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25 Boston to Transatlantic Cruise Reviews

We booked this cruise as we always wanted to visit Iceland, Greenland and Ireland. We didn't have the greatest weather...however as my husband always reminds me...you pay your money and take your chances! The scenery and people ... Read More
We booked this cruise as we always wanted to visit Iceland, Greenland and Ireland. We didn't have the greatest weather...however as my husband always reminds me...you pay your money and take your chances! The scenery and people are so wonderful. We heard so many great reviews from friends that had taken this voyage. Our cabin on the Zuiderdam was a balcony #8121. This is located Aft - Starboard side - below the smoking section on Deck 9. So each morning and evening (5am & 11pm) we would hear the dragging of the chairs/tables above us. Our toilet was intermittant on flushing. Balcony was disgustingly dirty! The crew on all HAL ships are truly amazing...this makes for a great cruise. Pinnacle grill service was the worst we have ever experienced. Entertainment was terrible...the ONLY great show was "Step One" This particular cruise is expensive...I feel that the longer voyages 30+ days should have something unique ... a special captains party or something for the guests sailing the full cruise. Read Less
Sail Date July 2019
We recently completed a 17 day cruise across the North Atlantic aboard the Zuiderdam, billed as “Voyage of the Vikings” from Boston to Rotterdam. This is actually first part of a longer 35 day cruise that returns to Boston, visiting ... Read More
We recently completed a 17 day cruise across the North Atlantic aboard the Zuiderdam, billed as “Voyage of the Vikings” from Boston to Rotterdam. This is actually first part of a longer 35 day cruise that returns to Boston, visiting different ports coming and going. We were among the minority of guests who departed halfway through. Many guests don’t enjoying flying and dealing with jet lag and a voyage that begins and ends in the US is attractive to them. This cruise is only done once a year, and many people have apparently done it multiple times and sign up for it months in advance. Despite that the ship was not full. You want to learn about Vikings? If so, this is the cruise for you and there are quite a number of talks and presentations about the Vikings as explorers, plunderers, and traders, along with history of the various countries visited. This was reinforced by shore excursions. Cruisers should note that it's a rather expensive voyage, and that is also true of the shore excursions. At the last minute we were pleasantly surprised by an upgrade from the signature class cabin we had booked to a Neptune suite, a much larger cabin (#7073) with various extras, including a dedicated lounge. So that got the voyage off to a rousing start. Service met the usual high HAL standard whether we are talking about cabin stewards, dining room staff or concierges for the lounge. The concierges were quick to handle any minor issues we encountered, and were proactive in trying to be of help. I remember one rather rough night where they called and wanted to make sure we were not sea sick. On this voyage, we noticed the continuation of a trend we’ve perceived on HAL which is to make their voyages more “authentic”, which means substituting more “live” music for the traditional cruise song and dance shows, presentations by experts, and shore excursions that are more about exploring local cultures. HAL continues to go down this road by announcing they are bringing in more artistic dancers and local chefs. This is clearly how HAL seeks to differentiate itself from other cruise lines, including others in the Carnival Group. Given the age and economic status and propensity to travel of the average HAL guest, I can’t fault them for the strategy (and I very much appreciate the strategy myself, for this is my vision of what a cruise should be) but this is not a cruise for people who want an experience with games and pool parties and sports and late night entertainment on board, particularly if you have children. We ate in the dining room most nights, but also in the Pinnacle grill twice and once at Sel de Mer, which exists as a “pop up” restaurant only opening one or twice during the voyage. All the food was very good, though there seemed a little less variety than previous voyages. Though we frequented many of the music venues and enjoyed them very much, the other entertainment on board left a great deal to be desired and we hardly went to any of the shows. Entertainment is the weakest aspect of the HAL experience, but it is also the aspect of cruising I care about least. We took part in six excursions coordinated by HAL. There was the usual level of good organization, though as noted they were rather expensive. Weather was not particularly cooperative but that is not HAL's fault. This is something like our 11th cruise with HAL. We think of ourselves as quite experienced cruisers, but many of the travellers on this trip have hundreds and hundreds of cruise days to their credit, and travel to all corners of the world on multi month voyages. It’s a completely different kind of passenger than you find in the Caribbean or Alaska and you can learn a lot from them. I cannot say enough about the professionalism, positive attitude and courtesy of HAL personnel but in truth this is nothing new, for this has always been our experience with HAL and why we continue to use them exclusively for ocean cruising. Read Less
Sail Date July 2019
This itinerary was wonderful. It is summer in the north but bring warmer clothes and jacket plus be ready to have rain. Scenic viewing of icebergs from the ship was spectacular and was the best part of trip. leaving rotterdam we were ... Read More
This itinerary was wonderful. It is summer in the north but bring warmer clothes and jacket plus be ready to have rain. Scenic viewing of icebergs from the ship was spectacular and was the best part of trip. leaving rotterdam we were enjoying the view from the rear of the ship for 2 hours. in bergum norway we rode the funicular. the waterfalls and scenery in iceland were beautiful. qaqortoq greenland was a walking port just to say you were in greenland. The navigational crew did an excellent job thru thick fog and icebergs. we enjoy fixed early dining as spouse has food allergy and having the same waiters is a plus. So far our table mates have been pleasant. They removed the self serve laundry room which was bad as this ship does longer itineraries and people would rather do thier own laundry than have it done. we really enjoyed this cruise. Read Less
Sail Date July 2018
Chose Holland due to the voyage only, was a big mistake. Ship needs to be in dry dock. Dining windows cracked top to bottom. Weathered, could hardly see out them. Cabin window siliconed with rust. Shower either scalded, or froze u. ... Read More
Chose Holland due to the voyage only, was a big mistake. Ship needs to be in dry dock. Dining windows cracked top to bottom. Weathered, could hardly see out them. Cabin window siliconed with rust. Shower either scalded, or froze u. Lavatory leaked water everyday. Cabin boy woke us up at 5:30 everyday collecting ice from ice machine across the hall. Said ice machine was out on his floor as well as the dining room. Our friends ceiling leaked water in the cabin, curtain rod fell off on him, hair dryer caught on fire. Norovirus for several wks. Because elderly people would not abide by rules and wash hands and stay in their room. I have been in 32 cruises with many companies. I am also a senior, but, this was the worst group of walking dead I have ever encountered. The fussed about everything, insisted they eat at same table at 5:15 earch night. Saved seats for 1st show, therefore, the rest of us always had to wait until 7:30 to eat dinner, always had to attend late shows, etc. They chose anytime dining , but, insisted on eating at 5 each night therefore controlling those of us that wanted to eat at 6 or 7. Terrible experience, never again HOLLAND! Read Less
Sail Date July 2018
Voyage of the Vikings was a dream cruise for us. After reading reviews and following prior Viking voyages on line, we decided it was time for us to take the plunge. We are so happy we did it! Not everything was perfect but we didn’t let ... Read More
Voyage of the Vikings was a dream cruise for us. After reading reviews and following prior Viking voyages on line, we decided it was time for us to take the plunge. We are so happy we did it! Not everything was perfect but we didn’t let the small issues dampen our trip or the overall experience. MS Rotterdam is an older ship and despite reading complaints from other reviews, we felt the ship had character. There were a few water leaks on rainy days. The voice mail system was hard to figure out. Automated wake-up calls seldom rang at the requested time – either because the time change was not programmed in (one hour off) or it was programmed late (wake-up calls were 20 minutes late). One day, we had no cold water in our bathroom. A spa charge on our account on the first day was not ours and it took 3 weeks for them to remove it. I mention these only to show that problems did arise but I believe it is mostly how you handle the problems that makes for a good or bad cruise. We had a good cruise! Embarkation in Boston was organized and did not take long. Although we were waiting at the terminal for 90 minutes, it was only because we arrived before the scheduled boarding time. Our plan was to drop our carry-on bags in the cabin, get lunch and then go sightseeing. We checked in at 1 pm and were off the ship at 1:30. We used local bus transportation to get into town. There is a bus stop near the terminal. Our ports are listed below. We missed 2 ports due to weather and missed one HAL excursion due to late arrival. There was a lot of fog encountered on this trip and a couple of days when it didn’t let up. Only one day was high seas with gale force winds. We had no problems with motion sickness. There was an outbreak of Norovirus during the cruise. The first announcement from the captain requested that everyone be diligent in washing their hands and using sanitizer stations. The captain made various announcements over the next wekk. The Lido staff began dishing out food and handling drinks for everyone, no more self-serve. Sick passengers were confined to their cabins by order of the Captain. This went on for over a week before the outbreak began to diminish. Food in the Lido was tasty. Made to order stations (Breakfast, Asian, Salads) were available and had new menus each day. We prefer to eat breakfast and lunch in the Lido. One day, we opted for lunch in the MDR and I was disappointed at the service and the food, which was not what I ordered. I know, easily corrected with only a word to the waiter but I chose not to make it an issue. We just never went back. Dinner in the MDR each day was a delight! Our waiters were always happy and the service was excellent! They knew our names from day one. Our table for 8 had only 5 show up. After the third day, the table service was set up for only 5. In Rotterdam, the big table was changed to a smaller size and set up for 6 people and we had someone new join us. Each evening was filled with good discussions and talk of the days activities, family and previous cruises. We all became friends and have since emailed each other. The menu items were seldom repeated. We had lobster 4 times. I like variety and trying new tastes, so it was funny when we all ordered the exact same entree at one meal! The Cruise Director was Linda Minikin. She was everywhere! IMO, she was the perfect CD. Intelligent, humorous, sincere and always had time for the passengers. Half the passengers on board were 4 or 5 star Mariners. Priority tendering was suspended for the entire cruise. Everyone required a tender ticket first come, first served. We had no problems getting off the ship and meeting with our prearranged tour groups. Activities on board included guest speakers. Their presentations were delivered to a full house and sometime even a standing room only crowd! This was an educational voyage after all. The Polar Plunge was a great event if you want to become a "true Viking". We crossed the Arctic Circle twice and everyone received a certificate for it. We used a free calling phone app while traveling and it worked fine above deck in port. No free internet in Greenland and very expensive phone service so we turned ours off. HAL Navigator app was very useful. Disembarkation was a breeze! US Customs was on board the day of debarkation. Passengers were called to the King’s Lounge in order of debarkation time. Early walk-off was called at 7:15 am. No bags, only passport and ship card. We stood in line about 7 minutes for a 10 second inspection. Returned to our cabin to collect our bags and wait for 8 am exit. We were off the ship by 8:20. It was great! Boston Check-in began at 1pm except 5 stars, who had special area and were brought on early. After check-in, we ate in lido then exited and took a bus into Boston. Bus stop is an easy walk from Terminal 1 and 2. We were back on board at 5 pm, went to dinner in MDR and then the 8 pm safety drill for those who did not attend the 4 pm safety drill. Our departure was at 10 pm. Bar Harbor – tender No priority tendering for 4 and 5 star during the entire cruise! Half the passengers (700) were in this group. There is a free bus service within Acadia NP but you must pay to enter the park. If you have an Annual Pass, be sure to bring it with you to avoid paying the entrance fee. There are different bus routes within the park. Buses run often although you may have to wait 30 minutes for some routes. Basically, they operate as HOHO. Be sure of your timing so you get back to the ship! Sydney The big fiddle can’t be missed! You can get into town via the road or a boardwalk. There are a few places of interest near the port (house, church and Highlander museums, Tim Hortons) plus some interesting shops in town (craft & design centre). The port has some shops and free WiFi. There was a large craft show when we were there. Corner Brook Free local shuttle to and from town. You can also walk but it’s a busy road. Get directions. Go to Tom’s Port Guide for information on the local walking trails. We spent the day on the 8 km Gorge Trail and saw Lady Slipper flowers but not much else beyond the Margaret Bowater Park (you can swim in the river here). The modern City Hall has a museum and a grass roof. Bootleg Brew Co had a choice of 8 brews. Drunken Muppet and Just The Tip were good. Red Bay – tender We arrived but did not stay due to rough water determined to be unsafe for tendering. This became a sea day. Paamiut – tender We arrived and circled but did not stay due to increasing fog. Another sea day. Qaqortoq – tender Bug repellent and/or screen hoods are advised! Visitors center is across from the port. You can book excursions here. Very colorful town. Be sure to check out the stone art. The museum is worth $5. Old church with stream and flowers. Oldest water fountain in Greenland. We hiked all around the lake – beautiful. Suggest starting on the west side for a gradual incline then flat walking at the end. (3.5 hrs.) The Visitors Center was out of maps but I was able to get one at the museum. Reykjavik The port tourist information center is where you pick up tours and taxis. There is a free port shuttle to take you from the ship, but it’s not far to walk. City center is 3 km from the port. Taxi into town was 3400 ISK. There is a sidewalk all the way. The Sun Voyager sculpture is only accessible along the sidewalk. It is between the port and Harpa Concert Hall. You can see it from a vehicle. Harpa is free to enter. Walk up to level 5 for nice views. Walk up hill to the big church. Public swimming pool in town. Check the old harbor area for boat tours (puffins and whales) and seafood. We did the Golden Circle Tour on day one (awesome!) and Free City Walk on day 2. Need groceries? “Bonus” is a good stop. Credit cards accepted everywhere. Alesund Beautiful town for walking around. A few museums are worthy of a look. If you are able, climb the 408 steps to the Fjellstua viewing point – stunning views of the city and the pier. An alternate walking trail takes you back down and passed some interesting spots including the only house that did not burn in the 1904 fire that destroyed the city. Rotterdam Bus and subway transportation is very near the port. There is also a public water bus pier on the other side of the river (walkable) which can take you to Kinderdijk to see working windmills. Some people took trains to Amsterdam or Belgium for the day or even overnight. Lots of walkable options nearby: Hotel New York, SS Rotterdam (free admission to public areas, charge for tours, food and drink), Food Factory, shops, cinemas and theater. Modern downtown area. Dublin Alexander Quay is very industrial. We were not allowed to walk beyond the ship although we did walk back to port when our taxi driver made a wrong turn and we opted to get out. At the terminal gate, we had to wait for a shuttle bus to arrive and take us the last 300 yards to the ship. HAL provided a shuttle into town for $8 OW or $16 RT per person. A taxi for 3 people was 15-18 GBP depending on traffic. Dublin central is very walkable but get a map because it’s easy to get confused on where you are in relation to where you are going. The streets are not perpendicular. Buy tickets in advance when possible. Lines can be very long. Book of Kells was interesting. Greenock I thought this would be a nothing stop but it turned out to be historically interesting. Be sure to pick up the free tour books – Town Trail and Historic Quarter – at the information booth. These will guide you through the town and its history. There is a lot here! Industry, religion, revolutions and sugar. Portree – tender A sleepy little town with interesting shops and food. “The Chippy” was a good stop for fish and chips. We took a tour to Fairy Glen, Uig, Duntulm, etc for 28 GBP for 4 hours. Excellent! Some great photos. Djupivogur - tender Boat trips to Papey Island were discontinued when we were there. There are a few art galleries that are free and filled with weird things. Be sure to check out the Gleoivik Eggs. Just past the eggs, you can access a path to the Aeoarsteinsviti lighthouse. You can take a trail to black sand beach and birdwatching but get a map first! There is an information booth at the campground. Akureyri Botanical garden, large church. Not sure what else since we took a full day tour to Godafoss and Lake Myvatn using Taxi No 17. Great tour. Scenic cruising after leaving port was awesome too. Isafjordur Small information booth at pier with free WiFi. Get directions to bigger info center. There is a map with 3 walking trails outlined. We did all of them during our walk around town. Be sure to check out the church with the clay birds behind the altar. Nanortalik - tender A large information building with souvenirs. The church choir performs a concert when ships come to port. $10 donation. Outdoor museum is $5. As you walk from the church to the outdoor museum, notice the large rock on your right with the profile of a man’s face. A few shops and two grocery stores, some craft tables. A walk thru the residential area has some colorful homes. A cemetery faces the bay. St Anthony – tender Nice gift shop at tender port. Small stores nearby. Hospital across the street has an ATM upstairs. Shopping area is a mile from the port. We booked a private tour to L’anse Aux Meadows. This is were Vikings arrived in North America. Excellent tour. Very nice people everywhere. Try the Bakeapple jam made from local berries. St John’s Port is right in town. One block to major street. City has a lot to see and do. We booked Legend Tour and saw all the highlights around the town then went into town for sightseeing and a beer. We went to the “Rooms” museum and arrived 30 minutes before closing. They let us in for free and suggested we stop on each floor and view the exhibits at the entrance in each section to get a flavor of what is offered. We had just enough time to finish. Lots of colorful houses. Halifax Port was next to famous Pier 21 where all the immigrants arrived. It is now a museum and worthy of a look. I found my mom’s passenger records and ship registry here. There is a new boardwalk with many shops and restaurants. A huge Farmer’s Market is on the way. We did a tour to Peggy’s Cove and other sites that was fantastic. The cemetery with Titanic graves was interesting. Read Less
Sail Date July 2018
Having never been to Greenland or Iceland the stops on this cruise were a great attraction the food was good to very good and the entertainment was very good. The minuses were the ship. We had to call for plumbing issues 4 times and ... Read More
Having never been to Greenland or Iceland the stops on this cruise were a great attraction the food was good to very good and the entertainment was very good. The minuses were the ship. We had to call for plumbing issues 4 times and AC issues multiple times. There was also an irritating knocking fro, we think the window which kept me awake the first night. The pool was like ice the first few days and so hot the last few days it wasn’t refreshing the solarium was also like ice several days although this did cover the indoor pool as the itinerary was cool. Norway Greenland Iceland and Canada were all great! The entertainment was high quality and enjoyable. In fact I would rate entertainment as excellent. Service was very good. Our main complaints were the continuous engineering problems with the ship itself and there many people who had issues. The other issues were very bumpy in a storm and fog caused one Greenland stop to be cancelled although that is not within the cruise lines control. I would say if you get a great deal the ship issues could be tolerated but I sure wouldn’t pay a premium for the Rotterdam. On the plus side Holland does cater to the older crowd and this they do very well with. This isn’t a cruise line for families with a lot of children I think they would be bored but is great if you want a calm relaxing vacation. Note we did the 18 day route from Rotterdam to Boston. Read Less
Sail Date July 2018
This Boston to Boston, 38 day cruise allowed us to experience many ports we have never been to. Canadian ports were very friendly, Greenland was novel, people friendly, very interesting. Iceland included 5 stops, so we felt it was well ... Read More
This Boston to Boston, 38 day cruise allowed us to experience many ports we have never been to. Canadian ports were very friendly, Greenland was novel, people friendly, very interesting. Iceland included 5 stops, so we felt it was well covered as each port allowed us to see a variety of scenery. Weather was better than expected although we missed several ports due to heavy fog. Prince Christian Sound was traversed in both direction so we got to see it in foggy weather and in the sun. The Rotterdam is a classic ship filled with beautiful artwork. She is, however, showing her age. Interiors were clean and presented well but there was a lot of rust and systems were failing. We had a corridor that experienced either cold or scalding water in the shower. We had to feel the water and shower whenever possible. Passenger services was attentive to our needs but the fact remained that the pipes were being worked on constantly. HAL did compensate us for the inconvenience. Our cabin was cozy and well tended. The crew could not have been better. Even the staff in the Lido learned our names and our cabin stewards were great. Our Sit & Stitch group consisted of friendly, well-behaved pasengers and we looked forward to it on sea days. Entertainment was varied and enjoyable but we would have liked more local entertainment. Read Less
Sail Date July 2018
Some American friends invited us along and the itinerary seemed great. August 2017. The RotteNdam as we named her was a floating bathtub. Raining in Boston on embarcation and there was water coming through the roof in the lido ... Read More
Some American friends invited us along and the itinerary seemed great. August 2017. The RotteNdam as we named her was a floating bathtub. Raining in Boston on embarcation and there was water coming through the roof in the lido dining room so they covered the bain marie and had buckets everywhere. Ocean view cabin was the usual expectation, but very dated. Walked around and got wet socks assumed the previous occupant had spilt something. Couldn't see much thru the window covered in salt spray. Read on. Day one after lunch went for a swim and the pool was cold sharing the hot spa a guy told me last trip the heater had failed and they hadn't repaired it. Went to the lido gents and it stank. Great start. Complained. Overall the staff were good as usual the cabin boys were very attentive and bar staff ok. One girl on her first assignment was excellent older guy couldn't even be bothered to pour my beer into a glass. His loss she got$20 , him SFA. Food was reasonable some lido was ordinary but you could always find something. Dining room was fine. The worst thing is the extortionate cost of tours, (Not restricted to HAL) we researched and booked a land tour (Iceland) that was word for word the HAL tour, we had a small group 18 seat mini bus and the driver also did the HAL coachs. Half the price. How can they justify this...... EXC ripoff. We booked online using local business or did our own thing at every port with our companions, saved thousands. The itinerary was great and scenery likewise , so would recommend this trip we did the round trip Boston Boston 38 days. Continuing, 10 days in and rain, wet feet in the cabin somehow the floor got wet when it rained and not thru the roof???. Lido leaks again. Next day brilliant sunshine so in the dining room evening, we were blinded , unfortunately the blinds didn't close, so the waiters stuck tablecloths across the windows they said they complained all the time, just a joke. I could go on about the rear swimming pool that was dry I guess that leaked thru to cabin below, or my toilet that took a stern warning to the plumber on the second attempt to fix it. Apparently the RotteNdam was going in for a refit very soon after I would have pulled the plug on it. However as I said the itin and scenery and ports (Greenland was amazing) were fantastic and I would recommend it. Entertainment was not bad and they also had regional people at times giving lectures. Read Less
Sail Date August 2017
Embarkation and disembarkation was effortless. Choose this cruise because it went to many ports/countries that I have not been to. Despite the title of this cruise, Voyage of the Vikings, it really did not emphasize the Vikings very ... Read More
Embarkation and disembarkation was effortless. Choose this cruise because it went to many ports/countries that I have not been to. Despite the title of this cruise, Voyage of the Vikings, it really did not emphasize the Vikings very much. Some of the ports were not worth going to, e.g. Red Bay, Labrador, Canada, but overall a very enjoyable cruise. I liked that we were never at sea for more than 2 days at a time. One excursion "A day in Irsh Life" was probably one of the best we have ever taken. It was expensive but really enjoyed our day on the farm. We were not rushed around and could enjoy ourselves in a relaxing venue. The ship, cabin, entertainment, and dining was typical for Holland America, i.e. very good. The lectures were good, but some of the lecturers could brush up on their public speaking skills. The staff was fantastic. I did have some complaint about some of the staff in the Lido buffet, but other passengers had no complaints about it. The sea was calm for most of the voyage, except for one day on the North Sea. We even got hit by a rogue wave that night about 4 am which woke everybody up on the ship. Got some glimpses of some whales and many icebergs. I would highly recommend this cruise. Read Less
Sail Date July 2016
We received multiple recommendations about doing "The Voyage of the Vikings" and I must say no one could have prepared us for the adventures encountered during this trip. The ports of call ranged from large cities like Rotterdam, ... Read More
We received multiple recommendations about doing "The Voyage of the Vikings" and I must say no one could have prepared us for the adventures encountered during this trip. The ports of call ranged from large cities like Rotterdam, Dublin and Belfast to out of the way ports like Red Bay and Qaqortoq. Each stop brought new insight into this new global world. Luckily at each port the weather was pretty much perfect. We were a little under-prepared for how chilly it would be during this voyage. We purchased had made items in Corner Brook and were really glad we had when we stated the trip across the North Atlantic. I made a mental note to leave shorts behind if we ever decide to do this trip again. Once again I packed way too much while my husband seemed to have packed a little light. I would highly recommend sweater on this trip or just plan on buying some beautiful ones in various ports. The ship's crew were as always the highlight of the trip. We heard multiple complaints about the food from fellow passengers. I was pretty satisfied on most days, however there were a few days in the dinning room when the food was not as tasty as we had previously experienced, but for the most part I enjoyed the meals. I did run into two soups that lacked flavor, the tomato and the potato, but there were also delicious selections. The ship was doing the soups a little differently and that may account for the lack of flavor. The protein selections were great. I am fond of duck and it was offered on several days, along with perfectly cooked lamb. There was always a fresh fish selection along with steak or pasta. Most of the entertainment was great, two exceptions were the cellist and one of the last comedian. He was awful. We particularly enjoyed the " Not really 3 Tenors". We met many interesting folks along the way. Holland America is noted for catering to an older crowd and this trip was no exception. Perhaps the incident we objected to most was changing dinner time to suit those who wanted to eat early and see the show early. You can eat 24 hours a day on the ship. The crowd who wanted to eat early in the dinning room exceeded capacity. They quickly took up arms because if they ate at 5:30 or so they evidently had trouble fitting into the Show at 8 and did not want to stay up to 10 to see the late show. The cruise director succumbed to this entities demands and changed dinner time and show times for the remainder of the guest. I could write about this decision for hours, needless to say we all adjusted and life went on for the remainder of the cruise. It was a cruise I would do again, and again. Read Less
Sail Date July 2016
SPECTACULAR! This word keeps coming out of my mouth every time I tell someone about this cruise. The itinerary and scenery were spectacular. This was one from the bucket list for me and I was not disappointed. We were on for the ... Read More
SPECTACULAR! This word keeps coming out of my mouth every time I tell someone about this cruise. The itinerary and scenery were spectacular. This was one from the bucket list for me and I was not disappointed. We were on for the entire 35 days and I wouldn’t have wanted to miss a single minute. The cruise can be taken in two segments for those who cannot be away for so long. The cruise is a nice mix of many ports and sea days interspersed allowing for rest and regrouping and lots of great activities. First, the ship. We had been on the Veendam in 2007 and had been less than impressed. Unlike me, however, the Veendam has grown better with age. It was in excellent condition overall. Our steward did a great job. Service in general throughout the ship was excellent. The food in the main dining room was quite good. We are not fans of formal nights, but the menus on those nights made it worthwhile to participate. Entertainment was good. We especially enjoyed Abba Fab, Bobby Brooks Wilson, and the do-wop tribute group Alley Cats. The Veendam singers were the best we’ve ever heard on any cruise ship of any line. Dustin Cunningham is, in my opinion, a world class tenor. Piano man Barry of Boston is one of the best in the business. He and cruise director Christina presented a fantastic matinee performance on one of the final days of the cruise. The itinerary is second to none and it is no wonder that there were many repeat cruisers on the Voyage of the Vikings. The first port was Corner Brook, Newfoundland, where we visited scenic Gros Morne National Park. This was followed by a stop in Red Bay, Labrador, where we went on a lighthouse tour. This was enjoyable but foggy weather hindered the view. At the time we were fascinated by the sight of our first iceberg in the harbor and took many pictures of it. Little did we know what was to come later! Then we were on to our first port in Greenland, Qaqortoq. We took a private excursion arranged by a roll call member with Blue Ice which was a fantastic boat trip to a glacier with lots of blue icebergs and whales on the way. There were no ship’s excursions in either of the Greenland ports due to lack of capacity and infrastructure in the small towns. After a partial scenic cruising of Prince Christian Sound, we encountered the highlight of the entire cruise. Our amazing Captain, Eric Van der Wal, guided the Veendam through an ice field. This was beautiful beyond words and fun to see the seals sunning and playing on the many icebergs. The Captain later told us this was the most challenging and wonderful day of his career. We proceeded very slowly through the ice field navigating between the icebergs. This ice field had been blown northward by a storm and was not encountered on the return trip to Prince Christian Sound. Next we had an overnight stay in Reykjavik, Iceland. We enjoyed a private Golden Circle Tour the first day and took the ship’s excursion to the Blue Lagoon on the second (short) day. I recommend doing both of these things. We missed only one port during the 35 days and this was the tender port of Djupivogur which was to have followed Reykjavik. We proceeded on to Geiranger, Norway. The ship’s excursion Mt. Dalsnibba and the Eagle Road provided spectacular views from the mountaintop and of the Three Sisters waterfall. Even the waterfalls from culverts along the roadsides are beautiful! When we returned to the ship, we soaked in the hot tub on the back of the ship while enjoying the amazing beauty of the port. Our second stop in Norway was in Alesund where we took another great ship’s excursion: Romadal and the Troll Path. We saw more amazing scenery, somewhat hampered by foggy conditions on top of the mountain. I highly recommend both of these excursions to see beautiful Norway. Our final stop in Norway was Bergen. It was a rainy day so we took the Hop On Hop Off bus from the port. When the rain let up, we headed up the funicular to Mt. Florien where you have a great view of the city. We hiked to a lake while up on the mountain. If in Bergen, be sure to visit the fish market where we enjoyed seeing the giant crabs and other fresh seafood. After a sea day, we arrived in Amsterdam where we had an overnight stay. On the first day there we took a great ship’s excursion to Delft and The Hague. On the second day we took public transportation to the Anne Frank House which we had not visited on our first trip to Amsterdam. This is a moving experience. Be sure to book tickets online way ahead of time if you want to visit there. Lines were blocks long for entrance and prebooked tickets can bypass those lines. On this second day folks who booked half the trip departed and new passengers came on. The majority of passengers were on for the whole trip. The second half of the VOV began with a stop in Zeebrugge, Belgium. We chose a ship’s excursion: A Taste of Belgian Beer. I chose this because it included a city tour of Bruges along with the beer tasting. We also had free time to shop for delicious Belgian chocolate which was our main gift to friends and family upon returning home. This was a great excursion. After a sea day we arrived in Dublin, Ireland. Since we’d been there before, we chose a ship’s excursion to the original Jameson distillery. This was interesting but not what I would have chosen had we not already seen the Book of Kells at Trinity College which I consider the best thing to see in Dublin. Another sea day followed and then we arrived at the beautiful Faroe Islands. I highly recommend the ship’s excursion Vestmanna Seacliffs. We drove though amazing scenery and arrived at Vestmanna where we boarded a boat that took us to the cliffs. You see sheep grazing in places they had to be carried in by ladder and where they could easily fall off the cliffs. Our captain took us into grottos where we saw many birds, even a few of the elusive puffins we all wanted to see. Apparently puffins head out to sea by mid-August and we were lucky there were a few stragglers left for us to zoom in on with our cameras. The next day we arrived at our first of three ports in northern Iceland, Seydisfjordur. There we splurged on an amazing ship’s excursion, Monsters and Elves. The scenery was spectacular and we saw more of the elusive puffins. The next day we enjoyed another ship’s excursion to Lake Myvatn, a thermal area also with great scenery. The final day we stopped in Isafjordur where we took a private excursion to waterfalls arranged by a roll call member. The falls were some distance from the port, but well worth the ride. No ship’s excursions went there. Our driver was an eider duck farmer who offered to take us to his farm. We didn’t go due to time concerns but he did stop as I asked so we could see and pat the beautiful Icelandic horses which I’d only seen at a distance on all our other days in Iceland. After a sea day we had a rainy stop at our second Greenland port, Nanortalik. We did as our fantastic port expert, Barbara, recommended and attended the program at the cultural center. The teens danced folk dances and adults sang in beautiful harmony. Well worth doing! I treasure my recording of the singing Amazing Grace. Next was St. John’s, Newfoundland, where we enjoyed a ship’s excursion that was a city tour and Cape Spear visit. In Halifax we had a private tour to Peggy’s Cove. In Bar Harbor we shopped and enjoyed a lobster roll lunch near the port as we'd been there before. This was not a cheap cruise but it was worth every dollar we paid. HAL had its best crew aboard from the captain to wonderful activity host Jeremy and many others. We made new friends over the course of the cruise and can’t wait to take another of HAL’s wonderful long cruises. HAL, please don't sell the Veendam! It's a perfect size, has a guest laundry which is invaluable for a long cruise, and can get into places big ships can't. We loved the ship, crew, and the entire Voyage of the Vikings. Read Less
Sail Date July 2015
We sailed from Boston to Ireland, England, France, Belgium, Netherlands, Sweden, and Denmark. Enjoyed the cruise, the ship, and the staff. Food was fine. Ship was clean. Wish the loading for excursions was a bit more organized. Other than ... Read More
We sailed from Boston to Ireland, England, France, Belgium, Netherlands, Sweden, and Denmark. Enjoyed the cruise, the ship, and the staff. Food was fine. Ship was clean. Wish the loading for excursions was a bit more organized. Other than that we had no complaints. Read Less
Sail Date April 2015
We took the 15-night Transatlantic cruise from Boston to Copenhagen on the beautiful Serenade of the Seas. We had a junior suite on Deck 10, #1548. It was a great location and a beautiful cabin well kept by Nenko. We flew into Boston ... Read More
We took the 15-night Transatlantic cruise from Boston to Copenhagen on the beautiful Serenade of the Seas. We had a junior suite on Deck 10, #1548. It was a great location and a beautiful cabin well kept by Nenko. We flew into Boston the day before we sailed and stayed at the Hyatt Boston Harbor. We took a water taxi to the ship the next morning – fun and amazing views of Boston and the airplanes at Logan Airport. Embarkation was easy and we were soon eating lunch in the Windjammer. As Diamond Plus, we enjoyed the Concierge Club often during the cruise. The staff was always friendly and professional. Nizar, Julian and Santosh – thanks! Another perk we enjoyed was having cocktail benefits at the Schooner Bar between 4:30 and 8 PM. It was a lively area of the ship and the bartenders did not seem to mind some non-paying customers. Of course we tipped them! The Master Sea Chef competitions in the Centrum were one of our favorite activities during sea days. Eight of the ship’s officers were given specific ingredients to use in preparing an original dish, then their creations were judged and one officer was eliminated each day. The final competition was held during our last day at sea. Otherwise they kept us entertained indoors because the weather was typical for the North Atlantic at this time of the year – 40 to 60 mph winds, 17 ft. waves, etc. The ship handled the weather easily. The Solarium was heavily used. We did not use our balcony until we docked in Ireland. One annoyance on this cruise was the hogging of tables at the Windjammer by the passengers. Often we could not find a place to eat our food because there were so many tables of people just sitting there after they finished eating and their dishes had been cleared away. With so many nice areas to sit around the ship, I could not understand how people could be so selfish. We truly enjoyed being in a different city every day without having to pack and unpack, or check in and out of hotels. And you could count on a nice dinner on the ship when you returned from your shore excursion. So many special moments make up a cruise this long. As we were about to leave Ireland, a tenor from Cobh sang a fabulous mini-concert in the Centrum. After he finished singing and we responded with thunderous applause, he stepped back on the shore and the rest of us sailed away to Portland UK. Our shore excursion in Portland UK was the Corfe Castle and Scenic Drive. The castle is in ruins, but on the day we visited, a huge group of “re-enactors” donned costumes, erected tents, lit cooking fires, and fought a battle between the Saxons and the Vikings, complete with helmets and colorful shields & weapons. Everybody had a great experience there. Another special moment: as we left the dock at Portland, a small group of uniformed gentlemen braved the wind and rain to honor us with a 3-volley salute from their cannon. We cheered and applauded their efforts. Docking in Le Havre, we headed out on our 11 hour D-Day Beaches & Bayeux Tapestry excursion. We thoroughly enjoyed the day. Normandy still holds the memories of the invasion force. The American Cemetery is legally United States soil, given to us by France. It is beautifully maintained and honors the fallen heroes with quiet dignity. The Visitor’s Center tells the story in photos. The bus let us off to walk on Omaha Beach and then we rode to Bayeux where we had an excellent lunch with wine. The Tapestry was amazing and we had time to walk around Bayeux before heading back to our ship. Bruges On Your Own was our shore excursion in Belgium. We liked the time to explore on our own, and we were each given a map of the city. Meeting time and place were given very clearly and everybody made it back to the bus. CON: We bought a Post Cruise Package with RCCL for transportation downtown to stay at the Scandic Palace Hotel in Copenhagen, breakfast, and transportation to the airport the next day. Several of us questioned the representative when we docked to be sure we received all of these services, and she assured us that all was included. The letter we received at the hotel did not agree. We were to “ask the Hotel Concierge about our transportation options” to the airport. The Hotel Concierge did not know anything about free transfers for the cruise package holders, but he said the lady from Intercruises would be at the hospitality desk early on Sunday morning, and she could answer any questions. The phone number they gave us was only good from 9AM to 5PM, so we decided to find out the next morning at the hospitality desk. Alas, THE LADY DID NOT EVER SHOW UP, so we had to find a taxi, find the right currency and pay our own way to the airport. Not a good way to end a wonderful cruise. Read Less
Sail Date April 2015
This was the sixth eastbound transatlantic cruise for me and my wife, and our 19th holiday in Europe, so we are not neophyte European travelers or cruisers. One aspect of this cruise which has not been commented on was the weather. It ... Read More
This was the sixth eastbound transatlantic cruise for me and my wife, and our 19th holiday in Europe, so we are not neophyte European travelers or cruisers. One aspect of this cruise which has not been commented on was the weather. It was appalling. Only one or two days without rain, and gale force winds. One morning our TV screen was telling us that the apparent wind was 108 Kilometers per hour on deck. Wow. This certainly curtailed our usual laps around the top deck, but the ship’s stabilizers worked amazingly well, and no one seemed to be feeling uncomfortable from the ship’s motion. It was interesting to watch the captain, or was it the pilot, fighting to get the ship into the Portland harbour against the wind, and apparently there was some question about cancelling the stop in Amsterdam. The demographic of the ship’s passengers was different from any other cruise we have been on. At 75, my wife and I felt that we probably hit the median age spot on. We wondered at times if we had somehow wandered into a posh retirement residence. Last year, on another transatlantic RCI cruise 70 % of the passengers seemed to be British, unlike this year when the vast majority seemed to be American. This was our first cruise with RCI as Diamond members, an elite status which we shared, according to the captain, with 700 other passengers. Four of the bars had to be opened up for the free happy hour drinks to handle the overflow. Traveling with carry on luggage only, we ran into no problems with embarkation or disembarkation, and never had to wait more than 5 minutes at the gangway at the many stops along the way. Fast and efficient. Having said this, we felt that there was a problem with the itinerary. On paper, it sounded great. Departure from Boston, a bonus for folks living in the Northeast, with stops in Cork, Portland, Le Havre, Cherbourg, Brugge, Amsterdam and Gothenburg. The problem was that most of the stops were at very unattractive industrial container ports which in several cases were several miles from anywhere a tourist would want to visit. We felt that in this case the cruise line should have at least provided free shuttle service. For some of the stops they did, but in other cases there was a considerable charge. For many passengers the major stop seemed to be Paris (LeHavre). To schedule this on a Sunday was perhaps not a great idea. There were amenities which we have enjoyed on other cruises which were sadly lacking. The usual RCI small library has been downgraded to a couple of bookshelves in the corner of one of the atrium lounges. Disappointing. No smoked salmon for breakfast. Shocking. The overall decor on the ship was not something that we found terribly attractive, compared to other ships in the RCI fleet, and there was a total lack of some of the great enrichment lectures which we have enjoyed on previous crossings. To call Phil, giving his juvenile take on some of the ports of call, an enrichment lecturer was a sad misnomer. So three stars or four? We will say three, but blame the low rating on the weather. The highlight of the cruise? For us, definitely the Kukenhof flower show in Amsterdam, which could be considered as worth the cost of the whole trip. Read Less
Sail Date April 2015
We are Diamond on Royal and it was our 35 th cruise. Most of ship were sr. citizens so we loved all the Trivia. Ship had great staff, great room and cabin steward. The food was horrible. It was the same menu over and over. Tough and ... Read More
We are Diamond on Royal and it was our 35 th cruise. Most of ship were sr. citizens so we loved all the Trivia. Ship had great staff, great room and cabin steward. The food was horrible. It was the same menu over and over. Tough and unappetizing. Dining room and windjammer. Entertainment was good but only 2 big shows for 15 days was very poorly thought out. Shore excursions need to be improved several very awful. Read Less
Sail Date April 2015
Getting on board in Boston was a nightmare. Not enough staff. We had to wait ONE HOUR in line to get checked in after Security. We've embarked in other ports (FL, NJ, CA), and never had to wait nearly as long. Also I think going ... Read More
Getting on board in Boston was a nightmare. Not enough staff. We had to wait ONE HOUR in line to get checked in after Security. We've embarked in other ports (FL, NJ, CA), and never had to wait nearly as long. Also I think going thru a metal detector after every port visit is silly, and Security personnel could be more pleasant. I don't know why bridge games were limited to 13 tables. People had to be turned away. Staircases beautifully decorated. Overall, ship showing its age. Dining room meals were varied and creative, with some occasional misses. Lunch buffets were very good; breakfast could use some variety. We were highly pleased with our waiter team, Francisco and Jose, plus their supervisor. Also stateroom attendant Aaron. We had some minor problems onboard, and all were resolved in a highly satisfactory manner. Most staff worked hard to make sure guests are satisfied. Other cruise ships distribute detailed information on ports visited; this ship had next to nothing. We loved our one sponsored tour (Swedish islands), but felt all these were overpriced. Free bus shuttle service was great. In reality, visiting major ports for a few hours is not a great way to travel; river cruises are a better way to see sights. TV selection was poor. After first few days, a few old programs were constantly recycled (e.g., Masters golf). Internet connection on public computers was MUCH too slow. If technology is an issue, price should be lower. Shows were uniformly excellent. I think the Entertainment staff should be reassigned. Those running the trivia contests have accents too thick to understand their English; Cruise Director would be better running trivia, not hosting shows. Read Less
Sail Date April 2015
This was my fourth RCL cruise and I saw huge drops in all areas for quality. First we waited over 2 hours to check in in Boston. Having checked in there with Holland America I could see they only hired 50% of the staff, for a larger ... Read More
This was my fourth RCL cruise and I saw huge drops in all areas for quality. First we waited over 2 hours to check in in Boston. Having checked in there with Holland America I could see they only hired 50% of the staff, for a larger ship. I spoke to one of the check in agents, who are contract employees, the same ones work for all the cruise lines, He said yes Royal Caribbean will never hire enough people. I have not been on an RCI ship in about 7 years and I will never go on one again. For one thing the quality of the food has really dropped. No high cost food items at all. All the supposed desserts are just Jello and Cool Whip made into a Mango Slice. Dinner is still decent but lobster only one night on a 2 week cruise? No smoked salmon offered on the breakfast buffet, you can order it in the dining room. Breakfast in the dining room has a breakfast bar for cereals and fruit, This eliminates wait staff. Everything on the buffets are totally low cost food items. No waffles for sit down breakfast? First I will say we are not Diamond or Diamond Plus, all the revenue for the cruise seems to be going to give them special perks. We had an outside cabin and when we showed up there were no toiletries. Just one bar of soap. I asked our cabin attendant and he said that he could get some for the suites for us. So now we have to pack our own lotion? The bridge director was a total joke. He was very hard of hearing and couldn't understand what anyone said. The first lesson day he was totally unprepared for the lesson or the game. He kept telling us that someone from the cruise line was supposed to be there to set everything up. They didn't. Also they did not offer free shuttles to go into port. The shuttles are now a money making operation for RCI. Plus on one port the city offered free shuttles but we were not told about them and told that we have to pay for an RCI shuttle. By the way they do offer free trips in to town for the crew. The television is horrible, no news channels for most of the trip and no printed newspaper. If you like good food eat at Giovanni's every night. Great value there. Plus the crew is wonderful. They work very hard and under all this cost cutting it must be tough. Lots of them have been there over 10 years so they don't have a lot of options to switch to another cruise line. Read Less
Sail Date April 2015
As a 3 star mariner we have used HAL numerous times as well as Celebrity and RCCL. This ship is older but as attractive features like it's size (1200 passengers). The crew is constantly painting and maintaining outside areas and I did ... Read More
As a 3 star mariner we have used HAL numerous times as well as Celebrity and RCCL. This ship is older but as attractive features like it's size (1200 passengers). The crew is constantly painting and maintaining outside areas and I did not see the disrepair other travelers complain about here. This cruise did miss one port due to excessive icebergs in the vicinity of Cartwright, Newfoundland and this was fine with me after watching Titanic many times. We saw plenty of icebergs around Greenland and on our way to Iceland. I have to admit that the voyage was nicer than most as we had great weather for viewing scenery both on ship and ashore. The one exception was the fog around the Faroe Islands. All the excursions we took were HAL purchases and reviews of these can be found on HAL website I posted. There was a significant outbreak of respiratory problems starting the first week out of Boston. Symptoms were a dry cough primarily which was not debilitating. A large number of passengers were observed with these symptoms and I still had them after flying back to Boston (3 weeks). My wife never was not infected and we are always very careful with disciplined hand washing as well as antibacterial wipes, etc. There has been a reduction of crew that I observed so things did take a little longer (wine steward, etc.) Food was a good as any other cruise lines with menu not as varied as my experience in the past. I have already booked another cruise on this vessel for next year. Read Less
Sail Date July 2014
My wife and I took the “Voyage of the Vikings” aboard the Veendam in July and August 2014, the full 35-day Boston-Amsterdam-Boston run. This is a once-a-year itinerary and we were unable to find reviews of the previous year’s cruise ... Read More
My wife and I took the “Voyage of the Vikings” aboard the Veendam in July and August 2014, the full 35-day Boston-Amsterdam-Boston run. This is a once-a-year itinerary and we were unable to find reviews of the previous year’s cruise on Cruise Critic, so we resolved to post our impressions here. And those impressions are mostly favorable. THE SHIP: From reading some reviews, you would think the Veendam was run down. We didn’t see it. I suppose if you look for imperfections you will find them, but the ship seemed well kept to us. The Veendam has all the familiar public spaces of the Holland America brand, including the Explorations Café (or the library, as everyone called it), which became a favorite spot. The Crow’s Nest was also a nice hangout, although the reclining lounge chairs along the windows that we enjoyed on other ships were not here. There are hot tubs (in lieu of an outdoor pool) on the aft deck. One thing we did not like was that the Showroom at Sea was too small for the passenger capacity. If there was a lecture or presentation on ports or shore excursions, you had to get there 20 minutes early or you would not get a seat. (Fortunately these talks were taped and shown on the room TVs.) It was also a problem for the few evening shows that were one performance only, but not a problem when there were two performances. THE CLIENTELE: Holland America passengers tend to trend older than other lines, but -- well, there’s no other way to say it – this cruise was absolutely geriatric. It attracts older folks who don’t like to fly, especially internationally, and there are more than a few who make this cruise an annual event. People who took shore excursions complained that it took forever to load and unload the buses at every stop. I know that getting an elevator could be very slow because just about everyone used them, and just one scooter takes up half the space in an elevator. There were also some attitudinal issues. Many of these passengers had 4 and 5 star status, and some were not shy about throwing their weight around. We saw some cringe-worthy moments of crew members being bullied. And sadly, there were a few people with obvious dementia who had attacks of panic in their unfamiliar surroundings, and across the hall from us, there was one couple traveling alone who just seemed not to understand where they were. Don’t get me wrong -- most people were lucid and pleasant enough, but there was enough of this weirdness around to make a difference in the overall atmosphere. I’ve got nothing against elderly people – I just turned 60 and hope to be enjoying nice vacations clear into my 80s – but if you are a relatively active person, you should know what you are signing on for. THE CABIN: We had an outside cabin on the lower promenade deck, so we could see what the weather was like. There were people walking by, of course, but this didn’t bother us. It wasn’t like we spend hours gazing out the window. The ship also has “lanai” cabins available, with a sliding glass door onto the promenade deck, but I don’t think the steep price difference is worth it. There are so many exits to the deck that no cabin is very far from one of them (I think I am sold on Lower Promenade for future cruises because you can get outside so easily without the exorbitant price of a veranda). The lanai doors and cabin windows are all mirrored glass to ensure privacy, but I offer the following caution: under the right conditions (dark outside, all lights on inside) strollers on the promenade can get quite the little peek inside. So know when to use the curtains. Our cabin was small, but just fine for a couple, with plenty of closet space and drawers, including under the bed. There was a loveseat and a vanity which became my computer desk. There was just one electrical outlet, but we brought a small power strip, so no problem. Our stewards, Rudy and Nazar, were just great throughout the voyage (Rudy had been assigned to our cabin on the Eurodam the previous year in Europe). There was a mix-up where we found twin beds instead of a queen when we embarked, and I said they could fix it the next day because I knew they were so busy on Day One. But when we came back after dinner, voila, one bed. We didn’t want the in-room liquor, and they took it out, no problem. The stewards got to know our routines and the room would be magically made up twice a day while we were out. The laundry service was excellent too, with clothes sometimes coming back on the same day they went out, and never later than the following day. One negative is that the television lost some channels, including CNN and both sports channels, after the first few days and they were never restored for the rest of the 35 days. Having Fox as your only news channel is cruel and unusual punishment. DINING: Overall, we were pleased. We ordered wake-up coffee (using the doorknob hanger) at 6 a.m. daily, and they were always right on time. Then we would go for breakfast, usually in the main dining room, and service was always very good. The breakfast menu does not change, but there is quite a bit of variety and you can custom-order virtually anything. We always got a cup of berries, although those ran out a few times before ports where the ship re-stocked. No big deal. When we needed to be off the ship early, we went to the Lido, about which more below. We were usually off the ship during lunch, but on sea days we did the main dining room, the Lido, or the new “Dive In” hamburger and hot dog bar near the pool. We found the Dive In was pretty good. The burgers are more gourmet-ish, and instead of waiting in line, you have a staff member standing at the window. He takes your order and gives you a beeper, and you return when it’s ready. For dinner we usually went to the main dining room. I have read a lot of complaints about dinner, but I can’t echo most of them. We did the “as you wish” dining with no fixed time, usually showing up around 7 p.m., and the longest wait for a table was a few minutes (nothing like the 30-minute waits in the Caribbean on the Westerdam last winter). We were always willing to share a table with others because we like to meet people, so that probably made it speedier than waiting for a table for two. The quality of the food we found quite good. There were a few nights, maybe two or three, where service was slow, but generally it went very well. Some reviewers have complained about repetition of menu items, but I noticed a second appearance for only a few entrees, and on a 35-day cruise this didn’t bother us. We did the Pinnacle Grill once, because we got a freebie. It was pretty good, but I can’t say it is so much better than the main dining room that it justifies the extra cost. The Lido, on the other hand, was not as satisfactory. I understand that in a buffet set-up the food is going to be warmed for longer periods than is desirable, but so many items – cuts of meat, especially – were dry. We like salads, but there was a “lettuce crisis” toward the end of the itinerary, and we were told the lettuce loaded in Amsterdam was substandard and did not keep well. At breakfast, you could quickly grab scrambled eggs, potatoes and meat, but it seemed like standard cafeteria fare. Pancakes, unless you asked for some made fresh, were tough and hard. You could wait in line to have an omelet prepared or over-easy eggs done, and these were quite good, but if there were more than 2 or 3 people in front of you and you had to get moving for an excursion, it wasn’t an option. We don’t use the Lido much anyway, and there was not enough quality there to compel us to change our habits. LOUNGES: We don’t spend lots of time in the bars, but we’ll have a beer or cocktail (maybe two, if we’re feeling especially frisky) most days. We found the mixed drinks well prepared, and I was glad to see the happy hours on this cruise (not every itinerary has it). You can order two identical drinks for the price of one (service charge applied to both), but since neither of us is a two-fisted drinker, we just agreed to get the same thing for both of us. The Crow’s Nest, with its sweeping views, was our cabaret of choice, mostly in the afternoons, when it hosted trivia, and sometimes in the early evening. We got out of there before the disco got going (although given the age of this crowd, I doubt it kept going for long). We were also in the Mix for their evening trivia, and that lounge was fine, but unfortunately we were exposed to a really awful performer in the adjacent piano bar, “Barry from Boston.” He had his fans, sure enough – they would swarm in after trivia to reserve their 10 stools around the piano – but we could not see the attraction in his crude humor and dumb jokes. The Ocean Lounge had an easy listening, jazz-tinged group most nights, and it was always busy with lots of dancing couples cutting up old-style (good for them). Bar service by the pool and outside by the hot tubs was fine. They do need to get extra cocktail servers in the showroom just before performances; I never saw more than two, and they were overwhelmed. ENTERTAINMENT: This is purely a matter of personal taste, and every passenger would probably tell you that some was very good and some was awful – but they would not agree which was which. There was less of an emphasis on “production shows” than usual, which was fine by me, although we did see the exact same “Bob Mackie’s Broadway” show that ran on the Statendam in Alaska in 2012. And that show ran on two nights (I think only two shows were repeated in the 35 days). They brought aboard Celtic performers (two sisters) for the last leg from Newfoundland to Boston, and they were quite good. I really enjoyed the married comedy couple from Montreal, but their humor was quirky and strange, and I think many passengers didn’t connect with it (the cruise director mentioned that they would be putting on a different performance in a few nights, but it never happened). I was surprised that I enjoyed the Abba impersonators, who brought a lot of enthusiasm. I usually like the comedians, and the one who ended his show with an ironic twist on Elvis impersonation was quite good. The “mind-reader” was pretty entertaining too. But there was a stand-up comic named Derrick, who might be fine doing a “blue” show late at night, but the sanitized “blue hair” version went nowhere, and he was completely unfunny. Like I said, personal taste, and everyone will have a different view. During the day, there were a few historians and naturalists who gave interesting talks (although, as mentioned above, the showroom was over-full and we wound up hearing the presentations on the stateroom TV). There was also a sportswriter named Wiener who lectured on things that had nothing to do with the cruise. Aside from the weak connection that we were going to Europe, what did a talk on the National Football League’s expansion plans for Europe have to do with this cruise? Or the history of the Olympics? His presence made no sense, and his lectures featured information most sports fans already know, plus a lot of name-dropping. SANITATION: There was a respiratory bug that went around the ship – for me, it was a persistent, hacking cough, coupled with sniffles and fever, that rendered me useless in Norway and Amsterdam. My ribs were sore from the initial onslaught of coughing. People were coughing everywhere you turned, and this was no joke with so many elderly on board. I lay part of the blame on the fact that, for my first time on Holland America, crew members were not stationed with squirt bottles of hand sanitizer at the entrances to restaurants and the gangway. They had sanitizer dispensers set up in those places, but many people breezed right by. There were a few announcements about the need for frequent handwashing and the need to cover a cough, but I still saw lots of people coughing right into their hands. More aggressive reminders might not have been well received, but I think they would have been justified. I noticed a lot of wiping down of surfaces by the crew after the epidemic became apparent, but the horse was already out of the barn at that point. PORTS: I’m not going to write a great deal about ports except to say that you should expect a lot of tenders (a problem for some elderly), because many of these places are small and seldom visited. I heard some people complaining about places like Red Bay, Labrador, because there was so little to do or see, but we enjoy visiting places that are really out of the way like this. Nanortalik, Greenland was terrific for its scenery and isolation (jagged mountains, icebergs all around); Qaqortoq was bigger and nowhere near as pretty. The absolute highlight was the daylong cruise through Prince Christian Sound in southern Greenland on the return leg. It was a sunny day and truly spectacular, but be warned: in some years the ships cannot get through because of ice, and sunny weather is very rare. The two days in Reykjavik were just long enough. The Faroe Islands were not as exotic as we had hoped. We did like the Invergordon, Scotland stop, and booked a nice private excursion there. St. John’s, Newfoundland is a great city we had visited by car twice before, but there is no good reason to stop on the other side of the island at Corner Brook. SUMMING UP: It was a very nice time, but considering the repetitiveness of the annual itinerary, the relatively high price, and the fact that so many of the passengers were much older than us, I don’t think we will be doing this cruise again. We have few complaints about the fine service we have come to expect from Holland America, and that same standard was evident here. We will continue to use the line for other explorations, but for us, the Voyage of the Vikings now goes into the “been there, done that” pile. The Boston sailing sure is attractive for New Englanders like us, though.   Read Less
Sail Date July 2014
I have cruised well over 300 days with five different cruise lines. I would not define this cruise as a true trans Atlantic experience but as a repositioning crossing the Atlantic. The venues for daytime were too small to accommodate the ... Read More
I have cruised well over 300 days with five different cruise lines. I would not define this cruise as a true trans Atlantic experience but as a repositioning crossing the Atlantic. The venues for daytime were too small to accommodate the passengers. One would have to arrive at the Cinema at least an hour early to get a seat. It wasn't much better for the performances in the other theatre in the evening. They played the same 3 or 4 movies over again and again from the ta to the Baltic. The acrobatic act was held in the Centrum, which again one would have to grab a seat way early or end up trying to see over everyone standing. The Brilliance had one lecturer for the crossing. It is obvious the money is spent on nightly entertainment which was very good but made for some real long days. I boarded in Boston but paid as I should for the cruise from Tampa. When I went to the dining room on my first night I was behind another woman who had just come on the ship. We were told even though we both had confirmed early dining we were out of luck because the My Time Dining folks had filled our seats. After I persisited to get a seat he finally found me a table. The other woman had walked away in a fury.Nothing says welcome more than a curt greeting like his. Ironically I ended up for half of my dinners in the Windjammer because I found the food so bad in the main dinning room. I have never preferred the WJ but the Mongolian stir fry was better than most dishes served. I had maybe 3 beef entrees and the same with the chicken that were OK in the dinning room. The wait table staff were very accomadating but they do not prepare the food. Is the food so bad in the dinning room because there are hoping that you will go to the alternative restaurants for a sizeable fee for a decent meal? Any passenger who has gone to another ships Library is in for a real shock on the Brilliance. The Library consists of one ugly, small breakfront with a few very used paperbacks. I know the noro excuse about books available but this was before the sickness struck. Having a decent selection of books helps for a crossing. I did take a picture of the library sign and the bookcase for laughs. I am sure the corporate people at RCCL know their passengers. One can tell a lot about a cruise line by their loyalty program. When I first saw the cost for the crossing I thought it was too good to be true and it was. It was my first experience of having to pay for shuttles into town. Other lines I had been on provided that for their passengers. Every time I turned around I was nickel and dimed. If you are not a Diamond member you don't even get lotion in your cabin. RCCL uses Choice Air and says that they provide "arrival assurance". I won't even get into the nightmare waiting for my husband to join me in Harwich for the Baltic cruise. Imagine waiting for a loved one who never arrives and no one on the ship informs you of emails received by my family that his flight had been canceled. He didn't arrive at the next port either. The third try worked. Assurance Arrival alright but after how many missed days and lost money. Even the fans of RCCL said that there was a lot of misinformation on that voyage. The constant spraying for the noro did cause some problems I haven't seen addressed. There were passengers complaining about the difficulty in breathing and told that it was the only thing the ship's staff could do to prevent more outbreaks. I know it was very difficult on the crew. They worked very hard to tamp the disease down. I wonder if other passengers got the bleeding in their sinus lining I did after breathing so many days of that stuff. All the glass ended up looking filthy and runny. The faux wood grain was wet much of the time. Embarkation and disembarkation were pretty smooth. Clo the cruise director was excellent. Very good room stewards and dining staff. Nice cabin. My return trans-Atlantic was a lovely voyage. I half expected all the lines had declined as I had found RCCL. Heck, I even got hand lotion, shower cap and real soap. My hair didn't look like I had washed it in Clorox for 22 days. I paid for my alcohol which didn't add up to $64pp a day like the Brilliance alcohol program. If one is paying that amount most drink well over the charged rate. Makes for some very interesting passenger interactions.   Read Less
Sail Date April 2014
August 5, 2016 We are frequent cruisers having sailed since 1987 (Marde Gras) got us hooked. 75+ under our belt and still going strong. One of the best cruises we have ever been on. Planning on doing it again. Had a lanai ... Read More
August 5, 2016 We are frequent cruisers having sailed since 1987 (Marde Gras) got us hooked. 75+ under our belt and still going strong. One of the best cruises we have ever been on. Planning on doing it again. Had a lanai stateroom. They are awesome. Ports of call were great. US, Canada, Greenland, Iceland, Faroe Islands, Netherlands, Norway, Ireland and then back to Iceland, Greenland, Canada and US. We did not repeat ports. Weather was brisk but scenery was fantastic. We had wonderful speakers on several subjects but also much on the Vikings and their travels. Would recommend it to anyone. Love sailing on Holland America (Prinsendam is another of our favorite HAL Ships, but all have their special features) also wonderful cruises on Celebrity (love the ships with the glass blowers) Nothing better than cruising. Visited over 90 Countries an still have a few more to tick off. Wonderful way to see and taste the world. Read Less
Sail Date July 2013
NOTE: the above form for this review shows "0" for the number of ports visited because there was no space to answer accurately. After leaving the home port of Boston, we visited TWENTY ports; two of these were overnight stays, ... Read More
NOTE: the above form for this review shows "0" for the number of ports visited because there was no space to answer accurately. After leaving the home port of Boston, we visited TWENTY ports; two of these were overnight stays, giving us two days in those cities. We prefer smaller ships, so Maasdam's size suits us very well. She is comfortable and pleasant with a topnotch crew. Maasdam is scheduled for a turn in drydock in spring of 2011, at which time she will undergo some of the changes already made to Veendam. Maasdam will benefit from refurbishing as she's looking a little tired in places, but still she is basically a lovely ship. We have high praise for our dining experiences, most of which were in the Lido. We like seeing the foods we are choosing and being able to ask for the size portion we would like, so a buffet works well for us. In addition, we enjoy the window tables in that venue. We dined at Caneletto once, the Pinnacle Grill once, and the Rotterdam dining room once; the rest of the time, up to the Lido. Special kudos to the chef for bringing just-caught fish on board at many of these northern ports. It was worthwhile to watch menus for the catch of the day. On the theory that a picture is worth a thousand words, I put together travelogue-type on-line photo albums for our trips. To see the album for this trip, go to http://fredasphotos1.shutterfly.com and click on "Voyage of the Vikings 2010". It works best next to click on "slideshow". It may be that if you see the slideshow/travelogue first, you won't want to bother to read this review! This itinerary was wonderful, with great variety among the ports we visited. Although the biggest draws for me were Greenland and Iceland, every single port of call was fascinating. We were blessed with great weather: aside from some showers in Qaqortoq, Amsterdam, and Reykjavik, we enjoyed blue skies and sun, including some places where rain is the norm. Special praise and appreciation are warranted for several aspects of this cruise. As well as having marvelous ports, the itinerary was well planned in that sea days were spread out and provided needed rest after the busy port days. Our English Captain James Russell-Dunford was outstanding: affable, good sense of humor, always engaged but never intrusive, he kept us informed of any deviations from schedule and pointed out sights of interest along the way. The shore excursion team was excellent; the director, Joe L'Espiscopo, gave fine presentations on many sea days about famous ship wrecks and world fairs through the decades. Chris Jackson's digital workshop classes were invaluable. Karen Johnston, the bridge director, was very good. Highest praise goes to Maasdam's and HAL's high level of support for this unusual itinerary, which included excellent lectures by experts, helpful port talks by the travel guide Barbara, good maps, and a book discussion group centered on "The Tricking of Freya". In the evenings of our days in Liverpool and Reykjavik, we had shows put on by locals from those cities, both most enjoyable. I had not experienced this level of itinerary support on past cruises, with the exception of small ship cruises on Windstar and Viking. HAL shows a high level of respect and regard for their passengers' interests and desire to learn. HAL offers the Voyage of the Vikings once each summer, with some itinerary changes each year. I highly recommend it! Read Less
Sail Date July 2010
This was cruise number 60++ for me and my 3rd time on the Maasdam. The Maasdam while 16 years old is still a beautiful classic cruise liner. The staterooms are well laid out, appointed, and the beds and bedding/pillows are exceptionally ... Read More
This was cruise number 60++ for me and my 3rd time on the Maasdam. The Maasdam while 16 years old is still a beautiful classic cruise liner. The staterooms are well laid out, appointed, and the beds and bedding/pillows are exceptionally comfortable. A few of the light switches don't make logical sense.. For some reason the switch designer decided to put a few "fake" switches that are purely decorational and non functional right next to the real switches...so you'll likely find yourself flipping a lot of buttons trying to find a particular light switch. The bathroom is better than most ships although another small shelf or two would sure be welcome as there is but a single slim storage shelf that is overcrowded. There is also a powerful fixed hair dryer unit in the bathroom. The amenities are acceptable but the stewards don't seem to overdo it with replenishment. I had to ask for shampoo/ soap on several occasions. The towels are big, nice and plentiful. There is only one power plug in the main cabin so if you have a computer or camera charger etc a small power strip from home will come in useful. A plug in electric hair dryer is provided and there also is a magnifying makeup mirror. The DVD is nice but you might want to bring a few of your own DVDs as the ship charges a rental fee. The flat screen TV is good but channel selection other than the usual channels pushing Holland cruise produts are very very minimal. Probably the "best" channel is the camera that shows the front of the ship so you can see what the weather looks like, where you're headed etc. It seems that they might also want to install additional cameras so you can see the port/starboard/stern views as well....very minimal cost to the ship and each could easily have their own channel so you could see on your in room TV what is going on in the sea/ports etc. The promenade deck is very nice. No jogging is allowed which is a good idea as it is really more of a walking/strolling deck. Joggers use the Sun deck track or the treadmills in the gym. There are adequate classic teak deck chairs on the promenade deck where you can spend some quality time with a book, napping, or watching the sea. One negative is if you get cigar smokers who just don't seem to get it that most people really would prefer to smell the fresh sea air and not their stinky cigars. One guy consistently was on deck and would often stand at the front and the smoke would naturally drift towards the stern meaning everyone everywhere on his side of the ship got to breathe in the noxious foul smelling crap. PLEASE if you smoke at least have the courtesy to smoke at the stern of the ship where your smoke will immediately be sucked out the back. The cigarette smokers also use the promenade deck for their fixes but that smoke is much less bothersome than cigar. I would suggest that if Holland is going to continue to allow smoking they would do well to restrict it to outdoor areas at the REAR of the ship. The top deck, the sports deck also has a smaller outdoor track if you prefer open sky walking etc. Just forward of this track are two staircases that go to a large deck above the crow's nest with the best views on the ship. It seems most passengers don't even know this deck is here and you can experience some beautiful sunsets and scenic cruising if you go here. The gym and spa seemed well equipped and managed but I don't use those facilities and can't really report much. The library is nicely laid out and a busy place. While the selection is good they could certainly upgrade their bestsellers selection a bit. It would also seem to make sense to designate a couple of shelves to a passenger leave one/ take one paperback exchange. There are several internet ready computers in the library. Unfortunately Holland also still charges gouge prices for internet usage of about 40 cents a minutes with it often taking several minutes to get properly connected and even then it's more like an old dial up speed. Not my cup of tea. Overall I was able to find internet in the ports without any major major problems in most places....all you have to do is ask. In several ports the best spot was the local library that had either free or very cheap with multiple machines. If you bring your laptop you can also usually find a cafe etc with free wifi so you just buy a coffee or something and surf away. The Crow's Nest , top level forward, offers great views. Unfortunately Holland still allows smoking in ½ the room and no matter how hard they try it seems to always smell like stale smoke. It appeared to me that about 95% of the passengers were non smokers so it's a shame that a few of the hooked have to spoil pleasant spots like the Crow's Nest for the rest. The library can get pretty crowded at times and naturally some passengers seem to want to talk too loudly and disturb those who are trying to use the library for reading. Also, unfortunately the casino is located next door to the library and since smoking is allowed there you get the stale smoke drifting down to the library and it's hard to not let it bother you. Once again, air generally moves from the front of the ship towards the rear, even indoors and the library is "downwind" from the smoky casino. The casino itself is fine but the smokers seem to have decided it's their place to sit and chain smoke while they pull slot handles. Most times just walking through the casino with cigarettes a blazing is enough to make me quicken my step to get away from it. I suspect there are many many passengers who avoid the casino like the plague just to avoid the cig smoke. The Rotterdam dining room is a pleasant room. If you like to eat a bit later, as I do, then you can pretty much just show up with no reservations any night at around 7;30 pm and get a nice table with no problems. The Rotterdam dining room food and service was good and the selections more than adequate. The Lido dining area is nicely laid out with many many selections. No trays are provided which I suppose is to reduce food consumption or suppose to make it seem less cafeteria like. However, this results in most people having to make several trips back and forth from their table as there is no way you can carry a salad,soup, entrEe and beverage in one trip. There is quite a bit of staff available to assist the most infirm but other passengers are on their own. The Lido food is generally tasty and is not a good place to hang out if you are on a diet. There is a hamburger/sandwich/taco set up beside the pool on the Lido deck with wonderful burgers/fries/etc. There are also many special BBQ's held out by the pool with different themes. The Pinnacle restaurant seems underutilized most likely due to a $20 per person cover charge. It's a nice restaurant and the food is definitely a little better than the normal dining room but it seems most people aren't willing to pay $20 for the experience. Most nights when I looked it the Pinnacle was less than ¼ full. It seems that more of the ship's officers eat there more than the passengers. I suspect if they would consider lowering the cover to a more reasonable $10 that they would entice more patrons and everyone would be happier. Room service is ok but not great. They have the usual hang your breakfast order outside your door and delivery is supposedly made within a 30 minute "window". However, my orders were consistently delivered about 15 minutes early which was just fine once I understood how it works. Evening room service was ho hum at best and you pretty much have to order every single thing you want (like ketchup for fries) or it is not provided. Non breakfast delivery time seemed to always be about 35 minutes and tips seemed to be genuinely appreciated. Lots of bars and booze available on the ship but thankfully it was not all pushed nearly as much as other ships I have experienced. And to Holland's eternal credit they don't hassle you if you want to bring a bottle of wine or a few beers onboard to enjoy in your stateroom. The show room is just fine although there are many seats in the rear and in the balcony where sightlines would be bad. However, I found that for the second show especially it was rare that the room was full. There is a nice movie theatre with popcorn available. The movie selection was weak at best but many passengers attended the movies with quite a bit of snoring to be heard. One suggestion would be to have more matinee or even morning showings as it would be a nice daytime entertainment option even on port call days when many people only go ashore for a couple of hours and then back to the ship. The entertainment ran the gamut of usual cruise line fare with singers/dancers/comedians/magicians etc. Some are quite good and some are absolutely awful and make you wonder why in the world the Holland corporate entertainment department would have selected them. There is the usual bingo and the like but again it seems Holland doesn't promote this ad nauseum via the ships speakers like other cruise lines. The guest lecturers were a major disappointment to me. Although they all have multiple degrees and impressive professorial resumes the fact is that most all of them were about as exciting as watching paint dry. Knowing everything academically about a subject and being able to do an enjoyable 45 minute presentation are two different skills. Most felt like sitting in a very boring college class. Again, it seems to me that Holland entertainment division picks these people strictly from a resume without ever having auditioned them to see if they are also interesting/entertaining. Another pet peeve is when they open the audience to questions but do NOT provide a microphone NOR do they repeat the questions so the rest of the audience might have some clue to what is being discussed. Rule number one of public speaking: HE WHO HAS THE MICROPHONE MUST REPEAT THE QUESTION ALOUD SO EVERYONE IN THE AUDIENCE CAN HEAR. In my opinion our particular cruise featured way too many Iceland stops (6). Iceland is interesting but it is certainly not that interesting and 2 or 3 calls would have been more than adequate. It seemed a shame to waste so much time in little Iceland ports with pretty much nothing to see and then rush through Scotland, Ireland, England, and many other port calls where extra time would have been a plus. The information provided by Holland for the various port calls was AWFUL. A small flyer is placed in the cabins the night before each port giving a little bit of the history but that's about it. Information that most passengers might find useful like public transport options, internet cafes, bank/exchange/ATM info was totally non existent so if you don't buy the overpriced ship excursions you're on your own. It's really a shame that most ships seem to take the attitude that if you don't buy their tours they aren't going to give you any information. In a nutshell if you don't buy the tours you are a bit of a steerage class passenger when it comes to shoreside information. And of course as usual most of the tours are sold at gouge you prices. Fortunately I am experienced enough that I was able to figure out public transport, internet cafes, etc on my own as I really have no desire to participate in the organized shore excursions. Overall the service throughout the ship is quite good though it seemed to me that since Carnival took over Holland that there not as many employees as previously. There were several days when our cabin steward didn't clean my cabin until after 1 pm even though the please clean sign had been out since 8 am. Some passengers indicated that the stewards now have many more staterooms to clean than the pre Carnival days. Generally I found the Filipino and Indonesian staff to be warm, gracious, and accommodating. The Dutch officers/staff seemed a bit stand offish to me compared to other ships officers I have experienced. Generally the onboard announcements weren't too terribly obtrusive like many ships where some idiot is on the ships speakers every few minutes pushing all the onboard revenue enhancers like bingo, special drinks, etc. Unfortunately I could barely understand our captain due to a pretty strong accent. All in all it was a wonderful cruise and the Maasdam remains a personal favorite ship of mine. Read Less
Sail Date July 2009
We sailed on the first part of the Voyage of the Vikings. 17 days from Boston to Rotterdam. This is our 9th cruise, our 4th 14 days or over, but it was our longest. We have been on HAL 3 times before and really feel they are upping their ... Read More
We sailed on the first part of the Voyage of the Vikings. 17 days from Boston to Rotterdam. This is our 9th cruise, our 4th 14 days or over, but it was our longest. We have been on HAL 3 times before and really feel they are upping their game every time. First this was a whole new experience verses the 7 day Alaska, Caribbean or Mexico cruise. I thought I would be bored with 7 sea days but never was. They had a visiting chef from Public Restaurant in New York that was fabulous. The highlight in entertainment was the Opera singers. They had a group of 4 singers that sing at Covent Garden and with other opera companies in Europe. They were fabulous. Best entertainment we ever had on a cruise ship. We were upgraded but our cabin was on the main deck about 3 rooms from the bow and we had some noise issues with the side thrusters when they were trying to get into port. The food is better than on 7 day cruises, they do some special seafood days where they buy it fresh on the Faroe Islands and then grill it on deck for lunch. Food compares favorably with Oceania who we used to think was better but not on this cruise. Cabin stewart and waiter were great. Wine cards are a super deal, 20 glasses for $67.50. The Merlot is the best. Ports, We went on our own to St.John, Nuuk Greenland, (they are discontinuing this one not much there) Stavanger, we went to the petroleum museum and walked around they are re-doing the old section around the harbor, so that was under construction. Kristansund, took little tourist train around the city and walked, we did have rain that day. Oslo took trolley bus and saw Viking Ship, Nordic Folk Museum, (it is a Colonial Williamsburg of Norway) don't miss and a quick stop at the National Gallery (it's free). all in one day. Our only ship tour was the Golden Circle Tour out of Reykjavik Iceland. Beautiful scenery but very disorganized. They actually lost some people. Met someone who got a taxi at the pier and did it all for $100 vs. $177 on the ship. Did not do the Glacier Lake at Djonisvek Iceland, everyone said it was great. Now for the downside, the people that can do long cruises are old, REALLY OLD, and sick, REALLY SICK, and left their brains on the pier in Boston. I am late 40's and my husband is in his 60's so we know we are younger than the usual cruisers, but we had some geezers on this cruise. We would share our funniest geezer moment every night at dinner. Also they would constantly complain, not only to the staff but to anyone that would listen. But you know what, they were the same people standing in line to sign up for another long cruise next year. Now our table mates were great. HAL obviously put us with some younger people. 50's and 60's so that was a high point. The action for nightlife was dancing at 4:30 pm before early dinner. The place was humming with the aforementioned age group. Don't go on this cruise for the partying or the kids. There were only 16 kids on the ship, though they did stick together. The new library was unbelievable. Loved the classics and art books and just a great place to read and look at the ocean. Would do it again, but still have other places to go. Read Less
Sail Date July 2007
We took the 35 day Maasdam Transatlantic cruise and had booked with a group of over 100. I read the prior review and I can't disagree more about the cleanliness, condition and attitudes of the personnel on this ship. Thank heavens it ... Read More
We took the 35 day Maasdam Transatlantic cruise and had booked with a group of over 100. I read the prior review and I can't disagree more about the cleanliness, condition and attitudes of the personnel on this ship. Thank heavens it is going in for a refurbishment and 2006 isn't soon enough. First, our air conditioning blew pencil lead sized chunks of carbon onto our desk, TV and floor. Their solution was to vacuum the duct work which only corrected it for a day. The toilets worked sporadically. The water was turned off one day for 10 hours on the entire ship. The engines quit going into Cork and we were 1 1/2 hours late docking. The phones somehow defaulted to prior cabin occupants' names. The bath towels had large blood or otherwise stains in them. The napkins on the Lido were disgusting. Numerous times there were pieces of food and stains ironed into the napkins. The silverware wasn't packed consistently. Sometimes you would get a knife and a fork, other times it might include a spoon and others only a fork and spoon. We were moved after six complaints about the air conditioning. I was concerned that while big chunks may be falling on the desk, what particulate matter was in our air. The new room 195 was one that had, according to our new neighbors, dried out after flooding. We heard others complain about flooding in rooms on various decks. The bathrooms both cabins and public were moldy in spots and not clean in others with corner build-up. The self-service laundry detergent dispenser dispensed a watered down version of soap that did not clean the clothes. Three lifeboat drills in the first 19 days (and there was a fourth scheduled, but never held) were excessive. The excuse given was maritime law required a second lifeboat drill for voyages over 14 days. It was pointed out that 3 x 14 = 42 days and therefore, a fourth wasn't needed. Their math differed from ours, but the passengers griped enough that the fourth was never held. The information desk personnel need an attitude adjustment. Smiling was definitely not an option for them. When a report would be made you got the same response, "I will take a report and forward it to the department." Rarely did we get any responses to our problems. I finally talked to the Guest Relations Manager who attempted to solve the problems. Moving us solved the carbon chunk problem, but not the cleanliness issues. She was clearly harried and overworked. Conclusion, if your ship is running properly and smoothly, she should not be harried and overworked. I will give a small amount of credit here. The cruise director, Rick, is a poor excuse for his position. He was never friendly, just brusk and also harried. His announcements were too brief and always only highlighted the money-making activities. Informational commentary, such as when were in the Greenland fjords or Norwegian fjords were non-existent. He told several of us that he is not coming back as a cruise director but wants to be a future cruise consultant. That desk is obviously not going to be packed with anyone who is unhappy about anything. We began to talk with other passengers about this cruise. Without revealing our own problems we started a poll about happy versus unhappy cruisers on this voyage. Bearing in mind that there were over 1100 of us doing the entire 35 day voyage who were former Holland America sailors (it could be split 17 or 18 whether you sailed the back to back 2 voyage round trip or one-way) we never got a positive response. The most neutral response was one of, "Well, I like the itinerary." When pressed further, they were very unhappy with the ship and the attitude of Holland America toward their past passengers. At least 70% of those we talked to will not sail Holland America again except for a specific itinerary. Doesn't sound like passenger loyalty is high at the moment for Holland America. The past passenger party was held at 11am on an at sea day which we presumed was to cut down on free booze consumption. There was a woman on board with over 1500 Holland America sailing days. Her comment was that after 1500 days of sailing with them it would have been nice to get something more besides a medal, a pin and a bigger flower arrangement. Another gentleman with over 400 days said that he was upset that he couldn't get the dining arrangement that he wanted. He was traveling single and wanted early sitting. The maitre d' was average, but nothing outstanding. We heard several of the younger passengers complaining that there was never an attempt to group people by ages in the table arrangements. We were scheduled for late seating table for six. We asked for early sitting table for two and I held out by going to the Lido. It took the maitre d' four days to find a table and golly gee, it turned out to be in the Queen's Room (an adjoining dining area) that had been used as a work room for the maitre d' and dining personnel. We had sailed at a prior time on the Ryndam twice (the Maasdam is her sister ship) and were familiar with the nature and peculiarities of the ship. We were assured that the reputation of the Ryndam (not positive) was nothing like the Maasdam. They were correct, the Ryndam was better and cleaner. I do have one gripe about the Ryndam/Maasdam Lido dinner. One side of the Lido is blocked off and used for staff dining. They have their own buffet (actually their food looked better than ours) and passengers are strongly discouraged from sitting on the staff side. On shore days when you are tired or formal nights and don't want to go to the dining room, the passenger side of the Lido gets very crowded and you are forced to share tables with others while the staff side never had more than 20 people sitting in it. If you tried to go to that side someone approached you and told you this was the staff only side. Once again, this is a decision for the comfort of the staff and not the passenger. Last time I checked the passenger was supposed to come first. Without a passenger they have not jobs. I have been on other lines where the staff simply ate in odd corners, but never have I been discouraged from sitting in an open passenger area until Holland America. One thing that really got the passengers angry was a letter delivered to the cabins that in essence stated that if you pulled your pre-charged $10 per person per day tips from your account and gave your tips personally to your room steward, waiter or busboy, they would have to turn in that money to the tip pool. Only money over and above the pre-charged tips were they allowed to keep. Their rationale was that you punished other personnel, such as the dish washers, head waiters, maitre d', etc., who got a small percentage of the tip if you pulled them from your account. We felt this was essentially an additional $700 (35 days x $10 x 2 passengers) of extortion. The money was something other than a tip for good service. It became more of a service charge. I hated this system when the cruise lines switched to it and I still hate it. Since this system went into effect service on all lines has declined. It rewards the slackers and with Holland America especially, punishes the good worker. True, now behind-the-scenes personnel are rewarded, but based on the Maasdam, I would say it was a slacker reward. I have cruised a lot (over 60 times) and I have enough experience to know the difference between ship mechanical issues and pure laziness in the cleanliness (i.e. hotel director's responsibility) area. While it sounds like it above, I am not generally a complainer. But, this ship needs a new hotel director badly. The cleanliness of the ship falls to his departments. We felt that pure laziness was involved or not enough hands on supervision. Dirty linens and tableware are inexcusable. Their excuse was personnel cuts, but we saw enough to know that the personnel that are there and visible appear sometimes to be very slow and lazy. But, what do they care? They still get the tips. I will give high marks in three areas. First, the shore excursion staff was outstanding. They were responsive to needs, solved problems quickly, had a positive attitude and were cheery people. Second, the Lido cooks on the starboard side, supervised by Ed, were a man short, but you never could tell and they were always cheerful. Three, the waiter and bus boy that I had were very responsive. At the end of the cruise we did receive a letter of apology and a $150 shipboard credit. When you pay as much as we did for this cruise $150 or $75 per person seems a bit insulting. Our feeling is that Holland America has lost its marketing direction and has made some decisions based on budgetary considerations rather than passenger comfort. The next generation of senior cruisers are not going to be as brand loyal as today's seniors. They will be rewards loyal. On one hand Holland America is initiating the signature line with very expensive private car shore excursions and on the other hand are cutting quality and standards. As an aside, in Cork we pre-booked a private car tour on the internet and paid about 1/3 what the private car hire price that Holland America wanted. The only thing that will save Holland America in the future is their itineraries. When there is a benefits versus dollar consideration weighed between lines, Holland America is going to lose because there is no reward system for loyalty beyond the pin/medals and tiles. Compare them to Princess' past passenger program and they will lose every time. The elegance is gone. Holland America is becoming a lesser brand in the market and it is a shame. One passenger put it best as we were leaving the ship when she said, "They treated us like mushrooms. They kept us in the dark and fed us manure. Never again." I agree. Never again. Read Less
Sail Date July 2005

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