1. Home
  2. Cruise Lines
  3. Holland America Line
  4. Holland America Line Cruise Reviews
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2019
Just got back from a Holland America Cruise on the Rotterdam. One of the last from the Port of Tampa. Not sure if the staff onboard is starting to get tired or what but some of the services were less than favorable. Embarkation & ... Read More
Just got back from a Holland America Cruise on the Rotterdam. One of the last from the Port of Tampa. Not sure if the staff onboard is starting to get tired or what but some of the services were less than favorable. Embarkation & Disembarkation Very easy. They have this process down very well . Rotterdam ship: Very nice ship, Teak wood upkept very nice. You see the improvements they have done over the years and it looks very nice and clean. Cabin: We had an outside Cabin which seemed very roomie for what it was. Very supprised with all the closet space. nice Touch with the free safe in the room. Bed was very comfortable and the Stewards always kept the room clean and always supplying us with clean towels Dinning: Lido Deck food was very good. Nice that the HAL buffet is served by staff and not a bunch of people reaching in and grabbing food. Food was always fresh and hot. Never needed to add salt to anything we got from the line. Burgers & Hot dogs were good from the Dive Inn grill as long as you didn't get the burger well done.. There Pizza grill did a great job with the NY style pizza. They did keep strange hours on the burger and Pizza service, as neither was 24 hours. Pinnacle Grill- In my opinion, the Main dining room food was better than here. We spent over 2.5 Hours in the Grill. Appetizers were good and hot. Main course I got the Porterhouse and Wife got the Strip Steak. We both asked for Medium Rare and both came back very Rare. I ate mine, but we sent hers back. We cut a piece off right away to check the temp. They took her's back for about 15-20 minutes and brought back the same piece of meat still under cooked (but hot this time) All of the sides came out at room temp initially. When they brought back her steak, they never refreshed the sides for her. For Desert we decide to bring back to the room as we were already there for over 2.25 hours. so she got the lollipop desert cakes along with the chocolates from the table. The waiter put them in aluminum foil and twisted the top.. It looked like one of those weights used to hold down balloons. So when we got back to the cabin it was just a big ball of chocolate. We had a 4 top table come in when She got her second try and they were getting dessert at the same time we did.. Ship services did eventually refund us the up charge and the Pinnacle manager called us to apologize and offered another try on the last night, but we already planned the evening. Entertainment and Activities: Comedians were very good. My wife Participated in the Americas test Kitchen and had a blast!! She said she would do that over and over again... Also, did the bar hop with Jeremy and that was an awesome time. There was never a shortage of things to do. Services: Room Stewards - These guys are great, never needed anything... Spa Services: Very Disappointed with spa services. First, My wife got a manicure. Her nails were chipping after 1 day.. Spa did redo the color, but talked my wife out of the color she wanted and the top of her nails by the cuticle look as if they were 1 week growth and her skin was peeling. The Facial she received left her with bruising and a sore/scar on her nose. She received the facial on the 1st sea day, so had the embarrassment the rest of the cruise. When addressed with spa manager she gave her a discount on the facial. She then gave a third chance for a massage and the tech kept going to deep after she said something several times. This left bruises on her back. Then the spa manager accosted her after her massage, because I had brought these issues up with the Ship services counter. They eventually took off the price of the facial. But during dining one evening another guest complained about being under the kitchen and got a 150 on board credit, so needless to say that was more upsetting to me. Ports and Excursions: Guatemala - We only went thru the bazaar. Prepare your self as they do not take no easily. You must walk away and not feel you are hurting feelings. Honduras: We went with Victor Bordon's Sloth and Monkey Tour - This was a lot of fun getting to touch the animals and see all the birds.. Relaxing at the resort was a really nice addition. Costa Maya, very nice and very clean port.. We didn't do much here as it was really windy ( 7-10 foot waves) made getting back on the boat a real challenge. Summary: Loved the ship and would probably give them another try. Hopefully the managers get a little training so that they stop trying to explain why there staff was making their errors and just fix things.. Read Less
19 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2018
My (German Jewish) family escaped Nazi Germany in 1938, thanks to Holland America's ss Statendam, so we HAD to be on the maiden voyage of the Nieuw Statendam, both to "close the circle" on our family history but also to ... Read More
My (German Jewish) family escaped Nazi Germany in 1938, thanks to Holland America's ss Statendam, so we HAD to be on the maiden voyage of the Nieuw Statendam, both to "close the circle" on our family history but also to personally express our gratitude to this next generation of Holland America. That said, by any metric, the maiden voyage was an overwhelming success and we feel sure that this great new ship - with its great new crew - will provide enormous joy and enrichment for all who sail with her. If you know/like the Koningsdam, the Nieuw Statendam is its (almost) identical twin, but with some revisions: the Crow's Nest/Explorations Central (deck 12) has been re-imagined into a giant, gorgeous, and inviting "living room" offering an intimate environment, to chat, watch the ocean, check the stats of the engine, ship location, etc., and engage in puzzles, cards, and much more. Moving Lincoln Center Stage to the Queen's Lounge put these great classical musicians in an environment fitting to their artistry and charisma, and the new Rolling Stone Rock Room (with its great band) is a HIT! Holland America crew's legendary warmth and dedication to excellence are evident in this hand-selected crew of 1,000 - for us, cruise veterans yet making our first ocean crossing - we couldn't have asked for anything more. Read Less
15 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2018
Preface: I'll preface my review by saying that my partner and I are both 29 and 33 respectively and we were some of the "younger" passengers. Albeit, I did read plenty of reviews before sailing and knew that Holland ... Read More
Preface: I'll preface my review by saying that my partner and I are both 29 and 33 respectively and we were some of the "younger" passengers. Albeit, I did read plenty of reviews before sailing and knew that Holland America (HAL) was geared towards a more mature crowd so we knew what we were booking. We planned our trip in May 2018 for an Eastern Caribbean itinerary when we first discovered HAL. I traveled on NCL, Carnival, and Disney previously. We were looking for a more refined and relaxed atmosphere (without the hairy chest and belly flop contests). This is a review for the 7 day journey: Ship 5/5: Beautiful ship from the moment you step on to the moment you disembark. Nieuw Amsterdam is one of their newer ships with modern amenities with millions of dollars worth of artwork throughout. I always found something new regardless of how many times I walked the same path. I felt like the ship had a great layout and I never had difficulty finding my way after day 2. It just made sense where points of interests were located. I also seen that this ship is under constant upkeep. I always see crew either painting or cleaning, always making sure the ship is looking new and in great condition. It was also a perfect size being not too large at only 2,000 guests. Sure I've seen the same people over and over again which I loved but I never wondered why is it so crowded as crowds didn't exist except for day 1 at embarkation at the buffet which is expected. Cabin 4.7/5: We stayed in an AFT verandah cabin which I absolutely LOVED! The room was very well appointed for two people and we never felt like we didn't have space either for clothes, belongings, or just two people living together. The room was a great size and the bed was super (and I mean overly) comfortable bed. We never had a problem sleeping at night which could be a combination of not having internet or just the full days we had. We had the perfect room stewards Marko and Suko. Both were so quick at making our room up and cleaning it (albeit we aren't messy people and I actually clean before I leave the room as I feel bad for the long days most workers work...more on that later) and always worked around our schedule. The only downside of the room is it did feel a little outdated. I would love to see the bathroom and a few things updated. Again, how often are you in the room?! Although they did have a plentiful on demand selection of movies to watch. Dining 4.5/5: No matter what restaurant we went to we always had a great meal. The one restaurant that really stood out was the Pinnacle Grill. You may hear a few things about this restaurant, and the positive you hear is true! The service and food was phenomenal. The Pinnacle Grill restaurant is not included and costs $35 per person BUT I will say that price is justified. I included some photos of how many crab legs were included with my meal. We also ate at Lido Buffet and the Main Restaurant in addition to the pizza and burger place and I can honestly say I never had a bad meal. All of the food was very good! I do wish they had more Asian dishes. Why I rated it a 4.5 out of 5 as the food was a 5/5 is because whenever you go to a restaurant they really want you to buy drinks because the person selling the drinks gets an 18 percent tip. So when you order a glass of wine they will try to upsell a bottle. It just got a little pushy sometimes as I get they are just trying to make money but I don't like to be second guessed when I make a choice as "why don't you want a bottle as it's only 23 dollars more?". Overall they will leave you alone if you say "I'm fine" but I just don't like the high treasure sales tactics when I am on vacation. Entertainment and Activities 4.9/5: Now hear me out...we are on a ship in the middle of the ocean, how entertained do you want to be? I won't be critical of the entertainment on ship as I know for a fact the entertainers really gave it their all every night for several months. So into the review...The entertainment on board for the nighttime mainstage ranged from Billboard dancing to Latin Night which I found very entertaining. They also had a comedian and magician. I missed the comedian so we went to the magician with very low expectations and my face hurt from laughing so much. He was hilarious. Throughout the day the had other entertainment for all such as Windows 10 classes, floral arrangements, towel animals, piano request entertainment, and more! I'll be honest there wasn't a time on the schedule where I looked and didn't see something going on that I could attend. I just chose not to go to somethings as I wanted to relax. To end the review there is something for everyone on board and especially during At Sea days. Service 5/5: I work professionally in hospitality where we always use the 10ft rule. If someone is within 10ft of you, you acknowledge them. HAL must use the 25ft rule. When they either see you coming or approach they immediately focus on you and say hello and stop what they are doing. It was totally unexpected but something very small that made a huge difference. I felt like royalty on this ship. I still remember even the smallest request where we asked our room steward can we have ice on the first day for drinks. In the morning and at night they always made sure to refill our ice. Sure, I don't know if they did this for everyone but it was appreciated. Also we always order the same drinks when we go to the Billboard On Board bar and the staff always ask if they can get us the same drink. It was this that out of 2000 passengers made us feel like we were the only ones. Ports and Shore Excursions: I will review each port with a very small snippet review Grand Turk: 3.7/5 Maybe it was the excursion we picked or I don't know but I feel like when I wasn't on the tropical island that was raved about. Instead I felt like we were on a small private island that was commercialized. I would recommend snorkeling!! Puerto Rico: 4.8/5 Such a nice island! I been hear many times and even coming back multiple times there is just so much to do. This is a location where you don't need to book an excursion and just walk around if you are able. St. Thomas: 4.9/5 This island was my ultimate favorite on this entire itinerary! The island is just beautiful every way you look at it. What I would recommend is booking a Jeep or car and exploring the island yourself. There is so much to see and do but with a car you can do what you want to do. Why I took off such a small amount is because I been planning for us to dock at a certain port (Havensight) for months and constantly checked daily and even the ports calendar said we would dock at a certain location. Up until the moment we arrived we docked at Crown Bay which took quite a bit of logistical planning to get to Havensight for our Jeep. I would definitely book come back here. Half Moon Cay: 2.7/5 Sigh...and breathe. Now that I got that over with let me write my review. Let me say that this port had my biggest expectation which may have swayed my review. When we arrived we were made aware that the Koningsdam and us were the two ships that were docked at this port this day. Side information is that Half Moon Cay is owned by Carnival as their private island. The Konsingsdam holds a good amount of passengers and our ship holds a good amount of passengers. The island just felt very overwhelming and I didn't find it relaxing at all. We booked a Clam Shell three months in advanced which is an umbrella with two chairs. Since our ship was delayed by an hour for a medical emergency (no fault to anyone, things happen) we found it very difficult to find a chair. Every person we went to told us to go somewhere else. Finally we found a clamshell in front of a very loud family. We just head back to the ship after being on the island for 2 hours. The food on the island was very good and the staff that pulled the meal off was very good! Other: The crew is what makes the ship a solid 10/10 as they work such long days and are always looking for ways to make you happy. We booked a Retreat Cabana for the At Sea days and Korn and Raymond work such long days but always had a smile. I would say the crew is what makes Nieuw Amsterdam the ship that it is. My very minor (is he really complaining about theses things?) complaint section: Some very minor things that didn't change my trip at all but I thought I could always add it below. - I found the bathrooms to be adequate size but the toilet seats to be very small. I am by no means a big guy being 5'7 and 145 pounds but they just seemed small. - There was no midnight buffets or late night dining options past 11:30pm except for room service. I wish they had a buffet at midnight or maybe a specialty snack station. But knowing the demographics of the ship maybe midnight really is too late. Read Less
13 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2018
The staff was the staff that answers your call from your credit card company. Staff: poor attitude, does the least Food: redundancy - bland, fried, salty, boxed, canned and not labeled with ingredients. Lots of nuts everywhere and ... Read More
The staff was the staff that answers your call from your credit card company. Staff: poor attitude, does the least Food: redundancy - bland, fried, salty, boxed, canned and not labeled with ingredients. Lots of nuts everywhere and same tongs for near multiple items. Food stations: salad bar, pasta bar & omlet bar: only one person one station and have you waiting for food for over 20 min. Why not add an additional station to actually accommodate guests? Salad bar was wilted and old veggies. Expreso bar: paid, also waiting Bartenders: no pep in the step to handle more than two people at the bar. Our bartender was 100 years old and working / sharing the same well with another bartender, so they would wait for each other to make drinks....so it was like having only one bartender, since there was another unused well in the same bar that could have been used to increase efficiency. They need a food & bev manager to regulate the staff, since they do whatever they want. One time we waited over 30 min to BUY our coffee from the expreso bar bc the front desk girls came up with an order for the front desk crew of 5 or 6 drinks. And they are on island time when it comes to tasks. Internet is per person in the room and is very expensive for being so crappy and it doesn’t disclose that it doesn’t work in all ports. Overall the staff really was bad. In attitude, in performance of job duties and in customer service. Read Less
11 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2018
Well, this is my 5th cruise, and 2nd time sailing Holland America and believe it or not, my second time on Ms Rotterdam. I had my first ever cruise with her and I loved it and had fond memories of the ship, however this time not so much. ... Read More
Well, this is my 5th cruise, and 2nd time sailing Holland America and believe it or not, my second time on Ms Rotterdam. I had my first ever cruise with her and I loved it and had fond memories of the ship, however this time not so much. I’ll try to just stick with the basics and facts. First, the cleanliness of our cabin was horrendous. One of the first things we had to do upon getting into our cabin was pee, and that’s where I noticed blood on the shower walls from my view whilst on the leu. After that, I entered the main cabin and lamented to my gf there was blood on the shower / tub from the previous guests and that’s where I noticed stained walls from what looked like dried Coke that had sprayed all over the walls behind the couch. And I mean all over, like how could you miss that cleaning crew. So we called to have our room cleaned and that led to a whole other incident where we were locked out of our cabin for 3 hrs. mind you we just got there, wanted to shower and change after a 10 hr flight. So it was not ideal right off the bat. The staff was very laid back about everything, and not in a good way. No hustle to get us situated (that will also come up later) During the process having to walk back and forth over 10 times to the front desk - to see if this key worked and if that key worked they finally resorted to call a locksmith that leasurley came 3 hrs later. Our toilets backed up daily and our room smelled like poop well because there was poop floating in our toilets that wouldn’t flush. At the first port I went to buy some Lysol wipes and wiped the cabin down myself. Being grossed out from everything upon arrival. The blackness that came off everything was nauseating: the phone, the switches, door handles, all black and filthy. I was trying to be a good sport and not complain bc it was my girlfriends first cruise and I wanted her to have a good time. But it just continued to disappoint. The food was not great. Everything was heavy, fried and very salty. The staff in the lido deck didn’t really interact with you and didn’t listen to any requests. Like go light with the salad dressing, they would drench the salad anyway and hand it over miffed and just want to move on to the next person. Customer service in all the food areas were bad, staff had a bad attitude and pretty much just lazy. they had lines at certain stations for 20 minutes or longer, when they had plenty of staff and should have made adjustments for the busier stations, like open another omlet section or salad station. So when having dinner with your companion that ate something different than you, they would be done with their meal by the time you got yours. Never saw any food managers, either. The only thing healthy was the salad bar and the lettuce was often the “last day of lettuce” if you know what I mean. So cleanliness- very poor, food not great, staff - pretty over it and other things like the internet package is 100 bucks for 5 days, but they don’t tell you the internet doesn’t work if you’re in the fjords (that happened to be about 24 hrs or more) and your guest in the cabin has to buy their own internet so it goes by person - definitely felt ripped off that - and when I told them they should have a disclaimer when buying the internet that it wouldn’t work docked in the fjord, she just looked at me like I was speaking another language and had this expression like “oh well” and didn’t do or say anything else. So. Customer service also pretty bad. All in all I was very disappointed with the “management” of the ship. The last thing they messed up was our debark- we didn’t receive luggage tags and had to get them from the long line at guest services. Then they were late delivering our luggage to the luggage drop off center and it caused us to miss our transport bus, that we had to now wait for another bus that in turn had us RUNNING to catch our flight. We debarked the ship at 7:45 am and had a 8:30 am bus, but had to take the 10:30 am bus. So while we waited and waited- we watched the luggage handlers just take their time like no one had anything else to do that day. Very disorganized and very over their “jobs”. New management and new crew ASAP. The ship itself had a lot of cool artwork, and I liked the “antique” vibe - but that’s the best thing I can say about the ship itself and Holland America. There were just a handful of delightful people that do work there with a smile on their face but it kinda sucks the 95% of the bad staff was so bad that those 5% don’t really get the review. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2018
This was a charter of a group I belong to. I had been on land vacations to Norway twice & enjoyed the country very much. Thought a cruise would be another way to experience it. The best way to see Norway is on a land vacation w/day ... Read More
This was a charter of a group I belong to. I had been on land vacations to Norway twice & enjoyed the country very much. Thought a cruise would be another way to experience it. The best way to see Norway is on a land vacation w/day trips to the fjords, not a cruise. We only did 4 ports, Bergen, which we did not get to see because of extreme rain & wind, Geirangerfjord, if you have done New Zealand’s fjords this is very similar scenery, and 2 smaller villages. Did two ship excursions which were expensive & not worth while. The best excursions were taking the tourist trains in the towns on your own. There was a ships tour to an acquairium which was a waste of time & money. The ships tour on a speed boat through the fjords was also a waste as you saw the same scenery as you did from the ship although closer. The staff was great, the food very good, room service great & free. We had an aft balcony, 7067. If you look on the ship’s deck plan it appears this is the 2nd room in. It is not. The space next to it is a stairwell which staff uses. Therefore the balcony is much larger than usual and you only have one room on one side of you. The room was quiet. Our charter had its own entertainment for the most part so cannot comment on that except to say, the Adiago violin & piano duo was really great each evening. The casino did not have any of the newer machines so was boring & did not pay out often. Read Less
11 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2018
We chose this cruise because we knew the Panama Canal is not something that many people get to see. We weren't disappointed in the cruise. She may have a few scratches here and there, but the ship is in great condition with cleaning ... Read More
We chose this cruise because we knew the Panama Canal is not something that many people get to see. We weren't disappointed in the cruise. She may have a few scratches here and there, but the ship is in great condition with cleaning and repair on-going but not in passengers' way. Weather was wonderful--not too hot or humid. Everyone said we had the best weather in the last couple of months. We were pleasantly surprised by the food. It was wonderful in all the venues. We only ate in the dining room twice because we prefer less time spent on dining and not dressing up every night. The Dive In had perfect hamburgers and chicken sandwiches. There was a taco bar that we used several times for taco salads. We got the salad bowl and lettuces from the Lido buffet. We also appreciated that there are servers--not everyone handles the utensils at the different areas. The quality was quite good as was the variety. I think I saw more actual variety at breakfast than I have on any other line I've sailed with. And, the Lido manager brought me a cherry crisp that I had seen on the dining room menu! Pasta bar was great. Many kinds of pasta and add ins were available. We had room 6129 on the Upper Verandah deck. Andri and his assistant did a wonderful job of cleaning, bringing ice, setting a mood for evening after dinner, and making towel animals. Zuiderdam is on the smaller side with 1800 passengers on our trip. I wasn't sure about the arrangement of the decks when I got on and started looking around. Guest services is on deck 1. But it all turned out well. We could get around quickly. I always like a promenade deck that goes all the way around. It was particularly nice for Canal viewing. The entertainment was amazing. I think it's best total package I've ever seen for entertainment. BB King's Blues Club, Billboard Onboard, comedian, classical entertainment, dancers and musicians, especially Steel Drum Island Magic, were all top notch as evidenced by the large audiences for each. America's Test Kitchen was interesting. The lecturers brought onboard for the ports and the Panama Canal were very informative. I'm not at all including the shopping guide. That, to me, is always a waste. All they want to sell is jewelry. Zuiderdam has a Navigator app for your phone to use. It's very handy to get around the ship, schedule your activities, and contact your family. I do wish it would ding though when you have a text. We booked all tours through Holland simply because I like the convenience and they cover what most all the tours do although with a bit more expense. For Bonaire and Curacao, the shopping areas closed early so there wasn't much time for browsing. A bit more time in port would be good. Bonaire was interesting for the salt flats and slave huts. I thought we would stop to see flamingos, but we didn't. We saw some but at a distance. Curacao is a beautiful area. Be sure to see the Kukunu Museum. The guides do a super job of showing you how the island functioned years ago. The town is beautiful. Be sure to go across or at least see the swinging bridge. Free wi-fi is hard to come by. We chose to stay on board at the Panama Canal. The long tours were more than we wanted to do this time, but I think we will make another trip and see the other side of Costa Rica. One tour was 3 hours late returning because the canal doesn't work on strict timing. All the deck areas were open to accommodate everyone who wanted to see what was going on. We got to see the sun come up over the canal. You'll want to get up early! I got off in Colon and walked about 3 blocks through a chain link tunnel to the "mall". There was a military helicopeter and a large police presence there. You'll want to stay onboard I think. Costa Rica was beautiful--another reason to go back so that we can see more of the island. We did the Rainforest Preserve. The rainforest is the most magnificent thing I've ever seen. I love the desert, beach and mountains, but the forest has to be seen to be believed. We did not see many animals which was a bit of a disappointment, another reason to go back. Be prepared to walk whichever tour you take. There's a great market at the port with many booths and crafts people. For sea days, there were many new movies in the room. There were many activities to attend and lots of deck chairs all over the ship to relax in. Shopping was all high end except for small things in the shop that sells candy, t shirts, etc. Why is there always so much high end shopping? Embarkation was pretty smooth. Rooms were ready by 12:30. We got on at 11:30 and had lunch. Debarkation was easy too. We paid $25 for Holland to collect our bags and get them to the airport and print our boarding passes. It was worth it. Hassle-free trip to the airport. Customs was 45 minutes--a long wait. If I could have gotten the Mobile Passport to work, we could have saved a lot of time. I'm not sure what the issue was. We will definitely choose Holland again. Read Less
9 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2018
For clarification - our cruise departed Ft. Lauderdale on 3/18 as a 10-day Southern Caribbean cruise and was actually the first leg of the 24-day cruise. We disembarked after the 10 days and did not continue on to Rome. We picked this ... Read More
For clarification - our cruise departed Ft. Lauderdale on 3/18 as a 10-day Southern Caribbean cruise and was actually the first leg of the 24-day cruise. We disembarked after the 10 days and did not continue on to Rome. We picked this cruise, in large part for the itinerary (Holland America/Carnival’s private island in the Bahamas, Grand Turk, Dominican Republic, Bonaire, Curacao and Aruba). were spectacular and were every bit as amazing and beautiful as we expected. Our poor customer service experience with Holland America began well before we ever got anywhere near the ship. We booked a full ocean-view veranda room. Roughly 2 weeks before our sail date, we received an email offering us an upgrade to a full ocean-view veranda room for a nominal sum (roughly $99 I think). I immediately called. The first person with whom I spoke was unpleasant at best. Needless to say, there was no upgrade available to a full ocean-view room since that's what we already had booked. It took another call and an eventual request to speak with a supervisor to confirm that we were in fact already booked for a full ocean-view room. It took another phone call on a separate day with a lengthy hold time to straighten out our transfer (they had the wrong airport listed on our documents even though they promised us on the phone that everything was correct in the system). I'm still not sure it was ever corrected but we were able to board the bus at the airport. In retrospect, I wish that were not the case. The treatment that we endured onboard for 10 days was horrendous. Over and over and over for the duration of our cruise, we dealt with blatant mistreatment. This was at the hands of the employees of the ship, from the lowest level staff in the dining areas all the way up to literally the ship’s captain. I can assume only that they were offended by an openly gay couple. Rather than bore you with the details of everything that we went through, I will give a couple of examples that illustrate what we experienced and how it impacted our trip. In the informal dining area (buffet style), you go through and get your food and then sit at any open table. The workers come through with pitchers of water, iced tea, etc. Almost without fail, we would watch as they would go to the tables all around us and bypass us. It became a running joke about which of us was going to go and get our drinks for the meal. On the 8 nights that we chose not to eat in the formal dining room (a whole other ordeal unto itself), we almost always chose to have food delivered to our room (from a very minimal menu) because it was simply less agonizing than going to the dining room. On the next to last full day of the cruise, there was an event called “Meet the Captain” (or something similar). I am keeping track of my personal nautical miles, and wanted to find out how many we would be covering on the cruise so we decided to go. The first part was a canned presentation. There was a short “ask the captain” portion at the end, where the audience could ask questions. Following that, a line formed to talk to the captain as well as the “hotel director” of the ship. After waiting in line for quite some time, I eventually got to the very front of the line for the captain. I was no more than 2 feet away from Captain Darrin Bowland. He didn’t look at me, acknowledge me, or speak to me. Instead, he had a conversation over my head with the man in line behind me. At first I thought that the man was perhaps one of the frequent cruisers and therefore knew the captain. Unfortunately, when they had finished their conversation, Captain Bowland continued not to acknowledge my presence and instead had another conversation with the next guest behind me. When this happened for the third time, I gave up. That really was the last straw for me. After 8+ days of being made to feel like second class citizens, to be so blatantly disrespected by the captain was infuriating, degrading and humiliating. If I could have gotten off the ship that day, I would have. Unfortunately, we were somewhere (I think) off the coast of Cuba so I had no options. Prior to getting on the ship, at the cruise terminal in Ft. Lauderdale, for some inexplicable reason, they had quite a large portion of the terminal blocked off. This led to several hundred people crammed into roughly 60% or so of a large room while we waited for them to begin calling our boarding groups. There were a LOT of chairs in the portion that was blocked off, while meanwhile literally dozens of people had to stand around for quite some time (from the time we arrived at the terminal until they even began calling the very first boarding group, there was a wait time of at least 45-60 minutes). There were many elderly and physically handicapped people waiting in the room. We went to one of the HAL personnel standing at the stanchions blocking off the section and were specifically told we could NOT sit on the other side of the room. Aside from that, once our boarding group was finally called and we were able to board the ship, we were able to go right to our state room even though it was before the time they said the rooms would be ready. Once we returned home (literally the day we got home), we got a survey from HAL. We answered it honestly. My other half received a very generic "we're sorry to hear about your bad experience but we have a no discrimination policy and treat everyone equally and fairly" email. I never heard back from anyone at all. I think it's pretty clear that I won't. Now for the good stuff. The ship, which is pretty new (2016? I think), was clean and obviously well-maintained. The room was smaller than some other ships we have been on and the bed was more uncomfortable than expected, but there were movies and TV shows (and some VERY limited music that no one born after 1910 has ever heard) that was available on demand. The bathrooms in the staterooms were very nice. The itinerary was great. The islands we went to were everything we expected and hoped for. We enjoy snorkeling, and found Bonaire, Aruba and Grand Turk (Bonaire in particular) to be amazing. The waterfall excursion (Damajaguas) in the Dominican Republic was one of the more unique experiences I have ever had and really enjoyed it. The gym onboard was comparable to other ships we've been on in terms of size, equipment and class offerings. There was a spin class available for $20. This seemed a little high to me, so we did not do that. Equipment was well-maintained and hours were good for the gym. There were a decent number of live entertainment options each night - a variety of types of shows in the main theater such as comedians, singing/dancing shows featuring the onboard talent etc. Pretty much what we expected there. In other areas of the ship, there was a blues-type band, a string quartet and live piano players that sang most nights. There was only one night where smoking was not allowed in the casino. There were several stores on board, selling jewelry, high-end watches, perfume and some other lower-priced items. With the exception of trivia, I found there were very few other options for entertainment, particularly if you weren't willing to pay to do things. The food was good, and there were plenty of options regardless of whether you were a picky eater, preferred a certain type of food or wanted to eat at a specific time of day. Food was available 24 hours a day, although options were limited during certain times of the day. Room service, while very limited as to the options, was completely free (no gratuity added as I have seen on some other lines for example). There was a mini fridge in the room, but you couldn't use it to store anything as HAL stocked booze etc that you could purchase. You can bring alcohol on, I think it was on 750-ml bottle of wine per person. The HAL literature says any bottles in excess of that are subject to an $18/bottle fee, although we didn't run into that issue. I think it's obvious that I will never again patronize HAL. This experience left such a bad taste in my mouth that not only will we never again set foot on a "dam" ship (Holland America's boats' names all end in "dam" - Koningsdam, Nieuw Amsterdam etc) again - we won't even consider Carnival since they're owned by the same parent company. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2018
I was on a 12 night cruise from New Zealand via Tasmania finishing up at Sydney Australia. The cruise was to include New Zealand North Island, New Zealand South Island, Tasmania, Melbourne and Sydney Australia. Embarkation in ... Read More
I was on a 12 night cruise from New Zealand via Tasmania finishing up at Sydney Australia. The cruise was to include New Zealand North Island, New Zealand South Island, Tasmania, Melbourne and Sydney Australia. Embarkation in Auckland was bad. Their boarding ramp broke and this added a few hours to the ordeal. Not a great start. The room (see below for cabin description) was very poor, dated and with quite a few issues. The ship itself was quite dated and in need of a lot of attention. Hit and miss on reception staff. I took pictures and videos which I presented to the reception staff who did a lot of nodding, agreed to do things and then didn't do anything. Needed constant chasing. That said, eventually one reception person did sort me out and was very good. (they are on shifts so quite hit and miss). I had also had a problem where my door didn't close at all. This was quickly sorted out. The other staff on the boat were very good (restaurant etc) and very friendly. I approached Holland America head office with these issues, offered to show them the evidence in the form of pictures and videos I took of the knocking noises, and of the poor customer service on the ship regarding this. They were not interested and all I got from them was a dismissive "Sorry you feel that way" type response, to quote them "extend our apologies if you feel their response was unacceptable". Very poor response. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2018
This review is for an Atlantis Events cruise from Auckland to Sydney with six stops on a Holland America ship, Noordam (built circa 2006). This was my first cruise. We chose this cruise because many of our friends have done them and speak ... Read More
This review is for an Atlantis Events cruise from Auckland to Sydney with six stops on a Holland America ship, Noordam (built circa 2006). This was my first cruise. We chose this cruise because many of our friends have done them and speak highly of their experiences. We spent two days in Auckland before departing to Gisborne, Wellington, Akaroa (Christchurch), Hobart (Tasmania), Melbourne and Sydney. Boarding problems delayed our departure, but before long we were on our way. Being my first cruise, I wasn't really aware of and didn't pay attention to the fact that we were circling an island for several hours after we left Auckland and I am still unsure why we changed course. Atlantis Events and/or Holland America diverted the ship from making the planned stop in Akaroa (Christchurch) due to weather. Hard for me to believe that since Akaroa is a protected harbor. If you look on a map, the cruise was to go from Wellington to Akaroa and then south around the south island of New Zealand. Instead, we were stuck for three days at sea while we lumbered along at a leisurely pace to keep on schedule (i.e., not get to Hobart before we were scheduled). This significant change in schedule was, in my estimation, unnecessary, and definitely infuriating. The change in course lead to Holland America and/or Atlantis Events saving tens of thousands of dollars in fuel. We didn't get so much as a credit toward a future cruise. Keep in mind that many of the staff on the ship were lovely. Very attentive, happy to help and genuinely appeared to enjoy their jobs. Most were from Indonesia and the Philippines, and they were outstanding. Unfortunately, there were 20-25% of the employees that absolutely hated their job (or hated us). You could tell because they didn't smile, make eye contact or go beyond the minimum of what they were required. I have heard for years about how great the food is on cruises. Not being someone who enjoys eating large amounts of food (read, all-you-can-eat buffets), I wanted quality over quantity. I also don't eat a lot of meat, but there were plenty of hunks of unknown meats under heat lamps that didn't look particularly appetizing. The salad bar (not self-serve) on our cruise was ALWAYS busy and very understaffed. It was frustrating. You could go to a sit-down restaurant with table service (rather than the buffet-style food served on the lido deck), but this food was only marginally better. There was, of course, the extra-special option of going to a restaurant and actually paying for a high-end meal. Since I wasn't impressed with the food on the lido deck or the sit-down restaurant, I didn't bother. The number of deafeningly loud announcements through over-driven speakers by the crew at all hours was very disrupting and usually sounded like the adults on Peanuts. I felt like an announcement that loud should have been left for "abandon ship!" instead of "we're having a sale on (overpriced) watches on the lido deck" or whatever equally silly announcement they were making. It was ridiculous. The 'drinking' water on this ship tasted like it had been stored in a plastic container in the sun for a day or two, making it taste horrible. The upside was that we could drink the four $5 bottles of water (12 oz) left in our room every day when attendants came in to make our bed. If you're a coffee drinker, you'll need to lower your expectations considerably since the swill they served for coffee made instant coffee taste like Italian espresso, but you can go to their 'espresso bar' and pay $4.50 for a latte, so you aren't totally screwed. If you ask me, it takes a lot of chutzpah to provide undrinkable water and coffee, and then essentially force you to pay their outrageously over-priced bottled water and coffee. In the end, we paid an outrageous $1,354--almost all in drinks and one $100 bottle of wine for my birthday dinner. Holland America also enjoys using only US Dollars as its onboard currency and does not recognize the currency of those countries whose ports they frequent, so you won't enjoy any 'deals' on exchange rates. Buyer/cruiser beware! Take note of the year your ship was built. Read recent reviews of it so you know what you're getting yourself into. Ultimately, I don't think I would ever do another Atlantis Events cruise, and I would NEVER do another Holland America given this experience. Good luck! Read Less
Already Booked?

Get to know who you’ll be sailing with

Find a Cruise

Email me when prices drop