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7 Night Alaska Cruise from Vancouver

7 Night Alaska Cruise from Vancouver

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Koningsdam - Holland America Line


Outstanding service, exceptional cuisine, great entertainment options


Music Walk does not have a clear identity and needs individual rooms

Bottom Line

Most luxurious HAL ship will appeal to many types of cruisers

Cruise Reviews

I am positively sure that reading a review is one of the last things you would like to do, am I right? The experience we all are going through nowadays is very discouraging to say the least, that's why we need some kind of ... Read More
I am positively sure that reading a review is one of the last things you would like to do, am I right? The experience we all are going through nowadays is very discouraging to say the least, that's why we need some kind of entertainment to put our minds at peace and that's my goal in writing this review; I hope I'm able to accomplish it! Together let's make the best of it! This 10 day cruise was aboard the HAL Koningsdam to the Southern Caribbean and started on February 23rd. ending on March 4th. We left Canada towards Ft. Lauderdale one day before departure; at that time we were slightly aware of that virus and the effect caused on board the Diamond Princess but as I said, "just slightly". something that in a way allowed us to enjoy the cruise fully. Passengers and staff were also behaving completely free of any kind of concern. Before starting with the overall review of that cruise, I want you to know that last June 2019 we cruised around Norway on board the beautiful Nieuw Statendam (pictures & review's titled "Canadians on Viking Lands") it was too short (7 days), visiting too many places for the first time (e.g. Amsterdam, Oslo and another three Norwegian ports) and not having enough time left to be able to enjoy that ship. That made us try to find another longer cruise with her; unfortunately time-wise it wasn't possible so we opted to go with her older sister, the Koningsdam. Our direct flight to Ft. L. left Ottawa quite late so it was a very late arrival, to avoid having to wait for the free shuttle the hotel offered, we decided to take a taxi that costs us +/- u$s 25.- The name of the hotel was "Roadway Inn Hotel" and though it was quite close to the airport it is not possible for us to recommend it. Very weird and undescriptive entrance and reception area and to get to your room you have to follow (no porters) different lanes through a large courtyard in different directions trying to find your room number. The room itself wasn't bad but not going back. The following morning we took their shuttle (u$s 10.-) and because there were so many ships in port, the driver had to divert directions many times to be able to avoid the huge amount of traffic. It would have been a big mistake to take a taxi. Anyway, we got there and found a very large waiting line and it was then that we got our first shock! Embarkation The people waiting in that line were in their 80's plus and not in good shape either; we really felt like teenagers!! and certainly we're not (early 70's but in good shape). Embarkation was smooth but slow caused by the slowness of the passengers; once on board we bought the Elite Beverage Pkg. (EBP) having previously checked it out on the internet; with offerings of wines up to $15.- a glass (more about this subject later). Celebrating that we were on the ship and because that transaction had taken place at the counter of the Ocean Bar, at once we ordered a fantastic gin (Tanqueray 10) and tonic mixed by Michael, the bartender who took care of all the paperwork when buying the EBP and by the way he was one of the best bartenders on board. The very close second best barman was J.R. at the Explorer's Lounge Mid ship D 2 above the Rolling Stone Rock Room, who made the best "Oaxacan Old Fashioned" cocktail; with the usual ingredients the Old Fashion has, tequila is added so we asked for the "Anejo (Old) Patron" , it was a sensational concoction. The different ratings between them has to do more than anything else with the personalities of the two; Michael was a very friendly and approachable guy, meanwhile J.R. was quite distant and very curt, at any rate both were outstanding in their craft. Then "in good spirits" we walked around, realizing how identical, minus art work it was to the Nieuw Statendam, so there were not too many surprises for us and if any it was mainly the passengers on this cruise not only because of their age and physical condition but their attitudes and demeanor, not all of them granted, but quite a large number. After walking around the ship we felt the need to eat! (more about places to eat in the "Restaurants" section). Now we will proceed the review of this 10 day Southern Caribbean cruise clarifying that what you are going to read was our personal experience on this specific sailing, regarding passengers, staff, officers, restaurants, etc. Restaurants That first night we had dinner at Canaletto on D-9, and enjoyed everything, food, staff and drinks!. Also we had dinner twice at Pinnacle Grill on D-2 which was also as good as Canaletto though the second time, service was quite poor. You could have lunch at Pinnacle for $15.- pp., we never did because we wanted to be outside as much as possible to enjoy the weather and the sun, and being Canadians we knew quite well what kind of weather we could find back home! There is a third Specialty Restaurant called Tamarind on Aft D-10. We were really looking forward to going there after the unforgettable experiences we had in the Statendam's Tamarind! So much so that we prebooked two nights with them! what a let down it was this time! It started right from the beginning, the receptionist was cold, absent, indifferent and unfriendly, she was talking to us, looking at the computer but never at us, the sommelier was a very sleepy looking woman who gave us the impression that she didn't know were she was and not even what she was doing and to make things worse the place was practically empty giving a very boring atmosphere. Our waitress was quite nice and the fillet mignon was one of the best I ever had but regardless,y that wasn't enough for us; the reason? we do believe though the food is indeed very important, if the staff around you are not up to standard, that's a place not to go back to again. And that's what we did the following morning - we cancelled our second reservation.. The Maitre'd (another negative point) called us a couple of times trying to convince us to go back even offering a free meal but we couldn't care less and did not accept it. Main Dining Room Fwd. on Decks 2 & 3 (though only opens for the majority of guests on D 2); the food offerings were quite diverse and quality, temperature and presentation were excellent and the servers, sommelier and staff in general were outstanding. It comes to mind that one of them whose name is Dennis was an exemplary server who went out of his way to help us when we had a small problem leaving the Dining Room. Both Gala Nights took place there (it’s recommended making reservations before-hand especially if you like a table for two) and we were happy to see that people in general were dressed accordingly and not like what happened on the Statendam; (if interested read our review on that cruise of June 19th, 2019.). Dive-in Mid-ship on D 9 close to the pool, opens only for lunch and offers great burgers (seven specialty ones or create your own), huge hot dogs and the best fries on the ship. Waiters/waitresses are all around ready to take your order. Very pleasant and tranquil area to enjoy a relaxing lunch, many tables to choose from with a lot of space between them, but....but....with a caveat, many times tables that were there clearly for eating purposes were taken up by a group of people playing cards or dominoes or even just having a drink; this is one of the things, among others, that those type of passengers were absolutely selfish with complete disregard for the other passengers; we saw many people coming with plates loaded up with food looking for a table to sit and eat, quite upsetting! It is a problem but with a very easy solution; just place a note on each table stating that the table should be used only to have your lunch and of course the waiting staff has to keep an eye out to make sure that the tables are used for eating not reading or gaming. New York Deli & Pizza On D 10 overlooking the pool deck and also the Dive-in eatery. This was the place we chose on embarkation day after walking around the ship; we knew already how good their pizza was and can highly recommend both the "Tribeca" and the "Central Park" they're awesome!, as much as their salads and sandwiches. The service is excellent with a waiters/waitresses going around taking your drink orders and also in the same area is a bar where you can go and order for yourself if in a hurry. In general we had lunch many times in these two places (NYD&P & D-in) because they are and feel very airy, giving you the sensation you are having lunch outdoors! But in actual fact, the glass roof was often ¾ shut which was often good because direct sunlight made everything very hot.The problem with some passengers occupying tables rather than eating only happened occasionally. Lido Market Buffet Located on Aft. D 9, between the Dive-in and the Sea view Pool and Bar. The selection of food was quite large and of great taste but the place was always very busy with too many line ups and my God! those chairs at the tables are ridiculously heavy and difficult to move! Regardless the huge windows all around you looking at the ocean and the sky, you still feel that you are inside a room and that was the main reason we were more inclined to have lunch at any of the other two (Dive in & NY Deli) venues. It was so easy to order or choose your food, there is more space between tables, very easy to move around, and chairs are manageable! But the most important thing was that you really felt you were having lunch outdoors. There is a fantastic feature that the Lido Market has and we think HAL should consider the possibility of installing them in all of the other eating places. There are hand washing machines, four of them located near the main entrances. Each unit is divided into two sections, one for each hand. You just introduce your hands all the way up to the wrists and then a circulating spiral like spray washes your hands for about 12 seconds. You have to be careful not to get your shirt cuff or watch wet but the system is most efficient. Then you use nearby paper towels to dry off. There is quite a messy area around both openings due to all the liquids that drip off each user's hands. So it's best to wipe down the area afterwards as a courtesy for the next user. A very good system which should help improve overall buffet hygiene. Grand Dutch Cafe Mid ship D 3 A lot of offerings are free of charge like regular coffee (but not espressos), pastries, sandwiches. Good service, kind of dis-attached, and the area where the tables and chairs are, we found it very oppressive and too close between them. We went there only once. There is another Specialty Restaurant called Rudy's Sel de Mer on Mid ship D 2, but we didn't care to go. Many times we went by and the place was quite empty, so..... As you can see there are a lot of choices, try to make the right ones! The place to enjoy a great view with a good drink in your hands is the Crow's Nest, Fwd. on D 12 where also you can order coffee and pastries for a fee. There are a lot of Lounges and Bars throughout the ship, it will be up to you to discover them! Small hint, a very good one is the Sea View and Bar Fwd. on D 9. Elite Beverage Package - is it worth it? At a 10% premium over the standard beverage package, it was not really worth the outlay but from a point of convenience and status I would have to say it fit our style. The biggest issue was with availability of high priced wines. The standard package covers up to $11 per glass or shot while the elite goes up to $15 and both are actually worth more as the service charge is included and added onto the above rates. Unfortunately there are not many offerings in the range of $12 thru $15 and most are 12 and the few remaining are 14 or 15. Added to that, we experienced shortages on our 10 day cruise. At the first Gala in the main dining room we enjoyed but one glass of an excellent French red and then had to switch. This also happened later in the Polo Grill. And even our favorite Pinot Grigio ran out in most bars by day 8 of the cruise. And it was only a $9 glass. So Holland American made some money on us. The best you can and should do make your own numbers. Koningsdam cruise staff They were all extremely helpful, polite, friendly and fun, inevitably there were a few exceptions but on the overall they didn't count at all. I will repeat again what I said at the beginning, all these are our own experiences and opinions of this specific cruise itinerary, date and ship. Some of those on our sailing might disagree and that's natural. I would like to mention something we noticed about the passengers on this cruise; besides the already mentioned age and physical condition, there was a huge number of obese and morbidly obese passengers that mostly weren't too old; I was observing them eating and well!!! It wasn't difficult to realize why they were so overweight. This observation made me conclude that unintentionally the cruise lines are promoting obesity as much as alcoholism. In my opinion, they should take this under consideration and try to find a solution to those problems. All this might sound ridiculous but it’s in the way I feel. The ship in general was in very good shape, considering that she sails constantly and passengers are not very careful using the premises. We had the feeling that the ship was overcrowded! during the day, even in port, it was difficult to find a table on the Lido, Dive in or Sun Deck & Bar (Fwd. D 11). Never happened to us on any of the many cruises we've been to, especially when the ship is docked in port. We are closing this review now and really hope you had an entertaining time reading it! and learned a few things. Right now, we are living in very frustrating times, when it is impossible to make any plans because we don't know what will happen next. My philosophy is to keep myself very busy around the house that happy to say I really enjoy doing, to think positively, to try not to pay too much attention to the news and to take care of yourself and love ones specially when leaving your house and to wear disposable latex medical gloves, face masks to cover your nose and mouth and to keep a safe distance between you and people around you and please! do not let your kids go running loose all over the place (e.g. food stores). I am sure you know all of this but I feel compelled to do so whenever I have a chance. Well dear readers, till we meet again in more happy times I am sure! Make the best of it and a very Happy Easter to all! Read Less
Sail Date February 2020
We chose this cruise for its length, reasonable price and nice itinerary. Generally, we were quite satisfied with the cruise. Of course there are always irritating issues on any voyage – in our case our television broke and the guest ... Read More
We chose this cruise for its length, reasonable price and nice itinerary. Generally, we were quite satisfied with the cruise. Of course there are always irritating issues on any voyage – in our case our television broke and the guest services staff noted that it could not be repaired or replaced. We requested Wi-Fi access so we could check the news the stock market. We were told this was not possible and we were instead given an access key to an empty cabin on the other side of the ship where we could watch TV. We thought this was an odd resolution. Our TV was replaced before too long, so the issue essentially became moot. However, we thought Holland America service staff could have been more accommodating since the broken TV was their problem, not ours. We also felt that onboard entertainment was not up to other cruise lines’ standards and there were very few daily activities. Our goal with this cruise, though, was to simply enjoy the sunshine and to relax, so the problematic issues we outlined were mere nuisances. Read Less
Sail Date February 2020
A group of 11 family and friends ranging in age from 60-80 decided to get together for a cruise. Holland America Koningsdam was chosen because 4 of the group who are experienced cruisers chose to try a different cruise line than they had ... Read More
A group of 11 family and friends ranging in age from 60-80 decided to get together for a cruise. Holland America Koningsdam was chosen because 4 of the group who are experienced cruisers chose to try a different cruise line than they had travelled in the past and the rest of the group agreed to join them. All agreed that this was likely our first and last Holland America Cruise due to the lack of fun entertainment as compared to other cruise lines and resorts. We were aware that Holland America caters to an older demographic but we were not prepared for the lack of activity and entertainment on this ship. I am not saying that it was all bad, and being a large group we were able to make our own fun. There were very few young people on this cruise and there was an abundance of walkers, wheelchairs and scooters. We flew from Canada to Fort Lauderdale and stayed overnights at Comfort Suites Fort Lauderdale Airport South & Cruiseport. It is a very nice hotel and well located but quite pricey ay $400 USD/night. They provide a free shuttle from the airport and it arrived quickly when we called once we had retrieved our luggage. They allowed us to use the breakfast area in the lounge to eat our take out food rather than going out for dinner. There are limited options for good restaurants within walking distance. They provide a hot breakfast which was your usual ‘breakfast included’ fare. We had to pay $10 USD for the shuttle to the ship the following morning. There are 2 departure times:10:15 & 11:15 depending on which ship you are boarding. We were assigned the 11:15 shuttle. This process was not very efficient and left us sitting in a very crowded lobby due to a long delay for the shuttle departure. It is a short distance from this hotel to the cruise port but there was a lot of traffic. Once we arrived at the cruise port our luggage was taken and delivered to our cabins but we had a very long hot line up prior to checking in. (A nice touch in this area would be the offer of a complimentary welcome beverage.) Once we checked in we discovered that our cabins were ready (approximately 2pm by now) so we were able to freshen up and drop off our carry on luggage before going to lunch at the Lido Buffet. My husband and I and my cousin chose to share an Oceanview Cabin vs a Verandah and opted instead for the beverage package which was close to the same cost. Our cabin was more than adequate for 3 people. We had a queen size bed and a 3/4 sofa bed which was comfortable. There was lots of storage space and additional hangers were available upon request. 3 robes, 3 beach towels and lots of bath towels were provided. The window in the cabin was plenty big and there was no sense of feeling claustrophobic. Our travel companions all had verandahs but most agreed that the verandah, for the amount that it is used is not worth the additional cost as their rooms were identical to ours except that we had additional shelving. The bathroom was small but efficient. The toilet was positioned on an angle but unlike other reviews mentioned there was no need to sit at an awkward angle. The shower was large and water pressure was good but the hand held shower flopped to an awkward angle and had to be held vs being left in the holder. The ship was clean and cabin stewards Ketut & Mario were extremely friendly and efficient. The cabin was located closer to the back of the ship and had good access to both the rear and mid ship elevators. The Lido Buffet was perfect for breakfast & lunch and there was sufficient variety to avoid monotony. Many dishes were prepared to taste from scratch with fresh ingredients as compared to most buffets where dishes are prepared in advance and left to sit for long periods. Freshly made omelettes and stir fries were a big hit with most of the group. There was always a good selection of fresh fruit and berries and stock was replenished quickly. There was a good selection of breads, buns & bagels and while there were occasional lineups the service was efficient. The food is served by the staff vs self serve and this seemed to be more hygienic. There was always adequate seating for our entire group to sit together at breakfast and lunch. Service here was good. We tried the New York Deli for pizza one day and all 3 varieties were a big disappointment. The toppings were floating in oily cheese. This counter also served deli sandwiches and both the Smoked Meat and Reuben Sandwiches were satisfactory. The wait for food at lunch in this area was quite long. The Dive In Counter has delicious burgers, hot dogs and fries. The Gelato Bar has a nice variety but there is a charge of $2.30USD/scoop. They pile on 2 scoops without telling you this and a charge of $4.60 appears on your account...not a big deal but also not OK! Meals in the dining room were overall satisfactory. There was decent variety on the lefthand side of the menu in addition to regular choices on the right hand side. The Salmon or Strip Loin Steak were always a good go-to if nothing appealed from the nightly menu. Items of note were the Coconut Shrimp and the Crusty Sweet & Sour Shrimp. The pasta selections were also good but the Surf & Turf on the 2nd Gala Night was just OK. We had requested to be seated at the same table and this was not the case the first night but was quickly rectified by the Maître D André by the 2nd night. The Gala nights were Nights 3 & 9 of our 10 day cruise. Special menus were prepared for these nights but nothing spectacular. One might expect a show with Baked Alaska or some sort of special presentation but none of that. The dress code for Gala Nights ranged from tuxes & long gowns to casual shirts & pants for men & capris and T-shirts for women. There were certainly more people in fancy dress than on non Gala nights but some people wore the same as other nights. They do adhere to the rule of long pants & collared shirts for men on all nights but sandals are permitted. Wait staff in the dining room were great and special mention should go to Gina the Wine Steward who had a knack for remembering our preferences and always appearing at just the right time to make sure that our needs were being met. We did not try any of the specialty restaurants due to cost although they did look very nice. There are 2 small pools and 4 hot tubs on the Lido Deck. The pool towards the back of the ship is open to air but the one mid ship is partially enclosed and stifling hot. We did not understand why they did not retract the roof a little further. The temperature of the pools was fine but the area was extremely crowded especially on Sea Days. It was difficult to find a vacant lounger right after breakfast. Table and chairs and sofas also filled up quickly. If you were lucky enough to find a vacant spot it was an OK place to be but there was absolutely nothing going on poolside. No live music, contests or animators. Entertainment in this area was sorely lacking. One side of the deck is reserved for smokers so this further limited our seating options. The bar staff were friendly and efficient and drinks were tasty. We were advised to try a ‘Wang Wang’ by a photographer on our first day and with it’s 7 spirits and 4 fruit juices it soon became a favourite. Our Signature Beverage Cards which cost approximately $520 USD ($700CAD) each allowed us 15 drinks/day with a max cost of $11/drink. This included bottled water for excursions and specialty coffees. This met our needs and never were we denied a chosen beverage because of cost. Different bars offered varying types of mixed drinks and cocktails but the Sea View Bar seemed to offer the best selection. They did not seem to strictly adhere to the one drink per half hour rule. Sharing with other passengers is technically not allowed but loosely monitored. Something to note is that all people in the same cabin must each purchase a beverage package. We 3 were like-minded in this regard but our other travelling companions had different preferences so it was not beneficial for any of them to purchase beverage packages. If you each anticipate having at least 7 drinks/day the Signature Beverage Card is worth the money...it allows you to enjoy that second glass of wine with dinner and an after dinner Baileys without a second thought. If you are considering the Signature Beverage Package make sure to order it at least 3 days prior to boarding as it is significantly cheaper than buying it on board. Keep an eye on your on board account as we were charged for all of our drinks on Day 1 and it took 3 or 4 days to resolve the issues on all 3 of our accounts. Guest Services staff were not very efficient and our story had to be repeated multiple times. Evening entertainment was lack-lustre. The shows on the World Stage were just OK...the Comedian was not funny and the Magician was just so-so. The musical entertainer Mark Donaghue was OK as were the dancers but none of the shows were breathtaking. Those who appreciate Classical Music said the pianist was good but I did not attend that show. We had all been on previous cruises where the entertainment was far superior to this cruise. We found ourselves gravitating to the Piano Bar every night where we were entertained by 2 very talented young men Sam & Anderson who played 2 or 3 sets for 8 of the 10 nights. They were endearing, comical & interactive with the audience but I have to say that their sets got old towards the end however we continued to go because there were few other appealing choices. Across the hall from the Piano Bar was a Rock & Roll Band that played alternately between Piano Bar sets. The sound was deafening even from where we were sitting at the Piano Bar but we dared not leave for fear of losing our spots for the next set in the Piano Bar which was always packed. The drinks and wait staff at the Piano Bar were fun & efficient. There was a Jazzy Blues Band down the hall that also sounded pretty good if you like that kind of music. We stopped in at the Casino a few times but the smell of smoke was so repulsive that it turned me off. Smoking should not be allowed in an enclosed area!!!!!! Daytime activities were not exciting and had limited appeal to most of our group. There were cooking demonstrations and Microsoft Seminars but nothing that we would call fun. There were afternoon games with a facilitator in the Crow’s Nest but these were not well promoted and as a result poorly attended. The Crows Nest and with the Exploration Bar was a nice quiet area to hang out and play games although most of us agreed that the staff in these areas did not seem to be as friendly or happy with their jobs as other wait staff. The Dutch Bar on the 3rd level is a nice little place to stop for a pre-dinner cocktail. We travelled during the height of Covid 19 and there was an awareness for increased hygiene precautions. There were several hand washing stations at the Lido Buffet and Purell Hand Sanitizer Dispensers at numerous strategic locations throughout the ship. We ordered the Internet Package at a cost of $143.99USD for the 10 days. A slight plus to this was the option to share the package with others allowing only 1 device on at a time. 4 of us took advantage of this and while it was very slow and required frequent reconnecting it met our needs for the 10 days. I would not take this service unless you can share the cost as the service is not good enough to justify the cost. We ordered it before we left because it was cheaper than waiting until we were on board. The jogging track on the 11th deck was never too busy but the Fitness Room seemed to be well utilized. The walking track on the 3rd level was not very appealing and felt confining due to the presence of the lifeboats hanging overhead. None of us chose to purchase any shore excursions and instead just got off and enjoyed the immediate port areas. More details will be provided in the Port & Shore Excursion areas of this review. Disembarkation was smooth and efficient. Luggage was collected by midnight the night before departure and we had time for breakfast at the Lido Buffet before 8am on departure day. We were then called down in groups to collect our luggage and board the shuttle for the airport. We were at the airport by 10am and our 3pm flight was delayed by over an hour so it made for a long day at the airport. There are limited restaurant options at Fort Lauderdale Airport and the Duty Free shop has less selection & is pricier than some of the Duty Free Shops at the ports so it is wise to purchase alcohol at a port and retrieve it upon disembarkation. Mandatory tipping is $14.50USD per person per day and is automatically charged to the credit card provided upon online checkin. There is nothing wrong with additional cash tipping to staff who provide exemplary service. Most of these people are from impoverished countries and are away from home for prolonged periods. They work hard and long hours for their salaries so a few extra dollars are always appreciated. There is no need to check out unless you prefer to settle up with cash. Make sure to closely monitor your onboard account which is accessible on the TV in your cabin. Mistakes have been known to be made and I imagine that it is easier to resolve these while still onboard. Read Less
Sail Date February 2020
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