1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: February 2014
30 day Hawaii & Tahiti Cruise----Feb. 14, 2014, 16 sea days and 14 port days. Although we are four star mariners on HAL it has been almost three years since we cruised with them. The following is a summary of the ship and my cruise ... Read More
30 day Hawaii & Tahiti Cruise----Feb. 14, 2014, 16 sea days and 14 port days. Although we are four star mariners on HAL it has been almost three years since we cruised with them. The following is a summary of the ship and my cruise experience, beginning with the positive followed by concerns. Generally speaking—I find no significant degeneration in HAL's service or facilities. This was a very good cruise and I highly recommend it. Excellent weather and relatively calm seas all the way except Moorea, the port we had to miss due high winds. * I recently read a review from a lady regarding the maintenance and upkeep of the Statendam in which she condemned the ship and company for allowing the ship to deteriorate. I find that not to be accurate at all, conversely, this ship is well taken care. The Statendam entered service in 1993 and, with the possible exception of the Prinsendam, I find it better maintained than most of the HAL fleet we have previously sailed on, most of which were newer ships. HAL has always enjoyed a reputation of taking good care of their ships; I find they still do so. *The meals were better in general than I recall on most previous voyages, the only exception being the “Pinnacle” which is still good but has slipped slightly, we used it 6 times. The Lido buffet seemed to have a larger food variety this trip and HAL does a great job of making certain everything is sanitized. I love the fresh squeezed orange juice in the morning there. The Canoletto was very good and made for an intimate dinner, last time we were on the Ryndam they didn’t charge the $10.00 per that they do now in the Canoletto. However, on the Ryndam things were so crowded, probably because no charge for the Canoletto, that the tables, even for two, were so packed together that it was like joining a "6 conversations going at once club". *Shore excursions were all pretty well put together and of quality. All escorts were tour knowledgeable and easy to understand. HAL did not overload the coaches and managed to keep most of the passenger loads to around 50% max. We also sail a lot on Regent which equally has excellent excursions, but their price is included in the cruise package which I greatly prefer. *During our last 200 days or so at sea we have elected to take open dining. No more traditional for us. We experienced excellent service in the main dining room by HAL personnel and always got a table for two, seldom we had to wait, maybe twice for a minute or two. This is our second voyage on HAL using their “Any time you wish dining”, or, almost 60 days at sea with HAL using that service. It is my opinion that HAL critics of this procedure are flat wrong. *The gym on this ship was excellent in that it had lots of modern workout equipment, was located up high with good views of the ocean and not overcrowded like so many of them are. *The Statendam is one of HAL's "S" class ships. So is the Ryndam which we have also sailed on. It occurred to me that this class ship has more open deck public area per passenger than any ship we have been on. This proves to be a major plus for guests on cruises where a lot of scenic cruise days are involved, like along the coast of Alaska, glacier viewing, Antarctica, fiords of Norway and so on. All open decks on this ship are planked with Teak, and there is two 360 degree complete walk around decks, the promenade and the uppermost outdoor deck which runs around the top perimeter. Also there are many decks where public can gather to sightsee. On so many ships when approaching spectacular points of interest, like Hubbard Glacier at Yakutat, everybody is on deck trying to find nook for good viewing. Decks are so crammed that it is ludicrous. One frequent criticism of the newer megaships is that they have little open deck space for observation, sunbathing or cozy quiet places to read, which used to be considered of value for traditional ocean travel of yesteryear. Instead, the ships are designed like shopping malls and amusement parks where guests are pretty much confined to interior areas. Even though these ships might have excellent space to passenger ratios, getting out and enjoying an open sea breeze is not a number one priority for ship designers anymore. *Prior to boarding someone told me that HAL still had the same old selection of news service on cabin TVs. I dread being relegated to watching only FOX and CNN, so I simply leave the TV off. Imagine my surprise then, when I find MSNBC (My favorite), BBC, and FOX. HAL got smart and got rid of program duplicity leaving CNN out and giving their guests a “fair and balanced” selection of news choices and reviews. *As always, HAL has provided a good selection of theme lecturers for a voyage. Three in particular I liked so much on this one I didn’t miss a single one of their presentations. On this voyage they have something new, a Polynesian, Kanioa, who works full time describing ports and history of the Pacific, he even does some Alaska and South America. He has an artful sense of humor that really cracked folk up occasionally. Quite a change from the old travel agent style delivery by someone speaking about everything in general with a delivery similar to reading from a text book. Both HAL, Regent and Princess are excellent in providing experts for areas being traveled, such as naturalists, biologists, anthropologists and historians. HAL is one of the few lines anymore that provides a protestant cleric for Sunday services and daily devotionals. *We had a normal balcony stateroom located on deck 9 slightly forward of midship. Enjoyed it although would like a larger bathroom without the tub, but only a shower. Great balcony, larger than most. Even though this voyage has been very smooth, one time during the day when we couldn't get into Moorea I felt the ship take on a big one, I looked outside, through our patio windows, to see a wall of white water completely obscure the view for a few seconds. Being on deck 9, or 7 decks or stories above the water line, the spray must have reached 10 stories up. *We had seven formal nights, which we like. *I really like their hot tubs on the Lido deck, used them every day. *Entertainment was pretty much on par for most ships this size. They had some great singers and performers and have pretty much done away with the bore comedians with their corny political jokes that leaves half the audience mad and the other cackling (although they do have a comic now and then that is very good they are now wise enough to stay away from ignorant politics or religious issues). *Most unique port visited: Fanning Island. *Best deals and quality on local made items: Fanning Island. *Most exciting: Port: Rangiroa--Due to dicey departure through channel in order to enter ocean again. Also, best demonstration of Black Pearl farming found here. *Most educational shore excursion: All day tour around Island of Tahiti which looked good in the shore excursion description but expensive. Later, when I checked it out on the ship it was closed out. But later yet they expanded it. Sure glad they did, besides being an excellent tour it included lunch at a restaurant that was out of this world, du Musee Gauguin. If we ever get back to Tahiti again we are definitely going to try to get there for dinner. Regarding the down sides: *HAL has definitely reduced staff levels. Surprisingly, it doesn’t have that many apparent negative ramifications, although the reductions do have an impact. For instance, the laundry equipment was down more often than should be and all around staff effort isn't near as coordinated as it used to be so there is a lot of reacting and not enough anticipation of potential problem areas. *I am not enamored with HAL's new wine policy. I do miss the old one where one could bring a modest amount of wine on board at any port without charge or restrictions, it was an unique feature of their sailing experience. Since they are determined to go the mediocre route in order to fit in with most of the other big cruise lines, the least they could do is provide a red wine selection that is more reasonably priced. For instance, a $12.00 bottle of Cab. from COSTCO sells for about $55.00 on board. If you buy at COSTCO and pay the $18.00 corkage to bring it on board, you pay about $30,00. I would gladly pay HAL $35.00 for this wine and eliminate the hassle. *The price of Internet is horrible due to the slow speeds. I wish HAL would give free Internet perks like Regent does. I would greatly appreciate that over some of the other Mariner perks provided.   Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: October 2013
We chose this cruise as we were already going to be in California for our son's wedding 3 days prior to embarkation. We drove down from Pasadena, spent a day enjoying San Diego, dropped off the rental car and embarked. Note there is ... Read More
We chose this cruise as we were already going to be in California for our son's wedding 3 days prior to embarkation. We drove down from Pasadena, spent a day enjoying San Diego, dropped off the rental car and embarked. Note there is still construction on the street outside the terminal, but our cab driver easily negotiated it. We tried to check our bags at the obvious spot, but were told to take them inside. Seemed unusual but we diligently went inside, where we were told to take them back outside. OK, finally got them checked and came back through the line. No other embarkation problems of note and we were quickly onboard enjoying the buffet lunch. Met the other Cruise Critic Rollcall members at the Sunset Bar for sailaway drinks after muster drill. One member had made beautiful pin-on buttons for all of us, and we wore our Mardi Gras beads to identify ourselves. Good way to get the cruise started! The officers were friendly and mixed with the passengers every day. It was great to have the Captain greet you personally at breakfast and the Hotel Director spend 1/2 hour with you at Elite Happy Hour. These are the little things that make traveling on the Century very special. She may be older and smaller, but the ship has a devoted following. This was a quiet cruise with a lot of sea days and was definitely an older crowd. But there was lots to do if you chose to do it. The enrichment lectures on Pearl Harbor and the Pacific Theater in WWII were fabulous and June, the Hawaiian arts and crafts lady, was great fun. The standard of excellence that Celebrity maintains in its service, food, maintenance of facilities, etc., is what keeps us coming back time after time. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: December 2012
We were on the December 5, 2012 Panama Canal cruise.I booked the a category FF for this cruise through HAL last summer. When the price dropped, I asked for and received a price adjustment. Two days after I made the final payment, the price ... Read More
We were on the December 5, 2012 Panama Canal cruise.I booked the a category FF for this cruise through HAL last summer. When the price dropped, I asked for and received a price adjustment. Two days after I made the final payment, the price dropped on higher-category cabins to $300 pp below what I had paid. When I called and requested an adjustment or shipboard credit, I was offered a Veranda for an additional $599 pp as the only option. After much discussion, they offered me an full ocean view guaranteed cabin for an upgrade - I took it. Just before we sailed, we were assigned a C category cabin, which is on the Promenade deck, with views of the lower part of the lifeboats, ship's railings, deck chairs and other passengers - not exactly a full ocean view. After much arguing and two calls, we were given a D category with a true full ocean view. We were notified before going to the dock that boarding would be delayed due to the Norovirus and special cleaning of the ship. When we arrived at the dock, we were given a letter offering us the chance to cancel the cruise if we so desired. We were committed to sail and looking forward to the cruise, so we declined the offer. Our cabin was very nice, but wasn't fully stocked with items until day 7. Our bon voyage gifts did not all arrive until day 2. We had to ask our cabin attendant for our bathrobes, replacement soap, replacement bath gel, washcloths, and ice. The only way to contact him was by dialing 90, which was rarely answered. We got his card with his name on it on day 10. The self-service laundries were closed until day 15. When we inquired about the ship's laundry, we were told to use the bag in our cabin, which was not there, so they gave us one and told us it would be $20/bag. After much arguing, we got it down to $5/bag, but found out later that if we had argued longer than that, it would have been free (per some fellow cruisers). Smoking rules were not enforced; not were the rules about no non-toilet trained children in the swimming pools. We were in a "Code Red" and babies who could not even walk yet were taken into the Seaview pool by their parents for several days without even swim diapers on (which were also banned from being in the pools). There were also two children on board who were totally out of control and their behavior ignored by their parents. They ran through the formal dining room shrieking many nights; climbed in the windows of the dining room; ran around the tables eating with their hands, and pretty much disturbed anyone unfortunate enough to be seated near them. That was us one night, and I had to ask to be moved in the middle of our meal due to the noise from those kids. They also appeared at almost every 10pm show in the theater, again running throughout the theater and shrieking. I never saw one crew member or maitre d' say anything to that family. When we were at the Atlantis hotel in Reno, there were some children acting similarly in the buffet - in no time, the manager was there telling the parents to control their kids or leave the restaurant. HAL has published rules about what will not be tolerated on their ships - smoking outside of designated areas, babies in pools, and disruptive guests, to name a few - they need to either enforce them or revise them to lower the expectations of their passengers. I have never been on a ship that ran out of food. The Amsterdam did. In the buffet with 1 1/2 hours left to serve, they ran out of potato chips, tomatoes and olives, and were unable/unwilling to replenish the supply. Oh the last formal night, they ran out of the featured Surf and Turf, and it took us 2 1/2 hours to have dinner. At least that got us out at 10:30pm, too late to attend the 10pm show and have to listen to the screaming kids. With Room Service, we rarely got all the items we ordered, and once got 2 carafes of coffee, but only one cup. They had the same five groups of musicians for the 17 night cruise, playing the same music every night. On other cruise lines, we usually get a variety of musicians cycled in. The "Sail-Away" parties on the aft deck were a joke. The single guitar player played riffs and improvised pieces at every Sail-Away - the music in no way reflected either the cruise or the port we had just left. It was not conducive to a party atmosphere. Very few drinks were offered or ordered. Actually, that was true most days on the aft pool deck - not many waiters available for drinks or people asking for them. People were going into the buffet and bringing out their own water or iced tea, unfortunately in real glass, so there was a bit of breakage out by the pool with all those bare feet around. The entertainment in the theater was marginal. One performer, a pianist, brought out a blow-up doll to dance with while he jiggled her buttocks and bounced her breasts-pretty cheesy. Another performer balanced a flower on his chin. And they each performed more than one night! Anyway, you get the picture, not really first-rate entertainment. The Art auction emcee gave an informative talk early in the cruise to explain the different styles of art available, to give us a brief history of his life, to introduce us to his assistant, and also to let us know that he was sleeping with her - too much information! Overall, the food in the dining room was good, nothing special. The first week the food in the buffet was not very warm and the pork and chicken was dry and tough. Some of the beef in the dining room was very tough, but seemed to improve later in the cruise (maybe they took on a new supply?). I think the Code Red for so many days really put an extra stress on the crew and prevented them from performing as they would have liked. If extra crew were not brought on board, perhaps they should have been. A cabin steward on our deck told me that he was responsible for 30 cabins, which seemed a little high to me, but I don't know what the average is industry-wide. Also, if you sail into Port Everglades, Fort Lauderdale, be prepared for incredibly long waits at the taxi stand. We waited 1 3/4 hours for a cab, and we started out #4 in line!! By the time we left, there were maybe 150+ people in line. Everglades needs to fix their transportation issues when 7-8 ships come in at once. Our cabbie said that this is a common occurrence. They did call for larger shuttles to take people to the airport - that took the pressure off the taxis, but we still had a long wait to get to our hotel. Anyway, we love NCL and Princess, and only booked HAL because of the ports they visited on this cruise (and the ports were lovely!) and because some of my cruising friends raved over HAL. I guess either different strokes OR we just hit an unbelievably poor coming together of many problems on the Amsterdam. Good Luck if you decide to sail with her. I hope your experience proves to be better than ours. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2012
We did the 30 day Hawaii South Pacific Cruise. While the Rotterdam is an older ship there is still a lot of charm. Enjoyed the library area and the lounge areas on that level were very comfortable. While we had an inside cabin, it was ... Read More
We did the 30 day Hawaii South Pacific Cruise. While the Rotterdam is an older ship there is still a lot of charm. Enjoyed the library area and the lounge areas on that level were very comfortable. While we had an inside cabin, it was roomy and comfortable. The ship is due to go into dry dock in Germany this December. Besides doing refurbishing, they need to do a major disinfecting of the whole interior. People have been getting sick aboard the Rotterdam for the last several cruises. You couldn't escape the racking chest coughs that so many passengers had. Thank goodness I travel with an antibiotic, as the only thing the ship offered was Cipro which is for gastrointestinal problems. Three of my table-mates were diagnosed with pneumonia upon seeing their personal physicians when returning home. Probably my major complaint was watching them change the beds for the next cruise and realizing that they did not remove the mattress pad or the blankets for washing. I'm sorry I didn't realize that at the beginning of the cruise. The crew was a wonderful group of friendly and helpful people always ready to help. The food was very good and choices were plentiful. The entertainment left a lot to be desired. There were a few talented entertainers that offered us an opportunity for a pleasant evening. Seeing the South Pacific Islands was wonderful. The views from the boats on snorkeling trips were amazing! Moorea was by far my favorite with Bora Bora following right behind. If your a lover of poolside sunning and swimming, you better love the sun as there aren't any shaded areas to place a lounge chair - forward or aft on the ship. One pool is also not enough to accommodate the many guest, but that's OK because they only have about 50 lounge chairs around the pool. All in all, it was a wonderful adventure and good value. The 30 days at sea seemed to fly by. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2011
This was a very good cruise for us, I'll rate it a 4.5 out of 5.0, as I intend to be 'Fair&Balanced', but Hey!! we had a Tsunami and a helicopter medical evacuation as extra entertainment..so maybe a 4.75 would be more ... Read More
This was a very good cruise for us, I'll rate it a 4.5 out of 5.0, as I intend to be 'Fair&Balanced', but Hey!! we had a Tsunami and a helicopter medical evacuation as extra entertainment..so maybe a 4.75 would be more appropriate. It would probably take a Seabourn or Oceania to rate a 5+ by me, so consider my critique with that in mind. Some people grumble..we don't. We are 'active'. We hiked, snorkeled, and rented 4WD Land-rovers,Jeeps etc. I say that right off because we did NOT go on 'organized' HAL tours; as we were NOT in need of mobility aides etc. However...we seemed to bump into fellow cruisers in all sorts of places!! So, fear not, we saw most of what everyone else saw..and perhaps more than most. Also, age-wise we're on the 'younger' end of the passenger list intentionally so, as we enjoy the company of experienced cruisers; we just walk a lot faster and maybe sleep less.My REVIEW will be chronological later, I will add those details later in the ports-of-call section. Embarkation at SanDiego went very smooth; especially so because we stay the night prior at the HolidayInn across the St. from the pier. I highly recommend doing similar for anyone worried about Air connections etc. Door-to-Stateroom Luggage Service was too $expensive$ for us ($975 bucks) but it's the way to go methinks if one is a bit 'gimped up' or money isn't a concern.The ROTTERDAM seemed to be ship-shape. It's not new. We like that. It's classy..not glitzy. Just the right size vessel for us means less than 2000 pax and more than 500. Is it comparable to OCEANIA's newest Uber-classe cruiser? Probably not...but it was a good $$value$$ for the fare spent.Clientele/Fellow Passengers: We didn't meet anyone who had NOT cruised before. We are entering our early retirement years and we were nearly the youngest except for 2 honeymooners. No teens at all. Most passengers have their money working for them by now; not the other way around. Did anyone grumble? Yep. No different than any other cruise. The same people I avoid back home I avoid on a cruise. Generally a sedate, yet interesting mix of people aboard from US, Canada, Germany, UK, Sweden, OZ and Japan. Few from elsewhere. Stateroom: We were on Deck #3 near the front, with large window looking onto the teak Promenade, our favorite area. Our Neighbors had a 'Lanai' Rm. which allows for walking directly onto the deck. A decided advantage if handicapped. PLUS, Lanai's get their own deck lounger-chairs!! A source of irritation to certain passengers who felt slighted. Hmmm. (Deck #9 Skydeck loungers were usually nearly empty all day). You make the call on THAT one..I'm too diplomatic.Public Rooms: Very good. Clean, clean, clean. Any lapses noted by others as regards upkeep or tidiness was unfounded in our experience; and trust me, we CARE about such stuff. Housekeeping? Excellent. The ambiance of the foyer, library, etc was sedate, and appointed in quite good taste, with a nod to wonderful Oriental antiquities in display cases and a superb array of Nautical framed pictures and plaques etc all thru the ship. Nice. Again, classy..not glitzy...yet not dowdy by any means. Library and Internet Cafe were BUSY!!Casino: Busy with the regulars. A solid crowd for the popular Poker Table most all the time. A smoker's hangout. We don't do casinos. Pools and Lounging Areas: It was Hot and Sunny nearly every day, lounge chairs were at a premium poolside around the main pool (which has a retractable roof). The Rear/Aft splash pool was where the cigarette smokers hung out. Way up top Deck #9 was wide open for Sun-worshippers...no Pool. Deck #3Promenade was nearly filled with readers and nappers every day. Lots of book readers on this cruise. Few swimmers. Non-swimming pool-side chair-hogs? Yep, like always. Dining: We went with OPEN-SEATING on Level 4...with a twist. We clicked with some great fellow cruisers. So how did we do it? We all asked to be seated together at the same time and same table each night. Presto!! Instant fun table every night. We 'thanked' the Dining Rm. Steward beforehand. The food was great. We took Lunch at the Lido every day, and accepted a gracious invitation to join another couple one evening at the Pinnacle Grille on one occasion. Wow!! Nuff said.Bars and Drinking: The Ocean Bar served up nice cocktails before Din-din and adjoined the dance floor; with the Neptunes trio providing Smooth Jazz music. The MIX Lounge had PianoMan and a 'NameThatTune' ambiance. The Crow's Nest DJ (the loneliest man on the ship)...Located Wa-aay up top, was sparsely (none)attended due to the demographics of the clientele EXCEPT on one of the last nites...The Black&White Ball!!! When certain of the crew got to 'let their hair down' a bit til the wee hours. It was a light drinking crowd overall. No bubbas jumping in the Pools. No CountryWestern, no Heavy Metal...and surprisingly, no Lawrence Welk. Floor Shows/Entertainment: Good. Great musicians, I 'got' the risque jokes of the comedians, and the singers were all A-OK. My wife loved every minute of every show. And as a neat surprise, the smooth Soul sounds ala Jackie Wilson and Sam Cooke were performed by my fave, Jackie Wilson's son.Lectures/Education: I took in Frank's Microsoft/Computer classes. Very good fella and I learned a LOT!! We didn't do Cooking or Health things. Dunno.Cruise Director and Officers: STEVE the Cruise Director was more than up to the task; and LISA the Shore Guide/Guru was just peachie-keen and knowledgable about everything. The Officers handled EVERYTHING in such a professional way. Hospitable and just fine in all ways.Tendering and 'Days at Sea': Because this cruise involved a LOT of sea days AND many tenderings to small islands I must say WE had no problems whatsoever. Some pax got a little 'stir-crazy' and some were barely physically able to manage getting in and out of the Lifeboat Tenders very well. My advice? Call it a Life when such things get to be too much. When one's cruising days are over...they're over. My day will come as well. Nuff said.Now, on to the Islands. Read Less
Sail Date: September 2010
Background: This was our sixth cruise, third thirty day South Pacific cruise, and first time on HAL. We chose this cruise for the itenerary and for the fact that it returned to San Diego rather than terminating in Australia, thus ... Read More
Background: This was our sixth cruise, third thirty day South Pacific cruise, and first time on HAL. We chose this cruise for the itenerary and for the fact that it returned to San Diego rather than terminating in Australia, thus avoiding the killer 18 hour return flight. I am 63 and my wife only claims old enough to know better. The ship: Rotterdam is an older ship, but well maintained. The crew worked hard to maintain the cleanliness of the public areas. The public bathrooms rate special mention - they were immaculate. The library / internet cafe was comfortable and inviting - although there was always a rush for the window seats. The Ocean Bar was excellent and the 4PM Happy Hour was very reasonable. The Crow's Nest was a nice area, but the temperature control and sound system were poor. The wading pool / lounge area in the Retreat didn't seem to be popular. I never saw more than two or three people using it. Watching movies at night on the big screen was not very satisfying. The Retreat bar was still open during the movies and the noise and light made viewing and hearing the movie difficult. The gym was small, but OK. The sauna was superb and never crowded. The hot tubs could have been warmer, but in general were better than hot tubs on Princess Lines. The passageways to the cabin areas were clean and well light with one exception. There was one spot on Deck four that had a definite diesel smell. There was always a fan blowing in that area. Our cabin: We had an inside cabin on Deck 4 and found it comfortable, although the shower must have been designed for midgets ( just like all other cruise lines). The flat screen TV and DVD player was a definite plus. Having movies available every night made up for the rather mediocre entertainment. The lack of a refrigerator in the room was a minus, but our cabin attendant always kept the ice bucket full. The bed was much more comfortable that those on Princess and the bathrobes were a nice touch. The couch was comfortable and well placed for either reading or watching TV. Dining: We ate once in the Pinnacle Grill and twice in the Canaletto. The meal in the Pinnacle was as good as most steakhouses and the Canaletto was on the par of an Olive Garden. The wait staff was attentive and friendly. The atmosphere in Pinnacle was very nice and the Canaletto was OK (it would have been better if it was completely separated from the buffet dining area). We only ate in the main dining room twice, as we don't like the long wait for service between courses. The food was good. We dined in La Fontaine on the last formal night and the dining room was only half full. I think people were tired of dressing up after seven formal nights. Breakfast in the Lido buffet - some items (scrambled eggs) could have been cooked better,but the the waffle, omlette, and eggs to order stations were very good. The bacon was much better than the carbonized paper thin strips usually found on buffets. Fruit juice was pretty watery towards the end of the cruise. Pastry was OK. Coffee was drinkable (there is no such thing as bad coffee at 5AM). Lunch in Lido - the paninni and sandwich station was the best part of lunch. The entrees were good and the variety was very good. Dessert was better at lunch than at dinner. The bread pudding, cobbler, cookies and ice cream were excellent. Dinner at Lido - the carving station was much better than on some other cruises. Instead of the tired ham, turkey, and roast beef cycle, leg of lamb, prime rib, beef wellington, and others were added to keep the menu fresh. Steak, cordon bleu, Wienerschnitzel, shrimp, fried chicken, and various pastas added to the variety. Desserts were somewhat limited at night and were a mixed bag. Attempts at fancy French pastry didn't come off too well, but other items such as the apple dumplings were superb. The hamburgers at the Terrace Grill were very good and the pizza in the Retreat was also good. The BBQ, luau, and Octoberfest meals served by the pool were good and the dessert extravaganza was excellent. Meals aboard any ship are pretty much what you make of them. If you expect the Ritz at every meal, you will be disappointed on any ship. If you go with the flow, you will always find something appetizing. Entertainment Entertainment probably gets the lowest mark on this cruise. After the first show or two in the nightclub, it just didn't seem worth the effort to attend. The entertainers were definitely second rate. It was more satisfying to check out a movie at the front desk and watch it in the cabin than to fight the rush for good seats and sit amongst the constant coughing in the nightclub. The one highpoint of the entertainment was something new to me - the Black and White Ball where all of the ships officers attended in dress uniforms and danced with the passengers. The little old ladies nearly trampled each other in the rush to dance with the officers. The cruise director didn't seem to connect with the passengers on this cruise. Events such as bingo which are normally very crowed were thinly attended. Trivia was well attended, but the temperature and sound conditions made it somewhat uncomfortable. Shore excursions The shore excursions were extremely over priced. They excursions were double the price of similar excursions on Princess lines from the year before. The staff The staff on this ship were more friendly and seemed to try harder to please passengers than on any other cruise I have been on. The front desk staff was friendly even in the face of unhappy, griping passengers (I personally would have punched out a couple of the passengers for thier poor attitude). My wife was ill part of the cruise and had to use room service a lot. Room service was prompt, friendly, and excellent. Cudos to them. Our cabin attendants were super as well. Agus and Bambang always had our room made up promptly and kept the bathroom well supplied. They were friendly and helpful at all times. The waiter in the Ocean Bar remembered what we drank - quite an accomplishment for a bar serving hundreds of passengers. Embakcation / Disembakcation Embarkation was pretty standard - about a twenty or thirty minute wait in line to get processed and aboard. Luggage was delivered by 3:30 PM. Disembarkation was a TOTAL DISASTER!!!!! While passengers were divided into groups with estimated departure times, whoever was in charge must not have been near the gangway.There were so many people jammed into the small area waiting to get off that you felt like a sardine. You couldn't even get out of the elevators and people were lined up the stairwells two or three decks high. If a fire had broken out or someone had fallen, there would have been no way to get assistance. Miscellaneous thoughts - I liked the fact that the ship wasn't constantly pimping art auctions,dance lessons, and the drink of the day. - even though this was the one of the smallest ships I have sailed on, I never felt crowded (except at disembarkation). - even though I am no spring chicken myself, I felt like I was going to be carded every time I ordered a drink. The average age on this cruise must have been close to 80 and as a result, the passengers seemed to be especially cranky. Would I recommend this cruise to a friend? If the friend was looking for a laid back restful cruise, YES. If he was looking for Las Vegas at sea, NO. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: February 2010
This cruise was 30 days from San Diego to Lima and back to San Diego, 14 ports/7 countries were visited. Take this voyage for the wonderful ports not often visited by the masses; Guatemala, (visit Antigua); Nicaragua (visit Leon);Puerto ... Read More
This cruise was 30 days from San Diego to Lima and back to San Diego, 14 ports/7 countries were visited. Take this voyage for the wonderful ports not often visited by the masses; Guatemala, (visit Antigua); Nicaragua (visit Leon);Puerto Chiapas,(Tapachula). Make sure you do your homework and hire a private guide and visit the out-of-the-way small towns,thats how to get the real feel of a country.Visit archaeology sites and museums.Knowing a little Spanish goes a long way.Take a walk in the jungle of Costa Rica and Panama.Go to a local market and regular grocery store.Try the exotic fruits (peel them), try Pisco sour,cheech-cha (Chicha morada)and Inca cola (made by Coca Cola company).Keep a journal and take lots of photos.Have an open mind, it's their country and culture,that's what makes travel an experience. The Ship: Nice and clean until the GIS that arrived onboard while we were in Lima or before, then everything was wiped down with yucky stuff to stop the spread. We were lucky the Captain was in quick response to stop the spread. Good food, fantastic crew, the best,happiest crew, I miss them already. Music: 30 days of very,very old, slow music was the worst thing.Those are songs from the 20's ("bicycle built for two") to the Tom Jones/Frank Sinatra stuff.(they play what for 30 days??). Ship needs to have a variety and have some 1950's rock&roll (and up) music for us people who in our 50 and 60's and would like to dance. Beethoven is nice, but I fall asleep and can't dance to that. Need happy music. Enjoyed the Equator ceremony! This long cruise had older people than we were, I guess due to the length of the cruise. Needed more entertainment besides string and tenor music (snore,yawn). Liked the comedy and dance acts.Good crew acts. Forget the movies,get a DVD for your room. Summary: Would I do it again? Yes,Yes,Yes, didn't want this experience to end, wish I could do it all over again,I wouldn't change a thing except I wouldn't pack so many clothes. I had to buy luggage for our bought goodies! Read Less
Sail Date: October 2009
Our embarkation in San Diego was uneventful and we settled into our cabin quickly. We had early fixed dining (anytime dining has proved to be more trouble than it is worth for us) and were delighted with our table mates and waiters. ... Read More
Our embarkation in San Diego was uneventful and we settled into our cabin quickly. We had early fixed dining (anytime dining has proved to be more trouble than it is worth for us) and were delighted with our table mates and waiters. The food was excellent and seemed better than previous HAL cruises we have taken. Chef Karl did a great job of overseeing a good kitchen staff. In fact,the staff was excellent overall. Much more friendly than most HAL crews. This may be reflective of the more outgoing/less reserved attitude we have notice of late on HAL. Our cabin was very nice and HAL did a very nice job on the recent refit. The only part we didn't care for was the redone theater. Holland has refitted this into a cabaret setting and it just doesn't work well. Hard to see from the tables or the balcony where many of the seats face the wrong way. It is one of those "great in theory but doesn't translate in practice ideas. They have also greatly reduced the size of the stage so those who enjoy the Production numbers of old will be disappointed. It is now set up for much smaller acts which, no doubt, save them money. Overall, the entertainment was below our expectations. The production numbers were just not up to the standards of any of the cruises we have taken in the past. The productions themselves were not very good and, with the exception of the two (that's right two)dancers who were excellent, the talent was not very talented. About half of the other acts were quite good. As I said, we were disappointed (as were most of the other guests we spoke to). The highlight of the entertainment on this cruise was Steve the Piano Man. Steve mans the piano bar from 9PM until closing and was great. His area was packed every night. There are many ports of call on this cruise with the best being on the second half when you pass through southern Chile and round the horn up to Buenos Aries and Rio. The scenery is outstanding. In Buenos Aries we had the good fortune to obtain the services of an outstanding guide, Alan of Buenos Tours (www.buenostours.com). Allan had come highly recommended, but far exceeded our expectations. His tour of Buenos Aries was one of the highlights of the trip. His company offers many tour options but he will also tailor tours to your specific needs, as he did for us. A banker from England, Alan decided to spend a summer in BA to work on his Spanish and ended up staying and founding his own company. He can be reached at: www.buenostours.com We can't recommend him enough. Rio was somewhat of a disappointment given the fact that have to get both an expensive Brazilian visa and yellow fever shot (about $400 a person) to even get off the ship there. Yes, you need them even if you are just going to the airport to return home. The setting is beautiful, but there is a high crime rate and it is quite expensive if you stay in the Copacabana area which is the only decent part of town. Aside from the beach, the only major sights are Sugarloaf and Christ the Redeemer. The other tours we took were disappointing. Our opinion of Brazil was not enhanced by the Health and Immigration departments keeping us on the ship for over 7 hours while the shook down Holland America for bribes before letting any passengers disembark. If you take this cruise, do yourself a favor and get off in Buenos Aries. Rio is clearly not ready for either the World Cup or the Olympics. All in all, we enjoyed this cruise very much. Holland did a very nice job and most of the port were interesting. The debacle in Rio was not their fault and they handled it very well. We would recommend this cruise to other but get off in Buenos Aries. Read Less
Sail Date: September 2008
Our review starts with an overall assessment for the first day for this 30 day round trip cruise aboard the Holland America Statendam—San Diego to San Diego. Embarkation was in San Diego which has a good pier ... Read More
Our review starts with an overall assessment for the first day for this 30 day round trip cruise aboard the Holland America Statendam—San Diego to San Diego. Embarkation was in San Diego which has a good pier for cruise ships and the best part is the pier is in downtown, not far from the airport or city attractions. We stayed at the Marriott Gaslamp Hotel which is a short cab ride from the pier. Expect to pay around $12 for a short trip in the downtown area. At the pier was a Carnival ship and the Statendam. Our cab was permitted to cross security and pull along the ship terminal. Unloading was a snap as many porters were present. Holland American never mailed us baggage tags thus we had to ask a porter and then take the time to complete filling them out. When I offered $10 for the two baggage tags and the porter service, I was rudely told I would have to pay $20.Inside the building we went through security and got in line to get our cabin assignment. The lines moved very quickly. There is a separate line for handicapped and the wait was even shorter. Suggest if you are handicapped, look for that line. Once documents are given to you, the walk to the ship is short. There is an elevator for the handicapped. You may wonder why I am often mentioning the handicapped. There were many handicapped aboard this ship including many in wheelchairs. We were in our cabin within minutes. This was a very quick embarkation. It could not have gone easier. DINING—Let's start with the one subject that is most often heard in a conversation aboard a ship. Eating! We were greeted with a new dining concept aboard the Statendam, called "As You Wish Dining" The Main Statendam Dining Room as many will recall who have sailed on this ship earlier, is two decks. The top deck (Deck 8) is reserved for early and late fixed dining time seating. The bottom dining room (Deck7) is for "As You Wish Dining". You can make a reservation the day of dining for seating at various times. Unfortunately we never found open times available other the 5:30PM and 8:00PM. Perhaps you can have better luck. You can also "walk in" and ask for seating, however from the long lines we saw and the unhappy passengers who were turned away while we were dining at 5:30, it is difficult to see how this is going to work to everyone's satisfaction. We were told it was better to ask for late seating as late times were plentiful. For " walk in" dining you will be seated at the next vacant seat thus you may sit at a table for 2,4,6 or 8.After a few days it appeared this system begin to break down as many people including ourselves sat at a specific table. We noticed many people doing this and less and less dining reservations were noted in cabin mailboxes. It's day number four and I need to update the "As You Wish Dining" process. A call for reservations this morning was not successful. I was told that all reservations were taken except for 8PM. I checked with a fellow passenger and she was told the same, nothing available until 8PM. It may be a coincidence, on being told there was no reservations available and then seconds later getting a call from the front desk wanting to know if there were any problems and was there anything the front desk could help with. I declined any help and decided we will try the "walk in" approach this evening. If that doesn't work we will head for the Lido Deck dining area. You also have the option of eating at the Lido Dining which has just been renovated with new serving area and new seating. It is very nice. You may not be able to serve yourself as almost all the food is behind glass window dividers and you ask the server for the item. Perhaps some of this separation was brought about due to health concerns. Now the passengers cannot get directly to the food. No more touching food with your fingers, coughing or sneezing over the food. The serving area is broken down into theme type foods (Asia, beef, Italian, fish, etc ) This makes it rather easy to go directly to the items you desire. Breakfast , Lunch and Dinner are all served in this manner. Remember the times you have had to wait for a passenger who could not decide what slice of bacon they wanted and the line backed up and backed up. Now they get the next two pieces of bacon. If that is not your thing then you may not like this expedited serving process. We also noticed that portions offered are smaller. In fact everything that is served seems to be in smaller portions. Juice glass, coffee cups, etc are all smaller than we found in the past. The Pinnacle Grill is open for both lunch and dinner. There is an additional charge of $10 for lunch and dinner $20. We never saw many passengers dining in this restaurant. The food at dinner is steak and seafood. It is excellent. Lunch includes a hamburger-remember you are paying $10 to $20 extra per person to dine in this restaurant. Several passengers we found out had been given complimentary seating from their travel agents. If you like hamburgers, hot dogs, pizza or tacos, the Terrace Grill is on the same deck as the Lido Restaurant. Service is slow as each item is cooked after you order. We tried this snack bar several times and the slow service never changed. Your burger is not cooked until you place your order and cooking will take several minutes. The process never seemed rushed so expect ordering to take several minutes. If you drink cokes, then a drink card is available for $25 for 20 cokes. HOWEVER we learned that the card does have limits. For example my wife asked for a diet Sprite. Sorry but diet drinks are not available from the auto dispenser, only in cans and guess what, cans are not included for the card. We went to three bars one afternoon before we found a bartender willing to let us have two glasses of Diet Sprite poured from a can. There is no refill and the drinks show up in a small glass. You can also purchase from the bar cans of drinks. There is also a coffee card available for $20 for 10 coffees. Look at the prices as you will probably be better off purchasing individual coffees as you desire rather than buying the coffee card. In fact the bartender told us we might rather purchase individually than purchase the card. There is free coffee in the Lido Restaurant. Specialty coffees area available at several places on the ship at an additional cost. CABIN LOCATION-This is a small ship thus cabin location does matter. We've had cabins, on other Statendam cruises, in several places throughout the ship. Trust me-don't get too close to the front and aft ends of the ships as you will feel the ship's motion all night long and even more so if you are in rough seas. Some travel agents assist you and you decide which cabin suits you best. If you have a long cruise don't settle for anything less than what you want. ICE CREAM BAR-Contrary to other ships we have recently sailed this ship has an ice cream bar where you can get soft serve and hard frozen ice cream until 5:00PM without charge. You can make your own sundaes, get the ice cream in a dish or waffle cone. Several toppings were available. PHOTO SHOP-We continue to believe the cost of snap shots on cruise ships are way too much and this ship we found no different. The quality of the snapshots left a lot to be desired. Purchase your own quality digital camera and either print them off your computer or have a quality shop print them when you return home. The quality will be much better, plus you can all the photos you want to print. TIP—notice where the ship photographers go with their equipment, both on the ship and off the ship. Then take photos of your traveling companions at those locations, just like being at Disneyworld where there are many signs that read "photo spot". You will be dollars ahead. Photos sold as portraits aboard ships are just snapshots made with a medium price digital camera. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise. Prices on photo supplies are high aboard cruise chips, so make your purchases at discount store before you leave home. SPORTS ACTIVITIES-There is a basketball count on the top deck and ping pong on deck 11. Traveling on the Holland America Statendam will usually provide you ample opportunity to play. There is also golf putting, golf chipping, shuffleboard, basketball and volleyball aboard the ship. You can ear "Dam Dollars" if you win and later exchange those dollars for prizes. WHO ARE MY FELLOW TRAVELING PASSENGERS?-Traveling on the Holland America Statendam is certainly a far cry from traveling on a Carnival or Princess cruise ship. There were a large number of handicapped passengers and a great number that are social security age. We only saw one grade school child on board and two small 1 year old children. We would strongly urge young passengers, honeymooners, and families with children to consider a cruise other than this one. While the destinations are great, you should expect to sit at a table with seniors rather than people of their own age. Do you really know what to expect for table talk? You'll hear about the stock market, global travels, social security, Medicare, grandchildren and politics. Unless my observations are all wrong 90-95% of the passengers would easily fall in the 70-85 year old range. WANT A GREAT VIEW-The Crow's Nest is great for relaxing and seeing the world go by. The days we visited it was obvious a lot of smokers had "camped out" in the area. We found the smell of smoke too much to stay a long time plus on many days they kept the area very cool. Wear a sweater just in case you go there on one of those days. There was free coffee, tea and cookies on some days. There are many bars throughout he ship however we never found any of them very busy. Each morning the cruise director has a coffee chat with an entertainer. We found the chats interesting and informative. Some of the entertainers also participate in lectures aboard the ship. Time and locations vary. ART AUCTION-As with most cruise ships there is an art auction. If you want to buy a print or painting wouldn't you really be better off going to the local art dealer and discussing such a purchase? It's difficult to believe quality art work , in such scarce quantities, could be found aboard a cruise ship a thousand miles out in the seas. Think about it. FUTURE CRUISE PURCHASE-We are always amazed to see large numbers of passengers talking with an onboard Holland America future cruise person. There is the offer of $100 ship board credit or a room upgrade if you just put a down payment today for that cruise next year. The cruise industry is like so many other businesses in this day and time. There are good buys and even great buys to be made on future cruises. Are they aboard a cruise ship? You be your own judge. We get so many e-mails advertising discounted cruise that we have always been hesitate to purchase a cruise while at sea. INTERNET ACCESS OK—I am an internet junkie and this is most often the way I stay in touch with family and friends. The service aboard this ship was equivalent to the old dial up service that I ditched 10 years ago. There was one big difference as the cost was $100 for 250 minutes. I could even live with that however just getting onto the internet sometimes took a full 10 minutes with each minute costing 40 cents. I update this review on day four. The internet is said to be working so I head for the internet area. After 15 minutes I finally log on to the ship's system however it will not let me go to the internet. I ask the attendant for assistance and she told me I didn't know my name and password needed to log onto the internet and that I should call my provider (sbcglobal) when I get to Hawaii. This is strange since I have been using this service and have maintained my "login name" and "password" for many years. I ask the person next to me if he has been able to log in and he advises that he is on the ship's hookup but can't get to bank account to pay a bill. Almost thirty minutes have passed and I started to try to reach various providers and sites. Finally by going to Google and them to SBCGlobal I have able to at least get to my provider's web site. A few minutes later I am on my site and I get into my e-mail. The fellow next to me is still trying. One thing I noticed, once you log onto the ship's system you will find various Holland America links. DON'T GO THERE AS IT IS DIFFICULT TO GET OUT WITHOUT LOGGING OFF. That will be having to go back and try the process all over again thus wasting many, many minutes. I figured sending a simple e-mail was costing me many dollars each time. I have experienced far faster connection time aboard the Princess line. The person on duty was friendly and helpful thus it was not her fault. Library and Internet Rooms I plan to rethink my internet experiences aboard cruise ships. I will no longer sign up for the ship's internet service unless the ship is reasonably close to land. No more open sea "lack of internet service" for me. The quality of the service is poor even in the best of times. You have a far better chance of getting a reasonably good quality hookup when docked. Another tip-take a minute to meet the person in charge on the ship's service. If she/he does not appear proficient or willing to help you, then pass up the high internet fees and wait until you are on shore. Thus far I have been unable to use my own laptop on this cruise as I hookup one minute while being disconnected the very next minute. Asking for help on this cruise was certainly not even close to the excellent service we received on a recent Princess cruise. I have been unable to use my laptop in my cabin. I ask some other passengers if they can get on the internet in their cabin and neither have they. I was able to use my iPhone even in the cabin to connect to AT&T and download my emails. The phone worked great in all ;ports in Hawaii. RETAIL STORES-If you can find poorer retail stores in the cruise industry please send me an e-mail as the stores on the Holland America Statendam have some of the poorest quality merchandise we have ever seen. In addition some stores had very little merchandise. One store advertised everything in the store at a $10 price. We thought we were at the local dollar store. My wife had always purchased perfume aboard cruise ships, but not this one. The selection and quality was extremely poor. Holland American needs to address this immediately. VAN GOGH LOUNGE- This is the entertainment area for the on board singers and dancers as well as other invited entertainment. It is worth a visit to the area during the day time just to view this very nice theater area reminiscent of eras gone by. Looks a lot like the movie theater I attended in the 1940s. Seating is comfortable and the theater is small, compared to the big mega ships. The entertainment is one star level therefore don't expect much and therefore you won't be disappointed. Movies are sometimes shown on a small screen. Sound is not the best. Limited amounts of popcorn may be available for free on days movies are shown. Movies were also shown in the Wajong Theater. CASINO—One of the smallest casino we have ever seen on a ship. One roulette wheel, five or 6 tables for various card games, one crap table and one table for poker. There are a limited number of older slot machines. The staff is far more friendly than we have experienced on recent cruises. This is certainly not a place where you go to win money. It is just entertainment. Don't worry, they will take your money just as quickly on the older slots as the newer electronic machines. One of the best gambling bargains is the Texas Holdem Poker Tournament. Buy in for $30 and the winner of the tournament gets $200 with the runner up $50. Great hour of fun and play and not too expensive. On our ship the first time players seemed always to beat out those who thought they were pros. Be patient with the players and dealers as this is not a professional tournament. SPORTS ACTIVITIES-Most days there is some type of competitive sports taking place. Shoot basketball and golf putting are two such activities where you can win cruise dollars that if you get enough you can win a prize. Kind of like going to the fair or carnival. SHORE EXCURSIONS-As with many other items you may purchase you may find shore excursion prices beyond your budget. Shore excursions can cost you far more than the price of the cruise, therefore I suggest you be very selective. Cost range from $59 to $599 for such excursions. If you are not the adventurous type, don't like to go off on your own and don't much like driving in an unfamiliar area then the ship's shore excursions may be your only choice if you want to get off the ship and see the sights, let me suggest some alternatives. In Kauai there is a helicopter ride of 1 ½ hours that sells for $265. By doing a little research on the internet we found an equivalent helicopter tour priced at $350.40 for two passengers, thus we saved almost $180.00. We were fortunate in that our son is a pilot and he had flown on the helicopter we booked, thus we got a great recommendation. The price of the ship's helicopter could have been purchased for around $200 on shore on the identical helicopter, thus there was a mark up of approximately $65 per passenger for the ship's tour. In Hilo the ship's tour office has a variety of tours costing $51 to $219 per person. Find another couple and rent a car for around $50 and head for some of the same tourist spots at a fraction of the cost from the tour office. By splitting the cost of the rental car and gas, you can see the exact same sights on your own time and save a bundle. It takes a little internet research and a few reservations before you arrive. One couple at our dining table made reservations with a tour company that will meet them at the dock and take them to the same places as the ship offers with the really big difference being the price which was less than 50% off the ship cruise prices, plus don't forget the freedom that goes with such a tour-stop when you want to and stop where you want to. TENDERS Like many passengers we are not always excited when we have to "tender in" at a port. The tenders on this ship ran quite well when it came to passenger pickups, transportation and drop offs. Car Rental TIPS-We rented cars at Hilo,Kailua,Lahaina & Honolulu. Check and double check that you understand where the cars are located and how you will get there. For example we were told by Alamo Rental that we could walk to their office in Honolulu. Upon arrival we found the office to be about 6 miles away or a $30 taxi ride. Most rental car companies will pick you up at the dock at no additional charge. Make certain that you know what the closing hour is for that location and if you can turn a car in after closing hours. In Honolulu the Hertz office was close to the cruise terminal, however they did not permit car turn ins after 4PM. Parking in Honolulu was $30 to $50 for overnight. Plan your traveling route well before you arrive at the port. We found that even though we were at Honolulu for two days, one day rental was plenty as traffic was a nightmare. Also determine the kind of vehicle you really need. Unless you are going "four wheeling" don't opt for a Jeep Wrangler on the islands. These are not the most comfortable vehicle to drive or ride in (I own one thus I write from experience) and they will cost an arm and leg at most locations. Going down the highway in Hawaii in a convertible is a picture of fun. Maybe—maybe not, as we hit rain quite often thus time after time we lowered the top only to have to raise it an hour later. Otherwise the convertible was quite fun. Leave all you "stuff" in the cruise ship cabin as it will be exposed for the easy heist at you next unattended stop. Do you really need that extra insurance for collision and theft? You need to review the terms of your credit card AND your personal insurance policy and then make your own decision. Many articles and guide books stated that car reservations should be made before leaving home. While that is a good suggestion, we found prices to be the same or in some cases lower at the location than prices quoted before leaving home. LIBRARY-A very good at sea library offers many books and CDs (cost $3 to rent) that can be viewed in your cabin. All need to be checked out at the desk and returned by the due date. There is a section for paperback exchanges which is free. Just leave the book that you have read for another passenger and pick up a paperback of your choice. Some of these books were in French with most being English. SPA & SALON—Located on deck 11 is a very nice Spa and Hair Salon. Depending of what part of the country you live in, expect to pay highly inflated prices. WAJONG THEATER-The movie theater has been renovated and is now a theater with movies being shown several times a day. It also serves as the location for the Culinary Arts Center where cooking and food demonstrations are given. Seating in comfortable theater chairs type seating. Popcorn is available for free at the movies. Get there early if you want free popcorn as it goes fast and there was never enough for the entire crowd. QUEENS ROOM & EXPLORATIONS CAFÉ—Lots of internet locations in this area and several good areas to relax and read a book. EXPLORERS LOUNGE-A great place to relax, watch the world go by , have a drink and read a book. Comfortable seating throughout the room. OCEANS BAR-One of the places we found to be the busiest aboard ship. Good seating where passengers can have a drink and chat with friends. HALF MOON ROOM & HUDSON ROOM These rooms are next to one another on the Promenade deck. They were being used by private groups much of the time and were also used by some of the ship's lecturers. POOL AREAS -Located on the Lido Deck is the Lido Pool which can be covered by a sliding glass dome when weather is adverse outside. The area is very nice and there are new lounges, chairs and tables throughout the area. Plenty of towels are available for those who want to take a swim or get into one of the hot tubs. Just one deck below is a small outdoor pool. We did not find many passengers using that pool as the weather was windy and cool. There are a couple of ping pong tables located close to the indoor pool. DECK 6-This deck offers a walking area completely around the ship and there are plenty of lounge chairs along the way. On the days "at sea" this area was heavily used by the passengers. Deck 6-Deck Around The Ship. 4 trips Equals a Mile BARS & LOUNGES-If you are one of those that don't mind expensive drinks aboard ship then head for one of the six lounges or bars on this ship. There are four on deck 8, one on 11 and one on 12. We never once found a bar or lounge full and could always find a seat. Service is sometimes slow as there were few attendants during some hours. PORTS - I will not try to list all ports. The reason we found most passengers taking this cruise is for the unusual ports in the South Pacific, the cost of which to individually by air would be astronomical. We found that a few hours at each port only whets one's appetite for future visits. Raiatea French Polynesia-A most interesting port with modern port facilities. Rent a car and take a tour of the island. It can be covered in about an hour, thus a four hour car rental would be sufficient. There is a Eurocar Rental office not far from town and we found a representative at the dicks offering a ride to the office. Roads are decent and not a lot of traffic. You can stop often and take in the sights. Check your travel book for those places the author feels a "must to see". There are vanilla plantations on the island. Take a tour. Rentals will be about $100 for four hours. Bora Bora-Here we rented a car at the city docks (Avis). Takes about two hours to circle the island. Suggest you take a slow leisurely trip and use the four hours you are paying for the rental car. About $100 for 4 hours. There is only one road around the island and it is a good road for most of the way. Don't hesitate on a car rental as there is little traffic and driving is easy. Bloody Mary's is located on the southwest side of the island. It is a great tourist destination. Traveling on a cruise to the South Pacific can be an adventure of a lifetime. Island stops were too short as we would liked to have stayed longer at some of those islands that are not on the regular tourist beat. The opinions and observations expressed in this review are those of this traveler and we recognize that with 1200 passengers on the same trip there will be different opinions and observations and we respect that. We are in no way connected with the cruise line industry. I would be pleased to try to answer any question anyone may have concerning this posting. Just send me an e-mail to texaswillie@sbcglobal.net. Would we travel again on this same ship yes we would. Would we want to take this same destination cruise yes we would. Have a great cruise-wherever you travel! Read Less

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