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297 Holland America First-Time Cruisers Cruise Reviews

Although I have nothing to compare it to, I thought the cruise was perfect! We went with a couple who were experienced cruisers and they were pleased as well. I'll break it down in sections: 1)Food- sophisticated and elegant ... Read More
Although I have nothing to compare it to, I thought the cruise was perfect! We went with a couple who were experienced cruisers and they were pleased as well. I'll break it down in sections: 1)Food- sophisticated and elegant choices. Each night we had dinner in the main dining room with the exception of one night at the Pinnacle Grill/Selle de Mere. The service was extraordinary and top shelf. The sommeliers were very educated and helped select the right wine for the courses chosen and for our price range. We especially liked a reasonable Chilean red (Loma Linda?) we had dine at will and never waited more than 5 minutes for a table. The portions are elegant and continental so are generally modest. If you can't decide what to order, then order 2! I'm laughing out loud when people on cc whine about portions being too small (e.g. only 2 scallops in an appetizer) ...then order a second one! The husbands enjoyed the rack of lamb so much one night, the head waiter asked if they wanted another and they said YES, thinking another rib would come, no ...another entire entree of ribs came for each of them! Lido Buffet was tasty and generally quite busy. Enjoyed the Asian stations for lunch and breakfast. The made to order pasta station was perfect with scallops and pesto and fresh grated Romano cheese sautéed. We had nachos at the natcho/taco station and they were delicious. We would fill up a plate for our happy hour party and sail away on our balcony each night with nachos and yummy appetizers with cocktails. Selle de Mere is a seafood restaurant pop up which comes up one night in the Pinnacle Grill. The dishes were superb and the service extraordinary. We eat 4 star in the DC area and this easily compares. Room Service-We had room service every day for happy hour and about 5 breakfasts when they had excursions. They were quickly delivered (happy hour) or exactly delivered at the prescribed breakfast time. My only suggestion was the eggs Benedict muffins could have been toasted longer as they appeared a bit underdone. The fruit smoothie was so good, I had it three different mornings! The husband enjoyed his steak and eggs and said it was a first grade New York strip and not scrap. Cabin 8140 is the best on the ship. Our balcony hosted a sail away happy hour each night.. it was hard. Service and quality was top notch. You could tell some Indonesian maintenance folks couldn't speak English, yet would still smile and say good morning when you saw them. We chose this cruise for the itinerary-just wonderful Entertainment. It can be said that blame on whether you enjoy something goes both ways. Choosing correctly whatever requires self awareness and honesty. It you think winding the night away at the disco beyond 2am is da bomb, then maybe this isn't the cruise for you. There was dancing in the BB king lounge every night well after 11. The band focused on music and hits from the 60s-70s-80s. This is a key clue! We found the classical musicians talented and dedicated. The local talent which came aboard was very good in the main ballroom. The cooking classes appeared well attended every time I walked by --to the casino. Didn't make any money in the casino but did win a nice tee shirt. The entertainers in the dueling piano forum were fun and entertaining. Great movies and documentaries in the On Demand system. The HAL corporation messed up and decided to devote millions to upgrading the crows nest and create a high tech explorations cafe. Really neat concept but really placed in the wrong place!!! Why not use the wasted space on the 1st deck where the art galleries are? If they are so focused on revenues, then have a bar and tapas concept in the crows nest and sell sell,sell! Medical clinic-came down with a cold and visited the clinic. Professional and well run. Read Less
Sail Date September 2017
This was my first ever cruise so I do not have any reference to another ship. The ship to me was in great shape, everything was clean and new looking. The crew was fantastic always smiling and very helpful. they all seemed to remember ... Read More
This was my first ever cruise so I do not have any reference to another ship. The ship to me was in great shape, everything was clean and new looking. The crew was fantastic always smiling and very helpful. they all seemed to remember our names and what we needed. See my Cabin Review for my thoughts on the cabin. The food options to me where very good. I am not a foodie so i am not going to complain about the food options I enjoyed them all. The Lido market was fine lots of options, i liked the English breakfast they had including baked beans and black pudding, We ate on time at the pinnacle and it was very good the service was great. had one meal at the Italian restaurant and the food was good. MDR was good every night I have no complaints. The Entertainment was a little dull, I saw a couple of shows in the main stage and only the two magicians i liked, The singers where ok but the show seemed out of wack there did not seem to be no reason to it. The BB king band where good but it was the same thing every night. the billboard on board was just not that impressive. about 10:30 pm the ship seemed like a ghost ship. bars where empty entertainment done. there was a novo virus breakout two days before the end that made things a little different. you could not pick up food on lido they would bring your cups and silverware. It was a bit of an inconvince on the last port Naples where we where not allowed to leave the ship for a 1 1 /2 delay The ports where great except for two Sardene Albania was not much fun nothing much to do there. I did not do an excursion but i did take a cab to the castle. The only real complaint i had was the excursion to Capri. it was $400 for two of us. The description was deceptive. Example " Enjoy a jet boat to the island looking at the panoramic views of the island" Reality they put us on a ferry that held about 300 people all inside i did have a window it was so dirty you could not see out of it .. nothing special. at that price i thought they might have there own boat. when we got there. we had to wait 30 min in the hot sun for public transport to get to the top and they can only hold 20 people so we had to wait for two... I wont go on about this but all they did is took us shopping for 45 min free time. bus down then lunch and then back to shopping and to a park.the guide really did not have much to say he was nice but not worth $400 over all i loved the trip and would not hesitate to go on the westerdam again Read Less
Sail Date July 2017
First of all, we are Cruise Noobs. Never cruised before,never thought we would like the experience. But we wanted to visit Alaska,and so we decided this would be the best way to celebrate our 28th anniversary. Our party consisted of 4 of ... Read More
First of all, we are Cruise Noobs. Never cruised before,never thought we would like the experience. But we wanted to visit Alaska,and so we decided this would be the best way to celebrate our 28th anniversary. Our party consisted of 4 of us, ,Mom,Dad, (40's) Young adult son 1,and Teen son 2. We shared an ocean view cabin,deck 1,#1008. I was a little concerned about the location when booking, but this was our best option in our budget category,so we chose it. It turned out to be a great location! So quiet,and peaceful. I spent some time that week reading my book while sitting and watching out that window. Being on deck 1 gave us a beautiful view of the water and the views out our window, I preferred the views from the lower decks to the upper decks anyway. The cabin itself was compact, but we didn't feel cramped,and had plenty of room for ourselves and our stuff onboard. The bathroom was small,but very practical,and we enjoyed everything about the setup of the room. I really liked that we were so close to the bow of the ship,with easy access to the main stage, so usually at night on our way back to the cabin,we'd stop in just to see what was happening on the mainstage,so convenient and fun! The cabin stewards were wonderful also. The ship itself seemed really big to us at first, but it was actually a nice compact size (as far as cruise ships go) for exploring around. I don't know how full our ship was, but I never felt crowded,and if one area was busy, it was easy to walk around a bit and find a place to ourselves practically. There are multiple lounges all over the ship on different decks,and they all have comfortable seating,and multiple views out the huge windows. This was a real plus,as Alaska can get cold and rainy, but no matter where we were,we always had wonderful views. I would seek out a ship just like this again for our next cruise, I think the size of the ship and amenities are just perfect. We enjoyed various shows throughout the week,America's Test Kitchen was great- Loved the BBC Alaska Live show, Live on Lincoln Stage classical was wonderful, and the BEST time on ship was the B.B. King Blues lounge. That band,those singers were FANTASTIC. Tabitha and Tim Timmons had golden voices,and the high energy shows they did multiple times nightly were the highlight of our trip! really great times hanging out in that lounge. The pools and hot tubs were nice,as was the sauna right next door. The food? Oh the food...... How to explain how wonderful,incredible the food experience is? We chose anytime dining,and it was great every night! Our deck 2 dining room always provided a great view of the water,and scenery,but wonderful servers,and the BEST food we've had in a long while! My sons have really big appetites,and certain nights they ordered and enjoyed 3-4 entrees apiece...... but it's not just the quantity of food here, it's really good food! The choices change nightly,and we had a delicious family dinner every night together. That said, let's talk about the Lido buffet. It took us a while to figure out the timing and rhythm of the offerings here,but once we discovered the breakfast,snack,lunch,snack,dinner,snack,late night timetables.....oh boy! The food had a big variety daily, and it was so much fun to be able to just stop in whenever to get a snack or a drink of tea or coffee. Everything is so clean,and sanitary. I like that most of the food stations don't allow guests to serve themselves,which goes a long way toward keeping things non-germy and clean for everyone. My sons LOVED the asian and sushi bar, they enjoyed so many different types of food here over our week. My personal favorite was the daily omelette bar, where a very skilled and quick server would make up a personalized omelette for me,and always with a big smile! We were on a pretty strict budget, and this meant we put together our own shore excursions. Yes,we could have seen more, but we really enjoyed ourselves nonetheless. In Juneau, we rented a car from the rental shack right on the pier. It was $60 for the day,which was our best budget option for 4 people. We drove to Mendenhall Glacier,and were amazed by the dozens of bald eagles we spotted along the roadway. At the glacier area, we just parked and walked in,with plans to hike and take in the scenery. It was really beautiful,we got luck with the weather,with an overcast sky, but no rain till late evening. Perfect for hiking. We walked out to Nugget Falls,walked around the edge of the lake (so many pictures to take!) Then headed out from the visitor center to hike East Glacier Trail. It was a lot steeper than we had imagined(it's not really noted on the map guides) but it was really,really beautiful in those woods! We all had a great time hiking around,and seeing so much beauty. The woods have a really cool moss that covers everything,it looks really fantastical. All told, we spent from about 1:30-6 p.m. at Mendenhall just walking and taking in the sights. In Sitka, we discovered our favorite port stop. The town itself is cute, but surrounded on all sides by gorgeous mountain scenery. We walked from the dock thru town, around the harbor. It was another beautiful day for walking. We saw so many eagles fishing there. We headed for the Historic Totem Park,and checked that out,then proceeded onward thru a pretty woods path to the Alaska Raptor Center. For $12 per person, it was a great way to view bald eagle rehabilitation,plus a lot of other native birds,like a variety of really cool owls. I like the passion of the workers for their animals. After this, we taxi'd out to the Fortress of the Bear. (about 5-6 miles away) This is NOT TO BE MISSED. For $10 per person, we spent at least two hours thoroughly enjoying the bears,the great viewing of their activities. They had 3 types of bears, plus again, dozens of bald eagles in the trees around them. Plus the hummingbirds at the feeder..... We LOVED this place! The people who work her are passionate about their animals. After this,we walked over to the nearby bus stop (just ask the workers,they'll tell you the hourly schedule) and paid $2 to head back into town. All in all,a great bargain of a day,and lots and lots of fun! In Ketchikan, we wandered the town a bit. My son wanted to shop in all the souvenir stores,and there were a LOT of them in this town. Anyway...... we also walked over to Creek Street,and Married Mans trail,and up to the Cape Fox Lodge. It was all nice, but left us wishing we had gotten out of the town a bit more to look around. We only stopped for a few hours here anyway. Glacier Bay was beautiful,and we took lots of great pics out on the bow,in the crazy wind and rain. This cruise was one of our best vacations ever! I really like how Holland America cruises,and I want to go again.My whole family agrees, it was great fun,and also relaxing. Read Less
Sail Date April 2017
This was our first cruise, and trying to read ratings, reviews and make a decision on which cruise line to pick can be daunting. I read one reviewer that noted some of the poor reviews were from pretentious cruisers with expectations that ... Read More
This was our first cruise, and trying to read ratings, reviews and make a decision on which cruise line to pick can be daunting. I read one reviewer that noted some of the poor reviews were from pretentious cruisers with expectations that were beyond reasonable. I witnessed that first hand more than once. We cruised on the Westerdam from Seattle to Alaska. We had a balcony, which is a must when you have such amazing scenery. The rooms are dated - however they were clean, someone was always making sure our beds were made, fresh towels and ice all the time. The guest list ranged from young families to older cruisers, definitely a variety of ages. Dress ranged from yoga pants to suits. The Lido food is meh....Lido had several different stations, lunch included hot choices of meats and vegetables plus a pasta bar, sandwich bar, fruit choices, dessert bar, oriental food, pizza and salad bar (salad bar was excellent). The food in the dining room was excellent. Room service was fine, we ordered a couple of late snacks, one not so good was the cheese tray which was a few different varieties of cheese served with graham crackers, but we survived. If you starved, well that would be almost impossible as there are tons of options. The entertainment that we went to was a comedian, an illusionist and the Westerdam singers/dancers. Comedian and illusionist were great, the singers/dancers were okay. We did the bar crawl (fun), played trivia (fun), hit martini night every night! (fun), and the blackjack tournament (fun). During the Glacier Bay excursion there was a spotter on the ship pointing us to the different wildlife (bears, whales, otters, sea lions and eagles) along with a forest service guide talking about highlights and history of the area. We hit the exercise facility to workout and the spa for massages and facials. Almost every day of the cruise there were specials posted in our rooms for discounted spa services. Crew and cruise director were very friendly and accommodating. Excursions: Juneau - float plane trip to Taku lodge and salmon bake. Awesome sights, salmon was excellent, local black bear came up to clean the grill, and we finished with a short hike. Sitka - 4 hour salmon fishing. Our guide, Sam was friendly and we had a blast. Caught two kings and shipped them home. Five people on the boat, 4 fish caught. I would have liked to fish longer, but I wasn't up for the 8 hour trip that was offered. Ketchikan - we went kayaking with Autumn on a 3 or 4 hour trip. She was super friendly, talked about the wildlife and the area and kept everyone on track. Saw deer, sea lions and lots of eagles. It was really peaceful. The excursions are spendy but it is worth it. There are several excursions at each port to pick from, and varying price ranges. There is an excursion "help desk" that can answer questions or book excursions for you during the cruise if you did not book any in advance. All of our excursions were seamless as far as loading, transportation, etc. Summary: I get that cruises are expensive, but am annoyed by the nickel and dime stuff...I only want to pay one fee. I don't want to pay separately for soft drinks, alcoholic drinks or things like wi-fi. We had a great time, and the Alaska cruise was an excellent first choice. Only really one full day at sea, and the rest of the time we were on deck watching for wildlife, checking out the scenery or heading on an excursion. No regrets! Read Less
Sail Date June 2016
We are a couple. This was our first cruise of any sort. We are about 70 and in fair shape. We are experienced independent travelers. We used a land tour only once (in China). We chose this cruise for its Eastern Mediterranean ... Read More
We are a couple. This was our first cruise of any sort. We are about 70 and in fair shape. We are experienced independent travelers. We used a land tour only once (in China). We chose this cruise for its Eastern Mediterranean itinerary, its dates, its port of departure/return, and its discounted price. The ship's itinerary included Athens,Istanbul, and Venice, three cities we had previously explored and were happy to see again. We had not visited the other Greek ports or Ephesus. Our plan was to go ashore in all or most ports. We booked two archeologically-oriented excursions. We planned to eat breakfast and dinner on the ship, eat lunch ashore, use maximum shore time, and enjoy onboard entertainment in the evenings. We had traveled in Northern Italy for 10 days prior to our departure. We arrived at the port in Venice by bus from Padua and departed by train to Milan. In general, we stuck to our plan. There were pleasant surprises. We enjoyed the two sea-days. We enjoyed the two Gala nights. We enjoyed most of the people we sat with in Open Seating for dinner. We enjoyed some great dinnertime conversation. We enjoyed making two new couple friends and spending some shore-time with them. We enjoyed the international mix of the passengers. Embarkation: At the Venice Cruise Port there is a significant distance between the People-Mover station and the terminal entrance. This is a problem for all older passengers and all those with poor hips and knees. HAL should provide a shuttle, even an optional one for a small charge. Venice is a major port of departure for HAL. What do they do if it rains? Food: Food was pretty good but not quite as good as one might expect. One pay-extra restaurant (Caneletto) really disappointed (menu choices, food prep, and service). The pay-extra Pan-Asian restaurant was excellent. Food at the Lido could vary more. Our cruise was 13 days. If it had been 24, we would have really tired of the selection. The Main Dining Room was nice. We used it many evenings. Food was okay but speed of getting main dishes out of the kitchen was way too slow on two occasions. Entertainment: All three small music venues were excellent (classical, blues, and billboard piano bar). We went to each small music venue at least four times. Entertainment at the MainStage was once excellent, mostly okay, and once terrible. We took two HAL-sponsored shore excursions. Both were good quality. We often went ashore on our own. The ship should have provided more and more up-to-date information about ports of call. Presentations the evening before were difficult to time with dinner if you had been ashore that day. More printed info would solve this. Of the info provided, some was 2-3 years out of date. Guests who want to explore may want to do some of their own research. This was our first cruise. For the first few days we had many basic questions, about the cabin, location of storage space, location of hair dryer, etc. Since they knew it was our first cruise on HAL, they could have provided a 1-2 page discussion of things we needed to know. It would be more efficient than going down to Guest Services and standing in line. Of course, this would not be a problem for experienced cruisers. Read Less
Sail Date June 2016
My first cruise and a big ship to start this process! Ship very grand, food excellent but never had a properly hot meal except in the lido restaurant. Main dining room the meals arrived barely warm. Variety of food very good but still, ... Read More
My first cruise and a big ship to start this process! Ship very grand, food excellent but never had a properly hot meal except in the lido restaurant. Main dining room the meals arrived barely warm. Variety of food very good but still, eating good food at a lukewarm temperature is not my idea of perfection. Worst thing of all was we were in cabin 1090 and this suffered from the full effect of base sounds from BBKing performances. First started off at about 21.15 and ended, some nights at 0.25 hours. I had poor sleeping for the whole of the fourteen nights. When we complained onboard we were greeted with apathy, although they did admit it had been complained about on several of its mini cruises. They said they would have changed our cabins but they did not a like for like to accommodate us! We received a $50 per person credit in our final bill which amortised out over 14 nights was appalling little. I wrote a review to the company, as requested on my return and in return received a typical "American reply" which said nothing, admitted no blame ( we were never warned before we joined the cruise of the possible problems) and basically said off you go we intend to take this no further than let the powers that be know. I am appalled by such a hollow customer services response and a reflection of the same apathy we received on board. Anyone who travels with this ship should be aware of noise problems and I guess the soundproofing is partly to blame but they, knowing the problem should not think that lifting the carpet and brushing it under will solve it or stop this complaint process continuing. Is this the American way of making amends because if this is the case, I would not travel on an American ship again and will do whatever it takes to let others know what they may have in store. The whole matter was treated as though it was our fault for being picky. It is a marvellous area to travel to and so much is right with the concept but once people try to make me feel it is wrong to complain and I should just go away and forget about it, then I become more determined to take it further. Read Less
Sail Date May 2016
We chose this cruise as part of a Newmarket holiday - Rockies/ Alaska cruise and Vancouver, on the recommendation of a friend who travelled last year. I struggle to recognise our trip from some of the negative reviews posted. From start to ... Read More
We chose this cruise as part of a Newmarket holiday - Rockies/ Alaska cruise and Vancouver, on the recommendation of a friend who travelled last year. I struggle to recognise our trip from some of the negative reviews posted. From start to finish we had an amazing trip. As a first time cruiser and an optimist perhaps I am not the best judge but my friend who I travelled with is a seasoned cruiser and a realist and agrees whole heartedly that it was a great trip. The ship was excellent and very smooth. there was plenty of space for it not to feel crowded . There were a variety of environments to choose from depending on your mood. The cabin ( an outside standard twin cabin) was excellent ; clean, well furnished and with plenty of space. The cabin attendants were friendly, attentive and efficient. the shower was very large and very powerful. We took 3 trips - Tracy arm ( although we went to Endicott arm as ice in the way) was a fantastic day and worth the cost. The scenery was spectacular and we saw whales and eagles aswell as a close up and leisurely stop in front of the glacier - stunning. We also did the brothels tour of Skagway - not as sleazy as it sounds - great history walk with a delightful actress being our guide - and went kayaking to eagle island, seeing the promised eagles. There was a vast number of trips but all optional and easy to select or not as you choose. The food was plentiful and excellent with a variety of dining options. we used the Lido buffet for breakfast and lunch and the Rotterdam dining room for evening dinner. We chose to share a table each night which meant we met a variety of other travellers and this only enhanced the trip. there was a choice of entertainment each night and we attended several of the shows, listened to the music and also just stood on deck drinking in the scenery at sunset. all were of very good standard. Every single member of staff we encountered was friendly, greeting us whenever they passed. All staff were helpful - front desk staff answered all queries, however trivial, shore excursion staff were very helpful in choosing trips, dining room staff were efficient and friendly and smoothly did their job very unobtrusively. the staff in the bar we used ( crows nest for a pre dinner drink with the best view|)were delightful. we were also happy to join in the 5k fundraising walk which has over the past 10 years as a company raised millions of dollars for cancer charities in the 6 main countries used by the cruiseline - this suggests a great company ethos. My only complaint about the trip is it was over all too soon but I have fantastic memories and would thoroughly recommend it Read Less
Sail Date May 2016
This was our first cruise. We chose HAL because without exception, everyone we know who has cruised has raved about it. So we booked a back-to-back: transatlantic from Ft. Laud to the Azores and up the coast of Europe to Copenhagen for ... Read More
This was our first cruise. We chose HAL because without exception, everyone we know who has cruised has raved about it. So we booked a back-to-back: transatlantic from Ft. Laud to the Azores and up the coast of Europe to Copenhagen for 17 days, and a follow-up Baltic 12-day circle back to Copenhagen. The Good: Our cabin, a verandah on the Verandah Deck, was comfortable if small. But we didn't spend much time in it. We overlooked the tops of the life vessels but had unobstructed ocean views. Our cabin stewards were delightful and we LOVED the towel animals they made each night (yes, it's SOP on a cruise but we loved them anyway.) Our bathroom was small, of course, but had plenty of storage, including a shelf under the vanity and a roomy cabinet. The closets were pretty big for a small cabin. Our suitcases fit under the bed, barely. The food was plentiful and very good. We enjoyed open seating so sat with new people every night, which was interesting. The Pinnacle service was excellent and we loved the menu and preparations. All the dining-room staff at the Lido and Pinnacle were outstanding. We also enjoyed the specialty meals on the pool deck, with the oompah band and German dishes when we were in Warnemunde. We enjoyed trying out the different bars - I think there were 11 of them, each different in character. We went to one main stage show and didn't enjoy it that much, but we loved the piano bar where a young woman played and sang and sort of became everyone's granddaughter. Her replacement for the Baltic leg was a slicker, more polished performer with a Vegas-style line of patter and we didn't enjoy him as much. The piano-violin duos who played every evening were terrific. But by far the best entertainment was the BB King Blues Band in the BB King Room. They were fabulous musicians who put on a wonderful show every night that was sadly under-attended. But we were there almost every night. We enjoyed most of the lectures. One lecturer, a retired captain, was very entertaining and filled with tons of fascinating information. The other one was more professorial and managed to make his fascinating subjects a little windy and boring, but the information was great. We spent a lot of time in the Crow's Nest, reading and chatting. I worked my way through the library and enjoyed the wonderful views. Happy hour there was great. Everything was very clean and organized. Disembarkation for shore tours was very organized, the lifeboat drills were accomplished fast and in a somewhat military manner, with dire threats of being left behind if we missed them, and no matter when we were out and about, there would be someone polishing the brass, vacuuming, or washing windows. The Not-so-good: One suitcase was waiting for us when we reached our cabin. Two hours later, I called to ask about it and was told that the wine bottle in it would be confiscated because we couldn't bring it aboard, which directly contradicted what we'd been told before we booked. (We'd been told we could board with two bottles apiece.) I told them that we absolutely needed that suitcase immediately, WITH the wine, and a few minutes later there it was, wine bottle included. Happy hour is only observed in two of the bars, so if you were in the wrong place, you were out of luck. Not sure why they don't all have it. We didn't buy a drink package because we were quoted something like $1580 each for our 29-day cruise, with no ability to treat someone to a drink - we would have had to drink all that ourselves! So we paid as we went. Most drinks are pretty reasonably priced. Our verandah was a few feet shorter than others in that class, because we were just above the lifeboats. The balconies above us were at least two or three feet deeper. It turned out not to be an issue because the weather was chilly enough that we didn't use it much, but if that's important, don't book a Verandah cabin on Deck 5, the Verandah Deck. We kept getting lost because the passageways all look the same. It would be helpful if the doorways to the passageways were painted different but consistent colors - all port aft on each deck red, all port forward on each deck blue, and so on. Because some of the elevator banks look the same, we found ourselves wandering in circles. Likewise, the brass plaques at the elevators that show a cutaway of the ship with the decks labeled weren't oriented the way you were standing when you looked at them. So if you couldn't tell which way was forward and which was aft, they weren't much help. We'd looked forward to the behind-the-scenes tour but bagged it when we learned that it cost $150 per person, more than some of our shore excursions. Can't imagine how they justify that. There are no trays in the MDR. We understand the reason for that - it really cuts back on the massive food waste - but it's hard to juggle a full meal while searching for a table, especially in choppy seas. We encountered ONE 16-year-old girl on the 17-day leg of our trip. Everyone else was an older adult, sometimes significantly older. That poor girl was bored out of her skull. There were only four younger children on that leg, although some crew families came aboard for the Baltic leg so there were more kids around. As comfortable as this line is for older travelers, I'd think long and hard before bringing anyone under age 20 along. And that's pushing it. The one nightclubby venue was rumored to be closing before the end of the year. Overall, we enjoyed our first cruising experience. There were no surprises - we knew about the older crowd, but that's us! We've booked a second cruise on HAL for next spring. Read Less
Sail Date April 2016
We had a family group of 18 ages from 8 to 76. Everyone had a great time. There were lots of activities for all interests and age groups. The younger ones spent lots of time in the kids pool and Club Hal. While on board, the older cruisers ... Read More
We had a family group of 18 ages from 8 to 76. Everyone had a great time. There were lots of activities for all interests and age groups. The younger ones spent lots of time in the kids pool and Club Hal. While on board, the older cruisers played Basketball, watched March madness in the Sports Bar, played bridge, bingo, trivia [we won 3 times], saw movies, watched cooking demos, entered the putting contest and sang karoke. Off ship some shopped, others fed the sting rays, swam with dolphins, drove jeeps, and looked for Mayan ruins. Cruising is perfect for a large active family as we all met up for dinner. We had early seating for the kids but it worked out for all of us. Do Not plan on Open seating as each night I heard arguments from angry hungry people wanting a table and all were taken. We flew from Pittsburgh on Jet Blue at 7 am. BIG mistake. We got on the air plane, sat, got off the airplane. It had an oil leak...no parts available.... 6 hours later we were still waiting when the announcement was made that it would be at least 2 more hours. People who had same day cruises were crying. Several family groups did not make their cruise. Jet Blue as not helpful . We finally gave up and booked the last 2 seats on Southwest. I am still trying to get my money back from JB. We stayed at Embassy Suites on 17th street. Beautiful grounds with a nice out door pool. Breakfast was free and hot .Taxi's all over charged us. It does not matter what the meter says, The cabbie wants more. I had booked a service to transport the group to the ship. That went well. We all had cabins on deck 4. aft. I booked a year ahead as we wanted cabins that could house a family of four. The bunk in the ceiling is over the queen bed. Be warned that there is not much head room. Service was great. Each night one of our waiters made an origami item for each child. The kids loved it. The last night was a bunny for Easter. I like Holland America because of the atmosphere. They still have a walk around the ship teak deck, they still have towel animals, they still have turn down service and a chocolate on your pillow. It is just pleasant and civilized. The only problem was disembarkation. We were to be first off with our bags, Too many people crowded in our group with circular lines like Disney and later numbers trying to jump the line. It was a big mess. The Grand children loved it and are planning their next cruise. We had a wonderful time. Read Less
Sail Date March 2016
First was not going to write a review since ship is doing a transatlantic and then dry dock but after looking over some of the last reviews I thought they were unfair and totally misleading. This was our 9 cruise on five different lines ... Read More
First was not going to write a review since ship is doing a transatlantic and then dry dock but after looking over some of the last reviews I thought they were unfair and totally misleading. This was our 9 cruise on five different lines and cruises are a treat and we look forward to them. We are not professional cruisers who looked for minor bad things. Ship had some worn carpet spots nothing major no worse than on our last two trips with carnival and princess. Embrakation was quick arrived at 11:00 on the ship and dropped carry on by 11:30. Did not have a lot of wheel chairs or motorized chairs or at least they were not a problem. Had a large European population so we met many people from Germany, England and the Netherlands. Service was the best of our 9 cruises Hon and Fabian were great stewards (cabin 8019), Carson asst cruise director was great in trivia and bingo. Our servers Nicole in Pinnacle and in the Italian resturants could not be better. never had to wait for table in lido help kept them clean. (There were more than 1 toaster places). Had 2nd seating table 69 great service every nigh with great new table mates. We did trivia very night with a team made up of Londoners, Americans. Tied 3 times and won once, did bingo, and spent 4 nights in BB Kings blues club. ( great band but yes it was loud but there was 6 members in a small room. It was filled every night but last one. Read Less
Sail Date March 2016
We enjoyed our two-week cruise from Singapore to Myanmar and return aboard the Volendam. As first-time cruisers we found the relatively small ship very comfortable. HAL upgraded our cabin from oceanview to a Lanai cabin on the lower ... Read More
We enjoyed our two-week cruise from Singapore to Myanmar and return aboard the Volendam. As first-time cruisers we found the relatively small ship very comfortable. HAL upgraded our cabin from oceanview to a Lanai cabin on the lower promenade deck. We liked the panoramic views from the sliding glass door and the reserved deck chairs right outside the cabin were a bonus. We worried that the passersby doing their walking rounds on the deck would make us uncomfortable, but found the mirrored sliding glass door provided complete privacy. Food throughout was excellent, whether in the main dining room or on the Lido deck. Paying the extra charge for the Canaletto restaurant one evening was worth it with a different menu and wine selection and great service. Entertainment was spotty (we know HAL isn't known for its entertainment). Two nights they brought aboard local dancers from Malaysia and Myanmar and the shows were superb. Otherwise the Volendam dancers and singers were mediocre (the women were much better than the two male leads) but nevertheless not a bad way to pass the time, and their production "Droom" was a definite step up with beautiful costumes, music and dance. We found a favourite bar for pre-dinner drinks and after a couple of days the staff knew by memory what drinks we wanted and which snacks to deliver. HAL shore excursions were well organized and we felt were worth the high cost. We'd sail on the Volendam again on an Asian route. Read Less
Sail Date February 2016
Our cruise on Holland America was a deep disappointment. We began by having Holland America picking up our luggage at the hotel--and promptly losing it for the entire voyage. A baggage department employee tried to blame the airline and, ... Read More
Our cruise on Holland America was a deep disappointment. We began by having Holland America picking up our luggage at the hotel--and promptly losing it for the entire voyage. A baggage department employee tried to blame the airline and, when asked for a supervisor, he lied and denied having one. When a supposed supervisor was found, he too tried to blame it on the airline--again, untrue. The most he would do was supply me with three blue work shirts and one white t-shirt to last the seven day journey. I had to wear the same dirty slacks and socks the entire time. I ran out of medications midway through the journey (the balance was in my luggage) and the ship's doctor refused to assist in replenishing them--they even refused to supply me the required forms for reimbursement. The "excursions" were an equal disappointment--people were herded like cattle and, at one beach stop, there was no staff even available (they didn't make it due to choppy waters). It was every man for himself to get the reserved umbrellas and, when we finally found an empty one, it was almost time to leave. There was nothing to eat or drink. At another excursion, we didn't know until the last minute (and after it had been paid for) that climbing and descending a seven foot ladder was a requirement--this was extremely painful for my partner due to bad knees (Had we known, we wouldn't have booked this one). Finally, in Jamaica, one of our most anticipated stops, the excursion was utter chaos, with no Holland America people available to control the panicked crowds or vehicles (again, it was every man for himself to find a ride). The dining in the main dining room was excellent, but trying to find something to eat in between was a nightmare--you could get the food with no problem but then had to stand around waiting for someone to vacate a table so you could sit down--once again, every man for himself. When Holland America says 2,100 people will fit on the Eurodam, that's their goal--to fill every room and every seat with as many people as possible. Disembarkation at the end of the cruise was another nightmare. We were assured we could recover the lost luggage at "Shore Operations." We were even given a name and told that Shore Operations was "right off the ship" and easy to find. Not so. We were again rushed through in a stampede and told not to ask questions--and were promptly hustled onto a bus for transport (paid) to the airport. Our luggage was not seen again until it mysteriously showed up at our home airport. We saved a long time for this cruise and were told that Holland America was "the best." Instead, it was both a tremendous stress and disappointment. Read Less
Sail Date February 2016
I have to say it was my first cruise and the ship was beautiful and clean. The room was supposed to be partially obstructed, however it was fully obstructed, unless they count the sky as partially obstructed. The staff was awesome! ... Read More
I have to say it was my first cruise and the ship was beautiful and clean. The room was supposed to be partially obstructed, however it was fully obstructed, unless they count the sky as partially obstructed. The staff was awesome! Our room stayed cleaned the entire trip, as I said, it was an awesome staff. Now, the food was okay, more bland than I would like. The portions for scallop appetizer were shamefully small. The food portions were also small, but it also depended on what you ordered. The desserts were okay, but not something you want to have more of, or want in the middle of the night, just because you were thinking about it. They did have a Windows 10 person on board to provide training for windows 10, which was excellent! (I know why? I used my days at sea to learn about my new computer, and I sunburn easily, so I found things to do inside.) The instructor was awesome! Bring a flash drive, so you can have a copy of his training. The entertainment was good, but our trip was charted so we used different entertainment in various areas. (our own DJ, Comedians, and Singer (Patti Labelle, and Ruthie Foster) Now what I didn't like: The staff seemed to only want to use the room key card. I purchased a soda gift card and another for other beverages, I had the room key card and beverage card on a lanyard, and when I wanted a drink I always stated I want to put on gift cards, however they always reflexively used the was room key card. It was annoying to have to go to the front desk and have them remove the charge from room to the gift card. I also felt the massage was entirely to expensive! It was okay, but not worth the cost per person. I also attended the food and wine demonstration located in their Culinary Arts Center, where they prepared Shrimp Scampi with a Curry Mango Butter and Chilled Avocado Soup with fresh Ginger and Lime Cream. I know sounds delicious right? All that attended thought so, however we were not able to taste either dish. They gave each us the recipe for both dishes, but we couldn't taste it. Smelled good too. They did allow us to come up and get a closer look at both dishes. We purchased the pictures they took of us at different events. ($19.95 each pic, 5x7) Nicely done. They did have packages of pictures that started at $3000.00, and of course they try and talk you down to $600 for three Black and White pictures. Disembarkation was very organized and it took only 15 minutes to leave the ship. Smooth exit for so many people. Read Less
Sail Date January 2016
Hi! I was a solo female traveler (revered by some, scorned by some). I didn't stay at any hotels. The ship was clean and accommodations were enjoyable. I can't complain about anything - the staff was attentive, they knew my ... Read More
Hi! I was a solo female traveler (revered by some, scorned by some). I didn't stay at any hotels. The ship was clean and accommodations were enjoyable. I can't complain about anything - the staff was attentive, they knew my dietary restrictions and were able to accommodate them. My room was lovely. The experience was exactly what I needed. I had the time of my life. My only concern was that there wasn't any visible first aid kits and AED machines (I could have done without the smoking in the casino as well - but I never went there anyway). I went on a themed cruise - I'm not sure if I could handle a cruise where there wasn't some structure - that's not to say I wouldn't try! The Dancing with the Stars theme was sublime! The excursions were really great - I picked the right ones for me! And the club/piano were the cool places to be at night. I was a little antsy knowing I paid for my bags to pass through customs without me and go straight to my final destination (home). But I was in the airport and so was my bag. It did make traveling easier. Read Less
Sail Date January 2016
First time cruisers (my dear wife and myself) we read reviews, we did our research. Getting on and off the ship was an art, it was flawless and the airlines could learn a lot. The ship (though old) gave a great first impression and the ... Read More
First time cruisers (my dear wife and myself) we read reviews, we did our research. Getting on and off the ship was an art, it was flawless and the airlines could learn a lot. The ship (though old) gave a great first impression and the first few days we were loving it, discussing what we'd like in a second cruise. By the later days the age of the ship and the quality of it's outfitting began to show. It lost all it's luster. The staff started off early by impressing us from stem to stern and we were treated like royalty no matter where we went on bard, as the days dropped off the calendar the staffs enthusiasm also waned. By the 5th day I was sure a cruise was not the BEST choice for a vacation and by the 7th day I was sure HAL would not get more of my money. The photography staff, spa staff and excursions staff was proactively after any money we might have spare and were not shy about it, very annoying. The staff by mid cruise was no longer interested in doing anything beyond the bare minimum. (Our room stewards were the only exception as they were wonderful throughout) The Westerdam is an aging old lady ready to retire but far to determined (via poor plastic surgery and caking on the makeup) to stay on stage and in the public eye. HAL needs to turn over a new leaf. Her old body creaks with every swell of the ocean, she needs her rest. Read Less
Sail Date December 2015
Being a first cruise we had little to go on except reviews and friends who have cruised a lot. We learned we did not ask the right questions before we booked. we are partly disabled and found many things we were unable to do. We did not ... Read More
Being a first cruise we had little to go on except reviews and friends who have cruised a lot. We learned we did not ask the right questions before we booked. we are partly disabled and found many things we were unable to do. We did not book a Handicapped room as neither of us is in a wheel chair. IF we ever cruise again we will. We also learned we will study the ship layout a bit more. The ms Eurodam was clean and for the most part great crew. We would in the future choose a cabin near the Mid-Ship elevators or the Aft elevators, due to the location of most things we do. Aft is the buffet and pools/spa. The casino and "night club" type activities are forward. Most disembarkations occur mid-ship. Also pay attention to the symbols on the deck plans as it tells you IF the cabin you want has a tub or just a shower, whether your verandah has a Plexiglas or steel balcony rail. A steel rail means your view of the ocean or shore is severely limited. IE you cannot see the view from your cabin or from a seated position on the verandah unless you are well over 6ft 2in tall or are standing. A shower only room or at least 4002 was barely large enough for an average 200 pound male. IF you are large forget it. The only good thing is it has a shower curtain and not a solid wall all around. The online description says you have a DVD player which since the October redo does not exist any longer, implies you have a soft top to your bed which you do not. Sheets and towels are ok. Storage is pretty good unless you have hard sided luggage which will not fit under your bed. Ice bucket is tiny, refrigerator is NOT cold nor is there room for anything other than the "mini bar" stuff. IF you do not plan to use items from the mini bar I suggest you ask them to empty it before you leave port. They as far as I know only serve Coke products for soft drinks. Mostly you can get lemonade, water, hot/cold coffee or tea at all eateries without extra cost. In the Lido buffet area the Lemonade or other juice type drink varies by day or meal. On the Buffet line you may need to POINT to get what you want rather than rely on verbal abilities as many of the line servers do NOT have a good command of English. The vast majority of crew members are Asian, very friendly and helpful just some are lacking in English skills. We found that as the cruise days dwindled the Lido Buffet opened late but always closed promptly or even early. Not a lot of variety on the Buffet line, same things nearly every day. I always thought of the buffet as being 24 hours it is not. The only thing open after 10 was a Pizza shop near the mid-ship pool. NOT my idea of Pizza and NO pizza I ever had in NY. The Hot Dog place closed way too early at 6pm. The Pools/Hot Tubs open at 10am and close at 10pm which to me is too early to close and too late to open. Unless there is some type maritime rule that prevents them from staying open late. Unless you go to "GALA" night activities I don't see any reason for a suit and tie as we did not see men wearing more than a polo or short sleeved sport shirt. Lots of very scantily clad people all over the ship. NO one seemed to approaching them saying you need to change or cover up to be here. The mid ship pool has a roof that is retractable and everyday the whole cruise was retracted and it is the pool for children the aft pool is for adults only. The ice cream parlor closes every afternoon from 230 to just before the buffet reopens for dinner. Ocho Rios was very unattractive and we did not get off the ship as there was NOTHNG within walking distance. Excursions were quite expensive for those on a budget. I had a good time but it was NOT so good it would make me want to go again anytime soon. This was a Christmas time cruise so there were more young people 18-23 and children from babies to 17 than perhaps are normal for Holland America. Read Less
Sail Date December 2015
This was our first cruise, and we booked for 2 weeks to celebrate our honeymoon. We are 26 and 33. When we booked the trip, we didn't realize that Holland America was geared towards a mature crowd (50+). We are not big drinkers or ... Read More
This was our first cruise, and we booked for 2 weeks to celebrate our honeymoon. We are 26 and 33. When we booked the trip, we didn't realize that Holland America was geared towards a mature crowd (50+). We are not big drinkers or gamblers, so we were looking for a more relaxing experience with some adventure, not a party scene. Overall, the cruise was excellent. We did the Ultimate Snorkelling in Grand Turk, the Amazing Secret River in Cozumel, and the Champagne Sail in St. Thomas. All excursions were amazing and worth every penny. The food on the ship was all very good with lots of different options. The atmosphere of the ship was very clean and elegant. The only downfall was that the majority of the actives were geared towards an older crowd, such as anti aging seminars, acupuncture, and learn Windows 10, just to name a few. Thankfully, we only had 4 at sea days so the majority of our time was spent in Port, but it would have been nice to have a few more ship activities that would have interested us. Service was top notch and any issues we had were resolved immediately. For our next cruise, I would like to try another line more geared towards our age group, but I will definitely sail with Holland again. It was a wonderful vacation all around. Read Less
Sail Date November 2015
First let me say my husband and I are 53 and 52 and this was our 1st cruise. Checkin, check out and getting our rooms were great. It's was the food and entertainment that was a BIG disappointment. All foods shut down 9:00 or 10:00 and ... Read More
First let me say my husband and I are 53 and 52 and this was our 1st cruise. Checkin, check out and getting our rooms were great. It's was the food and entertainment that was a BIG disappointment. All foods shut down 9:00 or 10:00 and you could only get room service from there with maybe 10 items to pick from. Food was not anything special very average tasting and pretty much the same day after day with little variation. Entertainment was for anyone over 60 nothing hip or modern and all borek get except for James at the piano bar he was so funny and entertaining so much so we spent 3 nights watching the same show. Shows were poor no classic rock, no county to dance to and the last show was at 10. We choose this cruise line because it was to be up scale and more for mature adults not realizing this really meant 60 or older. They pushed jewerly and local stones so much it was disgusting offering free gifts if you went to listen or shop which were so cheap in the trash they went. So disappointed, we really were not expecting to be wowed but looking forward to the food we hear so much about and all the things to do on the boat. we were in bed by 10ish each night. I would not recommend Holland American, sadly Read Less
Sail Date October 2015
Maasdam was a good size for a first time cruiser. Enough choices for restaurants and lounges without being crowded. If I remember, the quoted number aboard was around 1160. Stateroom I-029 on Navigation Deck has more than enough space for ... Read More
Maasdam was a good size for a first time cruiser. Enough choices for restaurants and lounges without being crowded. If I remember, the quoted number aboard was around 1160. Stateroom I-029 on Navigation Deck has more than enough space for a solo traveler. Crow's Nest was my favourite afternoon hangout, especially as we left port. Evenings were about dining and the showroom. I tried Caneletto and Pinnacle Grill, plus Le Cirque, with Pinnacle being on my future must-do. But the Rotterdam main dining room was my favourite because as a solo, I sat with a mix of new and repeat guests each evening at different tables. Read Less
Sail Date October 2015
At our friends' urging for us to try cruising, and not wanting a daily docking, we went all out with this 25 day, 10 port cruise. It took two days to get the gist of the routine, but by day three, we were hooked. HAL definitely met ... Read More
At our friends' urging for us to try cruising, and not wanting a daily docking, we went all out with this 25 day, 10 port cruise. It took two days to get the gist of the routine, but by day three, we were hooked. HAL definitely met our expectations and pleasantly so. We knew the average age would be senior and often less mobile, but that was ok. This was our first retirement getaway and we were under no time pressure. The cabin was prefect #6047. Midway between the main decks of #3 (dining and entertainment) and #9 (cafe, spa/gym, sun decks and pools). Not only did we get into the routine of using the gym and spa everyday, but we rarely used the elevators (only 6x's I remember). Cabin was as per our expectations. Lots of storage, a nice balcony, and a very comfortable bed as were the pillows. The cabin stewards, Rudi & Lee, were excellent and accommodating. The TV screen was small (14"+/-) and could have been larger as the 4 movies shown each day were well selected. Not that you couldn't choose from a large selections from the CD catalogue (free!). This is not to say we watched a lot of TV, but for what we did watch, the TV could have been larger. Food offerings were very good. The Lido cafeteria has nearly everything you would want for breakfast lunch and dinner. The more formal (mostly Smart Casual and once weekly Formal) Vista dining room was very good for dinner. Portions were smartly presented and were small in size, but a simple request for a larger portion when ordering was always pleasantly accepted. And second helpings are not an issue. Basically I saw this as a way to keep food waste to a minimum. We didn't try either of the "specialty" restaurants. We couldn't justify the added surcharge. But I did hear from many others that they very much like those offerings. We did take advantage of room service breakfast nearly everyday. Very effective way of starting each day. Overall we were very happy with this first cruise. Entertainment was very entertaining, and different every night over 25 nights. A very professionally run theatre program. We took full advance of the health club facilities and paid the surcharge for use of the hydro-thermal pool, steam rooms and thermal-beds (Love these!!!). For the 25 day cruise, these were well worth the surcharge. The administration and execution of activities, events and embarkation/disembarkation at the start, end and each port was well organized. If we have any criticism of the cruise, it was the background music and the age of the musical entertainment offerings. Yes, the average age of the guests were closer to 70+/-, but even a 70yr old was listening and concerting to Rock and Roll in the 60's and 70's. I am sure some entertainment playing music from the early Rolling Stone's, the Beatle's, CSNY I am confident would have been appreciated. I am only 55, but if I am on a ship when I'm 70, they better be playing music from "the Lost 80's". Hope this helps the next passenger. Ahoy!!! Read Less
Sail Date September 2015
I am not a usual contributor to review forums but I am struggling to reconcile the wonderful cruise just experienced on Volendam with these recent negative reviews on Cruise Critic. A strong influence on the enjoyment of any cruise will be ... Read More
I am not a usual contributor to review forums but I am struggling to reconcile the wonderful cruise just experienced on Volendam with these recent negative reviews on Cruise Critic. A strong influence on the enjoyment of any cruise will be the availability, cheerfulness and helpfulness of the ship’s crew and on Volendam from Vancouver to Sydney I thought it was outstanding. The embarkation at Canada Place was very smooth (I have experienced more frustration in an airport departure lounge for only 200 passengers). The ship is not one of the modern two to three thousand passenger types, we had 1100 passengers which is an ideal size, large enough for always a full program of activities, yet small enough to frequently encounter acquaintances and friends made during the voyage. Although not a large modern cruise ship the design of public places, the fixtures and the furnishings are all very tastefully done, in fact a real pleasure to perambulate. Restaurant/buffet fare was very gluttony tempting and again excellent service (fancy a second entree - you can ask). Theatre shows with a couple of exceptions were very entertaining and this passenger was surprised at the quality of the resident entertainer performances. Interesting lectures but sometimes the enrichment talks led into a persuasion to depleting ones wallet.There were six ports of call and three anchorages across the Pacific. Myself and friends went independently for shore excursions so cannot comment on organised excursions. I did hear some passengers complain that there were too many sea days but I suspect the same passengers may complain of too frequent ports of call on a different cruise. Very impressed with the efficiency of tender transport from anchor to uninhabited Mystery Island and to Iles De Pins. I would definitely recommend this relocation cruise from Northern summer to Australasian summer. One thing that HAL has to improve is the quality and price of internet access. If airlines can offer good WiFi why can a ship not pick up good satellite internet service? In contrast Microsoft software workshops were very instructive and helpful, and librarian equally helpful. More exercycles in the gymnasium would have avoided waiting for me but that is a minor quibble. I really appreciated how the cruise director, Tamryn, created an inclusive sense between crew and passengers. Bringing all the staff to the theatre stage and to the main restaurant was a nice touch to see appreciation flowing both ways. I also appreciated the humour (at times alarmingly sexist) of Barbara and her fellow judges at the Talent and Dancing with the Stars competitions. With these principal staff members and wider cheerful helpful crew I fail to see how anyone would not enjoy a cruise on Volendam. All in all a wonderful cruise on a very enjoyable ship. Cabin 6133 Read Less
Sail Date September 2015
My daughter and I were on the holiday of a lifetime and it included the cruise on the Volendam to Alaska. Our room was surprisingly spacious and had everything in that we needed. The roll call for safety instruction was a long faff but ... Read More
My daughter and I were on the holiday of a lifetime and it included the cruise on the Volendam to Alaska. Our room was surprisingly spacious and had everything in that we needed. The roll call for safety instruction was a long faff but necessary for the trip. The ship was easy to navigate with plans near all the lifts and stairs. We soon found our way around and knew the best places to be. With Irwin and Andreas in the bar on deck 5 who looked after us so well, with Matt, the singer guitarist, who kept us entertained every night after Phil did is quiz. It was our first cruise and so we had nothing to conpare it to but we were taking everything in our holiday stride and loving it. Even the upset of the wifi bill was not going to spoil things for us but luckily it did get sorted for us by the librarian. I must admit that the front desk were quite rude about this but did phone our room later to apologise for comments made and as Iv'e already said nothing was going to spoil this holiday. Holland America do need to look at the Wifi situation - Most places now have free Wifi so come on get your act together. Back to the cruise - we loved the ports of call tho' it's definately best to let the mad rush off first, we had plenty of time to look round each place and enjoyed meeting the locals, Todd in Ketchican was a character. Boarding again was easy and hassle free. We saw humpback and orcas, dolphins and porpoise, sea otters and seals all from the ship. My personal highlight was Glacier Bay, truly a beautiful place and the weather was just as good so set it off beautifully. All our meals were lovely on the Lido deck with all the staff giving us first class service. We did dress up for one evening but decided to stay smart casual for the rest and most people did this. Nobody was out of place and nobody went the other way by being underdressed. Yes there were a few niggles but most were with Holland America themselves and not the ship or crew. Would I go again - You bet I would and I know that my daughter would too. Read Less
Sail Date September 2015
After booking the 14-day round-trip cruise (first cruise, first time in Alaska) I became a little nervous after reading reviews on Cruise Critic and wondered if we'd made a mistake. Happily, we did not and will take HAL again for ... Read More
After booking the 14-day round-trip cruise (first cruise, first time in Alaska) I became a little nervous after reading reviews on Cruise Critic and wondered if we'd made a mistake. Happily, we did not and will take HAL again for another cruise. Our stateroom (Verandah deck with balcony) was much more spacious than some reviews had led me to believe--certainly larger than some "boutique" hotel rooms we've stayed in in NYC. Although I've heard that some of the bathrooms need remodeling, ours did not. It was in very good shape, clean and roomy, with countertop and a a shelf below the sink. The in-bathroom hairdryer was old, and I'd brought my own, but a newer model portable hairdryer was in a drawer in the sitting area desk. The sitting area was big enough for my husband and me to sit and read or watch closed-circuit tv without any discomfort. There is only one real outlet, located in the sitting area, but I'd brought a small extension cord and that suited us fine--could charge electronics and use hair dryer all at the same time if necessary. The service was excellent. Our cabin steward was attentive and available. On the first day, we'd asked for fresh fruit which was delivered quickly and everyday thereafter until we asked for deliveries to stop. Ketut was concerned that we would not get enough fruit and so we compromised with every other day deliveries. We alternated between the Rotterdam dining room, where we selected open seating, and the Lido deck, which we used for occasional breakfasts and lunches. We never had trouble being seated, even though we rarely reserved ahead of time, and usually were able to dine alone. Only once did we have to share a table (although we chose to do that some nights) rather than wait for twenty minutes or so. The food was excellent as was the service. Many choices on the MDR menu and we thought as good as the Pinnacle Grill (also excellent) where we ate only once. The waiters were attentive and friendly and we enjoyed talking with them about Indonesia, where most of them were from--even learning some Indonesian words. We alternated between HAL shore excursions and making out own way. Dave's DYEA in Skagway was a private tour that was excellent and, because the weather was not so good, Dave took us further into Canada than we'd originally planned. The HAL excursions were a little pricy, but fine. Whale watching in Haines was particularly exciting and the boat was comfortable and not too rocky. The trip to the Mendenhall Glacier was also fine, although the bus driver left without us to return to the ship, much to our dismay. We were at the stop on time, or a minute or two later--no more--and we saw the bus pulling away, with my wallet and purse on it. A second bus, also from a HAL sponsored tour was leaving a few minutes later and we were able to get on it and the driver radioed so that my purse was at the ship when we arrived. This was the only real down spot on the whole cruise. We loved playing trivia every night, met some great people to team up with and brought home lots of lapel pins to give our grandchildren. Although we had a beverage plan, we did add a little on to it, since my husband loves lemonade which, free in the Lido, had a charge in the dining room and in the bars. Things we weren't so happy with: lots of selling--diamonds, watches, jewelry, perfume. No announcements were made in our cabins and we could have had a lot of free champagne if we'd wanted to sit through a sales pitch. We didn't, but we still had enough free champagne in other venues (the Captain's meeting, for example). We weren't thrilled with the art and, once seeing it, we decided to forego the auction (even though champagne was available there) and buy native art one we were in port and out of the jewelry store/schlock shop atmosphere on the main streets of most towns. By walking a little, we found stores run by locals with much less of the "Made in China/Philippines" tags and were thus able to by souvenirs made by local artists, our preference when traveling. The entertainers were energetic, but I confess to being a little snobbish about entertainment, living near some of the best professionals in the world. So after the first introductory night, introducing us to all the entertainers on the ship, we didn't do the evening performances, preferring instead to sit in the bar. The average age of passengers was well above "senior" level, although there were younger people and a handful of children, but it's not a "party" boat by any means. We were planning to stay in Vancouver for a few days and chose a late disembarkation, which worked out fine, although I gather there was a little delay in Vancouver, which might have inconvenienced some passengers. The disembarkation was smooth--our luggage was waiting for us when we got off the ship and a porter came immediately to help us get our several suitcases through customs and to a cab. No problems there--although next time, I will take the advice of other cruisers and pack a lot less. Finally, in early September, the weather is bound to be wet--we were prepared for it and knew that it would be that way, but couldn't choose another date. So c'est la vie. Layers of clothing with rainproof light coats kept us reasonably dry and warm enough, and I'd recommend the same, no matter what the date. Alaska--beautiful, breathtaking, magnificent--is also wet. In short, it's a trip I'd recommend. We were thoroughly satisfied and will take another cruise (not something we'd planned) and will travel again with Holland America. Read Less
Sail Date September 2015
Awful from the beginning. Rude people and nobody to help with problems. This was a trip with so much that was wrong that it would take more space than allowed. We spent extra money for this ship thinking it would be better for us as ... Read More
Awful from the beginning. Rude people and nobody to help with problems. This was a trip with so much that was wrong that it would take more space than allowed. We spent extra money for this ship thinking it would be better for us as first time cruisers, WRONG. THE TOILET in our stateroom was to the rim with water when we got into our room. They got it to go down but the next morning it was the same. They sent a plumber 3 times and could not put us in another room. All in all I had to put towels on the floor 4 different times. We took the elevator to a different floor to use the public restroom. Awful. The main dinning room was only open for lunch 1 hour every day. We spent money for formal wear for our big night, could have saved our money. This diner was a joke. The only buffet style restaurant was so small we had to wait for seats. Entertainment was employees dancing with cruise people for a contest. A piano player, a magician that is out of a county fair and tries to sell you a cheap magic kit in a Ziploc bag. There was a movie playing several times a day in the theater, free popcorn, Wow. At every turn there is someone trying to sell you something, good God art of all things. Who goes on a cruise for fun to buy art. Ridiculous. Wine seems to be the main thing they try to sell. On almost every channel on TV is a ship commercial telling you about this and that in on board store. If you play cards this is your ship. We do not. It has a very small casino. All in all this was terrible for the 3 of us. The 20 year old was bored as was myself 60 & my husband 65. Everyone that's cruised tells us to go again because they are not this bad. Just never Holland America again. We might but it will be a while, this was a very bad experience. Read Less
Sail Date August 2015
Our first (and probably last) cruise was chosen in order to visit Alaska while we were staying in Vancouver. We found the ship to be well appointed and in exceptional condition if not a little dated. The crew to be very helpful and ... Read More
Our first (and probably last) cruise was chosen in order to visit Alaska while we were staying in Vancouver. We found the ship to be well appointed and in exceptional condition if not a little dated. The crew to be very helpful and efficient. Everyone worked very hard to make life on board as comfortable as possible. Embarkation was a little military in style at Canada place, not sure how you might improve that though......at excursion points it was well managed but avoid the rush at the beginning. Dis-embarkation was well managed. Geography of the ship was confusing at times....arrows built into the carpet might help! Our cabin on deck 6 was fine, with balcony and big opening door we would like to have used it more if the weather had been kinder. We and others noted that parts of the ship were cooler than we would have liked, including the rooms at times. It was inconsistent. If you go on this ship make full use of the Rotterdam restaurant as much as possible. it was very high quality in food and staff operations. Our only complaint was that the dress code was not enforced and many passengers treated it with disregard. If you want to dine alone ensure you ask for "no-share". If you want to socialise with new contacts you can do that too. The alternative buffet (Lido) was excellent but on occasions too busy to cope with large numbers of people. There were alternative smaller scale places to eat, but they charged extra and we did not use them. Value for money? Like Holiday Camps of old and all-inclusive holidays you end up paying for a lot of activities you neither want or use. On board it was wall-to-wall events and if you like that sort of thing the cruise is for you. Were it not for Adagio (classical duo) and the Jazz/Blues quartet in the evenings we would have had no entertainment at all. The other entertainment on offer was not something for us. The Wifi was really expensive and useless. for $100 I was given 250 minutes of which 10 was useful. The rest of the time was spent waiting for connection. It will be difficult to attract younger customers in future unless this is sorted out. I understand the reason given for problems is satellite links but it should be free in 2015 and beyond. The TV was old and had a DVD player with remote which had limited functionality. The programs were poor and there was no menu to select. World BBC was available thank heaven. Today's world is streaming videos (see airline operation) not renting discs...time for an upgrade. There should be touch screen smart TV/computers in every room now with proper hi-speed wifi links available. On board shopping was expensive...wait until the last day sales. The photography could also turn out to be expensive.....you can say no to having pictures taken at any stage.......get a friend to take your pics. The shore visits were good, while we did not go on any of the (expensive) excursions there were places to explore and we took full advantage of escaping the shore-side jewelry shops. The day at Glacier Bay was worth the cost of the trip on its own. As were the occasional wild life encounters.......take warm clothing and wet protection.......it rained for 6 of the 7 days on our trip. Exercise on deck 3 under cover in all weathers but wrap up in Alaska! Overall it was a good trip but has confirmed all our worst fears about cruising. It is an acquired taste. We were warned American ships are more relaxed than British cruises and that is probably the case......note that when choosing your cruise. Leave the bow-tie at home.....I took that advice in advance. Are there any cruises available of quality in style and execution? Perhaps operators should consider it, there will be a large market for it I suspect. Read Less
Sail Date August 2015
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