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291 Holland America Europe - Eastern Mediterranean Cruise Reviews

We are experienced cruisers (a group of 4) but have not tried Holland America before. The cruise was chosen because we wanted to go to three specific ports, Kusadsi (Ephesus), Mykonos and Santorini. The itinerary turned out to be ... Read More
We are experienced cruisers (a group of 4) but have not tried Holland America before. The cruise was chosen because we wanted to go to three specific ports, Kusadsi (Ephesus), Mykonos and Santorini. The itinerary turned out to be everything we wanted and more, and the holiday was really lovely due to the places we went to. The ship was something of a mixed bag and the four of us we all have slightly different views so I will try and present a balanced picture. Cabins - probably one of the best we've had. A balcony stateroom on Deck 5, good size, nice touches (a fully stocked mini-bar, bathrobes, beach towels, umbrella, blankets for the balcony etc). What made the cabin though was the bathroom, slightly bigger than normal and with the best double shower to be found on any ship, it had a proper door (no nasty shower curtain here) and Elemis products. Comfortable bed, lots of electrical sockets and USB ports by the bed - which was a great touch. Cabin stewards were wonderful, attentive and very friendly. Food - Holland America prides itself on its food and other reviews on here often cite the great quality and variety. We did not find this was the case. The food was average to good but never excellent and on a couple of occasions, poor. The first two nights our food in the dining room was cold so I had a word with the Maitre d' who then personally served us every meal from then on, and there was a very big improvement. However, there was one night when he was very busy and unable to see to us personally and we were back on cold food! The wine waiters seemed absolutely incapable of bringing four drinks at the same time - in fact every single time we ordered throughout the whole holiday our drinks never arrived together. The single biggest fault with this ship was the food and beverage service throughout the ship - it left a lot to be desired. Entertainment - it was pretty much standard cruise fare - nothing awful, nothing wonderful. Pleasant would be the best word to describe it. Excursions - we arranged all our excursions ourselves before we sailed and saved a fortune in doing so. For Santorini we would highly recommend Black Pearl Tours run by Panos and Cristos. Great service at a fraction of the price. Embarkation/Disembarkation - have to hand it to Holland America here, the best experience we've ever had. Very smooth, no long lines, very well organised, top marks, couldn't be faulted. Fitness & Recreation - the gym was pretty good, not the best equipped I've seen but not the worst either. Public rooms/spaces - this ship, although quite new, lacked a certain wow factor. Personally we like a grand staircase and an atrium - a bit of glitz on a cruise ship is no bad thing but this ship doesn't have this and we thought it was slightly the worse for it. VfM - cruising with Holland America is going to cost a bit more and that's ok when one can feel the difference, I'm just not sure we did. Read Less
Sail Date June 2019
We choose cruise based on ports of call. Entertainment was very poor as to compared to other cruises i have been on (over 80). The activities on board were similar most days. The computer classes were scheduled the same time as dinner ... Read More
We choose cruise based on ports of call. Entertainment was very poor as to compared to other cruises i have been on (over 80). The activities on board were similar most days. The computer classes were scheduled the same time as dinner 5:30, Test Kitchen sessions were great and so was the BB Kings show times. The ship did have a wonderful in room selection of movies to watch in the evenings, since there was poor shows. The cruise director was average at best. Food in the dining room and lido was great. Service was wonderful. Purser office staff were average. Ship captain and staff were wonderful. I have never had a Captain think of passenger safety during a thunderstorm and advised guests to stay indoors and safe. He also backed the ship up from several islands and i have never seen this before. He was a great Captain. The ports of call for the 24 days were GREAT, that was reason we choose this ship. We were unable to go to Gozo due to rough seas for tendering. Venice, Croatia, Albania, Montenegro, Katakalon, Greece; Athens, Greece; Rhodes, Santorini, Mykonos, Herakilon, Crete; Chania, Crete; Malta, Naples, Sicily, Civitechia (Rome). 21 stops in 24 days and each stop was wonderful. The ship tours were very expensive and we choose to do on shore excursions on our own. Hop on Hop Off buses were in most cities at around 20 Euro to 25. City tours were plentiful in taxis and minibuses. anywhere from 10 to 15 Euro. We did take one ship tour in Corfu to 3 cities and is was average and we felt rushed during this trip. I would have rather found a local tour person and done it on our own. Be prepared in each city you visit to walk on uneven, cobblestone streets and cracked pavements, so a good walking shoe is necessary as well as a good hat to shade you from the sun. Staying hydrated is very necessary while walking in the cites and restrooms are far and few and they charge a Euro or more to use, but they are clean. So the cities are wonderful, beaches great and seas beautiful. It was the ship that i found to be average at best. The Med. is beautiful place filled with ruins, history and beautiful scenery. Enjoy the Med just think twice choosing Oosterdam. Read Less
Sail Date June 2018
My wife and I booked this 12 night cruise because of the interesting itinerary. It was heavy on our much desired Adriatic coast, but also included great and/or new destinations for us such as Kotor, Montenegro, both Valletta and Gozo, ... Read More
My wife and I booked this 12 night cruise because of the interesting itinerary. It was heavy on our much desired Adriatic coast, but also included great and/or new destinations for us such as Kotor, Montenegro, both Valletta and Gozo, Malta, Dubrovnik, Split, and Korcula, Croatia, and Slovenia. The cruise ended in Venice. As stated, a great itinerary. However, our experience on board was far from satisfactory in several key areas ... and we have Holland America experience since 2007. We are 4-Star Mariners with 213 actual sea days on HAL as we write this review. Our ship, the MS Westerdam, is among the first of the HAL fleet to undergo an extensive renovation/modernization that will fit the new image for all their ships over the next couple of years. (1) The Library is gone. (2) The Ocean Bar dance floor is gone ... all carpet now. There is in fact only one dancing venue on the ship ... the B.B. King's Blues Club. That club is excellent if you like that kind of music ... we enjoyed it and danced to a great live band ... all terrific musicians. They played 5 out of 7 nights, as I recall, with 2 nights off per week and no other music/dance on those nights there. They did not start until about 8PM. However, for those that don't care for blues, there was no other dance venue. The Ocean Bar had a classical pianist ... excellent ... but don't expect to hear any popular numbers that you can dance to ... and that would be on carpet. So, the once great Ocean Bar with the cocktails and dancing to a trio or quartet is gone! (3) No Crow's Nest for dancing and music anymore. The entire Crow's Nest has been transformed into EXC, or Explorations Central. (4) Conventions and/or groups allowed to reserve and take over "common areas". On three evenings that we personally experienced, about half of the Ocean Bar, the part with the pianist, and where most of the chairs and tables are, was closed off to all guests except for the group/convention. Therefore, there was no seating for many guests. We were told by a couple of officers that "all HAL ships are now doing this". What next for a surprise? (5) Sick/extremely ill two times on board ... myself and several days later my wife. Each time that we were sick we only ate on board that day ... and late those nights we were vomiting, etc. in our stateroom (symptoms of food poisoning, but no proof). We spoke to the ship's medical officer/nurse. After 24 hours we were each mostly recovered, but it did ruin that day's ability to go ashore. In general, over the past few years HAL is not what it used to be. Service in general has declined, sharp attention to detail is no longer present. The crew/staff for the most part are, in our opinion, over worked and too few. Many times one is left waiting. Where are the officers to supervise and see that the guests are taken care of in a timely manner? Lastly, we wrote and mailed a letter to the President of Holland America Line in early December, 2017, regarding our experience and suggestions for improvement (HAL has always said that they want to hear from we "Mariners") ... and we have never received a response. Apparently, they do not care how we, as loyal and good customers/guests/Mariners feel! That is our experience. Read Less
Sail Date October 2017
We have cruised on other lines. This was the first cruise in Holland America and will also be the last. By comparison to Princess, Norwegian and Royal Caribbean this ship was a disappointment. The stateroom steward was excellent but the ... Read More
We have cruised on other lines. This was the first cruise in Holland America and will also be the last. By comparison to Princess, Norwegian and Royal Caribbean this ship was a disappointment. The stateroom steward was excellent but the other service on board was not nearly as good as what we have experienced before. The Guest service desk seemed very inexperienced and did not live up to commitments made. The booking agent also did not provide us with the same deal they gave our travel companions. The tour groups were very large and tour guides could not be heard. Not all wore microphones which were definitely needed with 50+ people in one group! The disembarkment process was clearly a message that Hollland America was no longer engaged with theur customer. They had us to the airport 2 hours before the line was even open for check in. We were dropped off and had to walk about 15 minutes (with our luggage and no porters) to get to the terminal. We were told a Holland America rep would be inside to assist. There was no one there to help us. Very disappointing. Read Less
Sail Date June 2017
We were informed this voyage was the 2nd voyage for the ship since coming out of dry dock for restoration and refresh. While the company certainly did a brilliant job with the refit of the ship, they appear to have fallen far short of ... Read More
We were informed this voyage was the 2nd voyage for the ship since coming out of dry dock for restoration and refresh. While the company certainly did a brilliant job with the refit of the ship, they appear to have fallen far short of expectations in terms of customer service and dining. We had a truly awful experience on our cruise from Venice in early May, and based on this experience would not choose Holland America again. Embarkation was quite easy in Venice. However, I should point out that we had a baby with us, and we were therefore expedited through and placed within boarding group 1, so we boarded rather quickly and without issue. From what we heard from other fellow passengers, our experience was not the "norm" for that day, as many folks stated their experience in the groups behind us was truly disorganized, slow, and painful. It should be noted that it was unclear as to whether Holland America or the local authorities were responsible for that pain, but what is clear is that Holland America clearly wasn't front and center to assist. The fun began the instant we walked onto the ship. With our stateroom keys in-hand, we went straight to our cabin so that we could drop our carry-on bags and start to get settled. Unfortunately, we discovered our stateroom keys were not functional, and when we went to the Customer Services desk, we asked if they could re-issue our keys since they weren't working. To my amazement, the person at the desk rudely snapped back and stated: "well, I don't know what is wrong with your keys. They should be working. Please go back and try again." Astonished at this response, I stayed put and reminded her that we had just been "trying again" at the door for over 10 minutes, and they needed to fix the situation. FYI, this theme of Customer Service not taking responsibility will be consistent throughout this review. The woman then decided to take my keys and attempt to reprint them, only to find that her machine at the desk was not working and could not print new keys. She then told me to sit in the lounge area while she tried to fix the situation. Over the course of 30 minutes, several other cruisers came to the desk with the same situation, and once the desk realized this was a systematic issue, they clearly started a triage type arrangement to deal with it. Unfortunately this meant that all of us had to hang around the lounge for over an hour until Customer Service realized they could start letting people into their rooms via the master key cards the Stewards have, at least allowing one-time access to the rooms for everyone. It ended up that 75% of the people on that cruise suffered from the systematic problem with the keys, and it took over 5 hours for it to be completely resolved, with people being forced to hang around the lounge area to receive keys in lieu of enjoying the amenities of the ship. Not once did we get an apology for the situation, only stressed out Customer Service agents literally tossing the keys to us when they were ready. Then there was the baggage situation. Most cruisers know to expect it will likely be a couple of hours before bags start to arrive at staterooms. However, at the 5 hour mark, we started to question what was going on, especially considering the keys fiasco. Once the Customer Service desk had thinned out from the key situation, I walked over and simply asked if they knew the status of the baggage and when they expected the delivery of all bags to complete. The reply from the person at the desk, yet again rude, was: "how should I know?!?!". The Manager standing behind her must have seen my facial expression, as he quickly jumped to push her aside and calmly state that they expected all bags to be delivered within the next 2 hours. That's how it should have been handled to begin with, and I certainly did not appreciate the tone of that Manager's staff through the first 5 hours of the cruise. All of the other cruisers I spoke with during that period, and throughout the entire cruise as it turns out, had the same feedback about that desk. On to the dining experience. I've had airline economy class food and service that blew these guys out of the water. Our first experience was with in-room dining. Our infant daughter had fallen asleep, and my wife was looking for a solution to grab some dinner without waking her. My wife decided to walk to the Customer Service desk down the hall (already on edge from our previous CS Desk experiences), and ask them if they could help her order "in room" dining, but have the food delivered to the lounge area instead of the cabin so as to not wake the baby. Happily, they actually jumped in and helped her, assuring her that the order was placed and specific instructions had been provided to the dining service to deliver to the lounge and not to the room. 1.5 hours later, the food had not yet arrived, so my wife went back to the desk to ask about status and to confirm again that the food would not be delivered to the room. They assured her it was coming soon, and it definitely would not be delivered to the room. 20 minutes later, I received a giant series of thumps on the cabin door, followed by "in-room dining!". Our daughter was instantly awakened and scared, so she of course began to scream out. I couldn't believe it, so I picked up my daughter and opened the door to find the dining guy standing there with a tray of food. I demanded to know why he was here and not at the lounge down the hall with my wife, and he just shrugged and left the food on the floor. No apology of any kind. I ran down the hall with my screaming baby, collected my wife from the lounge and we all headed back to the room to calm the baby and allow my wife to eat after nearly 2 hours. As it turned out, the order was incorrect and wife received nothing that she had ordered, and the ticket on the tray clearly indicated "DELIVER TO CS LOUNGE. BABY SLEEPING. DO NOT DELIVER TO CABIN". Once the baby was down, I went straight to the CS desk to inform them of the situation and demanded to speak to the Dining Manager. The desk agents just stood there and looked at me stunned as if they had no idea of how to handle the situation. One went and got the CS Desk Manager, so I got to re-explain the situation again, and again ask to speak to the Dining Manager. The response I got was: "the dining manager is very busy and not available. I will send him a message regarding the error. Have a nice night". No apology, no resolution. Simply amazing. The next night, we decided to try a different approach. During our appointed dining room seating, we all went up to the dining room. The baby was fussy, so my wife decided she would order, and then ask the dining room to send the food straight down to our cabin, prior to our baby going to sleep. The waiter happily stated they could enable that, took her order, and came back to the table stating that they had placed the order with in-room dining manager, and they were in the process of preparing the delivery. Content with that, my wife headed straight down to the cabin. Two hours later, I returned to the cabin, only to find a sleeping baby and my wife sitting there reading with no food remnants in site. The food had never arrived, and she was starving and unable to leave or make calls to inquire without waking the baby. Stunned again, I went back up to the dining room to inform our waiter that my wife's food had never arrived, to which his initial response was: "Are you sure?!". Of course I was sure!! He scrambled back to the kitchen, and emerged with the Dining Manager. At long last, I was able to see this mystery man face-to-face! The manager's initial statement to me was: "Sir, our records indicate your wife's food was delivered. I don't know what to tell you." I replied by asking if he would like to accompany me back to our stateroom so that he could physically see that my starving wife indeed has no food. Realizing the stupidity of his comments, he scampered back to the kitchen, and re-emerged with two things: (1) the food which I could hand carry back to my wife, and (2) a confirmation that they had mixed up the cabin, and the food was delivered to the wrong place. I took the opportunity to inform him of how poorly his team had performed the previous night, and that this performance on the present night was equally unacceptable. Finally, someone on the boat took responsibility, and he personally apologized and stated that he was taking my feedback seriously, but it was after we had personally been challenged as to the validity of our claims. Now to the food quality itself...dog food is the best way to describe it. On the first night, our group got up from the dining room table and left mid-meal due to how awful the food quality was. It was cold, disheveled, some plates were missing entire ingredients, and there was no flavor. We all went to the buffet market upstairs, which comparatively had superior options. The second night (the night of the botched dining room delivery), was equally bad. After that, the group decided never to return to the dining room due to the atrocious quality. On day 5 of the cruise, some fellow cruisers had indicated that they had just come from the dining room and they felt the quality standards had come up since day one, albeit only marginally, so we decided to return to give them one last chance. We agreed that the quality had come up since days 1 and 2, however, our opinion was that it was now only on par with the buffet upstairs, and far short of what we had come to expect from previous Holland America quality. Overall, the customer and dining services came across as though the teams were total rookies and were not yet fully trained to handle a ship full of customers. 100% of our interactions with both teams yielded some kind of error or poor performance (messages not delivered, rude personnel, missed kitchen quality, incorrect orders, excruciatingly slow wait staff, watered down drinks, etc, etc), mostly coming from a lack of listening to the customer, and execution. Our fellow cruisers shared the same feedback. There were a few bright spots to the cruise: (1) The room Stewards were fantastic. Very friendly, attentive, engaging with our baby, and the rooms were always in perfect form. They checked in with us often, but not too often, and were a pleasure to work with. Kuddos to that team! (2) The ladies in the group reported that the Spa was an excellent experience. Great masseuses and high quality massages. Nice relaxation pool and changing rooms. (3) Ports arrivals/departures were well handled. We docked in 3 of 4 destinations, and were on tenders in Santorini (standard). Dubrovnik was a stunning place, safe, and plenty to see (recommend the wall walk and exploring the side alleys for food and shops). Kotor (Montenegro) featured a stunning fjord approach and departure, and the small ancient town was fun to walk through, including the hike up to the old fortress (1500 steps each way). Ravenna (Italy) was a pleasant surprise, as it was a quaint, relaxed town with ample historical sights and an overall non-touristy feel. Tenders to/from the ship in Santorini were frequent and efficient. This was the one day we chose to sign up for a shore excursion, as we wanted to get to the far town of Oia straight away. We paid $50/adult for the bus ride and tour guide to Oia, had 2 hours of open exploring time, and then rode the bus back to Thira where the excursion ended. The value in that excursion was entirely in the time saved by having a dedicated bus instead of tendering to shore and finding a cab. At the end of the day many folks complained of only having 2 options for getting back down to the tenders from town, but anyone who researched or read the Holland America notice about Santorini knew this would be the situation, and it has nothing to do with Holland America. Either a 2-hour wait for the cable car, or 400 paved steps (with donkey droppings) down the cliff. We chose the latter, and it was just fine provided you are in decent enough physical shape to descend the steps. It took us about 35 minutes to walk all the way down. Note of caution though: we did come across an out-of-shape gentleman who was rushing his way down and ended up slipping and breaking his ankle. Care should be taken all the way down, with deliberate steps, especially towards the bottom when you are more fatigued. Also, a note about Santorini overall: Based my experience from a previous dedicated trip to the island, 9am-5pm is not nearly enough time to get the full/true experience of the island, and you'll only get the "cruise ship" experience of having only enough time to explore the two main walkways with shops and restaurants in Thira and Oia. That has everyone in port that day (at times as many as 5 cruise ships at a time!) crammed into two small areas, so it's overly crowded, and not really enjoyable. Try to find a cruise that gives you the time to explore away from the main streets (ex: the beaches, the ancient ruins, the wineries, etc), or perhaps just choose to make a dedicated trip to Santorini...it's worth it. Overall - very disappointed in Holland America on this cruise, and we have no plans to return to them soon. Read Less
Sail Date May 2017
After an excellent short Alaskan cruise on Holland America's Zuiderdam a couple of years ago, my wife and I decided to choose HA for a 12 day Mediterranean and Adriatic cruise in April | May this year. The voyage route and port ... Read More
After an excellent short Alaskan cruise on Holland America's Zuiderdam a couple of years ago, my wife and I decided to choose HA for a 12 day Mediterranean and Adriatic cruise in April | May this year. The voyage route and port stopovers from Venice to Rome were fine, but the cruise itself was a letdown. The Oosterdam is a tired ship, badly in need of a serious facelift. While some of the more visible public areas appear to have been fairly recently upgraded, the passageways are dull and gloomy, paint is peeling off the walls in the elevator cars, and in several instances we found bar and restaurant furnishings sagging, uncomfortable and desperately in need of replacement. Our stateroom was pretty glum as well. Badly scratched and chipped bath and flooring, depressing furnishings and colours. Not at all the kind of uplifting feeling we had experienced in the USA and were expecting. Some of the staff were excellent but others (particularly in the main restaurant) just clearly didn't want to be there and made that abundantly clear. The Captain's Lunch (for returning voyagers) was a complete joke. One tiny glass of wine, awful food and lousy service, and they couldn't get us out of the restaurant fast enough. So here's the message on that one, guys: if you're really not interested in your customers then don't pretend you are. That just makes it more disrespectful. Apart from that the food was okay ... but not particularly exciting either. As we left Venice we were attracted by the invitation to join fellow passengers on the deck for a Sunset Drink... Nice idea, we thought... until we found out the objective of this exercise was to get everyone to pay US$9.95 for some crappy bright pink drink. Needless to say we left, as most everyone else did also, leaving hundreds of unsold cocktails languishing on the bar tables. You really wonder whether these people understand anything about hospitality let alone sales psychology. Then there was the travel advice team up in the Explorer Lounge who really weren't interested in providing any destination advice unless it related to your buying a clip-the-ticket Holland America tour. It wasn't a complete disaster but we were certainly left with the feeling that Holland America's only objective is to try and wring the very last dollar out of their ships and their passengers by minimizind maintenance, cutting standards and quality (and probably wages) with no genuine concern for their reputation or brand. There were other issues as well. All pretty minor, admittedly, but they all add up to a lasting impression and it's not a good one. So would we travel on Holland America again.... No thanks! You've lost us. Read Less
Sail Date April 2017
Based on my experience with the Veendam and now the Westerdam, Holland America Corporate doesn't give its ships enough time in drydock to finish repairs and modifications. That caused major problems for some passengers from broken ... Read More
Based on my experience with the Veendam and now the Westerdam, Holland America Corporate doesn't give its ships enough time in drydock to finish repairs and modifications. That caused major problems for some passengers from broken glass in uncleaned rooms to no electricity in the room or no water or no ability to raise the temperature above 58f. (We were relatively lucky. Our key cards didn't work, but our steward let us in the room until the locksmith came. Our veranda was repainted 2/3rds into the sailing, so we could no longer use it b/c of fumes, but upon asking, they provided us with a fan, so there were no fumes in the room.) Lines of angry passengers were long at first, and it seemed like, with numerous workers hammering away at modifications to Deck 10 and taking up crew beds, that the Westerdam was short staffed and unable to handle issues quickly. Nevertheless, good weather and good ports improved spirits and this was a good sailing. The quality of the food was adequate though people thought changes to the buffet were odd. There's very little that's self-serve now, and the variety of options seems to have diminished. Entertainment and enrichment were also adequate. Classical music in the Lincoln Center Stage venue was exceptional. The dueling pianists in the piano bar were loud and off-key, but hugely popular. They must have been doing something right, but what it is, I'm not sure. Trivia with Jake was fun. Tom, the port lecturer, did a great job helping people NOT on shore excursions figure out how to get around the various destinations and learn about what to see. By the end of the cruise, his talks became more akin to sales pitches, but he was available to answer questions mid-day. That was good because people complained his talks were scheduled in the middle of dinner. He was highly knowledgeable and an asset to the ship though this sailing could definitely have used more in the way of enrichment. The condition of the ship was less than stellar. A fair amount of mess created by the new carpet, a crop of technical difficulties, leaks causing minor floods in several areas, and inadequate replacement venues for the unavailable Observation Deck all led to furrowed brows. Hopefully, all that can soon be fixed. On the other hand, flow felt counter-intuitive. Why must people tramp through the spa to get to the Lido? Lack of staff led to confusion at disembarkation, too, and made it harder for people with limited mobility. Good things about the ship: The refurbishment means it's not at all smoky. Elevators are plentiful. The beds were comfortable, and in our room at least, the air flow was excellent. This was my second HAL cruise and compared to Princess, HAL seems much better about not creating a high-pressure sales environment for jewelry and art. Pre-cruise arrangements (airport transfer, hotel stay) with HAL were organized and efficient. After the initial hiccup, service was great. They did a markedly better job than the Veendam of keeping track of my dietary restrictions - really impressed. Stand out crew members include Wisnu in the buffet, Rirus in the dining room, Darius at guest services, and our stewards Eko and Juns. Overall, a cheerful and earnestly friendly crew. Fellow passengers were mostly friendly and, after the first three or four days, smiling and having a good time. Most ports were excellent and considering the crowds we've heard to expect in Croatia in the summer, going to the Adriatic in late April/early May, before high season, was a good idea. Enjoyable overall, and I'd sail with HAL again, but if at all avoidable, not right out of drydock. Read Less
Sail Date April 2017
I chose this cruise for the destinations especially Dubrovnik and a chance to relive memories of Malta and Gozo. On arrival at the embarkation I could not believe how simple and easy check in went - on board within 30 minutes of ... Read More
I chose this cruise for the destinations especially Dubrovnik and a chance to relive memories of Malta and Gozo. On arrival at the embarkation I could not believe how simple and easy check in went - on board within 30 minutes of arrival. Apparently the ship had been in dry dock and some work would continue during the cruise. A benefit of $200 each for the inconvenience was added to our onboard account as a gesture of goodwill. Some noise was evident but as the cruise only had a single sea day this was not a problem. Part of the ship were out of use but this did not hamper our enjoyment. Valletta - choose the hop on hop off bus tour which is value for money . Red route in the morning ,blue route in the afternoon. Gives a good impression of Malta but having revisited Bugibba ,St. Julian's etc. I don't want to see them again. Gozo - very pretty on arrival but unfortunately I damaged my meniscus on alighting the tender in choppy seas and lasted only 15 minutes on Gozo. On return to Westerdam I made my way to the Ship's medical centre and was seen by the excellent Dr Dupreez and his team . We were given the option of early disembarkation,not a nice situation to be in. Having weighed up the options this seemed to be the way forward having now been fitted with a full leg brace and on crutches . The next day being a sea day gave me a little more thinking time before our arrival in Corfu where I spent most of the day in a clinic for more X-rays etc. We made our way back to the ship with 20 minutes to spare. The option of leaving the ship was discussed but the only suitable flights were some 19 hours duration with a couple of stops on the way. Faced with recovery at home or on the ship we chose the later and we were allowed to stay on board. I missed out on Dubrovnik and a couple of destinations as I couldn't board the tenders but having said that we managed to get a lot of enjoyment out the cruise and the kindness of the ship's company due to my lack of mobility. Kotor - very pretty and fairly easy to get around. Busy market Korcula - tender transfer so unable to vist. Split - Probably the best location for my limited mobility . Very busy with many market stalls and numerous ferry passengers. Koper - Sunday visit so most things closed but pleasant ambling around. Venice - misty arrival but very busy with at least three cruise ships in dock. Always a memorable place to visit and this was no different. Cabin 7015 - well tended by Bagus and Sugiman , well sited for Lido breakfast . Not so for the main dining area when on crutches. Dining - always a good standard in the Lido. The main Dining room served by Alip and Fauzi , a good choice throughout the courses and superbly tended by the afore mentioned gentlemen. However the best meal was served in the Pinnacle Grill. I have never seen prawns so large and the filet mignon was outstanding. It was unfortunate that there was a ' bright star ' medical emergency during our dinner and suddenly reality bites. I hope the lady in question has now fully recovered. I will revisit on our next cruise with Holland America. B.B.Kings club is always to our taste rather the shows on the main stage but from the small amount of viewing the performers were very capable and professional. One small gripe , why have music trivia quizzes at 9:00 when most people are still in the late dinner sitting. 9:30 would have been better from our point of view. Service - throughout our cruise,through the ups and downs of medical problems this has been the best cruise I have been on . We didn't t get the feeling that everything as a cost and suffer the perception that you have to pay for every thing, however small. Congratulations to the Hotel staff. Read Less
Sail Date April 2017
We are equal opportunity cruisers…we will consider almost any line and choose based on itinerary, schedule, and price. As an example, our last four cruises have been Princess, Celebrity, Royal Caribbean, and most recently Holland ... Read More
We are equal opportunity cruisers…we will consider almost any line and choose based on itinerary, schedule, and price. As an example, our last four cruises have been Princess, Celebrity, Royal Caribbean, and most recently Holland America. Our next cruise is on Regal Princess so maybe we're repeating the cycle, who knows? We were on the first Westerdam cruise following dry dock at the end of April. Our cruise was extremely port intensive. It was a 12 night cruise with only one sea day. My husband and I thought the ship was an excellent choice for such a port intensive itinerary, but I don't think we would choose it for an itinerary with a lot of sea days. For a cruise with a lot of sea days, we prefer a larger ship with a wider variety of venues and activities. We didn’t do too much in the evenings because of the type of cruise…we were worn out after full days of touring! One change that was made during drydock was the addition of Billboard Onboard, a dueling piano bar that packed people in every night. That venue and Lincoln Center Stage were always crowded and had loyal followers. We appreciated the smoke-free casino but didn't spend too much time there. I was lucky enough to hit a decent payout on a slot machine early in the cruise and thought it prudent to lock up the cash and stay out of there! I can't tell you much else about the nightlife because our days were so long and tiring we became early to bed cruisers! In my opinion, the food in the dining room and Lido was very good. I liked having items served in the Lido, and the limited hours were not a problem for us because we usually had lunch on shore. We had any time dining and never had to wait for a table. The burgers and fries at the "Dive-In" window were excellent! We also enjoyed specialty dining in the Pinnacle Grille and Canaletto. We were in a Neptune Suite which had been beautifully refurbished during the dry dock. Service throughout the ship was exceptional, and we had no problems that were related to the drydock. The Crow's Nest was closed during our cruise due to continuing construction. We were given a $200 OBC each for that inconvenience. I thought the ship was a great choice for the ports that we visited. My preference on this kind of itinerary is for a "smaller" ship, which ruled out quite a few options. My other requirement was a minimal number of sea days since I can get those closer to home without spending the money to fly transatlantic. Believe it or not, I actually could have used an additional sea day! We loved the places that we visited, but it really was very tiring. I can’t over-emphasize the importance of planning. I read/heard complaints about a lack of things to do in several of our lesser known ports, but we had a great time on the independent excursions we booked. We thought variety was important…you can only walk around so many ancient walled cities without a plan! I would put HAL at the top of my list for this kind of cruise, and I would visit again at the same time of year. Because it was early in the season the ports weren’t too crowded and we were able to dock in ports we had anticipated would be tender ports. We wanted a ship to truly be our floating hotel on this trip, and the Westerdam did the job perfectly! Read Less
Sail Date April 2017
We chose this cruise for the itinerary which included two Turkish ports. Sadly both were cancelled due to the problems recently. Instead we did Nafplion and Rhodes, both of which were lovely in their own right but the loss of Turkey was a ... Read More
We chose this cruise for the itinerary which included two Turkish ports. Sadly both were cancelled due to the problems recently. Instead we did Nafplion and Rhodes, both of which were lovely in their own right but the loss of Turkey was a big disappointment. Not much one can do about the sad state of the World though. The ship itself was beautiful and bang up to date in every aspect! However, if you expect to experience the same décor and atmosphere as other HA ships you will be disappointed. There's more polished steel and modern art than Oak panels on this ship. Still lovely in its own right, but very different. The cabin (7045) was as expected, no real difference between this and most other ships we've been on recently. Enough room to swing the proverbial cat plus adequate hanging and draw space for the average couple on a two week holiday. The air con system worked well, heat when needed (as the weather was cold the first week) and cool enough for sleeping. The bathroom was also adequate space-wise with a large walk-in shower. A night light would be very useful though HA! The balcony was larger than on our last cruise on The Rotterdam. We took the free-time dining option and had little problem getting a table somewhere within a few moments of arrival. The food was of a good standard but, as always in my experience, never hot enough. This seems to be the norm on cruise ships these days. The buffet was brilliant! I love the layout of the buffets on HA ships. Much better than the wide open style of the newer Celebrity ships. 'Enough' choice of food and served by the staff, which keeps the floors cleaner and less hazardous than allowing the guests to serve themselves in my experience. An Orchid on every table is a nice touch! The number of restaurants on the Koningsdam is astonishing! (Most have an extra charge of course) but offer every choice one can think of. We only tried the Canaletto Italian, which was fabulous as the food elsewhere was OK for us. The entertainment was a little contentious. We understand from feedback received from a few people that they were unhappy (or worse) with the music on board! Well it IS more 'modern' than on most ships we've been on. We loved most of the music on offer overall. The addition of B. B. King's venues on HA ships is, in my view, a step forward from the usual MOR dross that we've experienced on most cruises. But it IS loud and proud as it should be. A great eight-piece band providing soul, pop and rock music from across the decades. Well done the B B King all star band! A great sound system in that venue too. There was a solo pianist in one of the lounges doing a couple of early evening spots, he was brilliant too. A wide range of music on offer from him. Classical music lovers were catered for by a talented group (Piano, two Violins, Viola and Cello) who did a couple of sessions a day in the Lincoln Centre Stage area. A mixture of pure classics plus other show tunes etc. The Billboard On-board lounge, also on deck 2, was a multi-purpose venue used for quizzes etc. occasionally but was generally hosted by two piano players/singers who offered a range of pop music from the days of the Beatles and beyond. Both performers were very talented but the female of the duo was a bit heavy-handed on the old Joanna at times and tended to over shadow the guy. Pity as they both were entertaining. The World Stage theatre is a WOW!! LED panels almost surround the auditorium. These display images in keeping with the performances on the unusual shaped stage. The sound system is awesome! THE BEST sound we've experienced on a cruise ship ever! The cast and singers were of the highest quality and the production shows were fabulous. Well done guys! The 'guest artistes' were pretty good overall but not quite as entertaining as on other ships perhaps. The Juggler was brilliant but we've seen him about three times before. The service? Well apart from one instance excellent! When the ship arrived in one port (I can't remember which) the port authority was supposed to supply shuttle buses to get us into town. They didn't! No reason was given only that 'there will be no shuttle buses' over the PA system. Well it was a long walk and one of our party has MS so walking distances is a prob. I asked if they could supply transport, NO was the reply. How about a wheelchair? Only if you 'hire' it for the week!! Sorry HA not good enough!! I must mention also, why do HA ships have the sliding roof over the swimming pool? It takes up space on the deck about plus it's seldom open when required. I really can't see the sense in it. One other niggle is the lack of sun beds around the pools. Too many tables and chairs and not enough beds. The ports of call were well chosen and enjoyed by all in our party. Shame the weather was cold the first week but that's the chance you take going early in the season. We only took one of the ships excursions, to the Santorini town of Oia. The trip was well organised and well-priced. All other ports of call we did our own thing, usually a Hop on Hop off bus was perfect. One big disappointment for us was the recent smoking policy change. On our last HA cruise last year we were able to smoke on our balcony, this time the ONLY space was on the open rear deck!! NO other space was allocated to smokers. This is rubbish guys! We pay the same as other guests and should be granted at least a couple of options on the open decks and not forced to have to walk the length of the ship and up to deck 9 for ciggy. We really enjoyed our cruise on Koningsdam and would recommend the ship if you are prepared for a different experience to other HA ships. Read Less
Sail Date April 2017
I was so excited to take my friend with me to see Greece, especially the islands. I am 72 and my friend is 70 and has claustrophobia so we decided to spend some extra money and get a Neptune Suite. We were so excited until we arrived at ... Read More
I was so excited to take my friend with me to see Greece, especially the islands. I am 72 and my friend is 70 and has claustrophobia so we decided to spend some extra money and get a Neptune Suite. We were so excited until we arrived at our room. I couldn't believe it was a Neptune Suite it was so much smaller because about a fourth of the room was taken up with a handicapped bathroom. It had a shower you for wheelchair person to sit and be hosed down, and lets the water get on the floor-slippery, dangerous to us. The bathtub was so deep we had to hang onto the handicapped rails to actually climb into it. We both almost fell a few times, made this a problem for us as well. The curtains were on electric button so you had to keep them either closed all the way or open all the way. With the sun beating down it made the room too hot when open during the day, and the view was basically tunnel vision so you could watch the water move from the engine. The cruise itself was good but the room was a nightmare for us. Read Less
Sail Date October 2016
I have read reviews on the Koningsdam on this site and wonder if these people were on the same cruise ship as me? Myself and my partner are in our mid-50's and truthfully were only going to give HAL one last try, before we went back ... Read More
I have read reviews on the Koningsdam on this site and wonder if these people were on the same cruise ship as me? Myself and my partner are in our mid-50's and truthfully were only going to give HAL one last try, before we went back to Celebrity. I think the reason there are so many bad reviews of this ship is that they have ventured FAR from the Holland America so many people have come to enjoy, and for me, that is a good thing. No longer does the ship shut down at 11:00pm, in fact the evening entertainment in the BB King Blues Club and Billboard Onboard lounge was incredible. I read a review that the BB King Blues Club played the same music over and over. Well, I have to say on the 12 day cruise (and we were there almost every night), they did NOT play the same music more than once. I love music and would recognize the same tune easily. The Lincoln Centre Stage had the best quintet I have EVER heard and Celebrity has pretty good classical musicians. The shows on the "World Stage" were to a new level. We missed the first because we assumed it was your typical Broadway revue, but were told we missed an incredible performance. The way they built the stage and the LED panels that enrich the performance was true genius. To give you an example of how HAL has really invested in entertainment, there was a show that interpreted dance based on a music instrument. It was incredible and unlike anything you have ever seen before. The BBC Earth production with the Koningsdam orchestra was a visual spectacle using the LED panels that surround the audience. So if someone writes they found the entertainment boring, it's probably because they miss the Broadway and Oldies music review shows (or the Frank Sinatra sing-alongs). We are oenophiles and foodies so we took the upper level beverage package (max $15.00 per drink) and the specialty restaurant package (5 dinners). We don't find (no matter what cruiseline) that the food in the dining room offers wonderful surprises. So we would check the menu when it was posted and determined whether we would choose specialty dining. Doing it this way on such a beautiful ship it helped us recreate our great experiences on Crystal and Silversea. Tamarind and Sel de Mer were incredible dining options, and Pinnacle Grill is always a great choice. On those nights we just couldn't find anything on the menu (and didn't want to use our package dinners), we would go up the elevator to Canalleto (Italian). It was such a great choice ($15) and never disappointed. Why would you like this cruise? 1. If you found HAL too "quiet" 2. You love music, classical, pop, R&B 3. You love great food (had in specialty restaurants) I was listening to why some people didn't like this cruise: 1. No Dancing with the Crew night 2. No oldies night 3. No bingo 4. No Captains welcome reception 5. Too modern of a ship or too big. So if you like these on your cruise you may be disappointed. They are really targeting the next generation of cruisers on this ship. If you can let go of the past and embrace the future of Holland America, you will have an EXCELLENT cruise. We have upwards of 50 cruise under our belts (mainly Celebrity), but for HAL, we will seek out ONLY the Pinnacle class ships from here on. Read Less
Sail Date October 2016
This cruise offerred the portswe wanted and allowed us to spend a few days in Venice before the cruise. The ship offerred excelent food and wonderful entertainment. The cabin was ok except that they should have more drawer space. My only ... Read More
This cruise offerred the portswe wanted and allowed us to spend a few days in Venice before the cruise. The ship offerred excelent food and wonderful entertainment. The cabin was ok except that they should have more drawer space. My only real complaint was the schedule of the ports. The ship stopped in the port for Rome on a Sunday when all the museums and the Cistine Chapel are closed. The ship went to Florence on a Monday when all the Museums are closed. These are the two ports that attracted me most. When I tried to book a tour in Rome, that waswhen I found out. The website for Holland America made no mention of the closed attractions and it does not appear in their literature. I feel cheated and would not have taken that cruise if I had known that. When I called them about it, they said it was out of their control. Who sets up their itenerary, if not them. Same thing goes for Florence. The rest of the ports were great. The one tour that we booked through the ship was to Marseille and Aix en Provence. The tour was beautiful but the guide was completely unintelligible. She was not understood by anyone on the bus. The two groups of entertainers that we saw were beyond belief. The Billboard guys, Danny and Ted were amazing and personable. The Lincoln Center Stage featuring the four girls in the String Quartet and the piano accompanying them were marvelous. The stage shows in the theater were excellent. Read Less
Sail Date October 2016
Decided to give HAL a try as it was a line we had never tried before and wished to compare with other cruise lines, Also the ports it was visiting are some of our favourites. Spent a couple of days before the cruise in Rome. ... Read More
Decided to give HAL a try as it was a line we had never tried before and wished to compare with other cruise lines, Also the ports it was visiting are some of our favourites. Spent a couple of days before the cruise in Rome. Embarkation was chaotic with very little assistance for my disabled husband even though prior notification via the SRI form had been given. Cabin 5198 at the back of the ship was fine and we made good use of the balcony as the entertainment was dire. Cabin kept clean and tidy by steward although some days it was well into the afternoon before it was attended to. We had two power outages which affected TV sockets and fridge. The first one took twelve hours to fix. Long queues for main dining room the first few nights meant we ate in the Lido Buffet where the food was often cold, bland and repeated constantly. Portions served were small although if you asked fr more it was given if a little reluctantly it appeared. One evening a lady took a nasty fall on the Lido Pool Deck. The medical staff were sent for and took approx. twenty minutes to arrive. On arrival the nurse did not assess for head injury despite being told that the lady had been briefly knocked out. the nurse told the lady to return to her cabin and she would phone her in an hour to check on her. That was the last the lady heard ...... no phone call received despite the nurse writing the cabin number on her hand. Well we have now compared HAL to other lines and will not be returning. Only ship I have ever been pleased to disembark from. Read Less
Sail Date September 2016
We booked a guarantee VE balcony cabin and were given cabin 7005. This cabin is below the bridge and the view is obstructed by the bridge and equipment hanging down such as the search light. It should be sold as an obstructed view balcony ... Read More
We booked a guarantee VE balcony cabin and were given cabin 7005. This cabin is below the bridge and the view is obstructed by the bridge and equipment hanging down such as the search light. It should be sold as an obstructed view balcony cabin not as a VE cabin. The same issue must also affect cabin 7006 on the other side of the ship. The inside of the cabin was excellent with: - a large flatscreen tv opposite the bed with a very good choice of films and tv programmes. - large walk in shower - 6' bed with 2 mattresses together with excelent quality bedding and vey comfy mattress One weird thing was a sofa that has soft arms that are held on by press studs so that when you lean on them they fall off - very peculiar. The itinerary was excellent and we were out all day, everyday except for the 2 sea days and Naples. We had 2 nights in Rome in a hotel and then cruised to: - Sarande, Albania - we shared a taxi to Butrint which we enjoyed. - Katakolon - we got the bus to Olympia for 10 euros return each. - Athens overnight - we used the HOHO bus for 2 days and also the X80 busback to the ship at 9.30 from Athens on the first evening as we had caught the public bus to and from the Temple of Poseidon at Sounion which is a 2 hour journey each way - 7 euros each way. - Mykonos - just wandered around the town up to the windmills and back - Santorini - several cruise ships in so a long wait for the cable car down - Rhodes town - wandered around and went to the museum which we'd not been to before - Heraklion - also wandered around and went to the museum which we'd not been to before We had fantastic weather at all the above places but it was cooler and overcast when we got to Naples and I came down with a cold so didn't go far. ( We had intended to go to Capri). Read Less
Sail Date September 2016
I chose this cruise because I liked the itinerary and I had a friend going on this cruise. We were sent a guide for embarkation times, however there were massive ques and it was a lengthy process. The ship is new and pristine.The ... Read More
I chose this cruise because I liked the itinerary and I had a friend going on this cruise. We were sent a guide for embarkation times, however there were massive ques and it was a lengthy process. The ship is new and pristine.The public areas were well appointed , decorated and maintained. I especially loved the pool areas which offered various lounges and seating options to relax in, there was also an adults only pool, with the only down side being it was a smoking area. I had a single cabin, 1006. It was small, and in the bow. The bed was comfortable and I really liked the bathroom, by far the best of any ship I've sailed on . My attendants were very attentive and friendly. I ordered room service for breakfast daily, the muesli was my all time favorite. There is a flat screen TV with an large assortment of movies, limited music and a small amount of live news content from USA and UK. I would have liked an ipod dock. Being in the bow meant any slightly rough weather caused waves to crash into the ship and was quiet noisy, one night it sounded like a construction site ! I stuck to the included dining, and found the meals in the main dining room excellent. The Lido deck also offered an array of freshly cooked foods. The Dutch Cafe had one of the best ham and cheese toasties Ive eaten. Being an older demographic of travelers ( I was nearly taken out by a scooter on a number of occasions ), the entertainment tended to cater more for them, however the Blues Club and Piano bar were great fun as was pub and music trivia. I went to a couple of live shows, an illusionist and a musical . I did not do classes on computers or the art of folding towels into animals ! However did do an introduction to belly dancing , which was fun. A cover band the pool of an afternoon would have been sensational. The majority of staff were fantastic,attentive and friendly. Some staff in the Spa , I thought were snippy at best. I very much enjoyed Mykonos and Santorini and also Naples where we went to Capri and Sorrento.. my absolute favorite. Albania was a bust for me , this was a last minute port as we were unable to safely go to Turkey. I would have preferred a longer time in Naples. The shore excursions were expensive, and many ports we opted to make our own arrangements. I did so a tour of Olympia and Athens via the ship. They were well organised, but pricey. There was constant pressure to upsell on the ship, which grew very thin. Many trunk (junk) sales, art sales,etc. Be wary of the Say Spa specials like ladies night, where they advertise a massage, facial and steam for $49 ... great value you think until you realise you are massaging your self, doing your own facial and the plan is to sell you their products . Would I go again on HAL.... probably not.... unless Im in my 70's. Read Less
Sail Date September 2016
After the mixed reviews of this ship so far, it was with some trepidation that we made our way to Civitavecchia. We had a good start arriving early and being in our cabin within an hour - although I understand there were problems for ... Read More
After the mixed reviews of this ship so far, it was with some trepidation that we made our way to Civitavecchia. We had a good start arriving early and being in our cabin within an hour - although I understand there were problems for people who arrived later. We were very impressed with our cabin - 1175 - outside on deck one at the rear of the ship. Lots of electric sockets - only used the USB ones really! Bed comfortable and big, Lots of storage space and looking brand new. Shower was excellent. Cabin stewards always made sure our room was clean by the time we returned from breakfast. We thought we might hear some noise or feel some movement being at the bottom near the stern of the ship but there was none - mind you we were lucky that the sea was calm throughout our voyage. We eat in the main dining room. Food was excellent, as was the service. We chose the early sitting and were usually out in time for the first show of the night. Lido service was good and we never had difficulty finding a table and didn't have to queue for food. The shows were generally very good - especially the dancers - although we did think the singers were drowned out a bit by the over produced backing tapes. The string quartet were very good - although not really my sort of music. We loved the band in BB King's and spent a lot of time there. Some superb musicians. The duelling pianos in the Billboard lounge were fun too. Quite often those bars were not very full in fact I did a tour of the bars at about 10 o'clock one night and they were all fairly quiet. Ok some people may have been in the show but generally people seemed to go back to their cabins. This perhaps reflected the age of the people on the ship. We are in our early sixties and felt fairly young!! It may be the changes Holland America are making are trying to attract a younger crowd and maybe are letting down some of their regular cruisers. We didn't find the lack of a library to be a problem - and we didn't miss lectures - although we know some who did. There were things we were disappointed about - no free dance or zumba classes, and the cost of tours is way over priced. We did everything ourselves and paid a fraction of the cost. Also the design of the ship caused a few problems. In particular the proximity of the casino and whiskey bar to the Lincoln Centre meant there was noise that spoilt the string quartet's performance. However that couldn't spoil what we though was a fantastic cruise. We would definitely save on Koningsdam again. Read Less
Sail Date September 2016
We chose this cruise to see the sites of the ancient world and were not disappointed. It was a plus that this was Holland America's newest ship. And it is a beautiful ship. Our two veranda staterooms were beautiful and they were able ... Read More
We chose this cruise to see the sites of the ancient world and were not disappointed. It was a plus that this was Holland America's newest ship. And it is a beautiful ship. Our two veranda staterooms were beautiful and they were able to open the balcony partition so that we shared one balcony with our relatives who joined us. The service was excellent and the staff friendly and accommodating. I read a few negative reviews about the ship before leaving and don't understand what these people were complaining about. Someone complained that your knees hit the shower if you were tall and sitting on the toilet. You would have to a big person, but even then your knees would hit the shower door, which opens giving you and extra couple of feet to stretch out on the can if you wanted. Another complained there wasn't any vanity space for toiletries; but there was space on both sides of a generous sink and a couple of shelves to boot. Another complaint I read was about the promenade deck not wide enough for deck chairs. Well that's because so much of the ship is veranda rooms and there are other places with deck chairs. Times change! Same with the small library; with ebooks you can bring an entire library with you. Read Less
Sail Date September 2016
We were a party of five friends who booked this cruise specifically for the destinations of Istanbul and Ephesus in Turkey. When the unrest started in Istanbul H&A changed the itinerary for two nights in Athens which although ... Read More
We were a party of five friends who booked this cruise specifically for the destinations of Istanbul and Ephesus in Turkey. When the unrest started in Istanbul H&A changed the itinerary for two nights in Athens which although disappointed we understood, however shortly before our cruise they also changed the itinerary again and remove Ephesus and substituted Albania. We were extremely anger about this as there were no troubles in the area. We complained in writing asking for a change of cruise itinerary but the experience with customers service was very poor. Despite emails and telephone calls it took a number of occasions before customer service responded that there was nothing they could do. I must add at this point, the cabin crew, waiters, waitress etc. were exceptional and this review is no criticism of them! We had no alternative but to carry on with the cruise as there was no alternative offered. The embarkation was fine as was the cabin, however, we expected tea/coffee facilities in the stateroom as other cruise lines we have used in the past. Freestyle dining was our choice, however, booking was required in the restaurants and the times we preferred never seemed to be available, therefore we were obliged to use the Lido Market. Rarely could we sit together as there were never enough tables available for the five of us. The food was always lukewarm although tasty. The only meals that were anywhere near hot were the ones prepared for you such as pasta dishes, pizza. The communal areas on decks two and three were exceptionally cold. Entertainment was average and would have expected far higher standard and selection. H&S requested feedback of our experience which was supplied and the response was a generic letter in reply not addressing the many concerns raised. H&S must have saved a tremendous amount of fuel and cost by not travelling as far east as Istanbul and Ephesus, therefore a gesture for the disappointed of having two of the main destinations removed would have been appreciated and showed goodwill. Definitely would not recommend or use again. Read Less
Sail Date September 2016
This was my 12-13th cruise and we had heard that HAL was among the best -- we found them among the worst. Poor, absent, on the verge of unfriendly, service; room steward constantly complaining about being overworked. Truly awful, ... Read More
This was my 12-13th cruise and we had heard that HAL was among the best -- we found them among the worst. Poor, absent, on the verge of unfriendly, service; room steward constantly complaining about being overworked. Truly awful, repetitious food with few choices (even their BBQ was bad -- cold and VERY few choices); the simplest things, like getting a glass of milk,were all but impossible and the hours for the Lido deck buffet were very short -- tried to get dinner at 8:45 but everything was closed! No service either, just had to push dishes aside and get our own drinks while servers huddled together talking -- every day for 12 days. Entertainment was poor and there were few activities to do onboard. Most irritating was that there was a constant barrage of people selling things that are often free (such as the therapy pool) on other ships. We stayed in a veranda room and it was so small that you couldn't get to the veranda when extra (uncomfortable) bed open. Could only get by the regular bed by going sideways. Will never travel on another HAL ship. Read Less
Sail Date September 2016
A comprehensive review of OUR HAL EXPERIENCE on the 09/28/16 Oosterdam 12nt Mediterranean Dreams cruise follows. Summary: With the exception of the two very negative experiences, our overall HAL cruise experience was nothing out of the ... Read More
A comprehensive review of OUR HAL EXPERIENCE on the 09/28/16 Oosterdam 12nt Mediterranean Dreams cruise follows. Summary: With the exception of the two very negative experiences, our overall HAL cruise experience was nothing out of the ordinary. I highly recommend reading through all of our experiences listed, while paying special attention to the deal breaking experiences detailed at the end of this review. This was our 34th cruise, 7th and LAST on HAL. The people, both staff and guests were a good bunch, we met new people and made some new friends. The itinerary was decent and the aspects of some ports, as well as this cruise experience, were better than others. For those who are concerned only with QOS (quality of service) and food, this cruise was par for the course with HAL. Due to our belief in the HAL brand, we paid a small premium, a bit more than we usually would, to go on this cruise. Unfortunately, the faith and trust which had been built over years in the HAL brand, was quickly obliterated in a matter of three weeks (one post cruise). In essence, terrible decision making by HAL ship side management and shore side executive management, ruined our cruise experience and earned (the hard way) a trifecta of terrible ratings in Overall Rating, Onboard Experience and Value for Money. If I could give a negative rating in these experiences, I would. Embarkation: Poor and mismanaged - slow, long queues. Service: On par for HAL, friendly and excellent. In particular the cabin stewards, bar and lido staff. Food: The Dive-In burgers, all beef hot dogs and taco bar were a nice alternative. Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner: In the Lido Buffet was very good; the staff and management were most accommodating to our needs. Port day lunch included a pasta bar, tasty sushi rolls and Asian dishes. Main Dining - never bothered due to queues and the variety and quality of the food being literally identical in the Lido. Entertainment: Average at best - The BAND is gone? BBKing and the Ventriloquist Magician were excellent; New dueling pianos, meh. Sing around single pianist was better; Shows, not very good. Enrichment Activities: Average, the computer classes were a nice touch. Family and Children: Not applicable Fitness and Recreation: Clean and average; pools, jacuzzis, free men and womens locker shower, gym and dry sauna. Public Rooms: Average - On average, a mostly orderly ship. Ports: Average - see detailed review below Shore Excursions: Not applicable Disembarkation: Poor - swift and merciless. Fastest we have ever been given the bums rush. Hundreds were awaiting buses, shuttles and cabs, many with reservations for a hour or two later. Cabin Review: Excellent, see details in optional review below. Port Reviews Venice: Romantic, but expensive. Buy a vaporetto pass and validate it before riding. Visit Venice, stay and eat on the Lido. Sarande (Albania): Quaint beachfront esplanade. The best and least expensive "greek" food (15E for two) on this cruise. Kerkira (Corfu): Scenic historic city center and park walks await. Katakolon (Greece): Waterfront, two streets, four blocks of shops. Olympia ruins and Giorgio's Bike Bar ride await. Nafplion: Trendy beach front, downtown and exhausting bay fortress walk await. Athens: Best Duty Free, Parthenon and Acropolis ruins await. It's a big city. Mykonos: Quaint is now over commercialized, Big money bought out the independent's. Iraklion (Crete): Historic city center now glorified brand name outlet mall. Knossos Palace ruins await, big AM queues, empty after 1PM. Santorini: Take the funicular, beware of queues, avoid donkeys. Overrun with small shops. Naples: Capri, Sorrento, train to Pompeii, Herculaneum ruins await. You must be cautious, a young couple was victimized. Do not get on a bus or train without a validated ticket and announce the fact. You will be legitimately fined or caught in the typical Napoletano "we are the police" scam. Pick pockets, purse, phone, camera and jewelry snatchers galore. If you value it don't bring it ashore. As for your bank card and getting cash, do not use the ATM's. Theft of cash, identity, card eating ATM's and non dispensation of cash, while debiting your account are common here. Rome: Nice beach at port of Civitavecchia. Take train to Termini station, see the Colosseum first. Like Naples, it's the big city, beware. Negative experience #1: The Petri Dish Experiment We gave ample monetary consideration in the form of time off, airfare, transfers, excursions and the cruise itself, only to be subjected to a lack of hygienic common sense or a virus known as stupidity on the part of HAL ship side management. To be clear, in 34 cruises taken over a 50 year span, I have never been exposed to such unsanitary conditions and unhygienic practices. In 34 cruises, 31 ships, 9 lines, 122 ports, this was the first time I have contracted any type of illness on a cruise. Many were afflicted as witnessed by multiple conversations with passengers and crew who were impacted and aware of the situation. Aside from the "hacking" going on all over the ship, outbreaks of diarrhea and influenza were brought to my attention by several crew and passengers in the know. Two passengers made the unsolicited comment which I cannot take credit for, "this ship is a floating petri dish". Some of HAL's guests suffered, my wife and I to the tune of 14 days of downtime, misery and inconvenience from influenza (including the last 6 days of the cruise, hence impacting our overall rating and onboard experience). Whether HAL violated CDC health regs is beside the point, as their wanton lack of common sense, ultimately violated their guests trust. The cause? In the prior 33 cruises, I have never seen beverages or ice dispensed in such a haphazard fashion. From the beginning of the cruise, the non touch ice beverage dispensers in the Lido buffet were occasionally non functional, i.e. did not dispense ice or water. When they were functional, unprotected pitchers were often positioned on the drip tray blocking their usage, forcing unnecessary manual usage of make shift ice chests and pitchers. Rather than no touch, the process required a minimum of eight full hand to surface contacts on three different surfaces; chest lid; ice scoop; pitcher. In addition, the ice chest was compromised by the complete insertion of a hand during the scooping process. These conditions were mysteriously allowed to persist for the duration of the 12 night cruise. An email to the Office of the CEO and President at HAL, solicited the following response. "Interestingly enough we had our public health specialist on board this cruise. Non-touch beverage/ice machines were functional during the cruise and not disabled as suggested. There was no outbreak of influenza or diarrhea as suggested. We are not in a position to provide you with a monetary refund." The above response from HAL's Office of the CEO and President (Stein Kruse and Orlando Ashford) shot a clear message across my bow regarding the complaint. Their "Special Advisors" denied all circumstances and issued a complete refutation of my on board experience. The response which in essence called me a liar is so many words, left my family feeling cheated, deceived and lacking any future trust in the HAL brand. We also copied Arnold Donald the CEO of Carnival (Kruse and Ashfords boss), and never received any response. If you think that's the end of this story, sadly it only gets worse. I thought paying to unsuspectingly participate in a covert infectious disease or immunization program, was hitting rock bottom for HAL. Not even close, after reading below, plunging to new depths with U-boat Captain Lehmann-Willenbrock (Das Boot) will seem like a step up from HAL. Negative experience # 2: Terrorizing The Guests We had the extreme displeasure of witnessing a family of six with toddler, having their twelve night vacation completely ruined by HAL's front office and immigration administration. Some one in HAL's shipboard administrative office spotted a clerical error on a Visa, measured in mere hours and decided to flex their authoritative muscle in threatening to throw the mother of the toddler off the ship. Shortly into the cruise, HAL staff informed the family that the mother must debark the ship, a night prior to the cruises termination in Rome. HAL claimed that the mothers Schengen zone visa would terminate during the family's privately arranged post cruise transit to the Rome airport. The following day, HAL claimed the administrative error or visa oversight had been resolved. The next day, HAL staff reversed course again and like Schettino's Costa Concordia ran aground, insisting that the mother would have to debark in Naples. The husband made continued attempts to appeal to common sense. After a long weekend, the husband finally put his foot down and informed HAL staff that they would have to "physically remove" the whole family from the ship, along with their possessions. Magically, HAL staff finally "resolved" the administrative "problem" with "port authorities" and said all was well. The emotionally wrought disruption of this families vacation by HAL was unconscionable. Worse yet, for nine out of twelve nights, we watched this poor family being held hostage and terrorized by HAL's administrative Yo-Yo's (not ok, ok, not ok, ok) as they whimsically waved the sword of Damocle's over this poor families heads. Sailing with distemperate Captain Queeg (The Caine Mutiny) would be a step up from HAL. HAL administrative staff exhibited a complete lack of common sense and misguided application of policy and authority. Paying to be a guest, then being held emotional hostage, replete with psychological torture, redefines hospitality and service as well as taking it to new depths. This is how HAL treat their paying guests? Perhaps HAL should change their name to SSC or Stockholm Syndrome Cruises? Being Christian Fletcher and suffering the harsh punishment, criticism and abuse of Captain Bligh (Mutiny on the Bounty) would be a better fate. At the end of the day, apparently no one in HAL management ship or shore side has ever read Conrad Hilton's BE MY GUEST. In hospitality and service, misrepresentation should not be rife, with "caveat emptor" as the maxim of the day. HAL sure seems to have taken this to heart, as they apparently have forgotten about their most important resource, the customer. HAL is in the hospitality service business, at least that is the rumor which their hygienic practices, shipboard administration and post cruise customer service rapidly dispels. HAL's shore side upper management attitude and lack of customer satisfaction in problem resolution has left this formerly satisfied customer feeling like, sailing with Capt. Jack Sparrow on the Black Pearl (Pirates of the Caribbean), would be an upgrade from HAL. In an effort to deny reality and just recompense, I shudder to imagine what HAL's professional deflection tactics and denial system aka "wall of non stick voodoo teflon" at the Office of The President and CEO, might cook up and attempt to serve future victims. Because of late, that is exactly what the HAL experience left us feeling like. Caveat Emptor. Read Less
Sail Date September 2016
I was not going to write a review of this trip until I saw another review and wondered were we on the same ship! Oosterdam was in excellent condition after her recent refit. Our stateroom was in good condition and ready for us as soon ... Read More
I was not going to write a review of this trip until I saw another review and wondered were we on the same ship! Oosterdam was in excellent condition after her recent refit. Our stateroom was in good condition and ready for us as soon as we boarded in Venice, so it was drop the carry on bags in the room and up to Lido for lunch. After lunch and a glass of wine we returned to our room and our suitcases were waiting for us. We didn't see the stateroom attendants until the next day, however our room was always tidied and cleaned when we returned. Throughout the cruise top marks to our two attendants who always kept our room clean and tidy and re-towelled and also stopped for a quick chat when we were heading ashore or to dinner. Food/Dining - we always ordered breakfast in the stateroom and it was delivered on time and hot. Items were always correct and included the 'extras' we requested that were not on the order form, but which we had handwritten in. Lunch - we always had lunch in Lido so that I could access the supply of Bread Pudding. mmmmmmm! The individually made salads were great, as I could pick exactly what ingredients I wanted in my salad. Mains were ok, but most days we went to the Asian station and had great choice of tasty food. Dinner - We ate 4 times in MDR and a further 2 times in MDR on Gala nights. the other 6 nights we ate in the Lido. Food in MDR was ok, but not fantastic. Choices are much less than they used to be and portion size is smaller (though you can still request 'seconds'). Lido food for dinner was adequate - it was good to be able to mix and match rather than take the regular items. I had ordered a 7 bottle wine package on first night in MDR, but had no problem in getting a new bottle or a 'saved' unfinished bottle brought to the Lido for dinner or lunch. Entertainment - I really don't 'do' stage shows, but the Welsh woodwind player Ollie was very good. Most nights we were in BB King blues club for at least two of the three 45 minute sets. This band were great! Playing Motown/Stax/Volt/Blues/RnB etc. They really were top class. We passed by the Lincoln centre a few times and there was excellent classical music being played, however the location wasn't great as diners passing from the MDR were inclined to be chatting and disturbed the ambience. As for the Billboard On Board, I only went there for the happy hour drinks as one of the pianist was absolutely dire. We really appreciated the lack of use of the PA. Apart from the Cruise Director's morning 'Hello' and the Captain's midday update on position and weather, it was very peaceful. (and even these announcements are not heard in your stateroom!). No hard selling and no nickel and diming, unless you want to....! Ports - I will only mention a few of them...... Sarande, Albania - we were supposed to go to Kusadasi, but it was replaced with Sarande. We just walked around the town. A bit oppressed looking, reminded me of Prague in the mid 1970's. People friendly and if you bought with euros they were delighted - obviously the black market is still thriving. Katakolon - this is the port for Olympia, but we stayed in town and visited the Museum of Ancient Greek Technology. €2 admission! very interesting. The young curator (who also collected the admission money) demonstrated how some of the machines and devices worked. Would recommend a visit here. We also visited a shop on the main street with some wonderful Christmas decorations :) We really enjoyed this cruise. Staff were very good and very friendly. We booked a future cruise while on board to take advantage of the extra OBC on offer. All in All a great cruise. Read Less
Sail Date September 2016
We sailed with the Eurodam in April from Barcelona to Venice and enjoyed it very much, so much we considered to try and stay on board for another 12 days and do the return trip! We had a Neptune Suite (7063) which was wonderful. After ... Read More
We sailed with the Eurodam in April from Barcelona to Venice and enjoyed it very much, so much we considered to try and stay on board for another 12 days and do the return trip! We had a Neptune Suite (7063) which was wonderful. After arriving back home, we immediately started to peruse HAL cruise book for the next one which we booked for September to the Greek Islands and Turkey. This time a Neptune Suite (7137) at the aft of the ship with a "wrap-around" balcony, which was great! As we did have trouble with HAL transfer by bus last time, we decided to take a taxi from the airport to Venice cruise port which turned out to be cheaper than the HAL transfer bus. Embarkation went smooth, only 20 minutes or so and we were on board. The suite was clean but a little dated, we had 2 single beds (at booking we requested a double) but were not too bothered to have it changed as we were quite happy, especially with the balcony. We were extremely disappointed with the food. Everything was extremely salty. We were told all crew was exchanged including the chefs. We certainly noticed the difference! Waiting staff were nowhere as efficient as on the previous cruise and the food was mediocre to say the least. We actually left it a few times and went to the Lido to have a sandwich! The Lido Market restaurant itself seemed to have the same food everyday. It is not a buffet (as described) where you help yourself, you have to tell the staff behind the counter what you would like. On this cruise staff who barely neither spoke nor understand English. We are small eaters but like to try a little of everything, which they did not understand. The queues were awful, we therefore just had a sandwich from a paper bag every day. We do not eat breakfast and if we were on board at lunch times just ate a sandwich and the awful meals in the dining room, it seemed that over £6000 for a cruise was a bit much! As we are so called 'Mariners' for having cruised with HAL before, we were invited for a lunch with other 'Mariners' This lunch turned out to be a hard sell to book the next cruise. It was incessant. Several people shouting in the microphone during this lunch. I say lunch, the soup was water with an Oxo cube in. All the people on our table (8) who ordered soup had left it. Does Marco van B....... the hotel director eat the same food from the kitchen??? If he does he must have noticed the quality had taken a nose dive!. We really had the feeling HAL was trying to get our money at all times. The bombardment of leaflets to our suite was incessant. Spa treatments, beauty treatments, shop sales, etc. etc. Even a ship's tour to look at the kitchens and laundries was available for $150 per person! The service charge of 15% on drinks is well over the top, especially as we already paid £13.50 per person per day on "gratuities". As for gala night....... we played a game. "Spot the Tuxedo". Not many people bothered and turned up in the same clothes they were wearing in the day. We felt self conscious and overdressed the first Gala night in an evening suit and evening gown which Gala attire still means to us. If the crew is dressed properly, surely the guests can do the same? Standards are indeed slipping. We are guilty of this too because the second Gala evening we did not bother either! Istanbul and Kusadasi were cancelled for obvious reasons and we agreed with that. However, Albania???? Why not Corfu or another Greek Island? We stayed on board as we had no interest in being robbed or walk through streets lined with beggars. Which is exactly what happened according to the American guests we spoke to later. Disembarkation: Our plane was 7.15am and our taxi pick up at 4.45am. We walked through the ship to try and find the gangway. The ship was deserted, we only encountered one man with his luggage who was also trying to get out. There were some signs saying "Gangway" but they were pushed against walls and pointed to the ceiling. There was not a crew member in sight. It really was a case of "We got your money, now get off". We finally found our way to be greeted or I should say non-greeted by a sulky security man scanning our cards. An expensive lesson for us but we will NEVER cruise with HAL ever again! Read Less
Sail Date September 2016
No its not a spelling mistake, we were previously fans of Holland America (HAL) prior to our Eurodam cruise from Venice. Following the recent security scares in Turkey HAL decided it would substitute Istanbul and Ephesus with an extra day ... Read More
No its not a spelling mistake, we were previously fans of Holland America (HAL) prior to our Eurodam cruise from Venice. Following the recent security scares in Turkey HAL decided it would substitute Istanbul and Ephesus with an extra day in Athens and a day in Albania! I have never met anyone who has visited Albania and now I understand why. Oddly HAL have no security concerns with 21,000 people shot each year in US but consider any foreign territory risky. Eurodam is a beautifully appointed ship but there the positives end. I am amazed that no previous review I read mentioned the air con system which can not be switched off in the cabin but belts out hot or cold air 24hrs. You cannot regulate the power (no hi, lo, med or off) just full blast over your bed. They are fully aware of the problem and will fit a latex foam pad which reduces the noise and flow but I had to complain three times to get this done. The rest of the ship is freezing which partly explains why when we boarded the ship was suffering a novo virus/flu bug. No mention was made of this bas we joined and declared that we were in good health. The food was not hot and my complaints to serving staff were met with "you want hot food" or "the kitchen is a long way off". The entertainment/shows which we have rated so highly previously were dire. Much better entertainment available on X factor or Britains got Talent. That shows how bad it was. Bar prices scandalous plus 15% service charge. Some arras of the ship are restricted to passengers who pay $50 pppd for a "cabana" reducing the available deck space to others. Cruise lines continue to portray an image of stylish relaxed quality living, but the reality falls well short of the perception and whilst the entire staff are smiley, sympathetic and understanding they are totally inept and have no apparent authority. Had we been in a hotel we would have checked out after three days, not easy to do mid ocean! Most definitely our last cruise. Read Less
Sail Date September 2016
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