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2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2015
Old ship, many issues Boarding in Athens took nearly 3 hours, leaving us standing in the street, then feed thru cattle gates to wait again, and then again. Food... Lido, the food is left out for 4 hours at room temperature, not iced, ... Read More
Old ship, many issues Boarding in Athens took nearly 3 hours, leaving us standing in the street, then feed thru cattle gates to wait again, and then again. Food... Lido, the food is left out for 4 hours at room temperature, not iced, or kept hot, shrimp cocktail pool side in the heat of the sun not iced, salad bar had slimy lettuce mix and spoiled sliced breast of chicken, hair in the brioche. When we brought it o their attention, first we were brushed off, then a junior officer met with us and explained that they followed U.S. regulations for handling food, which allowed to be left at room temp. for 4 hours. the dining room food was unreliable, and even though the menu warned about eating under cooked meat I was served a lamb chop that had not even touched the stove, as i guess we needed to state how we wanted our food cooked (we were never asked that question by the staff). The bacon often was deep fried and served in a clump. The main courses and desserts were either good or poor. Stateroom with balcony, heating and air conditioning was not controllable, freezing to sweaty hot, thermostat not reliable. Entertainment was mostly poor. The only exceptions were the Adagio duo who played each evening, one Black comedian and Jazz Club BB King. The screening room had over sized and uncomfortable seating, an outdated screen and seated two few, and poor choice of movies. Culinary Arts was poor, uninteresting and lacking in originality. We were charged for bottle water when we left for cruise arranged outings. here was no on board laundry, as other ships offered in the past, and the cost for laundry service was expensive and things came back creased, poorly ironed and with spots. One off shore outing had us wind our way thru the medical wing and I noticed that area was dirty, the hand sanitiszer in that area, (they are located all over the ship) had collected dirt in the catch all basin. The staff were polite but only one person stood out the Gentleman who directed seating in the dining room. Even though we were in the wrong line (not with reserved seating) he was gracious, knew our name and never told us of our mistake. Towards the end we could see the backing on the carpeting on the stairs..the ship is is need of much care and love. The staff is overworked. this was our 4-5 cruise with Holland, but it will be our last. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: October 2015
HAL put together a 7 day Greece with a 19 day transAtlantic cruise calling it a "Collectors Journey". They promised different meals and shows over the 26 days but repeated the menus and the shows from the first 7 days into the ... Read More
HAL put together a 7 day Greece with a 19 day transAtlantic cruise calling it a "Collectors Journey". They promised different meals and shows over the 26 days but repeated the menus and the shows from the first 7 days into the transatlantic. The ports brought the magic: Athens, Kusadasi, Rhodes, Santorini, Katakalon, Naples, Civitavecchia, Livorno, Barcelona, Palma de Majorca, Alicante, Malaga, Cadiz, Punta Delgado ,Horta and Nassau The ship shows its age (2002) with cabin furniture stained and damaged ; public rooms have mis matched decors of incomplete revisions; toilets failed often in public areas and cabins including ours; drip buckets were found often in hallways from leaks . The recent drydock did not effect the average voyager as it added upper deck VB cabins on Deck 10 and retreat cabanas on Deck 11. They minimized the Crow's Nest. The Screening Room for movies is ludicrous with 24 seats on a ship for 1948 potential passengers to enjoy. The computer classes max out at 12 seats. The lack of synchronization was obvious in the menu-food department. Greek food did not appear until we left Italy, Spanish paella appeared upon our last embarkation from Spain(Cadiz). Dining room service was poor if seated at a table for 8-10 and could soar to excellent service with 2-4 persons. The "On Location" newsletter was difficult and misleading at times. I went to the beginner's bridge lessons to find it was a series started the day before and I was shut out for this cruise. The staff was well trained to smile and be pleasant no matter how awkward or rude the guests were . Dining and room stewards were courteous and always accommodating. We had relatively mild seas for a trans Atlantic cruise and this ship handled the 10 foot seas well despite some histrionic passengers. The entertainment in the main lounge was pitifully amateurish. the instrumentalist were the best of the lot and the house dancers and singers were the worse. The piano bar man Tom was professional and excellent as also "The Band" . We found both sets of classical "Adagio" duos ( 2 separate cruises) as a bit over hyped. The gain on the sound systems routinely appeared turned up too high as if we all are Deaf. The lecturers were inappropriate and boring. As an educated person I would think something on our ports or the history of the region would have made sense. But there was a series on historic airplanes and airplane engines. Really! The other speaker had no purpose/focus The high moment was the destination specialist KK who spoke clearly and honestly about independently visiting each of the ports. She did not discourage use of the HAL shore excursions but she did not discourage the independent traveler. We did not use HAL for shore excursion but used independent sources for 5 excursions in 16 ports . Embarkation in Athens was the worst of our more than 20 cruises. Chaos with insultingly inadequate staff, signage or assistance. many took 2-3 hours standing in the heat trying to get on board HAL took no responsibility to assist getting onboard. WE arrived to be handled a number 16 as they handled number 5 being told it would take at least an hour or more to be called with no chairs or place to sit. Crowded into a cordoned off area. cattle get treated better. Disembarkation at Fort Lauderdale was smooth and professional and all that could be done well. It was stunningly simple and quick. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2015
The great was the aft Neptune Suit with the wrap around balcony. After more than a dozens cruises in various levels of cabins, we found our dream with the aft and wrap around balcony. Even with a very port-intensive cruise this was an idea ... Read More
The great was the aft Neptune Suit with the wrap around balcony. After more than a dozens cruises in various levels of cabins, we found our dream with the aft and wrap around balcony. Even with a very port-intensive cruise this was an idea cabin. The good were the ports, in particular Kusadasi and Santorini. Got private tours to Ephesus at Kusadasi and of Santorini. Rhodes was fun, but we just did a walking tour on our own. Had been to Kataklon and Naples before so we did different tours this time, no visit to Olympia or Pompeii this trip. Also on the good column was the food and service in Pinnacle Grill. We did the LeCirque night and felt it was worth the extra. In fact the overall service in Pinnacle Grill probably goes in the "great" heading. Had most breakfasts there and the waiter remembered my wife's preferences after just 1 visit. The work done by the cabin steward and assistant was also very good. He kept us supplied with ice and was always prompt in getting the room reac=dy. I'd put the Neptune Lounge and the associated service in the good to very good as well. Really enjoy that perk with the Neptune Suite. The average of the cruise would be Main Dining Room food and service. As many other reviewers have noted, the quality of food is clearly down over the past few years. The MDR staff tries hard, but too few of them and too many of us. We ate 5 of the 7 dinners there and not a one was without a flaw. Wrong food delivered, wrong doneness level on steak, etc. One night 4 of our table of 8 ordered fish and 4 ordered the same meat. All the fish orders were correct and ALL the meat order were wrong. It was hard to find a wine steward at all times. One night I had to leave m table and go find one just get get a bottle of wine with dinner. The bad was disembarkation when there weren't enough buses to shuttle passengers to the port gate at Civitavecchai. Long waits for that. Also I'd have to rate the quality of service at the bars and average to bad, depending on the bar.Ocean Bar seemed the worst for service. The ugly was embarkation at Piraeus. While most problems seemed to be the result of Greek officials who wanted to check every passport, HAL could have done a much better job of communicating the delays the reasons and been more helpful. It way be ugly only to me, but the space in the lounges taken u by the art sales was extremely disappointing. Art sales themselves are a waste, but to have so much lounge space taken up by the displayed art was ugly. Zuiderdam is a lovely vessel. Captain Turner and his ship staff kept it all together. We had near perfect weather other than a rainy, windy day in Naples. Bottom line, even with the average, bad and ugly parts it was a great cruise and we'd glady sail Zuiderdam again. Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2015
While we have sailed on various Holland America ships, this was our first on the Prinsendam. In reading other reviews before departure, I was somewhat nervous about what the condition of the ship would be. I don't know if the ship ... Read More
While we have sailed on various Holland America ships, this was our first on the Prinsendam. In reading other reviews before departure, I was somewhat nervous about what the condition of the ship would be. I don't know if the ship has recently had some refurbishments or not, but I found most of the criticisms I had read to be unfounded. Keep in mind, this vessel is 27 years old. I have been on ships that were only 5 years old that were more tired looking than this one. Our cabin on Deck 10 was in pristine condition. The carpet looked new and the furniture had no signs of wear. Everything worked as it should, with the exception of the hot water, and this problem was largely remedied as soon as I reported it, although for some reason the water at the sinks never got as hot as the tub/shower. The outside of the vessel was sparkling and all the public rooms were in great shape. Someone might nitpick that the furniture in the main dining room was a bit beat up, but you really had to be looking for this to notice. The only signs I saw that indicated the ship was old was the molding around the dining room windows was not in great shape, and the caulking around the outside of our verandah door had been patched over rather poorly. The ship was under the command of Capt. Tim Roberts, an affable, laid back Englishman. His personality seemed perfect for this small vessel. The cruise director was Bruce Scudder, who also seemed comfortable on this size of ship. I never heard him say if he works on larger Holland America vessels, but I assume he does. One of the guest entertainers remarked that this was a "happy ship". I would have to agree based on the interaction with various crew members. I have never encountered better or friendlier service, and the staff of the Front Desk were perhaps the epitome of that. Our Room Steward, Gede, was unfailing helpful and efficient, assisted by Hendra. They were constantly inquiring if everything was satisfactory in our cabin. The Dining Room stewards were also very friendly, but clearly overworked and it was hard to develop a personal relationship with them as they were too busy to talk. We were very pleased with the quality, and particularly the taste, of food, both in the main Dining Room and in the Lido. I felt the food had improved substantially since our last HAL cruise on the Ryndam in 2013. Whether it was because this ship gets special attention because it has the highest ratio of return guests of any HAL ship, or just because it is easier to do a higher quality job on a small ship, I don't know, but the food was almost always excellent, particularly the taste and most notably the desserts. I learned to trust my DR Steward's recommendations at dinner time. I noticed how perfect the temperature of the soups were, on a consistent basis. Our only disappointment was that we had to eat in the LIdo more than we would have liked. The food there was excellent as well, but we prefer to eat in the MDR for breakfast and lunch as much as possible. Service was just too slow at breakfast for us to eat there except on sea days, and it was usually closed for lunch on port days. We had one meal each in the Pinnacle Grill and the Cannaleto, and they were both excellent. The entertainment was not spectacular, but probably the most you could expect on a ship of this size. They had a troupe of 4 singers and 4 dancers who put on several shows. Unfortunately, one of the singers was taken ill in Sochi and had to be left behind, and they carried on as best they could. Several nights there were no entertainers in the Showroom. The ill crew member did return for the final night. They had an excellent comedian, a guitar player, and singer come on board and they all did individual shows and then all together for another show. Also, the "Station Band" that played in the Ocean Bar was excellent and could do just about anything, and we often enjoyed listening to them after dinner and before the show at 8 pm. We chose this cruise mostly for the itinerary. We had never been to the Black Sea before. I really enjoyed the scenic cruising in the Dardenelles and the Bosporus Strait. I understand this itinerary used to include a couple of stops in the Ukraine, before the hostilities with Russia broke out, and they were replaced with additional stops in Turkey at Sinop and Trabzon. Both were very disappointing. We also were very disappointed with our excursions in Sochi and Istanbul. But our overall enjoyment of the cruise made these disappointments seem trivial. Both embarkation and disembarkation went very smoothly and we had very good ship transfers from Athens airport to Pireaus and return. We will be looking for another opportunity to cruise on the Prinsendam before she is retired, which seems certain in the next two to three years. The Captain said he didn't know the specific plans for the ship, but said one thing is clear - HAL would never build a new ship of this small size, as the economics just don't work. Hopefully they will find a newer small vessel on the used market that could be a replacement. Ships the size of Oceania's Riviera and Marina would be perfect. We have sailed on Riviera twice and loved that ship as well. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2014
We (a group of six) were on the Prinsendam on the October, 2014 Black Sea Explorer. This was our fifth HAL cruise in the past six year each on a different ship. We have been on the Zaandam (Alaska), Nieuw Amersterdam (TA repositioning), ... Read More
We (a group of six) were on the Prinsendam on the October, 2014 Black Sea Explorer. This was our fifth HAL cruise in the past six year each on a different ship. We have been on the Zaandam (Alaska), Nieuw Amersterdam (TA repositioning), Noordam (TA repositioning) and Veendam (South America repositioning). We are 3* Mariners and will be 4* when our Prinsendam cruise is credited. In part this review will be a comparison with the other HAL ships. We choose this Prinsendam cruise because of the itinerary a year ago We wanted to see the Black Sea ports including Odessa and Sevastapol in the Ukraine. When the Russians invaded earlier this year, HAL told us they were canceling the Ukraine stops and substituting Batumi, Georgia, Trabzon, Turkey and Sinop, Turkey we decided to stay with our original plan. We spent 11 days in Greece on a package arrange through Fantasy Travel (separately review on the Greece Forum of Trip Advisor). Embarkation was smooth. We arrive at the terminal at 11:30 AM and by 12:30 were in the MDR eating lunch. We had no problem carrying on six bottles of Greek wines we had purchased on our travels. We had SY cabins on the 10th deck. When we booked our cruise we had AA cabins on the 9th deck. We were able to get upgrades to the SY cabins with an additional OBC. As it turned we were assigned adjoining cabins. We were able to open the partitions between our cabins to create a large three cabin veranda. We never had a problem with smokers on other verandas. The SY cabins were large and comfortable. We like the large walk in closet and the bathroom with a separate toilet. We were under the Lido, but never heard any noise from above us. There is no doubt about it, the Princendam is an old ship, well maintained and clean, but nevertheless a ship showing its age. The crew was constantly cleaning, painting and doing upkeep. We had no problems with air conditioning or plumbing except on tdeparture day our toilet stopped working. They were working on it as we departed. The Prinsendam is a small ship as compared to the other HAL ships and a minnow if compared to the mega ships. As a result everything is smaller. The fitness center has half the number of exercise machines, the swimming pools are smaller and the MDR is smaller. On the other hand the fitness center was never crowded. The one thin the Prinsendam lacks that is a feature of the other HAL ships is the sliding cover on the Lido pool. On other cruises it is nice to sit around the pool on cool days with the cover on. The food is typical HAL quality, no better, no worse than other HAL ships. There were old friends on the menu, onion soup in the MSR, different Asian dishes and sushi in the Lido buffet, and great eggs Benedict at breakfast. There are two sides to the Lido which may serve different items. The two sides are connected only by public hallway. I heard one passenger comment that she did not know there was a another half to the Lido buffet until the third day. i ate all my breakfasts in the Lido as well as the lunches on sea days. About half the time we at dinner in the MDR and the other half in the Lido. The line for all meals in the Lido was reasonable. My only complaint about food, and this complaint applies to all HAL ships, is that the Lido stops serving dinner at 8:00 PM sharp. The only food available after 8:00 PM was the MDR, room service or bar snacks in the Ocean Bar and Explorer Bar. We did not hang out in in the bars, so I cannot comment on the music. There was a piano violin duo in the Explorers lounge. They were good, but their play list is limited. I liked the quartets before HAL made the staffing cut backs. We saw a few shows in the show room, and the musical acts were good. The entertainers were adequate. Because this cruise was so port intensive, we were usually early to bed. The ports were incredible. High lights included two nights and two days in Istanbul. We went out both evenings to the New District on our own. We ate excellent dinners both nights and were back on ship by 11:00 PM. We never felt unsafe, although we stayed in high traffic areas. On day 1 we explored the Grand Bazaar and the surrounding area. On day 2 we visited the Blue Mosque, Haga Sophia and the Spice Bazaar. On both days we had excellent local lunches. Other highlights include Ephesus, Meteora Monasteries in Volos, Sumela Monastery in Trabzon, Turkey, spa day at the Ilium Hotel in Cesme, Turkey, food market walking tour in Thessaloniki and wine tasting and Nesebar Tour in Burgas, Bulgaria. All of these tours were privately arranged went off without any problems or surprises. We explored Batumi, Georgia, Constata, Romania, Sinop Turkey and Kavala, Greece on our own without a tour our guide. Disembarkation was smooth. We did not leave the ship until 9:00 AM. Since our plane flight home left at 6:30 AM the next day, we spent the day further exploring Athens. We spent the night at the Sofitel Hotel next to the Athens airport. A nice hotel convenient to the terminal.   Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: April 2014
This was our first cruise with Holland America, which came highly recommended by friends. We wonder why?  Maybe many things have changed. We were appalled at the constant super-selling of the shore excursions, to the exclusion of any ... Read More
This was our first cruise with Holland America, which came highly recommended by friends. We wonder why?  Maybe many things have changed. We were appalled at the constant super-selling of the shore excursions, to the exclusion of any information at all about ports we were visiting. Spencer, the on-board Location Specialist, had obviously been told not to provide any tips at all about places he said he'd been to many times. We couldn't believe that he would not know where the wifi places were, where the hop-on hop-off buses started, or if there were public buses or trains to take us to close sites. It was plainly obvious that he wanted us to take the highly overprices HAL shore excursions. Needless to say, we didn't do any. More appalling money-extraction happens with the internet. At 75c per minute for a casual rate, it is highly overpriced and the service is painfully slow. You can run through tens of dollars just making a connection. But they won't tell you if the port has free wifi, which generally is the case. They will not let passengers bring wine on board except as you are embarking, and then only two bottles. Anything after that is charged at $18 corkage to have in the dining room. This actually works out cheaper than the highly inflated prices they list for very ordinary wine, but what a pity not to be able to freely taste some of the delicious Italian and Spanish wine that's available to buy ashore. This policy certainly does nothing for the enjoyment of passengers. The worst imposition was to charge a so-called Spanish tax of 10% on all drinks for 20 minutes before and 20 minutes after a Spanish port. So sail-away drinks suddenly escalated 10%. No other cruise ship has even done this. Did the money actually get to the impoverished Spanish government? Communication with staff members was difficult. Spencer and the very new cruise director Marcel constantly mispronounced the name Almeria, but when we complained to the Front Office, they said they'd send them an email that would take 48 hours to deliver. So they never perfected the name. In the On Location newsletter, they laughingly printed that the roads around Monaco were Cornish. This is British. The roads are Corniche - Upper, Middle and Lower. What an unforgiveable mistake for so-called tour specialists. Apart from that, the staff in the dining room and room stewards were remarkably friendly and happy and their service was excellent. The dancers and singers, and the HALCats orchestra were top class. The furnishings on the ship were plush and unusual, and there was always a quiet place to sit. The pool has a retractable roof which is wonderful in cooler weather. But the sunlounges in ankle deep water in what used to be the stern pool were never used. Surely this area could only be popular in the Caribbean? Other passengers who had been cruising since Singapore said it was too hot to use and the tiled sunlounges were too red-hot to sit on. A re-think is necessary for this area. The food was bland and the activities were mostly aimed at retirement home folk. Knitting and crochet, singalongs, trivia and bingo, but no guest speakers and the only talks about art were at 7pm - cocktail and dinner time. Formal nights were not enforced and only about 20% were in tuxedos. Time to give this tradition away on HAL and leave it to Cunard, who certainly would not have admitted a man in shorts and a T-shirt into the Crows Nest bar. So we will not be cruising with HAL again. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2014
I have taken more cruises with Holland America than with any other cruise line. In fact, my first cruise was with Holland America, and I have wonderful memories of it, even though our ship (Ryndam) broke down less than forty five minutes ... Read More
I have taken more cruises with Holland America than with any other cruise line. In fact, my first cruise was with Holland America, and I have wonderful memories of it, even though our ship (Ryndam) broke down less than forty five minutes after setting sail. My concerns are with the decisions that are being made at the corporate level. Holland America's leadership seems to be on a self-destruct mission in many ways, and I will explain why I think this is so. The Rotterdam is a ship I had long wanted to experience. The crew, in almost every single case, did a wonderful job. I was amazed, as always, at how well the cabin stewards and waitstaff perform their duties, especially given what Holland America demands of them. The Rotterdam itself, however, looked rather seedy and frayed around the edges, though I have no doubt that it was incredibly clean. I noticed long ago that Holland America's management seems to let their ships fall into rather sorry states of repair. This is beyond me, as I have no idea why they seem to think that this does not matter. I'm happy to say that the food onboard is still quite good, and the selections offered provide plenty of variety. Perhaps the folks in Seatlle are smart enough not to undermine the food service. However, I do want to comment about the wine list, which I found to be rather shocking. I have never seen so many inexpensive wines marked up so much! There was a Pinot Noir listed that I can buy for $7.99 any day of the week, and they were selling it for over $40! Some of the Australian passengers also commented on the ridiculous prices very modest Australian wines were being sold for. I think the wine list should be totally rethought. The wines listed are, for the most part, quite good, but offer them at fair prices, and don't take advantage of being the "only show in town." The entertainment onboard, or rather the lack of good entertainment, really upset me. There has always been a jazz trio in the Ocean Bar, but it has been replaced with an act I won't even try to describe. Suffice it to say that my bar bill on this cruise was next to nothing, as there was no place I felt I could go for drinks before or after dinner. I used to love listenting to the jazz trio, and am baffled as to why Holland America chose to rid of the best entertainment on the ship. I think Holland America needs to rethink what it offers with its shore excursions. The prices keep getting higher and higher, and yet less and less is offered. The excursions often end up being more frustrating than anything else. In many cases, passengers may be visiting a place for the only time in their lives, only to be told that they have fifteen minutes to "explore." Holland America should either lower the prices, or offer far more value. By the way, I was told by a fellow passenger that the shore excursion staff is basically forbidden to give passengers any helpful information about the ports visited, and is only allowed to push their own substandard excursions. Based on some of the other things I experienced, I would say that this might well be true. There are so many things about Holland America that I do like, but I may have already gone on my last cruise with the company.   Read Less
Sail Date: January 2014
We have been on many cruises and this is the only one where the cruise line had food, activities and entertainment geared to the locations we were travelling to such as a bellydancing demo and lessons and cooking demos when we were in ... Read More
We have been on many cruises and this is the only one where the cruise line had food, activities and entertainment geared to the locations we were travelling to such as a bellydancing demo and lessons and cooking demos when we were in Oman, Indian Food buffets and a Bollywood show when we were in India and Indonesian Tea as we travelled there. Another thing new to us on Holland America was the on-location information talks that were very informative about the ports we would be visiting and were not geared to selling you anything, these information talks were separate from the shore excursion talks. Cabin 2516 was alright although you can hear and feel the bow thrusters as the ship is arriving in port in the morning. You would also be able to hear the achor chains if/when the ship was anchoring, which it was not during our sailing. Above our cabin was a section of the 3rd floor walking track and we could hear people walking. Our room was not too near the stairs or elevators or any storage areas so it was quiet in that way.  We were pleasantly surprised by the bathtub in the washroom in our cabin, whereas on most cruiselines the shower has barely enough room to turn around in. The food and entertainment were excellent,.There were several easy listening music venues throughout the ship for before or after dinner dancing or just listening while having a drink, although they all started to sound a bit too familiar after 25 days onboard. The HALcats group that accompanied all of the guest entertainers were very good and occasionally played during the daytime at various locations on the ship. Note: They were much more popular and appreciated at the brief outdoor deck sailaway parties than playing for two or three people at the inside venue on a beautiful sunny day. The ship's own group of singers and dancers were better than we have experienced on many other ships. We enjoyed meeting different people at the anytime dining and usually chose a table for 6.. Rotterdam ship is very nice. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: January 2014
Positives: Beautiful ship. Very good service by staff and crew. Smooth operation of complicated itinerary. Interesting guest lecturers. Good orientation lectures about each port of call. Flexible dining and always the desired table, even ... Read More
Positives: Beautiful ship. Very good service by staff and crew. Smooth operation of complicated itinerary. Interesting guest lecturers. Good orientation lectures about each port of call. Flexible dining and always the desired table, even for 2, even with the ship full. You can bring your own wine and champagne on board! ($18 corcage fee if served in a restaurant). Beautiful flower arrangements. Wonderful live classical music daily. Reasonable coffee prices. Good selection of movies in Wajang Theatre, often relevant to the destinations visited. Negatives: Way too many announcements over the PA system, in english and dutch, obtrusive. Insufficient variety in food. Taste of food varying. Melons and watermelons often near to rotten, quality of cut fruits low. Only alibi-sushi (must try the sweet potato fries though!). Few production shows (but fairly good). Many guest entertainers of varying quality, practically all british or irish. And as always on cruise ships: Way too expensive shore excursions, no information about cost of individual transportation, internet rates and speed unacceptable ($0.75/min). It's a small cabin, however with ample drawer space. But I knew this ship, so knew what to expect.  Just want to point out that in the cabin 3387 we experienced noises every night because the galley is just above. Apparently heavy objects are being moved around and bumped on the ground. This must be a permanent situation.In addition, at some point a different type of noise occurred, which turned out to be a malfunction of the steam system (whatever that is). So eventually we had to be given another, inside cabin to sleep for 3 nights, before we were moved to another outside cabin.Our neighbors at cabin 3387 told me they heard these noises as well. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: November 2013
My first HAL cruise, but 20th overall cruise (I'm 32) My mom and aunt's 2nd with HAL (60's and 70's age ranges). We stayed at Holland America's appointed hotel the night before our cruise, which sailed from Athens ... Read More
My first HAL cruise, but 20th overall cruise (I'm 32) My mom and aunt's 2nd with HAL (60's and 70's age ranges). We stayed at Holland America's appointed hotel the night before our cruise, which sailed from Athens on Nov. 10-30 (Volos, Istanbul, Dikili, Kusadasi, Maramaris, Alanya, Antalya, Rhodes, Crete, Cyprus, Ashdod, Haifa...if you are looking for any reviews on the ports, let me know) Our HAL arranged transportation from the hotel to port was fine. Checking out of the hotel was awful. It was a Marriot or something like that. Needing a lot of work inside and not worth the money.We left our room an hour prior to the bus leaving and I waited in line that whole time, having to just leave the room keys at the desk due to our bus leaving. There was no line for checking out, with the two hotel workers trying to check-in a bus load of new customers. I recommend you book your own hotel well in advance, and not use HAL. Save yourself the trouble. Check-in on the Rotterdam was no problem. Our obstructed view room was suitable for 3. The couch bed for the 3rd person, me, was awful to sleep on. Quite hard and a thin "mattress". But i can sleep anywhere and it worked for 20 nights. Food: mediocre at best. They serve all of your food and drinks the fist 48 hours, which I have no problems with. I see how many people do not wash their hands and "finger lick" in buffet lines. However, there was not enough help in the buffet at any time of day for the free beverage area :coffee, water, tea, juice nor to dish up your food. When the 48 hour ban lifted, there still was not enough help at any point in the buffet lines. We did fill out a comment card about this very thing and nothing changed. There were some stations with signs stating "Line starts here" but some did not and caused much confusion for none english speakers/readers and lines started from every direction. Not efficient at all and very frustrating when being budged in front of on a daily basis. Food in the buffet vs main dinning room was not even luke warm, save some of the soups. How we wished for warm to hot food during the 20 days. Again put this on a comment card and no changes. The service in the main dinning room took an average of 2-3hours no matter if it was myself dinning alone or three of us or sharing a table of 8. It took forever for our orders to be taken (Anytime dinning....we were told it was no better in the traditional dinning) If you wanted an iced tea or milk, you were lucky if it ever arrived and you certainly would not get a refill. Once you were finished with your appetizer or salad, the main course was half and half on how quickly that arrived. Once the main course was done, it took 30-45 minutes for the dishes to be cleared. Then another 20 minutes at least for them to take your dessert order. We began to joke that we really hoped there would be an apple dessert listed on the menu for that night. And there always was. it was never delicious. PS. The buffet only serves lunch from 12-2 and dinner 6-8, so by the time you eat in the main dinning room, the buffet is closed.....and serves the same food as the main dinning room. I have never been on a cruise where the main dinning room is only half full, I now understand why after being on the Rotterdam. I have also never been on a cruise where the arrival/departure times change as much as on HAL's Rotterdam. Many of the days there was no announcement or even a sign with the new time as you disembarked for the day. No announcements that the ship was clear for passengers to leave. I had to literally walk down to the only staircase on Dolphin deck forward, and see if the velvet rope was over the staircase or not, then walk back to let the others in my cabin know if we could exit or not. We were late for 2 of our booked excursions due to this ship. And I have never been late prior. in Israel, they just decided to midway in the morning, stop anyone not on a HAL excursion from exiting. Of course we became packed like sardines very soon after, and after 45mins of waiting with the heat rising, no one from the Rotterdam had walked up one flight to stop anyone not on a HAL excursion from continuing downward. No one was at the elevators in the disembarkation deck (there is only one spot fwd starboard to disembark and embark on the ship) checking if passengers were with a HAL excursion or not. It was horrible. Many fellow passengers said they were on this specific cruise b/c of the itinerary. It would take a lot for me to go on HAL again. One passenger stated he had just been on the Rotterdam a few months prior, and he could not believe how much the food quality and service had decreased in that time. Other HAL cruisers said the food and service has really gone down hill. Only went to 2 shows at night. One show was a violin duo that was excellent and the other was a comedian from Poland via Israel via the US. Otherwise, entertainment was not worthwhile. Hardly anyone in the casino. The ship's shops would have some "bazaars" in the evening, very often they were late in starting or cancelled due to all of the changes in port arrivals and departures. With no warning of course.   Read Less
Sail Date: November 2013
Ship information: MS Rotterdam ocean view deck 3 Activities: nightly show in theater, and daily filled with different workshops that's easy to follow Service: outstanding! Everyone I spoke to went out of their way to make the stay ... Read More
Ship information: MS Rotterdam ocean view deck 3 Activities: nightly show in theater, and daily filled with different workshops that's easy to follow Service: outstanding! Everyone I spoke to went out of their way to make the stay enjoyable Port & shore excursions: HAL offers different excursions but we always found our ways. Presentations of each port are available, all of which are general info. Travel to embarkation Port: very easy from a hotel nearby, just 5 minutes walk. There's a direct bus from the airport for those coming straight from the airport Cabin: EXCELLENT! Dining: also EXCELLENT Children's clubs: I saw there were 2 rooms, if I'm not mistaken, that could be use for kids, but I didn't see too many kids on board, very very few Entertainment: I thought this was OK but I heard other passengers were not too happy with the OK standard, they expected more. Disembarkation: very smooth, no problem whatsoever Summary: an unforgettable experience that I hope to repeat again and again, at different ports. No problem with water, food, service, nothing whatsoever, it was simply perfect. Both crews and passengers. The only service needs improving in my opinion is the receptionist team.   Read Less
Sail Date: November 2013
Last year I returned home from a holiday with my wife which included the 10-Day Holy Land Sojourn on-board the Holland America, deeply dissatisfied with the quality of the cabin we stayed in. We paid the cost of an ocean-view room (being ... Read More
Last year I returned home from a holiday with my wife which included the 10-Day Holy Land Sojourn on-board the Holland America, deeply dissatisfied with the quality of the cabin we stayed in. We paid the cost of an ocean-view room (being at a premium above the basic inside-room), which turned out to have a window facing the deck, where other passengers could view the inside of our room if the curtain was drawn closed. This therefore made the “ocean-view” feature completely redundant, however we were refused recompense for this misrepresentation. There was also a problem with the toilet flushing system which forced us to use the public toilets and not those in our cabin. The ocean-view room we stayed in had a window which looks out directly onto the ship deck, where passengers frequently lingered and passed, and who could see inside of our room. This was quite distressing for myself and my wife as we were not expecting our room contents to be in full view of other passengers. We could therefore not actually leave our window curtain open and make any use of this window, as it was quite uncomfortable to do so. Although technically there was some ocean-view from our room, it was not what we believed to be paying for and had no extra qualities to a basic room. Had we known this would be the case, we would have absolutely not paid the extra charge booking an ocean-view room as opposed to the basic room we have used on other cruises. Furthermore, we also experienced much trouble with the toilet flushing system during the 10-day period. We complained of this to staff during our stay, who advised this could not be resolved, other than to wait for extended periods each time after using the toilet before the flush would work. This was a serious quality problem for us, as we have been on-board many cruises, and have never experienced this before. This was quite uncomfortable and troublesome for us, as we felt quite restricted in our room and unhappy with the quality of the system in place. We felt we should have been compensated for the trouble we experienced on board the vessel, as we did not experience the promised level of quality of the room we paid for. After making a few detailed complaints with management at Holland America, they apologised in writing, however did not offer any satisfactory remedy other than $100 future on-board credit should we choose to travel with them again. We considered this completely useless as we were clearly left with a very bad impression of Holland America cruises. Given that the price differential between the cabin we paid for and a standard inside cabin is $300 per person, and we did not feel that we experienced anything additional to a standard inside cabin would provide (likely WORSE than a standard room), we feel completely taken advantage of and quite rudely refused an appropriate remedy for our trouble. I would strongly recommend you DO NOT travel with Holland America, because if you experience any quality issues, you will likely just have to take it. Don’t expect management to take your complaint seriously or provide you an appropriate remedy, but rather an empty apology and inconsequential future board credit on a cruise you will likely never book with them! Adel   Read Less
Sail Date: November 2013
Our plane was delayed and we didn't get to the ship until 4:05 and it was due to sail at 4:00, but they were still dong the life boat drill. From the moment the embarkation staff became aware that we were running for the ship, they ... Read More
Our plane was delayed and we didn't get to the ship until 4:05 and it was due to sail at 4:00, but they were still dong the life boat drill. From the moment the embarkation staff became aware that we were running for the ship, they took such good care of us. One grabbed our passports, another our luggage and another held my hand and calmed me down telling us that everything was OK and that we would make the ship. This 21 day cruise was two back to back which meant several repeated ports which we have found out we don't really care for. This is not the fault of the cruise line, it was our own mistake. The food on Holland ships is always very good. Portions are the right size. The service in staterooms is very good. The service in the dining room for Anytime dining could be improved. It is often impossible to get a second glass of water or the wine steward to the table. We were disappointed to buy a soda card not to be aware that it expired at the end of the cruise. It wasn't an all you can drink card, it was a pre-paid card for a set dollar amount. When we asked what happened to the card at the end of the voyage (would it be good on the next Holland sailing?) we were told that the unused portion would be refunded to our account. Not true, it expired!! No refund, tough luck. That is just not OK. This is the first Holland cruise we have been on with a number of children on board. The programs they had for the children must have been good as we almost never saw the children around the ship except at the pool. They were vey well behaved which was most appreciated. Our other major complaint was their attitude towards passengers who were on independent tours was that we were second class citizens. My husband and I are Elite passengers, which is supposed to afford us the luxury of priority tendering and disembarkation. When we tried to get off the ship in our first Israeli port, there were 9 lines for passport check/immigration. 8 of the lines were for their tour groups and the rest of the passengers on independent tours were put into one long line. It took forever to get through and we were a hour late meeting our group and lost an hour of our time in Jerusalem which meant we didn't get our full tour. My husband asked the Hotel Manager, not a junior staff member, the Hotel Manager why we were being funneled into one long line and why didn't our Elite status give us the opportunity to get into the shortest line, he lied to us and said that Israeli immigration wanted it that way. Why would they care if you were on a tour sponsored by the ship or not? We asked the immigration officer when we finally got our turn to clear and they said it wasn't their requirement, that the ship had set it up that way. We all know that shorex makes a ton of money for cruise lines, but to offer Elite status and perks that are denied to us and to be lied to face to face by the Hotel Manager no less was totally unacceptable. Still angry my husband and another Elite passenger on our independent tour made an appointment with the Hotel Manager later in the week. His body language told them he wasn't interested in their problems and wasn't listening. He ushered them out with no resolution and no apology. They had a wonderful opportunity to give informational lectures on the history and culture of the Med and Israel but chose to have bingo and spa seminars instead!!! The only outstanding lecture was from a Star Guy who was great, but they put him in a room that held 60 people, so that they could play bingo in the Theater. We often sail with Holland on smaller ships and on longer cruises. We will continue to do so, but were not happy with the Hotel Manager's attitude, not being afforded the Elite benefits we have worked up to, and the lack of stimulating learning opportunities. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2013
The Rotterdam is an older ship, but still very enjoyable. Great walking deck. Experienced staff. We were present for opening night of two awesome shows being presented for the first time. All new costumes, choreography and music. Of a ... Read More
The Rotterdam is an older ship, but still very enjoyable. Great walking deck. Experienced staff. We were present for opening night of two awesome shows being presented for the first time. All new costumes, choreography and music. Of a caliber that we would have paid for to see on the outside. Great gym manager. Very dedicated. Captain errs on the cautious side and is good at explaining his decisions. We aborted 3 ports of call due to unsafe conditions. We spent 31 days hitting ports of call in Turkey, Greece, Malta, Israel, Italy, Spain and Portugal, combining 3 segments that started in Athens and ended in Harwich, England. Only downside was having to stand through 3 fire drills as new people came onboard. The ports in Turkey opened our eyes to the vast antiquity residing there. This is where much of what we regard as Greek history took place because the Greeks colonized what is now the Turkish coast. We found the ship tours to be a cut about average. The ones we took were run by Sea Song. Don't know if that made the difference or if visiting Turkey did, but we have no complaints. Would probably not go to Spain or Portugal on a cruise ship again. We had been to Gibraltar before, so it was almost boring this time. Cartagena is a non-event. Cadiz was enjoyable, but once is enough. One day in Lisbon is plenty.   Read Less
Sail Date: November 2013
We've been intrigued hearing about the Prinsendam and also about some of her itineraries. We often sail HAL, but this little ship seemed like something we should try. The cabin prices are often above our budget level, but when this ... Read More
We've been intrigued hearing about the Prinsendam and also about some of her itineraries. We often sail HAL, but this little ship seemed like something we should try. The cabin prices are often above our budget level, but when this cruise came up (2 months out) with some really good pricing, we knew we had to try it (even though we were headed to Antarctica in January). We loved the ship - there were many repeat travelers, but for many it was their first on Prinsendam. I was glad it hadn't been totally turned into a mini-HAL ship, but that while they've done some upgrading, it still has some of her "elegant explorer" left. We had an inside cabin, and while we are not used to twin beds, I wanted to experience these little cabins. We usually book inside, so that wasn't different, but I loved the layout of the cabin. At first it seemed like a postage stamp size, but soon was just a wonderful cozy place. The open space in the main cabin area was much more spacious than in other cabins we saw during the cruise. Just the basic cabin set-up with walk-in closet was great. I definitely hope to sail on her again. We were also drawn to the eastern Mediterranean itinerary. Egypt had been cancelled prior to our booking (which probably impacted the pricing for us) - for obvious security reasons. There was every reason to think at the time of our booking that Israel would also be cancelled, but the tensions settled and we had a wonderful 2 1/2 days in Israel. We booked the entire Collector's Voyage, including the TA to Ft. Lauderdale. As it happened, we had the privilege of sailing with the captain who took her out for the first time many years ago. It was fun to hear his insights into the building of the ship as well as his general knowledge of this ship that is so unlike the other HAL ships. HAL passengers really enjoy the smaller ships, even if they don't have the chance to sail the Prinsendam - HAL would be wise to heed these voices when they build newer and bigger (but for many of us, not better) ships. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2013
I booked this cruise/crossing at the last moment, when I was able to get a good rate as a solo traveler. I was able to get a ticket to Athens using Amex reward points, which eased my conscience about taking a second cruise in 4 months! (I ... Read More
I booked this cruise/crossing at the last moment, when I was able to get a good rate as a solo traveler. I was able to get a ticket to Athens using Amex reward points, which eased my conscience about taking a second cruise in 4 months! (I just retired in June and am still celebrating). I flew into Athens the night before and the cab driver my hotel had booked for me was waiting with a sign; he delivered me quickly and smoothly to Piraeus. The Piraeus Theoxenia Hotel was very comfortable, the staff was very helpful, and the included breakfast offered many tasty options. At my request, the desk called the same cab driver for me the next morning for the short ride to the port. Embarkation was smooth through my check-in with HAL, but as it was a national holiday, the Greek government had provided only one passport clerk to inspect all 800 passengers' passports. That line got very long! Moreover, the shuttle from the building to the ship was hot and slow to depart - but soon enough I was on the ship and unpacking in my comfy stateroom. I always book an outside cabin on a lower deck amidships, and Prinsendam's staterooms in this category are extremely comfortable. In particular, since the ship does long voyages, there is a roomy walk-in closet - plenty of storage, even when on a previous crossing I shared the stateroom with my sister. As it developed, there were quite a few days of strong winds during the cruise, and between the rocking of the ship and the comfiness of the bed, I slept extremely well! My favorite feature of this ship is the wrap-around promenade deck. I don't want a balcony; I might want to take a photo from the other side of the ship, and the wrap-around promenade deck lets me look out in any direction, often with other people along the railing to talk to. A covered place to walk laps is also important to fair-skinned people, especially as we grow older and start having sun damaged skin. I don't know how other lines can consider an exposed track on the top deck to be an acceptable substitute! Finally, I also love the old-fashioned, cushioned deck chairs on the promenade deck - best place to relax I know of. The other outstanding feature of the ship is its people. The staff are absolutely lovely - kind and smiling whatever the circumstances. The only exception was the beverage waiters in the pool area, who could not be bothered to deliver a glass of ice water. I complained about this on the mid-cruise survey, but it did not improve. The staff and crew are constantly polishing the ship; I heard someone in the self-service laundry say the ship was "dirty and shabby," and when pressed for specifics all he could come up with was that the canvas deck lounges on the aft promenade deck had faded covers. He had also noticed a bottom railing somewhere that wasn't adequately polished. The lesson here is that negative reviews without very specific details should be taken with a tablespoonful of salt. I like the food. To my taste, HAL does a better job of providing varied and properly-cooked vegetable side dishes than any other line except possibly Oceania. I have encountered less-than-perfectly-tender beef on previous cruises, but the filets and strip steaks on this cruise were exquisite. I especially liked the pasta station in the Lido for lunch; the zucchini lasagne and the baked macaroni and cheese were my favorites. The croissants didn't seem to be made from scratch on the ship, but I guess none of the lines do that any more. This cruise was technically listed as a back-to-back, and there were differences in emphasis between the Athens-Civitavecchia segment and the Civitavecchia-Fort Lauderdale segments. The former was very port-intensive, and the latter mostly sea days. I am not especially healthy, having back, knee and breathing problems, so I only went ashore every other day during the first segment but I enjoyed even the ports I only viewed from the ship. The itinerary had been changed to avoid possible unrest in Egypt, and some of the ports were relatively small - but that is one of the advantages of a small ship. The ports in Turkey were especially pleasant. I took three ship's excursions and all were satisfactory; the guides were particularly well-prepared. I don't care much about entertainment, but the English comedian and the violinist whose shows I attended were very entertaining and the classical duo was pleasant. I really enjoyed the lectures - typically one in the morning and one in the afternoon - and the library is excellent! Disembarkation was smooth as soon as they convinced me I really did have to get off the ship! (joke) I purchased the ship's transfer to FLL and it was a mixed success; I have trouble walking long distances and the driver let us off about half a block away from the Southwest counter. There were no carts, porters, or other forms of assistance nearby. I titled this review "my favorite ship," and she is. There is a definite charm about her, and a beauty to her hull, that is missing from so many newbuilds. She is a real ship, not a resort barge! I will sail on her again every chance I get!   Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: October 2013
This was a carefully chosen itinerary for us, taking in important Ancient sites of Turkey, Israel, Greece & Italy. The ship itself wasn't as important, although obviously we wanted a reputable company and acceptable level of ... Read More
This was a carefully chosen itinerary for us, taking in important Ancient sites of Turkey, Israel, Greece & Italy. The ship itself wasn't as important, although obviously we wanted a reputable company and acceptable level of comfort. Well our time on the ship was a wonderful surprise - a level of luxury we did not expect. The Prinsendam is a beautiful ship and being smaller gives a more intimate feel. We actually ran across the same people several times, even getting to know a few. The cruise critic roll call for the cruise helped in this regard too. Lovely cabin, BIG bath, fabulous food and seamless administration by HAL. It didn't matter what needed to be done: it was executed smoothly & efficiently. For us this included early disembarking at Naples, and this was achieved with no fuss, while keeping us informed constantly. The itinerary was FANTASTIC and all port docking was efficient & so accessible. Often we were able to come back to the ship for lunch & and a rest before launching forth again. What a wonderful way to see the world. Multiple air trips have lost their appeal for us now! Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2013
Me and my father had participated in a Holland America cruise with MsPrinsendam from 2 to 14 October this year at Black Sea. It was a round-trip, we sailed from Piraeus and disembarked there after visiting the following ports and places: ... Read More
Me and my father had participated in a Holland America cruise with MsPrinsendam from 2 to 14 October this year at Black Sea. It was a round-trip, we sailed from Piraeus and disembarked there after visiting the following ports and places: Volos-Pelion in Greece, Sinop in Turkey after cruising the Dardanelles and Bosporus, Sochi in Russia, Sevastopol in Ukraine, Constanta in Romania, Burgas (though initially Nessebar was out port of call) in Bulgaria, Istanbul (Constantinople) in Turkey and Mykonos in Greece. I would like to make a few comments on the destinations, before I go on with our experience on the ship. I come from Greece and three ports were actually in Greece, but I’ll try not to let this color my review. • I am sure Athens was a top destination for many travelers who flew from other continents, as Americans, Canadians, Philipinos and Australians. • Volos and especially Pelion with its unique architecture and autumn colors was a marvel even for us who have visited before. * Cruising Dardanelles and Bosporus, this area so heavy from memories and history, where different continents and cultures meet, was a special opportunity for lovers of history and for photographers as well – watching Constantinople from every angle as the ship sailed through Bosporus was spectacular! • Sinop was the first port where many of us wandered: “why did we really stop here???” It’s a small provincial town with almost nothing to show in terms of natural or urban environment, apart from the Walls, some Mosques and a few old Greek style houses. Though for Greeks (7 out of 750 passengers) Sinop might have some sentimental value (we visited an interesting Archaeological Museum with Ancient Greek, Roman and Byzantine relics), I am wandering how much money Holland America has saved by wasting one day here and not at some other important port as Samsun, Giresun, Ordu or Trabzon. Nevertheless people at Sinop were very hospitable and warm and they offered tasty pies and the traditional tea in their shops. • Sochi in Russia was a good example of how a communist city transits to black economy “development”. This usually means: ugly expensive hotels, casinos and malls, where all the upstarts –God knows how- come to show their culture or the lack of it. This could be a gate to Paradise, built across the coast of Black Sea and at the roots of Caucasus with all its beauty and botanical diversity. Anyway, we didn’t see much of it, since we needed Visa, and our travel agent had given us the wrong impression that the ticket to the off-shore excursion to the Nature Reverse would be the ticket, for a few hours, to the land of the (still) highly suspicious Russians. • Sevastopol is a city which we will have nice memories of: built on hills and small peninsulas entering Black Sea, gave me the impression of a city of Ancient Glory, as we were entering the harbor at sunset and its simple but imposing buildings were turning into gold. It’s a very clean city, very friendly to pedestrians, with a lot of open public spaces and trees. However, there is something always and everywhere present, in a rather disturbing and loud way: the Russian Army and the monuments for its participation to the great wars. Russian Army and Navy still uses this place as its basis, so there are numerous buildings with the Russian Flag on the top and people in uniforms coming and going in and out of them. We didn’t follow any excursion, it’s a waste of money anyway, and we took an old small bus (marshrutka) from their bus station and went to Bakchisaray, an old village with the Khan’s Palace, once the capital of the Crimean Tatar Khanate, where Khans had ruled for 400 years before Russians came to impose their dominance. On the way, the Cave monastery is a very interesting place, with monk cells caved in the rock, but unfortunately there was no time to make a stop. I would come back and explore the whole Chersonessos of Crimea. It’s a very cheap destination anyway! • Constanta takes the “Decadence Award”! One a charming and vibrant city is now full of deserted buildings and houses one step before collapse and it’s a shame. When we visited, the municipality was undertaking restoration and reconstruction work on streets and public areas and hopefully they will save some of the city’s previous glory. As for saving their culture, I do not think there are many hopes for that! Along with the poverty everywhere you would turn your eyes, you see the signs of a lustful consumerism: on cars, on west-style malls and on people’s behavior: aggressiveness and indifference, especially of their drivers. Constanta has left a rather depressive feeling in most of the travelers… • Next day we couldn’t dock at Nessebar so we went to Burgas, which was a pleasant turn of events. In spite of the obvious poverty and cultural confusion due the fast development of Bulgaria (some get rich but a lot of others stay in the dark), Burgas is a clean city with very interesting architecture. However, we still wanted to visit Nessebar, since we had heard a lot for this World Culture Heritage Monument. We used public transportation to get there. Today, it is solely a “tourists’ exploitation” destination: all its numerous 12th century churches, wonderfully restored, have a fee and they are surrounded with taverns and shops with souvenirs. Still, it is a picturesque place with cute wooden houses, but its lack of connection with today’s life has created a “fake” feeling in me. Like Sinop, I do not think this should be a destination by itself. Burgas or Varna, with the option of an excursion here, could be better . The company’s interests once again… • And then Istanbul which I visited for the second time – what can I say! It is the City of Cities – we should have spent 2-3 days here, but they are never enough. It’s a place you have to visit many times in your lifetime. Words are poor… • Mykonos at last is always a disappointing destination for me: picturesque but so exploited and so badly used. Lesvos or Chios would be a much more interesting destination. To end with, from all the ports we visited I would only choose Sevastopol and Constantinople: the first will stay in my mind, the second in my heart. Cruise experience As it is obvious above, only a few destinations in the cruise itinerary were worthwhile. In general, the cruise was unjustifiably expensive for what it offered. The whole ship is old and needs either to be removed or renovated, especially the cabins/staterooms. Though the bathroom was OK, the furniture in the room and other amenities are not even close to the “luxurious” ship we were told about. The air condition was horrible in many rooms and we spent two of the coldest days in rough sea …with cold air, so we had to cover our sea-sick heads with a duvet and a blanket. Then they supposedly fixed it and we spent the rest of the journey in a tropical envrionment with super-warm air. At the same time, the toilet blocked, but at least that was fixed after a few hours. Noisy room, near the machines of the ship. The food was mediocre. The choices were not as many as one would expect from a “luxurious ship”, so we had chicken, beef and salmon over and over again. In two occasions, fruits were one step before rotting and the slices of bread had signs of mold. In general, it was OK and the choices helped you maintain a healthy diet. I will remember one night we had Indonesian food served by staff dressed with traditional clothes. The food tasted more authentically, perhaps because it was closer to their hearts… We found entertainment awful, and this was how most non-Americans felt. Despite the talent of some of the performers, there were very few “canned” choices that were mostly directed to elderly Americans. The only performance I would distinguish was that of Mr. Cristian and Mr. Valentin on violin and on piano respectively. They performed with real passion diverse peaces from different parts of the world which created a very romantic and nostalgic atmosphere. These two gentlemen, who are also very kind and interesting people, have literally saved me during this cruise. Another issue that was inconvenient and unpleasant for us and many other passengers was the amount that was withheld from each passenger (60 dollars per person per day) and the tips that were mandatory. I do not know which policies apply to other cruise lines, but to find out that a couple needs more than 1300 dollars to be disposable, even if they do not intend to spend it them on the ship, is still incomprehensible for me. A cruise is not for everyone something they do whenever they wish. For my father and me it was a “once in a lifetime” thing and personally I didn’t have 700 dollars extra. “Tips’ policy” is another issue. I do not disagree that this is a way to honor those really hard-working people, and I do that wherever I go. But it is me who judges who deserves it and I make sure that she/he gets and not the owner of the company/store etc. I am almost 100% that the tips do not go to these poor people’s pockets and that they rather make up the minimal salaries of hunger they are paid for 16-18 hours of work each day. And this leads me naturally to the service from the lower staff in the rooms, restaurants/bars and machines of the ship – all those people we never really see and to whom our journey relies on: it was excellent, human, warm and thoughtful. It was overwhelming for me to watch these low-paid tired people smiling even though their feet hurt and needed sleep. Someone would say that they are treated better than in their homelands (mostly Philippines and Indonesia) and that they have the chance to see the world and make a budget to build the house or the shop of their dreams in their hometown when they return. But they deserve much more: better salaries, better work conditions. And this is something Holland-America should have in mind: these people never complain but many passengers know what happens. The shore excursions then: “canned” just like the entertainment aboard. Much money for less time and fewer places. Do not follow. Use the local transport: you’ll get a deeper look in everyday life than when you’re lead by others stacked in a bus in a predetermined root. Should this option intimidate you, book a local guide before your journey. And of course, read before you travel. Before I conclude, I feel that I should mention the cruise director of Ms Prinsendam which me and many other passengers found arrogant, rude and disrespectful of other people’s cultures and status. A lady from Turkey was insulted in a multiply racist way when she dared to complain about certain incindents on the ship: her origins, her experience from the rest of the world and her ability to speak and understand foreign languages were questioned. Holland-America should consider her replacement. Of course, I could have made all these complaints to the company directly but you know what? Although, they asked us to feel in a form with our e-mails, nor me nor the lady from Turkey have ever received their survey to complete it… Am I suspicious?...   Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2013
I chose this cruise because of its Black Sea itinerary, mostly places I have never seen. Spending a few extra days in Athens was the icing on the cake. Check-in and boarding staff were efficient and cordial. My stateroom, a free upgrade ... Read More
I chose this cruise because of its Black Sea itinerary, mostly places I have never seen. Spending a few extra days in Athens was the icing on the cake. Check-in and boarding staff were efficient and cordial. My stateroom, a free upgrade surprise, was large and luxurious with a bathtub and walk-in closet. Cabin stewards were gracious and eager to please. The small size of the ship gave me a chance to get to know some of the guests I saw regularly. What a delightful, well-traveled group. The food was excellent with extra emphasis on local specialities. Our first port, Volos, Greece, gave me a chance to visit the breathtaking Meteora Monasteries on a excellent shore excursion. This is a must see site with religious communities perched on top of pillars of rock formations that are like something out of a sci-fi movie. The guide was wonderful. The Dardenelles and Bosporus cruising was narrated and a wonderful scenic tour in both directions. Our entrance into the Black Sea was cold and blustery so the crew did everything they could for our comfort. Sinop, Turkey was a delight. It is small, walkable and a great view of seaside life. I enjoyed a talk with a young weaver who spent her time telling me about her country and shared a traditional Turkish coffee with me in her shop. Others I encountered were equally gracious. It was a delight to visit a place not built just for tourists. Sinop is historically significant as well as delightful Sochi, Russia was an interesting Russian experience as well as a preview of the site of the 2014 Winter Olympics. My chosen shore excursion was to a Caucasus nature reserve but most of the time was spent visiting the high mountain Olympic Villages that were still under construction. It will enhance my enjoyment of the Olympics but we never got our walk in the nature reserve. Due to rough seas the captain arranged an early and overnight stay in Sevastopol as a treat and it was. I enjoyed a dinner in town where the restaurant staff were gracious and negotiated with us about a meal since we couldn't read the Ukrainian menu. The food was wonderful and the service was cordial and efficient. My shore excursion the next day was a half day that included the ruins at Chernosses, a wonderful experience. I spent the rest of the day strolling around the clean, beautiful city. Constanta, Romania was a view into a post-Communist city that is struggling to reclaim itself after years of neglect. I walked around visiting mosques and churches and enjoyed a coffee with pastry in a bakery. People were friendly and eager to speak English. It was a day of enlightenment and hope for the future of these lovely people. Burgas, Bulgaria, a substitute port due to stormy weather, was a surprise treat. It is full of parks, boulevards, beaches, shops, cafés and delightful people. I walked around alone, resting in coffee shops as needed, enjoying this beautiful city. Istanbul was a return visit for me. I spent the entire day strolling alone through markets, visiting mosques, shopping a bit and people watching. Since it was the beginning of an extended holiday, locals packed the streets providing a great opportunity to observe this diverse culture. My evening shore excursion was to the Whirling Dervish service in a mosque. This was a rare treat that was graciously explained and beautifully presented. Our last port was Mykonos, also a return visit that I thoroughly enjoyed. It is hard to think of a more beautiful place on a bright sunny day, with Sunday church services and low tourist crowds. People are friendly, food is good and scenic views are all around.   Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: October 2013
Noordam – October 20/13 Mediterranean and Tran-Atlantic cruise We love cruising and we particularly love cruising on Holland America ships. We'd had a lovely long cruise in the spring and did not plan on this holiday but the magic ... Read More
Noordam – October 20/13 Mediterranean and Tran-Atlantic cruise We love cruising and we particularly love cruising on Holland America ships. We'd had a lovely long cruise in the spring and did not plan on this holiday but the magic word 'Sale' appeared and we could not resist. We have taken more than a dozen trans-Atlantic cruises in the past so there had to be new (to us) ports of call to tempt us. This cruise fitted that requirement. One of the biggest expenses for us in the airfare. I spend many hours researching flights on line and finally determined the most economical way for us to get from eastern Canada to Greece was to fly from Halifax on Icelandair to London, spend a night in London and then fly to Athens on BA the following day. Instead of paying out $3500 per person to Air Canada - it cost us $800 per person and we flew in a lot more comfort! We spent our London night in the Premier Inn on the Bath Road at Heathrow. We have stayed there many times and it is always a favourite of ours. Our second night was at the Savoy Hotel in Piraeus. The hotel itself was reasonably comfortable - nothing special. The food in the dining room was very good - huge (far more than one could eat) servings and very reasonable prices. On October 20th we boarded the Noordam. We have previously cruised on the Noordam and find it a nice mid-sized ship. We prefer the smaller ships however this size is still very nice - not one of those behemoths where you get lost, still a size to get to know and recognize staff during your vacation. Embarkation was smooth and we thoroughly enjoyed our Mariner luncheon before re-acquainting ourselves with the ship. HAL ships have wonderful libraries and our first stop was to pick out some books to enjoy. I mentioned 'sale' earlier. Usually we cruise in an inside stateroom as it is more economical and we are really only in our cabin to sleep and change clothing. This time, however, the price of a balcony was so good that we booked it. And then received an upgrade to an even nicer balcony. We were thoroughly spoiled!! Our cabin was large, very comfortable with a nice sitting area inside and another couple of chairs and tables on the balcony. Dave spent many happy hours reading on the balcony. And I thoroughly enjoy being able to step outside and get a breath of fresh sea air whenever I like. The cabin bathroom was a revelation - there was even a bathtub. After cruises where you felt like you should just soap the walls and then turn around in the shower - it was a treat to have so much room. We definitely loved our accommodations - lots of storage room for all our things and lots of comfort for us. This cruise was very port-intensive at the start so other than playing a lot of trivia, we did not get very involved in other ship activities until the sea-days part of the cruise. We opted for traditional dining and had a nice table for two and were thoroughly spoiled by our waiters and wine stewards (two lovely ladies). Meals are always excellent on HAL ships. We feel they have the best meals of any line. We adore spices and look forward to Asian lunches in the Lido, There is always so much variety that no matter how long the cruise - one always has lots of choices. Quite frankly - my idea of heaven would be about 6 months on a HAL ship - however I would doubtless need a whole new wardrobe as it is very difficult to exercise will power all the time. We especially appreciate the fact there there are a variety of safe sugar free desserts for my diabetic husband to enjoy. The Rijsttafel luncheon on longer cruises is a real treat for the both of us. I appreciate the fact that rather than hiding their recipes - HAL has available for sale several wonderful cookbooks with recipes that have become favourites. It is nice to make a particular dish when back home and bring back memories of enjoying it on a cruise. We had the ship as our "hotel' for the night before sailing away from Piraeus. I really enjoy this - usually we have sail away a few hours after boarding. Somehow this seemed so much more relaxed and it was a treat to watch the sail away from our balcony. The weather was perfect - sunny and comfortably warm. Ports of Call Our first port of call was Kusadasi. We had not been here before and most of the folks going on tours headed off to visit Ephesus. We have been to Ephesus twice and chose instead to wander about and explore the city on our own. We had a wonderful time exploring the market, bargaining for our purchases and enjoying the sights and sounds. We walked up to the Caravanserai. It is a beautiful stone building and is now a hotel with some shops around the interior square. One can just picture many years ago and travellers on camels arriving there – the camels sitting down in the square and their owners in the many rooms resting after their travels. So many wonderful streets to stroll and shops to explore and then a stop at a sidewalk cafe for Raki for two and turkish coffee for Dave. Our next port of call was Rhodes. It was lovely getting off the ship and walking around the harbour to enter one of the gates to this ancient walled city. We love history and have read a great deal about the history of the Crusades and Rhodes figured heavily in any mention of that era. We visited the Archaeological museum - as much for the wonderful art treasures on display there as for the building itself. This building was originally the hospital run by the Knights Hospitalers who cared for ill pilgrims and injured and ill knights. It is a marvelous place - bigger than modern day hospitals in small towns - spread out over a large area with a variety of levels. There are wonderful courtyards with flowers and herbs and fishponds to sooth the spirit as well as the physical ills. Next we headed up the Street of the Knights towards the palace - stopping on the way to visit an interesting (and free) costume museum. It was a little gem - do not miss it. The Palace was the Palace of the Grand Master of the Knights Hospitalers. After the Turkish empire attacked and battles the Knights - they earned such respect that they were allowed to leave Rhodes with all their weapons and they left and settled in Malta. There they became the Knights Templar and their focus was on amassing wealth instead of ministering to the ill. We found it very easy to explore Rhodes on foot and thoroughly enjoyed our time there. Our next stop was Haifa. We decided to take advantage of a ship tour and it was excellent. Our guide Sharon was wonderful. She had a degree in History and in English Literature and her knowledge of history really added to the enjoyment of the tour. First we were driven up Mount Carmel to the church of Stella Maris – the church of the Carmelite nuns. Next we visited the Bahai Gardens. They stretch down the mountainside with a beautiful golden shrine half way down and the gardens were absolutely beautiful. Then we were off to Akko which is the modern name of Acre – of fame in the Crusades. The Turks who over-ran the country and drove the Crusaders out of it – wanted no reminders and buried the fortress at Acre under tons of rubble. We visited the excavated buildings and went through one of the Knights escape tunnels from the fortress to the harbour. It was all fascinating. We visited a shop that made beautiful items in copper and silver. This was the 5th generation creating such beautiful items – the family originally from Iran. We brought some wonderful souvenirs back from that shop. We had a walk through a suq and then a lovely drive back to Haifa and the ship. It was an excellent tour and our guide Sharon was a fount of knowledge. We highly recommend that tour. Limasol in Cyprus was our next port of call. We did not book any tours and actually had a rest day as had done so much walking the day before in Haifa. This is not a port that offers a lot to do – it was a port that the ship visited after the Egypt ports were cancelled due to the political situation in Egypt. Our next port of call was Katakolon – which is actually called Katakolo by the local people. We had a most interesting visit there. There are three main streets and walking along the middle one we came to a lovely little Greek Orthodox church that had been destroyed in WWII and had been totally rebuilt by one man (who was there in the church at that time). It was a labour of love that has taken many years – and well worth a visit. We walked along towards a little park and there purchased tickets for €6 each for a ride on the train up in the hills. This was a 30 minute ride that took up up through a little village , to visit a winery, and then to stop at a big hotel that had access to a beach for swimming. If we ever go back there I will get that train first thing in the morning and enjoy some beach time as the train goes back and forth while ships are in port. One can get off at the winery (which we did – to sample and purchase some wine) and at the beach and get later trains back. This is a small town but we noticed lots of signs advertising Guest Houses and Hotels. A lot of tourists visit here because of the lovely climate and peace and quiet. Many visitors head off to Olympus and there are cars and scooters and mopeds and scooters to rent and a bus that goes there regularly. Messina was our next port of call and we were just there for a few hours in the afternoon. We wandered around the streets a bit but because we just arrived there at noon – it was much like a ghost town as everything was closed between noon and four. Sensible in the heat of summer but I would have thought having stores open for a ship load of tourists in the autumn might have benefited the economy a bit. We heard there was a tour bus – not a HOHO but it would have given a bit more insight into the town but could not find a location for it. Tourism does not appear to be a priority there. Naples was next and we had wonderful weather there for our tour of the city. Last time we were here Dave visited Pompeii and Herculaneum while our travelling companions had a tour of the Amalfi coast. This time we wanted to see more of the city so chose a HOHO bus and were delighted with our choice. There is so much to see in the city but be prepared to do is slowly as traffic in Naples is unbelievable. There are two HOHO routes – the red and the blue. We took the red line tour which is advertised as a one hour tour if you are staying on the bus rather than getting off at each stop. It took well over two hours because of the traffic. The tour was enlivened by good commentary, wonderful Neapolitan music and the frequent wailing of ambulances trying to get through traffic. I do not think anyone would ever die of old age in Naples – they would die of traffic – trying to get through the cars and buses to hospital. There are so many lovely churches and interesting museums in Naples – one really needs a week there and all we could spare on this visit was one day. Any before leaving the HOHO we asked about the wonderful music and the guide had CDs available for sale – a lovely souvenir of our day there. Citavecchia was our next port of call. We were in port from 7 in the morning until 4 in the afternoon. This was the end of the first cruise for many, with more people joining the ship for the Trans-Atlantic crossing. Had we been in port longer – we might have taken the train up to Rome for the day. Having been to Rome several times before (even spending a week before embarking on one cruise) we decided that there really would not be enough time to enjoy the city as the train there and back takes a good hour or more each way. We opted for a ship day. Alicante was our next port of call. The last time we visited Alicante there was a huge rainstorm and we did not get to see a lot. We skipped the busy shuttle and walked through the port to the stop for the HOHO bus. This time it was sunny with a marvellous 27 degrees and fortunately a nice breeze while the bus is moving. We were just in port until 2:30 in the afternoon so had to be very selective about what to do. We decided to enjoy the sights of the city but stay on the bus until we reached the castle of Santa Barbara. This was a fortress built by the Moors on the top of a hill. It was renamed after the Spanish drove the Moors out of Spain. It is a wonderful place to visit and the views from the castle over the city and the water are simply magnificent. Thank goodness for digital photography as I would have run out of old fashioned film if I had been using that kind of camera. We only got to scratch the surface – would need a lot more time than we had available to explore all of the castle. There are other lovely spots in the city to explore but time was so limited. We came back to the port stop and then decided to walk about for a half hour – enjoying the lovely streets with the patterned tiles that look like waves, and the many stalls and vendors of local products before we headed back. There is a beautiful old sailing ship in the harbour that has been turned into a restaurant , local markets to explore and a casino for the gamblers. This is a city I want to visit again as so much more to see and not enough time to see it all. Malaga was our next port of call. More sunshine and hot temperatures greeted us and we headed for the HOHO bus here. Because we had been on the HOHO in Naples – our tickets were discounted here! The trip here is an 80 minute route with about 15 different stops – a wonderful way to really get to see Malaga. So many people go from this port to visit Granada. Having visited Granada twice on previous cruises we wanted to see more of Malaga and this bus tour was definitely the way to explore it. There is everything from a Moorish castle to cathedrals, museums, lovely gardens, a roman amphitheatre – so much to see and enjoy. Malaga was the home town of Picasso – so the Picasso Museum is a must for fans of the artist. Cadiz was the last mainland port of call on this cruise. Some folks opted to visit Seville but we love Cadiz. It is one of the easiest cities to walk around as different walking routes are painted on the pavement. . We love strolling the streets – finding new and interesting spots on each visit. This trip we discovered the Church of San Francisco which looks tiny on the outside but is big and amazing inside. There was a lovely little restaurant on that same square where we had lunch. Shrimp tortillas are a speciality of Cadiz and they are delicious! Those along with potatas bravas and some local wine – heaven... We always head over to Cathedral Square and explore the little side streets and visit the market. After all our walking we decided to head up to the Cathedral stop and catch the HoHo back to the ship. The hop-on hop-off bus here is wonderful and despite having taken it on other visits here, we could not resist taking it again here. Two sea days after leaving Cadiz we stopped at our last port of call Ponta Delgada on the island of Sao Miguel in the Azores (or Acores as the locals call it). Ponta is a lovely place to visit and most people opted to go ashore – either to explore the city or take a tour. Because we had been there at least 10 times in the past we decided to take advantage of a quiet day on ship. Having covered the ports of call - which are secondary in my opinion - here is my view of the ship. The ship itself was immaculately clean and that was evidenced by the fact that there were no signs of illness on board other than colds. No gastric problems. That takes a lot of work to avoid on a ship as passengers are not always honest about health issues when boarding - bring Norvo type diseases on and spread them. Not this time though. No matter where one was on the ship - there was staff industriously cleaning and polishing. The entertainment on board ship was very good. The production shows were thoroughly enjoyable and we went to them despite having seen these new shows on the Ryndam in the spring. This ship is larger and has a larger cast so it gave these productions a different look. The guest entertainers were good - something for everyone there. Our favourite performers were Graffiti Classic – billed as 16 strings, 8 dancing feet and 4 voices. And they were a riot – great music and wonderful musical comedy. We actually enjoyed it so much we went to both the early and the late show and purchased their CDs. We enjoyed guest lecturers, and thoroughly enjoyed all our trivia matches hosted by Jeremy Hales of the cruise director staff. The music on ship was excellent, the HAL Cats, and the group in the Ocean Bar played wonderful music for ballroom dancing. There was a wide variety of music from guitar to piano bar to classical to dance groups. I enjoyed a few trips to the spa for the wonderful massages. It is the Holland America crew that make the cruise for us. The service is outstanding – far superior to any on shore. Our waiters and wine stewards quickly learn our likes and dislikes, our cabin stewards manage to restore order to chaos several times a day and everyone we meet on ship is pleasant and helpful. We thoroughly enjoyed the Rijsttafel luncheons, the afternoon teas and all of the lovely meals. We had fun at the Black and White Officers Ball, and all the crew was always adept at making us feel welcome and wanted in their home (as we are guests in the crew's home). Because we have sailed with HAL ships several times (we were awarded our bronze Mariner medals on this cruise) we often run into crew members that we have met on other sailings. Once again we renewed acquaintances as well as making new friends. The only downside of our whole cruise was the arrival in Fort Lauderdale. This was in no way the fault of the ship. We were delayed in leaving by almost an hour and as we moved off the ship found we were in long hot and uncomfortable lines because the authorities at Fort Lauderdale had insufficient staff to promptly process the passengers leaving the ship. They certainly would have been aware of the size of the ship and the number of passengers likely to be disembarking as well as any crew heading home on holiday. We were totally disgusted by the lack of preparation and organization by the emigration staff. We finally arrived at the airport an hour and a half later than the proper check-in time and were just lucky not to miss our flight. We thoroughly enjoyed this cruise, enjoyed the ports of call, loved the crew and the ship and just wish we could be back on the Noordam when it heads back to Europe in March. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2013
Just got back yesterday from my 26 day med/transatlantic cruise. Overall it was great cruise except for a few rough nights coming across the Atlantic. Was disappointed with the activities onboard during days at sea. Can see why some name ... Read More
Just got back yesterday from my 26 day med/transatlantic cruise. Overall it was great cruise except for a few rough nights coming across the Atlantic. Was disappointed with the activities onboard during days at sea. Can see why some name this ship the BoringDam. The food was just average. Did eat several times at the Pinnacle grill and it was well worth the extra money that it costs. Highly recommend it to future passengers. The ship was in excellent condition, the staff was friendly. The entertainment was below par and did improve once we departed for the transatlantic crossing. Embarkation and transfers from the Marriott Ledra, in Athens went well. The entire embarkation process went quickly and baggage was delivered to the room I think in record time. The itinerary and ports were interesting though I limited my excursion travels due to the costs involved. Even with the 10% discount that HAL offered the excursion prices were on the high side. Ephesus the first port of call was beautiful and was able to book my own tour off the ship at a much cheaper rate with another couple. In town Kusadasi, the atmosphere was lets rip off the tourists with all the counterfeit merchandise and overpriced carpets. Definitely need to know your prices before you go on rugs and leather products. The next stop was Haifa, Israel. A wonderful place to go, just wish HAL would overnight there as there is so much to see and so little time. Shore excursion prices were pricey. If you can plan well ahead, book your own tours. Going to the ports of Limassol Cyprus was a little disappointing as a port of call. Took the bus into town and walk around a bit. Good place to buy linens and buy a cold beer to drink. Nothing really stands out. On to Katakolon, Greece. What can I say, the ancient grounds of Olympia was a great tour. The town of Katakolon is a small quaint town with a little bit of shopping. Highly recommend going to the Greek Art Gallery there if you want a nice piece of art work. Virginia the owner is from the states and will make you a honest deal on a nice piece of art. Not a rip-off like Christos across the street, where I bought something and I am still waiting to see if it gets delivered. If you want cheap internet, go to the back street as there is a great place for internet at a cheap price as well as a nice little café. And the Gelato Yum! Messina, Italy was disappointing. Should have taken a tour to Toramina, but the tour price was too high. In Naples for the day took the hop-on hop-of bus. Great way to see Naples and feel safe in doing it. Recommend taking the both routes that are offered. If you want to do shopping take the red line and get off at stop 3. If you want excellent pizza, take the red line to stop 9 and try Lombardi, or onto stop 10 and go to Toraminos. Excellent Pizza. Once you eat pizza in Naples and you will not be able to stand the crap they serve here in the states. Also, don't forget to get the Gelato. The next stop I wish to mention in my review is the port for Rome. Have a hard time saying it as well as spelling it. Civitavecchia??? In lieu of going to Rome, I decided to explore this little city. I was surprise by it. If you decided to see the port, make sure you take in the open air market and explore some of the back streets. For internet service at very cheap price go to a little hole in the wall place called SeaMen. From the place where the port bus drops you off, you will see McDonalds then go to the right about 2 blocks and cut in towards town on the narrow street. SeaMens is on the right and is a grocery store up front but a has in internet service in the back along with a little café off to the side. Show them your ship card and then get on their computers. It was just a little over 1 euro for about 45 minutes. Beats the ships rates. Besides the internet, the wine and beer prices there are cheap. The crossing of the Atlantic was a long journey especially with the seas being choppy for many days and the port of calls Allicante, Malaga, and Cadiz were just ok to me. Recommend doing the hop-on- Hop-off buses. Nothing really stood out. Nothing like going like going to Barcelona or Lisbon. If I had to do it all over again, I would skip the transatlantic portion, especially in the fall. Read Less
Sail Date: September 2013
My wife and I generally choose a cruise because of the ports visited and not the ship, however we did find the Noordam was a poor choice compared to other ships we have been on. Our verandah stateroom, 4016, was poorly positioned, jutting ... Read More
My wife and I generally choose a cruise because of the ports visited and not the ship, however we did find the Noordam was a poor choice compared to other ships we have been on. Our verandah stateroom, 4016, was poorly positioned, jutting out from the decks above, resulting in coffee spills,wine spills, cigarette ash, etc from above. At times the verandah was unusable because of smokers above and alongside, (many cruise ships do not allow smoking in staterooms or on verandahs). The stateroom also had problems with the toilet, bath, verandah door, (wind noise). There was no coin operated laundry, which does not help on a 22 day cruise. One major control error was that signatures were never required for on board purchases - in a few cases we were double charged and could not prove they were not ours - to Noordam's credit, they did credit us, but we wonder what would have happened if they refused, or our ship's card was used wrongly! The food was adequate without being great, however the staff in the Vista Dining room were dysfunctional, and often got orders mixed up. On many nights we were more than halfway through our meal before a wine steward turned up. On the credit side, arrival/departure/embarking/disembarking was excellent, as were the shore excursion organisation.   Read Less
Sail Date: September 2013
Being our second cruise and reading the positive reviews of HAM & the Noordam, we were looking forward in anticipation of at least the same standard ( if not better ) as our first cruise ( Dawn Princess 14 days Melbourne- NZ ... Read More
Being our second cruise and reading the positive reviews of HAM & the Noordam, we were looking forward in anticipation of at least the same standard ( if not better ) as our first cruise ( Dawn Princess 14 days Melbourne- NZ -Melbourne). While we did enjoy the cruise, the Noordam/HAM/crew disappointed. On arrival, there was no positive greeting, just formalities and a keycard. Looking forward to quickly unpacking, securing our valuables and heading up top for a drink, our plans fouled almost immediately. Our cabin ( 8114). The safe wouldn't work. After 4 phone calls, 4 crew visits, 24 hours and 3 trips to queue at the 'front desk' for deposit box access, finally someone turned up and replaced the batteries! We also found that there were no robes, no wine glasses and one of the balcony chairs looked like it had been salvaged from a street-side collection. Poor standards and no checking. Dining Second seating in the main dining room, we rarely finished in time to see a 10:00 show. Our wine waiter was (deservedly) 'fired' after 2 weeks (not our doing) . Our favoured wines ( NZ Sauvignon Blanc, French Pinot Noir or Beaujolais were 'out of stock' or ran out early in the cruise. American, Chilean or Argentinian substitutes were the only 'options'. There were so many details where the Noordam dining experience was found to be lacking in comparison to the Dawn Princess. Pinnacle Grill - Unless you are keen to have a big piece of meat ( very nice I will admit ) don't bother. As a 'fine dining' experience, it was very poor. The service and presentation were 'average'. Staff training, oversight and adherence to standards seems to be the issue. After being seated at 8:30, we had the lights turned off/down at 10:30! A polite word from the maitre-de perhaps? Astounding! Entertainment Cheapest they could find? We walked out on most of the shows. Very disappointing. Overall - There were so many areas which didn't measure up to the standard we experienced on the Princess ship. I could elaborate but I think the opinion of a gentleman I met on the bow one morning perhaps says it all. " I've travelled with Holland America many times since 1964. It's not the same any more, they just seem to be nickel & diming us all the time now"   Read Less
Sail Date: September 2013
This was our 1st cruise so cannot compare to others - however a few points that may assist future cruisers on this ship & line. On Service: Could only class as average. The cabin and floor staff are Indonesian - nothing racist here, ... Read More
This was our 1st cruise so cannot compare to others - however a few points that may assist future cruisers on this ship & line. On Service: Could only class as average. The cabin and floor staff are Indonesian - nothing racist here, but sometimes requests get lost in translation. ie they never got the room service right [ which they promote you to use] tea & milk - no milk! On reqest for milk, 2 glasses arrive 20 mins later! Cereal for 2 with 1 bowl, or toast for 2 with 1 plate! They are programmed to be very polite and friendly, but 2nd requests for a problem were on some occasions met with surliness. ie they lost our bottle of wine and said "there was not much in it anyway!" On Saving Your $: We bought wine and mineral water ashore for our cabin, there was no problem bringing on board; why should there be! Make sure you bring a corkscrew as Euro wine is still corked. The "Hotel Service charge " as they call it @ US$11.50 per person per day is charged to your room account progressively during the cruise - this is on top of the 15% added to all drink purchases. This $11.50 is deemed to be a 'pooled' gratuity for all staff. Well my definiion of a gratuity is an amount I choose to give to award good service. You can vary this amount by the following:- Go to the ships office 2 nights before disembarkation and explain you wish to vary the gratuity charge to $X per day - they will ask your reasons for their records - fair enough,but they really can't force this payement on you. The following 'last' night they will deliver your final shipboard account and you can check if the adjustment has been credited. On Laundry: There being no self laundry, its wash in your basin or the laundry service; $20 for a 'sleeping bag size' load. If you have a veranda purchase a suction cap with hook [about 3" or 7 mm diameter] and about 3 metres cord with pegs. Fix a line from your window out to the rail! The laundry service use industrial size dryers for all the ships laundry and yours - so beware of items coming back shrunk. On Disembarkation: They ask that all cases are put outside the cabin night before as they are offloaded during the night. We disembarked to the exit/baggage hall ashore next morning to find our luggage locks had been cut off and our cases rifled through. Fortunately no valubles were there to take! I would recommend you refuse this request and take you own cases off in the morning if you are capable - bear in mind depending on which deck you exit that may mean negotiating some stairs. We enjoyed our cruise and the fabulous Meditteranean ports in ideal Autumn weather - I hope my tips add to your enjoyment. Read Less
Sail Date: August 2013
Just returned from an 11 night Ancient Mystery tour on MS Noordam (2nd time on board the same ship). Fabulous itinerary made even better by the changes, due to recent disruptions in Egypt, from Port Said & Alexandria to Ashdod & ... Read More
Just returned from an 11 night Ancient Mystery tour on MS Noordam (2nd time on board the same ship). Fabulous itinerary made even better by the changes, due to recent disruptions in Egypt, from Port Said & Alexandria to Ashdod & Haifa in Israel ' even more of a bonus that HAL gave us $100 pp. as compensation. Primarily we always chose a cruise based on itinerary / ports of call & Holland America Line excel in this area. The fact you can chose your length of stay i.e. 11 days, 22 days or even 33 days (for the lucky few), is also good as is the fact that the cruises don't loop ' you start in one port & end in another so can get further (although aware for some that embarking & disembarking in differing ports may be an issue). Secondly it comes down to cruise line ' chose a line as you would when choosing a resort & hotel ' they all differ greatly, even within a line it can depend on the individual ship, time of year travelling & even itinerary. Most cruise lines will be busy in school holiday & have kids on board ' some more than others. There are pros & cons with every cruise line. The MS Noordam is understated but elegant. She isn't the newest ship out there nowadays - 2006 - which is far from old but in ship terms she is showing some small signs of 'wear & tear'. However she is kept it pristine condition (unlike Thomson ships) & constantly cleaned. Compared to numbers of board there is more than enough public space for each individual & the ship never felt over crowded ' even on days at sea. There was never an issue with regard to sun loungers & getting seats at the shows (as I've experienced on other lines). Service is excellent particularly in the Vista dining room (Adhi our waiter went out of his way to create origami animals every evening for our son) & food is very good ' well presented & a good choice. Quality of ingredients is superior on HAL compared to other lines we've previously used, as are basics such as coffee in the main vista lounge & fruit juices (not so great in the Lido). Minimal public announcements - it was a relief not to have constant PA announcements telling us what was going on & flogging over-priced shore excursions, photos & DVD's as some lines do. The daily port of call / event guide was sufficient for this ' you just had to read it. Shows were enjoyable, again as per the whole ship, understated in style' a comedian, a magician & some 'Broadway' style shows performed by the Noordam singers & dancers which were all good '. If full on 'Vegas' style cheesy shows are your thing you possibly won't agree. Stateroom (we were in Veranda stateroom 5158) was good ' always kept immaculately clean & tidy by the stateroom attendant. Bed had good quality sheets & was so comfortable it was hard to get out in the morning! Room was quiete - no noise from any other part of the ship. No complaints about the stateroom ' not sure how it differs to other categories. Balcony bigger than that on other ships ' enough room for 3 to sit on it & watch the world go by. The ship is however reasonable quiet & restrained so if full on fun & partying & pool games are your thing this may not be the line / ship for you. There is enough to do if excursions are you main focus followed by good food & wine, a show & a drink in one of the many bars on board. There is a night club on board & Karaoke on some evenings but we never used these as we were travelling with a 12 year old. Our only disappointment with HAL was with regard to Turkish Visa's as we were disembarking in Istanbul ' we felt HAL used scare tactics & felt pressured into buying over-priced visas they persisted in arranging at $45 pp. for UK residents when it costs $15 pp. ('10) in port? We had looked into this prior to departure & weren't fooled by HAL but they still caused unnecessary stress & wasted too much of our time whilst we checked facts with home & online to make sure & by queuing on several occasions to sort with guest services. We bought ours Turkish Visa (only needed if disembarking here) for '10 in Kusadsi port & could have done the same before disembarking in Istanbul. I fail to see that HAL did not know this? It was even worse for fellow US passengers ' HAL were trying to charge $85 for something that cost $20 in port! It left a bit of a bitter taste after all the good things they'd strived to do.   Read Less
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