4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2019
My sisters chose this cruise. I just wrote a cheque. Glad I did. I’ve been on four cruises. This was the best. The atmosphere was mellow and laid back. It was an older crowd; I’m older, so that was a plus. Food was always delicious. ... Read More
My sisters chose this cruise. I just wrote a cheque. Glad I did. I’ve been on four cruises. This was the best. The atmosphere was mellow and laid back. It was an older crowd; I’m older, so that was a plus. Food was always delicious. Staff were attentive and friendly. Ports were fun. Chose only one HAL excursion, then switched to other, in Port providers because these are cheaper and more flexible. Liked all the nightly small music venues on board; however, the main stage entertainment was a weak spot. Maybe I’ve been spoiled with large ensemble musical shows on other cruise lines. Also irritated by cumbersome internet package options, sold in 24 hour increments. Who needs internet 24 hours a day? Give me 3 hours/day for ten days, and I’ll be happy. Embarking was easy; staff were so cheerful and funny. Did this around 1:30PM, so we may have missed rush hour. Expedited disembarkation was also easy. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2019
This line was the only line that offered the first 10 days with stops we had not visited before. The ship and crew were great. HA schedulers suck. When we received our flights (booked through HA) there were two sore spots. We depart out ... Read More
This line was the only line that offered the first 10 days with stops we had not visited before. The ship and crew were great. HA schedulers suck. When we received our flights (booked through HA) there were two sore spots. We depart out of MSY at 8 am and arrive FLL ONE and a HALF hour before ship departs. The return leg is airport for 10 am, departing flight at 7 pm and not arriving at MSY till midnight. As i write this, our plane is delayed 1/2 hour with beautiful weather. Good ole Delta. We called HA months in advance to express our concerns. Was told that was within their guidelines. Well, we were slid onto the ship 2 of the last 4 people after security was closed and the ship was late departing. Virtually did not screen us so we could make departure. We missed the first afternoon of our cruise which we always look forward to. No remorse from the ‘desk people’ on board. The rest of the ship’s crew (98%) were wonderful. I wanted to write reviews for the excursions so other people can plan their trips but there is no place in HA website to create these. Dining experience was very good. Service was excellent in all areas of the ship. However, the food was good but bland - no extra seasoning available such as Tony’s, Zatarains, Slap ya Mama, etc. We ordered breakfast in cabin all but 3 days. No complaints, on time, coffee and selection was acceptable. Cabin crew was very helpful with the small needs such as cabin menus, fruits and snacks. Cabin was spotless each day twice a day minimum. The nightly live band on Deck 2 was awesome. Great talent and popular music enjoyed by standing room only crowd each night. There are no art auctions like Norwegian or Carnival which is strange because HA is owned by Carnival Corp. There is an art gallery where u can purchase but thats it. Nothing we liked. We booked ooked snorkeling excursions through HA all stops except The Dom Rep and Curaçao which were average experiences. We completed the Coffee experience at The Dom Republic which we are still talking about. You travel up into the mountains to learn, taste and help the local coffee farmers bring back their coffee industry. In Curaçao, we did the ATV tour which takes you through and across the island. Dusty but a lot of fun and a learning experience all booked through HA. We were fortunate enough to see Carnival in Aruba and dine at Lucy’s (nachos). Awesome experience - we are from Louisiana and experience Mardi Gras every year. Carnival in Aruba was very colorful and very close to our home experience. The ship’s photography dept is not what we expected. We wanted to take a pic and have them place it on the embarkation background. We were told that they would take some pics of us but it would be black & white. We arrived for our appointment at 7:30 pm and was advised that the first pic (if purchased) would be $450.00! No thanks - see ya! Rip off artist but we are smarter than that. In this digital world, there is NO one on that ship that can make us believe that they couldn’t fulfill our request. We paid $19.95 for a dock photo and that’s it. Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2019
We chose this cruise as a part of a series of early retirement, destination-based cruises. We have done many cruises including on HAL. Our previous experience on HAL didn't prepare us for what the Koningsdam had to offer. We flew ... Read More
We chose this cruise as a part of a series of early retirement, destination-based cruises. We have done many cruises including on HAL. Our previous experience on HAL didn't prepare us for what the Koningsdam had to offer. We flew into Fort Lauderdale 2 nights early and took public transit to the Sawgrass Mills Mall as an interesting way to spend the spare day. It is great for shoppers and just people watching. Embarkation was well organized and the terminal had good WiFi while we waited. We were the only ship in port that days, which probably helped. The cabin was ready when we boarded and the Lido Market was open for an early afternoon bite. We didn't have set seating for dinner, so we made reservations for an early dinner for the first 3 evenings (limited by HAL, otherwise we would have done the whole cruise). We were unable to get reservations for tables for 2, but had the option on arrival. We mostly shared as we like the opportunity to meet new people (but there is the risk of monologists and political trolls). The Koningsdam is new and has a contemporary decor with clean lines and the neutral-earthy colors that seem to be the trend right now. The photographic and collage art in the stairwells aren't my taste, but to each their own... Our cabin was one of the best (if not the best) we have had (see cabin specific review) as they made very good use of the space. We ate in the main dining-room for dinner every evening. The service was good and the food was good. On gala nights, the service could be a bit slow and we had a couple of occasions with a shared table when we were unduly delayed because the waiter didn't know if the last 2 seats were going to be filled (they weren't, so communication with the front desk could be improved). I am always surprised that the desserts aren't sweeter on cruise ships and this was no exception. I have rarely had a dessert that wasn't toned down from what you would get in a shore-based restaurant. We had breakfast and lunch in the Lido Market except one pizza (not very good) from the deli. For the most part, everything is served by staff with only a few individually plated or packaged items that can be reached by passengers. On balance, we thought that this is good (having seen unhygienic behavior by passengers on other cruises), but it did result in lines to get some food items quite frequently. Waiters cleared tables and offered to serve water, coffee, orange juice (breakfast), iced tea (lunch) and lemonade (lunch). It would have been nice to have another choice (e.g. fruit punch), but that might be a bit to picky. Waiters weren't interrupting to remove plates as they do on some ships and were generally quite friendly if you gave them the opportunity (as were the food servers). Entertainment and activities were the low point of the cruise, but some people really liked the layout and offerings. Enrichment was quite limited with only a few talks that were repeats on consecutive cruises. However, they did do port orientation talks that were helpful and not totally focused on the ship's excursions. The were a few cooking shows and computer seminars (not very interesting to us), and a lot of promotional (shopping and health/spa) talks/demonstrations that we avoided. As far as entertainment went, we were very disappointed. First, the "World Stage" is not a conventional theater and doesn't have the capacity of the ones on other ships. People were consistently there 45 minutes before the show to get seats. It isn't a suitable venue for production shows with props, but then they don't have a production group of singers and dancers (or a live stage band or place for it). The multimedia, open stage has great potential for even more production shows (using virtual sets and props), but clearly that isn't what they are going for (and we missed the production shows). The performers (usual comedians, magicians, vocal, dance and musical performers) ranged from bad (people leaving in the middle of the show) to pretty good, but nothing outstanding. There were repeat performances within a cruise (even more for back-to-backers). The rest of the entertainment is very dependent on interests and cruising style. The venues for live music are basically unused until dinner time when there were some classical musicians in the Lincoln Center (which will later become BB King's). Unfortunately, for many passengers, they did VERY classical pieces rather than popular ones. The rest of the live entertainment had to wait until after 8pm (probably not a good decisions for the HAL demographic). The 3 venues (BB King's jazz/blues; Rolling Stone hard rock alternating with Billboard Onboard dueling pianos) are strung out along the promenade level. Capacity is limited and there wasn't much in the way of pleasant easy-listening. We were so disappointed that there was so little and it was so extreme in the genre that each played. It didn't affect us, but we also heard that some were too loud there wasn't good seating. The fitness area was well outfitted with a good number of aerobic and resistance machines as well as free weights (dumbbells). Live TV was available on the aerobic machines and they were mostly kept working properly. There were also rooms for spin classes and group classes (paid) that we didn't use. The onboard experience was not what we were hoping for, and we wondered why (other than reducing costs and improving revenue) the Koningsdam was built the way it was. Is HAL looking to the future when their well-known aged passengers aren't cruising anymore. If so, they are losing them faster by such a radical change in design and offerings. Of course there are older, slower people that sometimes are an obstruction, but that is expected on HAL. More power to them (and their scooters and oxygen supplies). On the positive side, there were few children and a mature cruise director that wasn't overpowering with unnecessary, forced enthusiasm. The captain was personable and understandable. The internet package gave us the access for email that we needed and didn't break the bank. We found that most of the serving and steward staff were quite friendly, but ran into a few that didn't seem to want to be there. Notably, the security staff (who should do their job AND be friendly and pleasant), the future cruise staff (who just didn't seem to care or like people), some of the photo staff (who weren't very helpful) and one of the fitness people who just seemed to have an attitude where ever he went. We had a pair of cabin stewards and liked that team approach. The excursions were okay. Not overpriced as some cruise lines tend to do (NCL can you hear me). As far as value for money, we were satisfied because we got to go to the destinations that we wanted to go to at a reasonable price with good food and accommodations. To us that was the most important thing. That being said, HAL could have done so much more and we don't understand this new direction in the design of the Koningsdam and her sister ship, the Nieuw Statendam. One final comment is about the HAL loyalty (mariner) program. It is the worst we have ever seen. You can cruise forever and get almost nothing in return (compared to NCL and Princess). HAL has some of the best destination-based itineraries, but doesn't reward its members at all... Read Less
12 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2019
From the dreary Northwest we decided we needed a break, little did we know back in December when we booked we would miss snow of epic (for Seattle) proportions! First time HAL. Heard about the clientele being of a more experienced ... Read More
From the dreary Northwest we decided we needed a break, little did we know back in December when we booked we would miss snow of epic (for Seattle) proportions! First time HAL. Heard about the clientele being of a more experienced crowd and that did in fact be the case. At 60 years of age for the two of us, we felt 10 years more youthful than the average passenger. Be that as it may... it was all just fine. Embarkation: Boarded hotel shuttle to the cruise port at 11:00 AM and stepped into our cabin at 12:50 PM. Good process for checking in and greeted by friendly staff the entire way. Cabin: Not only our first HAL cruise but our first inside cabin experience. Cabin 6077. We entered our cabin and thankfully had read reviews about needing to insert the key card into the slot to activate the lights, otherwise we'd be fumbling in the dark. In retrospect, a good idea and it must save energy or something not to have lights on in cabins 24/7. The bigger issue we had with the cabin was that we entered and discovered a puddle of water on the foot of the bed where the luggage covers were placed. Interesting... We looked up and found that water was dripping out of what looked like a ceiling speaker. We called Guest Services and were assured the issue would be taken care of. As it was only 1:00 we left to go get some lunch and explore. After an hour an a half or so we returned and found the "fix" was a towel placed on the puddle to soak up the water, the ceiling still looked damp. This time we took pictures and visited Guest Services in person. Happily they did the right thing and moved us to a different cabin, 5071, a deck lower which was fine. This cabin was great, certainly an inside and we had to get used to it, we made great use of the fantastic TV and the bridge cam! Heard about toilet layout in the bathrooms was not so good, not an issue with the inside cabin and let me just say... the shower? OMG!!!! Where have you been all my life??!!! Ship: I'm of the opinion that all cruise ships are marvels to behold and Koningsdam was no exception! We did miss a grand central atrium area but the music walk made up for it. Decks 2 and 3: Shops, Guest Services, World Stage, main dining, photo area, art gallery, casino... you get the point. Well laid out IMO, the shops were unobtrusive, and it was amazing with the four different music venues that they never stepped on each other. Bars and side cafes were subtly located for enjoyment of guests. Blend was a bit more in the open than what I expected and what ever the Orange dining area was, well it was simply odd. I didn't get it, if for high rollers then at least make it so it appears that way. Frankly, the evenings we walked by there I felt sorry for the lonely souls dining in there. When shows were over in the Grand Stage (which was Grand!), there were some traffic issues but it added to the fun, sort of like walking the Strip in Las Vegas, okay, not that big but still fun! Lido Buffet area: There is an American Football axiom, "keep your head on a swivel". Could not be more apt than in the Lido Buffet. Having said that, if anyone gets irritated by the traffic or anything else in that buffet, you really have no one to blame but yourself. Figure out when the majority of people will go for breakfast, lunch or dinner and go at a different time. Simple really. Bless the staff as they had a lot on their plate (pun intended) when it came to serving so many people. They along with the servers of coffee, tea, etc, had the patience of Job times 100. Excellent job to them. Our Sea Days were spent mostly aft over looking the pool and the ocean behind us, not on the pool deck, we opted for, let's see, deck 10 I guess it would be... we were blocked from the majority of the breeze, had a great view all around us and had wonderful sun exposure (side note... we had 15 minutes of light rain the entire cruise, being from the PNW, this was a shock!), Smoke from smokers (well, that was redundant...) in this area had been brought up in reviews and frankly it was not an issue. Yes, aft pool was a gathering place in the evening for cards and smokes but.... guess what? You can avoid that! Do not miss time in the Crows Nest! Do not miss Apple Pie at the Dutch Cafe (not 100% sure of the name, but 100% sure of the pie!), look for the tapas bar at the Blues Club late afternoon. Spa: No report as we did not partake. The staff were up-selling around the Lido Pool but not overly aggressive. Bottlenecks: They are real. Be patient, be aware of your surroundings and don't be a contributor. People movement is a tad slower on this ship but there are physical boundaries that also make ease of mobility an issue. This is especially true around the Lido pool area both on deck 9 and deck 10. Walls that jut out into walk ways, loungers that jut out into walk ways, lack of multiple entrance and egress points...all of these things can make for slow going at times. Wait time at the lifts are par for the course. FOOD: Ah yes, the dining experience: 1. Tamarind was amazing! Highly recommend for all the right reasons, service, food, and the view. Bride had the stir fry lobster and shrimp, yum! I had the wasabi fillet, yum! 2. Pinnacle: What was not to like? Bride had halibut on cedar plank with scampi, amazing, I had the rib eye.... still drooling. 3. Main dining room: 4 nights dining here without a set time. We arrived almost every night around 7:15 an were promptly seated. 3 times in the lower area and once on the deck above. Service was fine and the food was very very good. (I've been banished of meat for at least of month after this trip! Well worth it!). We had zero issues with dining and making a 10:00 show at the World Stage, however don't doddle as the auditorium does fill up early. 4. New York Pizza: One time for dinner while watching a movie by the lido pool. I thought it was great, bride not so much, (that's what she gets for having a white sauce on a pizza, right? Right??) However, the Caesar salad and dessert there were great! 5. Dive In: Good burgers and fries, not great but good and turn around time is pretty quick even in the busy time. 6. Gellato: For $2.00, ah yeah, well worth it! 7. We did not opt for a drink package nor spend a great deal on drinks. We mostly filled our tumblers with iced tea, ice water and lemon aid. (please respect the signs requesting that you do not fill your tumbler or mug directly from the dispensers, it is for sanitary reasons.) 8. Lastly on dining, I mentioned how the Orange place on deck 2 was odd, so was the Italian restaurant in the Lido buffet. Just seemed awkward and to pay $13 PP for it, I dunno.... Entertainment World Stage: 1. Emperors of Soul: Excellent (fun to interact with them on the cruise as well) 2. Naomi, Virtuoso Pianist: Jaw Dropping 3. BBC Earth: Well done 4. Comedian Tim Kaminski: Very Good 5. Second Comedian: Can't recall his name - poor 6. Third Comedian: Can't recall his name either but better than the second - better than poor. 7. Superbowl: Never thought I'd see a Superbowl on a ship! Fun atmosphere to be sure! Available to see on the World Stage, in your cabin and at the Lido Pool screen. 8, 9 and 10? Hmmm.... where does the time go? Actually, the availability of things to watch on your in cabin TV are excellent and we did take advantage of this. Crew: 95% outstanding! Our only slight irritation came with the staff of the shops. A bit condescending and borderline rude. We are very patient people and they tested that patience. Cabin stewards were great, room service a couple of time for breakfast was great including a follow-up phone call to make sure we were happy with the service. Guest Services was also great. America's Test Kitchen demos were also well done and informative and the preview of the next day's ports were outstanding!! Do not miss these if possible! All in all a very quiet reserved atmosphere which was fine. We moored along side a Carnival ship at Grand Turk and I thanked Poseidon that we were NOT on board that maniacal brain blowing tub. (sorry, harsh). Also interesting to read about the Norwegian Epic and her issues as we were along side her in Jamaica. Hmmm... note to self! Ports: 1. Jamaica: Large cruise ship port with a Margaritaville on location. Lots of shops, lots of competition and lots of aggressive selling. We debated many nights about what to do here and decided not to do the Dunn's Falls or any of the other excursions (although later we found out the rafting down the river was amazing), we did end up doing a walking tour of Falmouth which was informative and fun. 2. Curacao: What a grand location! For us a wonderful day or wandering and exploring the city, both sides. Just fantastic! 3. Aruba: A bit of wandering and shopping and public transportation to Eagle and Palm Beach for some beach time! I could see a return trip to Aruba possible for a week or so? We'll see! Great adventure to the light house and to really take in the desert landscape. 4. Amber Cove: Delightful port, great shops and the pool area was better than advertised. Excursion to Puerto Plata was fun and interesting. The lushness of the island was beautiful and in stark contrast to the islands of Curacao and Aruba 5. Grand Turk: Not a lot on Grand Turk. There was a Carnival ship that was also in port and combined with our ship, made the beach impossible to enjoy. We took a cab to the town of Cockburn and explored there. Lovely beaches too. Port area also nice. 6. Half Moon Cay: Paradise... nuff said. Read Less
8 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2019
Really enjoyed this 11 day cruise. Our Vista Suite, #4118, was fine. Our porters, Mono and Tasman were sensational. Loved watching sunsets from our private balcony. Loved the hot tubs and my wife enjoyed the massages very much. Visiting ... Read More
Really enjoyed this 11 day cruise. Our Vista Suite, #4118, was fine. Our porters, Mono and Tasman were sensational. Loved watching sunsets from our private balcony. Loved the hot tubs and my wife enjoyed the massages very much. Visiting the islands, St. Lucia, St. Marteen, Barbados, Martinique, Antiqua, St. Tomas and HAL's Half Moon Cay was outstanding. The selection of TV shows and Movies in our room, did get very thin after 11 days. But we understand there were many outstanding things to do outside of our room. Having said all that, I want to give you the negatives, so you are not surprised. Do not misunderstand, we loved the cruise and feel very positive about it, but want to tell you what we did not like. The food was great. Loved the Lido buffet for both breakfast and dinner. All the eggs Benedict, omlets, waffles and pancakes you can eat for breakfast, who could not like that? After 11 days some of the sameness did wear just a little old. The hamburgers and hotdogs at the Dive were fine snacks. The Pizza, nachos and deli sandwiches were fine too. We ate at one specialty restaurant, the Tamarind and it was very good. We felt the dining room tried to be too fancy and gourmet and failed. Also the process in the dining room took too long...2 hours. I was shocked that the Crème Bule was almost liquid, not custardly. And, if you do not mesh with the people you are seated with, the 2 hour dinner can seem really long. Paying $50 per person for the Pinnacle Room seemed a little extreme, when our cruise fee already included food. As far as the reviews I have read about bad pillows, dirty rooms, too loud if you are mid-ship over the entertainment, they are hogwash. We did not experience anything like that. We were disappointed to learn that you had to come nearly an hour early for the one hour show in the main room, the World Stage, in order to get a seat!. There needs to be a better system for reserving seats or similar. We very much enjoyed the entertainment in the BB King Room and the Rolling Stone Room. Be prepared for Holland America to try to find many ways every day to separate you from your money. They present many "opportunities". They price gouge you in some ways that I believe were over the top. Internet service is $24.95 a day! But worse of all was the wine. To buy 4 bottles of wine for us to have in our room I paid over $170...and this was for Estancia wine which I pay about $12.00 for in the grocery store!. Over $40 for a $12 bottle of wine! Paying double, like in a restaurant, would be understandable, but FOUR times the cost is simply uncalled for. And there is an $18 corkage fee for bringing on your own wine purchased at a port. So I ended up paying $25.50 for a $7.50 bottle of wine. Come on Holland America, I was already paying thousands for the cruise! I found calling guest services with a problem, like when I screwed up the combination to the safe in my room, was fruitless. They put you on hold for the longest time. When I did reach a human, they said someone would be up in 10 minutes...after over an hour they had not appeared. I learned going to the Service desk in person worked well. The were competent and timely, In the case of re-setting my room safe, the person, said I will come and fix it right now, and she did. Getting off the ship and finding your excursion in ports was no problem at all and the excursions were fine. We did the 2 snorkel catamarans (one with a lobster lunch) and a tour that included 2 hours at a beach and shopping. Staff was fine and everything was fun. Holland America's Half Moon Cay in the Bahamas was wonderful. Do not listen to the review that said getting your claim shell (basically an umbrella and 2 beach chairs) was a hassle. It was fine. So there you have it. A fine cruise on a fine ship that was not without some down sides. And I am 70, a young 70. Be aware that HAL seems to cater to seniors, I would say 70 was about the average age and less than 1/4 of the people were under 50. It is what it is. Holland America, you really can do better on those wine and internet charges. Read Less
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: January 2019
This was our 3rd HA cruise. The most recent was last year on the Zuiderdam to the Panama Canal and it was an amazing trip. We expected the Koningsdam as one of the newer ships to be even better, but it was not. The ship is beautiful and ... Read More
This was our 3rd HA cruise. The most recent was last year on the Zuiderdam to the Panama Canal and it was an amazing trip. We expected the Koningsdam as one of the newer ships to be even better, but it was not. The ship is beautiful and clean. All of the public rest rooms were kept very nicely. The weather was probably the worst of any Caribbean cruise we have ever been on—blame climate change! It rained much of the first sea day, the whole day in St Lucia, and part of most other days. The ship has so many nice, quiet places to hang out, we never minded. On sea days there is plenty to do. My favorite activity is Microsoft On Board. I have learned so much about Windows 10 on 2 HA cruises! The evening entertainment was varied and quite good. The major issue for us on this ship was the food. Several of the fish dishes were dry and not very good. The lobster was awful, and one shrimp cocktail had waterlogged, thawed shrimp. The kitchen seemed more focused on presentation, rather than taste. The soups were so salty I couldn’t eat them. We had the best waiter for dinner— Raymond! The buffet for breakfast and lunch was good with a huge variety. It was usually very crowded but the lines seemed to move fairly well. Between 3 and 5:30 finding something to eat other than waiting 20 minutes for burgers or a whole pizza was difficult. No ice cream after 3 unless you paid for gelato. We really missed a pizza station to get a slice or a soft ice cream machine after coming back from the beach. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2019
We were on the 10 day piece of this 21 day cruise, we sailed out of Ft. Lauderdale on 1/14/2019. This ship was in excellent condition, no signs of wear anywhere. Despite there being only 2 small pools, we were able to swim and spend ... Read More
We were on the 10 day piece of this 21 day cruise, we sailed out of Ft. Lauderdale on 1/14/2019. This ship was in excellent condition, no signs of wear anywhere. Despite there being only 2 small pools, we were able to swim and spend quality time outside in both pool areas. There should probably be some more 'gentle' enforcement of deck chair holding as many people attempted to hold on to their chars way longer than the 30 minute limit if not with them. This was the first time we took an interior cabin. I was pretty nervous about getting claustrophobic but surprisingly, we spend a good majority of time out of the cabin and since it was so well appointed and comfortable, I would do it again as it make cruising so much more affordable. Our cabin stewards were beyond excellent, we were in cabin 5006. I honestly cannot say enough about the dining experience. From being provided with a window table for 2 almost nightly to the genuine care and interest in our nightly experience by Mr. Anne-Jan Hoogland, Asst. Maitre D. The food was superb every night, no need to go to a specialty restaurant. The same applied to breakfast and lunch in the main dining room. The food in the Lido was also of high quality, I especially enjoyed the Pasta Station. As far as the entertainment, we heard about the lack of seats for the evening shows and the crowds so we pretty much stayed away. We did, however, enjoy America's test Kitchen and went to both shows. Of particular highlight was watching the 'blood' mood eclipse, it was just magical. The cruise director missed a good opportunity for a special evening as nothing was mentioned about this amazing event. We snorkeled in Bonaire and Curacao and rented a car in Aruba as we love this Island and wanted to go back to places were were familiar with. We also met just wonderful friends from Vancouver and have stayed in touch. We plan to do a reunion cruise in 2 years!!! We are HAL fans for sure and can't wait for our next adventure! Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2019
We chose this cruise for the Southern Caribbean ports, which are warm in January, newer ship, and ease of getting to fort lauderdale. The positives...very very well run ship, very good service in all areas, some of the best food in the ... Read More
We chose this cruise for the Southern Caribbean ports, which are warm in January, newer ship, and ease of getting to fort lauderdale. The positives...very very well run ship, very good service in all areas, some of the best food in the buffet and the MDR of any cruise that we ve taken, the ship is kept very clean and well maintained in all regards. Embarkation and Disembarkation were smooth and relatively quick. There was music going on all night every night. A rock group, the BB King Blues and jazz, dueling piano's and few others. The movies on the big screen by the pool and the in room movies were great opttions also. The only negatives for us, and its hard to find many. The inside rooms are workable but a tad small for us as we had packed 4 bags as we were traveling for a month. Go for a larger room. The entertainment had its ups and downs. One stage show cancelled, the rock band was down one night due to software crash and one comedian did a late night show at 7 am, which bombed. The fun factor was somewhat lacking for us...especially on sea days. Both pools are fairly quiet areas to lounge around, we d prefer to see the rear pool be more lively with some great music, maybe some games, contests, or anything lively at all. How about an evening deck party when in a warm climate like the caribbean? There is a rather overly generous smoking area near the rear pool, which made it unpleasant to lay back there with the smoke drift. The ship seems to be making a transition towards the next generation of cruisers, and there is some progress, but it still a work in progress in my book. I d give the cruise 5 stars, but that's where things still need some fresh ideas and some work imho. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2019
DH and I were on the January 13th 10 day southern Caribbean cruise on the Koningsdam. We have cruised several other times with HAL, but not on the bigger ships, and we were not sure whether we would like it. We did! We were supposed to be ... Read More
DH and I were on the January 13th 10 day southern Caribbean cruise on the Koningsdam. We have cruised several other times with HAL, but not on the bigger ships, and we were not sure whether we would like it. We did! We were supposed to be cruising with my DB and DSIL, but they had to cancel due to family and job issues. This was a real problem, because they had a suite and we had an inside cabin. We planned on spending many evenings on their balcony! We were a little bummed, but an inside cabin is sure better than being home or at work. EMBARKATION We arrived at the cruise terminal right around 11 AM and were in group 6 to board. We were on the ship close to 11:45 and I have to say this was probably the smoothest embarkation we have ever had. We were directed to the Lido, but we took a chance that the main dining room was open and it was. After a lovely lunch, we discovered that our luggage had arrived so we unpacked and set out to explore the ship. DECOR The art is very different from what I’ve come to expect from Holland America – I really liked some of it (the cello ship on deck 12) but some of it I just did not get. I did see two of what I think were two of Captain Card’s paintings in the meeting rooms adjacent to the Crow’s Nest, which made me feel more at home. The decor overall is really lovely and understated compared to the ships we have sailed previously. The last time we sailed HAL was on the Veendam, and it was the old garish color combinations. POOLS One thing we really missed was any kind of music at the aft pool. We understand the limitations on live bands, but some kind of music would’ve made an incredible improvement to the environment. Drink service was very good in the area, and seating capacity was OK. Several afternoons there were no clean towels at the aft pool and occasionally under cover seating was slim pickings because one side was designated for smoking. Although it was not full, asthma made that side not an option for us. We did not spend any time at the Lido pool. It seemed crowded, and being mostly enclosed it was pretty warm. We had an informal meet and greet at the aft pool with our roll call, and it was very nice to put names and faces together with folks whose posts I have enjoyed in the past. A lot of great information was passed back-and-forth on our roll call, which was greatly appreciated. STATEROOM We were getting ready for gala dinner on Monday when we received a call from guest services. It seemed they have been trying to reach us since embarkation and wanted to upgrade us to a balcony room down the hall. At no charge!! I thought it was a joke, or that DH was not asking the right questions to verify the up charge! Gina from guest services came by to show us the cabin and make sure the cabin was satisfactory. What, I’m going to say “no, I’d rather be inside”??? Our wonderful cabin stewards Andry and Freddy came along to help us move and voilà! We were in a veranda cabin! Pour the champagne! That was a most wonderful moment! Note: The inside cabin was fine, but let’s be real! DINING We purchased the ultimate dining package, and would not do it again. We have loved the Pinnacle in the past and have heard such good things about Tamarind that we felt like it was a great deal. We went to the Pinnacle the first night, and I have to say we were disappointed. The food was good, but our server really gave us the impression that we were a bother. He took our order and was never seen or heard from again. In a complete contrast, Rozelle, our wine steward, was fast and friendly. I had thought to try a fellow cruise critic poster's suggestion about ordering all of our wine at once to avoid a wait, but we never had a delay. I will definitely keep it in mind for the future though. The Tamerind was excellent, service and food alike. We actually dined there twice because guest services gifted us with dinner there due to the terrible inconvenience of moving. We did not say no. We also participated in DiLibrije, and I was again disappointed in the service. We received our sparkling wine and the wine for the first course before we ever received the amuse bouche. The food was stellar, but we had the same server we had previously and he was inattentive in the extreme. Canaletto was fine, the food was good and the service was good as well, but nothing was awe inspiring. I was surprised that it did feel like a separate area; I was concerned that we would feel like we were still in the Lido. Dive In was good, and was much quicker than I expected based on previous comments. The Lido is the Lido – lots of choices, with a better layout than previously. The salad station was much appreciated as you could ask for and receive anything in your salad that was available, and DH loved the eggs Florentine for breakfast. The dutch café was terrific. We had lattes from there every morning, and the bitterballen was superb. Our best experience by far was in the main dining room. We were upstairs at a two top, and our waiters (Abu and Silmi) were attentive and friendly. Being on the third floor makes a big difference in the acoustics, and we never felt that it was too loud. The food was very good, and because we had the EBP, we didn’t feel that we had to coordinate our menu choices the way we do when we bring our own wine. I did feel that the selection of red wines by the glass was not great, but that also be my personal taste. Lester, our wine steward was fast, made good recommendations, and was really funny. We really felt like we had our own personal entertainment in the main dining room. One of the things that was fun was when we asked about the celebration song performed by the waiters for birthdays, they arranged to have a celebrated with our neighboring two top just because! DH was the one who had been interested, so I filmed it and took the video and cake to the poker table (have party, will travel). ENTERTAINMENT We very much enjoyed the Rolling Stone Rock Room, and the BB Kings Blues Club. The pianists were excellent also, as were the Lincoln Stage performers. All drew huge crowds, but we never really had a problem finding a seat although they may have been tucked in the back corner. We also enjoyed the casino. DH came out ahead, as did I (but barely). Sidebar: How can there only be 1 to 2 bottles of Makers Mark on the entire ship? I can’t see leaving the Crow’s Nest at 7 PM to go down to the aft pool to get myself a Makers Mark Manhattan. PORTS Half Moon Cay is a beautiful island, and we were fortunate in that the weather was flawless. Tendering was a breeze and the water was like glass. We did not have lunch on the island, too many options available on the ship and with no crowds! We didn’t do much on Grand Turk – we mostly wandered up and down the streets. They have some nice beaches, but we did not visit them. Bonaire has a very nice and close by downtown area. They had a farmers market going on, and many locals were getting lunch from the guy cooking barbecue. There was lots of really nice jewelry (not expensive), and miscellaneous handmade things to be had. Curaçao was our absolute favorite island. The buildings with the historic Dutch style, and the cafés along the waterway and the swinging pontoon bridge all made for a lovely day. We spent the afternoon wondering the streets, and ended with cocktails and beer at one of the waterside cafés. The weather was lovely, there was a live band performing nearby, and we were able to watch the pontoon bridge open and close several times. We left right at sunset, which was beautiful over the Koningsdam. The waterfront buildings and the bridge are lit up with multicolored lights which makes it so festive. I did not get off the ship in Aruba, but DH did. He took the path from port to town, and said it was enjoyable. I found it enjoyable that he found several little gifts to bring back to me! In summary, it was a wonderful cruise – one we would do again. Holland America has the service model down, and I sure hope they don’t fix what isn’t broken. The ship is lovely, the entertainment is great, but best of all we were on vacation! It’s hard to find fault with that. PS: I forgot to include that Elvis was on the ship! 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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