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3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2018
Wanted a relaxing cruise with family for Spring Break- got it! But very disappointed with boat and selection of activities on it. Boat is very old and needs updating. They still have bathtubs in the showers! All food is served from a ... Read More
Wanted a relaxing cruise with family for Spring Break- got it! But very disappointed with boat and selection of activities on it. Boat is very old and needs updating. They still have bathtubs in the showers! All food is served from a buffet line, but you have to ask for them to put things on your plate, different from other ships where you can just get your own amounts of whatever you want. The main dining room was nice and servers were great, but food selection was a little unusual. If you like to eat duck and try new dishes you’ve never heard of, then the main dining room is for you. We found the food to be bland almost every night. The boat is very old, about 30 years, and does not have a huge atrium like other boats. There are a couple of little shops. The casino is very small, with only three $1 slot machines, three 25 cent slot machines, a few tables, and about 20 penny slots. The staff is very nice with all workers being very polite, but do not go above and beyond. The ship also has issues with plumbing. There were several announcements made about plumbing issues to everyone on the boat. Be prepared to have to call the front desk for a plumber to visit your room! The cruise director always says “let’s rock it until we dock it”, but not many activities are planned. Some activities included the art of flower arranging, movies, talks with port info, trivia, and art auctions. Many young people on the boat went to trivia to do something fun. We are used to having drinks of the day specials and a little send off party when we leave the port, but there was nothing like that on this boat. When we went into other ports and other cruise ships were there, they had music playing, but our ship was silent. People say that Holland America cruise line is mostly for older retired people, and we did find this to be true. So in conclusion, go on this boat if you like a nice relaxing time on a small ship, but avoid it if you are younger or traveling with family because there is not much to do. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2018
Second lifetime cruise for me and my 4 yr old (our first cruise was Alaska two years ago aboard the Westerdam with him, my 7 yr old and my father for his 80th birthday), first cruise for my 9 yr old daughter. My awesome wife can only ... Read More
Second lifetime cruise for me and my 4 yr old (our first cruise was Alaska two years ago aboard the Westerdam with him, my 7 yr old and my father for his 80th birthday), first cruise for my 9 yr old daughter. My awesome wife can only handle one kid on vacation at a time, meaning our 7 yr old drew the Europe straw with her this past week, leaving me, my oldest and youngest to go exploring the western Caribbean. I went budget this time (compared to the Westerdam), reserving an ocean view cabin (instead of a verandah, or as they are termed on the Rotterdam, a suite), and choosing to sail out of Tampa - a relatively easy drive from Atlanta at any time other than the start of spring break. The kids absolutely loved the OV window, and I didn't have to stress with my four year old toddling up on a deck table to look over the balcony (as he did on the Westerdam). Two big reasons I'm a fan of HA: every ship in their fleet appears to have a basketball court on the top deck, and every ship has a teak wood deck on their promenade level, which gives them a "classic" ship feel (not unlike WWII era battleships like the USS North Carolina or Missouri). We stayed at the Barrymore Hotel the night before next to the Straz Performing Arts Center, and reserved parking at the Skyhouse Garage - $56 for the week, a half mile tops from the HA terminal. We were able to take our time visiting the Florida Aquarium the morning of the cruise and eat lunch there, before walking back to the garage, grabbing our luggage, and wandering to the terminal for boarding. I've only done this twice - in Seattle and in Tampa - and to me, Tampa seemed like a big spacious terminal, and our embarkation was incredibly fast and easy. Enjoyed sailing down the Hillsborough River. Didn't eat a single meal other than at the Lido (we did the first night dinner on the Alaska cruise when my two younger kids were 2 and 5, and it was way too long and late for them; have never eaten anywhere other than the Lido since). There's enough variety with each meal - 3-4 appetizers, 4-5 entrees, 3-4 desserts, with made to order salads and pastas - and the menus vary enough that even if you eat every single meal there, you can go an entire cruise week without eating the same thing twice. First stop was in Key West, and because I hadn't yet bothered with Club HAL (it had been a bust on the Alaska cruise with my two kids being two of only five kids in the club) and had assumed I would have to do excursions with a 9 and 4 yr old, I booked events geared to the lowest common denominator - my 4 year old. We did the Land and Sea tour - an hour on a trolley train sightseeing Key West, followed by a two hour glass bottom boat cruise - which turned out to be a hit, since my whale loving 4 year old (which ironically took root two years ago on the Westerdam) got to see a pod of 6-8 dolphins up close just goofing off - which apparently does not happen often. Key West harbor was the least charismatic of any of the ones we visited - we had to go through the Truman Naval Base to get to town and got searched on the way back in - but even the least interesting harbor visit beats the best day in an office. NCAA basketball championship was that night, but since HA doesn't get TBS, I'd resigned myself to missing it for the first time in 40 years. So, imagine my surprise when I flipped on the ESPN Internat'l Channel that the boat does carry - and hearing Dick Vitale doing color for the game (which ironically, turned out to be a dud unless you're from Philly). I always dig the "at sea" portion of cruises - much boat exploring, much time spent in the ship's well-appointed Explorations Cafe (found an encyclopedia about ships which kept my four year old entertained and quiet while I taught my daughter how to play chess), and of course much time spent in the main pool with my kids mid-ship . . . Roatan was okay - the only I thing I booked for us that day was the "Magical Flying Beach Chair" which was just a ski lift from the pier to the beach - but which kids will love. The walk would've been nice too. Spent the entire day with my kids on the beach - ample equipment for rent - snorkels and floats - but cannot claim to have done anything truly "Honduran." Santo Tomas, Guatemala was memorable. Booked the Ak-Tenamit/Livingston river cruise - long boat ride up the bay and into the river, but it was worth it. I'm not a birder, but the river was dominated by water fowl everywhere. The Ak-Tenamit settlement, which included a visit to a local school with students was a hit with my nine-year old. Had a good lunch, though if I'd known how bony the fish would be, I'd have ordered the chicken. River ride out was also good; the ride back was broken up with a stop at the town of Livingston - with two kids, I never made it past their playground by the dock. The Santo Tomas harbor is a real life working harbor, and we were mesmerized watching containers being loaded and unloaded off of 18 wheelers before sailing off. What I will always remember about Costa Maya was the water clarity. The "harbor" there, is just a concrete walkway in the shape of a "T" - when we arrived, the Norwegian Pearl and I think Rhapsody of the Seas were already backed into the dock. The port area is easily the most well furnished. Would have liked to have done a beach, but with two small kids, I ended up rewarding them with a visit to the water park - which they both loved. Sea day back was relaxing - my daughter discovered Club HAL and asked if she could go - and both my kids ended up in the 9-11:30 am and 1-4 pm sessions. It was almost weird having an unexpected day to myself like that - so I did what any kidless dude in that situation would do - went to aft deck smoking area, found a chair in the shade, and lit up a big fat stogie . . . We arrived back in Tampa early the next morning - we ordered room service for 6 am, which turned out to be the right call - even though we were slotted for an 8:15 "expedited" disembarkation, the Captain released us an hour early - we were literally on the road home by 8:15 am - we got to the Fla Turnpike and I-75 so early, that for the first time I can remember, we didn't even have to stop . . . Shout out to Teguh and Anita for keeping our cabin clean, to the tall, brunette Guest Relations officer who found my kid after he ran off exploring the ship's elevators, and to the Lido dining staff who for the most part, actually seemed to enjoy my kids. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2018
I was worried when I read reviews from Dec 2017, but not necessary. This cruise was absolutely fantastic. It is a smaller ship and that’s what we loved. Though the ship is older we didn’t notice anything that was rusted or ... Read More
I was worried when I read reviews from Dec 2017, but not necessary. This cruise was absolutely fantastic. It is a smaller ship and that’s what we loved. Though the ship is older we didn’t notice anything that was rusted or in disrepair as others mentioned. The crew was attentive, gracious and experienced. It was really refreshing to see everyone dressed appropriately in the main dining room, no (or very, very few) shorts or t-shirts, showing respect for fellow cruisers and the staff that is working so hard for you. Even the kids were very sharp; kudos to those parents and thank you! Our waiter and assistant waiter were very friendly and helpful and so very busy; but outstanding nonetheless. The live main stage entertainment was just ok, but occurred every night. The best was the Planet Earth II feature because of the live music accompaniment, it was very powerful. The Lido buffet was smaller than others, but the selection was still vast and I can’t think of anything else one could need. Loved the “big salad” bar and that you can no longer serve yourself along most of the buffet - it was significantly cleaner and more appetizing, but I will say it holds up the line a bit which is a fine trade-off. We booked all of our excursions outside of the cruise line, so can’t comment on that. All of the ports were fine, Key West was fun, as usual, Roatan was a lovely island with nice and informative locals. I’ve seen Guatemala called a wasted port, but probably not for those who did an interesting ruins tour; we did a quick walk through the vendors and went back to enjoy a relatively empty ship. Costa Maya was certainly very touristy and commercial, but it looked like people were having great fun at the beach. Definitely an up and coming Playa del Carmen. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2018
This cruise, out of Tampa, is just an hour away from our home. Tampa port is a fun sail away (goes under the bridge around dusk/dinner time) so we often take this Western Caribbean cruise. We like the ports and the opportunity to see ... Read More
This cruise, out of Tampa, is just an hour away from our home. Tampa port is a fun sail away (goes under the bridge around dusk/dinner time) so we often take this Western Caribbean cruise. We like the ports and the opportunity to see some wonderful Mayan ruins. Key West is always fun - just a stroll down the main street is interesting. And the chocolate covered key lime pie from Kermit's is a must. Mahogany Bay has a great beach, easily reached by the Magic Chair ($12 round trip) lift is lovely, but way too crowded if there is more than one ship in port. SantoThomas, Guatamala is our favorite port because of the wonderful people, Mayan ruins and great shopping right at the port. Costa Maya port is all inclusive. But not to be missed are good beaches nearby. And further out are some amazing Mayan ruins still being discovered. Add to those 4 great port days, 2 sea days on the fabulous Rotterdam, this cruise is excellent. Read Less
8 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2018
This cruise was a total disaster due to the age of ship and the fact that we missed one of our ports of call, allegedly due to weather (although two other larger cruise ships docked ahead of us with no problems) but more likely due to ... Read More
This cruise was a total disaster due to the age of ship and the fact that we missed one of our ports of call, allegedly due to weather (although two other larger cruise ships docked ahead of us with no problems) but more likely due to broken side thrusters (supposedly repaired in Tampa delaying our embarkation over an hour). Upon arriving in Costa Maya, Mexico, the port I wanted to see the most, the Captain informed us after 5 minutes that due to weather he would be returning to Tampa immediately. All the passengers were surprised that he didn't wait to see if we could land later as we were supposed to be in this port til that evening. The Captain didn't even wait to see if the alleged "bad weather" improved but immediately set course for Tampa. The weather was fine--sunny with a slight breeze. The real issue was that the ship would have had to docked using the side thrusters between the other 2 cruise ships, and if they were broken again, then he would not be able to do so no matter how long we waited so he left immediately. Thus one quarter of my cruise was taken away from me and as a "gesture" the Captain gave us all a glass of cheap "sparkling wine" to compensate us. Needless to say the passengers were upset that we didn't get adequate compensation for missing a port of call and having an extra day at sea (meanwhile Holland America no doubt profited by keeping us captive on board with increased gambling and alcohol revenues). When we asked for better compensation, the snotty customer service staff told us to "read the fine print in the contract" and that Holland America didn't have to reimburse us for weather. While technically correct about the contract, the fact that the Captain never tried to wait out the "weather conditions" and sailed immediately to Tampa lends credence to our belief that the problem was really mechanical, for which the contract would necessitate reimbursement. I wrote requesting the maintenance records, but still am awaiting a response from Holland America. Needless to say I am not holding my breath. This entire ship should be scrapped. The bathtubs and plumbing were horrendous (see attached photos). Our suite was filthy when we arrived (see photos of human toenails on the carpet and crumbs all over dresser and mud on balcony) and then flooded later in the week so we could not use our suite on the last sea day due to maintenance men and loud blowers. Other passengers we met had problems with brown rusty water and scalding hot water so they couldn't shower and had to shower in the spa area. Several other passengers had toilet backups and our toilet flushed irregularly. And we were all in SUITES. I can't imagine how bad the less expensive cabins were. The restaurant service staff were aloof and disinterested in the main dining room and the Lido Cafe (however, the speciality restaurants Canneletto and Pinnacle Grill were excellent). If you were a group of women, you were often ignored while waiters served couples surrounding you. Every dinner I had to ask to get water, food, and dishes removed. Wait staff need to be trained to treat all guests (including women traveling without men) equally. We went to tea and eight of us women were ignored for a half hour until finally I had to physically track down the restaurant manager to get tea served and then tea sandwiches took another 45 minutes to arrive. There need to be more omelet stations in the Lido. It often took a half hour wait to get an omelet for breakfast. The entertainment was very good and there was sufficient seating for guests as they had two shows per evening. The comedian, magician and the Rotterdam Players were all very entertaining. The ship boutique had excellent sales and interesting merchandise. The photographers were all excellent as well. Too bad the poor physical condition of the ship, poor maintenance, disinterested service even when I booked a SUITE with a BALCONY, and MISSING A PORT OF CALL, all led to a terrible cruise experience. Please note that I was a second star Mariner Club member and even that couldn't help me get properly compensated for the dismal experience of this cruise. You do have choices when cruising so be smart and AVOID HOLLAND AMERICA, as it was indeed ROTTEN, DAM!! PORTS OF CALL: KEY WEST: Touristy but interesting. Take the Old Town Trolley to get a good overview of the town's history and see the major sights. Check our Tony's bar to view the bras hanging from the ceiling, stop at the Pilar Rum Distillery for a taste of some premium rums, and lunch at Sloppy Joe's. There will be a long line to get a selfie at the Southernmost buoy but take a shot of it without you in it and move on. ROATAN: Interesting island. We took a private tour and saw the entire island, visited the Iguana Sanctuary, went on a Glass Bottom Boat Ride--don't pay more than $30 and look at the boat windows beforehand as some were so foggy you couldn't see out of them. We ate iguana and oxtail at a local restaurant at the zip line attraction and headed back to the ship. There are nice stores around the docks. SANTO TOMAS DE CASTILLO: The stop in Santo Tomas de Castillo was a total waste of time. There is literally nothing to see or do here. THERE ARE NO ACCESSIBLE BEACH AREAS IN THIS PORT. We hired a taxi to take us around town--be sure to haggle as they wanted $80 per person and we got it for $25 but "guide" only spoke Spanish, no problem as I translated for our taxi, but if you don't speak Spanish forget it. The alleged "Taj Mahal" is really a funeral crypt not a real building. There is a port with banana boats and two local Mercados but nothing special. The trip to the waterfall is NOT worthwhile--small falls and treacherous walk to see them. There is a nice craft fair market in the terminal near the ship dock worth visiting. You can haggle there as lots of vendors selling the same stuff. At the far end you can get a passport stamp for free and try the local Guatemalan beer. All this (without the wasted taxi ride) can be accomplished in an hour so shop and then go back on board) COSTA MAYA: UNFORTUNATELY I NEVER GOT TO SEE THIS PORT AS THE CAPTAIN ABANDONED IT AFTER 5 MINUTES. WE ALL GOT RIPPED OFF ON THIS CRUISE AS WE NEVER GOT TO SEE THIS PORT. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: March 2018
Wanted to have a relaxing one week trip. Enjoyed immensely.Embarkation was very quick and efficient. Rooms were ready when we got on the ship! Common areas were not crowded. Minimal lines.Our Cabin was well maintained. Room ... Read More
Wanted to have a relaxing one week trip. Enjoyed immensely.Embarkation was very quick and efficient. Rooms were ready when we got on the ship! Common areas were not crowded. Minimal lines.Our Cabin was well maintained. Room attendants were friendly and willing to help. Dining room staff were very egar to assist. Can add a few more items for vegetarians.Happy hour was an added bonus.The BBC presentation was unique and creative. Jewelry auction added to the variety of activities on a Sea Day. Rotterdam is maintaining the traditional brunch for the Mariners.Guest Services and Future Cruise offices are run efficiently. Interesting ports of Call, sorry to have missed Costa Maya. Presentations re.ports and shopping were informative.Disembarkation was a breeze. I will recommend Rotterdam and this itinerary to anyone looking for a brief vacation. The weather made it all more enjoyable. This was our fifth cruise with Holland America, impressed with this sailing, we have booked for a fourteen days European venture in 2019. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2018
Our first cruise on HAL. We have cruised 10+years on RCL and were looking for a new experience. We were not disappointed Food,service, and ports of call are not what they used to be on RCL. Seven day cruises are usually only 3 ports (used ... Read More
Our first cruise on HAL. We have cruised 10+years on RCL and were looking for a new experience. We were not disappointed Food,service, and ports of call are not what they used to be on RCL. Seven day cruises are usually only 3 ports (used to be 4). Rotterdam, as some have said, is an older boat but is well maintained and much more conservative in decor than RCL. The crew was friendly and the dining was excellent. For younger cruisers there may be too few activities, but on HAL the focus is on service and the destinations,.Definitely an older crowd but at sea days were enjoyable with deck chairs available and little if any wait on a hot tub.Cabin was roomy with a tub/shower. Show consisted of a comedian, a comedian/magician and two show by the ship's singers and dancers. In addition, there were two BBC presentations which were very interesting. We look forward to our next Holland America cruise. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2018
My stateroom was changed without my knowledge and consent and it was worse than the one I had reserved. The new stateroom was located next to the front door and had strong vibrations and terrible noise. The stateroom's door kept on ... Read More
My stateroom was changed without my knowledge and consent and it was worse than the one I had reserved. The new stateroom was located next to the front door and had strong vibrations and terrible noise. The stateroom's door kept on continuously banging . In the shower compartment the pipe was clogged, and the water in the faucet almost did not flow. Within three days I asked to fix the pipe and faucet, but customer service manager answered that nothing could be done, and there was no another available stateroom. But it was a lie. The stateroom next to mine was available. On all my claims, eventually I was offered a room with a significant surcharge. It was just outrageous. There were also very few sun loungers on the decks. People had to wake up as early as possible to get any. Every day there was a strong smell of paint on the decks. Food and disserts were good enough Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2018
Review of Rotterdam, 14 day, Circle Caribbean cruise, March 11 - 25, 2018, in Lanai cabin 3376. We are 4-star Mariners, so the boarding process in Tampa, which is usually pain-free, was a breeze. We arrived at the terminal at 10:30 am, ... Read More
Review of Rotterdam, 14 day, Circle Caribbean cruise, March 11 - 25, 2018, in Lanai cabin 3376. We are 4-star Mariners, so the boarding process in Tampa, which is usually pain-free, was a breeze. We arrived at the terminal at 10:30 am, checked our luggage, and got our key-cards. HAL will re-use your previous ID picture, if you have a current one and your appearance has not changed much. We pre-purchased the Signature Beverage Package (SBP) online, so in the top right corner of our key-cards was printed SBP. We had late (main) seating fixed dining, table for 2, #72, upper level of the MDR. Lanai Cabin: Our cabin was a Lanai type, which we never had before. Instead of a private balcony, you have a sliding glass door (and a fixed glass door) which opens onto the very wide Promenade deck. The glass doors have extremely thick glass, possibly 1/2". That makes the door very heavy to slide. The door is held shut and locked by a magnetic lock. Very secure, impossible to open without the pass-card. There is a small white button inside the door that you press to release the magnetic lock. You have only a few seconds to slide the door open or it will re-lock. On the outside, right under the little sign showing your cabin number, is a proximity sensor. HAL provides 2 proximity cards in your room that are not marked or labeled in any way. Hold that card over the proximity sensor and a little green light will come on indicating that the door is unlocked. You have the same few seconds to slide the door open or it will re-lock. Once unlocked, a sturdy pull on the handle will open the door. It will not close by itself. You must push it closed to lock it. If you run out for a quick look at something, make sure you take the little white prox card or you will be pounding on the door to get back in. The door glass has a reflective film, making it impossible to see in from outside, even at night. I switched on all of our cabin lights, went outside, and pressed my nose against the glass. I could make out the glow of the ceiling lights, and some vague reflections. So, there's no concerns about people passing by and looking in. However, you will still need to close the drapes for sleeping, because the promenade deck is well lighted and that may affect your ability to sleep. Walkers start doing their rounds on the Promenade deck as early as 5:00 am. Some are crew members. They go as late as midnight. Very few joggers, mostly fast walking. There are 2 comfy lounge chairs outside the door. They are semi-permanently labeled "Reserved for Lanai Room". Still, even with the very obvious sign, some folks don't bother to read, or ignore it, feeling that they are somehow special, and signs don't pertain to them. One guy was relaxing in our chair during the sail-by of the Pitons in St. Lucia. We wanted to use the chairs. We politely asked him to move so we could use our chairs. He said, in perfect English, that he didn't understand the meaning of the sign on each chair that is was reserved. He did move. The chairs are made of wood, and the comfy cushions are removed each night around 7:30 and replaced each morning after the decks have been washed, usually around 7:00 am. The cabin was sized OK for 2 adults. There was a pull-out bed in the 2-seater couch. But I would not recommend a third, adult-sized person in that cabin. When the bed is opened, there is very little room to move around the cabin. The TV was on a shelf over the desk with a DVD player under the shelf. The TV is around 18" wide, and difficult to see from the far side of the bed. These TV's are the old, analog type, not the new on-demand 50" ones that are in the suites and on all Vista class and newer ships. You have 2 remotes, one for the TV and one for the DVD player. The TV does have external inputs, but they are analog, composite, component and RGB with audio. Anyone thinking of plugging a laptop into these TV's must bring their own HDMI to composite (yellow, red, white RCA plugs) adapter. There is an extensive DVD lending library and there is a catalog of movies in your room. There is a single US-style 120 volt outlet at the desk, and also a European (round prong) 220 volt outlet. Most electronic devices (including CPAP machines) will work fine anywhere from 100 volts to 240 volts. I use a CPAP machine, and I also have my laptop on the desk. I use the 120 outlet for the laptop, and with a $3 European plug adapter (not a converter) and a short extension cord, I use the 220 volt outlet for my CPAP. There are 2 USB charging outlets at the desk. The bathroom is typical, one sink, toilet, tub with shower. Only a glass shelf, no medicine cabinet. Closet space is adequate, with 3 closets. One of the 3 is less deep, and there are unmovable shelves in the closet that has the safe. Air conditioning was good, no problems. The thermostat numbers are in Celsius and adjusts in 1/2 degree increments. Easy to use, just remember that 28 C is 82 F, and 23 C is 73 F. Dining: We had fixed dining, main seating (8:00 pm), upper level of the MDR. Table 72, a 2-top along the railing overlooking the lower level. The food was very good, many selections, prepared well and properly served. Wait staff, although overworked, were prompt and efficient. Our favorite beverages, and a basket of rolls were always waiting for us when we arrived. I can usually judge the quality and variety of the menu selections on a HAL ship by the number of times I fall back to the "HAL Signature Selections", meaning the onion soup and Caesar salad for starters and the NY strip, roast chicken, or salmon for mains. I did that only twice in the 14 days. We ate at the Lido only for lunches. Generally, the lunch menus had lamb in the "carvery" too many times, but I don't like lamb, so that's a personal thing. We also really enjoyed the NY Pizza, out on the back of the Lido deck, across from the Seaview bar. They will make a personal sized pizza in any way you want, and no problems getting double-anything on your pizza. You get a pager to take back to your table while waiting for the pizza to be freshly made. Normal wait time is about 10-15 minutes. You also can request how you want the crust cooked. The Dive-In was great as usual. On this ship, the Dive-In is located at the forward end of the Lido pool area, close to the Spa. We had 2 Pinnacle Grill lunches ($10 each) and one PG dinner ($35 each). Our Mariner discount cut 50% off of those prices. The PG was great, as usual. We did not use the Canaletto restaurant on this cruise. We used the breakfast order card each morning. Yes, the selections have been reduced, but I have had absolutely no problem writing-in anything I wanted that was not on the card. Even Eggs Benedict as long as you want the version with Canadian bacon and not salmon. That will require an extra charge. I actually had more write-in items on the card than checked printed items. So feel free to write-in anything that is available at the Lido. We do tip the server who brings the breakfast tray each morning. Entertainemnt: We did not attend any of the Main Stage shows. We loved the "Mix" piano bar entertainer, Don Alexander. He was talented, good voice, and very versatile. While playing the piano, he picks up his small, alto saxophone and plays it with his left hand and continues to play the piano with his right. He will also play a harmonica along with the piano, Billy Joel style. He has bass accompaniment with a series of pedals. He constantly takes requests, interacts with the audience, and knows music for all ages. The trio (occasionally quartet) in the Ocean Bar was very good. Most movies that are shown in theater are on the cabin TV's the next day. The cabin TV's have CNBC, MSNBC, Fox News, and BBC for news, and 2 ESPN sports channels. They have 2 music channels, a location/weather channel, bow camera channel, America's Test Kitchen/Cooks Country channel that alternates with PBS documentaries, 3 movie channels that repeat every 2 hours, a port talk channel and a port shopping channel. There is a guide channel providing the lineup and channel numbers. Internet: The Rotterdam has the older style, by-the-minute internet. We had an access point in the ceiling of the hallway, only a few cabins away from us, so we had a solid 5 bars of signal at the desk in our cabin. They offer different plans with varying minutes. 100 minutes was $55, 250 minutes was $100, 500 minutes was $175. 1000 minutes was $250. They also have a plan where you are billed 75 cents a minute. Considering that speeds to connect to anything is slow, the 75 cents per minute is not a good move, unless you need to connect only a couple of times on your cruise. The speed we had was sufficient for a VPN connection, and a few Skype audio calls. I didn't try any video calls. 250 minutes was perfect for our 14 days. Shore Excursions: We only did one HAL tour, the Antigua Catamaran with Lobster Lunch, 6 hour tour for $139. We did that tour in 2016 on the Oosterdam, and liked it so much, we did it again. The rest of our tours were private or DIY. Ship Condition: We last sailed on the Rotterdam in 2005, so a lot has changed. But the ship appeard to be in good condition. There is still a library on deck 5, seemed to be well stocked. Disembarkation: We arrived in Tampa early. The ship was quickly cleared, and they started calling luggage tag colors at 7:30 am. Our time was scheduled for 8:45 to 9:45, and we were called at 8:10. A little trick that works great in Tampa. As soon as you enter the huge room with the luggage, grab a porter. He will take your bags, and escort you to the special "porters only" line. That gets you to the immigration officer in minutes. We were through immigration by 8:15 and waiting for our ride home at 8:20 am. Tip the porter $10 or $20, it's well worth it to not stand in the Disney-type lines, pushing all of your luggage as you snake through. Problems: The first night onboard, just before going for dinner, we noticed a small puddle of water under the sink near the toilet. We thought we may have splashed some water out of the shower. We placed a towel on it and left to eat. When we came back to the cabin around 11 pm, the whole bathroom floor was flooded and the carpeting outside the bathroom was squishy wet. We called guest services and the cabin attendant came quickly and looked. He arranged to shut off water in the bathroom until this can be checked out. The next morning, a plumber came with representative from guest services. The plumber quickly fixed the leak (or so he thought), and they vacuumed out as much water as possible from the carpets. They placed a huge, noisy floor blower in the cabin, at the foot of the bed to dry the carpets. The fan was very loud and we couldn't use the TV or have a conversation without shouting. We left the cabin and only came back to use the bath and change clothes. We shut the blower down for sleeping. That lasted 2-1/2 days. Just when they were about to remove the blower, we noticed water dribbling down the cabin wall at the foot of the bed. It was coming from the ceiling, dribbling through one of the hanging pictures, and then dripping on the carpet. That also was addressed quickly, but the blower was put back in to dry that carpet. Another day of noise. When we docked in St. Lucia, we came back to our cabin around 10:00 am and we heard a horrible loud steel grinding noise outside our lanai doors. We went out onto the prominade deck and the noise sounded as loud as a jet taking off. Workers were cutting steel pieces of the lifeboat davits a deck above. They were using cutting torches, steel grinders, and hammers. The whole ceiling of the deck was reverberating with the noise. We went back into our cabin and the noise was deafening. We went up to the Lido deck for drinks and lunch and we could still hear it very loud. This work was happening on both sides of the ship. Guest services said it was work on the lifeboats. They wouldn't say it, but I'm guessing that this was supposed to happen in the November 2017 drydock and was never completed. There's no way they would routinely schedule such a horrible noise with passengers onboard. We couldn't hear our cabin TV, even with the volume full up. We had to shout to each other to hear. This was not routine ship maintenance. We called Guest services again at 4:00 pm, hoping the noise would stop before the sail around the Pitons of St. Lucia, because there would be narration. They promised it would stop and it did, around 4:30 pm. We had a day at sea next, and then Curacao. Sure enough, at 10:00 am after docking, they started up again with the grinding. It was so loud, that guests approaching the ship from their shore excursions could hear the grinding over 500 feet away. We complained again to Guest Services, and they sent a rep to our cabin. There was nothing they could do, they insisted the work must be completed. On our sea day after Aruba, we saw another puddle in the bathroom. I called immediately and they sent more reps from Guest Services and a plumber. He spent an hour in our bath, and finally fixed the leak. After the 3 leaks, and the horrible noise from the lifeboat work, and having to put up with the blower in the cabin, they offered us compensation in the form of cabin credit. We felt it was a reasonable amount. I cannot fault HAL for the speed in which they responded to the leak problems and the speed they fixed them. That was under control of the Hotel department. But the steel metal grinding noise was under control of Marine Operations, and Guest services could only pass along the complaints they were receiving from us and other guests. Note, when we docked in Tampa at the end of the cruise, the grinding started up again, both sides of the ship. We were sitting out on the street, waiting for our ride, 500 feet away from the ship, with the terminal between us and the ship and the grinding was still very loud. On Saturday, March 24, right at 11:30 am, a woman carrying a home-made sign, marched through the Lido deck. One side of the sign was for the "March for our Lives". The other side of the sign said "Ban all Assault Weapons". She got as far as the Dive-In, and a couple of officers approached her and she stopped. Protesting on city streets is a right and I have no problem with it. If you are offended by the theme of the march, you can just ignore it or walk away. But doing it in a closed environment, on a cruise ship, with people paying thousands to get away from the world for a few days is not appropriate. Doesn't matter which side you support, a cruise ship at sea with a captive audience is not the proper place. I am happy that HAL's officers ended it quickly. The 2 TV channels dedicated to shore excursions and shopping on shore were constantly out of date. After leaving Key West, they had a port lecture recorded that repeated 24 hours a day. It featured the next 4 ports, through St. Lucia. On our day in St. Lucia and the day at sea following, we were still being told of the wonderful things we could see and buy in the prior 4 ports that were long gone. A little thing, but it makes the EXC department look kind of silly, or lazy. They could have made a port lecture for each port, and run them all together in sequence, but delete each one as we left that port. All in all, we had a great time, the Rotterdam is still a great ship, and they did address the problems we had quickly. The only beef I has was with marine operations trying to pull off maintenance that was so offensive with passengers onboard. Read Less
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