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318 Holland America Line Asia Cruise Reviews

We booked the first 16 days of the Far East Discovery because of the amazing itinerary and we were not disappointed. From Singapore to Hong Kong, every port had something wonderful to offer. This was our 8th cruise and our first on Holland ... Read More
We booked the first 16 days of the Far East Discovery because of the amazing itinerary and we were not disappointed. From Singapore to Hong Kong, every port had something wonderful to offer. This was our 8th cruise and our first on Holland America. Unfortunately, the embarkation was horrible. We had a 12:00 check in but had to wait about two hours in the cruise terminal before we could check in. We were denied access to the Orange Club line because it wasn’t printed on our cruise documents and by the time we checked in and then straightened out the Orange Club situation, it was 3:00 and we were hungry. Luckily, the hamburgers out by the pool are delicious, but we were pretty upset that we spent our first day onboard straightening out problems and waiting for service. Luckily, the cruise improved after that. Cabin Our cabin was 7147, an aft verandah cabin. It was very spacious with a comfortable bed, a couch with a table, and a desk. The shower was in a small bathtub and was much more roomy than what we’ve experienced on other ships. There was plenty of storage, oodles of hangers, and nice verandah chairs with footstools. With a large TV, access to a few tv stations and many movies, it was a comfortable place to hang out on sea days or when tired. Our steward kept us well supplied with ice and fresh towels throughout our cruise. Ship Activities and Entertainment The public spaces are very comfortable, with nice chairs and comfortable bar areas. The Gallery Bar is especially pretty. The drinks in the bars were not especially good, even a basic dirty Vodka martini just didn’t taste right and the glasses never matched the drinks appropriately. It was weird. Luckily, we had pre-ordered a bottle of vodka and some tonic so our best drinks were those we mixed in our cabin for the first week of the cruise. During the second week, we took advantage of Happy Hour when you can get two identical drinks by paying for the first and just $2 for the second. We were disappointed with the activities and entertainment aboard. It seems that Holland caters to an older crowd than we are used to and the only “fresh” entertainment every night was the chamber music in the Lincoln Center, which was always well attended. We hoped to find BB King’s Blues Club to be a regular stop, but after a few nights it seemed the program didn’t vary much and since each set was only a half hour, we found ourselves going there less and less. We did enjoy the wine tastings and were disappointed when the third wine tasting that had the best wines was cancelled due to a low turnout caused by conflicting popular activities. The port talks were very good but you had to arrive early because the theater was filled every time. We wanted to experience the test kitchen where the chef was preparing local dishes, but never could find a seat. It was immensely popular. I was hoping for a little more destination related travel and we did enjoy the Thai dancing, even though it was only a half hour. One of our favorite days was the day we booked a cabana. We arrived after breakfast to find that the cabana attendant would have served us that too! We were able to enjoy the heat of the day while lounging around reading and playing on the internet. The attendant brought us lunch and also some fruit and Prosecco in the afternoon. Only about four cabanas were booked so we had the deck almost to ourselves. It was very relaxing. Dining We ate most of our meals in the Main Dining Room. Each meal was beautifully presented and there was always a choice of fish, chicken, red meat, and pasta, with two or three choices of some on many nights. Most dinners were prepared with sauces and by the end of the cruise, I was yearning for some simpler fare. The breads were especially delicious. We took advantage of the Cellar Packages and found #1 to have enough good wines to meet our needs at a wonderfully reduced price compared to buying a bottle at a time. We had one meal at the Pinnacle Grill on the Rudi’s Sel de Mer night. The food was very good, but honestly, the service in the MDR was much more attentive. We enjoyed our special night and decided to stick with the dining room after that. We ate a few lunches and breakfasts in the buffet. There was a huge selection and everything we ate was very tasty. It was hard to keep a full cup of coffee in the morning and a lot of tables sat empty with dirty dishes. The atmosphere just wasn’t that great. Our favorite thing was room service breakfast. The menu was very large and we had to stop ourselves from overeating! As part of the Orange Club, the choices included mimosas and smoothies and we took advantage of both several times. Orange Club We were offered a discount on the Orange Club the week before the cruise and we decided to try it. As already mentioned, it was a bit of a trial to get the recognition and appropriate key card. The first night we did not get the Orange Menu in the dining room. (I think a lot of the crew were new.) We didn’t have robes in our room. No one seemed to know about the welcome glass of bubbly. It seemed like no one knew what the Orange Club was all about and we had to advocate pretty heavily for ourselves. But after the first day we enjoyed our in-room breakfast choices, ate in our Orange Club robes, used the Orange Club priority lines at Guest Services and the MDR, and were treated very well. Most nights we were seated at a window and the host remembered us by name and room number within three days. We only tried one or two of the Orange Club dinners because the choices on the main menu were so good. We were also treated to a tour of the galleys and store rooms which were amazing. For a first time Holland Guest, it gave us a few of the perks more frequent cruisers enjoy. It was nice. Ports and Excursions Singapore We arrived three days before the cruise which gave us some time to adjust to the time change. We stayed at the Amoy Hotel near Chinatown which offered an airport pickup. It was just across the street from an MRT station and was the perfect spot to explore Singapore. Glad we took the three days. Nathon (Koh Samui), Thailand We booked the EXC Explore Buddhist Temples tour which included four different stops at Buddhist temples, each quite different. At the Big Buddha there was an opportunity for some shopping, some of the best of the whole trip. It was a great introduction to Buddhism in Thailand. Laem Chabang (Bangkok), Thailand We were here for two days and quite a few people took advantage of the opportunity to stay overnight in Bangkok, which is nearly two hours from the port. We did not. The first day we took the EXC Hidden Treasures with Tuk Tuk tour because I wanted to see the large reclining Buddha. We also visited other temples and Elizabeth Hall. The tuk tuk ride was surprisingly fun. The tour included a lunch of pad thai and other Thai foods. Delicious! The second day we booked the EXC Footsteps of Pad Thai tour that took us into the Nam Tan Sat village, a sugar palm plantation where we watched the farmer scale the palm tree, the Golden Temple with a Standing Buddha, the Wat Pho Bang Kla temple with bats, an organic Botanical Garden with delicious Thai snacks (practically a meal), and a cooking demonstration for Pad Thai and Papaya Salad. It was a super busy day which also included a ride in a long tail boat from the Golden Temple to Wat Pho Bang Kla. We really felt like we saw some authentic Thai life on this tour and were happy to support the local businesses. Tip: Carry toilet paper. The bathrooms do not have it. Sihanoukville, Cambodia This top was both the best and the worst. We took a cooking class I found on TripAdvisor and with only two of us in the class, we had four hours to talk with the chef and learn all about life in Cambodia in a very intimate way. On the other hand, Sihanoukville as a city is a mess and the tuk tuk ride to the class was bumpy and very uncomfortable. I wouldn’t do anything in Sihanoukville without a tour. Phu My (Saigon), Vietnam We booked a private tour with ITourVietnam and it was fantastic. Part Foodie Tour and part History Tour, we were treated to sights, sounds, and tastes all day long. It was a chance to really get into the market and check “eating pho in Vietnam” off the bucket list. Nha Trang, Vietnam We took the EXC Cooking Class in Nha Trang which included a chance to learn to make spring rolls, banana flower salad, and cabbage package soup before we ate the chef prepared lunch of the same dishes. In addition, we got to walk through a dry and wet market (very quickly!) and see some Cham art at the resort where the class was held. DaNang, Vietnam This was a two day stop so the first day I booked a tour from TripAdvisor that included My Son, the Marble Mountain, and the Lady Buddha. It was a lot of walking and climbing, probably our most intensely physical day. We stopped for noodles at a local shop and they were delicious. The second day we joined a Cruise Critic group for Hoi An, the Marble Mountain, and the Cham Museum. Hoi An was primarily an opportunity for shopping and we skipped going into the Marble Mountain since our thighs were still sore from the day before. The Cham Museum was incredibly interesting and really added to our understanding of what we had seen the first day. Halong Bay, Vietnam This was our favorite port. We joined a Cruise Critic group and spent the entire day cruising the beautiful karsts. We also saw a remote fishing village and a pearl farm which were both very interesting. After the hustle and bustle of all the surprisingly large cities of the Far East, this opportunity for relaxation and nature was a real treat. Hong Kong I had booked a hotel near the airport so we took advantage of the EXC Hong Kong Tour with Airport Transfer. Disembarkation was very easy and well organized. The tour itself wasn’t really very good, but it did give us a chance to see Victoria Peak and Aberdeen. The fishing village was really just a marina around the Jumbo restaurant and the jewelry factory was a jewelry store where we were trapped for about a half hour. After being dropped at the airport, we took the Novotel Citygate shuttle to the hotel, which was great. The hotel is connected to the Citygate mall and also provided easy access to the transportation hub of Lantau Island. We stayed two nights and made the trip up to Tian Tan (Big Buddha), which made for a perfect final day. Summary Our first cruise with Holland was a success, primarily because the itinerary was so interesting. The service aboard was fantastic and we were able to name several of our favorites in our survey because they provided such great service. The rooms were comfortable; the food was good. Even still, we probably we wait a few years before we cruise Holland again so that we can age into what they offer. For now, we still like a ship with a little more vibrancy. Read Less
Sail Date January 2020
We chose this Asian cruise due to the itinerary (Ha!!)and visiting Vietnam was on our bucket list. Despite the Coronavirus situation, we thought the cruise was awesome.The Captain, cruise director, hotel director..and the entire crew were ... Read More
We chose this Asian cruise due to the itinerary (Ha!!)and visiting Vietnam was on our bucket list. Despite the Coronavirus situation, we thought the cruise was awesome.The Captain, cruise director, hotel director..and the entire crew were amazing. The passengers were kept informed of the ongoing changing situation and everyone ( passengers, as well as crew) became one big family supported each other. Holland America handled the situation in a very caring, professional manner. I have cruised over 50 times with various cruise lines, but after this experience with Holland America, I will be loyal to Holland A. Our cabin attendants, dining room waiters, dining room host were very attentive. The Entertainment in the main showroom was fine, BBKing lounge routine got very repetitious( same sets every evening). The cruise director, Jamie, was the best we have ever had. Holland America followed up with passengers due to the virus situation after passengers were back home which was a great policy. Read Less
Sail Date January 2020
I love Holland America more than ever! The first two weeks of the journey visiting Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam were spectacular! Then the (Coronavirus) hit the fan - and changed everything. We became a ship without a port ... Read More
I love Holland America more than ever! The first two weeks of the journey visiting Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam were spectacular! Then the (Coronavirus) hit the fan - and changed everything. We became a ship without a port after leaving Hong Kong. It was a terrible situation for our ship's captain and crew, and all of us travelers onboard, especially first time cruisers. They did everything possible to help us eventually disembark in Cambodia, the only country that would let us in. Personally I loved our 11 days or so at sea, and actually felt we were kept safe from exposure to the Corona virus. The entire crew and staff on the ship and then in Cambodia were awesome. We became a floating global village at sea. The crew went above and beyond the call of duty as did the entertainers (except for one disgruntled comedian) I have done many many media interviews since disembarking in Cambodia, being put up in a 4 star hotel all expenses paid and being tested for the dreaded COVID-19 virus. Orlando Ashford, president of HAL, flew out to Phnom Penh and then to the port where staff and some passengers were still awaiting test results and reservations to get home. It was an honor to meet him. We are very privileged to be able to take such exotic cruises, and being refugees at sea for less than two weeks, hopefully instilled some compassion and understanding of the millions of refugees all over the world that don't have a luxury liner protecting them from harm. I cannot say enough about what a great job HAL did under the circumstances. World travel is unpredictable and real travelers know to expect the unexpected, embrace some uncertainty and roll with the changes. I feel blessed to have been part of this experience. We will never forget. Maybe someday we will get to visit Japan. Many thanks to the Westerdam Staff and Crew! Cheers to my fellow passengers. Deep bow- Namaste Read Less
Sail Date January 2020
We have always dreamed of an aft cabin got one one the ship. At first glance we were very disappointed because if was so small, old, and dreary but at least we had an aft view but the veranda was filthy, covered in soot. I asked the cabin ... Read More
We have always dreamed of an aft cabin got one one the ship. At first glance we were very disappointed because if was so small, old, and dreary but at least we had an aft view but the veranda was filthy, covered in soot. I asked the cabin attendant if it could be swept at least but he said they don't clean it. Although the view was beautiful I could not sit there because of the filth. I would have bought a broom myself had I known they don't sweep the verandas. We ate in the dining room one time. at the the waiter threw the tiny amount of food down and ran away. Couldn't ask for anything. The rest we ate the Lido. Much better. The whole immigration procedures from Hal were chaotic. I was told multiple times that I needed to get my own visas only to find out they were available through the ship. The busiest places on the ship were the medical unit and customer service. That tells you a lot. I have been on other HAL cruises but this one seemed like everyone was in training. You had to explain everything to them. I'm done with HAL. No recognition of Mariner status at embarkation. Hot tubs were ice cold. Dont book any overnight packages. They change them and then tell you sorry they're nonrefundable,\. Read Less
Sail Date December 2019
We had a 24 day cruise on Zuderdam some years back and was okay. Now HAL have add on costs for everything. Food in Lido and Dining Room all unseasoned with the chicken, pork and beef all tasting the same as it was all cooked together. ... Read More
We had a 24 day cruise on Zuderdam some years back and was okay. Now HAL have add on costs for everything. Food in Lido and Dining Room all unseasoned with the chicken, pork and beef all tasting the same as it was all cooked together. Sauces are added with a thimble measuring device and are also tastless. Entertainment mostly guest entertainers that get a free part of cruise. Hopeless. Virtually no Christmas decorations od carols compared to previous cruise on QE. Captain went into hidding from day of embarkation. Senior crew almost invisable so complaining impossible. Compared to Zuderdam and QE where the Captain or 1st officer greated you for dinner most nights. Confiscation of passports is also unnacceptable, if you have a mishap on a private tour, you have to return to port to pick up passport from agent before you can fly to catch ship. Will never book with any line in Carnival Group ever again. Next cruise Regent or Seabourn. Read Less
Sail Date December 2019
Cabin: poorly working A/C, dripping with water on bedding. Moisture running of walls. Overhead bed hinges broken, bed leaning forward/downward. Bathtub would backup off and on. First couple days toilet didn’t work. Used washroom off ... Read More
Cabin: poorly working A/C, dripping with water on bedding. Moisture running of walls. Overhead bed hinges broken, bed leaning forward/downward. Bathtub would backup off and on. First couple days toilet didn’t work. Used washroom off exploration cafe, only to have urinal contents flush on pants and shoes. Staff knew of problem, but didn’t correct. Didn’t offer immediate help with clothes and shoes.... 2 days later !!!!! After having complained nothing happened!! Ports: what a joke! You wake up to the smells of container harbours, thousands of containers, cranes and trucks, not exactly a luxury holiday stop, but worse... what’s not advertised is the huge amounts you have to spend to actual go to the port of call, as in at least at couple of ports we were 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 hrs away. What a disappointment. Decor: there was very little Christmas decor, they couldn’t have done any less, pathetic. Entertainment: what entertainment!! It was pretty much nonexistent, and whatever little they had was so terrible. New Year’s Eve was the biggest disappointment - after a so so dinner - nothing happened... there was not one single thing going on. No entertainment in any one corner of the ship. How terrible is that. Shame on you Holland America!! Food: boring and repetitive. Read Less
Sail Date December 2019
This was my second HAL cruise, and I have to say from the top my biggest disappointment was that there were no Educational lectures like I had my first cruise. If this is not a regular HAL experience, I apologize, but my first cruise had ... Read More
This was my second HAL cruise, and I have to say from the top my biggest disappointment was that there were no Educational lectures like I had my first cruise. If this is not a regular HAL experience, I apologize, but my first cruise had college professors in Geology and History that packed the theater with their amazing quality. We also had short language classes before ports to practice how to say hello and thank you. I started to tell people that HAL was "cruising for smart people". I asked several HAL veterans on board and they told me that what I experienced the first time is the norm. When asking the crew on the Westerdam about this, I had several different responses. One was that "HAL has changed", another said, "We had professors booked but because of the holidays they cancelled". I was really disappointed to find out that I would not be learning much history or language basics which would have been awesome for this itinerary. I was on the Westerdam for 28 nights- Hong Kong north to China/ Japan/ Taiwan then from Hong Kong to Singapore via Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand. This itinerary is fascinating, though it became tiresome toward the end, mostly because these ports are often far from the main sites and involved a daily haggling with taxi drivers that is perpetually a pain in the butt. In the few ports that we could walk off the ship into an actual town, they became most people's favorites. Independence and simplicity leads to more exploration and happiness. My favorite part of the ship would be the people. The "Cruise Director" now called "EXC something", was a very friendly and informative host named Jeremy who gave the port talks to a packed audience and was great at this. He also hosted a book club which was nice, but HAL has screwed this up by calling it "Oprah's Reading Room" which is not at all obvious that it is a book club discussion. My first 2 weeks I just happened to see it because I wanted a quiet place to read, and so I joined for the 2nd 2 weeks and only 2 passengers showed up for the discussion. The other gem is Phil the "EXC Port Specialist". He does not sell tours, he knows nothing about them, but if you want to know the cost of a taxi, or the walking distance to a temple, this guy knows it all. He had a desk that people would gather around, and it was awesome just to stand around listening to the questions so you could make your own plans. Thanks to Jeremy and Phil, I did all of my port excursions on my own except for 1 tour (and that was a disappointment and waste of money). Julie, was another stand out for me, I am not sure of her title, but she was there for each ports disembarkation and was the organizer and boss, I really liked someone taking control and making sure people were in the correct queue, had their ID ready. We needed that. The captain, Vincent Smit was present in a good way- not just social but if there seemed to be a problem he made his presence made. One example I have- in Nga Trang we had to tender to our port. He was concerned about possible winds and made that very clear the day before, and he was by the tenders making sure of the weather. Unfortunately I was on the first tender to shore and the tide was low, making the departing step extremely high (imagine doing a lunge to the step and then limbo your head under the roof of the tender). Every person was able to make this step with assistance but because I have a disability, it seemed very dangerous for me to attempt it with crew who did not know my strength. I went back to ship, not angry because my disability always leaves a possibility for me to miss out, but when the captain saw I had returned he seemed upset and asked me what happened. He explained that the port is responsible for the dock and he has asked for a floating dock which would not change with the tides, but it has not happened. He then showed me the tidal charts and explained the best time to go (waiting 3 hours), but I decided not to risk it. The entertainment for this cruise was just so-so. I think it is because there are not as many options in Asia and there isn't the chance of new blood at each port. We did have an amazing female pianist that was so good that I cried to think she was wasting her talent on cruise ships. But, we also had a "mentalist" so bad that I groaned when I saw he was returning another night! Overall, this is the first cruise I've been on that I skipped the theater a few nights- not just the poor entertainment but also the crowd who thought that heavy perfume and talking the entire show was acceptable. I know companies don't want to upset people, but for health reasons we could ban perfume just like public smoking. All that coughing in the theater would decrease. I loved BB Blues Club- the talent on that stage was incredible. I guess if there was one complaint it was that the songs get repeated less- I went as often as I could in 28 days, and the same songs would repeat every 2 days or so. Loved Billboard's Dueling Pianos- super talented duo that put on a great show. The Lincoln Center was nice, but I was not overwhelmed with their talent. America's Test Kitchen I never went- seems like you could just watch food network with your time. Food- the dining room was above and beyond for me. Great staff, lots of options, and quality. I am a foodie and was impressed, and also happy that it was not overly salted like some cruises. The burger place by the pool was also very good. The Lido was disappointing as far as quality and compared to my last Rotterdam experience, but it was fine because I rarely went, and must have been good enough for the general hoardes because it was often packed. Tours. I took one and was not happy. First, the tour desk people were not very educated about what they were selling. They had not taken the tours themselves so they would call a guide for questions. I booked my one tour online, it was listed as "Easy", but later I happened to be at their desk and saw that the tour was listed as "moderate". When I asked, they said, "Oh, always look at the book, it is the most accurate." They then clarified with the guide that the tour was listed as moderate because it was 7 hours long (lots of bus time), and we would have to get on and off the bus 4 times, but the total walking was less than 1 mile. So, I went, but had 2 falls. I have been to Cambodia before and I am aware of the primitive conditions, but I did not expect a HAL tour to go into a market with uneven tiles that flipped when you walked on them or to walk us along the shoulder of a highway as trucks zoomed by inches away. The tour was chaotic with 1 guide for a bus load of people as we navigated the busy market and later a little village. We had a nice lunch but paid $270 for this day. Holidays- this was a Christmas and NYE cruise and I was really impressed with these events. There was a Santa day for the kids, we sang Carols by the tree one day, decorations throughout the ship were very festive, and the dinners and special treats were great. I know one person here complained about New Years. NYE was a port day- overnight in Bangkok which a lot of people took advantage of. I was back on the ship for dinner- a very nice one- and I will admit that after dinner there was a slight lack of entertainment. But, that is all understandable given that the entire ship was involved in a show that started at 11 and went well into the early morning. Up on the top deck the BB King Blues Band played an excellent set. The captain, officers, and their families were there and the crew put a great effort into making an ice display, handed out free champagne, and there was a special buffet in the Lido. I was impressed! I expected a 1/2 glass of free champagne but was instead offered several refills. The music, the decor, the happiness of everyone around was very special. If anyone says there wasn't entertainment, it was because they went to bed early! Overall the ship was nice, though a little old. My inside cabin was one of the smaller cabins I have been in for a while. But, the Westerdam makes it up with such pleasant crew and cleanliness. I know I made a choice in choosing the cheapest cabin, and I guess I have been a bit spoiled by getting upgraded by other cruise lines, so I can't complain. Overall, I would choose this ship for sure- mostly because of the live music options. But, I would only choose HAL over other lines in the future if I am sure that the educational component is back. Read Less
Sail Date December 2019
This was our first time in a Neptune Suite. We loved the convenience of the concierge just down the hall, the priority dining seating, and breakfast in the Pinnacle Restaurant. We originally signed up for a Signature Suite, but were ... Read More
This was our first time in a Neptune Suite. We loved the convenience of the concierge just down the hall, the priority dining seating, and breakfast in the Pinnacle Restaurant. We originally signed up for a Signature Suite, but were offered an upgrade to a Neptune for just $250 each on a 15 day cruise. It was well worth it. It will be hard to cruise in anything less next time. My wife loved the make-up table off the bathroom, though it was a little difficult for me to access the bathroom while she was seated there. Still a nice feature. One complaint was the size of the shower. Sure, we could have taken showers or baths in the tub, but I much prefer a walk-in shower. This one was tiny, and had only a curtain. It was hard to turn around, and we had to be very careful to prevent water from leaking past the curtain. Holland America's WiFi package is unreasonably expensive at $15/day for just texting capability and $30/day for higher speed. Many cruise companies include texting for free, especially in a higher level suite. Dining was excellent. We had a reserved table each evening, and got to know our server pretty well. He was friendly, funny and efficient, though it took quite a while sometimes for the food to come out of the kitchen. When it arrived, it was invariably delicious. This was probably the best dining I have had on a cruise ship. Read Less
Sail Date December 2019
we had the best time ! the best time in this boat !! everything was super clean the staff were very friendly! we cannot wait to go back . we had room 7069 that was perfect for us ( Neptune suite) we also had access to the lounge John ... Read More
we had the best time ! the best time in this boat !! everything was super clean the staff were very friendly! we cannot wait to go back . we had room 7069 that was perfect for us ( Neptune suite) we also had access to the lounge John and Sarah (sorry if I got that wrong) were amazing ! getting the boat in Singapore was a little manic as the people on check in didn't know that suites have a priority check in so they were keep sending us from one counter to the other but other that that everything else was very smooth . we loved the piano players they were the best ! food was amazing everywhere a special thank you to our Turkish friend in the dining room he was the best holland america is having the best service in every port we went people were in the doc with cold water flesh towels and fruits first class service Read Less
Sail Date November 2019
This was the 3rd HAL cruise we had taken, and an excellent experience. All ship's amenities were beyond expectation. Any mechanical issue, such as a banging door on the veranda, were taken care of immediately. Our cabin steward, Gede, ... Read More
This was the 3rd HAL cruise we had taken, and an excellent experience. All ship's amenities were beyond expectation. Any mechanical issue, such as a banging door on the veranda, were taken care of immediately. Our cabin steward, Gede, was superbly attentive to our requests and needs. The dining room staff which included our waiter, Antoni, his assistant waiter, Ferry, and our wine steward, Joseph, were professional and not obsequious. Very knowledgeable and helpful with regards to our individual eating habits and requirements. The Neptune Lounge was an added perk, and one worth the money. Sarah and John were always ready to lend a hand. They were a joy to work with. Our only complaint would be the unnecessary need to stop and shop at gem and jewelry shops at the end of an excursion. The added excursion to Angkor Wat, Cambodia, was the most spectacular addition to our cruise. The accommodations were excellent and the guide, Savi, could not have been better. Easy to understand, knowledgeable, and most helpful. Read Less
Sail Date November 2019
Have been on HAL cruises before and wanted to see some Asian ports. Would not recommend cabin 4166 if you are inclined to suffer seasickness. This ship was very clean and staff were cheerful and helpful. Our cabin stewards were outstanding ... Read More
Have been on HAL cruises before and wanted to see some Asian ports. Would not recommend cabin 4166 if you are inclined to suffer seasickness. This ship was very clean and staff were cheerful and helpful. Our cabin stewards were outstanding and the well trained dining room staff always make sure your dining is enjoyable. Also,The Pinnacle is well worth the extra expense for at least one night. Didn't have one meal that wasn't of a high standard and am missing being spoiled now that we are home! We thought the entertainment was very good, especially the singers and dancers. Didn't expect the comedian to be as good as he was...a very pleasant surprise.Billboard on Board had two very talented people and BB King's Blues Club has a great band of eight. On port days there wasn't as much entertainment but we were tired after excursions so didn't really mind. Disappointed there is no longer a decent library on board. Jeremy's presentations of what to do in the ports, along with the history of the area, is very informative. We did some HAL tours and some independently organised tours. There are for and against for both, but the ship's tours are more expensive than they should be, so check out other options before you book. Our embarkation time was well after lunch so we were not happy with that and once on board we had the emergency drill so it felt like the day was wasted. This cruise we used the gym and participated in the stretching classes as well. Other interesting activities included flower arranging and of course the very popular America's Test Kitchen. We are already looking at where we would like to cruise to next, and yes, it will be on HAL. Read Less
Sail Date November 2019
Booked this cruise for its itinerary to asia. Rooms are bigger than usual but Westerdam is smaller than other ships we have sailed with so we felt more rocking at sea. Service was excellent, our safe stopped working and they sent someone ... Read More
Booked this cruise for its itinerary to asia. Rooms are bigger than usual but Westerdam is smaller than other ships we have sailed with so we felt more rocking at sea. Service was excellent, our safe stopped working and they sent someone to fix it within 5 minutes. Food in the dining room was very good and much better than the Lido buffet. Pizza was good but pasta and lasagna were terrible in the Lido buffet. Entertainment and activities were geared towards an older crowd. The Westerdam's shore excursions in Halong Bay and Da Nang were very good but expensive. We did taxi tours in other ports because they were half the price of Westerdam's shore excursions. We also pre-booked a tour in Phu My port going to Vung Tau and Minh Dam mountain with Zoom from dungzoom@gmail.com which turned out to be way better than any of Westerdam's shore excursions and at less than half the price. Not only did Zoom provide free bottled water , but his tour was flexible and did not stop at any unwanted jewelry/art shops. Westerdam's shore excursions did not provide free bottled water (ship charged $5USD for a bottle of water), and made unwanted stops at overpriced jewelry/art shops. Zoom's tour was the best of all the tours we went on. The worst tour that we went on was the Hong Kong tour and airport transfer offered by Westerdam. It only made two stops at tourist sites for less than half an hour each. At the second site, we were told that we would have to pay extra for the taxi boat ride. Then it made a stop at an overpriced jewelry store for an hour. That was our whole tour! We weren't too happy that we paid $99USD per person to be forced to waste an hour of our time at an overpriced jewelry store. We spent more time at the jewelry store than we did at any tourist site. We would've done much better had we taken a taxi. Read Less
Sail Date November 2019
I choose this cruise for one reason only the ports of call, I was excited to get guided tours around, no thinking, no getting lost but after the third terrible excursion, I cancelled the rest of them. Cruise Asia is a terrible provider of ... Read More
I choose this cruise for one reason only the ports of call, I was excited to get guided tours around, no thinking, no getting lost but after the third terrible excursion, I cancelled the rest of them. Cruise Asia is a terrible provider of excursions and does not even give a bottle of water all day. (note average age of traveler is 65+ and the hottest ports of call in the world) The literature of the excursions were lies in comparison to actual trips, plus the time given for each area of interest was ridiculously short. If you needed a restroom you missed it. I found the ship tired, the food tired, and I appreciate the hard working men and women on the ship but they were tired too. My cabin had wallpaper peeling off and the carpet was just gross. It was a inside cabin and i found it lacking any amenities outside the bathroom. I did not go to watch TV but found that lacking as well. Dining room was ok and you were shuffled in quickly to a table but after that it was just slow. The food was good tasting but always seemed it was heat lamped for way too long. Also if you had a drink package good luck getting your drink before food. I just had the "coke" drink package and usually just drank water during dinner. I was a solo traveler and found that cruise ships are not made for people like me. I was never offered a incentive, felt like trying to participate was impeditive. Read Less
Sail Date November 2019
I picked this cruise for the brilliant itinerary - the ports were the best part of the trip.There is absolutely NO Wow factor to this ancient ship.Embarkation went smoothly(mainly because I,d done it on line before leaving home),the ... Read More
I picked this cruise for the brilliant itinerary - the ports were the best part of the trip.There is absolutely NO Wow factor to this ancient ship.Embarkation went smoothly(mainly because I,d done it on line before leaving home),the welcome aboard was non-existent.Cabins not ready so battled to find our way around,no staff to point us in the right direction.All decor & public areas are very drab & tired,no central atrium to give the ship a heart.Lots of wasted public rooms with little interest.The main ‘self-service’ restaurant is awful - queues caused by having to be served food instead of buffet self-serve.Menu very repetitive over 2 weeks & the quality of food is the worst we,ve ever had on a cruise- more staff canteen.The formal dining-room was ok,but ‘anytime’ dining often meant a long wait unless you,d booked in advance. Our balcony cabin was adequate,again no wow. Port excursions were very expensive & did not visit the places which were advertised,no explanation or refunds given. Quality of entertainment was appalling in the theatre,ships’ company only did 3 shows supplemented by an ok British comic,a dreadful American one & a Welsh singer,other music bars were more like pub singers,but the classical concerts were good.All shows definitely aimed at the over 75 age range. There was a shortage of sun beds on seadays,even though lots were stacked up tied together-staff should have put them out.Poor snack bar near the sun deck. The staff are amazing considering what they are working with. Read Less
Sail Date November 2019
Took the 14 day leg on the HAL Westerdam from Hong Kong to Singapore chosen due to a great itinerary. My first ever cruise and I had been told by my companion, a seasoned cruiser, to expect entertainment, activites, music on deck and ... Read More
Took the 14 day leg on the HAL Westerdam from Hong Kong to Singapore chosen due to a great itinerary. My first ever cruise and I had been told by my companion, a seasoned cruiser, to expect entertainment, activites, music on deck and shows galore. Sadly this was not the case on the Westerdam and the HAL entertainment was very disappointing. Sea days were quiet with very few activities. Those that we did attend, like the Hair Styles or Secret to a Flatter Stomach, were selling sessions to promote products and services like hair creams and derma fillers! No library on board apart from a handful of books on the Exec Deck 10 that I found on the last day, a bit woeful though. I would like there to have been music on deck for a sail away parties, or evening deck entertainment when weather permitted, more dance options. The singers in BB Kings were very good but entertainment finished early and the entire ship seemed to be in bed by 11pm. Drinks were expensive. I should note that Happy Hour is not the usual buy-one-get-one free, happy hour on the Westerdam is buy one and pay US$2 plus service charge for the 2nd drink. The 2 piano players were good, but the music variety was very old, 1960s stuff to suit the ship's more mature clientele. We did sit there as there wasn’t much else to do. The ship singers and dancers were very good but only on 3 times, would be nice to see them for a few more shows as we didn’t personally find the ventriloquist and magic acts to our taste. English newspapers disappeared very quickly so could be a few more put out please. We opted for casual dining and never had a problem getting a table in the dining room. The food was OK, seemed to improve on our 2nd week. We used the self-serve Lido Market for breakfast and on the Asian themed night (which was very good). As most of the ship left early for trips you needed 2 or 3 turns of the ship to find a window table regardless of breakfast arrival time. There were 3 gala nights during the 14 days of our cruise, only 1 of which offered surf and turf lobster tail and steak. The steaks and seafood were expensive chargeable extras on the menu or in other dining rooms, not what we were expecting from my companion’s previous cruise experiences. As a UK citizen we only needed visas for Cambodia (even if you don’t get off the ship) and these were arranged on board efficiently by the ship at $US63 each. Guest services were very helpful. Jeremy’s talks on each port destination were very informative with information on what to expect at the port gate, transport options and rough costs, hints and tips. The cruise experience seemed to focus heavily on up-selling with lots of extra hidden costs. Wifi with emails at US$29 per day was extortionate so I opted to find free wifi at locations in port. We took 2 HAL excursions which were extremely expensive, one guide for a whole big coach full of people, rushed and impersonal. The ship team even charged for water as you left the meet point at the main stage! HAL trips were very poor value for money and I wish I had not booked them. We did however take 4 independent trips, 3 in Vietnam and 1 in Cambodia, arranged with fellow Cruise Critic guests on this website before we even left home all arranged through a Vietnamese travel agent called Travel Authentic Asia. Our contact, a lady called Ngoan, was great. We thoroughly enjoyed our 4 day trips which were small groups limited to just 16 people each with a guide in a mini van, free water, cold towels and lunches included in our full day tours. I need to do a separate review for these trips but would not hesitate to highly recommend TAA. We chose this cruise for the excellent itinerary which covered Hong Kong, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand and Singapore in just 14 day. No major complaints, however the ship was far too quiet for us personally and the entertainment lacking, everything seemed to cost extra and so on that basis we would not choose to cruise with HAL again. Read Less
Sail Date November 2019
We chose this 28 day cruise from Shanghai to Singapore because of the itinerary and we were not disappointed. We saw Shanghai, 5 ports in southern Japan, 2 ports in Taiwan, Manila in the Philippines, Hong Kong, 4 ports in Vietnam, 1 in ... Read More
We chose this 28 day cruise from Shanghai to Singapore because of the itinerary and we were not disappointed. We saw Shanghai, 5 ports in southern Japan, 2 ports in Taiwan, Manila in the Philippines, Hong Kong, 4 ports in Vietnam, 1 in Cambodia and 2 in Thailand before reaching Singapore. This is a great way to see Asia - from very modern cities, to 3rd world countries. We had 3 days in Shanghai before embarkation - and were able to use the 144 hour visa free transit which went smoothly. There were no delays with embarkation, or disembarkment at the end of the cruise. The ship is looking a little tired in some areas, and is not as modern or lavish as some of the newer Holland America ships. The Crow's Nest area could do with some updating. The verandah cabin 5003 that we had was quiet and spacious, and we were very happy with it. The food was excellent, especially in the dining room, and there was a lot of choice in the Lido Buffet area. The entertainment on the main stage was a mixed bag - we enjoyed the Westerdam entertainers and visiting singers and musicians, but we didn't go when Comedians or Illusionists were on stage. We loved the Billboard area with 2 talented pianists, and there also was the Lincoln Centre Stage and a Jazz Band as entertainment options. We didn't do many of the on board activities - we did go to Flower Arranging, a cultural talk, some of the Microsoft classes and Americas Test Kitchen. We also used the outdoor spas and pool. The staff were excellent and did a top job, especially our 2 cabin boys. Ports: Shanghai - the port is a fair way from the city so we took a shuttle bus into the Bund from the ship for $20US each. From here you can spend the day in the city, and walk to a metro station. The metro has station signs in English as well as Chinese, and is easy to navigate Fukuoka - we did our own thing and caught a taxi to JR Hakata station where we caught a train to Kido Nazoin-Mae Station to see the Giant Reclining Buddha, which was very good. We returned to city and visited Canal City and Hakata Kawabata Shopping Arcade - more traditional and interesting shops. Lastly we saw Tochoji Temple and Pagoda, and several other Temples in the vicinity. We enjoyed this port. Kagoshima - we caught the cruise shuttle bus to Dolphin Park near the Sakurajima Ferry Terminal, and bought a Cute Pass which covers transport in Kagoshima. We took the ferry to Sakurajima Island, then went on a 1 hour bus tour circle. The Island View buses only stop at 1 Observatory now, so not as useful for sight seeing as previously. After this we walked along the coastal footpath for sea views and a stop at the footbaths. Back on the mainland we shared a taxi to Senganen Garden - a Japanese style landscape garden which we enjoyed. Amami - we docked here - it's no longer a tender port. We hired a car and spent time at Uttabaru & Sakibaru Beaches-good for swimming and Tomori beach - good for snorkelling. We also went to Cape Ayamaru Park, a lighthouse and Ohama Seaside Park. We loved our time here! Naha - we went on an all day snorkelling tour to the Kerima Island. Loved it! Ishigaki Island - we docked here - this is no longer a tender port. We hired a car and explored the whole Island, stopping at beaches, lighthouses, lookouts and and Kabira Bay, where we did a glass bottom boat tour. The Island is stunning and you can see most of it in a day. Loved Ishigaki! Keelung - we docked a couple of hundred metres from Keelung Train Station - so we caught the train into Taipei and did our own sightseeing. We went to the Flower and Jade Market, Liberty Square and Chiing Kai Check Hall and surrounds, and Longshan Temple. We climbed up lots of steps to Elephant Hill for city views, then went to Martyrs Shrine for changing of the guard. We stopped at Shillin Night Market for some food, then visited Confucious Temple. A long day but we loved it!. Next day we spent around Keelung - visiting the temple and Buddha on the hill, local shops and Zhengbing Fishing Port. Kaohsiung - we shared a taxi to Fo Guang Su Monastery - but because it was Tuesday the museum part was closed. Next we caught the Harvard Express Bus back into Kaohsiung and then a bus to Lotus Lake with Tiger and Dragon Structures, Buddhas, Temples and Pagodas - very interesting area and well worth a visit. We also took a quick ferry ride from the port to Qijin Island. Manila. We docked within walking distance of Intermuron, the old town. We did a 2 hour Bamboo Bike tour, which visited the main old city sites. We didn't really enjoy Manila, and it was very hot and humid. Hong Kong - the cruise port is a long way out so we took the free shuttle bus to Diamond Hill Shopping Centre and station. We did our own touring using public transport - Peak Tram, markets, Ding Dong Trams, Aberdeen Fishing Village, Star Ferry and Sunset at Tsim Sha Tsui Waterfront. We enjoyed our time here. Halong Bay - this is no longer a tender port, we docked here. We did an 8 hour Halong Bay Cruise and the scenery is stunning. We stopped for swimming, walked through a magnificent cave, had fishermen row us in small boats into a lagoon and relaxed! Danang - we hired a driver for the day and had a wonderful day - visiting Monkey Temple, north over the mountain to beaches, back to Da Nang to the Dragon Bridge and past city sites to Marble Mountain, where we spent time exploring the caves. Lastly we went to Hoi An Old city at dusk and spent a few hours wandering around- lots of tourist shops, boats on the river and lanterns made it a beautiful place. You do now have to pay the old town entrance fee, but well worth it. On our second day in Danang we had a driver take us back to Hoi An where we did a bicycle tour with Buffalo Tours which was excellent. We rode in bamboo boats, went fishing in the river with a net, had fresh coconut to drink and made our own lanterns. We rode through fields where they grow rice and past little villages....and there ended up being only us and the guide! Nha Trang - the port is a fair way south of Nha Trang and for our boat a tender port, due to a cable car crossing the harbour to Vin Pearl Island! We shared a taxi into Nha Trang and visited Dam Market, then we had a massage booked so we enjoyed this very much. Next we visited Po Cham Towers and a lovely Japanese Bar/Restaurant on the River. Enjoyed our time here. Phu My - the port is 11/2 hours from Ho Chi Min City, so we had an organised tour here - visiting the main sites. Bustling city with thousands of motorbikes! Sihanoukville - this is a 3rd world country but there was construction going on everywhere, mainly by the Chinese. Roads were being sealed and lots of hotels /casinos being built. There was garbage everywhere, but the people were lovely. We did an organised tour visiting a fishing village, temples and pagodas, a Waterfall, beaches, and the central market. Unsealed roads are full of potholes, and it takes quite a bit of time to travel a few kilometres. Interesting to see but not somewhere I would like to return to. Laem Chabang - this port is about 2 hours from Bangkok. As we had 2 days here we elected to stay overnight in Bangkok. We had a private guide and had a wonderful time visiting the main sites. On the 2nd day we used trains and ferries to do more sight seeing on our own - so much to see here, we hope to return to see more. Ko Samui - a tender port. We did a tour here which was fine, but in hindsight would have been better for us to arrange our own transport and spent more time at the beach. Singapore - we spent 3 days here after disembarking from the cruise. We have been here several times before and we caught the metro to our hotel. Sightseeing this time included The Bird Zoo, Pulau Ubin, Jewell at Changi Airport, and the Flower Dome and the new Floral Fantasy, among other things. Read Less
Sail Date October 2019
We did 2 back to back cruises from Vancouver to Shanghai on the westerdam. The staff as usual were friendly and very efficient from the room stewards to the waiting staff they were all very pleasant and full of smiles. The food ... Read More
We did 2 back to back cruises from Vancouver to Shanghai on the westerdam. The staff as usual were friendly and very efficient from the room stewards to the waiting staff they were all very pleasant and full of smiles. The food overall was a good standard in all dining locations though a little salty for our liking at times but great presentation and choices. We had a signature suite which was very nicely decorated and still looking fresh after the refit a couple of years a ago with great bed and large tv with on demand movies. The entertainment was disappointing with the two pianists in the Billboard lacking any personalities and no feeling of atmosphere, the singers and dancers put on 3 good productions and the BB King band were fantastic but the ship died at around .11pm as the enteruhad stopped and the bars closed. There were 2 trivia’s a day which were well attended but apart from that there was very little entertainment during the day and many passengers commented on the lack of things to do during the day.. The lack of a library onboard was a huge disappointment and lots of complaints from the guests. The drinks onboard were very expensive and the bars very quiet and unfortunately there was no cocktail hour music and dancing only to prerecorded music tucked away in BB King so many nights we were sitting in the bars by ourselves before dinner. It is a shame HAL is cutting back on so many things that made people want to come back as we are 4 star mariners but are already looking at alternatives to spend our money on. Read Less
Sail Date September 2019
We wanted to embark at the Port of Vancouver, Canada as it is a short flight from our home. The repositioning cruise offered a fantastic fare and gave us a chance to visit Japan. We planned to join a land tour once we disembarked in ... Read More
We wanted to embark at the Port of Vancouver, Canada as it is a short flight from our home. The repositioning cruise offered a fantastic fare and gave us a chance to visit Japan. We planned to join a land tour once we disembarked in Yokohama. This was our first ocean crossing and it was surprisingly uneventful (weather-wise). Except Typhoon Hagibis was scheduled to arrive in Tokyo the same day we were scheduled to disembark at the Port of Yokohama. The crossing itself was blissful for us. We napped, we walked, we used the spa, we enjoyed the cultural talks, and the variety of entertainment on board. To outsmart the typhoon, the Captain did have to cancel one port stop in order to re-route the ship out of the path of the storm. This meant an additional day of sailing, a transit through the Kanmon Straits, and leisurely sailing to allow enough time for the storm to blow itself out of our way and arriving safely one day later than scheduled to our port for disembarkation. Holland America provided free internet time as well as free ship to shore telephone privileges for passengers who needed to re-book flights or other travel arrangements because of the delay. Read Less
Sail Date September 2019
We enjoyed this cruise on the Maasdam. We paid a low price, less than $100 a day per person plus port fees and gratuities. Our stateroom was clean and roomy for an inside and we appreciated the full size sofa. The food was very good in ... Read More
We enjoyed this cruise on the Maasdam. We paid a low price, less than $100 a day per person plus port fees and gratuities. Our stateroom was clean and roomy for an inside and we appreciated the full size sofa. The food was very good in both the dining room and the Lido. It seemed that HAL tried to have something for everyone. As a pescatarian and a vegetarian we could almost always find something we wanted to eat. We knew we could have availed ourselves of the special menu service and ordered a day in advance, but meals in the dining room tended to take one and a half plus hours. We didn't want to do that three times a day. The staff was friendly and competent. No complaints. The muster drill was disorganized with staff members shouting out names and cabin numbers to take attendance. Quite a number didn't appear to be there but people were walking back and forth while this was going on. After 45 minutes of this some elderly people left. HAL has a range of activities on offer, some revenue generating. There were many talks and we attended and enjoyed most of them. We also played trivia twice a day. The shopping was there but more subdued than other lines. The small pool was closed on multiple days due to the weather, which was not great; a typhoon in the general area was blamed for two missed ports. You couldn't swim laps in the pool. One main point to mention is not to rely on the times posted on the HAL websites as to times in port for arranging independent shore excursions. They are misleading. The actual times vary considerably. Sometimes it seemed the weather was responsible but other times there was no reason that we could see. For example, when we missed a port due to weather making tendering not possible, rather than arrive that much earlier at the next port, we had another day at sea. Especially since that next port was in a different country with difficult immigration requirements, an earlier arrival would have been preferable. In that particular port, Otaru in Japan, we were given a 1:30 time slot to meet with Japanese immigration officials who came on board to fingerprint and photograph. About eight officials for 1250 passengers, so you can imagine the length of that line. We objected to the time, which after the formalities and shuttle to town would have given us less than two hours in that port. We were given an earlier time but I feel sorry for those who said nothing. Further in that vein, we objected to the late disclosure of the HAL requirements for our independent tour of a Russian port. It is not helpful to advise us after we are on board that tour vouchers must contain the name, DOB, and passport numbers on separate vouchers for each person plus a separate list/letter about the tour containing similar information. HAL did telephone the tour company from the ship when we complained about this policy, which the tour company said is not accurate, and eventually things were fixed up but it was aggravating. No Russian officials looked at our voucher when we got off the ship. We appreciated the shuttle buses in each Japanese port which I believe were arranged by the town. If it was HAL, then I commend them for this. There were also information booths set up with free wifi tents in some locations and we were welcomed by dancers and drummers in some towns. The bar staff and photographers were low key. There were no production shows but entertainment in several lounges as well as a singer, violinist or pianist in the show lounge in the evenings. This was not a scenic cruise. Sometimes we were shrouded in fog all day and mostly there was nothing but water to see - no visible coastline. We enjoyed the afternoon teas and partook a couple of times after our return from time in a port. There were many DVD's to obtain from guest services for free and the regular channels were fine. For some reasons the news channels were blocked in Russian ports. There is a design flaw with the remote as you had to extend your arm completely over your head to change channels. Or stand up. The TV was too far back on the shelf which blocked the signal from the remote. The ship was otherwise fine in repair and appearance. There were a few roof leaks in the Crows Nest which were quickly attended to. Three ports were cancelled in this port intensive cruise out of nine, due to weather. I appreciated that the port talks were about how to get around and what to see in each stop not a thinly veiled attempt to sell HAL shore excursions. We were each given a $100 account credit, in addition to port charge refunds, to make up for the missed ports. This was a generous gesture. All in all we were satisfied with our cruise for what we paid, however, my millennial daughters who travelled with me advised she will not cruise again until there is fast and free wifi on board, something she thinks should be a given. Read Less
Sail Date August 2019
This cruise on the Maasdam has managed to achieve what no other HAL cruise has managed to achieve, make us regret booking it. With well over 75 cruises under our belt, this cruise scores the highest in its ability to underachieve and show ... Read More
This cruise on the Maasdam has managed to achieve what no other HAL cruise has managed to achieve, make us regret booking it. With well over 75 cruises under our belt, this cruise scores the highest in its ability to underachieve and show indifference to guests. What more can I say other than when we got to Yokohama after the first segment, if we could have changed our air ticket we would have left the ship two weeks early and prepared for our September voyage on the RTDM. Aside from our DR steward Jaka, wine stewards Dave and Von, Lido manager Budi and his staff, Assistant Maitre'D Yudi, coffee gal Amee, our cabin stewards Roby, his assistant, Yusuf and Nicks and all of the other Indonesian, Filipino and Thai servers and stewards who were all terrific, serviceable, friendly and a delight to be around like most HAL crews we have experienced, I can honestly say the management, especially officers, have been the most uninterested, least receptive, least hospitable, unresponsive and aloof that we have ever had. Following is a review that I sent on one of the “Let us know how we are doing” (sic) cards": We just had the second of our complimentary dinners at the Pinnacle Grill, after which we decided the food was so below the level of the main dining room, we are choosing to give up our complimentary Pinnacle dinners to eat in the main dining room. On our first dinner, notwithstanding the salads which any mediocre cook can prepare, I ordered a petite filet, medium rare and fries, my wife ordered the Cioppino, almost two hours later I received a charred and grossly overdone, cold, flavorless steak and my wife received a Cioppino who’s broth was nothing more than hot water flavored with ketchup with a few measly pieces of seafood. Today’s dinner was as appalling, salad again, lamb chops medium rare for me with a side of hashed potatoes and my wife not wanting to risk it ordered a double portion of crab cakes for her entree, I received two lamb chops, grossly overdone again, tough as nails, grisly, cold and no flavor, the hashed potatoes were soggy and cold, my wife’s baked potato was half baked and inedible (because baking a potato takes real chef artistry maybe), the “crab cakes”, well, they were really bread crumb cakes, you would be hard pressed to find any crab, imitation or otherwise. If these dinners had not been free, it would have been catastrophic, the fact that you have the courage to charge $39 per person for food that is not as good as the Lido Market is outrageous. You would think that a restaurant that has “grill” in it’s name would have a cook that can cook a steak. Apparently you took a third level tier cook from the Lido and have him as a cook at the Pinnacle Grill hoping that the razzmatazz and glamour of the room would fool people into thinking they are eating something good. Perhaps this works for a few who really have no idea what decent food is, but from hearing people talk about their dinners there, perhaps not. Let’s not lose sight that a trained monkey could cook a steak medium rare, hot grill, two minutes per side, hot oven for one or two minutes and serve, tough huh? We will never attend the Pinnacle again even though it’s free. If possible, change our two complimentary Pinnacle Grill dinners on our next segment to two complimentary Canaletto dinners, otherwise we will just eat in the main dining room. The Pinnacle Grill is an embarrassment. You chose to raise the prices in all premium dining rooms and lowered the quality drastically, REALLY? Amazingly, You would think that such a review from a five star gold mariner would elicit some comment, any comment!, maybe a defense for such poor dinners or a response from somebody on board, anybody, maybe a cleaning person, perhaps Thomas the F&B manager, Sylvie the ROM or some Maitre'D, how about the PGM who sat there staring blankly at my plate with all the food remaining uneaten? As I show him the disastrous meal to which he acknowledged was prepared horribly. Perhaps: “ bury my head in the sand and pretend it did not happen and it will go away” is a poor management strategy. Clearly nobody could have cared less. Management (anybody with more than one stripe who is not Indonesian or Filipino ) shows an incredible arrogance, aloofness, invisibility and air of superiority. The food quality and prep in general on the entire ship was nothing short of terrible. The food was of poor quality, ill prepared and tasteless. How much more proof would you need than to realizie that while we get two complimentary Pinnacle dinners per cruise, we did not exercise that right because the food is so poorly prepared in that venue, and quite frankly not better than the main dining room and cannot hold a candle to the Canaletto food. To add insult to injury, on the 15th of August, most food stations were close to empty, apparently Thomas didn’t think he needed to think about food for the day after he left the ship. Interesting since we were docked in Yokohama on the 14th for almost 24 hours and then anchored in the bay for two days due to the Typhoon. Further, I would venture to bet that other than the executive chef all the chefs were apprentices or close to it. Aside from the inability to properly cook a simple piece of meat, we had braised short rib Stroganoff on buttered noodles which was nothing more than greasy brisket tossed with regular boxed spaghetti all doused in the same fake jarred stroganoff sauce, Caesar Salad made with Iceberg instead of Romaine lettuce, on the 14th the only greens in the salad bar at lunch were Iceberg, on the 15th and 16th no greens at all ( a salad bar with no greens whatsoever), Thomas leaves this mess for Ali and Ali continues on the same program. French Onion soup with no onions and a broth that is just salted warm water, mashed potatoes which were clearly instant potatoes prepared with water, always undercooked veggies as sides to all dishes, stuffed cabbage leaves served with raw (blood red) beef, Chef Rudy’s special roasted chicken was basically a dried hockey puck, roasted beet salad served with basically raw beets, advertised morel mushrooms when you serve button mushrooms, not even criminis, baked potatoes that are hard as bricks because they are grossly undercooked, If you would like I can keep going, honestly, I can fill a book with how bad the food and this cruise was. Your only saving grace was Budi in the Lido Market/Canaletto, he tried his butt off. Budi does a great job of managing The Lido Market and Canaletto. Budi is jovial, efficient and very hard working. As is true of all companies, the staff takes on the attitude of management. His staff works hard, are very friendly and highly efficient. Continuing with management principles, this addresses the Hotel management in general. From Florin on down, all officers on the Hotel side are aloof, arrogant and invisible especially the new F&B manager Ali and the new ROM Tony, I know for a fact that Tony was left a note from Sylvie to offer us a complimentary dinner (Sel de Mer) for the night of August 18 (Kochi) sent to us by an HD from another ship (Colin Jacob on the WEDM). we never heard from him. We could not accept this offer from Sylvie on our first segment (she insinuated she would be dining with us and said sadly she would not be there on the next segment since she was going home) because we were booked at various places already and the only dates left were on special dinners nights which were not part of the offer so she had to leave it for the second segment. Sylvie called our cabin on or about August 3 and told us that the offer would be forthcoming from Tony, for the night of the 18th when he came aboard, she would leave him a note to that effect. We never heard from him, or anyone else so we had dinner in the main dining room that evening. By some miracle on August 24, while at lunch, the PGM walked by us, waved and said “see you tonight”. I asked what he meant? He mentioned that tonight we had a complimentary dinner for Sel de Mer sent to us by our friend Colin Jacob, HD on the WEDM. We were dumbfounded, nobody had mentioned it or sent us an invitation. This is not a big deal except that for a chance meeting, with three days to go on the cruise, we would have never known about this very kind offer from a wonderful man who we have the pleasure to call friend. This is yet one more example of the right hand not having a clue what the left is doing on this ship. The HD is unresponsive and indifferent, we tried with three letters sent to him placed in his box by us, no response from him or anyone on his behalf, maybe 28 days is not enough time. Leaving the food situation, our cabin’s interior temperature measured 80 degrees (by guest services measure with digital thermometers) for five days! Exterior temperature was 107 with the heat index. I begged the guest relations desk every day, many times a day for help, the excuse was that the ship just came from Alaska and was set up for cold weather. Really? So you have 20 engineers on board scratching their butts, weather radars blinking everywhere, direct connection to NOAA and yet nobody knew we were going into oppressively hot weather which has been the case at this time of the year for several hundred years? Or maybe this was everyone’s maiden voyage and knew nothing! The geniuses at guest relations offered us a fan! How about we put Orlando Ashford and Stein Cruse in a cabin that has an interior temperature of 80 degrees and offer them a fan to keep them comfortable? Any bets on how many people would still have jobs? The immigration situation on our return to Otaru from our second Russian port was handled like beginners were doing it. We docked at 8:00 a.m. and all aboard was 5:00. Some people did not disembark until 2:30! We received a number 3 for disembarkation. For the second round. I approached “Guest Services”, which should actually be named the “Go to Hell Department”. The gal with the shaved head and the little blond with braids on both sides of the head are both nasty and condescending. I was informed that as a five star gold Mariner I had no priority in disembarkation, only in tendering. Priority was given for other reasons ( many to people who never intended to go ashore or just wanted off in the afternoon to use the internet had number one) I was told Disembarkation is when you leave a ship. Nowhere does that benefit get qualified, disembarkation is anytime you leave the ship there should be some benefit for supporting HAL for 15 years and spending almost 700 days cruising on HAL ships. At the very least, I should expect to not walk away from “guest services” feeling like some little girl told me to F off. Due to the Typhoon we had to anchor in the bay for two days (August 14 docked, 15 & 16 anchored) Did anybody think to politically maneuver with the Japanese government so that we could stay in the Yokohama mooring since other ships could not come in, allowing us to at least go ashore since we were going to be “at sea” for three unscheduled days? How about reversing the itinerary where the Typhoon had no impact? How about maybe going to an alternative port Northeast since the typhoon was tracking northwest? I am not questioning the Captain‘s call on safety, God bless him, but there had to be alternatives. You only need to look on Cruise Mapper and see all of the other ports schedules where weather was not impacting them and no other or at most one other ship was there on any alternative day. On the second round in Korsakov we know for a fact that the captain put on a show by lowering a tender into the water and announced that it was too rough and we would not be tendering there. I know he had a meeting the night before and announced to upper management that he had no intention of tendering but he would put on a show so as to justify his decision. Liar! On the 16th of August we departed our anchorage in Tokyo Bay and made our way to Kobe. As we left Tokyo Bay we received the tail end of the Typhoon experiencing 40 knot winds, driving rain and 5 meters seas. Apparently, some brainless wonder thought that this would be a good time to have a crew of Filipino workers go out to scrape and paint deck railings and some of the ladders going up to the tenders. So let’s see, let’s take a guy that weighs 85 pounds, give him a bucket filled with tools and have him climb up a wet metal ladder while wearing rubber soled shoes during a rainy, howling wind while the ship feels like you are on a roller coaster. Humm.. you certainly didn’t see that officer out there supervising or climbing the ladder in those conditions! You couldn’t wait until tomorrow, when we are docked, so that if the poor bastard falls into the sea he can at least swim to a dock instead of dying? On the 20th of August, they decided to repair the rails and various sections of the railings and exit gates to the tenders (in case of emergency, deck 6) along the starboard side. This was an area about 40 yards long. The wood rails were taken off, as were the gates in order to sand, zinc oxide, prime and paint. Everything was left off unattended for about four hours. You have wet decks (raining), three meters swells and large gaps left open along the railings for a few hours (I have photos if you care to see them, they are date stamped and obviously not shopped). You must admit, under the kindest of opinions the supervisor who ordered this and then did not have a watch person there while whoever was working on this and leaving it unattended is a moron. The old paint scrapings, rust and debris was hosed off into the sea! Having just paid a huge fine for polluting Glacier Bay, can you imagine the reaction of the environmental agencies if they were aware of this!. “Sea of Japan polluted by Holland America Line” reads the headlines. Future cruises? That was something. We tried to book three cruises, 54 days in total. We had received a private sale offer and wanted to take advantage of it. We approached Joanne to book it for us wanting to take advantage of the price and the onboard booking credits. Joanne could not make the offer discount code work or “see” the price we could see on the internet so we left her with all the information and trusted it would suffice, after all, she is a HAL corporate employee. Five days later, not hearing anything, we went to future cruises to find out what was going on. Joanne said that she was unable to book it. Mind you, these offers do not last long. She could have called and let us know what was happening. My wife said “How is that possible? I can do it on my iPad, why can’t you?” No response. My wife asked if she called Seattle (right in front of her at her desk) and was able to book it would she (Joanne), be able to get us the onboard booking credits? She said she should be able to was the reply. My wife called Seattle FROM THE SEA OF JAPAN! She booked the cruises in ten minutes and emailed Joanne the confirmations to try to get us the onboard credits and her commission. The incredibly helpful gal who helped us in Seattle is named Lisa Mayette who actually should get the commission, she was friendly, realized the problem and solved it with great efficiency and speed. Put her on a ship if she is willing. Except for a couple, most onboard future cruise consultants are generally not very efficient and uninterested in getting the job done, if it works, great, if it doesn’t, great. For basically being order takers within a target rich environment, you would think that their ability to book a cruise would match a guest’s ability since they have direct access to HAL and we go through the internet site. In addition to the three cruises we booked, three days prior to leaving we submitted a request for future cruise deposits (3). Having not heard anything, we stopped by as we were preparing to disembark and asked Joanne if she had processed them. Her reply was she didn’t recall ever receiving our request. We then waited while she sorted through about 50 unprocessed forms until she found ours - hopefully it will get processed sometime. I could go on but it would be beating a dead horse, I am sure you get the feel of how unimpressive this cruise was! No question, this was the worst managed cruise we have ever been on. We like to think that they transplanted the ms Jakarta or ms Manila (the training schools) and put it out to sea and we are the guinea pigs for the students. Apparently this must be your worst rated, lowest scoring, least revenue producing ship. WORST CRUISE EVER!! Read Less
Sail Date July 2019
Maasdam is the oldest vessel of HAL. I was skeptical about the condition of the ship. I was wrong. The ship is in excellent condition, very clean and easy to navigate. The cabin is big with lots of storage .. However the TV was ... Read More
Maasdam is the oldest vessel of HAL. I was skeptical about the condition of the ship. I was wrong. The ship is in excellent condition, very clean and easy to navigate. The cabin is big with lots of storage .. However the TV was disappointing, very old and usually there was no signal in in port like Yokohama. There is only one outlet and we had to ask for an extension cord. Food in the dining is good. We had dinner one night in Pinnacle Grill. It was good but not much better than the dining room and we didn't go back. Canaletto is of good value. We had extremely hot weather, 35 plus degrees in the first week, except in Korsakov, Russia which I think is a waste of time. There is absolutely nothing interesting there. Japan was hit by two storms during our trip. In Hakodate we had to sail early to return to Yokohama . Hakodate is an interesting little town. Five hours is absolutely not enough. We enjoyed all the entertainments especially the lady pianist. We love HAL. We will definitely return soon Read Less
Sail Date July 2019
We have cruised HAL in a number of locations but really wanted to try one of their smaller ships. We also were very interested in the EXC program and the itinerary around Japan. As always HAL knows what its doing-embarkation, ... Read More
We have cruised HAL in a number of locations but really wanted to try one of their smaller ships. We also were very interested in the EXC program and the itinerary around Japan. As always HAL knows what its doing-embarkation, disembarkation were fine. The captain did an excellent job of avoiding (as much as he could) typhoons which caused him to shorten our time in the last port. The lectures/talks were good. Dr. Kam was excellent and covered a variety of topics related to Japanese culture, art, customs. He explained much about Japanese society, habits and norms. The ship is a bit 'tired' and needs some renovation especially in the cabins. There were scratches/mars all along the baseboards, there was a crack in the sink, a dent in the tub and signs of rust/wear in many places. Wallpaper was beginning to peel. Public spaces seemed to be okay but cabins not so much. HAL personnel were friendly,helpful and efficient (except when they got to chatting with customers and ignored other customers). Entertainment-the jazz quartet was very good; the piano/violin not quite as good and the other singer in the lounge was pretty bad although he attracted a large following. Shore excursions-we took 2 HAL excursions for Shimizu and Otaru. They lived down to our expectations. The guide on the bus for Shimizu was not very good, did not give us good instructions (like wait for her to pay for our admission to the shrine) and that was disappointing. In Otaru-the guide was marginally better and the Herring Mansion was well worth seeing but I'd recommend grabbing a taxi and doing that on your own. We used "Tours by Locals" for Osaka, Vladivostok, Hakodate-they were great and that is definitely the way to go. While the HAL tours sped by, we were getting in depth information as well as seeing things the tours missed. In Kanazawa we used Kanazawa Tours and they also did a very good job. HAL ran shuttle buses in a couple of ports and that was very good. In some of the smaller cities, the 'passenger terminal for ships' was located far from the downtown or other areas of interest. But many of the cities were clearly delighted to see the ship and sent out bands, entertainment,balloons to welcome us which was fun. The other issue with the cruise was the weather especially in the Southern Japanese ports. It was hot and Very humid-to the point of sapping energy and really making it difficult to enjoy doing much of anything. I realize that HAL was running this cruise as part of a trip from the West Coast of the US but perhaps it should consider doing it in the spring or fall when the humidity might be more manageable and less chance of typhoons/cyclones. Read Less
Sail Date July 2019
Previous trip on HAL Westerdam was so nice that we made a special effort to get the same cabin on this trip. Partially obstructed view, but twofold panels of glass kept the room bright even on the cloudiest day (and we had about 5 of ... Read More
Previous trip on HAL Westerdam was so nice that we made a special effort to get the same cabin on this trip. Partially obstructed view, but twofold panels of glass kept the room bright even on the cloudiest day (and we had about 5 of them). Cheerful, gracious crew always seemed to be looking for a way to improve the experience. They were available without being intrusive. In various lounges and bars, if you declined a drink, they just leave a napkin there so that you won't be approached by every last server. Great idea. As I said, 5 rainy, windy days across the north Pacific, and the crew were resolutely cheerful at all times. Captain Mark took us a bit out of the way to avoid the worst weather, which was so very thoughtful. We stopped at Kushiro in Japan, and the rain was blowing, but many us took the free shuttle to a kind of mall which gave us an insight into some of the Japanese culture. Stops in Alaska were fortunately sunny, and Icy Straits is one of the most hauntingly beautiful place I've seen. We were sorry to leave, and we learned how difficult it had been to dock due to winds and nearby reefs. We saw a couple of whales, which for most of us was a first. Overall, a serenely beautiful cruise with the most amazingly gracious staff ever. Once again, Denny and Theo, thanks for taking such good care of us. Read Less
Sail Date April 2019
I choose this 15 day cruise to get away from my regular daily life and it was great for that. 6 days at sea, including 5-6m waves for a couple days. The food ands staff was great as I remember it from my other HAL cruises. But the ... Read More
I choose this 15 day cruise to get away from my regular daily life and it was great for that. 6 days at sea, including 5-6m waves for a couple days. The food ands staff was great as I remember it from my other HAL cruises. But the Westerdam state of repair is sad. So many little things broken. Lights in public bathroom about to fall out, fan in elevator running at full speed as it is burning up (you could smell the plastic melting), hot bench in Thermal Suite out of order since February (3 months). 1 sauna not working at all, 1 sauna on its last leg, including a thermometer just wedged into mount and could have fallen during heavy sea and create tiny glass splinters, etc. etc. The central sound system for the Greenhouse Spa was also broken for weeks and so it was music everywhere or no music at all. This meant on one of massage I asked for music, but it was turned off 2 minutes later as someone else requested it to be turned off. I never was able to relax at all. Read Less
Sail Date April 2019
We chose this cruise to experience Japan in Cherry Blossom season and experience the culture and history of the country. The tours provided by EXC (HA's onboard service) were good. I feel I saw most of the attractions I wanted ... Read More
We chose this cruise to experience Japan in Cherry Blossom season and experience the culture and history of the country. The tours provided by EXC (HA's onboard service) were good. I feel I saw most of the attractions I wanted through these tours, while being guaranteed I wouldn't miss the boat at the end! The price was up there, but after sorting out some private tours at either end of the cruise, the costs were comparable for the amount we experienced. The ports we stopped at were new for Holland America. There really weren't any ports that were in the centre of town. It was at least a 20 minute bus ride into the town centres if you were wondering around by yourself for the day. The frequency of busses was adequate. Due to Japanese law we had to visit a different country at least once before we made it the whole way around Japan. This is the only reason why we went to Russia for one day. The port was Vladivostok. Don't bother doing a tour here, the town is run down and you have to go on a HA tour for Visa reasons. The customs debacle for this one day out of Japan was appalling. I understand all customs issues are never fun, but HA was definitely did not make it any better. For a cruse company that is meant to be professional at this stuff, they could have made their clients a lot more comfortable through the process. We had a lot of older guests on the ship, I felt horrible for the them. The quality of the ship was a little tired, with maintenance undertaken at every port we stopped at. Sometimes this was an inconvenience to the patrons. We were on level 8 in a stateroom. They had asked us if we minded being in a an 'accessible/disabled' stateroom before the cruise. We agreed, but we would not do this again. Mum and I were twin sharing, but if this room was used for a disabled person, you could only fit one person in there. We missed out on a good shower, cupboard space and a sitting area because of this, and we paid jut as much as the other guests. The food in the main dining areas was good, tasty and well presented but not as fresh as I am used to. The dining experiences in the premium restaurants was much better. Don't worry about the special events like seafood nights or degustations and wine pairing, these are much steeper in price and not much better in quality to any other night. The hospitality, bar and dining staff were great, nothing was a problem, my mother and I came down with illness on the ship and they were very accommodating. Our waiters and bar staff knew us by name from the second day and remembered what we liked to drink - which was an extensive list! Drinks packages - definitely get one. we got the 'Signature' package for approx $50USD/day. The wine options were a little too limited for us, if we had the time again, we would have purchased the top drink package for approx $10USD/day extra. The most disappointing this was the accounts department of HA. We printed our statement every morning to check our account. Almost every second day there were charges on there that shouldn't have been - we were charged for drinks that were covered in our pre paid package, room service charges that we didn't order, etc. On the last night, the whole cruise was taken over by chocolate and towel animals as a bit of fun, but I can't help thinking this type of activity is to 'smooth everyone over' at the end so we leave happy and recommend them to our friends. At the end of the cruise, we went to pay our bill, and they held the amount on our credit card. On the last day we received an account that they had charged us. This was fine, apart from they still had the amount on hold as well, effectively holding twice the amount of money they owed us. This can be quite debilitation if you are only half way through your entire holiday. Through waiting for statements to reflect charges and calling HA a couple of times to sort it out, I am still waiting for this money to be released 7 days after disembarking their ship. The HA girl assured me this would be released no later than 72 hours after the cruise finished. After trying to explain that didn't happen, I am also chasing this through with my bank. Read Less
Sail Date April 2019
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