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14 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2016
Absolutely fantastic!! We love HAL. Everything was exceptional - organized embarkation was very fast, ports of call were great, service was exceptional, all activities and meals were all fantastic, and we can't say enough great ... Read More
Absolutely fantastic!! We love HAL. Everything was exceptional - organized embarkation was very fast, ports of call were great, service was exceptional, all activities and meals were all fantastic, and we can't say enough great things about the exceptional staff. Can't think of enough stellar words to describe all the great things about HAL. Just booked our next cruise on HAL!! The staff on any HAL ship makes your cruise experience absolutely wonderful. No request is too small, no issue is too big to be handled immediately, The staff are always smiling and sometimes singing! The whole vibe of being on a HAL ship makes one feel relaxed and happy in one's soul. And THAT is what cruising is all about. Highly recommend anyone thinking about cruising to book on HAL. You'll be hooked! Have taken other cruises and all HAL cruises are comparable to the one Cunard voyage I took years ago. Truly can't think of another cruise line that offers the fantastic experience that HAL does. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2015
The land tour (8 days with HAL) was awesome and exceeded our expectations, Anchorage/Denali/Fairbanks/Dawson City/ whitehorse/ Skagway but the sea part to Vancouver was not fun. I would not cruise with HAL on their ships again. 1. ... Read More
The land tour (8 days with HAL) was awesome and exceeded our expectations, Anchorage/Denali/Fairbanks/Dawson City/ whitehorse/ Skagway but the sea part to Vancouver was not fun. I would not cruise with HAL on their ships again. 1. Indonesian and Filipino staff have poor English comprehension - a big problem in the case of an emergency (Costa Concordia). They try hard, but lack English language skill. 2. Customer service at the front desk is very poor. The worst of any cruise ship we have seen. 3. Overall Poor maintenance - the ship is WAY overdue for a major refurbishment Below are my comments on the HAL follow up survey: As an experienced cruiser (35+ cruises) , I can say this Volendam cruise was absolutely the worst cruise that we have ever been on. My wife and I are NOT chronic complainers, we are not demanding - but we expect a decent cruise experience. The experience started on Saturday 6/27 when (dead tired) we flopped down in our cabin at 2:00 to take a nap. The room was cold (62.4F to be exact 16C). I awoke at 4:30PM with the sniffles (had a cough for the rest of the cruise) and tried to turn the temperature up. It did not respond. We called the hotel desk at 5:00PM and they said that they would "send a technician to our cabin' - #1939. No response - at 5:25 I called again. This time the hotel sent a clerk to check the temp which he confirmed at 16C. Then we went to dinner and the show. Back in the room at 9:45 and still cold at 16C. This time we went to the desk and asked to be shifted to another room. The staff person refused. Told us to sit and wait a while while the same desk clerk rechecked the temperature. Sick of waiting, we went down to the room. Finally a tech came at about 10:30 and reset the control unit. It continued to operate imperfectly for the next three days. Day two - no water was running in the sink or toilet from 6:00-7:00AM - the toilet packed up after a BM at 8:00AM. Afraid to use the room toilet for the next three days, my wife and I did all of our necessities in the public rest rooms which were also operating imperfectly. After a terrific (yes, I said terrific) land tour (8 days) we were of a mindset for a good sea experience. If the staff had given us another room, all would have probably been fine and the cold room would have been forgotten. Lord forgive them if they had needed to upgrade us to a higher level (sic). Might have cost HAL $20. But with the bad temperature controller, and the defective toilet, we were set up for a negative experience. The food was so so and the entertainment was ok, but our room experience was terrible. We also also became much more critical of the ship. After an 11:00PM general emergency alarm due to a bad pulley in a cabinet that was emitting smoke, it became evident to us that the Volendam needs to be taken from service and gone over with a fine tooth comb. The systems are in desperate need of proper maintenance and a good deep cleaning program. The sewer system, the mechanical systems, and the guest ventilation systems. Somebody threw up in the aft promenade deck vestibule early on in the cruise and the vomit smell was there till we left the ship. Poor maintenance in general. It is VERY doubtful that we will cruise with HAL for a third cruise. Princess and Celebrity have much higher standards and do not cost that much more. Many of the staff are great and went out of their way to serve us. These include the cabin steward, the bar staff, and the waiters. The front office delivers very poor customer service despite the phalanx of awards on the board. The English proficiency of the staff is a big problem. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2014
We chose this one-night cruise on the Westerdam in order to get from Seattle to Vancouver to board a longer cruise the next day. It was a fantastic experience. I had read some negative things about one-night cruises before, but none of ... Read More
We chose this one-night cruise on the Westerdam in order to get from Seattle to Vancouver to board a longer cruise the next day. It was a fantastic experience. I had read some negative things about one-night cruises before, but none of that applied here. The staff was friendly and attentive, the food was excellent, the ship was elegant and pristinely clean. The only unexpected thing was that they didn't do luggage check service since the cruise was so short. Most people only brought overnight bags, so I can certainly understand why. We had more luggage since we were continuing on in our travels, but we were able to manage just fine. I thought I would mention it so that others would know what to expect. We enjoyed every moment on board and hated to disembark the next morning! Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2014
Wonderful re-positioning cruise from Vancouver to San Diego, stopping at San Fran and Catalina Island. First cruise for me, although my traveling companion had made several cruises on HAL with her late mother. Best thing overall was that ... Read More
Wonderful re-positioning cruise from Vancouver to San Diego, stopping at San Fran and Catalina Island. First cruise for me, although my traveling companion had made several cruises on HAL with her late mother. Best thing overall was that we were extremely lucky with the weather. Sail out day from Vancouver was glorious, had a bit of rain overnight but the rest of the trip was incredible. Thanks to the cruise gods! Sailing under the Golden Gate Bridge without a cloud in the sky was quite an experience. Even the crew members who weren't on duty, were on deck enjoying the experience. Embarkation was interesting - there were 3 HAL ships docked all leaving the same afternoon. The logistics to dock 3 ships, discharge passengers and luggage, restock everything and load up the new travelers in one day is mind boggling. It did take a while to get onboard, perhaps almost 90 minutes but HAL had hired a lot of older, presumably retired people who were along at every step of the way. They were all helpful and pleasant; HAL had organized chairs along the way to allow people to sit rather than stand (very helpful given the general age of the travelers.) We boarded relatively early; it's certainly possible that with 6000 people boarding onto 3 ships, wait times might have been longer for those who came later. I thought the food and service in the MDL was quite good with lots of interesting choices. Other than breakfast, we never ate at the Lido. Since we didn't eat there, perhaps we are not being fair but the lunch and dinners there looked a bit pathetic. Sort of looked like a high school cafeteria. Before the cruise, we had booked at the premium restaurant, the Pinnacle, and we started rethinking that, wondering why pay a premium when the MDL was very good. Well, it was worth it, the dinner at the Pinnacle was excellent. Reading other reviews, especially on Princess ships, I thought we were going to be bombarded with tacky sales pitches, kind of like time shares. In fact, this was never a problem. They announced each morning things like the art auction, talks about upcoming cruises, jewelery shows and that was it. If you were interested (and it looked like a lot of people enjoyed the art auctions), you could go. If you didn't no pressure at all. Staff was very pleasant; didn't see our room steward very much although he was exceptionally nice when we did. We rather felt like we had a cabin elf - we would leave the room and it would magically be cleaned upon our return. Cabin was very nice with a very comfortable bed. I have seen some complaints that the shower stall is small, and it is but given there also is a full sized tub, it wasn't an issue for us. I realize that cruises are pitched to different age groups and HAL tends to be an older crowd. We're in our late 50's and we brought down the average age. There were lots of older people, many with walkers or wheelchairs and almost no kids at all. Not a problem for us; it seems that the staff were very attentive to the senior citizens and were very accommodating. Good to know if you are in the senior citizen bracket and worry about getting around on the ship. One bit of strangeness: you are allowed to bring on one bottle of wine per person. Not being experienced, we thought that wine and drinks would be very expensive on the ship so we brought our two wine bottles. It was very strange when embarking. They asked you if you had any liquor and if so, to show it to them. I guess they must believe in the honor system. They diligently wrote down the kind of wine, the maker, the year, etc. And then nothing was ever heard about it again. I'm sure there was some reason for doing this but I have no clue. But then it turns out that the wine and drink prices on board are actually pretty reasonable and given the tax in Vancouver on liquor and wine, you really didn't save much money anyway. Disembarkation in San Diego was also easy. We docked at 7am but fortunately you could pick your time to depart. Some people, perhaps catching early flights wanted to get off first but others, like us, were in no hurry and could stay as late as 9:30, It only took a little while to leave the ship, collect the luggage and clear customs. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2013
We arrived at Canada Place at 11:00am, went through security, and checked in with no issues. This took approx. 20 mins. We were hoping to get right on the ship as we have done in the past. We had to wait till about 11:40 before they ... Read More
We arrived at Canada Place at 11:00am, went through security, and checked in with no issues. This took approx. 20 mins. We were hoping to get right on the ship as we have done in the past. We had to wait till about 11:40 before they started to board. During check in, she told us that the repeaters lunch would be in the Fontaine dining room starting at 11:30am and would go until 1:30pm. We much prefer a nice sit down lunch to the chaos in the Lido. When boarding started we were one of the first ones on as we had booked a Deluxe Verandah Suite. The pursers were directing us to the Lido (8th floor) We told him we were going to the repeaters lunch. He responded by saying there in fact was no repeaters lunch and again told us to go to the Lido. Not quite believing him, we found our way to the dining room to see for ourselves and indeed, they were serving lunch. Sat down and had a wonderful lunch of shrimp cocktail, cream of broccoli soup and grilled salmon.After lunch we headed to our suite. Stateroom 7052. It was wonderful. Sitting area, large balcony, king sized bed and pull out couch. Nice sized dressing room w/sink, closets and separate bathroom with a shower. We had fresh flowers in the room and a bottle of champagne from the captain. We headed to the Neptune Lounge where they were serving champagne for disembarkation. We really liked the lounge as they had a concierge, all day snacks, mini sandwiches, cookies, wonderful coffee machine, hot tea, water, ice tea, and cranberry juice always available for those on the Suite/Penthouse level.3:15pm rolled around and everyone headed to the lifeboat drill. Having been through these a few times I was surprised to see they were actually taking roll call to make sure everyone was present and accounted for at their correct stations. If you were not there, you had to leave the ship. It took a bit longer with this process but I understand why they do it this way now considering what happened to the Costa Concordia.5pm exactly we pulled away from Vancouver headed to Port Alberni on Vancouver Island. Even though it was a rainy day we still used the aft pool as the water temp was at least 100F. It felt like a huge hot tub. Despite the pictures posted here on Cruise Critic for the Amsterdam, there are no hot tubs at the aft pool. The only 2 hot tubs aboard are at the Lido pool.We arrived in Port Alberni and tendered into town. We walked around for about an hour and headed back to the ship. Not much to see there, a fish market, donut shop, some little touristy shops, a few places to eat. But they had a band playing in the square and the town did a really nice job making us feel welcome. We did not do any shore excursions here.We got a letter in our stateroom about going through customs in Seattle. Even though we were not getting off the ship in Seattle, everyone had to go through customs. This was a little irritating (but not the ships fault). We were hoping to sleep in and enjoy a nice relaxing day at the spa. They started calling people by the first letters of their last names at 8am. Since we had a suite we could leave the ship at anytime in the morning, but they would not let anyone back on the ship until everyone was off. We got off at 9:30am (when they were on the "Z"s), went into the building, waited in a bit of aline, got through customs fast, and we were directed to the waiting area to get back onboard. There were about 100 of us there. It would have been nice to have a huge urn of coffee, maybe someone walking around playing a guitar or violin. Something to think about since we were all kind of stuck there. We felt sorry for the people who actually got off at 8am and had to wait till 10:30am to get back on.Had a nice day in Seattle on the ship using the water treatment part of the spa. $20 charge for this. We enjoyed the steam room, rain showers, and mineral whirlpool. The heated loungers are always a nice treat!4pm rolled around and the ship switched from power at the pier to ship power. Well the ship totally lost power. The captain came on and said they were trying to solve the problem and would keep us updated. While waiting we took a walk around the ship to see what everyone was up to. Only 1 elevator was working. We walked up to the Crows Nest and people seemed to be in good spirits, still drinking and chatting. By this time they ship was out of power for about 2 hours. We walked past the front desk and there was a line of people complaining. 2 woman actually wanted off the ship. We heard rumors that sewage was seeping down the walls of some the 5th floor rooms. We had no problems. After about 2 1/2 hours we were plugged back into the pier and power came back on with the Captains apologies. We did not end up leaving Seattle till 10pm as they had to fix the breaker that blew. The power outage really did not effect us. It was not like we were in the middle of nowhere, we just could not flush our toilet, so we curbed our wine consumption for a couple hours. :) Some are so quick to panic.Entertainment on board was awesome. We had a magic show one night that was amazing! There was a movie theater but we didn't partake. We did however enjoy the "guess that tune" at the piano bar for 2 nights. The woman who was playing piano was awesome. She played sax as well! Very talented. And of course we always ended up in the Crows Next for dancing.Dining was wonderful. We did not have a bad meal while on board. We ate dinner in the Fontaine Dining room for 2 nights and on our last night at the Pinnacle Grill. The nice thing about the Fontaine Dining Room is that the portions are not huge, so you can easily enjoy a 5 course dinner. My sister asked for a grilled chicken breast on top of her pasta one night and they did it for her no problem. The waiters are really nice and make a point of getting to know your name. We did not hit the lido buffet once during the trip. We enjoyed room service breakfast in our stateroom every morning and tea sandwiches in the Neptune Lounge for lunch. We did, however, stop by the Lido pool one afternoon to grab some nachos. They have a window at the back of the Lido deck where you can order burgers, hot dogs, turkey burgers etc. Make your own nachos and cheese are an old time HAL fave. for us we couldn't pass up!The food at the Pinnacle Grill was fantastic and WELL worth the $25 charge. We noticed the portions were much larger here. Massive Jumbo Shrimp cocktail, and wonderful Thai coconut soup to die for. They do a ceasar salad tableside. My fillet was cooked perfectly as were the sides. (mushrooms and potatoes) a wonderful chocolate Grand Marnier dessert that was served warm...almost like a bread pudding. A nice touch that we were given a glass of free champagne that night after dinner as an apology from the Captain for the power outage earlier. **Note, plan on a long dinner here. Ours took about 3 hours, but we really liked the fact they were not rushing us and we could relax between courses. Service here was really great too.Drinks were great! On Holland America, you are allowed as much wine and champagne to bring on board as you like. So we did! We also bought a few mixed drinks. I enjoyed the "drink of the day" a few times. It was a dollar cheaper than the regular cocktails. I recommend trying a "Wang Wang" its not on the menu but just ask for one, and they will make it. Wow what a drink! In the main dining room, we just walked in with a full glass of wine from our stateroom and no one said anything to us about it.Disembarkation in Vancouver was well organized. We ordered our last room service breakfast and left the ship at 9:30am. There was no line to get off. Canada Place was especially busy as it was the first day of Alaska season and there were 3 ships in that day including ours.All in all a great little getaway. I wish HAL did this little 3 day cruise more that once a year! We are already planning to make this a yearly girls trip.Thank you Holland America! Hope to be on board again before next year!! Read Less
Sail Date: April 2013
As this was our first Holland America cruise, we were very excited to board the Oosterdam in Sydney.Our first disappointment was the atrium area. Normally an area of meeting friends, coffee, drinks and generally a buzz, the ... Read More
As this was our first Holland America cruise, we were very excited to board the Oosterdam in Sydney.Our first disappointment was the atrium area. Normally an area of meeting friends, coffee, drinks and generally a buzz, the Oosterdam's atrium was dull with a bar near the purser's desk which was closed most of the time.With only 7 ports visited on our cruise, three of these were on a Sunday. Two of these were at the Samoa Islands with very limited activities/shopping and the other was at Honolulu. Disembarkation procedures varied from reasonable to long lines waiting in corridors outside staterooms.The shows on the ship were mediocre. The onboard ship dance crew only did two shows on the whole trip with others ranging from terrible (Cash (comedian) and a pair of dancers) to good (comedian from NY, magician) and others in between. To get to the theatre you had to walk through the (cigarette) smoke filled casino. The movie theatre was small and most days some guests weren't able to view the movie as there wasn't enough room. The Windows 8 training sessions were fantastic.The cabin stewards do a great job, but we seldom saw ours. The wait stewards in both the buffet and Vista lounges were few and far between. There was a long wait to order and receive drinks.The buffet queue was very long at times, and especially on the formal nights and BBQs. Guests were waiting for lunch time roasts at times when they had run out and had to go to get another. (no forethought) Food was generally good in the buffet and dining room. Anytime dining worked well for us.Our large oceanview suite was roomy, but had a smaller window than others we have had. Other guests we spoke to felt that the Oosterdam standard had slipped considerably on this trip.We wouldn't book another cruise on Oosterdam and would have to think very hard about booking another on Holland America. Read Less
Sail Date: September 2012
I love Holland America. Embarkation - I rate this a C. Honestly, I felt they got us on the ship late, (12:00p) and it was really disorganized. No one knew the boarding was numbered and everyone rushed up to try and get in. The lady ... Read More
I love Holland America. Embarkation - I rate this a C. Honestly, I felt they got us on the ship late, (12:00p) and it was really disorganized. No one knew the boarding was numbered and everyone rushed up to try and get in. The lady who was organizing it was doing her best and keeping everyone informed, but it seemed like it could have been done a lot better. Once I was on the ship, I had the pool all to myself for the first hour, even after eating a quick lunch. The food in the Lido was great and the fruit was excellent. The music was pretty good and it was a good feeling to be in the pool on a beautiful Seattle sunny day. The emergency drill was easy, took about 20 minutes. the Casino didn't open till about midnight, Texas Hold em tounry started right after that. I didn't like the electronic style. I felt the breakfast pancakes were not very good, but the rest of the food was great. The Staff was amazing, I had open dining and sat with 7 other wonderful people. After dinner, did Kareokee in the Queens Lounge, then on to the piano bar for a few drinks. A double Rum and coke was 15 dollars and it seemed a bit watered down even though it seemed like he filled the whole glass full of rum. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: May 2012
I live in San Diego and have dear friends in Victoria, so it seemed like a no-brainer to take advantage of the great price for this short cruise to Vancouver. I also took it as an opportunity to see how I'd fare in the cheapest inside ... Read More
I live in San Diego and have dear friends in Victoria, so it seemed like a no-brainer to take advantage of the great price for this short cruise to Vancouver. I also took it as an opportunity to see how I'd fare in the cheapest inside cabin... looking ahead to when I can't find any friends to share and may only be able to afford windowless real estate onboard. As I noticed the prices going down, I was upgraded to an outside obstructed, then to an outside unobstructed, and finally to a verandah. A good friend who had never sailed before, also booked a solo room and got the same upgrade. We were happy campers! Embarkation: 3 ships were in port in San Diego and there was lots of news to avoid the area due to traffic jams and construction going on. One ship was only in for a port stop, so no passengers embarking/disembarking. The other was the Zuiderdam. We arrived at 11:00 am and promptly went through security and checking in. Alas, no one would be allowed on the ship until closer to 1:00 due to deep cleaning that supposedly was going on. The ship had been through drydock, then started the cruise in FLL for a Panama Canal crossing. Heard there had been outbreaks of Norovirus, as well as 3 deaths (according to a passenger we met at dinner). We took a walk, had lunch, and were able to board by 1:00. Cabins: We both were on the 4th deck with verandahs. I had a shower only, which was fine with me. The sink had a long countertop so there was loads of room. I loved the detail of the Dutch tiles decorating. It was evident that it had been renovated during drydock. Everything looked fresh and new, except for what may have been a cigarette burn on the countertop near the sink. So sad.The verandah in 4006 has the steel wall, but being tall, it wasn't a problem. There were 3 chairs and two tables. Leaving San Diego, we sat outside and watched our departure. The next days it was too rough and windy to spend any time outside. There's a mini-frig and I had the stewards remove some of the contents so I could place the chocolate-covered strawberries my travel agent had sent. How nice of her for such a short (and cheap!) cruise. A hairdryer was in one of the cabinets in the desk area. The lighted magnifying mirror came in handy. With just me as the occupant, I had more than enough room with the closets and two large drawers under the bed. For this trip, I barely took up any space. Weather: As mentioned before, we encountered extremely rough seas and heavy winds. This would delay our Vancouver arrival by over 7 hours. The second night, the drawers under the bed flew open, wooden hangers in the closet had to be taken off the rods as they were clanging together making a racket. Bags were placed near elevators if needed for nausea, seasickness pills and green apples made available. I didn't find it difficult to walk as I did cruising from San Diego to Hawaii for the first twodays. Once we arrived in Vancouver, it was gorgeous... though instead of the 10:00 a.m. arrival, it was 5:30 p.m. Since we didn't have any ports on this cruise, there was no way to make up the time. The ship offered free internet and phone calls for those that needed to make alternate travel plans. I felt badly for those missing flights or having friends/relatives pick them up.Dining: We ate most of our meals in the Main Dining Room at Anytime Dining and found it very nice. We requested a window table for 6, and met many lovely people. Note to some: if you choose not to be friendly, ask for a small table! Attempted to make reservations at Canneletto for one of our dinners, and after a lenghty process giving information to the steward, he finally informed us of the $10 per person charge. We decided to forego it. At least he told us upfront, not after we ate. One of the reasons I like eating in the MDR, is being able to order cappuchino adn espresso at all meals. Apparently, the machine was broken and it was very difficult to get it to work. I had one two times, but stopped ordering them when the stewards got such a pained look on their faces. Even the assistant dining manager told me it was a problem, but I should complain and let it be known to the proper sources. Perhaps an additional charge will be forthcoming for them, too. We had lunch in the Pinnacle one day and loved every morsel. It was lovely, quiet, and elegant. I took photos of each course and salivate just looking at them now! Entertainment: I enjoyed listening to the Adagio Strings each night, then off to the shows. The first one was comedian/magician Chris Blackmore- not my cup of tea... The singers performed the second night doing Simply Broadway. The last night was Irish comedian George Casey- very enjoyable. Piano Man Jamm was adorable. Such a cute personality and fun presence. My friend enjoyed the Texan Hold'Em tournaments in the Casino. Too bad he didn't win. We did a Mixology Class and had a lot of fun. I went to one of the Culinary Demonstrations, a few other offerings, and spent time in the library. Future Cruise Consultant: What an abrupt and unhelpful guy! There were no flyers of specials given out or brochures out. "Just tell what me cruise you're interested in and I'll price it for you..." That's ridiculous. Usually these people are gracious and welcoming. Not this dude. Vista Class Ship: First time on a ship this size. I've only cruised HAL and only smaller ships. I found I prefer the smaller ones. I got some good exercise traversing the ship, which was great considering the tasty meals. Disembarking 7+ hours late... definitely not the smoothest as everyone was aching to get off. Long lines, even with self disembarking and just wheeling our little luggage off. Still, Customs in Vancouver went very quickly and we were on our way to our hotel. Beautiful weather and it was still light, so no problem. This 3-night cruise went by so quickly, but we both enjoyed our time. I'd do it again, in a heartbeat! Read Less
Sail Date: April 2012
We were fairly impressed by the Oosterdam, in that it is a beautiful ship with nice decor. I expected it to be tacky from the other reviews but did not find it so. Everything looked very modern and functional. I especially like the ... Read More
We were fairly impressed by the Oosterdam, in that it is a beautiful ship with nice decor. I expected it to be tacky from the other reviews but did not find it so. Everything looked very modern and functional. I especially like the glass elevators on the outside of the ship that traveled between decks at midships. The pools are large and one could actually swim laps in them. The hot tubs were clean and generally warm but not really hot. The central pool deck covers when the weather is poor making it quite comfortable to sit at even when the weather doesn't cooperate. There were lots of nice nooks and crannies to sit and read in a sheltered area. The Lido deck has the different buffets: Entrees, Dessert, Drinks, Asian and Italian. This changes at the different meal times. We ate supper in the Vista Dining lounge and found the food to be excellent, and the service was doting. I felt it would have been nice to have a little more seafood such as lobster or crab but, nonetheless it was very tasty. The shows at night were entertaining, but not amazing. At least they try to entertain you so you have to give them some credit. I was not impressed by the activities because they seemed to be all about upselling you products rather than just giving you information or an activity to do. I was not please to find that they charged extra to use the steam rooms, hot pool and sauna- they wanted $100 for four days. This was included in the Carnival cruise. The port we stopped at was quite limited with very few activities unless you wanted to pay to do the usual whale watching, kayaking etc. Other than that we enjoyed ourselves. This would be a good cruise for just relaxing as long as you don't get bored to easily. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2012
I had always resisted the thought of cruising, but after doing the cruise with Holland America on the MS Oosterdam it would be my first option or a cruise/fly holiday.The ship was spotless, the emphasis is on hygiene for the protection of ... Read More
I had always resisted the thought of cruising, but after doing the cruise with Holland America on the MS Oosterdam it would be my first option or a cruise/fly holiday.The ship was spotless, the emphasis is on hygiene for the protection of the passengers, with anti bacterial hand wash stations around the ship as well as at the entrance to the dining areas no self respecting germ would survive in that environment:)I found all the staff pleasant and very helpful, always willing to meet our needs with a smile.We ate all our meals in the Lido restaurant, and found the food to be good quality and plentiful with lots of variety on the menu.We found the on shore excursions offered by HAL were expensive and not value for money, at every port there were tour operators offering better value options, the only draw back was IF the independent operator was late returning you to the ship there was no guarantee the ship would wait unlike a HAL excursion almost a scare tactic to book with HAL, we took our chances and all was fine.Being first time cruisers we were not sure what to expect with the entertainment but at best I would say it was amateurish almost like high school review productions.In conclusion you can do as little or as much as you like on a cruise ship, walk laps or veg out around the pool with a good book, enjoy chatting with other passengers or keep to yourself a cruise is what YOU make it. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: September 2011
Arrived at Seward for "priority " boarding ,travelled 16 hours: After 20 minutes were told room had been given to someone else: Eventually we were whisked on board after an hour and told to go to front office; Without telling ... Read More
Arrived at Seward for "priority " boarding ,travelled 16 hours: After 20 minutes were told room had been given to someone else: Eventually we were whisked on board after an hour and told to go to front office; Without telling us, our onboard cards were switched from designated dining room seating to scramble for all. i asked 3 timess to speak to a manager, no one came to discuss with us. 3 days later we had opportunity to be greeted by the captain who shrugged us off in his broken English, but someone was dispatched to see us several hours later. Our dining experiences as a whole were poor, food re heated, cold meals, wrong meals, dirty table cloths, food encrusted dirty fork at the italian restaurant. we were not the only ones who experienced the bad food service, one lunch time the entire table returned there meal, which was burgers served as hard as hockey pucks The Captain was rude and uncaring to not only ourselves, but others who were not travelling with us. Obviously there is a common denominator: Zaandam and Holland America My advise is give another cruise line your money Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2011
For some reason the town of Skagway was not listed in the embarkation drop-down. Alright, I'll preface this review by mentioning that I am not a world-weary, sophisticated traveler that is easily bored and has an axe to grind against ... Read More
For some reason the town of Skagway was not listed in the embarkation drop-down. Alright, I'll preface this review by mentioning that I am not a world-weary, sophisticated traveler that is easily bored and has an axe to grind against Holland America but I also do not like tour-oriented vacations where the travelers are led around like cattle which is what the land portion was. This is a type of tour that my girlfriend and I would not normally be interested in but it was a family vacation and our tickets were paid for. Our trip was the 8A 8 day land tour to the n catch the Volendam in Skagway for a cruise through Glacier Bay and the Inside Passage and ending up In Vancouver for disembarkation. If you want the quick review and don't want to read the following, skip the painfully drawn out land tour and do the entire thin via cruise ship. So we traveled by air to Anchorage where we stayed at a Hilton which was a very nice hotel. We woke up early the next day at around 6 AM for 12 hour train ride to Denali park. One of the engines broke down hence the long time. This was of course the day after most guests had spent the better part of the previous day traveling to Anchorage so it was a long day indeed. But the train was nice, the food was fair, and the guides on board were funny and friendly. We finally pull in to our lodging in Denali park which was agreeable. The next day we were scheduled to have an 8 hour tour throughout the park on a school bus to see bear, moose, etc., that started at 5:45 am and your luggage had to be out before that!!! Yes, you read that right. No thanks. That would have been 3 straight days of sitting with no hiking or real physical activity. So we slept in, did some shopping, and got a quick workout in. We then boarded one of the park buses for a 30 min tour and saw a bear, Dall sheep, and a caribou and her baby. Got lots of pics and had a great Korean War vet bus driver. He was my favorite person on the whole trip. Several couples mentioned after the 8 hour tour that had they known, they definitely should have skipped it. By now the days were blending together and I couldn't tell what town I was in unless I consulted the itinerary. I was in a daze where time meant nothing and was reminded of my time in Iraq. I had developed the fabled 1000 yard stare actually outside of a combat zone. Sleep was a welcome time shrinker but that was robbed from me as a silly game was started on the bus. Alaska has potholes in it's roads. Big deal. So does every state. Well, on our bus anytime someone said "pothole" the entire bus screamed that word in unison waking anyone foolish enough to grab a few winks. Next morning we had to have our bags out by 6 am to get an early start. This is a theme that happens throughout the entire land tour. Make no mistake, this is a working vacation as far as hours put in are concerned. The aggravating part is that during the day the tour guide announces how there's extra time so we end up making "additional" stops at crappy gift shops to purchase future thrift-store fodder. You know the items I'm talking about-stuff that when you give it to someone they wait till you leave and say "Really?" So the "we have extra time nonsense" happened on several days and got old real fast. Why not give everyone an extra hour to sleep in and grab a decent breakfast? The answer is that some of the gift shops are owned by Holland America. Please exit through the gift shop!! Frustrating as well is the fact that we rolled into our evening destinations so late that there's little to do but eat, clean up, and go to bed for another very early rise for more hours of sitting. At about the 4th day the aggravation among guests was getting palpable. The median age was around 65 or so and I was naively thinking these older folks were having a ball. Indeed some were but 65 is apparently the new 45 and they wanted to get out and do more. Sorry, no can do. Sally's gift shop is waiting. Gold-panning at the El Dorado gold mine was quite fun and me and my girl could have done that all week. The people that run the operation are colorful, knowledgeable, and the real deal since it's a commercial mine. For those of you that end up here take this on board: you'll be given a bag of dirt to pan for gold. It goes quick and when it's gone that's it unless you reach down into the trough you're sitting at and grab more dirt. We increased our day's take from 14.50 to 15 bucks utilizing that method!! Enough for more tracks to download on my overworked iPod or coffee. Or sleeping pills. Also, more evidence that this great country is on the decline is that the water is warmed for the tourists. What would the "Greatest Generation" think of the rampant wimpification of Americans??? I digress. The riverboat excursion to a native village was cool and the riverboat dishes out free smoked salmon which I happened to love. What I don't love is 200 people in an enclosed area on the paddle boat with salmon breath. Next day was lunch in a town called Tok with a population of about the amount of people working in the obligatory gift shop and restaurant. What was the point of that stop? I remember now, technically it was for lunch but also to procure cheesy dream catcher thingys and other authentic made-in-Alaska by way of China goods. Next stop was at Beaver creek with a dinner and show. The venue was a cool, open air design with smores for the kiddos to make on an open flame. The show was hokey but not bad. Next stop was White Horse, not terribly memorable. We finally boarded a cool, old train for a very scenic two hour ride into Skagway to board the Volendam. That train ride eclipsed the rest of the scenery thus far. We could have just done that and still seen some of the best terrain in all of Alaska. Overall in my opinion though, the landscapes of Yellowstone and Zion Nat'l park offer much more bang for your buck. Yes, Alaska is of course beautiful but this is not the way to see it. If there's something you'd like to see more of, you can't because the schedule is so preplanned and you have to sit thru the things you don't. We finally arrived in Skagway and boarded. For a line that's supposedly a step up from Princess for example, I wasn't that impressed. It was nice but is an older ship with not much to do for younger people and especially kids although there was a kid's club but that was about it. There were plenty of activities and some were cool such as a beer tasting. For the most part though, it was bridge lessons and seminars on things like how to photoshop and other simple how-to courses. We had a standard stateroom and it exceeded our expectations. Well appointed and spacious. The food was good and I enjoyed the salmon and clam bake held around one of the pools. The staff was attentive and polite. No issues there. I'm usually not to big on entertainment aboard ship but my girl talked me into going to see a comedian one night. He was marginal at best. Not what I'd call edgy or clever comedy. Pretty tame and predictable and obviously geared toward the older crowd. The one shore excursion was a good time and that was Ketchikan. It's a great little town with good food and interesting sights to see like a salmon hatchery. You can definitely get your relax on to decompress from the previous Bataan-esque march. There's even a gym and you're all but guaranteed that it won't be crowded. It's also a good spot to see the whales since it's perched up high towards the bow. Glacier bay and the Inside Passage were fun. We grabbed drinks and scanned for wildlife with binos that I brought. Oh yeah, if you're young and single and looking to hook up, hook up elsewhere unless you have a penchat for white hair and the bewitching odor of aspercreme. Not knocking old people at all, that's just a demographic fact of this tour.Disembarkation was very smooth and took just a few minutes. You can even leave early with your own bags instead of having to leave at your assigned time. There were other a few excursions I didn't mention and some of the above may be out of order. I wrote this to let people know how this trip really goes down. It's one of those trips that likely doesn't get repeat customers so I think it will remain as drawn out as it currently is. As I said before, I know some people thought this trip was just the best ever and think this review is way off but I know what the price was for our party of 11. If I were paying, I would definitely feel that I didn't get a fair shake unless I had traveled the entire time aboard the ship which is what I recommend. The land portion was just too much bus and train riding, subpar activities/entertainment at the stops (some locales did have interesting excursions for an additional fee but that's after you've been on the road all day), too early mornings, and too many gift shop stops. In addition, we spoke with another 4 couples once on the boat to ask their overall impression and all were disappointed and at the least would not do the land tour again and these were travelers who normally did tour style vacations. We were all just glad to get to the boat. Too much sitting, not the best time management for a vacation setting, and really not much to see in many of the towns on the land tour. I'd like to go back to Alaska but on my terms, to the towns and hiking areas I want, and for less money. Read Less
Sail Date: August 2011
Airport arrangements, hotel transfers, baggage handling- all with precision. Embarkation took at most 30 minutes shuttle to on board. Land touring a week before cruise included Fairbanks, Denali, Anchorage.Wildlife trip to Denali ... Read More
Airport arrangements, hotel transfers, baggage handling- all with precision. Embarkation took at most 30 minutes shuttle to on board. Land touring a week before cruise included Fairbanks, Denali, Anchorage.Wildlife trip to Denali magnificent, breathtaking view of mountain that day. Land tour director was a pro, even assisted in crisis when wife packed ALL my clothes and sent ahead to the ship. Our group of 40 were all punctual cooperative and affable. One day flight to Anaktuvak Pass village was worh note. The flight up and visit into tundra very good. The village itself was difficult. The locals 'subsistence traditional life' is now all western supported, by importing everything-EVERYTHING- by air. Educate yourself before deciding to spend a large amount of money and full day. This was our 2nd HAL trip. Layout identical to previous Noordam. Odd to round a corner of a new place and know where you were and what you would see next. This means no adventure in exploring a new vessel. I am a physician, and visit to Med Facility and listening to shop talk stories from ship's Doc an extra treat. (unlike Cunard). Staff very attentive, but HAL needs to assist them with English skills-room service, bar. Table waiters and wine steward were absolutely top notch, no issues there. Dining room staff made us feel special. Pinnacle Grill evening another home run. Our Noordam had been just ok. Food varied and good. Portions smallish- but waiters would suggest double portions when needed, and brought extra 'tasting' dishes out. The liberal policy of allowing passengers to bring wine on board made our trip more fun and saved us money. Between us we had Cunard, Norwegian, Princess as well as HAL previous experiences and we agreed this was best to date. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2011
Just off the Zaandam in the Pacific SouthwestWanted to knock out a short review of this little 3-day cruise we just disembarked from this morning. Hadn't been on a ship in more than a year after disembarking in Hong Kong in March 2010 ... Read More
Just off the Zaandam in the Pacific SouthwestWanted to knock out a short review of this little 3-day cruise we just disembarked from this morning. Hadn't been on a ship in more than a year after disembarking in Hong Kong in March 2010 so we were desperate to get back aboard. Our best buddies Bob and Judy suggested this one with an overnight at their place the night before and we jumped at it. Sailing with them is always a barrel full of monkeys. Drove to Canada Place to board the Zaandam and arrived there at 11:00 am. Had to wait about an hour due to a Coast Guard inspection but when we finally got on at noon, our cabins were ready which was GREAT as we had elected to drag our luggage aboard as opposed to having it delivered to our room. Unpacked and eating lunch within 40 minutes flat. AMAZING! Every cruise line should do this. Make a commitment to have cabins ready by noon. OUTSTANDING and kudos to HAL and the entire staff for making it happen. We had read on the Cruise Critic boards that we could do lunch at half price in the Pinnacle Grille specialty restaurant on embarkation but found that this was not the case so don't expect to do that. We later found that there was a special brunch/lunch for members of the Mariner Society (past HAL cruisers of which we were four) in the main dining room but no one had told us this. So we are telling you now. If you have sailed with HAL before, head there once you board. Since we didn't know this we headed up to the buffet for lunch. HAL has a new policy that to prevent NORO outbreaks they do not allow you to serve yourself in the buffets until 48 hours after sailing. This was strictly adhered to. This meant that the poolside grille had no condiments for hot dogs or hamburgers or self-serve pizza until lunch on our last full day. Kind of drag on a 3 day but we understand. I think I will break the rest of this review up into the good and the bad and then a couple of extra notes. First the good. Food was good (not great). Everyone always wants to know that first. HAL cabins are outstanding. More storage than you could shake a stick at and maybe the most comfortable beds we have ever slept on in our 14 previous cruises. Our cabin steward Abdul was outstanding. He introduced himself as soon as we walked out of our cabin on our first day and gave us his card with his extension number and told us to call anytime we needed anything. That's the right attitude. Other PAX were outstanding. We did "Anytime Dining" (more about that later) and had wonderful table mates every night. We met tons of other great people through our Cruise Critic roll call and people who knew our buddy Judy (which we think was most of the ship). We also thought that the Zaandam herself for being more than 11 years old was in gorgeous condition. The ship is truly beautiful and very well taken care of. We saw very few cosmetic touches that needed fixing. Now the bad. We were on this cruise to kind of do a test run to see if we would enjoy the Zaandam on a longer trip. We are normally Celebrity cruisers but Bob is looking for a 14+ cruise from Vancouver to Hawaii and back and the Zaandam fits the bill. We wanted to see if we would enjoy her that much. We had three HUGE problems on this cruise. First was the smoking. Celebrity (our usual cruise line) has pretty much banished smoking from every ship other than two designated spots on each ship. If you are a non-smoker, you can easily avoid those. HAL on the other hand still allows smoking throughout the ship including many lounges, private cabins and verandahs. I am extremely allergic to cigarette smoke and even the slightest whiff gives me a sinus headache that puts me flat on my back for the rest of the day. HAL needs to catch up with the rest of the world. If entire countries (Ireland, Italy) and states (Washington, California) can ban smoking in public places then HAL can to. I am just not sure that I could put up with a ship where I had to go downstairs to go to the front of the ship because I couldn't walk from the front to the back on a public deck due to the smoke. And as Bob pointed out, the age of the ship makes Zaandam's air circulation system unable to keep up with the smoke where newer ships might not have that problem.Second was HAL's "Anytime Dining." This was a joke as was their dining room in general. Let's start with trying to make reservations for dinner. We stopped and asked on the first day at the reservations desk and asked for a 6:30 pm reservation. We were told that they were only taking reservations for "Anytime Dining" at 5:15 and 7:30. We felt that was both too early and too late for us. We were told that if we wanted to eat between those two times we would need to "walk up." So that night we went down at 6:30 and were told it would be about an hours wait. We took their buzzer and went to wait in the lounge. About 10 minutes later, it buzzed and we were seated. We almost gave up and went to the buffet but thankfully we didn't. We ended up eating around 7:00. The second night we went a little earlier (closer to 6:15) and were again told, it would be an hour. This time it was more than an hour. Finally around 7:15 I went down to see how things were going and ran into a couple from Redmond who were trying to ask the same thing. Every person who asked was told an hour. She and I both pushed a little and we were seated almost immediately. In the dining room were a bunch of empty tables but we felt they were understaffed so they were not able to seat everyone. The second night also had to wait quite a while to order or even get menus and finally were done with dinner pretty close to 10:00 pm.Both the first two nights there was a continuous line at the entrance to the dining room but the last night there wasn't. We had made 5:30 reservations, got there, got seated right away and had a very nice dinner. Part of this ease on the last night could have been because we were still docked in Victoria until 10:30 and some PAX were off the ship eating in Victoria or because many of the people who had stood in long lines the night before had just given up. I will say that in the dining room there seemed to be no systems in place. Busboys walked around looking at dirty dishes on tables and made no effort to remove them. Waiters appeared and disappeared sporadically. We had to ask to find a wine steward which is usually unheard of because that is a major profit center for them but each night we had to ask. Once we did get menus and order things usually went pretty well and the waiters we had weren't bad, they were just overworked and disorganized in general. And we tried to eat breakfast in the dining room every morning and each time we were told that it would be, "an hour wait." Ridiculous. Especially when later we found that people right behind us in line before we gave up got in within 15 minutes.Another HAL bad is the coffee. The coffee we had in the dining room or the buffet was HORRID! Worst coffee ever! Thankfully we were able to go to the Explorations Cafe on deck 5 and buy Torrefazioni coffee which is an outstanding Starbucks subsidiary. The problem with the Explorations though is that they have only one person working the counter and that person literally takes 7-10 minutes to make a single drink. Seriously. It took forever. I will also say that while we didn't see either of the two evening shows, we did hear many of the lounge acts and the classical violin trio was HORRIBLE! One of the members was beyond tone deaf. Sounded like you would imagine a child of five would sound while practicing their scales.Lastly, after experiencing Celebrity's service I just don't think that HAL is up to par. Even bad X service. Our first morning out I wanted to walk the lower promenade deck for the hour before we docked in Seattle. I passed about 15 different crew members and gave each a smile and a "good morning" but not a single one said a word back to me or even acknowledged me. That would NEVER happen on an X ship. Also that morning there were a number of people doing laps with me but about an hour before we docked, three crew members came out and roped off a section of the deck so we couldn't make a complete circuit. They then sat there and drank coffee for an hour while people came up to the rope, stopped, turned around and went completely around to the other side of their rope. Why they felt they had to rope it off so they could stand there and drink coffee and cut us off from a normal run is beyond me. Disembarkation was a piece of cake. We did breakfast in the dining room (first time we had ever been able to do that without an hour's wait) and then walked off the ship with our luggage in tow. Some PAX were a little upset that there was no luggage pickup the night before as there usually is on a cruise. They told everyone that they needed to get their own luggage off the ship themselves but if they needed help, they should just call. It seemed to work extremely well. We were called to leave the ship at 8:00 am and were in the car driving home by 8:30. Not too bad. All in all we enjoyed ourselves but we won't be able to do that longer cruise until HAL fixes their smoking policy and brings it more into line with the rest of the world. Once they do that, I will be able to treat them as secondary line in my life to X. Until then, Celebrity gets my money. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2011
This was a trip to a) get on the water in a ship once again and b) see how HAL's Zaandam shaped up for a trip we are planning on later.Canada Place: Embarkation and get off went very smoothly. Nothing unusual. I tried my Nexus card ... Read More
This was a trip to a) get on the water in a ship once again and b) see how HAL's Zaandam shaped up for a trip we are planning on later.Canada Place: Embarkation and get off went very smoothly. Nothing unusual. I tried my Nexus card instead of passport and it worked. Bit more slowly cause number had to be entered on lap top at check-in and attendant completely unfamiliar with procedure and sought out help. (early in season and it likely will get better)Room/ship in good shape. Similar to the Volendam which we had sailed previously.Tried anytime dining and it was a complete failure. We were allowed to book times of 5:30 or 7:30 OR TAKE CHANCE. Did the later and it didn't work. Although we could see space in the room we waited with a buzzer first night 10 mins. after being sent to wait in lounge.(this was acceptable) 2nd night 1 hour plus. 3rd night we made arrangement to do the 5:30 and just allowed slow ordering to compensate for early hour. 3 night was no problem as we were docked in Victoria and along with the other restaurants being full and people who gave up for the main dining room all worked. There were no delays for walk ins at all.Breakfast in the main dining room too was unusual also. Long line and staff suggesting that we all eat in the Buffet. Lots of empty tables. (1st and 2nd day) 3rd day was disembarkation and was fine.Only other issue was the smoking. Odor in and near casino made it unusable for us. Also the piano bar. Crows nest was uncomfortable on several occasions also.Everything else was as I expected on HAL and had no issues with at all. GReat room staff.We have been to both Ports many times and didn't get off in Seattle except to check on the TerminalVictoria we took a $7.50 return shuttle to the inner harbourImmigration USA on embarkation and Canadian in Victoria and Vancouver...very professional and efficient. Victoria was just an eyeball check as we walked by.would cruise this class of ship again in a minute. Great size, easy to get around and has all the things I need for a cruise. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2011
After a fairly intensive dry dock in Singapore for two weeks, the ship looked very good wih new carpets, seating, decking etc. The ship was due to travel to northern Japan but due to the recent disasters there, HAL opted for South Korea ... Read More
After a fairly intensive dry dock in Singapore for two weeks, the ship looked very good wih new carpets, seating, decking etc. The ship was due to travel to northern Japan but due to the recent disasters there, HAL opted for South Korea & Russian ports. Less than 1000 passengers. Each passenger was given $250 OBC and 10% discount on their next cruise due to the itinerary change. The crew were excellent as with entertainment, although we had seen the regular shows on past cruises (12 months ago) Meals were the standard fare and nothing to complain about...especially the extra seafood on offer as they were taking new supplies on in Alaska. Tender ports were speedy with minor lines. Overall an excellent repositioning cruise. Click the link to see the highlights: Video highlights of the Volendam Northern Explorer cruise from Kobe,Japan to Vancouver,Canada via Busan, South Korea, Vladivostok & Petropavlosk,Russia, Kodiak Island & Sitka (via Inside Passage) Alaska May 2-17, 2011. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uQgh4_pMEKI Read Less
Sail Date: May 2011
Personal Information Couple in our forties on our 1st cruise Live in Downtown Vancouver Both employed - Government jobs Travel to Port of Embarkation Took a cab that day because of the rain, would normally just walk to ... Read More
Personal Information Couple in our forties on our 1st cruise Live in Downtown Vancouver Both employed - Government jobs Travel to Port of Embarkation Took a cab that day because of the rain, would normally just walk to Canada Place Waterfront. It is about a 10 minute walk from our condo. Embarkation Holland America Zaandam We got there about 1:00 pm and there were huge lineups. It took about 45 minutes to get through. We didn't care as we were pretty excited. Stateroom We were in cabin 3389 - lower Promenade deck. Our cruise was almost ruined because of our lack of sleep caused by having to listen to the galley noise all night long. The galley was above on the 4th floor next to the Rotterdam Restaurant. We expected noise such the ship, people etc. This was unacceptable noise- just extreme and constant. Holland America is very aware of the hell their passengers go through when booked under the galley. And yet, they still book people there. I have seen reviews of this very problem from the year 2000. Surely they could try and soundproof the floors and have their staff wear soft soled shoes only. The carts rolled around like rolling thunder and the staff walked around all night. It sounded like bowling balls on top of your head. I begged to move, but they said the ship was full. It is apparent that the staff and the front desk are very used to dealing with the constant complaints regarding this stretch of cabins. They gave us earplugs but that did not help. Had we been on land, we would have moved hotels whether or not we received a refund. Here you are held captive on a ship. The PR person sent us a note saying they would "monitor the situation" So basically they have been "monitoring the situation" since the inception of the ship!! So disappointing for our 1st cruise. Needless to say, our last cruise with Holland America. Now that we understand the importance of cabin placement, this will not happen again. The not so funny thing is we were orignally booked on the Dolphin deck between two floors of cabins. Holland America moved us up to 3389. If we had stayed on the Dolphin all would have been well. We had dinner with people on the Dolphin deck who said it was very quiet. What an upgrade! Boy have we learned valuable lessons from this horror. Dining We opted for the anytime dining which worked well for us. We had been told that we could make reservations for this type of dining, but no one answered the phone when we called. I heard other complaining about the same thing. We didn't mind too much though. The food was very good. They had one vegetarian option on the menu each night,so that worked for me. My husband had steak and chicken. We dined at night in the Rotterdam Restaurant. We had room service in the morning in our cabin, it was excellent! Activities I had avoided going a cruise because everyone I talked had said they gained weight. I soon realized that did not have to happen. The Promenade Deck has a walkway made of teak wood. Beautiful surface to walk on. So, we walked and walked and walked! Four times around was a mile. We also did the flights of stairs as well. So needless to say, we gained nothing and got more exercise than ever. We also watched what we ate, and did not overeat at all. I know people go on cruises for the food, but we did enjoy enough of the tasty food. Staff and Service The staff is very friendly and welcoming on the ship. Our room attendant was wonderful. You don't have to tip because it is charged on your credit card at $11.00 per person per day. However we tipped because we wanted to. It did take a very long time and another call to receive a package of 6 beers to our room. After a half hour my husband called again. They did seem a little confused as to the order. But on the whole everyone was great. Entertainment We went to see the comedian - Sean O'Shea one night. Song and dance fellow - He was hilarious! We really enjoyed that. We also played slots at the casino. The only drawback is that smoking is allowed. So if you are non-smokers like us, you may be bothered by it. It was also allowed upstairs in the Crow's Nest, so we did not go up there at all. Shore Excursions The shore excursions were great. We had lots of time to explore the cities and return to the boat. Disembarkation We were told to be ready at certain time and were called to leave in order. It was so well organized and so quick to get off the ship. Really amazing. Summary We had a wonderful time with the exception of the cabin. Unfortunately being very sleep deprived does not add anything positive to a holiday. Make sure you pick your cabin and check the deck plans to make sure you don't have areas above you such as a galley. It is really unethical that these cabins are sold to anyone. Disgraceful! We have booked another cruise on Princess to LA in September. Booked directly through them and picked our room......and specified no upgrades.....live and learn! Read Less
Sail Date: April 2011
Zuiderdam is great ship and we enjoyed ourselves on the 22 day repositioning. This was our longest cruise to date and we did not have a 'nothing to do' day. Embarkation (disembarkation was much better) was a bit slow due to ... Read More
Zuiderdam is great ship and we enjoyed ourselves on the 22 day repositioning. This was our longest cruise to date and we did not have a 'nothing to do' day. Embarkation (disembarkation was much better) was a bit slow due to having a gastric infection with small # of passengers on the previous group requiring additional cleaning, but a glass of champagne at dinner was part of the apology for the delay to board the ship. We found staff are very cheerful as they do their jobs, and most say hello when they meet you in the hallway. There seemed to be a lot of staff who have been with HAL a long time on various ships. Food menu selections were better than some seen on our other cruises and both the dining room and the buffet has good selection. 10 stops in 22 days meant lots of excursions and some in ports that do not see a lot of cruise ships-we did not have a bad excursion, just some better than others, and we booked all of ours through HAL as most of these ports were our first time visit. We had two pet peeves, one was the Vista Lounge/show theatre-the posts for supporting the balcony seem to be larger than required. It resulted in a large number of seats being unusable if you wanted to see the shows. As well, smoking is allowed on all outside decks, and in all of the casino, it meant that at any point a smoker could sit down next to you, and I found myself having to move from my chair quite often. Noticed that the ship is due for a re-fit as it is getting a little tired and worn in some spots-carpeting and upholstery but nothing that took away the glitz and glory. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2010
I was determined to try a Holland America ship after our cruise to Alaska last year on Princess. Princess has always treated us very well, but when we docked in Victoria next to HAL's Amsterdam, the ship just looked so elegant. ... Read More
I was determined to try a Holland America ship after our cruise to Alaska last year on Princess. Princess has always treated us very well, but when we docked in Victoria next to HAL's Amsterdam, the ship just looked so elegant. Reviews of the fleet, the service, and the food confirmed my impressions, so we booked a test run on a 1 day sail from Seattle to Vancouver. Pre-board: Documents and luggage tags arrived via email as expected, but what was missing was information about boarding time. Because I routinely visit cruise forums, I had heard that boarding would be late on this sailing due to maritime testing. Unfortunately for MANY passengers, this message was not conveyed. Even a call to HAL on the day of sailing produced incorrect information. The CSA said that boarding would begin at 11:30. When I mentioned I had heard there would be a delay, she then took my information and said boarding would be at 4 PM, but we might be able to board as early as 1 PM. I believe they called the first group of passengers at 3:30 to begin boarding. Room: We were in 1883 (ocean view - Dolphin). The room felt spacious compared to a comparable room on Princess and the tub was wonderful! However, this was probably the only area where I felt like HAL outdid Princess. Decor: Oh boy. From the exterior, HAL's Zaandam looks elegant, classic, and timeless. The inside told a different story. Faded fuchsia and yellow paint spatter carpets, beveled smoked mirrored walls, gaudy stone statues and masks that looked like they came from one of those yard art roadside stands, and that inexplicable three story silver-toned organ that completely overwhelmed the atrium... it was all very tacky. On the positive side, I thought the dining room was lovely, the library/Internet area was beautiful, the Lido was nicely done, and the cabin was very tasteful. Food: It wasn't awful, it wasn't amazing. We ate dinner in the main dining room and breakfast at the Lido. We also sampled some snacks at the coffee bar. For desert, I had ordered something called "The Big Blitz". While it was tasty, the presentation was not thrilling - a lone piece of pie (broken crust) on a plate minimally drizzled with caramel sauce. No topping, no flair. Princess seems to always go the extra mile with presentation, so this was a disappointment. The Lido was just odd! I've never not been able to serve myself in a buffet before unless someone was prepping an omelette for me or cutting meat. They wouldn't even let you pour your own coffee or grab a blueberry muffin. That said, there was good variety and the french toast was quite good. Service: Service seemed really poor. No one was terribly friendly, unfortunately. Our room steward would quietly knock and then immediately walk in the room without pause. The morning of debarkation, he told me that we should be off the ship even though they had not yet called our group and our scheduled time was still more than an hour away. When I told him what group we were in, he seemed confused and muttered something about having to go check. He never returned. Service in the dining room was polite at best. Not friendly and fairly abrupt. Receiving a drink in the Crow's Nest was slow. From order to delivery was a 20 minute process and I later heard other passengers complaining. I think HAL missed a really good opportunity with this sailing to gain future cruisers. However, all of the passengers we spoke with had a similar experience to ours and were also using this as a way to see if HAL was a good fit for them for future cruises. Unfortunately, I didn't talk to one person who said they would sail on HAL again. I am not sure if this was typical of a HAL cruise or if things were off because of the odd 1 night sail. That said, there is never an excuse for poor customer service. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2010
We decided to take a quick 1 night cruise to Vancouver BC as part of an anniversary celebration. After checking with the HAL office in Seattle, we found we could board early, eat lunch and then relax on board before we set sail. Alas, it ... Read More
We decided to take a quick 1 night cruise to Vancouver BC as part of an anniversary celebration. After checking with the HAL office in Seattle, we found we could board early, eat lunch and then relax on board before we set sail. Alas, it was not to be. After scrambling to catch an early morning flight as planned, we were met by security officials at the terminal who said that boarding the ship had been postponed by the Coast Guard. After entering the terminal around 11am, we had to pay to have our luggage stored (adding more insult to injury). We were then directed to check in. As we checked in, we were told that we had been notified about this delay (we had not). A one page written explanation was provided to us. Apparently the ship had "gained weight" (don't we all in middle age?). This had been noted during the last time the ship was in dry dock. As part of licensing procedures, additional testing was needed. The incline test requires that there be no additional weight on board (translation - passengers, food and most of the crew). Engineering crew remained on board along with a few others, we were told. Some informal networking while enduring the 5 hour wait with fellow passengers (and some HAL employees) revealed that this indeed was known fairly well in advance, but was never disclosed to us during the booking phase. With all the information the cruise lines have for each passenger (cell phone, email, etc), the bigger question remains of why they couldn't send a text or email advising of the delay as the airlines will often do. Embarking procedures eventually occurred. The waiting was long and uncomfortable. Many people had to sit on the floor. The terminal reminded me and my husband of Ellis Island (but in reverse). HAL provided water and sympathy, as well as a free bus ride into/out of downtown Seattle to help pass the time. We were told to go get lunch (on our own), which we did. Once on board, the rest of the evening was rushed, with many services missing or incomplete. This experience was not what we had hoped for. During our wait to disembark, we counted at least 5 different groups of staff who came into our room to check on various things (mini-bar, water, linens, bed, etc.). The room stewards came in and asked if they could make up the bed (no problem!), but instead left bundled linens on the bed,towels in the bathtub and left without further discussion. Our check out assignment time had been assigned the prior evening, so we were a little surprised (and annoyed) with all of the interruptions. We just gave up and left the ship early. We guess that is what they wanted, anyway. Read Less
Sail Date: September 2010
Pacific Northwest ms Amsterdam September 20-24, 2010 Background Information: Last year I won $3,000 on a state lottery scratch off ticket, and immediately began searching for a cruise to spend it on. Normally I cruise by myself in an ... Read More
Pacific Northwest ms Amsterdam September 20-24, 2010 Background Information: Last year I won $3,000 on a state lottery scratch off ticket, and immediately began searching for a cruise to spend it on. Normally I cruise by myself in an interior cabin, but this time I thought I'd treat my sister to a much deserved vacation and splurge a bit on the accommodations. Imagine my surprise when I realized that for just a few hundred dollars more than I'm used to paying for a solo inside or outside cabin, I was able to book an SB Deluxe Suite for the two of us on a 4-day Pacific Northwest itinerary on the Amsterdam out of Seattle. Seattle Pre- and Post-Cruise: Neither of us had ever been to Seattle, so we got to play tourist. I was able to gather a lot of useful information from the West Coast Departures board here at Cruise Critic. Using Hilton Honors points, I booked a room for one night before and one night after the cruise at the Hilton Hotel at 6th and University. The Hilton was within walking distance of most of the downtown attractions and transit stations. The morning of the cruise, we strolled through Pike Place Market and bought postcards for family and friends back home. On the way back to the hotel, we spotted the IGA Kress grocery store and each of us purchased a bottle of wine to take onboard with us. The IGA is less expensive than the specialty wine stores you find in the downtown area. The day we returned from the cruise, we checked back into the Hilton and got rid of our suitcases, then walked down to Westlake Center to catch the Monorail to the Space Needle. After coming back to Westlake, we walked to the Transit Tunnel on Pine and caught a bus to Pioneer Square. Taxi rides to and from Pier 91 ran us about $15 each way. If you're flying into Sea-Tac and staying at one of the downtown hotels, I recommend using the Grey Line Downtown Airporter. The shuttle costs about $25 round trip compared to $32 each way for a taxi. Embarkation: Embarkation at Pier 91 was easy and organized. This is where we experienced our first Deluxe Suite perk - priority embarkation. Deluxe Suite passengers had their own check-in window, and we were able to bypass the lines waiting to board the ship. Ship: This was my first time on the Amsterdam, but having previously sailed on some of HAL's R and S class ships, I was familiar with the overall layout and deck plan. Everything appeared to be spotless and in good working order. Cabin: The first words out of my sister's mouth when we opened the door of the suite were "I can't believe how big it is"! Our SB suite was probably twice the size of our hotel room in Seattle. The bathroom was huge by cruise ship standards, with a spacious shower. We made full use of the veranda, as well as the desk, sofa, coffee table, and bar area. There was more than enough drawer and closet space for even a 7 or 10 day cruise. Having the separate dressing room was helpful when we were getting ready to go out in the morning or before dinner. One of us could be in the bathroom while the other one was getting dressed or putting on make-up. Our cabin stewards were Dudi and Harris, and both of them were friendly, helpful, and efficient. Deluxe Suite Amenities: The concierges in the Neptune Lounge (Daphnae and Sienna) helped us with a shorex change, as well as ordering pre-dinner appetizers one night. It was nice walking down there for an early morning coffee and croissant or a quick mid-afternoon snack. Because of the short length of our cruise, we didn't take advantage of the free laundry service. The binoculars in the room were handy when we spotted a pod of whales one day within viewing distance of the ship. Deluxe Suite passengers are supposed to get breakfast served to them in the Pinnacle Grille. I knew from a another regular poster on the Cruise Critic HAL board that on the Amsterdam, breakfast for suite passengers is in the King's Room. I called the concierge to confirm this, and she said we had our own section in the main dining room. I was confused. So, the first morning, we went to the main dining room (Deck 5) where we could see passengers being seated. The waiter told us to go down to the lower level (Deck 4). The waiter on the lower level asked us our cabin #. He said since we were in a deluxe suite, we needed to go to the upper level! So back up the stairs we went. I think the original waiter was a bit chagrined at having banished us to the lower level. Anyway, it was very odd that our private dining area turned out to be the upper level of the main dining room. I really don't know why they even bothered. The Pinnacle Grille (or even the King's Room) would have been a bit special, but on our sailing that particular suite perk turned out to be very ordinary. Ports and Shore Excursions: Our itinerary consisted of a day at sea, Astoria, OR, Victoria, BC, and then back to Seattle. In both Astoria and Victoria, we took HAL shore excursions. The Historic Astoria & Fort Clatsop tour included stops at the Astoria Column, the Columbia River Maritime Museum, and Lewis & Clark's winter camp. I was very surprised at how interesting the Maritime Museum was. I had no idea how dangerous the area is where the Columbia River empties into the Pacific Ocean. In Victoria we took the Short City Drive and Butchart Gardens tour. The Gardens were spectacular. Originally I had booked the Victoria Walking Tour because HAL wasn't offering any excursions to Butchart Gardens, and neither was Grey Line. When we boarded the ship, I happened to glance at the shorex order form in our cabin and noticed that tours had been added, so I had the concierge exchange the tickets for me. I highly recommend both tours. They were interesting and informative, and it was a lot easier having someone else drive us around rather than trying to figure out on our own how to get to the various points of interest. Activities and Entertainment: It was a good thing I brought my sister with me and we had the veranda, because there was a real lack of onboard activities and entertainment on this cruise. We spent 3 afternoons sitting on the veranda drinking wine and watching the go by. The sea day was the only day there was a good mix of onboard activities to choose from. In Astoria and Victoria, it would have been nice to have something to do on the ship when we got back from our shore excursions. There was a lot of time to kill before getting ready for dinner at 8 pm. The first night's entertainment in the Queen's Lounge featured a ventriloquist. We didn't attend because it started before we were done with dinner. The second night was a Broadway production show with the HAL singers and dancers wearing Bob Mackie designed costumes. The costumes were gorgeous and definitely a cut above what you normally see in this type of show. Third night was another production show with the same group of singers and dancers that showcased songs from different rock eras. The last night's entertainment was a movie, which I thought was rather poor on HAL's part. With Seattle and Vancouver so close, I would have thought they could have brought in a comedian, or a piano player, or a singer to fill the bill. Rather than watch the movie, we went up to the Crow's Nest where a young woman playing a guitar was attempting to sing, but was not being very successful at it. Service: This ship had some service issues, which I attribute to the staff not being fully engaged in what they were doing. The cruise after ours was a 69-day Asia and Australia cruise, followed by the World Voyage. It seemed as though their mental energy was directed towards preparing for what was ahead of them rather than focusing on the task at hand, which was us. As an example, on the next to the last night, our wine steward announced that someone else would be filling in for him on the last night. The reason he gave was that he had to start working on the alcoholic beverage order for the World Cruise. His replacement on the last night told my sister he could no longer honor her wine card. I almost couldn't believe what I was hearing. My sister insisted that since she had purchased the wine card for this specific cruise and the cruise didn't end until the next day, he needed to bring her a glass a wine. In fairness to the wine steward, he said he would check with his supervisor and ended back up at our table with a glass of merlot in hand. An incident like the one I just related has never happened to me on any my previous HAL cruises. It can be very off putting to someone new to HAL and can leave a bad first impression. There were other instances where service just wasn't up to the usual HAL standards. Taken individually they may seem insignificant, but they add up and detract from the overall cruise experience. Food and Dining: We had late fixed seating in the upper level of the dining room and were seated at a 6-top with two married couples. They were a lot of fun and made dinnertime enjoyable and something to look forward to. I found the food to be average to good. The biggest drawback was a lack of appealing entrees on the dinner menu. With the exception of one night, when there were four entrees I was interested in, there just wasn't anything that jumped out at me. Our waiter was Aziz, who was unobtrusive with a dry sense of humor. We ate one lunch in the Lido, which I find to be madness and mayhem since HAL did away with the trays and organized everything into individual stations. I don't like having to forage for my food. Disembarkation: Since we weren't flying home the same day we disembarked, there was no rush to get off the ship. We hung around our cabin until a little after 9:00 am, and then walked off and picked up our luggage. My sister commented on how nice it was not to have to sit in one of the public areas for hours waiting for our luggage tag color to be called. Just like embarkation, the process was smooth and organized. Things we didn't have/didn't get on this cruise - Master Chef's Dinner (thank God for small favors!), formal night, commemorative tiles, postcards of ship, Baked Alaska, and lobster (not even a prawn in lieu of a lobster tail). I didn't realize until I returned home that I didn't get a postcard. I keep a cruise book where I put a picture postcard of each ship along with my room key. I'm sure one of the cabin stewards or the concierge could have found one for me if I had asked. Summary: Overall a nice, short, relaxing cruise with an interesting itinerary. You can't beat a Deluxe Suite, which, along with the ports, was the highlight of this cruise for me. Food, activities and entertainment, and the staff's full engagement were somewhat lacking. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2010
This was mine and DH's first cruise on Holland America. Prior to this we did a 10 day on the Radiance and decided to hop on this repositioning cruise to make our way back home to Seattle. We have cruised many times (19 for DH and 17 ... Read More
This was mine and DH's first cruise on Holland America. Prior to this we did a 10 day on the Radiance and decided to hop on this repositioning cruise to make our way back home to Seattle. We have cruised many times (19 for DH and 17 for me) and our favorite line is Royal Caribbean, with Celebrity being our second favorite. I expected the service on HA to be top notch and about what Celebrity offers but overall I didn't get that at all. So, I'll start off with some of the good things I found while onboard this ship: - Great Captain. He was very friendly with all of the guests and took part in many activities, the cruise director was also a lot of fun. I found a few of the bar staff to be friendly which was nice since everyone else on the ship lacked that! - The Culinary Arts program was a lot of fun. Cat with the Explorations Team was a lot of fun and did some great classes. I was able to partake in a cooking demonstration with the Pinnacle Grill chef. It was a great experience and afterwards we were able to take our food that we made to the Pinnacle Grill and enjoy a glass of wine. Well worth the $29! - The Superior Veranda Suite was very nice and roomy. I will say that the colors of the room are outdated though, too much gold for me and not modern enough but then again, that is the theme of the ship. Loved having the jetted tub and separate shower and lots of storage space. I think the bed was one of the most comfortable I've ever slept on onboard a cruise ship. - I thought the food was really good and they had a lot of selection. I highly recommend the Pinnacle Grill - it's also one of the only places we received good dining room service, too bad we had to pay a surcharge to experience that type of service. DH had a huge porterhouse steak and I had the filet with two huge prawns. The lobster bisque was probably the best I've had so that was a huge plus! The CONS- - Mid and early 30's couple here. I think that HA attracts a much older crowd, like 70+ and unfortunately some aren't very friendly. Just so you know I get along with people of all ages, have made friends with a variety of age groups on all of our cruises but sadly most of the people on this ship were not friendly and if you like to have fun at night and like dancing to some upbeat music, we didn't find it at least on this cruise. We also have a good sense of humor and I wasn't sensing that from the guests on this ship. I also noticed this cruise had a few families on it with younger kids since it was a repositioning cruise and I heard a lot of people (without children) complaining about that. Also from what I saw they do not do much in the way of kids programs so if you are going to cruise with your younger children I definitely do not recommend HA. We have a 10 year old DD who loves to cruise and I'm so glad we did not bring her with us. - The dining room service was horrible and I was not expecting this at all. This is something very important to DH and I when cruising. Our waiter never introduced himself to us and we had him two nights in a row. (We finally stopped going after that) and our plates once we were done eating would sit on the table for what felt like forever! Nobody ever asked us how our food was, nor did our wait staff recommend anything. We were even sitting with an older couple who had been on the cruise for the previous 2 weeks, so it's not just because we were new to the table and younger than most on the ship. We also had to ask for things more than once. In my experience with cruising that should not happen. I am used to the waiter and assistant always introducing themselves and always being on top of when we are done eating and clearing our plates quickly. They didn't even offer more bread which isn't a big deal but once again, what I am used to. Also, the dining room felt very crowded with the chairs being very close together and not enough room the for the waiters to serve food. - Trying to get food in the Lido during lunch was chaos, long lines and having to go to different stations so by the time you were done waiting in one, your food was cold. I did feel that the servers in the Lido were a lot more friendlier though, aside from the manager in there. - The ship was on code red the first two days we were on there due to a lot of GI issues during the previous cruise. That made it very difficult since you couldn't touch anything at all. From what I have read this seems to be typical of HA. I think it's great they took precaution but I've cruised 17 times now and this is my first time experiencing this. Thankfully we stayed healthy and they did have hand sanitizer everywhere. - The layout of the ship was so confusing and didn't flow well. The ship also had some odd smells in the elevator and halls. I don't know how to explain them but they just seemed musty to me. - The decor of this ship is hideous in my opinion. I understand that HAL goes for the more traditional look but the carpet in the hallway to my room was just tacky and didn't match. I just don't see how this ship was built 8 years ago. Granted it's my first cruise on HAL so this is probably how they decorate all of their ships. - The Daily Program was lacking in my opinion. Not a whole lot to do on this ship when at sea. We spent a lot of time relaxing in our room, which was still nice. I will say that the entertainment they did have was good. - I have never been on a cruise where you see so much staff eating and partying in public areas and that was just weird to us. Yes, it was only four days, thank goodness but my husband and I do not plan on sailing HA again. It does not meet our expectations and what we look for in our cruise vacation. We will continue to stick with RCI, Celebrity or Princess. However, if this is your first cruise vacation or you aren't a cruise snob such as myself you will probably enjoy Holland America. I just know what I want from my cruise vacation and I just didn't get that from HA. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2010
This was our introduction to cruising, and we booked through a local Pacific NW travel agency. The deal seemed pretty good: about $1000 for two of us, including airfare from Seattle to San Diego, transfers from the airport to the pier, an ... Read More
This was our introduction to cruising, and we booked through a local Pacific NW travel agency. The deal seemed pretty good: about $1000 for two of us, including airfare from Seattle to San Diego, transfers from the airport to the pier, an upgraded stateroom with a veranda, and a chartered bus back from Vancouver to Seattle at the end of the trip. Check-in at the pier was completely painless. We arrived at the airport at about 2:30 and were onboard the Oosterdam by 3:30. Most of that time was waiting for our luggage at baggage claim at the airport. Our cabin was much more spacious than we had expected. It was immaculate (thanks, Sam and Jadi!), and very quiet. We never heard noises from the adjoining cabins. The good: the Oosterdam itself. It shows some wear in places (carpets a bit worn, some scuff marks from suitcases), but everything was very clean. The good: The mostly Indonesian crew were uniformly friendly, courteous, and very helpful. They seemed genuinely interested in helping. There's a cover over part of the aft pool deck, and twice I saw crew members up there cleaning it. The good: the food. Buffets can be hit-or-miss, but the Lido restaurant was uniformly top notch. The salad items were fresh, the entrees were tasty, and I'm STILL wondering how they can do scrambled eggs for 1,900 guests with such uniform high quality. We ate in the main dining room twice and were impressed both times. And we ate once in the Pinnacle Grill, and were REALLY impressed with the quality of the food and the service. The not-so-good: the weather sucked for a day and a half: force nine winds and 15-18 foot swells. I know the stabilizers were working overtime, but walking about was an adventure at times. The not-so-good: the bar prices. Drink prices were more expensive than in almost any cocktail lounge I've ever been in. Soft drinks were $2.00 each. The not-so-good: lines. There were lines for almost everything. Especially in the Lido restaurant at lunch. We struggled to find a table a couple of times. The ugly: our arrival in Vancouver. This was NOT Holland-America's fault. The Oosterdam arrived on a Saturday morning, shortly after the Zuiderdam, and just before a ship from NCL. So there were about 6,000 people trying to disembark all at about the same time. And there were ANOTHER 6,000 people simultaneously trying to get onboard. Combine that with the fact that this was the first cruise weekend in Vancouver, and the result was, to put it mildly, chaotic. We were 90 minutes late disembarking, it took 20-30 minutes to clear customs, and it took more than an hour for our chartered buses to arrive and pick us up. When our bus finally cleared the loading area, we could see that the line to get to embarkation went through the building, across the loading zone, up the sidewalk, and around the block. I didn't envy them, but at least it was sunny and warm. Because we were so late in getting on our bus, and because a few of the other passengers had flights to catch in Seattle, we drove straight through. So our last breakfast onboard had to last until dinner. The wife and I stopped at a Burger King not long after getting back in our car - quite a change from the luxury we'd grown accustomed to onboard. Will we cruise again? Definitely. But we'll think twice about disembarking in Vanouver on the first weekend of cruising season. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2010
I have been on 86 cruises in 35 years (I am not 50 yet - I started young!). My very first cruise was on the old Rotterdam with my grandparents. I've spent a total of 38 days onboard Holland America. To say it isn't how I remember ... Read More
I have been on 86 cruises in 35 years (I am not 50 yet - I started young!). My very first cruise was on the old Rotterdam with my grandparents. I've spent a total of 38 days onboard Holland America. To say it isn't how I remember it would be a major understatement. I talked my partner and and also my best friend from high school into trying Holland America. I went on and on about how nice it was, great service, lots of art, flowers, and despite the perception of being boring and a senior cruise - it would be a cruise to remember. I was so wrong and so right at the same time (I was right - it was a cruise to remember). Don't worry about no movies under the stars - they have all the other activities. Wrong again. Seriously nothing to do for hours on end. SAN DIEGO ARRIVAL AND EMBARKATION: Off to a great start with the $2.25 per person city bus right from baggage claim to the cruise terminal. Fantastic. Not a great facility and one gate open to let 2 ship loads of people in and out. Dropped off our bags and did the 15 minute walk down the fantastic waterfront to Seaport Village. Killed some time, walked back to the ship and was onboard about 10 minutes after entering the terminal. Credibility intact. STATEROOM: Booked a Verandah Suite for the three of us. Lots of room, double vanity, tub with whirlpool jets, standalone shower stall, etc. Five days before sailing, upgraded to Deluxe Verandah. No opportunity to accept or decline. Just changed. So I thought I would get all of the above plus the extra perks of Neptune Lounge and the sofa was bigger and promised to make into a double bed. Well, they gave us cabin 6175. Handicap access - we are not handicaped. Lots of room - yes. Double vanity - no. Tub with jets - no. Shower stall - no (in fact worse - do not use unless you want a pool in your bathroom). Extra large sofa - no (made into twin size springy bed). Again, no chance to say yes or no. Just done. Neptune Lounge? Nice but don't see what the fuss is about. Bed was comfy but the room never seemed to cool down. Wall mounted lamps were sagging off the wall. Lamp shade on one bedside lamp was taped in place. Access to private DVD libray - never had the movies we wanted (how someone else wanted to watch the 1969 version of Pink Panter seems odd to me). Embarassment starts. SHIP: Here is where the "I told you so part" comes into play. MANY reviewers have talked about the decor. I thought, how garish and ugly could it be? After all, I am Platinum/Concierge level on Carnival and some call those ships garish. Well, nothing can really prepare you for the ugliness of this ship. Beautiful artwork - didn't see it. Flowers - sparse and boring. The new parts of the ship really stand out and have promise. But the rest. It is hard to put into words. Flea market looking faded prints in the cabin hallways can't dampen the screaming loud blue or red pattern (nausea inducing) carpets. If the colors weren't screaming and glaring it was so dark you could hardly see. The furniture looks worn and tattered - everywhere you look. The lido? Yellow carpet in one section suddenly changes to blue, to red, to something else. The main dining room is red. And more red. And then some more red. And the heaviest and most impossible to move chairs at sea. OK Holland America, do something about this ship. By far the ugliest ship I have ever sailed on and that says a lot. Embarassment compunded. Signature of Excellence - not. SERVICE: Embarassed part compounds here and in a huge way. Now we all have heard about Noro and "code red" situations onboard ships. Without explanation, we boarded a ship apparently in code red mode. Saran wrap wrapped all the food stations - barrier ropes to keep you away from drinks, salad bars, etc. You had to be served everything by a staff that seemed indifferent and tired. Once you got them to understand what you wanted you were so annoyed the appetite was gone. Main dining room was "dine as you wish". OMG what a mess. Got seated quickly but that was the highlight. Ignored for an eternity, finally got order placed, ignored again, allowed one piece of bread, ignored, then food came and was tasty but lukewarm. Salad came after dessert. Not good. In the lido and dining room - you weren't allowed salt and pepper shakers, ketchup, or to touch anything. It felt like we were viewed as disease carrying toxic pains in the butt. Once the code red was lifted (again no explanation) 36 hours into the cruise, things got so much better. But unfortunately, the damage was done. Embarrassment complete. Good thing - cabin steward was very friendly in the old Holland America style. Would I go on Holland America again - probably not. Would I ever ask my partner to go again - NO. I feel I spent 4 days in a cabin I didn't want being treated like a pain as opposed as a valued customer (and I will add I am a stockholder of Carnival Corporation). It is back to Princess as our first choice. Even a Fantasy class Carnival ship would be a welcome step up from Zuiderdam. To my partner and our friend, I can only say I am SO sorry. To Holland America - come on guys you need to get it together. To Cruise Critic contributors - you told me so. To folks considering Zuiderdam - I suggest you look elsewhere. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2010
Well, I did this once and CC sent it back as it was one big paragraph. Let's try again as I really have something to say. I have read reviews on this cruise that were negative coming from the San Diego group that got on for 4 days for ... Read More
Well, I did this once and CC sent it back as it was one big paragraph. Let's try again as I really have something to say. I have read reviews on this cruise that were negative coming from the San Diego group that got on for 4 days for $199 ...... well, we were on this ship for the entire duration and you'll our reviews are 5 stars. First of all, embarkation in Ft. Lauderdale was so organized and quick I was quite impressed. I was also quite shocked that when I went to check in I had been upgraded to a room with a view (window seat) vs the tiny inside cabin I booked so thanks to you HAL for such a nice surprise. Unfortunately my luggage, drink cards, goodies from my Travel Agency went to the old cabin. Despite numerous calls from the 2 lovely ladies in my old cabin to the front desk and multiple trips to the front desk by me; I finally got my going away champagne present from Jimmy and Alex in Grand Cayman and found other purchased items by just simply calling these ladies in the old cabin ... so to the two wonderful bridge ladies in 7049; thank you from the bottom of my heart for my coffee card!!! I learned a lesson; just call your old room and go get your own stuff; the staff was overwhelmed it seemed like for 3 or 4 days??? So this said, I did not have my purple hat for sail away so other CC people could find me nor did I have my doorsign identifying me as I had no luggage. What I did have was a wonderful red fruity drink on the aft deck and got a gorgeous picture taken by the ship photographer that showed me sitting in the sun, hat-less, sunscreen-less in a long skirt having a fantastic sail away without new friends or champagne. However, I had my cell phone so called dear travel agent to let him know that Yes, I am ON THE BOAT!!!!! The cabin was large, spacious and well cleaned. I had a mini bar which I didn't expect and which I used to store pig puffs for my new friends from CC. I had no phone list for a couple days but we found each other at the welcome meet and greet and MsFancy was in her red/white Canadian tie. I want to thank HAL and Gene Young for arranging the wonderful events for our group and to thank MsFancy (Gladys Marie) for her work in putting together such fun events. Everything was well organized and planned out and I think the whole group had a lovely time; so lovely we are already discussing going again possibly in 2012 to Hawaii. Who knows, we'll meet up again. I had no complaints re the ship, staff. To rebuke what the 4 dayers have stated, the ship did NOT get the N1H1 virus until after Costa Rica so it came on somehow. Wasn't us necessarily. And the plastic wrap etc. was to protect us, the passengers. I didn't mind. And if the staff seemed aloof, come on folks, they were TIRED. And it was the children brought on in San Diego puking in the elevators and hallways the first day out of San Diego when the seas were so rough that caused the weird small ...... that smell wasn't there the previous 14 days. I realize the staff were working up to 16 hours a day to keep the ship clean AND doing their regular jobs, so no, they didn't get any time off. I will agree with the head of the Lido, he was way too serious for a cruise ship; this was not the Dutch military ..... it is OK to smile when smiled at; we were a happy, easy going group. We did feel a "change" in the atmosphere of the boat after San Diego. We were in relax mode and the newbies were in party mode. No one minded the children except a couple were really rude. Two little girls tried to beat out the glass in one of the glass elevators; don't know where they thought they were going, could have been into the sea; alas, they didn't suceed, but I noticed the elevator was out of service after that. And one little boy about 8 or so was licking his way down the stair railing (and we were in code RED .........) oops, bet that little fellow was sick when he got home; the staff were using various chemicals to kill germs on the railings. My only comment is parents should keep a little closer watch over their little ones as they can get hurt when not watched. We aren't all old and anti-child; we just appreciate the ambience HAL provides. Overall, I'll go with HAL again, why not, I bought the advance deposit. I do want to try one of the new ships. I enjoyed the cooking demonstrations and classes with Chef John who had an amazing amount of patience, and the speciality dinner with all that remarkable food we got to watch the chefs prepare and how much wine did we drink with that dinner? Elizabeth? I lost count....... So thanks again HAL; well done. You provided me with a most memorable vacation and the canal transit was absolute the bestest experience of my life. I bought the videos; only complain, you have it in fast forward and the people are running around like little ants. I am not going to do all the ports. Enough said already regarding them. I will say to those who didn't zipline, including me, let's do that next trip. I agree with people who went off alone. I think I have cruised enough now to just go my own way; the shore excursions, however nice, are very expensive. I want to say please join Cruise Critic to my new friends Jan and Patti Jean and thank my DTA (Darling Travel Agent) for introducing me to this site a couple years ago. I actually read all the reviews and either choose or not choose a ship based on previous postings. This ship was 5 and would have been 5+ but I was a little disappointed in the shore excursions. Read Less
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