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7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2017
I had high hopes, after cruising on the Holland America "Amsterdam" for a 2-week cruise to Alaska on June 19th thru July 3rd this year. THAT cruise was absolutely wonderful!!! Unfortunately, it doesn't appear that Holland ... Read More
I had high hopes, after cruising on the Holland America "Amsterdam" for a 2-week cruise to Alaska on June 19th thru July 3rd this year. THAT cruise was absolutely wonderful!!! Unfortunately, it doesn't appear that Holland America is very consistent. Previously, I was on the 33-Day cruise in March this year, on the ms Maasdam. And, while there were many issues (it is a VERY old ship), I was very impressed with how the captain handled the huge amounts of complaints. It really felt like he cared about what we complained about. He responded quickly and appropriately to everything. I was so impressed, despite the many issues (poor vent/AC system, horrific tendering, etc...) because while there may have been problems, they were addressed, the captain apologized, AND he took action to try to keep us all happy, for a very extended amount of time. It convinced me to cruise on Holland. And, I did - on the Amsterdam to Alaska for two-weeks. It was absolutely wonderful. But, this last cruise, just makes me shy away from cruising on Holland again. I didn't bother to complain while on this ship, after my initial letter to them, on the first day, to let them know how unhappy I was. It was clear to me, that Holland's ms Eurodam couldn't and wouldn't live up to the great Amsterdam experience. First of all, windows were regularly blocked with closed curtains. Does the ship NOT understand that the view is the MOST important aspect of an Alaska cruise? I had mentioned it several times, to employees/staff, but they never did anything about it. I would get smart alick answers like "the weather is bad". Second, in the diningroom I felt that every table was pushed together closer than ever and each one was set with two extra place settings - enough to cause a full table to feel knees and elbows and having the inability to pull out a chair without hitting a person next to you. It was near impossible to walk freely. Conversations were impossible as well, as the diningroom was so crowded, you couldn't hear a person sitting next to you! I was constantly struggling to hear anything being said. Also, the staff were so extremely busy, with what appeared to us all, was extra duties, while trying to perform diningroom duties, that they didn't have time to ask us if we wanted anything, if our meal was satisfactory, or if we would like tea or coffee with our dessert. Orders were taken quickly, food was thrown at us, like being on an assembly line and I was even told repeatedly, that I could NOT have a tea pot, when I asked for tea. I actually had to argue with diningroom staff, to let them know that I CAN have a pot for hot water and I do NOT have to settle for a cup of hot water. It was impossible to get Earl Gray tea or Jasmine tea. I would get it from the Lido/buffet line and bring it to dinner with me. The first three days I couldn't even get any lemons for my water. One table even commented to me on the last night for dinner that it seemed like a real struggle when I was trying to ask for a tea pot for hot water. The waiter had tried insisting that we ONLY get those for "room service". I had to inform him that I have been cruising for the last couple years, just about once per month and this was the ONLY ship that refused to give me hot water in a pot. He then caved in and got me one. (Why did it take such an ordeal?) One of the best features of a Holland America cruise (for me) is the Tea Time. But, on this ship, it was also part of the assembly-line service. Instead of having a pleasant dining experience, being seated formally and treated with respect, we had to find a seat, at least a half an hour PRIOR to tea time and there was NO choice in the tea we were poured. The tiny bar tables were pre-set with small plates and tea cups that fit only 3 settings, but had four chairs. Needless to say, it was a very uncomfortable experience. I have no idea how the service was for anyone on the 1st tea day, because I was out of luck as to how to get a seat. The other two times that I managed to get a seat, it was rushed, hard to get re-fills of tea, and almost impossible to get a finger sandwich or sweet treat. Staff members were doing the best that they could, but also under staffed and not friendly or concerned with attention to our needs. It felt as though it was part of their forced routine that they were anxious to get over with. On the UP side, I absolutely LOVED my Ocean View!!! And, the band was outstanding. The comedian was great. The string quartet was remarkable. And, as always Metka was a pleasure to bump into and she remembered me from our first cruise in March. Room service was okay, except they found the need to repeatedly call to ask if I had everything (until asked them to STOP calling me, and let me enjoy my food.) And, as always, the room attendants were the best service of any service on the ship. I do not believe I will ever cruise on Holland America again, unless it is a deal that I cannot refuse. Read Less
14 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2017
Beautiful cruise through Alaska and Glacier Bay. I couldn't find one staff member that wasn't cheery, helpful and amazing at each turn. Always greeting you with a good morning, afternoon or evening when passing any staff member. ... Read More
Beautiful cruise through Alaska and Glacier Bay. I couldn't find one staff member that wasn't cheery, helpful and amazing at each turn. Always greeting you with a good morning, afternoon or evening when passing any staff member. Don't miss the piano players in the Billboard club. They play off of each other very well. They do 3 shows each night with changing themes. Great way to spend the evening with a cocktail and good music. Casino is pretty tight on the slot machines, stick to the card tables and you will be alright. We noticed the dining room and the buffet have similar menus so if you don't feel like getting dressed up, you can hit the buffet in your shorts and t-shirts. Don't forget to try the pizza place on the back of deck 9, it is worth the 15 minute wait and the burger joint on the front of deck 9 closes early so plan on grabbing lunch there a day or two it was delicious. Tip: if you buy the $100 beverage cards whatever you don't use will get refunded back to you. (wish we would have know this, we probably could have not been so hung over when we arrived back in Seattle ;) Read Less
11 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2017
We chose the Kongingsdam last year when we were in Rotterdam, on the Rotterdam and saw the new Ship leave for the first time. It seemed bigger than we might want but smaller than the mega cruiseliners. So we booked on board at the future ... Read More
We chose the Kongingsdam last year when we were in Rotterdam, on the Rotterdam and saw the new Ship leave for the first time. It seemed bigger than we might want but smaller than the mega cruiseliners. So we booked on board at the future cruise consultants. It is a beautiful ship, nicely appointed, lovely artwork even in the stairwells. I did notice the differences and yes I too miss the library, however there are so many lovely things, I think one just has to go with the flow. There are other HAL ships to love if this is not your cup of tea. We book Neptune suites and on the Koningsdam these are wonderful places. In the suite my wife misses the little changing area which was replaced by a separate room for sink and toilet, personally I found it not great use of space. The room is beautiful, color soothing, flat screen on the wall over the couch. Loved the room. And always love the Neptune Lounge. Changes here include a different presentation of food which I didn't love as one has to take the plates as they are presented. Other ships let you choose as you like. Small thing. To us a suite is worth the price. Main dining room just beautiful, every meal was just wonderful. The staff just lovely. Specialty restaurants: Sel de Mar, a wonderful addition to the Pinacle Grill and Tamarind. Sea food perfectly fresh, perfectly cooked, perfectly presented. Farm to table restaurant was also worth a visit. Dive, NY Deli and Pizza, Lido...I never understand people who are not pleased with their meals onboard. We travel and visit restaurants around the world. It is very VERY hard to beat the food on board. Last night we went to Ruth's Chris in LA...the steak was much better at the Pinnacle Grill. As to room service: very prompt, hot coffee,but every breakfast order was incorrectly filled. A small item but still. The room stewards always excellent and this time no exception. The new show rooms are all different, all good. Loved the face to face sing along piano(s) bar, spent a lot of time with the duo there. The main stage is a wonderful space, we don't love the production numbers but others do. The classical music strings very good, the BB King group, one of our favs, is now two stories. I didn't love this iteration of musicians, liked the ones on other ships but...oh, well. These folks were good. Just personal preference. This was our 13th HAL cruise and we are planning our 14th. To each his/her own. We feel like family on these ships and couldn't imagine a vacation on any other line. They are also very good to loyal customers and we appreciate that. Being a four star Mariner gets one a certain amount of perks and they add to the experience. We like that we have different size ships to choose from, each has its own strengths and drawbacks but all in all we are fans. This ship is big, no doubt. So the kind of smaller "family feeling" is harder to find. But my wife and I learned that smiling and saying hello, learning a few words of Indonesian and Tagalog, even Dutch go a long way. People like to be treated like people and not functionaries. I wish more people would take time to get to know the staff and ask them about their lives, their countries, their families. It will enrich one's life in unexpected ways, and perhaps restore some faith in the goodness of people (stepping off my soap box). We had been to most of the ports before from Rome to Amsterdam. We used a portion of HAL excursions and outside excursions, all worked just fine. We tried a few other lines, some are good some not so good. Personal choice of course. We always have great vacations with HAL. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2017
This ship has been refurbished and is well maintained, but overall a bit too dark for my taste. The clientel tends to be older. Entertainment is overall mediocre with 2 exceptions; B B King Jazz club and the Lincoln center. Departure ... Read More
This ship has been refurbished and is well maintained, but overall a bit too dark for my taste. The clientel tends to be older. Entertainment is overall mediocre with 2 exceptions; B B King Jazz club and the Lincoln center. Departure was very smooth as was disembarkation. The billing dept. goes to the extreme by posting large charges to your credit card from day 1. Several pending charges to my account amounted to over $1800 and my final bill was $709 for on board charges. When I called to complain I was informed that this was the way they operate and I just had to accept. Finally the last charge posted at $713.54, $4.54 more than my final invoice; no explanation offered. We took advantage of 2 of the tours offered, one in Honduras that visited a local forest and butterfly enclosure which was interesting. One in Guatemala that went to the village of Ak-Tenamit. This tour was poorly described in the ship's brochure as moderate; it is not! First a challenging small boat ride on a very rough ocean for 30 minutes to the river then an hour on the river; then a steep climb to reach the village which we never got to enter because we were held up by several people that had mobility issues. I am sure they never thought they would have to climb this steep hill. We did get lunch, the choice was chicken or a local fish, both cooked over an open fire with local vegetables and a glass of punch made with local berries of some kind. Some people wore flip flops when hiking shoes would be more appropriate for this tour. Bathroom facilities were very crude and located up another steep climb. Amenities for suite guests on this ship are minimal to say the least. The Neptune lounge is very small for the number of suite guests and services from the concierge are limited. I have previously sailed with Holland America but this will be my last one. Read Less
19 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2017
We started our cruise of 10 days with some concern due to the harsh reviews that have been posted on this site. We quickly came to the conclusion that either HAL had suddenly righted the ship, or that a tremendous number of nit-pickers ... Read More
We started our cruise of 10 days with some concern due to the harsh reviews that have been posted on this site. We quickly came to the conclusion that either HAL had suddenly righted the ship, or that a tremendous number of nit-pickers post reviews. Simply, this was one of the best cruises we have taken. Not perfect, but nothing is and the imperfections were relatively minor. The ship was sold out but never felt overcrowded or burdensome to maneuver. We had great weather the entire cruise, the ship was elegant and beautiful, and the food far exceeded prior HAL experiences. More about this later. We booked a standard verandah cabin (6045) that was nicely decorated and well designed with plenty of storage space. We did not realize until well into the cruise that there are 2 large drawers at the foot of the bed that would have been perfect to stash the dirty clothes. The bathroom was average size but the walk in shower was larger than normal and plenty roomy. In the nothing is perfect category, the toilet is at an odd angle but did not bother us. Also, we were at the back end of the schedule for making up the room so that was not usually done until early afternoon. Live TV was rather limited (CNBC, MSNBC, Fox News, BBC News, and 2 ESPN feeds). Food was excellent in MDR and the specialty restaurants. We bought the ultimate dining package 0f 1 night in each of the 5 specialty restaurants for $119 pp. It saves $27 over individual bookings and each meal was excellent. The Tamarind and Sel de Mer are also beautifully decorated and you have no sense of being on a cruise ship as you dine there. We would not have missed any of them. The first night we tried reserving a table under open dining in the MDR for ourselves and our 2 friends traveling with us but were only offered availability very early or very late. The next night we just went when we wanted and were immediately seated, and this was repeated the other 3 nights we ate there. Portions were generous and service was very good. The Lido food was not at the same level but was adequate for breakfast and lunch. Despite critics, we always could find a table either indoors or on the pool deck. HAL attendants would offer to find seating if they saw someone having a problem. Yes, the chairs are heavy but the problem is not the weight but that they don’t easily slide on a carpeted floor. Dive-In served tasty chicken sandwich, burger, fries, etc., all cooked upon ordering. Never a line of more than 2 or 3 people. NY Deli had non-NY type bagels, but the lox spread was delicious. The pizza was the best I have had on a cruise. It was crowded at lunch on sea days. Grand Dutch Café always had tables available and served nice pastries and sandwiches, but service was slow. They charge $2 for a small coffee. Entertainment was a cut above other recent cruises we have taken. The BB King Blues band was fabulous. Great musicians playing mostly R & B, blues and classic rock. We took in part of their shows every night and they developed a loyal following of repeat viewers including several tireless dancers. Contrary to some critics, they did not repeat the same sets over and over. We saw 3 shows in the World Stage and they were above average. The Lincoln Center Stage had a quintet of 5 young women who played a mix of classical and more mainstream music. Only one show, on a sea day, was SRO. The Billboard piano bar seemed the most popular and was out least favorite. It was usually very hard to find seats at the early shows. Shopping was somewhat limited for such a large ship: the usual watch/jewelry store, liquor and sundry items, some dress clothing (women’s nostly) and branded HAL merchandise. One design defect was the narrow passageway on deck 3 infront of the shops. They would put out tables with special sale items but that cut into the ability to easily move around. A few brief observations on ports: Half Moon – We shared the day with the Nieuw Amsterdam, but plenty of room on the beautiful beach. The barbeque lunch was not up to previous standards. Grand Turk – Great beach just off the front of the ship. Took an island tour but not much to see. Amber Cove – Great pool complex and surprisingly uncrowded. Did my first zip line ($20 for unlimited trips). No beach. Bonaire – Not much if you don’t snorkel/scuba. Took a glass bottom boat trip that was very interesting and informative. Curacao – Very scenic and interesting town walkable from ship, but hot. Many high end shops. Avoid the tour to the caves which are not very interesting. Aruba – Wanted to do day trip to the beach but warned by HAL not to because it was Carnival Day and access to port would be restricted after 12 noon, and shops were to close. Shops did close at noon, but the Parade didn’t reach the port until 4PM. Wasted day. A few negatives that did not spoil our vacation: Staff needs to be better trained and not give wrong information. For example, in Aruba the Guest Relations gave wrong information about the timing of the Carnival Parade which caused us to unnecessarily cancel our beach plans. The casino staff misinformed me as to the schedule of the Blackjack Tournament. Guest Relations also mistakenly charged me luggage fees for Luggage Direct that I had indicated were waived by the airline as a perk for my affinity credit card. (However a request for a refund was quickly arranged after our return home.) The excursion desk had a female employee who lied about availability of trips in Bonaire, trying to steer us to the most expensive one. She was reported to her manager when we found this out the next day. Food at Half Moon has deteriorated in quality, but the number of tables has increased so there was plenty of availability. Too many activities are scheduled at same time, between 11:00 and 2:30 and then there are dead spots in the mid-afternoon. Internet service was pricy (I took 100 min. for $55) but speed wasn’t too bad. In summary, this was an excellent cruise with a beautiful ship, great weather, and wonderful food. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2017
We have cruised may times previously and with many different lines. We choose our operator depending upon the itinerary and this was the reason for our first cruise with HAL, although we had heard good reports in the past. This was a ... Read More
We have cruised may times previously and with many different lines. We choose our operator depending upon the itinerary and this was the reason for our first cruise with HAL, although we had heard good reports in the past. This was a 14 night Caribbean voyage from Tampa and the majority of passengers were America. The average age was older than other ships we had sailed in and the overall atmosphere was quieter than usual. No silly games round the pool etc. This was a mid-sized ship with just under 2,000 passengers but plenty of room around the decks. The food was much better than other lines we have sailed with and the Gala Nights reflected that, fillet mignon and lobster tails!! The entertainment around the ship was also very good and varied with guest artistes featuring in the main theatre. BBKings showroom ws particularly excellent. We cannot fault the service, cabins (signature suites), entertainment or the food and drink. The best cruise for a long time. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2016
My first cruise and a big ship to start this process! Ship very grand, food excellent but never had a properly hot meal except in the lido restaurant. Main dining room the meals arrived barely warm. Variety of food very good but still, ... Read More
My first cruise and a big ship to start this process! Ship very grand, food excellent but never had a properly hot meal except in the lido restaurant. Main dining room the meals arrived barely warm. Variety of food very good but still, eating good food at a lukewarm temperature is not my idea of perfection. Worst thing of all was we were in cabin 1090 and this suffered from the full effect of base sounds from BBKing performances. First started off at about 21.15 and ended, some nights at 0.25 hours. I had poor sleeping for the whole of the fourteen nights. When we complained onboard we were greeted with apathy, although they did admit it had been complained about on several of its mini cruises. They said they would have changed our cabins but they did not a like for like to accommodate us! We received a $50 per person credit in our final bill which amortised out over 14 nights was appalling little. I wrote a review to the company, as requested on my return and in return received a typical "American reply" which said nothing, admitted no blame ( we were never warned before we joined the cruise of the possible problems) and basically said off you go we intend to take this no further than let the powers that be know. I am appalled by such a hollow customer services response and a reflection of the same apathy we received on board. Anyone who travels with this ship should be aware of noise problems and I guess the soundproofing is partly to blame but they, knowing the problem should not think that lifting the carpet and brushing it under will solve it or stop this complaint process continuing. Is this the American way of making amends because if this is the case, I would not travel on an American ship again and will do whatever it takes to let others know what they may have in store. The whole matter was treated as though it was our fault for being picky. It is a marvellous area to travel to and so much is right with the concept but once people try to make me feel it is wrong to complain and I should just go away and forget about it, then I become more determined to take it further. Read Less
39 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2016
We have cruised with Holland America Line on 14 of their cruises on various vessels. This was our first experience on the ms Volendam. First of all, the employees on the ms Volendam, like nearly all of their sister vessels' employees, ... Read More
We have cruised with Holland America Line on 14 of their cruises on various vessels. This was our first experience on the ms Volendam. First of all, the employees on the ms Volendam, like nearly all of their sister vessels' employees, were superb and met our expectations for the most part, with some issues noted below. Our Suite Stewards were Excellent! A. The Pinnacle Grille personnel were all superb from top to bottom, as well as the food, though the menu needs to be tweaked. We ate there three times in the 16 days we were on the ship and would have liked a little more variety, but all the food we ate was outstanding, and worth the extra expense. B. Check in and Embarkation worked extremely well in Hong Kong. C. Disembarkation in Yokohama was also seamless. D. Front Desk personnel were also superb and very very helpful. E. The Canaletto was a nice experience at minimal extra cost though we only used it once during our cruise, this time. The portions are huge and could be cut back a bit in our estimation. Problem Areas on the ms Volendam.: 1. Maintenance on the ship was not up to par in our estimation, with many many rust areas on the outside decks, and the suite we were in had scratches and nicks in the desk area and around the wooden parts of the door frames, etc. 2. Reduced man power in the main Dining Room - the Rotterdam, caused extremely slow service for all breakfasts, lunches, and dinners that we ate there. 3. The lack of employees stretched those that were working in the Rotterdam to the point where 30 minutes was not unusal to get the first course or the main course, which were often luke warm by the time they were served. 4. Having so few personnel also meant it was difficult to get anyone's attention when you needed something extra or something simple like a cup of coffee. 5. Though most, but not all of the shore excursions that we took (costing over US$2500 in total for two people) were well done, the cattle car experiences of waiting in the Frans Hal theater for those excursions was very difficult with inadequate seating and the shore excursion staff in the Frans Hal were treating the guests as a bunch of children on a school outing rather than as paying adults. Repeating and being loud and "pushy" is not what should have been done. They need to break up the areas for assembling to more than this one venue, which could be done if they had adequate resources to man the Frans Hal and the Explorer's Lounge, or the theater as examples. 6. The Lido food and presentations need to be monitored better though we seldom use the Lido to avoid the buffet atmosphere and the "mobs" of people clamoring for food. This ship needs a dry docking to bring it back up to par with some of the other HAL ships. Read Less
15 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2016
This cruise was supposed to be my honeymoon but my husband of 8 Months passed away before the cruise. I am glad I did go on the cruise as I promised my husband on his dying bed I would! This cruise was excellent, the food was delicious and ... Read More
This cruise was supposed to be my honeymoon but my husband of 8 Months passed away before the cruise. I am glad I did go on the cruise as I promised my husband on his dying bed I would! This cruise was excellent, the food was delicious and the service exceptional, I was very impressed! I had been on a cruise in 2012 to the East Caribbean with Holland America and it was also an excellent vacation! There are many crew members who really made my trip so enjoyable, and I would like to praise a few...Shawn the cruise director, Kari the Northern Lights disc Jockey, she kept us rocking the night away, dining room crew... Dedy and Rani, and I couldn't forget our bar server Ronnie. The BB King Band was terrific and they were all very talented! I'm already looking forward to my next cruise! I did participate in the 5k walk in memory of my husband who had recently passed away from pancreatic cancer! He would have been proud of my achievement because I did finish the walk! Thanks for making this trip one of the best for me! Read Less
28 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2016
“Around the world in 80 days…” goes the song. However, it took Holland America’s (HAL) ms. Amsterdam 115 glorious days to circumnavigate the globe on our Grand World Voyage 2016. What an amazing voyage it was! ... Read More
“Around the world in 80 days…” goes the song. However, it took Holland America’s (HAL) ms. Amsterdam 115 glorious days to circumnavigate the globe on our Grand World Voyage 2016. What an amazing voyage it was! We visited 24 countries and 41 ports; some were overnight stays. People ask us how we could stay on a ship that long. I reply that we loved every minute and that we hope to do it again soon. We were never bored or sea sick and learned so much about the history and culture of the places visited. It many ways, the cruise changed our thinking on a variety of subjects. For most passengers, this was their fourth or fifth+ HAL Grand World Cruise. For us, it was our first Grand World Cruise. The staff told us that this particular Grand World Cruise sailing had the youngest-aged passengers. One tyke celebrated his first birthday while on board the entire voyage. One thousand fifty passengers including 10 children boarded the ship in Fort Lauderdale. Seven hundred fifty passengers took the entire voyage. Other passengers joined the voyage for segments. Most passengers were Americans, many were Floridians but there were plenty of Canadians and Australians onboard plus other nationalities. Our exciting cruise began January 5, returning April 29, 2016 to and from Fort Lauderdale. Friends of ours encouraged us to go on this cruise with them. Unfortunately, they were unable to go. Right from embarkation, things went well. Within 20 minutes, from the time of our arrival at the pier, we were on the ship. Near the gangway, Pande our Assistant Maitre ’D from our HAL Grand Asia Pacific 2014 Cruise greeted passengers and recognized us. He instructed a steward to carry our hand luggage and escort us to our cabin. Wow! It made us feel like family. Our former Cruise Director, Gene Young from HAL Grand Voyage ’14 was also stationed at the gangway. He, also, recognized us immediately. It was wonderful to have him as our Cruise Director for this cruise, too. I wonder when the man sleeps. He was involved on board in so many ways. Our mid-ship ocean-view stateroom, # 2598 was in a very stable position on the ship. The cabin itself was bright, comfortable and contained sufficient storage space for all our belongings. The A/C and plumbing worked well throughout the entire cruise. Unfortunately, stateroom TVs were still not interactive so we often had to visit the Front Desk to get our statements printed. For my husband, though, the lack of a mini-fridge in our cabin was a big problem. He needed to visit the medical office often to retrieve his medication that needed refrigeration. Another problem was early morning (5-5:30 AM) noise from a crew member working on open deck 3 that frequently disturbed our sleep. Many other guests on our deck complained about this noise. All the stateroom passageways are bright and lined with Dutch maritime art; Deck 1 has Dutch floral art works gracing its walls. The public areas of the ship were all well appointed and quite attractive. The floral arrangements are stunning. However, the very comfortable couches in the Queen’s Lounge (theater) are lower than the upholstered chairs making it difficult viewing the performers on stage while sitting on the couches. Uneven temperatures in certain areas of the ship especially in the Queen’s Lounge made carrying a sweater a necessity. Still another concern was the slow speed of the internet connection. We waited until we reached shore to access thee Internet. The ship does need some updating and perhaps will go in for refurbishment soon. This in no way detracted from our enjoyment. The ship was well maintained and always clean. Everyone was comfortable navigating this mid-sized ship, which was the perfect size for entering smaller foreign ports. The food and service in the Main Dining Room were wonderful. We had fabulous meals nightly especially on Gala Nights. On the off chance that nothing on the menu was appealing, we could choose Jumbo Shrimp Cocktail, steak, chicken or salmon as alternatives. Although I always am pleased with food and service on HAL ships, on Grand & Grand World Cruises they are superior. Our Early Seating MDR servers Gede & Berry were professional, personable and efficient, anticipating our needs and checking to see that everything was fine with our meals. My husband received all his Special Request Meals in a timely fashion. Gede made a point of bringing the next day’s menus to him as soon as they became available. In fact, the entire MDR staff did a terrific job daily getting his Special Request Meals correct. Nestor Malsi, our wine steward, brought our glasses of red wine at our table usually before we even arrived. He always had time to chat with us nightly. After dinner, I enjoyed stopping by the cheerful door attendant, Woko’s station. He always remembered my name and knew which after dinner treat I wanted before exiting the MDR. I cannot say enough about how helpful the HAL staff was in general. All the crew on board Grand & World Voyages are hand picked by HAL. We did dine several times in the two specialty restaurants, The Canaletto & the Pinnacle Grill. The levels of service there were always excellent as were the food. The Lido Café food was good, too and we always ate at least breakfast there. In the Lido, wait staff members Imam and Supraman would often assist us in locating a table, brought us the Times Digest daily and remembered our preference for beverages. They were so professional, friendly and efficient. We always looked forward to our daily conversations with them. Many times, I enjoyed the Lido Restaurant’s wonderful sushi station at lunchtime. Another fun place to eat is poolside at the Dive In. The fries there are extra delicious; so are the several choices of hot dogs and burgers. Many other things made the voyage so special. On Gala Nights, the MDR was festooned with colorful balloons, London-themed umbrellas, paper lanterns, banners, flags or other festive decorations. On some themed nights depending on the theme, we received Panama or Bowler hats, beautiful masks or leis to wear and keep. On other Gala evenings, we received Valentine chocolates, long stemmed roses or maracas. The servers dressed in festive attire for the theme nights, as did many of the passengers. On many Gala nights, passengers received gifts in their staterooms such as: a nylon travel bag, a canvas boat bag with matching toiletry bag filled with travel essentials, a moleskin travel journal, a signed paperback travel book, Tiffany & Co HAL ceramic box, HAL Crystal Candle Holder, a Royal Goedewaagen Plate highlighting the itinerary and a travel wallet. Plus, at the Dinners with the Captain in the Pinnacle Grill, each passenger sailing the entire cruise received distinctive salt & pepper shakers reminiscent of those given on HAL very first World Voyage. On our night, we were kindly invited to sit at the Captain’s Table along with his lovely wife, Karen and two Senior Officers. The ms. Amsterdam is an older ship but quite seaworthy and is especially stable for the type of cruising that she does. Most days I forgot that I was even on a ship since the seas were so calm. Our “Storm Dodger” Captain Jonathan was expert at avoiding high winds and storms thus earning his nickname. I always felt completely safe under his leadership. Captain Jonathan & his wife were most charming, affable and professional as were all the Senior Officers. On Grand and Grand World Voyages, Grand Dollars can be earned by participating in on board activities. By the end of the cruise, we had earned over 800 dollars to spend on various items. Activities on board were varied. Daily Tai Chi classes kept us busy. Trivia was also quite popular as was Arts & Crafts, computer classes, bridge and pool games. We attended most of the lecture series on Sea Days. I specially enjoyed the talks on space, various cultures and photography. We were invited to attend several wine tasting events throughout the voyage. We loved the many Culinary Arts Demonstrations and Tasting classes, too. I hope that we can duplicate the dishes served using the many recipe cards we received. The movies on board were up to date and I watched a few of them. On Location Guide Barbara Heanni and Nyron Peters, from the Shore Excursion Staff gave detailed talks about Things to See & Do in port. These ship talks on the ports of call were current and quite useful. How nice that HAL has someone on board to help passengers who wish to go sightseeing independently. At many ports, there was a complimentary shuttle service to the center of town or to a nearby mall. Several times, we used this service. The main reason I took this cruise was the itinerary. It was so exciting to transit the Suez Canal for the first time. We have cruised through the Panama Canal several times previously and always enjoy the experience. One personal highlight for us was our one night’s stay in an idyllic over water thatched-roofed bungalow in Tahiti at the Hilton Moorea Lagoon Resort & Spa. A Welcome drink at reception, plus a bottle of champagne and wine along with fruit and snacks awaited us in our bungalow. We had a wonderful day swimming in the clear, aquamarine shallow waters of the lagoon, enjoying the beautiful views of the stunning mountains, strolling the white coral sandy beach and relaxing in the hammocks. An extravagant dinner buffet with a complimentary bottle of wine followed by a spectacular floorshow ending with an outdoor fire-eaters performance completed the magical day for us. At night, we viewed the lighted lagoon beneath us through the cutout window in the floor of our bungalow. After a sumptuous breakfast buffet with live entertainment the next morning, we took a walking tour of the facility and enjoyed the beautiful pool before we rejoined our ship at its next port, Moorea. It was a dream come true for both of us. Equally special were our visit to Petra and Wadi Rum in Aqaba, Jordan, Chinqua Terra in Livorno, Italy and Dubai, UAE. Muscat and Salalah, Oman were other new ports for us and quite interesting. Everyone asks which our favorite port was and we reply whichever port we are visiting at the time. However, while we were in Israel, we were especially moved while exploring all the biblical sights in Haifa and Ashdod. Almost all of our shore excursions were sponsored by the ship and they were worthwhile, enjoyable and educational. We did independent sightseeing in Sydney and in Jakarta since we had previously explored those ports extensively. There were so many memorable highlights during our World Cruise onboard the ms. Amsterdam. One was the very elaborate fun-under-the-setting-sun Australia Beach Party where sand covered the Lido Magrodome pool area. Bondi Beach lifeguards came on board along with Australia‘s most sort after 6-piece band, Hipnosis. There were huge beach balls, surfboards, beach chairs, water games and complimentary tropical drinks and food to add to the beach theme. What Fun! The extra-special décor of the 1001 Arabian Sights themed pool deck party set the tone for another wonderful evening. The Zany April Fool’s Day Costume Party in the Crow’s Nest was hilarious, while the elaborate Black & Silver Ball in the Queen’s Lounge was quite elegant. The champagne Valentine’s Day Ball in the Queen’s Lounge was oh so romantic. It was fun guessing who was under the beautiful masks provided for the Masked Ball in the Queen’s Lounge, the final Gala Night of the cruise. I was looking forward to the St. Patrick’s Day Party but was surprised that no Irish music was played although there were plenty of pots of gold and other Irish decor to be found. I especially enjoyed the extravagantly presented monthly High Teas - Royal Dutch, Polynesian, Indonesian and Middle Eastern. I photographed each of the lavish displays. I wished that there were more of them. My husband especially enjoyed the Super Bowl 50 Festivities in the Queen’s Lounge. Entertainment in general was wonderful and quite diverse. The Bon Voyage Sail-Away Fest was a great way to begin the voyage. We had complimentary drinks, snacks and live music with the wonderful HAL orchestra. A similar Sail Away Party occurred on our departure from Sydney. After dinner each night, we enjoyed listening to the very personable Debby Bacon in the Piano Bar. One night, her husband, Ron joined her for a performance and it was such fun for everyone. Whenever we could, we also found time to listen to the beautiful music in the Exploration Lounge performed by Adagio, Attila and David from Hungary. The talented HAL Singers and Dancers performed ten different shows and all were well paced and entertaining. One of my favorite Queen’s Lounge performances was the steel drum group from Trinidad, the sensational Island Magic. I even purchased their CDs. The cultural Queen’s Lounge shows in Hong Kong, Tahiti, Dubai and Spain were all colorful and memorable. Often times we had an extra theater performance, Spotlight before the main Showtime Show. The two well rehearsed Crew Indonesian and Filipino Matinee Shows were standing room only. Who knew that Nestor Malsi, our wine steward and Filipino Crew Show Organizer had such a marvelous voice? We attended and thoroughly enjoyed both shows. After so many days on the ship, we knew the entire cast of both shows, which made the shows even more entertaining. During ports of call, we had the opportunity: to ride a camel, an elephant, a mule and horse, swim with stingrays and dolphins and see penguins in their enclosure. We had close encounters with wild monkeys, kangaroos, emus & koalas. In Singapore, we went on a Night Safari and saw many nocturnal animals in their natural habitats. On board, there were dance lessons, cultural emergence activities plus didgeridoo, ukulele and belly dancing lessons. I learned enough foreign phrases to get along in the various countries visited. I tasted exotic foods from many different countries. It is an experience that I will never forget. Yes, it took plenty of preparation and planning before a cruise of this length. Imagine, though, touring the world and only unpacking once! No air flights even were involved since we live in Florida. How wonderful that our price included the shipping of our four large suitcases ahead of time! Gratuities were also included. We received excellent complimentary laundry service since we are Four Star Mariners. We made some wonderful new friends that we hope to see again on future HAL cruises. A cruise of this length may not be for everyone but it was a dream of a lifetime for us. We are still enjoying our memories when we watch our ship videos and look through our candid ship photos and photo albums. We were so pleased with the itinerary, the food, the accommodations and the service. Our next HAL cruise will be on the new ms. Koningsdam later this year. Read Less
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