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8 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2019
We chose the Zuiderdam for the Baltic cruise because we wanted an itinerary that had us in St Petersburg for two days since we wanted to more fully explore that port. We also wanted a smallish ship because we don’t want to contend with ... Read More
We chose the Zuiderdam for the Baltic cruise because we wanted an itinerary that had us in St Petersburg for two days since we wanted to more fully explore that port. We also wanted a smallish ship because we don’t want to contend with the number of people on the large ships and some of the small ships get too pricey. We chose wisely. We had an amazingly experience and among our group of 6 with mixed levels of cruising experiences we all agreed we would do it again. My husband and I got off and most ports and did things on our own with the exceptions of St Petersburg and Warnemünde where we had lined up tours with TJ Travel and Harry’s Taxi respectively for our group of six. Both tours were tremendous and well worth their price which was way less than the ship. In Stockholm my husband and I got a cab so we could start at the Vasa Museum and walk back. One couple did the Hop on Hop at some ports and the Easy Excursions from the ship at other ports except Tallinn which is an easy enough walk around for them. Our remaining twosome used a combo of HOHO and just walking off the ship at the other ports. We needed a cab in Tallinn for our couple with limited walking abilities. Tallinn has a HOHO but you cannot get into old town. This same couple used wheelchairs in St Petersburg provided by TJ Travel. We were confused the first couple days by the dining but got it sorted out. The flyer we receive each evening in our cabin indicated that it was open seating (or some similar term). We thought that meant our scheduled dining time was not being honored and instead we should go anytime. Well good news is that you can go at your scheduled time OR anytime. I like this feature a lot but it was a little confusing. We did want to go at the same time and have the same servers so we figured it out on day 2 and we did that going forward. The food was always amazing and varied. The only exception was embarcation day but I bet that is a crazy day for the kitchen. Great experience had by all! Read Less
Sail Date: June 2019
After 14 cruises with this storied line, I was disappointed with the Copenhagen-Copenhagen sailing that stopped in Norway, Iceland and Scotland:(Lerwick, Inverness were pleasant surprises) All the ports met expectations and more. ... Read More
After 14 cruises with this storied line, I was disappointed with the Copenhagen-Copenhagen sailing that stopped in Norway, Iceland and Scotland:(Lerwick, Inverness were pleasant surprises) All the ports met expectations and more. Holland's receptions had no music; first ship I've been on that had no orchestra; no appetizers, Bloody Mary's had no celery. B-B King's seemed to forget that they were there to play jazz and blues, not 90% rock n roll or whatever it took to get people on the dance floor. If it hadn't been for the Lincoln Center classical performers, there would have been No entertainment. There were no production shows, only a comedian, some signer and a local group that got on in Iceland for one evening that no one understood them or their music. There was an abundance of food that was either tasteless, undeterminable or the chef was left to make whatever he/she wanted. Salads had mushy substances instead of recognizable products(tuna, chicken)???pizza slices had virtually no cheese on them; sandwiches consisted mostly of bread, mayonnaise and mustard(cold cuts, chicken or salads composed less than 10%.) Hardboiled eggs served in room service had turned gray from age. I'd rate the food OVERALL: one level below fast food! Excursions were pricey and in one instance one bus had 64 people on it with one guide in Iceland. Needless to say, it was not worth it! The ports sold themselves in terms of their beauty, offerings and ability to get around on your own. I would recommend future passengers secure their own tours. Disembarkation was efficient and could not come fast enough. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2019
ITINERARY is the reason to pick Holland America Line. However, we both came home sneezing and coughing because of the airco in the cabin that is placed right over the bed and cannot be shut off. This was also the case two years ago ... Read More
ITINERARY is the reason to pick Holland America Line. However, we both came home sneezing and coughing because of the airco in the cabin that is placed right over the bed and cannot be shut off. This was also the case two years ago when we also sailed with Zuiderdam but we figured this major problem would have been solved after the ship had been refurbished. But NO. We were certainly not the only people complaining about this problem and I would never book such a ship again. Service, food choice had also declined in two years. The menu was cut down, no more surf and turf, or baked Alaska. I do not mind paying for lobster ($20) but the quality was poor, lobster was small, hard and tasteless. Other dishes failed to impress as was the case earlier. Now the service has always been excellent, but also here they started dropping the ball, almost constantly. Three times our wine got lost and most dinner they were unable to serve us wine with first course, which is really a shame. Also on deck nine staff sometimes unfriendly, and hardly willing to serve. A great let down! We are going again with HAL in September on Koningsdam and on New Statendam service was better and the airco could be shut off, we always take veranda cabin to get in fresh air. Cabin staff was fine and we like the older look of Zuiderdam too but they really must get their act together and stop counting pennies. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: June 2019
I'd have given this cruise an overall raging of 5 were it not for HAL cheating out on food, service and entertainment. Food was almost always JUST warm. No flavour and boring, I brought my own garlic powder is that's an ... Read More
I'd have given this cruise an overall raging of 5 were it not for HAL cheating out on food, service and entertainment. Food was almost always JUST warm. No flavour and boring, I brought my own garlic powder is that's an indication. Wine staff are ill equipped to offer any advice and are mostly bored with the job. We usually like to attend the Sip and Savour but after one, we stayed away because the so called sommelier had no real interest. She just went through the motions. I had to send back the escargot because they were actually over cooked. The dining room service is not very good. I think HAL reduced, again, the number of people working the dining room. Entertainment was largely just above the Busker level. Two very good dance performances by the group One Step. The five piece string and piano recitals in the Lincoln centre were quite good but other than that, entertainment was third class. The Lido for breakfasts and lunches was HAL's standard level of quality but the guy at the eggs station needs an attitude adjustment. The Drive In's food is just terrible ...... except for the fries. They are tolerable. Can't comment on HAL's tours because we don't take them. Waaaaaaay over priced. The ship was clean and our cabin attendants were very efficient. Our captain made entertaining and informative announcements. It was a good cruise but had the above been better, it would have rated as excellent. We tend to use the gym on sea day. Why were there no individual TV monitors on the cardio machines. Instead we had to watch CNN, FOX or BBC.....silently. Another thing. There are an awful lot of Canadians onboard. Why not offer the CBC Newsnetwork.....far better coverage. We finally attained that 4 Star Mariner status and enjoyed all that free laundry and discounted wine packages. Hopefully that does not change. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: June 2019
The Northern Isles cruise was a great 14 day tour of Nordic country and history in Denmark, Norway, Iceland, Shetland Island and Scotland. The cruise had 5 full days in Iceland, longer than most tours. My husband and I went early to tour ... Read More
The Northern Isles cruise was a great 14 day tour of Nordic country and history in Denmark, Norway, Iceland, Shetland Island and Scotland. The cruise had 5 full days in Iceland, longer than most tours. My husband and I went early to tour Copenhagen/Sweden. Copenhagen has so many wonderful things to see you could easily spend 5 days just in that site alone. We took a fjord cruise and shopped in Bergen. We went on the troop wall tour in Ålesund, highly recommend. We booked a private tour to reduce the price. Seydisfjordur was a lovely town with colorful buildings. We took a tour to the interior part of Iceland’s Eastland. Next came Akureyri with the huge Godafoss waterfall and the really interesting Laufas Museum of a Church and preserved sod house. In Isafjordur, we took a tour with a local to Flateyri with a waterfall and the most amazing views of lupine flowers all over the county side and hillsides. The guide has rested eider down for the over 10000 ducks on his land. Then there were 2 days in Reykjavík with an Super Golden Circle tour and a city tour with the historic open air museum the next day. Lerwick and the Shetland Island was amazing, taking a small bus tour with a local, seeing the southern part of the island with amazing views, the Croft House museum, Scalloway museum with 5000 year old ruins and Sumburgh Head with Lighthouse and Puffin lined cliffs. Last stop was Inverggordon/Inverness, Scotland with a tour of Loch Ness, Culloden Battlefield, Clava Cairns and Inverness shopping. Many’s memories, any pictures. A cold was going around the ship and we both picked it up, luckily near the end of the cruise. The on ship experience was very peaceful. They had great EXC tour specialist that gave information. The shows did vary, some were not as interesting. They did have three large music venues to attend, we found we enjoyed some of the music days better, especially the five piece Ensemble at the Lincoln center room. The in room dining with always great with fresh food and came quickly. The main dining room, the food was very good and non-gala nights. The Lido market had a variety of food that was just fine. We ate once at the Pinnacle Grill, you can eat lunch there for only $10. This was a really good restaurant. I recommend purchasing the unlimited laundry, you can bring less clothing. We purchased drink cards of $250 rather than a higher price drink package. At the end of the cruise the money left on the gift card was applied to your account. Embarking and disembarking went very easy. We took a morning tour with airport transfer to the airport on the last day. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2019
Chose the cruise because of the advertised itinerary. HOWEVER, port times were on the average 3 hours shorter than stated in sales brochures. Four ports were on holiday or Sunday-nothing was open, and experiences were limited. ... Read More
Chose the cruise because of the advertised itinerary. HOWEVER, port times were on the average 3 hours shorter than stated in sales brochures. Four ports were on holiday or Sunday-nothing was open, and experiences were limited. Worst--Cherbourg, France docked on Sunday no rental cars were available all tours had been booked before we purchased the cruise, So my plans to visit the DDay beaches and museums were destroyed. The town was closed except for a couple of convenience stores and a few junk shops. I asked a cruise director why we had a Sea day Saturday and Cherbourg on Sunday- She became irate and said you have to be somewhere on Sunday (duh Sea Day). Oslo Norway - holiday everything closed or sold out. and on and on! Food was very poor quality overall, the Italian Specialty restaurant was a section of the buffet in which they placed a sign, a hostess station and table clothes. The Spa on the first day was a huge sales hustle trying to force overpriced treatments, but they offered same treatments at reduced prices throughout the cruise. A massage for $170. was the worst I've ever had-back was out because of the bed and the person barely touched my back, when I talked to management they said oh well! The kicker was my Wife left a small box of jewelry in a nightstand drawer. We tried to call from the Airport could not get Through. Tried to call the ship would have cost $8.00 per minute from the first ring. Landed in LA called Holland closed. Called on Monday to report the loss and explained that the only two people that had access were the cabin cleaners. They referred us to a lost and found service which we have contacted several times and received back have not found your item, I ask for a contact with the captain so I could advise him he had thieves on working the ship. Hollands response nothing-no contact information. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: May 2019
This was our fourth Holland America cruise and our second HA cruise this year. We last sailed on the Westerdam around Japan which was fantastic. As this was also a vista class ship and we had also been on the Oosterdam we expected similar ... Read More
This was our fourth Holland America cruise and our second HA cruise this year. We last sailed on the Westerdam around Japan which was fantastic. As this was also a vista class ship and we had also been on the Oosterdam we expected similar levels of service. Sadly that wasn't the case. The embarkation from Copenhagen was managed well as was the disembarkation. We only did the 14 night section of this so we started and finished in Copenhagen. The cabin we were assigned was balcony cabin 7036 and while it looks good on the ship plan it is as noisy as hell. There is a crew access door immediately opposite the cabin door so all crew movements at early hours can be heard through what seems to be a paper thin door. Most staterooms are relatively soundproof when you take into account the white noise from the air conditioner / heater. People conducting conversations nearby in the hallway honestly felt like they were about to enter our room and could be heard clearly. It didn't help that the neighbour on one side had their tv at an audible volume until 11pm most nights and the other neighbour had room service delivered every morning at 7. The latter was a guaranteed wake up call as we heard the steward knocking and calling out room service every morning. I've had issues with rooms (plumbing or air conditioning faults) in the past where we were moved to another room but in this case they only had worse rooms (disabled which had no storage or a room adjacent to the lifts). We asked them to run some foam around the door to stop noise entry but that was done in a half hearted way and made no difference. At that point customer service ended. When we were on the Westerdam the food was so good I was advising people to switch from Azamara to HA. The food on Zuiderdam could be described as average at best. I have honestly had better meals in pubs and only one meal stood out over the 14 nights. Not sure if it is a new policy but breakfasts in the dining room didn't have pastries being offered and you had to request them. Even when you did request them you were offered a small selection in a bread basket. When I asked for a specific pastry I was told they didn't have them and yet when I walked upstairs they were in the Lido. The service in the dining room was good at a personal level but horrible at a systemic level. They would be nice as pie but forget to return with items you had asked for. Or they would bring two courses at the same time so one got cold. Or if they didn't do it that way they would serve the second course which had been sitting under a heat lamp and was baked dry and crispy. Think Swedish pancakes bain maried to a crispy tough mess. The ship is the oldest of the vista ships and it really looks it. Only two years older than the Westerdam and yet it looks very tired. Broken windows on upper decks and lift shafts and lots of clouded or water filled double glazed windows on lower decks. Not the end of the world but it spoke of the lack of effort evident in everything else we experienced. Instead of Holland America meaning a level of quality it reeked of cost cutting. As I said the itinerary was brilliant. We did Copenhagen, South Queensferry, Invergordon, Kirkwall, Stornoway, Belfast, Dublin, Cherbourg, Zeebrugge, Amsterdam, Oslo and back to Copenhagen. Shore excursions are notoriously overpriced but they come with the guarantee that the ship will wait for you if the tour goes pear shaped. Fine if that is your worry. We don't use them because they are so pricey. At two ports we paid for a taxi and did our own thing for less than the cost of a per person ship transfer. That speaks volumes about the HA penny pinching IMO. I don't sail for the "enrichment activities" or the casino or shows or fitness and am happy reading a book watching the world go by with a drink so my average rating on all reflects that. With what we paid per day I'm thinking next time I'll find the extra and go with Azamara because If this was indicative of how they are headed I fail to see any difference in quality between them and the cheaper brands under the Carnival banner. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2019
The destination and also wanted to see how good the silver line sailing was, first day entering the cabin we were allocated the toilets were not properly cleaned. We had to buy water which is a bare minimum when you see the cost.Even ... Read More
The destination and also wanted to see how good the silver line sailing was, first day entering the cabin we were allocated the toilets were not properly cleaned. We had to buy water which is a bare minimum when you see the cost.Even in remote places in India and Peru hotels provide bottled water for health reasons.No here it cost $27 for 6 litres of water. The entertainment was so sad the mainstage had only about 3 days of worth while entertaining! 2 good british acts ( one singer/entertainer Martin Kay and another comedian juggler) the dance troupe first production was so dated but the second was more modern and good ! The BB King Jazz team was good and entertaining! but only a few limited numbers. The billboard pianists were very good too. The classical shows were just ok.Like listening to you children performing at a term end concert. The Cruise director was non existence (very sad compared to NCL) the cruise captain was fabulous and kept the passengers well informed. The food at the Lido and dining room was the only saving grace! The burger by the pool is not worth mentioning! Such dry burgers ! The drinks were expensive but thanks for the happy hour!After charging excessive amounts still want passengers to pay a daily gratuity.Disgusting! If you are over 75 and have plenty of cash and want to retire to the staterooms by 7 this is a cruise ship for you.Spa the prices are three times at NCL.For meditation class 312.what a laugh Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2019
Holland america is a great line The zuiderdam was nice and clean and comfortable I like the food and the services Love the Baltic cruise St Petersburg Stonia Finland Sweden Denmark I had a great experience ... Read More
Holland america is a great line The zuiderdam was nice and clean and comfortable I like the food and the services Love the Baltic cruise St Petersburg Stonia Finland Sweden Denmark I had a great experience the excursions was beautiful The disembarkation and embarkatoin was nice and smooth Our dining room stuff ware wonderful specialy Herman and iman Love the wine tasting and wine package The captain was very friendly just like the rest of the crews entertainment was so so was okay Didn't like the idea of the yoga room all open concept saroundit with bicycle and other exercise machines Pools was clean and well look after I was disappointed because no library Only few books for exchange Not enough exercise class or activities I attended some free starch class The exercise room wasn't open tel 7 o'clock AM we ware waiting at the door 5 minutes after a sleepy fitness structure Appear and open the door I felt he was over worked Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2019
always wanted to visit Denmark, the homeland of my husband and since the cruise started in Copenhagen, this was our opportunity to do the Baltic Sea cruise. We always choose Holland America as the mid size ships are our preference. The ... Read More
always wanted to visit Denmark, the homeland of my husband and since the cruise started in Copenhagen, this was our opportunity to do the Baltic Sea cruise. We always choose Holland America as the mid size ships are our preference. The HAL ships are always relaxing and comfortable. The staff is fantastic, very friendly, approachable and well informed. The safety of the passengers is very evident and welcomed. The captain of the MS Zuiderdam was very visible and hands on. Dined at the Pinnacle restaurant and the food was superb. The ship was very clean and the décor tasteful. We chose a balcony suite on the fifth deck and it was convenient located to access both the Explorers Lounge, Main Stage as well as the main dining room. Both the embarkation as well as the dis-embarkment went very smoothly. Look forward to our next adventure with Holland America, it is always a well satisfying experience. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2018
We are definitely not going on HAL cruises again , neither recommending HAl to my friends. This cruise has been a big disappointment to us, and from what I've heard around, to other travelers, as well. The main reason for us to ... Read More
We are definitely not going on HAL cruises again , neither recommending HAl to my friends. This cruise has been a big disappointment to us, and from what I've heard around, to other travelers, as well. The main reason for us to choose this cruise was its itinerary, but 3 out of the 10 stops were canceled. Sure one cannot fight weather conditions, but I do have my doubts about how necessary was the cancelation of St. John's. The alternative entertainmet activities offered to us ,in place of visiting St. John's and during the 3 days we were detained on board and in Akureyri , were miserable :A ping pong game, a lecture and a large screen movie ?! The stop in Djupivogur was added without prior notice, so the only available excursions were with the ship's EXC, for outrageous prices of around 300$ per person. One lady on board said that everything on the cruise seems "nickeled & dimed". She also spoke about the crew selling water in the gangways , and said that in her opinion , when a person buys an excursion for 250$, he expects to get a complimentary bottle of water. In the pier change one can see another example of this "nickeled & dimed" approach. The change created a problem to many guests that planned on arriving to Manhattan. HAL felt obliged only to guests with transfers booked through HA, as it was written in the notice: "guest with independent arrangements will need to plan accordingly" In my opinion a respectable company should have taken care to bring everybody, who needed, to Manhattan. When HAL finely organized bus shuttles t Manhattan the charges were 30 $ per person. We paid for a taxi to Midtown Manhattan 42$ (tip included)! Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2018
All in all, this turned out to be a pretty good cruise. The itinerary got changed around a bit for a number of reasons. We had bad weather in the Labrador Sea which caused us to miss two port calls, also, on the way to St. John’s , we ... Read More
All in all, this turned out to be a pretty good cruise. The itinerary got changed around a bit for a number of reasons. We had bad weather in the Labrador Sea which caused us to miss two port calls, also, on the way to St. John’s , we needed to double back and assist in the search efforts for a person who went missing from another cruise ship that was in our area so we missed that port and finally, the dock in Manhattan suffered damage by another cruise ship so we couldn’t use it and had to dock in Brooklyn instead. Throughout it all, the Captain kept us informed and up to date on everything. The crew (especially John Clelford the CD and his assistant Liz) was fantastic and always came up with extra events and activities to fill the additional sea time. At one point, a group of officers came around the Lido Pool handing out chocolate covered bananas to make up for all the inconveniences. None of these issues were in any way HAL’s fault but as a gesture of good will, all passengers were given $50.00 OBC and 15% of what you paid for this cruise as a Future Cruise Credit! Again, none of these problems were the fault of HAL at all. In my book, that is going above and beyond. There was always a welcome back tent set up on the pier when we came back from shore visits. They served hot cocoa and chicken soup. When you got back onboard the ship, there was a person handing out warm cloths to wash your face and hands with. It was a very nice touch! We decided to get a monogramed bathrobe towards the end of the cruise…even though we ordered it with well less than the “Please allow 48 hours” time frame the ship requests, the Front Desk went above and beyond to make sure we received it in time. There was even a luggage scale set up by the front desk on the last night. We saw many whales, porpoise and icebergs. We never did see the Northern Lights but there was a phone tree set up so that if they were spotted, you would get a call. Embarkation was pretty smooth. We entered the building at 11am and were on the ship at 12 noon. The luggage was not in the cabin yet but it showed up within the next hour or so. The ship was in very good condition. The carpets in the areas outside of the elevators looked like they were brand new. Of course, there was the normal wear and tear that you could find if you looked for it but the crew was always working on fixing and cleaning things. We had a Signature Suite on deck six port side which turned out to be a very good side for this cruise. Not the least of which, you get to see Lady Liberty from your veranda during the sail in to NYC. Also, we seemed to get a lot of sun and other good scenery on that side. One drawback though was that the port side was where the tenders were lowered and recovered so it was a little noisy during those brief times. Our cabin stewards were very good and super attentive especially considering how many cabins they are in charge of. One thing though, our flowers disappeared after the first day and it took me two days to finally get them replaced. I never did figure out what happened. One night we came back from dinner a little early and our steward was right in the middle of our turn down service and he gave us a quick lesson on how to make a towel animal. That was a lot of fun! Speaking of towel animals, on one of the sea days there was a “towel folding class” being held out on the Lido deck and the entire area around the pool was absolutely filled with various towel creations, some I had never even seen before. It was very neat and fun. There were even towel animals hanging by all the tables near the windows. As far as the art work on board, to me it seems like a mish-mash. I never could detect any kind of rhyme or reason or theme to it. The art gallery is still there but now they aren’t hawking auctions all day long. They had a very knowledgeable person who worked there who did trivia events, art lectures and other fun things. I learned a lot and never felt pressured to buy anything. The entire ship, including the Casino, is non-smoking except for the area back by the Sea-View pool bar. I know this because I had a cigar I wanted to smoke so I called the Front Desk and asked. The cigar was great and no one bothered me. They turned most of the former Crow's Nest area into a revenue generating area now. The Future Cruise Consultant and the Shore Excursions (EXEC) are up there now where the Explorations Café once was. They seem to get ALOT more business with the new location. Usable space in the Crow's Nest just for "hanging out" has been drastically reduced. The very large table style computer screens are really only suitable for their intended purpose, which is to scan the world ala Google Maps style. They really don't work for anything else like card playing, board games etc. I have to admit tho...it was fun showing our newly met friends THE ACTUAL STREET we live on and them doing the same. Also, the map screens came in handy when we had to change piers in NYC because of damage to the original pier. We used the screens to see where we would actually be docking and realized we would still sail past Lady Liberty, which was a relief. The "book exchange" shelves on the port side as you entered had a few books in them but it seemed that they were all in a foreign language. The books on the other side were mostly travel books etc. The two big screens that are now placed front and center in the space do show some interesting information i.e. engine room stats, water temp, position etc. but they further reduce the previously available space for "hanging out". The "Captains Corner" area on the port side was filled with rows and rows of folding chairs and the only events that were held there that I know of were pseudo trivia events designed to whet your appetite for other cruises. The whole Crow's Nest area is still a quiet place to grab a chair and watch the world go by...IF you get there early. With all the reduced space just for "hanging out", seats go early, VERY EARLY. Bottom line: I can see where it works good for HAL but not so much for the people who liked it as it was before. The new Gallery Bar is a HUGE improvement over the old Northern Lights "Disco". The new space is very cozy and elegant with beautiful and interesting art and very inviting furnishings. Some sofas had white pillows! A lot of events and meets were held there during our cruise in contrast with the old, dark, Northern Lights that was only used for bar crawls etc. The "Sports Bar" and "Piano Bar" are now gone and the space has been opened up into the "Billboard Onboard" area. During our cruise, there were two guys who played duets together most nights. I'm not sure what "dueling pianos" are but these guys just played the same songs together. You got to sit close and request songs but were not really encouraged to "sing along" like the old Piano Bar was designed to do. It was OK but to tell you the truth, I like the old Piano Bar concept MUCH better because it was more intimate and crowd participation focused. The Lincoln Center Stage was up and running. Let me just say...I used to really enjoy the Adagio duo while having a before dinner cocktail. I would actually make a point of getting ready early and going down there to have a drink and listen to Adagio while I waited for the rest of my party to join me. I never did that with Lincoln Center Stage once on this entire 20 day cruise. Don't get me wrong, they are very talented musicians but now it seems more like an "event" that you need to schedule instead of just entertainment to watch while you are waiting for your table to get ready. In fact, during "show times", the ship actually puts out signs telling people to be quite because "A Performance is in Progress". So you come out of the MDR, just having had a great dinner with new (and old) friends, yukking it up with the "Yum Yum" man, in a great mood and you get hit in the face with the sign that says "Quiet, Performance in Progress". Total buzz kill! You want to hear something really funny? One time we came out of the MDR and were talking normally and some do-gooder who was there waiting to get into the MDR gave us the "shoosh" sign (index finger vertically over pursed lips). What this person didn't realize was, the actual musicians were ON BREAK and what we were hearing was A RECORDING! The Navigator app worked well but we didn’t find it that useful other than to check our on board account. As far as daily activities go, I preferred to carry around the paper “When and Where” instead of using the app. We did use the messenger feature a couple of times. All in all, I think it’s a good thing but we didn’t use it much. We went to quite a few of the Mainstage shows at night. Most were pretty good. The Zuiderdam singers and dancers are very talented and personable. The guest entertainers were very good also in particular a foursome of young women from the UK who have amazing voices and did shows on two different days. They are called The IDA Girls and if you get a chance to see them you should do it! On a lot of days the Mainstage was used to show the daily movie and the Screening Room was used to show various BBC Earth films. At night, the big screen movie was then shown in the Screening Room. There were plenty of movies on the in-house movie system and new ones were added all the time. The BBKing’s group was very good too like always but we never seemed to spend much time in there for some reason. A lot of times when we went in there it was pretty empty. I felt bad for the performers because they were really good but the crowds just weren’t there. In contrast, every time we went by the Queen’s Lounge (same venue) during an “America’s Test Kitchen” demonstration, it was packed! The scenic narration and cultural talks before port visits and during sail aways were very good and informative. The Military Meet was held in the Gallery Bar and was very well attended There was coffee and cookies available and as a bonus, one of the ship’s Engineering Officers who was also a military veteran attended the gathering and was a great source of amusing stories. Overall, the food was very good on this cruise. We ate several times in the MDR with anytime dining and never had to wait very long at all. We always said we would share a table so that helps with the wait times. We had three Gala nights on this cruise and two were surf and turf. The lobster and steak were very good. Most people were dressed up pretty nice for Gala nights and the Dining Room Manager did a good job sitting people together who were dressed similarly. (IE suits with suits, casual with casual etc.) We did one afternoon tea and it too was enjoyable. We ate several meals in the Lido. The soups were consistently delicious! The service in the Lido was very good and the people who work there are very friendly and nice. Tables were tough to find at certain times but most people were willing to share their table if there was room. On the last night of the cruise the Lido served a dish called “Lobster Mac & Cheese”. Sounds good right? It was horrible! Nobody at our table liked it. I’m not sure what went wrong with that one but it was definitely a miss. Made to order pasta, omelets, salads and sandwiches were all good. We ordered room service breakfast several times and it always showed up right on time and correct. I love that they use the MDR china for the room service, it’s a nice touch. One thing though, occasionally when we ordered cereal and milk, the milk came in those little boxes with the straws. It’s very difficult trying to get milk into your cereal bowl from those little boxes! We ate at the Canelleto for the first time on this cruise. What a delight! The food was superb and the service was exceptional. It was well worth the upcharge. We ate at the Pinnacle Grill one night. We have eaten in the Pinnacle Grill on several different ships so I’m going to be a little critical here. The past few times I have not really felt that the experience was worth the upcharge of $35.00. This occasion was no different. When we were seated, I noticed a whole bunch of salt or something similar all over my seat, I actually had to get up and brush it all off. The menu was stained and actually torn in the corner. Never saw that in the MDR. The food was very good and so was the service but again, I don’t believe that the whole experience is worth the extra $35.00 It was a better value when it was only $20.00. We went to afternoon tea one time and it was a lot of fun. We also attended the Mariner Brunch and although the food was good I never saw any officers there. I heard that the Captain did welcome the guests but we never saw him at the Mariner’s Brunch. As a side note, we did see the Captain out and about several times during this cruise and he was very good about keeping us up to date on things. There were two scheduled happy hours every day on this 20 day cruise AND, every day at the Lido Pool area, they were selling Bud, Michelob, and Coors buy one at regular price and get a second one for $2.00. all day every day. It was unadvertised except for the servers who would tout it. They were 16oz. cans. A pretty good deal. The Dive-In was very good as was the Taco Bar that was set up by the Lido Pool every day. Disembarkation was held up slightly for some reason. There were rumors going around that it had something to do with the Stevedore Union. Once we got off the ship, getting our luggage and getting through customs was pretty easy. We did get off in time to make it to our tour bus and take our ship sponsored tour of lower Manhattan. This was a great tour and it included a transfer to Newark airport. It was a great way to end a great cruise! Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: August 2018
Have recently arrived back in Australia following the Viking Passage cruise on Zuiderdam. I was slightly anxious about a cruise of this length as our first cruise, but totally enjoyed the experience and my husband and I are already ... Read More
Have recently arrived back in Australia following the Viking Passage cruise on Zuiderdam. I was slightly anxious about a cruise of this length as our first cruise, but totally enjoyed the experience and my husband and I are already talking about where we will cruise next. I was pleasantly surprised by the size of our stateroom - we had a large inside room on main deck and we would happily book this type of room again, although the lack of natural light did mean that I was never quite sure if I should be getting up or staying put in the mornings!! I found that sea days have a particular appeal, especially when I had the opportunity to see whales (from a distance) and dolphins (quite close to the ship) and many icebergs over the course of a couple of days. I particularly enjoyed the mainstage shows each evening and thought the Lincoln Centre Stage performers were exceptional. The dining options were quite good, however we found that we did prefer the casual dining in the Lido over the main dining room, mostly because of the lack of tables for two in the dining room. However, I must commend the helpfulness and friendliness of all the food and drink service staff. I did have some concerns with the laundry service as on the majority of occasions we had some problems including items missing or damaged. One time we received an item that was not ours, so returned that via our fabulous cabin steward. On all but one occasion these problems were addressed, however it was slightly disappointing that I needed to regularly contact guest services about our laundry. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2018
We chose this cruise purely for the itinerary, and knew nothing about Holland America. But so glad we took a chance! Friendliest crew we have ever met on a cruise- ok. we didn't meet our cabin steward till the second day, but no ... Read More
We chose this cruise purely for the itinerary, and knew nothing about Holland America. But so glad we took a chance! Friendliest crew we have ever met on a cruise- ok. we didn't meet our cabin steward till the second day, but no problem. Lots of things on this ship that we felt were done very well. We loved the system with sunbeds- no need for pool towels in our room- they're already rolled up and ready to use on the beds. Great retractable roof over the pool, and we were always able to get a bed there when we wanted one. Food in the Lido and restaurant was generally of a high quality- I loved the make your own salads in the Lido. Although the ship was full, it never seemed crowded anywhere. Evenings meals we had in the restaurant. We generally went down about 7, asked for a table for two, maybe had to wait 10 minutes, then straight in. Maitre d always very accommodating, as were all of the staff. Our cabin was on Rotterdam deck., towards the rear of the ship. Very comfortable, very quiet. Entertainment in the evening was ok. We enjoyed B B Kings, Trivia quizzes ( met some great people) and some of the entertainment in the theatre. Billboard wasn't for us, although they were very popular. Daytime activities on sea days we found to be very limited, but that's no different from most cruise ships we've been on. Gave me time to catch up with reading! The Crows nest area we found to have a bit of a strange layout. No library on board this ship, which was a first for us- books available to read in the Crows Nest, but we didn't find it a particulary inviting area. We did four shore excursions through Holland America- no problems with any of them, except for the price! Would recommend that people checked out independent tour operators for all the ports- we booked with Travelling Viking in Akeyuri prior to cruise. Prompt pick up at11 in a mini bus, great tour guide, and a lot less than Holland America wanted for simoilar tour. Embarkation and disembarkation very well organised- had to wait a while for coach to come to airport to pick us up for transfer to ship, but because we were the last transfer, went straight onto ship . Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2018
We chose this Baltic cruise because we liked the 10 day itinerary, with only 2 sea days and starting and ending in Copenhagen. We thought our balcony room was in excellent condition, with fresh paint, nice bedding and carpeting and a ... Read More
We chose this Baltic cruise because we liked the 10 day itinerary, with only 2 sea days and starting and ending in Copenhagen. We thought our balcony room was in excellent condition, with fresh paint, nice bedding and carpeting and a sofa bed in good condition. In the public areas everything had been redone with blue and teal furnishings, and it all looked nice. The ship is older with not a lot of razzmatazz but we knew this ahead of time. The entertainment was mediocre at best-we liked the Billboard piano hits the best, the BBKing music was always too loud to enjoy, and the main stage events were mostly acceptable if unexciting. We enjoyed an American Test Kitchen event and went to a wine tasting. Other than that we did not pursue any onboard activities. We like the open promenade on deck 3 for walking around the outside of the ship. The food in the main dining room was just average, with a couple of good meals mixed with some rather poor options. We had two meals in the Pinnalce Grill with one halibut dinner and one steak dinner that were good but nothing especially memorable. The Cannaletto was the highlight-both our dinners there were delicious and the service was excellent. The lido breakfast and lunch were both nice. Overall I think the food is cruise ship average. Given the reputation for service on HAL we were disappointed. Our room steward twice left dirty dishes/bottles in the room. The wait staff often rushed us, hurrying us to take our orders. The wine steward was slow, and complained about having to check for our open bottle in the dining room At the Pinnacle Grill they twice sat us at terrible tables (which we requested to be changed) even though good tables were very much available. We reserved 6 pm dining over a year earlier but they gave us 8pm dining. We asked to be switched to open dining on the first night in the dining room and they said they would do that. Each time we went to the main dining room they said we had an 8 pm reservation and we had to explain the situation again. Overall, I recommend this cruise for the itinerary, and for those who are not concerned about having a new ship with lots of entertainment options, but will be content with pleasant cabins and a low key atmoshphere. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2018
Cruised with HAL before and found them good, same service etc on this cruise. I didn’t book the drinks package and found it was cheaper to pay as you go especially as the cruise had happy hour a few times each day. (Buy one and get ... Read More
Cruised with HAL before and found them good, same service etc on this cruise. I didn’t book the drinks package and found it was cheaper to pay as you go especially as the cruise had happy hour a few times each day. (Buy one and get another for 2$) The entertainment was good from the main dancers and singers but the comedian was awful. The group ‘Five o’clock somewhere’ where good singers but didn’t really like their quirky act. The B.B. kings were great but it was the same show each night I enjoyed the Lincoln centre stage The billboard on board see,ed to be popular but I only went on one occasion The trivia was good fun and good way to meet people The food in the dining room was a little cold on some occasions Overall the food was excellent I didn’t go on any of the HAL excursions Tallin This is an easy city to do on your own - it has a free walking tour from the main tourist office at Niguliste at noon for 2 hours, although the town is pretty compact so you could easily walk about on your own. It is about 5/10 minute walk from terminal The small train that goes around the city does not have commentary St. Petersburg I completed a 2 day tour with SPB who were half the price of HAL with the same itinerary. The hermitage was packed and very uncomfortable to tour. Helsinki This is a large city, you are given a map by the tourist office on arrival, if you ask them to show you were your location and follow the sea this will take you to senate square etc. About another half hour walking will take you to the rock church and sibilieus monument. There is a shuttle bus service for about £10 Euro return. Stockholm I did the hop on hop off bus tour which was good, you could equally do the hop on hop off boat tour which will take you to the same sights or just take the ferry to all the sights which would be slightly cheaper. I went to Glama Stan to see the palace etc. Rostock The ship supplied a shuttle bus to this small town for free, easy to get around to see the huge clock in the main church. Kiel I did a free walking tour from the port at 0930 for 2 hours this was by Maggie and very good, it is also a small town and easy to get around, only about 5 minute walk to centre of town Copenhagen I got air luggage to take my case to the airport £15 Euro and then caught the number 27 bus into the little mermaid then walked into town. There is a bus number 11 takes you around all the sights but this an easy city to manage on foot. Went to Rosenberg castle to see the changing of the guard at 1130 hours I booked a city pass ticket for public transport for 80 DEK which got me the train from central station to the airport as well, you can buy this ticket from outside the terminal but I got it online. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2018
This was our second time on Zuiderdam, and the dry dock has definitely freshened its appearance. We did a 10 day Baltic cruise during the height of a record setting heat wave, but the ship was always cool and comfortable and in top ... Read More
This was our second time on Zuiderdam, and the dry dock has definitely freshened its appearance. We did a 10 day Baltic cruise during the height of a record setting heat wave, but the ship was always cool and comfortable and in top condition. The Good: Very comfortable suite with great bed, nice veranda furniture, spacious dual sink. Music walk concept provided a variety of music by excellent performers. Specialty dining was very good. Staff at every level was first rate and helpful. Shore excursions were well run with interesting itineraries. Bar drinks were reasonably priced. Shops were well stocked with some designer items (Nautica, Tommy Bahama). The bad (or less than perfect): Main Dining room food was inconsistent from very good to so-so, and there were a few instances of overcooked entrees. Breakfast servings were not always as hot as they should be. Lido actually did a better breakfast, especially the omelet bar. The cabin had a great Samsung 50in TV but very little to watch, either live or on demand. Internet service was so slow as to be almost worthless. Bottled water was overpriced. Read Less
12 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2018
We have been cruising on Holland America now for a number of years and have been on a number of ships cruising North America and all over Europe. This particular cruise departing Copenhagen and visiting Norway, Iceland, Lerwick UK and ... Read More
We have been cruising on Holland America now for a number of years and have been on a number of ships cruising North America and all over Europe. This particular cruise departing Copenhagen and visiting Norway, Iceland, Lerwick UK and the Faroe Islands was overall good but with some negatives as all cruises have. We sailed on the second half of the 24 day cruise called the ""Northern Isles Enchantment Cruise”. which already had some passengers onboard from the Baltic Sea part. The transfer from Copenhagen airport was fine with a 1 ½ hour tour of the city prior to arriving at the cruise terminal where the embarkation was a little chaotic which seems to be the norm lately. The PA system at the terminal was not functioning properly and it was difficult to understand the boarding instructions. Once onboard we noticed that the Zuiderdam was recently renovated and all of the public areas were updated to include our Signature Verandah Suite which was both spacious and comfortable. Our cabin steward quickly appeared to introduce himself and offer any assistance that he could. He did a very good job of locating and delivering our luggage which took some time as apparently it was misdirected. The encountered staff members were very friendly and professional with the exception of 2 or 3 members at the gangway entrance who seemed to be a little frazzled with the new passenger arrivals and were a little snippy with directions. After settling in to our cabin we went to the main dining room to make our “Open Dining” reservation and quickly found out that the dining room scheduling desk on Deck 2 was preferable to making reservations than the reservation telephone number as the representatives weren’t all that accommodating or informed. The overall food in the dining room was fair with some hits and some misses as should be expected. We did notice a slight decline in food quality from previous years. One point to make is to order any breakfast eggs “well done” as other Cruise Critic reviewers have noted that the eggs are served watery and undone both in the dining room and with room service as well. The Pinnacle Grill was fabulous and the Canaletto Restaurant not so much as the food quality decline was very evident. The Lido at lunch was extremely crowded with the seating limited. On the last sea day before leaving we just handed our full plates to a steward to throw away as there wasn’t even any shared seating available to include in the adjacent pool areas. We ended up waiting a half hour and picked up two chicken sandwiches from the Dine In Grill and sat at the outdoor pool lip/bench area with the food in our laps. The overall entertainment was not of any interest to us as we only enjoyed 3 of the 14 nights in the Main Stage and ended up leaving after a few minutes for the 11 performances that we didn’t care for. The “Billboard Onboard” piano/singers were fantastic but the BB King Band was not as they were way too loud for the small room and not up to the standard of other BB King Bands that we enjoyed on previous cruises. The America’s Test Kitchen activities were very entertaining and fun to attend. We purchased 3 excursions and were disappointed a bit with all of them as there were many glitches obviously with the contractors and a lack of communication with the ship. A point to make is that when trying to review the excursions on the Holland America web site the review option seems to have disappeared. Maybe I am doing something wrong and looking in the wrong place. Guest Services appeared to be “Out of the Loop” on many occasions with inaccurate information being distributed to us often with a later correction. On the plus side our final invoice was correct and billed to our credit card. The Captain was always visible around ship and gangways and was seen interacting both with the staff and passengers. There were many passengers that were coughing and sneezing all over and for the most part the personal hygiene/health habits left a bit to be desired to say the least. All in all a “fair” cruise experience with some pluses and some minuses and the cruise was nothing special. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2018
We chose this cruise for the itinerary. It was our first time on Holland America, which we feel is not as good as our favorite cruise line, Princess. We loved all of the ports on this cruise. The drop down boxes above didn't give ... Read More
We chose this cruise for the itinerary. It was our first time on Holland America, which we feel is not as good as our favorite cruise line, Princess. We loved all of the ports on this cruise. The drop down boxes above didn't give me the choice to say this was the Northern Isles cruise. We visited two ports in Norway, spent 5 days in 4 ports in Iceland (overnight in Reykjavik), and stopped at the Faroe Islands and Shetland Islands. We spent a day in Copenhagen before boarding, visiting Tivoli Gardens. Boarding was smooth, and we were very pleasantly surprised that our room was ready when we arrived. The ship was recently refurbished, but we did not see much evidence of it. Our room was standard issue cruise cabin, which we expected. The bathroom needed serious attention: the toilet seat had deep scratches, as did the bathtub. It was just very tired looking. We chose Open Seating for our dining option. Our cruise consultant assured us we would be able to make 6 PM reservations, but once on the ship we found we could not. The choices in the dining room and in the buffet did not offer much variation. Room service kept bringing me decaf tea when I requested regular, so I finally gave up. Canaletto, the $15 per person Italian restaurant, was a disappointment. It's located at one end of the buffet, so it doesn't seem in any way special. The food was no different in quality or variety than the regular dining room. The entertainment in the Main Stage was okay. We've seen better on Princess and Royal Caribbean. Activities on sea days were disappointing. Talks on upcoming ports were given once, so if you couldn't make it you were out of luck. Seems like it would be simple enough to record them and give the option of watching them on the TV in one's room. Our room stewards were great! Always attentive and very helpful. The buffet staff and dinner waiters were also outstanding. Breakfast and lunch waiters in the dining room were curt and almost surly, as were some of the room service delivery persons. We took only three cruise line sponsored shore excursions because there just weren't many to choose from. All were very good. We appreciated that Holland America helped us with hearing assistive technology for my husband. One of the three tour operators had a system for him to use. Maybe Holland America could be more pro-active about this. Overall, we enjoyed this cruise very much, mostly because we were able to visit ports that we were interested in. I doubt we would choose Holland America again unless they offered an itinerary that another cruise line does not, as in this case. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2018
We chose this cruise for its terrific itinerary. It did not disappoint. From Bergen and Alesund and the fjords of Norway to the tiny towns of Iceland and the lovely little city of Reykjavik, we had something to look forward to at every ... Read More
We chose this cruise for its terrific itinerary. It did not disappoint. From Bergen and Alesund and the fjords of Norway to the tiny towns of Iceland and the lovely little city of Reykjavik, we had something to look forward to at every port. Having the Faroe and Shetland Islands added was simply a bonus. The Zuiderdam was clean, beautifully maintained and as stable in the swells as one could hope for. The crew was outstanding, from the Captain, who was visible and approachable throughout the cruise, to the men who polished brass every single day! Our balcony cabin was standard, but again, cared for quickly and with pride by our stewards. We never wanted for anything. We enjoyed the Explorations Lounge on Deck 10 for scenic sailing. Dual pianists in Billboard Onboard were beyond fantastic. It was our go to evening destination! Mainstage entertainment incorporating BBC photography was a treat. I enjoyed America's Test Kitchen and pickleball; my husband visited the fitness center on each sea day while I walked the deck. There was enough variety on the Lido buffets to more than satisfy us for breakfast. The Dive In for burgers and hot dogs was an excellent lunch choice along with the taco bar. Dinners in the Main Dining Room were not always exceptional although food was always beautifully presented. The Pinnacle Grill was disappointing,, again service was lovely. Embarkation and debarkation in Copenhagen were smooth. Three ports were tender ports; the transfers were efficient and well organized. We never had to wait for a tender either leaving or returning to the ship.. We opted to do our own thing ashore - sometimes with fellow travelers whom we had met through our Cruise Critic Roll Call. We also had researched local websites extensively. We liked that we could move at our own pace; Port calls were long enough that we were able to get a real feel for each place. Read Less
13 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2018
We left on the Zuiderdam’s July 7, 2018 sailing for a two week cruise from Copenhagen, Denmark visiting Norway, Iceland, The Faroe Islands and the Shetland Islands. We flew a day in advance so as to make certain we would feel refreshed ... Read More
We left on the Zuiderdam’s July 7, 2018 sailing for a two week cruise from Copenhagen, Denmark visiting Norway, Iceland, The Faroe Islands and the Shetland Islands. We flew a day in advance so as to make certain we would feel refreshed for boarding. We stayed at the Clarion Airport hotel which was an easy walk with luggage from the airport. We checked in and walked half way between the hotel and the airport and took the metro to the city center our first afternoon. From there we did a boat ride through / around downtown. We left for the airport check in the next morning around 10:45 am. Boarding the bus was straightforward and we arrived at the pier around 11:30 am. The check in process was also smooth. We were on the ship within half an hour. The cabins were available by the time we got on (noonish). The weather was warm and we had specifically packed our bathing suits for the pool. Excellent check in experience. The ship is looking a little worn. The benches in the hallway by the elevators are just pure ugly and chipped. The corridor artwork is also old and outdated. As far as maintenance, there were a few issues. Some of the arrows above the elevators are burnt out. You cannot tell if the elevator is headed up or down. The reading light by my bed was also burnt out. The wooden door that covers the mini fridge had screws that had been pulled out from the frame. Also, during the voyage, maintenance staff were sanding down the metal door frames to each cabin and repainting them. The screeching from the sanding was annoying and I had to request that they stop so I could take an afternoon nap. They obliged. (It seems to me that since this ship just recently came out of dry dock, that would have been the place and time to address these issues.) In terms of entertainment, I did go to the shows featuring various headliners. In the main show lounge, there was a pianist who was rather showy. Also there was a couple who did Cirque du Soleil style entertainment including the ropes/ acrobatic style high wire movements. There was a rather showy violinist from Iceland. But, one or two songs from her were sufficient. Also, all of the instrumentalists gathered for a BBC multimedia presentation. This was the highlight in the main show lounge. Besides the main show lounge, there was ‘The Lincoln Center’ featuring two violinists, a violist, a cellist and a pianist. Unbelievable talent here. They performed at least once if not twice a day. Also, there was the B.B. King Blues Club featuring a group of talented musicians performing appropriately named style of music. Also, there was the Billboard lounge. Here, there were two pianists who did not receive enough recognition. They were incredible. In summary, the entertainment onboard was tops. The gymnasium was small, in comparison to other ships. The treadmills were often all in use, especially at opening time, 7:00 am. The resistance equipment was minimal. There was a trainer on board who did classes throughout the day. If you like to watch TV during your time on the treadmill, as do I, you need to ask for the TVs to be turned on. The sound was minimal, but you can ask to have the dialogue text option turned on. The service desk did a good job, although this part of the ship is also small so the lines can get long to speak with one of the few representatives. A plus here is that they will exchange currency for you. Right next to the service desk is a single kiosk to print out current bills throughout the voyage. (Being able to review charges is not possible from the stateroom.) The shore excursion office, the future cruise booking office and the library have been moved up to Deck 10 in the Crow’s Nest. The size of the future cruise booking office is the size of a large closet. I consider this to be a shame. These offices should be centrally located and closer to the service desk. During this sailing, there was flooding from above. Carpet dryers and shop vacs were all over deck 10 forward to dry this space. I used to enjoy listening to music up here in the past, but the room is no longer set up in this way. Speaking about the future cruise booking office, I asked for an atlas for next year, specifically one with deck plans. Apparently HAL no longer considers printing deck plans in their promotional literature important. Here, I highly disagree with this decision. In addition, I had a couple of run-ins with the shore excursion manager, Reanetse Atema. This was by far the low point of the cruise. (Don’t be surprised by what the shore excursion office won’t be willing to do / discuss). Dining in the main dining room was a bit of a letdown. We had open seating and in order to get a table within a reasonable time frame, without making reservations for a specific evening, in advance, showing up before 6:00 pm was important. That seemed to be the time when the lines began. I find having opening seating and needing to reserve for a specific time to be a bit contradictory. But HAL is not the only company who follows this type of policy. With respect to the food, I had some disappointments as well. The baked potatoes were white potatoes, not baker potatoes. That was disappointing. The Caesar salads were soggy. The dressing was not seasoned with anchovy paste, but rather a single anchovy was placed on top of the salads. The crème brulee was flavorless. The everyday sirloin steak was so so. Otherwise the food was acceptable. Dining in the ‘market place’ lido buffet was great. Breakfast and lunch choices were plentiful. As an aside about space in the lido buffet, I noticed there were no identified areas as ‘reserved for the handicapped’. There were multiple passengers in motorized scooters who would have to navigate the close tables in order to eat here. Although the ship has rooms that are handicapped accessible, more attention needs to be given to other public spaces onboard. We ate in the specialty dining area 4 times. Three times, the room was noted to be the Pinnacle Grill. The 4th time, the same space was noted to be Rudi’s sel de mer. Each night the service and the meals were excellent. The lobster bisque was one of my favorite dishes. I had lobster one night, a pork chop another night, a filet mignon a third night then had Alaskan crab another. Remarkable dining here. There was one other spot noted for specialty dining called Canaletto. This Italian dining venue was actually part of the Lido Market Place. I ate in this venue two summers ago on the Koningsdam and swore I would not return here. Only the Lido Bar and the Ocean Bar on deck 3 offered drink specials (basically 2 for 1) from 4:00-6:00 pm every night except for the first night. Space was tight here during these times especially on dress up nights. Drinks were good and reasonably priced during these hours. I was disappointed that this offer was not available across other bars on the ship. Nevertheless, thanks to Nice and Albert for your service. In summary, weather or not I sail with HAL again will depend upon a response to a letter I wrote to President Orland Ashford regarding the shore excursions office. I am a 3 star mariner with HAL and have sailed with them since 1968. Shore excursions: Our first port Bergen. We were on a bus ride to see the general area of Bergen. That trip was O.K. What was better was strolling the main road for souvenirs, including wool sweaters, and stopping for a beer. Also, there is a Star bucks here that has free WiWi. So, if you are not up to spending $20.00 a day for a WiFi connection on the ship, this is the location to head for. Port two was Alesund. We did a great boat ride through the fjord. This provided us wonderful views of the area. We highly enjoyed this experience. The third port was Seydisfjordur. We payed $70.00 for this tour. It was a walking tour through the town. We chose this tour because we did not know where the town was in relation to the pier. After all is said and done, I would recommend getting off the ship and walking the town independently. The pier is at the base of the town. No need to spend the money. Also, in hindsight, I would suggest that HAL remove this port as there is really nothing here. Or, if not, I would recommend staying onboard. Port four was Akureyri. Once off the ship we boarded a bus to Myvatn Nature baths. This location is not as popular as the geothermal baths in Reykjavik, but as enjoyable without the hype. It was part of a combo tour visiting a ‘falls’ on the way. I would recommend, for sure. This was booked directly the HAL. Port five was Isafjordur. From this location we boarded a boat to take us to the now non-existent town of Hesteyri. I would say skip this tour as well. It was an hour’s boat ride in each direction to walk in the fields with a talk about the way this town used to be. There is currently one family living in this town. They provided us with some sweet bakery delights and coffee before our return back to the ship. Port six was day one in Reykjavik. Here we boarded a bus for the ‘Golden Circle day trip’ featuring Thingvelir, Gullfoss waterfall and the viewing of a Geysir. I had some issues on this trip. The bus itself was old with broken reclining levers, no seat head rest covers and most importantly inoperable seatbelts. We were told to wear seat belts and that we could be individually fined for not wearing them. But many, including several senior citizens, could not wear them due to the condition of the bus. The tour itself was fine. The problem was with the tour operator. I sent a letter to the HAL president about this experience. Port seven was also Reykjavik – day two. Although the Blue Lagoon is a highlight from my trip – 2nd time to a geothermal bath, the operator was once again a problem. The bus was not air conditioned so the escape hatches need to be opened. One person was not on the bus at departure time, so a bus full of people needed to wait 50 minutes before returning to the ship. After pre-showing we had about an hour of time in the lagoon. We were treated to a silica mask and a drink. This was certainly a novelty. Had the tour operator returned on time and the bus had air flow, I would have rated this activity as a 5 star opportunity. This also entailed writing a letter to the HAL president about this experience. Port eight was Torshavn, Faroe Islands. From this port, we traveled by bus to Gjogv. At this site we had a midday snack of cold pancakes and instant coffee. From this restaurant, we walked down the hill to Gjaar church. It was nice but not impressive. I cannot imagine living her in the winter. Port nine was Lerwick, Scotland. This was a tender port. We boarded a bus to take us to Scalloway Castle, the Scalloway musem and to see some Shetland ponies. The castle was small and not impressive. Same can be said for the museum. Seeing the size of the Shetland ponies was impressive. PS, downtown Lerwick has some wonderful souvenir shops. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2018
Sailing the Baltics was on my bucket list. The ports were what was expected. The meals onboard certainly was not. Have been on HAL before on an Alaska cruise 4 years ago. Ship was docked quite far away from the city center in Helsinki ... Read More
Sailing the Baltics was on my bucket list. The ports were what was expected. The meals onboard certainly was not. Have been on HAL before on an Alaska cruise 4 years ago. Ship was docked quite far away from the city center in Helsinki and Stockholm. There was a free transfer to town in Stockholm but none in Helsinki. Dining - We dined in the Main dining almost every night as we like to socialize. The food were surprisingly disappointing on this cruise - certainly not up to expectations. Common complaints among our fellow cruisers were that the food were lukewarm when served. I like my soup and meals hot. One good indication is that the plates with the food were cold to the touch. You would expect them to have food warmers considering the number of meals that have to be served. It generally took 2.5 hours to sit through dinner each night. Coffee after meal were no better - lukewarm. We were on Cabin 4014 - right above the Ocean Bar (deck 3). When they have something going on like Trivia Games - they crank up the loudspeaker to the max. Went down to complain and was told this is normal ship operations. Had to leave the cabin when something goes on below - especially on sea days - so beware. Service overall were great. Meals at Lido were much better than the Main Dining or at Pinnacle Grill. Has to send back the porterhouse steak - ordered medium and got a steak that was medium on the edges that got more rare as the cut get closer to the bone! A medium steak should not have blood on the plate. Read Less
10 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2018
Our fourth cruise with Holland America, we booked about a year ago after hearing about the Baltic experience from a relative. Unlike some cruises there is no particular reason to be on a specific side of the ship. We were on the Upper ... Read More
Our fourth cruise with Holland America, we booked about a year ago after hearing about the Baltic experience from a relative. Unlike some cruises there is no particular reason to be on a specific side of the ship. We were on the Upper Promenade deck amidships, with a large balcony cabin. There are great parts of this cruise that the balcony is a wonderful place to watch the scenery, including especially entry and exit to Stockholm. We had booked the "Signature Experience" in Copenhagen prior to start of the cruise. HAL representatives met us at the Copenhagen airport, and we were taken to the Scandic Hotel - a tired, barely serviceable hotel in central Copenhagen. We spent two nights in this hotel. We also went with several dozen other cruise passengers to visit a Kronberg Castle, and the suggested dinner never materialized - replaced by finger food and one glass of champagne. Hardly a "Signature Experience", but oh well. . . Our luggage was left outside our room for collection and transport to the ship. Nice! HAL-organized buses were provided to take us from the hotel to the cruise terminal, almost an hour outside of the city. As we were in a Neptune cabin, we had a rather late departure time from the hotel and when we arrived for check-in, there was no wait and we were escorted smoothly through the process and boarded immediately. Cabin was immediately available, and we had a later lunch in the dining room without any difficulty. We were previously on the Zuiderdam just last year, sailing to Alaska. Since then the Zuiderdam had a "soft upgrade" - you could get that new-carpet smell from the hallways and stairwells. Service levels were typically Holland America terrific. Cabin attendants were friendly without being familiar, and the service in the restaurant was first-rate. Had some early problems with the wine steward, but they were smoothed over as the cruise continued. With so many stops we didn't have much time for the shipboard activities, but didn't miss them. Internet service was virtually unusable despite all the hype at the beginning of the cruise. Still can't figure out how the airlines can provide pretty high-speed internet on an airplane going 500mph, and the ships can't seem to get it right. With much of this cruise close enough to get a good cell phone signal from shore, I'd say save your money. We rarely book any of the proffered HAL excursions. We enjoy off-beat day trips, and we had organized our own for the entirety of this cruise. We're not much for seeing new destinations from bus windows. . . . .we'd rather see one or two things on foot, exploring ourselves. We DID have an extensive tour of St. Petersburg of course, which we've reviewed separately. Keep a close eye on your cabin billing prior to the last day. HAL seems to make a lot of errors that then produce long lines at the cruise office on the last day as people try to sort out the issues. We were double-charged for gratuities on two different days, but had the overcharge removed a couple days before the cruise ended. Disembarkation was at our leisure. After reviewing the options (including a taxi ride to Copenhagen airport at over $120), we took the public bus to the nearby train station, and arrived at the airport in 40 minutes for about $8. Sweet. Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2018
This cruise was a 100% transport logistic success. From the departure Airport to the final destination airport / from the airport to the hotel and from the hotel to the ship. We took all arrangements with our Holland America Travel Agent. ... Read More
This cruise was a 100% transport logistic success. From the departure Airport to the final destination airport / from the airport to the hotel and from the hotel to the ship. We took all arrangements with our Holland America Travel Agent. Arriving at Copenhagen Airport a HA Representative greeted us and led us to the right carousel for our luggage pick-up and then to the bus outside that took us to our well located Scandic Hotel. At the hotel an other HA Representative greeted us and gave us documentation and explanations on the embarkation process and transport to the ship. The disembarkation went smoothly and on schedule. Our luggage were already waiting for us in a big Tent at the Airport. Being both 65 of age my wiffe and I like to be pampered and taken in charge for all the logistic aspects. Holland America is an expert at that. The embarkation process went smoothly. Our suite 6061 was clean and ready at the embarkation. Since that cruise was very tour intensive, we had all our dining in the main dining room. Food was very good. Our dining waiters and sommelier were very smart and attentive to our needs. Along the cruise our cabin stewards did an excellent job at getting our stateroom clean and ready. As some tours depart very early we called our breakfast in our cabin and they were delivered at the time requested. Entertainment and activities: The classic musicians were excellent along with the BB Kings band. The main lounge musicians were excellent too. We had 2 shows from the ship dancers, 2 excellent shows from a musician duo. On this cruise we noticed that the passenger population diversity was important, so a stand-up comic may not be suited for an international passenger diversity. I would have preferred magicians or juggler, etc. Regarding the general activities onboard our cruise director hasn't been too proactive. We have seen far better on other HA cruises. We had a very informative conference on the famous Fabergé and the sory of the Fabergé Eggs. We called at Tallin (Estonia), St-Petersburg (Russia), Helsinki (Finland), Stockholm (Sweden), Warnemunde Port for Berlin and Kiel (Germany). As the tours are expensive we took three tours, St-Petersburg, H elsinki and Berlin. Taking a tour is quite mandatory in St-Peterburg because of the Visa required and the location of the Port. Our two days tour was intensive but excellent with competent toour guide and bus drivers. In Helsinki, the Port being quite distant from the city we took a tour to visit the city, had some stops along the way and also a boat tour in the bay. At Warnemunde Port you need to take a 3 hour train run to Berlin to visit the city. Our tour guide was competent and informative. We had lunch and water provided in the train back and forth. In Tallin and Stokholm you can go by yourself to the city. Kiel in Germany is a nice place to visit by foot too. The ship docked along the boardwalk and marina. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2018
This was our 12th cruise and our first with Holland America. (Our previous cruises were on Celebrity, Royal Caribbean, and Princess.) I will start at the end by saying that we were impressed with HAL and we loved our cruise. The thing ... Read More
This was our 12th cruise and our first with Holland America. (Our previous cruises were on Celebrity, Royal Caribbean, and Princess.) I will start at the end by saying that we were impressed with HAL and we loved our cruise. The thing that stood out above all else was the service. Everyone, no matter what their position, greeted us whenever they passed. Our cabin stewards made me remember what good service really means! They were phenomenal. The staff in the main dining room and the Lido buffet were unfailingly cheerful, no matter how busy they might have been. To other cruise lines: this is how it’s done! On most days, we had breakfast and lunch in the Lido and dinner in the main dining room. The food ranged from good to great, and overall it was a notch up from most of our previous cruises. We looked forward to mealtimes. The entertainment was the most professional of any of our cruise experiences, with the standout being the incredible Duo Yalba. We saw several other good performances on the main stage, including the very talented ship dancers and an amazing pianist. In addition, HAL partners with the Lincoln Center and there were wonderful concerts throughout the day. The performers in both the Billboard Onboard bar and the B.B. King Blues Club were very talented and fun. HAL has also partnered with America’s Test Kitchen and BBC Earth so that there is a definite “learning” emphasis in their activities, although they still have fun favorites like Bingo too. HAL handled our air and since there are no direct flights to Copenhagen from our location, we had to make connections; however, there seemed to be just the right amount of time between flights. Embarkation and disembarkation were among the smoothest we have experienced. Regarding the ports: COPENHAGEN - This was our embarkation point and for the lucky people who stayed aboard for the second leg of the cruise, it was also a regular port stop. We came three days early to explore and we loved it. We booked our own accommodations rather than going through HAL. We couldn’t recommend the wonderful Hotel Andersen more highly for service, location, and style. It was easy to get around Copenhagen (we enjoy walking) and the people were the nicest we have ever encountered. Tivoli Gardens, Rosenborg Castle, and Christiansborg Palace were highlights of our visit. TALINN - Easily walkable from the ship. The old town is beautiful, picturesque, and compact. ST. PETERSBURG - We did a two day excursion with Alla Tours and it was phenomenal. I was not prepared for the grandeur of the palaces, churches, and museums. I still dream about it. Definitely my favorite port. HELSINKI - HAL had shuttles into town for 10 euro round trip. We took an enjoyable 90 minute panorama bus tour with audio guide through Stromma tours, with a stop at the Rock Church. You can pre-book with Stromma online or find them near Esplanade Park. Afterward we strolled the area and bought delicious grilled salmon from a vendor at Market Square for lunch. Very nice people in Helsinki and a lovely city. We wished we had more time there. STOCKHOLM - We did a three hour HAL excursion that included the fascinating Vasa museum and an overview of the city. It was a good tour but the guide spoiled it at the end by making unsolicited and unnecessary political comments. This caused like-minded passengers to start chiming in. One minute we were learning about this beautiful city and the next we were forced to listen to divisive commentary. That is not what I paid for, and it really tainted the experience. Hopefully it was a one time event because as I said, otherwise it would have been a great tour. We returned to the ship for lunch, then went back into Stockholm on the free HAL shuttle. It’s a lovely and easy place to walk around except that it was extremely crowded and when it was time to return to the ship, there were so many buses that the HAL bus was unable to park to pick us up. We must have waited an hour before HAL finally arranged for a P & O bus to bring us back. Perhaps this too is not an everyday occurrence because I have not seen many references to it in other reviews. WARNEMUNDE - We took the HAL excursion to the charming, historic town of Wismar which included a stop for beer and pretzels at a beer factory. We had already been to Berlin, another option for this port, so we chose something fun and relaxing. After our return, we walked into Warnemunde, visiting shops and strolling by the water. I enjoyed seeing all the German families on their vacations. KIEL - We planned to take the ferry to the u-boat. You can get information about this at the TI in town. Unfortunately it did not return until 2:00 and we were supposed to be onboard at 3:00. We were uncomfortable cutting it that close, because if we missed the ferry, the next one would have been too late. Instead we walked around the city and strolled the waterfront promenade. It was fine but we were disappointed about our original plans. A few other pros and cons: *The onboard Internet is poor. We ended up buying it on the at sea days and using free WiFi in port. *The HAL laundry service is amazing! Don’t hesitate to use it to make your packing lighter. *This is a small thing but we really appreciated the way they did happy hour. Rather than a drink of the day at a special price, you order what you want and the second drink is $2. They serve the drinks with delicious complimentary snacks. In summary, we loved Holland America , the Zuiderdam, and the Baltic. It was near perfect. I just wish they hadn’t made us get off at the end! :) Read Less
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