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2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2019
This was our third cruise to Mexico and first cruise on a Holland America ship. It met our requirements for a new or recently refurbished ship, left from a nearby port, offered a last minute deal and was destined for ports with beautiful ... Read More
This was our third cruise to Mexico and first cruise on a Holland America ship. It met our requirements for a new or recently refurbished ship, left from a nearby port, offered a last minute deal and was destined for ports with beautiful weather. We went out on a limb to experience an interior cabin just to make the shipboard and port fun budget go farther. Here's what we learned ... Port = San Diego knows how to process two ships at once. Despite the spring break crowd the Disney ship leaving at the same time, luggage loading, processing and boarding ran efficiently. Holland America gives you a time window for loading based on your stateroom deck. Adhere to this and it should go well for you! Parking was $11 a day at the Wyndham hotel directly across from the port. Nieuw Amsterdam Ship = We liked the classic interior, beautiful sculptures and artwork that lined the ship walls. The main staircase isn't dramatic like the Princess ships and their main dining room isn't as cheery and bright like Celebrity Dining Rooms but it does have a small ship feel with large sea viewing windows and offers cozy alcoves like the Billboard Onboard with dueling pianos and the Crows Nest for reading/watching the sea and drinking a good cappuccino. When you stay in an inside room, you are quite interested in alternative places to hang on sea days. We frequented the well equipped gym and Tamarind Bar for views, without music, and comfy chairs for lounging and reading. I would not pick this ship for the pool experience because the pool is small and the deck is somewhat crowded with people and privately rented cabanas around the perimeter. If you choose to sunbathe, visit the Seaview deck on the back of the ship with a small pool. Bring your towel clips because it can be a bit windy. The pool dome is closed at night or cool weather, so the pool area stays busy during the day and night. You don’t see a lot of kids onboard but you do see them during afternoon pool hours. With all the mega ships now offering adventurous amenities for families or partiers, HAL is wise to cater to the interests of grandparents and people over 60 first. I wouldn’t hesitate to book a family reunion on the Nieuw Amsterdam but I think it’s real attraction is that it is not a "TEEN SHIP". It’s sophisticated and classy vibe is perfect for a couple getaway. My favorite feature on the ship was the elevator. Each elevator rug was changed daily to announce the day of the week…brilliant! Entertainment = Holland America has thoughtfully considered it's clientele. They have the BB King Blues Club for mo-town and dance music, the Lincoln Center for classical recitals and the Dueling Pianos in the Billboard for 60, 70's, 80's and singer songwriter favorites. The talent was incredible this cruise! The main stage dance shows by Step One Dance Company were skillfully produced with technical lights and lasers and the comedian- Chris Pendleton and illusionist Leon Etienne - couldn't have been better. Activities = Highlight of this cruise was the America Test Kitchen sessions and the games hosted by cruise directors. EXC cruise talks for this Mexico cruise need improvement. Folklore dances on the sundeck need a stage for more passengers to see. I didn't use the casino but KUDOS to Holland America for offering a SMOKE FREE casino so all passengers can enjoy the Onboard Billboard Entertainment. I was surprised to see that the library limited to games and primarily travel and educational books. Bring your own novel. Food and Service = This aspect is pretty important to cruisers and I was worried how it would par with our previous Celebrity and Princess cruises. I can happily tell you that steak tastes like steak (not liver) and lobster portions are wonderful! We didn't have to go to a specialty restaurant to find food we enjoyed. I was most impressed by the Lido Food court and enjoyed being served. This was far different from milling around Horizon court or encountering a traffic jam at the Celebrity food stations. Passengers may have to wait a bit longer for the crew to dip up your food choices, but it is more sanitary. The Nieuw Amsterdam offers an outstanding salad bar. While ice-cream offerings and desserts don't compare to the Norman Love creations on Princess they were tasty, plentiful and enjoyable. Servers were quick to clean tables, serve drinks and always friendly. Booking last minute, Anytime Dining was our only option. We learned to call up to two days in advance to request a dining time. This cut down on waiting in line like other guests. It was also enjoyable to sit and meet other guests. Bar drinks on cruise ships are expensive. Check the rules and consider bringing your allotment of beverages (including water) on board at each port or enjoying in port. Ports = Mexican ports are not particularly spectacular but with a little personal research and port reviews you can book some great tours. My husband and I have never felt afraid or had any concerns about getting off the ship. The people in Mexico are friendly and tourism is quite important. Keep in mind that local taxi drivers don't always speak English but they know the way to popular tourist areas. I can't comment on HALS ship tours as we typically book our own. I highly recommend the following ... Mazatlan - Enjoy the city with a personal guide on a bike along the water. We saw cliff divers, fishermen feeding huge birds, harbor sculptures, city square and the greatest local food market. We gained knowledge of the city's history and learned to appreciate what the locals love from Daniel at Blue Foot City Bike Tours https://bluefoot.mx Cabo San Lucas - This port requires a tender but there is enough to do in the vicinity if you choose just to shop or refill your prescriptions for half the price. Our preference is to get off the ship and negotiate with locals for a tour. We have taken a whale ride excursion in the past. This time we enjoyed and recommend taking a water taxi (both ways) to Medano Beach. Once there you can enjoy the day at a local resort with a perfect view of the ship and Lovers Beach. Puerto Vallarta - The port is nothing to see except a huge Wal Mart across the street. Instead, opt for a taxi to and from the Malecón. Walk the large boardwalk along the ocean to shop, view beautiful art sculptures, street performers and colorful flowers. There are plenty of great restaurants along the way. Visit the Lady of Guadalupe Church downtown, avoid most city streets and sightsee in touristy areas. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2019
1. The title says it all! Nothing for the younger crowd. This caters to the 50 plus group. 2. Service was excellent! 3. They cram liquor down your throat! I understand that's where the money is but wow! 4. Excursions. ... Read More
1. The title says it all! Nothing for the younger crowd. This caters to the 50 plus group. 2. Service was excellent! 3. They cram liquor down your throat! I understand that's where the money is but wow! 4. Excursions. Ehh....ok. I did better with a guy in a van! And MUCH CHEAPER! 5. The ship was super clean! 6. Entertainment....not for me on this ship. And everyone goes to bed at 9! THIS IS FOR THE OLDER CROWD! If you want to relax and do nothing...this is YOUR cruise! 7. Food was good....but all the "extra" restaurants were also crammed down your throat as no one would eat there! No coffee shops no snack shops, nothing. 8. Disembarkation, IMPRESSIVE! Customs....I didn't see any! NO ONE SAID A WORD! Had a neighbor that bought $400 in tequila, they didnt even ask to hold it when he boarded! We were told to just take it to our room! When we left the ship no one cared what we had! Not even a customs form! It was great! 9. Great ship, great line but I'm going back to RC and fight the crowds! Read Less
10 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2019
We have been on several holland America cruises. Like it because they actually have some computer and photo classes. This 7 day trip out of San Diego is probably my last. We about fell over when we saw the price of wine. It has ... Read More
We have been on several holland America cruises. Like it because they actually have some computer and photo classes. This 7 day trip out of San Diego is probably my last. We about fell over when we saw the price of wine. It has doubled. I ordered an after dinner drink of cream de mint, kahlua and white cream de cocoa. I got a shot glass of nothing but cream de mint. I said this is wrong. They refused to fix it. Kids took over the adult aft pool. We loved the violin and cello guys. The blues group was good. That’s about it. I was more than ready to leave before the end of the cruise. We gave our room steward a tip at the end. Aidet. - he was the best. I doubt our $29 per day for tips goes to those who work so hard. I had a $20 massage in each port. - way better than the ones the ship charges 7 times more for. We are next headed to an adult only ai in mexico. Much better value. We tried to play pickle ball on the ship but it was over-run with basketball players. Ai places have tennis courts. I don’t have to wait for a ticket to be herded off the ship like cattle. I can tip who I want and the drinks are included. Thoroughly disgusted after this last cruise. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2019
We wanted an easy vacation and now that Holland America is once again sailing from San Diego, we hopped on board. The Mexican Riviera is a well-traveled path and we met many returnees, plus quite a few Midwesterners, Utahns, Idahoans, and ... Read More
We wanted an easy vacation and now that Holland America is once again sailing from San Diego, we hopped on board. The Mexican Riviera is a well-traveled path and we met many returnees, plus quite a few Midwesterners, Utahns, Idahoans, and Canadians. Incidentally, we met up with the Cruise Critic roll call members the first morning of the cruise and enjoyed their company throughout the week. Here are a notable features from our cruise: * Great: Crew, passengers, the ship itself, the food * Good: the weather, the happy hours (2nd drink $2 and passed appetizers) * Missing: HAL cats, the onboard ship's band we enjoyed on previous HAL cruises * Also missing: hand-wash stations and sufficient Purell hand sanitizing stations * Fabulous: the Lincoln Center chamber orchestra and the BB King's Blues Club band * Fantastic: the new Humanity dance show with Step One dancers and light show * Always present but not welcome: sales, sales, sales. Spa treatments, cabanas, on-board jewelry shopping, liquor, future cruises, on-shore jewelry shopping, fee restaurants * Excellent: folklorico dancers, guitarist, comedian Tim Kaminski * Fleeting: one show each by truly excellent guitarist and good Elton John/Billy Joel vocalist-pianist * More detail on food: the Lido had tasty food, well prepared, and served by cooks so that there was very little passenger tong handling. The dining room food was creative, inspired and varied. * Off-putting: the drink prices, especially the wines. Just no. Cheapest white $9 per glass for a bottle that retails for $7 and wholesales for $3 * Inconsistency: Smart casual in the dining room: Night 1, a passenger at a nearby table wearing a ballcap in the dining room. Night 3, a warm day and evening, my spouse appears in a collared button down shirt and long shorts, gets sent back to the room for long pants, oops, our bad. But what's this? Seated next to us: a teenaged boy in basketball shorts and shirt. * More inconsistency: 2nd Gala Night: female wearing capris and a t-shirt with words on it, plus a visor; her dining partner (likely husband) wearing shorts, a baggy t-shirt and a cap. * Final inconsistency in the DR: final night, smart casual again, man wearing shorts and t shirt. Not sent back to change. Also: not a warm day, so no excuse for the attire. * Final missing: an atrium that's a gathering place. The Ocean Bar wraps around the small atrium, but the ship simply isn't large enough for a central space with a music and dance floor. However, with that comes fewer passengers and a more pleasant ambiance. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2019
The first time around, it was our first cruise together. We sailed on the Eurodam in January, same itinerary, and had a wonderful time. We felt like it wasn't long enough, though, so we decided to book the same itinerary on a ... Read More
The first time around, it was our first cruise together. We sailed on the Eurodam in January, same itinerary, and had a wonderful time. We felt like it wasn't long enough, though, so we decided to book the same itinerary on a different boat. The Nieuw Amsterdam is not quite as nice as the Eurodam. Of course, it hasn't been updated as recently, so that stands to reason. For the most part, they are almost the same-- same restaurants, same staterooms, same places to spend money. But there are subtle differences. The Nieuw Amsterdam has an identity problem in its decor. Here a little Art Deco, there a little quirky, and over there-- well, the main dining room, it looks like the twin of a fancy Chinese restaurant, all in red and mirrors. It is just missing lazy susans on the tables and a gigantic fish tank. No shark tale soup on any menu, though. So, let's talk entertainment. The blues club-- can't beat it. Fun, great music, great entertainers. The classical musicians-- same same. The pianists, well, I guess others liked them, but they didn't do it for me. Mainstage entertainment-- well, were it not for the parents who decided to allow their children to climb over me (literally) and then sit, screaming, it was pretty good. The first show, all dancing, was creative-- the lights became both a character and a prop, with them dancing with the dancers. It was something I haven't seen before. The second dancing show was okay-- one dancer was significantly better than the others. She was good, she wasn't great. But entertaining enough. The magician played to a packed house. I coudn't see it because there was no where to sit. The few minutes I did, it looked like fun. Dining was hit and miss, but mostly hit. Whoever was in charge of cooking the meat hit a home run each time. Whoever was making the sandwiches needs to learn how to spread butter. Other than that, it was the usual high-quality food we have come to expect from HAL. The main issue we had with the cruise was the behavior of the children. I like kids. In fact, I have spent a lifetime teaching other people's kids. When they are well-behaved, they add a great deal to a social occasion. When they are badly behave, they ruin it. Besides the children climbing on me, then screaming, there were packs of young and pre-teens running around (yes, running,) leaving pool towels in the elevators, using the adult pool, several times, complete with floatees to jump onto, splashing the guests, shouting and jumping into the whirlpools. Our complaints seem to fall on deaf ears. And then there is the cell phone issue. Ours were on airplane mode the whole time. And yet we were charged for their service. So, we enjoyed ourselves. But we do feel like HAL has a few wrinkles to iron out. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2019
I recommend this cruise. We've been to these ports many times and this was by far the smoothest sailing we've been on. The weather in our Mexican ports was really good, too. Although there were over 400 children on this ... Read More
I recommend this cruise. We've been to these ports many times and this was by far the smoothest sailing we've been on. The weather in our Mexican ports was really good, too. Although there were over 400 children on this cruise it wasn't a problem, at least to us. Except for the swimming pools, which they seemed to take over, the children were a pleasure to have around. We found the staff to be very friendly and helpful. Everyone! I thought the food was very good. We opted to eat in the dining room every night because we found the food very good there. Even the buffet was, in my opinion, a little better than most other lines we've been on. The entertainment was okay. On the main stage the special effects were good, but they only had six dancers. Excellent dancers , but not exciting. However, the comedian and the magician they had on other nights were very good. We would have enjoyed a little more of a live band around the ship -- maybe by the pool. They had the BB King band, and we enjoyed them.. LOVED the two piano players, and didn't miss many of their performances. Overall, we were satisfied with the entertainment. I thought the ship was beautiful. The balcony cabin was well appointed and, of course, our cabin stewards were the best. The only complaint I have isn't with Holland America, but with Cruise Critic. This is the first time we've signed up for a roll call and not had a meet and greet on the ship. I have no idea why not. We're looking forward to another Holland America cruise. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2019
They sent as a coupon. 1) My husband booked me a 2 hours spa treatment. I was taken in late for my treatment, while i did the seaweed wrap the therapist left the room , and never bothered to come check on me, and ask how i was doing. ... Read More
They sent as a coupon. 1) My husband booked me a 2 hours spa treatment. I was taken in late for my treatment, while i did the seaweed wrap the therapist left the room , and never bothered to come check on me, and ask how i was doing. The massage was probably the worst massage i have ever had. Once the treatment was done, she was trying to sell me $ 350+ worth of products, and trying to talk me into purchasing additional treatments, by pointing out my skin is sagging, my eyes are puffy etc.....very intelligent:) They put a bottle of water in your room, but there was no label or warning that they were going to charge you $ 5.75 for it! When we got the final bill they raised the daily mandatory tips at $ 14.50/person. The food in the buffet was same every single day, without a fail. As far as entertainment, not much , there was only one show worth the time in the whole week. In the day time , the ship was like a dormant boring place, unless you had plenty of cash to spare you would keep yourself entertained because all they did , tried to sell you anything. The library had no books, other than speciality travel books and such. To conclude, I think I am pretty much done cruising. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2019
This was our first and most likely only HA cruise, only choosing this line as we wanted to sail out of San Diego. While we tend to sail Celebrity, we are open to trying new lines. What we found on HA was very friendly staff, a Lido ... Read More
This was our first and most likely only HA cruise, only choosing this line as we wanted to sail out of San Diego. While we tend to sail Celebrity, we are open to trying new lines. What we found on HA was very friendly staff, a Lido buffet which is mindful of public health having servers give food to protect all our germs (yay) and no pushing of restaurants, beverage packages and photos which was a real treat and some great entertainment. However, we found the friendly staff didn't seem to go that extra mile, a dining room that had very boring meal options so we ended up eating in Tamarind once and Canaletto twice (both delish!, and activities, which to us focused way too much on learning computer skills and the Mexican culture and little of anything else. Speaking of food, all the breads were delicious but the desserts (other than gala night lemon meringue cheesecake) were not and would have been nice to have a build your own sandwich bar rather than taking pre packaged, overly buttered or too much mayo sandwiches. Not a big thing but struck us as a bit odd. They did go out of their way to assist my husband with GF options for each dinner and at lunch and breakfast. But all the ships are doing that now. Regarding the Eurodam itself. We found it a bit dated and dark and we missed having a grand centre area where people can hang out as in other ships we have been on. Seemed like very choppy hallways including a strange venue for a most entertaining Lincoln Centre classical group which were a treat. We did book a Retreat Cabana for the week which great except as mentioned earlier, the staff were nice but did not go that extra mile. You would think after 3 days of asking for ice, the cabana person would have figured out we like ICE!! Seems like two nice staff with little initiative and sometimes impossible to even find considering many of the cabanas had not been rented. A decent overall ship but not for us. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2019
This was our first cruise with HAL and we thought it was quite nice, the food was very good (average desserts notwithstanding) and the staff was friendly. We did not find too many of the activities that were offered piqued our interest ... Read More
This was our first cruise with HAL and we thought it was quite nice, the food was very good (average desserts notwithstanding) and the staff was friendly. We did not find too many of the activities that were offered piqued our interest enough to make the effort to go. The Mainstage shows were mostly good (loved Latin Dancing and BBC Earth w/ live music, but the magician, the comedian and the other dancing/singing show was just okay). I walked into B.B.King's but the singer's volume about broke my eardrums so I walked right back out. (On that line, take earplugs to the Mainstage shows when there is singing because it is ridiculously loud.) If you're a cold person, always keep a sweater or light jacket with you because many passageways throughout the ship have the A/C too cold. I couldn't find a good indoor spot to sit and read my book because it was so cold everywhere. But on the last day we discovered the library/reading room on the observation deck (10th or 11th floor), which was fantastic as there are floor to ceiling windows all the way around and lounge chairs on which to read. If they ask you to sit for a B&W photo shoot, don't do it unless you're willing to spend a shocking amount of $. The pictures are super good, but it costs $150 for an 8x10 print or $300 for a digital copy (per picture) (I'm not kidding). I ended up injuring my foot on the 2nd day (while rushing down the steps to try to get to the dining room before breakfast closed, I misjudged the final step - dang!) so I spent the rest of the cruise on crutches or with a cane, so I don't think I can be objective about judging everything on the ship since I was so limited. Couldn't even get off the ship in the first 2 ports. My husband really enjoyed walking the perimeter of the 3rd deck to get exercise. When we went outside on the upper decks, there was usually such a cold, stiff breeze that we didn't want to linger. Unless we were docked in port, then it's not breezy and cold like when the ship is sailing. Embarkation and debarkation were a breeze. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2019
After having only previously sailed with Celebrity up to this point, my wife and I went on this cruise based on reading favorable comparisons between the quality of HAL and X. While the Eurodam is a nice ship and we definitely had a fun ... Read More
After having only previously sailed with Celebrity up to this point, my wife and I went on this cruise based on reading favorable comparisons between the quality of HAL and X. While the Eurodam is a nice ship and we definitely had a fun and enjoyable time on-board, there were definitely some differences with our past cruises. Here is a list of some of the things we saw as Pros and Cons: Pros - Comfortable, well maintained ship with a number of nice common areas to spend time at during the cruise. - Crew was very helpful and nice. - Cabin (Veranda) had a bath tub/shower combo, which we hadn't experienced before outside of suites. - Well stocked board/card game room (they even had Settlers of Catan). Cons - Average age was probably over 70. While my wife and I don't want a party barge experience, the number of people in wheel chairs outnumbered the 20-30s crowd. - On ship entertainment was likewise geared towards the older crowd. - We had open seating which with X gives us an individual table. While you might be in relatively close proximity to another table, it is your own table. We assumed HAL would have a similar experience, but every night at the MDC we were asked if we wanted to sit with others and one time we ended up having to sit with another couple. - I think we prefer the Caribbean from a cruise port perspective. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2019
Of course, San Diego is a beautiful city. Leaving from San Diego meant, for us, that we were relaxed, happy, and ready for an adventure. However, from the moment we drove into the cruise parking entry, we were impressed. First, the ... Read More
Of course, San Diego is a beautiful city. Leaving from San Diego meant, for us, that we were relaxed, happy, and ready for an adventure. However, from the moment we drove into the cruise parking entry, we were impressed. First, the porter taking our luggage as we stepped out of the taxi was friendly and efficient. We didn't have to do a thing as he quickly tagged our luggage and sent us into the terminal. The army of brightly scarfed greeters welcomed us and showed us to the reception desk. Quick, pleasant, and efficient. Once on the boat, we were awed with the decorative touches. Picture-worthy decor everywhere we looked. Our cabin was clean, pretty, quiet, and roomy enough for us. (Veranda) The team that took care of us were delightful, thoughtful and we were sad when we had to say goodbye to them. The food on the Eurodam was excellent. Hubby and I love to eat out, and have done so at dives as well as five star restaurants. The presentation on the Eurodam is amazing, considering the sheer number of people they serve. The depth of variety should be enough for anyone, and the food quality is consistently high. The service is quite good, as well. For the price point, the number of people served, and the complications of cooking on a ship, I was very, very impressed with our food. The blues club band-- loved it. The Main Stage... eh, not so much. It was okay, but I left early. Same for the dueling pianos. The classical musicians were excellent. Did one shore excursion. Never again. The hop on bus in Mazatlan was scary. First, the cliff divers, though amazing, came with guys on the shore hustling us for tips. Something told me that much of that money would be skimmed off by the local cartel, and that the divers would see little of it. Ick. And the drive through town was crazy. Large bus. Tiny streets. Too much traffic. You get the idea. We would love to hop back on the Eurodam any time. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2019
Really enjoyed this cruise - have travelled with HAL several times and am never disappointed. Inside cabin was small but adequate - Cabin 4165 Cabin steward kept the cabin clean and was very helpful if we needed anything. Ship is ... Read More
Really enjoyed this cruise - have travelled with HAL several times and am never disappointed. Inside cabin was small but adequate - Cabin 4165 Cabin steward kept the cabin clean and was very helpful if we needed anything. Ship is kept super clean - staff is very friendly and helpful. Activities vary and everyone can find something to do. Digital classes are good to either learn or learn something new on your computer. Test kitchen is fun and the receipes are some you can use at home. Lido Buffett is very good -I always enjoy that the food is hot and there is a great variety of food. I always enjoy the hard icecream for desert! Show are good - I'm not a big show person but did attend a couple. Casino - variety of games - some people win and some don't (I'm on of those that don't) but I enjoy playing. Great ship! Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2019
This was our 6th cruise with Holland, and we have only sailed with them. It was our first time on the Eurodam. This was a great cruise for us as it came at time when needed it most. For the most part Holland again came through with ... Read More
This was our 6th cruise with Holland, and we have only sailed with them. It was our first time on the Eurodam. This was a great cruise for us as it came at time when needed it most. For the most part Holland again came through with flying colours. Special thumbs up for the the dining room food quality, which was as good or better than any of our previous cruises. We are puzzled by some recent reviews that claim substandard food quality on the Eurodam. Service was top notch ( with a couple of exceptions hardly worth noting ) as always. ..but alas, there were a few niggly things that we feel worth noting: Internet service - it used to be that Holland had pay-as-go internet which was perfect for us because we only check our e-mails and send the odd one. Now that simple act costs $189 for 7 day trip. Decided to forgo internet and do it ashore for free...which leaves sea days as a dead zone. Reading lights - this admittedly a minor point, but the LED spot lights they installed in the cabins in place of the warm lamps they used to have, is an irritating step backward. Live music - on our first cruise back in 2008, there was a live band that played in various venues, including the Crownest, where there was a small dance floor. Holland has moved away from that...now they have the BB King Club and band, which while good, is in a dark venue that could be anywhere, and music gets repetitious after a few days. Used to be they also had a trio playing the Ocean Bar for dancing. Live music has definitely been on the downward trend over the years. Happy Hour - it used to be that most of the bars had happy hour from 4-5...including the Crownest. Back in 2008 when we started with Holland, you could go to the Crowsnest for 2for1 drinks, with a live band and watch sailaway! Now only the Ocean Bar has it from 4-5..it is crowded and noisy and we had to take our drinks elsewhere. That said, we will be sailing with Holland again without question! Read Less
Sail Date: January 2019
My best friend and I chose this cruise because of the low price for a verandah cabin in January compared to later months. Also, it left from San Diego which is near my friend's home. It was her first cruise and my second - and first ... Read More
My best friend and I chose this cruise because of the low price for a verandah cabin in January compared to later months. Also, it left from San Diego which is near my friend's home. It was her first cruise and my second - and first with HAL. My previous cruise was on the Norwegian Jewel 2 years ago - a much longer Miami to LA cruise via the Panama Canal. This short cruise on the Eurodam took me to a place I had been to once - Cabo - and two Mexican ports neither of us had visited: Mazatlan and Puerto Vallarta. The food in the Lido was better than the equivalent on the Jewel and my friend was very impressed. The optional dinners at the Asian themed Tamarind and steak house Pinnacle Grill were excellent - and the service at Tamarind rivaled that of best restaurants I've ever experienced. We also used the Tamarind to provide us with appetizers and sushi to watch the NFL playoff games in our cabin on Saturday - outstanding! The music from BB King's band was great and the dance floor was filled with people on almost every song - much better entertainment than available on the Jewel. I missed the extra deck space on the Jewel for walking on the top decks and the ship seemed smaller overall. It also seemed less crowded and we did not have to wait very long for food or other service anywhere on the ship - maybe January is better for that as well. On the Jewel my mom and I went on Norwegian hosted excursions but for this trip my friend and I just used taxis and local tour guides to take us around. Highly recommend Alberto Cruz Cota in PV for a great local tour guide - alcruztours@hotmail.com or cell (322) 2277 675 or home (322) 224 58 34. HAL recommended restaurant in Mazatlan Pancho's was excellent - best shrimp we've ever tasted. Overall cruise highly recommended - just fix the standard beds to equal those on the Jewel. Read Less
10 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2019
January 6th cruise on the recently refurbished Eurodam. Third cruise on HAL. 23rd cruise overall. My wife and I are seniors but lead busy lives. We go on cruises to get away from it all, relax, veg out and be taken care of. In regards to ... Read More
January 6th cruise on the recently refurbished Eurodam. Third cruise on HAL. 23rd cruise overall. My wife and I are seniors but lead busy lives. We go on cruises to get away from it all, relax, veg out and be taken care of. In regards to these goals, Eurodam filled the bill with flying colors. The Eurodam was recently refurbishes and is a clean, pretty ship. We had a spa veranda stateroom. It was a nice room with adequate storage for two people. Bed was incredibly comfortable. Very nice large flat screen TV on the wall facing the bed. Balcony was small but adequate and pleasant. In case you were wandering, the difference between a spa veranda stateroom and a regular veranda stateroom is that you are closer to the spa and you have a rolled up yoga mat in your closet. It DOES NOT entitle you to any spa privileges or discounts. Food was very good in both the main dining room and the buffet. I had read prior reviews on cruise critic that complained the hot food was served cold. This was never our experience. My objection to the food on all the HAL ships that I have been on is that they bend over backwards to fancy it up and appeal (it seems) to gourmands. That is fine but how about some options for those of us who like plain good tasting, down home food. I am a very plain meat and potatoes guy. My stomach does not like very spicy dishes. On the menu one night was celery and cucumber goat quark as a starter. I am not into eating sub atomic particles that come from a goat. For those of us who do like plain food, there is New York Pizza (OK, not outstanding), the Dive-In (best hamburgers and hot dogs as well as very best fries at sea) with limited hours of 11:30 am - 6 pm (New York Pizza is open until 10 or 11 pm) and room service. The room service items that appealed to me the most were on the children's menu but for some inexplicable reason, the children's room service menu is only available from 5:30pm -9:30pm, which is while we are at dinner or right after. Apparently HAL does not want anyone ordering off the children's room service menu. Entertainment was very good. Comic magician and comedian were both excellent. Pianists/singers at Billboard and BB King were excellent. Production shows on main stage were very good. Lincoln Center musicians were superb. We did not do shore excursions or many ship activities because our goals were as listed at the beginning of this review. As a matter of fact, we did not even care about the ports at all. We did not take this cruise because of it's itinerary. We just wanted to be on the ship, wherever it went. Most mornings we missed breakfast as we slept in until 11 am or noon. One of the places we used to enjoy visiting was the library which was located in the explorations cafe/cow's nest on HAL ships. Unfortunately, with the refurbishment, they pretty much did away with the library. It is not even listed as existing though there are still a few books there. Pity. HAL used to have the best library of any cruise line at sea. Also, the explorations cafe seems to have less offerings than it used to. It is much prettier but I rather have the old library and cafe back. Service was excellent from all crew members. They all smiled and greeted guests pleasantly. The MDR staff, however, seemed very rushed and always moving. One got the impression that they had to do more with less. They tried to give each guest outstanding service and did so to the best of their ability, but long waits were the norm as they just seemed overwhelmed by the demands on limited staff and time. Special shout out to our room steward Adit. Of the 23 cruises we have been on, he was the best room steward I have had and I have always had excellent room stewards. Would I do this ship again? In a New York minute if the price was right. The positives so overshadowed the few negatives. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2019
Background- We ended up on this cruise because we waited too long to book for our planned Caribbean cruise and this was what was available with a good selection of cabins at the last minute. We are an extended family of 12 from 16 to 82 ... Read More
Background- We ended up on this cruise because we waited too long to book for our planned Caribbean cruise and this was what was available with a good selection of cabins at the last minute. We are an extended family of 12 from 16 to 82 and we booked 5 cabins. Some of us are from Southern CA and that made this a convenient cruise as it was out of San Diego. We parked at the Wyndham across from the cruise terminal. This is incredibly convenient and was only $11 per day. We dropped luggage and people off and then went and parked the car. The walk is only about 5 minutes. We parked around 11:30 and were on board by 12:30. The embarkation process was smooth, lines were not too bad and staff was as quick as possible and friendly. The cabins were ready and we dropped everything off and we were in the buffet before 1. Internet- My SIL bought middle tier on embarkation Sunday it was $99.99 for the entire cruise. I bought the middle tier just after midnight at about 1 AM Monday and it was $89.99 for the duration of cruise. For the most part the internet worked well all over the ship and my cabin but at times it would be spotty or stop working for a bit. Checking in water- We checked in 3 flats of water, no problem. They were delivered to our cabins. One flat was still intact at the end of the cruise and my brother checked it as luggage for debarkation. The water was delivered in tact with our luggage on arrival and at baggage claim on debarkation. Entertainment- BB King- Great band, very talented musicians, especially the trumpet player. The female was ill and only sang the last night. Billboard- Fun piano bar duo, the male had just got on board when we did. Lincoln Center- Again great musicians Stage Shows- Enjoyed 1000 Steps, not so crazy about One World. 4 in our group left One World after about 3 minutes. Comedian excellent. Really enjoyed the BBC Earth with live orchestra. I did not see the magician or the show the final night that was the comedian and magician with new material. Activities- Really enjoyed the Mexican ambassadors. Great entertainment with the folkloric shows. They also had dance classes, language lessons and art classes. Not much of interest to our group in the AM on sea days though. No morning trivia like all other lines I have been on. It seemed that all of the activities we would enjoy were lumped at the same time in the afternoon. This is one area this ship could be improved. Food- Loved that at the buffet the staff serves the majority of the food. I dislike using the same serving utensils as hundreds as other people so this was a biggie to us. We all agreed that the food was great in both the Lido and the MDR. Great fries at Dive In. Tried a piece of pizza and it was OK. Compared to Carnival, Celebrity and RCL, we all agreed this was the best food we have had. Liked that there was a legitimate late night buffet each night from 10:30 to 11:30. Staff- Incredibly friendly and accommodating. Top end of what we have experienced on other lines. I have no complaints about the staff, they were really amazing. Other guests- I was expecting an older crowd but it was actually skewed more to middle age, with some younger and some older. There were about 1/3 the number of kids on the ship per our waiter vs. the holiday weeks prior to ours. Kids running around at the pool was a bit dangerous and no one said anything. Ship- nice small size and in very good shape. No smoking indoors!!!! Cabins- I was in an obstructed OV. The view was mostly of one of the shorter life boats so we could see light and some things over the life boat. The cabin seemed smaller than other ships but the bathroom was much better with a tub, room to actually move around some. Lots of cabinets and storage, we did not even need it all. Two cabins in our group with balcony and they said they seemed small, they looked average to me. TV- I did not watch much but there was a very good selection of live TV, movies, America's Test Kitchen, etc. plus the dinner menu. I was on one ship with so little TV it became a joke that I kept watching the same episode of Big Bank Theory over and over in various languages! Ports- Cabo- Two of us booked a private excursion to bird watch, there were a couple of issues but it turned out nicely in the end. The others in our group booked with HAL a dolphin interaction (their original choice was cancelled and they did not know until they showed up in the AM, HAL had delivered a letter but they did not read it!) They loved it but the pictures they sell were outrageous, something like $160. 2 booked scuba, 2 a boat tour to El Arco and 3 snorkeling trip to Chileno Bay all with HAL, they said all the trips were great. After tours some shopped and hit bars/restaurants. 1 did not get off the ship. Tendering was smooth, we needed off early to meet our private tour and we got number 2. Show up earlier than posted to get your tender number if you want off early. Mazatlan- 5 of us did the Birding and Estuaries. It was wonderful, I really enjoyed this trip. It ended with lunch and a short amount of beach time. I am a birder, as is my Mom, the other 3 from our group are not birders. This is not a hard core trip for birders, there were some other birders on our trip but most just were there for the nature experience. Others booked a private ATV trip and said it was lots of fun. The rest booked Nautical Heritage by Land and Sea. They really enjoyed the trip that included a boat tour, watching the cliff divers and a bus tour of Mazatlan. After my birding and estuaries tour 3 of us hired an open air taxi to take us to the cliff divers, the church and a general drive around. Very nice, highly recommend as well. PV- 4 of us did the Dolphins, Whales and Marietas Islands trip. It is at least 1 hour by boat to the islands. Once there we snorkeled, kayaked and paddle boarded. After we had lunch and drinks on the ship. Then we looked at the blue footed boobies found there and then whale watching. There were tons of colorful fish. During the whale watching we saw 25 to 30 whales, many at very close range. It was awesome. This was booked with HAL but ran by Vallarta Adventures. 4 others did a trip that was a speed boat, snorkeling, horseback riding, lunch, waterfall, etc. They said it was great. The other 4 did a private tour zip that they loved. We were in port until 11 PM so Rhythms of the Night was offered as a ship excursion meeting at 5:20 PM and back about 11. Although a bit pricey, it was fantastic. There was about a 45 minute boat ride to a candle lit/tiki torch lit location with a fantastic dinner buffet. After dinner was a Mexican themed Cirque du Soleil type show that we loved. The benches were incredibly uncomfortable though. The speed boat and night show were also run by Vallarta Adventures. Bonus- I love that they had 2 staff on board dedicated to helping you organize port visits on your own without booking an excursion. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: January 2019
great 7 day cruise, San Diego - Mexico We had room 8155 Balcony great room excellent room stewards Category VF aft and starboard. dinning in MDR & Pinnacle Grill. Good food lots of choices and excellent service. Dive in ... Read More
great 7 day cruise, San Diego - Mexico We had room 8155 Balcony great room excellent room stewards Category VF aft and starboard. dinning in MDR & Pinnacle Grill. Good food lots of choices and excellent service. Dive in burger was yummy, Pizza ok not enough red sauce for our liking but thin crust which we prefer. Liddo Buffet was fine for our lunches had a great salad bar, a great variety of food stations Breakfast in room and on Lido only once in MDR. We were disappointed with the breakfast in MDR eggs not cooked to order and hash brown patties yuk! Would be nice if they served real potato hash browns. The onboard nightly shows were very good the Hal performers were the best we have seen! Overall we really enjoyed it it was a R&R for us so no shore excursions We are going to book with Holland again for Europe in the near future. Great cruise and great workers Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: January 2019
I'm glad to read that so many of the 'group' from Cruise Critic Meet and Mingle enjoyed HAL and are sold on cruising with them in the future. I have been on many HAL cruises and the Eurodam overall was excellent. I ... Read More
I'm glad to read that so many of the 'group' from Cruise Critic Meet and Mingle enjoyed HAL and are sold on cruising with them in the future. I have been on many HAL cruises and the Eurodam overall was excellent. I feel their service is exceptional, food very good with many choices. Tamarind was superb. MDR for breakfast and dinner, also very good. Went to Lido twice for a quick lunch and always satisfied with offerings. I did 'any time' dining and I was always asked if I wanted to be seated with a group. I never had to wait and enjoyed hearing from others why they appreciated being on such a wonderful ship vs. some of their other experiences. Went on a HAL shore excursion which was a lot of fun. Learned a lot about Puerto Vallarta and the guide and driver were first-rate. I used Trip Advisor for Cabo outing with Big Mikes Sea Adventures and would recommend also. Enjoyed the entertainment, especially the two comedians--who happened to be on our same floor with the musicians! Jazz and piano players were fabulous. Our cabin stewards were so gracious--always with a smile and a greeting each time we met. I have learned it works best for me to arrive for embarkation later as I went right onto the ship as well as disembarkation. All went smoothly with no delay. This was also true of the one port in Cabo where tenders were used--efficient and no delay. There were some young children as well as teenagers on this cruise, and all were well behaved. I didn't spend time at the pool so can't speak to that activity. I would definitely go on the Mexican Riviera cruise and Eurodam again. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2018
This was my 23rd cruise, and I like to offer my insights. I like to start with positives so here we go: Staff is amazingly helpful. Ship is immaculate. Storage is amazing on this ship. Closets, cabinets, shelving, compartments. ... Read More
This was my 23rd cruise, and I like to offer my insights. I like to start with positives so here we go: Staff is amazingly helpful. Ship is immaculate. Storage is amazing on this ship. Closets, cabinets, shelving, compartments. Everything was terrific. Elevators are really fast and never crowded. Cabins have a great amount of USB ports so you don’t have to lug charging bricks with you. Loved the makeup mirror they give you in the cabinet. The LED reading lights are terrific. The free movie selection in the room was unparalleled! Truly the best ever offered on a ship. For once, the pictures were lovely. No hard sell, very good value and the best, they had REASONABLY priced photo gifts that the produced right on the ship. BB Kings location and music was terrific! It’s enclosed and the acoustics are lovely. Much better than the Konigsdam which was wide open and had no ambiance of a club. Now for the real issues: This was our 3rd New Years cruise on HAL and the first time there was NOT ONE table to put your drink on while you were enjoying the New Years party near the pool. I looked at pictures from the Konigsdam and saw all of the high top tables around the deck. We had the 8pm seating for dinner and were NOT offered ANY New Years party favors. The ship has horrible plumbing issues. We had standing water in shower and backed up toilets constantly. Other people had brown water in bathroom sink and was told at first that it was ok to use to brush your teeth. Then Later, was not to use it. This ship doesn’t have a “sports bar” per-se but there are so many TV’s around and they just didn’t have enough viewing locations for all the college bowl games and NFL playoffs Some smaller issues: no laundry bags in room. If you make the mistake and take the bag marked “laundry” bag, you will be charged $15. The daily activities were pretty much non-existent. If I had not been on three other HAL cruises, I would have just chased it up to the “target” demographic but I must tell you, I think this is a direct reflection of the “middle aged” cruise director who just doesn’t necessarily care about making the shop have varied activities. On deck 11, there’s an area where they do all the cultural talks. I don’t know why they don’t utilize the same seating area and show movies so people don’t have to stay coupes up in their rooms if they want to watch a movie. There should be scheduled movie times crwatingvan atmosphere of socialization! It wasn’t until the last day at sea that I saw coloring pencils in the Fugi craft area. Why the ship didn’t let people know there was an adult “coloring ” time is beyond me. The food was ok. Nothing special and certainly nothing like other Holland ships. When they say “rack of lamb” but serve two pancake thin lamb chops, this is NOT rack of lamb. The food in Lido was mediocre to say the least. The bakery selection for breakfast was terrible and the eggs (scrambled) were just inedible. I don’t understand why the “daily menu” selections were not printed in the menu every day considering the menu was not very good. Ships should move over to paper straws rather than discontinue straws (on request only) Port of San Dirgobwas very easy for both embarkation and disembarkation. There were over 280 kids this week but the ship didn’t change anything on the daily program. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: December 2018
I booked three balcony rooms together on this cruise for a special family vacation. When I booked the rooms I noticed they were under the Lido Market buffet and I was concerned about noise from the buffet. I was told by the Holland ... Read More
I booked three balcony rooms together on this cruise for a special family vacation. When I booked the rooms I noticed they were under the Lido Market buffet and I was concerned about noise from the buffet. I was told by the Holland America booking agent that the Lido Market is carpeted and the rooms below do not experience a lot noise from above. Unfortunately that was not true. There are tables and chairs on bare flooring right above rooms on deck 8. The market is open from 6:30 am to 9:00 pm and some days it was open past midnight. The noise from above was awful - especially the scrapping chairs on the bare floor. If there was actually carpet under the tables and chairs the scrapping noise would be minimized but for some reason they do not have carpet in the area right above the staterooms. Every time a guest sat down or stood up we would hear the scrape of the chair right below - the agony! I complained immediately but the cruise was sold out and we could not be moved together, or even on the same deck. Unfortuately, this undesirable situation impacted the enjoyment of our entire week on the ship. Aside from the noise in the cabin, the cruise was not bad. The staff were generally friendly but not especially gracious. The service in the main dining was terrible so we ended up using the open dining option which was okay but not our first choice. The food was better than I expected based on past reviews I read online but it was not outstanding. The entertainment was good, especially the mini-concerts in the Lincoln Center lounge and the two pianists in the Billboard Onboard lounge. This cruise caters to an older crowd; so if you are under 70 years old you may feel either very young (lol) or a bit out of place. We were traveling with our twenty-something year old kids and they found the activities onboard rather unexciting expect for a bar-crawl offered one night. This cruise left out of San Diego which is the only reason we chose Holland America. I was excited to give it a try but we will not be back. There are too many other choices in the same price range that offer a better experience. Read Less
8 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2018
Chose this ship because we had a great experience 8 years ago on their cruise to Alaska. This was frankly very disappointing. Unlike the previous cruise most everything besides meals is extra. I mean like diet cokes , even WATER! They try ... Read More
Chose this ship because we had a great experience 8 years ago on their cruise to Alaska. This was frankly very disappointing. Unlike the previous cruise most everything besides meals is extra. I mean like diet cokes , even WATER! They try to up sell you on everything you do. Even Bingo.. They charged $2.50 for a pen! Outrageous. Then, in the gym, 3 out of 5 bikes worked. Stuff was not working. Also, more maddening than anything.. The wifi was useless. It barely worked and they charged 128 for premium! It was dial up speeds if any. Will never do this again with them. Excursions were ok.. Standard stuff. Room lighting was abysmal.. Couldn't read very well and again wifi non existant. 5 TV channels.. Wow. Pool and deck are fine, food lines very slow. No self service anymore probably due to health risks.. Dining room is again an upsell.. Lobsters 20 extra with no meat on them. Would rather eat dinner in Lido deck. The whole thing was very nickel and dime.. Not what I was thinking. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2018
While this room (cabin 10046) was in a good position to the availability of everything on the ship, the Lido ping-pong table is directly below this room. All day long you hear kids cheering as the win and miss shots. We finally had to ... Read More
While this room (cabin 10046) was in a good position to the availability of everything on the ship, the Lido ping-pong table is directly below this room. All day long you hear kids cheering as the win and miss shots. We finally had to complain after the first night because they were playing until all hours of the morning keeping us awake. We were assured that they would shut down the game each night at 9pm, but every night we had to call to request the quiet. It was a hassle and we would not desire that room again. The Tamarind was our favorite restaurant. The Pinnacle was our least favorite. Lamb chops like rubber. We will never do the Canaletto again. We are disappointed that the main dining room menu has limited choices. As long-time cruisers with HA, we see drastic changes to the menus. Bring back the Oxtail soup, patte, baked brie in Phyllo Dough, short ribs, and crab legs. The entertainment in the Lincoln Center and main stage were amazing! We were completely impressed. Room stewards Dewa and July were amazing. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2018
The embarkation process in San Diego was the easiest I have ever experienced. It may be because it is smaller and we were the only ship loading, but security, registration and boarding took 15-20 minutes in total. The Ship: As ... Read More
The embarkation process in San Diego was the easiest I have ever experienced. It may be because it is smaller and we were the only ship loading, but security, registration and boarding took 15-20 minutes in total. The Ship: As usual, HAL does a great job with decorating for Christmas in a classic, tasteful way. A gingerbread village was on Deck 1 in the Atrium and smelled so good when you were anywhere near it. I did notice a few less decorated trees this year (this is the 6th Christmas cruise my family has taken). The ship itself was in good repair, and we noticed some upgrades in the public areas from our last cruise on the Eurodam in March of 2018, including carpeting and seating in all public areas. They had reinstituted a book exchange in the Crow’s Nest and games, including 2 permanent Danish large wood games, can now be found in the Gallery Bar adjoining the casino (puzzles were still upstairs in the Crow’s Nest). I have always loved the Gallery Bar for the quiet atmosphere since it is tucked away, although it was less quiet on this cruise when the extra children and families on board for the holidays used it as a hangout. Still it was nice to have a place to go and they have many more games available than before. I have been fortunate/blessed enough on all my cruises to have had at least a balcony cabin and many have been in suites, but for some reason the balcony (class VF) on the Eurodam seemed smaller than usual to me. However, it was clean and comfortable. The cabin stewards were friendly and efficient, and we always enjoy having adjoining cabins so the balcony portion can be opened to allow travel between the rooms. It allows us to use an open/closed curtain system to know when others are willing to be disturbed. Our first two days were at sea, including Christmas Day, which was very relaxing on board. Ports: This was our first cruise out of San Diego and to the Mexican Baja Peninsula so we enjoyed the new places. San Diego is as beautiful as I heard. The hills, water and walkable streets were a feast for the senses and we especially enjoyed our time eating our way through Little Italy. There is a beautiful Catholic church there where we attended services. I was excited to visit the old Love Boat route, having grown up watching that show and always wishing I could be Julie McCoy. Our first stop at Puerta Vallarta was entertaining as we booked a walking food tour in the old part of the city (vallartafoodtours.com/food-tours/). Our tour guide Bernardo was knowledgeable and friendly. It was 3 ½ hours so a lot of walking was involved but all pretty much on flat ground- just wear good walking shoes. We stopped and 8 places sampling 9 types of food and drink. I can’t name a favorite because I enjoyed the chocolate shop, agua fresca, tuba water, street tacos and everything so much! I highly recommend this tour that was a 10 minute ride from the ship, which included history, a visit to the historic church and across the bridge to the island. The iguanas roaming the streets were entertaining. Note: the taxi from the ship areas was $24 for 3 of use to the meeting place at the end of the boardwalk. The ride back from in town was only $8 for all of us. I am sure there are risks with walking outside the ship area to get a taxi but it would be considerably cheaper. On the way back we had our driver drop us at the Walmart that was across the street from the cruise port. We always enjoy walking into foreign grocery stores to see the different products and we struck gold here, buying a liter of Kahlua for $8.50 USD! We were less thrilled with Mazatlán. After reading about State Department warning, we only briefly walked outside the cruise ship area here, not venturing into the old town. It requires a tram ride from the ship to the cruise terminal area where many shops and vendors await, as it is a working, busy port. I did buy something at an ice cream stand ($3 minimum purchase) so I could obtain wifi and get email from work. We also enjoyed margaritas and spicy chips and homemade salsa at the bar in the center of the plaza. The next stop was Cabo, which was a clear favorite. The areas we visited (historic, shopping and port areas) were clean, felt very safe and we enjoyed a visit to Cabo Wabo Cantina for delicious, spicy fajitas and ceviche, as well as delicious tequila based drinks. The food and drink prices there and at the bar we stopped at on the waterfront were very reasonable. Cabo was beautiful as we entered and beautiful as we left. It was definitely a place I would come back and visit for a longer period of time. We would have liked more time there than the 6 hours we had, since we had to be back on board at 2:30 and really be prepared even earlier to head back since it required a tender. We then enjoyed a final day at sea before arriving back in San Diego on Sunday where the disembarkation process was easy as well. We waited in our cabin after a quick breakfast (a welcome benefit for HAL who lets you do this) until our time to exit was called. We quickly found our luggage and exited the terminal. Again because it is small, it is easy to get beyond the secured area to pick up an Uber or taxi to the airport. Food and Drinks: Although HAL has a pretty clear brand, over my many voyages there has been variability as to the quality of the food, really meaning between good and great. This trip fell into the great category and is a testament to the Hotel Director, as well as the head chef and chief bakers. Perhaps because Hal caters to an older crowd who may be more conscious of a lower salt diet, I have found food on other trips to be a little bland. Not so on this trip, where the proper use of salt in all items, including bread made the products more flavorful. The desserts had a fresher, more vibrant taste, as did our entrees in the dining room and food from the Lido Market. We enjoyed all of the specialty restaurants at least once (using our newly acquired Mariner discount) and all were enjoyable. Canaletto in particular was a better experience than on prior trips as the food quality was good and the service was at least twice as fast on prior visits. A major concern about this venue to the time it takes to order and receive different courses. This was a much improved experience and they have now added an additional entrée as a special of the day. I would like to see that at all of the specialty restaurants as it adds something different if you have dined there many times. We did attend afternoon tea on two occasions, one with plated services and one with waiters walking around serving. The food, consistent with the other dining venues, was better on this cruise. The Lido Buffet was very good (an effusive thank you to Rouisa who served us breakfast at the Lido most mornings we ate there- the friendliest employee HAL has). Denada was another roving server in the Lido who was always welcoming. Beverage service on this cruise was some hit and some miss. They had 5 specialty holiday cocktails we enjoyed trying, both throughout the trip and at a $15 bar class where we tried 3 of the specialty cocktails and took home the recipes. One pour note (sorry for the bad pun but I couldn’t resist): they have a new Dale DeGroff cocktail menu and we were excited to try some cocktails. However, it was only 2 weeks old and they did not have all the correct ingredients listed so the bartender liberally used substitutes. However, you cannot substitute cinnamon syrup in a drink with ground cinnamon and think it is the same. Other substitutions were for cheaper brands of liquor, or leaving out ingredients altogether. The bar tender apologized and we actually asked him to remake one drink because he didn’t measure and it tasted awful. I was disappointed to pay anything for these drinks and believe they should have told us upfront that they could not make the requested items. Also, for new drinks, measuring ingredients is necessary, even for experienced bartenders. As mentioned, we enjoyed the holiday drinks, particularly one called the Christmas Cookie and other HAL menu staples such as the Tropical Cable Car, but found significant variations from bar to bar as to taste and alcohol level. In another instance, we were given two wine lists in the main dining room and had no problems ordering from both (the older one being much more extensive). However, at the Pinnacle the next night, the wine steward did not want to give us the old menu, stating that most of the wines in it had been discontinued. In fact, our choice of a bottle was not available. To her credit, she did substitute a similar type that was a few dollars more for the same price. All in all, some consistency from bar to bar is still needed. Entertainment and Other: My only other comment is regarding Internet service. The HAL app is very useful and I like being able to see events, my shipboard account and keep track of ship time using my phone or iPad. However, when I purchased the Internet package (mid-tier so I could keep in touch with work), it would download the message line of emails, but never download the content so I could read the body. These were not emails with large attachments, and my sole visit to the customer service desk on this trip was to ask if there was a problem with the Internet. The response was that we were at sea so it could be slower. Clearly never getting an email to fully download (even after 20 minutes) is more than being slow. However, they promptly refunded the full charge to my account when I asked for a refund due to the service issue. Although I stopped and listened at BB King, Billboard and Lincoln Center a few times I did not partake in any scheduled nightly entertainment. I did want to see the comedy show that only had one viewing, but by the time we arrived at the theatre, it was already standing room only. It seemed there were a few more activities scheduled, including dance classes and we enjoyed the EXE talks about Mexico’s history and geology. I remain a loyal HAL cruiser and continue my journey towards 4-star before I retire and take my 30+ day cruise as a reward. This trip was better than most, and our next cruise was already booked several months ago so my new countdown has begun! Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2018
We were on the Eurodam 1 1/2 yrs ago with an Itinerary to Alaska which hooked us on cruising with HAL. It was the best cruise experience we've had having over 30 cruises under our belt so we assumed this trip would be no different BOY ... Read More
We were on the Eurodam 1 1/2 yrs ago with an Itinerary to Alaska which hooked us on cruising with HAL. It was the best cruise experience we've had having over 30 cruises under our belt so we assumed this trip would be no different BOY were we wrong. The 180 degree turn of experience leads me to believe that these weren't minor changes ….this is how the current and future HAL experiences will look like due to cost cutting to more closely compete with their sister company Carnival. Entertainment The HAL entertainment and activities were almost non existent there was only 1 night that HAL dancers perfomed a dance act that was on another cruise we took with them in May. On other cruises with 3 sea day you would have a minimum of two possibly three performances. The other nights,they showed a movie offered in the room that has been out for six months. The other nights there was a second rate commedian and magician, the last night was a review. Some other experiences: Very little interaction or communication from cruise director to let us know what was going on Americas test kitchen was offered only one day on a itinerary with 3 sea days The wait staff show is gone... were told they didnt want to pay staff extra for the show The relationship with Park West Galleries no longer exist as a result no more art auctions at sea Jewelry and Watch auction featured 1 (yes) one watch with a reserve of $500, I guess they didnt want to have a real watch auction The Cha Cha Class offered was so overcrowded there was no room to move, I surmise the turnout was due to lack of other activities. If you bought the elite drink package you most likey would have been dissappointed, many of the higher end wines and whiskeys were not in stock Lastly it really burns me when I see the cruise director drinking wine for a couple of hours in one of the lounges we were in when there was such a lack of activities going on In all the quality of entertainment was far below ANY cruise we have been on. Food Food quality was decent but another nod to cost cutting their seafood quality was very poor. One night Halibut was served which should be a flaky white fish, instead what we got was a rubbery piece of fish. After sending it back 3 times i gave up understanding it was not the prep it was the quality of the fish, other passengers around us had the same experieince. Same thing with salamon, and the shrimp cocktail were noticibly smaller and less firm. The burger joint on the pool deck took 35 minutes to get a burger and fries and when we recieved them the burger was burnt to a crisp. Other than that beef and lamb products were prepared to HAL typical high standards. Processes Our day in Cabo required a tender to shore. By far it was the most disorganized tender i have ever experienced over 30 yrs of cruising. How the tender #'s were allocated, the loading of the tender and return was highly inefficent. Having previously tendered with HAL without incident i can only surmise that they did not put down enough tenders (maybe because of fuel) to handle this process efficently. The lido cafe was also very inefficent in part due to staff not having a sense of urgency to serve, in part due to inefficent station setup and in part due to line ctters, a really simple solution his would have been to have line barrier to prevent cutting ahead... which wouldnt have been an issue if the lines were moving efficiently. Well, it's good to be home, If HAL wants to win our business back feel free to contact me. Otherwise the goal of becoming a 5 star mariner is dead. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: December 2018
I took my best friend on this cruise because it was out of my home port and it was her first cruise. I have crushed many times with NCL & Celebrity and only once prior on Holland America to Alaska over 20 years ago. Talk about ... Read More
I took my best friend on this cruise because it was out of my home port and it was her first cruise. I have crushed many times with NCL & Celebrity and only once prior on Holland America to Alaska over 20 years ago. Talk about dissatisfaction with food, service, and customer service! Our cabin stewards Adit and Hamit were wonderful, as was Saldit in the Lido Buffet in the mornings. Other than that, we were dismissed, food was always cold, I specifically requested vegetarian selections and was told I needed to pre-order 24 hrs in advance. (It was the same menu throughout the cruise.) once I brought to the attention of management, I was followed, harrrased, and overall a very poor experience. Hopefully my friend enjoyed her first cruise, as I tried to let her know that this was an anomaly to my past cruising experiences. I wasn’t the only person who was not happy with the food. The three days in port were spent finding decent food. The tender experience in Cabo was laughable! The line to obtain tender tickets/times was beyond chaotic and frustrating. You get what you pay for using Vacations To Go as well. Once final payment was made, it was virtually impossible to get the representative to return a phone call or email. Read Less
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