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201 Holland America Line Barcelona Cruise Reviews

We boarded Nieuw Amsterdam in Barcelona on 27th October. It is 10 years since we have been on a Holland America ship. We boarded easily at 12 noon and had lunch in the Lido restaurant. We had booked an inside stateroom as that was the ... Read More
We boarded Nieuw Amsterdam in Barcelona on 27th October. It is 10 years since we have been on a Holland America ship. We boarded easily at 12 noon and had lunch in the Lido restaurant. We had booked an inside stateroom as that was the offer from our travel agent, so we went to the desk and asked if we could pay to upgrade. We were shown to a outside stateroom on level 1 and as we walked to the room we noticed a lot of vibration and noise and asked the girl if this was a noisy cabin. Her reply was that there was no record of noise reported. We spent 2 sleepless nights before reporting it, and it would appear that there had been noise reported in this area. Once we had bi-passed the desk staff the Officers were excellent and we moved to another room down the corridor, on the next sector of our cruise to the Caribbean we had to move again as this room was already booked. After 2 nights we experienced a noise like a bomb going off and the night after it happened 4 times between 1am and 6.00 am. The desk staff again appeared indifferent but once the Officer became involved it was sorted instantly. Vibration seems to be a problem on this ship maybe this will get sorted when she goes in to dry dock next year. Now the good bits. This is a very elegant ship and on our cruise the passenger ratio was mostly American, Canadian, European and a few British. We had opted for any time dining and this proved excellent, eating between 7.30 and 8.30 most evenings in the main dining room sharing a table for 6 or 8 and we always had a friendly crowd. We found the food to be very good, especially the steaks. We ate in the main dining room at lunchtime when it was open, as we found the Lido crowded. The Dive In on the Lido Deck was also very good for lunch. We ate in the Tamarind Restaurant one night (there is a $20 supplement) and it was superb, it opens occasionally for dimsum lunch where there is no charge. This is highly recommended. The entertainment is very mediocre but we had sussed this out from previous reviews. The one standout was Adagio an excellent piano and violin duo that played in one of the bars. Happy hours are busy when drinks are buy one buy another for $1 as drinks are expensive on board plus the 15%added to the bill? New rules mean you can only bring on 1 bottle of wine each per cruise for use in your cabin, the reason given at one of the talks was that they want to encourage responsible drinking, but in the next breath they are trying to sell a drinks package at $49 per day and both people in the cabin must buy it. So $100 per day per couple.......responsible drinking !!!! We loved this cruise, the transatlantic part was the best very relaxing, we were impressed with Holland America and the way they handled any complaint and we would have no hesitation travelling with them again Read Less
Sail Date October 2014
We board the elegant Nieuw Amsterdam in Barcelona for a 13 night Trans Atlantic crossing to Fort Lauderdale. We are impressed with the ship - It does exude elegance. The public on Decks 2 and 3 are nicely designed to serve as multipurpose ... Read More
We board the elegant Nieuw Amsterdam in Barcelona for a 13 night Trans Atlantic crossing to Fort Lauderdale. We are impressed with the ship - It does exude elegance. The public on Decks 2 and 3 are nicely designed to serve as multipurpose rooms. The furniture is comfortable - the spaces open and airy feeling and the three story atirum has a beautiful glass staircase and a frosted chandelier depicting Nieuw Amsterdam ( NYC skyline). It's not difficult to acclimate to this ship. Deck 1 has comfortable seating and offers guest services, an excursion desk, future cruise booking and the "on location" Advisor desk. Decks 2 and 3 have bars, shops, restaurants, photography studio, card rooms, show rooms and a movie theatre. Decks 10 and 11 have pools, jaccuzzis, sports courts, buffet and specialty restaurants, spa and fitness center and the Crow's Nest that serves as internet cafe, library, coffee shop bar and dance floor - all with a panoramic oceanview. Rooms are more spacious than other ships that we've recently sailed. Our balcony cabin had a tub which is unusual and much to my liking. Storage was more than adequate with luggage fitting easily under the bed. Ice was not automatically replenished twice daily - but once we made our needs known to our room attendant it was provided. The Nieuw Amsterdam - launched in 2010 - accommodates 2,100 passengers and 900 crew (Indonesian and Phillipino - all extremely friendly and competent). Passengers on this cruise are older than on many other sailing, but are still very active - walking, exercising and dancing. Mainly Americans, Germans and Canadian - seasoned cruisers - many staying on for more than one voyage. Food - a very subjective topic - is very upscale - lots of variety and well prepared with great sauces. Different themes are offered at all meals - American, German, Thai, Greek, Asian, Dutch, Italian, French etc. We also found a larger than variety than usual of salad ingredients, fruit and cheeses. Deserts were plentiful and offered in small portions. I did find that gelatin was used for almost all of them including mousse, creme brulee and even tiramisu. My downfall though is their signature Raisin Bread Pudding with Rum Vanilla Creme Anglaise.....on offered at lunch - but it is there every day. Lectures are offered on sea days - this cruise focused on planets and comets in the skies to animals in the Sea. Internet classes sponsored by Microsoft are complimentary but do fill up quickly. Many lectures on Acupuncture, Herbal Medicine, Cosmetics weight loss,and Beauty enhancing products and procedures. There were many art auction and most served a glass of champagne. Entertainment is plentiful and varied, dance bands, combos, piano player, guitarist, classical music all evening long - the disco was probably the least attended - due to the type of passengers but the music did sound good and the venue was inviting. Drinks were reasonable - $6.75 for drink of the day - $8.00 for martinis and more for top shelf drinks. Happy hour every day in two different bars with buy one get one for $1 - but it was at 5PM. On sea days informal card playing was organized, crochet, knitting and needlework groups met, trivia was always well attended and many also liked Bingo. Holland America is known for their cooking demonstrations and quite a few were offered - even competition between the chefs. Overall this was a very enjoyable cruise - we did find that workers were very busy - especially in the dining rooms and bars during happy hour. Although the service was still good, you could sense that there had been a reduction in staff. Read Less
Sail Date October 2014
Just back from this cruise and feel overall very happy with experience.n 2nd HAL cruise, last one 8 years ago and one major difference stood out and that was the hard sell to spend extra on wine and beverage packages and additional dinner ... Read More
Just back from this cruise and feel overall very happy with experience.n 2nd HAL cruise, last one 8 years ago and one major difference stood out and that was the hard sell to spend extra on wine and beverage packages and additional dinner events, especially when dining, not really appreciated. Purchased Thermal suite package on day1 and utilised it well. Was more crowded during 2nd 12 days. Crew were friendly and pretty soon knew you by name once they had swiped you card at bars etc. A beer not available in all bars was quickly stocked in our fav bar, the Pinnacle bar on request. Food was varied and well presented although we did find we were jaded with Manhattan choices towards end of cruise. There was some attempt at regional dishes at some of our visited ports but would have appreciated more offerings. We enjoyed our Tamarind dinners and Dim Sum lunches, especially the peaceful setting. Loved Pinnacle on 2 occasions as well as the special Sommelier night which was a superb experience. Also did specially offered Cabana dinner which was meant to be whilst moored off Taomina but due to rough seas, couldn't tender off so we were at sea and it was very windy in the cabanas but the food and wines were lovely and staff did fantastic job in difficult conditions. We also enjoyed 2 nights at Cannaletto. Saw a few shows and attended a few things in Culinary Arts Centre as well as some digital workshop sessions. Embarkation and disembarkation very smooth process.Did Cruising Excursionpre- arranged tours, much cheaper. We did thoroughly enjoy the Turkish Taraf night in Istambul and the crew did a great job setting the scene and the food was lovely with so many choices!! Enjoyed the entertainment and what a setting, felt like we wereright in the heart of the city, as we literally were! Happy to pay Unlimited Laundry and only had a couple of items shrunk or damaged from over hot drying. Also enjoyed the Aussie nights though the music needs some updating with input from an AUssie! Read Less
Sail Date September 2014
1 Don't expect the ship's design and décor to reflect your personal taste 2 Don't expect all fellow passengers to be just like you. 3 Don't throw a tantrum if you miss a port 4 Don't take the cruise lines home ... Read More
1 Don't expect the ship's design and décor to reflect your personal taste 2 Don't expect all fellow passengers to be just like you. 3 Don't throw a tantrum if you miss a port 4 Don't take the cruise lines home page literally 5 Don't be offended at the constant up sell We are a couple of seniors that have had 35 overseas holidays travelling independantly. This was our first cruise. The cabin We loved our basic verandah cabin. We refuse to call it a Stateroom. A Stateroom is where visiting heads of State are recieved. I don't think President Obama or Chancellor Merkell would be impressed by a reception in our Stateroom. It is a ship's cabin. It was compact but well designed The ship Beautiful in every department. We prefer understated elegance rather than overstated opulence. We dont want a floating Casino or theme park. The food The Lido buffet (The Gobble and Go) The food is acceptable in quality and abundant in quantity. The Manhattan Diningroom (MDR) Very high standard. Not 5 star but close. We loved it as here you experience fine dining in a very nice setting. We don't understand why people gripe about the food. The standard is great when you consider the kitchen turns out 12,000 meals a day. If all you want is a 'good feed' then the Lido is fine, but if you like to dine stick to the MDR. The Pinacle Grill We cancelled our further reservations after our first meal. This is an up market New York Steak House serving huge chunks of meat well cooked. Our American friends loved it. But to people who have experienced fine dining in France it is a pale shadow of that. Our vegetables had the appearance of being microwaved, they had the taste and texture of a tennis ball. No good restaurant would plate them. The desert menu says it all...Cheese cake, Chocolate cake, Trio of Sorbets, Cheese plate, and wait for it (drum roll please) Creme Brulee. It reflected the desert menu we remember in Melbourne Australia in the 1980's. And can you believe it, my coffee was out of an up market slot machine that drops the milk into the cup then sends down 2 streams of coffee just like the University canteen. Tamarind was the best restaurant on the ship and Cannaletto serves good honest Italian food. The staff In a word wonderful, nothing was too much trouble. Entertainment You don't expect a full production of The Lion King. The ship's cast of singers and dancers were good but constantly recycled. Visiting artists were great. Can't understand why HAL employs a comedian to embarrass, shout out different passengers physical details, and rudely humiliate individual passangers in the front row. Anyone suffering from depression would have jumped overboard. Cruel, cruel, cruel, not funny. Ship's programs This is our main area of complaint as most programs were dumbed down. Why not a session on the history of ANZAC when going through the Dardenelles, or a lecture on the history of early Greece etc. We were fed a diet of Trivia, The Marriage Game and shopping a la late night shopping channels. The only thing missing was the offer of the steak knives. Shore excursions We took a mix of HAL and private excursions with prople we met on the Cruise Critic Roll Call. All were good but the private ones were about 60 per cent of HAL's price and much better with lower numbers of 8 to 12 people, and wonderfully flexible. Fellow passengers Wonderful generally speaking. So many interesting stories. Certainly the more mature set. Lessons learned on our first cruise. You won't visit every port listed. We missed three. Compensation? A drink of low cost wine. Cruising is a health hazard. Illness spreads quickly through a ship. We picked up a very nasty virus that lasted 4 weeks. People cough and sneeze all over you. Some don't wash their hands. Cruising is expensive if you pay the going rate for a good cabin. We estimate for the total cost of this cruise, gratuities, excursions etc etc it cost us double the money of our normal holiday in Europe staying in 4 star hotels and dining out. Cruising is crowded. When several ships are in port it is crowded beyond belief at every tourist site. We spent hours standing in long lines and stuck in trafic. Fortunately we had 3 days in Venice at the end of rhe cruise. We couldn't believe the difference when the cruise ships pulled out. Cruise lines don't make a profit from selling you the cabin. Profit is determined by what they sell you on board so prepare to live with that. We paid the suggested gratuities but HAL suggest you may want to give further tips to cabin/wait staff and the staff expect it. Coffee...Americans have never heard the word 'barrista.' The coffee is terrible. You know the Mc Donalds set up...Cona drip filter then on the hot plate for far too long. Don't expect the server to discuss the particular origin or blend of the beans, nor artwork on the top of your latte. They don't know the difference between a cappaccino and a latte. Choosing a cabin We are glad we opted for a definite cabin 6116 and would book it again. One Aussie couple booked the usual guarantee cabin hoping for an upgrade. They were thrilled when they got the upgrade but on boarding found it was directly under the BB King Night Club. Their compensation? A pair of ear plugs. There is no rhyme, reason, or logic on HAL's pricing. We visited the future cruise desk and got a price for a 10 day future cruis up the U.S coast. % days later the cost had risen by $400 per person. We let it go. This was a very good cruise but we certainly learnt a lot. We prefer taking apartments in small villages in Europe, and savouring the local food and wines, although we may do a short cruise again. If so we would not hesitate to book with HAL.   Read Less
Sail Date September 2014
We are big fans of HAL and were very excited about our first European cruise with the line. First to get the negative out of the way: The staff was very pleasant but you could tell they were understaffed: long lines at the front desk, ... Read More
We are big fans of HAL and were very excited about our first European cruise with the line. First to get the negative out of the way: The staff was very pleasant but you could tell they were understaffed: long lines at the front desk, long hold times when calling guest services, sometimes not having the cabin cleaned until 4PM. Additionally, the ship was tired and worn- the toilet seat in our room was peeling, the robes in the spa were frayed or had holes in them, the sofa in our room was dirty and worn. Oh, and the swimming pool was a murky color, I suspect as a result of all of the small children swimming there. Now for the good, this is the perfect sized ship for easy cruising. The food was good, the atmosphere nice, the people friendly, and the verandah large. The Pinnacle Grill was well worth the expense but I cannot say the same for the "Le Cirque" evening. This was our first trip cruising with our child and she loved "Club HAL". There was never a shortage of activities for her and they kept her busy so mom and dad could enjoy some alone time. Read Less
Sail Date August 2014
I have been on a total of 10 cruises in the past 10 years (8 of which were in Europe), four on Celebrity, two each on Royal Caribbean and Norwegian, one on Princess, and this one. I was under the mistaken belief that HAL would be on a par ... Read More
I have been on a total of 10 cruises in the past 10 years (8 of which were in Europe), four on Celebrity, two each on Royal Caribbean and Norwegian, one on Princess, and this one. I was under the mistaken belief that HAL would be on a par with Celebrity. Not only was that belief mistaken, but Holland America is far worse than any of the others. First, the good. Our stateroom accommodations (Superior Verandah Suite on Deck 8) were lovely. The ports of call were excellent, but that was the primary reason we chose this particular cruise. The quality of the food in the main dining room and the Italian specialty restaurant was good. The medical staff was outstanding. Room service was prompt and very good. Now, for the bad (in no particular order): The general level of service was abysmal. In the Lido and pool areas, items were not cleared from tables and surfaces. In fact, one Lido employee refused to clear items from our table. This was called to the attention of a supervisor, but his response was unintelligible. The service in the main dining room was hit or miss, depending on the server and the day. Some was excellent, but at other times the staff seemed overwhelmed. The amount of space in the Lido and pool areas was sometimes insufficient to meet the number of people on the cruise. People were eating on furniture in the elevator lobby area outside the restaurant when they couldn't find tables and were laying all over the deck when they couldn't find lounge chairs. Besides the aforementioned, the Lido had other problems as well. Lunch hours were insufficient given that many people returned from tours about the time lunch ended. The presentation of some of the items (e.g., salad bar, desserts, juices) was poor. Ice was frequently in short supply and drink dispensers ran out or dispensed the wrong thing (e.g., water instead of lemonade). The ship ran out of lemonade two or three days prior to the end of the cruise and lettuce the day prior to the end of cruise. The condition of some of the furnishings was in disrepair. For example, I think if I attempted to donate your pool lounge chairs to Goodwill, they would reject them as being not sellable even at Goodwill prices. The manner in which the Tunis port was cancelled was really unacceptable. Passengers were not advised officially of the cancellation until well after the time that the ship should have docked. Until the captain spoke, no ship employee would confirm anything. Since the decision was supposedly made around midnight, a letter should have been slipped under every cabin door so people would not have found it necessary to rush in the morning to prepare and have breakfast. No real reason was given for the cancellation except for the very vague safety concerns. Given the fact that other sailings had also skipped Tunis, the ship should have been prepared with a contingency plan to call upon another port, if necessary, rather than have a sea day. It was certainly foreseeable that a diversion might occur and alternative arrangements should have been made in advance. I had occasion to visit the medical staff because of a fall I took on a wet deck. The reason the deck was wet in that area was because an employe was pushing water from the deck above onto the deck below, directly in front of an entry door. Upon embarkation, we found that the toilet in our cabin was not clean. There was a caked on substance on the bottom of the seat that appeared to be feces. We advised our cabin steward and it was cleaned. On the last morning of the cruise at about 3:00 AM, there was a fire in the incinerator. The captain made repeated announcements about it, but some people apparently did not understand and donned life jackets and went into the hallways.   Read Less
Sail Date August 2014
We were on a cruise of 3 eleven day legs and if not for the ports, which is what we took this cruise for, the experience of Holland America and the Noordam would turn you off from ever wanting to go cruising again. We are not novice ... Read More
We were on a cruise of 3 eleven day legs and if not for the ports, which is what we took this cruise for, the experience of Holland America and the Noordam would turn you off from ever wanting to go cruising again. We are not novice cruisers and have taken at least 15 cruises on other cruise lines but this was the first and last on HAL and have never experienced such treatment. We were in cabin 1060, below the Queens Lounge which was the venue for BB Kings Blues Club. This went on for over 3 hours from 2030 finishing at approx. midnight. There was three of us in the cabin so we were using the bunk bed. On the first night the bunk bed vibrated, the walls and wardrobe doors vibrated and the air pounded in your ears from the sound. It was impossible to sleep or even relax in the cabin. We reported the issue to the front office in the hope of being moved to another cabin only to be given ear plugs and suggested that we find another venue every night they are on, until they finish and then go to bed. Naturally we informed the front office that this was not a suitable suggestion. We were informed that an effort would be made to move us the next day however we were later told that the ship was full and we would have to remain there for that leg and efforts made to find us another cabin for the next leg. I asked for the Hotel Director to contact us the next day to discuss the problem only to receive a phone call that morning indicating that he was in a meeting and would contact us later, never heard from him.Tried to see him on two more occasions but no response. I ended up sleeping on sofa bed for over 2 weeks as bunk could not be used and no other cabin available for 2nd leg. Can go on and on about this but the end result was they did offer compensation at the end of the 33 nights but what was offered was a complete insult to us for what we missed out on for the whole cruise. The ports on the cruise were great however it would have been good if the Captain was on board as the cruise logs given out at end of each cruise were incorrect with wrong port, wrong weather and wrong berthing indicated. Excursions are too expensive and at times do not meet expectations. The food in both the restaurant and Lido are at a very low standard when compared to other cruise lines and even food on RCL is of a better standard. I guess due to the bad experience all problems stand out like, luggage being damaged both embarking and dis-embarking, failure for linen to be changed that required us to ask, cabin set up for only two people and having to ask for extra needs, for first two legs volume in show lounge way too loud with many of the audience having to walk out (this was rectified on 3rd leg). My suggestion is that if you are planning a cruise that you think about another cruise line where possible as HAL is not a cruise line that puts passengers/guest first. The comments above are not a reflection on the crew themselves, except upper management, as they try hard however penny pinching and a drop in standards means they also have to try to stay within these constraints. One big thank you to Carlo, at front office, who was the only person to show some sympathy for our predicament.   Read Less
Sail Date August 2014
I embarked on Nieuw Amsterdam on Aug 4th and we set sail at 5pm. Embarkation was very well organised and there was little or no delay. Once on board the Lido was open for lunch. The food during the whole cruise was top class with plenty of ... Read More
I embarked on Nieuw Amsterdam on Aug 4th and we set sail at 5pm. Embarkation was very well organised and there was little or no delay. Once on board the Lido was open for lunch. The food during the whole cruise was top class with plenty of choice and readily available. I sat for the early sitting in the Manhatten Dining Room and it was an enjoyable experience although travelling solo I had company at the table only on 3 evenings. Maybe the later sitting would have been better. The ports visited were delightful especially Toarmina, Montenegro, Dubrobnik and Venice. Once again I would give 10 out of 10 for the facilities of disembarking and embarking. I went on some tours. Being solo took some what away from the enjoyment of the tours. I had participated in the Roll Call in the months leading up to the cruise and had contact with 3 other cruisers,Annette, Jim and Juliewith whom I shared some of the tours. My cabin 8142 was very comfortable and I was well looked after by the 2 staff who prepared the cabin twice daily for my comfort. In general the staff were most friendly and their smile, willingness to help was much appreciated.The barbeques on deck were fantastic.I loved the freshly cooked omolettes at breakfast. I enjoye some of the stage shows although I expected better standard onmany nights Having to pay extra each day or 200 dollars for the 12 days to use the sauna and jacussie was a draw back to enjoyment on ship. Disembarking in Venice at the end of the cruise was very efficient. Overall it was for me a very good cruise. One highlight was leaving Montengro at evening it was so beautiful and the commentary on the entrance to Venice was also very well done. Being a solo traveller there was not much opportunity to get to know others as groups of people were ready made. Thanks to John and Caroline from Durham England and their friend from Newcastle the nights around the Cassino bar were full of good conversation. Well done Holland America and the Staff of Nieuw Amsterdam for your efforts that made the cruise most enjoyable.I think I will make sure I have a fellow travelleron my next cruise. Read Less
Sail Date August 2014
Chose this cruise as am not a good sailor & ship docked every day! This meant only nights on board. I found the cabin with balcony to be a life saver!bused the balcony heaps - arriving & departing ports was great to watch. Best ... Read More
Chose this cruise as am not a good sailor & ship docked every day! This meant only nights on board. I found the cabin with balcony to be a life saver!bused the balcony heaps - arriving & departing ports was great to watch. Best exp was sailing into Venice - what a sight viewed from up high on the deckE had 2 days of sailing & were disappointed that there was no on board entertainment. We attended the Windows 8 lessons & that was all on offer! We did our own thing on shore - catching local busses or the hop on/off busses & exploring by ourselves. There was virtually no assistance if you wanted to do yr own stuff on shore. Some folk had dowloaded city info before boarding on their iPads. I will do this for our Baltic tour in June. We are returning to do another HAL - so fingers crossed. Read Less
Sail Date July 2014
Sailing from Barcelona, Spain on July 1, 2014 - 11 Nights. Headline “How to open the show on a very, very poor performance.” Yesterday we boarded the ms Noordam in Barcelona, and are scheduled to spend the first full day after ... Read More
Sailing from Barcelona, Spain on July 1, 2014 - 11 Nights. Headline “How to open the show on a very, very poor performance.” Yesterday we boarded the ms Noordam in Barcelona, and are scheduled to spend the first full day after boarding still in port in Barcelona. As past mariners as part of the Holland America program, we have come to expect a consistent quality of service no matter what ship we choose to cruise on, but perhaps we have been spoiled since first sailing on the ms Amsterdam last year. Unfortunately, apparently all crews are clearly not trained to or operate at the same standards. When we first arrived into our Deluxe Verandah stateroom (4123), we thought that the room seemed hot. After adjusting the air conditioning as low as it could go and attempting to call the guest services lines and experiencing 20+ minute hold times, we decided to go to the front desk to ask them to assist. We were told that they would open a service ticket and that no one would even need to come to our room. A long time later, Mary Grace from the front desk came to our stateroom with a digital thermometer and decided that the minimal output from our air conditioning unit was putting out air at 74 degrees Fahrenheit (23.5 C), stated that it wasn’t working correctly, and that it would be fixed. She suggested that we open the door to the Verandah. For air conditioning to work, it should clearly be coming out cooler than the intended room temperature. After over 24 hours in port, they still have not repaired the air conditioning. When we spoke with Alex at the front desk after this 24 hour delay, we were told that he saw that a service ticket had been opened, but that he also saw that nothing had been done. Not only had nothing been done, but Alex at the Front Desk really seemed totally apathetic and non-caring as he told us to go back to our room and wait for them to call. Alex told us that it would be another hour waiting in the room for something to happen as he would have to speak to his supervisor, who would then have to speak to their supervisor, who would then speak to the assistant facility manager. Apparently the desk staff is not empowered to meet guest’s needs, which is another cause for concern when booking a cruise with this vessel. As we get back to the room to wait for the service that may or may not come, we find out that our scheduled stop in Marseilles has been cancelled due to a labor issue and we are going to be redirected to an alternate/back up port. Ironically there was a taxi strike in Barcelona yesterday that affected arrivals to the ship, but strangely enough we heard nothing from Holland America to tell us to expect these taxi issues affecting arrivals. Would it have been that hard to contact the passengers via their preferred communications channels with a simple message? Is this the Noordam’s idea of customer service? I’m sure others have had perfectly enjoyable cruises on the Noordam, however, so far, we are not impressed in the least. I understand that issues happen with labor disputes and with the ship’s infrastructure, but a caring crew would attempt to accommodate and address these issues. One thing is for certain, I wish I had paid more attention to some of the other reviews of the Noordam, as many of the same issues noted are still present and uncorrected. This is not how you demonstrate positive customer service. You may really wish to reconsider cruising on this ship. Unfortunately we are in the market for another Holland America ship that does seem to care, and barring that, we will then find another cruise line that understands that “good enough – isn’t”. So far, this is the worst cruise experience that we've ever had - and we haven't even left the first port yet.   Read Less
Sail Date July 2014
Sadly, we’ve just returned from an 11-night cruise aboard the ms Noordam. We booked the cruise about 10 days before departure as a last minute getaway from busy life in Turkey. My wife and I are in our early thirties and this is our 7th ... Read More
Sadly, we’ve just returned from an 11-night cruise aboard the ms Noordam. We booked the cruise about 10 days before departure as a last minute getaway from busy life in Turkey. My wife and I are in our early thirties and this is our 7th cruise. We're not loyal to any particular cruise line, but this is our second with Holland America. Before the July 1st embarkation date, we spent 2 wonderful nights in Barcelona. Our hotel was near the main Ramblas drag. We ate wonderful local food, drank cheap and delicious beer and walked…a lot! Post cruise, we spent 3 days in Rome. Embarkation was easy. Taxis in Barcelona were striking on July 1st leaving many without transport to the ship. Our hotel was within walking distance to the cruise shuttle near the port. It also helped that we packed extremely light for this trip as we planned on purchasing the laundry package on board. We arrived a bit early so we had to sit in the terminal for a while. I think we were in our stateroom by about 12:30. We had an inside stateroom (7026) on deck 7. The room was nice and roomy and we had more than enough storage for everything we brought on board. The AC/Heating worked perfectly well the entire trip. Our room attendant Kay and her partner Sam were absolutely incredible! Our ice bucket was always full, the room was always clean and we had different towel animals in our room every night. We ordered room service twice after hours and the services was pretty slow. That being said, food was always tasty and of high quality. The ship itself is looking a bit aged. It was spotless as the crew was always cleaning, but she is looking a bit tired. We spent a lot of time on the Lido deck for breakfast, lunch and dinner. We tried the anytime dinning in the main dinning room 3 times, but we found the service to be slow and didn’t get much attention from the servers. I heard the opposite from friends we met on board about the scheduled dinners. Our food was always hot and presentation was great, too. The itinerary was quite port intensive with only 2 sea days. I’ve visited some of these ports last may aboard the MSC Splendida. All the ports were great except for Livorno, Italy. The highlights were Calvi, France and Naples—surprisingly enough! We were scheduled to visit Marseille but the captain informed us of some unrest at the port so we called on Toulon instead. We pretty much did every single port on our own. We found the Holland America tours to be extremely overpriced. For example, they were charging 19 USD for a chartered (?) a ferry to take passengers to Toulon. When we exited the ship, we walked about 10 minutes and found a similar ferry going to the same place for 2 euros. Entertainment on board was ok. All the musicians, signers and dancers are highly talented. The absolute highlight of the entertainment was the BB King Blues Band. They were incredible and the talk of the ship! We had the chance to chat with some of the band members and they were very down to earth and friendly. The magician, guitarist and others brought on bored were good, too. I do want to mention that before leaving for the trip, I contacted HA customer service twice to ask about the cost of the unlimited laundry (which we used every day and found well worth the price) and the use of the steam room. Customer service quoted 77 USD for the unlimited laundry package and said use of the steam room was free. Upon boarding the ship, we found the laundry package was 99 USD and the steam room was in face not free. I brought this up to the front desk and the guy was less than helpful. I mentioned this to some other guests on board and they suggested I write the guest relations manager. After writing a message expressing my disappointment, she credited my account the difference of the laundry cost and gave us a 1-day guest pass to use the steam room in the spa. She apologized and said she would be contacting guest services to correct them on the information they gave me. With regards to the crew, almost all of them were helpful, smiley and nice. Many of the Indonesian crew were fasting due to Ramadan, but they seemed not to be affected by the lack of liquids or food. Once in a while you would come across someone that seemed to be having a bad day, but that was pretty rare. I prefer the likes of Celebrity and MSC as they employ crew from around the globe. It’s always nice meeting different people from different places and chatting with them. Disembarkation went very smooth, too. We carried our small luggage off the ship around 9 AM and were very sad to leave. This was my second cruise with HA and I would most certainly cruise with them again. All and all, it was a great trip. We met some really great people, we saw some beautiful places, we ate a lot of food and have memories that will last a lifetime.   Read Less
Sail Date July 2014
We took a 22 day cruise from Barcelona to Venice with stops in a multitude of ports. While we were not keen on Tunis we were surprised to discover Croatia and other ports. My wife and I cruise a lot and we found this particular Holland ... Read More
We took a 22 day cruise from Barcelona to Venice with stops in a multitude of ports. While we were not keen on Tunis we were surprised to discover Croatia and other ports. My wife and I cruise a lot and we found this particular Holland America experience exhilarating - excellent . We adored our cabin (5091), we loved your fine selected ports…(smashing itinerary!) and we enjoyed the great fine selection of food. However, what made the trip even more special for my wife and myself was the staff. We felt that everyone went beyond what was required and always went the ‘extra mile’ . Whether it was the smiling happy egg cooking brigade at breakfast or the gal at the pasta bar – always most helpful. However, in particular we liked the Neptune Lounge staff - Dangil Hermoso and Sharlene Fontanilla. They were exceptional in their attention to detail, ever friendly, helpful and with an attitude of always ‘can do’. Even with some trying passengers, they always were professional. Neesha we also enjoyed – both in the Neptune Lounge and the Pinnacle Grill. (Le cirque dinner). Great attitude. The Vista Dining room host Rivay we found also exceptional. Not an easy job with that many people all wanting something different. No matter what the pressure, we felt he was always friendly, quick to smile and a joy to see. Since we did not have a permanent sitting, we changed dining room waiters often…always most professional service. We also felt your wine and spirits staff most helpful and competent. Ok, lest you think we are gushing…what we did not like was the internet policy. We feel that the suites should have either free wifi or at least a certain amount of free minutes given. However, we definitely will be back with Holland America   Read Less
Sail Date July 2014
For some background, we are a Canadian couple in our 50’s/60’s who have only previously cruised with Holland America. Our itinerary was the Western Mediterranean - May 18th – 29th. This was our first time on the Noordam. We flew ... Read More
For some background, we are a Canadian couple in our 50’s/60’s who have only previously cruised with Holland America. Our itinerary was the Western Mediterranean - May 18th – 29th. This was our first time on the Noordam. We flew business class from Toronto to Barcelona via Frankfurt and returned Rome, Frankfurt, Toronto. In Barcelona we stayed one night at the Hilton Diagonal Mar Hotel.We had an Executive Level room which provided access to a nice lounge with non- alcohol beverages as well as beer and wine in the evening after 6:30 pm, a good continental breakfast in the morning and a wonderful patio high above the city. The hotel is across from a large shopping centre that we enjoyed strolling through and is also a block from the beach. We took a taxi from the airport to the hotel for a cost of 35. Euro and a taxi from the hotel to the cruise port for a cost of 25. Euro. Our cabin was a Deluxe Veranda Suite very close to the Neptune Lounge. We arrived at the cruise port at 11:45 am. Embarkation was very prompt with suite guests having access immediately. Our suite was ready upon arrival. We were invited to the Neptune Lounge for sparkling wine and snacks and shortly thereafter our luggage arrived. We also had a complimentary bottle of sparkling wine in our suite. We did not attend the suite party the first night and we did not attend the Mariners luncheon near the end of the cruise. The suite was in good condition however the rooms are ready for some updating. While very clean and in good repair, the bathroom was showing its age. We have no complaints about the air conditioning or plumbing. Everything worked very well the entire cruise. Our room attendants were amazing and took very good care of us. As well, Celine, Homer and Kim in the Neptune Lounge were very accommodating and efficient and provided excellent service. The Neptune Lounge offered the usual cold drink self-serve dispensers, deluxe coffee machine, morning continental breakfast, lunch time sandwiches and desserts and late afternoon hors d'oeuvres. Everything was fresh and perfectly presented. The only thing we missed this time was a toaster on the side board. We felt that the ship was in excellent condition and very clean. Staff were continuously cleaning in all areas. We did not eat in the Lido this trip so cannot comment other than when we did pass through it looked very busy. We enjoyed breakfast either in the Pinnacle or in the Neptune Lounge. When on the ship, we had our lunches in the MDR or from the Dive In at the Lido Pool. We really enjoyed the hamburgers and french fries at the Dive In. I don’t usually eat this food at home but for some reason really enjoyed them on this cruise. We found the new menu with fresh meat to be excellent. Service was fast and the introduction of a pager system made it perfect. We could place our order, order a drink and within minutes the pager would alert us to pick up our freshly prepared order. We enjoyed dinner most nights at the MDR. We did however notice the reduction in staffing and its resulting impact on the wait staff that were run off their feet each evening. They did an incredible job however. We did feel that the taking of orders was rushed and there was little time for interaction. They work so hard to ensure that guests are well served. The food was okay – nothing spectacular. We certainly didn’t starve and always found something enjoyable to order. We had dinner one night in the Pinnacle and it was very good. Service was excellent and we found the food quality good. Caesar salad was made table side. Room service was utilized a few times for coffee before the Neptune Lounge opened and one night for dinner. We did not enjoy our room service dinner. Perhaps it was what we ordered. We had the Signature drink package as we booked our cruise during the Explore 4 program. Explore 4 included the Signature drink package (up to 15 drinks per day which included alcohol up to $7.00 per drink, specialty coffees, water, very limited wine selection and soda), $75.00 per person on board credit and an evening dinner at the Pinnacle. We enjoyed this package. While we didn’t come close to 15 drinks per day, we enjoyed the ease of using the card and not having to worry about receipts and charges to our on board account. I hope that Holland offers this again for future cruises. Since it was a very port intensive cruise (only two sea days), we were off ship all of the port days and therefore we did not participate in on board activities. However the daily program showed many offerings from trivia contests, bingo, casino tournaments, dance and cooking classes, Windows classes, digital photography etc. The cruise director was very engaging and did a good job. We booked several HAL shore excursions as well as two private drivers for Rome and the Amalfi coast. The HAL excursions were well done in our view although the Sardinia tour was our least favorite. We really enjoyed the port of Calvi, Corsica. A lovely location. We were extremely disappointed that our visit to Monte Carlo became a tender port and due to rough seas we were not able to tender in Monte Carlo but the Captain made quick arrangements to have us tender in Ville France and offered shore excursions. Ville France was lovely however we booked this itinerary specifically because the ship was to dock in Monte Carlo. We were not made aware of the change to a tender service until the evening before arriving in port. Had we known that this was going to be a tender port for this cruise we would not have booked this itinerary. I won’t go into our reason in this review. Also due to visa issues for some passengers on the ship, we could not visit Tunisia. Instead we made a trip to Sardinia which was not a favorite for us. Our private tours – Lovely Amalfi Coast Tours and our private driver in Rome were excellent. For entertainment pre dinner we visited the Ocean Bar and after dinner each evening we really enjoyed the BB King Lounge. My husband is a musician and really enjoyed the band each evening. We hope that Holland America continues on this track to offer this music alternative on future cruises. Disembarkation was very well organized. All in all we had a great cruise with no issues and our only disappointment was the Monte Carlo switch up. I will be writing Holland America about this issue. Otherwise it was excellent and we have no complaints.   Read Less
Sail Date May 2014
I had been told my cruise with Holland America would be a step up from my usual line -- Royal Caribbean. It was a step. But a step down. I do not believe there is such a thing as a bad cruise. And I liked this one. But I would never ... Read More
I had been told my cruise with Holland America would be a step up from my usual line -- Royal Caribbean. It was a step. But a step down. I do not believe there is such a thing as a bad cruise. And I liked this one. But I would never recommend HAL to anyone else. The cabin was excellent. We had a fantail suite with a great wrap-around deck -- which we used extensively. And our cabin stewards were top notch. The rest of the cruise was so-so. Like most cruise dining room food, the meals were banquet food. Special requests were generally ignored. HAL must have cut their dining room staff. Water and wine glasses went unfilled. Plates with meals uneaten did not cause any inquiry. Even the specialty restaurant had slow service and mediocre steak. I go on cruises for the entertainment. On this cruise, the entertainment would not have made a good pier show. With the exception of an American jazz pianist, Judy Carmichael, who actually attempted to teach the audience and stretch their minds. Our concierge duo, Homer and Celine, made yeoman efforts to make up for the shortcomings elsewhere on the ship. They were gems. I do not expect much from ship shore excursions. And that is what I got. The excursions I most looked forward to were cancelled. Those that I took were over-crowded and far too hurried for the expense. I would advice anyone who takes a cruise in this area of the Mediterranean to skip te shore excursions. Most can be done on foot -- or with the help of a local taxi. I do not regret taking the cruise. I just would not make the same mistake twice. Read Less
Sail Date May 2014
50 year old couple cruising with 75 year old in-laws, Barcelona to Rome, outside cabin with balcony Overall, satisfactory for price Ship built in 2006, beginning to show noticeable but not severe wear (chairs, carpet, rust on balcony, ... Read More
50 year old couple cruising with 75 year old in-laws, Barcelona to Rome, outside cabin with balcony Overall, satisfactory for price Ship built in 2006, beginning to show noticeable but not severe wear (chairs, carpet, rust on balcony, bathroom fixtures cracked). Common areas shipboard very clean. Cabin steward tries very hard but one gets the idea that their supervision and training is not at an elite level, small but annoying details recur. some surfaces left dusty, some mold in bath, but ask for service and they are right there to respond cheerfully. Room was larger that expected with high quality furnishings for the price in the room, furnishings on the balcony nice but scanty. Hot water on this ship consistently lacking at high use times, shower at off times Staff almost always very friendly and eager. some laxity noted of the wait staff at the various bars esp at the fantail and especially in busing tables. Bartending mostly good but quality of the drinks inconsistent. Had only one experience with surly staff once at bar, otherwise seems that the level of service could be raised with closer, better trained and more experienced junior officers Entertainment brought in from outside was of the highest quality, far exceeding expectations. The house blues band was excellent, though it consistently overpowered its venue. House dancers and most of their shows were at about expected quality. other shipboard performers were good Port and excursion support from staff was also excellent. The woman in charge was excellent and worked like a dog. Don't use their tuxedo rental: wrong size, dirty coats. wrong # of shirts, just say no Quality and variety of food was very good, although there was a rare big miss or two. The premium dining rooms demonstrated excellent food and service, well worth the small extra price. embarking and disembarking was exceptionally easy and well organized. It is clear that the line has put much thought into health and safety and this was evident throughout the cruise. very reassuring For a cruise visiting world class wine destinations, the wine cellar featured overpriced and indifferent wines, relatively few of which were from the regions we visited. there was an annoying and also overpriced corkage fee for bringing wine on board from ports. The need for corkage is understandable, but the gross lack of any regional wines from Provence, Naples, Tunis, Catalonia, Campania detracted a bit from our enjoyment of the cruise. If you are gonna cruise to famous wine regions, you really should stock wines from there (or at least not charge for a bottle that someone brings on) The on-board marketing for add-ons (shops, salon, excursions, photos, art etc...) was relentless and breathtaking in scope, be prepared, I expected less based on the relative cost and quality of the cruise. It became distracting. Avoid the cruise related shore tours, outrageously overpriced and almost always ending in a stop at, you guessed it, a shop that wants your money. Private tours through cruise one etc, offered much much better value without wasting your time at the end. Heck, even a cab tour is better. Ports: Barcelona: get there early, give yourself an extra day, ship docs right at the base of the city, tour a Gaudi house, Holy Family Church, Barcelona Cathedral, walk les Rambles (a pedestrian mall) Take the gondola to the castle at the top of the city. The city was clean and busy and fun Marseille: ship docs at new port so you need a transfer to city. port sponsored bus cheap but lines long. negotiated cab fare not much more. Walk the old port, esp early in the morning when the fishermen are in. go up a side street for some Bouillabaisse, the trip to the Ise D'Ife (where the fictional Count of Monte Cristo was jailed) is not to be missed, neither is the view from the cathedral. Those who went on the various trips to Provence were uniform in their assessment of too much time and nothing special. spend your time in the city Monte Carlo: ship docs right at the base of the city, if you don't mind hills, you can walk, very pedestrian city, see the national cathedral where grace kelly was married and buried, touring the national palace was interesting and not too long, the Casino is worth a brief visit. Calvi: wonderful small beautiful. not much to do but very relaxing. ship anchors off shore so you have to take boats in. this was handled very professionally and very well. Just walk around the city for a couple of hours and enjoy Florence: we booked a private tour into pisa and florence. ship docs at port about 90 min away. again the verdict on the cruise line tours was lots of time, forced shopping, not much time at sites. a few hours in Florence wets the taste buds, you need a week there to even begin to see it. VERY crowded Tunis (really a bunch of cities altogether, like New York): took the cruiseline's tour of carthage due to (unfounded) security concerns. It was fine as far as it went but we found ourselves stuck for 90 min in a souk pestered by salesmen. Tunis is just now getting tourism back after the Arab spring and they seem desperate for our dollars. The port is outside the city so you will need a taxi ride to get there on your own. Parenthetically, the city smelled wonderful with all the flowers blooming, all in all much nicer than I expected. I suggest booking a private tour. Palermo: ship docks at base of city so you can walk in, The city is dirty, crowded and confusing but everyone was friendly. take a taxi up to Monte Pellegrino, takes a total of 90 min and the view is breathtaking. Naples: ship docs at commercial port so everything is a ride in. we booked a private tour of pompeii and Herculaneum. I suggest you do so as well. Unspeakably fascinating Rome: we stayed a few days there before coming home, use Private Tours of Rome. ask for Alessandra.   Read Less
Sail Date April 2014
Just back from our 42 day Mediterranean cruise. Yes after 117 days (Jan to May 2013) World Cruise in the Amsterdam we were ready for a shorter one! We embarked in Barcelona. It was the fastest embarkation in our 108 cruises. When we ... Read More
Just back from our 42 day Mediterranean cruise. Yes after 117 days (Jan to May 2013) World Cruise in the Amsterdam we were ready for a shorter one! We embarked in Barcelona. It was the fastest embarkation in our 108 cruises. When we arrived in the port we were the only ones in the 4 Star's line. The Rotterdam is not the best ship we have cruised in but it was in better shape than the Amsterdam. The staff, once again the Holland America staff makes you want to come back to their ships. Yes, like the last critic said, the Lido serving personnel had some language difficulties, but they made up for their eagerness to serve you. Even if something you wished was not available in that day's menu they would try to make it for you. The quality decreased a little when Chef Marshall left in mid cruise, but still nothing to complain about. The only negative on all our dining experiences was eating in the Canaletto. We love Italian food after living in that country for a year, unfortunately the Italian food in the Canaletto left us with a poor experience. From the mushy Polenta, to a minestrone soup that was a poor version of bean soup, to overcooked pasta, it was not nice. However the staff, once again went over board with their service. The cabin was what we paid for! The stewards Wayan and Harry outstanding! The last critic mentioned the age group, well compared to our World Cruise, we were surrounded by teenagers! Activities and entertainment- not more or less than the short cruise usual fare. Unfortunately, we booked a 42 day cruise expecting appropriate conferences, but when we realized that the cruise had been sold in 4 sections, we understood that we were going to get the same mayor shows 4 times. Still, the visiting artists were exceptional! The HAL Cats and singer kept us asking for more! Service- after experiencing the staff of the Amsterdam, which was the best in our experience, the staff of the Rotterdam should be happy to be second best! Andy of the MIX was terrific! Ports and shore excursions- we did book the cruise because of the ports it visited and we were not disappointed! Great ports! of course due to obvious reasons our scheduled visits to Tunesia and Egipt were exchanged for visits to Sardinia and repeated visits to Kusadasi and Limassol, Cyprus, plus credits. Except for 2 tours with the ship, which by the way were great, we did the other ports on our own. Now the passengers, it seems Holland America offered a low price in both the first and fourth segments of this 42 day cruise. In the first segment we noticed a large number of Dutch people of all levels of society with on and off episodes of rudeness and loud behavior but that was nothing compared to the people that came into the ship in Athens. Never in our 108 cruises have we been exposed to such obnoxious behavior of such a large group of people. Unfortunately the staff of the ship displayed total indifference. This is hardly the signature of excellence that Holland America prides itself off. This is more on the level of a 7 day Caribbean Cruise with Carnival! It is too bad that the only goal seems to be filling the ship!   Read Less
Sail Date October 2013
We loved the Rotterdam. The ship is very clean, just the right size, and there is plenty to do. The staff was responsive and kind. I had no criticisms of the staff at all. The ports were overall pretty great, but some days we were in port ... Read More
We loved the Rotterdam. The ship is very clean, just the right size, and there is plenty to do. The staff was responsive and kind. I had no criticisms of the staff at all. The ports were overall pretty great, but some days we were in port when everything was closed so there was not much to see. Not a problem, really, since we were tired and found a rest day to be welcome. The food was great. I am a vegan who found plenty to eat, but I did relax my diet a bit. Read Less
Sail Date October 2013
We are a couple in our late 60's and have cruised with other lines (NCL, Carnival, Azamara, Celebrity, Princess). Our first trip on HAL was very good. We left Stewart Airport on Oct. 4 to arrive in Barcelona a day earlier than ... Read More
We are a couple in our late 60's and have cruised with other lines (NCL, Carnival, Azamara, Celebrity, Princess). Our first trip on HAL was very good. We left Stewart Airport on Oct. 4 to arrive in Barcelona a day earlier than departure. It was quite stressful as our flight was delayed and we weren't sure if we would make our connecting flight in PHL. With just minutes to spare we made the flight....so much for paying extra for early embarkation on US Air. After the 8 hour overnight flight, we arrived in Barcelona at 8:00 am. I arranged for Spain Day Tours to meet us at the airport and then go on a four hour tour of Barcelona. Felix met us and the tour was outstanding. My husband even got to see the "football" stadium. He, then, took us to the Hotel Jazz after showing us some restaurants nearby which we could walk to. Tired and hungry, we took our luggage to the room. It was small, but clean and good for one night. We went to Cuidad Global (sp.) for tapas. Hectic place, very busy; but good tapas. Sunday, we connected with two ladies we met through Cruise Critic and shared a taxi to the port. We arrived at about 11, and were on the ship about 45 minutes later....(separate line for suite passengers). We went to Lido for our first of many trips there. Our cabin was ready about 12:30. We chose cabin # 7066, and were very happy with the choice. I have a more detailed description in the cabin section. We unpacked and went exploring. The Nieuw Amsterdam is a beautiful ship (3 yrs. old). It is elegant without being pretentious. We went to muster drill on Promenade deck and our cruise was under way. We welcomed our first sea day, as the jet lag was quite severe. Our first port was Palermo, Sicily. Since we had never been to Sicily previously, we opted to take a HAL excursion, Panoramic Palermo. The excursion was good, but as with all HAL excursions, it was a bit expensive. Our next ports were Naples,(a substitute for Tunis), Civitavecchia (Rome), Livorno (Florence), and Toulon, France. After very port intensive days we returned to Barcelona. Here, we were able to stay on the ship or disembark any time without going through customs, etc. We went to Las Ramblas, shopped and had lunch (tapas), of course and back to the ship for muster drill and to begin our transatlantic crossing. Spain ports were next....Cartagena, Malaga, and Cadiz. All were beautiful and we are anxious to return there some day. One more stop in Ponta Delgada before seven sea days to FLL. Food - This is a subjective topic, so I will say that we went to all dining venues on the ship with the exception of the Le Cirque dinner. Our favorites were the Cellar Master's dinner, Tamarind, Pinnacle Grill, Main Dining room, and Lido (in that order). I feel that the hours for meals was too short. Entertainment - Another subjective area. Our opinion...Brett Cave and Cantare were very good. Others tried, but I feel missed the mark. Activities - It is my opinion, that the activities suffered because of the cruise director, Dave. He really was an announcer, not a participant. I did participate in quite a few activities....trivia, culinary demonstrations, star gazing lectures, flower arranging, chef wars, Bingo, and of course, the casino. The staff there was quite personable....most especially, Jennifer and Giancarlo. Suite amenities - Complimentary laundry, dry cleaning, pressing (used three times) and all returned within 24 hours. Neptune Lounge and concierges, Odessa and Rommel, were wonderful. We never had to go to the front desk for anything, We did have an incident with painting on the balconies. The crew went through our cabin and left paint on the sofa which went unnoticed. The smell was overwhelming. It was supposedly cleaned off after we complained, but the smell lingered. My husband wiped the sofa with plain water and it got somewhat better. I must say that the concierges were outraged at what had occurred, but we received not even an apology from HAL. After one more incident which I will not mention here, HAL did send us an apology note with "goodies". We arranged Luggage direct and after our JetBlue flight from FLL to SWF was delayed 4 hours, the luggage did arrive at SWF as arranged. In conclusion, our first experience on HAL was a positive one. We do plan to sail with them again. If you have any specific questions, I will be more than happy to respond as honestly as I can. tjld123@aol.com   Read Less
Sail Date October 2013
Our first HAL experience on board of the Nieuw Amsterdam: it was a very smooth and sunny cruise. Smooth: as the staff front & back of house worked very hard and above all: they engaged all passengers and were all extremely friendly ... Read More
Our first HAL experience on board of the Nieuw Amsterdam: it was a very smooth and sunny cruise. Smooth: as the staff front & back of house worked very hard and above all: they engaged all passengers and were all extremely friendly providing excellent service. Food on-board was overall very good to excellent: buffets in Lido with plenty of choice. Also evening BBQs at pool side or aft deck (we did not eat but could see the selection provided). We joined the MDR twice for lunch and one time for dinner. But the real jewel is the Tamarind: its location and small dining room provides any passenger with an exclusive dining experience: personalized service by excellent staff and the food is very very good! Fresh produce and what a choice! Pinaccle we dined twice: Le Cirque was not keeping its promise as the food on-board is already very good, but food served at Le Cirque is not better. Regular Pinaccle menu is good again and the service here is also excellent: see the Pinaccle as an upscale steak house and that is what they do very well. Tip: check if you are already a cruise passenger with history from an other Carnival group shipping company. We sailed with Cunard before and this made us already a one-star-mariner level with special perks as seperate checkin and a special Welcome Back Lunch in the MDR on the sailing day (others will join the Lido). We informed the Mariner Club prior to our sailing, so that our status was updated prior to sailing. Entertainment: let's be honest here: we want a bit of glitter in the shows with music and dance. Most places offered fantastic entertainment, but the Showroom at Sea provided very few big productions. Okay one show NYC could not perform the 2nd show due to terchnical failure, things happen. But there was one other show "cantere" which was great, but other shows were hired extra performances. They were good as well, but not the glitzy musical style shows. Dancing with the Stars appeared also, but is it not strange to have passengers perform where really the professionals should entertain you? Port visits were executed professionally: ships was docked in time and tours were offered. We have done Rick Steve's own excursions and enjoyed to walk off the ship nearly every day. There is plenty of public spaces to enjoy diuring the day or evenings and all is kept very well and very clean (she was in dry dock in April 2013). Summerize: fantastic cruise, programme, inviting ports and wonderful staff! Read Less
Sail Date October 2013
We cruised on the Nieuw Amsterdam from October 6 - 13th in the Western Mediterranean. We visited Palermo, Naples, Civitavecchia, Livorno and Toulon. The week was fantastic. The staff on board the ship were wonderful. We loved the ports. ... Read More
We cruised on the Nieuw Amsterdam from October 6 - 13th in the Western Mediterranean. We visited Palermo, Naples, Civitavecchia, Livorno and Toulon. The week was fantastic. The staff on board the ship were wonderful. We loved the ports. The ship is in good shape. The only qualm we had with the cruise was the disappointing/uninspired dining room food. Dinner was so poor that my wife and I ate in all three alternate dining rooms after the first four nights just to avoid the main dining room. Two of the three alternate dining rooms (Pinnacle and Tamarind) were excellent. The Caneletto (portion of Lido Buffet turned into an Italian restaurant) was a slight improvement over the dining room, but had no atmosphere. A little about our family: My wife and I are in our mid/late 40's. We also traveled with our 8 (almost 9) year old son. We spent 2 days in Barcelona in advance of the cruise and 3 days after the cruise in this fantastic city. We have cruised many times over the last 15 years (typically at least once a year). We have cruised on Holland/Princess and Celebrity. This was our 5th cruise with Holland. We consider ourselves seasoned cruisers. This was our first cruise to the Mediterranean. Onboard Activities: 1. Kids Club - There were only 16 kids onboard (between 3 and 12), but our son loved the kids club. He insisted on attending rather than go to the specialty dining rooms. Even with only 4 or 5 other kids attending every night he found the program entertaining and loved the space. There were video games, giant screen tv's for movie night, and good counselors who kept them well entertained. 2. Casino - The casino was dead the week we were onboard, but the staff were extremely gracious and fun. We spent an hour or so every day at the casino and had a blast. They have most casino games (craps/roulette/blackjack/three card poker/let it ride with 3 card poker bonus). 3. Entertainment - The biggest surprise for us was that we enjoyed the onboard entertainment. Our prior Holland cruises have left us moaning about the poor quality of the singers/entertainers. Nothing could be farther from the truth on this cruise. The Hal Cats (with Ben) were fantastic. Our son ended up dancing with all the show performers to Proud Mary and became famous around the ship, which he loved. We also enjoyed Cantare (Il Divo type act) in the main theatre, as well as Brett Cave (classic British piano man entertainer). We didn't expect to enjoy Brett as we thought he would be corny/over the top, but 10 minutes in we were laughing and singing along. 4. Pool - We only had one sea day and had a great day at the mid-ship pool. Our son loved the water, we had clear skies and smooth seas. 5. Food - This was the one huge disappointment of our trip. As I mentioned we have cruised 5 times on Holland and previously have enjoyed the food. Unfortunately, on this trip, the food in the main dining room was bland and uninspired. The quality of the product was simply poor. While we realize that the cruise line is essentially providing banquet/wedding food for 2000 guests, our past experience was that Holland's main dining room provided good, tasty and creative menus. This was not the case this voyage. Food is very subjective, and some may have enjoyed the fare, but for us the quality was drastically worse than our previous voyages. The Lido Buffet was equally as poor, in our opinion. Our son ate dinner in the Lido 3 nights as he wanted to go to the kid's club and not to the alternate dining. Presentation, choices and quality were once again a huge disappointment. In addition, it seemed like the buffet was always closed/closing, leaving you feeling like you had even less choice. I think the use of Canaletto in 20 percent of the Lido, at night, causes one quadrant of the buffet to be closed for use by this restaurant, further reducing the options/choices given to you for a late night snack. From a purely subjective point of view, we much prefer the set up of the buffet on the Celebrity Solstice class ships as the two parallel buffets get cumbersome. Pinnacle Grill - This restaurant never disappoints and that was the case on this voyage. The service, ambience and food quality was all excellent and well worth the $25 upcharge. Tamarind - This was our first time in the Tamarind and we thoroughly enjoyed the dining experience. Again, the room had good ambience, the menu was creative, the service was wonderful and the food delivered on taste. Canaletto - This is the alternative italian restaurant in the Lido Buffet. The food was an improvement over the dining room and the service was good. This restaurant could serve by being moved to its own room as there is simply no atmosphere here due to its location in the buffet. Room Service - We had breakfast in the room 2 days as we had busy days touring Rome and Pisa. The food was hot, of high quality and was served right on time, despite the fact that there was a large demand for room service breakfast on these days. Barcelona - We spent two days before the cruise and 3 days after in Barcelona. This is one of our favorite cities. We stayed at the Casp74 apartments before the cruise (funky, great location, clean and lots of space) and at Hotel Gran Torre Catalunya after the cruise (23 stories, great views, modern, located next to main train station). Loved both properties. Sagrada Familia is a must see, as well as the Bouqueria market on Las Ramblas. We took our son to a Barcelona football game which was one of his highlights of the trip. It took awhile to get used to eating dinner at 9:00 p.m. but the food in the city was great. Had an amazing burger and fries at Santa Burg restaurant in the Sants district. This small restaurant is killin' it. I know that it seems crazy for an American to come to Barcelona and go for a burger, but we consider ourselves foodies and this place was great. The fries/chips were memorable. They have a burger with foie gras and carmelized apples that I want to return and try on our next trip. We also ate twice at Pura Brasa, located next to the Arenas (old bullfighting arena turned mall) on the Gran Via. Chicken hanging on skewer was mouthwatering, the pasta was great, and the corn on the cob was really good. Iberian ham is all over the city and is addictive. Loved having a croissant and coffe every morning for breakfast. The pace, even in Barcelona, is slower than in the U.S. They seem to appreciate life a little more than we do, and after a few days we settled into their pace and loved everything about the culture and the people. The people we encountered on our trip were, generally, warm, embracing and interesting. A European cruise was a nice change from the beaches and trinkets in the Caribbean. We look forward to our journey.   Read Less
Sail Date October 2013
I have sailed before but many years ago. This ship was wonderful. The food was great. The room (5073) with balcony was awesome. No more or less than you need with lots of storage for clothing even if you are on a 21 day , you would have ... Read More
I have sailed before but many years ago. This ship was wonderful. The food was great. The room (5073) with balcony was awesome. No more or less than you need with lots of storage for clothing even if you are on a 21 day , you would have enough room for clothing. The best part of the ship and its offerings is the staff!!! The 2 boys in charge of cleaning our room work tirelessly from early in the morning until often 10 pm or later they are still in the hall doing whatever is necessary in various rooms. Our room was often cleaned 2x in a day which I did not expect. Note to casino players, the texas hold em table is electronic, and the house takes 10%. Seeing that we were huge players of this game, we expected a person and chips, it takes awhile to get use to this and also use to having no employee in front of you. We also would recommend a full beverage card for those of you that like to drink. We went on 3 excursions only, 2 half days and 1 full day, and still used up our amount on our card. Wine, beer, pop etc is covered, but not delivery to your room. You must get your drinks at the bar and bring to your room yourself. Also, both people in your room must purchase it, not just one person. It was worthwhile for us so we would know exactly what we were spending since we had an overall budget. This ship is mainly people over 65 years old. My husband and I are in our forties and love to have a good party and we did. The age difference was fine and we met wonderful people! You can bring on 1 bottle of wine per person which is also wonderful! This trip was outstanding in every way. Kudos to the patient employees which have to deal with the odd miserable traveller. The front desk employees are amazingly patient also! Read Less
Sail Date October 2013
I can't say enough about the Europe-Black Sea cruise we took on the Prinsendam in September/October, 2013. The small ship was absolutely fabulous: service, crew, ports of call, entertainment and food were outstanding. We have sailed ... Read More
I can't say enough about the Europe-Black Sea cruise we took on the Prinsendam in September/October, 2013. The small ship was absolutely fabulous: service, crew, ports of call, entertainment and food were outstanding. We have sailed on several of the Holland America cruise ships, and while all of them have been lovely, the Prinsendam is, without a doubt, truly special. They treated us like family and took care of our every need. Our cabin was a lovely ocean view room - very spacious and comfortable. From our cabin steward to the chef in the Cafeteria, to the cruise director to the Captain - every single one of them were exceptional. If you're looking for a small, cozy, intimate cruise, I would highly recommend the Holland America Prinsendam. The ports of call were especially lovely: France; La Specia/Cinque a Terra, Obla and Brindisi, Italy; The Greek Islands of Hydra, Mykonos, Rhodes and Lindos; Isanbul, Ephesus, and Meteora, Turkey; Kotor, Montenegro; Romania; Socchi, Russia and the Ukraine. What an amazing trip. We opted to take off on our own and rented cars and motor scooters in most of the ports and saw even more on our own than if we would have taken the ship's shore excursions, and much less expensive. If you're adventurous, I'd recommend spending some time on line investigating the different ports and then exploring on your own. In Kotor, do not pass up walking the 1600+ steps to the old fort - it's definitely worth the effort. Take the train in La Specia to Cinque a Terra and just stroll the small towns - beautiful. The only place that you might want to take a tour or hire a guide would be Ephesus, since there's so much history that unless you have a book or guide, you may miss a lot. I just can't say enough or recommend this trip highly enough - it was truly a cruise of a lifetime.   Read Less
Sail Date September 2013
This was our fourth cruise with Holland America and it was extremely disappointing. 1) We were told we were upgraded to cabin 8026. If this was an upgrade, I would truly hate to think what our other cabin would have been. When I made our ... Read More
This was our fourth cruise with Holland America and it was extremely disappointing. 1) We were told we were upgraded to cabin 8026. If this was an upgrade, I would truly hate to think what our other cabin would have been. When I made our reservations, I specifically asked for a midship verandah cabin as my husband has difficulty with long walks. Well we ended up on the 8th floor, very close to the bow of the ship. Hardly close to being midship. 2) When we boarded in Barcelona it was quite warm. We went to our cabin to discover the air conditioning wasn't working. We made a call to the front desk and they did send someone up. They asked us to give it 4 hours as the a/c had been turned off. Four hours later we called again to tell them it was no better and probably worse. They sent someone up with a digital thermometer and agreed it was no better. We asked to change cabins and were told none were available. They sent a fan and told us to keep our drapes drawn. My response was that I paid for a verandah to see it, not close it off! For 11 days we had a noisy fan acting as our a/c. We called repeatedly and they did send an engineer and he made an adjustment that helped a slight bit. I will say the Front Desk staff were very pleasant and understanding, but they couldn't do anything to fix the problem. 3) The next major problem was the hot water in the bathroom. It was scalding hot! You would adjust it to a moderate temperature and never knew when it would go back to scalding. When you took a shower, you hoped you wouldn't be boiled before you could finish. This is a very dangerous situation. Nothing was done. I was told that it was a problem while in port, but since most days we were in port, it was a real problem. 4) A very strong mildew/mold smell in the bathroom. I had the room stewards pour bleach down the drain and it did help for a day or so, but kept coming back. Disgusting! 5) It was our 50th Wedding Anniversary and 2 months before boarding I booked the Pinnacle for our anniversary. When we arrived at the Pinnacle, we were told our reservations had been cancelled by PMG...have no idea who that was, certainly no one we knew. Fortunately, it wasn't very crowded and Andrew, the Pinnacle captain was able to accommodate us for dinner. 6) We paid HAL $79 for a transfer ride to Rome airport. Bus had ashtrays that were filled and overflowing with used tissues. DISGUSTING!!! In spite of the Noordam, we had a wonderful cruise and will cherish the memories from the various ports we visited. Throughout the ship, we heard numerous complaints about the Noordam and the downgrade of level of service we have come to expect from HAL....this from seasoned HAL cruisers. We were issued a credit, but frankly it didn't come close to what an interior cabin vs a verandah cabin would cost and since we had to keep the drapes drawn it might as well have been an interior cabin.   Read Less
Sail Date September 2013
As usual the service, was exemplary. We have sailed previously on Zaandam, Zuiderdam, and the maiden season of Niew Amsterdam. So, we felt right at home almost immediately when we boarded Noordam at Barcelona. The Collector Cruise was ... Read More
As usual the service, was exemplary. We have sailed previously on Zaandam, Zuiderdam, and the maiden season of Niew Amsterdam. So, we felt right at home almost immediately when we boarded Noordam at Barcelona. The Collector Cruise was also a new experience for us but the connection between the two cruises was handled seamlessly, with no interruption in our itinerary. We booked our own air, but used HAL's airport transfer service, which was hassle free and timely. We did notice the slower service in the Vista Dining room mentioned in another review, and the somewhat smaller portions. However, there was still more food in a meal than we could comfortably consume. We did our best. Also the Dessert Extravaganza was considerably less extensive than we recall from previous cruises, and there was limited table seating available for sitting and enjoying all those delicious concoctions. Also as mentioned in other reviews, the Holland America attention to client comfort and safety is still a priority. We experienced two days of Gale Force winds on our cruise which caused us to by pass stops at Katakolon and Santorini in Greece. We were surprised and pleased by the coordinated effort between the ship and Seattle HQ to orchestrate overnight a stop at Heraklion, Crete. Crete is the central site of the Minoan Civilization and the Archaeological Museum is an amazing must see. Our early morning (3:00 AM) airport transfer was all taken care of. All we had to do was show up at the boarding ramp at the appointed time. The continental breakfast provided was an unexpected treat though it would have been even better if there had been cream for the coffee on the tray. LOL Read Less
Sail Date September 2013
The entire Noordam staff were graduates of smile school, and were very accommodating to any need that we expressed. - The Maitre 'd made a point of soliciting our comments about the Vista Dining Room ("tepid soup, slower service ... Read More
The entire Noordam staff were graduates of smile school, and were very accommodating to any need that we expressed. - The Maitre 'd made a point of soliciting our comments about the Vista Dining Room ("tepid soup, slower service between courses than expected"- which he remedied). Portions seemed smaller than I remember from previous cruises, so we often visited the Lido deck later to get a bite. - The Excursion Director, KK, provided an informative overview of the destinations and had scheduled hours at her Main Deck desk to respond to individual questions; she had unlimited patience in dealing with people who did absolutely nothing on their own to become informed (and who also wasted everyone else's time). We took one HAL excursion and explored other destinations on our own- I find that privately arranged tours are about half the charge of HAL's and you can alter them as you'd like. Hop On-Hop Off buses are also a fairly quick and inexpensive way to get the lay of the land. - The crew was especially attentive to passenger safety during tendering operations at ports where the ship couldn't dock. Our single significant disappointment was that complimentary wifi wasn't available- not in the cabins nor in a central location such as the library. Cruisers get pumped about their activities and increasingly want to share their excitement through email and facebook (generating some buzz for potential HAL cruisers?). While Motel 6 provides it free, HAL gouges passengers 75c a minute, or lesser amounts if you shell out for a package of minutes, starting at $55 for 100 minutes ($.55 a minute). If capacity was a significant factor, I'd suggest providing some basic minutes free and charging for usage over that amount. Read Less
Sail Date September 2013
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