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Hi, We just took a 7 day HAL cruise.  Overall we had a great time with the other New York Times guests, approximately 85 of us.  Our conversations and speakers combined to make this trip more than worth the extra price.  The 4 speakers were extremely knowledgeable and accessible, either at meal time, around the ship or on shore excursions.  Shore trips, room stewards, Lido and of course the Explorer's Lounge were at the level that my wife and I have come to expect as long term Mariners. Our first HAL cruise was in 1980. That was the good part. ROTTERDAM SEATING & SERVICE Rotterdam seating arrangements caused serious problems. Our group of approximately 90 had a reserved section on departure night and that worked smoothly. On the following nights our tables were spread throughout the Rotterdam and this arrangement did not work. On 1 evening our table of 8 sat before 8 PM and left after 10 PM, causing us to miss the wonderful Explorer's Lounge music selection. They took over 30 minutes to tell my wife they were out of San Pellegrino. We were literally the last table to leave and we did not order off-menu. Similar service lapses occurred on 2 other evenings. On another evening, formal night, we were quite dressed - I had a tuxedo and my wife was equally dressed. We were seated by our NYT hostess at one of the reserved NYT tables and then proceeded to have our table for 6 remain a table of 2 for the entire meal. On several occasions the wine steward and the waiter were not coordinated and we had a long wait for mediocre wine. UNLIMITED BEVERAGE Card is a MISNOMER At dinner we were told there was a choice of 4 wines that were covered under the card. This so-called "unlimited" beverage card had a $7 limit. My wife and I offered to choose a $9 glass of wine and charge the difference to our room. That was not possible, our waiter told us. At the Lido deck poolside bar I decided to have an orange juice and tonic water. The bartender was quite pleasant but told me I would have to wait several minutes between purchase. This is a very strange and quite annoying policy. Unless you drink a lot of soda (which is unhealthy) you should consider the down side of the so-called "unlimited beverage" package. Overall, my wife and I thoroughly enjoyed our New York Times Travels vacation. We enjoyed the speakers and their materials. We learned some good things and would do another Insight cruise but make sure about the Rotterdam seating and go back to choosing our beverages off the full list as we require them. Happy Sailing!

HAL and Ryndam need to review some services.

Ryndam (Retired) Cruise Review by roobrie

Trip Details
  • Sail Date: March 2015
  • Destination: Western Caribbean
  • Cabin Type: Vista Suite with Verandah
Hi,
We just took a 7 day HAL cruise.  Overall we had a great time with the other New York Times guests, approximately 85 of us.  Our conversations and speakers combined to make this trip more than worth the extra price.  The 4 speakers were extremely knowledgeable and accessible, either at meal time, around the ship or on shore excursions.  Shore trips, room stewards, Lido and of course the Explorer's Lounge were at the level that my wife and I have come to expect as long term Mariners. Our first HAL cruise was in 1980.
That was the good part.
ROTTERDAM SEATING & SERVICE
Rotterdam seating arrangements caused serious problems. Our group of approximately 90 had a reserved section on departure night and that worked smoothly. On the following nights our tables were spread throughout the Rotterdam and this arrangement did not work. On 1 evening our table of 8 sat before 8 PM and left after 10 PM, causing us to miss the wonderful Explorer's Lounge music selection. They took over 30 minutes to tell my wife they were out of San Pellegrino. We were literally the last table to leave and we did not order off-menu. Similar service lapses occurred on 2 other evenings. On another evening, formal night, we were quite dressed - I had a tuxedo and my wife was equally dressed. We were seated by our NYT hostess at one of the reserved NYT tables and then proceeded to have our table for 6 remain a table of 2 for the entire meal. On several occasions the wine steward and the waiter were not coordinated and we had a long wait for mediocre wine.
UNLIMITED BEVERAGE Card is a MISNOMER
At dinner we were told there was a choice of 4 wines that were covered under the card. This so-called "unlimited" beverage card had a $7 limit. My wife and I offered to choose a $9 glass of wine and charge the difference to our room. That was not possible, our waiter told us. At the Lido deck poolside bar I decided to have an orange juice and tonic water. The bartender was quite pleasant but told me I would have to wait several minutes between purchase. This is a very strange and quite annoying policy. Unless you drink a lot of soda (which is unhealthy) you should consider the down side of the so-called "unlimited beverage" package.
Overall, my wife and I thoroughly enjoyed our New York Times Travels vacation. We enjoyed the speakers and their materials. We learned some good things and would do another Insight cruise but make sure about the Rotterdam seating and go back to choosing our beverages off the full list as we require them.
Happy Sailing!
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Cabin Review

Vista Suite with Verandah
Cabin B 036
Room 036, on the navigation deck is a lot smaller than other similar priced rooms on the Nieuw Amsterdam, Zuiderdam, Amsterdam, Noordam, Eurodam and all the other "dam" ships we have sailed on.On the 4th day around 4 AM there was a strange vibration that we have felt on the Zuiderdam. It lasted for several hours and was repeated twice more on the cruise. The vibration caused me to wake up for a bit.
Navigation Deck Inside Cabins, Balcony Cabins, Suite Cabins

Port & Shore Excursion Reviews

  • Campo del Mar Nature Park Walking Tour
    The tour has a botanical garden section and a wild life rescue portion. Each section has a different leader and both were extremely knowledgeable. We learned a lot about local plants. We had a very pleasant meal under a large shade tree and served some fine local food. Good experience.The wild life rescue portion was led by a young woman who took great passion about their rescue work. her fellow helpers ( 2 young men) were extremely caring about their charges and were equally dedicated to their tasks. It was a wonderful experience to feel the nose of a taipur through a fence. That little pink nose was quite soft.Highly recommend this tour.
    View All 4 Campo del Mar Nature Park Walking Tour Reviews
  • Mayan Ruins
    Go to Kohunlich Mayan ruins if you can. The long (2 hour each way) trip is well worth it.Our guide led us around the ruins, giving us time at the major points to climb the steps, take pictures and just simply enjoy the advanced architecture that this so-called stone age people built over 1000 years ago. You can walk through the rooms, examine their sleeping platforms, look close at their large stone faces and wonder what kind of ball game was played on the ball court and for what stakes?Be careful if you walk around the dried up reservoir area. I found a semi-circle of stones in one section and it has a 2 foot depression that might actually be deeper during a wet period. To appreciate the Mayans accomplishments I recommend "The Lost Secrets of Maya Technology" by James A. O'Kon. (New Page Press, 2012).   Go and have a good time. I ordered the vegetarian box lunch on the return bus ride and found it very good. The chicken box smelled good too. You eat on the bus, so I do not recommend getting a beer unless it is a twist off. The orange drink was refreshing.
    View All 139 Mayan Ruins Reviews