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54 Holland America Australia & New Zealand Cruise Reviews

We choose this cruise for the itinerary, which we loved. The Noordam is an older ship but is well designed and in good shape. The cabin decor was a bit dated but the cabin was well equipped and layed out well. The Positives: Room ... Read More
We choose this cruise for the itinerary, which we loved. The Noordam is an older ship but is well designed and in good shape. The cabin decor was a bit dated but the cabin was well equipped and layed out well. The Positives: Room Service was punctual, hot and got our orders right every time. It is a limited menu, but we were happy. Laundry Service was prompt and they did a good job washing folding or hanging the clothes. The unlimited laundry was well worth the price and they even replaced a broken zipper on a pair of jeans at no charge. The Room Attendants did a very good job and the Guest Service desk was helpful. Embarkation and Disembarkation were both easy. The team did a good job rerouting the ship to Burnie, Tasmania when it could not visit Eden due to the bushfires. The Negatives: The service in the Main Dining room was terrible. We experienced long waits for service, missing food, not getting what was ordered and a couple of servers with poor attitudes. We signed up for freestyle dining, which may have been part of the reason. HAL has not figured out how to properly service diners who are out of phase with the fixed meal times even though they tout this option's flexibility. Lido service simply did not exist. Sell baby, sell. There is a constant pressure to buy stuff you don't want or need. At the extreme this included books for making the towel animals and the history of HAL book but it permeates through all activities aboard, The internet service was terrible. The onboard execution for activities and shows was lacking, There was never enough space for the people who wanted to attend trivia, Lincoln Center Stage or other events. The Planet Earth II show would have been great but they set up the musicians in the way of the incredibly beautiful imagery. So, instead of seeing the exotic wildlife footage, we looked at the guitar player. The onboard talent was not good, but the outside talent was enjoyable. In general, there were not enough activities for the four sea days. If the weather had been better, that may not have been an issue. Shuffleboard did not work, due to the condition of the deck the discs would not slide. I still don't get the whole EXC thing. It seems like marketing/branding without any real content. This trip needed an onboard naturalist and someone who could add knowledge about the ports visited, These are all really easily solved things that an attention to detail can easily remedy; but, unfortunately, all of HAL's attention seems to be on the bottom line. We did not do any ship excursions but found great private excursions in advance. We stayed at the Auckland Hilton pre-cruise and highly recommend that hotel. After the cruise we stayed at the West (Hilton Curio Colllection) in Sydney which was also very nice, albeit not being as close to Circular Quay as other options. In summary, if you pick a cruise based on itinerary, HAL's Noordam is a fine choice. If you pick it for the shipboard experience, you can do better with another cruise line. Read Less
Sail Date December 2019
We are a family of 5, traveling with 3 daughters in their 20’s. Let me start by saying that we had a nice time on this cruise and it was a good value for the money for a holiday cruise. But there is certainly room for improvement by ... Read More
We are a family of 5, traveling with 3 daughters in their 20’s. Let me start by saying that we had a nice time on this cruise and it was a good value for the money for a holiday cruise. But there is certainly room for improvement by HAL. First the high points. I have nothing but the utmost respect for the crew. They work incredibly hard, always with smiles on their faces. A special mention goes to Yohannes, one of the maitre d’s in the Main Dining Room. Two of our daughters are vegetarians and Yohannes,along with our waiter Suarta, worked to make sure that they had plenty of choices for dinner. While the daily menus have vegetarian options, there are special vegetarian and Indian menus from which orders can be placed the evening before. Yohannes even worked on special requests for our daughters. The quality of the food overall is a step above similar cruise lines we have been on, but the choices were limited and repetitive in the Main Dining Room. The Lido Buffet is very good for breakfast and lunch with nice choices. We really enjoyed the Dive In Grill by the pool. The Pinnacle Grill is wonderful, but the upcharge was $39 pp. I am glad we splurged on that for one evening, and wish we had gone another evening as well (there is a slightly reduced price for a package of 2 dinners pp). Also, thank you to HAL for having a Catholic priest onboard to celebrate Mass daily. Father Joe was great. We would not have been on this cruise over Christmas without the opportunity to attend Mass. Now the areas for real improvement. There were very limited activities on this cruise, especially considering there were 5 sea days (one was cruising the Milford Sound and other fiords). On another HAL cruise, there was the America Test Kitchen with cooking demonstrations. There was nothing like that here. Also, on the other HAL cruise, there was someone talking about the birds and wildlife we were seeing. There were no talks given about that either, other than the day through the fiords. ( There were whales and dolphins that could be seen from the ship several times but there was not even an announcement about that.). Our biggest criticism was the limited information given about the ports. The cruise director did not do any reviews each night about what to expect the next day, and certainly no in-depth talks daily. I did find a port talk listed on the first night about the North Island of NZ, but it was scheduled during our dinner! There was a port talk on Tasmania on one of the sea days, and at least that gave us some information. Usually on other cruises we could go to the TV each morning to find the cruise director talking about the ports, but we never found that on this cruise — only information on ship excursions which were on the expensive side. As one prior review mentioned, the cruise director was missing in action when it came to important port information! And he certainly did not spend any time planning activities for the guests! Believe me, this was a constant discussion among all of the other passengers we met. Also, as pointed out by others, it appears that HAL has cut down on the number of servers in the Main Dining Room. These waiters worked incredibly hard carrying huge trays and actually running back and forth to serve their guests, but I believe that there is a failure by HAL to staff properly in order to provide reasonable waits in the Main Dining Room — both for dinner and breakfast. The evening entertainment certainly did not cater to an audience of all ages over the holiday season. The ship’s own singers and dancers are good, but the other entertainers were meant for a much older crowd — for example, a night of music from the 50s and 60s. And we did not understand the guy with his spinning tops. Having said that, the ports on this cruise gave us a good overview of New Zealand and at least a chance to visit Tasmania and Sydney. Our stop in Eden was cancelled due to the fires in Australia, so HAL worked to add a day in Burnie, Tasmania. Thank you to HAL for making that happen and a special thank you to the mayor, deputy mayor and volunteers in Burnie who came out to greet the ship and help organize tours for us with one day’s notice. This cruise was a very good way for our family to get at least a taste of this beautiful part of the world. Read Less
Sail Date December 2019
I will start with the title of this review. Embark, disembark all OK - most lines have this in the bag. We chose this cruise on Noordam, because we love Vancouver, we wanted to go to Sydney and we love sea days. This cruise bore not ... Read More
I will start with the title of this review. Embark, disembark all OK - most lines have this in the bag. We chose this cruise on Noordam, because we love Vancouver, we wanted to go to Sydney and we love sea days. This cruise bore not the remotest resemblance to our 2 x cruises on Volendam Dec.16 and April 18. Where has the elegance gone? The fresh flowers everywhere? The sophistication? Dancing? Cocktail bars? It's just not possible to be entertained for 26 days, of which 16 were "at sea", with Billboard, BB Kings and Lincoln Centre. The bars are all empty by 2000 hrs, and they do not refill after dinner and shows - there is just nothing to do. There is a limit to how many times you may be introduced to the BB King Band in just one night let alone 26. They perform in 3 x segments every night, and this intro stuff happens in every segment, every night for 26 nights! Well, we lasted 2 x nights and just didn't go back there. The 2 x pianists in Billboard seemed more bored than we were. The performances in the Lincoln Centre are in a closed off room - very serious, stuffy, a room full of people, seated, facing the stage, concentrating on classical music. We love classical music, but you are allowed to talk and laugh aren't you? Not in the Lincoln Centre, I wore a bracelet that jingled and got some serious looks! Paleese, it's a cruise! There is a bar on Deck 1 - next to Guest Relations - how peculiar! Only utilisation over 26 days was cocktail tasting at 1700 - no atmosphere, on a good evening you may hear someone balling out the staff, they are so close. There is a place called Nightlights or some such, between Casino and Theatre side entrance - what happens there? Never saw a soul in there. It's all black! There is a Grand Piano in Ocean Bar, on a dais! Never played - but no worries, the dance floor has been carpeted over. There is a "library" of 30 cruises, most >15 days and we love sea days so it answered those calls but was still boring. There were 2 x lecturers in the fields of Pacific peoples and The Stars - we went to a few, but again after 26 days the variety just was not there. Enough, something positive. Most of the crew are polite, caring and competent. We had several very sick pax taken to non scheduled or scheduled ports for medical evac. This was handled very well. We enjoy any time dining, but on this ship it was assigned to deck 1 and the engine noise and vibration was horrendous. Not to mention the dim lighting - most had to remove the tea lights from the table lamp to read the menu. We transferred to Deck 2 and the same 2 x person table every night, a first for us. The best outcome for this switch was our dinner crew - have rarely laughed so much, nor experienced the expertise of Maitre'D Johannes, wine expert Eric,and the lovely Sumatomo and Ambrullah, attentive food waiters. The food was mostly good - when it was good it was superlative, with stunning flavour and brilliant cooking skills. When it was not good, it was mostly inedible. The former was more prevalent than the latter, but it did puzzle us a little. We missed the contact with different dinner companions and conversation. We dined at the buffet a few times, and found it very good, easy to find a table, We did enjoy a couple of shows - the dance troupe were absolutely fabulous, very very talented, and the comedian was a clever chap with a very complex and funny routine involving (very willing) audience participation. The Filipino and Indonesian Crew shows were fabulous - nothing amateur about these performances, so much effort from everyone, even after all their hard work round the ship. I cannot comment on Excursions, Trivia, the Spa, the Pool Deck as we did not engage. Last but not least, the cost of liquor on board is daylight robbery. We loved old HAL, but not anymore. There were many very disappointed HAL devotees on board. Read Less
Sail Date November 2019
Loved the itinerary because we often went on shore excursions outside of the small cities we stopped at (e.g. Tauranga, Akaroa, Dunedin, Napier). We visited the larger cities on our own. New Zealand is all about the great outdoors and ... Read More
Loved the itinerary because we often went on shore excursions outside of the small cities we stopped at (e.g. Tauranga, Akaroa, Dunedin, Napier). We visited the larger cities on our own. New Zealand is all about the great outdoors and nature, not so much about small cities. The ship is a little dated and will be sent to dry dock in the Fall. I can only hope they redo the decoration and some of the facilities. The worst we had to deal with that could be prevented is the common cold going around: we both ended up getting it and we washed our hands constantly. Contrary to other ships we have sailed on before (from other cruise lines), a lot of sections in the Lido market and pool food bar area sections were available to passengers directly. I have seen people get their hands around glass to go and help themselves, I have seen one man take a bowl and then put it back on the pile. The handles for the juice/mail/yogourt fridge are calling for viruses... You get your own bread, etc, etc, etc. It is simply not acceptable to have so many areas where germs can be spread on a ship that has so many passengers and personnel. It would cost more staff to block EVERYTHING off to passengers but then the chance of passing on germs would be a lot less. Other cruise ships such as Oceania does this. Rooms are small but comfortable. Staff was great and friendly. We hated the idea of being pressured into sitting with other people in the dining room. Our Valentine's night was a disaster. We could have potentially argued, waited to get something for just the two of us maybe. Next time, we will. At least if they tried to sit people of the same age category together would help. Food was good but not great often. Too many sea days for us. The passengers were simply maybe a little too elderly or had health issues for us. Next time, we will choose a cruise ship that attracts younger and more active passengers. Read Less
Sail Date February 2019
We chose this cruise because we had not been to Australia or New Zealand and the itinerary was very attractive. Check in was somewhat chaotic. The ship was comfortable and our cabin was larger than usual. The entertainment was sometimes ... Read More
We chose this cruise because we had not been to Australia or New Zealand and the itinerary was very attractive. Check in was somewhat chaotic. The ship was comfortable and our cabin was larger than usual. The entertainment was sometimes very good and at others poor. We enjoyed the shore days, the ports were all very interesting. Trips organised by the ship were very over priced and we made our own arrangements on arrival. Our main concern was that there was little or nothing to do during the sea days apart from bingo and trivia quizzes. There was no dancing, lectures, enrichment programmes, classes, craft - nothing at all. We therefore spent several of the days of our cruise sitting and reading, which is OK for a day but not for several. The food was varied and looked lovely, but was rather lacking in flavour and invariably drowned in sauce (sometimes more than one sauce on the same plate). The crew were excellent and the service, in the main, very good (there were one or two exceptions). The tendency to play loud 'background' music in public rooms even when there is no-one there was irritating, especially if people were trying to read. The charging of 15% gratuity on top of the cost of drinks as well as charging over £11 pp per day for tips is excessive. There were no laundry and ironing facilities and the only option to crumpled clothing was to pay rather a lot of money to have things ironed. I would not recommend HAL and would be unlikely to book with them again myself. Read Less
Sail Date February 2019
Unfortunately, HAL has gone downhill in our opinion. We haven't cruised with them for a few years due to dates and prices, so were expecting similar experiences that we had before. The ship itself is kept extremely clean and ... Read More
Unfortunately, HAL has gone downhill in our opinion. We haven't cruised with them for a few years due to dates and prices, so were expecting similar experiences that we had before. The ship itself is kept extremely clean and the staff are wonderful. The main issues were the food, entertainment and the Loft (lack of). Firstly, the food in the main dining room for the first few days of the cruises was very uninspiring. It was hard to find something to eat. The food did improve. Cannot fault the wait, wine and front of restaurant staff, they were very friendly and always smiling. The entertainment was very poor, the entertainment that did come on to the ship were very good (in particular Patrick McMahon) but there wasn't enough. In one week they had two guest artists that played individually and then together one night. Also, on two nights they should movies. We don't get the chance to see live entertainment much because of children so in the past the cruise night time entertainment was something to look forward to. There is BB Kings that play 3 times a night. They are good but unfortunately both singers got sick at the end of the cruise so they weren't able to sing and the head office wouldn't let anyone else stand in for them. Read Less
Sail Date January 2019
When we booked the cruise we were unaware that our departure was from the White Bay Cruise Terminal. Only good point was you sail right under the Harbour Bridge. On the back deck when leaving Sydney, the atmosphere was very lack luster, no ... Read More
When we booked the cruise we were unaware that our departure was from the White Bay Cruise Terminal. Only good point was you sail right under the Harbour Bridge. On the back deck when leaving Sydney, the atmosphere was very lack luster, no music to signal the start of the journey, although there were drinks available, you had to guess if they were alcoholic or not. There was no photographer taking photos for international tourists to capture the harbour sights either. The ship is in urgent need of upgrade and looks tired and dated. It is due for a refit towards the end of the year - this is only internal. There were issues with the airconditioner being cold, so they ran the ship on four generators to warm it up and when the swell got bigger, turned the fifth generator back on. When running on the lesser generators they also experienced electrical and power issues. Food in the Lido Market was below par and what was there for lunch appeared at dinner with a different name. We asked what the temperature of the food bays were set at and the reply " I don't know it isn't my area". I had yoghurt for breakfast and could almost pour it into a cup to drink. The desserts were in this same fridge and were never at the correct temperature. The meals from the hot bays were luke warm, the plates on the other hand were extremely hot and at times unsafe to carry back to the table unless you brought your napkin. The serving staff were hit and miss with personality.Our cabin was a verandah and adequate for the two of us and our stewards who cleaned it daily were accommodating and . The entertainment we found to be enjoyable and the people we met also had mixed views about the staff and overall appearance of the ship. We had 4 shore excursions - Port Arthur, Hobart, Adelaide and Kangaroo Island. As these are all in US dollars research if there are companies that provide similar tours that can be booked from Australia to avoid the exchange rates. We enjoyed all our tours and only had one bad experience when in Kangaroo Island. Our 9 hour tour was uncomfortable as the airconditioning on the bus packed in 45 minutes into the tour and there were no other coaches available. The temperature inside the bus got to around 38 degress. The driver attempted to do all he could to make the best out of the situation, but by the end all us passengers couldn't wait to get of the coach and board the ship and get cold drinks. When we complained we were advised we would received a 15%refund that only equated to $60 dollars from a tour that was more than $300 USD. Should have pushed for a full refund. The only port where we felt welcomed was in South Australia were there was a bush band singing at arrivals and volunteers waiting to direct us to the buses, taxis or train to the city. The disembarkation at the ports was well managed and even the days we needed to use the tender boats. As I have used HAL prior, I was looking forward to sharing the experience with my son for his first cruise. Overall, regardless of the flaws mentioned, we had a relaxing time, but next time we cruise, will look at another company to compare the service and atmosphere. Read Less
Sail Date January 2019
All ports were good. Cruise Tours were very expensive so we organised our own. Left from White Bay and getting aboard was smooth and easy. Once we departed things were a bit disorganised. On stern pool deck there was a table of drinks but ... Read More
All ports were good. Cruise Tours were very expensive so we organised our own. Left from White Bay and getting aboard was smooth and easy. Once we departed things were a bit disorganised. On stern pool deck there was a table of drinks but no assistance from wait staff as to price/type of cocktail. There was none of the usual atmosphere of departure (same at every port). Only advantage was going under Harbour Bridge. Cabin was fine albeit a pretty small balcony. Whole ship needs a real freshen up/full refurb. Lido lounge food was average. Some hot foods not hot but if asked for fresh cooked steak/fish then this was done (that's the clue!). Breakfast omelette was the best choice. Entertainment was very ordinary. Magician/Comedian was good. movies were on a very small screen and sound ordinary. Cabin staff were excellent. Stern Pool Bar staff were great, especially Troy! This ship seems to cater to older travellers. I'm 58 and there weren't many younger than me. Most people we spoke to were not happy with entertainment, bar times, Lido Market food. The day time food demos were good. Trivia bar quizzes were ok as were bar happy hours (if you could work out where/times). in summary, cabin was very good, quiet. Whole ship was immaculately clean. All Bar staff and some Lido Market staff were excellent. Dining Room was top shelf, staff, ambience and food. Would I travel Noordam again? No.Have travelled Celebrity before and they are chalk and cheese apart. Read Less
Sail Date January 2019
Many lovely happy and pleasant dining and cabin crew. Food was really excellent. We tend to use the Lido more but the dining room was good too. Enrichment programs did not meet standard of previous cruises with HAL either in subject ... Read More
Many lovely happy and pleasant dining and cabin crew. Food was really excellent. We tend to use the Lido more but the dining room was good too. Enrichment programs did not meet standard of previous cruises with HAL either in subject matter or knowledge and standard of some presenters. Nor did the port presentations by HAL staff or the evening entertainment (with one exception) meet our previous experiences. Many very elderly passengers on board which did slow shore excursions down. Idea of having cooking demonstrations by Australian chefs was excellent although only one class by each of two chefs wasn't enough when you consider America's Test Kitchen is on most days on other ships. Chefs included interesting recipes using Australian produce. Some port tours were very good but tours which simply go to the shopping area in Margaret River WA and to quite uninteresting sites on Eyre Peninsular need reviewing. Read Less
Sail Date December 2018
For fellow Aussies If you get in this cruise ship: - make sure you got with you a travel adaptor for Australian and New Zealand appliances for use in Europe. You are not going to find any of them on the ship and you will not be able ... Read More
For fellow Aussies If you get in this cruise ship: - make sure you got with you a travel adaptor for Australian and New Zealand appliances for use in Europe. You are not going to find any of them on the ship and you will not be able to use or charge any of your electrical or electronic devices. - bring a calculator with you mate. The dollars you pay and see on the receipts, everytime you fancy a drink or purchase an item, are american not australian. - in case you missed that, there is a "hotel service charge" $15 US for every day and every passenger. Are you still got the calculator with you mate? - dreaming about the buffet? Sorry mate, but there is not much difference between the ship buffet and your local takeway. At least the ship crew is serving your food in small portions so you will not get fat during the cruise. - at nights, there are a few singers and a music band who are going to entertain you, especially at the show room. What do you expect? Moulin Rouge? In your dreams mate. - the tv in our cabin was small. I had to stay close to watch a movie during some boring days and nights. - it was so exciting to get out of the ship in every port. - the shower shampoo in the cabin smell nice. - a few exciting nights playing with puzzles and readings books. - some magnificent sunsets. - sometimes I had a feeling that I was in a retirement village. That's all for the moment. Read Less
Sail Date December 2018
I chose this cruise as we wanted to start in Sydney, spend Christmas and New Years on the ship and visit the west side of Austalia; get to see ports off the beaten track. The staff is amazing and go above and beyond to be friendly and ... Read More
I chose this cruise as we wanted to start in Sydney, spend Christmas and New Years on the ship and visit the west side of Austalia; get to see ports off the beaten track. The staff is amazing and go above and beyond to be friendly and helpful. The excursions are very expensive and we always book privately or rent cars, join other cruise critic members on smaller and less expensive (by far) excursions. The one excursion we booked with HAL was a zodiac boat tour of Kuri Bay and was so disastrous, we were given our money back. The food is good, but not exceptional. I find it greedy that there is already a helfty surcharge at The Pinnacle (considering the cruise has already been paid for), but you have to pay extra to upgrade to lobster or have an extra main. The entertainment was inconsistent - either good, only a couple were exceptional, nonexistent or really bad. The onboard naturalists and historian were very interesting and I really enjoyed the EXC portion of the cruise. I found tendering good and exiting the ship at ports efficient. Overall we found the cruise very enjoyable but HAL has certainly cut corners in places perhaps they shouldn't. It should be noted that the Maasdam is clearly 3* not 4* rating, so if you pay for 3* you're getting you're money's worth. Read Less
Sail Date December 2018
We chose the cruise for a couple of reasons. Firstly it covered Christmas and New Year. secondly we live in Fremantle so only had to fly one way then cruise back to our home port. We enjoyed the ports although most of them we had ... Read More
We chose the cruise for a couple of reasons. Firstly it covered Christmas and New Year. secondly we live in Fremantle so only had to fly one way then cruise back to our home port. We enjoyed the ports although most of them we had visited previously. The one big disappointment on this cruise was the dire entertainment programme. There wasn’t a single production show. On 2 evenings a film was shown in the theatre. Most of the entertainers were not what I would call top class - second rate mainly. We were not the only people who were surprised at the standard of the shows. It would certainly put us off choosing Holland America again without doing some serious research into the on board schedule. Overall the food was good and varied. Wine prices, like most cruise ships, are too high. Drinks packages are not an option for us as we don’t drink enough to make it worth it financially. Read Less
Sail Date December 2018
We chose this cruise because we wanted to have Christmas and New Year on a cruise and the HAL had been recommended by some American friends. We had a wonderful surprise when we were upgraded from a SS midship to a Neptune suite at the ... Read More
We chose this cruise because we wanted to have Christmas and New Year on a cruise and the HAL had been recommended by some American friends. We had a wonderful surprise when we were upgraded from a SS midship to a Neptune suite at the back of the ship.A really big cabin with an L shaped veranda at the back. Having access to the Neptune lounge was a plus, the 2 concierges could not have been more friendly and helpful and the free capuchino was another plus! As a handicapped person I did find the long distances to other places on the ship was a problem,which was why we booked midship, but we worked around that problem by choosing room service a lot of the time.We had some problems the first few days, with cold food and missing items, but after a visit to the desk and a talk with Gilroy, the maitre d, it was soon fixed. Our main problem, which caused us to leave the cruise after the 1st section, was the ship's doctor.We had problems understanding him, and the other medical staff, and he did not seem to understand us.He seemed to be very unsure about what procedure to take, even after speaking to my own home doctor on the phone. He did not seem to have had any experience with my problem, a U.T.I. and said that he was not happy about me staying onboard for the last 2 weeks of the cruise in case the infection got worse and he would have no facilities to help if we were at sea or in the small islands that were next on the itinerary. So we had to leave the cruise after the 1st 2 weeks of what should have been 4 wonderful weeks. So much for our much anticipated month in the Pacific!! Now I have to deal with our travel insurance office and try to get reimbursed for the 2 weeks we missed. NOT how I expected to be spending my time at New Year!! This was our 1st and last cruise with H.A.L. after 27 cruises with Princess I think we will be staying with them. Read Less
Sail Date December 2018
We had sailed with HAL on 3 previous cruises. We chose this cruise for the itinerary and had just been on Celebrity Solstice six weeks prior to this one and so comparisons between them were fresh in our minds. Where Solstice is clean ... Read More
We had sailed with HAL on 3 previous cruises. We chose this cruise for the itinerary and had just been on Celebrity Solstice six weeks prior to this one and so comparisons between them were fresh in our minds. Where Solstice is clean crisp lines with what we thought were much higher ceilings, Noordam is lower ceiling, less open spaces, fine arts but darkened lounge areas. Noordam did not come close to Solstice from the quality of their food, attention to detail and service of the crew. Embarkation for Noordam was slow. Our cabin was spotless our only complaint were the lumpy pillows. Our attendants always had a smile and were happy to assist to meet our needs. Dining - this is one of the features of cruising that we enjoy and were let down terribly. The menu selection and quality of food was poor, even in the Pinnacle Grill. We thought the standard in the Main Dining Room had dropped from our previous cruise with HAL but had improved measurably in the Buffet Dining (Lido). At all three dining venues we found the selection of deserts (and slices) disappointing. The attention to hygiene on board the ship was lacking. Rarely did we see a crew member ensuring that passengers used the sanitizers before entering the dining areas. The Air conditioning was poorly balanced and some areas of the ship were warm and others were very cold. Hence there were a lot of sick people on board. In the theatre during lecture and showtime there was constant coughing by passengers. Activities - not a great deal of variety or imagination used in planning the activity programme. The Test Kitchen was American food which was not to the Australian culinary style. exc Talks - Two great speakers were the Barrier Reef Pilot and Brian Stoddart who did a series on the Pacific the influences through history, art, internationalisation etc. The other speaker did a series on World War II in the Pacific is content was very disappointing. Entertainment - The highlight was the Planet Earth documentary accompanied by the String Quartet and Band. Fantastic! Mix of entertainers and three dance/shows. The BB King had us all tapping along with the music - they were great. Our first port of call was Gladstone....A wasted day. Not much to do or see the city tour included pointing out Bunnings and the local Library as sites of the town! Alotaou was not so much scenic as historically interesting port. If you are interested in the Second World War and the fighting in Milne Bay you will find doing a tour/excursion worthwhile. You will find locals portside who will take you on a tour of Alotaou. The next 2 ports were Kiriwina and Kitava Islands. Both beautiful islands where you can meet friendly tribal people These islands surpass the South Pacific Islands for swimming and snorkling in their lovely clear coral waters. You could buy wooden bowls carved by the village men or woven bags from the ladies. They do appreciate KENNA currency. Buy your currency before you leave home. Dont buy it off HAL they would not take back any unused currency (and they could sell you notes in poor condition that a bank will not accept - this happened to one passenger on our cruise). Next stop was Conflict Islands - this is a group of Islands owned by an Australian. It is very picturesque but very commercialized. (Buy any carvings or bags on this Island and expect to pay at least four times the price as on the other two islands... and you are not buying from the tribes person direct.) Our other ports were Cairns (Yorkies Knob) and Airlie Beach and then Brisbane. This cruise is not a cruise for those with disability issues. Only 3 ports were to a dock, five ports were by tender. The tenders were efficiently run and we did have to wait more than a couple of minutes at each port. It was extremely hot and it was lovely to have ice water and iced handtowels to greet us on and off the islands. One thing we did appreciate was the limited "on-sell" of spa, dining & drinks packages. It only occurred the first day or two. There are two issues that really were unsatisfactory.... 1. US$25 per person to get a shuttle bus from the wharf to Brisbane CBD. At Airlie Beach we paid A$5 in Australian dollars. Didn't add up paying Australian dollars on one occasion and USA dollars (at an exorbitant price) on the other. 2. No Christmas Carols on board the ships PA system. The ship was decorated with Christmas Decorations but no music. At requesting at the Guest Relations for some Carols to be played on the PA we were advised that the company had made a directive that no HOLIDAY MUSIC be played until the 22nd December. Yet they were quite happy for us to pay the ship's photographer to take "our CHRISTMAS PHOTO taken by the CHRISTMAS TREE". This is not the cruise line for children.. and especially around Christmas time. We were so disappointed at not being put into the Christmas spirit, that I doubt we will ever go on a cruise at Christmastime again with HAL. Read Less
Sail Date December 2018
As we wanted to see Australia & try a cruise that was more than 2 - 3 weeks, this cruise fit the bill. We flew in a day before our cruise from Vancouver, mainly to re-coup from the long flight & see a bit of Sydney before ... Read More
As we wanted to see Australia & try a cruise that was more than 2 - 3 weeks, this cruise fit the bill. We flew in a day before our cruise from Vancouver, mainly to re-coup from the long flight & see a bit of Sydney before embarking on our journey. As it turned out, we did mostly re-couping than sight seeing. We stayed at a hotel in the Mascot area, near the international airport, which was also a block away from the train station. Understandably the hotels by the airports are more reasonably price than the ones in the city, especially around the Rocks & Circular Quay. The next day, after a leisurely breakfast, we took the train to Circular Quay & strolled to the Overseas Passenger Terminal (OPT) to embark the Noordam. The train ride was around 20 minutes & cost about $4.50 AUD/person. The distance from the train station to the OPT was an easy 2 flat block walk along a beautiful waterfront. Enroute, we walked into the many stores along the waterfront & took a whole bunch of pictures. Remember you can't check in until about noon, so you have a lot of time. There were around 10 - 15 stations (maybe more) for check in & a point person to tell you which station to go to. However, when the 4 or 5 star folks arrive & sometime in large bunches, they understandably get priority check in. That could be a little frustrating especially if you've waited for a long period of time. Notwithstanding, the check in went as smooth as possible. We had a post night stay following our cruise & elected for a late disembarkation, as such, it went smoothly. As titled, the Noordam is an old reliable friend. She is dated, but she is still capable & reliable especially when we encountered the rough seas. I found her clean, comfortable and with friendly helpful staff. I found the service to be very good. My cabin review is shown hereunder. We found the dining to be average to good. There was certainly no "wow" factor. In fact, I found the food a little on the salty side & repetitive, especially at the "Lido". Again, I found the service at the Lido & in the dining room to be very good. I don't really enjoy "Broadway" type productions, but I did like the "sandman" from New Zealand & Patrick McMahon the Australian musician. A comment about the gym. For those who like to use the free weights (dumb bells), there are cabins situated under this station, as such you have to place your weights down VERY quietly, or else. This station should be moved. A couple of comments respecting the ports in Papua New Guinea (PNG). We were led to believe that PNG prerfers passengers spending in PNG kinas, as the Australian, let alone US dollar was hard for the locals to exchange back to kinas. As such, Holland America brought in someone to convert your money to PNG kina (1 USD = 3.36 kina, 1 AUD = 2.39 kina, Jan./19 rate). Understandably, for this service, you will not be getting a good, let alone, a best rate. I was a little disappointed that when we attended a ship's shore excursion, most if not all the arts & crafts were in Australian dollars. A little more lost money in conversion, albeit small, but still another lost. Just saying. The locals on the islands that we visited in PNG were friendly, even if no purchases were made. The port of Gladstone, Queensland was a new stop for Holland America. During cruise ship season, a local market is set up about a 5 minute walk from where the ships are docked. The locals makes this as a day out there and were friendly & happy to see us. We docked on a Sunday, a day where most things were closed in town. Not knowing this, we purchased shuttle tickets for $30 pp, from the ship to go into town. You would have thought Holland America ought to have known that most, if not all things were closed in Gladstone on a Sunday. Just saying, again. Read Less
Sail Date November 2018
The cruise was chosen for the itinerary - a journey around some of the islands of French Polynesia - not because we specifically wanted to travel with Holland America. What we liked: - islands did not disappoint, itinerary was good ... Read More
The cruise was chosen for the itinerary - a journey around some of the islands of French Polynesia - not because we specifically wanted to travel with Holland America. What we liked: - islands did not disappoint, itinerary was good (one island was missed due to swells) - ship not crowded (around 1,200 people) - passengers well behaved (the cruise was heavily biased towards the over 60 crowd, which included us) - staff generally friendly and polite - cabin accomodation clean and comfortable What we didn't care for: - cruise expensive, we were prepared to pay but did not feel it offered 'value-for-money' - cabin lacked the space and amenities associated with a suite in other cruise lines - food in Lido buffet repetitive; more choice of cuisine urgently needed - shore excursions were conducted by outside companies (zodiacs not yet operating), ship just added a booking premium - encountered a number of staff with very limited English language capability (they should be offered lessons at the company's expense) - enterainment options could be improved eg onboard cinema - shops limited eg area dominated by an overly-large jewelry retailer Overall, an interesting experience but we would probably not sail with this line again. Read Less
Sail Date October 2018
PREFACE - This was our 34th cruise, 5th time cruising Tahiti. Ship was a bit older than our other cruise ships and it showed. Lots of wear and tear, rust everywhere. CABIN #058 - Cabin a/c never worked correctly, cabin never cooler ... Read More
PREFACE - This was our 34th cruise, 5th time cruising Tahiti. Ship was a bit older than our other cruise ships and it showed. Lots of wear and tear, rust everywhere. CABIN #058 - Cabin a/c never worked correctly, cabin never cooler than 75 and cabin had seen better days appearance wise. Rugs somewhat dirty, paint worn, veranda furniture well used. We cruised with Oceania, the Marina twice and Windstar twice. Both ships were well maintained. Cabin steward Daha was great, one of the best ever. DINING - The main dining room was ok, not great but just ok. Thought food portions were on the small side, average presentation. Don't order the shrimp cocktail, ordered it twice, shrimp has been frozen prior to serving and they were soggy and tasteless. Oh, here's something. NO BANANAS!! Never saw one the entire cruise. Was told by manager that the bananas were not up to HAL standards. You mean that in this tropical paradise HAL could not find bananas! Every port we stopped at had local vendors with them and they were delicious. A few things that bothered us was at the buffet. No self-serve iced tea or juice, no working ice machine. Watched this happen a lot, you know, people handling fruit, bread items, etc. than replacing them. Also saw other unsanitary things like wiping the tables with the same rag over and over again after rinsing out the rag in a bucket of something. Servers rubbing their nose, coughing, etc. Just didn't want to be watching what the staff was doing before eating. Twice had to wait almost 30 mintues for a hamburger, I timed it, at the Wave In burger stand by the pool. All and all, food just a little above Golden Corral .Ate at the Pinnacle one night. Better than the buffet, a little better than the main restaurant. Service was great at both the Pinnacle and our main dining table. One thing about the food, there is not one dinner that we felt was outstanding, just average. ENTERTAINMENT AND ACTIVITES This one is easy. Worst comedian ever, really didn't care for the other group, can't remember their names, something like the Best Boys. That was it for the acts. 14 days of not having to rush thru dinner to make a show. Now for the casino. My honey killed them on the slot machines, cleared almost $900.00 while playing them everyday. Was surprised that the machines were available even while we where in port. Never saw that before. Small set of table games. One crap table, never saw anyone playing there, one roulette wheel with spotty play. Poker tables and blackjack. I like to play craps and blackjack. Never like to play alone at the crap table and as for the blackjack table first time I played there discovered that if you get blackjack it pays 6 to 5, not 2 to 1. So a $10 bet pays $12, not $15. Also, all the kings are removed from the deck. Anyone who knows how to play the game knows that cards worth 10 hurt the dealer so removing them tilts the game even further to the house. Every Texas hold'm tournament never was played do to lack of players. Oh, never saw a cocktail waitress, had to ask several times for someone to bring a drink. Won a little playing blackjack the first night, never played again. I had budgeted a bunch of money for both of us to gamble with during the cruise, took it all home. SERVICE - Service for the most part was great. Cabin steward, Daha was one of the best we have ever had. Main dining room staff, table #50, also did a great job. Wine steward was a little overworked, had too many guests but he did the best he could. Head waiter very attentive. Liked having the late dinner time, never felt there was a rush to get us out. Front desk very helpful as were the tour staff. PORTS AND EXCURSIONS - Since we have cruised here in the past we didn't take any but did buy a daily pass at a major hotel on Bora Bora. All in all, this cruise was booked because 14 days in Tahiti is not to be missed the price for our cabin was greatly reduced by HAL because of our prior casino play. Would we cruise on HAL in the future, only if they give us the discounted casino rate, but most likely not. Read Less
Sail Date October 2018
BACKGROUND: Took my mom on this cruise. It was #1 on her bucket list to travel to Australia. I’m 50 , she’s 71. We chose this 12 day cruise based on itinerary, not cruise line. It covered South Australia including Tasmania and was ... Read More
BACKGROUND: Took my mom on this cruise. It was #1 on her bucket list to travel to Australia. I’m 50 , she’s 71. We chose this 12 day cruise based on itinerary, not cruise line. It covered South Australia including Tasmania and was round trip from Sydney. I normally cruise on Silversea but have also cruised one time each on RCCL, Paul Gauguin, Celebrity and Azamara. HOTEL: We stayed for 3 days pre cruise at Hotel Intercontinental which is a fantastic location and beautiful hotel. I have been to Sydney 4 times and this was by the best location. Circular Quay really is the heart of Sydney and is the easiest location to venture to other parts of the city. Definitely will stay here again or Marriott which is also right there as well. EMBARKATION: very easy. Porters met us as soon as we exited limo. We went inside, filled out health questionnaire and proceeded to desk to check in., No lines, very nice staff. In a matter of minutes we were on board. FIRST IMPRESSION: I had low expectations honestly . Having read cruise critic before trip and I had googled photos. But much to my dismay, the pictures I had seen actually made it look nicer than it really was. I knew it wouldn’t be modern and shiny like Silversea and Celebrity but was shocked the second I walked on. It was terrible. Ugly dark blue carpeting, with bright red accents and the lighting was literally yellow with ugly brass sculptures and trim. I know this ship was built in 2006 but cant imagine it was even stylish back then. We made our way to deck 6 and as we walked aft to our room , I couldn’t believe how ugly even the hallway was. Ugly wall covering, peeling in most places, cabin doors that looked like cork and ugly blue funky carpeting. My heart sank..The ship is so dated and worn. I know it’s going in to dry dock for a refurbishment in May....but I’m not sure HAL will do enough to make this ship really competitive in the industry. There are so many new ships out there and ships being remodeled, I would think HAL must be losing ground. I noticed when I got home they are advertising a lot and wonder if they are beginning to have trouble filling up ships with all the stiff competition out there. CABIN: See below on cabin review...but we had a Neptune Suite 6177. LOVED LOVED the huge wraparound veranda. DINING: i prepaid 6 specialty restaurants ,,,3 for Pinnacle and 3 for Canaletto. I was happy to find out that we had the same 2 top reserved for the whole cruise in the Main Dining Room . I dont know if that is normal, a suite perk or our travel agent set it up for us, but it was a lovely surprise. I loved the food on this cruise. I thought it was better than Celebrity and not too far off from Silversea. There were lots of choices every night. After eating one night each in Canaletto and Pinnacle, we decided that although very good, I dont think they are worth the upcharge as the MDR was so good and I dont think they were better than the MDR in my opinion, so we canceled the remaining reservations at specialties. We also had very good service in the MDR>. Loved our waiter and asst waiter and we felt the service was quicker in the MDR and a bit slow in Pinnacle and Canaletto. I dont like to linger at the table for hours on end during dinner, so I appreciated the quicker service in the MDR. Every meal I had was good (except room service). The only thing we didnt like at the restaurants was a ginger chocolate cake one night for dessert. Had no flavor, seemed a bit “wet”...just blah. It wa like a major ingredient was left out . We only ate at LIdo Buffet twice as I hate buffets. We did salads for 2 lunches and they were good. LIdo Buffet dining room was always packed and hard to find a place to sit. Decor looked straight out of Golden Girls episode. ROOM SERVICE: Definitelly needs improvement. Without going into detail on each item we ordered....just seemed like it lacked someone doing quality control. Missing or short ingredients in salad, food not to temperature, omelette bathed in butter/oil, only hot milk brought for cereal, Every time we got it, we were disappointed. Fortunately, we had access to Neptune’s Lounge and there are always snacks and sweets there all day long. ENTERTAINMENT: I dont normally like cruise ship entertainment, so i didnt go to any shows , so I cant really comment . I can only say that friends I made on the ship didnt have anything good to say about the shows. SERVICE: Noordam really shined here. Everyone from our cabin stewards, to our waiters, to bartenders etc, were all excellent. Everyone was so nice and friendly and even though it’s a larger ship than what I m used to, i was surprised at how many workers knew my name and used it frequently. The only place where employees werent friendly was Explorations Cafe....I felt like I was in the “soup nazi: episode of Seinfeld. Order quickly then move down counter to collect your coffee and pastry. They didnt smile, didnt seem like they enjoyed their job, seemed annoyed if you didnt know what you wanted right away. OVERALL: It was such a mixed bag of experiences. While I loved the service and the food and the passengers were pretty social (unlike Silversea sometimes). The dreariness of the ship tarnished the experience. I loved the pool aft, big open space and never crowded. I never did the midship pool because it seemed like every time I walked through it, the roof was closed and they were doing some type of sidewalk sale from the shops and there were tons of people clogging up the space and being noisy. I loved that HAL has happy hour from 4-5 and 9-10. The bars were packed and a lot of fun and dare i say a great value for dinks on a ship! I got 2 gin and tonics or old fashioned s for $11 total including gratuity. Celebirty is outrageous...so I was very pleased. SPA: so while i dont do spa treatments on cruise ships as I think they are way too expensive, my mom loves pampering herself and so I encouraged her to enjoy. What I will say is that on day one, we did a tour of the spa and fitness area and was totally turned off/irritated. There was such a hard sell on this ship like I have seen on no other. I dont like when they wont take no for an answer. I had to get pretty curt in order to overcome their hard core selling pressure. My mom did 5 spa services and after the first one , she came back to the cabin with hundreds of dollars of unneeded and overpriced products. She’s very soft and easily influenced and the spa crew definitely knew her number. I was furious...feeling like they take advantage of an older person. GYM: old equipment and too small of a free weight area. PORTS: SYDNEY...MY FAVORITE CITY IN AUSTRALIA...BEEN 4 TIMES, LOVE IT! MELBOURNE: feel like it is overrated. Surprisingly, I didnt care much for it. We did our own thing...lots of locals at port to help with tourism advice. We uber’d Everywhere and it was easy. We did the Royal Botanic Gardens...Amazing!! It’s huge and gorgeous. Probably the best I have done anywhere. Then we went to St Kilda Beach. A great beach town south of town. Beach not as nice as many in Sydney, but clean. The village there has lots of local boutiques, restaurants etc...kind of a funky, hip town. Had a good lunch there in one of the many sidewalk cafes. Then we went to city center for some shopping. Ugh, what a mistake. Felt like just another huge city, with too many cars , people etc....it was claustrophobic....didnt feel like it was unique or interesting. General consensus of my happy hour friends that night was the same....Melbourne was a bit of a disappointment. ADELAIDE: we overnighted here. However, it’s a 45 min train ride into the city, so not as convenient. Train was free that weekend....it isn’t usually, but for whatever reason, that line was free. We loved all the beautiful architecture in Adelaide. It’s a smaller city which I liked and easy to walk. We also did the botanical gardens there which were very nice as well. Shopping is good ...they have a huge pedestrian mall/street there with anything and everything you would want...and lots of restaurants. Seemed to be the hub of the city. . Would definitely go back. PORT LINCOLN: small town of about 15k. Did a ship excursion that gave us a bus tour of the highlights of this fishing village. Then we walked around the town, poked in some shops. Some might not like it since its small and not a lot to do, but i love small towns and enjoyed the slower pace very much! KANGAROO ISLAND: wow....this was probably everyone’s favorite destination. Anyone we talked to , raved about this island. You go here for wildlife. We did a ship excursion..but you could easily do it with a rental car as my friends did. It’s a sparsely populated island and easy to drive around and see the same sights we did on ship tour. Its gorgeous, the seals are amazing, seal lions, koalas, birds , kangaroos etc...it was a very long day, but absolutely stunning and magnicient. PORT ARTHUR TASMANIA: We did a ship tour. It was an eco cruise along the coastline for about 3 hours. It was a wild crazy fun ride. Swells were huge.....but it was such a gorgeous ride. A couple people got seasick...but the rest thought it was exhiliarating! HOBART TASMANIA. We did ship tour here to Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary. They only gave us 1 hour here which was disappointing. Lots of kangaroos to feed and pet. But lots of other Australian wildlife. This place isi great and no one wanted to leave. Then we went to historic town of Richmond....no tour...just dropped us off the bus and gave us an hour to walk around. Town was boring...even the shopping wasn’t very good. My big purchase there was a Red Bull to keep me awake. Once back to Hobart, we walked over the city. REally cute quaint city...in particular the trendy area of Salamanca....beautiful old buildings turned in to cool restaurants and shops...loved it. DISEMBARKATION ...super easy and quick....took the ship arranged bus to Sydney airport for flight home. We had an amazing vacation and loved our trip, our time together, the food , the amazing new friends I met on the ship...just wish it had been on a beautiful ship where I felt more upscale and special. Read Less
Sail Date January 2018
15 day Christmas and New Year cruise on the Noordam it sounded wonderful we had sailed with Holland American befor but it was our first time on the Noordam We Decided to pay the extra and book a Signature suite but was upgraded to a ... Read More
15 day Christmas and New Year cruise on the Noordam it sounded wonderful we had sailed with Holland American befor but it was our first time on the Noordam We Decided to pay the extra and book a Signature suite but was upgraded to a Neptune Suite we were very excited with this came prioritie boarding it was so good we got on the ship so fast.The first impression of our suite was fantastic,large room extra large wrap around balcony we were at the back of the ship good location .Our problems started from the first day . We had a good size bathroom .I noticed a great deal of mold between the tiles in the shower and on the floor I called our room Stewart and asked him to clean it before we would use it he did twice then a maintenance person came to inspect it and we were informed it wasn't mold but the bathroom needed grouting this person came to do the job and he stated it didn't need grouting it was dirt and he reported it again again they tried to clean it this all happened befor we left port not a good start and it's not what you would expect to happen in any cabin category.Then we tried to use the toilet on the first day but found problems with flushing they came and fix it we hope our toilet broke down every day for the first ten days out of a 15 day cruise we often had to find a public toilet to use we weren't happy this issue causes us a great deal of stress.Our bed doona was dirty,stained and it smelled I had to request all the linen to be changed at once .Then on top of all this I sent a new skirt to the cleaners and it came back with a big cut and no explanation. On board the staff are limited to what they can do to help if something goes wrong once I returned to Sydney I have sent several emails to Holland American head office but have had no reply or acknowledgement of my email it would seem they don't want to know You once your cruise has finished .Now about the ship good size very friendly staff food is basic ,room service is good but the menu is the same daily, not much to do on see days that doesn't involve money,excursions are expensive if you book on the ship We booked all our excursions On sure for a fraction of the price you can also do deals with taxi drivers to take you around we did and had a wonderful time and if you can get extra people to go with you you can split the cost. Read Less
Sail Date December 2017
We have just completed a 32 day cruise around Australia. On a positive note the staff were fantastic with great service with a smile and always ready to go the extra mile. The food in all restaurants was of a good standard though a ... Read More
We have just completed a 32 day cruise around Australia. On a positive note the staff were fantastic with great service with a smile and always ready to go the extra mile. The food in all restaurants was of a good standard though a little salty for our liking. Excellent choice in the Lido for lunch and great burgers and fries. The entertainment was very lacking with the production shows were well done we have seen the same shows5 times in the last 12 months on HAL it is time they were updated. The movies on the tV were old movies and repeated over and over with a news channels being the only alternative. Most of the activities were aimed at sales with jewellery talks,art auctions,spa seminars,wine tasting and foot analysis. What has happened to deck games,craft lessons,on deck parties and bbqs,we are there to be entertained and it seems everything has been cost cut with lots of activities have been stopped.! The cruise director was never visible except at one trivia and opening the shows, there was definite lack of things to do. We were in the tropical weather for 32 days but nothing organised out on the decks day or party’s at night such a shame. We had a vista suite 201at the aft of the ship which was a good spot except they were doing maintenance on the whole cruise so impossible to use the balcony with paint and varnish fumes and orange paint flakes blowing in on us from the promenade below where they were redoing the lifeboats. Not great considering how much extra we had paid above the ocean view cabin. The ship public areas are quite nice but the suites are very tired with old chipped baths no sun filter curtains replaced since they were taken down so it’s either open or closed curtains when the sun is hot. If it wasn’t for the fantastic staff and the size of the ship the cruise wasn’t a complete disaster. Read Less
Sail Date November 2017
The service was excellent, which is more than we can say for the accommodation in a Neptune Suite. HAL want to know what passengers think and appreciate feedback. Well by the time we arrived home the email feedback was out of date! ... Read More
The service was excellent, which is more than we can say for the accommodation in a Neptune Suite. HAL want to know what passengers think and appreciate feedback. Well by the time we arrived home the email feedback was out of date! They obviously think as soon as passengers disembark we all rush home! So we are writing to Seattle giving our feedback. The basin had a hair line fracture, the floor tiles were chipped, the towels were rough most of the 63 days we were on board, the bath had peeling paint. When we complained the maintenance man came and put a sealer on the peeling paintwork! Some of the sheets were torn. This for a Neptune Suite. The noise from above on the sports decks was 63 days of torture. There was a need for relaxation due to surgery and the expense of a Neptune suite we thought we would get relaxation. Sadly the dragging of furniture above us and either side of us stopped that. I have to say the crew were exceptional, from the Cabin stewards to the Chef and everyone in between. This ship needs serious work done to it not just a cosmetic job. The bathrooms need ripping out and replacing and the verandah decks on 10 need insulation asap. Would we return to the Maasdam? probably not. In future when we consider a cruise we will not accept the Travel Agents word for the cabin but check the plan of the ship and the layout of the deck above first. Read Less
Sail Date October 2017
Don't get me wrong; this is a beautiful and well-maintained mid-sized ship, inside and out. It is well mannered in rough seas, the cabins are adequate but the verandas are small. Food is terrible if you are a healthy eater; fatty, ... Read More
Don't get me wrong; this is a beautiful and well-maintained mid-sized ship, inside and out. It is well mannered in rough seas, the cabins are adequate but the verandas are small. Food is terrible if you are a healthy eater; fatty, sweet, salty; few green vegetables and almost no nuts, terrible tea. The biggest group of passengers (in more ways that one) were from the USA and they were fairly old; there is nothing on this ship that would appeal to families. The ship has a troupe of dancers who are probably competent in what they do and appeal to the age/cultural demographic of the majority of passengers. We enjoyed the visiting artists who came on between ports much more (they were all Australians). There are a couple of excellent bands. Apart from the usual seminars flogging stuff (gems, Windows 10, botox etc), there were no lectures of general interest. Our cruise was only spoilt by a bunch of ship's officers using foul language in the Pinnacle Grill on the last night of our cruise. That was bad enough, but no-one would give us their names, and we were fobbed off at the Front desk with a suggestion slip when we asked for a complaint form. We got off the ship disgusted and angry. Read Less
Sail Date February 2017
This was very misrepresented in the website and available information from the cruise line. It was only "back to back cruises" not a separate all in one cruise. entertainment and activities were mostly repeated the second two ... Read More
This was very misrepresented in the website and available information from the cruise line. It was only "back to back cruises" not a separate all in one cruise. entertainment and activities were mostly repeated the second two weeks (which were slim pickings even the first two weeks). Everyone had to disembark in Sydney and could not get back on the boat until time for new passengers to board. Would have been good to understand all of this before deciding to book this cruise. Destination was unbelievable! Did almost all private prearranged tours and really saw New Zealand. 10 days of port calls there! First time on Holland America. Best a embarkment, allowed on early and went straight to rooms! Excellent disembarkment also. Very nice staff. Staterooms have a lot of storage space. Beds and linen amazingly comfortable. Free room service wonderful, but could have had increased selection of items. Buffet eating with staff serving made utilizing this area much nicer and safer (decreased germs from passengers!), so much more comfortable utilizing this option than on many other cruise lines. Loved Explorers' Lounge area, except puzzles and may items were old and missing pieces. All need to be thrown out and new ones bought. Excellent Microsoft classes and teacher! Added more new computers after trip completed, but not enough and not enough space for these popular classes. Culinary Center was beautiful, but most times was empty and not well utilized. Salad bar and pasta bar were excellent, but terrible pizza and premade Italian dishes. Many of foods in buffet area were not warm when served. Salmon was always great, as well as shrimp. Ship is old and staterooms not completely updated and our balcony had several large rusty holes in it that were not even covered with rugs to protect us (we had to ask for this). Pictures very old and not worth looking in stateroom area and halls. Entertainment was very poor. I love entertainment on cruises and not much by cruises' performance staff and only one act that was great one night. Only showed movies in theater during port days while docked! Stateroom TV's and system were antique and very poor reception on top of that. Menu was also antique and slowly scrolled three hr span, but you had to watch time spans already completed and next day before getting to your time, then info screen then start all over and you were so bored you blinked and missed the time you were looking for! This was really disappointing. Activity choices were slim pickings! Except for the occasional item in the Culinary Arts Center, local related program and Microsoft classes there was nothing much going on activity wise on the ship! Most of my time spent walking on the outside walking deck (did help me eat too much and keep the same weight though!). Vegetarian menu was nice to order from. Should have had menus more easily available, as well as ordering options improved for days did not eat the night before in the dinning room. Also, "Dive in" eating area by pool should have other vegetarian choice such as regular vegetable burger, not just mushroom burger and grilled cheese would be nice. Signature Suites were very misrepresented online. Often read about "Suites" and thought this referred to all suites, but only was for non-Signature suites. Extra space and separate tub & shower were great. No concierge ,no pillow menu or choices and not much else. Food and choices were very nice the first few days, but declined as cruise continued. Much smaller portions and presented as two course meals, though you can order a three course meal or whatever you want. Quantity was good for me, but many who have more of appetites or binge on cruises will be surprised compared to other cruise lines. Not many standard choice that are available every day. Thank goodness the salmon was good and I could eat it. One of the few entrees available most days, but on gala nights/ special occasion nights, the menu was had even less choices and the daily items were not available. Invited to many special occasion lunches/ meals but expected to eat provided meal, even if on a special diet. No one cared to even try to eat dietary needs these days. Many days after the first week, I was tired of the vegetarian choices and had nothing I could eat on the regular menu and they did not care enough to fix something for me as always do on other cruise lines. Desert choices were slim, especially on gala nights (which is good for the waistline, but not what I expect on a cruise. Only once got a real piece of regular cheesecake which is so unusual and most of their ice cream is not worth the calories to me with most days having only vanilla, chocolate and strawberry plus sometimes one other choice. ( which is very unusual from what I am used to when sailing!). Not many vegetables served and in the dining room it was only like a garnishment (except potatoes & rice were always available). Never had so many of the staff being fairly close to the start of their contract. Tried to be helpful, but not aware of many things when asked. Always nice, but just did not display that "at your service/ cruise ship" attitude I am used to.. Read Less
Sail Date January 2017
We’d like to provide our thoughts on our 27 day South Pacific, Australia and New Zealand cruise-which is our 16th cruise and our 5th on Holland America. The itinerary was perfect-great port stops-and the food was exceptionally ... Read More
We’d like to provide our thoughts on our 27 day South Pacific, Australia and New Zealand cruise-which is our 16th cruise and our 5th on Holland America. The itinerary was perfect-great port stops-and the food was exceptionally good-perhaps the best we have had on any cruise line. We enjoyed the Lido buffet, the main dining room and both the Canalleto and Pinnacle dining rooms as well as the beautiful and plentiful foods in the Neptune Lounge. The staff service was also among the best we have encountered. Our cabin stewards were great and the two Neptune Lounge concierge attendants were also competent, helpful, and cheerful. We also like the fact that the Casino is now smoke free-a particular issue with us on past cruises. Our disappointment with the overall cruise and our reluctance to book another HAL cruise centers on the on board entertainment, or lack of it, as well as the marketing direction that Jan, our Cruise Director, indicated HAL is taking. In several discussions with Jan, he advised us to find another cruise line more suited to our taste since HAL is committed to eliminating social/ballroom dance venues in the Crow’s Nest and Ocean Bar and replacing them with carpeted areas with kiosks for researching shore excursions and providing more videos. He indicated that there will be more BBC videos shown (the same ones I can get on my cable television at home) and these will provide a significant portion of HAL’s entertainment offerings. We were also disappointed to learn that HAL has eliminated the dedicated dance combo we enjoyed on past HAL cruises. The result of this on our cruise meant that the orchestra was providing dance music (excellent by the way) but only on nights that they were not performing in the VISTA Lounge. This left many nights without pre and post dinner musical entertainment including a GALA night that had no entertainment because both the orchestra and Adagio were doing live music as a BBC video was being played. The ship was like a funeral parlor-hardly gala and many people commented on how dull and boring. It is interesting to note that the dance lessons provided by the ship’s dancers were well attended-usually 80+ per class and while elementary in nature, they indicated a sincere interest in dancing by many people. Yet we are told that HAL is eliminating these and the dance venues as well. There were huge gaps in many evening’s entertainment with nothing going on except for the ship’s dancers and singers which by the way repeated the same dull performances during the 2nd leg of a “Collector’s Voyage”- a title that still baffles me. Our Cruise Director said he would try to fill in some of these but the only option he had was to schedule more Adagio performances. While we enjoyed these excellent classical musicians, there is a limit to how many of these concerts you can enjoy. Jan indicated that HAL’s marketing direction is committed to providing top quality entertainment on board yet we saw little instance of this. Many of the performers were merely 2nd rate and some were downright bad. Better screening and more selective decision making is needed. Why doesn’t HAL consider eliminating the ship’s dancers and singers altogether and replace them with top drawer entertainers? I must mention that the sound level in BB King was totally above acceptable DB limits and painful to ourselves and many of the guests on board. I have administered hearing loss programs in industry and know prolonged exposure to levels above 85 DB result in permanent hearing loss. If I were a staff member assigned to that venue night after night, I would be filing for Worker’s Compensation due to hearing loss. Jan indicated he told Seattle that many guests had complained about the sound being too loud but Seattle’s response was that they were within the contract limits so Jan could do nothing about it. Hardly makes sense to me to have a field commander overruled by Washington bureaucrats but that happens also. To summarize our concerns, the ship’s atmosphere was just plain dull, the entertainment was mostly second rate and many times nonexistent, BB King venue too loud to enjoy for more than 30 seconds and I am not exaggerating, the Crow’s Nest was empty at night -we remember dancing with a DJ till late night on other ships and not in a dark hole like the Northern Lights that is allocated to the DJ now. It took approximately 30 days for Holland America to reply to my concerns and they offered no encouragement that any if these issues would be changed. We have cancelled a suite booked on a July trip to the Norwegian Fjords on Koningsdam and have booked with another cruise line. We d not anticipate booking with HAL in the future. Read Less
Sail Date January 2017
This was our 3rd cruise . We have previously cruised on the Disney Fantasy in 2014 and then Royal Caribbean Legend of the seas in 2015 . As we are still quite new to cruising we are keen to explore several cruise lines but we have been ... Read More
This was our 3rd cruise . We have previously cruised on the Disney Fantasy in 2014 and then Royal Caribbean Legend of the seas in 2015 . As we are still quite new to cruising we are keen to explore several cruise lines but we have been warned by fellow cruisers already that we started with one of the best cruise lines so everything by comparison is going to be difficult to measure up . The departure was from Sydney and we arrived a couple of days before so that we could explore Sydney and enjoy the lead in time before starting the cruise . The ship left from White Bay terminal which is a little out of the CBD but an easy trip via taxi . The cruise terminal is well laid out . There were plenty of staff to greet you as you turned up at the terminal so we were directed to the bag drop off.which was a breeze but we did get there quite early around 11am so that may have been a factor . The staff at the entrance to the terminal then handed the customs cards and health check forms that we needed to fill out, Once inside the terminal there is plenty of seating and there is also a cafe , we managed to grab a table and had a coffee while we filled out our cards , then it was just a matter of waiting to start the registration process and get our photos taken and ship cards issued . Once commenced the entire process was very quick and painless , the boarding procedure was handled efficiently and before you knew it ,we were on board and exploring the ship and heading up to the Lido Market for lunch . One of the main things I liked about this ship is that it feels spacious enough to easily cater for the approx 2000 passengers , you never felt really crowded . The decor of the ship is looking a little dated , I felt that it was a little over the top but then again I suppose they have to make some grand statements with design to try and get the wow factor . The layout of the ship is quite easy to navigate once you have been on board a couple of days . All of the areas appeared clean and generally in decent condition but there were some signs of repairs and maintenance needing to be done , some of the areas of the carpet were looking somewhat worn , along with the interior of the staterooms that we were in . We stayed on deck 7 , we decided on this deck after reading several reviews of the ship and weighing the likelihood of referred noise from the restaurant, theater or deck 9 where the Lido Market and swimming pool is located . When deciding on your stateroom I think you always need to look at the entire layout of the ship and consider all possibilities of where noise is generated . We were a family of 4 and we stayed across 2 different staterooms . We were unable to get connecting staterooms but we settled on 7103 and 7112 because they were far enough away from the lifts and 7112 was a couple of doors down from a utility room that could have become noisy when staff started accessing it early in the morning . The cabins overall were quite good , they were inside staterooms , this is the first time we have done inside rooms , in the past we have had verandah and sea view , having done this I would always at least have sea view because not having any natural sunlight is not something I found enjoyable . The argument is that you only sleep in your stateroom so why do you need a sea view but there is something natural with your body clock that just makes me feel better if I wake up to sunlight . The size of the rooms was a little on the small size with no real seating other than one chair with a very small table and one stool at the desk area . The wardrobe space is very good and the size of the bathroom was also very good . As with most ships the space under the bed is a great situation for storing those suit cases . The decor of the cabins is a bit ho hum and overall I think the ship is definitely due for a refit . The beds were very comfortable and the pillows also great . quality of the towels when changed was variable , some really soft and luxurious others a bit scratchy and older . The lovely waffle texture robes provided for use during your stay was a nice touch and the beach towels provided during those beach shore excursions also a nice touch. On the evening of 7th Jan I had an issue with stateroom 7112 . There was an extremely loud banging noise which started between 9.30 pm - 10 pm and this continued until 6.45 am on 8th Jan . My son and I tried to get some sleep but it was impossible . I phoned the front desk at 2 am and I was offered earplugs having been told that nothing could be done until an engineer became available which would not be until we arrived at our next port at approx 6.30 in the morning . Now wearing the ear plugs we tried again to get some sleep but to no avail , I ended up getting up and going down to the desk . I was told that we could not be relocated because there was nothing available , the only spare cabin was being used for a medical emergency . There was no engineer available to attend to the issue and I had accepted the offer of earplugs - this made me feel that it was now my fault that because I accepted the earplugs they didn't bother trying to get it fixed . It turns out that several cabins were affected by this noise and it was some problem with a heating pump for the swimming pool . The next day for our port of Dunedin was ruined because my son and I were operating on no sleep . As an apology I was left a bottle of red wine - this was supposed to make up for no sleep for the entire night and a port day ruined due to exhaustion . I took the wine back as I don't drink red wine , I was then offered 2 meals at piccalo cafe - long story short I had to battle to get a small credit put onto my account of just $54.00 which I hardly think makes up for the cabin that was not fit for purpose for 1 night . The TV in the cabin was not great , my husband had a problem with the TV in his room , there were vertical and horizontal lines that made viewing very unpleasant , we phoned to get it seen to and the technician felt that it was fine , we pressed the point and said it was not good until it was finally changed over by a somewhat surly technician . Clearly they don't like being told when something is not up to scratch. We had problems with toilets not working in both of the staterooms and when talking to other passengers , it seemed that this was a persistent problem , again possibly a maintenance issue ? On a plus note the dining experience was for the most part fantastic , the quality and variety of the food was excellent . the Lido Market on deck 9 which is essentially the buffet is really well layed out with duplication of structure both sides . The think what HAL is doing really well here is having greater control over the hygiene of the food . Rather than having an open buffet style layout where people are serving themselves everything , you go to the various stations and say what you want and you get served , for breakfast there are some serve yourself situations for things like croissants , danishes and muffins ,but if you want bagels or toast you get served by someone , if you want omelettes made you pick your ingredients and they make it for you , this means you don't get people touching things with their fingers or sneezing or coughing into a bowl of bacon or eggs . I think the system is really going to cut down on people getting sick. The vista restaurant is very nice and the menu selection quite good although I did not think much of the entrees . There is the Dive In burger and hot dog station which was fantastic , the burgers were amazing and it only takes around 15 minutes for your order to be ready . Explorations care does amazing coffees and frappe's . overall HAL gets a big tick of approval for the food . Out biggest dissapointment on this cruise was the entertainment , there just didn't seem to be enough of it . The Noordam singers and dancers were very good and the shows that they put on were very good although one of the male singers had a much weaker voice than the others but they harmonised well . The guest entertainment was a mixed bag. there were only a couple that were any good . There was a band playing in the Atrium in the late afternoons and Adagio near the explorations cafe in the evenings . BB kings was quite good but after being on board for almost 4 weeks their sets became quite repetitive . This was a real issue for me because we were sold this cruise as being a 27 night cruise but in reality it is 2 cruises back to back so all of the shows from the Noordam singers and dancers that were performed for the NZ leg were then performed again for the Pacific Islands leg . I don't think they have really made maximum use of the atrium area , it would be nice if there was musical entertainment there or near the pool from around 11am . There was a good array of books , puzzles and board games at explorations cafe but this place got very busy , I think this was evidence of a lack of entertainment as well . What was a big negative was that there no real cinema on board , they did show movies in the vista lounge on port days but really there were no current movies being shown . You had your usual fair of trivia quizzes and the dancers did dance lessons in the observation lounge on deck 10 but I get the feeling that the entertainment is operation on a lean budget . The worst effort was the Japanese ventriloquist that was booked , I have never walked out of a show but I walked out of this one , it was absolutely disgusting . Overall the service was pretty good . Our room stewards did a very good job and were friendly and helpful , the bar staff were overall pretty good but a few were a bit surly and grumpy to deal with but some were absolute stars . We felt overall there the ship was operating on lean staff numbers which could be putting those staff that are there under increasing pressure . There were times when public bathrooms had not been cleaned or they were closed due to maintenance problems . The staff at the front desk were less than fun to deal with on occassions. When trying to sort out my issue with the noise problem in my room I was met with almost a robotic response from the staff . I think there is a real problem with their training because they deal with confrontation by having a wooden , distant and non emotional response which then comes across as being arrogant and unfeeling . The ports that we visited were all great and we know NZ quite well so we were well equipped for our various stops , it was very useful to go to the talks about the various stops on the Pacific Island leg of the cruise but we never booked any excursions via the ship because the mark up is ridiculous . One of the things we did have to fork out a bit of money for was the laundry service . for the 27 nights it costs USD 196.00 for unlimited laundry . The quality of the work was wonderful and the clothes arrived back the next day beautifully folded with shirts etc on hangers , this was a great service but again very expensive . The reality is that they keep the cruise fair down to a reasonable cost but boy do you pay for everything else . We paid the USD 12.50 per person, per day gratuities fee even though we did have the option to reduce it because we did not want to penalise the staff that did work very hard even though management decisions on how things are done is damaging the overall experience for the guests . Overall we did have a good time but HAL can do better and I feel that if they want to get return customers , particularly in what is becoming an increasingly competitive market , they need to seriously look at some of the decisions they are making, there is a lot of room for improvement and one of the key areas they need to work on is that customer relationship when things do go wrong. I feel that they need to fairly compensate the guest when they are inconvenienced . I have come away feeling that although, yes I did get the benefit of everything else that the cruise had to offer , what sticks in my mind is how I was treated with the noise problem and the lack of compensation for a cabin not fit for purpose for 1 night . One final note - I think it is fitting for the captain and master of the ship to make announcements as to weather and conditions arrivals and departures along with rules and regulations and by all means remind people about hygiene and wash those hands , however I think it demeans the position for him to act like a salesman and promote going to the casino or spending those last holiday dollars at the shops . You are the captain not the marketing manager . Read Less
Sail Date January 2017
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