I don't want to write a long dissertation about this cruise as my wife and I had a really good time, despite being surrounded by sick passengers with flu like symptoms, coughing and spluttering everywhere.
This was our first cruise on Holland America, having done several cruises on Celebrity. We selected this cruise due to the South Pacific itinerary that was very attractive to us. Moorea was by far the best Island and swimming with the reef sharks an experience not to forget. Rarotonga and Bora Bora were close runners up.
Here are a few items, in no particular order, that Holland America falls short on:
- In the main dining room, waiters do not do 'ladies first' when taking orders or delivering food. On larger tables the waiters would serve five out of eight meals, and then make the remaining three folks wait several minutes for their meals to be served. We experienced an unusual problem at one lunch whereby the waiters did not wait for us to leave the table before they started to lay the table for afternoon tea. Even more strange given the fact that we were waiting for our coffee to be served. Having us breath on the next occupants utensils is not a good health habit.
- Draught beer is only available in the Mix Bar. Supplies ran out by Fanning Island, ten days into the cruise.
- Bar snacks advertised 11:30 -- 2pm in the Mix Bar. Potato skins turned out to be nothing more than three fat french fries with skins attached -- no toppings just ketchup! I wonder what happened to the bacon and cheese, let alone sour cream and chives?
- Each bar had different brands of beer available. By Tahiti most import brands were not available anywhere. The ship did resupply with Hinano the Tahitian beer which was some consolation.
- We found a general language problem on board among the Indonesian and Phillipino crew. Many times they smile and have no clue what you just asked or requested from them.
- Our biggest gripe was the stink coming from the Smoking in the Casino. We don't gamble, however, the stench comes into all of the surrounding areas, especially the Mix Bar. We made one swing by the Crows Nest, which also allows smoking, and decided not to attend any functions in that venue.
Here are the items we really liked about our cruise on the Rotterdam.
- We really enjoyed the 'open seating' option in the main dining room. We met so many nice folks by sharing different tables and times each evening. Never had to wait for a table, and we will never go back to fixed seating again.
- The Lido buffet restaurant was our biggest surprise. On prior cruises we found that food tends to be warm at best, especially breakfast. On the Rotterdam food was always hot and served on hot plates a very pleasant surprise.
- We loved the great library and nice comfy chairs. On Celebrity we found the libraries somewhat small and noisy; not so on the Rotterdam. A very good selection of books and a dedicated librarian who was extremely helpful.
- Our ocean view cabin was well appointed and very comfortable for the 30 day cruise. We did find it unusual to have a small bath tub / shower combo, rather than just a shower.
- We did not attend many of the organized events and evening shows. Choosing to visit with new found friends and spend time over dinner. However, we must take off our hats to Holland America for providing such a high quality lecture on each sea day. Dr. Helena, the geologist, was by far the most informative and entertaining speaker, obviously a view shared by many passengers as she always spoke to a large and very attentive audience. I hope that I will encounter her on subsequent cruises on Holland America. There was another lecturer on board, whose name escapes me, as I only went to his first two talks and determined that they were of no interest to me.
- We took several shore trips, the most memorable of which was the snorkeling on Moorea with the sting rays and reef sharks. I never for one moment thought I could get in the water with sharks, no matter how small.
- Embarkation and disembarkation were very easy and well coordinated.
In summary we had a wonderful 30 day cruise, not much to grumble about.