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Sail Date: July 2013
We cruised to the Norwegian Fjords My experience is that every cruise is a joy, some more or less in a category. I therefore rate against average and do not feel comfortable at guessing at what the stars really mean. This cruise was ... Read More
We cruised to the Norwegian Fjords My experience is that every cruise is a joy, some more or less in a category. I therefore rate against average and do not feel comfortable at guessing at what the stars really mean. This cruise was above average for crew friendliness and helpfulness. Even the mostly hidden kitchen crew and below deck engineering crew were happy to smile and greet you The food was average. I would have rated it higher except that it went downhill after the 2nd day only to recover at the end. Hint, used the extra cost dining in the middle of the cruise. Their $10 extra Italian dining is not worth the visit as it is no better than their dining room. The embarkation was the most unorganized that I have ever experienced and for that alone I will never take another HAL cruise. On one hand they suggest boarding at 1pm, only to find that their published daily activities in the cabin for the passengers have already started at 10am. Be prepared to stand in lines during embarkation for well over an hour with no seats. I pity the senior citizens or disabled. The entertainment on-board was average for all bars but the major shows were so far below average that 60-70% of the seating remained empty each night. I watched a couple of shows and if this was an American Idol TV competition they wouldn't have made it past the first level. I tend to rate the ports visitation separately as they apply to all cruise lines. However I will comment on one port that may have been unique to this cruise only. That port was Haugesund Norway. The cruise line and port itself did what they could to welcome us. Marching band and free bus transportation to shopping streets in town. However the docking is off the tourist path and there isn't even a HOHO bus to take you around to see any sites. Certainly a wasted stop compared to the other ports of call.   Read Less
Sail Date: May 2013
My cruise started on May 1, 2013 and would go on until May 8, 2013. We would board the ship in Vancouver and sail up to Alaska. I sailed with my parents, my older brother and my younger sister. This will have been my seventh cruise. A week ... Read More
My cruise started on May 1, 2013 and would go on until May 8, 2013. We would board the ship in Vancouver and sail up to Alaska. I sailed with my parents, my older brother and my younger sister. This will have been my seventh cruise. A week beforehand, we got an email saying that the ship was coming Asia and there had been a gastrointestinal outbreak on the last trip. 0_0 Yikes. They delayed boarding and going into your rooms for 2 hours. Normally in HAL, I heard that your rooms are always reading as soon as you board. Due to the gastrointestinal disease, they also had a 48hr period which banned people from serving themselves. This made lining up take FOREVER. Ship: Elegantly decorated ship, it was nice and spacious. Had very nice live music at night which were cleverly located so the music in your ears never overlap. Food: Hit and miss. Some food was really good, and others weren't. Mint chip ice cream there tasted like toothpaste (and I like mint chip). I disliked the prime rib, it didn't taste like anything. I didn't even want to finish it ïOE Cherry Burghandy ice cream was awesome though, served in a waffle cone. Best thing about the trip was the hard ice cream available all day. They were SO good. Afternoon tea was lovely, attended nearly all of them. There are special ones too ex. Royal Dutch, Indonesian and Cupcake. I liked them all (since I have a sweet tooth), as they all had delicious snacks. Activities: Nearly nothing that interests me on board. Only things would be meals & afternoon tea & chess. Not many activities at all. Port: My third time to Alaska, Ketchikan still my favourite, others are boring and small. Glacier Bay was beautiful though, very cold. They served Dutch Pea Soup at the Bow & Outside decks. Room: Beds were SO comfy. Every time I lied down, I fell asleep, even during the daytime. Room was spacious and a lot of storage space. Irritating handle-less drawers. Not enough hangers. Amazing smelling body soap in shower. Embarkation/Disembarkation: Outstandingly fast. Fastest disembarkation I have ever had. They just scanned your card and you left. Boarding was really fast too. To read my extensive review (Live from Trip Report) with MANY HD pictures (1080p+) depicting every single thing I did on board, please visit my thread on Cruise Critic Message Boards at: http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=1841439 Read Less
Sail Date: March 2013
Our family of seven headed to Port Everglades through a massive traffic jam in our rented minivan. Port security asked two of us for identification which we provided and we slowly made our way to Pier 19. Boarding at Fort Lauderdale Pier ... Read More
Our family of seven headed to Port Everglades through a massive traffic jam in our rented minivan. Port security asked two of us for identification which we provided and we slowly made our way to Pier 19. Boarding at Fort Lauderdale Pier 19, you must have passports and boarding pass and health survey to board. Unfortunately, husband had my passport and he was returning the rental car at FLL. I was able to be seated in the terminal to wait for his return. In about one hour, he returned by taxi through the traffic jam at the port. We got into the line and moved quickly to the registration desks. Because we had sailed before, they had our photos from the previous trip in 2008. Our son had his photo quickly taken and our sea passes were issued. We were now on board and after dropping our hand luggage off in our room, we headed for the Lido deck for lunch. It was about 2:30pm and the Lido was crowded but we found lunch and a place to sit. Our ship was scheduled to depart at 4pm. We returned to our cabin located mid ship. It was more spacious than a standard balcony and the sofa converted to a single bed for our son. Our bed was a queen size bed. The bathroom had double sinks, a small shower with detachable shower head and a jetted bath with another detachable shower head. The shower was so tiny that the pan filled up with water so we found it better to shower in the tub. There were three small closets, one with shelves and safe, one where you can hang long items, and one that you can hang shorter items. There was a vanity with the hair dryer in the top left hand drawer. The remaining drawers you can use for small items. There is a media wall with TV and DVD player. There was a second desk area that my son used for his suitcase. He chose to live out of his suitcase instead of unpacking. We went down the hall to my daughter's cabin, category SB. Her cabin is larger than ours. They had a king size bed and a large sofa that converted into a bed for two persons. She had a dressing area before you entered the bathroom. The bathroom seemed to be the same size and configuration as our bathroom. The amenities include Neptune Lounge and laundry. They enjoyed the Neptune Lounge located on 7. They really liked the Concierge. The laundry was very handy for her family of 4, including two young children, ages 1 and 3. They generate a great deal of laundry. They really appreciated the extra room and bathtub for the children. Dining: We used the Lido Restaurant almost exclusively because of the young children. The menu for the Lido is different from the Vista Dining Room. There may be a couple items from the Vista that are served at the Lido. We ordered room service for a couple breakfasts and one dinner when surf and turf was on the Vista Room menu. My daughter and her family never entered the Vista Restaurant but my husband and I enjoyed the Mariner's Brunch and the final night in the Vista Room before we returned to Fort Lauderdale. The Lido Dining Room was adequate for our needs. The pasta station was excellent serving a terrific meat sauce. We found the Lido was crowded mostly at breakfast and lunch and less used at dinner. In fact they close down half the stations at dinner. We also found it inconvenient that the main buffet lines close at 8pm and because we are from the West Coast, head down to dinner late and almost missed dinner completely. After 8pm, there are limited offerings of pizza, pasta and drinks from 10:30pm until 11:30pm. After that you have to order room service with another limited menu if you are hungry. Room service for breakfast isn't that tasty. The best meal we had for room service was from the Vista Dining Menu; Filet Mignon and Lobster Tail with Escargot for appetizers. It was delicious! The service was great and they called to make sure we received our order. Room service tray had a small vase of flowers with the meal. I found that to be a nice touch. Appearance of Cabins and Rooms: The cabins were kept clean by Joko and Dewa. The cabins were well maintained and the balconies had sufficient room and furniture. We have absolutely no complaints about our cabins except we couldn't use the balconies when our neighbors smoked. Because I am allergic to smoke, I had to retreat to my cabin. I am grateful I didn't get second hand smoke inside the cabin. I wish Holland America would have a no smoking policy on balconies like other cruise lines. Appearance of the Ship: Outside of the ship, there were rusty areas but inside the ship, it was clean and well maintained. The rugs were clean and the areas kept very tidy by the staff. I did not use the exercise room but my son did and he said it was good. The public restrooms were very clean and consistently so. I appreciate the terry hand towels to wipe your hands. I have been on ships where the public restrooms were dirty and not kept up. There were potted orchids at every table at the Lido Restaurant. The staff was constantly cleaning tables so tables can be made available for other guests. Pool Area: The hot tubs were usually filled and the swimming pool outside the Lido Restaurant had children swimming. Small children aren't allowed in the pool but there is a perimeter around the pool with overflow and the grandkids waded and splashed happily. Amenities: The library is one of the better ship's libraries with some good selections to check out. There are magazines and newspapers also. The ship's computers for guests are located in the library. Outside the library is the Explorations Cafe for specialty coffees and desserts. We did not check out the DVD's or used the DVD player in our cabin. Shows: We did not attend any shows since we were sleepy after dinner. I had heard from other guests that the pianist and comedienne were very good. Final Comments: We do not agree with Cruise Critic posts that criticize Holland for bad food and a dirty ship. The food was on par with other lines and the facilities were far cleaner than other ships. This is our 14th sailing. In 2008, we sailed on Holland as part of a cruise tour and the food was superior. However, the overall experience on the Westerdam was more than adequate. It is a smaller and older ship and seem to vibrate or creak sometimes. However, we had no need for sea sickness patches that we brought because it was not that rocky where we were midship on 6. Read Less
Sail Date: September 2012
From the time of boarding the Zaandam to leaving her, the staff of this ship found many ways to please us with great service and courtesy. For the first time ever we never went in the main dining room, which is really unusual as on most ... Read More
From the time of boarding the Zaandam to leaving her, the staff of this ship found many ways to please us with great service and courtesy. For the first time ever we never went in the main dining room, which is really unusual as on most ships the best meals and service are found there. With the first meal at the Lido the selection and variety were so great that we thought that we would just make this our regular meal stop and not worry about eating at set times. The salad selection was varied and fresh, the Asian dishes were tasty and having the pasta bar service was tops. Confidence in health was provided by having the staff serve the plates to you and not having to hold implements handled by the person in front of you. Given the lack of proper hygiene by some guests, this is a great way to stay healthy. The pork roasts, roasted turkey, baked chicken dishes and steamed vegetables all were terrific. It was great to see the Chef around checking on his staff and talking freely with the passengers. The cooking demonstrations with the staff were not only great at sharing tips but were actually funny. The Company Men playing in the Theatre were really a high energy group that challenged the older crowd to come alive. They were fun and their talent promised long and successful careers. The ship is well maintained and carries an air of eloquence from the teak decks on the promenade deck to the intriquing artwork on display everywhere. The Hawaiian speaker really knows the Pacific and provided a great way to learn and enjoy the trip. The maritime history speaker was excellent as well. Read Less
Sail Date: June 2012
I have come to the conclusion that when your expectations are not met on a cruise ship the crew are almost always The Saving Grace as they were on the Veendam. Thank you wonderful crew. I took my 12 yr. old grandson, Dillon, on the ... Read More
I have come to the conclusion that when your expectations are not met on a cruise ship the crew are almost always The Saving Grace as they were on the Veendam. Thank you wonderful crew. I took my 12 yr. old grandson, Dillon, on the Veendam June 3rd-10th out of New York City. He has been on four cruises and loves cruising. I have been on six and wanted him to experience HAL as I had an outstanding cruise on the Noordam.I had booked an inside cabin 784, low deck and mid ship as he sometimes has motion sickness. Pre-cruise - we are from Virginia and flew into LaGuardia and took a taxi to the hotel. We stayed at Hotel 31, a quaint, clean and very reasonable hotel on 31st. This was a great location, friendly staff and each night we viewed the Empire State Building out our window all lit up. Embarkation - smooth. We took a taxi to the cruise terminal at 11:00 am and were in our cabin within the hour. We had lunch in the Lido - limited selection. Our bags arrived 2 hours later. We unpacked and I mentioned to Made, our cabin steward, that the cabin felt hot. He said he had already called it in. Welcome to the Veendam! Sigh. Someone from the front desk came up and told me they would send maintenance to check the air. Night came and no one had come so I called front desk and was told a fan would arrive immediately. That never happened and we spent a sweltering first night. Tues am Made brought us a fan. Tues pm Chona from front desk came and informed me the air could not be fixed during this cruise. She was helpful and said we could move to another cabin as a couple had cancelled - cabin 520 forward. She showed us the cabin and told us we had a time limit to decide as others were experiencing problems and wanted the cabin. Apparently the ship was filled to capacity. It was obvious to me that they knew the air did not work in this cabin but they put us in it anyway. We had no choice but to take this cabin. I was told someone would bring us a cart and effortlessly move us. They never came and Made and Gede moved us carrying everything piece by piece. This whole ordeal was insensitive and handled very unprofessionally. Come on HAL you can do better. I am a past guest. The ocean crossing was rough and Dillon stayed seasick in this forward cabin. Thursday I received a letter of apology, a bouquet of flowers and beverage credit of $50 which I changed to on board credit. They later changed it to $100. At least they did something which I appreciated. Dining - We ate dinner in the Rotterdam on formal night. The service was very slow and we were there two plus hours. Food was good. The Canaletto restaurant was booked with a wait list so we settled on the Lido. Food was just o.k. Pizza good. Public Rooms - The ship was easy to navigate and relatively clean. Entertainment - The Adiago Strings quartet from Romania were excellent. Dillon takes violin lessons and we both enjoyed listening to this talented group every night. The band on the Lido were very good as well as the other music throughout the ship. We went to a show we enjoyed, watched a movie, played the big chess game, and swam when we could inch in. Spa & Fitness - N/A Family and Children - N/A Shore Excursions - We did not book any as the weather was not good. PROS - Our cabin stewards Made and Gede in cabin 784 and Sauli & Minto in cabin 520 were wonderful. We met so many special people from all over the world and enjoyed our times together. A kind couple from Canada found and returned my camera and sun glasses and I was grateful for their honesty. The dessert extravaganza was awesome. The chefs did a super job with delicious cakes, etc. etc. on 3 decks. CONS Only one swimming pool which was always overcrowded. The retreat is not worthy of any comments. When they painted the outside of the ship the chemical smells were overwhelming. They did go around and spray cabins with air fresheners if you asked. BERMUDA - The weather was very windy and rainy but we made the best of it and enjoyed all our adventures. Bermuda is a beautiful, colorful, clean island with friendly and helpful people. We took the bus to St. George and walked around but it poured so we took a ferry to the Dockyard. We got on a bus to sea glass beach and the sea glass covered the beach. The sun came out and we swam and collected unique sea glass for two or more hours. We went to Horseshoe Bay - lovely setting. Dillon snorkeled in the cove and I swam. We visited the cast iron lighthouse, took a tour of Bermuda on the ferry and shopped some in Hamilton. We also visited the exquisite cathedral and Fort Hamilton where we met up with a family from London also on the Veendam. Disembarkation - smooth. Our plane did not leave until 7:30 pm. We took a taxi to the Hotel, dropped off our bags and walked to central park and St. Patrick's Cathedral for the afternoon. Would I try HAL again???? It would have to be something exceptional and certainly not the Veendam. Read Less
Sail Date: August 2011
Second time on Holland America. 10 times on Princess. 8 Carnival. 3 RC. We choose this cruise for the itinerary (7 day inside passage, in/out of Vancouver, and Glacier Bay). Colleagues recommended against HAL as perceived not kid friendly. ... Read More
Second time on Holland America. 10 times on Princess. 8 Carnival. 3 RC. We choose this cruise for the itinerary (7 day inside passage, in/out of Vancouver, and Glacier Bay). Colleagues recommended against HAL as perceived not kid friendly. HAL assured us that summer Alaska would have families on board, but agreed that other sailing not good for kids. HAL rep even said that they warn clients to expect kids on summer Alaska routes. Very smooth and efficient boarding in Vancouver and staterooms were ready at 1130 am. We were very impressed. As returning guests we were invited to dinning room for lunch. First impression of overall appearance was so so. Carpets and tiles need to be cleaned or replaced in many areas. Not very fancy interior. I'm sure it was nice in 2002, but I think the only upgrade since were flat screen stateroom televisions. We had open seating, but requested the same table and time every night. Dining room service was slow, slow, and slow. Perhaps assigned seating was better. We had one waiter and never saw an assistant waiter as on all other cruises. Very bland menu and poor quality steaks and food often cold. Kids menu very poor. Would not recommend this line for families. On three occasions, our food sat out for 15 minutes while we waited. Carnival menu and food quality was at least twice as good, and Princess and RC were both better quality than Carnival. On positive dining note, we ate at Pinnacle Grill and had a lively dinner. If we ever take HAL again, we would pay the $20 every night as the service and food quality is worth it. Show quality was poor compared to all other lines. Magician was good, but unfortunately hawked his magic kit (which he sold after show and in gift shop) throughout show which was unprofessional and annoying. Inside passage and ports were great, but we will travel on a more kid friendly line with better service next time. On positive note, ship never appeared overcrowded, we could always get deck chair, and most passengers were asleep by 11. Casino was usually quiet. Once again, very efficient disembarkment in Vancouver. Read Less
Sail Date: August 2011
The cruise, in my mind, was an A. The ports were splendid; the crew members were top notch; entertainment was pretty good; and the food was excellent. The only downside is that this boat is beginning to show it's age. The maiden ... Read More
The cruise, in my mind, was an A. The ports were splendid; the crew members were top notch; entertainment was pretty good; and the food was excellent. The only downside is that this boat is beginning to show it's age. The maiden voyage was in early 20006 and I understand that these lovely ladies of the sea take a beating but there were some items that were less than appealing. Broken A/C that took forever to fix... in 95 degree heat that stinks. And it never really performed well the entire time. Shower stall wasn't really clean. Had to point out to get cleaned. Many wear and tear marks throughout the ship. I was a bit startled when the cruise director told us they just did a major upgrade on her recently... thank goodness cuz I wonder what it looked like before. So I may be a bit picky but for what we paid I was a little let down. Would I recommend this ship to others? YES... but it would be qualified. Read Less
Sail Date: June 2011
Holland America's 10-day western Mediterranean is a port intensive cruise that takes you to eight ports and six countries (Italy, Vatican, Monaco, France, Spain, Tunisia). The ship is a wonderful way to travel the Med. HAL tries to ... Read More
Holland America's 10-day western Mediterranean is a port intensive cruise that takes you to eight ports and six countries (Italy, Vatican, Monaco, France, Spain, Tunisia). The ship is a wonderful way to travel the Med. HAL tries to bring you to as many ports as possible, for as long as possible each day. It succeeds! Perhaps it was too successful. We found ourselves wishing for an extra day at sea to relax, recharge and enjoy the ship. This cruise only has one sea day. We splurged on one of those large aft balconies that wrap around the room on deck 7. We opted for a Deluxe Verandah Suite (SB) that entitled us to many extra benefits, which may have been a mistake for such a port intensive cruise. We didn't take advantage of many of the benefits (special suite guest luncheons, parties), because we were so busy in port. However, if you like to spend time on the balcony, this was an incredible luxury. We fit 15 people on the verandah for a Cruise Critic sail away party the first night. We would enjoy a nightcap in our bathrobes and watch the sun rise some mornings. A note of warning, these balconies do not offer complete privacy. They have slanted roofs, so people on decks above can see part of your deck. We had a small problem with trash blowing down from the pool deck, but nothing major. The two sided balcony meant we always had a spot in the shade on the warm afternoons. The cabin was large, although smaller, inside, than other SB cabins. They give you the extra balcony space, but take it away from the inside. We still had plenty of room. The bed was quite comfortable, as was the pull-out couch. There was plenty of storage space for three. We packed four large suitcases, and could not use all of the cabinets. Suitcases fit easily beneath the bed. This room comes with a nice bar, which we took advantage of. We pre-ordered several bottles of liquor and wine. The stewards made sure we had plenty of ice and clean glasses. The bathroom had double sinks, a shower and a whirlpool tub. I used it several mornings. The Neptune Lounge, which is reserved for suite guests, has a constant variety of snacks and beverages available in a quiet club-like setting from 7:30a-8:30p. The two concierges knew our names within the first day and always greeted us with a friendly smile. We used their services to book spa treatments and dinner reservations, exchange dollars to euros, and order hoers d'oeuvres for parties on that gigantic balcony of ours. I can't say enough about how nice Reyan and Doris were. One benefit of the suite life we took advantage of often was breakfast in the Pinnacle Grill. This is the ship's upscale steakhouse. It serves breakfast to suite guests in a relaxed setting. The menu is the same as in the Vista Dining Room (MDR). The service was far superior. We ate dinner at the Pinnacle twice. The food and service are comparable to any fine steakhouse in the USA. Just as in the MDR, you can order as many appetizers, soups, salads, as you wish. BUT I suggest you save room for those steaks! Well worth the $20pp surcharge. We found service in the MDR a bit lacking this cruise. The food was great and the variety wonderful. However, service was slow. We missed shows the first three nights because we did not leave the MDR until close to 10:30. Show time is 10:00 for late seating. When I brought it to our waiter's attention, he apologized. He said he had a high maintenance table of nine that included one woman who loved to complain to ships officer, who was dining with them on formal nights. Service improved dramatically, once we explained we wanted time to see the shows. There are three formal nights on this cruise, so if you want to dress up, you'll have plenty of nights to shine. For planning purposes, our formal nights were after Monaco, the sea day, and after Sicily. Lunch in the Lido was great. We'd head there around 2:30 on port days for a lunch. Salads, burgers, pasta, and remarkably fresh fish. They do shut down late afternoon. One day we got back on board and settled for pizza and pasta. The demographics on this cruise skew to the older side. By that, I mean over 70. Much of the entertainment was geared to those folks. The comedian was funny, but G-Rated. The piano player in the piano bar loved tunes from the 50s & 60s. The feature singer knew all the OLD songs. There was a cute act, featuring dueling violinists. I'm not complaining about the entertainment. Just letting you know what to expect. I thought the shore excursions were also skewed to older folks. There were not enough active excursions for our family. We booked a lot of private tours. On board asctivities were also a little geriatric for my taste. I don't want this to sound like I'm bashing the cruise line. I'm not. I'm just telling you wnat to expect so you can plan. That much said, there were 90 teenagers (13-17 year-olds) on board and the teen director Jeremy rocked! I suspect many of those teens managed to sneak into the Northern Lights Disco when it opened at 10:00pm. I saw a lot of young faces the night I visited. Overall, my daughter (17-years-old) had a blast. The casino was decent, and never crowded. We actually won a couple hundred bucks. Nice array of slots, craps, roulette, video Texas hold 'em, and blackjack. Be careful, they have several blackjack tables that feature funky variations. My daughter had a massage, hair-do, facial and pedicure in the Greenhouse Salon. She liked the massage so much, she opted for a second one! It's the first time, ever on a cruise, I spent more on spa services than anything else! I settled for using the gym five mornings. There were plenty of aerobic machines available with TV screens to watch the tube. I preferred to look out the windows at the horizon. Decent variety of weight machines too. They offer chilled had towels after your workout, which was a great way to end a workout. The ships photographers were not intrusive, as on other ships. We usually buy several photos. They were expensive. The $39.99 sheet included a couple of wallet size, 5x7 and 8x11. We found so many photos we liked, we sprung for a $299 package that gives you every photo of you taken on board. My daughter took advantage and will have plenty of Holiday photos to give out. We literally walked off the ship with 100+ photos. We used the aft pool, which is supposed to be for adults only. The ship does not enforce this policy. However, the few children who used the pool were supervised by their parents and well behaved. Summing up, the Noordam is a clean comfortable ship. The staff is friendly and efficient. You will see a lot of Europe in 10 days. You will probably not see as much of the ship as you may want to. Read Less
Sail Date: June 2011
We(2 adults & 1 child) recently returned from another HAL cruise. This time is was a 12 day Baltic cruise from Dover, GB. We were attending a conference on board (lectures just on the sea days)and flew on our own into London 1 1/2 days ... Read More
We(2 adults & 1 child) recently returned from another HAL cruise. This time is was a 12 day Baltic cruise from Dover, GB. We were attending a conference on board (lectures just on the sea days)and flew on our own into London 1 1/2 days early but had arranged a transfer by HAL from there base hotel of Marriott Grosvenor House in Hyde Park for the morning of departure. We a half a block away at Hilton located at the Hyde Park Corner. 5 buses took fellow cruisers from Hyde Park to Dover aboard a bus. We left at 9:30 am and arrived by noon. Dover is a small terminal; we were checked in and given colored boarding passes. When our color was called we walked to the gangway and went on board. First thing, checked out the stateroom. We were assigned a Superior Veranda (SY) 5001, which is starboard and to the fore. This is designated as a handicapped equipped room. This stateroom is large and spacious. The patio is double sized due to being all the way to the front of the ship. Nice. This was our second cruise so we knew to go up to Lido and eat while luggage was being loaded on board. After a huge lunch we walked around and discovered the rest of the ship. This ship has another premium restaurant located mid ship on the 11th floor called Tamarind, a Asian themed restaurant, along with Canaletto in the Lido and Pinnacle Grill. Get your reservations in early. Tamarind is no additional cost for lunch but reservations do fill up quickly. This cruise is a Baltic Cruise that heads out of Dover to Copenhagen then to Warnermunde, Tallinn, Saint Petersburg, Helsinki, Stockholm and back to Dover. The seas were calm and on our trip at the end of June into July the weather was varied. We had warm days of 90+ and most days in the 60-70's. I did order a expensive Internet plan to stay in touch, but found that the port of Copenhagen has free WiFi dockside. In addition Tallinn had free Wifi at the port near the shopping booths near the docks. Keep in mind that you have to share with others and it could be difficult to log on because of the crowds. We arranged tours through HAL and liked the tours, although a little pricey. But this is vacation and we travelled half way around the world to get here we should see the sights. Warnermunde/Berlin was memorable because of the tour guides. We had Jay for the train ride from the port to Berlin, a German student home for summer but studying in Colorado, who was great. In Berlin we were lucky enough to have Berlin resident/actor/tourguide Burkhart. He was excellent and made each stop interesting, fun and educational. Highly recommend going into Berlin. We ate most dinner's on board in the Rembrandt dining room in open seating. Because of the jet lag we always ate early. We found that the meats were cooked to perfection, unlike a year early in Alaska were we ate later. We think that in serving thousands those who eat early get better choice in doneness of the meats versus coming in for the huge rush at 7-8 pm. As always the room stewards were great, we went to a few shows at the Mainstage and found the dancers, singers, performers thoroughly entertaining. Our 10 year old we especially looking forward the Club HAL. She spend most days there in the mornings,afternoons and evenings playing with other kids her age. She had a great time and therefore we had a great time. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2011
We recently returned from the eastern Caribbean cruise aboard HAL's Nieuw Amsterdam which sailed from Ft. Lauderdale January 23rd for seven nights. I would like to offer my comments about this vacation trip. For the record; we have ... Read More
We recently returned from the eastern Caribbean cruise aboard HAL's Nieuw Amsterdam which sailed from Ft. Lauderdale January 23rd for seven nights. I would like to offer my comments about this vacation trip. For the record; we have cruised approximately 14 times in the past on several cruise lines, mostly on medium sized ships such as the Nieuw Amsterdam. These cruises have included various destinations around the world, including a transatlantic trip. We had sailed once before with HAL on the Noordam in 2010 and loved it. We have always elected a verandah stateroom or mini suite as our accommodation, and spend a lot of time on the verandah for activities such as coffee and juice early in the A.M., reading, relaxing, socializing with the group that we generally cruise with, and taking photographs of scenery, ports etc. (I consider myself an advanced amateur photographer.) Just to be fair to HAL, we had originally booked a 14 night back to back cruise departing earlier in January, but reduced it to a seven day cruise to be in synch with our cruising group, who booked the seven night cruise. We had changed these accommodations at least five months before the cruise, and were assured that we would receive the same cabin class (superior verandah) that we had originally booked. I began to get suspicious when we were not given a room assignment until around 2 weeks before embarkation. Our travel agent had been checking with HAL and assured us that there would be no problem. Finally, we received an email from HAL allocating us a VQ stateroom on Deck 11. On the internet, it appeared to be a Spa stateroom with a verandah, but I called HAL just to confirm, because Deck 11 was a little isolated with only 10 similar rooms on that deck. The first person we talked to said that the verandahs on deck 11 were only "viewing verandahs" and didn't have room for seating etc. When I called our travel agent to complain, she also called HAL and was told that on the Nieuw Amsterdam, the Spa VQ verandahs were standard size, and not to worry! I also called and was told the same when I gave the agent our cabin number. She even asked me to hold while she confirmed that fact with her supervisor, who did indeed confirm a "regular" verandah. When we finally boarded, we found the VQ room to be fine, but the verandah on deck 11 was much smaller that other verandahs on the ship, or the VD cabin we had originally booked. Our cruise mates who were in VD rooms confirmed this observation. The two small chairs and tiny table barely fit. If you sat in a chair facing the water, your feet were practically in the drain gutter at the front of the verandah. Needless to say, we did not spend a great deal of time on our verandah and missed out on one of the prime reasons we cruise. When we registered a complaint at customer service, we were told that "you got what you paid for" and the ship was full. Technically, the service representative was legally correct, as with all the legal disclaimers in the contract, we probably could have been put up in a storage bin! My beef with HAL is that even after inquiring, we were misled about the balcony, and we could have been told when we changed our arrangements months before that we could wind up in such a cabin. I would caution anyone getting a cabin on Deck 11 to check with HAL about the verandah size before accepting a reservation there. Deck 11 otherwise is a neat location, being somewhat isolated but containing the Explorers Cafe and Crows Nest, one of our favorite places on the ship. Having been rather critical so far, I think in fairness to HAL (I wish they were as fair to me,) I should state that: The entire crew and staff including those in the cabin areas, food locations, venues etc. were all above excellent and helpful. The food and service in the main dining hall and Pinacle Grill was excellent. The food in the buffet areas was quite satisfactory. The ship itself was very elegant and ergonomically laid out. If it weren't for our verandah issue, we would have had a great time. Unfortunately, the cruise left us with memories of a poor experience, and a negative opinion about HAL. We did mention these complaints in out exiting comments document, but we have yet to hear from HAL. Read Less
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