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325 Holland America Boston Cruise Reviews

We had high expectations when we booked this cruise! Unfortunately, the cruise was a huge disappointment due to extremely poor management primarily from Guest Services on the ship. First, let me inform you about the positive aspects on ... Read More
We had high expectations when we booked this cruise! Unfortunately, the cruise was a huge disappointment due to extremely poor management primarily from Guest Services on the ship. First, let me inform you about the positive aspects on the cruise! Virtually all of the ship's staff that we encountered went above and beyond attempting to make the cruise enjoyable! In particular, our cabin attendants were excellent in attending to our needs the entire cruise! The staff in all the of the eating and dining areas of the ship were very good and all were very helpful and seemingly always had a smile on their face! Food was OK with the food in the dining area lacking but made up in the Lido Market by having a tasty variety of dishes and desserts. The on board entertainment was good with a couple of shows that were fun. We went on four shore excursions with the highlights being the Quebec and Charlottetown tours. We were thoroughly impressed with Charlottetown as it very much reminded us of Ireland! Absolutely the most enjoyable aspect of the entire cruise were the great people we met! We traveled with friends and we participated in a couple of events (Music Trivia and Team Pictionary) in the evening that turned out to be great fun! Also met a couple from Oregon that were lots of fun! Unfortunately, all of the above positive aspects of the cruise were negated by the following debacle! Upon boarding the ship at 4:00 PM on Sept 21, we proceeded to our cabin. As soon as we entered the hallway we observed some type of machine down the hallway which was making quite a noise. As we approached our cabin, we realized this was a large blower that was right outside of our cabin door. Opening the door we were greeted by another of these large blowers in the entryway of the cabin. I quickly recognized the blower as a large industrial type used to dry out wet areas. The room was configured with two twins pushed together to make a queen size bed. On either side of the bed was suppose to be a night stand but the right side nightstand was removed and placed in front of the dresser on the other side of the room. This was necessary because the first 10 to 12 feet of cabin carpet was soaked in water. As we entered the room, water pushed up around our shoes. I immediately went to Guest Services and was greeted by a long line of guests. Eventually, I was helped by a Guest Services individual named Caesar. As soon as I told him what the problem was he stated he was aware of the state of the carpet in the room and said it should be dried out quickly. I was informed that the bathtub had been allowed to overrun when it was being sanitized between cruises. It overflowed so badly that it soaked the carpet in the our cabin, the hallway outside the cabin, as well as the cabin next to us. I asked about moving to another cabin and was told the cruise was 100% booked and there was nowhere they could move us. I asked twice for clarification about cabins and was given the same answer again. He stated that they were extremely busy right then but would contact us after 6:00 PM. About 7:30, I again went to Guest Services and was told that they would send someone to check on the cabin. Approximately an hour later an individual from the ship's staff knocked on the door and checked the floor. He stated the machines would have to be left on to dry the carpet and left. The blower was so loud that we left the room and wandered around the ship just to escape the noise. After we returned I turned off the blower in the cabin so we could get some sleep. I turned it back on when we woke up the next morning. Upon returning from breakfast, we were greeted with a second machine which was a very large suction machine which made it impossible to get around the bed. We left very soon for a shore excursion and did not return until mid afternoon. Upon returning we noted someone had come in and moved both pieces of equipment to another spot. I went back to Guest Services and was again told they were working on the room and that we would receive compensation for our inconvenience. The representative stated she could not tell what this amount would be as management would decided the amount. Again was told there were no spare cabins. That night I again turned the machine off when we went to bed that evening. Carpet was drier but I could still mash water out of it. During the night a pillow fell off the bed and was dripping water when we picked it up in the morning. I turned the machine on again when we left for breakfast. We again went on and a shore excursion and returned to the machines. When we returned from dinner, the machines were finally gone. The smell in the room was terrible and reminded us of a wet dog. It stayed that way the entire cruise duration. Mind you this was day three of the cruise when the machines were removed. Consequently, the first three days of a seven day cruise was a disaster to us. On the night before the cruise ended, we returned from dinner and found a final bill statement on our door. After three days of putting up with a mess, Holland America offered us $300 in compensation. I went to Guest Services as was told by the rep that "this is the maximum compensation we can offer". After I stated that we put up with this mess for three days, I was told we were "only inconvenienced for two days" because the machines were taken out after two days. He quickly realized that was not true as my wife produced cell phone photos of our room with the equipment present. It was dated 17:02 23 Sept 2019 which was the evening of the third cruise day. He realized we were right and gave us no further argument about the fact. He went to the back and when he returned to the front desk he stated "they raised to compensation to $400". I was still unhappy about the offer but asked the rep if he could give me an updated statement. He again went to the back and upon returning he stated that the compensation was increased to $450. He offered no explanation for the increase. Realizing this was going no further, we left to pack for disembarkation the next morning. As I stated initially, this cruise was a total letdown for us because of extremely poor management by Guest Services. We were given compensation (which I had to negotiate) that amounted to less than 10% of the amount we paid for the cruise. Probably more important was the fact that no one really seemed to care about our situation other than to state "we are working on it". My wife has a severely compromised immune system and we were very concerned about the possibility of mold or some other type of contamination being present in the room. I mentioned this to every single contact I had with Guest Services and not one person even acknowledged the fact I had brought it to their attention. We felt they did not care about our concerns. This entire situation could have been avoided if we could have been moved into another cabin. To not have any available spare cabins is poor management at best. Actually, I find the fact they have no spare cabins very difficult to believe! When I brought up the issue of no spare cabins to the Guest Services gentlemen the last evening of the cruise he stated " Of course we had spare rooms but they were not of the size and comfort level of the cabin you were occupying".We had repeatedly been told that the ship was 100% booked and were now told they had spare rooms but not like ours! No one questioned us as to whether we would stay in a smaller room for a few days! Throughout this entire episode, we had to actively pursue resolution of our situation with Guest Services and they absolutely showed no concern for the condition of the cabin, our discomfort and inconvenience! We absolutely were not treated as valued customers! Additionally, we felt we were given the "run around" the entire cruise by Guest Services! We certainly plan more cruises but it will not be with Holland America! Needless to say, our experience was unforgettable for the wrong reasons! Read Less
Sail Date September 2019
Holland America has some great ships and cruises. Unfortunately the Veendam cruise from Boston to Montreal is NOT one of them. The ship is scheduled to be decommissioned soon so it is in its lasts throws as a working Holland America cruise ... Read More
Holland America has some great ships and cruises. Unfortunately the Veendam cruise from Boston to Montreal is NOT one of them. The ship is scheduled to be decommissioned soon so it is in its lasts throws as a working Holland America cruise ship. Problems began on embarkation. Our fellow travelers were assigned to a Veranda deck state room next to ours and upon arrival found industrial strength air blowers trying to dry out their room(A178) which had been flooded by an overflowing tub being sanitized. Room A176 was also flooded as well as the hall way. The smell (like a wet dog) and damp carpets were present for the remainder of the seven day trip. Guest services said nothing more than trying to dry out the carpet could be done since all the cabins were full. When we first went down to Guest Services to complain, there was a long, long line of people trying to change rooms for various problems. Dining in the main dinging room was also a negative aspect of the cruise. On all of our previous cruises with Holland America, dining in one of the main dinging rooms was always special. The menus and meals on this particular cruise were so mundane that it seemed like a majority of dinners left of the Lido Market after two days of disappointment. The Veendam is old and pretty worn out and it shows in every room that we visited. Most of the crew tried to make up for the ships many faults with their service but there was just too much to overcome. The most dangerous moment occurred when we were tendering back from a day in Bar Harbor. Lack of seamanship left the tender too far from the Veendam's dock and a choppy sea resulted in the tender slamming violently into the side of the Veendam. A number of returning passengers were thrown into the floor of the tender and one woman appeared to be seriously injured. I have always praised Holland America but after this cruise, I would be more careful about reading current reviews. Read Less
Sail Date September 2019
This cruise was a last minute decision and the most delightful surprise. A 1400 passenger ship now qualifies for a small ship experience.The Veendam was renovated in April and its classic charm updated into a modern version of the ... Read More
This cruise was a last minute decision and the most delightful surprise. A 1400 passenger ship now qualifies for a small ship experience.The Veendam was renovated in April and its classic charm updated into a modern version of the same.Beautiful antiques throughout, easy to get to any place on the ship, absolute fine dining in the main dining room and in specialty restaurants.Chef Guru handled all dining venues from Rudi's Seafood, Canalettti,Pinnacle Grill and buffet to perfection.Classical entertainment by Marian on violin,and beautiful shows especially the Planet of the Stars in main theatre. Other musical performances happy and fun.Service impeccable in all dining areas.Even have a happy hour in 2 bars twice a day!!Many more ports than the usual Canada/New England cruise. Officers friendly and kudos especially to Chief Engineer Paul Jacobs and Hotel director Leonie Henry who were visible and so engaging. Can't wait to book this ship again! Read Less
Sail Date September 2019
My wife and I chose this last minute cruise since she had never seen Canada. We are frequent cruisers of the Caribbean and thought this might be a nice change. The ship is fairly small and the clientele for this cruise is definitely ... Read More
My wife and I chose this last minute cruise since she had never seen Canada. We are frequent cruisers of the Caribbean and thought this might be a nice change. The ship is fairly small and the clientele for this cruise is definitely older. The food was good on the cruise. The best part for us was all the food is actually served even on the buffet. Was nice to not have other guests touching serving spoons and kept things very fresh and appetizing. Had not seen this on most lines and was a nice feature. This cruise had ports every day so that kept daytime activities onboard minimal which was ok since we took cruise to see the sights. However in evening there was still little to do but eat, casino or drink. They did have ESPN on at one of bars to watch sports which was nice. Bars are actually minimal too so had to go out of way usually to find drinks. Very friendly staff but amenities from most ships are lacking here. So if onboard activities are your preference pick a different cruise. We chose to do our own activities in port so didn’t do the planned excursions. They also seemed very pricey for what they offered. There was a nice theater onboard with a couple nice movies that were shown. Also, the shows were decent though nothing special. The cabin was good size and had a tub. We had a window cabin and it was comfortable with lots of storage. Only one outlet on desk but will bring you a power strip. This is difficult though if you have lots of devices and also the desk is far from bed. The tv is also small and far from bed. They will give you dvds to watch but again hard to see in 13 inch screen that is the long way across the room. Overall happy with room though. The bad now. This is an older boat and it actually broke down in Quebec City so we couldn’t continue to our last port in Montreal. In talking to staff this wasn’t the first time it broke down either in the last year as they all knew the drill. This kept casino closed the last night and took away one of the few entertainment things on the ship. This also meant the decided to bus us to Quebec starting at 4 am for a 3 hour bus ride to the port. This was the only information given. When we got to bus it was an old yellow school bus! So no facilities in bus and no information prior to leaving the ship this would be the case. People had just eaten and now had to ride in a tight bus, no facilities and no air conditioning. They did stop about 2 hours into trip at rest area but by then people had resorted to using bottles etc. when we got to the port they had our luggage on a truck that was at port but not unloading. Instead they chose to spend an hour loading the next group on those buses to take them to Quebec City to board the boat. So we sat at the port an hour waiting for luggage with no Holland America rep present to explain where to go for luggage, timing, etc. For the inconvience e were given $50 ship credit on our account. Also, offered 15% off future cruise where details of discount were supposed to be on other side of letter but was blank. So really no offer at all there. I would have rated the cruise about a 3 had the end not happened or been handled better. However the lack of communication and really poor accommodation at the end made this a terrible cruise. Given age of boat and past problems I would tell anyone to avoid this ship at all costs. So sort of buyer beware situation. Read Less
Sail Date September 2019
I chose this cruise because my family decided a last minute trip and this trip was the only itinerary would fit our schedule and we wanted to explore the East coast of Canada. I would rated the experience better if it was our trip ended so ... Read More
I chose this cruise because my family decided a last minute trip and this trip was the only itinerary would fit our schedule and we wanted to explore the East coast of Canada. I would rated the experience better if it was our trip ended so terribly on the last day of our cruise trip. The crew members were hardworking and friendly. The food was good overall. I think they ship needs a major update in many areas as it looks really outdated. On the first night of our trip, there was a fire alarm triggered at 2 a.m due to some leak of a smoke. We were super terrified. On the last day of our trip, the ship broke down at Quebec City and was not able to make it to Montreal. We were told that we would be transported from Quebec City to Montreal by bus. They started to transport passengers starting at 4 a.m.! As we didn't pre-arrange any transportation with the cruise line, they would only be willing to transport us to the cruise port. When we were in line to wait for the bus, we found out that we had to travel by old small Yellow school bus!!!! Our luggage were loaded in other trucks as no space in these tiny smelly Yellow bus! We waited for at least 45 minutes at the Montreal port to get our luggage! There was no one from Holland American to assist passengers. They were just shipping these passengers from Montreal to Quebec City so they can board on the broken ship! No one cares about the passengers. There were a huge line up at the taxi and I barely made it to the Montreal airport to board my 3 o'clock flight. There were other passengers have missed their flights/train due to this delay! No one from HAL would offer any help! The compensation was a joke. We were given a piece of paper that we can get discount for the future HAL cruise and referred the terms and conditions in the back but it was blank!!! This was a super terrible experience and HAL handled it poorly! Who wants to travel again with them!? Read Less
Sail Date September 2019
We choose this cruise for the itinerary. It was leaving from Boston and we don't live to far away. Also we had heard great things about Holland America. We loved the first 5 days of the cruise but the last two were where Holland ... Read More
We choose this cruise for the itinerary. It was leaving from Boston and we don't live to far away. Also we had heard great things about Holland America. We loved the first 5 days of the cruise but the last two were where Holland America totally lost us. We loved the service, food and ship until the last two days. Two nights from the end of the cruise a pipe burst on our deck and 6 or 7 rooms not far from us were flooded. We heard others on another deck were also affected. They had to move the people on our deck at 4 am. They woke us up with all of the noises but at least we were dry. We had a fire alarm go off on one of the first nights of the cruise at 2 am and it ended up being a steam leak in the galley but alarms and speakers going off so wrecked up that night's sleep. The worst thing was that the ship started having propulsion problems before Quebec City which slowed us down so we were several hours late getting into that port. They worked on the problem while we were ashore and acted as if it was fixed but by dinner that night it was clear we were not going anywhere. They finally told us at 10pm we were not going to Montreal on the ship and were to be bused in the morning. When we showed up to disembark we were put into a yellow school bus for an estimated 3 hour ride which ended up being over 4 hours. No room for luggage or carryons. No room for knees. No room for senior citizens. When we got to the Montreal Port Terminal we had to wait for 40 minutes to unload because they were first loading up the next cruise guests for the next week and they had to get them to Quebec City. I was livid that they had the gall to make us wait in the parking lot (as we had already paid) so they could load up the new guests. We also found out that other guests got to be on nice air conditioned custom buses as they were waiting in the parking lot with us. We were supposed to disembark in Montreal at 8am. We didn't get to leave with our bags (had to wait on them as they came by u-haul truck as no room on a school bus) until 2pm. So pretty much whole day lost in touring Montreal due to riding on a bus and waiting at terminal and waiting on bags. Then we had to drag our bags several blocks aways from the terminal to get a ride as the taxi line was very long and not moving. But Holland America did give us a $50 pp credit for all of this situation so I guess in their minds they took care of us. Terrible communications on the issues. If they would have advised we were going to be stuck on a school bus I would have looked for a train, plane or automobile instead. Due t the issues on the boat, I also wonder whether this boat should be active right now. I'm no expert but it sounds like dry dock is where it should be. Read Less
Sail Date September 2019
We flown in the day before and spent the night in Boston. The embarkation was rather smooth as we didn’t rush with the masses to get to the pier. We were offered an upgrade to the Neptune Suites and we jumped on it as apparently some ... Read More
We flown in the day before and spent the night in Boston. The embarkation was rather smooth as we didn’t rush with the masses to get to the pier. We were offered an upgrade to the Neptune Suites and we jumped on it as apparently some travelers canceled due to hurricane Dorian. We figured that the storm would have been ahead of our travels so there shouldn’t have been any excursion disruptions. Upon settling into our cabin and waiting for our luggage to arrive, we stepped into the Neptune Lounge to find snacks waiting for us. The fruit tarts are delish and look for them each day. After attending muster, we were informed the Captain decided to delay our departure from Boston an hour to give the storm a chance to go further north. Our main dining room experience was fine, we sat with 2 other couples. Going forward, we decided to get a table for two for the remainder of the cruise. Bar Harbor Sept. 8th We ate breakfast at the Pinnacle Grill as that is exclusive perk for Neptune Suite guests. Very good service and food is perfect. After arriving ashore via tender, we looked around for signs and possibly someone to tell us where the Lulu lobster boat ride is located but no one seemed to know. After waiting for 5 minutes, someone did show up and lead us to the area where the boat is tied up. We waited until the designated time and boarded. We opted for forward seats with unobstructed view of where the lobster traps were to be hauled up. The female guide was very knowledgeable about the lobster industry and about lobsters. We learned quite a bit, now we know a female has sweeter tail meat, while the male have bigger claw meat. We got dressed for formal night as we are scheduled to do the Cruise Critic meet & greet. We received acknowledgements from about 18 folks but in the end, only 6 showed up. Very disappointing but we had good conversation nonetheless. Beverages and cookies were provided so at least it was not a total disaster. Formal night was good as the dining room has special meals to select from. Of course the photographer was making his round be we forgo the photos as we weren’t going to purchase any of the photos. Halifax, Nova Scotia Sept 9th After getting off the ship, we boarded the Horse Trolley ride through the city. We did see debris from Dorian, uprooted trees, and even a crane that fell from top of a building. Overall, nice ride through the city but the seats were not that comfortable. After returning to the pier, we stopped in to one of the shops to try out the so called famous “Lobster” roll. We opted to just by the mini one to split. It was ok, nothing to write home about. We went back to our same table for two for dinner now that the maître d knows us. Sydney, Nova Scotia Sept 10th After arriving by tender, we were ushered into a small room with tables and a small stage in the front for Spirits of the Fiddle. There were drinks and biscuits which were ok, hard and tasteless. The music was ok and they had a clog dancer for one of the songs. After getting back to the ship, we decided to see what is up at the lido deck. After looking around, we decided on getting a made to order pizza. After waiting for about 30 minutes, the buzzer rang to tell us it was ready. It was nice and hot. Thin crust just like the way we liked it, very tasty. DH got his shirt stained so we decided to get the laundry done. The laundry is complimentary with the Neptune Suites so we were able to get our clothes washed as often as we liked. We went to the dining room and to my surprise the waiter gave me organami elephant. So I took the elephant to try our luck at the casino with blackjack. As it turned out, not so lucky, lost $200. Charlottetown, PEI Sept 11th The rain finally caught up with us so after getting off the tender, we walked into a chaotic building wondering where we needed to go. After a bit of looking we finally found the kiosk where the gal took our tickets. We waited until a guy showed up and took us out to the Chinese Junk boat. We walked quite a bit but after we got settled in, all twelve of us, we traveled out into the bay. It is a family operation as the wife and daughter came from mainland China. He is Caucasian and told us how he got the boat. The wife served snacks and tea to everyone. The daughter did dancing and singing in Chinese. We did try to head out to the lighthouse but the water was getting choppy and the older travelers were starting to look a bit green so we headed back to the pier. We went to the dining room and found an organami dog this time. Cruising the St. Lawrence River Sept 12th Tried the casino again and didn’t have any better luck so switched to slots. At least didn’t lose as much. Dressed for our Pinnacle Grill Dinner and we ate so much but the filet mignon was cooked to perfection. Quebec City Sept 13th After leaving the ship, we waited for our winery and Ste Anne falls tour. We drove outside the city and stopped at the winery. The guide provided us with wine samples which were all pretty good. We then drove to the Ste Anne falls. We decided to take the golf cart instead of walking the trail as DH knees would not be able to handle it. We took pictures and video from two vantage points but we opted out of trying out the zip lining. Our last meal at the dining room and the waiting gave me an organami butterfly. Montreal Sept 14th Our last breakfast at the Pinnacle Grill. We lounged in our cabin since there was no hurry as we couldn’t check into our hotel room in Montreal until noon. We disembarked with a slew of other passengers and into cab for Hotel Zero 1. We left our luggage with the reception desk person and headed into Chinatown across the street. We walked to find the dim sum restaurant and after many attempts, found it on the second floor inside a mini mall. The restaurant did not have dim sum carts but rather a list for us to order. The food was so so, as the ones back home is better in our opinion. We returned to the hotel and found out our room was ready. The room as nice, although the couch could have been better. We rested up and then we made our way out for dinner. Again the food was so so. We went to the bakery and picked up breakfast items for the morning. Montreal Sept 15th We ate breakfast and received text message our tour guide is waiting downstairs. Ruby is our guide for Montreal. We traveled through the city stopping in a meat restaurant to sample their brisket. Very tasty. Then stopped in the fresh bagel shop and picked up out of the oven bagels. Also very good. Then off to the fresh market, we walked around to see all kinds of fresh fruit and vegetables. Amazing sight, we sampled sweet corn and it was so good. Stopped into a wine and cheese store. We sampled the meat and cheeses along with apple cider wine. After being dropped back at the hotel, we later went for Pho and bought some souvenirs. Next day our early transport to the airport and flight home. Overall, pleasant vacation, ship staff is nice and cabin roomy. Read Less
Sail Date September 2019
We have traveled with Holland America for many years...have been on the zuiderdam three years ago and was very happy. We picked the Canadian cruise from Boston to Quebec City because of going to New Foundland. Even though we got to ... Read More
We have traveled with Holland America for many years...have been on the zuiderdam three years ago and was very happy. We picked the Canadian cruise from Boston to Quebec City because of going to New Foundland. Even though we got to the pier at one o'clock ,the embarkation took over two hours, because the Coast Guard had a inspection. We were in a veranda cabin, it was very nice, except the bathroom needs a renovation badly. Dining has declined since the last time we were onboard the Zuiderdam. The menus for dinner in the main dining room were difficult to find something to eat each night..It had quite a lot of spicy entries, steak that were fatty, grizzly and tough to chew, continually trying to up sell lobster, steaks, and wine. The portions have been reduced in all dining venues. Lido for breakfast and lunch were very good. Lido dinner which is like dining room, is fair. The piano players in the Billboard and BB King, were fantastic ...can’t say the same for The main stage... Because of the hurricane, Dorian, we missed two ports in New Foundland.. the captain did a wonderful job avoiding the storm, except for telling all that the waves could be 40 feet. We were on two shore excursions, one in St Johns where we stood for almost an hour waiting for the previous tour to return. The other Peggy Cove, which was very pretty area but enjoyed the stop at cemetery whereSome people from the Titanic were buried. We were on the Kongingsdam in January 2019 and it was wonderful. Don’t think we will be back on Zuiderdam any time soon.. Read Less
Sail Date September 2019
We selected the 12-day Canadian Maritimes cruise for the itinerary; the Zuiderdam was the only ship that offered it. We found the food quite good, and the cabin, dining, wine staff, and dining captain service excellent. We had a Verandah ... Read More
We selected the 12-day Canadian Maritimes cruise for the itinerary; the Zuiderdam was the only ship that offered it. We found the food quite good, and the cabin, dining, wine staff, and dining captain service excellent. We had a Verandah stateroom on Deck 6, and it was large-with lots of storage and a huge bathroom with soaking tub and double sinks. Our balcony was large, though we were not able to use it-too rainy and cool. Hurricane Dorian chased us up the coast--and the captain did an excellent job of escaping to calm waters. Even though we missed two ports and had two extra days at sea, we never had any qualms--even when the captain announced that we should secure everything in our cabins in the event of rough weather. Boarding was a mess--apparently Boston Port officials needed to do a surprise check of the ship. We spent 3 hours waiting to board and were not provided any snacks or water. Disembarkation was well-organized and speedy, and we were allowed to wait in our cabins until leaving. We were nicked and dimed to death--water, breakfast cocktails, pictures, bottles of wine, drinks in the Lido, special classes in the Fitness Center. They were there when you got off the ship, got on the ship, and in the Lido and dining room. We laughed at all the people who kept their key cards on lanyards--but you always had to present the cards. Bottles of wine were charged at 4 times what they would cost in Delaware--vastly overcharged. One downside of this cruise was the amateur entertainment--except in Lincoln Center--and the lack of any engaging acts. Entertainment seemed like an after thought. Another downside--the land tours were expensive for what they were. Four of us were traveling together, and we booked private tours at four of the stops. The price of the private tours per person was 20-30% cheaper than what was offered from the ship for the four of us---and there were not 52 people getting on and off the bus at each stop. Not all ports had access to private tours, in which case we booked ship tours. In Cornerbrook, we took the Gros Morne Park tour and spent 7 hours on the bus with three 20 minute stops and one hour-long lunch stop. It was torturous. In Baie-Comeau we took a four-hour bus tour of an inland shell valley of crushed shells and a puzzling exhibit about the last ice age. There are 55 steps up to the beginning of this exhibit, and there were many elderly people on the cruise who were challenged; no mention of this was made in the tour information. The final HA cruise tour straw was the five and a half hour Discover the Fjord Secrets of the Saguenay tour on a boat. We were the last people to board 20 minutes before it left. The only seats left were at the back of the boat over the propellers. For two and a half hours we could not hear the guide nor see the landscape because there were two partial walls on either side of us. I complained to the Cruise staff, and they begrudged us a 20% refund on two tickets totaling $340--not very customer-focused. Our previous other HA cruises 20 years ago were good. However, we will never book on a HA ship again--for the reasons stated above. Read Less
Sail Date September 2019
We booked quite late, so missed out on a verandah cabin, we had a cabin on the lower promenade deck with a window view. The room was fine, but you do need to fully unpack suitcases because there is not room to have them out. The room was ... Read More
We booked quite late, so missed out on a verandah cabin, we had a cabin on the lower promenade deck with a window view. The room was fine, but you do need to fully unpack suitcases because there is not room to have them out. The room was super clean. The room attendants so helpful. Go to the talks on the first day, they are very helpful about shore excursions and the ship layout. We didnt book any shore excursions and so glad we didn’t. Most of the passengers are in their twilight years, elderly with walkers, sticks, wheelchairs.. and mobility is an issue. At times it seemed like a floating nursing home. Here’s my dos and donts. All the port stops are walkable into the town - dont pay $40-80 for a guided walk. Don’t pay $140 for internet per device, it didn’t work most of the time and you could only access a few sites. Don’t dress up for Gala night - its a have to get professional photos you pay for, and book the pay for restaurants. Do - be kind and polite to the staff, go to the evening entertainment, research what you want to see and do but bear in mind there will be elderly folks slowing down tours with their mobility. Dining - there are queues in the lido market no matter what time. Read Less
Sail Date August 2019
We recently completed a 17 day cruise across the North Atlantic aboard the Zuiderdam, billed as “Voyage of the Vikings” from Boston to Rotterdam. This is actually first part of a longer 35 day cruise that returns to Boston, visiting ... Read More
We recently completed a 17 day cruise across the North Atlantic aboard the Zuiderdam, billed as “Voyage of the Vikings” from Boston to Rotterdam. This is actually first part of a longer 35 day cruise that returns to Boston, visiting different ports coming and going. We were among the minority of guests who departed halfway through. Many guests don’t enjoying flying and dealing with jet lag and a voyage that begins and ends in the US is attractive to them. This cruise is only done once a year, and many people have apparently done it multiple times and sign up for it months in advance. Despite that the ship was not full. You want to learn about Vikings? If so, this is the cruise for you and there are quite a number of talks and presentations about the Vikings as explorers, plunderers, and traders, along with history of the various countries visited. This was reinforced by shore excursions. Cruisers should note that it's a rather expensive voyage, and that is also true of the shore excursions. At the last minute we were pleasantly surprised by an upgrade from the signature class cabin we had booked to a Neptune suite, a much larger cabin (#7073) with various extras, including a dedicated lounge. So that got the voyage off to a rousing start. Service met the usual high HAL standard whether we are talking about cabin stewards, dining room staff or concierges for the lounge. The concierges were quick to handle any minor issues we encountered, and were proactive in trying to be of help. I remember one rather rough night where they called and wanted to make sure we were not sea sick. On this voyage, we noticed the continuation of a trend we’ve perceived on HAL which is to make their voyages more “authentic”, which means substituting more “live” music for the traditional cruise song and dance shows, presentations by experts, and shore excursions that are more about exploring local cultures. HAL continues to go down this road by announcing they are bringing in more artistic dancers and local chefs. This is clearly how HAL seeks to differentiate itself from other cruise lines, including others in the Carnival Group. Given the age and economic status and propensity to travel of the average HAL guest, I can’t fault them for the strategy (and I very much appreciate the strategy myself, for this is my vision of what a cruise should be) but this is not a cruise for people who want an experience with games and pool parties and sports and late night entertainment on board, particularly if you have children. We ate in the dining room most nights, but also in the Pinnacle grill twice and once at Sel de Mer, which exists as a “pop up” restaurant only opening one or twice during the voyage. All the food was very good, though there seemed a little less variety than previous voyages. Though we frequented many of the music venues and enjoyed them very much, the other entertainment on board left a great deal to be desired and we hardly went to any of the shows. Entertainment is the weakest aspect of the HAL experience, but it is also the aspect of cruising I care about least. We took part in six excursions coordinated by HAL. There was the usual level of good organization, though as noted they were rather expensive. Weather was not particularly cooperative but that is not HAL's fault. This is something like our 11th cruise with HAL. We think of ourselves as quite experienced cruisers, but many of the travellers on this trip have hundreds and hundreds of cruise days to their credit, and travel to all corners of the world on multi month voyages. It’s a completely different kind of passenger than you find in the Caribbean or Alaska and you can learn a lot from them. I cannot say enough about the professionalism, positive attitude and courtesy of HAL personnel but in truth this is nothing new, for this has always been our experience with HAL and why we continue to use them exclusively for ocean cruising. Read Less
Sail Date July 2019
We booked this cruise as we always wanted to visit Iceland, Greenland and Ireland. We didn't have the greatest weather...however as my husband always reminds me...you pay your money and take your chances! The scenery and people ... Read More
We booked this cruise as we always wanted to visit Iceland, Greenland and Ireland. We didn't have the greatest weather...however as my husband always reminds me...you pay your money and take your chances! The scenery and people are so wonderful. We heard so many great reviews from friends that had taken this voyage. Our cabin on the Zuiderdam was a balcony #8121. This is located Aft - Starboard side - below the smoking section on Deck 9. So each morning and evening (5am & 11pm) we would hear the dragging of the chairs/tables above us. Our toilet was intermittant on flushing. Balcony was disgustingly dirty! The crew on all HAL ships are truly amazing...this makes for a great cruise. Pinnacle grill service was the worst we have ever experienced. Entertainment was terrible...the ONLY great show was "Step One" This particular cruise is expensive...I feel that the longer voyages 30+ days should have something unique ... a special captains party or something for the guests sailing the full cruise. Read Less
Sail Date July 2019
Our cruise on the VeenDam was not a pleasant one. The food was terrible and the ship was dirty. We had dinner at our assigned table only 3-4 times. We just could not tolerate the food. After finding a hair in my salad we didn’t go back ... Read More
Our cruise on the VeenDam was not a pleasant one. The food was terrible and the ship was dirty. We had dinner at our assigned table only 3-4 times. We just could not tolerate the food. After finding a hair in my salad we didn’t go back to the dinning room. Janet almost threw up when I found the hair. One morning we were having an omelets and I discovered a hair in my omelet. (picture attached) Another morning I grabbed a fruit cup and was eating the fruit when I looked down and saw a filthy glass the fruit was in. I took my finger nail and scratched the crud. This was disgusting. I took the cup to the front desk and heard crickets. (picture attached) After this incident we lived on scrambled eggs, yogurt, fruit, salad and pizza for the majority of the cruise. Anything that was prepacked or would be killed in high heat. The fruit juices were watered down just like their cocktail drinks. We went one evening to the Crow’s Nest for happy hour. The Holland America app said happy hour was from 4:00-4:30. This crated a lot of confusion with the bartender. The guy in front of me had a discussion with the bartender about the time. I showed the bartender the H.A. app which clearly said 4:00, but the bartender insisted it was 4:30 as printed in the daily ships guide. The bartender eventually gave the guy his drinks at first one at regular price and the 2nd for $2.00. When it came my turn, he said I had to pay full price or wait until 4:30. I told him this was discrimination and the people behind me agreed. It is obvious some of the ships personnel need to be retrained. It gets more interesting. Every evening at happy hour there was trivia. The cruise director Tom Webber was great as was Eileya who did the trivia in the evening. One evening we ordered Mojitos. The bartender never mulled the lime and mint together, so on this evening I discovered a bug in my drink. (picture attached) There was dust everywhere. No one ever dusted the bases of the fixed table.(picture attached) I called for a meeting and Mr. Bashir met with me in the lobby, outside of the customer service desk. I went through my list of issues and was told “there are 1,350 on board the ship. “We are trying to make everyone happy”. You are the only complaint”, which is a lie. We did excursion with many people who complained about the services and quality aboard the ship. I showed Mr. Bashir my pictures and he didn’t believe me. I told him “I bet you that spinach is still on the wall”. He said “they clean every day”. I took Mr. Bashir up to the Lido deck and showed him the spinach on the wall. He too was unhappy about the quality of the food. I was at breakfast one morning, before I met him, and he was complaining about how his food was cooked. We did a lot of excursion. One had only one excursion that was not good and that was the trip to Corfu. The WORST excursion we EVER had. I complained about this excursion, as did others. We did not get a refund, only crickets. As for Holland America, I will not cruise with them. This was our 3rd cruise. This was our gift to each other for our 45th anniversary. Not a glass of wine, not a glass of Champaign nothing! Holland America’s was all about separating you from you money and if you didn’t like what you got, well that was just too bad. See you later sucker, they just didn’t care because they had their money. We paid high dollar for a low budget, low quality return. Read Less
Sail Date July 2019
I was a little nervous after reading reviews here, but was very happy with the Zaandam. The ship is a little old, but is well kept and our group of 15 had very few problems. We had balcony rooms on the 6th and 7th deck which were nice, but ... Read More
I was a little nervous after reading reviews here, but was very happy with the Zaandam. The ship is a little old, but is well kept and our group of 15 had very few problems. We had balcony rooms on the 6th and 7th deck which were nice, but the TV's are tiny and nearly useless (some rooms had newer TVs). We had ports of call every day but one and enjoyed all of the stops. We were 40 minutes late to Halifax which put a wrench in my plans. And we were several hours late to Quebec which made us cancel a walking tour, but the weather, which was supposed to be half rainy turned out great just about every day. Even saw a whale on the day at sea. Service was always excellent and cheerful from the dining and room staff. HAL isn't overly pushy on shopping and excursions (unlike Carnival). The food in the dining room was good (not always great, but never bad) with good variety, but sort of random portions, sometimes huge, sometimes not much more than an appetizer for the main course. The Lido cafeteria had a lot of variety and the food was also good. Some in our party really enjoyed the shows, but that isn't really my thing. I did enjoy the live music by a piano and violin duo. Lots of room on board to hang out. Happy hour drink specials (buy 1 at full price get another for $2) made the drinks more reasonable and the hours weren't bad. I didn't do any HAL excursion due to the price, but had a great time at Bar Harbor using Acadia NP's free shuttles, rented cars in Halifax and Sydney for side trips (to Peggy's Cove and for a boat tour to see puffins), and enjoyed walking around Charlottetown, Quebec, and Montreal. Great trip and very thankful for the excellent weather. Read Less
Sail Date July 2019
Had never been to this area before and wanted to see it. Lovely views, scenery was great. Dropped our car in Boston and flew to Montreal to catch ship. Boarding was straight forward and done in no time. We rented a car for the day and the ... Read More
Had never been to this area before and wanted to see it. Lovely views, scenery was great. Dropped our car in Boston and flew to Montreal to catch ship. Boarding was straight forward and done in no time. We rented a car for the day and the process was easy. Pickup at airport, returned downtown; Enterprise took us to cruise port. Ship was smallest that we have ever sailed on. We liked it. Room 1844 was nice size with plenty of storage. Perfect location for getting on and off ship at ports. Food was good at all restaraunts, but selection did not appeal to all of us. Entire staff that we dealt with were friendly and helpful. We love HAL and were not dissapointed at all on this cruise. Entertainment was just a tad off, we blame content not cast. Disembarking was the easiest ever experienced. Right off and out. Read Less
Sail Date June 2019
We booked this cruise at the last minute (just a few weeks before sailing) since I realized our three college-age daughters would be available for the week before starting summer jobs. We had two ocean-view cabins, which were midship and ... Read More
We booked this cruise at the last minute (just a few weeks before sailing) since I realized our three college-age daughters would be available for the week before starting summer jobs. We had two ocean-view cabins, which were midship and had a connecting door between the rooms. This was our first cruise on Holland America. It definitely was an older age group than we had sailed with on prior cruises, but that was OK for all of us. We are not party people or big drinkers, nor do we do a lot of group activities (such as bingo or trivia). So having the chance to see some new cities in New England and Canada was our main goal, while at the same time having some nice meals. The food in the main dining room was above average for a cruise line (our last cruise had been on Celebrity.) Two of our daughters are vegetarians, and they enjoyed having a separate menu of interesting items (in addition to the vegetarian items on the daily menu.) Our one item of contention in the main dining room was the inconsistency of service, both at breakfast and at dinner. Frankly, out of six nights, we only thought that our service was good once. The wait times seemed to be unexplainable for the most part (we did not have set dining times, but made reservations once we got on board). The specialty Italian restaurant was very good. We dined there one evening and both the food and service were very good. We also all thought that the buffet was a little nicer with a better selection than on Celebrity. The cabin itself was a little outdated, but it had a wonderful bathroom with the largest shower we have ever had on a cruise. My main complaint was the TV...it was tiny! It was difficult for us to see what was on TV. Also, along those lines, we were happy that movies were offered in a "theater", but actually it turned out that there was not even a big screen -- just two slightly larger TVs on each side of the room. While it may not be easy to replace all TVs in the cabins, certainly HM can buy a larger screen TV for the "theater"! The evening entertainment was nothing special--but it was something to do for the evening and gave us all something to talk about and critique (I do not mean this as a put down to HM because we have said the same thing about the entertainment on even higher end ships.) The real gem of an entertainer for my husband and me was Stryker the "piano man" in the piano bar. He was WONDERFUL. HM needs more seating in the piano bar. It was standing room only each night. Our daughters enjoyed the Test Kitchen presentations, and wished they would do one daily. It would have been nice if there had been some additional "game shows" or something at night in addition to the main theater shows for some of the "younger" people. And for Catholics who are considering HM, I need to tell you why we will be sailing with Holland America again: there was a priest on board who celebrated daily Mass. This was a wonderful benefit for us so that we did not need to figure out how to find a Catholic Church in one of the ports on Sunday. Keep up this practice, Holland America, and we will be back on board with you! Bar Harbor and Quebec were definitely our favorite ports. We scheduled a tour of Acadia National Park directly with the Park in advance via the internet (the bus was an easy walk from the port.) We also purchased a Hop on Hop Off bus tour of Quebec once we were in Quebec (there is a tour desk in the Fairmont Hotel lobby, which you will want to see anyway.) You can skip the Funicular up the hill in Quebec -- it truly was a waste of money. Halifax was a nice stop, and an easily walkable city. I must give a shoutout to Avis in Montreal We rented a car for our family to return to Boston in (an easy drive of about 7 hours with stops for lunch and ice cream). Avis was the only car rental agency that we found which would permit us to take a car across the border and leave it in Boston. And Avis sent a van to pick us up at the cruise port! The weather during the week was colder than we had hoped, but overall it was an enjoyable week on Holland America, even for our 20-something daughters who love to explore the world and have interesting food along the way. I would recommend Holland America and look forward to sailing again with them. Read Less
Sail Date May 2019
We wanted to sail from Ft. Lauderdale to Rome, and Holland America had two choices. We have always liked the Veendam because of its classic design and the quality of the service and the size of the Neptune Suites. There were no glitches ... Read More
We wanted to sail from Ft. Lauderdale to Rome, and Holland America had two choices. We have always liked the Veendam because of its classic design and the quality of the service and the size of the Neptune Suites. There were no glitches on embarkation and disembarkation. The lectures were informative and pleasing; the Kitchen at Sea was great as was the entertainment. We were the first passengers to enjoy the new carpets and the new chairs and the number of renovations on this ship! There will always be a place for these smaller ships in the industry. (1200 Passengers, but about 1000 on our crossing) the captain was all around the ship, available for questions, and very informative about the nuts and bolts of the ship and the navigaion. He was from Scotland and had the sense of humor, understated, and excellent rapport with his staff and of course the passengers! Read Less
Sail Date May 2019
We looked forward to this trip to the Martimes, Quebec and Montreal. Having found on previous cruises that HAL was more than careful with their passengers comfort and the quality of offerings, we had no worries about the weather in the ... Read More
We looked forward to this trip to the Martimes, Quebec and Montreal. Having found on previous cruises that HAL was more than careful with their passengers comfort and the quality of offerings, we had no worries about the weather in the spring. We were disillusioned quickly. The meals in the main dining room were forgettable including tough steaks, compounded by slow service, cold hot dishes on the Lido, inadequate preparation for specialities on the Lido (people waited in line for more than 20 minutes on New England Dinner night only to receive a skimpy plain skinny lobster piece on a cool bun.) And then there was no heat. Speaking to the crew resulted in a " we'll look into it ". Our cabin thermostat was turned up full, and we froze. Passengers wore their parkas and coats to read in the Explorations Lounge. Finally, on day 3 or 4, there was central heat, and we were comfortable indoors! The entire tenor of life on board felt like this was an exercise to train new crew or retire departing crew. Not even close to our expectations, but for one or two crew members who could not make up for what appeared to be management level indifference. We have a December booking. If HAL performs this way again, we will go back to Celebrity or move on ... Read Less
Sail Date April 2019
OVERVIEW I usually cruise on luxury lines like Seabourn (SB), either solo or with DH, but a cruise I had booked got cancelled short notice. I was in cruise withdrawal and determined to use the time off I had arranged to cruise. Four ... Read More
OVERVIEW I usually cruise on luxury lines like Seabourn (SB), either solo or with DH, but a cruise I had booked got cancelled short notice. I was in cruise withdrawal and determined to use the time off I had arranged to cruise. Four years ago I had surprisingly enjoyed a HAL cruise to Alaska in a Neptune suite on a large group themed cruise, so thought I would try HAL again, this time as a solo in a vista ( basic balcony) cabin, and with no group to bias my experience. The HAL website price for a vista cabin ( private balcony and bathroom with a jacuzzi bathtub, which I greatly value) seemed fine per diem, especially for a solo, $2200 for one week, ( though non- nclusive), compared with 2-3x that for a luxury line solo offering ( “inclusive” of beverages, i.e., fancy coffees, basic wines and cocktails). I embarked in Boston after enjoying two cold and wet days there seeing sites and eating great food (had brought two umbrellas, in case one broke :). This was a cold weather cruise, 40’s with icy wind, ( some unmelted snow was piled up in parts of Quebec City) . In hindsight, it was a bit too early in the season to best enjoy this area but fortunately most days were clear. It was a lot like northern CA, though colder, and also like Alaska, but without as much dramatic scenery. The beauty here is more subtle. Ports visited included Bar Harbor ( lovely for walks and fresh seafood ) , Halifax ,Sydney,Charlottetown ( Anne of Green Gables fame) Quebec City, and Montreal. Quebec City and Montreal are a bit like going to France, but closer, cheaper, and people don’t mind if you speak English or broken French. The old and new contrasts, history, and great food make this area must-see, at least once, be it on a cruise or land tour. The cruise was supposed to end in Montreal but the river had high water, so we had to disembark in Quebec City and got bused to Montreal, ( three hours on a crowded old bus with torn and non-reclining cramped seats, but we got there). Overall despite some service problems I enjoyed myself and am glad I went, but have to rate the cruise around 3.4, so round down to a 3, even after adjusting for the costs. I had expected MDR and Lido food and service quality differences compared with SB, and there were plenty, though they had not been obvious to me on my 2015 HAL cruise where I was happy. I was impressed with the efficient cabin layout and comfort ( it reminded me of the small balcony suites on Crystal but here there was a bigger balcony, better closet space, and a more comfortable sofa).The main issue of concern was the indifferent or annoying service attitude by too many crew, on top of obvious understaffing ( see below). GENERAL AMBIENCE The ship holds 1400 pax and about 500 crew, ( higher ratio than on SB, and it showed). It seemed pretty full but other than on the main deck and Lido, was quiet at night with few rowdy partiers. Public sitting areas are a bit old-fashioned in style but I loved them, they were wonderfully comfortable for my muscles and bones, nicer for me than on SB, with soft couches and padded, high backed chairs in most venues. Pax were mostly seniors, with quite a few superseniors, only a few kids ( note there is a separate kids and teen area) , some extended families, a few solos. Unlike SB which caters to (on average) an affluent and/or special occasion splurge crowd, people on this short cruise generally appeared to be more budget conscious middle class vacationers ( nased on overheard conversations). Pax were primarily from the U.S. ( and by accents, many were from the northeastern U.S. which had convenient embarkation, Canada, some from Mexico, a few from Germany, and Australia. Some pax were Chinese-speaking. The good-sized casino was usually busy, and though I overheard frequent discussions amongst pax about pricing, discounts, sales, budgets, and deals, and the shops were large, there were thankfully very few overhead announcements, and no hard sells on merchandise. There was photography service, but it was subtle. Oddly, there also seemed to be ( compared with other cruises) a disproportionate number of couples who tended to argue with each other, (perhaps they were on a first cruise, as this was only seven days and cruising turned out not suitable for them).The average Body Mass Index was clearly higher than on SB, for whatever reason, which created a bit of a problem on the tight and packed excursion buses in that as a solo, I got to share more personal space and body parts with males next to me than I would have preferred ( especially when people were sneezing or sweating). If I cruise HAL again, I will absolutely avoid the crowded bus excursions. Luxury lines usually limit the number of people on buses, so pax can spread out more, but then pax pay more up front even (if the excursions are similar in price, as they use comparable vendors). DRESS Casual. “Elegant Casual” officially at dinner for MDR. But even on the two “gala nights,” many people preferred the same jeans and sneakers they wore during the day, even in MDR (allowed) while others dressed up in something prettier. Waiters were in waiter black, however. The most common MDR evening and show male attire was mid-way, non-jeans comfortable trousers and a simple collared shirt. A man in front of me at a show, however, had on gray sweat pants like from a gym, which fell down below his buttocks when he got up. I had an unavoidable view of them before he hitched them up and was on his way. Many people wore T shirts, caps, and sweatshirts with logos or messages on them. If you are looking for a special ambience to match a special evening on a special trip, or enjoy looking at creative special outfits as part of the evening cruise scenery, this was not the cruise to be on. Many people love an anything-goes dress style these days (I am from CA so I know), and even on luxury lines the trend is towards more and more casual and requiring less care and attention, but so far waiters are still dressed up, which I found especially odd on this cruise. FOOD AND BEVERAGES You can pick open seating or fixed seating for dinner ( early or late), share or not share . I joined communal tables twice, once for tea and once for dinner, that was enough as I really did not want to risk hearing more one-sided political monologues within five minutes of sitting down to dine, much less hear lore about cannibalism. Maybe I was just unlucky this cruise, but I was definitely not in synch with the tablemates I tried. So I mostly dined solo, which was not a problem except for the fact that food area crew young enough to be my grandkids automatically addressed me by my first name, repeatedly, without permission. I was told by a senior crew member that they are taught in Holland training to address pax by last name unless instructed otherwise, but many probably assume American women like to be first named by crew they do not know to create a (false) sense of friendliness, but I do not, many do not (overheard), and neither do most older Europeans. In contrast, SB does not first name pax without permission. I did not have the first-naming experience in 2015. Food and beverages offered were abundant and variable in quality, with some outstanding dishes in the upcharged specialty restaurants ( steak tatar and dover sole in the Pinnacle Grill on the french themed night was even better than at the Thomas Keller grill on SB). The Lido cafeteria also regularly offered fresh hearty farmers bread which I loved, and is hard to get on SB ( unfortunately there were only sad and limited meats and cheeses to put on the wonderful hearty bread on this cruise. So this was not a ship for people who like European breakfasts with interesting cold meats and cheeses. There were omelette stations, pasta stations, and grill stations, some pre-made entrees at dinner, or crew would grill a steak. There was not much in the way of interesting salads, but there was some greenery, and vegetables in MDR and specialty venues were well-prepared. Canoletti, the Italian specialty venue ($15 upcharge) had great gourmet food but irritating invasive service and ambience at a late dinner. Six crew people, within ten minutes, asked me how my food was (of course using my first name), usually right after I had filled my mouth with food, one even looked over my shoulder at my ipad messages and asked what I was reading, presumably to make conversation. But they then ignored me when I stated the only thing I did not like about my meal was the loud screeching rock music in the background playing songs with lyrics like “ I want to get away, yeah, yeah, yeah”. So I did, and did not come back. The restaurant manager had come over but all he was interested in is going through the motions to have me tell him everything was great. His tone changed when I mentioned the music, and he said he would check with his “production manager” , then disappeared. The $38 surcharge ( more on French night) dining area Pinnacle Grill was easy to get into and was a true fine dining experience. I should have eaten here every night. Breakfast in the quiet MDR was available 7:30-9, but I am not a big sit down breakfast eater unless there is something special. I ate early local lunches mostly off the ship, so my food disappointments were mostly in the MDR and Lido cafeteria style area at dinner. Room service choices were limited without upcharge but met my needs, e.g., , continental breakfast was fine, including two fluffy small pastries, no food wastage. In hindsight, if not dining in the Pinnacle Grill, just getting a burger to my balcony room for dinner would have been better than dining in the Lido cafeteria buffet or MDR ( note there is upcharge for a better room service burger or hot dog , but you can get a basic one free) . Neptune Suite guests can breakfast in Pinnacle Grill, as I did three years ago on another HAL ship, and they have a separate small snacking and drinking area accessed by key cards, with a dedicated concierge. There is a decent wine list on board with a wide range of price options, so I was happy enough with that. However, wines were marked up 2-3x from retail, that is just part of HAL business strategy. The couple sommeliers I dealt with seemed a bit unhappy and did not add much to my wine pairing ideas, and did not seem to enjoy their jobs, maybe they were just tired. Note you can bring one free bottle of wine per person on board with you. Fee is $18 corkage if not drunk in your room, same for more than one per person or if purchased at ports, unless part of a wine tour ( there were lots of packages and rules to get discounts that I did not bother to learn but would if cruising HAL more). There is also a coffee bar that opens at 7 am , charges $6 or so for a cappuccino style drink in a paper cup. Room service coffee was surprisingly drinkable and arrived when requested. I actually had better room service consistency here than on SB, ( everything ordered came, as expected, at correct temperature, and on time) but they are not set up for customization, unusual requests or big selection options like SB is. You can get vegetarian and gluten free, however, and other health food accomodations reportedly can be made. “ Orange juice” was unfortunately a thin diluted substance that tasted like Tang so I stuck with cranberry. Bacon in the Lido I tried once was perfectly crispy, and they do basic American style breakfast food just fine if you like that, many pax do. Desserts were not very interesting or worth expending calorie budgets on even in specialty areas. Ice cream was bland, sorbet worse. Salad choices were minimal as was fruit variety ( every time I had the room service continental breakfast it had nice watermelon, which I fortunately love, and a few berries, which I also enjoy, yoghurt, and two mini-danish, perfect). Apples and oranges were available, berries not so much. No fruit was brought to my room, but there was a bowl, presumably you can ask for it. Bartenders varied , from excellent at the beautiful but cold water ( 81 F) aft pool and kidless Sea View lounging area, to friendly, or sullen and borderline rude at times elsewhere . I had ordered a $7.50 spanish coffee in the Crows Nest bar which is supposed to come with whipped cream. It arrived without whipped cream ( that is the key part of the drink!) and the bartender just shrugged, said he was out of whipped cream ( not even squirt top or cool whip)and did not even try to apologize. It would have been nice to be warned as I would not have ordered it without the whipped cream . He then unhappily offered me unwhipped cream, which made the coffee lukewarm. A German couple nearby immediately left when they heard there was no whipped cream ( they understood the problem!). :) Drinks in the Ocean Bar, however, were lovely, and one day during “Happy Hour” included a delicious asparagus mousse canape I engulfed, and a smoked sausage that I would have liked on the farmers bread buffet. Tipping is included, as aa 15% service charge automatically added on to beverages and other charged extra services , plus I had a $16/day hotel service charge. So there may have been little incentive to do more if crew sensed I was not a regular and not likely to fuss. The crew quality variability I experienced was striking. Fortunately no one stuck their hands out for extra tips. You can remove the charge if you complain about bad service, but most pax are apparently happy and do not. MDR was closed for lunch every day, only Lido and Dive-In burger stand were open, so there was no quiet table service option. I was off the ship anyway at lunch seeking out local cuisine, except on the sea day, but it would have been disappointing on a cruise with many sea days not to be able to have a quiet full service lunch, DH and I greatly enjoyed those on luxury lines. SERVICE I had frequent English communication issues with both the cabin team and non-Pinnacle dining area crew (mostly Filipino or other Asian personnel) more than on the sister luxury line SB. With one exception, several guest services crew were indifferent to sullen with me, maybe because I reported problems and did not just automatically reply that everything was great. A surprisingly common theme everywhere was annoyance at polite negative feedback with constructive criticism I offered. For example, when I noticed that the Gala menu I was handed was covered with food and grease spots, after I ordered ,I quietly pointed it out to the waiter and suggested he tell his team to clean it before the next guest. He acted perturbed and just shoved it back into the pile of clean menus. There was also a tendency not to apologize for anything that was broken or an error, ( exceptions) and to either get defensive, dodge the issue, ignore me, try and bluff a way out by pretending I don’t understand technology ( a common phenomenon in my solo female travels even on luxury lines or hotels) or otherwise avoid resolving the problem, and frankly act like low level government employees, secure in their positions. As the world gets more affluent, it is getting harder to get good crew without paying more and more, so it likely takes a lot for a crew member to be let go. EX: The second time a waitress swooped in and hurriedly topped off my (separately paid for )sparkling water with regular water, I politely asked her to be careful and not mix them. She denied having mixed, and argued with me that she had not. I calmly told her she had indeed mixed them up , I just wanted to let her know, since she asked how my meal was, to improve. She did not apologize, but then decided to bring me a new bottle of sparkling, even though I was not asking for free stuff, I was just trying to help avoid the same problem. ENTERTAINMENT I repeatedly enjoyed the Adagio piano and violin duo which sometimes included classical music, though they were not world class musicians. A bar pianist ( Stryker) in MIX bar was also a crowd pleaser. In room TV service was mediocre to bad (for this day and age) ,small poorly positioned screen , fuzzy, only two music options ( Musaak and Musaak), you cannot go directly to a channel of choice, and have to scroll through all channels including blank ones . There are no on demand in room movies ( have to call for a Dvd from front desk, from a non descriptive list, but then after delays it turned out I had a broken DVD player ). There were protracted service comedies trying to get anything fixed. Other tech also did not go well. The HAL website is not user friendly, and the morning of my cruise when I logged on to see if the ship was in port, the website erroneously told me my ship had already sailed! This created some needless anxiety, as did the later failure to accurately scan my room card during the muster, resulting in a written warning I would be disembarked for alleged failure to do muster ( no call or knock on door) though I had done it, attentively, and been scanned. SB, a five-start line per Berlitz, also has a poor website, so HAL is not alone ( both run by Carnival). There were two stage performances in one week with four singers and six dancers, one called Classique ( had loud piped in music that drowned out a lone violin player) , the other was called Variations ( with a small live band). The costumes and young bodies were nice to look at but both shows lacked coherence. Everything was overly dramatized which made nothing dramatic, and always passionate which made nothing passionate. Focus was on old saccharin love songs, some Broadway tunes, but it was hard to suspend reality when the singer microphones were very big and obvious and glued with visible tape to the singers’ cheeks. If you cruise for shows, there are better options. Other ship entertainment options were the usual puzzles, yoga ( fee), board games, trivia, basketball court ( brrr), gym, spa, an Oprah book club discussion, big screen movie options including a story about Ruth Bader Ginsburg cases, a library, shuffleboard. Crows Nest, the high forward observation bar, had recliner chairs which were very, very popular for lounging, especially on the sea day. There were also performances by a ventriloquist ( lame) and an illusionist ( better but long-winded). Shows on SB Odyssey, a much smaller ship with a smaller cast, were to my taste much better just a few months ago. CABIN I was happy with the vista “suite”, ( no suite lounge privileges, however, just a room with areas) except for the archaic and broken TV and DVD system. Only 225 square feet , but with a balcony, all nicely arranged, big bed ( a bit hard, so I got a topper), soft linens, long sofa, lots of storage, fridge with a fee minibar, and a cozy solo jacuzzi tub (shower above it), one sink, lots of closet space. Only one electrical outlet. All the fluffy towels I wanted were provided as were six pillows on a bed designed for two. A Bible was in a drawer. You can get your shoes shined. Cruise information was well laid out though some of it had seen many fingers. Overall it was clean enough, except for a dirty remote, a greasy DVD information cover, and corner dust accumulations. A lot of the ship areas could have used a good scrubbing, more frequent public toilet servicing, and more touchup paint, which would take more labor, but overall at least the visible parts were adequately clean for hygienic purposes. The Do Not Disturb sign was always respected. Cabin was made up quickly every morning and evening. Towel animals came, some cute, some just looked like someone forgot a cleaning towel on the bed. Laundry service was wonderful and timely, reasonable pricing for an “unlimited” plan. Internet was — well, ship internet quality, even with the upgraded plan, unreliable and variable, like on all ships including SB, but good enough to get some work done and to prevent pax insurrections. I used my LTE in ports for major internet. ENRICHMENT An excursion rep gave short but helpful talks about ports. I wished they were longer. There was not very much about the history, so I read on my own. There is a library, plus your internet for this. PORTS PORTS Bar Harbor This was a great walking around DIY town, though we did need to tender to it. Along the shore from port is a 45 minute walk. I had “lazy lobster” ( shelled, drawn butter) at the unlikely fun Route 66 restaurant, with comfortable booths, 50’s memorabilia, and home made fries, not frozen. The ladies’ room was demarcated with a frilly pink prom dress, mens with Castrol, so feminists beware. There are fun shops, historic little buildings, and excursion options to Acadia National Park ( I suggest doing it independently as I had done in the past, so as to savor) and other scenic areas. Halifax A larger city, and though there are things to do in town, but best is to travel outside. You have to take a short shuttle ride from the ship to the terminal, people lined up. I did a packed ship’s excursion to Peggy’s Cove, Lunenberg, and Mahone. The restaurant at Peggy’s , Sou’est, had wonderful seafood and great service in a stunning setting, is a lot like northern CA. Lunenberg is a cute town with Germanic history and a sad memorial to hundreds of local men who died at sea, but most venues were closed, as it was too early in the season. It would be lovely in warmer weather and independently. Mahone did not have enough to justify a 50 minute stop. Sydney Not much to do near port in this blue collar town trying to become a chic international cruise port. There is a giant fiddle at the terminal. Irish Triangle nearby had good lobster, and an Irish coffee with cream :). I had pre-researched this town and took a cab two miles with a colorful local to a hidden nature area, Baille Ard, ( good instructions on Internet on how to get there) walked along a stream, snacked on a scenically located bench, then walked back to town. This is a great place to have a calm picnic and get some exercise, 3 km loop, or mix it up. It was junk pickup day, with some interesting Canadain junk set out in front of modest unfenced homes, like a lobster trap, a bidet, and pieces of an old canoe. Excursions out of town into nature were available through HAL, that is where most people went. Charlottetown Great for walking and quality shopping in town but a main attraction is the Anne of Green Gables museum. My excursion had been cancelled, so I did a substitute afternoon crowded Island Tour and museum excursion. The best part is the woods behind the house, there is a 40 minute scenic loop, and there are picnic tables, beautiful, but the guided did not tell people about them. So pax complained the one hour stop was too long, I thought it was too short as I wanted to walk more. Best to come here on your own. Quebec City French is the main language, easy to tour on your own or jump on a hop on type bus. Many great food options, shops, history. We spent the night here as could not sail on to Montreal. DISEMBARKATION, QUEBEC CITY, BUS TO MONTREAL Done efficiently, by group, no long lines at port. There were some pax on the bus back who complained about unloading delays when we got to the cruise terminal in Montreal, which were not HAL’s fault, e.g., yelling at the bus driver, “What’s the game plan?” People lined up in a long taxi line, I called an Ueber, which arrived within 10 minutes and was on my way to my hotel for a couple days enjoying wonderful Montreal. CONCLUSION: I enjoyed my vacation overall, the ports, and my good value vista balcony cabin, the Sea View pool area, and the Pinnacle Grill. I did not care for most of the entertainment, and did not like how service problems were handled. I despised the crowded buses. I also did not like crew familiarity, e.g., automatic first-naming me. Even though there are also issues on luxury lines, there is an expectation there that they will be dealt with, and they are, here they often were not (they simply have less staffing, because they are cheaper). The passenger mix and style here was also annoying at times, and the general ambience was less than inspiring or elegant. But it may be different on longer HAL cruises with more experienced cruisers on board. The price was definitely low, especially for a solo, a major benefit.. I would consider HAL again, especially with DH, on a port intense good itinerary (they have many), but would focus on Pinnacle dinner dining as much as possible, and private excursions. Meanwhile I will continue to to seek out higher rated lines as a first choice (HAL is rated 3 start by Berlitz). Read Less
Sail Date April 2019
Like the maritime provinces and wanted to see more. Embarkation was somewhat disorganized; we arrived in Boston on a redeye at 7:30 am but couldn't board until 11:00 am. Spent most of this time on folding chairs. Enjoyed room ... Read More
Like the maritime provinces and wanted to see more. Embarkation was somewhat disorganized; we arrived in Boston on a redeye at 7:30 am but couldn't board until 11:00 am. Spent most of this time on folding chairs. Enjoyed room service breakfast EVERY MORNING! My husband went early to Lido Deck each morning for his favorite SMOKED SALMON! Puff pastry sweet rolls every morning, also! Lido Deck pool area was great, 2 hot tubs and pool 81 degrees F. Never too crowded. I sat at a table for lunch occasionally; taco bar/hamburger/french fries stand open until 5pm. Service was exemplary. Sometimes a bit too obsequious, but staff were very well trained. Magician show and ventriloquist shows were very, very funny. Disappointed that the organ recital was recorded; thought there would be an actual organist (was not made clear). Met some interesting Canadians on the cruise who were familiar with the area, but still enjoyed the cruise!! Read Less
Sail Date April 2019
Ships this size can go all the way to Montreal, some of the big ships can only go as far as Quebec City. See also separate text of itinerary. We anticipated seeing more of the land on either side of the St. Lawrence and were ... Read More
Ships this size can go all the way to Montreal, some of the big ships can only go as far as Quebec City. See also separate text of itinerary. We anticipated seeing more of the land on either side of the St. Lawrence and were disappointed. The cruising day (Oct. 11) we barely saw any land to the starboard side. And that was at a distance. Friday (Oct. 12) was spent in Quebec City until 5:00pm. We only saw shore on either side for 2 hours as it got dark at 7:00pm. Ship was older but in very good repair and the food was very good too. Service from cabin steward to bar tenders was top notch! The drawback for me was the fact that the average passenger age appeared to be close to 80 years! Lots of rolling walkers (some double wide!), canes, sticks, wheelchairs, and electric scooters. The wheelchair and scooter users were OK, the others had difficulty navigating and slowed things down. Also they all wanted to eat at the same time so the dining room wait time was bad. We went to the casual restaurant the first night and that worked. BUT, it appeared that many passengers had made dinner reservations in the main dining room before getting on the ship. We had never encountered that before ( 4 previous cruises with HAL) and struggled a bit to make ourselves happy with dining choices. We ate at the Pinnacle restaurant 2 nights and one lunch and that was most enjoyable. Entertainment was poor on this cruise. Two nights of a comedian and one night of the BBC Planet Earth movie with live orchestra. Hey, I saw that on TV last year -- not live orchestra in my living room, but orchestral sound track. Other nights were equally memorable. Piano bar was good and a chamber music trio also available most nights. Read Less
Sail Date October 2018
Our 3rd cruise to the maritime provinces, we booked this on a last minute fare. HAL clearly appeals to a senior clientele and we now meet that criterion. The Veendam is a small ship (1300 pass) but it just felt nice. This was one of our ... Read More
Our 3rd cruise to the maritime provinces, we booked this on a last minute fare. HAL clearly appeals to a senior clientele and we now meet that criterion. The Veendam is a small ship (1300 pass) but it just felt nice. This was one of our favorites in 20 + cruises. The senior vibe means quieter and more relaxed (no constant calypso music), but for a small ship the food was excellent and the entertainment surprisingly good. Crew excellent all around. The Lido cafeteria had an excellent selection and the Pinnacle Grille ($$) was also very good but I'd skip the ($) Italian specialty restaurant if I go on HAL again. Regular dining was surprisingly good, particularly after out recent disappointments on RCCL and Norwegian. The thing that to us makes this special is that the ports are all are all nice, clean and visitor friendly, with mostly nice fall weather (not much color, though,) . A trip to Peggy's Cove (out of Halifax) was unique and a must for those who don't live near the ocean, and Quebec City is a nice bit of Europe unmatched by any port in the US. Not much in Sydney,; Bar Harbor feels nice. Had to skip Charlottetown due to weather, but have been there before and it too is special. Next to Alaska - which has similar unique ports,- these are just great. Highly recommended for those looking for something different in the fall. , Read Less
Sail Date September 2018
Holland America Rotterdam is 20 years old and looks and feels like it! The furniture in the common area rooms were worn and need to be replaced. I noticed the seams in the carpeting material covering the step next to the windows in the ... Read More
Holland America Rotterdam is 20 years old and looks and feels like it! The furniture in the common area rooms were worn and need to be replaced. I noticed the seams in the carpeting material covering the step next to the windows in the buffet dining area were coming apart and no one attended to it during the 7 days of our New England Cruise. Upon reading other reviews, I find that the Rotterdam was recently refurbished...VERY POOR JOB! This ship is NOT being maintained in the proper manner for the comfort and value of it's passengers! I also noticed that there was rust on our veranda. The windows of our "suite", the material used for the balcony view and the buffet and common area (library, game room, etc.) windows were dirty from the day we boarded the ship until the day before we disembarked. We had late seating in the dining room so it was too dark to tell what the condition of the lovely picture windows were there. We spent our cruise looking out VERY dirty, gray windows! We also feel the the Vista "Suite" for which we paid an additional fee, was NOT a suite...it was VERY small. I noticed that a similar review was entered by dhshultz and, in fact, this was verified by Guest Services who told reviewer dhshultz that it was actually a "stateroom". The cabin attendants were excellent and the buffet and staff were always VERY attentive and pleasant and efficient. The dining room staff performed their services very efficiently and in a timely manner. I have nothing but praise for the staff of the Rotterdam... Read Less
Sail Date September 2018
This was our first trip on Holland America. We have traveled on Princess, Viking and Royal Caribbean. Holland America provided us with a lovely vacation and we would find it hard to rank order the ships. We enjoyed some more due to the ... Read More
This was our first trip on Holland America. We have traveled on Princess, Viking and Royal Caribbean. Holland America provided us with a lovely vacation and we would find it hard to rank order the ships. We enjoyed some more due to the destinations but the ships were each lovely in their own way. The Rotterdam is an older ship with many nice surprises. The stateroom was very comfortable and there is a good amount of closet and drawer space. I also think the ship is very stable in rough seas. It seemed to me that there was very little rocking in heavy winds when they used their stabilizers. The shows and movies were wonderful. Rondell Sheridan had us rolling with laughter. Enjoyed the many spots to have a drink as well as the casino. We were not able to stop at Prince Edward Island. But Bar Harbor and Quebec were wonderful. Now I must say the best part of the trip was the food and the service. We actually did not eat in any of specialty restaurants because we thought the food was fabulous in the regular dinning room. Read Less
Sail Date September 2018
Entertainment is for 90 yo people mostly. I think we are not the target demographic for this cruise ( mid 30s ). There was nothing to do after 9 PM. "Music Hits" in the bar were 1910's hits lol. Spectacular ... Read More
Entertainment is for 90 yo people mostly. I think we are not the target demographic for this cruise ( mid 30s ). There was nothing to do after 9 PM. "Music Hits" in the bar were 1910's hits lol. Spectacular scenery, really beautiful ports ( even with the tendering process which is a pain), amazing service. It is just that the entertainment, shows and bars were really weak ( or not made for my age group). Some examples of entertainment: - Learn to use windows (???) - cookie baking (really?) - how to use cortana ( OMG, kill meeeee) It seems my grandma would have a great time with the entertainment, not for me. Dining in the MDR was awesome, but too slow to my taste, budget at least 2 hours for dining in the MDR. Lido buffet was okay, quick and easy, but okay in terms of food quality ( its buffet food after all ). The hamburguer joint by the pool was nice, I had a few "cannonballs" in there. Read Less
Sail Date September 2018
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