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1,517 Holland America Family Cruise Reviews

Been on 25 cruise this my 9th on Holland America. This is by far the most boring ever on. No main show, buffet and most bars close at 8pm. They have some music shows but after first time enough. No dance DJ music at night. Really not ... Read More
Been on 25 cruise this my 9th on Holland America. This is by far the most boring ever on. No main show, buffet and most bars close at 8pm. They have some music shows but after first time enough. No dance DJ music at night. Really not much at all to do in evenings or really during the day. No band by the pool, most of fellow cruisers playing cards, checkers during day. Relaxing but not a lot of fun. Thank goodness the kids didnt come on this cruise. Service is great and food good but as for activities and excitement it's a dud. Will be sticking to Celebrity or Princess in future. Always liked Holland America and I guess if we were 75 would be fine but prefer shows and activities. If you have teens as kids take them on other line. As bored as we were teens would go crazy with nothing to do Read Less
Sail Date February 2020
We chose this cruise on the basis of previous happy cruises with HAL, a total of some eighty (80) days on Volendam x 2 , Westerdam and Konigsdam. The service, entertainment, and especially the food on those cruises were pivotal factors in ... Read More
We chose this cruise on the basis of previous happy cruises with HAL, a total of some eighty (80) days on Volendam x 2 , Westerdam and Konigsdam. The service, entertainment, and especially the food on those cruises were pivotal factors in selecting Noordam. We are bitterly disappointed in the Noordam cruise and it’s invisible on board management. I shall be writing to HAL CEO, Stein Kruse seeking an apology. Some points:- We ate in Pinnacle for the Sal de Mer. The food was cold and the steak inedible. Dining room fare was inevitably cold and the menus were very limited. One starter was sweetbreads on apple tarte tatin! Lido experiences were similarly mediocre, one toasted bagel was mouldy and it seems that few of the kitchen brigade can cook pasta. In room dining was haphazard. The ”special” lunch with the Captain was brunch served from 11AM ‘til Noon sharp. The duelling pianists and BB King band were very good but why have a solo harpist in the main theatre? The cruise director was rarely seen. Guest Services (sic) were palpably not interested in assisting passengers HAL Club staff were rude and indifferent to our concerns for the OH&S of children. Dress codes were never enforced -shorts, t shirts and sandals on gala nights! Read Less
Sail Date January 2020
We chose this cruise for the number of port stops and we weren’t disappointed! We got a great feel for New Zealand. We travelled with children between 7-14 and they all had a great time. Kids clubs were entertaining and staff were ... Read More
We chose this cruise for the number of port stops and we weren’t disappointed! We got a great feel for New Zealand. We travelled with children between 7-14 and they all had a great time. Kids clubs were entertaining and staff were wonderful with them. Although decor was a little dated, cabins were a great size and layout. Balconies were spacious. The new flat screen TVs with on-demand movies were great and the movie selection suited all of us. Food was generally excellent and Canaletto was wonderful and well worth the extra charge. The children particularly enjoyed the poolside Dive-In burgers and the hard scooped and soft serve ice cream readily available in the Lido buffet. Refreshed decor in the public rooms and restaurants is lovely and modern. We enjoyed a number of the shows - the BBC Planet Earth show was a particular highlight. We also enjoyed the free Kitchen Tour and several enrichment talks from Maori cultural representatives. Fitness centre was used every morning. There was usually enough equipment, and it worked, and there was a beautiful view. However the equipment could be updated (no tv screens on individual machines). Shower/locker room adjacent to gym a lovely spot for a shower! Embarkation and disembarkation are White Bay Cruise Terminal was quick and easy. This was also true in all ports we visited. Most of our shore excursions were self-directed. We did one through HAL and it was well organised. However it was usually cheaper to use companies in each port. It was very easy in New Zealand to make our own arrangements. I would not hesitate to sail with HAL again. Read Less
Sail Date January 2020
Seems like this ship has problems and can't reach the ports on the itinerary. No notification from Holland America before departure even when the problem has been know for weeks. See other reviews. Then the captain doesn't try ... Read More
Seems like this ship has problems and can't reach the ports on the itinerary. No notification from Holland America before departure even when the problem has been know for weeks. See other reviews. Then the captain doesn't try to avoid bad weather instead chooses to fake a port call which he knows is not staffed because tenders and the supply staff didn't even show up on their private island. A waste of Show and Time. Pretends he didn't know via Radio or via Weather Forecasts. Is he really a captain who don't know the conditions of where he is going and doesn't monitor conditions. What a waste of Money... Ships' entertainment director non engaging... Lack of DJ on a ship. No parties after 11:30PM on the ship. BARS shut Down at 11:30... Casino closes early and doesn't care if passengers wants to play... Not sure why they have a Casino in the first place if they don't want the revenue... I had three Neptune Suites so the cabins were nice and had lots of space for our family. Rest was a waste. Website says 24hour Concierge yet no one and even the special neptune lounge closed by 8 PM... calls route to normal front desk and wait queues unbearable for VIPs and Neptune Suite Occupants. GET YOUR ACT TOGETHER HOLLAND AMERICA.... Read Less
Sail Date January 2020
Cruise review of Holland America's Nieuw Amsterdam 7 day Eastern Caribbean cruise January 4-11, 2020 About us: 40 something mom and dad, teen son, toddler daughter. 11 cruises (8 on HAL). 3 cruise lines so far. The cruise: ... Read More
Cruise review of Holland America's Nieuw Amsterdam 7 day Eastern Caribbean cruise January 4-11, 2020 About us: 40 something mom and dad, teen son, toddler daughter. 11 cruises (8 on HAL). 3 cruise lines so far. The cruise: Already booked again on this same ship for a March 2020 Western itinerary we had such a good time and thought the crew were real troopers dealing with all the difficulties. The staff: They were all great, all of them, from cabin stewards to wait staff to wine stewards to bartenders. Our names were remembered, even our favorite drinks by the bar staff from when we sailed on this ship last year. There was only one exception, the one EXC guide that gave me bad info regarding Luggage Direct. The ship: Spotless inside and out. I have no idea what other guests reviewing this cruise are talking about but tables were bussed fast in the lido and the staff were super helpful when you needed dishes cleared. The ship itself has a very elegant interior and classic look. One of Holland America's strong suits is how they maintain their ships so very well. Good size ship, easy to get everywhere. This was a cruise effected by the azipod issue, one azipod was nonfunctional. More on that later. Just as one criticism, I do however miss the once adundant fresh flowers on the ship, especially the orchids in the lido. Cabins: 4166 and 4168. Standard verandah cabins with the slightly deeper balconies and both these cabins offer a double wide balcony. The divider on the balconies can be opened as well so we had a huge outside space. The inside of the cabins was very comfortable and spacious for verandah cabins, 4166 was a standard tub and shower combo while 4168 was shower only with a huge vanity and lots of bathroom storage space. Toddler had a ship provided pack n play in the cabin. Worked great and plenty of space. Unlimited laundry: $7 a day per cabin. One day service. Everything comes back spotless. I wish I could get this at home. Best money spent on the cruise as it makes packing easier. Internet: Got the middle grade package for 2 devices and it worked fine for everything we did which was check email, surf some websites. It was only slow on the last 2 days and not that big a deal. Photos: We got the unlimited package and got some great snaps. I wish we could just forgo the prints themselves and only buy the usb stick which is what we really use. But it is a good deal for as many great photos as we got. We went all over looking for the settings and backgrounds we wanted, I think there were 5 or 6 on Gala nights. It's a good idea to do that before you start getting in line. We liked some backdrops/settings better than others. The atrium one is really nice. Food: Always subjective but my husband and myself thought the food quality was the best of any cruise we have ever taken, and that would be 11 cruises now. We ate in the MDR, the Lido, did breakfast room service, NY Pizza, the Dive In 3 times, dinner at the Pinnacle Grill and 2 dinners at Tamarind. All were great. The fish dishes this cruise were especially good. Sole and halibut were excellent. The lobster tail with the Gala Night Surf and Turf was huge and perfectly cooked. Tamarind never disappoints. The steak, the stir fried lobster and the sea bass were all wonderful. Our Pinnacle Grill candied clothesline bacon, so good. PG steaks (10 oz filet and beef tenderloin) were perfection as well. Cooked exactly as we ordered. One criticism, the daily special Eggs Benedict from the Lido breakfast was no longer available. They simply had regular and Florentine everyday. That was sad. We enjoyed seeing what the special Eggs Benedict was each morning and some were especially tasty. We mentioned this change to a MDR chef who had come over from Nieuw Statendam last month and he was actually surprised by that change as it is a popular breakfast item. Also, the room service breakfast menu card is so limited, a la carte would waste less food as I don't really eat all the food they bring with the combinations they offer. Just an idea. Beverage: We both had the Elite Beverage pkg and used it liberally. Wine selection was good. They actually have a very nice whiskey cabinet in the Gallery Bar area which my husband discovered later in the cruise. Just ask the Gallery Bar bartender for the list of prices. One nice find this cruise was the pear cider. We had not tried that before and it was a really lovely cool drink. Another fun discovery for us was the Far East Legacy cocktail in the Tamarind Bar (of note, a gorgeous space on the ship). The beverage department folks are so good on HAL but they seem to need more of them in the main dining areas, the MDR and Lido. We were left going to the Lido or Sea View bars to grab our own drinks when we sat in the Lido area and not by a pool. The mixology classes are super fun. We never miss them. Entertainment: We did not get to many entertainment venues. We did hear some of the Lincoln Center Stage which was standing room only every performance we were there. Very tight, professional group. BB Kings was rocking. Caught several of their shows. Also an excellent group. Easy to sit through a couple performances sipping on a cocktail and grooving. We didn't go to any shows (not our thing) but our son enjoyed the comedian and ventriloquist very much even sitting in the lido with them after the show joking around. Really nice guys. Casino: smoke free. My husband enjoy playing slots and had several good hours there. He won $80 on a hot machine. Spa: As always, very enjoyable. Had my hair done twice for Gala nights and also had 2 massages. The hot stone massage was really wonderful. The actual cruise itinerary was changed on us as soon as we boarded as one of the ships two azipods was nonfunctional and due to be replaced the next month. We received $50 pp for the inconvenience of changing our St. Maarten stop to St. Croix and also the fact we would be getting to ports later and have less time in ports due to slower speeds. While disappointing, not a big deal for us. Grand Turk: What can you say? It's a beach day and it was super rainy there that day so half our bunch got off and went to the Beached Whale and Margarittaville and half stayed on the ship for a ship day. San Juan: We got there late but since they had just experienced severe earthquakes on the opposite side of the island all power was out in San Juan. My husband went ashore to the CVS for a few supplies and scoped out the situation. The places we wanted to go were without power so we just otherwise stayed on the ship. St. Croix: What a lovely island. Felt very unCarnivalized. I hope it stays that way. The store fronts facing the dock are lovely old buildings. The town seems friendly and the local hole in the wall eatery “Maggies Snackett” in Fredriksted served up some amazing goat stew and beans and rice. This is a place I would love to visit again and see more of the island. Half Moon Cay: 6 foot swells meant no tendering to the island. This was indeed disappointing as this peaceful beautiful unspoiled island is a jewel on any itinerary. We were already running 2 hours late due to bad weather and a medical evacuation at sea the previous day. The weather had been rocky a good part of this cruise but we made the best of it and enjoyed another ship day. Embarkation/debarkation: Outside of cruises where we had priority boarding, getting on and off the ship was the easiest ever. We checked in at 11 am and were on and in our cabin by 11:45. Enjoyed lunch in the MDR on embarkation days as well. We got off the ship, got our bags, and shot through customs in 15 mins. Airport transfer: fast and efficient. We had a 12:46 flight and we were at the airport by 10 am, checked in by 10:30 and through security by 10:45. We had lunch at Chili's on the other side of security. FLL airport: I said I would never fly out of this airport again as long as I live but we gave Jetblue a try and were thrilled. The terminal and staff were night and day better than Southwest, and I am a Southwest fan. Southwest needs to seriously up its game in FLL. I find SW employees in FLL to be the rudest most nasty anywhere we fly with them, which is very uncharacteristic, and the FLL SW terminal is very lacking in resources. Jetblue totally owned them in all categories and they will be our FLL go to airline from now on. This was our 8th HAL cruise and had the youngest cruisers we have seen. Lots of extended family groups, parents with teens, several 20-30 somethings. A fair amount of kids for a non-school holiday time. Boomers made up the bulk of the cruisers. Made for a different vibe but was nice. We heard some whining on this cruise. Truly, it did seem to be a comedy of errors cruise. If it could go wrong, it did. But complaining about stuff that simply can not be helped is pointless. The Captain said multiple times concerning specific issues that were being dealt with at the time NOT to congregate at guest services or the excursion desk as they could not help guests until the situation had been resolved. Bad weather, earthquakes, random mechanical failures, and a medical evacuation just happen. $50 pp compensation was pretty generous in my opinion. But then, if you are deadset on having a bad time and a whiner by nature, you will do just that (and probably hope they will gift you a free cruise). We are a very easy to please bunch so we had a great time despite all the craziness and will gleefully be back on this ship very soon. Read Less
Sail Date January 2020
Had the best time on Bonaire with Woodwind Tours on their 4 hour snorkel tour. Even though the staff were young enough to be my grandkids, they were very professional and organized. Whatever we needed they provided. We attended as ... Read More
Had the best time on Bonaire with Woodwind Tours on their 4 hour snorkel tour. Even though the staff were young enough to be my grandkids, they were very professional and organized. Whatever we needed they provided. We attended as many of the entertainment venues on board as we could. Enjoyed almost everyone, some more so than others. Not that impressed with BB Kings or the Rock music as they were too loud for my taste. The dueling pianos were very good, but the male singer didn't seem very energetic. On embarkation day, we ate at Tamarind. The meal and service were definitely worth the additional cost. Most other meals were with a group (table of 6) in the main dining room, although we did eat dinner on the Lido buffet on days that we had lunch on the islands. Found the ship fairly hard to navigate, as there were areas of the ship where it was not easy to get from point a to point b easily. Read Less
Sail Date January 2020
Overall we had a wonderful time BUT only because we were together as a family. The cruise itself lacked a lot that we found with other cruises. Our dining waiter actually scolded our 20 year old daughter because she ordered a lemonade and ... Read More
Overall we had a wonderful time BUT only because we were together as a family. The cruise itself lacked a lot that we found with other cruises. Our dining waiter actually scolded our 20 year old daughter because she ordered a lemonade and he said he was too busy to get it. He did later apologize but vibe was definitely ruined. Also I had asked for birthday cakes for my family and they totally forgot to deliver them. They do not care at all. We have been on well over 30 cruises and this one truly was understaffed. There was not a lot to do on board. Nothing was ever planned. The entertainment on New Year's eve was terrible on the Lido Deck. Party was suppose to start at 1030pm. There was a lull when they did not even play music. Everyone was complaining and sweating. It was so hot. The singers that night were horrible. The islands were wonderful. But the cruise.....not so great. Read Less
Sail Date December 2019
With 15 previous Holland America Cruises I thought I knew what to expect when taking my wife, daughter, and three adult grand daughters on a New Year's Eve cruise to Mexico. Boy was I wrong. The entertainment was sparse. No dance ... Read More
With 15 previous Holland America Cruises I thought I knew what to expect when taking my wife, daughter, and three adult grand daughters on a New Year's Eve cruise to Mexico. Boy was I wrong. The entertainment was sparse. No dance venues, no enterainment in the Crows Nest at all. No disco for the young ones, The span of responsibility for wait staff in the dining room was so great the service lagged to a near unacceptable level. Getting the Sommelier to our table was a major feat. Room service breakfast was VERY good and PROMPT ! Other room service was unreliable, twice our orders never came. Food in the dining room was quite good however down sized from previous experience. On Gala Night, the filet accompianing my lobster tail measured 2 inches by 1 1/2 inches. I thought it was a joke. With nearly 400 days of cruising on Holland America, this was the first cruise where several staff appologized for the service level. It is truly a pity to witness such a decline in a once great cruise line. Read Less
Sail Date December 2019
As we live on the east coast, a cruise out of San Diego might not have been something we explored seriously. At a charity event, an Oosterdam cruise was on offer and we had the winning bid. We (my spouse and I, and eventually my sister) ... Read More
As we live on the east coast, a cruise out of San Diego might not have been something we explored seriously. At a charity event, an Oosterdam cruise was on offer and we had the winning bid. We (my spouse and I, and eventually my sister) decided on the December 28 sailing. We had not spent any appreciable time in San Diego before so it seemed an attractive idea. We met in Los Angeles first and spent a great night there. Enjoyable, but the drive to SD was not fun--should have taken the train. San Diego is a lovely city, and we had a great dinner with cousins. San Diego is quite beautiful and a walk downtown along Broadway was interesting. The train station is beautiful and is the meeting point of several transportation options. We spent a night on Coronado after the cruise that was equally wonderful. Boarding was completed easily enough--the usual hubbub but all went well, very quick and welcoming. It was nice to hear that the cabin was ready when we boarded at 1:30. We boarded in the forward part of the ship so it was a long walk to our aft-facing cabin.The ship itself was quite nice inside--lovely carpeting throughout, interesting (mostly) artworks, and cleaning was ongoing. Good to see at this germ-y time of year. The exteriors of the ship needed tending, however. Our deck was dirty (the deck below was worse), windows were grimy and difficult to see out of (not just salt water), and posts were rusty and flaking. The cabin, #5190, was spacious with a very large L-shaped deck, and plenty of closet space. A nice two-sink bathroom, with a separate shower and tub. The shower was very small and leaked, so we had to use many towels to keep the floor dry. The cabin had attractive lighting and the bed was extremely comfortable. My sister said that the sofa bed was perfectly fine and even cozy. The cabin was made up early every morning, which I appreciate as we're early risers. We explored all dining options, I think! The Lido Market (buffet) was not the most comprehensive and the food was a bit bland, but it did have some of the best breads I've ever had at sea, especially the rye bread. The usual fare, all of which were fine if not memorable. Dive In, the poolside burger and hot dog place, was very good and much less chaotic than I've seen on other ships. You place your order and get a buzzer to let you know when your order is ready. That kept people from milling about and bumping into one another. Nice looking taco and nacho bar, too. The MDR was really nice, with great service and friendly people all the way around. I loved the food and we spent many nights there. The Pinnacle Grill was exceptional for breakfast. It was open for suite guests only, and the service was remarkable. Canaletto, another restaurant with a surcharge, was fine, though nothing special. Drink packages were only available if everyone in the room purchased one. As one of our party doesn't drink except for a few glasses of wine during the week it was not worth it. I guess it says more about the other passengers that HAL suspects a lot of cheating would be going on. It happens, but it made things less easy for us. The bartenders were all nice, but they measured every drink (fine) but did not always clean the jiggers (not fine). Ordering a vodka drink and then tasting other liquors is disconcerting. An Irish coffee was lukewarm with a drop of whipped cream because on the last night of the cruise they ran out of cream(!). We did not partake of any of the shore excursions. There were some attractive options but after a big Christmas I am glad that we were more self-directed. The casino was surprisingly generous--not just to me, but to everyone around me. I saw many large payouts and received a few big payouts myself. I do not rely on casinos to give me a return on investments, but it was nice to win occasionally on slot machines that were fun to play. We did not attend any shows, though the Lincoln Center shows were well-attended, and the B. B. King club was always hopping. The dual piano show, by two extremely talented young men, was too close to the loud casino. Their repertoire was a lot of ballads and romantic songs, performed well, but the clash with the ding-ding-ding of the casino was unfortunate. Service was expert all the way around. The Retreat was staffed by Marvin and Conrad, who couldn't do enough for you. The cabin was expertly maintained by Toni. The Neptune Lounge had two kind and helpful concierges, Claire and Erszebet. The MDR had great service, too, though a bit lagging on the Gala Night, which is understandable. The Pinnacle Grill had the best service of all, with Betty, Dwi, and Aurora being standouts. Our first night in the Grill saw good food, but amateurish service, including a post-it note on my steak noting it was the Rare steak. He also asked us to order dessert with our dinner and seemed put out that I didn't want to do so. The Retreat was nice, but maybe not the best time of year for it--cool and quite windy. Also, a bit sparsely decorated but there is a shower and restroom nearby. Great service! We enjoyed a sunny day in Cabo San Lucas, though with so many ships in port there were so many people on the dock at once. Mazatlan was a charming city, with a nice walk into the historic center. Puerta Vallarta was odd--we were docked in the center of the city, with a Walmart and a Mall across the 6-lane highway. It poured rain that day and I thought it would be a relaxing day in the cabin. The constant honking and traffic sounds ruined that idea, however. Not HAL's fault about the weather, of course, but its proximity to the city was somewhat surprising. People may enjoy having shopping nearby but it's not easy to get to--you have to take a tram to the exit and then walk a long way to the stores. One thing to mention--it being a holiday week--was the number of children on board. Frankly, I have never seen so many strollers and the pools were constantly filled by kids jumping in and out. I didn't particularly mind it, though I only got into the pool once, but if big groups traveling together aren't your cup of tea, you should keep an eye on the dates you travel. I like HAL, and the service and food is of a high calibre, generally. I would book a HAL cruise again with no problem, but I think I'd look for a newer ship. Read Less
Sail Date December 2019
This New Years cruise met every expectation of a fun filled and beautiful holiday. The ship itself is an antique lover's paradise. The statues, the paintings, the sculptures, the murals,were startlingly gorgeous and so rare to find ... Read More
This New Years cruise met every expectation of a fun filled and beautiful holiday. The ship itself is an antique lover's paradise. The statues, the paintings, the sculptures, the murals,were startlingly gorgeous and so rare to find on ships other than Holland America. The food was excellent.Menus in the dining room included those of celebrity chefs-David Burke and Rudi Sodamin. Rudi-Holland's Master chef usually has seafood offerings in the Pinnacle Grill but this cruise unfortunately not. However his creations of coconut shrimp and pot roast served in the Vista dining room were exceptional. The music especially the BB King band brought the whole ship to life in the evenings and the New Years celebration with all the ship's musicians was memorable. The passengers were a wonderful mix with many young families with children on holiday as well as multi generational families.Beautiful to see! The children's clubs must have met the children's needs as they did not seem to want to leave the clubs. Mexico was a happy holiday itinerary and San Diego -what a beautiful port to leave from. Always the service on Holland is wonderful and the bartenders and the housekeeping staff made this cruise such a pleasure to be with them. Now for the star of the show-The Captain!! Captain Rens van Eerten was so visible around the ship-even picking up glasses,talking to everyone,humourous and engaging,. His spirit and presence around the ship was 5 star!!Thank you for contributing to a memorable New Years Cruise! Read Less
Sail Date December 2019
Great time. Excellent service. Food of high quality with good taste; however, sometimes the selections didn't meet my taste (too much seafood and duck). The ship was in good repair and very clean. We did miss the big production ... Read More
Great time. Excellent service. Food of high quality with good taste; however, sometimes the selections didn't meet my taste (too much seafood and duck). The ship was in good repair and very clean. We did miss the big production shows on the mainstage. The BBC animal video with music was excellent and so fun. The ship's layout is slightly different than other ships, but once you got used to it was okay. Didn't notice much smoking at all. I would recommend this ship. Loved Half Moon Cay as always. Beautiful clear waters. Take the time to explore outside the port in Grand Turk. Very nice island. The donkeys are so cute. We did the Mountains and City Sights tour in Dominican Republic and would highly recommend it. We did not care for Nassau. We would not recommend the Top 10 Nassau Sights as it is just a restaurant meal and shopping. We did Club Orange and were pleased with the experience. Made any time dining a breeze and some other nice perks like a behind the scenes tour. Loved the Pervuian Chicken and Short Rib Club Orange entrees on the menu. Read Less
Sail Date December 2019
When I look at some of these reviews I often wonder if some of these people were really on the same ship I was as there are such differing opinions on the same cruise! We were looking for a relaxing Christmas and New Year experience and ... Read More
When I look at some of these reviews I often wonder if some of these people were really on the same ship I was as there are such differing opinions on the same cruise! We were looking for a relaxing Christmas and New Year experience and this trip certainly delivered that! The ship was not decorated as much as I thought it might be...could maybe use a little more decor spread out throughout the ship, but it was still beautiful and festive! This is our second time on the Koningsdam and we love the size and layout of the ship, as well as the additional dining options available. Our stateroom was a balcony and we had plenty of storage for the three of us...our daughter was also with us. The only complaint I might have about the stateroom is that with three people in the stateroom and the sofa bed made out, the only way to go on the balcony is to climb over the bed...wish there was a little more room to get by, but this was a very minor issue. We did not eat in any of the specialty restaurants this time and had most of our dinners in the Main Dining Room and had Anytime Dining. We never had to wait longer than 15 minutes to be seated. We ate in the Lido one evening and had Pizza from the New York Deli one evening while watching a football game by the Lido Pool. All of our meals in the MDR were excellent...there were a few nights that I went out of my comfort zone and tried something new and was pleasantly surprised. The atmosphere on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Year's Eve were festive. For lunch and breakfast we ate mostly in the Lido and found a good variety of quality choices and the service excellent. We also enjoyed Dive-In and the Grand Dutch Cafe. As usual, the food and service were spot on. We do not need extensive activities to enjoy our cruise. We enjoyed High Tea a few times and played Trivia and Bingo a few times. We enjoyed the sun and relaxed with a book in several different quiet locations on the ship. We enjoyed the Dance Group's Humanity performance and the Music Walk venues. The Orange Party was very festive and it was great to see the cruise director and a few other officers joining in the fun. It was enjoyable to see the crew in a different light during the Christmas caroling on Christmas Eve. And, of course, New Year's Eve was full of music, fun and champagne around the Lido Pool...it was standing room on all levels and such a fun way to ring in 2020! We would not hesitate to book another Holiday cruise on Holland, especially on one of the new ships! Read Less
Sail Date December 2019
We have been cruising for many years, and this was our 8th HAL cruise with our sons. We started cruising ten years ago with our children as 3rd and 4th passengers in a Neptune suite. They are now teenagers and are in their own inside ... Read More
We have been cruising for many years, and this was our 8th HAL cruise with our sons. We started cruising ten years ago with our children as 3rd and 4th passengers in a Neptune suite. They are now teenagers and are in their own inside cabin. Beware, when you make this switch, your children will lose their Neptune Suite benefits, even if you continue to book a Neptune Suite. This was our first holiday cruise, and we already booked a holiday cruise for next year. It was that great!!! The ship was new, spotless and beautiful. The Christmas decorations were beautiful, and the staff was amazing. In addition, the atmosphere on the ship was very festive. People aren't always happy on vacation, but there was something special about a Christmas Cruise. Everyone seemed to be in great spirits, and lots of families were traveling together. We saw lots of groups of kids (likely cousins) traveling around the ship and having a great time. HAL provides a Catholic priest on board for mass, which we really appreciated. Club Hal: Over the last 10 years, our children have experienced all three age levels of Club HAL, and it has been an absolute highlight for them. This was our first year where our 19-year-old son, has aged out and we were worried about him finding things to do, as he is too old for kid stuff and too young for the bar scene. We should not have worried. He met lots of other older teens and spent time playing cards and games in the Explorations Café, visiting the music venues, and shows. Dinning: We appreciated the new dining venues on the ship as well. We at breakfast as the Dutch Café once and enjoyed it. We also ate lunch once at the New York Pizza Deli. My husband is from New York and was not impressed by the pizza. I enjoyed being able to grab a quick salad, but the sandwiches were not very good. They were all bread and little meat. We ate in The Pinnacle Grill once for dinner Christmas Eve and 3 times for lunch on sea days. It was excellent (but not quick) as usual. We also tried out Tamirand; it was good, but not great, and our waitress was not very friendly. We ate dinner once in Canaletto. On this ship, it truly seems like a seperate restaurant, not part of Lido. The food was excellent, and the service was great, but beware where you sit. We were seated directly across from the door to the Lido kitchen, and when Lido closed, the banging and crashing, etc. of all the evening’s dishes being washed was really loud – like can’t hold a conversation loud. Entertainment: We enjoyed the new Rock and Roll venue, and the dueling pianos were much better than in past years. They had an interesting system going where one show would end, and you could walk directly across to the other venue and they would start playing within about 10 minutes. We enjoyed the magician on the main stage, but the comedian was so bad, that my husband and I both fell asleep. That has never happened to us at a comedy show before. Even people in the first row were getting up and leaving. Fitness Center: My son used the treadmills in the fitness center. The fitness center is new and beautiful. I took a Pilates class. The class was fine, but we were at sea in high winds, so the instructor probably should have modified his routine to take out at least some of the balance moves, as they were pretty impossible with the ship rocking so much. Ports/Shore Excursions: We booked jet skiing and a shade cover and chairs on Half Moon Kay, but that port was cancelled due to high winds, so we can’t review those. Our next stop was Aruba. Because we didn’t get to jet ski in the Bahamas, we called Delphi Watersports Aruba (https://www.delphiwatersports.com/), as soon as we arrived in Aruba (4 hours earlier than originally scheduled). It was Christmas day, but they were open. We booked 4 jet skies for 30 minutes at a very reasonable price and had a great time. We then took a HAL shore excursion in the afternoon sailing and snorkeling. We had a great time. We didn’t like any of the ship’s offerings in Curacao, so we booked a private horseback riding excursion with Criadero Babetti (https://www.criaderobabetti.com/). It was absolutely amazing. They picked us up at the Starbucks outside the terminal and we visited an aloe farm and ostrich farm on horseback (tied the horses up in the parking lots), and then rode to the bay to take the horses in swimming. It was a highlight of our trip. Read Less
Sail Date December 2019
The cruise was paid for by my father in law, so we had no choice, but we were pleased with the entire experience. We arrived around 11:30 am and very little waiting was required at Port Everglades, although the check in staff inside ... Read More
The cruise was paid for by my father in law, so we had no choice, but we were pleased with the entire experience. We arrived around 11:30 am and very little waiting was required at Port Everglades, although the check in staff inside the terminal subcontracted out were a bit rude/brusque. The ship was spacious and clean. I was a bit concerned that one of the adipose rear propellers wasn't working, but the captain was reassuring that the chances of us getting stranded at sea were very remote, and that there were emergency plans in place if that unlikely event were to occur. Unfortunately, I didn't get the information from the captain until much later in the cruise. The captain's message would be better to get on the second or third day, I think. Our cabin was able to sleep comfortably my husband, I and my teen. It had a remarkable sleeper sofa that turned into a bed without taking up floor area. The dining options were superb. We had a couple of nights where we splurged on the restaurants that charge extra. In the future, I would be very satisfied with just the standard dining room seating without paying the extra money. The entertainment was professional and very classy. Something for any sophisticated taste: classical, blues band, piano bar, modern dance. I didn't participate in many activities. I took the cocktail mixing classes, which were a lot of fun. The couples massage was a rip-off: $355! I thought it was $170 for 2! All of our sense of relaxation was erased when they tried to upsell us on skin products and booking for additional appointments. because I was part of a family reunion and had enough things to do between my books, puzzles, family and excursions. The service never disappointed us, except I would have appreciated a little salsa or hot sauce with the room service omelette which was a little bland. I went on the Damajagua Falls excursion in the Dominican Republic, which was fantastic! The water wasn't too cold and the scenery was beautiful. Both my husband and teen daughter did all the high jumps and slides, whereas I, suffering from a fear of heights took the sturdy ladders down (the "chicken" routes). Part of the issue was I was feeling fragile since I sprained my ankle on the last step of the new concrete bridge that you walk across before the beginning of the hike. Our snorkel excursion on Grands Turks/Caicos was cancelled due to heavy seas. We were refunded our money promptly. The tender to Half Moon Cay really freaked me out, because the rough waves splashed onto the lower deck, and the ferry was so full of people. Fortunately, the trip was short. Our family of 14 shared a villa at Half Moon Cay, which was a very nice experience. Although, I used the included snorkel equipment, I didn't see any fish in the swimming area in front of the villa (the fish were probably scared of the humans). The villa had a small refrigerator filled with shrimp cocktails (but no spicy red sauce), fresh fruit, drinks and chips, a kitchen sink, large table set with tablecloths, napkins, etc, plenty of seating, plenty of foam floating lounge/rafts, a Jacuzzi that could comfortably contain 6 people. Getting off the tender back onto the boat freaked me out more, because the boat was moving up and down so much. Trying to get back on the large boat from the tender was like being in a video game--you had to time it, crouch down and run fast so you wouldn't knock your head. We traveled with our teen, who went up to the teen room a couple of times, but nobody was there/it was not open. She didn't complain about the cruise despite its lack of activities specifically for teens, because we bought her the internet package which kept her happy, except for the last sea day before disembarkation when the internet wasn't working properly. Read Less
Sail Date December 2019
Cabin: poorly working A/C, dripping with water on bedding. Moisture running of walls. Overhead bed hinges broken, bed leaning forward/downward. Bathtub would backup off and on. First couple days toilet didn’t work. Used washroom off ... Read More
Cabin: poorly working A/C, dripping with water on bedding. Moisture running of walls. Overhead bed hinges broken, bed leaning forward/downward. Bathtub would backup off and on. First couple days toilet didn’t work. Used washroom off exploration cafe, only to have urinal contents flush on pants and shoes. Staff knew of problem, but didn’t correct. Didn’t offer immediate help with clothes and shoes.... 2 days later !!!!! After having complained nothing happened!! Ports: what a joke! You wake up to the smells of container harbours, thousands of containers, cranes and trucks, not exactly a luxury holiday stop, but worse... what’s not advertised is the huge amounts you have to spend to actual go to the port of call, as in at least at couple of ports we were 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 hrs away. What a disappointment. Decor: there was very little Christmas decor, they couldn’t have done any less, pathetic. Entertainment: what entertainment!! It was pretty much nonexistent, and whatever little they had was so terrible. New Year’s Eve was the biggest disappointment - after a so so dinner - nothing happened... there was not one single thing going on. No entertainment in any one corner of the ship. How terrible is that. Shame on you Holland America!! Food: boring and repetitive. Read Less
Sail Date December 2019
We have always dreamed of an aft cabin got one one the ship. At first glance we were very disappointed because if was so small, old, and dreary but at least we had an aft view but the veranda was filthy, covered in soot. I asked the cabin ... Read More
We have always dreamed of an aft cabin got one one the ship. At first glance we were very disappointed because if was so small, old, and dreary but at least we had an aft view but the veranda was filthy, covered in soot. I asked the cabin attendant if it could be swept at least but he said they don't clean it. Although the view was beautiful I could not sit there because of the filth. I would have bought a broom myself had I known they don't sweep the verandas. We ate in the dining room one time. at the the waiter threw the tiny amount of food down and ran away. Couldn't ask for anything. The rest we ate the Lido. Much better. The whole immigration procedures from Hal were chaotic. I was told multiple times that I needed to get my own visas only to find out they were available through the ship. The busiest places on the ship were the medical unit and customer service. That tells you a lot. I have been on other HAL cruises but this one seemed like everyone was in training. You had to explain everything to them. I'm done with HAL. No recognition of Mariner status at embarkation. Hot tubs were ice cold. Dont book any overnight packages. They change them and then tell you sorry they're nonrefundable,\. Read Less
Sail Date December 2019
We we chose this trip because the dates fit perfectly. the price seemed justfiedbut then on bord, the cheapest wine 9 $ the cocktail 10$ always +15% Service. The The wine in the glas was manageable and the alcohol in the Cocktails barely ... Read More
We we chose this trip because the dates fit perfectly. the price seemed justfiedbut then on bord, the cheapest wine 9 $ the cocktail 10$ always +15% Service. The The wine in the glas was manageable and the alcohol in the Cocktails barely noticeable. None of the tours offered by HAL was acceptable. For a Train ride in Port Chambers charges HAL 390 $, when booking direktly in the station, the same trip was 130 NZD. The dinner in the main restaurant was boring and the portions were manageable. After a short time, we found, that the quality in the buffet restaurant was excellent, and we had the chance to create our dinner by ourselves. Compared to Azamara Cruises the main restaurant was a disappointment. Excellent was the Pinnacle Grill. Really,really good on board of the noordam are the staffs. Everyone was friendly and nice. always trying to make the trip as pleasant as possible. The size of the cabin was ok, the balcony furniture old and histotic. The bathroom was ok, but it is impossible to have a bathtube there. Passengers with an average age of over 60 years and many mit over 100 kilos weight, are not able to take a shower due to the high entry. My wife and I will not have again a cruise with HAL. Read Less
Sail Date December 2019
We choose this cruise for the itinerary, which we loved. The Noordam is an older ship but is well designed and in good shape. The cabin decor was a bit dated but the cabin was well equipped and layed out well. The Positives: Room ... Read More
We choose this cruise for the itinerary, which we loved. The Noordam is an older ship but is well designed and in good shape. The cabin decor was a bit dated but the cabin was well equipped and layed out well. The Positives: Room Service was punctual, hot and got our orders right every time. It is a limited menu, but we were happy. Laundry Service was prompt and they did a good job washing folding or hanging the clothes. The unlimited laundry was well worth the price and they even replaced a broken zipper on a pair of jeans at no charge. The Room Attendants did a very good job and the Guest Service desk was helpful. Embarkation and Disembarkation were both easy. The team did a good job rerouting the ship to Burnie, Tasmania when it could not visit Eden due to the bushfires. The Negatives: The service in the Main Dining room was terrible. We experienced long waits for service, missing food, not getting what was ordered and a couple of servers with poor attitudes. We signed up for freestyle dining, which may have been part of the reason. HAL has not figured out how to properly service diners who are out of phase with the fixed meal times even though they tout this option's flexibility. Lido service simply did not exist. Sell baby, sell. There is a constant pressure to buy stuff you don't want or need. At the extreme this included books for making the towel animals and the history of HAL book but it permeates through all activities aboard, The internet service was terrible. The onboard execution for activities and shows was lacking, There was never enough space for the people who wanted to attend trivia, Lincoln Center Stage or other events. The Planet Earth II show would have been great but they set up the musicians in the way of the incredibly beautiful imagery. So, instead of seeing the exotic wildlife footage, we looked at the guitar player. The onboard talent was not good, but the outside talent was enjoyable. In general, there were not enough activities for the four sea days. If the weather had been better, that may not have been an issue. Shuffleboard did not work, due to the condition of the deck the discs would not slide. I still don't get the whole EXC thing. It seems like marketing/branding without any real content. This trip needed an onboard naturalist and someone who could add knowledge about the ports visited, These are all really easily solved things that an attention to detail can easily remedy; but, unfortunately, all of HAL's attention seems to be on the bottom line. We did not do any ship excursions but found great private excursions in advance. We stayed at the Auckland Hilton pre-cruise and highly recommend that hotel. After the cruise we stayed at the West (Hilton Curio Colllection) in Sydney which was also very nice, albeit not being as close to Circular Quay as other options. In summary, if you pick a cruise based on itinerary, HAL's Noordam is a fine choice. If you pick it for the shipboard experience, you can do better with another cruise line. Read Less
Sail Date December 2019
We are a family of 5, traveling with 3 daughters in their 20’s. Let me start by saying that we had a nice time on this cruise and it was a good value for the money for a holiday cruise. But there is certainly room for improvement by ... Read More
We are a family of 5, traveling with 3 daughters in their 20’s. Let me start by saying that we had a nice time on this cruise and it was a good value for the money for a holiday cruise. But there is certainly room for improvement by HAL. First the high points. I have nothing but the utmost respect for the crew. They work incredibly hard, always with smiles on their faces. A special mention goes to Yohannes, one of the maitre d’s in the Main Dining Room. Two of our daughters are vegetarians and Yohannes,along with our waiter Suarta, worked to make sure that they had plenty of choices for dinner. While the daily menus have vegetarian options, there are special vegetarian and Indian menus from which orders can be placed the evening before. Yohannes even worked on special requests for our daughters. The quality of the food overall is a step above similar cruise lines we have been on, but the choices were limited and repetitive in the Main Dining Room. The Lido Buffet is very good for breakfast and lunch with nice choices. We really enjoyed the Dive In Grill by the pool. The Pinnacle Grill is wonderful, but the upcharge was $39 pp. I am glad we splurged on that for one evening, and wish we had gone another evening as well (there is a slightly reduced price for a package of 2 dinners pp). Also, thank you to HAL for having a Catholic priest onboard to celebrate Mass daily. Father Joe was great. We would not have been on this cruise over Christmas without the opportunity to attend Mass. Now the areas for real improvement. There were very limited activities on this cruise, especially considering there were 5 sea days (one was cruising the Milford Sound and other fiords). On another HAL cruise, there was the America Test Kitchen with cooking demonstrations. There was nothing like that here. Also, on the other HAL cruise, there was someone talking about the birds and wildlife we were seeing. There were no talks given about that either, other than the day through the fiords. ( There were whales and dolphins that could be seen from the ship several times but there was not even an announcement about that.). Our biggest criticism was the limited information given about the ports. The cruise director did not do any reviews each night about what to expect the next day, and certainly no in-depth talks daily. I did find a port talk listed on the first night about the North Island of NZ, but it was scheduled during our dinner! There was a port talk on Tasmania on one of the sea days, and at least that gave us some information. Usually on other cruises we could go to the TV each morning to find the cruise director talking about the ports, but we never found that on this cruise — only information on ship excursions which were on the expensive side. As one prior review mentioned, the cruise director was missing in action when it came to important port information! And he certainly did not spend any time planning activities for the guests! Believe me, this was a constant discussion among all of the other passengers we met. Also, as pointed out by others, it appears that HAL has cut down on the number of servers in the Main Dining Room. These waiters worked incredibly hard carrying huge trays and actually running back and forth to serve their guests, but I believe that there is a failure by HAL to staff properly in order to provide reasonable waits in the Main Dining Room — both for dinner and breakfast. The evening entertainment certainly did not cater to an audience of all ages over the holiday season. The ship’s own singers and dancers are good, but the other entertainers were meant for a much older crowd — for example, a night of music from the 50s and 60s. And we did not understand the guy with his spinning tops. Having said that, the ports on this cruise gave us a good overview of New Zealand and at least a chance to visit Tasmania and Sydney. Our stop in Eden was cancelled due to the fires in Australia, so HAL worked to add a day in Burnie, Tasmania. Thank you to HAL for making that happen and a special thank you to the mayor, deputy mayor and volunteers in Burnie who came out to greet the ship and help organize tours for us with one day’s notice. This cruise was a very good way for our family to get at least a taste of this beautiful part of the world. Read Less
Sail Date December 2019
This is the second time I've sailed on the Eurodam this year. In February, my husband and I sailed to Hawaii and liked it for a leisurely senior sailing (we read lots of novels)--but it was also a great choice for a three-generation ... Read More
This is the second time I've sailed on the Eurodam this year. In February, my husband and I sailed to Hawaii and liked it for a leisurely senior sailing (we read lots of novels)--but it was also a great choice for a three-generation family Christmas week cruise. Let it be said that there were some skeptical cruisers on board--but they were won over by the low-key ship, the good food that included a number of local Caribbean and Mexican dishes, and the professional and unobtrusive service. And my 11-year-old grandson, though disappointed with Club Hal (which he abandoned after the first day), thought the french fries at Dive-In, the pool and the hot tub--and especially the day on Half Moon Cay-- were so wonderful that he was reluctant to get off the ship! We were very fortunate in having good weather almost everyday (the day before and the day after our day at Half Moon Cay, the seas were too rough to take people ashore) which made, of course, a big difference. Everyone loved the "Humanity" performance by the One Step Dance Company (a second performance, "Stages" was much less spectacular), the BBC Planet II showing with live music, and the BB King Blues Club. And I, as always, loved the America's Test Kitchen demonstrations; Lori was a fantastic teacher/performer. The Eurodam makes up in classic elegance what it lacks in glitz. I really like this ship and think (at least if you watch your bar bill) it is excellent value. We loved the time to talk and bond as a family--and the way that the ship offered something of interest to persons from 11 to 73. Those so-inclined spent time in the gym and snorkeled, everyone danced to blues music, and there were two sea days to just sit on the deck and talk and enjoy the views of sun and sea. It was a great cruise. Read Less
Sail Date December 2019
As always, the ship, crew and food were great! The biggest issue was that more modern venues for entertainment have been shut down on the smaller boats. In the Ocean bar, the trio band (think older standards for ballroom dancing) played ... Read More
As always, the ship, crew and food were great! The biggest issue was that more modern venues for entertainment have been shut down on the smaller boats. In the Ocean bar, the trio band (think older standards for ballroom dancing) played every night till 10pm and then at 11pm the cruise entertainment person took on the additional duty of DJ for the only dance floor left on the boat. Since it was so late that some modern music was being played, there were few guests staying up to go dancing. And it is not like we do not enjoy older music -- my wife and I often go to WWII dances that play the music of the 40's and 50's. But 16 days of the trio was a bit too much. The dance floor at the Crow's nest has been covered over with carpet and we were told all the other boats on Holland were like this also. The Crow's Nest is totally dead at night and the only reason to go there is happy hour at 10pm to get you 2 drinks to take with you to other venues. The dueling piano players lacked something on this trip and ruined many a song. Generally, the under 70 crowd walked around after the evening show looking for something to do or watch sports at the Billboard venue. My wife and I have been on many Holland trips and prefer this cruise line over others, but we both agreed that we may have to look at other lines. We had a great time on last year's Holland trip over New Year's. We enjoy smaller boats, but we may have to give this up and go on larger capacity boats on Holland or other lines. Read Less
Sail Date December 2019
Hi there. It’s January, and I’m back home in Michigan. We are all snowed in today so I’m finally going back to submit my review for my holiday cruise. Most of which I typed while I was on the ship, and some I filled in just now. ... Read More
Hi there. It’s January, and I’m back home in Michigan. We are all snowed in today so I’m finally going back to submit my review for my holiday cruise. Most of which I typed while I was on the ship, and some I filled in just now. (So please excuse my mixed tenses!) Here it is: ROOMS: It’s 4:24 a.m. and I'm on the ship, on Christmas Eve morning, actually. I’ve been thinking about it since my first dinner here, so why not start my review now, because the reason I’m awake now in the first place is because I’m suffocating in this too-hot room. I bought a small digital clock to take with me that also shows the temperature. I would get the room just right and the system was set to auto-regulate. Then it would be too hot. I finally figured out that any time housekeeping would come in the room, they were setting the thermostat back to their set point of TOO HOT AND STUFFY TO SLEEP. I am laying by the floor by the door now in hopes of sucking some fresher cooler air into my body and to limit the light from my iPad. Since I mentioned the room temperature, before I move on from talking about the room, the smoke alarm went off the first time after I took a quick shower and left the door open. We’d all been diligently keeping the shower door closed after showering since. The second time it went off, I took a shower and although I was careful to keep the door shut, the captain started making announcements so I creaked the bathroom door to hear them, what with being a responsible guest and all. It almost immediately went off. It didn’t wake me, as I was up since 3:30. It did however (almost) finish the job of waking up my kids, which could stay asleep under interrogation lights. Interestingly, the smoke alarm has not gone off the last few nights when we distinctly smelled cigarette smoke. We called and the guy turned it off and explained to me how smoke alarms sense heat and smoke (well except cigarette smoke) and how it was all for our well being and the safety of the ship, Like I’m an absolute complete ticking idiot and never understood in 46 years the purpose of smoke alarms. Basically there is nothing they could do but turn it off remotely each time after they inspect for no fire. So I said thanks and “okay I’ll see you the next time I take a shower again, I guess.” Overall, though, sneaky temperature changing and smoke alarms that go off when there is steam but not when there is smoke, the rooms are good. More spacious than Carnival and the bathroom didn’t induce claustrophobia. SHIP DECOR: Now that I’ve gotten out of the way why I’m writing this at this very moment, I’ll start properly! I am on the Holland America cruise line’s ship “The Zuiderdam.” I took a short Carnival cruise over the summer with just the kids and wanted to go with my husband for a longer vacation over the winter break. The kids and I wanted more cruise fun but slightly more upscale. (That is to say, less people that see a cruise as a prolonged drinking contest, and less people that don’t have manners and step slightly to the side when they decide to plant themselves in doorways and see other people trying to get around them.) I researched and this ship’s size-to-occupancy ratio was one of the best. That is to say, it had the most square feet per person, so the overcrowded feel of The Carnival cruise would hopefully be avoided. Although generally this cruise line is thought of as more expensive, I shopped Carnival cruises at the same time and the prices were very close worked out on a per day cost but Carnival didn’t have one that fit our schedule well. This is my fifth cruise. The prior one was Carnival, about 6 months ago. Go back 20 years to two more Carnival cruises. Then one more when I was a kid. I don’t remember the line, but it wasn’t Carnival or Holland. I remember though, as a kid, the shows were amazing. I was in awe! That is the breadth of my expertise as a cruise guest. I’m no expert but am very well positioned to compare/contrast Carnival and Holland, so here goes! The ship took a little getting used to. It’s beautifully, well at least plushly, decorated. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. It feels decadent with its plush fabric chairs and spacious layout. But it is decidedly less open than the three Carnival’s ships I’ve been on. The atrium only spanned three floors and isn’t spacious. It’s just more of a 3 floor open staircase isha. Crystal seahorse hanging down in the center. The center floor had some Christmas decorations there. It didn’t seem that even without the decorations there would be space for a d.j. And there wasn’t space around the edges enough for audience to gather. There were chairs put around but it wasn’t a comfortable place to gather around a performer. It was more of a very comfortable waiting room, with the exception of being overly lighted to the point of wincing - but more on that in a bit. What I’m trying to say is it was impossible to get that sense of a ship that was a singular cohesive body with all its separate parts working together, which I realize now was what was in large part appealing about the large unifying open inside atrium spaces of the Carnival ships. I got used to it after about a day, after learning my way around more. You really couldn’t go to the atrium first and then look around and see or remember. I had to always strategize in my head first where I was going, and how to get back. Felt like lots of luxurious appointed tunnels. Other than the general lack of an open floor plan, of note was that this ship has two additional full restaurants they’ve built into the main areas. They push them, announce them, put them prime and center in most of their print-outs for the days’ activities. I find this tacky because all the food is paid for in the price of the cruise, and here I am being told if I want a true fine dining experience I have to make reservations and pay more. That’s right, did I not mention they are full on paid restaurants? There is a sense of luxury in the use of the space (minus the open concept, as I mentioned). Halls that are curvy for no reason except that they can be. Little curved corridors with lighter art insets in the wall. His luxury isn’t as felt on the Carnival ships, where walkways always seem to be made the shortest space between two points. The Zuiderdam throws down the mike here, and deservedly. SHOWS: It’s important to me that you take a moment to recognize I did say some positive things first about the ship. Because it’s all downhill from there. Entertainment. Oh boy. Reviews said this ship was top rated for entertainment. Maybe those reviewers were very heavy drinkers? The first night, there was no show. The cruise social director kept asking about great upcoming shows they had, such great dancers. I was thinking maybe she just really like the dance part, because watching just dancers for an hour - that can’t be right. Right? It was right. The second night was all and nothing but dancers. I made everyone go, we stayed for 10 minutes. There was no second show going anywhere here to catch. They have an ongoing blues band act with a dance floor. It’s not something to go sit and watch, though. I walked up to the edge of it a couple of times. Nobody was dancing, and the music was so loud you wouldn’t have been able to hold a conversation in there. I was used to Carnival that had a main show and on a smaller stage other side of the ship they’d have a comedian or something smaller. The next night’s show was a guy that did a Beatles tribute. Why yes, that WAS on the main stage, it was the main show. It was starting out okay, I mean the Beatles, right? He told some little stories and did some songs but mostly lots of tiny bits of songs. Then his wife came out. I winced, just like I did with the interogation-wattage-level lights at dinner, which I’ll get to later. She was like a more saccharin and thin (personality-wise) version of Kathie Lee Gifford. Hey, Kathie Lee did Carnival Cruise commercials early on, so maybe this is the Holland America version? Wow. I can’t think of anyone more Beatles-contrary. Then she sang one of the best songs ever - "Let It Be." Were it not possibly the best song ever, it would have ruined it for me forever. If a female is going to sing that song at all, shouldn’t it be a little more Edie Brickell and less fake Marilyn, dramatically flitting her skirt around and coming out in different glamorous outfits that were all basically the same cut, but in different colors, with no explanation, on and off 5 times in a 45 minute show? Last night there was a comedian. He was mentioned excitedly by one of the cruise hosts earlier. I should have been on alert since the other host got so excited talking about dancers. This guy had no act. Zero. I kept waiting for it. He knew it, too, and seemed embarrassed, even. He was affable enough and talked to the audience for 45 minutes but no show actually came. He had just written a book and was on a late night show and taped a special, (and he told us all, plus he had done 10 commercials) so maybe he had no jokes left. My kids enjoyed it more than the dancing show or the Beatles guy, but still not as much as watching a movie in their room. They didn’t know how much of a non-act it was, as they are ages 9 and 11. His show was truly far below the standard of what you’d get from that comedian on Carnival on the smaller stage - that wasn’t even the main act. The last night of the cruise was supposed to be the “good” show, as touted by the comedian in his first show, when explaining why he had no jokes. (He was saving them for the last night.) It was going to be a variety show. It was about 17 minutes more of the comedian. Then the Beatles guy and his sacharrine wife again. Not really a variety show by my definition - more of a warmer-over recycling of what was bad to begin with. I missed the first 5 minutes of the comedian. When I was walking up the stairs outside the theatre to join my family I heard the comedian saying something about how he told his wife when she gives him the silent treatment it's not really punishment. As I sat down I was thinking "tonight's the good stuff?" He made a bunch of age put-down jokes the first night. My husband said that as soon as he came out onto the stage for his "finale show" some guy yelled "I don't like you." So, that has to suck as a comedian, but I'm not sure he didn't deserve it. Other "jokes" included saying he needed surgery once and started with a Jewish surgeon and then got "upgraded" to an Indian surgeon and they're smarter, so... (insert laughter here?) FINE DINING: Fine dining that is included? I’m still trying. The first night, as soon as we sat down to dinner, I winced in the brightness of the faux incandescent colored light. Why. So. Bright. Fluorescent supermarket lighting would be better, truly. I couldn’t stop wincing. Then they delivered a bloody rare steak to my daughter even though she ordered it medium well. They took so long to come back to the table that everyone was mostly done by the time they even knew they needed to try again, this time cooking it. And my husband and I very stupidly agreed to a salad which meant our kids just sat there for the first 20 minutes or more. I ate as fast as I could when I realized they were waiting before my kids could get to eat. We were there for an hour and a half with no dessert. And I never was able to stop wincing from the light. The next night at dinner I asked the dining manager if we could possibly please sit somewhere less bright. He said they were assigned, so no. I could wait “over there” for a family with another table to be asked I they’d be willing to trade with us. No straight thinking person would trade with us, and I didn’t want to be further at their mercy, so I said it was fine, I didn’t want to wait, I’d just wear my sunglasses. I went back to my room and brought back my sunglasses and wore them, like a jerk, through dinner. There are darker normal-restaurant-light-level tables around the edges and the very center of both floors. The overhead oval of light that goes all the way around both floors is nauseatingly bright and really I couldn’t get past it. After dinner I went to the desk and they said the only way I could change tables was to forfeit my assigned table if he manager would “release” us from it, so we could go in unassigned on the other floor. But we had to get permission to go in unassigned at a certain time and there were no slots. The other option was to make reservations in the main (still) free fine dining restaurant. There were no spaces for actual reservations, no spaces to reserve for “unreserved” spots. But guest services said I could always “try.” She said she couldn’t guarantee anything though because it was just like a regular restaurant and again we could not even try without getting permission to be released from our assigned table which, once we forfeited, could not get back. I said it’s not really like another restaurant, because if it were home like another restaurant, you could go home to feed your kids, or go to another restaurant. I had to risk losing all dining options for my kids on Christmas Eve and Christmas for the gamble to get away from the light. Please be warned that if you order anything from a different category from your fellow diners, they will not bring it all at the same time. They will serve the first course and not bring others’ food until you have sat there with the empty plate for quite a while for whatever soup or salad you were so dumb to say “yes” to when they suggested it. A waiter at dinner asked me if I wanted ice cream with the slice of apple pie for dessert I ordered. I said "okay." A different waiter delivered pie. I said “I ordered this with ice cream?” The waiter said it doesn’t come with ice cream, but if I wanted ice cream too, he could bring me some. (Because I'm a huge pig and he was making a special exception? No thanks!) Also a wrong desert was brought second night. Waiter set it down and walked off, and I had to wait SO long to get a chance to tell him he brought the wrong thing (which was getting awkward to keep repeating.) Another time, my husband had breakfast in the dining room with my daughter, just the two of them. The dining room was mostly empty. A while after they were seated, an older "proper" British couple were seated RIGHT ON TOP OF THEM. Well, right next to them, filling out the remaining 2 seats at their 4-top, but it felt uncomfortable to the British couple apparently because she politely asked to sit somewhere else (not in my family's lap) and the waiter said "no." I get cruise seating style but when someone politely asks to sit somewhere else, even one table over, and is told NO by the waiter, well, that's just weird. My husband said it was certainly memorable to hear this proper British lady get angry and raise her voice with her British accent at the waiter after he kept saying "no." It's just weird that it's the opposite of "customer's always right" here. It's "the ship staff is always right." Another time, my husband ordered a coke, waiter took forever, husband asked again, waiter dropped off TWO warm cans, no ice. Husband FINALLY gave up waiting for the waiter to come back, and walked around and found the waiter to return the second coke. The waiter said he'd take it off beverage gift card, and said he'd get back to us with a cup of ice. We gave up on ice eventually and took the can to lido to get our own cup of ice. The next morning, I tried to get a coffee with the beverage card and I couldn't because the beverage card showed no balance, because, of course, the errant charge for the unordered second coke can had not been removed. Finally, on Christmas Day, I was seated with 3 other ladies that were strangers but we were having a touching conversation about something very important that had happened to her, and were all leaning in. Other people around us were still eating their main course. We were finishing our coffee. The waiter INTERRUPTED her emotional story ON CHRISTMAS DAY to ask us IF WE COULD LEAVE. One of the other ladies snapped back at him "no we'll leave in a few minutes." I just really couldn't believe I wasn't hearing things. Nope, that really happened. ROOM SERVICE: The first night, we filled out our little placard for breakfast in-room the next morning. We all woke up but it wasn’t our set delivery time of 8:30 to 9:00. We could have gone to the lido deck or the fine dining restaurant, but we’d ordered something so kept waiting in the room the first morning of our cruise. I called and asked about it 10 minutes past the window, and we got it 20 minutes later, so it was 30 minutes after the end of our set window. Well, most of it. Except my husband’s, which wasn’t included at all. I called. We left and he stole a piece of my son’s toast. We got a message at 10:30 saying they tried to deliver the food but nobody was there. Next morning, the only thing that changes was that I started to ride them faster. 5 minutes before the end of the window, I called them and they THEN started the order and we got it in about 20 minutes. Still later than our window. It would be nice if on a trip like this I didn’t STILL feel like as a mom it was my responsibility to be sure my kids get food, but whatever. We get it. In room dining isn’t something they make more money off of, like their other paid restaurants. It doesn’t seem to be a priority to them to actually fill the orders, at least not ours. To that end, there is also no printed in-room dining menu anywhere to be found, as there was for Carnival. I waited in line to ask at the desk and they said I could find it on the television ship channel. One night we were hungry after the lido deck shut down everything but pizza, but we didn’t want pizza. So we tried room service and after an hour of no delivery we called and then were told again “we’ll follow up.” No explanation given. Seems they don’t start a room service order until the first complaint of it being late comes in? REFLECTIONS ON THE FOOD: It was difficult for the kids and even my husband to find things to order at dinner. There was usually just one thing they would eat, and the order would have to include instructions to leave certain things off. Carnival’s menu worked better for us. It had several recognizable things, a few fancier things, and one “exotic” type thing each evening as choices. Most of the food on this cruise was for the “refined” pallette so much it was alienating. Waiters would drop off food and then be gone for a good long while unless I was rude enough to wave them down, for, say, water. (The glasses were empty when the waiter set down the food and walked off.) My daughters’ medium well steak was ripe with fresh blood in the center. It took forever to get the waiter to come back, and then we had to wait for a new steak that was cooked. The first night that dinner took an hour and a half, with no dessert. Prime rib is suppose to be pink but we all found it too disgusting, wet with red blood in the center to eat, so we could never order that again. The coffee was way too strong. In the lido deck I would get 2/3 of a cup and add hot water to it to make a full normal cup. I could never get coffee in the dining room. I tried once. I only was given creamer and sugar, no Splenda or anything. I often felt I was breaking decorum to ask to get my family’s dining needs met. (Also please be aware that soy, almond, or coconut milk is not available for coffee.) There IS an awesome coffee bar on the 10th floor at the front of the ship. We didn’t discover it until halfway through our cruise, though, because it is all by itself and not listed as anything except EXC Tour Cafe in all the paperwork. We thought it was a desk where salespeople tried to sell excursion. I was looking for where I could get lattes and cappuccinos since I had these $25 drink cards and don’t drink alcohol. Do you understand I was LOOKING for this place and still only found it by accident out of boredom on the 3 rd day of the cruise? It’s a neat room. Seriously it is the coolest space on any cruise ship I’ve experienced. If you are reading this and go on this ship, go there first - it’s awesome and you’ll likely have it to yourself a few days with crickets chirping as nobody else will have figured it out yet. Unlike other cruises I’ve been on, about 9:30 the only offerings in the lido deck were self-serve pizza. Well, there was pasta with meat sauce behind the counter but glass separated you from it and there wasn’t someone to serve it. No cookies, cupcakes, sandwiches... just pizza. Good pizza. But wow if you didn’t want pizza and were hungry, you’d have to get room service, and you’ve read how that turned out for us… AFFILIATIONS, “O”/OPRAH AND MICROSOFT: There is a connection with “O” magazine they tout.. They advertise that they offer yoga and meditation classes for a comprehensive Oprah inspired well-being experience. One class was a guided meditation class at 5:30 the first full day. It was printed on the daily activity highlights insert as well as the daily schedule. It was supposed to be in the fitness center and was to be $15. I went with my daughter, who is mature for her age, and wanted to go. She does yoga with her dad sometimes. The first person in the fitness center said there was no class. I got out my paper daily schedule and showed it to her. She led us into the fitness room where on the floor in the center of all the loud machines were some mats. The fitness guy came up to us and clearly had zero class. I mean, had no idea of any meditation class. ; ) He handed me a clipboard and said "you can take one fitness class for $25 or a pack of 5 for..." I said, no, I wanted the mediation class for $15. I gently asked if he had done this before. He defensively said "yes, I've been in fitness for 10 years" or something. I said, "it's a little different." He looked alarmed, and seemed defensive. This guy was threatened and it didn't seem likely he meditated himself much less had ever led a meditation class. I said "Is it going to be in here?" and he said, "oh, well, you can do it in here" and led us back to the little room on the side with chairs. He walked off and I told my daughter I was sorry, but I didn't feel good being "led" in a meditation with this guy. We were getting up to leave when he came back and I politely said "we're going to pass this time" as I walked out. I didn't make eye contact with him. It was so awkward and embarrassing. For him, too, I think. I’m sure he was relieved. Oprah, methinks, would not be proud. The onboard daily schedule had huge spans of hours with nothing worth doing, so I went to a class on something I wasn’t really interested in. There is a Windows connection and I went to learn how to use a program that came on Windows that I don’t ever use. There were other classes that I didn’t go to because they were on how to use paid programs. OTHER SHIP “FUN” The piano bar had two pianos with guys singing. I usually love piano music but those guys were so canned and tame there was just nothing to latch on to. Definitely not dueling pianos, and absolutely it wasn't a sing-along piano bar. Trivia was a couple of times a day, we did that out of desparation a few days but by the end that was too boring to keep going to. Also, my daughter and I went to watch someone cook food, because we were that bored. I learned the difference between rice pilaf and just rice. Yay. One “game night” we went to had a capacity to be fun, but the female host wouldn't read a funny answer and she whined and ruined the joke like it contaminated everything. It was a PG-13 joke and it was mostly senior citizens, and us.. Ugh sometimes I had to wonder if this was a European sense of humor thing, like how in Europe maybe populations as a whole think crying clowns are hilarious? She was the same host that thought watching dancers with cool lights was just the bee's knees, so… I'm glad the televisions in the cabin had movies loaded on them for the kids. They watched about 5 movies and I let them have their video games. It was my intent to just let them have their "tech" on the plane too and from, but I felt sorry for them for having nothing to do. I made them leave their home from Christmas to be on a ship with no entertainment! I wish I could combine the spacious plush ship and polite other guests from this cruise and mix it with the "everything else" of any of my prior Carnival Cruises. I can't believe a Holland Cruise, which is supposed to be the top of the line, failed so greatly by comparison. I’m really glad my husband didn’t hate this, his first cruise, which I forced upon him. He is even willing to try again. He has no idea that cruise ships usually have nonstop ENTERTAINING “entertainment,” and by comparison this ship sucked SO BAD as far as that goes. The most entertaining thing I did, truly, was watch “Blinded By The Light” one afternoon in the main theatre. But even that had issues. It froze several times and had to be re-started, and fast forwarded up to the point where it had stopped. By the time it reached the end, I was almost the only one there. Like this too-long review, which if you are reading it, you may also be the only one “there”... ; ) Read Less
Sail Date December 2019
Chose this cruise on a whim, as we saw an advertisement from a consolidator, contacted our agent to see what she could do, and then jumped. It gave me bragging rights, whatever that means, to say I was on all seven continents before I ... Read More
Chose this cruise on a whim, as we saw an advertisement from a consolidator, contacted our agent to see what she could do, and then jumped. It gave me bragging rights, whatever that means, to say I was on all seven continents before I turned 70. (Okay, I didn't 'touch' Antarctica, but it touched me, so close enough.) We also had kids who had other plans for Christmas so we were free to travel. We flew into Buenos Aires a couple days early and explored. I suggest this because of the long flight from the US, particularly the Pacific Northwest. We stayed in the city so were able to walk to the Recoleta area, a ten minute cab ride to the ship. The cemetery where Eva Peron was buried was a highlight, as was the Teatro Colon'. Great walking city, with some taxi work. Enjoyed Buenos Aires, knew nothing about the rest of the itinerary except Antarctica and the Falkland Islands, but was willing to learn. And learn we did. This cruise is an education, with loads of lectures from specialists. The ports are touch and go because of the weather, as is the route in the Antarctica, so for totally uptight, obsessed with "what I was told" folks might want to rethink this. Montevideo, Uruguay is a large, poor city that gives an interesting counterpoint to Buenos Aires. Puerto Madryn had an amazing boardwalk, so it was a great Sunday stroll, watching the locals play on a beautiful beach. Stanley, in the Falklands, was a reminder that wars are occasionally fought for stupid reasons. This bleak, but beautiful bunch of small islands, was a great visit and our first penguin experience. From there it was six days at sea, one to Antarctica, four in Antarctica, one back to South America. The weather cooperated, which isn't necessarily normal, so we were able to be outside, watching ice flows, animals, wind, water, and all the rest. We had to adjust our route constantly so our experience will not necessarily the same for others. We dreaded Drake Passage, but it wasn't bad. The other ports, Ushuaia, Puenta Arenas, Chacabuco, and Castro were small, unique, and really needed one to take an excursion. We missed Puerto Montt because of weather, arriving at Santiago early. HAL did a great job of adjusting and taking precautions, so it was all good. The dining room was exceptional. We enjoyed the entertainment, both around the ship and on the main stage. Scheduling that must be a nightmare as opinions vary so much. We spent most of our time in the Mix bar listening to Dan, the piano man. The Lido was fine, not a real buffet fan, but the Asian food and the salad bar were exceptional. Omelettes to order are not to be missed. We were comped a meal at the Canaletto, one of the upscale restaurants, and we were not that impressed. It was fine, but not if we were paying. In fact, we turned down another comp meal there as we preferred the Main Dining Room, mostly because of our wonderful server, Eka and his crew. Actually the crew is the highlight. Our dining room group was amazing as were our four cabin stewards (yes, four-to be explained). Our one negative would be our room, actually an issue with the room and the initial way in which the problem was handled. We ended up moving half way through the cruise, which worked out, but we felt it would not have been necessary if words moved to action, rather than just being words. Read Less
Sail Date December 2019
I want to open this negative review with a disclaimer that I am of a minority that this cruise line caters to. We went on this cruise with 2 adults and 3 children (4, 8, 10). This is not the "target audience," so our experience ... Read More
I want to open this negative review with a disclaimer that I am of a minority that this cruise line caters to. We went on this cruise with 2 adults and 3 children (4, 8, 10). This is not the "target audience," so our experience will inevitably vary wildly from, say, a 50+ couple or a solo traveler. I am writing this for the people like us whose intention is a family vacation. With the above said, if you: - Are 50+ - Enjoy fancy specialty dining and wine-drinking - Like live music but don't care for other types of entertainment - Don't spend a lot of time in your room ...then this is the cruise for you. HAL focuses tremendously on high-end up-charge activities such as one the half dozen specialty restaurants and wine-tasting seminars Rather than going into explicit detail about what I didn't like (which will go on and on), I will err on the side of brevity with bullet points: - The room is too small for 5 people. With 5 of us the room was literally just beds with a 1.5' walking space. - There's nothing to do on the boat if you don't want to see live music. - Activities on the daily itinerary have no description and are misleading. For example, one event called "A Night at the Ballet" was not a ballet at all but a violin player. How were we supposed to know that? - HAL Kids Club is essentially a room for kids, with riveting "activities" such as "draw a picture" planned. Essentially they want to be able to say they have a kids club, but don't actually put any effort into it. - Food was mediocre across the board. - Wildly varying and inconsistent food times. - Constantly told they were "out" of a certain food item like chocolate milk but then it would suddenly appear the next day. - Incessant sighing an eye-rolling on Lido deck. - Charged $6.33 for a mini-bar bottle of water that we DID NOT TOUCH. Had to talk to 4 different people before it was removed and even then I was told it was a "one time exception." - Cancelled Key West port of call. - Lido buffet 'stations' is an awful way of setting things up. They say it's so that you don't have to wait in a long line but the tradeoff is you now have to wait in MULTIPLE medium-sized lines to get the things you want. - There are no drink stations on Lido. You sit at a table and a server is supposed to come to you. Good luck with that. We had a server come maybe 10% of the time and the little button on the table to purportedly summon them was practically a placebo and did nothing. - The Coke Freestyle machine was clearly and evidently broken but they refused to put up a sign. I had to fight to get a refund on my purchase. - Dinner in main dining room took 2+ hours each time. Food was incredibly slow. - No soft serve ice scream dispensers open 24/7. You had to go to the Sweet Spot on Lido and wait in a line to get scoops of ice cream, and he was only open for a few hours each day. Overall just an awful experience. We couldn't wait to get off. We are NOT the party crowd that goes to Carnival, but we are also not the pinky-raising tea-sippers that this cruise clearly caters to. The only thing positive I have to say is the cabin steward was excellent and the ship didn't have the obnoxious party atmosphere nor the screaming-at-you Cruise Directors Carnival has. Read Less
Sail Date December 2019
My grown daughter and I went on this cruise to spend some time together and have fun. Our veranda room was nice and our porter provided excellent service. We dined in the Main Dining Room a couple of times but the timing in between courses ... Read More
My grown daughter and I went on this cruise to spend some time together and have fun. Our veranda room was nice and our porter provided excellent service. We dined in the Main Dining Room a couple of times but the timing in between courses was excessive and the meal time seemed to go on forever. We opted to dine at the Lido buffet as a result. The food at the Lido was ok. Overall, the cruise was boring and pretty low energy. There really wasn’t much going on most of the time. We were on a Caribbean cruise and there was no playing or performing of reggae music or music influenced by the region we were visiting. The pools were nice as were the loungers but there wasn’t much activity on the deck in the day. I didn’t go to the wine tasting or the classical music performance. At times there were performances on the music walk but it was difficult to get a seat and the songs were repeated. There a few shows in the World Theater. They were ok. Most of the time I felt as though the cruise was catering to its predominately senior citizen passengers. I noticed it around the ship, in the music played, and in the activities offered. Thankfully, there was a pretty good selection of movies available on the tv in my stateroom. On this cruise I did something I very seldom do. I watched tv daily. Read Less
Sail Date December 2019
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