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213 Holland America Hawaii Cruise Reviews

The Holland America Eurodam is as old-fashioned a cruise ship as they come--with 3 "gala" nights with quite a few tuxedos in evidence on a 17-night cruise, with the towel animals and the chocolate buffet if you want them, and ... Read More
The Holland America Eurodam is as old-fashioned a cruise ship as they come--with 3 "gala" nights with quite a few tuxedos in evidence on a 17-night cruise, with the towel animals and the chocolate buffet if you want them, and with mostly senior cruisers at this time of year and on a cruise this length. But for those with a love of old-style cruising, the itineraries and the value really can't be beat. The Eurodam loses points for an interminably long line for check-in in San Diego (disembarkation was much more efficient) and for virtually no welcoming ritual (no champagne) but after that initial disappointment, what's not to like? Excellent food in the dining room and, for an extra price, at Tamarind, the Asian-fusion specialty restaurant--and good food, too, and lots of choices in the Lido buffet (once you figure out the times to come so you don't have to search relentlessly for an empty table). The staff is mostly Filipino and Indonesian and always smiling and eager to please; what pleased us most is that they truly seemed to be enjoying themselves and each other and took much pride in whatever task they took on. The public areas have recently been renovated are are quite glamorous--and we appreciated the vintage cruise ship photographs on the walls, the tasteful art (especially the stunning Bas Sebus print in our verandah cabin), and the many musical choices for listening. This wasn't a cruise of fervent dancers, but we could have danced every night ("Mustang Sally" to "Uptown Funk") at the fabulous BB King Blues Club. Our favorite things about this cruise were the two astonishing dance and light show performances by One Step Dance Company, truly, the most spectacular productions we've seen in more than 15 cruises and the superb culinary talks/demonstrations by the American Test Kitchen host Annette. No alcohol, or even bottled water, is included so bar tabs can quickly mount, but if you only want a glass or two of wine at dinner, drinks by the glass are probably the way to go. We signed up for free-style dining and, once we learned the right time to come, never had to wait for a table for two. This was a truly enjoyable, relaxing--and delicious--time. And we loved all those sea days! Read Less
Sail Date February 2019
DINING: We ate in the main dining room every night but one. The service was excellent and the food was outstanding! My husband was a huge fan of the french onion soup. We ate at the Pinnacle Grill one night and were disappointed. The ... Read More
DINING: We ate in the main dining room every night but one. The service was excellent and the food was outstanding! My husband was a huge fan of the french onion soup. We ate at the Pinnacle Grill one night and were disappointed. The food was okay (we both had crab legs) but it took a little over three hours for the meal and we never did get one of our sides. We cancelled a second reservation we had made for later in the cruise. The Lido buffet was great for breakfast. After the first couple of days, we figured out the perfect time to go so that it wasn't too crowded. Ate at the Dive In for lunch one day. Good burger and yummy fries. Most other days we just snacked a little for lunch. ENTERTAINMENT: Better than I was expecting. The Main Stage had two big production shows, plus a sneak peak on the first night of the cruise. The Billboard Top 100 show was very good. We did not attend the 1000 Steps dance show. There were several comedians, all pretty good (Bud Anderson was our favorite). Tom Franek, a pianist/comedian, was outstanding. We went to both of his shows. Mike Robinson was a great ventriloquist. We also saw him twice. The This is Aloha show when we were in Honolulu was very good and the crew show was nice. Our favorite entertainment was Lincoln Center Stage and B.B Kings. I was very impressed with the caliber of musicians at Lincoln Center Stage. We were at B.B. Kings every night they performed. Talk about talented!!! We did not care for the Billboard On Board performances. One of the pianist/singers was pretty good, but the other one was awful. I have two music degrees and taught music for many years, and I just could not listen to him, he was so off pitch. ACTIVITIES: Loved the Hawaiian ambassadors. The talks and crafts were great. Went to many of the talks and enjoyed them very much. We played trivia often (my husband enjoyed the music trivia and won several pins) and we played Bingo. I actually won! We also enjoyed some time in the casino. Walked almost every morning and I participated in the On Deck for a Cause 5K. SPA: I had a manicure, pedicure, and massage. The ladies were great. I felt no pressure to buy anything. SERVICE: Asst cruise director Erica was very nice. Good sense of humor. The shopping ambassador (can't remember her name) was personable and we saw her several times in port. Aimee in the Billboard lounge waited on us each time we went to happy hour and was as sweet as could be. Stewards Komar and Yusep were great. Enrique in the Lido buffet was a hoot. Really had outstanding service from everyone we encountered. HAWAII: what can I say? It was our first trip and we will definitely go back. I scheduled all of our tours through HAL since I was unfamiliar with the ports. We may branch out on our own next time, especially in Honolulu. There was only one tour guide we didn't care for, but overall, each excursion was great. We mainly chose "overview" type excursions so that we could see as much as possible. Most of them were in small groups, thank goodness! I don't mind sharing information if anyone wants to contact me about a specific port. SHIP: LOVED the Eurodam. The size was perfect and it was just beautiful! Would definitely sail on her again. Overall, this cruise met or exceeded all of my expectations. We will definitely be doing this cruise again!!!!! Read Less
Sail Date November 2018
The ship is not new, but in good condition. Very beautiful design. Light colors in the interior visually increase the room. Paintings, fresh flowers, ship models adorn public spaces. Good service, friendly staff. Great breakfast. I love ... Read More
The ship is not new, but in good condition. Very beautiful design. Light colors in the interior visually increase the room. Paintings, fresh flowers, ship models adorn public spaces. Good service, friendly staff. Great breakfast. I love fresh berries, cottage cheese, pate, salted salmon. I have had many cruises, but HAL breakfasts are the best in my experience. In general, I liked the food on the ship. In the buffet and in the restaurant. I would like to mention the excellent cheese plate and carpaccio from what I still love. There is a pool with a retractable roof. It is very convenient for routes that have many days at sea and climate change. There is a circular walking platform. Very nice to admire the sea. You can walk, and you can sit. From the attractions I liked learning how to weave lei from orchids. Sports activities include table tennis and a basketball court. In the new ships of other companies, the choice is better. There is a free sauna, but it is very small. I enjoyed the journey on this ship as a whole. It is a pity that it was so short. Read Less
Sail Date September 2018
picked this cruise because of start and finish in Vancouver rather than flying one way. 99% of passengers were retired, staff were very attentive, dining menus were varied. went to Rudy's Sel De Mer one evening , the meal was ... Read More
picked this cruise because of start and finish in Vancouver rather than flying one way. 99% of passengers were retired, staff were very attentive, dining menus were varied. went to Rudy's Sel De Mer one evening , the meal was excellent as was the waitress, only fault was that we felt rushed when the entree came minutes after the appitisers. After asking the waitress to slow down dessert came when we wanted it. cabin 6085 was a signature suite with tub and shower stall, the hot water control and the shower diverter in the tub was not working when we boarded but was fixed shortly after telling stateroom attendant. embarking and disembarking was a breeze. Our luggage was at our cabin within an hour of boarding. overall the cruise was great, weather to and from Hawaii was not good. i would recommend Holland America. in fact we are doing a transpacific cruise on the Noordam. Read Less
Sail Date April 2018
Hawaii was nice but the Eurodam itself was the true destination. The ship is beautiful. The food is great. The specialty restaurants are outstanding. The variety and quality of musical venues on Music Walk is wonderful with something ... Read More
Hawaii was nice but the Eurodam itself was the true destination. The ship is beautiful. The food is great. The specialty restaurants are outstanding. The variety and quality of musical venues on Music Walk is wonderful with something for everyone. The dual piano players with Billboard Onboard was my personal favorite. The crew was exceptional from John Scott the captain who entertained us every day with the origin of nautical based expressions such as between the devil and the deep blue sea, Nick the delightful Cruise Director, and all the way down the chain of command. The entire crew was relaxed and happy and eager to help. I booked the last Alaska cruise of the season and stayed on the Eurodam through Hawaii for a total of 24 days. Anyone who doesn't like to leave home for a 7 day cruise should consider combining these two destinations as a "collector's voyage" some year. Read Less
Sail Date September 2017
We had only taken a 6 day cruise to the Bahamas previously, so felt we were really stepping out to do an 18 day cruise. First of all, we could not praise our room steward, Aziz, and his partner Dan enough. They were friendly, competent, ... Read More
We had only taken a 6 day cruise to the Bahamas previously, so felt we were really stepping out to do an 18 day cruise. First of all, we could not praise our room steward, Aziz, and his partner Dan enough. They were friendly, competent, & personable. Our verandah suite was comfy with even more storage than we needed. It seemed we were always eating! While some of the lunches & dinners in Lido were "so-so" (and I'd agree that the fish was overcooked on several occasions), the breakfasts and desserts were top-notch! We also enjoyed the Dive-In and the taco bar. We ate at Pinnacle Grill for lunch which was good but, again, the dessert was the star of the show. We found the dining room to be too formal for our more casual selves at dinner but had good breakfasts there on several occasions. It was a treat to order room-service coffee every morning which arrived minutes after the order was placed. The room-service lunches were also excellent. We're now missing soft-serve ice cream and our nightly cookie snack! Since we had relatives to tour us around Oahu for two days (Punchbowl, USS Arizona, Buddhist temple, blowholes and more, plus a wonderful time at the Polynesian Cultural Center including a luau and the evening show), we skipped a shore excursion in Kauai, preferring to shop & lay on the beach. Our whale watch in Lahaina was fun. We could not get as close to the whales as we do on whale watches in Boston, but the flip side is that we saw so many...and some only 200 feet or so from our balcony on the ship! We did the submarine dive in Kona (fun!) and had a wonderful naturalist, Kent, for a tour of waterfalls, a lava tube cave & black sand beach on Hilo. That excursion was enhanced by Kent's sharing his exceptional knowledge about Hawaiian shrubs, trees, flowers, and animals. And I enjoyed seeing my first mongoose in the wild! Probably the biggest thrill was viewing the bright orange lava and plumes of steam from the active volcano under a cloudless, star-studded sky at midnight from our verandah. A forever memory! We attended the John Denver tribute show which was excellent! We also enjoyed the Westerdam singers and dancers, as well as the crew show. We devoted a few afternoons to sitting by the pool with margaritas and beer. I might have worked off a few cruise calories participating in the On Deck for a Cause walk--cold and overcast on several of the days back but then you can't change the weather. And I took two hula classes on-deck! The friendliness, work ethic, and helpfulness of the crew cannot be over-emphasized--they were fantastic! As we were waiting to depart Ensenada for San Diego, I enjoyed watching all the glittering lights on the hillsides...and seeing the crew straggle back by ones, twos, and threes from a night in town--I was glad they got some free time after all their hard work! The entire cruise was a great experience. We had so much fun and all our friends are envious. ;) We would do it again in a heartbeat. Read Less
Sail Date February 2017
My mom and I booked this cruise through Craft Cruises as a knitting cruise - so we didn't specifically choose this ship, it just happened to be the ship and the itinerary associated with the craft trip. Having said that, HAL exceeded ... Read More
My mom and I booked this cruise through Craft Cruises as a knitting cruise - so we didn't specifically choose this ship, it just happened to be the ship and the itinerary associated with the craft trip. Having said that, HAL exceeded my expectations in every way. I've cruised with NCL, Disney, and Cunard, but this was my first time with HAL; HAL is now my favorite line (maybe tied with Disney). The food and service, especially, were excellent. I'm a vegetarian, and I enjoy cooking and eating exotic / gourmet food. I was particularly impressed with the variety of vegetarian options in the MDR. When we booked, I was concerned because the Westerdam is due to be overhauled next month. So I was particularly impressed that the ship seemed to be in excellent shape, no more worn or dirty than any other ship I've cruised. Because we had knitting classes each sea day, and other group activities, I didn't get to try out any of the ship's entertainment or enrichment activities. I did visit the spa several times, and it was comparable to most other ships. I would absolutely sail with HAL again, and in particular, I'd love to see the Westerdam after it's overhaul. Read Less
Sail Date February 2017
We've been sailing with HAL since 1978 and the food, service and entertainment were excellent. We did not sail on the 24 day collectors voyage but only the 17 day San Diego to Hawaii and back to San Diego leg. It was a wonderful ... Read More
We've been sailing with HAL since 1978 and the food, service and entertainment were excellent. We did not sail on the 24 day collectors voyage but only the 17 day San Diego to Hawaii and back to San Diego leg. It was a wonderful vacation especially with the Hawaiian Troupe that was brought on ship from San Diego to Hilo. They were terrific entertainers and crafts people. We did have a few small problems that when brought to the attention of the Front Office, were fixed immediately. We met wonderful people, ate delicious food that was served with not just one smile, but many smiles and were eager to please us in any way they could. The people who complained about service and food on this ship complained about EVERYTHING. - there was just no pleasing them. I ran across one passenger who complained that one of the doors in the lido was put in the wrong place and was upsetting her. Need I say more? We ate breakfast in the dining room and the lido, lunch in the lido, had tea in the afternoon and dinner in the dining room and also both restaurants. The food everywhere was delicious with hot things hot and cold items cold. They were presented beautifully by wonderful staff, some of the best we've ever had. The only (negative?) comment I have is I would not know the Captain if I fell over him! He was only known to me by his voice over the PA system and not physically present around the ship, or introduced at the beginning of the cruise with his staff as on prior cruises. Read Less
Sail Date January 2017
While the Westerdam is not one of the newest ship of the fleet, it certainly is one of the friendliest! The staff and crew were unbelievably wonderful and made us feel like family. We chose this particular voyage because there were ... Read More
While the Westerdam is not one of the newest ship of the fleet, it certainly is one of the friendliest! The staff and crew were unbelievably wonderful and made us feel like family. We chose this particular voyage because there were multiple days at sea and the Hawaiian destination. Due to bad weather, our itinerary was changed, but the Captain took advantage of it by allowing us to see the volcano up close (relatively speaking). Probably the best food we've had on any HAL cruise we been on, and generous portions. The new Test Kitchen was a real plus for me...not only in attending presentations, but also in participating in a hands-on class. The Hawaiian 'ambassadors' on hand were excellent!!! I learned on to play the ukulele, make a fresh lei, and make two different bracelets. These ambassadors also taught passengers how to hula. The four-person team also did a number of presentations. I cannot say enough positive things about that team! As always, the ship's singers and dancers were excellent and I felt that they use more technology in their shows which made them even more fun. The Filipino and Indonesian crews worked very hard on their shows, but I have to say, the Indonesian one was a riot! While excellent talent, it was the humor that stoled the show. My only complaint of the cruise was having to use the ferries in Cablo San Lucas along with HAL tenders. I didn't think the Cablo pilots were as careful. Going in and out of San Diego is a breeze. With the cruise terminal so close to everything, passengers can easily get from one place to another. Read Less
Sail Date January 2017
SWe had a nice trip to Hawaii. Be ready for a long time at Sea. We were busy in the carvers room as we joined on in a carvers group. However, I think there is enough to keep one busy on this ship. It has a nice active schedule for ... Read More
SWe had a nice trip to Hawaii. Be ready for a long time at Sea. We were busy in the carvers room as we joined on in a carvers group. However, I think there is enough to keep one busy on this ship. It has a nice active schedule for everyone. This was not a trip for children as we saw only about 4 total on the adventure. Although I am sure they enjoyed their excursions in Hawaii. You might have to do your own plans as the ship was lacking in the excursion category. Ricky's Tour in Hilo was great for getting to see that area and the Volcano also. If you have time go to Paradise Cove for that dinner and show. Their bus will take you back to the port. You have to take a taxi to the Mona Loa Hotel for starters but that went well also. That bus reserved us four seats in front. So kind of them and easy for our journey. This was all done before .we left the states. Our Pacific Whale Watch we booked before hand too. We had to change the date due to our ship changing ports but that went well. The Whale watch on the ships excursions was cancelled all together. The weather was fine... A little work on your own and you should enjoy the islands. Although I always find one day is not enough for exploring. We'd change the food choices to more Italian and American foods The ship is gorgeous and the rooms were fine, beds also. Our Stewards were fantastic and knew our names. Fun and friendly ship and people. Read Less
Sail Date January 2017
The 17 day cruise to Hawaii was wonderful. It was the first time my wife and I have ever cruised and we both loved it. The staff of the Amsterdam could not have been nicer, more helpful and just as friendly as could be. The food was ... Read More
The 17 day cruise to Hawaii was wonderful. It was the first time my wife and I have ever cruised and we both loved it. The staff of the Amsterdam could not have been nicer, more helpful and just as friendly as could be. The food was always good, with a great selection. The Captain even changed his route to enable us to see the lave flow into the sea at night. The whole package was great! The housekeeping staff kept the room perfect, with chocolates and towel animals every evening and fruit during the day. They also knew our names after the first day. The Staff at the Ocean Bar treated us like family and knew what we were drinking before we sat down. One night one of our waiters made paper flowers for all the women in our group. Entertainment and activities were really very well done and if any one was bored on this cruise it was their own fault. Read Less
Sail Date December 2016
This was our second cruise out of San Diego, and embarkation went very well both times. Disembarkation went well, although it is a long walk to the street, where you have to go if you are using Uber rather than one of the taxis or ... Read More
This was our second cruise out of San Diego, and embarkation went very well both times. Disembarkation went well, although it is a long walk to the street, where you have to go if you are using Uber rather than one of the taxis or shuttles at the pier. We never go to shows on cruises, so I can't comment on those. Food and service in the main dining room was good. Not great, but good. While the menu always had several delicious-sounding appetizers and desserts, more often than not they were seriously under-seasoned for our tastes. On the other hand, the meat, fish, and fowl were always cooked perfectly and were juicy and tender. On the one night they had surf and turf, my wife had two of the 5-ounce lobster tails rather and a filet with her lobster. She was happy! I quickly learned to request a "double order" of any appetizer that looked particular good, because with the exception of the soups the appetizer portions were tiny. One thing I did not like was the way the dining room staff aggressively tried to insist that we order our dessert at the same time we ordered the rest of our meals. We usually did not want dessert by the time we finished our entrees, and if we did we could order them at that time. It may not come as quickly, but it was better than throwing away food we didn't want. We ate most of our breakfasts in the Lido, preferring the cooked-to-order dishes there to the same thing cooked centrally and brought to the tables in batches some time later in the main dining room. The same for lunch. We ate almost all our dinners in the main dining room. Keep in mind that you can order room service from the main dining room menu, not just from the room service menu. It costs nothing, and if you don't feel like dressing up you can have the "gala night" food in your jammies! We never had trouble finding a place to sit without snuggling up to other passengers in the Lido. One thing that made breakfast easier there was that we brought our own trays (purchased at a thrift store). That made it possible to carry our entrees (milk and cereal in my case), coffee, juice, fruit, bread, etc. to the table in one trip rather than four. We ate dinner in the Pinnacle Grill twice. It was $35 each, plus an additional $20 for the 12-ounce lobster tail that my wife ordered one night. The rib-eye steak I had there was unremarkable, but the king crab legs and lobster were superb. The crab legs were on the menu there every night. We did not go on any excursions but I had reserved a car in every port except Kona and Ensenada, so we explored the islands on our own. It was a great choice. The one caveat I have: the rental center in Lahaina (Maui) for National/Enterprise/Alamo runs its last shuttle back to the ship at 4:00 PM and will take only one driver and one passenger from each party on that trip. Since our ship wasn't leaving until 7:30, we just put the car keys in the key drop and took an Uber back to the ship at the end of the day. Service on the ship was excellent. With the exception of the wine attendants, we never had the impression that they were simply trolling for end-of-cruise tips. (Nevertheless, we did tip the wine attendants, because they gave good service in additional to pretending to be our long-lost friends.) The cabin attendants, room service staff, telephone staff, dining room and Lido staff, and everybody else we encountered did a terrific job. The ship itself was in very good condition. Nothing seems worn, tattered, rusty, or broken. My wife spent most of her time on the balcony of our cabin, while I was usually wandering from public area to public area, reading. There are a number of areas, in addition to the Explorations Cafe, that have chairs that are quite comfortable for extended periods of watching the ocean go by with a book. I was in the Fitness Center early most mornings, looking for a treadmill. On three occasions there were no treadmills available, but 3.5 laps around the Lower Promenade was one mile, so if a machine wasn't available I could get my walk done in the great outdoors. I'm sure our next cruise will be on HAL. Read Less
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 ... 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
Sail Date December 2016
We had the most marvelous vacation from start to finish. We purchased a parking spot from the Westin Hotel across from the Amsterdam, and we literally walked across the street to board the ship. Embarkation was smooth and efficient, which ... Read More
We had the most marvelous vacation from start to finish. We purchased a parking spot from the Westin Hotel across from the Amsterdam, and we literally walked across the street to board the ship. Embarkation was smooth and efficient, which foretold of the good things to come. Our cabin was ready for us at 11:30--a pleasant surprise, as we have not had access to our cabin this early on other cruises. We spent the day enjoying lunch and exploring the various venues on the ship. Luggage arrived by 1:00, and we were able to unpack and get settled in to our interior cabin on the Lower Promenade Deck. Our stateroom was cozy and comfortable and we had good service. We were close to an exterior doorway, so were able to go outside to walk or relax whenever we wanted. We chose the 'As You Like' dining option, and after the first night of sitting together with a group, we opted to ask for a table for 2, because we were on a romantic getaway. We ended up loving our servers, so we set a standing reservation for our table at 7pm. After the first evening, we were greeted by name, the stewards knew our special request (a glass of milk!), and treated us like royalty! The Assistant Dining Manager made sure to speak with us every evening, and we eventually shared stories of our families and life outside the ship. The entertainment was top-notch, professional and varied. Be sure to go to every show and take advantage of the behind-the scenes tours. The singers and dancers were excellent in the production shows! We also enjoyed the culinary shows each day, and took a cooking class with the chef. After the 3 course cooking class, he then prepared the same meal for us in the Pinnacle Dining Room. What a wonderful experience! My husband attended all of the computer classes, and I really enjoyed getting the puzzle pages and reading the newspapers each day in various languages. The bar/entertainment venues had superb and varied entertainers, from classical to jazz to rock and disco. Oh yes, and there were movies each day in the theater--excellent! We kept as busy as we wanted to be! I also participated in the various Hawaiian activities, from learning a bit of the language to making an orchid lei, to learning the hula and how to play the ukelele. We attended the talks about the various ports and the history of Hawaii, which made us feel more prepared for our first time in the islands. We did not buy any shore excursions, but rather rented cars (very cheaply!) and explored on our own. Hawaii was beautiful and lush and everything we had hoped for. Our favorite island was Kauai, where we drove up to Hanalei and watched the surfers. The captain also treated us to an up close view at night of the flowing lava at the southern tip of Hawaii--amazing! Again, we can't stress how great the service was on the Amsterdam. Every staff member has been impeccably trained and you can tell that they truly enjoy people. Service is why we will be back! Read Less
Sail Date December 2016
We chose this cruise not only because we hadn't cruised to Hawaii before, but also to find out what it was like to be at sea for two 5 day periods while taking a 5 day break in the middle to explore the Hawaiian Islands. And then to ... Read More
We chose this cruise not only because we hadn't cruised to Hawaii before, but also to find out what it was like to be at sea for two 5 day periods while taking a 5 day break in the middle to explore the Hawaiian Islands. And then to top it off, we got an upsell to a Neptune Suite which allowed us to determine if the additional cost was worth the upgrade. The two 5 day periods at sea: Let me first say, we do not sit around the pool all day or read books on a cruise. What WE like to do when there is down time and have a DVD player in the room is watch Dallas and we watched 2+ seasons while on this cruise. That should tell you there really wasn't a lot of fun "game-like" things to do during the day. Our days, besides eating and walking 2 miles around the promenade, included going to the 10 am and 2 pm lectures. Then we would go back to our room and watch a few episodes of Dallas. Afterwards, we would see if there was anything going on that interested us before going to dinner at 5:30. After dinner, we learned quickly that if you wanted to get a good seat for the early show, you'd better get there at least 45 minutes in advance. After the show, we would head back to the room, watch a couple more episodes and then it was time for bed. Now, for some of you partiers, that might sound like a boring day, but for us it was very peaceful and relaxing and have come to the conclusion that we will have no problem with longer transpacific and transatlantic cruises. Now, if there isn't a DVD player in the room on any of those longer cruises, we'll figure out something to pass the time. The main thing we're taking away from the 5 sea days in-a-row experience is that it's very relaxing and something to look forward to. The Hawaiian Islands: Had a lot of fun, went on a bunch of "around the island" excursions, and can now say we've been to the Hawaiian Islands. I wouldn't say it was better than cruising the Galapagos, Alaska or Australia and New Zealand, but we had fun and that's the main thing. Neptune Suite: This is the second Neptune Suite we stayed in as an upsell and we're now pretty convinced it will be our last unless some great deal comes along. Yes, we liked eating breakfast in the Pinnacle Grill every morning, but the Lido breakfasts may not be as good, but they are close enough. The blueberry muffins were definitely more moist in the PG. The Neptune Lounge definitely had some tasty chocolates and cookies, but that pretty much is the extent of the perks we used. We found the concierge service to be helpful but nothing we couldn't do ourselves. So the big perk was the large room with a big balcony. That was pretty cool, but since we usually book a vista suite and are quite comfortable in them, the extra space was just that, extra space. None of which was worth the extra $2,300 we paid to upgrade. But, that's just us. Some folks really love the Neptune suites and like the extra amenities that come with them. Read Less
Sail Date November 2016
We enjoyed this 18 day cruise to Hawaii and back, the longest cruise we've taken. There were five sea days in each direction, a great time to relax and explore the ship. Our veranda cabin was spacious with plenty of storage and a ... Read More
We enjoyed this 18 day cruise to Hawaii and back, the longest cruise we've taken. There were five sea days in each direction, a great time to relax and explore the ship. Our veranda cabin was spacious with plenty of storage and a good size bathroom with a bathtub and shower. Our room stewards kept it clean and supplied with plenty of big towels and ice. All the staff we encountered were smiling and polite and helpful when needed. The food in both the Lido buffet and the main dining room was varied, fresh and tasty. Most evenings I opted for grilled fish and was offered a variety during the week. We had fresh wild salmon after leaving Seattle and whole mahi mahi were brought on board in Hawaii and butchered on deck, by the pool, then grilled for lunch, served with a tossed to order Caesar salad. Another on deck meal was an evening luau with whole roast pigs in the Hawaiian manner and a buffet of side dishes, grilled fish, ribs, chicken and more served under the stars. There was a separate table covered with a wide array of exotic tropical fruits to try. The chefs made an effort to impress us with good food every day starting with a wide selection of breakfast choices, including many freshly baked pastries and breads. The ship is 12 years old but very well maintained, with many attractive public rooms, bars and entertainment venues. We especially liked the BBKing Blues Club with 2 or 3 shows five nights a week, all different. Six talented musicians and two talented singers put on a high energy performance every time. The four island stops were varied and gave a nice taste of Hawaii. We especially liked the tour to the Volcano National Park to see an active eruption from the rim of a crater. We also enjoyed the impressive Waimea Canyon visit to the scenic Grand Canyon of the Pacific. We recommend HAL and the WESTERDAM for a relaxing vacation at sea. Read Less
Sail Date October 2016
The Rock and Roll Cruise Major crew members Mark Rowden – Captain Sarah Koster-Claxton – Cruise Director Christina - Culinary Director Jake - Show Host I have taken one cruise on Holland America back in 2004 to ... Read More
The Rock and Roll Cruise Major crew members Mark Rowden – Captain Sarah Koster-Claxton – Cruise Director Christina - Culinary Director Jake - Show Host I have taken one cruise on Holland America back in 2004 to Alaska on the Old Statendam. This trip to Hawaii will complete a bucket list item - vacationing in all 50 states. A note about me – I am a solo cruiser, retired from teaching and usually a road tripper (not an option for Hawaii as I do not like long plane rides). I love to learn about and see the varied landscapes that can be experienced within the USA. A 16 day cruise with 10 sea days to relax sounded just to my liking, I could read, enjoy the ship, and just relax for 2/3 of the trip with 5 days of port activities. I splurged for a balcony (5063) to enjoy watching the sea go by and see the shorelines as we traveled around the islands. Embarkation Day I stayed in the Pan Pacific hotel in Vancouver the night before embarkation, got upgraded to a one-bedroom suite with a fantastic view. In the morning I looked out the window to see the Westerdam docked below me. The hotel took care of my luggage to the ship. I went to the terminal about 11:00 AM and found hundreds of people waiting. There was a mix-up with immigration, the people who had taken the 1 night trip from Seattle to Vancouver had to leave the ship and be rechecked. This made for a big back log however HAL put out hundreds of chairs and everyone who wanted was able to sit while they worked out the problem. It took about 45 minutes. Once they were able to start the check-in process again HAL was very smart and took the people row by row so there was no long time standing in line and many apologies to the passengers. My cabin was ready on embarkation and I went to the dining room for the Mariner champagne lunch. After lunch my luggage was in the room. I spent the time before the safety muster unpacking, getting familiar with the cabin, and stewards Rifqi & Ron. I did request my ice bucket be filled every day. I should have asked how the balcony door worked as it took me several tries to get it open. There was a mini-fridge with room for me to store my water. The bathroom was about the same size as the one I have at home so it was a good fit. The muster drill took about 30 minutes. The crew members assigned to lifeboat #5 make the wait enjoyable. I use a cane for stability and was asked several times if I wanted a chair brought out, but I leaned against the wall and things were fine. Dinner was in the main dining room, I had open seating. I was with two couples, we had a pleasant conversation. I was very pleased that the dietary restrictions I had requested were noted, they had a special dinner ready for my. It was very good and followed my requests. The evening show was a brief overview of the trip with a few numbers by the Westerdam entertainers and Rod Long, a comedian, who was very funny. I will try to catch his show one night in the Queen’s Lounge. With the time change I was very tired after the show, it was 9:00 PM on the ship but 11:00 PM Alabama time so I was ready for bed. There was a time change at 2:00 AM so an extra hour of sleep was coming. Knowing I usually wake up early I ordered room service breakfast for 6:00 – 6:30 AM delivery. Monday 10/3/16 1st full Sea Day This morning I was awakened by the room steward delivering my breakfast at 6:15 AM. Guess tomorrow I need to order for later delivery. The seas are very rough today, lots of pitching and movement back and forth. No sea sickness for me, but keeping my footing has been somewhat difficult. Captain Mark hopes we will be in better water tomorrow. There are a lot of my fellow passengers who appear have been too long in the bar, we are all a little wobbly. Mostly overcast skies with occasional breaks of sunshine. I attended the 9:00 AM Good Morning Westerdam Show with Cruise Director Sarah. Each sea day morning she will interview a crew member and discuss what is happening on the ship that day. It was a great way to spend an hour, have a cup of coffee, and learn something. Team Trivia was before lunch. I played with a Cruise Critic team, we didn’t win. I went to lunch in the Lido buffet, a salad and roll. The salad bowls would hold about 10 cups of salad if you had them filled up. This lunch produced a very interesting discussion. Two couples and me. One couple was English the other was Dutch now Americans. They had interesting views on our elections and government actions. Why Trump is resounding with so many people and the role third party candidates may play in the eventual outcome. These types of conversations are a main reason I enjoy traveling solo. There is always someone interesting to talk to. You need to keep up with current events to hold your own but that is also part of the fun in meeting new people. The ship is moving so much the waves in the lido pool are making it real splashy, but lots of fun for the few kids on board. In the afternoon I had two activities planned: a ukulele lesson, learning Little Grass Shack and some history of the Ukulele and an introduction to the Hawaiian language. The onboard location entertainers were very, very good. At 3:00 PM I enjoyed the movie Independence Day – Resurgence in the Queens Lounge – be sure to bring a sweater to the Queens lounge during the day it is kept very, very cool. It warms up at night when the BB King group is performing. Tonight was the first of 3 Gala nights. I went earlier than last night as I did not calculate how long it takes from ordering until you actually get food. I was able to pre-order my meal to follow my dietary restrictions. The dining staff somehow made a no salt, low fat meal very tasty. Tonight the main dish was rack of lamb. My dinner companions were three men two were traveling together and one was a solo. There was a retired English teacher and one was a navy technology officer, I did not hear what the third gentlemen did. The retired navy officer had spent some time in Pensacola so we had some things to talk about and the teacher and I enjoyed talking academia. The evening show was a flute player Viviana Guzman. She did things with a flute I didn’t think you could do. I made it an early night after the show. I did order breakfast for 7:00 AM tomorrow. The seas were very rough all day 15-20 foot swells. He captain assures us we will be out of the low pressure area late tomorrow. At the dinner announcement the Captain joked saying his wife also complains about his driving. I must say poor Captain Mark did everything he could to give a smooth cruise, but Mother Nature just would not cooperate. I think she was determined to remind the passengers how we used to rock and roll in the 60’s and 70’s. Tuesday 10/4/16 2nd Sea Day Seas were rough all night. I was awakened several times. I decided not to take a shower this AM, with the rolling of the ship I am not very steady on my feet. Breakfast was delivered as promised at about 7:10. I went to the 9:00 AM Good Morning Westerdam show with Cruise Director Sarah for the 2nd day. The guest was the culinary host Christina. She was very enjoyable. I talked to the cruise director a bit before the show to make sure I had the time difference correct as I wanted to see the Vice-presidential debate at 9 PM eastern which would be 5 PM ship’s time. Joined a new Trivia team and did better. Jan was raised in Alabama and moved to Washington State with her husband. We are calling our team- Bama. I am glad they are changing the time for Trivia from 12:00 to 1:00 as I can get to the buffet lunch before it becomes a zoo. Today’s lunch was a mess nowhere to really sit. I did have a salad and a cheese sandwich on half a ciabatta roll. The seas started to calm down after lunch as promised by the Captain. The temperature is still only in the mid-60’s. In the afternoon I attended a presentation about the history of Lahaina and Nawiliwili (Na-willie-willie) the final two ports of call in Hawaii, it was somewhat interesting. Heather, the On Location Director is more a reader than a presenter. In the afternoon I attended a history of the hula lecture. Not a hula lesson but how hula has changed over the years and the effects of the missionaries and westerners on the hula. Very interesting seeing the contrast between classic hula and modern hula. I did watch the VP debate from 5 – 6:30. Went to the buffet for dinner. I had a small steak, rice, and broccoli, strangely uncrowded. The 8:00 PM show was the first by the Westerdam entertainers a program called Soundstage featuring songs from movies. There was dancing, singing, and scenes from several movies. An average show but maybe that was because I did not know most of the songs. Note to self - next time sit further back in the Vista lounge as it was loud. Calm seas to rock me to sleep. Wednesday 10/5/16 3rd Sea Day Woke to blue skies and flat seas this morning. Breakfast was delivered between 6:30 and 7:00 as requested. I have now set my alarm for 15 minutes before delivery time but have been awake before it went off last two days. I am enjoying the shower in the cabin, very comfortable and easy to set the water temp. I have ordered an egg substitute vegetable omelet each morning and they have been good, they include a potato cake and I have resisted eating the whole thing. I also order seasonal melon and have been getting a plate with honeydew, watermelon, cantaloupe and either blueberries or blackberries. This is a good way for me to start the day. Yesterday I dropped my tweezers between the cushion on the couch and the hide-a-bed mechanism. I asked if he could fish it out and when I returned to the room later there were the tweezers on the table. Today they had Music trivia in the morning. I went but did miserably I was good with the tune names but you also had to name the artist and I am no good at that part. It was 50’s and 60’s music today. Went to lunch early today as the main dining room was closed for a Mariner’s luncheon. I knew the buffet would be much busier than usual. Glad I did. Finished my Grisham novel last night and started on Michener’s Hawaii today, I haven’t read it in years. I am trying several areas as the best reading nooks. Right now I am focusing on the Captains area of the Crow’s nest and the Explorer’s Lounge on the lower Promenade. As it warms up in the next day or two I am looking forward to reading outside on the Promenade deck. Team trivia was after lunch, team Bama scored more points than yesterday but were still about 8 points behind the winners. We lost not knowing pi to 8 decimal places. They play hard ball trivia on this ship. Went to the Vista lounge for a very enjoyable lecture on the geology and geography of the Hawaiian Islands in the afternoon. I decided to stay in the lounge after the lecture to try Bingo. It was fun but $25.00 for 3 cards and four games is a bit steep. They have unique cards in which you punch a perforated hole for each number called. When a Bingo is called they type in the card number and the program determines if it is a winner. The prizes range from $150 to $275 per game. Dinner was nice, I was at a table of 10 and enjoyed the company of my table mates. Delicious brisket. Skipped the show tonight, Bayne Bacon, as the room was full. He was a popular entertainer. Watched a movie I had brought, the DVD player in the cabin stopped playing part way through so I watched the final half on my computer. Thursday 10/6/16 4th sea day Second Gala Night Woke to calm seas and better temps this AM, finally back in shorts. After breakfast in my cabin I spent some time outside on the upper observation deck. Walked the circuit on that deck and did fairly well. At 9:00 AM went to the Good morning Westerdam show the guest was show host Jake. One funny thing occurred during the interview Sarah asked Jake about how his show the party continues had been attended. This is an opportunity to listen to music but it starts at 11:30 PM in the Northern Lights bar. Jake calmly said he had no one actually show up for the activity. It became a running joke for the rest of the cruise – How is the Party Continues doing? Most readers will know that the demographic for a long HAL Cruise is 60+, most of us are not out and about at 11:30 PM. After the show I went out on deck to read, then took a lap on the Promenade deck (1 lap = 1/3 mile). In the afternoon I attended the 2nd Ukulele lesson and attended a 2nd movie The Descendants. I spent a couple hours before dinner enjoying the breezes on the balcony and reading. This evening’s show, All for Love by the Westerdam entertainers, was completely full when I went at 8:00 PM. I decided it would be a good early night. I just can’t stay up for the 10:00 PM show and I do not like to sit in the lounge/bar areas, it is too tempting to order a drink. I do wish they would not keep the show rooms and lounges so cool. I usually like cool but I have found myself shivering many times. I really wish I had brought one of my cardigans. If you don’t like cold be sure to bring a sweater or cover for the public rooms. Friday 10/7/16 5th Sea day The last sea day on this part of the trip. During the Good Morning Westerdam show Cruise Director Sarah revealed she was anxious for land this is the longest stretch of sea days she has done. In the late morning the On Location Director Heather presented a lecture on Pacific Wayfaring, very interesting. After lunch the crew and passengers had a water volleyball game in the aft Sea View pool. It was fun but for the first time the passengers beat the crew, a rematch is being planned for the return trip. An Aloha concert was scheduled for 3:00 PM. All week the ukulele class and the hula class have been practicing for the concert. After the on location team performed the passengers came on stage. It was fun and part of the cruise experience. There was a Hawaiian language class today and it was very informative. The language is very colorful and has only 16 consonants and 5 vowels. If you can learn the vowels you are say the words. Learning what the words mean and how they are used in a sentence is the hard part. The show tonight was a combined show with the comedian Bayne Bacon and the flutiest. I had heard everyone enjoyed Bayne Bacon but his first full show was full and I didn’t get to see his act. He was funny. Saturday 10/8 Port day Honolulu At last land. I went to go to the house where my parents had lived when they were first married. Upon returning to the port I had about an hour until it was time for the Pearl Harbor Tour. The Aloha Market Place at the dock has free Wi-Fi, I did not buy an internet package on the ship and was anxious to check social media, email and make contact with family and friends back home. I saw some passengers using Wi-Fi, they explained the log-on process. It was really easy once you determined which one of the many networks to use. As I was finishing another couple from the ship stopped by and I showed them the steps to get online. The Pearl Harbor and City Tour Gray Line – Polynesian Adventure Tours (Holland America Excursion) was a 4 hour tour driving around the city and then out to the National Memorial. It includes picture stops at the King Kamehameha I statue and the Iolani Palace. There is a drive through the National Cemetery in the Punchbowl crater. The World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument (Arizona Memorial) is very informative. The exhibits Before the War and the Day have very good information, artifacts, and reproductions of the time. The grounds have way stations with informative signs about where ships were and how things happened in 1941. The 20 minute film reviewed the day and is narrated by Stockard Channing. The launch to the memorial is right after the film. It takes about 5 minutes to cross the harbor and you have 15 minutes at the memorial before the launch returns. This is time to contemplate what happened and more of an emotional experience than I expected. Before dinner there was a hula recital by a local Hawaiian dance studio. The dancers ranged in age from 4 years old to 71. It was a mix of men and women. They were very good and the little ones were cute. At the end the ship Captain, Cruise Director, and some passengers got up on stage doing the hula with them. Tonight’s dinner group was not the most interesting, very little cross talk other than an introduction and where you live. The Evening show singer Elika Santos, did not appeal so I spent some time on the Sea View Deck watching the island lights as we sailed from Oahu Sunday 10/9 Port Day Hilo Lori Pele: Goddess of Fire Volcano Exploration Gray Line (excursion through Holland America) I booked this 4 hour tour of Volcanos National Park through Holland America. Gray Line tours Polynesian adventure tours is the operator. I am glad I selected the small group option as we were in a small bus with about 15 people. Lori was interesting but you could tell this was close to the end of tourist season and she had done the tour many times. The first stop is the Mauna Loa Macadamia Nut factory. Lori did inform us that there was no food service any other place on the tour so we might want to pick up a sandwich etc. here. It was about an hour up to Volcanos National Park. At the Jagger Museum you could look out over the crater and see the lava spewing about 50 feet in the air. There isn’t a current lava flow just the cauldron. The return trip had two main attractions the Thurston Lava Tube and the 1974 lava flow. The Lava Tube required a walk down steep steps and was slippery so I did not go down. Sitting at the top of the steps I enjoyed ease dropping on another tour operator talking about the tube and the local flora and fauna. The day in total was interesting and I did learn a lot about volcanos. I was very tired upon returning to the ship and decided to enjoy the sail away, a light dinner in the Lido, and listening to Adagio in the Explorer’s Lounge before an early bedtime due to a long excursion tomorrow. Monday 10/10 Port Day Lahaina Lahaina is the only tender port on this cruise. Due to the shore excursion, I had purchased through HAL, I was ticketed for the first tender of the morning. The excursion was Adventure to Hana. This is a 10 hour tour that takes you around the east side of Maui. About 40 miles of the route is the Road to Hana a very curvy (620 curves) with many (59) one lane bridges and road sections that are really one lane but you may need to squeeze by other vehicles. Our mini-bus hugged the mountainside many times. The scenery is tropical rain forest passing several beautiful waterfalls, scenic views, and cattle ranches. There is a short stop at the Waianapanapa State park and black sand beach. I was fortunate to have Bruce as the driver/guide for the day. Bruce a transplanted Texan made it an enjoyable day and took into consideration the needs of his 15 not so young passengers. At the end of 10 hours we all felt we had a great time and made new friends. There are sufficient breaks and opportunities to get out, stretch your legs, and use bathroom facilities. The stops allow enough time to view the area but you don’t feel rushed. The stop at Palapala Congressional Church the location of Charles Lindbergh’s grave was very interesting as well as the Kipahulu National Park location of the 7 sacred pools. It is about a half mile walk down to the pools. The visitor/ranger station had some very interesting history of early Hawaiian life. Along the highway are homes of several famous people - Oprah, one of the Beach Boys, Willie Nelson and others. There is a stop at Travaasa Experiential Resort for lunch which was just OK, but I am a bit jaded after many days of superb cruise ship dining. A word of warning, they caution people with back backs and pregnant women to avoid this trip – pay attention to this warning the road has many miles of unpaved and poorly paved roads. The curves take skill and knowledge of driving on narrow roads. I think it is best left to the professionals and locals rather than trying to drive it yourself. It was late when we returned to the ship, the driver added some things to the tour as the ships departure time had been moved back. The sail away was delayed several hours allowing passengers to attend an evening Luau in Lahaina, which was arranged after we had left Vancouver. It is nice that HAL can make changes on the go. Tuesday 10/11 Port Day Nawiliwili This was my big splurge on a splurge trip - a helicopter tour of Kauai. Here is the Trip Advisor Review I posted of the experience. Great Experience on Kauai I don’t give a lot of five star ratings, but Safari Helicopter on Kauai, Hawaii deserves five plus stars. From my first phone call they were caring, business like, and more than willing to answer questions from a first time helicopter flyer. I say this because I was treated rudely by two other companies while asking questions about weight restrictions before booking. If you are around 250 pounds they will work with you to get you on a flight with no surcharge, if they can, not true with some other companies I contacted. The pick up from the dock was on time, when arriving in the office we were given safety information, be prepared to be entertained if Sherrill (sic) is your driver, he is funny. Julia, the pilot was friendly and well informed about the places we were flying by. You fly through Waimea Canyon, along the Napali Coast. Hanalea bay, and the wettest place on earth. There are many water falls and greens that look painted rather than the natural beauty that is Kauai. The actual flight time is about 45 minutes but it takes about 1.5 hours from dock to dock. The price is pretty much in the middle of the options available. I would suggest Safari Helicopters for a wonderful experience of a beautiful island. The office is across the street from Hilo Hattie’s and there is a free shuttle from HH to the ship. Tonight there is a sail away cookout on the Sea View deck with grilled pu-pu. This was supposed to be appetizers but I made it a meal. Spent the evening in the cabin editing and organizing pictures from the last few days. Now five sea days to relax going home. Wednesday 10/12 Sea Day At 10:00 AM there was a special sail away party on the Sea View deck with a farewell to Hawaii ceremony. Throwing your lei over as you sail away ensures your return to the islands. Fresh Mahi Mahi was purchased on the islands and was grilled for lunch on the lido deck, it was delicious. This is a recovery day from the four active days in port. Mostly reading and relaxing. The evening show was Patrick McMahon. He is great and had the entire Vista lounge singing along to songs we all enjoyed in the 60’s and 70’s. The ships clocks will be set forward one hour tonight. Thursday 10/13 Sea Day Good morning Westerdam has returned for the trip back to Vancouver. Enjoyed hearing about the library and resources available. Sarah also explained the time changes coming up and why they are doing it the way they are. Rather than losing an hour each night, which is very hard on the crew, the clocks will be set forward ½ hour at 2 in the afternoon. Since we are at sea no need for exact time and this way you still get a full night’s sleep and no jet lag. Sounds strange but it worked very well and it was almost unnoticeable except for the Captan’s announcement of the change each day at 2 PM. Today also started the dance classes late morning in the Crow’s Nest, each of the sea days will present a different dance. I don’t dance but I went to watch and hold a place for the Trivia team to re-organize after the port days. They did have Trivia on port days but the time did not work for me. In the Afternoon Stryker from the piano bar held a talent show organized from the passengers he had encountered in the piano bar events. It was fun and the passengers were very good, for the most part. I did join a friend for Bingo in the afternoon and won a regular game (with 4 others) and the cover-all (with 3 others). Prize is enough to cover my gratuities bill, not bad. The evening show was the Bornsteins, a mentalist act. Unfortunately it was fairly mediocre. Friday 10/14 Sea Day Today Captain Mark held a very informative Ask the Captain Q&A. I did play Trivia today, but somehow I just didn’t feel like doing a lot. At dinner I was seated with two couples who did not know each other but came to find out both had taught and lived in rural Yukon for many years. Just listening to their stories of living and teaching in that area of Canada made for an enjoyable evening. The evening entertainer was Lilly-Jane Young a singer who was very entertaining. She sang all types of songs from show tunes to classical opera. Saturday 10/15 Sea Day Today is not a good day, a fellow passenger decided to share their cold with me. This may account for feeling out of it yesterday. I do have a few cold tablets but will need to buy more. I decided to spend most of the day in the cabin as the cold pills make me drowsy. I ordered breakfast and lunch in, but the soup was so salty I could not eat it. The ship is still rocking and rolling a lot. Unfortunately in the early afternoon a stabilizer went out and the ship developed quite a roll in addition to the pitch from rough seas. The Captain warned everyone to take great care when moving about the ship. The movement was so bad there were comfort bags hanging from the railings by all the elevators. The motion has not bothered me but I could really tell the difference as I went higher in the ship. The stabalizers were fixed after about 2 hours of rocking and rolling. I decided I did need to get out of the cabin so went up to the Lido for a light dinner. I took in the Variety show featuring the Bornsteins and Patrick McMahon. Sunday 10/16 Sea Day This is the last full sea day. My cold is better but I don’t have a lot of energy. I spent most of the day reading in the Explorer’s Lounge, having a quick bite in the Lido for lunch, dinner in the MDR and an early night. Monday 10/17 Port - Victoria Captain Mark moved across the Pacific at a higher than usual speed to avoid bad weather in the Pacific North West. Due to the speed docking in Victoria was several hours ahead of scheduled. I was feeling somewhat better but since I had been to Victoria several time I decided it would be a good time to just enjoy the ship. I was able to walk around and spend time looking at the art and enjoying some peace and quite while many passengers were off the ship. Tuesday 10/18 Disembarkation – Vancouver Getting off the ship was fairly easy. I did have some trouble finding a cart in the luggage area on the pier but finally received some assistance from workers in the area. The line to board the transport bus to the airport was fairly long but time was only about 35-40 minutes in line. I had plenty of time until my flight so this did not worry me. Overall, this cruise was a wonderful experience. I met several very interesting people and had a very good time. Traveling solo opens you up to new experiences and new friendships. A caveat is if you do not like sea days this is not the cruise for you. If on the other hand you enjoy the relaxation of sea days this is a wonderful way to get a taste of Hawaii and be pampered at the same time. As I wrote this review I received an offer for another HAL cruise and will be sailing to the Panama Canal on HAL in December 2016. Read Less
Sail Date October 2016
My husband chose this cruise as a gift for my birthday. I had previously enjoyed travel on the Holland America Line ships and others had good things to say about HAL. It was his first ocean cruise. There was plenty to do. We really ... Read More
My husband chose this cruise as a gift for my birthday. I had previously enjoyed travel on the Holland America Line ships and others had good things to say about HAL. It was his first ocean cruise. There was plenty to do. We really enjoyed the lectures and the concerts and the exercise facilities, including the Promenade Deck for walking. Jay Christofferson was an excellent presenter. My husband played Bridge frequently, while I wrote and took photographs, etc. We met interesting people, some of whom now remain friends. The ship was wonderfully set up for any disability. One of our new friends could not walk and was on his 10th cruise. The food was first rate, beautifully prepared, fresh and healthful and the service excellent for all meals. Our stateroom stewarts were always very helpful. One of our favourite activities was watching the sun set and the stars appear from our verandah looking out on the starboard side over the Pacific. We would certainly travel Holland America Line again. Some of our onboard friends have already booked their next HAL cruise. Read Less
Sail Date September 2016
Like uncrowded, mid-sized, cruise ships that visually, look like classic 'Ocean Liners'...not amusement parks. Don't wish to spend my vacation lining up with 4000 other passengers for dinner or shows....on some of the ... Read More
Like uncrowded, mid-sized, cruise ships that visually, look like classic 'Ocean Liners'...not amusement parks. Don't wish to spend my vacation lining up with 4000 other passengers for dinner or shows....on some of the huge cruise ships being launched now-a-days. Enjoy more sophisticated crowd on Holland America...less 'Booze Cruise'...with cultured Guest Speakers and Seminars. Prefer the gracious Indonesian and Filipino dining and room stewards, versus multi-cultural cruise staff, who don't speak each other's languages (worry about this safety factor, in the unlikely event that an emergency occurs...but as we all know....does happen on occasion). Good service with fine food (although would be nice if some nights lobster, crab, etc. were served in main dining salon and didn't cost extra)....but then again, not at this price point...very good value for money. Special mention is the Dive Bar where absolutely the best ever burgers and french fries are served. Enjoyed daily....along with a Split of Henkell Troken sparkling wine. And the French Onion Soup was delicious...think I had most days. Really enjoyed 10 day cruise to Hawaii in Signature Suite (larger room with full sized couch and two chairs, full bathroom with tub, plus large balcony). Can't wait to book again with Holland America....maybe we'll save our pennies and book the even larger Neptune Suite next time! Shore excursions in Vancouver, San Diego and Hawaii were great, but would skip Astoria....even though, historically speaking, just down the road, is where Lewis and Clark finally made it to the Pacific Ocean. Read Less
Sail Date September 2016
We have cruised just about every cruise line including some 5* rated lines. This was our first trip on Holland America. I was so impressed with the real concern and service given. We had a problem with the air conditioning and they came ... Read More
We have cruised just about every cruise line including some 5* rated lines. This was our first trip on Holland America. I was so impressed with the real concern and service given. We had a problem with the air conditioning and they came immediately to fix it and followed up with a call to ensure it was fixed. When it wasn't, they came again and came again, and followed up again and again until it was done. When I requested a fruit that was not in the buffet, the server asked me to wait a moment, he went and got it and provided me with a plate of the lovely cut up fruit. EVERYONE was smiling and cordial and kind. What I particularly noted was at the end of the cruise instead of the push to give more tips, nothing more was said, no 'special' envelopes were provided. No stress was added to passengers, in my opinion, at any point. We enjoyed their onboard talks and activities. Found them a cut above in interest and free champagne seemed to flow freely at a lot of events. Unfortunately one of our party was taken off the ship by ambulance at the end of the cruise. Long after the ship had left the Honolulu port, Holland America staff continued to stay in touch with my friend concerning her husband and asking if they could do anything. By contrast once I broke my leg on Norwegian. They couldn't wait to get us off the ship and even though they offered help to my husband, when he called them, they said they were done with us and good bye. I love you Holland America! See you again I hope. Read Less
Sail Date September 2015
We had done this itinerary a year ago on a different cruise line, and really enjoyed the number of sea days, so decided to repeat it on a Holland America ship. We live close enough to San Diego to be able to drive to the port easily, and ... Read More
We had done this itinerary a year ago on a different cruise line, and really enjoyed the number of sea days, so decided to repeat it on a Holland America ship. We live close enough to San Diego to be able to drive to the port easily, and avoid the hassle of air travel/hotel expense. The embarkation was very smooth, and we were accompanied all the way to our cabin (one of us needs wheelchair assistance). Our stateroom was one of the Lanai cabins, with a sliding glass door replacing the ocean view window, allowing direct access to the teak walk-around Lower Promenade deck. It also includes two reserved wooden deck chairs right outside the door. We had been on this particular ship in March 2014, so the layout was very familiar for us. We had requested and received early fixed dining at the same table for two as last March. We had stopped for brunch on the way, and weren't hungry for the Mariner embarkation luncheon. Luggage arrived quickly, and we found spots for everything in spite of my penchant for overpacking. The standard bathrooms on this ship class don't have much storage; the over-door shoe bag is a must. Our stateroom attendants introduced themselves & we were more than satisfied with their friendliness & service throughout the cruise. They made some unique towel animals that we had never seen. We asked for ice twice a day and they always delivered it. The disaster drill was on deck (no lifejackets), and took a little longer than we were accustomed to, the passengers were restless and had lost interest after about 30". After a short rest on our deck chairs, we adjourned to get to the MDR by 5:15. Very easy to remember the table frome the previous cruise, and we met our dining staff - so very nice throughout the remainder of the cruise. We signed up for a wine tasting & ordered a bottle of wine. The meals for the duration of the cruise were all very good to excellent, temperature perfect, seasoning good. We do like spicy food, but understand that they have to season the food for the majority. When we ordered medium rare beef, it was perfectly done. We do like to try things we have not had before, or unusual (for us) foods. Lobster was on the menu only once (not even on the Pinnacle Menu), which didn't disappoint us, but we heard some grumblng from other passengers. We dined in the specialty dining venues once each, and had equally fine experiences. We try to avoid the Lido just because it is usually crowded, difficult to get around the entire serving counters and to find a table. The couple of times we did end up there we were OK with the food, but my husband said his was not even warm. The best food outside the MDR was the "Dive In" burger/hot dog joint at the end of the pool area. The fries were hot, crispy, and seasoned well. the burgers were really good. There is also a Mexican buffet there each day. Entertainment was mediocre in the showroom - we missed the Broadway show which was probably good, but it was only offered at 9:30 one time, we are early-to-bed types. The best show was "Encore", which showcased a good male & female singer, the Hal Cats turned orchestra, the violin performer from Adagio, and 2 female dancers. Light opera, Broadway show songs, very nice costuming. We had seen it last March, but liked it equally as well this time. The best one of the entire cruise. Entertainment is like food, depends on the person. There was a change in the crew shows - the Filipino crew show was at 2:00 PM, standing room only. We enjoyed it a lot, have never been able to stay up for the usual 11:00 Indonesian one, missed it this time too. We really like the layout of this ship, small & easy to get to everything. Best library of any one we have been on. There were daily activities for absolutely everyone, if you couldn't find something to do it wasn't HAL's fault. We attended several of the lectures on the history and culture of Hawaii, learned a lot of new facts. We only got off at one port, didn't do any excursions since this was our 3rd visit and we had seen most of what interested us before. We did get off the ship to go to "Hilo Hattie's", had not been to any of these stores prior to this trip. The sea days after we left the islands were great for us, our side of the ship was now on the south (sunny) side, and we camped out in our deck chairs most every day. Seemed like lots of the passengers were tired of the sea days & couldn't wait to get back; we didn't feel that way at all, we like being lazy & waited on. The day did finally come though, and I have to say that the disembarkation was the worst we have experienced on any ship. As I mentioned, one of us requires wheelchair assistance which we signed up for, but many of the passengers who showed up for it had not reserved it. There were more than 50 passengers in the Sea View Bar when we arrived, and more coming all the time. Not enough wheelchairs, or pushers who could handle the ramps that they had to negotiate. Passengers demanding that they be let off immediately, ones who decided they didn't want to wait & left,(why were they there at all ?) The poor man who was trying to coordinate the process was overwhelmed. We were more than an hour past the time we should have been let off, lucky we weren't on an early air flight. Overall we tried not to let this part of the experience negatively color the rest. I keep a journal each day, so have looked it over to read all the good parts. When I asked the onboard future cruise consultant she let us know that HAL will not be scheduling this cruise, the Mexican Coastal itinerary, or any other shorter R/T itinerary from San Diego after 2015, only the 30 or so days ones. So sad to see them go. Read Less
Sail Date January 2015
The Ship: The ship is wonderful. The retrofit changed a few things, so i recommend you also try the Maasdam to get a feel for the smaller ships. The Atrium is wonderful and still all the decks and spaces are so wondrful. The artwork is ... Read More
The Ship: The ship is wonderful. The retrofit changed a few things, so i recommend you also try the Maasdam to get a feel for the smaller ships. The Atrium is wonderful and still all the decks and spaces are so wondrful. The artwork is also wonderful. They changed happy hour times, but that is okay, we still made a few of them. We danced in the crows nest late one night and had a blast. I recommend you check out the deck plans. We always to scour them before we sail. The crew:The crew was amazing. Arthur and Gabriel of the front desk! They need a raise. Cyn of the spa, she was great. Our room stewerts were also amazing. The Entertainment: The on location stuff by Kinoa was amazing. His knowledge , his humor, his open heart full of aloha was so refreshing. This guy is so informed, a true native that you simply cant stump him. Dont miss his presentations. I even took some of gradma's jewlery to him, and he knew all of the hawaiian origins. The show Airborn was hilarious and inspiring. the singing and costumes were really good. The movies were all latest realeases. They show them the next day on the TV or in the Gym, so we saw alot of them. There is so much going on, dont fall prey to sitting in a lounger all day. Walk the decks, go to the cooking presentations, take the galley tour, go the library and just do it. It is nice to see Officers and the Captain enjoying a show or two some times too. The Dining: Prior to this cruise we always booked late seating. This time, due to negative people at our table, we jumped ship and switched to open seating. We found others of like mind that love their surroundings and love cruising and are generally happy with themselves to be fun to hang out with and did what we would normally do with our tabelmates. We ate at Canaletto together, went offshore together and got time to have a bite and talk. The dining was wonderful. For an 18 night cruise food did not repeat itself and was always fabulous. The soups were killer and we got to meet the saucier or soup guy and tell him so. The dining staff on this ship is top notch and clearly they have fun at work. They laugh and joke with us and each other and one night after dinner (we usually shiut the dining room down) they were celebrating a coworkers birthday at the very end of the shift with a with a pie in the face and icewater on his head. we all laughed and clapped at this rare human moment from folks who work so very very hard. The Gym: There is a good deck on the gym floor in which to take pics as most do, but also give the gym a try. We wend there everyday. It is free and they have good equipement. Just bring headphones so that you can also catch that movie you missed the day before , because they have screens and plug ins. The Spa:This is limited to 20 couples on this size ship and is a must do with 12 sea days. I am expecially glad we did, as the mineral tub was so ralaxing with a sea view and the ceramic hot beds were our daily moment of zen. There are also showers, steam rooms, two of them, one cooler one hot. If you can possibly afford it, just do it, and you wont regret it. The pools and hot tubs: THE pool (only one) was refilled with nice warm water that just got colder and colder each sea day. Very motel 6 like. The hot tubs, never hot, the jets are on day and night no option to turn the jets off. The jets are just blasts of cold air the water bubbles six inches high. On the back deck at The Retreat , the wind takes the bubbling water to be shared by all on the deck, and in your face too. The rectangular hot tubs at the Retreat , when they were filled, which wasnt all the time, were oddly the hottest pools and hotter than the hot tubs. They also had motion and jets to them, but were simply hotter. they are shallow, but wonderful. They just simply dont travel well at sea, so they are netted and empty most of the time as most of the water sloshes out across the decks. poor planning. The Room: We booked a oceanview on the promenade deck next too an exit to our "veranda". Loved the fresh air that would blow in when doors on this deck would open and close with people going in and out. Stateroom 327, just steps away from the promanade, providing fresh air, a feeling like it was our own viranda at half the price of the lanai. close to elevators and the atrium, and the lovely atrium steps. The Excursions: We had these stops: Oahu, Maui, Kuai ,Kona and Hilo. On Oahu (this was our overnight stop) we got together with friends for dinner and drinks, but the next day we took the city bus to Hanauma Bay and went snrokeling. I recommend this very much. Clear warm waters and huge fish. We have been to Oahu before so, this was perfect for us. On Hilo we got a rental car and drove to Volcanoes National Park and spent a time there walking trails. On a prior cruise we took the crater hike and it was wonderful. This time we drove to key spots and then drove also to Akaka Falls. This is a very spectacular fall on a very very short walk. Do this is you are pressed for time and want to squeeze in one more side trip. It is worth it. on Kaui we took the Seafun Kauai Shore Snorkel excursion form the ship. This is the best trip! You start in a van with a very short ride to suit up in a short wet suit, which keeps you warm and bouyant enough, so that you dont need a vest as on other snorkel trips. Once at the shore, the guides help you get situated, so dont let the rocky shore worry you. If you are lucky you will get the guide named Paul. We have gotten him twice now. This guy lives in the ocean and knows it like the back of his hand. He always produces a good find. Last time it was a Nerf Shark and Turtles and too many fish to describe. He will even offer to dive with your camera and get a good pic for you. This time he found an Octopus and we took turns holding it with his guidance. He also points out everything so you want to follow him, and he is good at keeping you close if you stray. We saw eels, sea cucumbers, turtles and a million dish. The Octopus was the star this time. The Kona Sail & Snorkel was a Snorkel excursion form the ship. This was a tender port, so this wonderful sail snorkeling excurion starts with a short drive in a van to the Kaloko Honokohau Marina. Then you travel south by catamaran to a sheltered cove. This was a small and intimate catamaran. Good lunch and treats and beer if you want it. The fish were wonderful and we always see some species that we haven't seen before. This location had a beautiful view of a beach that only native hawaiians can go to, but it was also close to a nice drop off.The water is thirty feet deep where the boat ties off to an anchor point. The water is very clear visablity is 120 feet. Along the shore are blocks lava that are plentifull with marine life and unbelievable amounts of fish. This was one of the few locations that we saw schools of fish. This is not for first time snorkelers or weak swimmers. The guides are friendly and very knowledgable of this pristine spot. West Maui Snorkel Cruise snorkel excurion from the ship:This the second time we have taken this excursion and was just as great as the first time. The crew is fun and friendly, very helpful for first time snorkelers. The water is about 20 feet deep, coral heads rise off the bottom at least 15 feet. Marine life covers the coral heads that attract the fish and turtles. The water is very clear you can see for 60-80 feet, fish are very abundant swimming around the coral heads. This spot is south of the ship tender close to Olowala state reserve on shore the water is very calm.The sail back to port is mostly by motor, the crew tries to sail but the wind has other ideas, take lots of pictures going to and from this location. The good: We love cruising and love our surrounding both at home and on a ship. Not much can dampen our day. One sweet highlight was seeing a storm petral and an albatross on the water. The bad: People who think that they are royalty; one day a woman stuck her pronged cane in the elevator while it was closing. It clamped down on the end and she was stuck on the outside with the rest of her cane and i was stuck on the inside with the end of it. Naturally it shut down the elevators and i had to pry open the doors. It put the elvator out of commision for a day. This might work in a city, not so much on a cruise ship. The ugly: Buzz kill negative people who hate their surroundings should not cruise. This sucks the life out of those of us who do. If you run around and take bowls of cheese or all the almonds you are selfish. If you complain that the soup is cold when there is steam clearly rising from it, you are ignorant. Leave cruising to those of us who know how to do it. Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
Stayed overnight at Wyndham Bayside both coming and going due to schedule issues with Air Canada. Nice hotel. You can see the boat in the harbor if you have the right room. It is just across the road. Luggage being left and sorted in the ... Read More
Stayed overnight at Wyndham Bayside both coming and going due to schedule issues with Air Canada. Nice hotel. You can see the boat in the harbor if you have the right room. It is just across the road. Luggage being left and sorted in the parking lot beside the boat was a little disconcerting. Talked to some people on board who never got their luggage until we docked at the first port. Hula lessons, ukulele lessons, history lessons and bracelet making was available from native Hawaiians on board. Wonderful country/rock singer Cliff entertained every evening in The Mix. Some of the entertainment in the Showroom at Sea was good but I find the ships own dancers etc. are becoming somewhat dated. We went on Hilo excursion to Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park and Thurston Lava Tube.very good, lots to see. As expected the tour to the USS Arizona at Pearl Harbor was very well done. Atlantis Submarine tour in Maui was very entertaining. Our stop at Ensenada was forgettable,children begging on the side of the road. Disembarkation went very smoothly. Read Less
Sail Date November 2013
I was not fond of the overall menu choices in the dining room. Different, not as familiar as on other Holland cruises. On a 17-day voyage you might expect to have some repeats of dessert choices, but only once did I see creme brûlée on ... Read More
I was not fond of the overall menu choices in the dining room. Different, not as familiar as on other Holland cruises. On a 17-day voyage you might expect to have some repeats of dessert choices, but only once did I see creme brûlée on the menu and I opted not to order it, saving that choice for another night. I never again saw that opportunity. On a Princess cruise in August, 2013, it was n thee dessert menu nightly. Some nights none of the main dishes appealed to me. One of those nights I chose the usually predictable rare steak. My knife would not -- repeat, would not cut through it. Server brought another knife but nota any better. I opted send it back, as the whole table would have had to wait for me to complete my meal before the server would take our dessert choices. Probably will not book the lanai cabin again. The sliding glass door was extremely heavy and hard to open. Because of the floor plan to have access to that door, the useable open space of the cabin was smaller than those non-lanai cabins on the lower prom deck we have been in several times. We also experienced annoying "tapping" noises at night in the area above the cabin. Our immediate neighbor, forward of us, complained enough that they were moved to another cabin. The casino in the Veendam was disappointing. Tables had very few people gaming. I asked if the minimum on the "normal" blacklack table (one table only) ever changed from $10, to $5 and was told NO, only the "fun" 21 table offers the $5 minimum bets. Most of the time there was not a dealer at the roulette wheel. The cruising itself was fine. Smooth sailing most of the time, and when the larger whitecaps were showing, it had very little effect on us. Ports were good to excellent. Be sure to go up to the volcano in Hilo, and if you really want a GREAT experience, take the helicopter ride in Kauai. Excellent! The entire flight is records, including views of the passengers inside, and for an additional fee you may elect to purchase it right after the flight is over. Read Less
Sail Date November 2013
After many years of travelling to exciting destinations to celebrate special occasions, we were challenged to come up with a really special trip to celebrate our 49th wedding anniversary. We have sailed on Holland America many times, so ... Read More
After many years of travelling to exciting destinations to celebrate special occasions, we were challenged to come up with a really special trip to celebrate our 49th wedding anniversary. We have sailed on Holland America many times, so our first thought was to explore possible itineraries on one of their ships. It didn't take us long to settle on a 14 day cruise to Hawaii from San Diego. Finding a Delta flight with a low fare and having a companion fare coupon made getting to San Diego from Florida affordable and sealed the deal. We stayed in at a Hilton hotel in the Gaslight district. This beautiful hotel is very conveniently located, there are many dining options nearby, and it's a short walk to the downtown marina. San Diego is a great destination in itself, with many things to do, so we decided to go two days early and enjoy San Diego before sailing away to Hawaii. We walked to the marina and toured the Midway which is docked there, and then had lunch at Anthony's where we had eaten on a previous visit. Embarkation was, as expected, very smooth and hassle-free. When we boarded the Zaandam around 11:30 we were delighted to find that our cabin was ready. After enjoying lunch in the main dining room (a perk for HAL mariners) we returned to our cabin and found our luggage had already been delivered. The cabin was roomy, clean, and had plenty of closet and storage space, so unpacking and getting settled was easy and went quickly. Then we were free to relax on our veranda and watch the sail away. Sailing to and from Hawaii we were at sea 4-5 days in high winds and rough seas. The Zaandam handled the rough conditions well and we only experienced slight to moderate rocking and rolling of the ship. Also must give much credit to the captain who did a great job of sailing around the worst of the weather and keeping the passengers as comfortable as possible. During our time at sea, we enjoyed daily presentations by Kaino, a native Hawaiian on board. Seeing Hawaii through his eyes, we learned about the history of the islands and its people, their culture and traditions. Other venues on the ship offered everything from learning to Hula to cooking Hawaiian dishes. In Hawaii we visited four of the islands: Hawaii, Maui, Kauai, and Oahu. Shore excursions were arranged through HAL, and we were not disappointed. All of the islands are beautiful and each has it's own "personality" and special things to offer. From waterfalls, to museums, to whale watching, to beautiful scenery, to eating at a famous shrimp truck on the north shore of Oahu, we enjoyed it all. For meals on the Zaandam, there are many options depending on the individual's personal preference. We ate in the main dining room, the Lido, the upscale Caneletto, and the very upscale Pinnacle restaurant. Also enjoyed room service on several occasions. All in all, I would rate the food as above average. Service was a little slow in the main dining room, but the wait staff was friendly, helpful, and always went out of their way to make sure we were pleased. This was a great cruise and I hope to do it again someday. Read Less
Sail Date February 2013
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