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2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2016
This was my family's first cruise and we were not disappointed. In fact, we were surprised at how attentive the staff was and how well-cared-for we felt. We had no pre-conceptions or notions as to how cruises generally were so we were ... Read More
This was my family's first cruise and we were not disappointed. In fact, we were surprised at how attentive the staff was and how well-cared-for we felt. We had no pre-conceptions or notions as to how cruises generally were so we were surprised at all of the niceties and courtesies we were given while on the cruise and at ports. We have decided cruising is the most bang for the buck because there would be no way a family of 5 could stay for 7 nights, have at least 3 meals a day, attend events and shore excursions and basically have your every wish granted. It was a real eye opener. I mean, sure, there will be times where we'll want to travel to one destination and spend more than a day there but it was perfect to get a sampling of the Mexican Riviera for a day and then go back to OUR ship and get comfortable again. It becomes a proprietary thing, when you feel you belong to a ship and a ship belongs to you. We feel that way about the Westerdam but we're definitely going to give the rest of Holland America's fleet a chance. We're already getting ready to book our next annual family vacation with HAL. I also think I would consider a quick getaway for my husband and me aboard HAL, too. Holland America is definitely a destination for every family of every type - small, large, empty-nesters, etc... So glad we chose Holland America!! Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2016
Beautiful San Diego,We arrived 1 day early, Dec 3rd, Watched the sunset at Sunset Cliffs.There was the evening Christmas Parade. The King's Inn, authentic Mexican food for dinner next door. Embarkation at 1.00pm was very fast and our ... Read More
Beautiful San Diego,We arrived 1 day early, Dec 3rd, Watched the sunset at Sunset Cliffs.There was the evening Christmas Parade. The King's Inn, authentic Mexican food for dinner next door. Embarkation at 1.00pm was very fast and our luggage was in our room within the hour.Correction, my luggage was missing, regardless We headed up to Lido Deck 8 like veteran cruisers for lunch...Asian curry noodles and rice quite authentic. Checked with Security where my bag was held and my small travel iron was confiscated until Ensenada.You can not pack extension cords either. My cabin was Ocean View 3343 mid deck, near the Clock Tower Atrium....which was beautifully Xmas decorated with gingerbread houses, train set.Christmas trees lights.. Cabin was great,, quiet and equidistant both ends of the Amsterdam, La Fontaine Dining room and Queens Lounge..Must mention that my Cabin Stewards Agus and Made were warm, friendly and unobtrusive, kept the cabin very clean and tidy. I look forward to the Towel Art and be surprised every evening. All the ports were excellent, You are in Paradise, The ship excursions were pretty good but We decided to rent a car where We can and explore the islands on our own. HAL ships' ON LOCATION .We had Kainoa who gave us lectures on Hawaiian Culture, History and personal stories of the islands, advice,maps, guidelines to plan your day ashore,the many places to see,and shore excursions. There were the Hula Dancers performances and Hula lessons.Ukulele lessons,Hawaiian Lei making classes ,....A deeper Hawaiian experience. Dec 4th, 5 lovely fun filled sea days,This beautiful ship had fresh flowers everywhere. I read books by Dean Koontz and Jeffrey Archer in The Exploration Cafe Library. Dec 10th, HONOLULU (Oahu). We took the bus transit to Hanauma Bay, for swimming and snorkeling,Not environmentally correct to walk on the coral and rocks,then a long walk on Waikiki Beach, and some shopping for a Ukulele (Better buy on Amazon). i've been to the Pearl Harbor Memorial before .. there wasn't enough time to do more. HILO (Hawaii) Dec 11th..We drove up to Mauna Kea (13 796 ft) At 9200 ft,The Onizuka Center, the road to the summit was blocked off because of frozen ice, so We decided to drive South to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.(original plan was to do this from Kona) Moana Loa was spewing lava before the mist covered everything. Took a walk through the Thurston Lava Tube. At the shoreline of black lava fields, Kilauea was actively erupting lava into the sea, shooting massive plumes of smoke and ashes into the sky that can bee seen from afar. Next day, Dec 12th KONA, There was no car rental shuttle.It's USD28 to get to the car rental and USD28 back so no car rental. We did the Hop On for USD15 each,At the beach stop,James went snorkeling with his Go Pro and I walked the tidal pools and beaches.Saw 5 turtles and lots of yellow fishes..James did the Atlantis submarine (USD85).while I went shopping. 6 packs of Macadamia nut chocs ($24) at Target and Ross is my favorite for bargain hunting, shoes, dresses and fine Italian soap.(Bulgari 100ml parfum $30). Dec 13th NAWILIWILI (Kauai). We drove through Lihue to Waimea Canyon,The Grand Canyon of Hawaii.Don't just stop here, keep on driving to the very end of the road and from here you can see the North shore of the island, the jagged cliffs overlooking the sea.here was where they filmed Jurassic Park. A stop at Wailua Falls, there was a rainbow, before heading back to the ship. Dec 14th LAHAINA (Maui). Make sure your car rental pick-up is at JHM Airport.(not Kahului Airport which is too far from Lahaina) and the last car rental shuttle return to pier is 4.00pm ($20 cab return to Pier at 6.30pm). Drove up to Hakeakala National Park, dormant volcano, elevation 10,024 ft. We were above the clouds !!!! Nature enthusiasts would love the unique flora , silver swords. THE ROAD TO HANA, yes, We decided to do partway of this road, time permitting because We don't know when We'll be back this way again, just to say "We were there.". Narrow winding road through rain forest.Stopped at a fruit stand, On the way back, We went to the beach to watch the surfers.I had a Maui shave ice for $5, don't do that, not natural flavoring, inedible I had to throw away. It's my birthday, the dining room staff sang a Happy Happy song, which also works for anniversaries or anything else (I speak the language) and also a Birthday cake. If they sang in reverse, Am I one year younger You think? The 5 sea days to Ensenada, Mexico Dec20th, a seaside town with a wet fish market, lots of touristsy shops.Had a walk around and back to the ship for TEA., delicious scones with berries preserve and clotted cream.Earl Grey. Dec 21st, San Diego.Last breakfast.Disembark,Took the shuttle to the airport USD10. The HiGH POINT of this wonderful and special cruise was the Scenic Sailing of Kilauea Volcano 10.00pm.I videoed from the ship's bow.The lava flowing into the sea, bright orange red spewing up against the dark night.Lots of steam and smoke. Captain Fred Eversen is cool. The Amsterdam Dancers and Singers and the other entertainers were Super Excellent. The Culinary Art Centre was standing room only, Lots of activities like Trivia and stuff.... Cruise director guys were cool. The food was Excellent and ALL the staff did their best to make this an amazing wonderful cruise. I did not win the $25,000 Bingo, ;( I did not win the Cruise Bingo. ;( Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2016
This cruise was our 6th overall and third with Holland. We did our first 3 cruises with Princess but they were full of noisy and unruly children whose parents did not even try to control them. The staff and crew of our Princess cruises did ... Read More
This cruise was our 6th overall and third with Holland. We did our first 3 cruises with Princess but they were full of noisy and unruly children whose parents did not even try to control them. The staff and crew of our Princess cruises did not seem to care that many of the children were running amuck with no parental supervision. We found that Holland caters to a more mature clientele and that suits us just fine. I believe that there were only 5 or 6 children on the Maasdam out of 1138 passengers. The service was outstanding and the port stops were more than satisfying. I particularly want to give a shout out to the management and crew of the Lido dining room as well as the people who ran room service. We like to hike and found several very nice trails at Mauganui, Picton and Akaroa. These trails were all within walking distance of the port. I have seen some not so good reviews of the Maasdam but all I can say is that these folks would probably complain if their heads were in a vise. Read Less
8 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2016
We liked the itinerary, the time of year and the size of the ship. The trip was perfect. There were plenty of sea days to enjoy the daily activities, interesting ports of call and thankfully perfect weather. The onl;y disappointment ... Read More
We liked the itinerary, the time of year and the size of the ship. The trip was perfect. There were plenty of sea days to enjoy the daily activities, interesting ports of call and thankfully perfect weather. The onl;y disappointment was missing Mystery Island because of a lapse in the weather but t his happens, Food was outstanding even though a previous reviewer could not eat between 5pm and 5,30pm!!! Is that a problem? Yes, some of the shore excursions were ridiculously expensive but you could opt out and organise them privately yourselves at a fraction of the cost. The evening entertainment was brilliant with a series of professional individual musicians and the ship's cast with wonderful singers and dancers. THe music every night gave everyone choices between classical, dance , big bands and the popular piano man. TH e Cruise Director was the best we have ever seen on any ship. Her personality and enthusiasm generated an atmosphere of excitement and fun. Her side kick was also outstanding. The daily trivia session was a highlight for those who attended. Our memories centered on the friendliness and competence of the whole crew. Everything worked! It seems to be a feature of Holland America.It encourages us to continue cruising with them after 4 happy cruises. Bring on the next cruise! Read Less
10 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2016
Our third cruise, but the first with Holland America Line. Boarding as the usual stressful super heated mayhem. I wish cruise lines could learn something from Middle Eastern air carriers such as Emirates in that respect. The ship was clean ... Read More
Our third cruise, but the first with Holland America Line. Boarding as the usual stressful super heated mayhem. I wish cruise lines could learn something from Middle Eastern air carriers such as Emirates in that respect. The ship was clean and well managed. That it was a Dutch boat showed by the fact that they had LGBT single parties. We (traditional married couple) booked a suite and our 'butlers' were great. Overall staff appeared to be happy and well taken care of. That's not the impression we had on a MSC ship. Ok, the good: - Entertainment (TV) system was airline style and great. - Super nice staff - Well maintained ship - Airline style PAs by the captain - Beautiful stateroom The not so good: - Complexity of beverage packages and their price. - A ton of flyers promoting extra cost stuff in your cabin every day. - The thermal suite package (not worth it) - The food was big corporation canteen style at best. We gave up on it and had great meals in every port. Still, overall happy and would book the same cruise again. Read Less
12 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2016
My husband and I chose this cruise because it fit into our timetable and allowed a visit to Vancouver. I sailed with HAL several years ago on an older ship and did not have a good experience but since it fit we decided to give it another ... Read More
My husband and I chose this cruise because it fit into our timetable and allowed a visit to Vancouver. I sailed with HAL several years ago on an older ship and did not have a good experience but since it fit we decided to give it another try. The Noordam is a newer ship and exceeded our expectations. We upgraded to a signature suite and found it to be quite spacious with 2 sinks in the bathroom, balcony roomy too. Finishes are nicer in Celebrity solstice ships but overall it was very good. Service was excellent in all areas. The several talks about Alaska and what we were seeing were great. Food demonstration and galley visit also very good. Food in the main dining room and Pinnacle very good. Room service excellent for breakfast...real oj and good coffee. Lido terrible for breakfast. Watery coffee, fake oj , noisy and it smelled like McDonalds. It was fine for lunch especially Asian dishes. Piano bar and Blues were excellent, comedian very good but the singers and dancers were terrible! Nice gym and Indonesian tea. We did not book shore excursions but did go with Juneau tours in Skagway and they were great. Overall a very good experience. Read Less
8 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2016
Arrived in Vancouver a day and a half early to see some of the city sights.Took a cab to the cruise terminal and yes...they take American money. The driver took us all the way up to the entrance to Holland America section of the terminal. ... Read More
Arrived in Vancouver a day and a half early to see some of the city sights.Took a cab to the cruise terminal and yes...they take American money. The driver took us all the way up to the entrance to Holland America section of the terminal. Upon arrival a porter had us put the labels supplied by Holland on our bags and took our luggage. He directed us to the next step which was registration. After filling out an agriculture declaration form we sat on a row of chairs until our we were called (about 10-15 mins) to register. When that was complete it was off to customs then we boarded the ship. Embarkation was a breeze, well organized and quick. Once aboard they directed us to the spa to hear a sales pitch. They will try to sell you the spa packages available, access to the fitness center and pools, etc.To save money book your spa days when the ship is in port. Its less crowded and there are special deals with cheaper rates at the spa. Upon arrival to our cabin 7034 we met our cabin attendent Putu. He was friendly and pleasant. Cabin was clean and comfortable. I chose the Rotterdam deck of the ship because the are many suites on this deck. Even though our cabin was not a suite ships usually put the best cabin stewards on the decks with the suites. Since our luggage had not arrived yet we decided to get acquainted with the ship. We stopped at the crows nest to get a bloody mary and it was the best I have ever had. The prices of the drinks were a lot lower than I expected too. Every drink I had on this cruise was excellent. It is easy to see the bartenders take a lot of pride in what they do. I also cant say enough about the food. Tamarind restaurant was excellent. My only regret was discovering this wonderful restaurant on our last night of the cruise. I would have dined here 3 or 4 nights if we found it earlier. Order the sake mojito in the bar, it was the best! Entertainment onboard was good, Bingo was fun because my wife won $240. We enjoyed the dance lessons in ballroom dance, the computer classes, and the slot tournaments. Nothing bad to say about the service. We had great service everywhere aboard ship. The highlight of this trip was cruising Glacier Bay National Park. Breathtaking scenery, glaciers so close you can see the deep blue colors. The sounds you hear at the glacier is amazing and we saw calving of the glacier as large chunks of ice break off and hit the water...Amazing. As far as port excursions go our 5 glacier seaplane expedition was cancelled due to low clouds and fog. I was very disappointed but glad they did not take us in bad weather. The mushers camp in Dyea was fantastic. We really enjoyed that. The cruise was great despite the bad weather in Juneau. Already planning another one in 2 years. If I go to Alaska again in will be in July or August. September was a little too late as the weather started to change, lots or rain. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2016
Spent 4 nights in Boston prior to our cruise followed by 4 nights in Montreal upon disembarking. We booked our own tours and hotel in both cities and the hotel took us directly to the Black Falcon terminal in Boston. This is our first ... Read More
Spent 4 nights in Boston prior to our cruise followed by 4 nights in Montreal upon disembarking. We booked our own tours and hotel in both cities and the hotel took us directly to the Black Falcon terminal in Boston. This is our first sailing on HAL and we were looking forward to the cruise to relax and decompress after busy days in Boston and Montreal. Very smooth and quick embarkation/disembarkation, we showed up to embark at our recommended time (though tempted to embark early), and the process went very well. Our only piece of checked luggage arrived within the hour. Being an older mid-sized ship, the ship was very easy to navigate and the public areas were very clean and spacious. Though no fault with the staff or ship, I couldn't help but notice a few irate passengers on the ship, a vacation and especially a cruise is supposed to help with that... We cruised with older children and they had their own cabin which limited us to cabin choices since we preferred to be close together. We were located aft on Deck A which was reasonably quiet without too much foot traffic but the room is noisy when the ship is docking in the mornings. I'm an early riser so that didn't bother me since I'm up at the gym first thing in the morning. Cabin is a little worn and dated, but otherwise very comfortable. The fitness facility was adequate, the equipment was worn and dated but they do have a good variety of equipment for use. Lido market was excellent. Food choices and quality were excellent but they do run out of the Greek Yogurt parfait too soon. We had all our breakfast, lunches and occasional snacks there. Great service, locating a table can be tough during peak times but there's always room by the Lido pool. We had dinners at the Rotterdam. We were assigned open seating and waited 30 minutes for a table on the first sailing day. We made reservations for an early seating for the rest of the cruise and that worked out very well. Great table location and service. Food preparation can be hit and miss ranging from exceptional to ok. Entertainment was limited and average at best, the sight lines for the showroom were limited if you showed up late. The family showed up for a number of activities ie. napkin, towel folding, but they really enjoyed the back stage tour. Our children are in their late teens and they enjoyed the entertainment and activities. Highlight of the trip was the exceptional service from the servers to the cabin steward. Even staff that were not assigned to us were very friendly and attentive. Jeremy was excellent with his take and recommendation of each Port. We only did one shore excursion with HAL to Peggy's Cove and Fairview Cemetery in Halifax and that was very good. Took a cab to explore Quebec City and arranged for a few food walking tours on our own in Montreal. Read Less
14 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2016
One of the main motivations for choosing this cruise ship is its new family rooms that allows for 5 guests in a room. This is handy for a family but also cost effective, as it is only the first 2 guests that pay full rate and all ... Read More
One of the main motivations for choosing this cruise ship is its new family rooms that allows for 5 guests in a room. This is handy for a family but also cost effective, as it is only the first 2 guests that pay full rate and all subsequent guests pay a grately reduced rate. This was our second cruise, we sailed with Disney last year in the Mediteranean. Our kids (10 year old twins) actually preferred the children's club on HAL compared to Disney, because the total number of children on board was a lot less, giving room and space for the leaders of the group to get to know the kids much better and for the group of kids to gel better. The kids club (7-12) is open from 9-11.30, 1.00-16.30 and 19-22 on days at sea, and on days where the ship is docked, the club runs the whole day through until 16.30 and feed the children lunch so the parents can stay ashore if they wish. The Family Stateroom fits 3 adults and 2 children and the double bed can be turned into twin beds. The fold out sofa bed is surprisingly comfortable compared to many sofa beds I have slept on before. The real stationary beds are pretty hard though, particularly as there is an odd felt top mattress that feels a bit like lying on a stone. But once the felt has been pulled off, the bed is a bit softer. The top bed that folds down over the sofa bed, to allow for a 5th person is fine for a child, but I think any adult would be terrified of having climb into it and feel it bouncing a bit (due to its design). Once all the beds are unfolded for the night, the room does feel a bit claustrophobic, mainly because there is only a one foot corridor to try to creep through in the dark to get to the toilet. In the morning it is fairly easy (but heavy!) to flip the sofa bed back into place so there is space for getting dressed. As a special feature, the room has two bathrooms. One with toilet, sink and bathtub, the other with sink and walk in shower (which was amazing!). The main dining room was nice, the menu was also fairly good, with enough choice for each member of my group to find something to eat. The food ranges from really nice down to OK, with the occasional complete miss. But since you are allowed to order as much as you want, if there is something you don't like, the waiters are happy to bring you something else. The Lido market is really packed at peak eating hours. The food is diverse and there is plenty for every taste. We really appreciated the salad bar, which helped alleviate our bad conscience from overeating at other meals. Late night pizza's from the New York Deli were greately appreciated by our kids once we had picked them up at 10 from the kids club. If you are hungry on the ship, it truly is your own fault. There is free food being served somewhere on the ship on a constant basis. If you are into fitness, make sure you visit the fitness area. It is well equipped and it is free! If you decide to sign up for the sauna and wellness area, do it on the first day, as the price is for the duration of the entire cruise. Make sure you bring your own slippers, as the ones given are way too small and hurt your feet. The sauna possibly has one of the best views on the ship. There are several drinks packages available on board. However, if you are not a big carbonate drinker and not much of an alcohol drinker, then don't bother with the drinks packages. There is water, ice cubes, iced tea (unsweetened), coffee and tea available at all times for free. We bought 2 basic drinks packages that allowed us access to a Coca Cola fountain with some 120 different flavors. We received 2 large sipping cups to use in the machine, which served the whole family without problems. Most of us drank just water anyway. The most expensive drinks package is quite pricey. This includes cocktails and all alcoholic drinks. The Crow's Nest pub has Happy Hour at 16.00 every day - where the second drink is 1 dollar. But you have to get 2 of the same drink to get the offer. The ports were beautiful and easy enough to explore by ourselves. We found the shore excursions much too expensive, and just enjoyed discovering by foot. We had a bit of a bad surprise at the beginning of the cruise, as the point of embarkation was changed from Amsterdam to Rotterdam about 24 hours before departure. This left us scrambling to find an alternative to the valet parking arrangements we had made. It took HAL most of the day to finally offer shuttle busses from Amsterdam to Rotterdam, which we were not able to use, since by then we had already booked a taxi. This was quite badly organized with no clear communication. Hopefully HAL will improve that for next time. All in all, we had a great time. The food was wonderful, the views were stunning, and we will definitely consider doing it again. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2016
We chose this cruise for its ports of call. And we were very pleased with ALL of the ports. It was a great sized ship as we were able to dock at ALL of the ports, no tenders--Yipee. Embarkation and disembarkation were extremely ... Read More
We chose this cruise for its ports of call. And we were very pleased with ALL of the ports. It was a great sized ship as we were able to dock at ALL of the ports, no tenders--Yipee. Embarkation and disembarkation were extremely smooth. The food was average. Some too salty, some of the meats too fatty and chewy. In the main dining room fish one night was "fishy" tasting. Crew was fabulous. Everyone friendly and helpful. There was a lot to do one the ship especially on the sea days. Something for everyone. The entertainment was great. Really enjoyed the singers and dancers and the HAL Cats band. The Ocean Bar had a great trio most nights. The computer classes by Meghan were superior--great idea & service and great teacher. The Thermal Spa was a little disappointing as it was smaller than the other HAL ships. Also the Women's locker room doors seemed to remain open most of the time despite repeatedly complaining and repeatedly closing them each time I was in there. The Women's locker room opens to the hallway on one side and into the spa with treatment rooms directly across and adjoining the locker rooms. Once, while I was dressing, a staff member paraded a MALE thru the women's locker room as it was faster to get out of the spa that way! We were locked out of our room for over 3 hours waiting for the locksmith. The key mechanism's battery had died. The shore excursions were wonderful. There were choices for everyone's ability and interest. We took one on each port and they never failed to please us. Great guides who are friendly and informative. I took my sister for a "big number" birthday celebration. There were to celebrate it in the dining room on the first Gala Night and failed to do so. When spending this much money for a Veranda Suite, it should be in perfect condition. Also HAL had advertised that ALL of the Suites on all ships had new coffee makers and Bose Docking Speakers. Our suite DID NOT have them. Read Less
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