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24 Night Mediterranean Cruise from Rome

24 Night Mediterranean Cruise from Rome (Civitavecchia)

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  • Day 1
    Rome (Civitavecchia)
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    Athens (Piraeus)
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    Katakolon (Olympia)
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    Rome (Civitavecchia)
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  • Day 15
    Cartagena (Spain)
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    Porto (Leixoes)
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    Brugge (Bruges)
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Zuiderdam - Holland America Line


Partnerships and Music Walk mean exciting enrichment and entertainment choices


Pool and some public areas appear dated; cabins could use more storage

Bottom line

Continual refurbishments and additions keep older ship fresh for a variety of destinations

Cruise Reviews

Hub and I booked a balcony cabin rather last-minute -- back surgery on his part necessitated us letting go a steal of a deal on Empress of the Seas and rebooking a different trip. We were looking forward to sailing on HAL again, as we ... Read More
Hub and I booked a balcony cabin rather last-minute -- back surgery on his part necessitated us letting go a steal of a deal on Empress of the Seas and rebooking a different trip. We were looking forward to sailing on HAL again, as we appreciate the relative calm on board (we drop the average cruiser age by 20 years when we embark) and had not been on a Dam ship in four years. (As background: I have 27 cruises under my belt and he has 24 -- on Carnival, Royal, Celebrity, and HAL.) Embarkation was smooth as we waited until after noon to come on board. We were puzzled when the port agent walked us to a HAL employee, who escorted us to our cabin: turns out they were afraid 'construction materials' might have been left on our balcony, which was not the case. As noted in previous reviews, the cabin (8020, just below the spa and down the hall from the bridge) could use more storage, but we made the most of the shelves in the closet. You can hear noise from the nearby stairwell/elevators, so take care if you're a light sleeper. (Also: no balcony lights at night for navigational reasons.) Having the sofa near the balcony rather than the entrance was really super. We found the bathtub more of a hindrance than anything, especially given the super-clingy shower curtain. Definitely bring a power strip, as the plug in the bathroom was especially persnickety as to what it would power, and you only have outlets at the vanity. The USB ports on either side of the bed were a godsend. And what do they use for wall/door materials? Certainly nothing a magnet can attach to, which was a bummer. As also noted, the TV channel selections were limited and puzzling -- no children's programming, but THREE news channels? -- but there was a surfeit of movies to watch should you choose to. (We didn't.) There were maybe 20 kids on the cruise from toddlers to teens, but: huh? Other than noted elsewhere, service was top-notch. If it fell short, it certainly wasn't the fault of the staff. The ship itself is tastefully done (as usual) in terms of finishes and whatnot. Internet/WiFI was ABYSMAL. The Navigator App rarely worked well right out of the gate -- we quickly learned work-arounds, but counted ourselves fortunate if we could go a day without bothering the Guest Services team to log on (which, by the way, is a terrible use of customer service resources). The first day at sea, the wifi was down altogether for over 12 hours, which created a great deal of consternation for husband trying to run a business where there is no cell service (that would be at home). It finally came up a half-hour before our second traditional dinner seating . . . and 12 hours BEFORE we were notified it was up and running. Guess who missed the first Gala dinner? This is the first time we've ever run into such inconsistent access. We'd gladly pay more if we could be assured it would work. Carnival and Royal have figured it out, so we're not sure why HAL can't. Food in the dining room was very hit or miss -- it's the first time I've not finished an offering because it was inedible -- and the menu very limited. We actually skipped our last meal for the Lido just so we had more options. Hub has unusual and life-threatening allergies, and it appeared that our waiter was stretched thin covering tables which meant we had to be on our game to make sure nothing slipped by. Entertainment is not our thing, but we missed having karaoke as an option. Trivia was REALLY tough. There was a lot of throwback activities -- bridge, mahjongg, flower arranging -- and pickleball, which pretty much says all you need to about the demographic. The Planet Earth presentations were almost always scheduled in the afternoon of a port of call, and we weren't interested in the Oprah offerings. We did catch the dance show one night and was very impressed. Casino slots, as usual, were tight. The pools were always full -- the 'Retreat' above limits seating -- and we never once spent time in the aft pool area as a result. Mixed results at the spa -- I had a masseuse assign me 'homework' of taking baths to reduce stress, which I have time for because I don't have kids. (Really.) I did get caught up on much recreational reading on our balcony, so there's that. Ports: we skipped Half Moon Cay as it lacks shade (unless you purchase it). Unfortunately, our whale-watching tour at Grand Turk was cancelled due to high winds. Amber Cove was a major disappointment -- the taxis are complete ripoffs, and we spent two hours in a car with a very well-meaning man who had very limited English skills -- and while the pool is nice, the shore is not at all attractive. It's hard to go wrong with Key West -- we've been enough times that we know who to visit and ask about new things, and got great recommendations for new galleries and a yummy place for lunch -- although we were disappointed that we docked west of Mallory Square and missed out on what sunset activities we might have watched as we left. All in all, while we love the general ambiance that HAL provides, there were enough hiccups that we will hesitate booking again, much to our dismay. Read Less
Sail Date February 2020
We've cruised with Holland America at least 4 times and chose them because of their excellent service. This cruise stopped at their private island first, then Grand Turks, Amber Cove and Key West. The service was excellent, as usual, ... Read More
We've cruised with Holland America at least 4 times and chose them because of their excellent service. This cruise stopped at their private island first, then Grand Turks, Amber Cove and Key West. The service was excellent, as usual, and the food was good. The entertainment, however, was sorely lacking. The first night, there was no show in the main stage area. For 6 nights, the main entertainment consisted of 3 evenings of the dance troupe performing, 1 night of a comedian who wasn't very funny, 1 night of a different comedian/mentalist who was really good, and then 1 night of both comedians performing, one after the other. The daytime activities weren't interesting to anyone in my group, so we spent a lot of time playing cards. They had several activities scheduled at 5 pm, but we had early seating for dinner (5:30) so we couldn't do any of those activities. Mass was scheduled at 5 pm every day. Having Mass in the morning would have made more sense. They also had Total Body Conditioning in the fitness center at 5 pm instead of in the morning. We took the Grand Turk Experience excursion for $44.95. It was worth about $20. The bus took us to the light house but to enter it was an extra charge. We stopped at a small market for about 20 minutes. I wouldn't recommend this excursion. The Amber Cove excursion of Mountain Views & City Sights was interesting and worth the $59.95 charge. Key West is very walkable and there's no need to purchase an excursion to see the sights. Read Less
Sail Date February 2020
Had an awesome cruise, 7 day Caribbean. ship is from 2002 but renovated in 2017/18 My wife and I have sailed primarily Royal, Celebrity, Princess, NCL, Carnival and my wife Cunard in the past, over 40 cruises. 1900 passengers and ... Read More
Had an awesome cruise, 7 day Caribbean. ship is from 2002 but renovated in 2017/18 My wife and I have sailed primarily Royal, Celebrity, Princess, NCL, Carnival and my wife Cunard in the past, over 40 cruises. 1900 passengers and 9 decks with lots of elevators. many were on 2, 3 and 4 week back to back cruises we are 65 and 68 so almost felt young!! An older mix, say average age 65-75. Very few children, saw the Club HAL kids place closed one day plus some younger couples who want a quiet cruise and have returned. The dining room food selection, presentation, service and taste I'd say would be the best similar to Celebrity. We did not go to Pinnacle dining room or Canaletto for speciality dining, but the menu looked great at Pinnacle ($39 cover) Would highly recommend HAL's renovated ships and newer ships. Had prime rib 2 nights, lots of seafood, lobster tails on last Gala night (formerly formal night) and far less formal than in the past. This is all good. Nice touch on exiting the DR, one could have mints, ginger, dates or figs. Lido buffet was also excellent. They even had crepes, super omelettes,V8 and grapefruit juice which you don't see often. Most food was served to you, similar to what Celebrity has done. Some fruit, bread and other items you could pick up on your own. I asked why they served, its to avoid cross contamination, They told me with an older crowd, if someone gets ill, can be harder on older people to recover. a good idea. Sushi and Thai, Chinese food every day. Loved Half Moon Cay, private island stop, only ship there, soft powdery beach. BBQ lunch was one of the best we;ve seen. great salad selection, gourmet hamburgers and fresh fruit and ribs and fish tacos. They also had a Lobster Shack so for extra $ can get a roll or lobster salad Even had real ice cream scooped from coolers. Also lido had real ice cream all day. Lido pool deck midship had Dive In, a hamburg/hot dog /french fries. You place the order and are given a buzzer to come pick up minutes later. Nathan's dogs and crispy fries, served in a cup. Beside Dive-in there was a mexican station all day, nachos, cheese, various additives, soft and hard tacos. A real nice touch. Workers greeted you all the time and were constantly cleaning. Just had main dining lunch once for Mariner lunch. Breakfast and lunch always in Lido, ate at the aft, nice to be in the air (we try to do this on all cruises) only minor issue smoking was allowed on the aft starboard side, so smoke sometimes blew over. Mainstage a nice size theatre, on decks 2/3 No orchestra and big stage show, instead we had 3 excellent dance shows by Step One, 7 dancers with recorded music. Get to Mainstage early and most go to the early show. Also had great comedian Ken Boyd and illusionist Ben Zabin at the Mainstage Live music in BB King's, a dance club bar which used to be the test kitchen area. This 7 piece group was tight, excellent and the place to go after dinner. 3 shows most every night. Trumpet, sax, bass and lead guitar, keyboards, drums and male/female singers. Nice dance floor. Both Mainstage and BB King's were very cold so bring a sweater and socks when you pack. Lincoln Center Stage had a string quartet with piano, 4 ladies and a fellow, young and excellent. several shows a night. room was quite small, so get there early. Now this venue was too warm !! They need some HVAC adjustments. This quintet had 2 violins, a viola, cello and grand piano. Played classical but mix of American, show tunes and modern. Version of Stairway to Heaven was awesome. There also was Billboard online with back to back grand pianos, playing various tunes. shows were after early dinner. Noted that unlike most ships there is not a venue for piano and bar. They had an electronic piano with people dancing. Casino was not big but busy and best of all no smoking. Celebrity has also gone this way Smart move. one night was orange night (the Dutch colours) and chocolate surprise, where samples of dutch goodies and chocolates were handed out around Billboard and BB King.s some trivia games. Deck 10 forward has Crow's next, easy chairs, great views lots of games/most jigsaw puzzles ever. Large reference books, regular library replaced with book exchange, so check in day 1 for best selection. Shore ex and future cruise were also in this area, smart idea. Some nice touches on HAL that we haven't seen on most cruises: - when boarding ship after port, had cool towels, water/lemonade, nice sitting area with flowers (Celebrity has similar with no flowers) Celebrity does have the nice OJ and sparkling upon first embarkation though - chocolates in your room every night (Princess also has but most have cut back) - towel animals every night in your room - bottomless fruit bowl in your room. - balcony and higher have small bathtub/shower. Save the environment with no small bottles so shower soap, shampoo, conditioner in dispensers from Elemis, Elemis lotion bottles given though -rooms were cleaned by team of 2 room stewards, there were no carts left in the hall like other cruiselines. Instead they would go into side rooms for suppliers. Amazing service, these guys were invisible -could get a mini newspaper and NY times crossword every day at Deck 1 reception desk. They had German, UK, Canadian, Dutch and various languages if you wish. US paper also had a crossword and Sudoku puzzle but a little small font, the NY times crossword was printed in good font on cardboard stock with a hyper sudoku as well. Will keep you busy for hours -outside the good sized bathroom, there was a motion activated night light at your feet, nice touch. Celebrity has a night light in the washroom - to save the environment in the room garbage can they had a slot for paper and regular garbage. Still too much paper handed out. Nice compact daily When and Where program though. Don't think they had an art auction, but art on display. Still doing group photos but less of them. No picture racks, but viewing screens like the other newer ships -room had lots of storage, balcony good size for our VA category, 2 chairs, with foot stools and small table. Balcony had a door unlike most cruises with sliding doors. Beds were very good with nice pillows - robes were in room to use for cruise or $55 to purchase with monogram -free HAL bag in each room like Princess and Celebrity - beach towels in each room to use - like the newer ships, a flat panel, very impressive TV, lots of movies, and other shows, food menus etc. TV channels about 12, Caribbean ESPN and ESPN 2, MSNBC, Fox, BBC, HGTV etc Gym had Precor equipment, I prefer Llifefitness. NO video input to machines. but 3 TV's on ceiling. Good selection of weights. Sadly people don't know to wipe machines, there was no sign to do so and no sign to keep machine use to 30 minutes, I suggested this to the gym managers In tendering to Princess Cays, had quite a wait 45 minutes to fill tender ship, returning much faster. On 2 Sea Days cruise director Stephanie made morning announcements at 9 am. Gave them feedback not to do that, can;'t sleep in CD was Stephanie Summerville from the US. An actress and professional speaker. Great voice and pronunciation. Only with HAL 7 months She gave some excellent EXC talks at Main Stage, History of HAL (150 years)The Deep Blue, Caribbean Rum Spirit, Islands of the Mind (Hemingway and Jimmy Buffet) These were highly produced excellent presentations with audio, video and using their million light LED stage panels. Made for HAL, I understand some sailings have guest presenters, but they use the CD most of the time. Forgot to mention the MainStage LED panels were used for the dance shows and these are incredible screens. Only 4 computer screens. WIFI packages were pricey and i heard not too fast. For this ship audience, they aren't connected as much. Captain Bart Vaartjes was Dutch as most are, he gave a great ship presentation and Q/A friendly noon announcements. Very casual, had a relaxed demeanor, walked about ship like most officers. Met him at Amber Cove, took a photo, he just ashore for a few hours Amber Cove in Dominican Republic, at Puerta Plata, was a nice stop, Carnival Magic was also there, so large pool/lazy river were packed. Big swim up bar, food available, hammocks available, over the water bungalows to rent, also bungalows near Zipline $20 pp all day. Lots of the usual shops. No beach, but can taxi or shorex to Puerta Plata for beaches. Free wifi just outside main store after leaving ship. Carnival Corp built this stop a few years ago, for their branded ships. A nice stop, but quite busy if several large ships are in port. Key West, always a nice stop. Interesting we had to clear US customs first thing in the morning, there were a lot of lines. Being Canadian we did not have as many line as US. Then at Fort Lauderdale, no US customs to clear, just walk off. We walked down Duvall St, down to the Southernmost beacon, endless bars and stores, found a $5 for everything beachwear. Must visit original Margaritville, Had Kermits famous Key Lime Pie. Free wifi at Starbux Overall, an excellent cruise, would sail HAL again. Put down the $100 deposit for a future cruise. Would highly recommend doing this for any cruise you are on Read Less
Sail Date January 2020
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