5 Things You’ll Find Only on Holland America Line

June 12, 2015 | By | 29 Comments

Nieuw Amsterdam and Eurodam, side by side.

With its reputation for offering a classic cruise experience (and a clientele that skews slightly older — average age is 55), you’re unlikely to encounter beer pong games or hairy chest contests on Holland America sailings. But the line offers its own brand of signature features that its passengers love.

Here’s a look at some experiences that make HAL special:

1. Themed Afternoon Teas

Yes, they’re an excuse to squeeze yet another meal into the day, but Holland America’s themed afternoon teas are also a mini cultural experience.

Particularly popular is the weekly Indonesian Tea (cue the gamelan music), featuring traditional treats like fried banana, coconut crepes and rice-coconut balls. Many people don’t realize that modern Indonesia was once the Dutch East Indies, and Indonesian cuisine is extremely popular in the Netherlands, where HAL can trace its roots.

Expect Dutch sweets and savories like almond cookies and sausage rolls at the ship’s Dutch Royal Tea. The Cupcake Tea — very popular with those grandparents bringing their grandchildren — offers up a festive array of iced treats in all flavors, including mini red velvet bites. For non-tea drinkers, creamy milkshakes are served.

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    Hot on the Forums: Silencing Singing Waiters

    June 12, 2015 | By | 4 Comments

    waiter with a birthday cake

    Call me a party pooper, but I dread having a birthday while I’m on a cruise. The dining room lights dim to cue the arrival of a cake with a sparkler or candles (depending which line you’re on) while waiters circle the table and erupt into a rendition of “Happy Birthday.” Strangers at surrounding tables join in, only to mumble or go silent through the part where your name crops up.

    It makes me cringe. And even if you’re not the recipient, you still have to suffer through it. On a large ship, there seems to be a birthday or honeymoon/anniversary rendition of “Let Me Call You Sweetheart” — even worse as the tune goes on for longer — virtually every night.

    So I was relieved to find I’m not the only killjoy. Cruise Critic member balf took to the forums to express his distaste for surprise serenades.

    Read on for more

      You Might Like Emerald Waterways If…

      June 11, 2015 | By | No Comments

      Emerald Sky in Koblenz

      Voted Cruise Critic’s Best New River Ships of 2014, Emerald Waterways launched in 2014 with twin vessels: 182-passenger Sky and Star. This year, it unveils another dynamic duo, Sun and Dawn. With bold and modern designs, Emerald appeals to young cruisers and travelers looking for moderately priced, all-inclusive journeys along the Rhine, Danube and other European rivers.

      Emerald will float your boat if you like …

      … Mod design: Impeccably maintained, Emerald’s airy decor glitters with glass, mirrors and mid-century, modernist chic.

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        Steal of the Week: 10-Night Caribbean Luxury Cruise from $1,944

        June 11, 2015 | By | No Comments

        piggy bank sailing worldwide
        Everyone is looking for the deal of the century. So how do you choose the one that’s right for you? Check the Lido Deck each week to get the scoop on our favorite deals — then grab the phone and pack your bags.
        THE DEAL: Cruise.com is offering a 10-night Eastern Caribbean cruise onboard Oceania Cruises’ Regatta from $1,944 per person for an oceanview cabin. Current promotional offers from Oceania include prepaid gratuities, free Internet and up to $500 in onboard credit.
        WHAT WE LOVE: Just over a week sailing through the Caribbean in December is the perfect idea of a vacation for many — with discounted pricing and onboard credit and gratuity offers from Oceania’s “Your World on Sale,” book by the end of June and get even more from your cruise fare. Ports include the Bahamas as well as more off-the-beaten path stops like Gustavia in St. Bart’s. Oceania is known for its culinary flair and luxurious touches, so prices starting from $1,754 per person for an inside cabin is a great value; from $176 per person per night, it’s relatively less than you’d pay for hotel stays, transportation, meals and entertainment on land.
        WHAT GIVES US PAUSE: If you’re used to paying for a balcony or a suite on a mega-ship, you’ll have to slightly adjust expectations; while most upgrades on mainstream lines run a few hundred more than a standard cabin category, the jump from an oceanview to a suite on Oceania is more than double, in this case. There are plenty of ports to see in 10 days, but they are mostly lumped together in the middle five days with nonstop port stops before two sea days on the way home. Book flights soon if necessary — December is a busy travel month and Miami is a major hub.
        Compare flight prices with our sister site TripAdvisor’s meta-search tool.
        HOW TO BOOK IT: For all the nitty-gritty on these deals (including that pesky fine print), click here.
        Looking for cruises for under $75 or even $50 a day? We’ve got ’em listed on our Cheap Cruises page.
        Get great cruise deals — and exclusive member offers — delivered weekly to your inbox.

          Can Americans Enjoy Cruising a British Line?

          June 10, 2015 | By | 11 Comments

          Thomson ship in port

          I’ve stumbled across a post on the Fred. Olsen section of the Cruise Critic forums in which American cruiser cruiseXlife asks, in a very positive and enthusiastic manner, whether he would be welcome on the traditionally British line.

          “Have you ever found a cruise that you really liked, that went to places you wanted to see, left from a convenient port, and was on a ship that had everything you needed? Well, I am in that position right now with Fred. Olsen.”

          “How will the cruise contrast with my usual style of cruising? I know I have mostly sailed Carnival cruises, but I do not cruise for line or ship, solely for the destination. What will be different onboard? Will I be welcomed well?”

          Read on for more

            Cruise Tip of the Week: Save While You Sip

            June 10, 2015 | By | 2 Comments

            beer buckets

            Tip: Every cruiser has his or own tricks for saving money — whether it’s vowing not to spend extra on specialty restaurants or purchasing a beverage package. But there are quite a few “secrets” to stretching your budget that the cruise lines don’t advertise. If beverage packages aren’t your thing, consider this:

            Beer-drinkers: Ordering a souvenir bucket of beer will get you four or five bottles at a slightly cheaper cost than if you were to buy them individually.

            Wine-lovers: It’s usually cheaper to buy a bottle than a few glasses. Plus if you don’t finish it, you can always save it for another night.

            Full Article: Read more secrets the cruise lines don’t tell you.

            Want More?: Check out our related links below for more info, tips and advice.

            Bottoms Up! A Guide to Cruise Line All-You-Can-Drink Packages

            What to Expect on a Cruise: Drink Packages

            The Ultimate Guide to Alcohol on Cruise Ships

            Stay tuned for more Cruise Tips of the Week — revealed every Wednesday!

              8 Lessons Learned From Taking the Kids on a Rome Shore Excursion

              June 9, 2015 | By | 4 Comments

              Adam with his sons in Rome

              It’s an oft-repeated truth: Don’t drag young kids round Rome — or any European city — during a high-season cruise. It’s not worth it, as this sorry tale will prove.

              It all started off so well. Rewind a few months when I announced the trip to my two boys, ages 4 and 8:

              Me: Guess what guys — we’re going on a cruise!

              Them (not looking up from iPads): Ennh.

              Me: And what’s more — we’re going to Rome!

              Them: (no response)

              Me: And … you can dress up as a gladiator!

              Them (finally making eye contact): Yay!

              Read on for more

                Member Review of the Week: Azamara Journey

                June 9, 2015 | By | No Comments


                Cruise Ship: Azamara Journey

                Itinerary: Western Mediterranean

                Member: Arling2nGal

                Background: After 10 cruises, Arling2nGal and her hubby’s second taste of Azamara was enough for her to dub themselves loyal fans. Between the amazing service, breakfast on their balcony and independent shore tours on their recent Azamara Journey cruise, the two were inspired to book another for next year.

                Onboard Highlight: The service — seeing the captain was a highlight.

                Port Highlight: Monaco, during the Formula 1. Arling2nGal also loved traveling to a new port each day.

                Don’t Miss: Breakfast on the balcony if you have an outside cabin.

                Watch Out For: Hair dryers supplied in the cabins. Arling2nGal wished she’d brought her own from home.

                More: Read Arling2nGal’s full review for more details about the service, food and entertainment onboard, as well as the ports of call.

                For their efforts, Arling2nGal, albeachrealtor, FrannyK, Hospicenurse101 and gringorn receive Cruise Critic logo items.

                Each week, we choose five cruise reviews written by our members, and showcase one as the Member Review of the Week.

                Read more reviews or write your own cruise review.

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                  The Lido Deck is written by Cruise Critic's editorial staff, reporting from ships and ports around the world. The daily blog covers cruise news, reviews, advice, and hot topics from the Cruise Critic message boards. Please note: When commenting, Cruise Critic's community guidelines apply.

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