49 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2016
**In the interest of full disclosure this was a "shakedown cruise" that was not open to the general public and some work was still being completed in some areas (installation of some art pieces and so forth). I will not discuss ... Read More
**In the interest of full disclosure this was a "shakedown cruise" that was not open to the general public and some work was still being completed in some areas (installation of some art pieces and so forth). I will not discuss the work/workers we encountered as that goes with the territory and all items I noticed during the cruise were fixed/finished/installed/etc by the time we left.*** My husband and I did this 5 day cruise from Venice to Civitavecchia with additional days in Italy before and after as well as some time in Amsterdam and Rotterdam following the cruise. The ship is absolutely beautiful. Modern yet still keeps a lot of the Holland America Line "feel" that the other ships have, minus the bright colors and over-emphasis of red color palettes and brass. Public spaces still have a feeling of intimacy for the most part. Yes they are larger to hold more people but compared to other ships of similar size the ship does still keep a "coziness" to it. Not ever single room is designed to hold hundreds and hundreds of people and that's a really good thing. I've posted a massive photo post on the HAL forums of the ship here: http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=2347682 and our room here: http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=2347714 so those will likely help with a lot of understanding of how the ship and the room look. As far as dining goes, here's where we ate: **Lido Market - Had one breakfast here and the omelet was a little undercooked. We brought it to his attention, he made another one and it was great. **Dive In - Great burgers and fries as always. Cannonball is the BEST! **New York Pizza - Had the pizza that Elizabeth Faulkner won an award for a pizza contect in Italy with called "Finnocchio" if I remember right. Cream sauce, onion, fennel, sausage... YUM! **Dinner at the Culinary Arts Center - Incredible experience. They encourage you to socialize with each other and the chefs as they prepare everything. Farm to table, very fresh food and ingredients. Unlimited red and white wine they've selected as well (we had organic wines from Columbia Winery, not sure if they vary) **Tamarind - One of our favorites and for good reason. Everything is flavorful and cooked to perfection here. The venue is even more gorgeous than on Eurodam and Nieuw Amsterdam. They've really outdone themselves. (Get a cold sake, the presentation is really neat!) **Sel de Mer - Seafood at it's finest. Yes it's a la carte and as our group of 4 wanted to try a lot the bill came to $205 (ack!) but had we not been on a mission to try so many different things the bill could easily be within just a few dollars of the Pinnacle Grill. Unless you're allergic to seafood, this is a must do! **Room service - Got it a couple times late at night. Menu is limited that late, but the food was the right temperatures and tasty **Grand Dutch Cafe - Tasty coffees and amazing split pea soup, Koningsbol and bitterballen. This needs to be retro'd onto all HAL ships YESTERDAY!! The Music Walk area is genius with Billboard Onboard, Queens Lounge (with BB King Blues) and Lincoln Center Stage all within steps of each other and alternating performances all throughout the evening. There were A LOT of us that closed the bars down every night, and while I was skeptical, the Queen's Lounge actually makes for a great nightclub space too. World Stage is a game changer. Simple as that. The screens add so much, are not "gimmicky" and on several occasions, a transition on the screens between or during performances got oohs and ahhs from the crowd. This is some of the best entertainment of ANY ship we've ever been on (and we've been on 30+ cruises, multiple brands). The ship is definitely in the right direction for the future of HAL, and while we've done the majority of our cruises on HAL we were also starting to branch out more and more for variety. This has brought us right back "home" and given us lots of motivation to stay there. Well done HAL! Can't wait for K2 (Koningsdam #2 due out in 2018) Read Less
55 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2016
Empty Nesters... It is finally our time to travel where & when we want! We just returned from our 7 night cruise sharing HAL'S premier voyage on the ms Koningsdam. (Our very first premier voyage!) We headed to Italy a few days ... Read More
Empty Nesters... It is finally our time to travel where & when we want! We just returned from our 7 night cruise sharing HAL'S premier voyage on the ms Koningsdam. (Our very first premier voyage!) We headed to Italy a few days early and stayed 5 nights at "The Bocelli Farmhouse & Winery”- in Lajatico & explored Tuscany with lot's of other special options Maurizio Lucci (Bocelli FarmHouse tour Manager) arranged for us! It is expensive... and priced as a package, so I am not exactly sure how individual days and expenses were charged- but for us... WORTH IT. We were treated like royalty. They planned our days, tours, & meals... we slept on the farm where Bocelli grew up and the grapes grow. Toured all day with our driver & returned to farm for chef prepared meals and wine tastings. We even had a cooking lesson one evening and winery tour with Alberto & Cinzia Bocelli. They customized everything & we feel like we made new friends. We were on the premier voyage of the ms Koningsdam! Our ports included Dubrovnik (Croatia), Kerkira (Corfu) & Olympia (Kakolon) in Greece, Sarande, Albania. Naples & back to Rome in Italy. Our Neptune Suite (7071) was lovely, spacious, and inviting. Its veranda had 2 loungers with a small table between, and a table for 4 with 4 chairs and was quite large. We spent lots of time relaxing on it enjoying the sail. The room had far more storage space and outlets/USBs than any of our previous ship suites. The sofa was placed against the wall with a flat screen tv above it across from the bed. there were 2 chairs and a coffee table as well in front of them. The bathroom had both a shower stall & tub... & a separate double doored toilet area that opened to room or bathroom. My favorite suite perk is The Neptune Lounge & its concierge service. It allowed me to iron out all the quirks I failed to take care of in advance... as well as snacks & beverages & seating areas. I was especially partial to the hydro pool and thermal suite- both are superb on K and well worth the cost. On this voyage it was $200pp for week. The large hydro pool has a "rainfall curtain" around the edges and I loved the sound it made. The say they sell only 30 passes? The windows in the saunas allowed sea views & there were all sorts of different steamers & showers. But my favorites are the ceramic thermal loungers & new horizontal shower. In main dining room we had early seating, (5:30) at a lovely table for 2 near the window sharing sunsets while we dined. I thought all the food was very good both in main dining room, and varied shipped venues. Previously called "Formal"- There were 2 Gala Nights. Individual interpretations of “Gala Night” created an all over the whole ship festive celebration with men wearing everything from blazers to tuxes... and ladies in pantsuits to cocktail dresses. We dined twice at the Pinnacle Grill & once at Tamarind. Meals are slow, relaxed, elegant & tasted delicious. We never made it to Sel de Mer, Canaletto, Blend or the Culinary Arts Center. With so many options now available on K… a seven night cruise simply doesn’t allow the time to try “it all”. We also never ate in the Lido... or tried the gelato bar. We never had a chance to use take advantage of Culinary Arts Center cooking classes, or wine tastings. We had no children with us in need of club hal... but I looked in and was quite impressed with the facilities! ms Koningsdam has a music theme and entertainment very good! The World Stage is definitely a game changer in entertainment for HAL. Comfortable viewing from all angles with lots of special effects. A comic, magician, vocalist & 2 HAL shows. They added chairs on stage for one show to help create a total "theatre in the round". We had so much fun- I was even pulled up for a dance! So much talent aboard this ship! The Queens Lounge & Billboard Onboard were our evening favourites and hard to choose between. So we bounced back and forth between evening sing along's with the 2 piano players and jazzy BB King Blues music & dancing. I was happy to see a new incarnation of Adagio Strings with 5 performers on the Lincoln Center Stage. The new Queens Lounge may very well be the most elegant and appealing venue I have ever seen on a cruise ship! Loved the movie nights poolside and seeing families & friends stretched out on loungers- laughing and floating... enjoying the popcorn & munchies from Dive-in. I did not miss the dedicated theatre from previous ships at all. The new culinary arts center filled class needs & its absence allowed more space for the music walk. The cabins have plenty of movie & TV options. We had spectacular weather all week- so most days the "dome" covering the pool could remain open. Among other places to eat... we enjoyed morning bagels at the "New York Deli & Pizza" sitting on deck. Oddly, the only pizza we ever had in Italy was on board... and it's made to order generously sized personal pizzas were very good. I loved the new option of daily info available on my iPhone/ipad. There will still be paper schedules available, but since most of us now carry our phones for texts and selfies- it is a great paper saver. Eventually, they plan to have loaners for anyone who wants one & even more info available with this free app. The ship, though larger and more populated- never felt crowded. There were always places to sit, or lounge about... walk... and explore. I believe she has been created to appeal to a wider graphic of guests- but retained, or perhaps even raised HALs standards for classic cruising at a time when cruise lines have no choice but to catch up... or be passed over. SO MUCH TO DO... SO LITTLE TIME! Before I knew it- it was over. Disembarkation for us was very easy, we put luggage outside cabin door night before... and picked it up in port. Perhaps the best compliment I can pay the ms Konigsdam & her Crew... We already booked our next cruise on her for 2017! Read Less
36 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2016
We're long time HAL customers, with many days aboard HAL ships under our belts, so we had very high expectations for the maiden voyage of the Koningsdam. DESIGN Much has been made of the musical instrument-inspired architecture ... Read More
We're long time HAL customers, with many days aboard HAL ships under our belts, so we had very high expectations for the maiden voyage of the Koningsdam. DESIGN Much has been made of the musical instrument-inspired architecture onboard, and it's true that public spaces aboard this ship are large and spacious. But this extra public space seems to have come at the expense of space in rooms (which are decidedly smaller than on other HAL ships) and on the Promenade (which is too narrow, with all views of the sea blocked by the rows of lifeboats). Friends were in the Neptune Suites, which struck as as much smaller than on other ships and perhaps not worth the uncharge on this vessel. We were in a Verandah cabin, but felt we "bumped into each other" more in this room than in similar rooms on other vessels. We did have a wide balcony, but with an odd design that had us looking almost directly out on the balconies of our neighbors -- so no privacy there! While the pool area is glorious, the Dining Room suffers much under this new design. Despite the bright colors and sweeping architectural touches, the fact that windows are few and far between made this ship's Dining Room feel darker and more claustrophobic than on other vessels. FOOD If you've enjoyed HAL fare on other ships, you'll find very much the same food in this Dining Room -- perhaps served at a more leisurely pace than you'd expect. We did enjoy the new New York Deli, which serves up respectable made-to-order pies, which we'll miss on other ships. The best new touch is the Grand Dutch Cafe, positioned in a public space and always packed with chatty diners. We also gave the new seafood restaurant a try, but thought the quality and ambiance there were just average, and likely not worth the uncharge. The Pinnacle Grill was reliable and consistent, with a good staff and good service. The gelato shop at the pool is also a nice touch. SPA We bought (and, eventually asked for a partial refund for) the Thermal Suite package. On half the days of our trip, the thermal spa water was chilly; on several days, the jets didn't work. On one day, there was a massive leak, and the entire area was shut down. Access control is also an issue. This is supposed to be a private area on the ship, but doors to the pool area were not locked, so anyone and everyone who wanted to could wander in, gawk, and consider whether or not they wanted to use the facilities. We reported the unlocked doors more than once; they were never attended to. The staff in the spa were apologetic and sweet, noting that this was a new ship with many kinks to be worked out. That's understandable -- but if your thermal suite has kinks in it, don't sell it to travelers at full price! ENTERTAINMENT The World Stage is a jaw-dropping space with a 270-degree wall of high-definition screens surrounding a circular performance space. There is nothing else like it on the planet, and virtually every performance we saw was overshadowed to some extent by the stage itself! There were some very talented singers, dancers, and band members on board, and why HAL wants to ruin their performances with pre-recorded tracks (instead of using purely live music) is a mystery to me. SERVICE We found service was hit-or-miss on this trip. Laundry service was fast enough, but cabins were often not serviced until very late in the day. Since we rarely saw our cabin steward or his partner, we wondered if HAL has assigned the stewards too many rooms to service efficiently. OVERALL We had a good time on this trip, and enjoyed exploring the new spaces and seeing HAL's new ideas. That said: we think some of the changes (smaller rooms, fewer windows in the dining room, the ruining of the Promenade deck) are not for the better. Many of the food and service issues we faced on this voyage will doubtless be amended with time, but the design choices will linger for the life of the vessel. Read Less
18 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2016
The ship was very disappointing. It was the official maiden voyage.The online photos and videos are very misleading as they show show open, bright airy spaces but the ship is dark, cramped and crowded. There is lifted carpeting throughout ... Read More
The ship was very disappointing. It was the official maiden voyage.The online photos and videos are very misleading as they show show open, bright airy spaces but the ship is dark, cramped and crowded. There is lifted carpeting throughout the ship and broken windows. The Queens lounge was the biggest disappointment - the band knew only one tune and played it over and over until only the drunks remained, and when the band took a break they put on a recording of the same boring tune ( worst music I've heard on 32 cruises) The dinning hours are not at all workable - breakfast of any kind is not available to early risers. Early seating for dinner is at 5:30 so if you come back from an excursion and have a late lunch you are not ready for dinner and then when you are hungry later in the evening there is nothing open to get something to eat. The entire ship appears to have been designed entirely for serving drinks and anything else is just in the way. The cabin we had was at the stern & was great with a balcony. The entertainment on the world stage needs a lot of work, hopefully they will be able to improve with time but for now it is a miss. One confusing thing - there is a gelato bar were you can purchase gelato and not 50 steps away is a ice cream station were one can get all the ice cream, sundaes and soft serve one wants for free. This was our third trip with HAL ,previously on Van Oosterdam Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2016
I wanted to try the new ship to determine if it be worth brining my spouse back for a B-day celebration. The best the ship had to offer were the Lincoln Center performances, B-B Kings and the updated Lido deck look, and the outdoor deli ... Read More
I wanted to try the new ship to determine if it be worth brining my spouse back for a B-day celebration. The best the ship had to offer were the Lincoln Center performances, B-B Kings and the updated Lido deck look, and the outdoor deli and pizza station open until late hours. Nightly, my cousin and I had difficulty securing diner seating no matter what we did. The staff seemed not to know how to work the computer and the reservation program. Finally, we took a table for 4 since that was always available and twice someone else joined us. The first level "suite" cabins(6110) was a misnomer; it was smaller than the balcony cabins on the Statendam class ships. The tiny bathroom was so inefficient: barely any place to store wet face clothes and towels and toiletries, no shelves below the vanity, everything had to go on the vanity top. No place to store more than 4 pcs of luggage. In general, nice décor but the dinning room left a lot to be desired. It looked like it wasn't complete. Ship's excursions were extremely over-priced. Besides the Lincoln Center performances and the surround entertainment venue, I cannot imagine what would draw people to this ship again save for very, very interesting destinations and brand loyalty. Read Less
65 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2016
A little background before you read my review. I have cruised 7 times, 6 on newer NCL ships, and once on the Disney Dream. I booked this first cruise ever with the Koningsdam because of the itinerary - not because of the cruise line or ... Read More
A little background before you read my review. I have cruised 7 times, 6 on newer NCL ships, and once on the Disney Dream. I booked this first cruise ever with the Koningsdam because of the itinerary - not because of the cruise line or the fact that it was a new ship. As I learned the ship was new, and watched all the hype videos prior to my trip, I'll admit my expectations were set quite high for this first cruise not only with Holland America - but on the new Koningsdam. There is one major physical issue wrong with the ship - and I will address that later in my review. Embarking on the Koningsdam, and overlooking that everything was "new" - I have to admit that the ship wasn't any more impressive to me than say the Norwegian Gem or the Disney Dream. In fact, I was surprised at some of the more 'backwards' thinking that went into the design of the ship that other cruise ships, 10 years older, have better. 2 examples. To put the gangway out from "A" deck, the crew has to haul an old winch out and manually hang it from a davit then swing it out over the ship with cables and wires and straps, etc. This resulted in taking extra time putting the gangway out in ports we visited. How the designers missed looking at about 100 other cruise ship designs in the industry to do this better is beyond me. Also, while there is good wireless internet on the ship - the phone system is an older style and there is no option to be able to take a wireless phone with you to communicate easily with other guests on the ship as we could on the Disney Dream, nor do the onboard ship apps allow you to use your tablet or mobile device as a communicator with others on the ship as I have been able to do on older ships. Unless you bring walkie-talkies with you - you can't communicate with your friends or family unless you know where they are - or they are in the cabin. Very odd. There were several things that have had me reconsider sailing on a brand new ship again. For example, there were water leaks in the ceiling in the fitness center, lots of shipyard workers were still onboard working on electrical panels throughout the hallways, and the crew in general didn't know their own ship well yet. When we checked in to our cabin, the Boise radio was still in it's packaging and there was an odd electronic device. On the 5th days, the steward finally set it up and a note appeared telling us the odd electronic device was to be used in the fitness center. Going back to the lack of crew knowledge on the new ship - we were particularly upset that we booked a spa cabin, which came with it's own access to the spa - but the crew didn't know that and although they let us use it the first day, the spa staff told us not to use it after that. Then, on the last day of the cruise, a sign appeared on the door telling us that spa access was just for spa guests, which we were. Very confusing. Speaking of the spa - It was okay - but not as nice as spas on Norwegian's ships - the Gem or Jewell. It was smaller in fact. While there were 12 heated reclining tiled chairs and a few fancy showers - the steam room and saunas - the area is small. The spa pool isn't private - Guests can look in the windows to see the spa pool from the hall on Deck 9. The pool isn't heated very warm, and the jets for it aren't relaxing. There are two big blaster jets in the center of the pool - which whenever someone turns them on and uses them, they splash all the other people in the pool. Most frustrating - there is no jacuzzi in the spa - you have to go out onto the pool deck to use it. THE BIG PROBLEM with the ship, and the thing that was most unfortunate, is the ship has a bad vibration problem. I served in the US Coast Guard and have sailed on many large ships, including Navy ships - as well as sailed on many cruise ships. I have never felt a ship vibrate as much as Koningsdam. It was so bad, that on my 2nd morning, I thought someone was physically shaking me out of bed. I couldn't sleep anymore. Later at lunch - we felt the vibrations at the New York Pizza area - mid ship, Deck 10. Before I could mention it to someone else, some of the glasses were vibrating together and they commented to me about the bad vibration. I started expecting an announcement from the Captain that there were mechanical issues with the ship and we needed to head back to the shipyard. As the cruise went on - we spoke with other Guests in lower level cabins - decks 4, 5, and 6. They all said they hadn't noticed the vibrations. However, our neighbors on deck 10 and then many people I spoke to up on deck 12 in the Crows Nest, where the vibrations were often worse, agreed that something was wrong. Not sure if it is more noticeable higher up because the superstructure is made of lighter materials to keep weight down? Mark my words - something isn't right - the crew I spoke to noticed it too. So - as I said, this was our first cruise with Holland America. I am in my low 40's - so I was concerned about going on a cruise with lots of 60 plus cruisers. While yes, there were a lot of more mature people on the ship - I was happy that about 20% of the other passengers were in there 30's and 40's. This allowed us to have a lot of fun at things such as Mixology Classes and the Pub Crawl - which Holland America did an excellent job at. However, I did find that many passengers griped and complained more than I have ever heard other cruisers complain before. Many acted as if it was the worst cruise they had ever been on before. The "chap" from Great Britain that was lighting up the Customer Service Desk because the ship's weather forecast called for rain in Dubrovnak - but it was sunny instead and his wife got a sunburn was a classic example of over-the-top complaints I heard many times over - mostly from repeat Holland America cruisers. Still - many more thought the cruise was great and everyone constantly was saying how beautiful the ship was. And it was. I would say most of the people I saw onboard were very happy. In comparison to other cruise lines, Holland America had the best food I have ever had at sea. If I cruise again, I will cruise with Holland America just for the quality of the food. I didn't have anything bad at all - except a memorable 'bland' caesar salad in the Pinnacle. Fortunately, it accompanied the best steak I have ever had anywhere. One other thing I liked about the food and dining was that Holland America appears to encourage their crew to eat with the passengers. I never saw that on Disney or NCL - it was great to see Holland America allow that and nice to see the crew out and about enjoying the ship on their break or time off. The covered main swimming pool was nice - and the crew was good about opening and closing the retractable roof as needed. The ship in general is nice. It may be amazing for Holland America - I haven't been on other Holland America ships before - but for those that have only been on Holland America ships before - please know, Koningsdam is a nice ship - but not revolutionary and not as nice as other older ships that sail the 7 seas. The fitness center and programs were well run. I met some people who had kids in the childrens clubs and they said that was well run. Billboards and the dueling pianos were great. The round theater is interesting. Not sure I would call it better - but certainly not worse than more traditional cruise theaters. However, whoever designed the railings near the back of the theater should sit in one of the seats and see that the back 1/4th of the passengers can't see through it to the stage. That needs some adjustments. In summary, Holland America and Koningsdam gave us a nice vacation. We'll sail with Holland America again - however -we won't sleep on the upper decks and I hope they figure out what is causing all the vibration. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2016
My husband and I were on the maiden voyage of the Koningsdam in 2016, and we had the time of our lives (Dubrovnik, Croatia was our favorite port). This was our second HAL cruise (1st was on Zuiderdam for our honeymoon in 2006). We’ve ... Read More
My husband and I were on the maiden voyage of the Koningsdam in 2016, and we had the time of our lives (Dubrovnik, Croatia was our favorite port). This was our second HAL cruise (1st was on Zuiderdam for our honeymoon in 2006). We’ve cruised on Carnival (7 times) and Norwegian (1 time) as well, but Holland America is our favorite because the customer service is top-notch and the other guests are respectful. Our fellow passengers definitely knew how to have a good time, but they understood limits and boundaries, unlike what we’ve seen on other ships (mostly Carnival). The Koningsdam in particular was our favorite ship. In addition to fabulous staff, a relaxing atmosphere, and great food, the in-room TVs with free on-demand movies/TV shows and comfortable beds were worth the price of admission alone. Looking forward to cruising on Koningsdam’s sister ship Nieuw Statendam in February 2019 (Caribbean). Read Less
57 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2016
A 19-day cruise on HAL's new Pinnacle-class ship, Koningsdam, was an unique opportunity to enjoy another Holland America Lines vacation. On this trip my wife and I cruised with another couple and it is fair to say we'd all give ... Read More
A 19-day cruise on HAL's new Pinnacle-class ship, Koningsdam, was an unique opportunity to enjoy another Holland America Lines vacation. On this trip my wife and I cruised with another couple and it is fair to say we'd all give the experience our highest accolades on most though not all counts, as noted below. My wife and I have cruised on HAL ships twice before, and also on Regent, Seabourn, SeaDream, Silversea and other upscale ships. Koningsdam, though larger than any of the ships in those cruise lines mentioned, provides an equally wonderful experience, at least as good as those others. The ship itself is wonderful, architecturally spectacular and beautiful. Interior decor is colorful in an attractive way, upbeat and in good taste. Flower arrangements in public spaces are magnificent. Everywhere one turns floor to ceiling windows are framing ocean/sea/island/fishing boat views. Our perfect weather added to the magic. Koningsdam features two swimming pools on the Lido (9th level) deck, with the main one covered at night, allowing for full-length movies shown at 7:30 and 10 p.m. Guests lounge in the plentiful deck furniture and munch on complimentary pizza, sandwiches, nachos and popcorn, watching movies either made in or related to the countries we visited on this cruise--Italy, Greece, Turkey, Croatia and Albania. Ship and decor are A+, reflective of HAL's goal of producing a top-of-the line experience with this new ship. Just one small negative: one must sit almost side-saddle on the commode. Trying to sit in a normal, straightforward way leads to one's knees banging (literally) into the glass shower wall, even if a person has short legs. TMI? Onboard activities are more than plentiful, and for all ages. The spa offers full exercise amenities, saunas, a large jacuzzi, and a wide range of personal services at relatively reasonable prices, with discounts on different services offered each day. The casino, like the entire ship interior, is smoke-free and nicely done...though not busy even at night as best I have observed. The library has interesting books and quite a few word games, puzzles, etc., with tables available nearby. For those enjoying cocktail time there are lots of bars. One positive for me, as a non-drinker, is that the cruise fare does not include free liquor or even soft drinks or bottled water, so non-drinkers are not paying to subsidize drinkers. Water, coffee and hot or iced tea are free with meals and the serving staff has been wholly accommodating in brewing caffeine-free tea, then adding ice, to serve us and the couple with whom we are traveling. I would give onboard activities an A. Onshore activity options are plentiful too, though the HAL-offered onshore excursions seem quite pricey. The excursions are well done and the professional local guides have been superb, so maybe it's worth the cost after all. We arranged for our own mini-van for four once, negotiating for the excursion at the cruise terminal. Our cost was much less than the HAL tours, our guide was great and we had a fine time. The HAL-offered excursion along the Amalfi coast unfortunately included lunch, which was tasteless and colorless Fortunately, it was also odorless. Excursion guides earned grades of A on the Amalfi tour. The tour lunch in Amalfi was lucky to get an F rather than an F-.. Our highlights tour of Rome did not include lunch, which turned out to be a good thing in that it led to my wife and I enjoying a wonderful meal at front-row seating in one of Rome's countless public plazas. Dining options on the Koningsdam are terrific, including many no-cost venues plus several upcharge restaurants that were smaller, quieter and yet still reasonably priced. Our favorites were Tamarind (Asian, we dined there twice and the service was exceptional) followed by Canaletto (wide ranging choices, also superb service). Food presentation was excellent, as was the taste. Both are worth the upcharges. Pinnacle, said to be equally as good as Canaletto, is more of a steak house and was not our favorite restaurant though it was considered outstanding by our traveling companions. The main dining room, on levels three and four aft, is adequate for fine dining but does not blow you away,food or service-wise, as did Tamarind and Canaletto. Moreover, the system for getting reservations for dinner in the main dining room is much too complex, including both open seating as well as seating reserved by guests for the same time (and sadly for open seating folks like us) and the same tables each evening. As a result, those willing to commit to eating only in the main dining room each night, at the same time each night, also get the best sea-view tables for the entire cruise. We like variety both in terms of eating venues and time of evening, so trying to get a table for four (virtually impossible0 in a view location (wholly impossible) in the main dining room is frustrating and unfair for open-seating guests. In addition to room service, which works well and delivers good, hot food, the Lido deck offers an open market set of food stations with a wide range of healthy as well as hearty options made-to-order. This market serves breakfast, lunch and dinner and provides very good selections at each meal. Lines never get long because there are duplicate sets of each food station and the cooks work fast, and pleasantly. Give Tamarind an A+, Canaletto an A, and the main dining room a B+. The Lido options also would be in the B+ range. The pizza kitchen on deck ten overlooking the main swimming pool offered flavorful pizzas made to order and served quickly, along with other snack-type foods. I must admit to having three pizzas during this 19 day cruise! Like everything else, the onboard entertainment options provide something good for every taste. We particularly enjoyed two singer/pianists, Rachel and Anderson, whose talents and song selections were excellent. They played in the Billboard on Board area. Crowds gathered for each of their two or three performances daily. We also enjoyed greatly the three violinists, pianist and bass player in the Lincoln Center venue. While my description sounds as if they would be stiff and formal they were anything but. Wonderful performers who appreciated their audience, which grew larger each day. There also is a B.B. King venue with two shows nightly--not our cup of tea but extremely popular each performance held nightly. Every performer on the main stage also was excellent. Entertainment on an overall basis earns my second A+. Opportunities for improvement do exist for any large new ship, and Koningsdam is no exception. Examples: 1. The two groups of entertainers we liked most performed in areas (not separate rooms) adjacent to walkways, with constant talking and distractions from ship guests walking by and oblivious to their negative impact on the enjoyment of those trying to hear the performers. While this "open" arrangement space-wise contributes to the light, airy, wonderful view orientation of the ship's architecture it does so at the disadvantage of too much noise for performers and guests. 2. The system for processing guests disembarking for excursions was convoluted and frustrating, much more so than necessary. On a maiden voyage I guess it was excusable, but it was still a pain. 3. The main dining room reservation system, as already described, needs a major overhaul to be fair to all guests. 4. There was no Captain's reception for guests to meet him and his key staff, apparently a new policy imposed by HAL corporate but not one the ship's officers or guests seemed to like. 5. Service in the upcharge dining options was excellent, less so in the other public restaurants. 6. The serving staff in restaurants and throughout the ship were unfailingly friendly and their smiles seemed genuine and wide. Follow-through on requests was spotty, mainly fine but not as consistently as it should and most likely will be after a few more cruises. 7. Our cabin steward and his assistant were disappointing, relative to service provided most other places on the ship. Not terrible but not up to ship standards. 8. The HAL-sponsored company handling our transfer from the airport in Rome to a "centrally located" (not) hotel that was offered as an optional part of the package (Visconti Palace), and transfers from the hotel to the ship, were terrible. It was an awful start to what turned out to be a fantastic vacation. Visconti Palace might be a three-star, but no more than that, and it might be centrally located on a geographic basis but not with respect to any major points of interest. The transfer company personnel were unpleasant, communicated poorly, and their performance was poor throughout. Their excuses were many. Transfer folks all flunked the course. We, their victims, virtually revolted and refused to follow their requests regarding boarding buses taking us to the ship. The hotel skated by with a C-. 9 Our upgrade from a stateroom to an A-level Vista Suite ($1349) was marginally worthwhile, yielding a small bit of extra space and a few meaningless amenities. 10. Not having been introduced to the officers and key staff due to the elimination of the Captain's welcome aboard reception we were hoping to learn names from the name badges worn by all employees--not so. Badges were too small to read from a normal distance, and were worn on everyone's left side such that if we shook hands the person's badge moved away from us rather than toward us. Badges should be worn on a person's right side. A rookie mistake on their part. 11. HAL should offer decaffeinated ice tea as a regular part of their menu rather than force guests to have to make special requests and even then, on at least one occasion receiving caffeinated tea instead. At 2 a.m., still wide awake, my wife and I knew we had been served the wrong stuff even though we double-checked that it was caffeine-free (no way!). 12. On Deck 9 smoking was allowed on the bow of the ship as well as aft. Consequently, when doors were open on 9, which was most of the time, cigarette smoke wafted through the entire ship whenever we were underway. Smoking should be banned entirely or relegated solely to the back of the ship and on a deck level away from those most constantly used by non-smoking passengers. 13. Lastly, whereas we had signed up for a 19 day cruise as it had been advertised, HAL had separated it into two cruises, the first one being seven days and the second 12.. Every trade-off in terms of us being on a one week versus 19 day cruise worked out, financially, in favor of HAL, whether or not it made sense or seemed fair to us. For example, we signed up for what was said to be a cruise-long spa package for $350, which seemed reasonable, only to learn later that "cruise-long" referred to the first seven day cruise ("yours was one booking but two separate cruises"). But the discount for not canceling when the cruise was shifted from February to April, as noted earlier, was applied to just our one "booking" for a 19 day cruise rather than the two cruises they referred to in every other instance. Similar unfair trade-offs occurred in trying to make restaurant table reservations and other instances. Trade-offs never worked in our favor, always in HAL's. These were corporate policies, it seemed, not ones made up onboard by the staff, so there was no room for negotiation. My wife and traveling companions insisted that I identify three local guides, each of whom provided exceptional service, charged what we all considered bargain fares, spoke English articulately and were truly personable. I have no connection with any of them other than enjoying their service for the one partial day we spent with each of them. Cruise Critic might remove this paragraph but if they do it is a travesty. In Olympia, Greece, Nicolas Theodorakopoulos (info@olympiataxi.gr). In In Dubrovnik, Croatia, Tihan Milko (tihan.milko@gmail.com) and in Istanbul, Turkey Sebnem Kececi of SebnemTrvel@yahoo.com. Because international travel, including cruises, has been cut back significantly in the last couple of years, even highly talented professional guides like Nick, Tihan and Sebnem are frustrated at the slowdown in business. Four of us recommend these three guides as all-around professionals providing A+ service, the best among a crop of wonderful guides we had throughout the trip. Read Less
55 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2016
Lots to love about this pretty new ship: cheerful, organized, competent staff, extra nice cabins with real walk-in showers, excellent food overall (even for things like room service omelettes), and fun new areas like the Grand Dutch Cafe ... Read More
Lots to love about this pretty new ship: cheerful, organized, competent staff, extra nice cabins with real walk-in showers, excellent food overall (even for things like room service omelettes), and fun new areas like the Grand Dutch Cafe where you pay for your specialty coffee but then have access to some of the most interesting and tasty light meals and treates on the ship at no extra cost. We appreciated that the full 3rd deck was retained as open for walking. Entertainment was hit and miss: gorgeous modern near round theater with terrific sound and image/affect capacity and introduction of fab Lincon Center classical daily concerts. The 2 full cast shows were very good but, about 50% of the overall entertainment was B category at best. Our Pinnacle specialty dining evening was also not a success but maybe they are still tuning up. Conversely, dinner at their Asian restaurant was terrific and less expensive than all the other options. On the down side, we choose HAL because in the past they have had excellent lecturers on board. There were zero this trip. Even the guy doing the 30 min port lectures was weak on anything about the place beyond shopping and hop on hop off buses. Further, if you were not taking a cruise excursion, the service desk staff offered little in terms of basic info, such as how to get into Athens by metro. On the positive side the cruise excursions we did take were worth the $$ with good guides and fine lunch spots. Again on the negative side though, ALL ship activities and lectures, especially on Sea days, are now totally focused on getting you to buy something. This became exhausting and more than annoying. Perhaps this reflects their being part of the Carnival group now - sell/buy pressure is relentless. We had not previously experienced this to such an extreme on HAL. They have also nixed the specialty coffee card in favour of a non alcoholic drinks card at $17.50 a day focused on a "pour your own" Coke machine. I drink lattes not Coke so I was not interested in paying this much daily to mainly pay for Coke from their new machine. So while we liked the new ship a lot, we were less thrilled by the direction HAL is apparently being pushed - perhaps they are being Carnivalized Read Less
76 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2016
We booked this cruise because we have had good experiences cruising with HAL before, we liked the itinerary (Eastern Mediterranean, then Western Mediterranean), and the fact that it was a new ship. The ship had many issues, which I ... Read More
We booked this cruise because we have had good experiences cruising with HAL before, we liked the itinerary (Eastern Mediterranean, then Western Mediterranean), and the fact that it was a new ship. The ship had many issues, which I mention below. It is also in many ways different from other HAL ships we've been on, so I'm posting this mainly for other HAL cruisers, who may want to know what has/hasn't changed. Internet: HAL's onboard internet access is still expensive and dreadful. Simply trying to connect and retrieve email can take 10 minutes or more of your paid minutes, even at odd hours like very early in the morning. Access this terrible should at least be free. This will probably be a deal breaker for me when considering other lengthy cruises. Staterooms: We had a vista suite, comprised of a sleeping area, a sitting area (with a small couch, a desk and a chair), the bathroom, and a verandah. There was ample closet and cupboard space. Some of the stateroom floor plans (interiors and ocean views) have no sitting area. Those rooms are basically a bed in a box. Our bathroom had a very nice glassed-in shower--certainly the best we've ever had in a stateroom. However, to make room to be able to stand at the sink, the toilet is installed at an angle, so the front of the toilet bowl is angled toward the glass shower wall. A small person can fit, but a large person has to sit diagonally across the toilet seat. The ship was plagued with plumbing problems during our cruise: stateroom toilets that randomly overfilled and overflowed, no hot water (or, occasionally, no water at all) in the showers in the spa changing area, out of order toilets in public areas. Movies: there is no movie theater onboard. However, there is a big screen in the Lido pool area, and movies are shown there at night. There is also a selection of movies and TV shows available on demand on the television in your stateroom. No more DVD library. Library: There isn't a library to speak of. The Explorations Cafe coffee bar is next to the Crow's Nest on deck 12. The Cafe is open to the Crow's Nest, so piped-in music, entertainment, and activities taking place in the bar are also in the Cafe. No quiet reading area. The Cafe has a small alcove with a small selection of travel books, coffee table books, and some board games. There is no collection of books to check out, as there is on other HAL ships. There are only a few book shelves, housing the travel books, so it appears there will never be much of a book collection onboard. There are some Internet computer stations in the Cafe, but no librarian, and only very limited hours that a staff member is available for computer issues. You must seek help at Guest Services on deck 3. We saw guests asking bartenders for Internet help, because no one else is available. Fitness center: The fitness area is divided into three separate rooms. A large gym with treadmills and other equipment, a separate room with the bikes for spinning/cycling classes, and another room used as a studio for yoga and other classes. A big improvement over the one big open space fitness centers. Thermal Suite: We bought the thermal suite access, which we have had on other HAL ships. The thermal suite area is larger and has additional features in terms of showers, saunas, and steam rooms in the coed area, as well as the loungers and large hydro pool. During our cruise, there were daily problems with the thermal suite features: no steam, no heat on the loungers, showers not working, hydro pool not warm or not bubbly. Oddly, there are very few places to hang robes and towels, so guests tend to "save" the thermal suite loungers for themselves while they use the steam and sauna rooms. Although there are more thermal suite loungers than we have seen on other HAL ships, getting a lounger at all can be challenging at popular times. Another oddity is the access system. When you check in at the spa desk, you exchange your room keycard for a wrist bracelet with a locker number on it. The wrist bracelet contains a transponder that opens a locker in the changing room. The locker contains a robe and shower slippers. There is no keyed access to the thermal suite area. It is just an unlocked door at the end of a hallway in the spa area. Guests who have not paid for the thermal suite can nonetheless access it, at least theoretically, unless those who have paid complain to the spa desk, so that a spa employee must confront the guests without the telltale wristbands in the thermal suite area. An awkward situation all around. A spa employee told us that a keyed access is going to be implemented, eventually. Spa Changing Areas: The locker rooms in the spa changing areas have a strange locker arrangement. Some lockers are fairly large, some are quite small, some are so high they are unreachable for most women, and some are situated so close to entry door that you get clobbered by the door if you happen to be accessing the locker when someone else enters the room. The women's changing room (and I believe the men's is the same) has only one toilet (which was out of order several times during our cruise), one changing "closet", where you can have privacy, and two showers, which do not have doors or shower curtains. In other words, the changing areas are not very hospitable if you would like some privacy. Spa services: The usual assortment of massage/therapy services. And, of course, some silly services. Foot print analysis (with a corresponding sale of some kind of orthotic) seems to have replaced teeth whitening. I never understood who would have a dental procedure done by a spa employee on a cruise ship. Ditto for an orthopedic analysis. The Promenade deck: The outside deck on deck 3 is narrower than on other HAL ships. There are no deck chairs. Nice for walking, but not for sitting. The online Navigator and online account: A paper Daily Navigator is still delivered to your room each evening, but it looks like that will eventually be phased out. There is an online Navigator (free access) that shows daily onboard activities, shore excursions, and dining options. The online Navigator also allows you to view your account, so you can keep track of your onboard spending. The online Navigator is a great idea, but it's not yet fully functional. For example, you can see what dining options are available, but you can't yet view daily menus. Staff now use iPads for drink and dinner orders, so charges to your account appear immediately. The software does not yet seem to be fully functional. We had the Signature Beverage Package as part of the Explore4 promotion when we booked. In some venues, the system recognized our account as having the beverage package. In others, we were charged for beverages and had to visit Guest Services (repeatedly) to have the beverage charges reversed. The Lido Market: This is the Lido buffet, with a new name. There are individual stations for different types of food. A bit of a confusing arrangement. There is no indication of where lines are supposed to start and not enough labeling of items. There is also less self-service than we have had on other HAL ships. For example, your made to order salad is made for you, rather than by you. Probably a good idea to avoid spreading illnesses. Hand washing: The Lido Market has automatic hand washing stations. There are still hand sanitizer stations around the ship, but not as many as we have seen on other HAL ships. However, since the anti-bacterial hand sanitizer is not very effective against norovirus, the most common cruise ship plague, it is probably better to limit self-service and stress hand washing, rather than slathering the passengers with Purell. New casual dining venues: The Lido pool area has a Dive In, featuring hamburgers and hot dogs, and there is now a NY Pizza and Deli, with made to order pizzas, sandwiches, salads and some desserts. The food in both venues is included in your cruise price. There is also a G Gelato Bar, for which you pay extra. The Explorations Cafe, with specialty coffee drinks, for which you pay extra, is on deck 12, and there is a new concept cafe, the Grand Dutch Cafe on deck 3. There is an extra charge for the drinks there (coffee drinks and beer), but not for the food. New specialty dining venues: Canaletto, the Pinnacle Grill, and Tamarind still all offer dinner at an extra charge. The Tamarind does not offer a complimentary dim sum lunch, as we have had on other HAL ships. The Culinary Arts Center is now its own fancy foodie venue, offering dinner for an extra charge. Demonstrations/tasting events in the Culinary Arts Center seemed to mostly involve an extra charge as well. The new Sel de Mer restaurant offers fine dining with al a carte pricing. A dinner at the Pinnacle Grill and a dinner at Canaletto were included in the cruise package when we booked. We found them both to be underwhelming and preferred the regular dining room. Consequently, we did not try Sel de Mer, Tamarind, or the Culinary Arts Center. Entertainment: The Koningsdam singers and dancers are excellent. Rather than the usual trite two couples, the singers are two young men and one young woman. The World Stage is a smaller venue than on other HAL ships, which makes for a nicer, more intimate show. The stage is also in the round, and there are screens above the stage for multimedia elements in the shows. The choreography seemed more contemporary, and better, than we've seen on other HAL ships. Music: The ship has the new Music Walk concept, with three separate music venues on deck 2. B.B. King's Blues Club (which has been on other HAL ships for a few years), Billboard Onboard (two singer/piano players playing popular music), and Lincoln Center Stage (five classical musicians playing masterworks and pops). All three venues were very good and very popular. Performance days and times are staggered, so they are not all performing at once. B.B. King's is located in the Queens Lounge, with the stage on deck 2, and seating on both deck 2 and deck 3. Beware getting a stateroom on deck 4 above the Queens Lounge. The music can be heard in that area of deck 4 late into the evening, Cruise director: The cruise director, Jonathan, was almost invisible. Each morning he announced our arrival in port over the PA and said good morning in the language of the country. He was not very engaged with the passengers and did not usually even introduce the performers at the World Stage venue. We were not sure if this was his particular personality or a new protocol for HAL cruise directors. We heard many passengers wondering what, exactly, his job was supposed to entail. Location guide: We had encountered Ian, the location guide, on the Eurodam a few years ago, where we found him to be very helpful and engaged with the passengers. Not so anymore. We don't know whether he has just had too many cruises, or if he is acting under a new corporate directive. We heard other passengers complaining about his lack of helpfulness--unless you wanted to book a HAL shore excursion. We did not book any shore excursions through HAL. If you are going to explore the port stops on your own, do your research ahead of time. Don't expect much information on the ship and Internet access is too poor to do any research while onboard. 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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