than the silhouette(better breads, soups, salads), but the main dining room on the Silhouette had better service, presentation and food quality. In terms of entertainment this one easily goes to Silhouette and an incredible cruise director named Sue Denning(you really can't find a better entertainer than Sue!). On the Koningsdam I did like the 280 degree theatre with a fantastic presentation of BBC Blue Planet with music played by the Koningsdam musicians, really impressive, but the rest of the entertainment including the singers did not compare with the Silhouette. Now to the ship itself, the rooms definitely look nicer on the Koningsdam since it is newer but the layout on the Silhouette is still better. They have the best concept for adjoining rooms I have ever seen plus you can sit properly on the toilet whereas on the Koningsdam you can't if you are tall(really stupid design!). The Koningsdam is also lacking a large atrium, they have one but it is not impressive like on the Silhouette. The interior of the Koningsdam with its music themed artwork does beat out the Silhouette so I would call it a tie up until the top deck, the designers of the Koningsdam totally forgot to do anything on the top deck of the ship, there is a basketball court and jogging track, but that is it! What sets the Silhouette class ships apart from the competition is that they did an incredible job making the top deck an inviting place. They have an outdoor restaurant that grills delicious steaks, comfortable hammocks, a supersized deck chair that fits four people all on a luxurious real grass lawn. Before taking the cruise on the Silhouette I thought the "lawn" on the ship was a gimmick, but I found myself spending almost all my time up there whereas I almost never went up to the top deck on the Koningsdam. In the end, which was the better cruise, easliy the Koningsdam to Norway, the destination and scenery totally makes up for the small shortcomings of the ship. In comparison of the ships it amazes me that the design and comfort on the Silhouette still beats out the brand new Koningsdam. I would be glad to sail either ship in the future, but if the Silhouette has the better destination it is an easy choice! Read Less
10 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2018
We had a high expectations about our first cruise but unfortunatelly HAL did not meet them. At least we expected a "4*" smooth service, a great dining options and a quality entertainment already included in the price we paid. All ... Read More
We had a high expectations about our first cruise but unfortunatelly HAL did not meet them. At least we expected a "4*" smooth service, a great dining options and a quality entertainment already included in the price we paid. All those points were not met. Good thing: no disaster happened with us. We safely came back with a lot of photos in the camera. The rest was not so shiny as we expected. No hard feeling leaving the ship! 1. Room Service. In general it was fine. No big complaints but it was not excellent. Few strange spots on a bed linen, few spots on bathrobe. No slippers included. Dirty windows and balcony glass. We asked steward to clean a glass surfaces but he did not make it well. 2. Embarkation. The ship departed from Amsterdam Waterland Terminal with no connection of public transport. I wish HAL could offer a free or at least very cheap transportation to the terminal but the did not. It was a huge queue for check in when we arrived. No water, no snacks were provided (sorry I still expect that little things for the price I paid). Just a huge hot hangar full of waiting people. Nobody provided us a clear instructions on what to do and how long to wait. We spent around 1 hour there. Not nice start of a journey. 3. Dining Service. Bad if not terrible. Very long waits. Breakfast or dinner takes 1 hour in average. Food is served on broken/chipped plates and cups and old dirty cutlery. One time we found a hair in the bread basket. The staff on the dining room reception does not try to get a good table for you. One time we were followed to the table for 4 in the corner even two nice tables for 2 were available just few steps next to us with a nice windows. Waiters always ask for a paid drinks and forget to offer you a free tea. They do not give you a chance for a water without ice but serving you an ice cubes. The food quality was average: during all 7 days I did not find something really tasty. They even served us a lobster tail but it was prepared in a simple and not tasty way. Starter soups were definetely terrible. 4. Entertainment is limited with a concerts. The concerts were nice. I would like to mention the BB King Blues and the classical musicians. They were awesome! My wife also enjoyed Bilboard on board where the two guys played piano and sing popular songs on requiest. Those things happen in the evening. During the day activities are limited to a "seminars" where the staff tries to sell you insole for 190 bucks or expensive watches or brilliants or strange paints. Who buys all of that? We might expect some educational program like TED or knitting courses or yoga lessons included in the cruise price. But HAL wants to earn every extra penny on you. Do not go on HAL seminars - it is brainwashing and sometimes rude sales activity (nicely named). 5. Security at gates. Rude and unwelcoming. 6. At the evening of last day crew blocked two elevators out of four just because they need to carry a luggage downstairs. Obviously it was comfortable for the stewards but not the guests. That also shows staff attitude towards the guests. 6. During the cruise we received NOTHING complimentary. No free drink, no badge or magnet, no free 10 minutes massage and no PERSONAL attitute from HAL personnel. Again we paid a lot of money for the cruise and we expected something on top of the "below average". 7. That's is funny but with that kind of service HAL automatically includes 15% service surcharge on all onboard purchased. And 13.5 dollars per person per day as a "Hotel service charge". Crazy guys! Fortunately you still can adjust the last point at the end of cruise. So we did. 8. HAL shore excursions were 5 (!!!) times expensive that you could book ashore or just travelling the same route using a local public transport! 9. Port times were inconvenient. Ship arrived early morning at 7 am in average. People wake up slamming the cabing doors with no chance for a good sleep. Ship departed at 5 pm so you basically have a very short time to explore the port. To summarize: that was our first cruise. Norway is beautiful. Cruising is fantastic thing to do on vacation but never again with a greedy HAL. Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2018
Overall, an excellent cruise with a spotless ship, outstanding cuisine, very nice cabin, good service, and nice port calls. Just be aware that the alcohol, internet usage, and ship-based excursions are quite pricey. Still worth the booking ... Read More
Overall, an excellent cruise with a spotless ship, outstanding cuisine, very nice cabin, good service, and nice port calls. Just be aware that the alcohol, internet usage, and ship-based excursions are quite pricey. Still worth the booking and trip. Entertainment was incredible. Staff was very courteous and helpful. Always said hello when they passed you and always willing to assist. The buffet food was world class. No need to pay for dining! They has such a variety of food it was hard to decide, prime rib, lamb, turkey, chicken, pork, lobster tail, steaks. . .I could go on and on. It was fabulous! The embarking and disembarking process was seamless with no lines! The organization was implecable. The Customer Service staff came to you in the (short) line to walk you to their pod to discuss your concerns. Would recommend purchasing and making resevations for excursions prior to sailing to avoid long ticket lines. Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2018
Summary: We found the Koningsdam a very happy ship with crew who are engaging and working very hard with and for you to make your cruise enjoyable. We do like the ship and size and overall do not feel that it is too big and ‘feel’ the ... Read More
Summary: We found the Koningsdam a very happy ship with crew who are engaging and working very hard with and for you to make your cruise enjoyable. We do like the ship and size and overall do not feel that it is too big and ‘feel’ the crowds, except embarkation/disembarkation and on peak times in the Lido (as discussed many times previously by other reviews). We felt high numbers of tourists also at several touristic destinations and this had also an influence on our own visiting experience. For example by trying to place orders on busy side walk cafés or simply just to walk around (more details per destination). May I add that we remain surprised that cruise passengers felt the urge to cut into lines during peak times and during disembarkation. When the gangway entrance was roped off so that a proper line was formed, passengers trying to cut lines and even dare to jump over the rope in order to save waiting time. Front office staff had to step in to sort out and even needed to police persons and shout at them to behave properly. This review is focused on not so common review topics and hope this way to add other information other topics than usually reviewed: Route/Voyage: this route of 12 days is offered less often as the sailing is set from Rome to Amsterdam along European ports which are frequented less often with stops in Barcelona, Valencia, Cartagena, Gibraltar, Cadiz, Lisbon, Vigo, Cherbourg and Zeebrugge. As only 2 sea days were included, we decided that in some ports we would not travel far away and to stay within the town of the port. We do not purchase ship’s excursions, simply because we want to experience the visiting destinations as much as possible. Sometimes we included some shopping but please remember that most Mediterranean family shops will close for lunch somewhere between 13.00 – 16.00 hours, unless they only focus on tourists. Department stores as El Corte Inglés will remain open during the entire day. Passengers: there was a great mix of nationalities and I believe the mix due was extra diverse due its unique route. Along passengers from North America, who were being still in the majority, a large group of Australian (400 persons), Asian and European passengers were cruising along, which makes the atmosphere on board vibrant & alive. Embarkation: Instead of putting your luggage away yourself at the dock, we asked help from the porter service, which prevented us to joining a queue and save some time. We are 3 star mariner and received a check in and boarding number 2. As we arrived at the terminal 11.15 hours, we actually could check in right away and waited 15 mts to board. The terminal in Civitavecchia is a makeshift terminal/tent and there is no bridge to the ship. Because it rained and there is no cover walking on to the ship, umbrellas were provided to walk over to the ship. Food & Beverage/Dining: Tamarind is always really very nice and still our favourite, its location is on deck 10 aft with pool and wake views and such gracious service: surprisingly never too busy, while you are treated very royally and the ship’s best food is served?! Is the US$ 25 surcharge an obstacle or is Pan Asian cuisine more unknown than the Pinnacle Grill with a similar surcharge? MDR service and food was excellent, many waiters/waitresses showed a funny & kind personality inter-acting with the guests! At the Lido the staff tries so hard to cope with the high demand on peak times but due to its design, it is very challenging to provide excellent service. On top of that the Lido dining chairs weigh so much, you hardly can slide a chair in/out underneath of the table, which makes it clumsy for buffet style restaurant, where need to go quickly in/out of a table many times during your meal. For breakfast we returned to the same buffet corner where the same culinary staff was cooking. They remembered our preferences and had them ready when we would walk up. Our ‘secret’ and more quiet lunch place became the NY Deli & Pizza (deck 10), where there was hardly any wait for sandwiches, pizza’s or even salads, all freshly made within minutes. I sneaked in the Dive In to collect some French fries to eat along (it is a vacation after all!). When I went for an ice-cream, I happily paid extra at Gelato (US$ 2.00 for 3 scoops) but there was no sugar free ice-cream available. So I decided to try the normal icecream at the Lido on another day. Lido offered no-sugar-added ice-cream for free. Dutch Grand Café: a nice solution for little snacks or coffee in a pleasant setting. Along the snacks offered also some typical Dutch delicacies. Coffee is differently made here (much stronger) and to our taste, the coffee on Explorations Café was the best, as the milk is foamed by steamer by hand versus any other heated milk coming out of any machine. Our sommelier recommend the “Wine Maker’s Dinner” served in the Culinary Arts Centre at US$ 89 p.p. (incl. no extra 15% service charge): it is a 7 course dinner with matching (Chateau Ste. Michelle) wines ánd upon arrival an additional alcoholic based aperitive. Two remarks only: too much alcohol offered, (yes I know it supposed to be wine-pairing, but how much can you take even on a vacation?) and why are all Chateau Ste. Michelle wines require blending to make/become a drinkable wine? Last but not least two special treats: on the second Sea Day a delightful & complete afternoon tea was served with live music in the Queen’s Lounge, waiters decked out in white dinner jackets with white gloves and re-appeared in the late evening with little chocolate treats on deck 2 in the Music Walk area (so much better than these chocolate fountains). And because it was Mother’s Day on disembarkation, all women received a little chocolate treat to take home at the exit. Bars & Lounges: visited Ocean Bar and Crow’s Nest mostly for drinks, tried also Panorama Bar (no atmosphere). Staff was great & friendly, remembered favourite drink orders and offered little hors d’oeuvres. If you order a tomato juice than the bar will charge you differently (juice US$ 3.00) than when ask them to add tobacco and angostura bitter (cocktail virgin mary US$ 9.00, which is the same price incl. wodka). However the mocktails are only priced around US$ 5.00. Activities: Behind the scenes ship’s talk and/or walk: Captain Darin Bowland and Hotel Director Charles Verwaal presented at the second Sea Day a talk in the theatre more background about the ship & staff. These two gentlemen were great speakers and shared very interested details but also entertained us in a gracious and sometimes funny way. Both Captain & Hotel Director left the ship in Amsterdam: Captain Bowland will dedicate his time now only on the Nieuw Statendam, as he has the experience with delivering the Koningsdam. The singers & dancers also held with Cruise Director Ben Yates in the same day a talk about the shows in the morning, held also at the theatre and provided inside information how shows are put together and offered a behind the scenes back stage. Spa: although the massage treatment I was provided for in a very professional way, the bill ended up with an amount of US$ 200 (incl. service charge): this is really excessive! The Spa refuses to accept treatment less than 70 minutes and focus on hard-selling treatment for 70 or preferably 90 minutes only! During the entire cruise at the Lido pool is a Spa promotion booth located and there always were at least 3 Spa attendants present trying to push Spa services (no wonder?!). Sailing with open forward deck 5: on some sailings towards the destination and its arrival in port, forward deck 5 was opened (with a jacuzzi) and provided excellent views. Also staff was present to sell some beverages and offered a mimosa (US$ 3.00) during lunch time. IT and WiFi: The Navigator app works and WiFi work well around the ship until one evening IT problems arose where the entire ship did not function with IT related services. The entire crew had to adjust from working with PCs (reception) or tablet typing orders (restaurants & bars) to traditional paper & pen. In fact the captain delayed the ship’s departure for a few hours as IT needed to work properly in the outlets and on the bridge before we could leave port properly. WiFi worked again and on the last day before embarkation a similar IT problem occurred and the Navigotor app became unavailable along with the bill printer services in the main lobby. Staff could access the bills fortunately via their own system. Entertainment: each ‘entertainer’ works very hard to play live and perform: whether it was classical music, piano music, band related, or singing/dancing, it was always well presented by energetic talented people. The number ship’s shows on our 12 days journey existed of a total of 6 ship’s productions (incl. the first show which introduces the passengers to all different entertainment during the voyage). These shows are supported by pre-recorded music and/or a live band plays and of course the Planet Earth II show with all musicians playing live during the special created film. On 5 other nights guest stars presented themselves on stage with comedy, music or illusion. Personally we enjoy best the ship’s shows as these are more vibrant but that is a personal preference. The theatre seating capacity does not reflect the need & interest of the passengers: some shows are offered 3 times and others 2 times where one time the theatre is overflowing and passengers are sent way as there no seats left and other times the theatre has many empty seats. Personally we think it has to do not only with the interest but also if there are early excursions planned the next morning? During some shows (dancing) the full stage is used and for other shows the extra round piece of stage is taken away and extra seats are placed instead. The led wall enhances the performances especially the ship’s shows make full use of it. We were not impressed with the British Cruise Director Ben Yates, he needed to read out special messages or share information/update messages from a piece of paper while addressing the passengers seated in the theatre prior/post a performance in the theatre. Also many times he would express his mood and say many times “Good Stuff”. Personally I believe that such comments can be shared in a pub surrounded with your local mates in Great Britain, but it do not reflect the grandeur the elegant Koningsdam ship. Disembarkation: it was not a pretty sight where too many passengers trying to walk off and it seemed nearly all at once. Not all passengers are as well behaved as explained before. Nevertheless it was a nice cruise. Ports of call: We arrange our own transport and hardly use ship’s excursions as besides the financial advantage, it provides a fun way of learning more and engaging with the locals. As a European citizen I have access to data on my mobile phone and although I looked up many public transport possibilities in advance, via the infamous google search engine I can look up in most destination the current timing of local transport and how I can walk the rest of the journey on foot. Barcelona: we bought entrée tickets with a confirmed slot time to the Picasso Museum and unfortunately the museum closed that day due to a strike. We took the port shuttle from the ship’s D terminal (€ 5 p.p.) to the World Trade Centre. Inside the terminal these tickets were sold by an independent company and were using brand new busses. From WTC it is walking distance to Ramblas and other attractions. We took bus D20 with a stop around the corner and leaving every 15 minutes and 6 stops to Pla de Palau and then another walk into the Gothic district. We stayed & enjoyed in the Gothic district and eventually walked back all the way to WTC (via Ramblas). Ramblas (and the city in general) is getting very overcrowded, if you walk the smaller side streets, you will see more of the true city. Barcelona overall is overcrowded with tourists and local people are also getting fetup with tourism and it can show. Valencia: transport from the port is also selling here tickets for an independent shuttle from the port to city centre (€ 10 p.p.) but as the price of local taxis is not too high and the distance is reasonable, you can also skip the long queue (buying tickets from one window) and pay about € 9,00 one way, it is no brainer! Valencia is the inventor of the paella and many local restaurants gladly serve you individual portions and you are obliged to order one large pan for the entire table. The terminal could not handle well the volume of passengers either. Oceania Riviera was docked too and when all passengers were returning, it was too much and long lines appeared quickly. Cartagena: we docked as the only ship and walked into town and all is walkable. Koningsdam was the only ship and immediately the experience becomes a different. There is a Roman theatre opposite the port, which you can see a little from the steps opposite the port (for free), or walk into the museum (for a fee). The town hall is a beautiful building and provides tours during the day incl. Saturday. Great local shops with excellent bargains (clothes) and offer that when a large cruise ship is town, most shops will remain open. Everywhere are dotted around little restaurants and outside terraces. There is a tourist bus service which drives around from the street across the port to some of the highlights around the town and next to this bus stop is also a train (pulled by a car) offering a route focused more in the city centre. The tour of the bus a bigger/longer and also stops 2X where you are able to get off to have look. The second stop takes you to a lovely little beach. Make sure of the frequency of the next service! As our day stop was on May 5, a Fiesta was held and the twon was buzzing due to little street festivals (music along with food & drink stalls) and the locals were all dressed up in stunning dresses and suites. You really had the feeling that the locals welcomed the passengers and looking back, this became the best port experience from this cruise as it was real and unique. Gibraltar: we took the local bus #3 to the cable car. The bus stop is walking distance from the port, passing the statue with passengers & luggage. Bus #10 also goes there. Bus fare can be bought in Euros or Pounds inside the bus and it a day ticket costs very little. Outside the terminal plenty of taxis offer a service to drive you up/down and there is also a tour agent selling the transfer in minivans including entrance to the cable car. We pre-booked cable car tickets online so we had a quicker access to the top and have priority of other clients with no pre-booking and the local bus was quick & easy. Cable car service will be upgraded in 2020 and services improved. Now persons with mobility challenges need to walk now certain steps/staircases before entering or exiting the actual cable car. Once arrived on the top within 6 minutes, views are great. Stay inside the little restaurant (glass building) if you decide to eat or drink, otherwise the monkeys will jump at you and take it away in a flash. We saw two persons being attacked and it was not funny. The bus stop to return back is across the parking lot and walk underneath the little bridge/tunnel. Duty free shops in the terminal were great value and compared to other airport or ships duty free prices about 25% lower! If you like to walk, walk to town and cable car: it is about 25 minutes’ walk and expect some height difference during your walk. Cadiz: free port shuttle will take you off the official port area and brought us to the gate and mini terminal. As QM2 was also present with Seaborn Quest along with Windstar and Seadream I, Cadiz was overflowing with passengers along with other regular tourists, visitors and locals. The normally narrow streets & squares were overflown and we did not enjoy this. We escaped the mass to walk the seafront where is more space and enjoyed the stunning views of the skyline (looks like Havanna in Cuba and therefore a James Bond film was shot here instead). Also a visit to the impressive cathedral was great and for € 6 an audio tour was provided. Upon return the little mini terminal had to cope with the security check of large number of passengers. Lisbon: we docked at the newest facility: Jardim do Tabaco and is located in the northern part of the city, and it’s the closest to the city centre. Walking distance is 20 minutes. As Lisbon is a large town and built over different hills (stunning views) along the lovely embankment parks and monumental buildings, we opted to rent a little car. There are also e-bikes or tuktuk services available or the large double decker busses Hopon/off. As the city centre has many narrow streets, the large busses are not able to go there. So we choose the car service, this provided us a way to see more in the short amount of time and as GPS is part of the rental service, you will receive an education along your ride! I tried to contact 3 different companies and only one called Lisbon Eco Tours provided the best possible service and were extremely customer focused & professional. They offer to rent a Renault Twizy and it is a fun car and completely electric, runs up to 80 km p/hr and takes easily two adults up the hill. We had plenty of stops and alternated our tour where we needed to change it. As there is a lot of traffic, you just need to follow other traffic and it is actually not intimidating at all. Expect to become an attraction yourself as many people will take a photo. After the 4 hour tour with stops, we had lunch at a local restaurant (taken there by our request by the owners of the company) and ordered the typical local food & wine. I would do this any time again whenever I will return to Lisbon. Also Lisbon is spread out with lots of public space (parks & squares), we did not feel squeezed into the city, although the city attracted many visitors. Locals are really open, friendly and welcoming. Vigo: we registered for a tour of the town by a local operator called tours4cruises.com: € 17 per person for a 1,5 tour with stops at the beach, a lovely museum / stately home and on the highest viewing point. As this tour has a personal guide, the quality of the information is excellent and plenty of time to ask for questions. If you reserve in advance pay one euro via PayPal, they will keep your seat(s) in your bus reserved, which is a very nice gesture as many people again are trying to block seats while entering the bus. The port also faces a shopping mall (half empty) but connects via a walking bridge to a higher floor to the old city centre. As this town is extremely hilly, you can literally zoom up the escalators and cross the street via the man-made bridge. Town is pretty and due to its northern location it is a little greener. The beach along the Atlantic is pretty and there is an island not far away which won the award of best European beach. Certainly a town to revisit again. Cherbourg: this town is a sleeping with a port for ferries to the UK. As we decided not to travel away and made reservations with a local restaurant listed in the Gault Millau Guide: Le Vauban. A restaurant run by a married couple and it was a delight! Special 3 course lunch, half a bottle of Chablis, coffees & chocolates and an aperitive with little snacks for € 70 per person. We dined happily along the locals in a full restaurant. The port offers a bus shuttle to take passengers to a nearby shopping mall (again not fully used) and from there you can cross a little river via bridge and walk into town or take an other little train around the place. We walked to the city centre within 15 minutes. Some very typical French shops offering local fruit & veg, wines, cheese, breads, ready to take away for a little picnic. Zeebrugge: as Zeebrugge has not much to offer we looked at various options. A local tram (#10) passes the gates of the port enroute to the seaside town of Knokke in less than 40 minutes. Than of course the famous town of Brugge is there and can be reached by train or port shuttle. The train can be reached by the port shuttle (free) to the station and is the least expensive option for around €7 per person return ticket and train journey is 20 minutes. We choose the cruise-express.be for €20 per person. The shuttle picks you up outside the port gates and runs every half hour. Train & cruise express bus stop close to each other as the train station and bus parking are nearly next to each other. Everyone is required to walk into the city via a beautiful park. As Brugge is a historic city with hardly any access by car or bus, expect to walk a longer distance to reach the town. Than the old streets are cobbled stoned and very hard to walk on and nearly impossible tp push children’s prams, wheelchairs or walkers. The town was extremely busy and on top of its regular visitors, it was a Bank Holiday weekend and a couple of ships were in port: Costa, Brittania (P&O) and us. Besides little boat tours on the local canals, the roads are used to allow visitors to walk on but are shared with bikers, horse & carriage, few taxis and small hop on/off busses. Than through it woven in are large groups led with guides, who try to remain together as much as possible. We are able bodies persons and we just gave it all up. We sat down for a drink when we found a spot (by luck) and decided to return and leave the stunning town the thousands of others. We will be back when it is less busy. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2018
We choose this because of the ship & the destinations we left from rome & then wen to barcelona. GIBRALTER, NORMANDY, AMSTERDAM THEN TO NORWAY & BACK TO AMSTERDAM It took less than 30 minutes to check & get on the ... Read More
We choose this because of the ship & the destinations we left from rome & then wen to barcelona. GIBRALTER, NORMANDY, AMSTERDAM THEN TO NORWAY & BACK TO AMSTERDAM It took less than 30 minutes to check & get on the ship. EVERYONE IN THE TERMINAL WAS HAPPY & HELPFUL THE SHIP IS FANTASTIC ALL THE NEW FEATURES WERE MAGNIFICENT The cabin was a typical outside cabin with plenty of storage space. Food was good in the dining room & the lido food was good but it was always crowded for breakfast. the pinnacle & was great & catalano was always really good too. NIGHTLY SHOWS WERE TYPICAL FOR MOST CRUISE SHIPS & the BB KING LOUNGE WAS GREAT The shore excursions were expensive but it some places you are better off spending more & so you are assured of getting back to the ship on time or if you are late the ship will wait . THE D DAY BEACHES WAS A GREAT TOUR & SO WAS THE TOUR OF THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY IN BELGIUM GIBRALTER WAS VERY INTERESTING The highlight may have been flam norway. a story book like village hidden away in a fiord there were more people on the ship than in the village. We loved this ship & will be on it again next march in the caribbean. THE CRUISE SPARKED OUR INTEREST IN THE BALTIC AREA & WE ARE PLANNING ANOTHER CRUISE IN 2020 TO HAMBURG, ST PETERBURGH , HELSINKI STOCKHOLM & COPENHAGEN ON THE NIEW STATENDAM (AN IDENTICAL SHIP) This was our 7th cruise on holland america. it is our favorite cruise line. we have been on crystal, royal caribbean, carnival & princess. i have never had a bad cruise. some were better than others but never a bad cruise. we are not to demanding & easily pleased. The cabin steward & dining steward bent over backwards to please you. i asked for a bucket of ice every after noon at 4 pm & they brought it. i wanted almond milk after dinner & they brought it without being asked every night. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2018
did the round trip from Rome to the greek isles April 21 thru May 1. all ports were beautiful and interesting. My only complaint would be that there needs to be a sea day in the middle of the cruise. 5 port days in a row with long ... Read More
did the round trip from Rome to the greek isles April 21 thru May 1. all ports were beautiful and interesting. My only complaint would be that there needs to be a sea day in the middle of the cruise. 5 port days in a row with long days on shore was tiring, would be nice to have a sea day in the middle to rest and recover. Food was outstanding in the MDR and the specialty restaurants. In Tamarind and Pinnacle grill it took too long to get through the meal (2 hours), too much time between courses. vista suite had plenty of room for two and was nicely finished off. the ship is very clean and looks almost new (2 years old). Best stop was probably Santorini just for the sheer beauty of the place, next would be the trip to isle of capri out of Naples. Stay out of the spa if you don't want a large bill at departure, very expensive. Read Less
Koningsdam Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.5 0.0
Dining 4.5 0.0
Entertainment 4.5 0.0
Public Rooms 4.5 0.0
Fitness Recreation 5.0 0.0
Family 4.0 0.0
Shore Excursion 4.0 0.0
Enrichment 4.0 0.0
Service 5.0 0.0
Value For Money 5.0 0.0

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