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8 Boston to Baltic Sea Cruise Reviews

Holland America woos you with exceptional, port intensive itineraries, mid sized ships, excellent hotel service and the promise of sophisticated enrichment. They succeeded in fulfilling our expectations on the first three but failed on ... Read More
Holland America woos you with exceptional, port intensive itineraries, mid sized ships, excellent hotel service and the promise of sophisticated enrichment. They succeeded in fulfilling our expectations on the first three but failed on the fourth. If you considered this cruise as a floating hotel you would be happy enough. We were satisfied with the dining , it is fresh and well prepared. The hotel staff is excellent. The cabin was large enough to be comfortable for two for a long journey. The bathroom is spacious by cruise ship standards. It is too bad the ship was in dire need of refurbishing and this did affect the ventilation system which was moldy. If you rely on the ship board experience for your bliss you may be disappointed. I don't understand what HAL is thinking. They offer their premier Vikings journey on this sad, worn out ship then they put a novice incompetent Cruise Director in charge of a 38 day journey. Is there a word for uneducating a person? If so that is what the enrichment program attempted to do. Much of the evening entertainment was good but did cater to the elderly. We thoroughly enjoyed every port we visited and were pleased with every shore excursion we booked. We chose to ignore the failings during our vacation and enjoyed our trip. I would sail with Holland America again but only for their unique itineraries. If I was simply slipping away for a beach frolic I would shop for another cruise line Read Less
Sail Date August 2017
We decided to book this 38-night Holland America (HAL) cruise because it made multiple stops in Greenland and Iceland - two destinations on our bucket list. Other interesting new ports for us were Douglas (the Isle of Man,) Portree ( ... Read More
We decided to book this 38-night Holland America (HAL) cruise because it made multiple stops in Greenland and Iceland - two destinations on our bucket list. Other interesting new ports for us were Douglas (the Isle of Man,) Portree ( Isle of Skye) plus Rotterdam, The Netherlands and Liverpool, UK. Ports previously visited by us included ones in New England, Canada and Europe. Even more importantly, the Rotterdam's extended stop in Liverpool permitted my daughter & our grandsons to visit the ship for the day. Canadians & Americans made up the vast majority of the passengers. Most of the passengers were four and five star members in HALs loyalty program. Although there were a handful of youngsters on board, we rarely saw them. We flew to the departure city of Boston, on August 1, 2017 a day early in order to do some pre-cruise sightseeing and meet a friend for dinner in the North End. The following day, we were picked up at the Langham Hotel and transported to the ship by coach. Unfortunately, the ship was undergoing a surprise Coast Guard Inspection so there was a delay in boarding. Later, we heard that the ship scored well. Our stateroom was ready on our arrival and our luggage arrived later in the afternoon. The safety drill was well-organized and proceeded smoothly. We chose Open Seating Dining and arranged with our servers to keep our table for the entire cruise. We never needed, therefore, to wait on a line for seating. There was always a small vase of fresh flowers on our linen dressed table. Food in the Main Dining Room (MDR) was consistently good. My husband's Special Request Meals arrived in a timely fashion and fit his dietary restrictions. Only once was there a problem with his meal. His order of a steak cooked rare arrived well-done. The meat was quickly replaced with apologies from everyone. Our servers Budi and Fitoni were excellent, as was Benny who departed the ship in the middle of the cruise. Doni, Assistant Dining Room manager and Ronald, the Dining Room Manager were friendly and very helpful, too. Jennalyn, our Wine Steward was prompt, helpful and always pleasant. We looked forward to seeing her smiling face in the Lido Market and other venues around the ship. She, too, is a big asset to the HAL. Executive Chef Peter stopped at our MDR table nightly to chat & often was visible in the Lido Market at lunchtime. He was so friendly and seemed to enjoy his job and meeting the guests. New York Pizza made delicious pizzas with many choices as well as custom ordered pizzas, too. The Dive-In had excellent burgers cooked to order and delicious fries. Food in the Lido Market was quite varied and we always found food choices to please us. I especially enjoyed the complimentary ice cream choices and toppings. Besides Vanilla, Chocolate & Strawberry ice cream, there was also a Special Flavor of the Day - my favorite was Rum Raisin. In addition, there were many other dessert choices. Rarely did we experience any trouble finding a table on either side of the buffets stations. The servers were quit helpful pouring guests' beverage selections, removing used plates, even offering to carry your food from the buffet to your table. Service was very friendly, too. Our mid-ship stateroom #2621 was quite comfortable-A/C worked well. Water pressure in the shower was good and the hot water was steady. I wished that there was more storage room in the bathroom, though and a nigh light would have been welcomed. The absence of a fridge was our only issue. My husband had to visit the medical office frequently to retrieve his medications that needed refrigeration. There was a lot of sneezing, coughing and blowing of noses by passengers, but my husband and I stayed healthy throughout the cruise. Out stewards, Rezki & Gusti brought us an extra copy of When & Where each morning, two copies of the Times newspaper, extra ice deliveries and always accommodated our comings and goings when cleaning our room. They both did an exemplary job daily. The evening entertainment in the Showroom was quite varied and I especially enjoyed the four production numbers of the HAL Singers & Dancers. The cast members were very friendly around the ship as were the various other performers. Two outstanding performances that were favorites with me as well as other passengers judging by the standing ovations that they received were the sensational Mersey boys and the very energetic and talented Flyrights. My main reason for taking this particular cruise was the itinerary. Iceland was a big highlight. On one HAL excursion in Reykjavik, we drove up on a glacier in a 4X4 and later walked through an ice cave under the glacier. I loved the many stunning waterfalls and the Fjords. My highlight in Greenland was cruising Prince Christian Sound with its massive fjords, some still topped with a mantle of snow, many tall ribbon waterfalls and wide glaciers. Is was so much fun to cruise past huge icebergs and watch for whales and other wildlife. We cruised the sound twice, once the first leg of the cruise and later on the back end when we made it completely through the sound on a beautiful sunny day. Late one clear night for a brief period we saw the Northern Lights, later confirmed by the Captain and Cruise Director. Trivia & Bingo were quite popular activities on board. I especially enjoyed the Art & Antiques Walking Tour with Barbara Haenni, Behind the Scenes Backstage Tour and the Galley Tour. Many of the activities on board were un-hosted; a few were extra charge such as the wine and beer tastings and the Mixology Classes. I saw several movies on board, The Last Word, The Founder, The Lovers and the Zookeeper's Wife, while munching on complimentary popcorn. My favorite talks were the ones on the Universe, Lighthouses and Greenland and It's People. Barbara Haenni was a great Location Guide and her port talks were timely and informative. Digital Workshop classes were quite helpful. Ask the Captain Sessions were interesting as well. Of course not everything was perfect. Perhaps the biggest annoyance was having to get to the Showroom an hour early in order to get seats close to the center of the theater. Even the lectures were so crowded that some were repeated; other talks were broadcasted on TV. There were some leaks around the ship, even in the Lido Market. One tender also leaked badly. These will need to be address when the ship soon goes in for refurbishment. Also, many times the information in the When & Where daily planner was incorrect. The audio on our stateroom TV when the Captain or the Cruise Director made announcements was so indistinct that we had to open our cabin to hear clearly. Since the Rotterdam is an older ship, the stateroom TVs are not interactive. You could not make dinner reservation, view menus, make /cancel a shore excursion or view your statement right from your stateroom. By the front desk, there was a machine to print out statements but several times it was down during the cruise. Although we booked this complete cruise as one cruise; some passengers only booked half. The ship turned around in Rotterdam. The HAL Singers & Dancers performances were repeated on the second half with many grumbles by full cruise passengers. Some dishes in the MDR were repeated but on a positive note, Surf (lobster) & Turf appeared twice at least on the menu. Although on a few nights quiet music was piped into the MDR, I wished that it happened every evening. Overall though, the unique itinerary, the good quality food, attentive service and unique itinerary made this an extraordinary cruise. Now we know why some passengers have repeated this cruise four or five times. We hope to see them on our HAL Grand World Cruise next year. Read Less
Sail Date August 2017
Done the VoV cruise before - did it again but won't do it a third time. ROTTERDAM needs work - plus I feel HAL has been "Carnivalized". Food in main dining room was so/so - ate in Lido for dinner which we don't care to ... Read More
Done the VoV cruise before - did it again but won't do it a third time. ROTTERDAM needs work - plus I feel HAL has been "Carnivalized". Food in main dining room was so/so - ate in Lido for dinner which we don't care to do but DR menu was uninviting. Orchestra was great but only one on board. So no music for ballroom dancing on show nights - they used recorded music instead. Entertainment in showroom had a few good acts - most mediocre - they even showed movies a couple of times as the "entertainment". Really HALL ! Limited cruise director staff so no dance instructors, no games (everything was "self-hosted"). Not a fan of BB King (and this group was bad) on any ship. Piano bar was Barry from Boston (there are many better out there). We are 4 star and I would say there is a noticeable decline ijn shipboard activities and services. Lots of extra charge things like wine tastings, beer tastings, martini mixing, etc. This was a 38 day R/T to/from Boston and HAL gave us a mediocre time on board - should have been "over the top" for this once-a-year voyage but wasn't. It is clear that the Carnival bean counters are winning. We kept hearing about the "new product" but it wasn't on Rotterdam. Too bad because we were loyal HAL cruisers. Came back and cancelled our next planned HAL cruise in January, we were that disappointed. Read Less
Sail Date August 2017
we traveled with the whole family. The kids LOVED Splash academy. the counselors were great and kept the kids busy. the complimentary restaurants were fine, although the service was a bit slow. you just have to have the right mind set (you ... Read More
we traveled with the whole family. The kids LOVED Splash academy. the counselors were great and kept the kids busy. the complimentary restaurants were fine, although the service was a bit slow. you just have to have the right mind set (you are on vacation so relax) our reservations were generally for 5:30 and we were done with dinner by 7 (skipped dessert) the pool was crowded and often noisy. the kids pool is in a separate area which was good for them. I think it took us the whole week to find our way around the ship as the layout was different but there were good signs everywhere. the entertainment was pretty good. Tim Kaminski is a great comic. Think he is going to be off soon as he is just finishing his 3 month contract. We aren't sure if the Ultimate beverage package is worth it or not. the drinks were $6-8 for mixed drinks and wine. sodas were $2.75. some beverages not included (Red Bull, Gatorade, frozen drinks). We had 4 rooms and wanted 3 adult packages and 5 soda packages but they made all adults get the alcohol package. Water is expensive to buy their bottled water. bringing your own water bottle and getting water from the machine is fine. the embarkation and disembarkation were amazingly easy. Highly recommend bringing only luggage you can carry off yourself so you don't have to wait. Our kids did the sail/snorkel excursion and enjoyed it. They bought bus/ferry passes and found their way around the island themselves. The staff were all excellent and have great customer service skills. While I think Wi-Fi should be free, I was glad it wasn't because it got me to disconnect for a week. Overall the cruise was a wonderful time for our family and we would go again Read Less
Sail Date June 2013
We selected this for the itinerary. Four ports were missed due to weather. FOOD: Huge problems in the kitchen. Ordered cod on two nights and it was like rubber. Spoke to chef who, when pressed, stated was a "quality ... Read More
We selected this for the itinerary. Four ports were missed due to weather. FOOD: Huge problems in the kitchen. Ordered cod on two nights and it was like rubber. Spoke to chef who, when pressed, stated was a "quality issue." Salmon one night was returned one night when it came out raw. Three from our table send back ribs because they were cold. The kitchen just couldn't seem to deliver hot or even warm food. At the Pinnacle were given a refund due to cold side issues. The Cirque was good but way overpriced and no veggies came with the main course. Requested them and they came from the kitchen. ENTERTAINMENT: Production shows repeated on the second half return to Boston. Earlier we had been told by the On Board Consultant that the production shows would NOT repeat. The other entertainers that came onto the ship ranged from very good to mediocre but the variety could have been better. PIANO BAR: Barry from Boston was excellent. Great sense of humor! TOURS: In Reykavik HAL charged $10 r/t for transporation to town. The "nominal fee" was the same price as a taxi for 4. They Bicycle Tour in Geiranger, Norway was excellent. However, the price in town at the shop was 50 Euro ($66 US) and from the ship $100+. Bar Harbor: Big problems with the tender service. Some folks could not get off into town until almost noon. HAL either needs to correct this or skip this port. One couple missed their private tour becuase HAL would not let them off until all or the HAL tours had departed. Read Less
Sail Date July 2012
Voyage of the Vikings 2012 HAL MS Maasdam The Voyage of the Vikings is a once a year cruise following many of the old ports the Vikings were known to have visited. This year it was a 35 day round trip from Boston leaving July 14th and ... Read More
Voyage of the Vikings 2012 HAL MS Maasdam The Voyage of the Vikings is a once a year cruise following many of the old ports the Vikings were known to have visited. This year it was a 35 day round trip from Boston leaving July 14th and returning August 18th. We are almost 4 Star Mariners who have cruised on HAL ships for many years. Each year since the Carnival acquisition of the line we have noted a drop in overall quality of the cruise experience. Service by the hardworking crew was appreciated but they are spread thinly in some areas. The one big disappointment was the food. There was a general lack of flavor on dishes that were visually appealing. HAL should take notice of lines like Oceana where "cruising in the grand manner" still has some meaning. To get a truly good meal on board one had to go to the Pinnacle Grill. The Maitre'd of the Pinnacle Grill for this cruise was Colin Dsouza, my favorite HAL Maitre'd I've met so far. He brings warmth and personal attention to the Pinnacle Grill which was sorely lacking from the Zaandam after he was transferred to the Maasdam. We were very impressed with Dani keeping the Lido service staff running smoothly. Of great exception we give credit to Desy/Daisy and Yadi/Sole. These two people were at the top of their game for passenger service. They kept smiling even with the most troublesome of pasengers. Yadi was in the Canaletto most of the evenings. He always provided top notch service in the Canaletto. Sadly, the Italian food would only get a grade of C minus from me. On one evening there I had the Tortellini special. It was tough and not al dente. It had no sauce on top but was served with olive oil and tough string beans. Some pesto sauce would have been nice to add some dimension to the lackluster taste. In this Italian themed dining spot on the Lido there was one thing sorely missing. GARLIC ! It could only be found on the two tiny slices of garlic toast placed on the table. The marinara sauce was acceptable but the meat sauce had an off taste throughout the entire voyage. Our cabin on the Lower Promenade Deck was acceptable but I would have made some modifications to the new bathroom that was installed in the last "upgrade." The socket on the new bathroom overhead light shuts off with the light switch outside. This means you could not put in a nightlight. Nor could you charge a shaver or electric toothbrush without having the bathroom light on. To those of us who are gentrifying, a bathroom nightlight is a needed safety feature. The single room outlet for 110 Volts will require you to bring a multiple plug adapter and if you have a medical machine like a CPAP you will also need to bring an extension cord to use it next to your bedside. Shore excursions by HAL were not that good either. Some were downright infuriating. The tour of Bergan, Norway, had the bus picking us up at the ship driving around town with a girl from Spain who was not that fluent in English. The problem was that she told us what we had just passed by and not what was coming up. Most photographs were a blur. It was all very rushed. The bus dropped us off at the funicular railway terminal where we were to board a railcar to the midpoint up a mountain. She wanted all of us to get on one car which made for a very tight ride up the mountain. At the top she gives us just 20 minutes to take in the view then she herds everyone back onto the railcar for a trip down. At the bottom we find out the bus has left and we are on a walking tour down to the fish market. Those with walkers and wheelchairs find out there is a mile plus walk back to the ship. NO BUS ! ! ! Before the cruise when we signed up for this and prepaid, there was only one walker on the rating. My wife was hit by a car three years ago and we were not happy about walking back to the ship which gave her great pain. We would have taken a taxi but the ship ran out of the Norway Kroners at the first port and could not provide us with exchange currency. The second most annoying tour was that of Plymouth. We were put on a bus taken to a small town with no time to explore, put on a steam train (I'm a rail buff), and run down to the end of the line where our tour guide was in a big hurry to load us onto a ferry to cross the river. Once on the other side the guide told us the bus would be there to pick us up in about 2 hours. I would rather have had time to go to the rail station gift shop and a chance to take pictures of the train making the reverse run. The tour to Stonehenge was equally rushed. The only way we could get back to the bus in the allotted time was to keep walking around the monument and head back. The bus then left us off in a nice nearby town for over an hour but the tour was supposed to be Stonehenge. Be sure when booking with HAL to read the descriptions carefully. Tours with Celebrity have more accurate descriptions and are planned better from our past experiences. One big improvement would be for any HAL sponsored tour bus to have a portable step for those of us who are ambulatory challenged. One woman on the Bergen tour fell because the step down from the bus was very high. My wife managed but it was difficult to make that first high step on several buses. On board crowd control was a big problem with a less than sensitive security staff. Upon returning to the U.S. in Bar Harbor we were told to line up through the casino for a U.S. Customs inspection. We were late leaving the previous port because of a tardy tour. Even steaming at full speed this put us late to Bar Harbor. Our tickets read meeting time at 7:45 AM and we were supposed to meet the U.S. Customs at the same time. This led to an unsupervised large crowd in front of the closed casino doors. Some HAL person decided the line was too long and brought up a huge crowd from far back in the line. This did not set well with the people who had been lined up before 7 AM to be first. Many of them had non-HAL tours and wanted to be first off the ship. At the front of the line there was a heated argument between two persons. My wife signaled the HAL security person on the other side of the closed doors but was ignored. I had to step in and tell two men to cool it. I am surprised that in that long parade of walkers there was not one Blue Star Alert since they were standing there getting dehydrated for over an hour. So, we get through customs and are told "don't worry, we will get you on to your tours" but this did not apply to the non-HAL booked people. Those people rushed the gangway to get off. Since we were tendering in to shore there was only enough room for so many and no more. Those of us who were given tender tickets made our way when called. Once ashore we found the bus loading zone and were told that the 8:30 AM tour was rescheduled to 11 AM. No problem, we walked through the lovely Bar Harbor town center, sat on a nice bench for some time, and got back by 10:45 AM for the 11 AM tour. We waited and waited then found out the tour was moved again to 12 Noon. All of these schedule changes pushed the time spent on top of Cadillac Mountain to under 25 minutes. This was a disaster since it takes our bus full of septuagenarians a full ten minutes to empty. Then we had only about 5 minutes to visit the view point after a 10 minute uphill hike from the bus parking area. I have a fast camera and fast lens but we then finished the tour whizzing past points of interest and photogenic spots that just blurred by. The sad part was that day the Lido had a special buffet that was long over by the time we got aboard again. I had to settle for a hot dog from the Poolside Grill. As for our cabin attendants, they were very hard working and did an exceptional job considering their grueling workload. On the first day our mirrors were smudged with something greasy, one of the courtesy robes had a big black handprint on it, the bedding and pillow cases had stains, the bathmat for the shower was stained with something black, the blackout curtains had a broken rod, the shower wand hose sprayed water all over the room, and the toilet leaked. The cabin stewards were apologetic and things were cleaned within a day or two of sailing. The problem is that there are just too few stewards to be able to make a smooth end of cruise and beginning of cruise turnover. We missed 4 ports due to weather. Our excellent Captain, James Russel-Dunsford, opted to outrun bad weather that would have made visiting some ports downright dangerous and impossible for tendering in. You really don't want to be in a tender with swells of 12 feet. Even at top speed away from the gale force storm we could not outrun the heavy swells. I really rather enjoyed the "motion of the ocean" as the Captain termed it. The sway of the deck under my feet has always been a personal joy. We did add a truly lovely port that was not on the original itinerary, Molde, Norway. It was very picturesque and had a wonderful main street with shops. The people there welcomed us even though we were surprise guests. To make up for missing ports HAL provides a glass of cheap champagne after dinner. I would rather have had a nice piece of chocolate which was all but missing from this voyage. Speaking of chocolate, whatever happened to the HAL tradition of an afternoon chocolate extravaganza? We have been reduced to a "dessert extravaganza" at 10:30 PM on one evening of the voyage. The desserts have gotten tiny and I have no problem with that. However, I do object to many of them being tasteless with chocolate that can best be described as "simply brown." Finding a decent chocolate means going to the Canaletto for the gelato or waiting for the one day the "chocolate purse" pastry is made in a very limited quantity. Even the little after dinner chocolates in the Pinnacle Grill were of poor quality. The cheap milk chocolates left by the cabin attendants were the most chocolate flavor I could find on most of the days. Chefs Pablo and Joe did a great job at the pasta station in the Lido. When the lamb chops were tiny and tough, the pasta provided a nice alternative. Jose out in the Poolside Grill did a good job also. But, when the ingredients are just not up to par then there isn't much a chef can do. I had one prosciutto sandwich that could not be eaten. The prosciutto was so tough that it could not be bitten off or chewed. I wish I had a sharp steak knife for many of the dishes were we served, as the ships cutlery were simply not sharp enough for much of the food. One bright spot was the cheese selection. From a very nice Danish Blue Cheese to a caraway seed infused Leiden, the cheeses were wonderful, when you could find them. At the cheese extravaganza the cheeses were left out for people to cut it themselves. The result was a mess. The hard cheeses got hacked and chopped while the soft cheeses were mushed. The dull table knifes for cutting the cheeses were downright dangerously deployed by some of the people partaking. I could go on and on about the poor quality of the food but will end that topic here for fear of boring the reader. For a cruise with so many days at sea, the selection of TV movies you could watch in your room was very poor. It also repeated the schedule which limited what you watched. The DVDs available from the Front Desk helped and we went through many of them. Gone are the days when ships had first run movies on board. Now the theatre has a DVD video projection on one day then the movie is on the ships TV system the next day. The video projection in the Wajang Theatre is dim with the color washed out so it is better just to see it in your cabin the next day. A big plus to the in-room TV selection was the addition of FOX News. The BBC and CNN coverage were also available but one tires quickly from their short repetitive schedule cycling. When the BBC and CNN satellite reception went off for some time due to satellite problems we didn't even miss them. What can I say about the ship's entertainment? Yes, there was some. For those of us who attend Broadway shows we have become a bit jaded. Many of the main showroom shows might work as a lounge act in Vegas but some were painful to watch. The bright spots were the piano combo in the Ocean Bar and the Adagio String Quartet. The very last annoying thing was the HAL transfer from the ship to the airport on a touring bus that took us through Boston. It left us at the wrong part of the airport even after we had repeatedly told them we were on Virgin America. We had to hike to a far off elevator with our luggage, go to the second floor, cross through a large parking structure, and hike down another concourse to the airline desk. A HAL representative was there at the bus drop off point and told us Virgin America was just upstairs and obviously had no real idea of where it actually was. Next time I will save the $100 bus transfer fee and go with a $30 taxi ride. Bottom line, we did enjoy the cruise. The ports and scenery were interesting and picturesque. The crew was always great and went out of their way to make us happy. The food was not so great. I lost weight on the 35 day cruise because much of the food simply was not appetizing. The land excursions needed better time management. The logistics of crowd control needed some help to avoid problems. We are going to give HAL one more chance with the Solar Eclipse Voyage out of Sydney in November. The good will and brand allegiance is wearing thin so the day after we get back into Sydney from the Solar Eclipse cruise we are getting on a Celebrity ship that sails up to Singapore. HAL had better wake up or the many disgruntled passengers we conversed with will be jumping ship to another non-Carnival line. My brother-in-law, a 4 Star Mariner with 305 days, just cancelled a 68 day cruise to the Mediterranean because of the shabby way HAL treated him in booking the Los Angeles to Australia and Australia circumnavigation, back to back cruise. They refused to guarantee him the same cabin for the whole cruise so when he reached Sydney he would have to move to another cabin. Is that dumb or what? The same thing happened to people on the Voyage of the Vikings for people wishing to take the next leg up to Canada. Someone in HAL Seattle has no idea what they are doing. Read Less
Sail Date July 2012
Bad stuff first:(1)Embarkation was slow. (2)When we got to our cabin on Saturday, there was no heat--and we did not have any heat until the following Thursday. It was not just our cabin, a lot of other people had the same problem. ... Read More
Bad stuff first:(1)Embarkation was slow. (2)When we got to our cabin on Saturday, there was no heat--and we did not have any heat until the following Thursday. It was not just our cabin, a lot of other people had the same problem. (3)The shows were really rather poor. (4)The gym was minimal and really needed some maintenance. Items of note: (1)The only butter available was unsalted. (2)The passenger loyalty was amazing--a lot of those people had sailed with HAL many, many times. I was surprised, because we plan our trips around itinerary--what ever cruise line will take us where we want to go is the line we sail with. (3)The average passenger age was pretty old (I'm 76). Now, the good stuff:(1)The storage room in our cabin was immense--we brought a lot of stuff, and there was room to unpack and store everything. (2)Heated plates in the Lido food area. (3)We had open seating for dinner, and showed up at lots of different times--with no reservations, and we were able to get a table for two almost every evening with little or no waiting. We prefer this so we don't have to sit for two hours to eat dinner. The food service was very good. (4)The Adagio Strings from Ukraine--this string quartet was absolutely wonderful! (5)The cooking staff really knows how to do chocolate well. (6)Our cabin attendants were excellent. (7)By and large, the food was excellent (8)Disembarkation was great. Read Less
Sail Date July 2012
While every traveler hopes for sunny skies and steady seas, this year's VOV journey had it's share of poor weather challenges. Four missed ports, and plenty of time to use your umbrella did seem to place a damper on some ... Read More
While every traveler hopes for sunny skies and steady seas, this year's VOV journey had it's share of poor weather challenges. Four missed ports, and plenty of time to use your umbrella did seem to place a damper on some travelers spirits. Many of the travelers were veteran cruisers and several had previously gone on a similar voyage. As a first time Voyage of the Vikings cruiser I offer the following observations. PROS: I can't say enough about the captain. He kept the travelers informed of weather conditions and schedule changes. I felt safety was his primary concern and I much appreciated that policy. He was also friendly and participated in shore visits with the cruisers. The cabin stewards, dining room staff, and bar staff were exceptionally friendly, efficient and conscientious. The food offered in both the lido and dining room were varied and delicious. The food service staff were also willing to provide, snacks, or soup and coffee on those days when we were cruising through fjords. The port host/ lecturer was very well informed and always willing to provide information port side, during his office hours, as well as via formal lectures and scenic cruising narratives. The band in the Ocean Bar provided wonderful pre and post dinner dance music, and the dance hosts were on hand to meet and greet not only solo travelers, but anyone interested in dancing. Crew members were always willing to assist disabled or elderly persons negotiate, the lido, hallways, gangway and tenders. Travelers that would not have been able to exit and enter the ship, or participate in activities on their own power, were assisted cheerfully by the crew who carried meals, handled walkers and wheel chairs , and pulled or carried travelers on and off the ship. Issues for improvement: Although the public rooms are always clean and public restrooms well stocked with supplies, the Crow's Next bar always smelled unpleasantly of cigarette smoke. At times the fumes were strong enough to cause me to feel irritation in my throat and lungs that resulted in coughing. I was diagnosed with bronchitis the day after leaving the trip...the first such diagnosis is over 40 years. On trips that require more "indoor" space due to cold weather perhaps the shipboard smoking privileges should be limited to the rear pool area (outside) on deck ten. I was very surprised to learn that the Maasdam only had routine television access to FOX News. We were able to watch BBC World or CNN for only a few days during the entire trip, and FOX News was routinely playing on each of the bar television screens. Surprisingly, even when we off the coast of the UK- we were unable to watch the Olympic events. If Holland America provides exclusive access to FOX News, that information should be shared with cruisers prior to booking. I would not have booked this journey had I known that I would not have access to independent news sources. Thoughts for potential solo VOV travelers: Solo travelers pay a premium for traveling alone on a cruise ship. One the VOV the premium was nearly double the cost for an individual traveling with a spouse or partner. I traveled on the VOV as a mean of visiting my son in Germany, taking five days out of the middle of the trip for visiting and then rejoining the journey in Dublin. For example this two way VOV transatlantic cost nearly $12,000 while last year I booked two transatlantic journey's to accomplish the same visiting goal for 1,300 (15 days eastward transatlantic-Holland America) and 1,300 ( 7 days westward transatlantic -Cunard). The additional cost for the VOV was not reflected in improved services or more charming ports of call, in fact the convenience of going both ways on the same ship in no way proved to be worth the additional expense. I booked an interior cabin guarantee on Maasdam's VOV, and like many travelers was hopeful of an upgrade. My cabin #112 on Veranda was an extremely small interior cabin at the front of the ship near crew cabins. Although the cruise line indicates via picture and word, that #112 is the same as other interior cabins, it is not. The room has half the amount of closet space and approx. one third the amount of drawer space that you will find in other cabins. When I first entered the cabin the door struck the bed. I needed to push the door beyond the mattress in order to enter the room. I ask that half the bed be removed to allow for some space, but was told that there was no place to store the additional bedding. There was so little space to move around the sharp bed frame that I ended the trip with multiple black and blue marks and three long gashes on my shins. Unlike the other interior rooms that have a seating area and coffee table, cabin #112 has only a desk chair that cannot be used as there is no room to sit comfortably at the smaller size desk. Additionally, there is no plug on the desk top as in other cabins. You need to crawl beneath the desk to plug and unplug any devices. This cabin should be modified to house one solo traveler. A large or mobility impaired traveler would not be able to function comfortably in this cabin. SInce solo travelers are charged so much money for the VOV why shouldn't they have a comfortable and safe place in which to retire. Solo travelers face different challenges that those traveling with friends or a spouse. A long journey can be a lonely adventure if you don't take part in group activities. Join the cruise critics group before you embark on such a long cruise. The group will provide a few friendly faces and activities that will help you settle in. Attend the solo traveler events provided by the cruise line and join others before dinner for a dance (no talent necessary). On this cruise four dance hosts were available for those interested in dancing and any single men would also find plenty of available dance and conversation partners. I was surprised to find that the eastward cruise travelers on the VOV were by my estimate 65-85 years old. It was also the least ethnically diverse cruise I have noticed in my 270+ days at sea. More families with young children participated in the return trip. However, there was some hostility to the participation of children in the public areas and dining room. Angry comments like "Welcome to the Disney cruise!" were not uncommon. I feel diversity is beneficial and was uncomfortable with the sense that Holland America should only cater to elderly white travelers. Read Less
Sail Date July 2012

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