Good cruise and interesting ports: Rotterdam Cruise Review by fourthalarm
Overall Member Rating
Good cruise and interesting ports
Embarkation: Athens (Piraeus)
This 21 day cruise was two back to back which meant several repeated ports which we have found out we don't really care for. This is not the fault of the cruise line, it was our own mistake.
The food on Holland ships is always very good. Portions are the right size.
The service in staterooms is very good. The service in the dining room for Anytime dining could be improved. It is often impossible to get a second glass of water or the wine steward to the table.
We were disappointed to buy a soda card not to be aware that it expired at the end More of the cruise. It wasn't an all you can drink card, it was a pre-paid card for a set dollar amount. When we asked what happened to the card at the end of the voyage (would it be good on the next Holland sailing?) we were told that the unused portion would be refunded to our account. Not true, it expired!! No refund, tough luck. That is just not OK.
This is the first Holland cruise we have been on with a number of children on board. The programs they had for the children must have been good as we almost never saw the children around the ship except at the pool. They were vey well behaved which was most appreciated.
Our other major complaint was their attitude towards passengers who were on independent tours was that we were second class citizens. My husband and I are Elite passengers, which is supposed to afford us the luxury of priority tendering and disembarkation. When we tried to get off the ship in our first Israeli port, there were 9 lines for passport check/immigration. 8 of the lines were for their tour groups and the rest of the passengers on independent tours were put into one long line. It took forever to get through and we were a hour late meeting our group and lost an hour of our time in Jerusalem which meant we didn't get our full tour. My husband asked the Hotel Manager, not a junior staff member, the Hotel Manager why we were being funneled into one long line and why didn't our Elite status give us the opportunity to get into the shortest line, he lied to us and said that Israeli immigration wanted it that way. Why would they care if you were on a tour sponsored by the ship or not? We asked the immigration officer when we finally got our turn to clear and they said it wasn't their requirement, that the ship had set it up that way. We all know that shorex makes a ton of money for cruise lines, but to offer Elite status and perks that are denied to us and to be lied to face to face by the Hotel Manager no less was totally unacceptable. Still angry my husband and another Elite passenger on our independent tour made an appointment with the Hotel Manager later in the week. His body language told them he wasn't interested in their problems and wasn't listening. He ushered them out with no resolution and no apology.
They had a wonderful opportunity to give informational lectures on the history and culture of the Med and Israel but chose to have bingo and spa seminars instead!!! The only outstanding lecture was from a Star Guy who was great, but they put him in a room that held 60 people, so that they could play bingo in the Theater.
We often sail with Holland on smaller ships and on longer cruises. We will continue to do so, but were not happy with the Hotel Manager's attitude, not being afforded the Elite benefits we have worked up to, and the lack of stimulating learning opportunities. Less
Our room was called a Vista Suite. Nice room, plenty of space, included a refrigerator which other outside staterooms did not have! Location was a little tricky as we had to go up and over to get passed the kitchen to our dining room, but once we got the hang of it, we were fine.
Port and Shore Excursions
Not that much to do in Piraeus if you didn't plan to go into down town Athens.
We took a taxi and went to the Knossos Palace. Very interesting even without a guide. 3 and 4 storey buildings thousands of years ago!!
Took an independent tour to the Sea of Galilee and it was very interesting. Might be better to see this area and the area of Jerusalem and surroundings other than as day ports from a cruise ship.
For all the controversy over three major religions having their holiest places in Jerusalem, it is so commercial that it has lost it's authenticity. Maybe the problem is that it cannot be done one day from a cruise ship and needs to be a destination to allow the time to get into the history and savor the experiences.
Valetta and all of Malta is the most amazing city/country in the Med. It is like sailing back into the time of the crusades. You have to work at finding a modern part of the city that argues with the complete sense of history that you feel when you are there. We have been to Malta twice and loved it both times. First time took a hop on hop off to the Blue Grotto. Amazing sights and history everywhere you look. One of our top 5 favorite cities in the world.