7 Holland America Amsterdam Fitness Cruise Reviews

Beautiful San Diego,We arrived 1 day early, Dec 3rd, Watched the sunset at Sunset Cliffs.There was the evening Christmas Parade. The King's Inn, authentic Mexican food for dinner next door. Embarkation at 1.00pm was very fast ... Read More
Beautiful San Diego,We arrived 1 day early, Dec 3rd, Watched the sunset at Sunset Cliffs.There was the evening Christmas Parade. The King's Inn, authentic Mexican food for dinner next door. Embarkation at 1.00pm was very fast and our luggage was in our room within the hour.Correction, my luggage was missing, regardless We headed up to Lido Deck 8 like veteran cruisers for lunch...Asian curry noodles and rice quite authentic. Checked with Security where my bag was held and my small travel iron was confiscated until Ensenada.You can not pack extension cords either. My cabin was Ocean View 3343 mid deck, near the Clock Tower Atrium....which was beautifully Xmas decorated with gingerbread houses, train set.Christmas trees lights.. Cabin was great,, quiet and equidistant both ends of the Amsterdam, La Fontaine Dining room and Queens Lounge..Must mention that my Cabin Stewards Agus and Made were warm, friendly and unobtrusive, kept the cabin very clean and tidy. I look forward to the Towel Art and be surprised every evening. All the ports were excellent, You are in Paradise, The ship excursions were pretty good but We decided to rent a car where We can and explore the islands on our own. HAL ships' ON LOCATION .We had Kainoa who gave us lectures on Hawaiian Culture, History and personal stories of the islands, advice,maps, guidelines to plan your day ashore,the many places to see,and shore excursions. There were the Hula Dancers performances and Hula lessons.Ukulele lessons,Hawaiian Lei making classes ,....A deeper Hawaiian experience. Dec 4th, 5 lovely fun filled sea days,This beautiful ship had fresh flowers everywhere. I read books by Dean Koontz and Jeffrey Archer in The Exploration Cafe Library. Dec 10th, HONOLULU (Oahu). We took the bus transit to Hanauma Bay, for swimming and snorkeling,Not environmentally correct to walk on the coral and rocks,then a long walk on Waikiki Beach, and some shopping for a Ukulele (Better buy on Amazon). i've been to the Pearl Harbor Memorial before .. there wasn't enough time to do more. HILO (Hawaii) Dec 11th..We drove up to Mauna Kea (13 796 ft) At 9200 ft,The Onizuka Center, the road to the summit was blocked off because of frozen ice, so We decided to drive South to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.(original plan was to do this from Kona) Moana Loa was spewing lava before the mist covered everything. Took a walk through the Thurston Lava Tube. At the shoreline of black lava fields, Kilauea was actively erupting lava into the sea, shooting massive plumes of smoke and ashes into the sky that can bee seen from afar. Next day, Dec 12th KONA, There was no car rental shuttle.It's USD28 to get to the car rental and USD28 back so no car rental. We did the Hop On for USD15 each,At the beach stop,James went snorkeling with his Go Pro and I walked the tidal pools and beaches.Saw 5 turtles and lots of yellow fishes..James did the Atlantis submarine (USD85).while I went shopping. 6 packs of Macadamia nut chocs ($24) at Target and Ross is my favorite for bargain hunting, shoes, dresses and fine Italian soap.(Bulgari 100ml parfum $30). Dec 13th NAWILIWILI (Kauai). We drove through Lihue to Waimea Canyon,The Grand Canyon of Hawaii.Don't just stop here, keep on driving to the very end of the road and from here you can see the North shore of the island, the jagged cliffs overlooking the sea.here was where they filmed Jurassic Park. A stop at Wailua Falls, there was a rainbow, before heading back to the ship. Dec 14th LAHAINA (Maui). Make sure your car rental pick-up is at JHM Airport.(not Kahului Airport which is too far from Lahaina) and the last car rental shuttle return to pier is 4.00pm ($20 cab return to Pier at 6.30pm). Drove up to Hakeakala National Park, dormant volcano, elevation 10,024 ft. We were above the clouds !!!! Nature enthusiasts would love the unique flora , silver swords. THE ROAD TO HANA, yes, We decided to do partway of this road, time permitting because We don't know when We'll be back this way again, just to say "We were there.". Narrow winding road through rain forest.Stopped at a fruit stand, On the way back, We went to the beach to watch the surfers.I had a Maui shave ice for $5, don't do that, not natural flavoring, inedible I had to throw away. It's my birthday, the dining room staff sang a Happy Happy song, which also works for anniversaries or anything else (I speak the language) and also a Birthday cake. If they sang in reverse, Am I one year younger You think? The 5 sea days to Ensenada, Mexico Dec20th, a seaside town with a wet fish market, lots of touristsy shops.Had a walk around and back to the ship for TEA., delicious scones with berries preserve and clotted cream.Earl Grey. Dec 21st, San Diego.Last breakfast.Disembark,Took the shuttle to the airport USD10. The HiGH POINT of this wonderful and special cruise was the Scenic Sailing of Kilauea Volcano 10.00pm.I videoed from the ship's bow.The lava flowing into the sea, bright orange red spewing up against the dark night.Lots of steam and smoke. Captain Fred Eversen is cool. The Amsterdam Dancers and Singers and the other entertainers were Super Excellent. The Culinary Art Centre was standing room only, Lots of activities like Trivia and stuff.... Cruise director guys were cool. The food was Excellent and ALL the staff did their best to make this an amazing wonderful cruise. I did not win the $25,000 Bingo, ;( I did not win the Cruise Bingo. ;( Read Less
Sail Date December 2016
We took this 32 day cruise not knowing for sure if it might be too long. As it turned out it was terrific. The ship, The Amsterdam, had been refurbished at the beginning of the year and was neat and clean and simple to learn. It helped ... Read More
We took this 32 day cruise not knowing for sure if it might be too long. As it turned out it was terrific. The ship, The Amsterdam, had been refurbished at the beginning of the year and was neat and clean and simple to learn. It helped that we had sailed on it several years earlier. The itinerary was excellent. Although one of our ports had been cancelled and we revisited Hualtuco twice, it was fine. The food was well prepared and portions were very reasonable. Generally the portions are too big but the staff was good about not overloading your plate. You can always go back if you're still hungry. Hard ice cream is always a treat and Holland does it best. The dining room service was generally excellent. We did one night in the Pinacle dining room and although nice we felt the food was just as good in the dining room. The entertainment was excellent. In 32 days there were only a couple of times when a performer entertained twice and then their show was different the second time. This was one of the best varieties of entertainment that we have seen. The movies were generally first run with a few oldies. Music in the dance areas was fine and the dance floor was generally pretty open. We did two shore excursions from the ship and both were reasonably priced and we were pleasantly surprised. One was Antiqua on your own and the other was in Corinto. We were pleased with both. We were in Cabin 2604, inside and there was plenty of storage space for our things. The Cabin Steward, Asep was pleasant and if we needed anything he was eager to provide. Now for the bridge. We had a Bridge Director on Board, Bruce and his wife Penny. What I really liked about him was he was very up front from the beginning that his objective was for us to Have Fun and to Not Wreck anyone else's fun. The majority of players were respectful of that request and it made playing bridge much more enjoyable. Bruce provided a qualified duplicate game as well as open party bridge for those who did not want to play duplicate. He and Penny made the lessons and playing very enjoyable. The staff was very good and the clientele were pleasant. We did not feel crowded or overwhelmed at all. The ports of call were fun and we did 4 tours off the ship and 2 from the ship. Embarkation and Disembarkation was a breeze. Overall it was a great relaxing cruise and I would do Holland again. Read Less
Sail Date November 2015
We arrived at Canada Place at 11:00am, went through security, and checked in with no issues. This took approx. 20 mins. We were hoping to get right on the ship as we have done in the past. We had to wait till about 11:40 before they ... Read More
We arrived at Canada Place at 11:00am, went through security, and checked in with no issues. This took approx. 20 mins. We were hoping to get right on the ship as we have done in the past. We had to wait till about 11:40 before they started to board. During check in, she told us that the repeaters lunch would be in the Fontaine dining room starting at 11:30am and would go until 1:30pm. We much prefer a nice sit down lunch to the chaos in the Lido. When boarding started we were one of the first ones on as we had booked a Deluxe Verandah Suite. The pursers were directing us to the Lido (8th floor) We told him we were going to the repeaters lunch. He responded by saying there in fact was no repeaters lunch and again told us to go to the Lido. Not quite believing him, we found our way to the dining room to see for ourselves and indeed, they were serving lunch. Sat down and had a wonderful lunch of shrimp cocktail, cream of broccoli soup and grilled salmon.After lunch we headed to our suite. Stateroom 7052. It was wonderful. Sitting area, large balcony, king sized bed and pull out couch. Nice sized dressing room w/sink, closets and separate bathroom with a shower. We had fresh flowers in the room and a bottle of champagne from the captain. We headed to the Neptune Lounge where they were serving champagne for disembarkation. We really liked the lounge as they had a concierge, all day snacks, mini sandwiches, cookies, wonderful coffee machine, hot tea, water, ice tea, and cranberry juice always available for those on the Suite/Penthouse level.3:15pm rolled around and everyone headed to the lifeboat drill. Having been through these a few times I was surprised to see they were actually taking roll call to make sure everyone was present and accounted for at their correct stations. If you were not there, you had to leave the ship. It took a bit longer with this process but I understand why they do it this way now considering what happened to the Costa Concordia.5pm exactly we pulled away from Vancouver headed to Port Alberni on Vancouver Island. Even though it was a rainy day we still used the aft pool as the water temp was at least 100F. It felt like a huge hot tub. Despite the pictures posted here on Cruise Critic for the Amsterdam, there are no hot tubs at the aft pool. The only 2 hot tubs aboard are at the Lido pool.We arrived in Port Alberni and tendered into town. We walked around for about an hour and headed back to the ship. Not much to see there, a fish market, donut shop, some little touristy shops, a few places to eat. But they had a band playing in the square and the town did a really nice job making us feel welcome. We did not do any shore excursions here.We got a letter in our stateroom about going through customs in Seattle. Even though we were not getting off the ship in Seattle, everyone had to go through customs. This was a little irritating (but not the ships fault). We were hoping to sleep in and enjoy a nice relaxing day at the spa. They started calling people by the first letters of their last names at 8am. Since we had a suite we could leave the ship at anytime in the morning, but they would not let anyone back on the ship until everyone was off. We got off at 9:30am (when they were on the "Z"s), went into the building, waited in a bit of aline, got through customs fast, and we were directed to the waiting area to get back onboard. There were about 100 of us there. It would have been nice to have a huge urn of coffee, maybe someone walking around playing a guitar or violin. Something to think about since we were all kind of stuck there. We felt sorry for the people who actually got off at 8am and had to wait till 10:30am to get back on.Had a nice day in Seattle on the ship using the water treatment part of the spa. $20 charge for this. We enjoyed the steam room, rain showers, and mineral whirlpool. The heated loungers are always a nice treat!4pm rolled around and the ship switched from power at the pier to ship power. Well the ship totally lost power. The captain came on and said they were trying to solve the problem and would keep us updated. While waiting we took a walk around the ship to see what everyone was up to. Only 1 elevator was working. We walked up to the Crows Nest and people seemed to be in good spirits, still drinking and chatting. By this time they ship was out of power for about 2 hours. We walked past the front desk and there was a line of people complaining. 2 woman actually wanted off the ship. We heard rumors that sewage was seeping down the walls of some the 5th floor rooms. We had no problems. After about 2 1/2 hours we were plugged back into the pier and power came back on with the Captains apologies. We did not end up leaving Seattle till 10pm as they had to fix the breaker that blew. The power outage really did not effect us. It was not like we were in the middle of nowhere, we just could not flush our toilet, so we curbed our wine consumption for a couple hours. :) Some are so quick to panic.Entertainment on board was awesome. We had a magic show one night that was amazing! There was a movie theater but we didn't partake. We did however enjoy the "guess that tune" at the piano bar for 2 nights. The woman who was playing piano was awesome. She played sax as well! Very talented. And of course we always ended up in the Crows Next for dancing.Dining was wonderful. We did not have a bad meal while on board. We ate dinner in the Fontaine Dining room for 2 nights and on our last night at the Pinnacle Grill. The nice thing about the Fontaine Dining Room is that the portions are not huge, so you can easily enjoy a 5 course dinner. My sister asked for a grilled chicken breast on top of her pasta one night and they did it for her no problem. The waiters are really nice and make a point of getting to know your name. We did not hit the lido buffet once during the trip. We enjoyed room service breakfast in our stateroom every morning and tea sandwiches in the Neptune Lounge for lunch. We did, however, stop by the Lido pool one afternoon to grab some nachos. They have a window at the back of the Lido deck where you can order burgers, hot dogs, turkey burgers etc. Make your own nachos and cheese are an old time HAL fave. for us we couldn't pass up!The food at the Pinnacle Grill was fantastic and WELL worth the $25 charge. We noticed the portions were much larger here. Massive Jumbo Shrimp cocktail, and wonderful Thai coconut soup to die for. They do a ceasar salad tableside. My fillet was cooked perfectly as were the sides. (mushrooms and potatoes) a wonderful chocolate Grand Marnier dessert that was served warm...almost like a bread pudding. A nice touch that we were given a glass of free champagne that night after dinner as an apology from the Captain for the power outage earlier. **Note, plan on a long dinner here. Ours took about 3 hours, but we really liked the fact they were not rushing us and we could relax between courses. Service here was really great too.Drinks were great! On Holland America, you are allowed as much wine and champagne to bring on board as you like. So we did! We also bought a few mixed drinks. I enjoyed the "drink of the day" a few times. It was a dollar cheaper than the regular cocktails. I recommend trying a "Wang Wang" its not on the menu but just ask for one, and they will make it. Wow what a drink! In the main dining room, we just walked in with a full glass of wine from our stateroom and no one said anything to us about it.Disembarkation in Vancouver was well organized. We ordered our last room service breakfast and left the ship at 9:30am. There was no line to get off. Canada Place was especially busy as it was the first day of Alaska season and there were 3 ships in that day including ours.All in all a great little getaway. I wish HAL did this little 3 day cruise more that once a year! We are already planning to make this a yearly girls trip.Thank you Holland America! Hope to be on board again before next year!! Read Less
Sail Date May 2013
Embarkation- Boarding was quick and simple. We arrived at 1:20pm and were in our cabin by 1:50pm. Our cabin steward introduced himself shortly after arrival. The lifeboat drill at 4pm required everyone to stand together besides their ... Read More
Embarkation- Boarding was quick and simple. We arrived at 1:20pm and were in our cabin by 1:50pm. Our cabin steward introduced himself shortly after arrival. The lifeboat drill at 4pm required everyone to stand together besides their appointed lifeboat in order by height. A BBQ was available poolside from 1pm until 8pm. The Ship- I felt the Amsterdam was in good shape. The crew was always painting, washing the deck, or doing routine maintenance, but usually at the least opportune time. For instance, I would think they could schedule another time to vacuum the hallway other than 8 in the morning on a sea day. For some reason, we were late to half the ports, even when we left on time the previous day or even following a sea day. There was an outbreak of Norovirus the first week, (which we later found out effected many of the crew down below). This may have led to the disorganization that prevailed in the public areas. Perhaps some of the Ship's Crew were doing different jobs than usual. During the outbreak, the hot tubs, library, and self-service laundry were closed, but surprisingly the computers in the Explorations Cafe were still available even though the keyboards get touched by multiple passengers. (Of course the internet generates revenue whereas the others didn't). Perhaps the stabilizers weren't working, but this ship rolled more than any Cruise I've ever been on (including through Drake's Passage). This was true even in calm water. The Crewmembers were nice and attentive in all the public areas. Funny story: In the Lido buffet, Crewmember Renny replied to my query about the meat on the cutting board (it was duck) with, "It's Quack Quack" Oddly for a company that prides itself on its experience in Alaska, the maps in the Explorer booklet available in the cabin were often wrong. For example, in Sitka, it showed the Sheldon Jackson Museum on Capitol Hill and in Ketchikan the road on Creek street was listed on the wrong side of the creek. In Kodiak, the Kodiak Brewing Company was listed on the other side of town from where it was really located. (It's between McDonald's and the intersection with E. Rezanof Dr.) I would recommend instead using the free maps from the local tourist office almost always available as you exit the Ship. The Food- Not impressed. The food was consistently bland, under-seasoned, and the meat was almost always dry. This was the same in both the Main Dining Room and Lido Buffett. I hesitate to call the Lido a "buffet". Even after the Norovirus passed, only two stations were self-serve; (desserts and parfaits/ breads). Everything else was served or cooked to order. This may provide personalized service but it created long lines waiting for entrees since the cooks were incapable of multitasking, making the "Lido Cafeteria" almost as long a dining experience as the MDR. During the first week it was so frustrating to get food we always used room service for breakfast on port days. On a positive note, Room Service was always prompt and arrived within minutes of the time range requested. (6:00-6:30, 6:30-7:00, etc.) The MDR is only open for a limited time most days 8:00am-9:00am for breakfast and 12:00pm-1:00pm for lunch. Also, at dinner one side of the Lido buffet was set aside for the ships officers and staff, so finding a table was hard with only half the usual tables available. Between 8pm when the Lido Buffet closes and 10:30pm when they offer a late snack, there is nothing available to eat. If you have a late port day, get back early or eat something in town. The free Ice Cream in the Lido was extremely popular but there was only a limited supply each day. Once they run out of your flavor, you're out of luck. This included the soft-serve even though it only requires refilling the machine. The Terrace Grill poolside had excellent Burgers and also had Pizza, Hot Dogs, and on most days a Taco Bar. Considering this was a 14-day Alaska trip, it was somewhat surprising that there was never any Alaskan Crab served during the Cruise. Cabin- Our cabin was 3410 on the port side. We liked the location which was close to the aft on the Lower Promenade deck. This made it easy to walk outside to the stern or use the outdoor Walkaround on the Lower Promenade. On the other hand, the Lower Promenade deck was hosed down every morning between 6:30am-7:00am which made walking in the morning difficult due to the wet deck and puddles. This also meant I woke up at the same time every morning when they hosed down the outside window of our cabin. The Cabin Stewards were nice but twice our cabin was not made up after a long day ashore. Even after we called the front desk, nothing was done until after we returned from dinner at 8pm. We had the 5:45pm seating and also waited numerous times as we returned from dinner for the Cabin Steward to finish the turn-down service. One thing about HAL that I appreciated was the towel animal each night. This seems to be a vanishing art form on other Cruise lines. Entertainment- The Queens Lounge had the usual mix of condensed Broadway-type shows and individual performers such as Magicians and comedians. There is a large selection of DVD's which are available for checkout to watch on the in-room TV. A list of the DVD's is available in the cabin. The Ship's library was larger than most and allowed all but the travel books to be checked out for the duration of the Cruise. Guest Chef Laura Slama had interesting cooking demos in the Culinary Arts Center. We went to several movies in the Wajang Theater. Get there early because there was only enough popcorn for the first dozen people every night. Ports- Ketchikan- We were docked at Berth 4. A free city shuttle bus was available into town, but it was also walkable. The bus started at Berth 4 and makes two other stops in town before ending at the Totem Heritage Center and returns the same way. Keep in mind the Creek street stop is before crossing the bridge. There was also a Wal-Mart shuttle bus that departed from the Berth 4 that runs every 15 minutes if you left anything at home or want some snacks. Juneau- The ship was docked one block from the Red Dog Saloon downtown. We first took the MGT bus ($16RT) to the Mendenhall Glacier. Once we returned to town we took the Mt. Roberts Tramway and used a Buy-one-get-one-free coupon from the Alaska Tour Saver book. It was a typical Juneau overcast and rainy day so the views weren't that great from the top. There isn't much to do up there so we didn't stay long. We then did the Zip line at Alaska Canopy Adventures before shopping along Franklin St. Since it was a late departure, we freshened up on the ship and then crossed the street to the Red Dog Saloon around 8pm. That afternoon the place was packed but in the evening hardly anyone was there. Slightly less touristy and more authentic is the Alaskan Hotel and Bar a little further down Franklin Street. Icy Straight Point- A Humpback Whale was feeding just offshore between the Old Cannery mini-Mall and the town of Hoonah all day. Several of the first Tenders ashore had to stop as the Whale was feeding directly between the ship and the dock. A matter of personal choice, but we preferred the Juneau Zip line with 10 different zips versus the lengthy but only 90-second-long Zip line here. There are shuttles into town from the Cannery or a sidewalk along the water that also leads into town. There were many small curio shops in Hoonah and we spotted two Bald Eagles in different nests on the walk into town. Anchorage- We've been to Anchorage many times before so we rented a car from Thrifty on Spenard rd. Anchorage City Shuttles picked us up by the ship and dropped off at the Egan Center which is downtown on 5th Ave. between E and F Streets. The Thrifty shuttle bus also picked us up at the Egan Center. We drove north to the Alaska State Fair in Palmer, then on to the Matanuska Glacier, and finally back to Anchorage and a visit to Earthquake Park. Homer- We docked at the Deep Water dock on the opposite side of the Marina from the Spit. School Busses shuttled passengers to the Spit and dropped off right next to the Salty Dog Saloon. There was also a free van that shuttled between the ship and a downtown Gift Shop. After hitting the souvenir shops on the Spit, we took the free shuttle to town and walked to the Two Sisters bakery (best Scone I've ever had!) We then made the obligatory stop at the Time Bandit store. We just missed Johnathon Hillstrand who had left in his new truck right before we arrived. His mother was happy to pose for pictures for several other shoppers. Kodiak- Our excursion on Harvey Flying Service was cancelled apparently due to bad weather, although other Bear viewing flights were able to go. So instead, we walked into town along Shelikof St. and rented a car at Budget. Following the suggestions from the folks at Budget on possible Bear viewing sites we drove to the end of Bushkin Beach Rd. We followed the river to the beach but didn't see any Bears (but did see lots of tracks!). We then drove to the Coast Guard base, Fort Abercrombie, and toured a little bit of the Island. For fans of the Deadliest Catch, the Time Bandit was in dry dock across the bridge at St. Herman's Harbor, and the Cornelia Marie was moored there as well. Hubbard Glacier- Captain Mercer brought the ship very close to the Glacier despite the high winds and rain. He turned the ship both ways so everyone got a great view. This was truly an amazing place. The forward observation deck on the bow was opened for Passengers as was the outside deck below the bridge. We were once again late arriving so the 3:00pm Pea Soup was served around the Lido pool deck instead of outside. Sitka- This is a tender port. We walked from the tender dock under the bridge along Harbor Dr., turned right on Lincoln St., and followed that to Sitka National Park. The Salmon were running and it was quite a sight watching thousands of Salmon squeezed together slowly making their way upstream. Victoria- We docked at berth A. I booked Orca Spirit Adventures independently ($95 online vs. HAL excursion rate of $129) Orca Spirit has free shuttle pickup, which was good because we were late again as usual. We saw a family of transient Orca's just 30 minutes after leaving port. The boat followed them until the Race Rocks lighthouse and the Sea Lions ensconced there. Orca Adventures is located next to Fisherman's Wharf, and is halfway between the ship's dock and town. Victoria was a nice town to walk around and have dinner, (All-aboard was at 10:30pm) and do some last-day souvenir shopping. Departure We chose a late departure 9:00am-9:30am and used Shuttle Express to the Airport. Departure was quick and painless even with some extremely long but fast moving lines at Customs.   Read Less
Sail Date August 2012
Hello, Cruise Critic Citizens, this is Deandra. I'm Robyn's twenty-year-old daughter, and I'm offering my ever-so-youthful perspective on the cruise. I had a great time. The average age of this cruise was pretty old, ... Read More
Hello, Cruise Critic Citizens, this is Deandra. I'm Robyn's twenty-year-old daughter, and I'm offering my ever-so-youthful perspective on the cruise. I had a great time. The average age of this cruise was pretty old, honestly, but this wasn't such a bad thing. The people I met on board were legitimately awesome. They were very kind, and had fascinating stories to tell. The downside of this was that I generally did feel like I didn't quite belong. The young kids all flock together in Club HAL, and the teenagers go to the Loft. I look younger than I am (everyone from the juggler/comedian to our room steward assumed I was about twelve), and when I met people I thought were my age, they were almost always Loft-aged. No offense to the high schoolers though, the people I met were neat. But I am a college Junior... too old for Club Hal and too young to party with the "old folks". I spent the great majority of time either alone or with my family. Honestly, this was a family vacation, and I preferred actually being with my family to totally branching out and never seeing them, so I guess this was pretty ideal. But, If my goal was hanging out with other young adults... it really was not available :( The Neptune Lounge was pretty cool, and was the location of most of the in depth conversations I had with older strangers. I also spent a lot of the time in the Crow's Nest with my family and the friends we made, because we are hideously addicted to trivia games. Trivia games can actually fill a lot of time, just so you know, and we learned a lot of random fluff. Also, what wouldn't a sane person do for Holland America pins? Games are ageless, so I was a part of things. The Amsterdam's cast and crew could probably benefit from some new shows? I went to most of their performances, and I don't regret it, but I spent a lot of the show feeling bad for the cast for having to wear so many sequins. The talent that HAL brought on was amazing. Ronn Lucas is this big time ventriloquist who I would actually go out of my way to see performing in the real world. We also got to see a performer called Jeff Trachta, who was amazingly talented. It's really neat to be on the ship, just wandering around, and run into people like juggler and talk to them. I liked that experience. As a practicing Catholic, I was grateful that HAL provides a priest onboard their ships. It made life a lot easier, and it made the trip much more meaningful. Alaska's beauty comes from God. It's somewhat nice to remember that while we're actually there. I loved seeing the Orthodox churches in Kodiak and Sitka. They were amazing, and I had some really enjoyable and informational conversations with the people who worked in the church in Sitka, and with the gift shop lady in Kodiak. The morning we spent in Kodiak was probably my favorite. I loved the little wildlife center/museum thing. Since we've been to Alaska many times, we skipped most of the nature-lectures, and this was about as informational about nature as anything got for me. The Baranhov Museum has some work going on around it, but if you follow the signs it is still accessible. It was a small, charming, and informative museum. It's this really old house that's been around for ages, and you can see the original wallpaper and woodwork in some parts. It deals with natural life in the area, as well as with the early Russian influence. Homer is covered in fireweed, and the beach was pretty charming. I didn't see much of the area, but it was probably really worth seeing, I suppose... I liked our family outing in Anchorage the best (probably more detailed in my mom's post), because in renting a car and just driving out of town, it kind of felt like we were runaways, or at home and taking a daytrip. It didn't really fit in with the cruise, and it made you feel more like a normal person, or a legitimate explorer. There it is then, that's my briefish but honest review of the Amsterdam in Alaska. Good times were had by mostly all, I met about 5 other people around my brother's and my age group (all within the last 3 days or so, of course), and whales are still awesome. My brother was pretty frustrated and says he never wants to go on another HAL cruise... but I am sure he will. We both just wish HAL had stuff especially for people our age... Ciao, internet people. Deandra Read Less
Sail Date August 2011
Review of our Holland America Cruise on the Amsterdam from Dec. 2 to Dec. 23, 2009: I will use a 1 to 6 star rating system to match the ratings generally used in the industry. Typically, 5 stars are assigned to premium cruise lines and 6 ... Read More
Review of our Holland America Cruise on the Amsterdam from Dec. 2 to Dec. 23, 2009: I will use a 1 to 6 star rating system to match the ratings generally used in the industry. Typically, 5 stars are assigned to premium cruise lines and 6 stars are reserved for the luxury cruise lines. Food in the Main Dining Room (5 stars for the food, not the service); Executive Chef (Andreas Bruennet). Ingredients were excellent. Cooking: generally excellent. Fish dishes were superb; meats were generally tender. Sauces were varied and flavorful. Chef Bruennet was clearly very much on top of quality control in his kitchen. Service in the Main Dining Room (3 stars). Quality of service was highly varied. Some waiters were quite friendly and attentive, whereas others were extremely slow and almost appeared to be serving us grudgingly. The primarily elderly passengers of HAL prefer to dine very early, starting at 5 PM. So, the lower floor of the main dining room, reserved for "As You Wish" diners, tended to be only 1/3 full by 8:30 PM. For diners such as ourselves who attended the 7 PM show and began dining at 8 PM, the dining atmosphere in the main dining room left much to be desired. Waiters were busy clearing tables and preparing to close up -- not a very hospitable atmosphere for the diners who were left behind. This "efficient," though ungracious behavior of waiters was also evident during lunch hours and gave the appearance that they simply could not wait to get out of there. At lunch, waiters would commence cleaning and clearing up the dining room around 1:15 PM and appeared not to care about diners who wanted to converse and enjoy a leisurely lunch. I think these attitudes of the wait staff are emblematic of HAL service culture that I would describe as first and foremost efficient and economical and only secondarily guest oriented. Food, Buffet (2 stars): This was substantially inferior to the food in the main dining room. I would rate it as bordering on the inedible. I am not a fan of buffet fare, anyway, and skipped the main dishes and focused on salads. Salad ingredients were good; dressings were passable. Holland America needs to spend more money on ingredients and preparation of their buffet dishes, because they use port days as an excuse to close down the main dining room and the Pinnacle Grill for lunch, thus, leaving passengers very little choice of places for lunch. Once again, I would attribute the latter dining room/Pinnacle Grill closing policies of HAL on port days to their service culture that emphasizes efficiency and economy (including minimizing expenses), while sacrificing gracious and generous guest service. Specialty Restaurant -- the Pinnacle Grill (4 stars): Pinnacle Chef Shawn McKerness prided himself on his excessive uses of butter, cream, and oils. He made this clear at one of his cooking demonstrations. Additionally, he claims he can taste differences among salts and consistently and grotesquely over-salted his foods. I was amazed to find a chef in this day and age to be so woefully obtuse regarding health considerations in cooking. For example, my carrot/ginger soup was 2/3 cream; my mushroom soup was 3/4 cream. My steaks were so over-salted I could not eat them. In essence Chef McKerness has taken the very fine, standardized recipes of the Pinnacle Grill (that we have enjoyed repeatedly on various HAL ships) and wrecked them. HAL needs to really get on top of this situation. Times are changing and the well-informed segments of the public require high quality cuisine without undue reliance on oils, butter, cream or salts. Fellow Passengers (3 stars): I'd rate the socioeconomic standing of passengers as middle-class to upper-middle-class and somewhat lower than those we have encountered on Oceania, Azamara, or even Celebrity. Passengers on HAL tend to be elderly and probably have a mean (and median) age in excess of 70. From a practical standpoint, this means progress through the hallways or various travel lanes or waiting lines can be excruciatingly slow. However, we did meet quite a range and diversity of fellow passengers and tended to enjoy our interactions with them. The less healthy composition of elderly passengers may have contributed to an epidemic of GI virus on board the ship. During the last week of the cruise we were witness to, and unwilling recepients of, draconian measures by crew and staff who were trying to control this virus epidemic on board. Entertainment (5 stars): The resident orchestra and the Rotterdam Singers and Dancers were outstanding. Lounge performers were of average quality (3.5 stars). Dance music supplied at the Oceans Bar was almost depressing in tempo and selections. Excursions (3 stars): Pricy. One can easily do much better independently. Plus, in line with the HAL business- and money-oriented ethic, given a choice of ports, HAL will select the less attractive one within a radius of 20 miles to save on port charges and, quite possibly, to induce passengers to use their excursions to get out of these remote and inhospitable ports. My Complaints: The closing of the main dining room and Pinnacle Grill for lunch on all port days is a very serious limitation. This is getting to be a trend with cruise lines (I suppose as part of their cost-saving efforts) and is a real negative for us. If you don't go ashore on a port day or choose to go off in the afternoon, there is little to do anyway on the ship and the buffet leaves much to be desired. When you write your comment cards, please be sure to request that at least a small portion of the main dining room be kept open for lunch on port days. Cruise lines do respond when passengers consistently state their preferences. If passengers begin demanding (via their comment cards), more options for food at lunch time, or more varied activities throughout the cruise, some of those demands will eventually be met. Overall (4 stars), I think HAL is a good, but not a very good, cruise line. We now have cruised four times with HAL on four different ships. To use an alternative rating system, I'd give our first cruise with HAL on the Ryndam to Mexico a C+, our second cruise on the Zaandam to Hawaii a C, our third cruise on the Volendam an A (the high rating being largely due to an unusually warm and communicative captain and the itinerary on the Seattle to Auckland trip), and our fourth cruise on the Amsterdam a C+. Value (4.5 stars): Value is the overall rating in the preceding paragraph divided by cost. I think HAL provides above average value. Read Less
Sail Date December 2009
The purpose of this cruise was to celebrate my husband's 50th. birthday. It was why we paid to upgrade to the Deluxe Verandah Suites, and it was wise that we did. That was the only place the service even remotely met the expectations ... Read More
The purpose of this cruise was to celebrate my husband's 50th. birthday. It was why we paid to upgrade to the Deluxe Verandah Suites, and it was wise that we did. That was the only place the service even remotely met the expectations we had been led to believe were the standard that HAL claims to set.Embarkation went very smoothly compared to the two other cruises we have done. Check in was a breeze! We were immediately directed to the LaFontaine dining room for a liesurely lunch awaiting our cabin to be ready. When we entered our cabin, we did find it to be lovely and roomy, beautiful verandah. Our bags were waiting on the bed. We quickly unpacked and set about to explore the ship. We visited the Sea View & Crow's Nest bars,the Spa & workout facilities as my husband wanted to keep exercising on the cruise. I wanted to check out the hands-on culinary opportunities. The party planner greeting people interested in learning more about that was cold and unfriendly. I opted NOT to sign up for any of those events, and I had really looked forward to them! We opted for room service for coffee and juice for the following morning.A grilled dinner was served on the Lido deck as we set sail. Food was fair, Lido area very crowded. (We never did try the Lido pool or hot tubs. Always full of noisy jumping splashing kids and babies) .We caught the end of the comic's show and off to bed.First day was ok. The only day my husband worked out as he was unimpressed with the workout facilities. Lines for the treadmills and elipticals was discouraging.The next night was the first formal night, and the only one we participated in. They were very accomodating in getting my husband fitted and delivered of a tuxedo the same day! We hoped for & expected great things,but it was not forthcoming. We had opted for open seating, & waited some time with a pager. Once seated, we  had to wait to place our order. One of the guests at our table had to ask for the wine steward twice, and I think he was the only one taking care of 500+ diners, and not very good at it. Once the food was served, it was disappointing, and we waited 20 to 30 minutes between courses, and that was once we had finished eating them. We witnessed a 10 minute tantrum by a mad & unhappy drunk  passenger who was unaware it was formal night and mad he did not meet dress code and could not eat. He never should have been allowed in the dining room. Most people at our table ordered the Alaskan King Crab, which took forever!!! Our server said they "ran out of crab". It arrived in and inch of lukewarm water, no drawn butter or lemon!! Three people sent their's back & got something else, which took forever as well.One of the perks was having personal concierge service on our floor, and we took advantage to book our Juneau & other excursions. Whale watching was fun. Not many whales, but lots of bald eagles and sea lions, and our naturalist was friendly and informative. Our next stop was the Mendenhall glacier, the perfect warmup for the Hubbard glacier. Juneau was beautiful. We picked the Lido buffet for dinner & were not impressed. For health reasons, you could not serve yourself most things, and the staff was slow slow slow!!! Soup had "skin" on top!The next day was my husband's birthday. We had a good roomservice breakfast. He played in the Casino and I relaxed. He again opted for the buffet for lunch, limited selection, bland & uninspired. We ran into the two couples we met at first day lunch, and invited them to join us for champagne on our verandah to witness the spectacular Hubbard glacier. They were all full of stories already of lackluster service & argumentative staff. One couple shared that their bags were not put in their room, but sitting in the hallway. They had just that morning met their steward for the first time!! This was day 3!! Our assistant steward was apparently their dining room waiter one evening, and while pleasant & trying, was obviously inexperienced and inept at serving. It became apparent that the staff are expected to wear too many hats, are not effectively trained. We heard of several people who when they needed something or had an issue, were argued with by staff!! But I digress!! I had arranged a celebration package a few weeks before, which included dinner at the Pinnacle Grill. Our server was congenial and tried, but was obviously inexperienced at what was supposed to be fine dining service. The food was good, but not superior. We then went to the Crow's Nest, where we had been very well taken care of by Gani and Leo. As we walked in the door, Gani immediately began to prepare our favorite cocktails. THIS was the service we heard was standard on HAL, but it was the only place we ever really got it! The next day my husband had booked fishing in Sitka, which he really enjoyed. I opted to pamper myself with a spa day.I chose a massage and facial. The massage was good, but expensive, and their opportunity to push expensive spa products. The facial was ok. Relaxing. But the facial product line was hugely expensive, and one I have never heard of. My esthetician was obviously disappointed that I did not want to spend her recommended $300.00 on my face, after the cost of the facial!! I had a coupon they had delivered to our cabin for 30% off any spa treatment. The manager seemed aloof and none too happy that I wanted to apply it to my most expensive service. We opted for room service for dinner, the salmon. Adequate but I expected better being in Alaska.Ketchikan was our best port day by far. We booked the Rainforest Canopy Zipline, and I highly recommend it. Stunning views, the adrenalin rush, fun people. We found it the best for souvenir shopping. We also had to do some drugstore shopping as the shipboard sundries store was tiny, cramped, and poorly stocked. Our dining experiences ranged from awful to good. Silverware was usually hard to come by, no matter where you ate. My husband waited 30 minutes for oil & vinegar for his salad at lunch, (yes the buffet again.) We would ask for simple things like toothpicks, or silverware, and the person we asked would just disappear.The Terrace Grill was horrible. Soupy & or dried out taco fillings, unfresh toppings, soggy shells & chips. Turkey burger looked like mystery meat, & was chewy & cold.  Breakfast room service was good, snacks not so much. Got our orders wrong twice in one night. No crackers with the cheese & cracker plate. Ordered 2 apple tarts, got 2 chocolate cakes instead.My husband and many others we talked to were not happy with the casino. He saw many people spend a lot of money early on, but no one won much at all. By the last half of the cruise, it was virtually empty. We had issues with our toilet for one day, but that "funky" smell lingered thru the rest of the cruise. We did not go into Victoria. It was a very short port call, and my husband was tired and not feeling well. I convinced him to eat in the dining room, and it was the best dining room experience we had. We realxed in our room, packed, and chilled on the verandah for our last night aboard ship.As Verandah Suite passengers, we were told we could disembark anytime between 8 and 9:30am. We ordered room service breakfast for 8am. At 8:30 we got the bum's rush from our steward saying we needed to get off the ship sooner! We hurried through breakfast, grabbed our carryons and got off the ship. We loved seeing Alaska & Seattle. And we chose cruising for the opportunity to see several places, and for the most popular reasons, service, pampering, and stellar food. Our HAL experience was sketchy at best. Inconsistent and haphazard. When it was good, it was very good, but when it was bad, it was awful!!! Read Less
Sail Date June 2009
Amsterdam Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 4.4
Dining 4.0 4.1
Entertainment 4.0 3.8
Public Rooms 4.0 4.5
Fitness Recreation 4.0 4.0
Family 3.0 4.0
Shore Excursion 4.0 4.1
Enrichment 4.0 3.9
Service 4.0 4.5
Value For Money 4.0 4.2
Rates 4.0 4.2

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