1. Home
  2. Cruise Lines
  3. Holland America Line
  4. Holland America Line Cruise Reviews

201 Holland America Barcelona Cruise Reviews

Chose this cruise for one major reason: its itinerary. We visited nearly 5-6 countries in the span of 12 days, and every city was more magical than the last. Major pros of this cruise include: quick and simple disembarkation/embarkation at ... Read More
Chose this cruise for one major reason: its itinerary. We visited nearly 5-6 countries in the span of 12 days, and every city was more magical than the last. Major pros of this cruise include: quick and simple disembarkation/embarkation at every port of call, small ship so almost no feeling of being overcrowded at any point, absolutely delicious food that was ever-changing and never repeated itself in the main dining room (I'm pretty sure), and finally, a wonderful fitness room that was large and equipped with tons of modern equipment. However, there were also some pretty big cons: the age of the ship is clearly showing in the quality of its sofa beds and windows as well as in public areas, the entertainment was also pretty subpar (although the movie theatre was pretty neat) and short of the 2-3 acts, wasn't really worth going through the trouble of attending. All in all, very pleased with this cruise, although it would work better even with a more modern ship. Nevertheless, the itinerary was tremendous and that is where HAL makes this a memorable cruise experience. Read Less
Sail Date July 2019
We chose this cruise for the itinerary and were not disappointed in any way. The refurbished ship is beautiful, clean, and everything looks brand new. The staff were all friendly and helpful, and the food in the MDR was very good. We ... Read More
We chose this cruise for the itinerary and were not disappointed in any way. The refurbished ship is beautiful, clean, and everything looks brand new. The staff were all friendly and helpful, and the food in the MDR was very good. We ate in the Pinnacle once; it was OK but we enjoyed the MDR more. Entertainment was good if not excellent; there were some but not many activities during the day, but most everyone was off the ship anyway, as we only had one day at sea, and on that day there were many activities at all times. Embarkation was easy, as was disembarkation at the end of the trip. The Veendam is a small ship, so the staff/guest ration is much better than on the larger ships. It is comfortable, and we much prefer the smaller ships for this reason. Sailing up the Adriatic into Venice was an amazing and beautiful ending to our voyage. Read Less
Sail Date June 2019
We've sailed a number of times with Holland; the Oosterdam and were pleased. The Barcelona embarkation was easy and we went straight to our cabin. The ship is older but it was well maintained. Captain and Cruise Director Kelly ... Read More
We've sailed a number of times with Holland; the Oosterdam and were pleased. The Barcelona embarkation was easy and we went straight to our cabin. The ship is older but it was well maintained. Captain and Cruise Director Kelly were very good with plenty of information to share. MDR food and service were excellent with gourmet selections and presentations. Lido could have been better, i.e., first full day at sea and tables were not cleared for more guests. We enjoyed the BB King Blues band. Excellent performers. Lincoln Center Stage had an amazing Quintet. They played a variety of music from classics, popular, and movie themes. Our favorite venue was the Gallery Bar. The staff were warm and friendly and the gaming room was a really nice HAL addition. They had board games, darts, chess boards, etc. Very comfortable room to spend the evening in. America's Test Kitchen was another highlight with an entertaining chef who had great recipes and cooking tips. Most of our excursions were booked through HAL and I'm glad I did. Yes, a little more $$, but always well organized and on time. You meet in the theatre and are escorted off the ship and directly to your tour bus. So convenient. Disembarkation in Ft. Lauderdale was slow, but only for fewer custom's agents and five other ships in port. This was the first time I used the spa services. Very good experience with just a small up-sell speech. Ladies, pack a sweater: Air conditioning left public venues very cold Great service. Great cruise. Read Less
Sail Date October 2018
We had an absolutely amazing cruise on Holland America Oosterdam on September 9th – the 12-night Mediterranean Tapestry We loved the service on the ship, the size of the ship and our fellow passengers. Everyone was so nice! The ... Read More
We had an absolutely amazing cruise on Holland America Oosterdam on September 9th – the 12-night Mediterranean Tapestry We loved the service on the ship, the size of the ship and our fellow passengers. Everyone was so nice! The cruise director was front and center throughout the cruise and we felt there were many activities offered although this was a very port-heavy cruise and our priority was being in port and experiencing everything that Europe has to offer. I know many people on Cruise Critic choose to take their own shore excursions, but I do have to say that EXC Tours absolutely MADE our time in port AMAZING! EXC tours were absolutely wonderful. Our tour guides were experts in each port. All of them full of enthusiasm. We were taken to the best places to see highlights of each port and, for the tours that included meals – we loved each restaurant and the food and wine offered. We were extremely happy that we booked through EXC tours because we did not have to stress about making it back to the ship on time – we could relax, enjoy and focus learning as much as we could about each port offered. We also enjoyed the ports where we just walked around and explored and sat at a café and had cappuccino that turned into cocktails and a relaxing fun day. I do agree that the ship is a bit older, but thankfully, we were there to enjoy ourselves and let little things put a damper on a fabulous European tour. I’ve read many complaints that the ship is in horrible condition and was very worried before we went, but once the cruise was underway, I had an unforgettable time and it didn’t matter! I would ignore the naysayers and form your own opinion and just ENJOY yourselves. We were very happy that we booked a Veranda cabin – we loved going on the Veranda every morning and sail away. Definitely worth the extra money! We did not purchase a beverage package. We brought two bottles of wine on board, attended a shore excursion to a winery in Nice where we were able bring on another bottle of wine onboard without the corkage fee and attended the happy hours. At happy hour, we would order a bucket of corona for around $29 plus gratuity and the next bucket was $10 plus gratuity. We also had wine at lunch with many of our shore excursions. Our bar bill at the end of a 12-day cruise was only around $200. Definitely glad we did not purchase the $1200 signature beverage package. I will say that, because this was such a port heavy cruise, heavy drinking was not a priority but we still drank and enjoyed ourselves. Who wants to be hungover when you are touring Rome? We did enjoy many glasses of wine with lunch in Rome but did not start out the day hung over from the night before bc we were trying to get our money’s worth from our beverage package, if that makes sense. The crew was very hospitable and the captain ran a very efficient and safe ship. I also appreciated the use of hand sanitizer before each embarkation. We experienced no illnesses whatsoever on the ship. We loved being waiting on in the main dining room – a highlight for my husband. Just choosing each meal and taking our time over dessert with coffee. It was such an amazing experience! I LOVE the direction of Holland America – outstanding service, port emersions, amazing EXC tours, a place for foodies and music lovers! Already booked our next cruise! As my husband said, this wasn’t a vacation – this was a TRIP! Thank you, Holland America, for the best trip of our lives!!!! Read Less
Sail Date September 2018
We have sailed with Holland America lots of times. Excellent Company, Staff Excellent, Service Excellent. In fact everything was excellent. We had to leave the ship a day early to attend our Grandson's Funeral. A beautiful vase of ... Read More
We have sailed with Holland America lots of times. Excellent Company, Staff Excellent, Service Excellent. In fact everything was excellent. We had to leave the ship a day early to attend our Grandson's Funeral. A beautiful vase of Flowers appeared in our Suite on the second day along with a beautiful letter. Our flight was not until 10pm and officially we had to leave the ship at 2pm. However, the wonderful staff especially Mila (Guest Services Manager helped us to stay on board until 6pm and then personally and with other staff escorted us from the ship, carried all our luggage and even called a taxi to the Airport. There are no words to express how well we were looked after the whole of the cruise and we shall we returning to the Oosterdam next year for an Alaska Cruise. We are looking forward to meeting Mila and all her staff again. Thank you so much we will never forget the care and kindness. Read Less
Sail Date September 2018
As a seasoned traveler, I was always under the impression that Holland America was a cut above other mid-tier cruise lines like NCL and Carnival, justifying HAL's higher fares. Based on my experience on the Oosterdam Mediterranean ... Read More
As a seasoned traveler, I was always under the impression that Holland America was a cut above other mid-tier cruise lines like NCL and Carnival, justifying HAL's higher fares. Based on my experience on the Oosterdam Mediterranean cruise July 23-Aug 4, I would have to say that this assumption is totally incorrect. My major complaint? I was in a balcony cabin, 8134, that had a completely inadequate air conditioning system. During the day, there was virtually no air coming through the vent but at 2-3am frigid air would begin to pour out. My complaint to customer services on the very first day brought a response of "keep your drapes closed." Service technicians tinkered with it but there was absolutely no improvement. When I continued to complain they brought me a box fan!!! Really? I paid a premium for a balcony cabin and I'm expected to keep the drapes closed and use a 1960s era box fan to keep cool? Outrageous. To add insult to injury, there were disgusting black particles being released out of the air conditioning vent all over the bed. The first few days I came down with a bronchial infection and hacking cough that I still have to this day. If you read through Oosterdam's reviews on this site, you'll see that air conditioning issues are mentioned quite frequently. HAL must know that this ship has air conditioning problems but they are so unconcerned with their customers' health and comfort they refuse to spend the money to repair or replace the system. Shame on you, HAL. They gave me a whopping $400 credit as compensation for my discomfort, inconvenience and compromised health. This amount was completely inadequate given that I did not have a decent night's sleep in 12 days and, in effect, the entire $5000 cruise was ruined. Here are some of my other observations: -Embarcation in Barcelona was easy and efficient. The Barcelona cruiseport is lovely- spacious, well lit and plenty of seating. We arrived at 11:30am and were in the cabin by 12:15. Disembarcation also was efficient with a time slot assigned for departure that allowed you to stay in your cabin until the designated time. -The ship is on the small side but none of the public venues seemed crowded (except the Lido on sea days.) In fact, the Mainstage theatre and smaller music venues were never even close to capacity. - We took 3 HAL excursions. One was very good and two were all right. All were VERY expensive. The EXC staff conduct interesting port talks before each port but they are at inconvenient times. It's beyond me why HAL doesn't videotape them and make them available on TV in the cabins. -The cabin is strangely configured with the closets jutting out into the hallway across from the bathroom creating a very narrow, dark passageway into the room. Balcony was a decent size with room for two lounge chairs and a small table. Balcony furniture was old and dirty. -The ship is showing its age with ugly, patched, mismatched carpet throughout. -The pool on the Lido deck is tiny and was always occupied by large groups of unsupervised youngsters. -Food generally was mediocre and some of it inedible (e.g., a tenderloin steak that was so tough it couldn't be cut into.) Service in both the Lido and main dining room was fine. - As I mentioned above, excursions are very expensive as is the alcohol beverage package. Some of the excursions were cancelled due to lack of participants. I'm sure if HAL priced their excursions more reasonably, they could sell a lot more of them. -The ship docked in some very inconvenient locations requiring either a tender or an expensive shuttle bus into town. I guess they dock so far out to save port fees. Again, HAL prioritizes profit above their customers' convenience. -Entertainment was generally very good. The musicians in BB King lounge, Lincoln Center and Mainstage were all outstanding as were the guest performers. But not so much the shrieky, out of key male and female singers/piano players in Billboard on Board. There isn't a lot of room for dancing in any of the music venues. Overall, I will never cruise with HAL again. They charge premium prices but, in my opinion, did not deliver a premium experience. Read Less
Sail Date July 2018
Since our first cruise was over 25 years ago, and we won it in a raffle, so had no part in the where or when, or even how, I consider us to be first time cruisers for all intents and purposes. We chose Holland America’s 12 night ... Read More
Since our first cruise was over 25 years ago, and we won it in a raffle, so had no part in the where or when, or even how, I consider us to be first time cruisers for all intents and purposes. We chose Holland America’s 12 night Mediterranean Tapestry on the Oosterdam primarily for the itinerary. It was filled with ports that we had not previously visited, and was at the right time of year for our travel mates (one of whom is a teacher). We booked over a year in advance and spent that year planning for the “trip of a lifetime”. About us: We are around 60 years old and live in Southern California, we own our own business, so are not often able to get away. This trip was a first in many ways. First time we had traveled for that length of time together, first time we traveled without any of our children with us, first time we had traveled with friends, and I could go on, but you get the idea. Now, the actual review, I have tried to break it up into sections, so that you can take what you want from it, and skip those items that do not interest you. Feel free to ask questions if you want more information on anything I mention. Embarkation in Barcelona- A breeze! We arrived at about 1:00 pm; showed our boarding docs and were directed to the suites line. In actuality, there were not really any lines at that point. Our friends were not in a suite, but when we mentioned we were all together, they let us stay together for check in. Check in was quick, and then we were escorted to the ship and introduced to one of the Neptune Lounge concierges, who then took us right to our room. There was not a “wine table”, so we strolled on with 12 bottles of wine in our wine suitcase. They quickly went over the suite and its features, introduced us to our steward, and invited us to come by the lounge, once we were settled. Stateroom: 7046 Pinnacle Suite (yes I know, first time cruisers and we booked the pinnacle suite; I did mention that we considered this the “trip of a lifetime”.) More information in the cabin review section. HAL was very nice to offer us and our guests a “behind the scenes” tour of the ship. It was all set, but that was before they knew the Croatian Coast Guard would decide to do a routine inspection that day. The Neptune Lounge concierge contacted us, letting us know the tour was postponed, then canceled, then all of a sudden back on again. We had to scramble to get our guests back on board. We all loved the behind the tour. There were just ten of us (both of the Pinnacle Suite’s passengers and their guests). We saw the kitchens, warehousing/food storage, laundry and the bridge. At each stop, crew members or officers were available to answer any questions and just give a general overview. We never felt rushed, and the tour probably lasted about 2 hours total. Entertainment-We went to two of the musical shows and they were fine. Nothing spectacular, but enjoyable to watch. Plenty of seats, the theater was never full when we were there. Because we were in the suite and had plenty of room, we spent a fair amount of time hanging out there with our friends. So we did not take advantage of a lot of the activities that were offered, so I have no comment on the enrichment activities, gym, or the public rooms in general. We also did not hang out at the pool other than when the DH went to have a cigar at the only smoking area on the ship (which was next to a pool. The other negative (besides the bathtub controls) was on the last night of the cruise. We needed to get packed and have our suitcases out in the hallway by a certain time ( I don’t remember what time that was, I just know I missed it), it was a sauna in the suite. I am not kidding, our perfectly lovely rooms became a nightmare to be in, let alone work at packing everything up and getting it set out for the porters. Now the good part, I called the concierge when I realized I would not make the suitcase cut-off, and she assured me that they would make a second sweep later that night, and just to set them out when I had them ready. I was very late, and would not have blamed HAL if they had made me carry my own suitcases off the ship. Disembarkation in Venice- This is really in two parts; first getting off the ship. If you are in the Pinnacle Suite, they ask you when you would like to disembark, meet you at your room and escort you and your carry on luggage off the ship, have porters to retrieve your checked luggage, and walk you and said luggage right up to the front of the line and out through customs. The entire process took less than 10 minutes and that included walking from our stateroom to the shore. They were so quick; we ended up having to wait for our hotel greeter, because I had scheduled her for half an hour after I had planned on disembarking. If you are planning on staying in Venice and your hotel offers a “meet and greet”, and it is within your budget, take it. We stayed at the Hilton Molina Stuckey, the greeter met us at the exit point for our ship, got a trolley for all of luggage (an embarrassing amount to be honest), then guided us over to where the water taxi line was. Ah, but did we wait in line? No, she had already called a taxi, and when ours arrived after just a few minutes, we went straight on, our luggage right behind us. We enjoyed the Hilton, and it was nice to have the free shuttle back and forth to St. Mark’s Square. Not sure if I would stay there again. Dining Main Dining Room, Pinnacle Grill, Rudi’s Sel de Mer, Canaletto, Lido Buffet, Dive In and Gala Nights; we did them all. Just a note: we are not only food lovers, but in the restaurant business. Main Dining Room- We had any time dining, but the very first thing the Neptune Lounge Concierge did for us was to make our dinner reservations for the entire cruise. She reserved us a table for four every night at whatever time we wanted and for any of the restaurants we desired. This was a great perk. We had the same lovely window table on the port side of the ship each time we dined in the main dining room. The food was decent, not great. We rarely found something we would not eat, but we did find things we would not order again. The presentation was very good and our service was excellent. We brought our own wine, choosing to pay the corkage rather than order from the wine list. This is a nice “perk” to traveling on Holland America Lines, you can bring as much wine as you want, you just pay corkage if you enjoy it in one of the restaurants. Our wine stewards in the main dining room were also very good. Pinnacle Grill- We ate dinner here once during the voyage, and enjoyed our meal and service. The food was definitely a cut above. (my husband had the lamb, and said it was excellent!) Rudi’s Sel de Mer- Best thing about this meal was the plates, they were adorable. That is not a great review, and I am having a hard time deciding if we did not enjoy it as much because our service was really sub-par this evening or if the food was really that bad. I had the soufflé, I do not recommend it, I did not eat mine. Probably should have ordered one of the fish entrees, but was not in the mood for fish that night. The escargot was better than in the main dining room according to our friend who ordered it, but still not fabulous. Canaletto- Our favorite Specialty restaurant, we enjoyed this meal and thought it was a great way to spend the evening. We were concerned about being in a section of the buffet seating, but we didn’t even notice it once we were seated. Our servers did a great job, and we had a really nice relaxed meal. We liked the “family style” service and got to enjoy so many different items this way. I recommend you give it a try. Lido Buffet-We only ate at the buffet a few times each for breakfast and lunch. It was very nice and plenty of options. We never had to wait too long for anything, although finding a table at breakfast time was a bit of a chore. Dive In- Not impressed. Gala Nights-We had ordered a tuxedo rental for my husband, and he wore it both gala nights. While it is true, we were among the few who were “dressed to the nines”, we were not alone, and we did not mind what the other guests chose to do. Meals on Gala Nights were again decent, not fabulous. Sorry about the long winded review- I did mention we are in the restaurant business. If people make the difference, and I believe they do, Holland America’s dining staff was all around fabulous. The ship-We found the Oosterdam to be a lovely ship, I did not notice any problems and there seemed to be enough of everything for the amount of people on board. We were able to find chairs when and where we wanted them in any public area we chose to go. We never waited long for an elevator, and were able to get around fairly quickly; this despite the ship being fully booked. We did not enjoy the tenders much, but only used them for three of the ports. Truthfully, it was only really bad once, we were among the first on, and then sat in the heat while it everyone else got on, and the ride was a little choppy. But overall, we would still choose to go ashore, even knowing what it might be like in the tender. Excursions- I did mention that we booked this cruise a year ahead, and began our planning right away. Well, it paid off! We were able to investigate our ports, and decide ahead of time what we wanted out of each stop. We did not book any excursions through Holland America, but made all arrangements ourselves in advance online. Barcelona- We arrived Friday Evening with a Monday departure. We attended the Signature Event put on by Holland America for their suite guests, but did not take advantage of the hotel or transfers. I will do a separate review of our signature event, but will say that it was very nice and one of the highlights of our stay in Barcelona. Since we had time, we saw the city at our own pace. We hired a driver for six hours one day, and then walked around on our own the next. We saved La Sagrada Familia for Monday morning, and had pre-purchased tickets. This is a city we would love to return to. We stayed at the Hotel Arts down by the beach, and really liked the hotel. We had our first meal in a Michelin starred Restaurant at the Enotica by Paco Perez inside the Hotel Arts. Now that is fabulous food. The included breakfast buffet was top notch! Marseille-(Outside Excursion with Provence Private Tours) We had a private guide/driver for the four of us, deciding to take in the market at Aix-en-Provence, Cassis and Marseille. The total cost was 472 Euro plus tip. Our guide picked us up right outside the ship, and we were off. We arrived in Aix-en-Provence ahead of the buses, and were able to see the market before the crowds descended on the small town. We enjoyed browsing through the market, even purchased a few small items and some food on the go, and then wandered the back streets for a bit. Then back in the van and off to Cassis, where we had a wonderful seaside lunch. Our last stop was the Basilica of Marseille. We truly enjoyed our day. So much to see, and our guide was very knowledgeable and very helpful in assisting us in what sights to take in within the allotted time. Monaco- (On our own) We did Monaco on our own. We took the tender to the shore (this was the least pleasant part of the day), and decided to gawk at the yachts in the harbor for a while. Truthfully, my husband probably would have been okay with just that. But we kept walking, finally arriving at the Casino, after taking a very scenic, but circuitous route. After a drink and a bit of gambling, we moved on in search of a passport stamp. Sure enough, Rick Steves knows what he is talking about. On the other side of the gardens, away from the Casino is a Tourist Information Center where they will stamp your passport. It was quick and fun for me. Note on Monaco, Taxis seem rather scarce. We saw a taxi stand near the casino with a line and in the half hour we watched, not one taxi came. Luckily, it was a short walk back to the dock. Livorno (Florence) We had hired a private driver (very specifically, not a guide according to the company’s website) for this port. While they say their drivers are not guides; they are. They just cannot accompany you inside the museums. Our driver, Simona, was fabulous. We had early tickets to the Academia to see The David, and she not only got us right there, but made sure we knew exactly how and where to exchange our vouchers for the tickets, and where we would enter (a small roped off area without a line). After the museum, we met up with Simona, and did an absolutely fabulous walking tour of Florence. Since we had time, we made a stop in Pisa to see the Leaning Tower, and get a gelato. I am so glad we did. I don’t care how many pictures you have seen of The David and the Leaning Tower, IT IS NOT THE SAME. We used Rome in Limo, and requested an upgrade to a van, even though there was only four of us, we did not want to be split up in a sedan (total cost 550 Euros). Civitavecchia (Rome) We had booked a private tour with Rome in Limo, and could not have been happier. Franco was the best! He was funny, thoughtful, and full of information. We had early reservations at the Colosseum, and he spent the drive in giving a history of the Colosseum, and explaining its layout. We had a list of pre-chosen sites we wanted to see, and not only did we get to every one of them, but Franco managed a few more we had not even known about. We did not try and see the Vatican on this day, deciding it would take more time than we wanted to give up. My DH and I went back to Rome after our cruise ended, and gave our visit to the Vatican the time it deserved. Naples- We decided that we really wanted to see the Blue Grotto, so we hired a private boat with Captain from Capri Boats. If this is something you decide to do, I highly recommend Capri Boats. They have a good selection of boats, and they took excellent care of us. The Blue Grotto is a once in a lifetime experience. By that I mean you really need to do it, but probably only once. It is as gorgeous as it looks in pictures, and the boats and oarsmen are a site to behold. Once we had done that, we cruised around the island, getting to see the other tourist sites along the way. Our captain was friendly and knowledgeable. We stopped for lunch near the docks. I wish I could remember the name of the restaurant, because it was very good. It had seating right on the water, and everyone in our group loved their chosen items. We cruised along the Amalfi Coast on our way back to port. A lovely, relaxing day! Toarmina- We decided to do this on our own, and as it turns out, it was not our best day. We were too hot, the ride in the tender was miserable, and we did not really have a good plan. If I had it to do over, I would make the trek to Taormina, either with a pre-arranged driver or a taxi. Not much to see or do in Messina. We ended up heading back to the ship early to relax. Corfu- We had once again decided on hiring a private boat for the day. This one included lunch cooked right on the swim step. Nautilus Daily Tours was our choice, and I would recommend them to anyone who would like a real taste of Greece while enjoying the shore. Our boat hugged the shore stopping often at hidden beaches, where we were free to get out and swim around. The water is not very salty near the shore as there are several fresh water springs, which let out into the ocean. The food was excellent Greek Village food and there was more than enough for everyone. We pre-ordered our entrées from a choice of fish, chicken or pork. All were delicious! This was probably my favorite day, mostly because it was so different from every other day (Even our day in Naples). Okay, it was really because we are of Greek descent, were in Greece, we all knew the language, and we felt like we were home (although, all but one of us have never lived in Greece). Dubrovnik- We had a long day in Dubrovnik, and our goal was really just to get out early and walk the walls all the way around. Unfortunately, our behind the scenes tour was this morning, and as I mentioned, it was postponed, and then once it did start, lasted about two hours. Not a big deal since we were going to be in port until Midnight. We all enjoyed Dubrovnik, and toured the churches, streets and just in general had a nice leisurely stroll around town. We did make it up to the wall, and all but one of us (okay, it was me) made it all the way around on the walls. This city is totally doable on your own. It was beautiful, and fun to just explore. Kotor- We heard several people say Kotor was not that fabulous, that the real treat was the sail in/sail out through the mountains. I disagree. While the sail in was too early for us, the sail out was gorgeous, and we thoroughly enjoyed it from our balcony; the city was just lovely. We separated from our friends for the day, and each couple explored on their own. We had a nice lunch at a small café, spent time at the farmer’s market, explored the city walls, and just had a wonderful time. This was a short day (7 am-2pm) and that is probably the right amount of time. But please don’t stay on the ship and miss this beautiful city. Venice- Our final stop. We stayed overnight and disembarked here. Our small group chose to stay one extra night in Venice, so that we would have more time. Since we arrived around 1:00 on a Friday, but would need to disembark the next morning, had we been leaving directly from the ship to the airport, we would have had very little time in the beautiful city. We did not do tours, but rather read extensively before visiting, and had a plan and a checklist of things to see and do. The first day we took the jam packed water taxi to St. Mark’s Square. We began our journey there and just walked around seeing the sites. We ended up walking almost all the way back to where our ship, along with four others, was docked. I really wanted to take a trip down the Grand Canal, but did not want to get back on an overcrowded water bus. We finally decided to spend the money on private water taxi to take us down the Grand Canal and back to St. Mark’s square. This was one of the highlights of the day. While there is a surcharge to go down the Grand Canal, our driver made it worth the 90 Euros it cost. He went slowly, pointed out interesting sites, and answered all our questions. It was definitely an adventure I will treasure. We were staying another day, so we saved the necessary Gondola ride for the next night, and just enjoyed the city. I can’t imagine not having that extra day; we really needed it to see Venice properly. After all that, I am still not sure whether cruising is for us, I guess we will just have to take another one. Read Less
Sail Date July 2018
We chose this cruise for two reasons: price and port intinerary. We were not disappointed! We went on a 12 night Mediterranean cruise with only 1 sea day. This was a cruise to be active and see many European cities. Here are some thoughts ... Read More
We chose this cruise for two reasons: price and port intinerary. We were not disappointed! We went on a 12 night Mediterranean cruise with only 1 sea day. This was a cruise to be active and see many European cities. Here are some thoughts on the cruise: -Food was amazing (all of it) I’ve only cruised on Disney before and Holland food is better. -Stateroom was very nice with a great balcony and new TV with great on demand options. -All shore excursions through Holland were very well organized and enjoyable. -Main stage shows were terrible. I tried to watch 3 shows during our cruise and had to walk out each time. -We loved Lincoln Center stage piano quintet, the B.B. Kings blues lounge and the piano duo. High quality musicians on this ship. - The service was phenomenal. - The ship is old and a bit out dated. It kind of looks like a cheap Vegas casino. However, the superb food quality, great ports, fabulous service and very nice stateroom made up for the old ship. -spa was very luxurious. We purchased the spa pass and enjoyed using the giant hot tub and stone loungers. -age of passengers was mostly 65+ We only saw 1 other couple on the ship in their 20s. Overall we loved this cruise! The Oosterdam is great ship if you care about getting off the ship and exploring the ports. Read Less
Sail Date June 2018
My wife and I chose to cruise with HAL based on the excellent itinerary offered from Barcelona to Venice and all the amazing ports in between. We have taken 28 cruises prior to this cruise on June 5, 2018 with HAL. Most of our cruising ... Read More
My wife and I chose to cruise with HAL based on the excellent itinerary offered from Barcelona to Venice and all the amazing ports in between. We have taken 28 cruises prior to this cruise on June 5, 2018 with HAL. Most of our cruising has been in the Caribbean. The boarding process on the HAL Oosterdam at the Port of Barcelona was amazing and the best we have ever experienced. There were many agents available to process the passengers and this portion of the cruise was a breeze. Once onboard the Oosterdam, it just got better. The Lido Market food service for breakfast, lunch and dinner was outstanding. There were several days that we did not return to the ship until late. Some of the days we ate in the Main Dining, which was excellent as well, but the Lido Market was a great alternate for dinner. There were so many choices at all servings for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The food was delicious in all areas. The stateroom staff were awesome. The food staff were awesome. Our experience was nothing but amazing with the entire staff. Always greeted with a smile and "Hello!" The entertainment in the Main Stage theater was outstanding as well as the B.B. King and Billboard areas of the ship. Super! Super! Super! The Oosterdam just came out of dry dock in April. The ship both internal and external was beautiful! HAL has earned a new customer on future sailings. Bob & Christi Houston, TX Read Less
Sail Date June 2018
This was our first cruise, after friends had told us about their own experiences. We chose Holland America because of their reputation as a well-established line, and we really appreciated the relaxed and professional service. The food was ... Read More
This was our first cruise, after friends had told us about their own experiences. We chose Holland America because of their reputation as a well-established line, and we really appreciated the relaxed and professional service. The food was excellent and the entertainment met all our needs. The ports were great (though we didn't use any of the pre-planned excursions) and getting on and off the ship presented no problem at all for us in our advancing years! We booked an interior cabin, and had wondered about whether or not we would feel rather confined, but nothing was further from the truth - in fact, it was great to sleep through till breakfast time, without light filtering through any windows! Although there were nearly 2,000 guests on board, we didn't feel crowded at all, and there were plenty of open public areas to relax in and read. All in all, the best holiday we have experienced ... and we are now 'cruiseaholics'! Read Less
Sail Date June 2018
Prinsendam 10-5-17 “Adriatic Explorer” This is a long and detailed "Log style" review. If you just want the summary scroll down to the bottom! We flew out nonstop on American on Wednesday evening 10-4, arriving in ... Read More
Prinsendam 10-5-17 “Adriatic Explorer” This is a long and detailed "Log style" review. If you just want the summary scroll down to the bottom! We flew out nonstop on American on Wednesday evening 10-4, arriving in Barcelona at 8:50 AM on 10-5. The flight was as good as it gets in coach as the three of us all had isle seats and DW was very lucky to have no one in the seat next to her. Arrival was okay with the descent down the many stairs to the stand-up bus ride to international arrivals. It took maybe 15 minutes to clear Europe arrivals and shortly after that our bags all appeared on the baggage claim. Meeting one of our co-cruisers on the plane, we found a cab that took all four of us, and our luggage, ‘snugly’ to the Prinsendam. Arriving at 10:30 they had not yet opened check in. While we were getting coffee from the (expensive) in-port café, check in opened. Both dear dad (DD) and our friend checked in and received boarding #1. We went to the four star check in and received an “S” boarding card. Boarding began a little before 11:30. We boarded at the tail end of the S group and were shortly followed by those with #1. Cabins were ready. Our room team was nearby and DW asked for a re-treatment of the toilet and bathtub, which they immediately took care of. We met with the DR Manager and arranged for fixed early dining. The captain’s first announcement was that due to expected severe winds the first port call (Lipari – tender port) was canceled and is being replaced with Massena, Sicily. We’ve not been there so it’s all new to us. All else is fine. We enjoyed lunch in the dining room, followed by a quick swim for DD and myself while DW relaxed after all the traveling. Dinner was excellent with both DW and I enjoying the pork chop feature. We have a very nice couple at the two top next to us and they were very talkative. After dinner we attended the first part of the 7:30 welcome aboard show but after about 20 minutes called it a night and we slept well. Friday 10-6 – at sea Leaving our curtains open, daylight greeted us at about 7:20 AM. We enjoyed a dining room breakfast and made our first visit to the coffee shop on board. We looked through the library for any information on Sicily and found just about everything else – guess someone got there before us! I stopped by the front desk to inquire as our 4-star pins had never arrived and my 3-star was still on my tuxedo lapel. They quickly provided a set of 4-star pins. We had a giant “Cruise critic meet and greet” at 10:00 AM. Well over 60 showed up, and we met everyone we are on tour with in later days. We had a great lunch at the Pinnacle Grill, leaving there just in time to make our 2:00 complimentary wine-tasting. The sommelier was very entertaining and we learned a lot. At the same time others attended the first port talk which we later caught on the cabin TV. We enjoyed the pool for a while and DW was able to do some of her water exercises. We prepared for the first gala night. Gala night had a high percentage of men in Tuxedos (likely unique to the Prinsendam) with many others in suits. A handful just met the minimal gala night standards with the collared shirt. Dinner was excellent and our servers Eddie and Andy are efficient, fun, and give the personal touch. After dinner we headed to the showroom for the captain’s welcome toast. It was the new reduced standard, but the captain did make the announcement that our second port Crotone was being canceled due to port issues. Apparently they gave Prinsendam’s berth to a cargo ship. So we are headed to Corfu, a Greek island instead. He also said town is right at the dock so it is very accessible to all. The evening show was the singers and dancers with “Atlantic Crossing.” Good show of British pop from the Beatles until today. We left during the last number to get seats in the Ocean bar for “Request evening.” The Ocean Bar was packed by the time the quartet started. The dance floor was full most of the night as well. The quartet is a slightly modernized version of the old “Halcats.” Requests ranged from the 50’s into the 80’s. The cruise director was active in encouraging participation. When their set concluded we went to the crow’s nest to listen to the Piano entertainer Lee. The crow’s nest was running a late happy hour so two glasses of a favorite wine were ordered. Lee is very good and we stayed until past eleven (very late for us). A wonderful evening for certain! Saturday, October 07, 2017 – Massena, Sicily, Italy. A 10:00 scheduled arrival at a substitute port of Massena gave us plenty of time for a nice dining room breakfast at 8:30. The dining room had many guests this morning. By the time breakfast was complete we were entering the port. We went out on the promenade to take photos and while we were outside we saw the black clouds moving towards us. We literally watched the rain come across the harbor and it down poured just as our lines were being secured. Twenty minutes later the rain had stopped and while we took our cabin umbrellas along for the day (which ensured it would not rain, right?) the day just kept getting better from this point. We left the port building to find many taxi drivers looking for customers. One made an offer of 220 Euros to take the five of us to Taormina and back. Leaving the front seat for DW with her leg issues, I folded myself into the far back seat while the other three took the rear bench. For a thirty minute ride it was tolerable but we will not again go in such a small vehicle if we have five. Taormina is quite the opposite of Massena. It was crowded, had a high energy level, and offered some beautiful views. Two guitarists were in the main square singing Italian classics. They offered a double CD for 15 Euros so we bought one as that will be the soundtrack for out Italian port videos. We didn’t buy anything else other than a beverage break and then we met out driver at the appointed time for the ride back to Massena. Watching the meter I knew this was going to come to more than 220 Euros. We had the driver drop us in town perhaps five blocks from the ship, so we could see a few of the buildings and the famous clock tower. The meter was just shy of 250 Euros. We gave him the 250 and then he hit us up for a tip. Okay, I gave him an extra 10. That was still little over half the price of the ship’s tour to Taormina and we had 30 minutes longer to visit there. Massena was pretty much dead on a Saturday afternoon. We heard the clock tower ring 45 minutes past the hour. We talked to a fellow guest on Prinsendam who was at the clock at noon. They said at noon the square was filled with people as the clock display goes on for twelve minutes and it was quite something to witness. One of us bargained with a street vendor and bought a Sicily hat for six Euros. We walked back to the ship. Back on board, we had a light lunch and relaxed for part of the afternoon before getting ready for dinner. That was likely a mistake as after the show, Violinist Greg Scott, we were very tired and after a short time in the Ocean Bar called it a night. But, back in the cabin we couldn’t get to sleep. Then once we cleared the southernmost part of Italy the ship began really rocking and rolling. Dinner was again very good and we really enjoy our wait staff. Sunday, October 08, 2017 – Corfu, Greece We are not scheduled to dock in Corfu until Noon. We filled the morning with a dining room breakfast (very few guests this morning in the DR) followed by the 9:00 non-denominational service. At 10:00 the location guide gave a presentation on Corfu. This was helpful in planning our time there. We put all our shore things together and I went outdoors to take photos of our approach. Corfu looks very picturesque, and for sure I took more photos here than the entire trip before this day. A free shuttle was provided from the ship to the cruise terminal (walking was allowed as well) and a second free shuttle was provided from the cruise terminal to downtown. We took advantage of this shuttle. The service was prompt and very comfortable on the type of motor coach used for long distance runs. In the cruise terminal was an information desk with booklets of info on Corfu. As we were not a planned ship and this was a Sunday it was not staffed. However, the booklet was very helpful. The shuttle dropped us off right at the entrance to the “Old fort.” As the old fort was something we wanted to visit we made that our first priority. Six Euros per person to enter (three for DD as he is well over 65) but no map or suggested tour route is provided. We wandered and found many very pretty viewpoints. We climbed part way up to the café area and rested a while. We visited the church built by the British that was converted to Greek Orthodox. It’s quite an impressive building but is now more or less a museum. I walked the trail about half way to the summit. With more time I would have completed the climb but DW and DD were back at sea level and I didn’t want to leave them too long. I did get some fantastic photos. We left the fort and stopped for a sit down beverage break at a seafront café. Free Wi-Fi was offered here so DW texted back to our sons at home. After a nice rest, we walked through the park into the old town. Corfu old town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and rightly so. We visited the Church of St. Spyrigon, where the saint’s mummified body lies in a silver casket. Nearby we found a shop with hand-carved items made of Olive Wood. Several purchases were made both for gifts and for our own collection. We also found (from the booklet) the traditional Patisserie of Papaglorgis. Here we enjoyed the second best Gelato I have ever had. Oddly enough, the best was also in Greece, in Athens some years ago. We were disappointed to find the shop from the Mavromatis Distillery was closed on Sunday. We had hoped to sample some of the Kumquat items. Yes, there were plenty of shops selling these but no one was offering samples, and this shop normally does. By this time is was 3:35 and after discussing among us we decided to head back to the ship as there would be just enough time to be properly ready for dinner. Dinner was again quite good. The Short Ribs are usually a very good bet on Holland America and this was no exception. Mine were a little fatty but the fatty parts peeled off easily and it was still delicious. Before dinner the showroom band played in the Ocean bar, and after dinner the quartet was playing in the same venue. The show was comedian Stevie Jo. This was the weakest show thus far. Don’t come late to his show or he will ask if he should buy you a watch! We again enjoyed the quartet after the show and called it a night at about 9:45. Tomorrow we are in Durres, Albania and have an eight hour tour planned. Monday, October 09, 2017 – Durres, Albania This morning began early. We were in the Lido by 7:10 for breakfast as we were meeting our touring group at 7:50. Everyone was on time and we headed down to deck 4 to head out. Even though no announcement had been made we were able to leave the ship. Our tour guide, Bilbil Zhari (Billy) was waiting for us along with driver Vladimir for our “Living with the tradition” tour from Elite travel. We were the first tour group to leave the port and we headed along the main highway to Tirana, the Albanian capital. On arrival in Tirana we left the nice Mercedes van and began the walking part of our tour. We were shown the central park “Taiwan Park” named after a former concessionaire. The buildings of the many ministries were built in the 1930’s and mostly have a similar appearance. The main square of the city, Scanderbeg Square, is a monument dedicated to the National Hero of Albania. This square was just rebuilt and completed last year. We visited the mosque on the main square, one of few that survived the 46 years on communism that ended in 1991. Next we toured through the national museum which tells the history of the country from pre-historic times until the establishment of the current republic in the 1990’s. We were then back in the van and had a drive-by tour of the major boulevard, more governmental buildings, the president’s residence, and the area that used to be restricted to high party loyalists during communism. We left the capitol and headed back to Durres. We enjoyed a local “Seafood” lunch at Vertigo, a restaurant on the top floor of a hotel. We also sampled a local red wine which was very good. After lunch, we drove the length of the beachfront road before touring past the Venetian tower and the partly unearthed Roman Amphitheater. We were driven back to the ship being let off just steps from the gangway concluding our 7 ½ hour tour. Back on board, I had just enough time for a quick swim and a stop in the crow’s nest for happy hour. Then getting ready for dinner. Today is Canadian Thanksgiving so one of the features is thanksgiving turkey. It was very good. We needed to take care of some things in the cabin so we missed the quartet tonight. We made it to the show, “Stage & Screen” by the singers and dancers. It was okay. After the long tour today and with Dubrovnik on schedule for tomorrow, we called it a night. Tuesday, October 10, 2017 – Dubrovnik, Croatia Prinsendam docked a little early this morning in Dubrovnik, but we were in no hurry to rush off. In fact, we had a nice dining room breakfast at about 8:30 and left the ship at about 9:30. The travel guide on the dock told us that she had run down to the tourist info center at the port and no one was there. It was also a good distance from the ship (as was the bus station) so we three opted for the 13 Euro cab ride to the old city. Since the ship was charging $8 EACH WAY, per person for a bus transfer, 13 Euros was ‘cheap’ for the three of us, even after adding a tip. Plus there was no wait. I used one of the ATM’s at the city entrance to obtain Kuna. Although Prinsendam was the only ship in port, the old city was crowded with tour groups. I heard Italian, Chinese, Greek, and Japanese being spoken by various tour guides as we wondered about. Dear Dad was quite impressed with the old city. We tried to avoid the main drags and explore the ‘flatter’ back streets. We happened upon an outdoor market in one of the squares and found handmade artwork that the artist herself was selling. DW also sampled lavender skin oil and bought a small hand-painted bottle of this. As we were leaving the market, dear dad failed to notice a step down and took a tumble. Many other tourists stopped to help. He assured everyone he was okay but he did have a small scratch on his face. Consulting my map I found the nearest WC (rest room) and we headed there. We found a line to get in as well as a 7 Kuna charge to use the facility. We asked someone coming out if there was soap provided and the response was negative, none available. DW asked a waiter at a nearby restaurant, Poklisar, where he could get cleaned up? The waiter, Zvone, asked my dad to sit while he went to get an antiseptic. He returned with an antiseptic and cleaned dad’s face and cut. Then he obtained a bandage and covered it up. He told my dad to leave it for at least a few hours before removing the bandage. I offered him a Kuna note which he refused, but he did ask if we would like a coffee and if so to please sit. Poklistar is right near the harbor with the passenger ferries to nearby towns. We did have coffee and tea and all was very good, served with warm milk. We used the WC at the restaurant and left after paying the bill and leaving Zvone a generous thank you tip. While we did not eat a full meal there (at 10:30 in the morning!) we highly recommend Poklisar for the service they gave without hesitation. We went to find a ferry and one of the companies had a boat “Just now leaving.” Literally, just then it was starting to pull away. For three more fares they quickly came back and we were able to board and are on our way to the town of Cavtat. Cavtat was everything TripAdvisor said it would be. We enjoyed an 8 Kuna one scoop gelato (and a generous scoop it was!). We walked the entire seaside stroll through the pine forests and enjoyed all the views from the various points. We very much enjoyed our visit to Cavtat. We caught the 2:00 bus back to Dubrovnik and told the driver we needed to go to the port at the end of the line. The bus ride was interesting for sure. The price, at 25 Kuna each, could not be beat. Some folks boarded for just one or two stops. At a shopping mall about half way between Cavtat and Dubrovnik a huge group boarded and maybe 15 folks were standing. After two stops they all got off. The only thing that went wrong is the driver may have misunderstood where we needed to go. He stopped at a place and said ‘This is the port.’ I questioned him but he insisted this was the port stop. We were the last on the bus at that point, so we got off. I knew where we were, and while we were near the port, we still had a way to go. That likely ended up being a ¾ mile walk back to the ship. We passed right by the actual bus station on the way, and the bus we had exited was there. Live and learn. Back on board sometime in the pool and hot tub with a little snack seemed appropriate. We were in no rush for dinner as many were still ashore with a 10:30 all aboard tonight. We arrived in the dining room at 6:00 and Andy and Eddie was happy to see us. Eddie recommended the pork tenderloin as his #1 choice for the evening and DD and I went with that. We enjoyed it. The Sundae dessert tonight was the best yet – White Chocolate and Marshmallow! We listed to the quartet in the ocean bar and after a very long day called it a night. There was no show tonight just a 9:30 movie on the big screen. After the last few days we were not going to make that for sure! Tomorrow is a sea day and we really need one about now! Wednesday, October 11, 2017 – At Sea A day we sorely needed after the past four port days. Without planning to, we slept in until after 8:00. Even dear dad slept until 7:30, which is way late for him! We went to the dining room for breakfast at about 8:40. Breakfast was very good as usual and DW tried a ‘make it yourself’ omelet that she really enjoyed. The next three mornings we will be in the lido as we have early tour plans. We wandered around the ship some and found that the shops had sunscreen on display. As we were running low and the price was about half what we found in Greece, we bought some. We were invited (our first time since we received our bronze medallions) to the Mariner’s award ceremony at 11:00. This was nicely done with 26 cruisers receiving their bronze medallion and five receiving silver. We also learned that five President’s Club members are onboard and they were introduced. After the ceremony we all moved to the dining room for the Mariner’s lunch. The “Red fish” was actually “Red Snapper” and was quite good. The new Prinsendam tiles are very nice and inside the booklet was a small representation of each ship class’ current tile. After lunch it was pool time. The pool was much warmer than yesterday. We were alone in the pool for a while but it seemed like we set a pattern as after a while about eight were in the pool. We dried off in the shade but even though it was just an hour, at 43 degrees north, in October, the right side of my face and neck caught a bit of a burn. Maybe that is why the cabin feels warm again? Is any case we dried off at a shady table and sat there until we were just too cold. The air was 66 and with a breeze (only from the ship moving) that was cool. We caught up on some tour planning and I distributed to two other cabins our tour plan for tomorrow in Venice. After a short break it was time to get ready for gala night number two. Dinner was excellent. Eddie got me two helpings of the king crab legs. They were really good. DW also enjoyed the king crab while DD had a double filet mignon (as he could not eat the lobster ravioli with his diet). After dinner we listened to the quartet a while in the very well attended Ocean Bar. But I’ve noticed something. I really enjoyed the quartet earlier in the cruise. They are now repeating their sets. I don’t mean repeating a few songs – seems like they are repeating entire sets. The show tonight is an encore of the previous guest performers, neither of which we found very good. With a very early start tomorrow (the captain said we would be passing St. Mark’s square at “Dawn”) we decided to call it an evening and complete our restful sea day. Thursday, October 12, 2017 – Venice day one. We were up early and coffee / tea was delivered right at 6:30. We were in the lido for breakfast by 7:10 as Prinsendam was already approaching the dock. The rest of the day is a contrast of great and not so great travel experiences. The five of us were ready to disembark at 8:00. Just as we reached the gangway it was being opened for passengers. Right outside the cruise terminal was an ATM which we used to obtain more Euros. We took the people mover at 1.5 Euros each for the short hop to the main transportation hub at P. Roma. There, we purchased two day waterbus passes for 30 Euros each. We then found that the waterbus 5.2 leaves from port B which ended up being about two blocks away, back towards the ship. We followed our directions to ride the 5.2 to the Ospedale (Hospital) stop. We were about 30 minutes early for our 10:00 tour but in Venice you can never know how long it will take to get from place to place… There was no obvious place to wait so I called our tour guide, Serantoni Tommaso to inquire. He said he was approaching the waterbus stop and would signal us when he was close enough. Five minutes later we saw a boat approaching from across the lagoon and he motioned for us to move to a small docking area. We began our four hour private tour on the bragozzo (traditional Venetian boat) “El Sultan.” We had a wonderful tour as Serantoni told us all about Venetian history, shipbuilding, the lagoon, and showed us the salt marsh that was as Venice was before it was built. He took us past two farming islands and we docked at Burano. At Burano we had 1 hr. 10 minutes to wander the streets. While there we say a ship’s tour arrive. There were also tour groups from various countries walking past. One person needed to find a WC, and in the town square a public WC was available for 1.5 Euros. We saw the church and the leaning clock tower (Leans more than Pisa). On the way back to El Sultan we stopped at a bakery we had passed to try the local special cookie as well as a few other treats. We also purchased some small lace items as Burano is the lace capital of Italy. Back on El Sultan, we circled around Burano and crossed some of the lagoon to the island of Mazzorbo. Here we visited the off the tourist path Church of Santa Caterina. This church, built in the 13th century, is in remarkable condition thanks to volunteers who maintain it. There is a painting dated 1292 on the front of the balcony boards. The friars would direct the service from the balcony. We had the church to ourselves until much to our guides surprise a tour group stopped in. There was no boat so where they came from to arrive at the church was a mystery. Next we headed towards Murano. On the way we passed close to a small island where a church occupied the entire island. We were close enough to see the statues in the courtyard. We circled around part of Murano and we paid our guide and bid him farewell. We tried without success to find a glass making demonstration (we just missed one and they told us it was seven Euros to watch but never told us when the next one would be). We had a light lunch at a place the guide recommended. It was just okay and costly for what it was. We walked the main street and crossed the Murano Grand Canal. The crowds thinned out as it was getting late. We caught the #7 express water bus directly to St. Mark’s square, perhaps 20 minutes away. That area, like always, was crowded. We walked along the waterfront and bought a few items from street vendors. The day, until now, was terrific. We followed the GPS to the meeting point for our prepaid 6:30 Gondola ride, booked thru Viator. We arrived at about 6:00 and were told “This is the line” and it was already over 30 persons long with no place to sit. It was after 6:30 that they began loading gondolas and even though we were in the middle of the line somehow we ended up in the very last gondola to leave. No one told us that seating would be assigned in the order we boarded, so my wife and I (the only married couple on board) were not sitting together – so much for “Romantic.” We were supposed to be able to hear the singer on one of the gondolas – that didn’t happen either. For one thing when we were close enough to the next gondola the two gondoliers were talking with each other, for the other we were so far behind anyone singing that we couldn’t hear a thing. This was supposed to be a 35 minute ride and it was only 25 minutes. For what we had prepaid, just under US$50/pp the five of us could have hired two private gondolas at 100 Euros each and had a much superior experience. After we got off we went to the person in charge to complain and frankly, they could have cared less. (After arriving home I left them the worst review in 180 reviews I’ve ever left on tripadvisor.) We headed to the nearest waterbus stop and the waterbus arrived very crowded. Some folks got off and we started to get on. After one (of five) from our group was on they slid the gate closed. I told the driver we were together and again, they could care less. She didn’t know where to get off. The next waterbus arrived much less crowded and the four of us got on. When we got off at P. Roma we looked for our separated friend and could not find her. We took the people mover back to the port. Boarding the ship was another hassle with airport like security requiring that ALL metal objects be placed in trays for x-ray. We were on board at about 8:45 and went straight to the dining room. We checked our friend’s room and she was not there. After finishing dinner I went to the front desk and they told me she had returned. Getting back to our cabin DW was on the phone with her, she found someone at the Rialto stop with a Rick Steve’s guidebook who told her how to get back to the ship. She returned at 9:30. After a 13 hour day in Venice, we decided to drop our plans for the second day in Venice and make it a “Ship day.” This ended up being a great decision. Our touring friends had pre-purchased a tour of the Doges Palace and St. Marks so they were committed and ended up having a more pleasant second day in Venice. Friday, October 13, 2017 – Venice day two A sleep in morning was very welcome after our exhausting day in Venice. Venice is severely ‘fogged in’ this morning! I sent a quick e-mail to the ‘free walking tour’ folks to let them know we would not be coming this morning. We went to the dining room at about 8:35 for breakfast. Afterwards we walked around the ship and noticed the ‘fog’ coming off the pool and hot tub. I dipped my hand into the pool and found it to be very warm. We could not even see the cruise terminal building due to the fog. Yesterday’s tour would certainly have been canceled if it were to be today. After a while we decided to use the pool as no one was even sitting outside on the lido deck. The pool was delightful and we spent a lot of time there, followed by the even warmer hot tub. I believe I actually fell asleep in the hot tub until DW came from the pool to join me. Returning to our room at about 11:45, by the time we showered and got dressed we decided to forgo the dining room lunch DW had preordered. We did not know that DD was already in there waiting for us (sorry dad!). We had a light lido lunch and just needed more rest. We slept part of the afternoon away until woken by a phone call (thanks dad!). After we decided to go to the crow’s nest for happy hour and sail away. Two folks missed the ship in Venice. You just never know how long it’s going to take you to get from place to place in Venice, and one needs to always leave plenty of margin. From the crow’s nest we saw the Westerdam, which we were told docked at 1:00 rather than 8:00 as they could not enter the harbor due to the fog. There was also an older Costa ship in port. I did not see a single verandah cabin on the Costa ship, but did count four decks (at least) of window cabins. We left the dock shortly after 5:00 and passed St. Mark’s square about 5:35. There was still a low fog over some of the water surfaces. We were back with our great wait team tonight for dinner and it was good. Looking at tomorrow’s dinner menu we decided that would be the night for the Pinnacle. I quickly visited the Pinnacle and obtained reservations for 6:30 tomorrow. The show tonight was the production team with “Dance.” The singing and dancing was very well done. My only critical comment is that unlike the two prior production shows, I am about 99% certain this was performed using canned music rather than the live band. With a full day tour tomorrow in the off the beaten cruise path port of Rijeka Croatia we called in a night after the show. Saturday, October 14 – Rijeka, Croatia An early start meant a lido breakfast this morning. Walking around deck 7 to take photos, I found that town had a great welcome going for Prinsendam. A band and baton twirlers were greeting the ship. There were also locals dressed in traditional dress offering complimentary samples of the local beverage and candy of choice. Our tour group of seven met on time at 8:15 in the Ocean Bar. We left the ship and paused to obtain maps and a few partook of the samples. We met our guide, Dragica, from Rijekatrips. Off we went in the van for a short ride to the city center to begin our walking tour of the old city. The clock tower at the Church of the assumption of the blessed Virgin Mary leans more than Pisa. In fact, standard under the side that is leaning it a bit unnerving. We saw the roman ruins that have been unearthed and the old roman gateway. We also saw the statue to the milkmaids who used to transport milk from the hills to the city on their backs every day. We toured the city market, a bustling place where we sampled a local chocolate donut and Apple Strudel. Dragica showed us the upstairs of the fish market where we had a bird’s eye view over the entire place – fantastic. We took a coffee break after 90 minutes of walking at the long pier that extends 1.5 KM into the harbor. After our break we were back in the van to ride up the hill to the Trsat Castle. With the van, this was easy to access and the 360 degree views from the top of the castle on this flawless day were stunning. From the Castle we walked to the nearby St. Vitus Cathedral. Here we viewed the church and saw the outside of the monastery and convent. Pilgrims climb to the cathedral on over 500 steps from the town on certain holy days. From here we were back in the van to the seaside town of Opatija. Opatija was the first seaside ‘resort’ began in the late 1800’s in all of old Yugoslavia. The seaside park and the waterfront walkways are very pretty to see. Folks were in the water swimming and others sunning on the mostly concreate ‘beach.’ We saw the first church of the area and then began looking for a spot for a light lunch. We found a place and enjoyed a light Croatian lunch. Next we were back in the van to return to Rijeka and one last stop at a small handicraft market near the old town entrance. Here a number of us made purchases of hand-made local items. We returned to the ship, dropped off just steps from the gangway, at 4:10 for our 4:30 all-aboard. I noticed at least two ship’s tour buses that arrived back shortly after 4:30; guess they went some distance away. We have a 6:30 Pinnacle Grill reservation tonight. Dinner at the Pinnacle was very enjoyable. DW and I both had the King Crab Legs while DD had the 10 Oz. Filet. By the time we finished dinner we were all very full and also very tired, so we called it a night. Sunday, October 15, 2017 – At Sea The last sea day of the cruise found Prinsendam heading South in the Adriatic at 19 knots. It was another perfect weather day with nearly no wind on board. We enjoyed a dining room breakfast at 9:00 followed by the “Ask the captain” session at 10:00. At this session the captain and hotel manager were present. This was one of the best such gatherings I have attended. The captain shared that while the Prinsendam is the smallest Holland America ship, it is also the most difficult to navigate. It was essentially build as an Ocean Liner and does very well in a straight line. Navigating into tight spots is not its strong point. The captain also implied that ships built in Finland are built to last while the ships built in Italy may not have as long a life expectancy. I asked about on deck barbeques. The hotel manager shared that “About a year ago” during a US Health inspection they dissed on-deck cooking as there are no immediately accessible hand wash stations, the floor is not appropriate, and the cooking area is not ‘covered’ to prevent things from falling into/onto cooking food. My take away is that due to the US Health service, any lido barbeques are eliminated world-wide. "I'm from the government and I'm here to help." We next relaxed a little on the nice loungers on deck 7 aft. I attended the 11:30 Microsoft session on “Living postcards with movie moments.” At this session I learned that Microsoft is no longer supporting Movie Maker or Photo Gallery, both programs I learned how to use and now depend on from prior cruises. The presenter said that Microsoft 10 had a photo ap that has movie capabilities. As I left the Microsoft session, I found DW headed to the pool. So I changed into swimwear and joined her. Soon we found one of our touring friends who also joined us, and then dear dad joined us after his Mariner’s lunch. We stayed up on the lido on this lovely day until nearly 3:00. Then we cleaned up, rested a bit, and got ready for dinner. Dinner was great tonight for all. DW and I both enjoyed the fruit appetizer with peach schnapps and the sweet and sour shrimp. We finished dinner just as the sun was setting and I went outside to take photos. Ships in the distance passed directly in front of the setting sun making for great photo ops! We enjoyed the quartet who had mostly ‘new’ material tonight before the best show of the cruise so far. That show was vocalist Penny Mathisen. Her singing is terrific and the stories she wove in to the songs very entertaining. If you have the chance to see Penny perform, we highly recommend it. After the show we called in a night before the early start tomorrow in Ikea, Greece. Monday, October 16 – Ikea (Delphi) Greece We were up early this morning as I had arranged an 18 person tour to Delphi with George Terezakis, who I found through Viator guides. Breakfast was in the lido. What I did not know, and was not communicated in any way, was that the ship had ten busloads going to Delphi and they told everyone it was an 8:00 departure. As this was a tender port, this became a challenge. The prior day, the travel guide told me that if we had the group in the showroom for tender tickets at 7:45 we could get off the ship ‘quickly.’ That ended up being dead wrong. By 8:45 (after sitting in the showroom for an hour with nothing but ship’s tours being called) we began asking questions. Long story short, we were finally on a tender at 9:00. George was waiting for us just outside the secured area of the pier, and off we went. George was a superb guide both on the bus and on the ground at Delphi. Our whole group made it up to the Sanctuary (temple) of Apollo and most of the group to the theater. The theater was actually not that much further than the temple. I went a little further past the theater only to take photos of the theater from above. The stadium that was used for chariot races and such was at least as far up again as the theater was from the entrance, and none of our group did that. Returning to the entrance George got the group together and gave us a guided tour of the Delphi museum. Having a guide made a big difference as it’s no longer just “Old stuff” we are looking at but George made it come alive. After about an hour in the museum we boarded the bus for the short drive to the village of Delphi where we walked the main street visiting the shops that were open but our three did not make any purchases. We drove back to the pier and bid George farewell. Several of us walked around for a while before taking a tender back to the ship. I found that the Greek Coast Guard was providing pier security. Back on board we had a light lunch and took the time to enjoy the pool before dinner. Before dinner I stopped by the shore excursion desk who assured me that tomorrow we would not have the same trouble getting tendered off the ship. They had only 15 at 8:00 and another group at 8:15. If we were early we should be able to get on the first tender. Dinner was excellent tonight and I even had a surprise Shrimp Cocktail that had been arranged for. Tomorrow is another early start with a call at the island of Zakynthos, Greece Tuesday, October 17, Zakynthos, Greece Another early morning meeting our tour group at 7:40. We snagged the first group of tender tickets and sure enough by 8:00 we were on the tender toward the dock at Zakynthos Greece. Someone from the cruise critic roll call had arranged an all day tour of the island with Nefis Travel Zakynthos and while the original group had filled we were in group 3. In total 38 folks took this tour in four vehicles with four guides. Since the ‘last tender time’ was changed by the ship to 3:30 from 4:30, we were a bit rushed at a few points. First we stopped at a high overlook of the town from near the Venetian fort ruins. Great photos and our guide Spiros Troussas gave us a history of the island including the earthquake that destroyed all but three buildings and the fact that the island has over 2,000,000 Olive trees. Next we visited a small village “Life as it used to be” with a small general store in one of those surviving buildings. They still use a scale with weights to sell things with rice and flour. From the edge of the village were great panoramic views of the valley, mountains, and the sea. We drove a while and stopped at a very high spot on the road where a goat herder had a small stand. Again, great views and we learned some of how the goats are taken care of even though in essence they are roaming free. From there, we drove to a seaside town where we boarded a boat to visit the blue caves. This was amazing as the boat actually entered into two of the caves, with not more than 6 inches clearance on either side or on top. The water in and near the caves is a deep blue and the boat had a glass bottom allowing us to see coral growing on the sea floor. Many photo ops among the caves and then a chance to swim off the boat. Four of our 18 took advantage of the swimming opportunity. The water was really pleasant and warmer than I expected. I only stayed in five minutes and there was no place you could stand and the waves were rougher than I like without a float of some type. Ten minutes later the remaining swimmers were called back to the boat and we returned to the harbor. From here we headed up and around the mountains to a viewpoint of “Shipwreck beach.” Yes, there was a shipwreck. Yes, it is still on the beach. The viewpoint can barely fit two people and I can’t imagine what this is like “In season.” Yes, it’s very pretty but stay more than 15 seconds and the folks behind you get antsy. From the viewpoint we drove some more to a mountain village where the travel company had arranged for a lunch. The lunch was very nice, and the Greek musician made the time pass quickly. I still prefer to not spend touring time on lunch. The owner of Nefis briefly thanked our group for booking with them and said how having 38 guests during the ‘off season’ make such a difference to their small company. She also had a gift for the couple that initiated the tour, a very nice gesture. We drove a short distance to a group of souvenir stands. These were filled with local, hand-made items, the kind we are most likely to appreciate. Sure enough, a hand painted mug and plate were purchased. We were assured these are dishwasher safe. Time will tell if we test that or not. From there it was time to head back to the pier, arriving at 3:10. All in all, a very good and exhaustive (and exhausting) tour of Zakynthos. This was to be the last gala night of the cruise. So we got ready, took some photos, and headed to dinner. The surf and turf was offered and enjoyed in one form or other by everyone at our table. We had invited a fellow solo traveler on the last two tours with us to join our table and it was nice having some variety. Wednesday, October 18, Spetses, Greece Our port call on the small island of Spetses is from 7:00 to 11:30 AM. Spetses is ‘special’ in that no private autos are allowed in the town limits. Commercial vehicles and motorbikes are everywhere. We did not rush off the ship, preferring to sleep a little and have a dining room breakfast. After the past lido mornings the dining room was greatly appreciated. We decided to take a tender to shore at about 9:35 and found there was no wait. We walked around a little but more than half the shops were closed. We looked in a few and made no purchases. There is a lovely little beach in Spetses that had we been there later would have made an irresistible chance for a swim. At about 10:45 we headed back to the ship. I enjoyed the pool along with DD. While drying off DW came and suggested we get a light lido lunch. They had Mediterranean kabobs and the fish in those was nice. We sat at one of the nice wooden tables with the huge umbrellas near the pool. We sailed away with the ship making a number of turns. The next two hours the sailing was especially scenic, sailing between island mountains on either side of the ship. We stopped in the shops for the ‘final sale’ of the cruise and a jewelry purchase was made for DW. We went to the crow’s nest for happy hour and the sail in to Athens. Athens port is always busy and we needed to wait for a ferry to leave before we could enter the channel. One of the Cunard Queens was in port as well as a giant MSC ship. As we docked on one side of terminal A the MSC ship pulled away from the other side. Parked next to us was a small cruise ship, the Aegean Odyssey, a 350 passenger ship. They departed sometime late in the evening. While many left Prinsendam for an evening tour in Venice we stayed on board. We had a fabulous last meal in the half-full (at best) dining room. The “International menu” on the last night is history and has been replaced with a “Culinary Council” menu. The crusted Prime Rib was delicious and perfectly cooked. The desserts were also a step above the norm. Note to Rick & Sharon – we will need to find another night for the Pinnacle as now the last night in the dining room is a treat. A small ‘parade’ of the chefs took place at 7:00 and again at 9:00 (as we noticed from the Ocean Bar). We bid our farewell to Eddy and Andy, and also the assistant DR Manager who stopped by every night, a huge difference from our last cruise (Veendam) where we never were visited by a manager at dinner. We took in the quartet at the Ocean Bar and returned to our cabin to pack. Packing was done at 8:50 and we returned to the quartet until heading to the showroom. Tonight was a treat with a one-time only show of a local Greek music and dance company. This was a fantastic show and the almost full showroom gave them a standing ovation at the end. We put the luggage out and now have 4 star priority luggage handling (which is nice as we are no longer really able to handle the ‘expedited’ by ourselves). This allows us to disembark any time after the expedited group or we can stay onboard until we are kicked off! Thursday, October 18, Athens Greece Time to get off the ship, but our adventure in Greece is not quite over. We enjoyed a last dining room breakfast and the host (who knows us by name) wished us well and said “Hope to see you again soon!” Our Pink 3 luggage tag was called at 7:45 while finishing up in the dining room. We returned to our cabin for final preparations and double checking all the hidden places and proceeded to disembark. A number of the ship’s staff was at the gangway wishing us safe travels, a very nice touch. We had arranged for an 8:30 pick up by “George the famous taxi driver of Athens.” We were outdoors at about 8:00 and George was there waiting for us with a sign. George loaded our luggage which could not quite all fit into the Mercedes trunk. He suggested we stop at our hotel where they would store our luggage so we did so. George was fantastic all day. He took us out to Corinth, where we saw the Corinth canal. Then we visited the ruins and museum. The podium where the Apostle Paul preached to the Corinthians is restored using recovered original pieces filled in with new material. George also showed us St Paul’s Church (Greek Orthodox) and the triptych mosaic, which is truly magnificent. We would never have found this on our own. Corinth was quite crowded with ship’s tours as about half those on board were continuing on to the next “Holy land” segment. These experienced travelers had no doubt already ‘done’ the main Athens sites so like us, were looking a little further afield. On the way back, we stopped at another part of the Corinth Canal where a truly unique bridge exists. These two 'sinking' bridges, originally called subducting bridges, exist near both ends of the canal. Rather than rise to allow a ship to pass, they ‘sink’ down to the canal floor, 8 meters below the surface. We happened to arrive just as the gate went down to stop traffic and were able to watch (and photo and video) the entire process. George is a genius! From here we headed to a wonderful family owned (and served family style) as authentic as you can get Greek restaurant. The Ta4f tavern was wonderful and even serves wine made “At home” by the family. Again, something we would never have found without George. During lunch we discussed our options for the rest of the day. After being baked in the sun at Delphi everyone was tired and so we decided to take in the Acropolis museum rather than attempt the climb to the actual site. On the way we passed Dromeas, the glass sculpture of the marathon runner. Last visit we were never able to get a good photo of this and we passed it twice. George also took us way up a mountainside where we saw fantastic views of all Athens. We enjoyed the Acropolis museum and rested a while on the patio with a Greek coffee looking up at the Parthenon. The last thing George did was take us to this fantastic patisserie / gelato shop where on our previous visit his son Billy took us. Here we had, in 2012, the best Gelato I’ve ever enjoyed. This visit was ‘close’ but not quite as memorable as I did have a bit of ice in the Gelato. George then dropped us at our hotel, the hotel Attalos. Our rooms were ready and they retrieved our luggage from storage. Like many older hotels, the lifts are small and would certainly not be permitted in the US, as there are no doors inside the lifts but rather the bare ‘moving walls’ are exposed. Still, it’s a European experience, right? The hotel rooms were spacious for Europe. The beds rather hard but we slept quite well. The hotel has a rooftop bar with incredible views of the Parthenon. We enjoyed those. Down the street is a supermarket where we bought some water and found a bag of sugar free cookies for DD. George had recommended a small bakery/eatery which was a good stop for a snack. Friday, October 20 – heading home George had arranged for one of his drivers to pick us up at 8:15 Friday morning to take us to the airport. We enjoyed the hotel breakfast and were ready at 8:00, and so was our driver! Off we went at we reached the airport just before 9:00. While the American airlines ‘ap’ said we needed to check in at the airport due a name issue, the rep at the check in counter assured us everything was in order. She quickly gave us our boarding passes and checked our three bags. We quickly moved through passport control and security, and were in the terminal at 9:30 for our 11:45 flight (with boarding at 10:55). We enjoyed coffee and tea and found we had 4.65 Euros in coins. DW went on a mission to spend the coins and found 4.60 “Olive oil” spoon in the duty free shop. We boarded on time, left on time, and arrived in Philadelphia about 25 minutes early. What made the flight even better (for me) is that the person in the middle seat next to me (a sizeable guy, not quite as large as I am) got up about 15 minutes into the flight and never returned. Apparently he found a more pleasing seat closer to the front – good for me. I was in 37C, which is the aisle seat where the middle seats go from four to three. The good thing here is my shoulder was not hit once by the flight attendants during their service. The not so good thing is that the tray is in the armrest meaning the seat is just a little tighter. Still, I was happy with this choice. We stopped on our way home at an Outback five miles from the airport, letting the worst of the rush hour pass while we had dinner. We arrived home exactly at 7:00 PM, eighteen hours after being picked up from Hotel Attalos. Cruise Summary & Conclusion: We really like the Prinsendam. The crew is outstanding. Service is at a level rarely seen anymore. Our laundry service was incredible. If we sail Prinsendam again (and I hope we do) I will pay extra over a “Guarantee” to have a cabin on deck 7. This would minimize the need to use the lifts. The lifts are one negative. The two lifts in the front of the ship are very slow (for the doors to close) while the two in the aft are very fast (we were clipped several times). Our cabin temperature swung quite a bit but we never adjusted the thermostat from “As cold as it gets.” After the one time we mentioned this to the office it did seem to get ‘better’ but if our side of the ship was in the sun and we took our two showers the room was quite warm and took a while to cool. Entertainment was a mixed bag. Some was good, even great (Penny Mathisen & the local Greek group). The singers and dancers shows were all enjoyable. The other guests were “Ugh.” Dining was a high point with always at least “Good,” mostly “Very good” and a few “Excellent” in the main dining room. Service was exceptional as previously noted. The main lido pool is a joy. It’s not large, but it was always warm. DW really liked this and was able to do most of her water exercises in comfort. The burgers at the Dive in seemed not as good as the other ships. The Dive in certainly had the ‘worst’ bread on board. We began ordering burger patties and hot dogs without the bread. The burger patties have too much seasoning, I don’t know why. This would have been a 4 ½ star cruise except for the tendering issues in Itea. That cost the good ship Prinsendam a half star in the rating so this becomes a four star out of five. With the changes over past years at Holland and other cruise lines outside of the “Luxury” category, I’m not sure another five star experience will come along. Read Less
Sail Date October 2017
We sailed on the Prinsendam on a cruise through the Mediterranean between October 5 and 19, 2017. This was our first HAL cruise in more than two years, so we were curious to see how the experience compared to our previous time, not to ... Read More
We sailed on the Prinsendam on a cruise through the Mediterranean between October 5 and 19, 2017. This was our first HAL cruise in more than two years, so we were curious to see how the experience compared to our previous time, not to mention the last time we sailed on the Prinsendam itself in 2011. I am happy to say therefore that both the cruise company and the ship met our expectations, even though there were considerable deviations on this voyage from the original itinerary. The Prinsendam is the smallest ship in the HAL fleet, and probably the oldest, too. Not a ship to use if you like a lot of shipboard activities, but great for getting to those hard to reach ports, and meeting other travellers. Also not a ship for families or children, nearly everyone was over 60. At some point since our last cruise on her, there were extensive renovations to cabins and common facilities, so the ship looks good despite her age. Likewise, the cabins were great. We were located on deck 10, cabin 057, a larger “signature” suite, with plenty of room including a walk in closet and a larger balcony. It had lots of storage space and we had no issue with anything in our cabin. People cruise on HAL for the service and the food, and both met already high expectations. The Lido in particular was improved from the heat lamp festival I remember, though choice is a little less than other ships. Pinnacle was up to its usual high standard, but alas, Canaletto continues to struggle despite improved décor. Dining room food was good. I was touched that HAL remembered that Oct 11 was Canadian Thanksgiving and served a Thanksgiving dinner. The weak spot on the Prinsendam continues to be its entertainment. It was uninspiring. Most nights we didn’t go. Again, the price you pay for a smaller vessel. I don’t really cruise for the shows so it doesn’t bother me. I will say we enjoyed the test kitchen, which had classes while we were at sea. There was also an HAL person who would give port talks, which were neither pushing excursions, nor promoting businesses in those ports, but rather legitimate discussions of what you could see and do while ashore. We always appreciate the large shipboard library on HAL ships, along with the explorations café and the crows nest bar. All are cozy places to sit back with a coffee or a cold drink and watch the cruise go by, along with some of the more colourful cruisers. We appreciated the classical duo Adagio, who performed several times a day. The organization of the shore excursion team was outstanding. Even with several last minute port changes, they were able to refund all tours for cancelled ports, and come up with excursions at the alternate destinations without any apparent disruption in service. They were also very organized when it came to getting people off the ship to their tours. I must also comment on HAL’s online Navigator service, which organizes a number of functions on a free internet application available on the guest’s IPAD or laptop. Included were the ability to book excursions, spa treatments and premium dinner reservations, as well as the ability to look at your account and the daily itinerary. Also on the technology front, HAL has introduced key cards that can be scanned by a hand reader, reducing the amount of time at the life boat drill and getting on and off the ship. Both are examples of leveraging technologies to make the cruise experience a more positive one. Embarkation and disembarkation were outstanding, and both were accomplished in a very short time frame. We elected transfers from and to the airports in the cities where we embarked and disembarked and both were done as effectively as possible. Read Less
Sail Date October 2017
This was our fourth Mediterranean cruise, our first with Holland America, the other 3 with Celebrity - Unfortunately we were disappointed with parts of the Holland American cruise. Overall, the ship was clean and the staff pleasant. We ... Read More
This was our fourth Mediterranean cruise, our first with Holland America, the other 3 with Celebrity - Unfortunately we were disappointed with parts of the Holland American cruise. Overall, the ship was clean and the staff pleasant. We were in a balcony cabin which was clean, comfortable, and well appointed. We found the food in all areas of a high standard and on par with Celebrity but there is where the comparison ends. Although the staff are pleasant, they are consistently pushing beverage packages and buckets of beers. At the sail-away party you are offered a drink from the trays carried by staff only to find out that there is a charge for this drink. You never see the cruise director - unlike our previous cruises and the 8am announcements before disembarking for the ports cannot be heard in the cabin. There is no entertainment around the pool or Lido deck. Sailing out of Alicante we could hear the bands on the other cruise boats. (2 MSC, 1 Costa and 1x Tui ). The only noise on the Westerdam was crickets. The entertainment is third rate unless you’re into chamber music - then you will be overjoyed. English is not the first language of most staff, although they are pleasant, when making requests or queries in the Dining Room or at the Customer Service Desk, communication can be difficult, frustrating and drawn out. All service throughout the ship or on shore excursions have been outsourced, so it is not Holland America’s ultimate responsibility. Holland America seem to always dock at the furthest birth – so shuttle buses (at your cost) that take to you to the city centre only have the one drop off and pick up spot. The hand sanitisers at each end of the lido food court were often empty and towards the end of the cruise there were many starting to complain of sickness. Unlike Celebrity- we will not be recommending Holland America to our friends. Read Less
Sail Date September 2017
We chose the 24-day Mediterranean Adriatic cruise on HAL Westerdam for three reasons: friends had taken it and recommended it; it was going to several ports in Croatia and we were interested in sampling that country; it began in Barcelona ... Read More
We chose the 24-day Mediterranean Adriatic cruise on HAL Westerdam for three reasons: friends had taken it and recommended it; it was going to several ports in Croatia and we were interested in sampling that country; it began in Barcelona and ended in Venice, two of our favorite cities and we spent extra days in each. We had never taken a cruise before, except for a 7-day gulet in Turkey, which we loved. Primarily independent travelers who usually rented a car and apartments while we explored one country for 4-6 weeks, we had not considered cruising. As we aged, however, I wanted to experience being taken care of rather than having to do so much planning. Therefore, this review is mine; my husband would have a different (more negative) view. What I liked: -the size of the ship (1900 people) and configuration never felt crowded or too big; -never having to plan or prepare meals; access to free 24-hour room service; good to excellent food; food stations in the Lido instead of buffet; eating breakfast or lunch on the Lido deck; -open seating so we could meet different people at dinner every night; -comfortable, clean cabin; good selection of in-cabin movies; "ask and you shall receive" attitude; the veranda; -walking on the promenade deck; watching some ship operations, like bringing up the tenders; -adequate time in most ports; having to tender only twice; -BB King All-Stars where we could dance and, especially excellent Lincoln Center Stage quintet. What disappointed me: -poor amateurish entertainment in Main Stage; lack of other dance venues and variety of music to dance to; -HAL was noted for providing good port information but we found very poor lectures geared to independent travelers on the ports; lack of helpful printed maps with street names and large enough to read prior to going ashore which meant wasting time finding a town map and planning a day; -no way to communicate with other passengers, such as to find other cab sharers or poker players; -too many uninteresting ports; too few at-sea days; lack of interesting day activities (e.g. dance lessons, art lessons, etc.) on board; the library which we had expected and so didn't bring books no longer existed; -absence of a rabbi for the Jewish High Holidays -being "nickel and dimed" like $18 corkage fees, $30 (used to be $20) for a filled laundry bag, etc. -having to pay for shuttles to the ports that we couldn't walk to; Read Less
Sail Date September 2017
Holland America is a quality cruise when it comes to staff and they didn't let us down once again. All staff are quite friendly, professional and helpful. The ship is nice and is a solid 4 and is so because it does have some wear. The ... Read More
Holland America is a quality cruise when it comes to staff and they didn't let us down once again. All staff are quite friendly, professional and helpful. The ship is nice and is a solid 4 and is so because it does have some wear. The food is varied and excellent and they'll go out of their way to have and serve you just what you want. All you have to do is ask! Room service was exceptional and included so do be sure to take advantage of it! We always have breakfast and simply tip a few dollars as a courtesy. The port stops on this port intensive cruise are simply wonderful and there was ample time at most. Using Cruise Critic to find small group excursions made them amazing and it's s fun way to meet fellow passengers. Embarkation and debarkation were both effortless, especially if you can take care of your own luggage. Read Less
Sail Date September 2017
We did a 12 day cruise out of Barcelona ending in Rome on the Westerdam in September, 2017 in celebration of a friend's retirement. We have sailed many times with other cruise lines (Oceania, Norwegian, Celebrity) but had never ... Read More
We did a 12 day cruise out of Barcelona ending in Rome on the Westerdam in September, 2017 in celebration of a friend's retirement. We have sailed many times with other cruise lines (Oceania, Norwegian, Celebrity) but had never before sailed with Holland America. We booked a year and a half in advance and had booked veranda with balcony staterooms that were aft facing and adjoining our friends. We used a travel agent to make the reservation. About two weeks before we sailed, we were offered an upgrade, at $499/person, to a Neptune Suite. We accepted. It was the right decision resulting in a spacious cabin (king bed, large sofa, two chairs, coffee table and wide screen tv) with a ton of closet space, a big bathroom with two sinks, separate tub and shower, and all the suites were recently redone from top to bottom with the renovation of the ship earlier this year. Our friends were also upgraded to a Neptune Suite with a balcony that wrapped around the rear and side of the ship - perfect for 5:00 cocktail parties every afternoon. A concierge comes with Pinnacle and Neptune Suites which is really two wonderful individuals in the Neptune Lounge who cater to your ever need and solve all your on board problems (dinner reservations, printing boarding passes, arranging excursions, etc). The lounge has an extensive continental breakfast in the morning and food all day along with an honor bar that starts in the afternoon. It is very nice to have a nice quiet place away from the hectic Lido Dining room to get a bite to eat at breakfast or lunch. We used the snacks in the lounge for our daily cocktail parties as well. Laundry and dry cleaning services are free with suites. We had no idea how valuable this service is. We could have packed much lighter with the ability to wear things several times. So, if you can book a suite - I highly recommend it. As for the ship, we loved both the Westerdam and Holland America. The ship is exceptionally quiet. Only one announcement in the morning with the basics of the day lasting a couple of minutes. When the ship is in motion, it is hard to tell she is moving. I have never been such a quiet ship even when docking or leaving port. Staff service is excellent. Well beyond that provided by Norwegian and Celebrity and on par with Oceania, but with better processes for moving everyone on and off the ship - where Oceania has failed us in the past. Food was very good. We had the help of the concierge with reservations in the main dining room which was a big help. I would recommend picking one time in advance and getting it booked with your reservation. Many people had to wait for a table. With the suite advantage, we never waited and always had a good table. Selections were many and all the food was well prepared and delicious. The sommelier was helpful pairing wines with the courses. Bottles of wine can be held over from one night to the next which was most helpful. At 4 p.m. two of the bars on board have drink specials where the second drink ordered is all of $2. This really held down the bar bills. We did not bother with the beverage package given the low price of the cocktails and the fact that we were going to be off the ship on excursions most days. Also, with the suite, we got 3 bottles of champagne at sailing from the ship, one from our travel agent, and we won a bottle of red wine on board. One thing we liked best about the ship was the evening entertainment that was available after dinner. We very much enjoyed Billboard Lounge where two pianists play songs with different themes, or the B B King Nightclub with a blues band that kept everyone singing and dancing, or the Lincoln Center Stage with top notch talent (Julliard, Peabody, Manhattan School of Music) playing classical. We did not go to the larger, more usual cruise line shows in the big theater. We liked the option of having two outdoor pools - one with a cover that could be closed on cooler days, and another at the rear of the ship with a wonderful view of the water. We used the hot tubs every day -there are two - and had no trouble finding a seat poolside. The ship at 1,900 people had us concerned that it would be congested, but it never felt crowded. No lines at the elevators. Again, we avoided the Lido for breakfast where we might have encountered crowds, but in moving around the ship, you did not feel like you were with 1,900 people. Our only criticism is that they have ruined our favorite part of a cruise ship - the upper deck above the navigation deck where you have a glass of champagne and watch the ship pull out of port in the evening. They have converted that space on the ship to a coffee bar with lots of empty portals that have meaningless information on the ports you are going to. No one was ever there to help answer questions (we used our concierge instead). Even the office to book a future cruise was usually empty. Pointless use of prime real estate. The area on the first deck in front of guest services (without windows) is where all this stuff belongs. We would gladly sail with Holland America again. And if were were again so lucky to be offered an upgrade to a suite, we would grab it again in a second! Read Less
Sail Date September 2017
Although I have nothing to compare it to, I thought the cruise was perfect! We went with a couple who were experienced cruisers and they were pleased as well. I'll break it down in sections: 1)Food- sophisticated and elegant ... Read More
Although I have nothing to compare it to, I thought the cruise was perfect! We went with a couple who were experienced cruisers and they were pleased as well. I'll break it down in sections: 1)Food- sophisticated and elegant choices. Each night we had dinner in the main dining room with the exception of one night at the Pinnacle Grill/Selle de Mere. The service was extraordinary and top shelf. The sommeliers were very educated and helped select the right wine for the courses chosen and for our price range. We especially liked a reasonable Chilean red (Loma Linda?) we had dine at will and never waited more than 5 minutes for a table. The portions are elegant and continental so are generally modest. If you can't decide what to order, then order 2! I'm laughing out loud when people on cc whine about portions being too small (e.g. only 2 scallops in an appetizer) ...then order a second one! The husbands enjoyed the rack of lamb so much one night, the head waiter asked if they wanted another and they said YES, thinking another rib would come, no ...another entire entree of ribs came for each of them! Lido Buffet was tasty and generally quite busy. Enjoyed the Asian stations for lunch and breakfast. The made to order pasta station was perfect with scallops and pesto and fresh grated Romano cheese sautéed. We had nachos at the natcho/taco station and they were delicious. We would fill up a plate for our happy hour party and sail away on our balcony each night with nachos and yummy appetizers with cocktails. Selle de Mere is a seafood restaurant pop up which comes up one night in the Pinnacle Grill. The dishes were superb and the service extraordinary. We eat 4 star in the DC area and this easily compares. Room Service-We had room service every day for happy hour and about 5 breakfasts when they had excursions. They were quickly delivered (happy hour) or exactly delivered at the prescribed breakfast time. My only suggestion was the eggs Benedict muffins could have been toasted longer as they appeared a bit underdone. The fruit smoothie was so good, I had it three different mornings! The husband enjoyed his steak and eggs and said it was a first grade New York strip and not scrap. Cabin 8140 is the best on the ship. Our balcony hosted a sail away happy hour each night.. it was hard. Service and quality was top notch. You could tell some Indonesian maintenance folks couldn't speak English, yet would still smile and say good morning when you saw them. We chose this cruise for the itinerary-just wonderful Entertainment. It can be said that blame on whether you enjoy something goes both ways. Choosing correctly whatever requires self awareness and honesty. It you think winding the night away at the disco beyond 2am is da bomb, then maybe this isn't the cruise for you. There was dancing in the BB king lounge every night well after 11. The band focused on music and hits from the 60s-70s-80s. This is a key clue! We found the classical musicians talented and dedicated. The local talent which came aboard was very good in the main ballroom. The cooking classes appeared well attended every time I walked by --to the casino. Didn't make any money in the casino but did win a nice tee shirt. The entertainers in the dueling piano forum were fun and entertaining. Great movies and documentaries in the On Demand system. The HAL corporation messed up and decided to devote millions to upgrading the crows nest and create a high tech explorations cafe. Really neat concept but really placed in the wrong place!!! Why not use the wasted space on the 1st deck where the art galleries are? If they are so focused on revenues, then have a bar and tapas concept in the crows nest and sell sell,sell! Medical clinic-came down with a cold and visited the clinic. Professional and well run. Read Less
Sail Date September 2017
I am a 3 star Mariner so I've done my share of HAL cruises. The changes HAL is making to update the ship are not all positive. They have removed the library and replaced it with a few books about Holland (we were sailing in the ... Read More
I am a 3 star Mariner so I've done my share of HAL cruises. The changes HAL is making to update the ship are not all positive. They have removed the library and replaced it with a few books about Holland (we were sailing in the Mediterranean) and a reader's swap. I believe we were the first sailing since this change was made so there were very few books in the exchange. One reason we had sailed on HAL was the quality of the library. This change was very disappointing. Along with the removal of the library they have made a small game room,only 4 card tables and it was often closed as the Lincoln Center musicians used it as a break room. The selection of games did not even include Scrabble. Again, Hal took a big plus-the explorer's lounge or Crow's Nest and sterilized it. This combo of games and books plus coffee bar made for a homey, comfortable place to spend an afternoon. Now the Crow's Nest has all the charm of an airport waiting room. New music additions are great-both BB King and Lincoln Center Stage were fantastic. Westerdam singers and dancers were too loud. Attended one performance and skipped the others. Overall, a bit of a disappointment. Read Less
Sail Date August 2017
Chose this cruise because we had never been to Spain and we like the Holland cruises. Two sea days and 10 ports. Stayed 2 days in Ramblas district of Barcelona before our cruise and loved the city! Didn't book any of the Holland ... Read More
Chose this cruise because we had never been to Spain and we like the Holland cruises. Two sea days and 10 ports. Stayed 2 days in Ramblas district of Barcelona before our cruise and loved the city! Didn't book any of the Holland cruises because they were too expensive so made arrangements for tours before we left home. Dining room service was impeccable and most of the dinners were wonderful, presented beautifully and did not disappoint. However, there were just a few low points. I love Caesar Salad and was disappointed that the salad arrived wilted. Tried it in the Pinnacle Grill and it was only marginally better even after I made a point of asking them to make sure the salad was freshly tossed. Not all romaine either. One evening, I opted to have a chicken mango salad for my entree and found it curious that although it was one of the title ingredients, there were exactly three tiny thin slices of mango on the plate. We did not use spa services this trip because of the heavy sales pressure to buy products during last year's Alaska cruise so can't comment on the Spa this trip. I also avoid any of their health and beauty seminars because I found in the past they were just thinly veiled attempts to, once again, sell products or services. We have always enjoyed the main showroom entertainment on board and although we enjoyed the Frozen Earth film concert, the comedian and the illusionist, we were disappointed with the Westerdam dancers and singers this trip. Although they have pretty good voices, they seem to be trained to sing as loud as possible. Overall, the pros outweighed the cons on our voyage and we had a great cruise. Read Less
Sail Date August 2017
I wanted to experience ports in the Mediterranean and this cruise offered the ones I wanted to see. The ship after being updated is very nice. My cabin was a guarantee balcony 5120 that was very nice. It was midship which turned out to ... Read More
I wanted to experience ports in the Mediterranean and this cruise offered the ones I wanted to see. The ship after being updated is very nice. My cabin was a guarantee balcony 5120 that was very nice. It was midship which turned out to be great when we had a very rough sea day. Holland America diverted the cruise from Calvi to Ajaccio due to the fact that using tenders would have been dangerous for both passengers and crew. It turned out to be a much more enjoyable port than Calvi. Dining was very good. There were only two nights when I ate in the Lido based on looking at the main dining room menu and not finding anything to my liking. As always, the HAL crew was very good. Cabin stewards and dining stewards were all friendly and attentive to needs. I only used one excursion from the ship. Private providers for three others based on price, group size, and activities. I remain disappointed that Holland no longer has libraries on their ships. The old Crow's Nest area now seems to be a wasteland. It used to be a wonderful place to spend time, especially on sea days. Read Less
Sail Date August 2017
We booked this cruise because we received a great deal on the price and we liked the ports listed. The cruise started in Rome and ended in Venice with an overnight. I originally booked a Balcony Guarantee cabin, but approximately three ... Read More
We booked this cruise because we received a great deal on the price and we liked the ports listed. The cruise started in Rome and ended in Venice with an overnight. I originally booked a Balcony Guarantee cabin, but approximately three before the cruise, I received an email from HAL offering an upgrade to a Signature Suite at a reduced price. I took the upgrade and was assigned 6070. The cabin was spacious, comfortable, and had a nice balcony. If I can get a Signature Suite again, I will! Our cabin steward was excellent. We visited the Pinnacle Grill once. My mom loved her Crab Cakes and Lamb Chops. However, I was disappointed with my meal. Lobster bisque should be red (actually bright red) but on the Westerdam, it was dark brown. I asked several passengers about this and intend to follow up with HAL about this. The chef appears to be cooking it differently. I also ordered the King Salmon. When it is arrived, it was only warm and the center of the Salmon was cool. I should have sent it back but did not want to wait longer. We took all of our breakfasts (except for one) in the Lido. The Lido is a busy place. You really need to get a table first and then look for food. Sometimes it was easy to locate a table but sometimes it would take 5-10 minutes. Many tables are for larger groups, so you have to keep looking. The food was good at breakfast time. We enjoyed the waffles, pancakes, and cooked-to-order eggs. We only ate lunch once on the ship as we were out in ports during the day. Dinner was disappointing at the Lido. They did not seem to have a lot to pick from. I wish the Lido would serve burgers and hotdogs for dinner, but they do not. They do have a pasta bar and pizza. One night, I thought the Lido offerings at the grill were bizarre: quail, pork butts, or perch! The salad bar area was very good if you like salad. I would like to see more fresh, cooked vegetables and more fresh fruit on the ship. There were no fresh apples, nectarines, tangerines, oranges, or bananas. Most of our time was spent visiting the tours and doing tours. At night, my mom enjoyed the casino on the ship and only lost a few hundred dollars. She found the casino host to be friendly and after a few days, she was offered free drinks whenever she gambled. I watched movies in the cabin. Read Less
Sail Date August 2017
The cruise included visits to a wide range of attractive ports in the Western Mediterranean. From Barcelona, the Westerdam stopped in Cádiz, Málaga, Gibraltar, Alicante, Palma de Mallorca, Calvi, Toulon, Monaco, Livorno (Florence), and ... Read More
The cruise included visits to a wide range of attractive ports in the Western Mediterranean. From Barcelona, the Westerdam stopped in Cádiz, Málaga, Gibraltar, Alicante, Palma de Mallorca, Calvi, Toulon, Monaco, Livorno (Florence), and Civitavecchia (Rome). The ship's staff and crew were excellent, food venues were good, entertainment was entertaining, and the experience was generally fun. My lowish rating for the cruise is based on a seeming problem with norovirus throughout the ship (my wife and I both got sick), the lack of exceptionalism in the Pinnacle Grill (they ran out of anchoveys and berries the night we ate there), and the insensitivity of the customer service desk (a shirt ruined by the shop's laundry was not addressed and they either dawdled when asked to get us medical help or bum-rushed us off the ship--lepers of their creation). The Dining Room, Lido, and Canaletto were fine. The Internet program only used PC products; Apple users were neglected. More could have been done with their cooking and wine-tasting programs. The cruise was definitely worthwhile and the ship's crew was mostly outstanding (stewards, servers, cleaning crews, etc.). I think the health concerns caused the pall that prevented me from rating the ship more highly. Read Less
Sail Date June 2017
Great ports of call but many days lost to illness. I have cruised eight previous times and this is the first time I have ever been sick. That being said---MANY guests were very ill on this cruise. My cabin attendant did an excellent job ... Read More
Great ports of call but many days lost to illness. I have cruised eight previous times and this is the first time I have ever been sick. That being said---MANY guests were very ill on this cruise. My cabin attendant did an excellent job cleaning my stateroom but I never saw banisters, lounges or elevators being cleaned. Horrible meal at the "Pinnacle". No anchovies for the Cesar Salad and no fresh berries. The wait staff said that this was to be expected "at the end" of the cruise. Really? There were three more sailing days left. Was the upcharge expected? The fish was overcooked and the steak was below average. The food quality at HAL is diminished. The coffee is horrible. The wine list is really pitiful. No water onboard the day of desembarkation. I wonder how those guests who remained onboard were expected to wash their hands? Princess Cruise Line is far superior in food quality and Guest Services to HAL. Read Less
Sail Date June 2017
We cruised from Barcelona to Rome, June 16-28 and were pleased by most of what the Westerdam had to offer. But the food was a bummer. We are vegetarian, which limited the choice somewhat but even the choices with this limitation were ... Read More
We cruised from Barcelona to Rome, June 16-28 and were pleased by most of what the Westerdam had to offer. But the food was a bummer. We are vegetarian, which limited the choice somewhat but even the choices with this limitation were few. Aside from pure salad, it was hard to find plain food. Everything was loaded with cream, heavy cream. Also, we found out that there is a vegetarian menu only 4 days into the cruise! And the choices there were not great. Other than that, we had a fine time. The cabin was excellent, the staff was amazingly courteous, the entertainment was varied enough to serve everyone, at least part of the time. The ports of call were pleasant enough - we usually walked around with local directories in hand (we don't like tours with 20 to 50 people - they are unwieldy). We will cruise again, but not on the Westerdam or HAL, unless we know that their menus have been improved. Read Less
Sail Date June 2017
Already Booked?

Get to know who you’ll be sailing with

Find a Cruise

Easily compare prices from multiple sites with one click