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4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2019
Retired active senior couple desires to leave sunny, humid Florida Summer for two weeks. Have sailed several times on Holland America. This ship and its sister ship Nieu Kolingdon (which we sailed on last December) are HAL newest. About ... Read More
Retired active senior couple desires to leave sunny, humid Florida Summer for two weeks. Have sailed several times on Holland America. This ship and its sister ship Nieu Kolingdon (which we sailed on last December) are HAL newest. About 2,600 passengers...larger than the rest of their fleet. The food, the service and the ships themselves are 5 star. The main shows in the evenings in the main large theater are soso which can be expected on a ship this size. This cruise was about 60% Scandinavian, 30% US/English and 10% Asian with not many children. Vista Suite (4110) was on deck 4 midship and was small but had great storage and a first class cabin attendant. We ate in 2 specialty restaurants ($35pp) (Pinnacle-steak and Calenture-Italian) and came to the conclusion that the food in the main dining room was as good if not better. The made to order pizza and ceasar salads in the New York Deli for lunch are terrific. The highlight for us were the daily classical concerts in the Lincoln Center which consisted of a talented ensemble of piano, cello, base and 2 violins. They also had a blues band in the BBK Room and a R & R band in the Rolling Stone Room which were OK. A hint on the drinks. Different bars have different Happy Hour times which gives you a cocktail at regular price and a second for $2.00 more. Another nice thing about HAL is that you can buy a 5th of vodka or others for about $40 bucks for your cabin which lets you have a nip on the veranda before the evening festivities. Excursions: Bergen was the best. The other tours were soso. I guess after you see a few fiords and cute little colored cottages it becomes redundant. The truth be known,,,,our numerous national parks in the good old USA are the truly spectacular sights! Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2019
Not everything about this cruise was abjectly awful. The food and service in Pinnacle Grill was good. Annette, who led the America's Test Kitchen demos, was very good. The itinerary was fairly rare. But a lot of stuff went wrong. ... Read More
Not everything about this cruise was abjectly awful. The food and service in Pinnacle Grill was good. Annette, who led the America's Test Kitchen demos, was very good. The itinerary was fairly rare. But a lot of stuff went wrong. Aside from Pinnacle Grill, the food was fit for a King. As in "Here King! Here boy! Good boy!" Food is subjective but food temperature and consistency are not. And they couldn't get the basics right on temperature and consistency. In eight dining room appearances, my wife never got what she ordered on the first try once. The Lanai room was clean, but the good points stopped there. The Lanai door did not work and was propped open or closed with wood. We could not control the stateroom temperature. This could not be fixed. The toilet clogged frequently. Passenger internet was knocked out for a week in/around Spitsbergen. Some internet worked of course, as the daily mini-newspapers kept appearing, just not for pax. A $50 credit was belatedly offered...a decent deal for those who bought the cheaper packages, but cold comfort to those who bought the more expensive/multi-device ones. The itinerary was clumsy, with too little time in too many ports. Putting Heimaey on the list of ports was ridiculous: at the best of times, the ship cannot approach the shallow harbour so it's a 35-minute tender ride to shore. These were not the best of times: It was not safe to put the tenders out so we skipped it, burning a day we could have been elsewhere. This was supposed to be an EXC cruise and after reading about the biologists and geologists brought on for the Southerly cruises we expected a treat. Instead our "expert" was a drowsy Aussie who had never been to this part of the world. His "expertise" was reading us Wikipedia. Easy enough to skip his talks, but his mumblings were blared on the outside decks, likely scaring away what little wildlife there was. They ran out of 2/3 of the wines in our package (Cellar #2). Servers eager/kind but hopelessly overworked The thermal package bought pre cruise was a grimy hot tub, grimy sauna, and six heated loungers. Layout unsuitable for this wheelchair user. Guest Services to their credit cheerfully gave Day 1 refund. We would only travel HAL again if, factoring in price, it was still a good deal after factoring in the $39pp it costs to eat in Pinnacle Grill nightly in a full balcony with working balcony door. The auto-itinerary says we were on a 34 day cruise but it was 20 days only, disembarking Aug 4. Mostly Spitsbergen and Iceland, with a stop in Norway Proper and Scotland bookending. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2019
I chose this cruise to go to Svalbard, pure and simple. Was not disappointed. Been to Iceland a couple of times before but still found things to see. Ship board life was fine by me. Did a few shore excursions organized by Holland, all OK ... Read More
I chose this cruise to go to Svalbard, pure and simple. Was not disappointed. Been to Iceland a couple of times before but still found things to see. Ship board life was fine by me. Did a few shore excursions organized by Holland, all OK but a tad expensive I thought. I deliberately sail on smaller ships where I can and Rotterdam is about as large as I want to go. Still had a feeling of smallness about it, and able to meet others passengers several times, creating a more intimate feel. My biggest upset, while not Hollands fault but something I will try and check on in any future sailings, was the arrival of a behemoth carrying 4500 passengers in the same small ports as us. 3 times. Imagine our 1400 passengers and 4500 off the other ship arriving in a port with a population of about 2000 people. Most unpleasant for me who lives in a small town with a total population less than the mob on the Preziosa. I like to feel a ship move and it took a storm with wild seas to make this happen. It appears a very stable ship. Cant have been too bad as we have just booked a cruise on a sister ship, this time to go to the bottom of the world. The review here by cancruise2 indicates to me he/she would be better of staying at home. One small complaint. I paid extra to have an ocean view. It is pointless to do this if you cant see through the dirty window. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2019
In the end we got more than we paid for. They slashed the rates because they sold the Prinsendam and replaced her with the bigger Rotterdam at unbelievable rates for this great itinerary covering the north coast of Svlbard (and btw. about ... Read More
In the end we got more than we paid for. They slashed the rates because they sold the Prinsendam and replaced her with the bigger Rotterdam at unbelievable rates for this great itinerary covering the north coast of Svlbard (and btw. about 10K km). So this was great. What was not great was that the Rotterdam continued her bad reputation für port changes / cancellations. Even before we sailed, they cancelled Edinburgh for Invergordon. "Port reasons" - no compensation not even the port charges. Then they cancelled Haemey - a discussable decision - but you do not want to discuss this with the captain after having read the reviews here and the threat of applying maritime law. Captain was on the tough side - he left 3 ladies in Reykjavik because they were 30mins late - not to announce two days later on short notice (in the morning) in Invergordon that we would leave 30 mins earlier…. But quod liced Jovi, non licet bovi.... Food average. Excellent cheese and cold cuts, very good salads with fresh broiled tuna in the Lido. Pool grill run out of the good HAL fries after a week. Hot dogs good, hamburgers not. Pizza ok. MDR not so good, excellent front desk, but arrogant sommeliers, other service good, food average - surf and turf for Gala night - badly overcooked. No fresh juices on board. Mocktails removed from menu, but still available. Great experience in the Explorations Cafe - thank you so much for coffee & brownies! Entertainment partly disgusting (Michelle Montouri and her bad, bad vulgar "jokes"), the piano player Patrick singing about mouth and hand jobs with a kid sitting around his piano (she was 12 years or younger, because she had to wear her security bracelet) - unbelievable.) The EXC guide was a bad joke - just reciting Wikipedia word by word and other websites word by word. Putting draaaaamaaaa iiiin everyyyything heee saaaaid iiin aaa deeeeep voice. Aaaaanddd nature alwayyyyss winns. Much better the nice Australian singer and the saxophone player from Holland and the PMJ. And all the nice Dutch onboard - we loved dutch trivia!! Very (!!!) nice crowd in general. Would definitively cruise with all of you again :-) Excursions overpriced, EXC-Team acting like local police in Ny-Alesund - but you did not want to mess with them - you know the captain…. Ship in general not well maintained. Cracked windows in the MDR. So no five star experience as promised - but we never expected that from a mainstream cruise line - for a very nice rate. So: the value for money - still excellent. And: dresscodes have been lifted finally. Formal night: slacks and collared shirt (no jacket, no tie required for men) matched the actual code (so we dressed accordingly) - but even T-shirts and jeans and - that was our favourite - : a tracksuit with polo shirt and sneakers (he) and a t-shirt and very tight and very short shorts (she, showing her lower back tattoo) was admitted - and sat next to a table in black tie… We loved this - as we are on holidays - Live and let live. Baseline: for this price we would come back. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2019
This was our first cruise ever and we didn’t quite know what to expect. We chose it because we wanted to reach beyond the Arctic Circle and into the Midnight Sun, and had a limited time availability. We stayed into a Neptune Suite - ... Read More
This was our first cruise ever and we didn’t quite know what to expect. We chose it because we wanted to reach beyond the Arctic Circle and into the Midnight Sun, and had a limited time availability. We stayed into a Neptune Suite - Mozart deck, Aft corner. We absolutely loved the suite. Top of the line, modern and elegant dual sink bath with oversized shower, all in travertine. Ultra large screen TV, and lovely wrap around balcony. King bed was best ever. The personnel was without reproche. All were just trying to go beyond the call of duty. We went to the restaurants - Tamarind was our favorite, with the Mango Posset desert being a killer. Rudy’s is also very good. Great atmosphere. Sophisticated food. The Orange Club was a very convenient way to have a more intimate environment for dining, and Neptune Lounge handy and well stuffed. The World State venue is just extraordinary. Music program onboard video was diverse and we could find our preferred tunes with Hyperion Knight piano, Dual piano performance, blues and rock bands. Shore trips - did do the job. We enjoyed them and used them to the fullest. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: July 2019
Nieuw Statendam Review, Land of the Midnight Sun, Departure on 7/7/19 For a little bit of background, we are mid-40’s cruisers that have sailed on Royal Caribbean, Celebrity & Disney with almost 20 ... Read More
Nieuw Statendam Review, Land of the Midnight Sun, Departure on 7/7/19 For a little bit of background, we are mid-40’s cruisers that have sailed on Royal Caribbean, Celebrity & Disney with almost 20 cruises under our belt. This was our first Holland America experience and we chose this cruise due to the itinerary to the Artic Circle. We left a few days early so we could have time to enjoy a little bit of Amsterdam before the cruise on Sunday. We arrived into Amsterdam early afternoon and took a cab to our hotel, the Kimpton Dewitt as we did not want to transport our luggage by public transportation. We stayed at this location due to free points, but I highly recommend it as it was a short walk to all of the major sites in the city. A colleague recommended that we take the hop on/hop off on tour. I do not recommend this as it was a big waste of time and the tour highlights were not that great. We did download the Rick Steves audio tour on my Iphone, and we did two of his free walking tours and learned a lot from this and highly recommend this way to tour the city. On the Saturday before the cruise, we took the Old Holland Tour that provides public transportation by bus for 20 euros pp and it took you to Zaanse Schans, Edam and Volendam. We had a great time and they also have a walking tour that we used walking around the windmills.  On Sunday, we headed to the port around noon and were on the ship by 12:30. We were really excited to be on this trip and to experience all that we could see on Norway. We were even more ecstatic because a couple of weeks before we decided to upgrade to a Neptune Suite. We have never stayed in a suite, but we pulled the plug because the cabin was an aft corner with the 2 balconies, and we wanted to be able to see as much as we could of all of the scenery both in the fjords and the Artic. One benefit that we truly enjoyed as a result of the suite was Club Orange. We had amazing food and service in this venue at both breakfast and dinner. I have a gluten allergy and they truly catered to me and I was able to have souffle and many other dishes that I have never been able to have on other cruise lines. Ports: Eidfjord. We scheduled an independent excursion through Go Fjord to see the Vøringfossen waterfall. On the way to the waterfalls, we stopped a nature exhibit. This was truly a waste of time, but this was the cheapest and easiest way to see the waterfall. The excursion limited the time at the waterfall, so I highly recommend going to the furthest platform viewing first and working your way back as it had the best views of the falls.  Bergen: We first got on the hop on/hop off bus and do not recommend. The city is not that big and pretty walkable. We then walked around and stopped at the Hanseatic Museum and Bryggen. I highly recommend the museum and they have regular tours for English speakers. We did not buy tickets in advance of the funicular because I was concerned about weather. However, the weather turned out beautiful so on our walk to the funicular I bought tickets on their app and was able to avoid the huge lines waiting to buy tickets. We then had a hearty traditional Norwegian lunch at Bryggeloftet & Stuene. We then headed to the Fish Market as my husband loves all kinds of dried and canned fish. I bought some sausage (later learned you can’t bring back to USA ☹). Alesund: We took the independent excursion through Norway Excursions, Alesund from Fjords to Trolls. Our tour guide Anita was amazing. I learned so much from her about the history of Norway and their culture. This was by far the best tour with amazing scenery on the Troll Road with its 11 hairpin turns. This Florida girl was glad she was not driving. The tour also allowed several stops and photo stops which was really nice. Trondheim: We found a walking tour from Frommers that we used to tour the city. This was also another very walkable city and Nidaros Cathedral was amazingly beautiful. We also walked over the Old Town Bridge with the historic wharves up to Kristiansten Fortress which provided a beautiful view of the city. Afterwards we headed to Baklandet Skydsstation for lunch which was nice little café with outside seating and very yummy food. We then finished our walking tour and headed back to the ship. The weather was again beautiful, and we had a great day in this city. North Cape/Honningsvag: We decided to rent a car. I was a little nervous about driving and renting especially when the rental company said make sure you shut your door at the cape because she had a rental last week lose the door to the wind when he left it open! However, we had no problems driving. We headed first to the North Cape and walked around and checked out all of the exhibits. Then we drove to Skarsvag and checked out the village. We wanted hike to the Arch, but I was worried about time, so we decided to skip that. Then we drove to Gjesvaer, a little fishing town. We had a great day driving around and this allowed for us to make photo stops when we wanted to. We also brought lunch for ourselves and had a little picnic at one of the pullouts overlooking the water. A gas station was right by the cruise terminal, so we had no problems filling up. Also, as a FYI, you fill the tank up first and then pay! Hellesylt: This port was a bit of a bummer because we did not cruise all the way to Geiranger. As a result, we booked the cruise excursion that provided the bus tour and then a cruise down the Geraingerfjord. There was little opportunity for independent excursions in Hellesylt and the excursion we went on was just okay. We drove by a bunch of beautiful things but did not really stop and a tour guide was decent but not amazing. Flam: Because we were in port from 8:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m., we did the Norway in a Nutshell tour on our own. This allowed us to take the Flam train up to Myrdal, then a train to Voss, then a bus to Gudvangen and then the boat down the Nærøyfjord. We would highly recommend it. We met another couple from the boat also doing this tour and was able to eat lunch with them in Voss at Tre Broer Cafe and Bar. It was really a great day. Haugesund: We decided to rent a car because there were several little things that we wanted to do and decided it was easier and cheaper to do on our own. We rented from Sixt and the representative was waiting outside for us when we arrived making it very efficient for us to get on the road. We made the following stops: Haraldshaugen (Norwegian National Monument), Steinsfjellet (panoramic viewpoint of city), Avaldsnes: Nordvegen History Centre and Viking Settlement, Skudeneshavn (fishing village) and Åkrasanden (beaches). Unfortunately, at the Viking Settlement, most of it was closed due restoration; however, the history center was really interesting. Thoughts on Holland America/Nieuw Statendam The good: The ship is new and beautiful. The food and service was amazing at Club Orange, Pinnacle Grill and Tamarind. My husband enjoyed the sushi at the buffet. We loved all of the musical acts at Lincoln Center, B.B. Kings and Rolling Stone and the themed artwork that went along with it. We enjoyed the BillBoard Bar and Ocean Bar and had really good service and drinks at those locations. We also loved the Dutch Café with its coffees and snacks. We also loved all of the free movies you could get in the room. We also attended the America’s Test Kitchen demonstrations but wished it was more interactive. We also appreciated the covered pool area especially on chilly days at sea. The so so: On sea days, the public spaces were extremely full, and it was sometimes hard to find a place to lay down and sleep or read a book especially around the pool. The EXC talks were just okay. We felt that she found the information off google and turned it into a speech. I would have preferred someone from Norway that could provide more history and culture about the areas we visited. The bad: We felt that there was a huge lack of activities on sea days or at night other than the musical acts. The ship also repeated some of the same entertainers for the nightly shows at the main stage. We also had difficulty communicating with some of the staff due to language barriers; this was not a big deal but sometimes it was hard to convey what you needed as far as drinks or food in the buffet. The drinks at the remaining bar locations other than the ones mentioned above were terrible and the service was not great. My gluten free options due to my allergy were also limited and even though I was told they have gluten free pizza crusts at New York Pizza, they said they ran out after only 2 days on the ship. We also had problems due to the lack of receipts given because we were charged for items when we had the beverage package and we wanted to have the option to provide additional gratuities for the servers in Pinnacle Grill and Tamarind. Overall Thoughts: We went on the ship for the itinerary and had an amazing time because of it. We thought the food was top notch and we loved our aft Neptune Suite. However, I don’t believe that we are the normal demographic for Holland America, and I think we would be truly bored if this had been a Caribbean sailing due to the lack of activities and interactive cruise activities that we love on other cruise lines. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2019
We chose this cruise because of the itinerary and the new ship really appealed. We weren't disappointed - had a fabulous time. Embarkation was so easy - well organised, quick and no stress at all. We stayed the night before in ... Read More
We chose this cruise because of the itinerary and the new ship really appealed. We weren't disappointed - had a fabulous time. Embarkation was so easy - well organised, quick and no stress at all. We stayed the night before in Roommate Aitana hotel in Amsterdam which was about 20 mins walk away and highly recommended. Our luggage arrived at our room promptly after boarding. Ship - the ship was beautiful and well maintained. The Crows Nest is a beautiful space, peaceful for games of chess and board games. The Lido pool area is good because the retractable roof makes it pleasant in hot and cold weather - ideal for this itinerary. The sports court and the area around were pleasant spaces - with outdoor gym equipment and a running track too. I would say that the ship felt slightly overcrowded from time to time - mainly in the buffet. We enjoyed the international mix on the ship - most passengers seemed to be from US or Netherlands with some from UK and also further afield too. Ages were a mix too with the biggest majority probably being active couples around retirement age, although there were also young families and a whole range of ages ! Cabin - our cabins were really good. We had an aft balcony cabin and an inside cabin in our group. I was very pleasantly surprised by the size of the inside cabin. The aft balcony was lovely and sheltered and didn't feel overlooked. The bathroom was also a pleasant surprise - with a proper , walk in shower and clever layout. The cabins were beautifully clean and the cabin staff were friendly and did their jobs really well. Dining - we mainly ate in the Lido buffet. I was impressed with the quality of the food and the fact that the food is served rather than open to collect. There was a lot of variety overall but with vegetarian and vegan requirements I felt these could have been better catered for, especially vegan options. Small changes could have made so many more of the options suitable for all - for example changing the noodles to wholewheat or udon from egg noodles would allow the stir fry counter to be suitable for vegans, making the vegetable soups with coconut cream rather than dairy cream etc. There were no vegan desserts available for our whole trip ! Minor changes to some of the existing options would make the whole menu far more accessible for all requirements. The ship does also have a special menu for vegetarian and vegan customers and I discovered half way through that they would serve that in the buffet on request too - that was much appreciated and one of the staff in the buffet was a huge help in getting that organised. However it is necessary to place any orders from that menu a day in advance , whether for dining room or buffet, which is not ideal and definitely not keeping up with the times - vegetarian and vegan diets are no longer unusual. The other issue with the buffet was that there simply isn't enough space - it could get very crowded and difficult to find a seat. The pizza at the pool was excellent and highly recommended. We didn't get a chance to eat at the Dutch Cafe as it was always very busy and rather crowded. We didn't try any of the speciality restaurants as none had much for vegetarians or vegans. Entertainment and Activities - there didn't seem to be loads of organised day time activities , but that was fine for us as we used the gym, spa etc. We did attend a couple of lectures which we enjoyed. In the evening BB Kings was the standout venue - excellent and really good fun ! The Lincoln stage looked good but the times were early and we were always dining then.... The Rock room was lacklustre compared to BB Kings although the idea of having two options was good and it did always seem busy. The gym and spa were very good and the decks had a range of things to do - table tennis , shuffleboard etc. I don't see the point of all ships having so much space set aside for a casino - and never saw it busy so maybe we aren't alone in that ! Service was faultless from the staff. Never saw much of the officers. The itinerary was good and we enjoyed all the ports. Since they dock so close to the town for each port it was easy to come and go from the ship and see the local sights. Disembarkation was also very easy - only a bit of queuing and luggage already available to collect. Wifi was very expensive ! We would definitely sail with HAL again and had a great trip. Read Less
Sail Date: June 2019
Just a qualifier to start ... this is my first cruise, so I write this review lacking other benchmarks. I'm essentially rating and evaluating this cruise relative to other vacation experiences and the expectations from reading prior ... Read More
Just a qualifier to start ... this is my first cruise, so I write this review lacking other benchmarks. I'm essentially rating and evaluating this cruise relative to other vacation experiences and the expectations from reading prior reviews. That said, I don't see how this experience could have been much better than it was. Here are some highlights. Dining with dietary needs: One of my sons was gluten-free and dairy free. We found the main dining room and the specialty restaurants (Canelatto, Pinnacle Grill) to be particularly confidence building in terms of how they handle allergies. This was true for both dinner and breakfast (we never happened to eat lunch in the MDR). My son generally pre-orded his dinner for the next day at a current days dinner and the chefs were able to prepare it according to his needs. Dive In and the NY Deli also handled special dietary needs well. The Lido Buffet was a little more chancy as nothing was labeled, so we rarely ate there. Dining quality and experience: I don't see how it could be much better. Food was delicious and served at appropriate temperature. Range of choices in MDR and specialty restaurants was excellent. Service was phenomenal. Ambiance in the 2nd floor MDR was solid -- even better at times when we got a seat by the window. One observation was that one needs to allow about 1 hour for breakfast and 1.5-2 hours for dinner. In other words, it's European dining speed. That was quite acceptable. I loved the fact that you could get food until midnight. Evening entertainment: The Music Walk (BB King, Rolling Stone Rock Room, Billboard Onboard) totally exceeded expectations. The Rock Room cover band was very good as was BB King (the bass player was phenomenal) and they hide quite a bit of variation from show to show and night to night. But the two pianists in Billboard Onboard stole the show. They were engaging, exceptionally talented, and quite entertaining. We chose Nieuw Statendam for their emphasis on music so we had high expectations. This surpassed them. Only nit might be that many shows were very crowded, but if you were willing to stand, you never missed a beat. Other observations: -- The appearance of the boat was spectacular. It still had that "new boat" smell. :-) -- I personally liked the walking path around the exterior of the boat on deck 3. One of my sons really liked the basketball court on deck 11. -- I liked the fact that the hot tubs were kept at about 100F. That means that you could relax and not have to worry about leaving and 15-20 minutes. -- They seemed to have very good judgment as to when to close the roof on the Lido pool and when to keep it open. -- Entry and exit on the boat at port was well organized. Some minor nits: -- Sometimes the wait at the Guest Services desk could be a bit long -- up to 15 minutes. -- I had a few times where I was trying to get information and got different answers from different people. For instance, I could never figure out what time the pool closed. -- The Navigator app was OK ... but it did not consistently notify me when I received a chat message. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2019
If your primary interest in cruising is to make short visits to a variety of sites without having to unpack or worry about checking in/out, arrange transport between cities, etc. , then the Nieuw Statendam is the ship for you. If you also ... Read More
If your primary interest in cruising is to make short visits to a variety of sites without having to unpack or worry about checking in/out, arrange transport between cities, etc. , then the Nieuw Statendam is the ship for you. If you also see cruising to foreign lands as an opportunity to learn through onboard lectures and enjoy yourself, then this is not the ship for you. We did a 14-day cruise to Norway that included five sea days. I anticipated having presentations by speakers who might discuss the local traditions, legends, politics, or other potential Nordic topics. Not so on this ship. The EXC guide presented memorized generic lectures with photos on each port and very few other topics. Most lectures were 30 - 40 minutes in length and usually covered two ports at a time. The EXC guide arrived and started promptly on time and as soon as she finished went into hiding in the crew spaces, i.e., no deviation from the script, no questions, etc. Other than the three music venues, HAL has done away with all entertainment other than a few guest artists (singers, comics, etc.). In the first seven days, we had a great opera singer who performed two evenings, one comedian who performed once, one adequate guitarist who performed once and one evening when the guitarist and comedian shared the stage. The first night, there was an EXC lecture and one night there was no entertainment, not even a movie in the mainstage. There were movies each evening poolside. We were fortunate to obtain a reasonably priced upgrade to a Neptune Suite which made the cruise much more comfortable. The room, although not as large as on older HAL ships was very well laid out with a great bathroom. There were at least six electrical outlets with North American 110 and USB jacks in each. The Neptune Lounge concierges, Paulo and Kirsten, provided great service when requested. Club Orange is HAL’s effort to catch up with the completion in providing a distinctive suite experience. It is a somewhat feeble attempt in that the menu is identical to the MDR with an additional item on some days. Our original excellent chef was moved to Sel de Mer near the end of the cruise and his loss was obvious to the tenor of the restaurant. Not only was he a wonderful and meticulous chef, he also took time to come out and talk with the clientele when time permitted. The new chef maintained a low profile. Service by the staff onboard was typical of HAL and other lines - excellent with a smiling and helpful team. Navigation officers must have been present since we travelled safely between ports, but were invisible, only to be seen when tendering. With the exception of the friendly and visible chief security officer, hotel officers remained behind the scenes unless they were hurriedly going from one place to another trying to avoid interaction with guests. Rust. I mention this since some reviewers believe it is an indication of ship condition. We noted rust in several places on our veranda and other locations, so those who don’t like rust should avoid this eight month old ship. To us, the ship was quite well maintained with many subtle front-facing and behind the scenes improvements from the Koningsdam on which we cruised eight months ago. We will likely return to HAL for a great itinerary, but can’t imagine any other reason. Read Less
Sail Date: June 2019
I joined this HAL-branded cruise for 2 reasons. Firstly, to sightsee and enjoy the Norwegian Fjords and its culture. I am happy to achieve what I wish for and rated it a 9 out of 10. Secondly, the HAL experience onboard Nieuw Statendam ... Read More
I joined this HAL-branded cruise for 2 reasons. Firstly, to sightsee and enjoy the Norwegian Fjords and its culture. I am happy to achieve what I wish for and rated it a 9 out of 10. Secondly, the HAL experience onboard Nieuw Statendam (prior, I cruised with Zuiderdam, Nieuw Amsterdam and Koningsdam). This is the worst programming/events I encountered. The quality of the World Stage performance was below par (apart from renowned pianist Zhang and One-Step light & dance performance). There were 2 nights without performance. I was disappointed that the ship didn't engaged any local Nowergian performer throughout the 14 nights. t) Sea day has 1 track event rather than 2, on most ship. As such, sea-day was boring and subdued. I would like more enrichment programs on sea day. Like painting appreciation, pottery making, knitting, play a simple norwegian musical instrument Lido Market food quality and quantity were excellent BUT lack variety. Serving the same food 14 days in a row. Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2019
We chose this cruise because of where it was going. Have not ocean cruised for over 10 years. The ship is lovely & new. We thought the staff was great. The emphasis was on music and we enjoyed the Lincoln Center stage concerts so very ... Read More
We chose this cruise because of where it was going. Have not ocean cruised for over 10 years. The ship is lovely & new. We thought the staff was great. The emphasis was on music and we enjoyed the Lincoln Center stage concerts so very much! The World Stage was a mixed bag for us. The acts varied from classical vocals, to comedy, to dance. For this stage I would have liked to see group scenes, comedians that work together. One guy is not to energetic. We did not attend all of those. BB King was terrific as well. Food.. we did not take advantage of the specialty restaurants. Another way tp pick our pockets. The Lido breakfasts were great! Lunches were fine too. The main dining room was very hit or miss. I was looking forward to fish but each of the 3 entrees I tried were not well prepared. My husband tried more and had some good results. The Norwegian salmon was the best. The servings of vegetables were very, very small. Sauces were tasteless and often smeared on plate for effect, not enough to enjoy. I had salmon with one asparagus spear! Often the potatoes were just 2 bites worth. Over all, choices were varied and so were the results. I had a couple pasta dishes that were terrific. The curry one night was superb. Excursions...so outrageously over priced that we didn’t even consider. Did a couple private ones that were great and much cheaper. The thermal spa was nice...we did spring for this, but felt like it was not worth the charge. Wine overpriced and why no local Norwegian craft beers not available? The port talks were fun, but honestly of little help. Neither were the port maps or info helpful at all. We came to see Norway and did...on our own. Hiked most of the time while off the boat. The fitness area was excellent and we took full advantage of this area. But really...$20 for spin class? The stretch classes looked too crowded so again, did our own thing. Over 50% of the passengers were Dutch, there were a lot of Chinese as well. Our assigned table mates were just awful so we went rogue and came in as our music scheduled allowed. Overall, the charges for drinks, excursions, WIFI, classes etc were too highpriced , but we enjoyed the music and the movies. The 5 sea days were lovely and relaxing. Each stop was interesting. We were blessed with many good days of weather. The laundry service was excellent and the embarkation as well as debarkation was well done. Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2019
This cruise had an amazing itinerary--the wonders of the Norwegian fjords, charming little ports, the Arctic with its eerie light, and the fascinating little medieval stave church at Urnes. We loved all the sights, were very lucky with the ... Read More
This cruise had an amazing itinerary--the wonders of the Norwegian fjords, charming little ports, the Arctic with its eerie light, and the fascinating little medieval stave church at Urnes. We loved all the sights, were very lucky with the weather (just missing the weeks and weeks of rain), and enjoyed experiencing Holland America's newest ship. The Nieuw Statendam is stunning. We thought our Vista Suite cabin was the most thoughtfully-designed cabin ever (especially the easy walk-in glass shower), loved the glorious fresh flowers and the interesting art in the public spaces, and especially enjoyed the serene Retreat of the Explorations Lounge on Deck 12 where there was always excellent coffee (though not free), stylish coffee table books to browse, and a few shelves of briskly traded cruisers' fiction paperbacks. And definitely the most relaxing music on the ship. Only the garish decoration of the main dining room seemed out of place (a kind of interior design fail of a bold burgundy and orangey-yellow modern carpet underneath lipstick red and metallic red ceiling fixtures. And for some reason truly terrible pop music. It's a loud place, both literally and metaphorically.). The Step One Dance Company's performance, which we'd already seen twice on the Eurodam, we loved all over again, but all the rest of the entertainment was C, not B, list. No one, however, probably chooses Holland America for the shows. It's the music venues that are the real entertainment--especially the lively BB King Blues Club band. Lots of dancers on this cruise: The Americans all danced as they did in high school, the Asians did ballroom dancing moves with dramatic arm and hand gestures, and the Dutch and the Norwegians took it all in with anthropological interest. :) The food in the dining room was always good and the presentations were lovely. The soups weren't as good as the soups I had admired so much on the Eurodam, perhaps, but oh my the salmon! Tamarind was the only supplemental charge restaurant we know to try--though after the astonishingly good Indonesian restaurants we'd sampled in Amsterdam, we were disappointed in the Tamarind's Indonesian night. Everywhere we ate, there was attentive and professional service, though the staff didn't make the effort to be friendly or to remember names in the way the staff on the Eurodam had done on our cruise to Hawaii in February. There didn't really seem to be much of a sense of esprit de corps among the staff, perhaps because the Captain seemed humorless and even a little dour--or maybe the ship is just too new to have developed a sense of community yet. The one thing that I always winced at was the tendency of the wait staff to announce that it was "Yummy, Yummy Time!" when the dessert menu came around. Oh, please. Read Less
Sail Date: June 2019
Holland America is going bigger and that means selling their small ship, the Prinsendam. This is our 5th trip and small ships are more rewarding for us. This is the most popular Holland America ship and there are no plans to replace her. ... Read More
Holland America is going bigger and that means selling their small ship, the Prinsendam. This is our 5th trip and small ships are more rewarding for us. This is the most popular Holland America ship and there are no plans to replace her. Competition from Viking Ocean Cruises and others will take many loyal travelers which is what we heard on board.We agree as we did Viking and their new ships are great. As usual our only issue with the cruise is that it costs extra for Wifi, water for shore trips, more for the specialty dining, more for wine and beer at lunch and dinner, etc The staff was excellent and couldn't do enough for us. The shore trips continue to be excellent. Our only complaint was that the shore excursion staff was not well informed about the ports and couldn't answer basic questions. They were put off when asked a sensible question. We did our homework before we went so we were well prepared. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2019
I am a loyal HAL fan, not the most experienced cruiser, but have completed 3 back to back cruises and one re-positioning cruise, covering the Western and Eastern Mediterranean, Western Europe, Baltic countries, Japan to Alaska and most ... Read More
I am a loyal HAL fan, not the most experienced cruiser, but have completed 3 back to back cruises and one re-positioning cruise, covering the Western and Eastern Mediterranean, Western Europe, Baltic countries, Japan to Alaska and most recently from 2 June to 23 June the Norwegian fjords on the Nieuw Statendam. My purpose in this review is not to deal with every aspect of the cruise on NS, as most topics are well covered in the many reviews published since its launch. It suffices to say she is a beautiful ship, well designed in all respects (other than the closed in effect of the Promenade Deck), and is tastefully finished in its furnishing and art works. She is operated like a well- oiled machine. Her Officers and crew do an amazing job. Rather my purpose is to give my opinion on a few issues, with which some may disagree, but in relation to which, if there are enough others who agree, may give HAL cause to make some changes which I think could alter the experience of future passengers on the NS very much for the better. For me the problem with the NS does not lie in any way with the ship or its crew. The problem is with the passengers. Those we came in contact with were very nice people – it is just there were too many of them. In the first 7 day leg of the cruise they had not learned how to spread more evenly between the many venues. Everywhere seemed crowded. During the second 14 day leg passengers were definitely better distributed but it was still not easy to find a table in the Lido during peak periods (we were in a party of 4 which probably made it a little more difficult) and there were still queues waiting to be allocated tables in the Main Dining Room. We also found during both parts of the cruise that it was difficult to find a quiet place to play cards or just to relax and enjoy the quiet of ocean travel. The effect for me, compared to previous cruises on the Eurodam, Noordam and Volendam, was a sense that the somewhat illusory feeling of a degree of some exclusivity which HAL managed to create on those ships, had been lost. There are a few things which could be done to address some of these issues. Our observation was that the covered front pool area was much underutilized except during meal hours. The reason for this was noise. Documentaries were often shown on the large screen during various times of the day. Very few people seemed interested in them but everyone had to deal with the blaring sound which made conversation difficult. Other than meal times this large seating area was virtually deserted. At night when movies were shown there was often no more than 4 or 5 people watching. On previous cruises we would often sit in this area and just enjoy the world going by. I would suggest that the large screen and sound system not be used at all during the day. This will take pressure off other areas. Thought might be given to whether there is any benefit in showing films at night on cruises to colder areas or whether some better use could be made of the area. During the day we also experienced that talks were given in public lounge areas. On one occasion a talk was being given using a public address system which was so loud you could not hear yourself think in the adjoining lounge area. We and others got up and vacated the lounge. This could be easily avoided by ensuring any talks are conducted in isolated areas or closed rooms. Although we had an overall very enjoyable cruise I personally will be unlikely to cruise again on the NS or the Koningsdam because of the sense of loss of exclusivity to which I have referred. I query whether cruise lines have made the right decisions in the move to bigger and bigger ships. It is now well known that Amsterdam has concerns about the flood of tourists associated with cruise ships and that Venice is concerned about the effect of cruise ships. Bergen now intends to place limits on the number of tourists which may visit that city. I love cruising and will remain loyal to HAL for as long as possible because I think it is a very well- run company, which trains its staff to serve its clients well and which in my experience has always been responsive to any concerns raised. But for now my future cruising will be restricted to HAL’s smaller ships. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2019
Our adventure started with our first visit to the city of Amsterdam. We enjoyed a two day sojourn there packed full of things to do and see on both days starting on the afternoon of our arrival with a visit to the Van Gogh Museum. (See the ... Read More
Our adventure started with our first visit to the city of Amsterdam. We enjoyed a two day sojourn there packed full of things to do and see on both days starting on the afternoon of our arrival with a visit to the Van Gogh Museum. (See the heading below for full details on Amsterdam, though it is not part of the Cruise it really deserves our comments.) Itinerary Excellent, learning experience for the Norwegian coastal cities of Oslo, Kristiansand, Stavanger and Flam. Cabin - Vista Suite 6135 Well designed, lots of storage with wall hooks that are lacking on most cruise ships. Bathroom is small but large shower stall; only room short on storage capacity. Large and deep balcony furnished with two comfortable lounge chairs with separate foot rests and a small round table; a very enjoyable area. Balcony access door swings rather than the customary slider and is easier to operate. One of the shelf guide wires on the wall below the TV set was damaged when I tripped on the bed spread and its connection and part of the wooden wall were pulled apart. This was repaired the next day so well that one would not know the wall had been severely damaged. Very, very impressive. Storage space is plentiful and includes two wooden boxes placed underneath each bed but not very easy to pull out. (Warning! When packing on the last day do not forget to check those under bed drawers because we were so very close to forgetting a lot of used clothes we put there during the cruise). Eating in the cabin is not a comfortable experience due to the too small provided table; breakfast (only!) was quite a feat. Regardless you are paying the same amount in gratuities ($16.- pp/per day) as the Signature and above suites, you do not get the same amenities as they do, e.g. welcome bottle of bubbly or wine, a serving of canapes, etc. It’s a suite but without the butler service. After so many cruises with a butler, this was the first time without; though they can be very helpful many times they can be intrusive and knowing when you are in, when you are out, when you get up, what you eat and drink etc. In one word there is a complete lack of privacy. So this time without one, it was quite enjoyable. Cruise line staff Excellent all over the ship; Lido staff it seems have learnt more English and they were very polite and helpful, the staff serve the buffet food, a very important detail to avoid any kind of infection. The Front Desk or Guest Services, were on a par with Viking and much more efficient and polite than most other cruise lines. All issues were handled and solution at once and in a very good manner. Food Only disappointment was with the Lido buffet. Not really impressed with the offerings. Desserts were below par and repetitive. Tables were not cleared up quickly and wine service was slow regardless the “service button” that each table had. Restaurants The restaurant menus, presentation and temperature of meals were always right on. No complaints with any meal. Specialty restaurants were worth the price, in fact Tamarind was so good it almost demanded a higher fare to give it the recognition it deserves and been on Aft Deck 10 the views are great; I imagine on a sunny day having al fresco lunch or dinner there; but unfortunately the weather was quite unpredictable during the whole cruise. Pinnacle was superb and on sea days the $10 noon fare was well worth it if not just for the luxury and peaceful surroundings and the very attentive staff. Canaletto was good too, food and staff but being part of the Lido buffet during the day (as a matter of fact we were having some of our breakfast there) this takes away that sense of been “Italian”. There are other places where to have a snack or even lunch. For a light lunch or a snack, the Grand Dutch Café (Deck 3) many items free of charge like coffee, pastries and ham and cheese sandwiches. Tranquil atmosphere but could be very busy on sea days. The other place to have a good light lunch is the pool side Dive-in from seven specialty burghers (or create your own), three ways to have great hot dogs and four ways to enjoy the best French Fries on the ship. Buzzers are handed out so you will be called when the order is ready. And last but not least, the New York Deli & Pizza in Deck 10, overlooking the pool deck. Open at 7 a.m. and stays open till midnight. The pizzas are out of this world, they have six specialty ones or you can build your own, you also can get salads, classic deli sandwiches (pastrami or corned beef) and if you get there early enough avoiding the buffet crowds for breakfast you get bagels, sandwiches, fresh fruit, pastries and coffee! It is very clear that on board the Nieuw Statendam you will not go hungry! But for sure you will gain lots of pounds if you are not careful. Formal or Gala Nights? Biggest let down of the cruise. The tuxedo rental service worked well, good fit and housekeeping redid pressing of the garments free of charge. We showed up at our reservation time (8PM) and realized right away that the dress code was non-existent. Much less than 10% of men wore tuxedos and the majority of guests were in LESS than resort casual clothing. We saw short sleeve shirts, jeans, running shoes, teenagers and grownups in t-shirts etc.; the only thing missing were shorts! We really felt foolish wearing tuxedos and will not go to the trouble again. We were very lucky with the young waiter at table (#115), his name was Cahadi and thanks to his good humour and doing his best for us to have a good time we were able to ignore our surroundings. When we complained to the Maître’d (Martin) his explanations were inadequate and groundless- clearly and visibly he was not a strong manager and lost control of his restaurant. The “gala” had been advertised as a 5 course meal but only 3 were offered. That happened on the first gala night, on the second one things were a bit better, we cannot explain why; maybe our complaints? At any rate, gala or formal in the way the people were dressed it was unacceptable and was the first time we experienced such a thing on any of our previous cruises on many different cruise lines. Excursions - please see below Amsterdam Our hotel was in the museum quarter, as a matter of fact its name is NH Museum Quarter (nhmuseumquarter@nh-hotels.com). It was in a very good location facing a canal with very helpful staff; we could have purchased museums tickets through them, the best method if you only wished a general visit but remember you’re taking your chances, that the day and time you want, may not be available, that’s why and wanting to take advantage of every minute in Amsterdam we did pre-cruise museum tickets for Van Gogh and Rijksmuseum, a City tour plus a Canal cruise, all done through the internet and it worked out well, unfortunately we missed the Hermitage Museum! God willing next time! By the way, at the hotel you also can acquire bus, tram and metro “day pass tickets” for about 16 euros. In general, we were disappointed with the organization of the museum tours, regardless the electronic guide that’s provided as it was not user friendly and trying to quickly find various famous paintings of interest among so many people, many of them spending a long time in front of every painting proved difficult. Regardless, the paintings were superb, many of them unknown to us and some of the Van Gogh’s were a real discovery. We had no idea how prolific he was over such a short time span. At the Rijks the Rembrandts were featured in a special showing of many unknown ones but also there were an enormous number of his sketches - interesting but boring unless you were there to match the sketches with the final painting. The City tour (by bus) was a good learning experience. The modern architecture is outstanding in its variety, especially the use of new materials and colours. It was very refreshing compared to the repetitive high rises that are being built in North America. So the bus tour is worthwhile but we don’t recommend the Canal cruise; the boat was a glass box that on a hot day and that one was, makes you feel you’re in a sauna and no water was available on board. It wasn’t a very nice feeling going along those narrow canals and having to look up at the buildings that from that vantage point says very little (regardless whatever you hear from the loudspeaker) those were the same older buildings we had seen during the City tour but the message got thru mainly because there was a tour guide to whom you were able to ask any question which was then answered very clearly but the ship megaphones were deaf! In case you would like a canal cruise take it at night and I am sure the light show will be stunning, Amsterdam was a city full of surprises! Never imagined there was a subway and a brand new, modern one at that, very wide avenues lined with cafes and sidewalk patio restaurants and many expansive parks and green spaces around every corner. Having the opportunity to go there again now that we know our way around, we would jump at the chance! And then, a visit to the Hermitage (Amsterdam) will be our number one priority for sure! Closing statements Since the day we arrived in Amsterdam we were on the go! We made the mistake of choosing a 7 day cruise that visited completely new places and to make things more demanding, on a new, big and beautiful ship! This cruise was also a kind of a shock because our previous one was an 18 day Atlantic Ocean crossing from Europe to South America, our second one that long and our last! For us spending too much time on a ship becomes repetitive (in all the areas) and boring! Regardless we enjoyed everything to the fullest during this short cruise, we do not plan a repeat such a combination: that is, new places-new ship-7 day cruise….never again! Perhaps it was that there were too many “FIRSTS”: first time with Holland America, first time on the Nieuw Statendam first time in Amsterdam, first time in Oslo and all the other beautiful cities of Norway, so it is very easy for you to imagine how elated we were with this cruise, so happy and elated that we booked another one - more days and going to well-known places. As it was not possible on the Statendam because of a clash of dates, it will be on her older sister’s ship, the Koningsdam and again another first! We have to emphasize that there are many factors why we will sail again with Holland primarily because of the excellent staff but also for the superior food and wait staff being a very close second. Really, we hope you found our review helpful and interesting, so till next time, wishing you very happy sailing days! To our fellow Canadians, being today July 1st. Happy Canada Day! Cheers!!!! Ps. Photos soon to follow this review Read Less
Sail Date: May 2019
Prinsendam is going out of Holland America Service on July 1. I wondered if I should write these reviews, but since Veendam is taking over some of the Prinsendam itineraries in 2020 I’ve decided this might still help future cruisers. ... Read More
Prinsendam is going out of Holland America Service on July 1. I wondered if I should write these reviews, but since Veendam is taking over some of the Prinsendam itineraries in 2020 I’ve decided this might still help future cruisers. We took two back to back itineraries, Celtic Explorer and Norwegian Fjords Explorer on the MS Prinsendam. The 14 day Norwegian Fjords Explorer started with a sea day before arriving in Oslo. In Oslo the ship docked at someplace other than where the EXC Guide told us we would be. It was not on the map that HAL provides for each port. We were told that there would people with maps and a currency exchange, there was none of that, only a couple of cabs and a hop on hop off bus. The map for the Ho-Ho did not have our dock marked. It was a “special stop.” There was one sign pointing to downtown but no indication on how far a walk it was. I understand that sometimes things change. But when they do HAL has the responsibility to make an announcement of the different docking venue. We took the Ho-Ho. It was fine for getting us where we wanted to go but terrible for sightseeing. They had decals across the front window on the upper deck and blocking the windows on the bottom deck. The bus stopped running before we ran out of Oslo so we took a cab from Central Station to the ship, more than $30. This was Prinsendam’s first, and last, call at Arendal, a charming town. We were greeted by a dance troupe who performed on the walkway climbing up from the dock. We walked through the town, spent time in the old town hall, a classic old, large wooden building. At a café we had some local pastries and coffee. A man sat next to us, his brother joined us, and we had a conversation about their grandfather who immigrated to America and made enough money to come back and buy a fishing boat. It changed the family’s life, giving them cash and status. Sailing into Eidsfjord includes a trip through Hardanger Fjord, worth getting up early to watch. In Eidsfjord we took a HAL tour to the highlands, a lake, waterfall and the alpine tundra. The guide was a farmer who raised a traditional breed of sheep. He is also a snow plow driver full of stories about sheep, farming, and rescues on mountain roads. The next stop was Flam. We took the HAL tour on the train. We should have just gotten off the boat and gotten our own tickets. It would have cost us half the money and we would have been on a less crowded coach. Having said that, it was worth the trip. There is a nice railway museum. We needed the sea day that followed Flam because after there were 6 ports in six days. Trondheim was a walking day. We went to the cathedral, which was beautiful. Unfortunately, photos aren’t allowed although you couldn’t tell by the number of people whipping out iPhones. The crown jewels were a disappointment. After paying the admission fee to the museum they told us that because of concerns over security the exhibit was not open. We could stand at the door to the room where the jewels are displayed and look through the iron bars. They had tied a pair of binoculars to the bars for us to get a better look. The resistance museum next door is worth your time. The old wooden houses in Trondheim create nice neighborhoods to walk through. Rockheim, the Norse Rock and Roll Museum, is right where the ship docks. Ålesund burned down in the early 20th century and was rebuilt in Art Nouveau style. We walked through the town, stopping at both the Art Nouveau and Modern Art museums. Both were well done. The Modern Art exhibitions were expressions of people’s relationship with the sea. We took a cab to the lookout for a great view of the city. It was worth the NOK 300 ($33.00) Geiranger is approached through a long series of fjords. It’s worth getting up early for the sail in. In town we took the Hop-On, Hop-Off. It stopped at an overlook, a mountain farm and the Fjord Center. From the Fjord Center you can walk down more than 300 steps, along a waterfall, to town. It always rains in Bergen, like my hometown Sitka, Alaska. We wanted to go to the Hanseatic League Museum but last October they discovered it was sinking, it’s 300-year-old pilings were having problems, so it’s closed. The museum shop and some exhibits are spread around Bryggen, the old section of Bergen. The Bryggen Museum was also closed for renovation. It may be open by the time you read this. There’s a free shuttle bus between Bryggen and the Fisherman’s Museum. Living in a fishing town I found comparisons interesting. The docents are more than willing to talk fish. Stavanger was the next stop. The ship docked right at the old wooden residential section with its white buildings. It was a short walk to the commercial district, also made up of wooden buildings and beyond to the petroleum museum, which does a good job of discussing the importance of the oil industry to Norway’s economy while also discussing the ramifications of oil on climate change. It raises a lot of questions and leaves you thinking about the answers. The final port of call was Esbjerg, Denmark. Because of tides the ship has to time its approach to hit an hour and a half window to make it into port. Sailing through the sand banks we pass by offshore wind farms. Docking was difficult because of winds and currents. Prinsendam had to hold steady while a second tug came alongside to help her dock. In Esbjerg we spent the day with friends visiting Tirpitz, a museum made from an old German bunker with a lot more. It talks about WWII, the occupation, fortifications and other seafront topics like fishing and amber. HAL’s tours miss the most interesting stuff, Tirpitz and the original Legoland, located near the Lego factory. If you stop at Esbjerg consider these alternatives. When we got off the ship in Amsterdam from the Celtic Explorer, they did not stamp our passport because we were going back on the ship. When we got off after the Norwegian Fjords Explorer there was no one to stamp our passport because everyone had gotten on in Amsterdam. As a result We were detained at the airport leaving Amsterdam because we did not have a proper entry stamp. The immigration people were polite and helpful, there was no problem there, but it was time consuming. Had we not arrived at the airport three and a half hours before the flight, instead of the recommended two we would have missed our flight. We finally got to the plane at the tail end of boarding. Part of the problem was the 30-minute walk from immigration to the gate. Be prepared if you fly out of AMS. Here are a couple of other notes. Because of the small number of sea days there was no outside lecturer on board. We missed this but Brett, the EXC Guide gave good port talks and a lecture on Norway and one on the Vikings that we enjoyed. May was a good time to cruise. We had unusually good weather and the ship was not nearly full. Prinsendam has a capacity of 835. On the Norwegian Fjords Explorer there were 665 on board, short lines for dinner, an uncrowded lido and lots of seats in the Showroom at Sea. I’m sorry to see Prinsendam go out of Holland America service. We’ve enjoyed Prinsendam in the past. She’s an older ship but we like her size, her aft saltwater pool good for swimming laps, her classic but understated appointments, her generous cabins and her walk-in closets. We’ve been on other HAL ships and enjoyed ourselves, but not as much as on Prinsendam. We will still cruise on HAL but we will be reading Cruise Critic reviews, looking for smaller ships that match our lifestyle and budget. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2019
We choice this ship, because we wanted to do the Baltic Cruise and see St. Petersburg and Amsterdam was a good place to start and end since I was born in Amsterdam. We have done plenty of cruises, but this one was the worst one ever. ... Read More
We choice this ship, because we wanted to do the Baltic Cruise and see St. Petersburg and Amsterdam was a good place to start and end since I was born in Amsterdam. We have done plenty of cruises, but this one was the worst one ever. The electrical outlet in the bathroom was not dual electricity, so I ruined my Waterfloss Pick. We went up the buffet restaurant sat down and I asked one of the waiters for a glass of water......he said, sorry, I don't look after that and walked away.????? That was the beginning of our agony. It was a 14 day cruise, and I got sick on the 7th day, (apparently bronchitis) finding out from the cruise Dr., and he also advised me he had no medication (not even cough syrup, and they did not sell it in their stores either). Their stores were another petty full experience. As were there "existing shows"... another petty full experience I was amazed we even had to pay for water, that has never happened on approx. 30 cruises we have done, including other HAL ships over the years. The only thing that was good was the band in their main lobby that played there at night., which I only listen to a few nights, since I spend the other 7 days in bed. The ship was very barren. Artificial Trees and Flowers. Some real ones, but not many. What can I say, I know we will never again go on a ship that takes more than 900 participants. They also misinformed people on the web, it say the ship takes 2600 people they did not add in the 600 3rd berths.. To top it all of on the 8th day the ship sent a" HEALTH ADVISORY Respiratory Illness" around to every cabin on the ship. Which it seems at that time around 1000 people including staff were infected with bronchitis. Don't know what else I could tell anyone, I think above tells it all. Read Less
10 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2019
This ship is the latest in the Pinnacle class for Holland America. I wanted to sail on the new ship, even as I read reviews from veteran HAL cruisers warning about elimination of some of the charm of the older ships. I agree with those ... Read More
This ship is the latest in the Pinnacle class for Holland America. I wanted to sail on the new ship, even as I read reviews from veteran HAL cruisers warning about elimination of some of the charm of the older ships. I agree with those reviews; the ship seems very crowded in the Lido cafe during rush times; the World Theater can get too crowded. The promenade deck has been cut down and there are none of the wooden deck lounges which allow you to sit out on deck and enjoy the sea views and air. Do not get me wrong - the ship is beautifully appointed, the staff service is excellent. I found the Main dining room choices rather limited and enjoyed dinner in the Canaletto and Nami Sushi restaurants much more. We stayed in a Vista Balcony suite which made excellent use of storage space and had numerous USB outlets for charging devices. Beds are very comfortable and the shower is excellent. But, as another reviewer has said, it now feels like we are nickel and dimed on board. The shore excursion prices are exorbitant (especially in Saint Petersburg---I opted for a local travel group TJ Travel that provided an excellent, small group tour in a van as oppposed to 50 on a bus for $100 less than HAL). Sea day activities were meh.... I did very much enjoy the Music Walk performances of the BB King Blues Theater, Billboard performances, and the Rock and Roll band. The Lincoln Center quartet was also very nice. This was my 5th cruise with HAL - if I were to sail again, I would seek out the smaller refurbished ships. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2018
We chose the cruise because the dates suited our vacation and because of the destinations. We boarded in Amsterdam and did the 12 days to Rome. The ship was very nice and the crew were great. I thought the main stage entertainment ... Read More
We chose the cruise because the dates suited our vacation and because of the destinations. We boarded in Amsterdam and did the 12 days to Rome. The ship was very nice and the crew were great. I thought the main stage entertainment was a bit boring and wasn’t for us. I actually fell asleep in one of the shows, that’s how much I thought of it. The comedian Jo Little was good but her humour was lost to a lot of the Americans. One night there was an opera singer on? We didn’t go as not for us, also a saxophonist one night. I like a saxophone when it’s part of a song or a solo but not the full show. They had the blues band and they weren’t bad but one night the 2 singers didn’t come out for the last set as BOTH of them had sore throats. So the band played their instruments and tried to do a so called funny ed and he said mime act. It wasn’t funny and they did that again on another night and it still wasn’t funny. The highlight of the entertainment for us was the piano bar 2 very talented girls. I think their names were Ivy & Paulini. Thank god for them as we would have went insane of a night. They entertained us every night except for their night off. Thank you The only bar that was open after midnight was the casino. We didn’t want to go there as we don’t gamble and we don’t smoke. Speaking of smoking in the casino we walked through there on the non smoking night to find people smoking and no one stopping them. Why wasn’t there any other bars open? It was like we were school kids being sent to bed. Totally unacceptable as far as we were concerned. We did enjoy the crows nest bar of an afternoon when we were set to sail. Food was good but on our last day it was an at sea day. At lunch in the buffet it closed at 2:30pm. I asked to speak with someone about this and an officer came and I asked him why it closed and he said because it’s time too. I pointed out to him that most people on the ship us included had a later breakfast and was hoping to have a later lunch. I also asked him what lunch finished the day before and he replied 4:00pm. So why are the times inconsistent? He really couldn’t answer just saying that they were the times. We had been through there earlier and I knew what I was going to have but wasn’t hungry thinking we could eat later. There are 2 sides of the buffet nearly a mirror image each side. I asked why they couldn’t have kept one side open at least? The officer was very good to try and accomodate us by saying he would get us what we were looking for. I wanted the buffet open I knew what my protein was but wanted other things as well. He also reminded us that there was the burger and pizza bars open and we could go there. That’s what we were going to do. I give him credit he pursued us and offered to make a reservation for us in the Italian restaurant free of charge. I thanked him but declined as I was upset with what had happened and wasn’t thinking about dinner I wanted lunch. In the end I said thank you please make the reservation but no sure if we will go. We ended up taking the offer up. The cabin was great and our room stewards were fabulous. The biggest disappointment though was when we went to the port of Heulva (I think that’s what it was called). It was Sunday and we didn’t really feel like going to Saville 90 minutes each way by bus. So we thought we will stay in the port town relax wonder around see what they have. There was a free shuttle bus from the port into the city. It was on the bus that we and most of the other passengers found out that the only places in town that would be open was food and drink places. The guide on the bus told us and she was 100% correct. That’s all that was open, I couldn’t even get a souvenir not even a fridge magnet. The bus dropped us off at the “tourist information centre” where there was 1 person working and a line up of about 50 people and they ran out of maps. Why would Holland America do this? What sort of itinerary is this? Honestly absolutely ridiculous. We weren’t the only ones unhappy with this. I did the survey that they sent us and they asked could they get in touch with us to discuss our rating. I said yes but we still haven’t heard so that’s why I have put my review here Read Less
10 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2018
I have been on PO, carnival, and celebrity. I wanted to try holland America. So the pros: 1. Ship ok, but very poorly designed. 2 Laundry cheap, photos cheap 3. Food was good 4 service ok, but Not great. 5 getting on and ... Read More
I have been on PO, carnival, and celebrity. I wanted to try holland America. So the pros: 1. Ship ok, but very poorly designed. 2 Laundry cheap, photos cheap 3. Food was good 4 service ok, but Not great. 5 getting on and off ship easy 6 ship on time Cons Wow, where do i start: 1 smoking in casino and it spreads. Smoking outside in some public areas allowed. I found the smoking quite annoying. 2 entertainment at night rarely above b grade. 3 my biggest gripe no activities, except paid ones. Not even dance glasses. Outside the daily quiz night, there was little. The ship had no spirit, one couple mentioned to me the only excitement was going to their room to see the towel animal created. The ship needs to be fully audited, it just was a platform with no energy, nothing, staff were in large part not engaged. Sad really. So let me put it this way, celebrity is 200% better. If you want plain, with nothing to do on ship days, then this ship is for you. I was underwhelmed. Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2018
We spent 22 nights from the 16th September on Koningsdam and this was even better than the first time we cruised on her back in September 2016. The food was amazing whether it was in Lido or the main dining room. Tamarind where there is a ... Read More
We spent 22 nights from the 16th September on Koningsdam and this was even better than the first time we cruised on her back in September 2016. The food was amazing whether it was in Lido or the main dining room. Tamarind where there is a surcharge to eat once again exceeded our expectations. Crew was as usual on HAL ships incredible and the Captain very informative and funny. We love this ship, we've cruised on several cruiselines and this is our favourite. We also spoke to a number of people who have cruised a lot more times than us who were on Koningsdam for the first time and they also said that it was the best ship they had been on. If your looking at taking a cruise in Europe we believe that you cant go past HAL for a wonderful itinerary, brilliant ships which are great value for money. We look forward to hopefully boarding Koningsdam again in the not to distant future. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2018
The crew were exceptional. Especially in the Lido restaurant. They were attentive and willing to assist you with everything; whether it was to find a table, get condiments, more coffee etc. We have not had this kind of service in a ... Read More
The crew were exceptional. Especially in the Lido restaurant. They were attentive and willing to assist you with everything; whether it was to find a table, get condiments, more coffee etc. We have not had this kind of service in a very long time. It used to be the norm on most cruise ships but were surprised that this wasn't the case any more. But, on the Koningsdam, you truly felt special. They even remembered your names. The food was good from the pizza, deli sandwiches, hamburger and food in the main dining room. We always get room service in the mornings for some hot coffee and danishes. The coffee was always hot and danishes very flaky. We've had luke warm coffee with most other ship's room service. If you enjoy staying in your room to watch some TV or movies, there were so many choices from the news, movies, sitcoms etc. We've never seen so many choices. The guest services stafff were always helpful and friendly; unlike some other ships we have been on. Everything else was up to standard. Will definitely try to find more cruises on the Koningsdam that we can take. Read Less
12 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2018
My purpose in writing this review of my cruise on the Koningsdam is to give future guests some insight on the 14-Day Viking Sagas & Norse Legends cruise and to provide helpful tips that could save you time or money on your future ... Read More
My purpose in writing this review of my cruise on the Koningsdam is to give future guests some insight on the 14-Day Viking Sagas & Norse Legends cruise and to provide helpful tips that could save you time or money on your future cruise. My wife and I have been on other Holland America Line (HAL) cruises in the past. We stopped sailing for HAL for several years. However, the itinerary and this new ship piqued our interest, so we decided to do this cruise, which was really two back-to-back 7-days cruises leaving out of Amsterdam. The Koningsdam is a Pinnacle class ship, and the largest ship in HAL’s fleet (as of Sep. 2018), and the largest ship we have sailed on for HAL. The ship can hold about 2650 passengers. Other than the breakfasts being crowded on the Lido deck, we didn’t see any problems with the larger ship. There were several advantages. There are now more nightly entertainment options. In addition to the traditional piano bar and World Stage, there are Lincoln Center Stage (classical musicians), B.B. King’s Blues Club, and Billboard Onboard (dueling pianos). There are 2 levels of seating for the World Stage shows. There was 1 preview show and 2 shows by the Koningsdam’s Dancers for each 7-day segment. For my cruise, the same shows were repeated each of the two weeks. The dancers put their hearts and minds into their performances; they were enthusiastic, but there was no “wow” factor. I think some of the shows I saw on past HAL cruises were better, more impressive, more Broadway-like. I was not impressed with the quality of the other entertainers (singers, comedians, etc.) who performed on the World Stage. They were “B” or “C” level performers. Some of the singing was not enjoyable. My favorite show was “Planet Earth II in Concert”. The Lincoln Center Stage performers played live classical music to accompany scenes from the BBC Earth television show that were projected on several large screens at the World Stage. I enjoyed the Lincoln Center Stage shows; the classical musicians were talented. I especially liked the B.B. King’s Blues Club; the musicians and singers were soulful and quite good. My wife and I spent the most time at the Blues Club. The Billboard Onboard was a disappointment; the voices were so-so. Another advantage of the larger ship is that there are more specialty restaurants and casual dining opportunities. There is the usual Pinnacle Grill (with a surcharge of $35 per person) and Canaletto (with a surcharge of $15 per person). There are also the Tamarind & Sushi Bar (with a surcharge of $25 per person), the Sel de Mer (a la carte pricing), and the Culinary Arts Center (don’t remember their pricing). We enjoyed the Indonesian food at the Tamarind so much the first week, that we dined there again the second week. For casual dining, there is the Dive-In (have to pay for hot dogs, burgers and most food), the Grand Dutch Café (charge for food and drink), and the New York Deli & Pizza (no cost). We liked the salads and pizza at the New York Deli & Pizza which overlooks the swimming pool area on the Lido Deck. There was a lot of variety of tasty food for all meals at the Lido Market on the Lido Deck. I was disappointed that the soft serve ice cream place closed down about 9 pm each night. On HAL cruises in the past, I used to go for ice cream after the last show of the evening. But no more. Sigh! Also, be aware that the Lido Market closes for breakfast at 10:30 am; you could always do room service if you got up late. Be aware that there are now 2 formal nights on each 7-day cruise segment. They are called Gala Nights. Years ago I only remember 1 formal night for such a cruise segment. Nevertheless, the trend seems to be that guests are more casual–perhaps due to weight limitations on checked baggage when flying into Amsterdam; fewer clothes are better. I saw very few passengers with tuxedos and evening dresses. I saw more sport jackets (without ties) and a few suits. Some men just wore a nice dress shirt and pants. Another change from past HAL Cruises is that the Chocolate Extravaganza has been scaled back. I enjoyed seeing all the different creations on past cruises. But I can understand that a lot of the chocolate creations were probably thrown away. Now each week on a pre-announced night, there is the Chocolate Surprise. Servers would come through the lounge areas with different items to sample, served like hors d’oeuvres. They were tasty, and you could have seconds (and thirds and more). I liked the mix of passengers during the August-September cruise. It was different from my past experience with HAL cruises. For both weeks, there was a mix of nationalities (Dutch, British, Australians, Americans, Canadians, Chinese, Spanish, New Zealanders) and age ranges. The first week, most of the passengers were Dutch, and there was a mix of ages, from babies, to young kids and teenagers, to adults and senior citizens. I figure the average age was about 40-50. The second week, most were North American and the average age was maybe 45-55. Both weeks there were 150+ people with Edward Jones (employees or retirees with spouses or friends). The Edward Jones people had several private receptions. They occasionally ate as a group in the Main Dining Room. Unfortunately when that happened they tended to eat about 7:30 pm, and the dining room had to hold open lots of tables starting about 5:30 pm so that they would be available when the group arrived. (Hint to Edwards Jones: eat earlier and be considerate of the other guests who want to dine at an open table from 5:30-7:30 pm). My wife and I had a Category A Vista Suite (stateroom #6122). There were some narrow spaces, but there was enough room to move around. The bed was comfortable. We had a queen bed, sofa/sitting area, and an outdoor balcony with 2 chairs and a table. The bathroom was smaller than I expected with only 1 sink. The shower was “cozy” (compact, but oblong in shape). There was plenty of storage in the room. There were 2 drawers under the bed (and room for suitcases under the bed). There were 2 hooks in the room and 2 on the bathroom door. [Tip: bring some additional magnetic hooks to put on the walls of the room to give you more hooks.] The two nightstands had 2 drawers and a shelf. The sitting area had a small table and cabinet with 2 drawers. The desk has 3 drawers. The corner hutch has 3 available shelves. The closet has 2 sides; 1 side has 2 shelves, a tie rack, and hanging space; the other side has 4 shelves, a mirror, and hanging space. Another area has a shelf, a shelf with the safe, a refrigerator behind a swinging door, and 3 drawers. There are 3 small shelves in the bathroom to the upper left of the vanity counter; There is no actual storage space under the vanity. Be aware that the refrigerator vents heat into the shelf compartment above it which has the safe. I would advise not storing anything heat sensitive in that area. Some evenings, I would leave the swinging door to the refrigerator compartment open to add some heat to the room (the refrigerator remained closed, of course). The flat screen TV in the room provided access to a variety of entertainment. There was a My Journey selection with ship information, ship location, and weather. I accessed the ship location information frequently to see where the ship was located relative to the ports we were visiting. The TV had an On Board selection with information on America’s Test Kitchen, Blend, and Digital Workshop. There was a Dining selection, a Movies selection, and TV & Music selection. This last selection provided access to quite a few entertaining and educational British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) wildlife documentaries. There was a large movie screen mid-ship on the Lido deck by the family swimming pool. On a Princess Cruise a couple of years ago, my wife and I enjoyed a similar screen. Princess would show movies at night and then wildlife shows during the day; we really liked that. On this HAL cruise, there were evening movies on the screen (with popcorn and blankets). Very occasionally, there were “making of wildlife show” videos during the day. I think HAL is not taking full advantage of its partnership with BBC Earth. You could watch a lot of BBC Earth shows on the TV in your room. HAL could have also shown those videos on the large screen during the day to entertain passengers. Like other cruise lines, HAL has a very useful app for passengers to find out what is going on during the cruise. The HAL app is called Navigator. You basically connect via Wi-Fi to the ship network, set up an account, and you can access all of the features. It apparently does not work on some Android phones. It did work with iPhones and on my Mac laptop. I used it to check on my ship charges, to bring up a list of daily activities, to get some limited info on EXC tours, and to add items to a daily personal itinerary. I also used it to access the New York Times online for daily news. (There was still a daily mini-newspaper that was printed and available to passengers in the morning.) There are a few things that HAL can do to improve the app: show the ship location (as do other cruise lines’ apps), show the Lido dining times, and show event times as active until the event (e.g., piano bar session) is over. I only purchased a few minutes of Internet service during the cruise, but only on the last night at sea, so my wife and I could check in for our return flight home. I find the prices high ($0.75 per minute, or package plans like 100 minutes for $55). And Internet service by ship sometimes does not work well. I relied on finding free Wi-Fi using a Virtual Private Network (VPN) in the ports of call so that I could download email. Some ports had good Wi-Fi; others did not. Free Wi-Fi was available in the building outside the ship on the dock in Oslo; it is better to go earlier; the later in the day, the more limited the connectivity because of the number of people using Wi-Fi; some people were doing video chatting which uses a lot of bandwidth. You just had to keep trying to get connected if you tried later in the day. There was good Wi-Fi at the passenger terminal building in Stavanger. In Flåm, I found Wi-Fi at 2 of the stops on the tour I was on, one at the Voss Park hotel and one at the Gudvangen Information Center (look for the posted password for the private network). The Wi-Fi was poor at the Haugesund passenger terminal building; I took a free shuttle into town and found free Wi-Fi by the waterfront at a hotel (or you could go to a restaurant and buy something). In Eidfjord, there was no Internet service for the ship while docked, probably due to the height of the canyon walls in the fjord. There was unusable Wi-Fi at the Tourist Information Center; you could get 2-3 bars of coverage, but you couldn’t access Internet content. In Ålesund, the Wi-Fi was poor. I went into town to the Kremmergarden Café, but the WI-FI was not working properly. In the basement of the Kremmergarden mall, there was free Wi-Fi by the Kundemart, but no VPN connection was allowed. The Wi-Fi was poor in Geiranger by the dock area when there were lots of people (there were at least 2 ships in port); it was marginally better at the Café Ole, but not great. In Bergen there was great (fast) Wi-Fi at an outdoor café by the wharf and at the Tourist Information Center by the harbor. Another advantage to being on a larger ship is that the Koningsdam has excellent stabilizers. Even when the ship was in big waves, you didn’t feel a lot of jostling from side to side. There was one night when we had to jam a towel in the shower door, because the wave action and speed of the ship was making the shower door open and close, open and close. The towel prevented the door from closing and making a “slamming” noise. If you are a traveler who likes to use the spa, consider signing up for 3 treatments and getting the 10-20-30 package. You get 10% off one treatment, 20% off another, and 30% off a third (the most expensive treatment you select). My wife and I splurged and got a discount for 14 days of access to the Greenhouse Spa Thermal Suite and Hydropool for a total of $370. It was a relaxing experience. I forget the price for 7 days, but the longer period of time we selected was cheaper on a per day basis. We would go into the large steam room in the thermal suite area, come out and lie on the heated reclining ceramic-like chairs, then go into the hydropool (with mineral-infused water) and make sure the jets were on, and come back to lie on the chairs again. Then I would go outside of the thermal suite area to use the public men’s sauna (nice and toasty). My only disappointment was finding the hydropool closed one morning for cleaning. Hint to HAL: the Spa should provide some advance notice of the cleaning schedule so that passengers can plan their time better. There was a well-outfitted gym on the ship. There were free classes like morning stretch and Abs Class. Yoga, Cycling, and TRX Suspension classes were available for a nominal fee. There were no Tai Chi classes. I was a little disappointed that my wife and I could not use the gym on the day we returned to Amsterdam and were waiting for passengers to arrive for the second 7-day cruise segment. I really liked that HAL is now offering more active shore excursions, as part of their renamed EXC [Exploration Central] Tours. My wife and I did a 2.5-mile hike (tour) and a kayaking tour (in picturesque Geirangerfjord). If you want to visit Geirangerfjord, do so before 2025. I learned that after 2025, large cruise ships like the Koningsdam will no longer be allowed in Geirangerfjord. I think this has to do with preserving the UNESCO World Heritage Site status of the fjord. Whether the ship will dock at a larger and farther out fjord and shuttle passengers into Geirangerfjord is unknown at this time. One thing to be aware of is what appears to be a new policy for shore excursions, aka EXC Tours. In the past, passengers were told that the ship would not leave you if you were on a HAL shore excursion. Now the HAL website states about EXC Tours, “Worry-free return to the ship. In the very rare event that your tour is late and the ship must leave, we will arrange at our expense to get you to the next port of call.” I think HAL is still getting its processes in place for active tours. I know that 3 passengers were left behind on one of the hiking tours without ship personnel being aware of the situation, but the passengers managed to get back to the ship in plenty of time. As a backup precaution, passengers should always carry the phone number for reaching the ship if this ever happens, and perhaps even carry local currency for getting a bus or taxi ride back to the ship. My wife and I did 2 other tours with HAL; at other ports we went out on our own. Twenty years before, I had hiked Preikestolen (Pulpit Rock) near Stavanger in the fog and rain. I had hoped to repeat the hike on this cruise. However, the stopover in Stavanger was not long enough. So, I did a cruise of Lysefjord so that I could see Pulpit Rock from below. Unfortunately it was raining most of the time, and it was hot inside the main cabin with all the passengers on the tour. The air conditioning was not working on the boat; the ship personnel complained if we opened the doors to allow some fresh air into the main cabin. HAL should have a discussion with the tour operator about passenger comfort. The other tour was the “Best of Flam”. I had hoped to re-do most of the “Norway in a Nutshell” tour that I had done about 20 years ago on my own. But I didn’t read the tour description carefully enough. I got to ride the Flåm Railway train from Flåm to Myrdal Station to Voss (birthplace of Knute Rockne, a famous football coach at the University of Notre Dame, but unknown to the local guides in Voss), with a stopover at the well-known Kjosfoss Waterfall. I rode a bus from Voss to Gudvangen with a stop at the Tvinde Waterfall. Then the bus took us back to the ship after driving through 2 long tunnels (about 7-miles and 3-miles long). What I missed was doing the scenic cruise on the Nærøyfjord. That was a separate shore excursion that overlapped with the Best of Flam tour. But I did get to cruise on lots of others beautiful fjords during my cruise, so it wasn’t a big disappointment. HAL excursions are still pricey. I heard from a number of passengers that they liked doing their own thing at each port. Catching the Hop On-Hop Off bus seemed to be very popular with such guests. The price of the bus was apparently very affordable. One of the highlights of the cruise was scenic cruising in the fjords with commentary by the Head EXC Guide. On Day 3 of the first week, we did Oslofjord (though not a traditional fjord with steep canyon walls). On Day 5, we did Sognefjord. On Day 3 of the second week, we did Eidfjord and Hardangerfjord. On Day 5, we did Geirangerfjord. Wear a warm jacket, bring a glass of wine, and enjoy the magnificent views and all the waterfalls along the (traditional) fjords. My wife and I both came away with a deeper appreciation of the natural beauty of Norway. There were lots of activities and events going on throughout the day on the ship, including informative talks about Nordic history, culture, and … trolls. There was no excuse for being bored on the cruise. I did not notice any emphasis by HAL personnel on handwashing before dining, other than a “Guest Stateroom Health Advisory” in my stateroom. There were hand sanitizer stations throughout the ship, and there were special hand washing stations at the Lido Market. But it was up to passengers to decide whether to use them; many did not. The Lido Market mitigated some potential problems by having their dining staff serve most of the “buffet” food to guests on plates. There were only a few food items that guests could touch themselves. When my wife and I arrived on ship, we looked at the different beverage packages being offered to passengers. The unlimited drink packages seemed very pricey: basic, non-alcoholic “quench” package at $17.95 per day; “signature” package with some cocktails, wines, ports, beers, and spirits for $49.95 per day; and the “elite package” with higher end alcohol for $54.95 per day. Be aware that a package has to be purchased by all stateroom guests of legal drinking age. However, you can still find a bargain. I liked the wine packages. There were three categories to choose from in “The Sommelier Suite” with both red and white wines; Mariner members get their eligible discount with those packages. The categories were popularly priced white and red wines (e.g., Estancia Pinot Noir from California), premium wines (e.g., Meiomi Pinot Noir from California), and cellar master’s favorites (e.g., Hangtime Pinot Noir from California). All these wine packages had New World and Old World wines. You could select 4, 6, or 8 bottles. Because my wife and I were on a 14-day cruise, we opted for the 8-bottle package. That allowed us to drink part of a bottle one night, and have the dining staff save the bottle for us to finish another night. (We also brought two bottles of wine ourselves onboard in our checked luggage to enjoy during the cruise.) The dinner menu featured other wines that were available for purchase. There was one wine tasting each week, for $19.95, that featured wines from “The Sommelier Suite”. There was a second wine tasting each week that featured Wines of the World, for $25. Fortunately, the wines were different each week. The world wine tasting allowed you to try 10 wines, a red and a white from each of 5 countries. I enjoyed chatting with my tablemates and sipping on the wines. I learned to get all 10 wines poured and have them on my table before the event ended an hour and 15 minutes after it started. After that the pouring stations were removed, but I could finish my wines at my leisure. There were also beer tastings (and a bar hop), whiskey, bourbon and rye tastings, and mixology classes. Each cruise segment, there is also a Cellar Master’s Dinner, a 6-course tasting menu paired with the Cellar Master’s wine selections. My wife and I did not participate, because we did not like some of the food selections. I enjoyed looking at all the artwork on the walls of the ship, especially along the stairwells to different floors. Some of it was unusual and visually arresting. The ship decorator did a good job. You can get a really good deal on laundry. I hope HAL doesn’t change the price. HAL offers a “Laundry by the Bag” option for $30 each bag. Put as many clothes as you can in the blue HAL laundry bag in your stateroom and pay that one price—much cheaper that doing the clothes items individually. You get your clean laundry back the next day, if you have it picked up by approximately 9 am. For Mariners, there was the Mariner Lunch (for each 7-day cruise segment), at which time you would receive your souvenir coaster. There was also a new (to me) event each cruise–the Collector’s Voyage Cocktail Party in the Crow’s Nest for 3-star, 4-star, and 5-star Mariner guests. I’m glad HAL’s Mariner Society is doing more events to celebrate the loyalty of its return passengers. My wife and I have longed talked about doing a back-to-back cruise. This was our opportunity to experience it. I liked not having to pack when the ship first returned to Amsterdam. The next morning, my wife and I had a leisurely breakfast. We could not use the gym or the thermal suite until embarkation was complete and the ship started sailing away. We got off the ship and went to the cruise terminal on the pier to get free Wi-Fi; we were allowed to reboard when we wanted. We decided not to go sightseeing in town, because we have been to Amsterdam often. We watched a movie in our stateroom. In the afternoon, we decided to go to the hot tubs on the Lido Deck and drink some of the sparkling wine we brought onboard the ship in our checked luggage. We liked seeing all the new passengers mill around during departure while we sat in one of the hot tubs and had our own sail-away party. When you return to Amsterdam for disembarkation, and if you are first traveling to the train station (Centraal Station), you can save some money by walking from the cruise terminal. It’s only a 15-20 minute easy walk along the waterfront. If you need to buy a train ticket in Centraal Station, the Information Center/Ticket Office is about halfway down the building from where you enter, on the left hand side. There is a saying in Norway: “There is never bad weather, only bad clothes.” Norwegians love to do outdoor activities, in all seasons of the year. You can understand that after visiting different parts of the country. The scenery is gorgeous. The fjords are idyllic. Towns like Oslo and Bergen are inviting and friendly. If you want to see Norway, then a Vikings Sagas and/or the Norse Legends cruise is for you. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2018
This is a long, "Log style" review. If you just want the summary scroll all the way down. Prinsendam 8-19-18; Scottish highlands and Icelandic Fiords We left Pennsylvania for Newark airport a little after noon on Friday ... Read More
This is a long, "Log style" review. If you just want the summary scroll all the way down. Prinsendam 8-19-18; Scottish highlands and Icelandic Fiords We left Pennsylvania for Newark airport a little after noon on Friday August 17. We enjoyed an uneventful drive to our reserved off-airport parking and they quickly took us to terminal B. There was no line at Aer Lingus check in and we dropped off our two bags. I noted they marked the bags for “Quick transfer.” The arriving flight was delayed and by the time we pulled away from the gate we were an hour late. Thanks to a brisk tailwind our arrival in Dublin was only 15 minutes late. We quickly transferred to our connection and were able to change our seats to an aisle and middle for the short flight to Amsterdam. This flight was also delayed and we arrived at our gate nearly 30 minutes late. It took about an hour to get through immigration and obtain our luggage, which was about the last ones off our flight. Schiphol airport has changed since our last visit and we had a time finding an ATM. The prior “Row” of competing ATM’s is gone and it seems ABN bank and Travelex now have a duopoly. We used the Travelex ATM and they now have a 2 Euro charge to use the ATM. That is still the least costly way to obtain Euros. We had a light, late breakfast at “Dutch and Delicious.” We obtained our Chip Kaarts (transit debit card) and left for the train to Amsterdam. We ended up on an express train with no stops. While that was fast, it was not as luggage-friendly as the regular train. We would take the regular train when we do the return. From Central Station, it is a 5 minutes’ walk to the Amsterdam Doubletree. We agreed to take a courtyard view room rather than our assigned harbor view in order to get an early check in. The courtyard room is actually quiet while any room with a view will have some noise from the trains immediately adjacent. We took showers and changed. We walked through town to DAM Square where we had pre-bought tour tickets for the Dutch Royal Palace. The Royal Palace is a very nice tour however with being so tired after about half the tour we had enough. We went looking for a late lunch / early dinner and ended up at the central library next to our hotel. The LaPlace restaurant we had enjoyed on our last visit has been replaced with another restaurant and we did not think it was as good. Our hotel stay included access to the executive lounge so we enjoyed beverages and snacks in the evening and called it a long day. Sunday, August 19 – Amsterdam We woke about 6:15 after eleven hours of wonderful sleep. Breakfast began at 7:00 in the lounge and we were there shortly thereafter. Omelets were made to order if desired and lots of nice coffees and teas were available. The city outside was very different on this Sunday morning (very quiet) as opposed to a very bustling Saturday! We took a short walk enjoying the quiet and snapped photos. We repacked everything we took apart at the Doubletree and began walking back to Central Station to catch tram #26. The tram pulled up just as we arrived. We took the tram for the short ride to the Amsterdam Passenger Terminal. Upon arrival at the terminal we followed signs for the Prinsendam (as the Koningsdam was also in port) and dropped our luggage. We proceeded through check in and joined the line for security. By about 11:40 we were on board and in our cabin #270 on Deck 7. We put our soiled clothing in a laundry bag and hung it outside the cabin. We walked down to our traveling friend’s cabin at 276 and to our delight they had just arrived! After a short chat we went to the dining room for lunch. Lunch was very nice and we had a great time catching up since we were last together15 months ago. We also spoke with the dining room host about possibly changing to a dinner table in the smaller dining room. We have enjoyed that on previous Prinsendam cruises as it is quieter. We walked over a good portion of the ship pointing out some of the unique features of Prinsendam. We returned to our cabins and found our luggage delivered so unpack we all did. Everything was stored away before the muster drill. We attended the muster drill and at its conclusion were told we were leaving as quickly as possible to make room for another ship docking early due to a medical emergency. The sail away from Amsterdam is very nice. We had a narrated departure and enjoyed seeing the various buildings and landmarks along the way. Part of the sail away is industrial but portions have nice residential neighborhoods as well. Along the way at times the water is much higher than the surrounding land demonstrating how the land has been reclaimed from the sea. While we were at dinner we reached to locks to the North Sea. The wind became very strong but regardless I walked around the promenade taking photos of the lock area. Dinner food was very good but service was lacking. It was 7:45 by the time we left the dining room, 2:15 after we arrived. Once we hit the open sea we could feel the movement of the sea in the 2.5 meter waves. This made for great sleeping and by 8:30 we called it a night. The clocks go back an hour tonight as Scotland is an hour behind European time. Monday, August 20 at Sea We woke and prepared for breakfast in the dining room. We were there when they opened at 8:00 as we have a 9:30 cruise critic meet and greet. Breakfast was very nice and prompt. We enjoyed our company. The meet and greet was a nice success with about 25 of the 50 on our roll call attending. Half is about what we expected and everything worked our nicely. We met our friends at the M&G and next went to the 11:00 destination talk on Edinburgh. The destination guide is very good and we enjoyed his talk. I walked around noting the sun has come out and taking photos. We met back at our cabin and went to the Pinnacle Grille a few minutes before our 12:30 lunch reservation. We were immediately seated and truly enjoyed our lunch. At 2:00 the ladies went to flower arranging demonstrations while I enjoyed the aft pool. The aft pool is salt water and it was a little brisk. After 10 minutes or so floating around the pool I moved to one of the hot tubs. It was very nice just relaxing in the hot tub before drying off and heading back to the cabin to ready for our invite to a 4:30 cocktail gathering hosted by our travel agency prior to the first gala evening. The first Gala Dinner tonight was not pleasant. Despite arriving on time, and a special request to our wait team to get us out before 7:30 so we could attend the captain’s welcome reception, this was not to be. They seem to be split between fixed seating and ‘as you wish’ dining. Being at table 105 is a distraction at best as we see the constant line of as you wish diners waiting for seating. DW’s special diet order was mixed up and one of our tablemate’s meals had been giving to another table making our main courses staggered. My water glass was empty for a long time and when enjoying my beef there was nothing to wash it down. By 7:15, DW left to go to the lido in search of something she could eat. I ended up meeting with the assistant DR Manager and expressed our concerns with the dining room service. He promised to get back to us on all matters. They tried to deliver DW’s meal to her in the lido but it again had issues. She made up a big salad instead. We did attend the welcome toast followed by the cast show “American Crossing.” While we have seen this on a prior cruise this is an excellent show and the cast did a great job. We returned to our cabin and called it a night. One of our friends attended the piano bar entertainer and told us he was very good. We will need to try this soon! Tuesday, August 21 – Rosyth, Edinburgh, Scotland, UK We were up early to prepare for a very long day of touring and excitement in Scotland! I did not go up on deck for the sail under the three bridges crossing the Firth of Forth as it was very foggy early in the morning. We had breakfast delivered to our room and it was okay. We met our touring buddies at 8:10 in the Ocean Bar and joined the line for UK Passport inspection. We were through the line by about 8:25 and off the ship to meet Helen, our tour guide with “Local Eyes tours.” We were off to the Central Highlands and must say we sure saw a lot. Helen began by driving us over the new Queensferry Crossing Bridge. She drove us through South Queensferry and we stopped for a photo stop under the railway bridge. We then headed out of town with our first stop being the Kelpies, towering metal horses from mythical Scottish legends. The visitor’s center provided a nice chance for a rest stop as well. Added to the tour at my request was a stop at the Felkirk Wheel. This one of a kind engineering feat allowed the reopening of a canal system into the highlands. We then toured Stirling Castle. Stirling is largely restored to as close to the original as historians can figure it out. After the castle we stopped in a nearby village at a market, used the ATM, and bought lunch items which we enjoyed in the park at Loch Lubnaig (Crooked Lake). Helen also provided samples of two very different Scotch Whiskeys for us to try. At the lake there was a coffee shop and nice teas were enjoyed. We drove to Doune Castle and enjoyed touring this mostly original and unfurnished landmark. Doune is rather famous of the castle used for “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” as well as the TV series Highlander. The audio guide is narrated by one of the actors from Monty Python. Finally, our last stop was the village of Culross, the best example of a 16-17th century village in Scotland. We enjoyed a walk through the village. We returned to the port at exactly 5:00. We had a quick dinner, with DW’s special order being delivered to the room and I obtained some excellent Prime Rib and good fish from the Lido. Then we gathered at 6:35 to head out and meet our driver from Capitol Cars to take us to Edinburgh for the Royal Military Tattoo. Our driver was delayed by traffic but we still made it into town with plenty of time to spare. Edinburgh is very crowded with both the Tattoo taking place as well as the “Fringe festival” with 5 stages of (mostly) free entertainment throughout town. The Tattoo performance is a 10 on a scale of 1-10. The Tattoo is simply incredible and very hard to describe. As US citizens, we were surprised by the amount of positive USA involvement, from the pipe and drum corps dressed as during the revolutionary war and the positive portrayal of George Washington, to the US Air Force Drill team’s performance. I can only wish everyone at home would be as supportive of the USA as the Scottish are. The final farewell before the fireworks was “Auld Lang Syne” and as the audience was standing we used that as an opportunity to exit before the crowd. We made it down to our pick up point and I let Capitol Cars know we were ready. Our driver and van were there within 10 minutes and we returned to the Prinsendam at 11:30, just as the late night Lido buffet was opening. We enjoyed some time to unwind with a snack and as the bus groups began arriving a little after midnight we called it a night. This was a very full day but well worth it! Wednesday, August 22, 2018 – At Sea We slept in this morning after the long day before. With no hurry on a delightful sea day we slowly began getting ready and after being dressed I was looking at the daily schedule to find that it listed the Lido closing for breakfast at 10:00 and it was now 10:05! I went up to the lido and an Omelet cook generously made me two omelets for myself and DW, who followed me about ten minutes later. We kept breakfast light as DW had special ordered a dining room lunch for 12:30. We attended the “Ask the Captain” session at 11:00. This was very nice and the captain dispelled the opinion shared on cruise critic that certain US requirements prompted the sale of the Prinsendam. Being the only ship of its kind in the HAL fleet simply makes it too difficult to maintain as it continues to age as all the other ships come from the same shipyard and despite major size differences share many components. He is sad to see it go but is looking forward to being the captain during the last four or so sailings next Spring. We enjoyed lunch in the dining room and then relaxed a bit as we were still tired from the day before. We attended the travel talk by Brett at 3:00 and then enjoyed happy hour and the Ocean trio at the Ocean bar before dinner. Speaking of dinner, we have been moved, along with our friends, to table 27 in the small dining room! Dinner tonight was excellent with the main course complete at 6:40. This is so much better, relaxing, and enjoyable than where we were. The performer tonight was Scottish Soprano Elaine Gray. We sat near the back not knowing if we would enjoy an opera singer but she was very good and mixed up the style performed quite a lot. We listened to the Ocean trio and went with our friends to the crow’s nest for the late happy hour before calling it a night at 10:00. Tomorrow we visit Torshavn, capitol of the Faroe Islands. Thursday, August 23, Torshavn, Faroe islands We enjoyed breakfast is the Lido. Some of the servers know us and take good care of our needs. We had a ship’s tour to the Vestmanna Seacliffs. The provided motor coach was first class with just enough room to be comfortable. We stopped at an overlook on the hill above Torshavn for a photo stop. Across the road was a Hyundai dealership. The narrated ride was informative and the roads were in excellent condition. The Faroe Islands is greatly expanding its inter-island road network by building bridges (two) between islands and tunnels (two) with two more planned the longest of which will be 26 KM long with a small breather on a small island midway. Due to their weather the ferries are not reliable as storms often create unsafe conditions. We reached the town of Vestmanna and boarded a nice boat to sail to the seacliffs. The first 40% of the boat trip was magnificent. Regretfully the weather turned a few moments before reaching the main cliffs and with pouring rain I was not able to get any clear photos of these cliffs or the birds thereon. I nodded off on the way back but the weather did not improve much until we were almost back to the dock. We took a faster route back with the bus (through a new mountain tunnel) and we took the port shuttle to downtown. We walked around and took photos of the Danish Royal family yacht as they were visiting Torshavn. We also stopped in a few shops but made no purchases. Returning to the Prinsendam to our delight we found it was “Dutch lunch” in the Lido. Lunch was good and the desserts were incredible. Olle Bollen, Apple Floppies, Butter Letter and other wonderful Dutch treats were on all the dessert table. I would not need much dinner that night! Still recovering from our long day in Edinburgh, it was time to rest a while before getting ready for dinner. Dinner was very nice although I kept it very light. After dinner we enjoyed the Ocean Band and were able to dance for a bit. The entertainer was Ruben Vilagrand, billed as a “Unique Illusionist & Visual Artist.” I will say it was unique. Ruben never said a word the entire performance. Not really my cup of tea but it was different. Immediately after the show we made it to the Crow’s Nest for Piano Bar Entertainer Steve. We enjoyed him so much we made it to 10:00 before calling it an evening. The seas are 6-9 feet and the Prinsendam rocked us to sleep. Tomorrow begins six days in Iceland! Friday, August 24, Djupivogur, Iceland This is our first tender port. With a 9:00 private group tour we had some concern over getting everyone off timely. We went to the 4 & 5 star waiting area in the Ocean Bar and were quickly dispatched to the tenders. Much to our surprise, our touring friends were already ashore upon our arrival. We met our guide, Hrönn Jónsdóttir, who led the group of ten on a tour of the area. We began by visiting the “Elves’ church,’ rock formations that sing from interaction with the wind. We next visited two beautiful waterfalls, each quite different from the other. Hrönn showed us a local farm and told us the value was about 90,000,000 Krone (about $900,000 USD). We made our way back to town where we walked along the harbor enjoying the ‘egg’ sculptures made of polished granite, each egg commemorating one of the local bird species. Our last stop was the best – the black sand beach with magnificent rock formations. We shot many photos here. The black sand is a fine powder and the contrast with the ocean and mountains is stunning. Hrönn returned us to town, dropping a few of us off at the local bank to use the ATM and bringing the rest of the group to the tender dock. Walking back to the tenders we stopped in a local souvenir shop but made no purchases. We ended up on the same tender as the rest of our group and enjoyed lunch in the lido. Just as Hrönn predicted, the last buses from the long tour to the glacier did not return until nearly 3:00 and Prinsendam finally pulled away at about 3:40. Dinner was very good with our wait team taking good care of us. We were done before 7:00 but lingered a bit talking. The performer in the show was Pete Neighbor, a clarinet player. Backed up by the band Pete played a tribute to many of the great leaders of the “Big band” era. Pete created some of his own scales as I certainly heard notes never before heard from a clarinet. After the show we were exhausted and called it a night. Saturday, August 25 – Akureyri, Iceland Prinsendam docked a few minutes early in pretty Akureyri. One thing that became very clear on this day was that if one doesn’t like the weather in Iceland, just wait a few minutes and it will change. We had a car rental reserved from Europcar, and they were literally right outside the port gate. I had to call and within a few minutes a young lady arrived with our keys and a credit card reader. No rental agreement to sign and off in a full size Toyota on an adventure with another couple we met on our roll call. We had planned five stops and five stops were made. Number one was the “Waterfall of the gods” (Godafoss) which was a wonderful sight. The name of the waterfall comes from the first Christian leader in Iceland who threw all his statues of gods into the waterfall. We hiked around to see the falls from several angles, made a brief rest room stop, and headed on to stop number two, the Dimmuborgir Lava Formations (Dark Castles) near lake Myvatn (mosquito lake). The Lava Formations are unique in the world and we certainly never saw anything like this. We also have seen nothing quite like the midges that swarm around any living thing when there is little wind. While they do not aggressively bite, they sure are a pest. This was the only spot we encountered a real midge issue and surely cut this visit a bit short due to them. Next we moved on the #3, the Namafjall Geothermal area. At Namafjall it certainly looks other-worldly. I can’t imagine that numerous Sci-Fi movies have not been filmed here! Between the bubbling mud pools and the orange mountain hue, craters and ridges, flowing heated water, this is something to experience! We walked around trying to avoid the worst of the direct Sulphur fumes and took many photos before heading to stop #4, our longest stop, at the Myvatn Nature Baths. We were ahead of schedule so we took a few minutes for a light lunch before changing to enjoy the baths. The water was delightfully warm and it didn’t matter to us if it was raining, foggy, cloudy, or sunny. During our 80 minutes in the baths, we experienced all four of these weather conditions. One thing that seems very true is that if you don’t like the weather in Iceland, wait five or ten minutes and it may change! This is a wonderful spot with very pretty views of Lake Myvatn but without the midges. Leaving the baths, we made stop number 5, the Skutstaoir Pseudocraters. We walked the 1.5KM trail around these unique volcanic craters, formed when lava interacted with lake water some 2200 years ago. There are many birds in the area and the breeze had picked up enough that the midges were gone. Next we drove back to Akureyri where we filled up the gas (3600 Krone, about $33.50) for a quarter-tank. We stopped to take a photo of Prinsendam at dock and dropped off the car. We returned to the ship through a gift shop (the only way into the port area) but carrying wet towels we did not stop to look. We were back on the ship at 4:30 giving us just enough time to get ready for dinner. Dinner was very nice and we were finished before 7:00. We listened to the Ocean Band for a while and attended the singers and dancers show, Stage & Screen. We are sure we have seen this before but it was a good performance. We left the show for the crow’s nest and enjoyed Stevie until about 10:10. We hated to leave as that left Stevie with an audience of two but we needed to call it a night. Sunday, August 26, Isafjordur Iceland No need to rush out this morning as our walking tour doesn’t meet until 10:20. We slept in and enjoyed breakfast in the Lido. We left the ship a bit early and walked around before finding our meeting spot. Four of the eight on this tour did not find the spot immediately so we did begin a little delayed. This was a nice tour of the industrial and historic part of town. It was billed at 90 minutes but it actually ran 2.5 hours. Our guide, Herbert, told us a lot about living in the northernmost town in Iceland. Isafjordur is surrounded by mountains and they are sheltered from the worst of the winds. Normally their temperature range is from -5 C in winter to +9 or 10C in summer. There is still snow on the higher mountain tops near the town. The tour brought us back to near the ship. An enterprising individual had set up a souvenir trailer with a “Last ship of the season sale.” We took advantage and bought Icelandic gloves and a hat with some of the Krone we had. Back on board we had a nice lunch, took photos of the surrounding mountains, and enjoyed a relaxing afternoon before dinner. We made arrangements for a Pinnacle Grill dinner near the end of the cruise and pre-ordered DW’s meal for the next evening’s Canaletto dinner. Dinner tonight was the best meal of the cruise so far. The Prime Rib was large and perfect. The sweet & soup shrimp (tempura style) were great. We left the dining room for the game show in the showroom; it was entertaining watching the proceedings. The show was a variety show. Regretfully they started with Ruben Vilagrand, who talked this time and put us all to sleep. Elaine Gray completed the show and despite a cold was wonderful with three numbers including Amazing Grace and Danny Boy. The highlight of the evening was certainly Stevie in the Piano Bar. He had a bigger crowd with lots of interaction. Samantha the cruise director also circulated among the guests. At 10:15 we called it a night. Monday, August 27, 2018 – Reykjavik, Iceland No rush this morning as our Golden Circle with Geothermal Bakery tour doesn’t meet until 9:15. A leisurely morning with breakfast in the lido was enjoyed. Prinsendam must have ‘drawn the short straw’ as we are docked 4.5 KM from Reykjavik town center. We need to take a shuttle bus (or walk three blocks) to the ship’s tour buses or a taxi or shuttle to town for 2200 Krone each. We met for our tour and walked the three blocks to the tour bus. This was a great tour, among other reasons we had a full size coach for just 24 guests, so we had lots of room to spread out. Our tour guide was very informative the entire time. We headed out of town first to Pingvellir National Park. Pingvellir is a Unesco World Heritage Site for two reasons. It is the site of the first Icelandic parliament in 930 AD and was the capitol for many years. Additionally, this is the only place in the world where the North American and Eurasian plates are above sea level and the separation (by an inch a year) is actually visible. Leaving there, we headed to Laugarvatn to visit the “Geothermal bakery.” There, we witnessed the digging up of the bread pot buried in +100 C mud, where it baked for 24 hours. The bread was cut, spread with Icelandic butter, and then fresh local trout was added on top. There was plenty for seconds (and thirds) and this stop was greatly enjoyed by all. Third, we went to visit the Gullfoss (Golden) waterfall. The waterfall is actually a series of two falls. At that time the wind had become so strong that it literally ripped my glasses off my face. Fortunately at the time I was returning to the bus from the falls so they fell in a field and I was able to retrieve them. The last stop was at Geysir. Yes, this is the original Geysir from which all other Geysers are named. We watch two eruptions and caught them on video. We then drove back to the ship in a wind-driven rain. With no rain during our stops we were most fortunate with the weather as it rained in Reykjavik nearly all day. We stay docked tonight and tomorrow have a day planned in town, hopefully the weather will be better! Dinner tonight is late for us as we are eating at Canaletto, the Italian restaurant on board. Monday night the featured special is swordfish thus our choice of tonight. This also avoided a mad rush to make our 5:30 dinner in the dining room. Dinner ended up being less than great. In 20 or so HAL cruises this was our first time in Canaletto, and the only reason we went there was for the swordfish. Of course, once seated, they told us the swordfish had gone bad and they did not receive their new shipment today. We ordered Sea Bass, after double-checking that this was real “Sea bass” and not “Mediterranean sea bass.” It ended up being Mediterranean Sea bass. While it was okay it was not what we expected. We won’t return to Canaletto. There was no show tonight and it was late so we called it a night. Tuesday, August 28, 2018 - Reykjavik, Iceland Tuesday brought mostly sunny skies and we caught the first hop-on; hop-off bus. The Ho-Ho bus was less than satisfactory. The commentary was unreliable as the connections did not all work. We rode the Ho-Ho around to the stop for the famous “Church of the hill,” the Hallgrims-Kirkja. We took photos of the church and the Leif Ericson statue out front. From the church we walked down the main shopping street to downtown. We went by the parliament building and city hall, and toured the old harbor. We thought about having lunch in town but decided we didn’t want to drop $100 on lunch for two. We tried to find the Ho-Ho stop #4 but couldn’t find it so we walked to stop#5 at the Maritime Museum. After a rather long wait we rode the Ho-Ho back to the ship. If we had to do this again we would not have used the Ho-Ho as for the 16000 Krone the four of us paid I’m sure we could have gotten a taxi both ways. But better yet in Reykjavik, get out of town. There is too much to see outside of town. Back on Prinsendam we had a nice late lunch in the lido. They had wonderful cod and I made myself a fish sandwich. I enjoyed the hot tub and then started to get ready for the evening. Our friends had an appointment with the future cruise consultant, Sheryll. She could not match the pricing on a potential cruise in February that I received by e-mail from HAL so we just bought future cruise deposits. I even showed her the e-mail. Dinner tonight was great and every table was filled. There was a problem with DW’s special order (Dewa does a great job triple-checking it) and that delayed our meal a bit. Turkey and a rib-eye steak is hard to beat. After dinner the show was the singers in “Sessions,” covering a lot of popular music from the last 40 years or so. This was a very interactive show, kind of like the piano bar on steroids. Stevie had a night off so after the show we headed back to the room to call it a night as we have an early tender tomorrow at our last Icelandic port of Heimey, the “Pompeii of the North.” We had noticed the last two evenings an apparent wet spot on our rug in the middle of the room. At first I thought our cabin steward may have spilt some rug or other cleaner, but it seems to be getting worse. I wrote a note to drop off at the office tomorrow morning. Wednesday, August 29 – Heimey, Iceland Early in the morning the Prinsendam anchored off the coast of the Westman Islands. Despite a beautiful sunny day it was cool and the winds were still at 20 knots so getting into the tenders was a bit of a challenge. We went over early, at about 8:20, and there were only about a dozen passengers in our tender. This was a fantastic port! Upon arrival it was very quiet except for the ferry leaving for the mainland. Nothing opens in Heimey before 9:00 AM. We walked around and found the travel information office just as they opened the doors. This combination T.I., office supply store, and café offered a clean n/c WC. From there we walked the road into the lava field from the 1973 eruption. 400 homes were buried in lava and 1/3 the land area added to the island. There were no deaths or injuries as there was plenty of time to evacuate. There are many memorials in the lava field indicating the home buried beneath. This provided many other-worldly photos of the various lava formations. We also walked to the Norwegian Stave Church and meeting house, but we were a little too early for them to be opened to see the inside. Keeping a watch on the time we returned to town at 10:40 for our 11:00 Puffin and Volcano Tour with Eyjatours. This was a great tour featuring the tour guide demonstrating Sprangan, cliff rope climbing for bird eggs, Stórhöfði – the windiest place in Europe with loads of puffins, the golf course with more puffins on the sea cliffs, the mouse island formed by a recent eruption off-shore, and a demonstration of the different colors of lava rock and their sources. The tour ended at the small local aquarium which is also a puffin hospital. Local children rescue about 1,000 young puffins every year as they fly into windows attracted by evening lights. The next morning these puffins are brought here. They have two puffins, Thor, 4 years old, and, 2 years old, that sustained injuries such that they cannot be released. These puffins are used to people and pose for photos, they are so cute. We slowly walked downhill back to the tender port. A tender was just pulling in and we were quickly on our way back to Prinsendam. Back on board, we quickly dropped our bag and coats in the room, and found a large fan blowing on the carpet. We went to the lido for a bit of lunch and returned to the cabin to find a message from guest services. They claim the shower is leaking and they repaired the grout. Why a shower leak would show up in the middle of the floor is beyond me. In any case, they said we could turn off the fan when we are in the room but to please start it when we are leaving. Dinner tonight was great. Our wait staff is superb and Dewa outdoes himself taking care of us. The show is comedian William Caulfield. His show was decent and the comedy clean. Stevie was great in the Piano bar with a very interactive audience. One thing I’ve noticed is that some of his numbers are repeats from earlier in the cruise. Tomorrow is a well – needed sea day after seven port days in a row. We called it a night at about 10:30. Thursday, August 30 – Sea day With a time change losing an hour and being rather exhausted, we didn’t leave the cabin until nearly 10:00 AM. We had a very light breakfast in the lido as we were invited to the 10:15 Mariner’s reception in the showroom. The showroom was packed and about 30 or so folks received their bronze medallions for reaching 100 sailing days with HAL. No silver, gold, or platinum medallions were awarded, although platinum and president’s club member couples were both introduced. The reception was followed by the mariner’s brunch in the dining room. It was okay, but the table conversation was very nice. We attended Brett’s talk on Lerwick, the following day’s port of call in the Shetland Islands. We noted that about 80% of what Brett showed us was on our private group tour itinerary. Still being very tired, we both napped until our alarm went off at 4:00. This is the last gala night so we prepared accordingly. The “Gold Gala” dinner was most enjoyable. The chairs were covered with white slipcovers, very elegant. The surf and turf meals were delectable. I thought the turf part was exceptionally well prepared and very tender. The show was Iceland’s own Greta Salome. Greta was Iceland’s performer at the 2012 and 2016 European showcase of some sort. She gave the best show of the cruise. Just WOW! After the show we enjoyed happy hour in the Crow’s nest singing along with Stevie. At 10:15 we called it a night looking forward to our last port of call. Friday, August 31, 2018 – Lerwick, Shetland Islands The alarm woke us at 6:15. A peek outside showed blue skies with not a cloud in sight. The TV showed we were just off the southern tip of the ‘mainland’ Shetland Island. We had a nice lido breakfast and met our tour group at 8:30. A nice surprise was that we are docked rather than tendering! We had a “South Island tour” booked for eight with Grant Redfern. This ended up being a great tour with the only downside being that two needed to squeeze into the front seat and I believe that couple was not entirely comfortable. We left the port and headed to an overlook over the town. From there we stopped at Fladdabister, an 1850’s Norse-style farm and crafters home. Two Shetland Ponies were in the front yard and seemed to enjoy photo attention. 1800’s Shetlanders must have been very short and the doorways were tiny. The house was authentically heated with peat in the fireplace and it was quite smoky inside. The next stop was Jarlshof, where 5000 years of Shetland History can be seen in a small area. Ruins from the stone age through the 1700’s can be seen here, in many cases one building built above the remains of another. We stopped in the hotel next door for lunch, which was just okay. Next we drove to the lighthouse at Sumburgh Head, the southern end of the island. This lighthouse in on top of sheer cliffs that are populated with thousands of sea birds. Regretfully the puffins are long-gone but other birds were happy to pose for photos. We drove north along the western side of the island stopping to look at a beach with seals lying in the sun. Grant said a few months ago there were many seals but some have left and others were eaten by Orcas looking for lunch. We stopped at a stretch of beach that connected the mainland to a small island. We actually saw someone swimming in the 54 degree water. Our last stop was Scalloway where we viewed the castle and the Shetland Bus memorial to the Shetlanders who risked all to help the Norwegians during WW 2. Grant took us back to Lerwick and drove us through town showing us the main sites including the very nice town hall building. We were brought back to Prinsendam at 3:33 PM. Returning on board we found that the fan was back in our room. After dropping our coats and bag, we visited guest services who were not sure what was happening and asked us to stop back later. We had ice cream from the lido and visited with friends. Happy hour was going on so we enjoyed the Ocean Bar and watched the scenic sail away from there. Stopping back at guest services they still don’t really know where the water is coming from. They offered to move us to a deck 5 cabin but with only one full day left in the cruise who wants to do that? We were told we would receive a letter tomorrow. We have a 7:00 Pinnacle dinner tonight so we began to get ready. The Pinnacle was a great experience and very enjoyable. The only problem with the Pinnacle is one always eats too much. After dinner we visited Stevie in the Crow’s nest until after 10:30 when we simply couldn’t stay awake any longer. We lose another hour on the clocks tonight to get back to Europe time. Saturday, September 01 – At Sea After being up until after midnight (after the clock change) this was a morning to sleep in. I left the cabin just before 9:00 to bring DW’s dinner pre-order to the dining room. There was a letter in the mailbox from guest services offering a modest amount of OBC for our carpet troubles. We went to the Lido at 9:30 for breakfast and walked around a while before finding a table that two folks had just vacated. After last night’s Pinnacle dinner neither of us finished our breakfast. At 9:50 Samantha the CD made her morning announcements. “On deck for a cause” is this morning and DW decided to participate. During that event I caught her on camera and also downloaded all the photos onto my laptop. We met our friends and enjoyed lunch together. That afternoon was the Filipino Crew Show, always worth seeing. This crew was exceptionally talented especially the group doing the dance with the colliding sticks. We did our last happy hour and got ready for dinner. This was a truly wonderful dinner in the dining room with both Prime Rib and King Crab Legs on the menu. We said our sad farewells to Big D, Dewa, and Giovanni. We saw Greta Salome at the Ocean Bar and after we asked she told us that she was to be the second performer in the variety show. We visited Stevie one last time in the crow’s nest departing at 9:45 to catch Greta’s show. William Caulfield ran a little long but once he was done we were able to get seats. Her performance was terrific and a great way to end the cruise. About 10:25 returning to the cabin, closing up the suitcases and putting them out for transfer to shore in the morning. Sunday, September 2 The alarm went off and we were already well up the canal towards Amsterdam. The Prinsendam docked right on time at 7:00 and we met our friends for one last meal together, a dining room breakfast at 7:25. Breakfast was great and we said our farewells, until the next time! We disembarked at about 8:40, quickly found our luggage and dragged it to the tram stop. A quick tram ride to Central Station (we saw many folks just walking the distance) and then the train to the airport. It was a long walk from the airport terminal to the Hilton. Upon entering the terminal we saw one cruiser from our ship. We checked in and our Hilton status helped and we were given the keys to our room and also invited to complimentary breakfast in the restaurant. After “Second breakfast” (which would double as lunch) we walked back to the airport and took the train to Rotterdam. We ended up in Rotterdam a little early for the 1:30 “Free walking tour” and ended up standing and walking too much before the tour. We found the tour guide and about two dozen folks showed up for the tour. We ended up leaving the tour at about the half-way point as it was too much standing. We did see some interesting sites including the “Cube houses” and the old harbor, as well as a war memorial. We took a tram back to Rotterdam Central and caught a train back to the airport, returning to our hotel a little after 5:00. We enjoyed the executive lounge and had dinner at the hotel restaurant, “The Bowery.” Portions were large and everything was very good. They accommodated DW’s dietary needs nicely. We returned to the lounge for a nightcap and called it a day. Monday, September 3 – return home We had breakfast in the executive lounge at the Hilton and then loaded our luggage onto a luggage cart for the walk back to the terminal at Schiphol. We found the Aer Lingus check in and it took about 20 minutes in line to drop our bags. The offered to check our overnight carry-on “For free” but we declined as all our meds were packed in there. Security was about a 10 minute line and passport control about the same. US passports can use an automated lane for departure. We made a necessary stop and spent most of our Euro coins at an airport shop on waters and chocolate for the flight. At the gate, I asked if we could be switched to an aisle & middle (from our assigned window and middle) and they have us two isles, across from each other. After the door closed, there was no one in the two seats next to me so I moved to the window and DW took my aisle seat. The connection in Dublin was a pain as we unexpectedly had to walk outdoors a good distance, and it was cold! I was dressed for the +90 degrees back home. Eventually we got through the passport check and we had enough time before US pre-clearance to use the airport lounge. We enjoyed some ‘lunch’ there and left for US Customs 90 minutes before our flight as instructed. Our Global Entry helped save us some time. Still, it was another long walk to the gate. We boarded on time. While we had a window/isle two seats the folks in front of us took no pity and reclined their seats to the max, so it was an uncomfortable (to say the least) seven hour flight back to Newark. We arrived on time and while we did not need to clear customs in Newark we waited an hour for the luggage. Park Plus picked us up very promptly and we were in our car within 15 minutes of luggage retrieval. Summary / Conclusion: All things considered this was a great cruise! After the dining room issues of the first two days the rest of the dining was flawless. “Big D” took great care of us in the lido at breakfast/lunch and in the dining room at dinner. The one lunch and one dinner in the Pinnacle were both wonderful. We will not do Canaletto again though. Our room stewards performed well and kept the room clean, although we literally laid eyes on them less than three times the entire two weeks! Entertainment is not Holland’s strong suit. The singers/dancers were okay but we’ve seen all those shows before. The guest entertainers ranged from incredible (Greta Salome) to pretty bad. But there was ‘something for everyone.’ We very much enjoyed Stevie in the piano bar and the Ocean trio at the Ocean bar. We are not by any means big drinkers but we enjoyed the happy hours very much. Since HAL announced the sale of Prinsendam I was hoping we would do one more cruise on her. That seems very unlikely as the remaining Prinsendam cruises have had price spikes as they are mostly close to sold out. We greatly enjoyed the port calls; doing the “Ring road” in Iceland without the driving was terrific! The larger ships cannot get into all these ports so we are happy to do these while we could on Prinsendam. All things considered, this was another four stars out of five Prinsendam cruise. It might have been four and a half but the three days with the damp carpet in our cabin has to detract a half-star. Read Less
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