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490 Holland America Baltic Sea Cruise Reviews

Strongest recommendation to future cruisers: book the Rotterdam IMMEDIATELY if you’re looking for: —LOUSY FOOD (except for the specialty dining rooms, which HAL surely is up-selling by downgrading everything and everywhere else). ... Read More
Strongest recommendation to future cruisers: book the Rotterdam IMMEDIATELY if you’re looking for: —LOUSY FOOD (except for the specialty dining rooms, which HAL surely is up-selling by downgrading everything and everywhere else). Dining room flavorless food is suited to senior living; much-touted “Dive-In” burgers are dry and flavorless. —CREAKY SHIP which, in our case, included: 1) stinky sewage seeping into our suite from an adjoining pipe closet 2) leaking pipes above our verandah 3) a fire that resulted in an all-ship alarm awakening us in the middle of the night (reportedly TWO fires in the two weeks immediately preceding our trip.) LOW-BROW SERVICE from a Neptune Suite concierge, a benefit for which we paid handsomely after enjoying excellent service on a prior HAL voyage. For $16K, she: refused to reverse bar charges for a rum-and-coke that was delivered as a gin-and-coke or an honor bar soda that wasn’t drunk; “apologized” for raw sewage in our suite with a cheap bottle of wine and a short, typed apology; and, assured us we would LOVE the next port of call literally moments before we learned that the port would be skipped due to bad weather. All that, for $16K. Speaking of bad weather, I am not blaming HAL for skipping five ports and replacing them with two alternative stops and three addl nights at sea or in port. Safety, as the captain told us, is #1. On the other hand, going the extra mile to meet his passenger’s needs is, for the Rotterdam’s captain, priority #23. Addressing passenger‘s concerns about skipped ports of call and potential financial losses for missing independent tour arrangements, his advice? “You can buy one of our ship WiFi plans.” As if offering complimentary WiFi for a few hours would ruin his bottom line. Speaking of bottom lines, here’s mine: The Rotterdam is doddering. Its service philosophy (excluding the loyal stewards and dining staff who are doing their best) is subpar. (But the America’s Test Kitchen live shows are phenomenal. Those ought to be offered every day.) Something is rotten on the Rotterdam. And until someone does something about it, it’s Bon Voyage, Holland America! Read Less
Sail Date September 2019
Due to poor weather we missed four ports. I have to believe that HAL knew the weather would be difficult for tender ports before we left Amsterdam yet kept us guessing. Being that we had more overnights in a port because we could not go ... Read More
Due to poor weather we missed four ports. I have to believe that HAL knew the weather would be difficult for tender ports before we left Amsterdam yet kept us guessing. Being that we had more overnights in a port because we could not go to the next port, they did not plan things to do on the ship assuming all would get off the ship. That did not happen and you had many bored people. The only time they did plan was the last sea day which was supposed to be a tender port. Along with that many many people were sick and there was so much coughing and sneezing on the ship and on the bus tours. I also was sick and by the end of the cruise after talking to many passengers found that about 1/4 of the ship was sick. After traveling with HAL for many cruises this was my first experience with this kind of sickness, I have experienced the stomach problems but not this. The whole experience was sad as after you plan for a great experience you come home so disappointed and still sick. Since home have gone to the doctor and on antibiotics. I stgill wonder is many of the crew were sick and they still make them work or something is wrong on the ship. My worst experience on any of the 25 cruises I have been on. Have to say service was great Read Less
Sail Date September 2019
Truly enjoyed seeing the Fjords of Norway and starting/ending at Amsterdam. I needed time connecting with nature and this cruise provided many opportunities to do that. 95% of staff was awesome, and I think that is all one can reasonably ... Read More
Truly enjoyed seeing the Fjords of Norway and starting/ending at Amsterdam. I needed time connecting with nature and this cruise provided many opportunities to do that. 95% of staff was awesome, and I think that is all one can reasonably ask because there is no such thing as perfection. Beautuful ship; love the art theme. Musical and dance entertainment was outstanding. I am in awe of the Lincoln Center stage performers and the amazing creativity of the dance performances. Many fun nights dancing ourselves at BB King venue and what talent in the dual piano bar, being able to play such a huge repertoire upon request, no time to practice ahead. We fell in love with the Dutch Cafe and their amazing hard working staff and yummy food offerings. Nearly all the food we had was wonderful. Most service in the dining room was great, but when one chooses open seating over a set time, as we did for this cruise, its never going to be as good as when you have the same waiters every night and develop a relationship with them, so I attribute the couple nights it wasn't great to that. My only complaint about food is the gigantic trays used for room service. They will barely fit through the door and are heavy and take up massive space in an already cramped cabin. They need to have two sizes. The big ones for multiple meals and half size for small orders. I felt sorry for the room service staff, and us, when we had to manever them. We did not use the Holland America shore excursions due to their price so my average rating on that is just because there is no "not applicable" button. Was disappointed that nearly all the guided excercise activities cost extra. Never have experienced that before on the cruises I have done with Celebrity, Carnival & Royal Carribean. I will do pilates because its good for me, but I'm not paying $20 to put myself through that misery. :) No worries; I got my excercise hiking in the Norwegian countryside and dancing to the BB King All Stars. So all in all a great cruise and Holland America did a nice job. If I'm ever traveling with two or three friends again, I will choose a different cruise line if at all possible due to their cabin design. However if I had been sharing a room with just one other person I would have given this cruise five stars! Read Less
Sail Date September 2019
Holland America needs to do some serious updating to this ship. During the first half....the Baltic portion, there were 2 fires on the ship while we were at sea. The first one was a fire in the 4th deck galley and the 2nd one was an ... Read More
Holland America needs to do some serious updating to this ship. During the first half....the Baltic portion, there were 2 fires on the ship while we were at sea. The first one was a fire in the 4th deck galley and the 2nd one was an electrical fire in one of the common area bathrooms. Quite scary and disconcerting. We only did 1 ship excursion on this portion, which turned out to be a disaster. The bus we were on to go to Berlin broke down about 30 minutes after our 7 am departure. We didn't get back to the ship until 11 pm. Long day. To make a long story short....there were a series of other things that happened while waiting for transportation to Berlin. Holland America thought a good compensation was to not just drive by some of the major points of interest, but to stop and let us get out. They also thought that a less than par boxed lunch at 2:30 was compensation for the failed trip. NOT! As it was, the excursion we originally signed up for supposedly didn't get enough people so for $50 more pp we could go on this "ill fated" one. During the second half of the trip...the British and Irish Isles...we spent the entire time running from weather and trying to find a "safe port" to go to. Days for ports were changed, 5 ports (tender) were missed and replaced with 2 ports Torquay, England and Cobh, Ireland....nothing special. We missed Holyhead and Fishguard, Wales. Plymouth, Ilfracome, and St. Peter Port, England. It was kind of a catch 22 as our captain was cautious, but in some ways seemed extremely/overly cautious, but overall glad we finally made it back to Amsterdam safely. Since we didn't know most of the time which ports we were going to, where we weren't going and ports changed almost daily, everyone started calling it the "mystery" cruise. And before anyone says anything....yes, I had read other reviews about travel during this time to these areas, but honestly didn't think it would be as bad as it was. We also had 2 more electrical fires during this portion. One on the opposite side of our deck (glassware steamer/cleaner) and the other during the middle of the night (laundry room). Thankfully (?) they were both while we were in port and not in the middle of the ocean. Overall the food and entertainment were great. Our room steward was good also. I would NOT recommend going on this ship until it gets some much needed updating (1997 the age) and would NOT recommend doing a cruise to the Baltic's/British, Irish Isles during September and October. We pretty much had rain and cold weather (pea sized hail) in Copenhagen the entire trip....so much so that when the sun would peak out or we had a rare day of sunshine while we were in port....we were all so pleasantly surprised! Overall there seemed to be quite a bit of confusion and uncertainty about ports, how long we would be in a port, show changes and time changes for the shows during the second half. The above is just a "brief" summary of this 28 day cruise...trust me....there's more! Read Less
Sail Date September 2019
This was our 23rd cruise with HAL and as usual other than a few minor issues, we had a great cruise. In reading the reviews of others for this particular cruise, I find them to be a bit on the whining side. Yes the ship is old but it has ... Read More
This was our 23rd cruise with HAL and as usual other than a few minor issues, we had a great cruise. In reading the reviews of others for this particular cruise, I find them to be a bit on the whining side. Yes the ship is old but it has class that the modern overcrowded cattle cars of RCL don't have. We're in our early 60's so Rock Climbing, Wave Riders, Tube Slides,etc have no appeal. We cruise to go to places we haven't been and that's the case with this Cruise. We were not on the second 14 day leg that went to the British Isles so can't comment on that. The Baltic leg was great....yes it rained everyday for a bit but that didn't effect a lot of the excursions as many of them indoors anyway. Frankly, I'm surprised the weather was as good as it was given it's September in the Baltic. Really enjoyed all the stops, especially St Petersberg. Helsinki was are least favorite but that might of been because we had heavy rain most of the time. One side note, I mentioned we did have a few minor issues. I decided to e-mail HAL with my concerns/observations as an FYI. I received a personal response back thanking me for my thoughts and a $600 future cruise credit. Wow, I didn't ask for or expect that. Bottom line folks, your on vacation.....relax, life is too short to complain about minor stuff. Read Less
Sail Date September 2019
It was a family reunion. Nine of us sailed with N.S. on my strong recommendation. I had good experience with Massdam years back. This time nine of us were so disappointed. And I was the only one to be blamed to take this ship. I was ... Read More
It was a family reunion. Nine of us sailed with N.S. on my strong recommendation. I had good experience with Massdam years back. This time nine of us were so disappointed. And I was the only one to be blamed to take this ship. I was not happy for the entire cruise holiday and now. My brother-in-law said he would not come back to this ship even it is free. 1) Lido Buffet - there was ALWAYS long line-up for food as most of the time there was only ONE server. Those servers only put a little food on the plate and thus made guests to line up again for food. We ate the same type of food for 15 days - just BORING. I remember vividly that one time I sailed with another cruise line on Asia route, the day I was in Thailand I had Thai food, while I was in Vietnam I had Vietnamese food. 2) Entertainment - very weak casts and artist/s usually repeated in two nights in such a tiny stage of the WORLD THEATRE. 3) Cruise Director - I have been cruising for 13 times. Justin had an easy job. He showed up at the WORLD THEATRE only on the 3rd night of the cruise. Through the 14-night cruise Justin only showed up for about 7 times. At one time he was watching the show with his friends and enjoying drinks. When the show was over Justin just left without going to the stage to greet the audience/guests informing what activities for the night, and for next day. I seldom saw him nor heard his announcements about activities on board. Guess he was paid very little, so he did just that little. 4) Sea Days - it was particular boring on sea days. I did not notice any activities on the pool side but only those seniors taking sun bathing. It was dead quiet. There were NO talks about history of the next ports. Read Less
Sail Date August 2019
Very bad! The food terrible. In the Lido, old salade cheese! All restaurants fish have no any taste (Have been Frosen) The Pinnacle only the Sirloin is very good the rest...forget it! The Music, a little better than amateurs. ... Read More
Very bad! The food terrible. In the Lido, old salade cheese! All restaurants fish have no any taste (Have been Frosen) The Pinnacle only the Sirloin is very good the rest...forget it! The Music, a little better than amateurs. You must pay for everything on this boat! The Crew is also not the best..and lazy.. The Tamarind is ok, but!! The special Rice Table is absolute not go for the money! Tee Fish restaurant no taste at al..(becourse frozen fish came on board) The Manager for the restaurants..and entertainment change this men now! The band was hearing very loud in my cabin! I give my wife this trip to st. Petersburg. The Excusrsion's hurry hurry hurry! with a smal phone in the ear...follow me please?? We cry, after this experience. Better go with a plane and enjoy everything. In the Hermitage no time to see and enjoy a good piece! A poor Experience. Never with HAL again Read Less
Sail Date August 2019
Pick this cruise based on its Baltic itinerary, which was all that was expected.. Plus * Music offerings both in variety and quality was great * Food was good both in dinning and buffet( had very good variety) * Staff was very ... Read More
Pick this cruise based on its Baltic itinerary, which was all that was expected.. Plus * Music offerings both in variety and quality was great * Food was good both in dinning and buffet( had very good variety) * Staff was very friendly * Excursion personnel were helpful * Had a wide variety of things to do on the ship from Microsoft training to art and alcohol informational sessions * Was compensated for the negative cabin experiences, but could have been better, i.e. they provided free dinner at premium restaurants, but made use pay for our individual (1 each) pop/drinks Minus * Cabin was underneath pool area and it was miserable, ship crew rearranging chairs and washing area, late night and early mornings * Movie's volume in pool area was so loud, could hear it in my cabin one floor down * To get answers from service desk staff had to ask 2 or 3 different persons to get an accurate answer * Pop/soda cards was for bar pop only, can of pop cost more and charged to room * Had frustrating experience playing Texas Holdem in Casino..in short was winning!, then dealer got full house, I got four of a kind, winner again..dealer called pit-boss over, they both looked at each other for a several seconds .. pit-boss said count the cards..then he said replace the deck... All of this was to affect the flow of the game and re-establish the casino's odds of winning..bad gaming sportsmanship... Again protecting the ship's profits.. I walked away.. General Observations * Ship is new and understated, wonder what it will look like/hold up in the future * Ship was overall the nosiest ship I have been on * It felt like the ship and personnel where there/measured to make a profit Read Less
Sail Date August 2019
This cruise does the Baltics which was what we wanted to see. Busy cruise with few sea days but the ports were amazing. This ship is just beautiful. We were on Nieuw Amsterdam when it first came out and it was OK but this is decorated ... Read More
This cruise does the Baltics which was what we wanted to see. Busy cruise with few sea days but the ports were amazing. This ship is just beautiful. We were on Nieuw Amsterdam when it first came out and it was OK but this is decorated just lovely. The art work, the Central area, the Dining room, the Word Stage was awesome!! The rooms were really well thought out with all of extra spaces for storage. The bathrooms finally have a real shower will glass and that sure beats the shower curtains of days gone by. I would give this ship a review of 5 but for: the entertainment on the World Stage could have been a lot better. In ports of Berlin and St Petersburg they did not even have any entertainment or bring on anything local. They do have 3 other music venues, one Blues, one dueling Pianos and one Rock that are on nightly. The Lido buffet had very good food that they serve you. The dining room had lobster one evening in 2 weeks. Read Less
Sail Date August 2019
This was a trip to a bucket list area of the world, and the Nieuw Statendam did not disappoint. The staff were courteous, friendly and obliging (thank you Iman and Izee and others in the main dining room, and stewards Petrus and Joko ... Read More
This was a trip to a bucket list area of the world, and the Nieuw Statendam did not disappoint. The staff were courteous, friendly and obliging (thank you Iman and Izee and others in the main dining room, and stewards Petrus and Joko who made everything work so smoothly for us and for whom nothing was ever too much trouble). I'll not repeat here the many positive comments made by other reviewers, save to say that I am in agreement with most of them. The food was excellent with sufficient variety, and the public areas were amazing. The only thing I would add some constructive criticism about is the level of on board entertainment provided. The musicians were talented, and from what I observed there was a "BB King" group, a classical music group, a rock and roll music group and a couple of pianists who played and sang together. There was also a small support orchestra for the theatre acts. I don't go to theatre performances at home, and avoid them on TV, so I am not in a position to offer any critique. The dancers could have included Michael Flatley and I still wouldn't have bothered attending. Chacun a son gout, but at least they were not the same entertainers every night. The other venues were a different story. Same players, same venue, same music style, same time, Every night, The day time daily activity program needn't have been published. It was invariably a rehash of the day before, and a copy could just as conveniently have been permanently affixed in each cabin. And some (most) of the "activities" being advertised? Friends of Bill W meet. Evening Mass (each evening). Mahjong players meet. Ping Pong players meet. Basketball players meet. Shuffleboard players meet. Bridge players meet. Pickleball players meet (yes, really). Shops are open with amazing deals (yeah right, I cruise to shop). There must have been a lot of deeply religious, card and board game playing sports fanatics on this cruise, although funnily enough I never came across any actual tournaments being conducted. Trivia was also there, And, apart from the bars, (and perhaps the casino for those so inclined) you would be hard pressed to find any other activity with general appeal. Seriously,I appreciate the age demographic of the HAL pool, and the fact that there were few sea days on this particular cruise, but I did expect a little more creativity. The ports of call were wonderful. If the ship excursions on offer matched those I privately arranged (and I believe they did) they would have been very much enjoyed. Read Less
Sail Date August 2019
We chose this cruise to see the Baltic Region (St. Petersburg, Copenhagen, Tallinn, Stockholm, etc.) and the Norwegian fjords - as well as to celebrate a birthday and our wedding anniversary. This was our third Holland America cruise ... Read More
We chose this cruise to see the Baltic Region (St. Petersburg, Copenhagen, Tallinn, Stockholm, etc.) and the Norwegian fjords - as well as to celebrate a birthday and our wedding anniversary. This was our third Holland America cruise since December 2018 and the second on the Nieuw Statendam. Overall we've had 16 extended length cruises in the past 8 years (5 Carnival, 2 Princess, 6 Celebrity and 3 Holland America). Celebrity and Holland are our current favorites. A few comments on our recent 21 day Norway and Baltic cruise on the Nieuw Statendam: The pre-cruise Movenpick Hotel suggested by Holland was a good choice - simple like most European hotels (3 Star at most), but very convenient. HA may want to offer something a little more upscale for those wishing something nicer. The ship continues to look great since our cruise last December and the crew do a very good job - Room Stewards, Main Dining Room, Lido and Crow's Nest. They all seem happy and eager to help in any way. The Captain is very personable and engaging. The passengers are another story. We met a few nice couples but most are rude, "pushy" and seem "entitled". I had hoped for a bit more refinement relative to a 24 day Mediterranean cruise we had on the Celebrity Eclipse last September (it was full of folks from New York City - but who were nowhere near as impolite). Not sure if it's the age group that HA attracts, the northern European culture or what. Simply "old and mean". The Signature Suite (SR 7100) was great. I think the design on other ships (without a Murphy bed) will be very nice (it's only two of us). The Pinnacle Grill is a disappointment. Poor service and poor food preparation (the Main Dining Room is much better on both). It seemed to be less than half full for dinner on each of the 21 days. Our "included" dinner was only available on the day of embarkation. We had hoped to save it for either our wedding anniversary or my birthday. We ultimately dined in Tamarind for the birthday - it was nice. The Pinnacle needs a rework. We enjoyed dinner in the Main Dining Room. Good food and very attentive and quick service. The Lido continues to be very hot when full of people (inadequate air conditioning) and the wash stations have exchanged the paper towels for something similar to Klennex. There are always gobs of it lying on the floor. Passengers become frustrated attempting to pull 2 or 3 sheets from the dispensers, which are routinely hanging out of the cabinets. One of the officers standing next to me agreed that it was poor. The silverware in the Lido is consistently dirty (large particles of food); the MDR has very clean place settings. The Hotel Director (large fellow who is very personable / friendly) always seems to be in the gym "pumping iron" or shaking hands. Maybe a little more quality control? The entertainment was disappointingly poor relative to the December 2018 sailing on the NS and the April 2019 sailing on the Koningsdam: Billboard 100 and BB King's were amateurish at best; Rolling Stone Rock Room was lame - a bunch of old fellows that can't play or sing. Lincoln Center was good. The World Stage is very uneven. Not sure why HA spent so much money on it - it is consistently under utilized. HA's "Speakeasy" performance had poor reviews from the fellow passengers. We finally attended half way through the cruise since we like performances, but left after 10 minutes. During the last 4 days of the 21 day cruise, dancers were brought on board to perform "Humanity" and "Stages". Nowhere near as good as on the other two sailings - watchable but uninspired - seemed like a last minute adjustment. We think these type of shows, and level of skill, are very good but need more). If you like performances on moderately sized bigger ships, probably better to stick with Celebrity The dis-embarkations for HA cruise tours were poorly managed. For St. Pete., we were assembled in the World Stage at 6:30 AM and 7:00 AM on the two days. We waited for 45 minutes both days before getting off the ship and then waited another 45 minutes outside the terminal for immigration. HA tried to blame it on the Russian officials. The same on the last day for disembarkation; many passengers were called to proceed to Deck (2 or 3) for offloading. We waited in a line that wrapped from the mid-ship to the rear elevators twice over and stood there for a very long time - with no movement. Because of the early assemblies and the age group, at least half the ship became quite sick. The coughing and sneezing was persistent everywhere. At one point it was so loud in the World Theater that the Excursion Guide halted his presentation for a bit. At no time did HA provide any guidance as to health measures or ask what seemed to be some very ill individuals to either remain in their cabin or seek medical attention. While we are quite athletic and healthy, we eventually became ill during the last few days from others coughing on us. Between cruises, we could not return to the same port in Amsterdam but instead docked in an industrial setting (Elbaweg 10). Bus service into the city was provided. However, upon returning we had to walk through a large dirty warehouse (chairs were set up for those joining the ship for the 14 day Baltic cruise). Very unsafe with fork lifts speeding past and behind passengers. I was nearly run over by a "smart aleck" driver even though I was in the outlined walking zone. He just laughed about it! Read Less
Sail Date August 2019
We chose this crew because of the itinerary and we wanted to try Holland America.. Embarkation (Amsterdam) was the best of any cruise we have been on (4 previous cruises). Disembarkation (also Amsterdam) was also the better than any of ... Read More
We chose this crew because of the itinerary and we wanted to try Holland America.. Embarkation (Amsterdam) was the best of any cruise we have been on (4 previous cruises). Disembarkation (also Amsterdam) was also the better than any of our previous cruises. Ship is big, new, and beautiful... Great layout and we never felt too crowded. Cabin was spacious with good amount of storage for suitcases and ample closet space. I would say dining was above average but we did not dine at any of the specialty restaurants. We "tried" to attend a few of the shows but never stayed for the duration they were just too boring. Service was outstanding throughout the ship for the duration. Ports were all good but we did not book any excursions through HAL as they were too expensive. We booked through a third party for much less and they were basically the same tours. Shops were somewhat limited but all the staff were friendly. Casino was sufficient (also a great staff) but I would have liked for them to have a Texas hold'em table. Overall a good cruise and we would probably give HAL another try possibly Antarctica. Read Less
Sail Date August 2019
Retired active senior couple desires to leave sunny, humid Florida Summer for two weeks. Have sailed several times on Holland America. This ship and its sister ship Nieu Kolingdon (which we sailed on last December) are HAL newest. About ... Read More
Retired active senior couple desires to leave sunny, humid Florida Summer for two weeks. Have sailed several times on Holland America. This ship and its sister ship Nieu Kolingdon (which we sailed on last December) are HAL newest. About 2,600 passengers...larger than the rest of their fleet. The food, the service and the ships themselves are 5 star. The main shows in the evenings in the main large theater are soso which can be expected on a ship this size. This cruise was about 60% Scandinavian, 30% US/English and 10% Asian with not many children. Vista Suite (4110) was on deck 4 midship and was small but had great storage and a first class cabin attendant. We ate in 2 specialty restaurants ($35pp) (Pinnacle-steak and Calenture-Italian) and came to the conclusion that the food in the main dining room was as good if not better. The made to order pizza and ceasar salads in the New York Deli for lunch are terrific. The highlight for us were the daily classical concerts in the Lincoln Center which consisted of a talented ensemble of piano, cello, base and 2 violins. They also had a blues band in the BBK Room and a R & R band in the Rolling Stone Room which were OK. A hint on the drinks. Different bars have different Happy Hour times which gives you a cocktail at regular price and a second for $2.00 more. Another nice thing about HAL is that you can buy a 5th of vodka or others for about $40 bucks for your cabin which lets you have a nip on the veranda before the evening festivities. Excursions: Bergen was the best. The other tours were soso. I guess after you see a few fiords and cute little colored cottages it becomes redundant. The truth be known,,,,our numerous national parks in the good old USA are the truly spectacular sights! Read Less
Sail Date July 2019
Not everything about this cruise was abjectly awful. The food and service in Pinnacle Grill was good. Annette, who led the America's Test Kitchen demos, was very good. The itinerary was fairly rare. But a lot of stuff went wrong. ... Read More
Not everything about this cruise was abjectly awful. The food and service in Pinnacle Grill was good. Annette, who led the America's Test Kitchen demos, was very good. The itinerary was fairly rare. But a lot of stuff went wrong. Aside from Pinnacle Grill, the food was fit for a King. As in "Here King! Here boy! Good boy!" Food is subjective but food temperature and consistency are not. And they couldn't get the basics right on temperature and consistency. In eight dining room appearances, my wife never got what she ordered on the first try once. The Lanai room was clean, but the good points stopped there. The Lanai door did not work and was propped open or closed with wood. We could not control the stateroom temperature. This could not be fixed. The toilet clogged frequently. Passenger internet was knocked out for a week in/around Spitsbergen. Some internet worked of course, as the daily mini-newspapers kept appearing, just not for pax. A $50 credit was belatedly offered...a decent deal for those who bought the cheaper packages, but cold comfort to those who bought the more expensive/multi-device ones. The itinerary was clumsy, with too little time in too many ports. Putting Heimaey on the list of ports was ridiculous: at the best of times, the ship cannot approach the shallow harbour so it's a 35-minute tender ride to shore. These were not the best of times: It was not safe to put the tenders out so we skipped it, burning a day we could have been elsewhere. This was supposed to be an EXC cruise and after reading about the biologists and geologists brought on for the Southerly cruises we expected a treat. Instead our "expert" was a drowsy Aussie who had never been to this part of the world. His "expertise" was reading us Wikipedia. Easy enough to skip his talks, but his mumblings were blared on the outside decks, likely scaring away what little wildlife there was. They ran out of 2/3 of the wines in our package (Cellar #2). Servers eager/kind but hopelessly overworked The thermal package bought pre cruise was a grimy hot tub, grimy sauna, and six heated loungers. Layout unsuitable for this wheelchair user. Guest Services to their credit cheerfully gave Day 1 refund. We would only travel HAL again if, factoring in price, it was still a good deal after factoring in the $39pp it costs to eat in Pinnacle Grill nightly in a full balcony with working balcony door. The auto-itinerary says we were on a 34 day cruise but it was 20 days only, disembarking Aug 4. Mostly Spitsbergen and Iceland, with a stop in Norway Proper and Scotland bookending. Read Less
Sail Date July 2019
We chose this cruise because of its unique itinerary which went to Svalbard and then south to Iceland. We booked the original cruise which was to be on the Prinsendam, but this was changed to the Rotterdam. We were therefore on a cruise ... Read More
We chose this cruise because of its unique itinerary which went to Svalbard and then south to Iceland. We booked the original cruise which was to be on the Prinsendam, but this was changed to the Rotterdam. We were therefore on a cruise that was designed for a smaller ship and I think that detracted from the experience as we did not seem to get as close to the glaciers and polar ice cap as the smaller ship would. As a result we saw very little wildlife compared to the same cruise in previous years. The crew were good and the outside cabin was roomy, But I may as well have had an inside cabin because the windows were really dirty. In fact, for a cruise that 'featured' so much scenic cruising the windows were disgustingly dirty - particularly in the main dining room and lounge areas. At least some attention there would make it look like someone cared. The food in the MDR was good to very good and the wait staff were very attentive and helpful. We ate at one of the speciality restaurants and whilst this was very good, would not be value for money other than for the occasional treat. The entertainment was very hit and miss. Enjoyed the female singer and the modern dance troupe, but the rest of it was just strange. An Australian singer/guitarist playing old American country music in a fake American accent was weird. Post Modern Jukebox band and singers were great, but some modern music is really good and shouldn't be retro'd into big band music. The holographic dancer and video segways to the franchise owner made it just look cheap. The entertainment timing was also odd. The movies clashed with the stage shows and it was really difficult to get to dinner, movie and show in one night. The day time entertainment usually consisted of someone trying to sell you something. A matinee movie would have been great. And talking of movies - they were repeating them on a 20 day cruise! Again, very cheap. Would have thought they may have packed some more. The American Test Kitchen was great. Annette was an excellent presenter and I really enjoyed her sessions. We paid a lot of money for this cruise because we booked early to get a place on this unique itinerary on a small ship. It was therefore a bit galling to hear about how cheaply this cruise was discounted after the change of ship. I feel pretty ripped off that having paid this money we still couldn't look out a clean window. This was our first cruise on HAL. Can't imagine coming back to it unless things improve. The feature was the itinerary, but the ship just met (average) expectations. It was OK but certainly no wow factor, and not enough to make me recommend it to my friends. Read Less
Sail Date July 2019
I chose this cruise to go to Svalbard, pure and simple. Was not disappointed. Been to Iceland a couple of times before but still found things to see. Ship board life was fine by me. Did a few shore excursions organized by Holland, all OK ... Read More
I chose this cruise to go to Svalbard, pure and simple. Was not disappointed. Been to Iceland a couple of times before but still found things to see. Ship board life was fine by me. Did a few shore excursions organized by Holland, all OK but a tad expensive I thought. I deliberately sail on smaller ships where I can and Rotterdam is about as large as I want to go. Still had a feeling of smallness about it, and able to meet others passengers several times, creating a more intimate feel. My biggest upset, while not Hollands fault but something I will try and check on in any future sailings, was the arrival of a behemoth carrying 4500 passengers in the same small ports as us. 3 times. Imagine our 1400 passengers and 4500 off the other ship arriving in a port with a population of about 2000 people. Most unpleasant for me who lives in a small town with a total population less than the mob on the Preziosa. I like to feel a ship move and it took a storm with wild seas to make this happen. It appears a very stable ship. Cant have been too bad as we have just booked a cruise on a sister ship, this time to go to the bottom of the world. The review here by cancruise2 indicates to me he/she would be better of staying at home. One small complaint. I paid extra to have an ocean view. It is pointless to do this if you cant see through the dirty window. Read Less
Sail Date July 2019
This was our first cruise ever and we didn’t quite know what to expect. We chose it because we wanted to reach beyond the Arctic Circle and into the Midnight Sun, and had a limited time availability. We stayed into a Neptune Suite - ... Read More
This was our first cruise ever and we didn’t quite know what to expect. We chose it because we wanted to reach beyond the Arctic Circle and into the Midnight Sun, and had a limited time availability. We stayed into a Neptune Suite - Mozart deck, Aft corner. We absolutely loved the suite. Top of the line, modern and elegant dual sink bath with oversized shower, all in travertine. Ultra large screen TV, and lovely wrap around balcony. King bed was best ever. The personnel was without reproche. All were just trying to go beyond the call of duty. We went to the restaurants - Tamarind was our favorite, with the Mango Posset desert being a killer. Rudy’s is also very good. Great atmosphere. Sophisticated food. The Orange Club was a very convenient way to have a more intimate environment for dining, and Neptune Lounge handy and well stuffed. The World State venue is just extraordinary. Music program onboard video was diverse and we could find our preferred tunes with Hyperion Knight piano, Dual piano performance, blues and rock bands. Shore trips - did do the job. We enjoyed them and used them to the fullest. Read Less
Sail Date July 2019
As a frequent, but young cruiser, I've traveled on many different cruise lines, including NCL, Royal Caribbean, MSC, and Carnival. This was also my third cruise on Holland, the other two being on the Maasdam and the Statendam (the ... Read More
As a frequent, but young cruiser, I've traveled on many different cruise lines, including NCL, Royal Caribbean, MSC, and Carnival. This was also my third cruise on Holland, the other two being on the Maasdam and the Statendam (the Nieuw Statendam's predecessor). Out of all the cruises I've been on, this ship by far had the most delicious food, both at the buffet and the main dining room. My previous experiences on Holland America were certainly not as great as this cruise was; and the level of service, food, and entertainment were definitely much better. Holland definitely amped up their game with the Nieuw Statendam! The buffet was my favorite part of the ship. I loved that the crew served the food to you at the buffet, rather than people touching food with their fingers and spreading germs all over the place. Not to mention that the food variety was terrific and literally almost everything tasted good. Oh my goodness - the deserts tempted me so much!!! I couldn't resist them; in fact, I would carry three of them to my table everyday. Additionally, you could get fresh salads prepared personally for you, made to order stir-fry at the Asian section, and burgers and hot dogs located near by (outside) the buffet. Also, located near the buffet, one flight up, was the pizza and deli place, where you could get made to order pizza and sandwiches. Service in the dining room as well as selection of food choices were excellent. The staff were also very accommodating, allowing my sister who has special dietary restrictions to order things not necessarily on the menu and preparing her food the way she needed it to be. Entertainment was great as well. There was a large variety of entertainment options nightly, including special rooms dedicated to different genres of music that rotated, as well as main theater shows that were different every night. From comedy shows, magicians, and production shows, every show was great! The show we especially enjoyed was a production show that utilized the large LED screens that surrounded the theater. It blowed our minds. I will say, I would not recommend this cruise line for young kids, but for teens and above, it is awesome! (I myself am in my late teens). There's no slides, arcades, or fun activities of that sort, although there is table tennis! I would suggest bringing a nice book to keep busy during sea days. And the ship is designed perfectly for relaxing by the pool: the Lido deck is full of comfy lounge chairs, with some actually being beds! Overall, I would highly recommend the Nieuw Statendam, and I hope to come back on it one day! Read Less
Sail Date July 2019
The cruise was chosen because of the itinerary. This was our third Holland America Cruise. It was a Baltic Sea cruise with an itinerary that included 9-10 ports in 7 countries in 14 days. We didn't believe the food in the ... Read More
The cruise was chosen because of the itinerary. This was our third Holland America Cruise. It was a Baltic Sea cruise with an itinerary that included 9-10 ports in 7 countries in 14 days. We didn't believe the food in the Pinnacle Grill (with an upcharge of $39 per person) was any better than the food in the main dining room (where there was generally a better selection, too). The entertainment in the main show room was okay, some evenings better than other. None of it was spectacular. The comedian was fresh and funny. Entertainment at the piano bar was okay. The pianist had a good repertoire and played well, but didn't have a voice to match. I have more comments in the cabin review. Ports seemed to be well chosen and excursions were generally good. We had an issue in St. Petersburg, Russia, where arrangements to visit the Hermitage were not well handled. After waiting for an hour to gain entrance, and about time for the museum to close, the tour operator rushed us through a single exhibit (spent maybe 20 minutes) rather than canceling and refunding. Traffic conditions that day were atrocious, and we were delivered back to the ship an hour after it should have sailed. Fortunately, since the excursion was sold by the cruise line, the ship waited for us. We all received an apology from HAL and a 25% rebate on the cost of the excursion. We took an optional excursion via bullet train to Moscow from St. Petersburg (offered by HAL), and believe it was an exceptional experience that anyone with an opportunity should try. Spent a day in Red Square and the Kremlin. The ride was itself a neat experience. The only poor experience we had on any other excursion was a weather-related disaster in Arhus, Denmark, where we thought it would be neat to attend a July 4 celebration. The weather that day was cold and wet and windy. Since most will not have an opportunity to be in Arhus, Denmark, on July 4, it is not likely that this note will matter to many of who read it. We returned to Denmark about a week later (Copenhagen), and the weather and the excursion (mostly in Tivoli Gardens) was wonderful. We thought the best part of the time in Stockholm was actually on the ship as we sailed past great vistas of large and small islands, some with a single home, some with several, some with none. Where there was a home, there was a boat that was necessary to get off the island. We spent a some time in the old town of Talinn in Estonia. Old town means really old. There is a pharmacy that is and claims to have been in business since 1492. Yes, 1492. These are some of the highlights. With as many as two excursions each day and 10 ports, it is impossible to review all of them, but I will be happy to answer any questions directed my way. Read Less
Sail Date July 2019
We chose the Zuiderdam for the Baltic cruise because we wanted an itinerary that had us in St Petersburg for two days since we wanted to more fully explore that port. We also wanted a smallish ship because we don’t want to contend with ... Read More
We chose the Zuiderdam for the Baltic cruise because we wanted an itinerary that had us in St Petersburg for two days since we wanted to more fully explore that port. We also wanted a smallish ship because we don’t want to contend with the number of people on the large ships and some of the small ships get too pricey. We chose wisely. We had an amazingly experience and among our group of 6 with mixed levels of cruising experiences we all agreed we would do it again. My husband and I got off and most ports and did things on our own with the exceptions of St Petersburg and Warnemünde where we had lined up tours with TJ Travel and Harry’s Taxi respectively for our group of six. Both tours were tremendous and well worth their price which was way less than the ship. In Stockholm my husband and I got a cab so we could start at the Vasa Museum and walk back. One couple did the Hop on Hop at some ports and the Easy Excursions from the ship at other ports except Tallinn which is an easy enough walk around for them. Our remaining twosome used a combo of HOHO and just walking off the ship at the other ports. We needed a cab in Tallinn for our couple with limited walking abilities. Tallinn has a HOHO but you cannot get into old town. This same couple used wheelchairs in St Petersburg provided by TJ Travel. We were confused the first couple days by the dining but got it sorted out. The flyer we receive each evening in our cabin indicated that it was open seating (or some similar term). We thought that meant our scheduled dining time was not being honored and instead we should go anytime. Well good news is that you can go at your scheduled time OR anytime. I like this feature a lot but it was a little confusing. We did want to go at the same time and have the same servers so we figured it out on day 2 and we did that going forward. The food was always amazing and varied. The only exception was embarcation day but I bet that is a crazy day for the kitchen. Great experience had by all! Read Less
Sail Date June 2019
HAL delivered again with a very nice cruise, great food, super service, friendly staff and gracious public spaces. Great room on Dolphin deck with hardly and rock and roll and a big room with window (1903).Not a fan of the tv/dvd ... Read More
HAL delivered again with a very nice cruise, great food, super service, friendly staff and gracious public spaces. Great room on Dolphin deck with hardly and rock and roll and a big room with window (1903).Not a fan of the tv/dvd combo...hopefully they will upgrade that. Elevators around the corner zip up to Lido and MDR. Food was excellent. Banana bread French toast was a fav in MDR for breakfast. Creme Brûlée, prime rib, French onion soup, any dessert all good. Pork roast was like Sunday dinner as a kid. Liked the trivia games and the happy hour in the Crows Nest. Lincoln centre stage was excellent. Gift shop was so-so... to many high end things and low end was gaudy. Embarkation and disembarkation was the smoothest I have experienced. The staff were the real stand outs. Always friendly , helpful, smiling and keeping things clean. They work so hard! Great ports mix of large and small. 24 hour sun was something to see! Did not do any shore excursions with HAL(to expensive)all were booked ahead of time online. Read Less
Sail Date June 2019
ITINERARY is the reason to pick Holland America Line. However, we both came home sneezing and coughing because of the airco in the cabin that is placed right over the bed and cannot be shut off. This was also the case two years ago ... Read More
ITINERARY is the reason to pick Holland America Line. However, we both came home sneezing and coughing because of the airco in the cabin that is placed right over the bed and cannot be shut off. This was also the case two years ago when we also sailed with Zuiderdam but we figured this major problem would have been solved after the ship had been refurbished. But NO. We were certainly not the only people complaining about this problem and I would never book such a ship again. Service, food choice had also declined in two years. The menu was cut down, no more surf and turf, or baked Alaska. I do not mind paying for lobster ($20) but the quality was poor, lobster was small, hard and tasteless. Other dishes failed to impress as was the case earlier. Now the service has always been excellent, but also here they started dropping the ball, almost constantly. Three times our wine got lost and most dinner they were unable to serve us wine with first course, which is really a shame. Also on deck nine staff sometimes unfriendly, and hardly willing to serve. A great let down! We are going again with HAL in September on Koningsdam and on New Statendam service was better and the airco could be shut off, we always take veranda cabin to get in fresh air. Cabin staff was fine and we like the older look of Zuiderdam too but they really must get their act together and stop counting pennies. Read Less
Sail Date June 2019
I'd have given this cruise an overall raging of 5 were it not for HAL cheating out on food, service and entertainment. Food was almost always JUST warm. No flavour and boring, I brought my own garlic powder is that's an ... Read More
I'd have given this cruise an overall raging of 5 were it not for HAL cheating out on food, service and entertainment. Food was almost always JUST warm. No flavour and boring, I brought my own garlic powder is that's an indication. Wine staff are ill equipped to offer any advice and are mostly bored with the job. We usually like to attend the Sip and Savour but after one, we stayed away because the so called sommelier had no real interest. She just went through the motions. I had to send back the escargot because they were actually over cooked. The dining room service is not very good. I think HAL reduced, again, the number of people working the dining room. Entertainment was largely just above the Busker level. Two very good dance performances by the group One Step. The five piece string and piano recitals in the Lincoln centre were quite good but other than that, entertainment was third class. The Lido for breakfasts and lunches was HAL's standard level of quality but the guy at the eggs station needs an attitude adjustment. The Drive In's food is just terrible ...... except for the fries. They are tolerable. Can't comment on HAL's tours because we don't take them. Waaaaaaay over priced. The ship was clean and our cabin attendants were very efficient. Our captain made entertaining and informative announcements. It was a good cruise but had the above been better, it would have rated as excellent. We tend to use the gym on sea day. Why were there no individual TV monitors on the cardio machines. Instead we had to watch CNN, FOX or BBC.....silently. Another thing. There are an awful lot of Canadians onboard. Why not offer the CBC Newsnetwork.....far better coverage. We finally attained that 4 Star Mariner status and enjoyed all that free laundry and discounted wine packages. Hopefully that does not change. Read Less
Sail Date June 2019
The Northern Isles cruise was a great 14 day tour of Nordic country and history in Denmark, Norway, Iceland, Shetland Island and Scotland. The cruise had 5 full days in Iceland, longer than most tours. My husband and I went early to tour ... Read More
The Northern Isles cruise was a great 14 day tour of Nordic country and history in Denmark, Norway, Iceland, Shetland Island and Scotland. The cruise had 5 full days in Iceland, longer than most tours. My husband and I went early to tour Copenhagen/Sweden. Copenhagen has so many wonderful things to see you could easily spend 5 days just in that site alone. We took a fjord cruise and shopped in Bergen. We went on the troop wall tour in Ålesund, highly recommend. We booked a private tour to reduce the price. Seydisfjordur was a lovely town with colorful buildings. We took a tour to the interior part of Iceland’s Eastland. Next came Akureyri with the huge Godafoss waterfall and the really interesting Laufas Museum of a Church and preserved sod house. In Isafjordur, we took a tour with a local to Flateyri with a waterfall and the most amazing views of lupine flowers all over the county side and hillsides. The guide has rested eider down for the over 10000 ducks on his land. Then there were 2 days in Reykjavík with an Super Golden Circle tour and a city tour with the historic open air museum the next day. Lerwick and the Shetland Island was amazing, taking a small bus tour with a local, seeing the southern part of the island with amazing views, the Croft House museum, Scalloway museum with 5000 year old ruins and Sumburgh Head with Lighthouse and Puffin lined cliffs. Last stop was Inverggordon/Inverness, Scotland with a tour of Loch Ness, Culloden Battlefield, Clava Cairns and Inverness shopping. Many’s memories, any pictures. A cold was going around the ship and we both picked it up, luckily near the end of the cruise. The on ship experience was very peaceful. They had great EXC tour specialist that gave information. The shows did vary, some were not as interesting. They did have three large music venues to attend, we found we enjoyed some of the music days better, especially the five piece Ensemble at the Lincoln center room. The in room dining with always great with fresh food and came quickly. The main dining room, the food was very good and non-gala nights. The Lido market had a variety of food that was just fine. We ate once at the Pinnacle Grill, you can eat lunch there for only $10. This was a really good restaurant. I recommend purchasing the unlimited laundry, you can bring less clothing. We purchased drink cards of $250 rather than a higher price drink package. At the end of the cruise the money left on the gift card was applied to your account. Embarking and disembarking went very easy. We took a morning tour with airport transfer to the airport on the last day. Read Less
Sail Date June 2019
Zuiderdam - The Ship Older ship, but renovated in 2017. Maintenance is never ending for ships. Each port day we observed, scraping, painting and power washing. And, yet, there still are areas of rust and wear. But, overall, the ... Read More
Zuiderdam - The Ship Older ship, but renovated in 2017. Maintenance is never ending for ships. Each port day we observed, scraping, painting and power washing. And, yet, there still are areas of rust and wear. But, overall, the ship was well maintained. Deck crew worked hard, long days. A few of the public rooms were too small for their intended purpose. For example: BB King lounge – The lounge was crowded every night. Arrive early to get a seat. Some of the BB King lounges on other HAL ships occupy an upper and lower level. The lounge on the Zuiderdam occupies one level. BillBoard On-Board – Dueling Piano’s – Again, this lounge was crowded every night, with standing room only remaining. Arrive early to get a seat or be prepared to stand. Staterooms – Our balcony stateroom number 4156 was meticulously maintained. The cabin stewards instinctively knew our daily routines, and were never intrusive. Each night we were amazed at the towel animals waiting on our bed. The room itself was spacious, with plenty of drawer space and storage for our suitcases under our queen-sized bed. Bathrooms and showers are equally spacious, in comparison to other cruise lines. Service – Generally speaking, service was excellent. The embarkation and debarkation process and shuttles were seamless. In ports where tendering was required, the process was well organized. There were always several tenders in operation, and the lines moved quickly. There was always a friendly face at reception. And, they were eager to assist with any problem. We needed to have our dining hours changed. Not only did the receptionist change the dining hours, she created a new key card, as well, to indicate the change. Most evenings we ate in the Main Dining Room. We never experienced any problems with service. We were always greeted with smiles. And, the waiters knew their menu. Furthermore, we never waited for bar service. On occasion, the table cleaning service was slow in the Lido Market. But, considering we had a full ship, it’s understandable. Food – As I mentioned, we dined primarily in the Main Restaurant. The menu was varied, and everyone at our table enjoyed the quality or quantity of food. One evening we dined in the Pinnacle Restaurant and were not impressed. Neither the food nor the service had that “wow” factor. The steaks were good, but no better than the main dining room. Some desserts were also served in the main dining room (crème brulee, for one). Furthermore, the waiters were very slow in cleaning the surrounding tables. For most of the meal we felt like we were sitting in a sea of dishes. No one appeared to be “in charge”. We enjoyed breakfast every morning at the Lido Market. There was always a great variety of food. The tea drinkers in our group were very happy with the assortment of teas; from herbal to British blends – caffeine and non-caffeine. Speaking of tea, afternoon tea was offered in the main dining room on sea days. Scones with jam and clotted cream were offered, as well as various tea cakes and sandwiches. Burgers and French fries were perfectly cooked to order at the Dive-Bar. A pager was provided with each order, so there wasn’t any waiting around in long lines. We didn’t eat in Canaletto, the Italian specialty restaurant that shares space in the Lido Market. The space, including tables, isn’t any different than the Lido Market. It didn’t make sense to pay to dine there. Additionally, the Italian food offered free in the Lido Market was excellent. Many a sea day was happily spent sipping a specialty coffee in the Exploration Café. It’s lofty (deck 10), far reaching views were spectacular. Entertainment – If you are expecting spectacular stage shows, HAL is not for you. Most nights, entertainment in the main show lounge consisted of singers, comedians, musicians, magicians, and dancers. Some, were well known entertainers, such as Darren Day. Only one show was poor – “Post Modern Jukebox”. While each person in the group was a good singer, the concept of giving oldies and standards a new twist fell flat. Besides the main show lounge, there’s BB Kings, Lincoln Center Stage and Billboard on Board. All draw large audiences. There’s dancing in the BB King Lounge, after the final BB King show of the evening. The Ocean Bar is the least busy lounge, except during happy hour. It’s a great spot, but there isn’t anything (no live music – except on formal evenings during happy hour) to attract people. During sea days, there was bingo, lectures, bridge, a galley tour, mahjong, chess, ballroom dancing, trivia games, book club, movies and computer classes. Most people downloaded the daily programs to their phones. Paid computer access was not required to enjoy this perk. HAL is the only cruise line that I know of that offers excursion guide services. This is different from the shore excursions desk. And, HAL understands that not all guests want to book shore excursions through them. The “EXC Guides” belong to the entertainment department, while Shore Excursions is a revenue department (selling shore excursions). The EXE Guides provide valuable information via live lectures about the ports of call to assist guests in their planning. It’s a great, free, service and it doesn’t interfere with the selling of shore excursions. Besides the lectures, the EXC guides have desk hours for questions relating to the itinerary and ports of call. Excursions: We generally do not book shore excursions with the ship. We prepare our own research, and make reservations before we embark on our cruise. Below is a brief description of our port visits: Bergen, Norway – Strolled into town from the ship. Rode the Funicular up to Mt. Florian. Wonderful views. For the more adventurous, walks, hikes and guided tours are offered. Recommend purchasing tickets on-line to avoid long lines. Although busy with tourists, we walked through the reconstructed old town buildings and outdoor markets. Aalesund, Norway – With the ship docked in town, everything in town is close. And, the first place to visit is the Tourist Cinema located inside a corner souvenir shop, at Lorkenesgata 1. It’s literally across the street from the cruise port. The film takes the visitor on a journey of history, and provides a bird’s eye view of the spectacular fjords. The show lasts 17 minutes. Also recommended is the HOHO bus, which travels to all the major attractions both in and out of the City. The entire tour takes about 80 minutes. The Aksla viewpoint, as well as the aquarium, are worth a Hop-Off. It is recommended that visitors use their credit card for the HOHO bus. Not only is it the best exchange rate, there’s a 10% discount on the price of the tour. Seydisfordur, Iceland – It’s a short walk into town. Be sure to visit the Blue Church. Walk up the stairs alongside the melting glacier. The Gufufoss (Steam Falls) is a short ride (30 minutes) from the town center. Akureyri, Iceland – With a short walk into town, be certain to visit “Into the Arctic” located at Strandgata 53. This exhibit provides excellent insight to life in the north. Akureyrarkirka Church – by Eyrarlandsveg is worth a visit. It was the grandest church in Iceland when it was built in 1940. Definitely the best ice cream in Iceland, visit Brynjuis Ice Cream – Adalstraeti 3. Lake Myvatin is worth a visit, located an hour from Akureyri. Isafjordur, Iceland – The ship tenders to shore. Despite this being a very small town, a few good museums are located here. Visit the Hevrsdagssafn – Museum of Everyday Life, located at Hafnarstraeti 5. It provides an inside look of life in Iceland. Reykjavik Iceland – The HoHo bus stops at the cruise terminal. It stops at all major sights in town. Don’t miss: “The Whales of Iceland” exhibition, located at Fiskislod 23-25, in the old harbor area. Best whale museum I’ve seen. Visit the Volcano House. View 2 documentary films about the most powerful volcanic eruptions over the last 40 years in Iceland, located at Tryggvagata 11. For an absolutely stunning view of the City, take an elevator to the top of the church tower of Hallgrimkirkja, located at Hallgrimstorg 1. A must is the Golden Circle Tour offered by Snaeland Travel. A private car and driver will meet you at the Cruise Ship Center. The following was visited on this tour: Thingvellir National Park, Geysir Hot Springs, the magnificent Gullfoss, Faxi waterfalls, including the fish ladder and the geothermal ovens at Laugavata Fontana to witness bread being baked. Lerwick, Shetland Islands, Scotland – Ship tenders to the small town. Hired Shetland Taxi Company to provide us with a private car and Gordon, our guide, to showcase the island. Gordon, took us northwest to Wormadale Hill and as far south as Sumburgh Head Light House. We stopped at the Croft House Museum. Gordon proudly showed off the amazing hills and coastline of Shetland Island. If your interests lie in archeological sites, there are historic sites all over the island. But, the best, in my opinion, is Clickimin Broch, dating between 1,000 BC to 500 AD. Do not miss seeing the Shetland ponies or the puffins! Intergordon (Inverness) Scotland – We decided to visit the area on our own, and hired Robert, owner and operator, of ness-tours.co.uk. Robert helped us create a 5-hour personal itinerary, visiting Loch Ness, Inverness, Beauly, Black Isle and the surrounding countryside. Robert is a natural, confident, tour guide and great fun. Copenhagen, Denmark – The ship is docked outside of town. Don’t consider a taxi; it’s too expensive. Either take a Stromma HOHO bus, (the red busses all look identical, but they’re different companies), or the public bus and train. Stromma stops at the dock (OceanKaj) and visits all the major sites. During the summer, there are 3 different bus tours, Classic, Urban Green, and Colorful Copenhagen. All 3 tours costs 33 Euros. HOHO’s run every 30 minutes. However, be prepared to wait longer when traffic is heavy. Jump off at the Stroget to shop, eat and people watch. Don’t forget to visit the “Little Mermaid”. There’s always a crowd here, especially if the weather is nice. If you’ve never experienced “Tivoli Gardens” make a point to visit. You won’t be disappointed. There are amusements, beautiful gardens, and, of course, restaurants. Aarhus, Denmark – It’s a nice stroll into town from the ship. Follow the footprints from the port into the City. With only six hours in port, there wasn’t enough time to visit the historic village of Den Gamle, since it opens at 10:00am. We visited Aarhus Domkirke, a beautiful gothic church from the 12th century. The latin quarter is definitely worth a visit. Nestled between modern buildings, with its shops and restaurants. The area dates back to the 14th century with its narrow, cobbled streets. There is a wonderful art museum in the heart of town, and is considered one of Europe’s largest art museums, and is the ONLY museum with an enclosed walkway around the top! Visit the Stroget, a unique pedestrian shopping street. Tallinn, Estonia – The ship docks a walkable distance from the old town center. Just follow the signs. FYI – The HOHO bus does not enter the old town, as it primarily pedestrian. Tallinn is an easy town to navigate, with so much history to see. For a map, stop at the Tallinn Information Center. A Tourist information Center is located at the dock, as well as in Old Town. There are organized walking tours, but one can feel confident navigating Old Town with a map. Visit Market Square, with the oldest, continually operating pharmacy. Must see: Alexander Nevsky Cathedral; St. Olav’s Church; St. Catherine’s Passage; Great Guild Hall. St Petersburg, Russia – The ship docks outside of town at an impressive, and relatively new, cruise ship terminal. DO NOT spend money on a ship’s tour. Hire an independent guide, BEFORE your arrival in St. Petersburg. I highly recommend St. Petersburg Guided Tours. They arrange the visa’s for the 2-days in port. Not only did we jump the lines in all museums, we visited areas too small for large bus tours, such as the Grotto at the Peterhof. For lunch, we ate at small local restaurants, experiencing local delicacies. Our guide, Valerie, was knowledgeable, personable, fun and spoke perfect English. She worked with us to create the “perfect” excursion. Her commentary made the history of this beautiful city come alive right before our eyes. The tour included 2-days with an English-speaking guide, private van – with driver (Alexander), entrance tickets, photo permission in all museums, and bottled water. We visited: The Peterhof; Peter & Paul Fortress; Hermitage; Savior on Spilt Blood; St Isaac’s Cathedral; Yusupov Palace, Catherine’s Palace. Furthermore, we did a vehicle tour down Nevsky Prospect, a famous shopping street in St. Petersburg. We chose not to shop. Helsinki, Finland – The ship docks outside of town. Take the HOHO from the cruise ship terminal. If not a Sunday, visit the Rock Church (actually built into rock). Stop for a coffee, or a meal at Market Hall. Walk the Esplanade. Visit St Nicholas and Uspenski Cathedrals. Helsinki is a very walkable City. Stockholm, Sweden – Ship docks outside of town. BEWARE – The ship will sell HOHO tickets at a premium. For less money, walk down to the ferry dock, (a city block away) and pick-up the HOHO there. Visit Gamla Stan (Old Town). Eat and shop in the many restored buildings of this area, which is pedestrian only. Witness the changing of the guard (about noon – Monday – Saturday) at the Royal Palace. Visit the Vasa Museum to view the war ship that sank on its maiden voyage. It was recovered in 1956 and restored. If you’re an Abba fan, there’s a museum celebrating this famous Swedish group. Visit City Hall (tours only) where the Nobel Peace Prize is awarded annually. Rooms are gilded with gold. Warnemunde, Germany – A beautiful seaside town…charming is an appropriate description. Walk from the ship to the center of town. Stroll the promenade that’s always humming with activity (Alte Strom). Try a fish sandwich or a bratwurst. Visit the Heimatmuseum (Alexandrinstr 31) to learn about life in Warnemude during the early 20th century. Don’t go to Berlin. Stay in town, you’ll be happy you did. Kiel, Germany – Unless the HOHO bus system has improved, do not use it. The buses were not on time, and the narration was not synced with the bus stops. If you can get there – visit the U-995 U-boat museum. As far as I know, It’s only reachable by car. The Kiel Maritime Museum is also worth a visit, and is walkable from the Cruise terminal. Walk along Kiellinie, which offers spectacular water views. The viewing platform at the Kiel Canal is not walking distance from town. It can be reached on the HOHO bus, public transportation or taxi. Keep in mind that taxis are expensive. Skagen, Norway – No, they don’t make watches here. The ship docks within walking distance of town. Originally, we planned to take the bus to the Skagen Bunker Museum, a World War II museum, and Grenen. But the weather was incredibly beautiful, so we decided to remain in town, to experience the Skagen Music Festival. There were bands, as well as, individual musicians visiting from all over Europe. We sat outside a local café for hours, listening to music and people watching. What a great end to a fabulous cruise. Read Less
Sail Date June 2019
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