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2 Boston to Europe - British Isles & Western Cruise Reviews

Rotterdam Built 1997 19 Years Old 61,849 Tons Last Dry Dock 2015 Vista Suite # 7055 Voyage of the Vikings We turned in our passports for inspection about three times, and needed to appear in person with the passports ... Read More
Rotterdam Built 1997 19 Years Old 61,849 Tons Last Dry Dock 2015 Vista Suite # 7055 Voyage of the Vikings We turned in our passports for inspection about three times, and needed to appear in person with the passports in Rotterdam. Don't know what would have happened if we didn't have them, since we were on a closed circuit itinerary and technically don't need them to return to the US. Twelve time zone changes! Six spring forward and six fall back. All at 2 AM, and the last one on disembarkation morning, so we had an extra hour on the last morning! Even with the one hour changes, we still felt some time lag. We could function up to a point, but we were still forgetting things. But not near as bad as with a six hour time change all at once with flying back from Europe. If you have the time, this is how to visit Europe. We’ve heard the crew has a certain amount of nervousness when a new batch of passengers arrives and they try to learn a new set of preferences. We try to help the waiter, head waiter and cabin steward by providing a list of preferences. We’ve even had crew compliment us on this. Food service topped other cruise lines we’ve used. Lido - Excellent service in the lido. Most food was served in the buffet, and waiters brought us our drinks. Often, the waiters would take my dish and carry it to the table for me. La Fontaine - Excellent service! Waiter handled my allergy the best of any cruise line by giving me a menu at the end of the meal for the next day. A couple of times, he had it sent to the cabin. Others made note first seating dining change. As I recall, it was only 15 minutes earlier, and it didn’t bother us at all. But we seldom attend the shows, preferring to retire to our cabin right after dinner. Pinnacle Grill - Excellent service! No outside windows, so avoid booking on scenic cruising days. Welcome retreat from noisy dining room. Each table was in a shallow alcove which gave us a lot of privacy. Reunited with our first waiter from our first cruise, and he REMEMBERED us. We were glad to see he’d been promoted to Specialty Restaurant Manager. Midpoint through the cruise, he said he’d read my cruisecritic reviews. And he seemed nervous after that. But he didn’t need to feel nervous. We compare each subsequent waiter to him as a role model. Not surprising, he’d been promoted to the manager and handled our reservations. He also saw me struggling w/ the Baked Alaska dessert and cut it up for me. About Le Cirque Night - Good food, but save your money if you don’t go for the REALLY fancy cuisine. Buy two regular nights at the Pinnacle Grill instead. Culinary Arts Class - Lots of fun, got a few recipes and chef prepared the recipes for lunch in the Pinnacle Grill. They’re safety conscious. One man was removed from knife duty! Front Desk - Called us by name! If we couldn’t get the Kiosk to produce a preliminary bill, they would print one for us. Again, a nice surprise. We usually avoid this desk because we haven’t had much getting things done. Free seasick pills and bags, free aspirin and free generic tylenol available! Sea Days - Lots of enrichment programs. Make use of those handrails! Saw some bruises and injuries after the sea days near Iceland. Also, got sore from grabbing that railing to keep upright! Knitting, Yarn and Crafts group scheduled 9:00 AM in Crow’s Nest. Some ladies showed off their yarn. One lady bought yarn in each port! What a nice souvenir! One of our members mentioned it being the high point of the cruise. I hope the cruise director schedules arts & crafts on future cruises. Next Cruise Booking Office - Need more brochures. We might have booked an itinerary, but we never could load HAL.com on the computers due to slow connection. We prefer to study deck plans for choosing a room (so we avoid irregular balconies, obstructed views, etc), and couldn’t get them to load either. Public Restrooms - Nice with cloth towels and hand lotion! Vista Suite - Free fresh fruit daily! Nice touch with the lap blanket (1). We had six water glasses, four wine glasses, and ice twice daily. Free tote bag, pen and personalized stationary in room! Loved the turndown chocolates! Lots of nice touches, for example, love how the coffee table changed height so it made it much easier to eat breakfast in the room. Magnet on bathroom door kept the door open, and prevented banging during rough seas. Large shallow drawers that were large enough to hold a 18" Eagle Creek Packing Folder. Four closets, and an additional closet w/ shelves. One of the hanging closets can convert into shelves. If you used the US outlet, you’ll need to replug the DVD player in to get it to work. Outlets (not enough), one European, one US, and one US up very high in the bathroom. I’m comparing this to other rooms of ships a similar size. Felt more like a balcony than a suite to me. Comparing this to the Royal Caribbean’s Majesty of the Seas built around the same time. Majesty had less than 15 square feet more, but since it was wider, we didn’t feel nearly as crowded. Shorter and wider would have made the sale better. On both ships, you have to book a suite to get a private balcony. High and scary deep tub, three grab bars were welcome, and we used all three! I wish they’d replace these tubs with tub sized showers. Below the Retreat Area, a lot of noise from dragging furniture. Wouldn’t care for this room during a warm weather itinerary because the Retreat would have been busier. Cabin steward was in the top three of all our cruises. Had very uncomfortable sofa, and the desk chair wobbled. Should have reported this. We commented on this during our post-cruise evaluation, and heard back from them telling us if it happens again to report it to Guest Relations. Suite amenities package. Got flowers every week, never got the embroidered robes. They kept stalling, then they offered a refund for OBC. They originally quoted one price for OBC, but the amount we got was lower than what they originally quoted. Free laundry was a great perk. We’re considering booking Atlantic Adventurer out of Ft. Lauderdale, but may pass if the ship has the same narrow Vista Suites. Needs Improvement Deck 7 very warm and smelly during later half of cruise Slow Maintenance Department Did you make the sale? You Bet Ya! Another cruise is booked plus a future booking! Shore Excursions - I wish HAL would publish their shore excursions at least one year out. Several people were booking private groups long before we could see what HAL offered. Also, please have Easy Activity level excursions at each port. Please improve your descriptions by should include number of stops, time at each stops, walking distance, number of steps and which stops have restrooms. Tour companies should deduct stairwell seats, short seats, seats w/ less leg room from your total tour capacity. No tender ports for us! We heard some people that got a foot or leg stuck between tender and platform/pier. US is much more Handicapped Friendly. It may be better to pick an excursion with fewer stops. If the tour gets behind at one stop, they cut the next stop short. Bar Harbor - A tender port, but if they’d offered the Jordan Pond House Excursion, we would have broken our no Tender Port rule. Sydney - Fiddle Concert - Excellent - Great Oatmeal Cookies and No Bus Ride Nice port shopping area! Everything happens in the port terminal, so no bus ride! Ken’s favorite! Second time on this tour, and Ken wants to make it three! Reykjavic - Not a ship issue, but an additional charge on top of the $5 per week for International to download our Wall Street Journal here. (We waited until Norway to get our Wall Street Journal). Luna Landscapes - Wonderful scenery! Nice port shop, but need more chairs outside for those waiting. People are more likely to spend more for Wifi when they have a place to sit. 20 minutes free wifi per day. Alesund - Romsdal & Troll Path - Long bus ride! Avoid seats next to handicapped space, they’re low, and I couldn’t see out window. Great lunch, but guide didn’t notify venue of number of handicapped people for first floor. Restaurant said they had wifi, but we didn’t wait around long enough for password. Waterfall path had railing. Will not take this tour again. The guide was a little off his game that day. He kept complaining about his age, and he disappeared so fast after the tour, we couldn’t tip him. Eidsfjord - Waterfalls and Waffles - Beautiful scenery - Guide cautioned us at waterfall stop to be very careful, so I stuck to the gift shop instead. No way to see the waterfall without taking a slippery path where one of our group fell. Reported this to the shore excursions desk, but the agent said she’d been on the tour and it was fine. Have gotten partial refunds from Royal Caribbean on similar complaints, but none on Holland American. Back on the road, I got a glimpse of the waterfall from the moving bus. Guide was so cheerful, and she got her tip as well as the tip for the guide the previous day. Stone cold waffles and no refills on coffee. Not handicapped accessible. Stairs leading to the bathrooms at the waterfall didn’t have handrails. Will not take this tour again. Akurieri - Taste of Akurieri - Best dessert of the trip! Fascinating seeing the airport runway built right in the middle of the Fjord! Guide seemed nervous they wouldn’t let us into the church. Tour company needs to include clause about possibility of church closure in the description. She kept phoning management for instructions. Wouldn’t mind taking this tour again. Love the grass topped building at Laufás, ceilings were too low for husband. Isafjord - Arctic Foxes and Avalanches - Beautiful scenery! Loved the concert at the church and the Arctic Foxes. So glad this turned into a docking port! Cute little foxes, bought myself a stuffed toy Arctic Fox (made in China). I liked their facility and wanted to support them. Great snack up the long staircase! If they offer this again, we’ll give it another shot. Didn’t know they had dams for avalanches. Halifax - Oh Canada - Small Group - Excellent guide. Fresh haddock, veggies and potato, and trifle w/ coffee for dessert. WiFi in Restaurant. Halifax tour guides are the best dressed in kilts. Our guide was so knowledgable with Kilt Patterns, flags, history and more. We stopped at Peggy’s Cove to see that beautiful lighthouse. Syfy’s Haven show were filmed at Peggy’s Cove lighthouse (once) and Luninburg. Rushed through Acadian Maple even though the description called it the “highlight of the tour.” The tour guide’s Maple Pumpkin Pie suggestion really helped at Thanksgiving. But they shop owners were very helpful locating items. Luninburg is a quaint town. Our guide explained that most buses only went to the waterfront, but he had our driver go into the historic part of the city. I doubt a huge bus could have fit around those narrow streets and square curbs. They need to find a minibus with more leg room. We’d gladly pay more for a better minibus w/ more legroom. We had more leg room on the flight home in coach. Done Peggy’s Cove three times, and Halifax City twice now, and hear new information every time. No repeats for this particular tour. May try the extended Peggy’s Cove since we never seem to have enough time there. We brought up the short stop at Acadian Maple to the Shore Excursions desk, and they said they have to keep to a schedule on tours with a lot of stops. Will book shorter tours with fewer stops from now on. St. John also turned into a docking port from the originally scheduled tender port. Good thing too, or we would have stayed on the ship. Loved the musicians at the ship, and the mounties. Need more infrastructure at the ship. One lady had a sales table set up on the road! On the way in, we saw people hiking on a path right outside our balcony. Dock is in a cove! Mobility impaired: very steep grade very close to the dock. Read Less
Sail Date July 2016
Excursions were too expensive, one could go on shore and find the same type for less than half. Food in dining room Rotterdam was bland, slow, and showed little imagination for culinary tastes. My wife and I ate three times in the ... Read More
Excursions were too expensive, one could go on shore and find the same type for less than half. Food in dining room Rotterdam was bland, slow, and showed little imagination for culinary tastes. My wife and I ate three times in the Pinnacle Grill, found the food to be outstanding, service excellent, and well worth the $25 add on. Medical facilities were great as I had to use twice. Our new Lanai Room 356 seems a bit small, the couch was mini, the desk very small. storage good, beds excellent, bath Ok, but water closet is set very close to tub. Used shower 100%, had to be very careful when exiting tub. The most concerning isue, your outside Lanai chair pads are put in your room each night, and one must remember when the sun goes down, the UV light enables passengers walking the deck to look into your room. One quickly, unfortunately, learns to pull the drapes. Next time, we'll pay for a Veranda. Lastly, their was a 110 plug but at the desk, so my wife had to leave the bath area and sit at the desk to dry her hair. What will be,will be! Evening shows left a lot to improve upon. Four shows were repeated during the cruise. Wifi was a disaster. Paid $250 for 1000 minutes of air time. The poor internet manager probable lost ten years of his life with all the Seniors and their I Pods and the difficulties in loosing or trying to send or retreive E-Mails. The public rooms were well used, very clean, and would rate a high score. Of the 1248 quests, less than 50 were children due to lenght of time and thus had no issue. Casinoes continue to be a money maker for the shipping lines. The tipping issue continues to rear its ugly head, we paid $11.50 each per day for 35 days and then were smoozed into leaving another tip for room stewards, and dining room staffs. Fortunately they deserve it, since in London it was printed in the news that P&O Cruise line was only paying their employees less than $1.00 per hour, yet they work ten-twelve hours per day, seven days per week and must sign a ten month contract. Oh the life of a Seafarer!! The two most interesting aspects of the cruise were Stonehenge in England, and Iceburgs bigger than the ship in Greenland. Read Less
Sail Date July 2012

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