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111 Holland America Norwegian Fjords Cruise Reviews

We chose this cruise for the Norwegian Fjord itinerary. We chose the cruise line and ship due to the fact that the ship was essentially brand new (launched December '18) and we were interested in the culinary arts offering through the ... Read More
We chose this cruise for the Norwegian Fjord itinerary. We chose the cruise line and ship due to the fact that the ship was essentially brand new (launched December '18) and we were interested in the culinary arts offering through the advertised America's Test Kitchen. Several weeks prior to embarkation we received an email listing some of the possible demonstrations that we would see in the culinary theater. However, we found out on board that the culinary program was not being offered and no one had an explanation regarding why this was. We spent a few days in Amsterdam prior to the cruise. During this time we received a gift from a friend in the Netherlands that included a bottle of alcohol. Knowing that we were not permitted to bring this on board we checked it in with security at the terminal during embarkation and were told it would be delivered to our stateroom on the final night. When it did not arrive and when our steward couldn't locate it we contacted guest services. They assumed it was at the terminal and told us if they located it when the ship docked they would bring it on board and we could claim it at guest services. If it was not found we were told we would receive compensation (we don't know how we could be compensated for a gift). On the morning of disembarkation we went to guest services and were met by a very cranky individual who assured us that the item was found and would be waiting for us at a desk at the end of the gangway after we left the ship; she couldn't explain why it wasn't brought on board as promised. The item was not at the desk, the individual manning the desk knew nothing about this and her attempts to reach her supervisor on board via radio were unsuccessful. We nearly missed our transfer to the airport while waiting for her to reach someone. During the entire process we felt as if we were getting the runaround and that no one wanted to assume responsibility for dealing with this. We easily could have accepted the fact that this item was lost if we were told as such. More troubling is that we contacted guest relations via email and also mentioned this in the on-line survey (which arrived in our email one hour after disembarkation) and after a week we have not received any response. This experience alone is enough to convince us to spend our travel dollars with a different cruise line in the future. Another issue that surprised us was the wine package. We purchased a 6 bottle package shortly after boarding. Each night, except for the last, we were met with confusion when we tried to order a bottle. Compared to other cruises that we have taken there seemed to be a paucity of things to do on board during the at sea days; we had expected to participate in the Test Kitchen events which never happened. The ship itself is beautiful, the art on board was impressive and for the most part the meals in the dining room were good. The food at the Lido Market, however, was always cold unless we had something made fresh which was always available. The Grill was excellent but had a 39$ upcharge, the food at Tamarind was mediocre. The musicians at the various venues were all excellent and much more entertaining than the performances in the theater; we only wished their sets were longer than 45 minutes at a time. The ports were all great to visit and as with any other cruise we would have liked to spend more time there. The terrible service review only applies to the customer service. The wait staff, the bar staff, the deck staff and our cabin steward were all excellent. Read Less
Sail Date September 2019
My 19 yr old daughter and I were late additions to a large group of family and friends on a cruise from Amsterdam to the Norwegian fjords. This was our first cruise on HAL and our first in this part of the world. We very much enjoyed our ... Read More
My 19 yr old daughter and I were late additions to a large group of family and friends on a cruise from Amsterdam to the Norwegian fjords. This was our first cruise on HAL and our first in this part of the world. We very much enjoyed our spontaneous vacation. Embarkation was simple, our cabins were ready as soon as we boarded. There are no flashy waterslides or shopping atriums etc - two nice pool areas, one with a retractable roof (very useful in Norway) and a giant movie screen on the upper decks. Clientele was on the older side. Our group was half 40-50ish and half 17-23ish in age and we felt younger than many. Most of us were in balcony cabins or suites on deck 10, which were lovely spaces and provided us gathering room. My daughter and I were in a standard interior cabin on deck 4. It was extremely comfortable - beds were fluffy, TV was large, storage was plentiful, bathroom spacious and nicer than I imagined it would be. We mostly ate in the main dining room for dinner and the Lido cafe for breakfast and lunch. Food was great for all. We did one night at Rudy's Sel de Mer, which was special but probably not worth the upcharge. We enjoyed high tea in the main dining room on a few days :-) There are many evening entertainment venues on the 2nd deck, lots of music in a variety of styles. The biggest downside for us is that our last minute cabin was interior on deck 4 and we could hear it all from there. We played a "guess the song" game which could have developed into something fun with some planning (we would have had to station a few people on the stairs to verify our guesses.) In port, we booked one kayak trip on our own in Flam and bought an OsloPass in Oslo which allowed us many museums and transportation. The one HAL adventure we bought was to climb Pulpit Rock outside Stavenger - it was the number one thing we wanted to do in Norway but could not find an outside vendor who could do it on our timetable. HAL did a great job - it was definitely a disciplined march to make sure we accomplished the goal - but they had buses, guides, and got us back to the ship in time with no stress other than physical trauma from climbing up a mountain. Several of us also went on the "behind the scenes" excursion on our last sea day which was highly interesting. Our main complaint is about itinerary. We have been to Alaska where the "scenic cruising" part is when people are actually watching the scenery. This trip along the fjords involved scenic cruising after leaving port until sunset. We traveled the length of the Sognefjord - the "King of Fjords" and the longest/deepest fjord in Norway twice (once to get to Flam, situated at the end, and once to leave.) We cruised to the end in the middle of the night. We left while everyone was eating dinner and it was dark before we reached the ocean again. I abandoned food et al in order to see the fjord and capture photos. Granted that I will not starve on a cruise but the scenery is supposed to be a highlight. Similarly, the onboard entertainment is not in synch with the dinner seating times in the MDR. The MDR takes too long to make the World Stage shows, you have to leave early. I also think the stage shows were poorly promoted. We are huge fans of Postmodern Jukebox, who performed two nights. The theater wasn't even half full. There's no nightly standard show. Final complaint: Amid the many pieces of paper selling jewelry or future cruises that arrived at our door each day, I completely missed the one saying that we would not be arriving back in the center of Amsterdam where we left. Missed the deadline for the bus back to the departure point and had to pay 50E for a cab. This detail may have warranted a little extra attention. In summary: I would absolutely go again. Read Less
Sail Date August 2019
Nieuw Statendam Review, Land of the Midnight Sun, Departure on 7/7/19 For a little bit of background, we are mid-40’s cruisers that have sailed on Royal Caribbean, Celebrity & Disney with almost 20 ... Read More
Nieuw Statendam Review, Land of the Midnight Sun, Departure on 7/7/19 For a little bit of background, we are mid-40’s cruisers that have sailed on Royal Caribbean, Celebrity & Disney with almost 20 cruises under our belt. This was our first Holland America experience and we chose this cruise due to the itinerary to the Artic Circle. We left a few days early so we could have time to enjoy a little bit of Amsterdam before the cruise on Sunday. We arrived into Amsterdam early afternoon and took a cab to our hotel, the Kimpton Dewitt as we did not want to transport our luggage by public transportation. We stayed at this location due to free points, but I highly recommend it as it was a short walk to all of the major sites in the city. A colleague recommended that we take the hop on/hop off on tour. I do not recommend this as it was a big waste of time and the tour highlights were not that great. We did download the Rick Steves audio tour on my Iphone, and we did two of his free walking tours and learned a lot from this and highly recommend this way to tour the city. On the Saturday before the cruise, we took the Old Holland Tour that provides public transportation by bus for 20 euros pp and it took you to Zaanse Schans, Edam and Volendam. We had a great time and they also have a walking tour that we used walking around the windmills.  On Sunday, we headed to the port around noon and were on the ship by 12:30. We were really excited to be on this trip and to experience all that we could see on Norway. We were even more ecstatic because a couple of weeks before we decided to upgrade to a Neptune Suite. We have never stayed in a suite, but we pulled the plug because the cabin was an aft corner with the 2 balconies, and we wanted to be able to see as much as we could of all of the scenery both in the fjords and the Artic. One benefit that we truly enjoyed as a result of the suite was Club Orange. We had amazing food and service in this venue at both breakfast and dinner. I have a gluten allergy and they truly catered to me and I was able to have souffle and many other dishes that I have never been able to have on other cruise lines. Ports: Eidfjord. We scheduled an independent excursion through Go Fjord to see the Vøringfossen waterfall. On the way to the waterfalls, we stopped a nature exhibit. This was truly a waste of time, but this was the cheapest and easiest way to see the waterfall. The excursion limited the time at the waterfall, so I highly recommend going to the furthest platform viewing first and working your way back as it had the best views of the falls.  Bergen: We first got on the hop on/hop off bus and do not recommend. The city is not that big and pretty walkable. We then walked around and stopped at the Hanseatic Museum and Bryggen. I highly recommend the museum and they have regular tours for English speakers. We did not buy tickets in advance of the funicular because I was concerned about weather. However, the weather turned out beautiful so on our walk to the funicular I bought tickets on their app and was able to avoid the huge lines waiting to buy tickets. We then had a hearty traditional Norwegian lunch at Bryggeloftet & Stuene. We then headed to the Fish Market as my husband loves all kinds of dried and canned fish. I bought some sausage (later learned you can’t bring back to USA ☹). Alesund: We took the independent excursion through Norway Excursions, Alesund from Fjords to Trolls. Our tour guide Anita was amazing. I learned so much from her about the history of Norway and their culture. This was by far the best tour with amazing scenery on the Troll Road with its 11 hairpin turns. This Florida girl was glad she was not driving. The tour also allowed several stops and photo stops which was really nice. Trondheim: We found a walking tour from Frommers that we used to tour the city. This was also another very walkable city and Nidaros Cathedral was amazingly beautiful. We also walked over the Old Town Bridge with the historic wharves up to Kristiansten Fortress which provided a beautiful view of the city. Afterwards we headed to Baklandet Skydsstation for lunch which was nice little café with outside seating and very yummy food. We then finished our walking tour and headed back to the ship. The weather was again beautiful, and we had a great day in this city. North Cape/Honningsvag: We decided to rent a car. I was a little nervous about driving and renting especially when the rental company said make sure you shut your door at the cape because she had a rental last week lose the door to the wind when he left it open! However, we had no problems driving. We headed first to the North Cape and walked around and checked out all of the exhibits. Then we drove to Skarsvag and checked out the village. We wanted hike to the Arch, but I was worried about time, so we decided to skip that. Then we drove to Gjesvaer, a little fishing town. We had a great day driving around and this allowed for us to make photo stops when we wanted to. We also brought lunch for ourselves and had a little picnic at one of the pullouts overlooking the water. A gas station was right by the cruise terminal, so we had no problems filling up. Also, as a FYI, you fill the tank up first and then pay! Hellesylt: This port was a bit of a bummer because we did not cruise all the way to Geiranger. As a result, we booked the cruise excursion that provided the bus tour and then a cruise down the Geraingerfjord. There was little opportunity for independent excursions in Hellesylt and the excursion we went on was just okay. We drove by a bunch of beautiful things but did not really stop and a tour guide was decent but not amazing. Flam: Because we were in port from 8:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m., we did the Norway in a Nutshell tour on our own. This allowed us to take the Flam train up to Myrdal, then a train to Voss, then a bus to Gudvangen and then the boat down the Nærøyfjord. We would highly recommend it. We met another couple from the boat also doing this tour and was able to eat lunch with them in Voss at Tre Broer Cafe and Bar. It was really a great day. Haugesund: We decided to rent a car because there were several little things that we wanted to do and decided it was easier and cheaper to do on our own. We rented from Sixt and the representative was waiting outside for us when we arrived making it very efficient for us to get on the road. We made the following stops: Haraldshaugen (Norwegian National Monument), Steinsfjellet (panoramic viewpoint of city), Avaldsnes: Nordvegen History Centre and Viking Settlement, Skudeneshavn (fishing village) and Åkrasanden (beaches). Unfortunately, at the Viking Settlement, most of it was closed due restoration; however, the history center was really interesting. Thoughts on Holland America/Nieuw Statendam The good: The ship is new and beautiful. The food and service was amazing at Club Orange, Pinnacle Grill and Tamarind. My husband enjoyed the sushi at the buffet. We loved all of the musical acts at Lincoln Center, B.B. Kings and Rolling Stone and the themed artwork that went along with it. We enjoyed the BillBoard Bar and Ocean Bar and had really good service and drinks at those locations. We also loved the Dutch Café with its coffees and snacks. We also loved all of the free movies you could get in the room. We also attended the America’s Test Kitchen demonstrations but wished it was more interactive. We also appreciated the covered pool area especially on chilly days at sea. The so so: On sea days, the public spaces were extremely full, and it was sometimes hard to find a place to lay down and sleep or read a book especially around the pool. The EXC talks were just okay. We felt that she found the information off google and turned it into a speech. I would have preferred someone from Norway that could provide more history and culture about the areas we visited. The bad: We felt that there was a huge lack of activities on sea days or at night other than the musical acts. The ship also repeated some of the same entertainers for the nightly shows at the main stage. We also had difficulty communicating with some of the staff due to language barriers; this was not a big deal but sometimes it was hard to convey what you needed as far as drinks or food in the buffet. The drinks at the remaining bar locations other than the ones mentioned above were terrible and the service was not great. My gluten free options due to my allergy were also limited and even though I was told they have gluten free pizza crusts at New York Pizza, they said they ran out after only 2 days on the ship. We also had problems due to the lack of receipts given because we were charged for items when we had the beverage package and we wanted to have the option to provide additional gratuities for the servers in Pinnacle Grill and Tamarind. Overall Thoughts: We went on the ship for the itinerary and had an amazing time because of it. We thought the food was top notch and we loved our aft Neptune Suite. However, I don’t believe that we are the normal demographic for Holland America, and I think we would be truly bored if this had been a Caribbean sailing due to the lack of activities and interactive cruise activities that we love on other cruise lines. Read Less
Sail Date July 2019
We chose this cruise because of the itinerary and the new ship really appealed. We weren't disappointed - had a fabulous time. Embarkation was so easy - well organised, quick and no stress at all. We stayed the night before in ... Read More
We chose this cruise because of the itinerary and the new ship really appealed. We weren't disappointed - had a fabulous time. Embarkation was so easy - well organised, quick and no stress at all. We stayed the night before in Roommate Aitana hotel in Amsterdam which was about 20 mins walk away and highly recommended. Our luggage arrived at our room promptly after boarding. Ship - the ship was beautiful and well maintained. The Crows Nest is a beautiful space, peaceful for games of chess and board games. The Lido pool area is good because the retractable roof makes it pleasant in hot and cold weather - ideal for this itinerary. The sports court and the area around were pleasant spaces - with outdoor gym equipment and a running track too. I would say that the ship felt slightly overcrowded from time to time - mainly in the buffet. We enjoyed the international mix on the ship - most passengers seemed to be from US or Netherlands with some from UK and also further afield too. Ages were a mix too with the biggest majority probably being active couples around retirement age, although there were also young families and a whole range of ages ! Cabin - our cabins were really good. We had an aft balcony cabin and an inside cabin in our group. I was very pleasantly surprised by the size of the inside cabin. The aft balcony was lovely and sheltered and didn't feel overlooked. The bathroom was also a pleasant surprise - with a proper , walk in shower and clever layout. The cabins were beautifully clean and the cabin staff were friendly and did their jobs really well. Dining - we mainly ate in the Lido buffet. I was impressed with the quality of the food and the fact that the food is served rather than open to collect. There was a lot of variety overall but with vegetarian and vegan requirements I felt these could have been better catered for, especially vegan options. Small changes could have made so many more of the options suitable for all - for example changing the noodles to wholewheat or udon from egg noodles would allow the stir fry counter to be suitable for vegans, making the vegetable soups with coconut cream rather than dairy cream etc. There were no vegan desserts available for our whole trip ! Minor changes to some of the existing options would make the whole menu far more accessible for all requirements. The ship does also have a special menu for vegetarian and vegan customers and I discovered half way through that they would serve that in the buffet on request too - that was much appreciated and one of the staff in the buffet was a huge help in getting that organised. However it is necessary to place any orders from that menu a day in advance , whether for dining room or buffet, which is not ideal and definitely not keeping up with the times - vegetarian and vegan diets are no longer unusual. The other issue with the buffet was that there simply isn't enough space - it could get very crowded and difficult to find a seat. The pizza at the pool was excellent and highly recommended. We didn't get a chance to eat at the Dutch Cafe as it was always very busy and rather crowded. We didn't try any of the speciality restaurants as none had much for vegetarians or vegans. Entertainment and Activities - there didn't seem to be loads of organised day time activities , but that was fine for us as we used the gym, spa etc. We did attend a couple of lectures which we enjoyed. In the evening BB Kings was the standout venue - excellent and really good fun ! The Lincoln stage looked good but the times were early and we were always dining then.... The Rock room was lacklustre compared to BB Kings although the idea of having two options was good and it did always seem busy. The gym and spa were very good and the decks had a range of things to do - table tennis , shuffleboard etc. I don't see the point of all ships having so much space set aside for a casino - and never saw it busy so maybe we aren't alone in that ! Service was faultless from the staff. Never saw much of the officers. The itinerary was good and we enjoyed all the ports. Since they dock so close to the town for each port it was easy to come and go from the ship and see the local sights. Disembarkation was also very easy - only a bit of queuing and luggage already available to collect. Wifi was very expensive ! We would definitely sail with HAL again and had a great trip. Read Less
Sail Date June 2019
This review will be a comparison with a very similar ship, the Celebrity Silhouette. I think many people might like the comparison since they are similar in size and offer a similar cruise experience. The Koningsdam easily wins for ... Read More
This review will be a comparison with a very similar ship, the Celebrity Silhouette. I think many people might like the comparison since they are similar in size and offer a similar cruise experience. The Koningsdam easily wins for destination since Norway Fjords are way more interesting than the caribbean beaches. Plus the scenery while cruising the fjords is really breathtaking! In terms of food it is really tough, I would say that the people who work on Koningsdam are the friendliest I have ever seen, everyone smiles and wishes you a good day. The Lido buffet on the Koningsdam is better than the silhouette(better breads, soups, salads), but the main dining room on the Silhouette had better service, presentation and food quality. In terms of entertainment this one easily goes to Silhouette and an incredible cruise director named Sue Denning(you really can't find a better entertainer than Sue!). On the Koningsdam I did like the 280 degree theatre with a fantastic presentation of BBC Blue Planet with music played by the Koningsdam musicians, really impressive, but the rest of the entertainment including the singers did not compare with the Silhouette. Now to the ship itself, the rooms definitely look nicer on the Koningsdam since it is newer but the layout on the Silhouette is still better. They have the best concept for adjoining rooms I have ever seen plus you can sit properly on the toilet whereas on the Koningsdam you can't if you are tall(really stupid design!). The Koningsdam is also lacking a large atrium, they have one but it is not impressive like on the Silhouette. The interior of the Koningsdam with its music themed artwork does beat out the Silhouette so I would call it a tie up until the top deck, the designers of the Koningsdam totally forgot to do anything on the top deck of the ship, there is a basketball court and jogging track, but that is it! What sets the Silhouette class ships apart from the competition is that they did an incredible job making the top deck an inviting place. They have an outdoor restaurant that grills delicious steaks, comfortable hammocks, a supersized deck chair that fits four people all on a luxurious real grass lawn. Before taking the cruise on the Silhouette I thought the "lawn" on the ship was a gimmick, but I found myself spending almost all my time up there whereas I almost never went up to the top deck on the Koningsdam. In the end, which was the better cruise, easliy the Koningsdam to Norway, the destination and scenery totally makes up for the small shortcomings of the ship. In comparison of the ships it amazes me that the design and comfort on the Silhouette still beats out the brand new Koningsdam. I would be glad to sail either ship in the future, but if the Silhouette has the better destination it is an easy choice! Read Less
Sail Date July 2018
We are a young Irish couple in our 30s and this was our first cruise. We sailed from Amsterdam and our itinerary consisted of Flåm, Stavanger, Kristiansand and Oslo, with two days at sea. The Konningsdam exceeded our expectations as a ... Read More
We are a young Irish couple in our 30s and this was our first cruise. We sailed from Amsterdam and our itinerary consisted of Flåm, Stavanger, Kristiansand and Oslo, with two days at sea. The Konningsdam exceeded our expectations as a ship. It was very luxurious and had some beautiful features - like art pieces, plush carpets and fresh flowers. The service was akin to a 5 star hotel - all of the staff were polite and said hello whenever and wherever you met them. We had an interior stateroom and it was much more comfortable than we expected. There was lots of storage room and it didn’t feel cramped. There was a safe, a minibar, a hair dryer and plenty of towels in the room also. The room was serviced twice a day. The bathroom was small but functional - the shower was amazing! Entertainment was of a very high quality - we loved the dueling pianos, and B.B. Kings was also fun. Our favorite performance was the Planet Earth show in the World Stage but we attended most evening shows. However, after a few days we found there was a lack of variety, the performances became a bit repetitive and we started to spend more time reading and playing board games. The movies on the lido deck was a nice option, but there was a really strange selection of movies for the week. Also, it was hard to hear the movie at times. The pools and hot tubs were very clean and well maintained but a little small and overtaken by children. It would have been nice to have a hot tub space just for adults. Food onboard was always fantastic. The selection and variety in the lido deck was exceptional and maintained a very high standard, even for a buffet. The process to get food at the lido was at times a little disorganized and chaotic but the food was good. The dining hall was beautiful and very enjoyable but it was difficult to get a reservation at a reasonable time - they usually only offered 5pm or 9pm. We didn’t feel the need to try the specialty dining options during our week as there was always a good, broad selection of offerings. However, if we stayed a second week we probably would have tried Tamarind and Pinnacle Grill. Tea, coffee, water and juice were all freely available at all times in the lido deck. We didn’t purchase any of the drinks packages and think they would have worked out a bit more expensive. We didn’t do any of the organized excursions as we found them very expensive. With a little research and planning, its easy to have a similar experience at a fraction of the price - and may even be a more personalized experience! Outside of the entertainment, the other onboard activities didn’t really interest us. It seemed to be more tailored to an older, wealthy, American audience i.e. casinos, art gallery, tech info seminars, trivia nights and diamonds/jewels. We did find the Crows Nest to be a particularly special find - it was generally quiet and had some fun board games to play. It was also a lovely, relaxing and calming place to read and catch up. Embarkation and disembarkation were seamless and took less than 30minutes in each case. The days at port also offered an easy and comfortable transit - we could walk into the town center and return at any time. Overall, the ship and itinerary were perfect for first time cruisers. But for our next cruise, we will likely look for a larger ship with more varied of entertainment and enrichment tailored towards a younger demographic. Read Less
Sail Date July 2018
My wife and I (both senior citizens) were on the MS Koningsdam cruise to the Norwegian fiords starting from Amsterdam on 22 July 2018. It was our second time cruising with Holland America. We thoroughly enjoyed the cruise. Embarkation ... Read More
My wife and I (both senior citizens) were on the MS Koningsdam cruise to the Norwegian fiords starting from Amsterdam on 22 July 2018. It was our second time cruising with Holland America. We thoroughly enjoyed the cruise. Embarkation registration at Amsterdam was done with a minimal of delay. Although there was a fairly long queue there were many counters open and registration was smooth. Our balcony stateroom was excellent. There was enough storage space and everything worked. I especially appreciate the powerful shower. And the bed was soft and comfortable. The staff, especially Atjima at the Lido restaurant where we had our meals most of the time were very cordial, friendly and helpful. We had no complaints about the food. We enjoyed the entertainment on board although we have read in other cruise critic posts that bigger ships offer better entertainment. We only bought one shore excursion from the ship as that particular excursion from independent operators was fully booked. All other excursions were bought from independent shore excursion operators. They were good and much cheaper. Just as the ship docked at Amsterdam port on 29 July at the end of the cruise we went out to the balcony to take some pictures. We disembarked and took the flight to London. While unpacking at our London accommodation I couldn’t find my still camera. We then realized I had left my camera on the balcony table. I went on the Holland America line website and got the email address of the guest services in the US. I wrote to them and explained what happened giving them all the necessary details. They wrote back after a couple of days and said they would look into my case and let me know if my camera had been found. In London I also looked up the phone number of Holland America. I called and spoke to a Mr William Kimber and told him what had happened. He was very helpful and told me he would call the ship to make enquiries. The next day I called him again and he told me that they had found my camera and would make arrangements to send it back to me. Subsequently a Ms Christine Ferris, Special Advisor, Office of the President of Holland America also wrote to say they had found my camera and that it would be sent to my home address in Malaysia. She said I should receive it in about 3 to 4 weeks. My wife and I were elated and overwhelmed with the quick response from HA Line. On 25th August I received a package from DHL which contained my camera in good working order. My wife and I were over the moon. We didn’t mind losing the camera but the pictures in it were priceless. We have nothing but praise for the staff involved in finding and sending back my camera. I would like to make a suggestion. Holland America should place a card in each stateroom advising clients on how to contact Lost and Found by phone and/or email in case they left something of value behind. We were told we would be sent an evaluation form by email at the end of the cruise but unfortunately we didn’t receive any. We would have been happy to send in our comments of the enjoyable cruise. We would definitely cruise with Holland America again. Read Less
Sail Date July 2018
We looked at various cruise lines, but after reading hundreds of reviews we had a short list and Holland.America was the one. It was our first ever cruise, so a little apprehensive. Booked through cruise agent everything went like clock ... Read More
We looked at various cruise lines, but after reading hundreds of reviews we had a short list and Holland.America was the one. It was our first ever cruise, so a little apprehensive. Booked through cruise agent everything went like clock work boarding the ship in Amsterdam was so quick and straightforward. At last time to relax and find our way round. The ship is tastefully furnished tge atrium is lovely open, pool area well looked after clean same with outdoor pool. The lido is great eat watch the big screen have a drink. Lots always going on always somewhere from digital workshops to trivia our room stewards petu and gunardi were fabulous the service was secind to none. Our room was seen to twice a day. We had fresh fruit whenever we required it. The BBC earth in the world stage is a must Billboard on board with Jonathan and Justin on pianos were fabulous they were packed out everynight their chemistry with the audience was great, fantastic entertainment dont change them. The excursions are little expensive some are well worth the money while some arent. Torghatten is ok if yiu are fairly fit and steady in your feer i think some older people who arenr as agile would struggle as some found due to uneven loose surfaces, but fantastic views once you are up there. Good port choice although i woukd like to have done Tromso Broonoysund is beautiful. The crew are all really friendly and helpful although some could smile but then we cant smile all the time,.cruise directors chriztina and Koen fabulous. Food great selection of restaurants main dining room food is fantastic and a nice selection, lido market great selection most of the day. Nice shopsfor a spot of onbpard shopping.everything easily accessible easy to find thoroughly reclmmend i dont think we would sail with anyone elae Read Less
Sail Date July 2018
We left on the Zuiderdam’s July 7, 2018 sailing for a two week cruise from Copenhagen, Denmark visiting Norway, Iceland, The Faroe Islands and the Shetland Islands. We flew a day in advance so as to make certain we would feel refreshed ... Read More
We left on the Zuiderdam’s July 7, 2018 sailing for a two week cruise from Copenhagen, Denmark visiting Norway, Iceland, The Faroe Islands and the Shetland Islands. We flew a day in advance so as to make certain we would feel refreshed for boarding. We stayed at the Clarion Airport hotel which was an easy walk with luggage from the airport. We checked in and walked half way between the hotel and the airport and took the metro to the city center our first afternoon. From there we did a boat ride through / around downtown. We left for the airport check in the next morning around 10:45 am. Boarding the bus was straightforward and we arrived at the pier around 11:30 am. The check in process was also smooth. We were on the ship within half an hour. The cabins were available by the time we got on (noonish). The weather was warm and we had specifically packed our bathing suits for the pool. Excellent check in experience. The ship is looking a little worn. The benches in the hallway by the elevators are just pure ugly and chipped. The corridor artwork is also old and outdated. As far as maintenance, there were a few issues. Some of the arrows above the elevators are burnt out. You cannot tell if the elevator is headed up or down. The reading light by my bed was also burnt out. The wooden door that covers the mini fridge had screws that had been pulled out from the frame. Also, during the voyage, maintenance staff were sanding down the metal door frames to each cabin and repainting them. The screeching from the sanding was annoying and I had to request that they stop so I could take an afternoon nap. They obliged. (It seems to me that since this ship just recently came out of dry dock, that would have been the place and time to address these issues.) In terms of entertainment, I did go to the shows featuring various headliners. In the main show lounge, there was a pianist who was rather showy. Also there was a couple who did Cirque du Soleil style entertainment including the ropes/ acrobatic style high wire movements. There was a rather showy violinist from Iceland. But, one or two songs from her were sufficient. Also, all of the instrumentalists gathered for a BBC multimedia presentation. This was the highlight in the main show lounge. Besides the main show lounge, there was ‘The Lincoln Center’ featuring two violinists, a violist, a cellist and a pianist. Unbelievable talent here. They performed at least once if not twice a day. Also, there was the B.B. King Blues Club featuring a group of talented musicians performing appropriately named style of music. Also, there was the Billboard lounge. Here, there were two pianists who did not receive enough recognition. They were incredible. In summary, the entertainment onboard was tops. The gymnasium was small, in comparison to other ships. The treadmills were often all in use, especially at opening time, 7:00 am. The resistance equipment was minimal. There was a trainer on board who did classes throughout the day. If you like to watch TV during your time on the treadmill, as do I, you need to ask for the TVs to be turned on. The sound was minimal, but you can ask to have the dialogue text option turned on. The service desk did a good job, although this part of the ship is also small so the lines can get long to speak with one of the few representatives. A plus here is that they will exchange currency for you. Right next to the service desk is a single kiosk to print out current bills throughout the voyage. (Being able to review charges is not possible from the stateroom.) The shore excursion office, the future cruise booking office and the library have been moved up to Deck 10 in the Crow’s Nest. The size of the future cruise booking office is the size of a large closet. I consider this to be a shame. These offices should be centrally located and closer to the service desk. During this sailing, there was flooding from above. Carpet dryers and shop vacs were all over deck 10 forward to dry this space. I used to enjoy listening to music up here in the past, but the room is no longer set up in this way. Speaking about the future cruise booking office, I asked for an atlas for next year, specifically one with deck plans. Apparently HAL no longer considers printing deck plans in their promotional literature important. Here, I highly disagree with this decision. In addition, I had a couple of run-ins with the shore excursion manager, Reanetse Atema. This was by far the low point of the cruise. (Don’t be surprised by what the shore excursion office won’t be willing to do / discuss). Dining in the main dining room was a bit of a letdown. We had open seating and in order to get a table within a reasonable time frame, without making reservations for a specific evening, in advance, showing up before 6:00 pm was important. That seemed to be the time when the lines began. I find having opening seating and needing to reserve for a specific time to be a bit contradictory. But HAL is not the only company who follows this type of policy. With respect to the food, I had some disappointments as well. The baked potatoes were white potatoes, not baker potatoes. That was disappointing. The Caesar salads were soggy. The dressing was not seasoned with anchovy paste, but rather a single anchovy was placed on top of the salads. The crème brulee was flavorless. The everyday sirloin steak was so so. Otherwise the food was acceptable. Dining in the ‘market place’ lido buffet was great. Breakfast and lunch choices were plentiful. As an aside about space in the lido buffet, I noticed there were no identified areas as ‘reserved for the handicapped’. There were multiple passengers in motorized scooters who would have to navigate the close tables in order to eat here. Although the ship has rooms that are handicapped accessible, more attention needs to be given to other public spaces onboard. We ate in the specialty dining area 4 times. Three times, the room was noted to be the Pinnacle Grill. The 4th time, the same space was noted to be Rudi’s sel de mer. Each night the service and the meals were excellent. The lobster bisque was one of my favorite dishes. I had lobster one night, a pork chop another night, a filet mignon a third night then had Alaskan crab another. Remarkable dining here. There was one other spot noted for specialty dining called Canaletto. This Italian dining venue was actually part of the Lido Market Place. I ate in this venue two summers ago on the Koningsdam and swore I would not return here. Only the Lido Bar and the Ocean Bar on deck 3 offered drink specials (basically 2 for 1) from 4:00-6:00 pm every night except for the first night. Space was tight here during these times especially on dress up nights. Drinks were good and reasonably priced during these hours. I was disappointed that this offer was not available across other bars on the ship. Nevertheless, thanks to Nice and Albert for your service. In summary, weather or not I sail with HAL again will depend upon a response to a letter I wrote to President Orland Ashford regarding the shore excursions office. I am a 3 star mariner with HAL and have sailed with them since 1968. Shore excursions: Our first port Bergen. We were on a bus ride to see the general area of Bergen. That trip was O.K. What was better was strolling the main road for souvenirs, including wool sweaters, and stopping for a beer. Also, there is a Star bucks here that has free WiWi. So, if you are not up to spending $20.00 a day for a WiFi connection on the ship, this is the location to head for. Port two was Alesund. We did a great boat ride through the fjord. This provided us wonderful views of the area. We highly enjoyed this experience. The third port was Seydisfjordur. We payed $70.00 for this tour. It was a walking tour through the town. We chose this tour because we did not know where the town was in relation to the pier. After all is said and done, I would recommend getting off the ship and walking the town independently. The pier is at the base of the town. No need to spend the money. Also, in hindsight, I would suggest that HAL remove this port as there is really nothing here. Or, if not, I would recommend staying onboard. Port four was Akureyri. Once off the ship we boarded a bus to Myvatn Nature baths. This location is not as popular as the geothermal baths in Reykjavik, but as enjoyable without the hype. It was part of a combo tour visiting a ‘falls’ on the way. I would recommend, for sure. This was booked directly the HAL. Port five was Isafjordur. From this location we boarded a boat to take us to the now non-existent town of Hesteyri. I would say skip this tour as well. It was an hour’s boat ride in each direction to walk in the fields with a talk about the way this town used to be. There is currently one family living in this town. They provided us with some sweet bakery delights and coffee before our return back to the ship. Port six was day one in Reykjavik. Here we boarded a bus for the ‘Golden Circle day trip’ featuring Thingvelir, Gullfoss waterfall and the viewing of a Geysir. I had some issues on this trip. The bus itself was old with broken reclining levers, no seat head rest covers and most importantly inoperable seatbelts. We were told to wear seat belts and that we could be individually fined for not wearing them. But many, including several senior citizens, could not wear them due to the condition of the bus. The tour itself was fine. The problem was with the tour operator. I sent a letter to the HAL president about this experience. Port seven was also Reykjavik – day two. Although the Blue Lagoon is a highlight from my trip – 2nd time to a geothermal bath, the operator was once again a problem. The bus was not air conditioned so the escape hatches need to be opened. One person was not on the bus at departure time, so a bus full of people needed to wait 50 minutes before returning to the ship. After pre-showing we had about an hour of time in the lagoon. We were treated to a silica mask and a drink. This was certainly a novelty. Had the tour operator returned on time and the bus had air flow, I would have rated this activity as a 5 star opportunity. This also entailed writing a letter to the HAL president about this experience. Port eight was Torshavn, Faroe Islands. From this port, we traveled by bus to Gjogv. At this site we had a midday snack of cold pancakes and instant coffee. From this restaurant, we walked down the hill to Gjaar church. It was nice but not impressive. I cannot imagine living her in the winter. Port nine was Lerwick, Scotland. This was a tender port. We boarded a bus to take us to Scalloway Castle, the Scalloway musem and to see some Shetland ponies. The castle was small and not impressive. Same can be said for the museum. Seeing the size of the Shetland ponies was impressive. PS, downtown Lerwick has some wonderful souvenir shops. Read Less
Sail Date July 2018
We had a high expectations about our first cruise but unfortunatelly HAL did not meet them. At least we expected a "4*" smooth service, a great dining options and a quality entertainment already included in the price we paid. All ... Read More
We had a high expectations about our first cruise but unfortunatelly HAL did not meet them. At least we expected a "4*" smooth service, a great dining options and a quality entertainment already included in the price we paid. All those points were not met. Good thing: no disaster happened with us. We safely came back with a lot of photos in the camera. The rest was not so shiny as we expected. No hard feeling leaving the ship! 1. Room Service. In general it was fine. No big complaints but it was not excellent. Few strange spots on a bed linen, few spots on bathrobe. No slippers included. Dirty windows and balcony glass. We asked steward to clean a glass surfaces but he did not make it well. 2. Embarkation. The ship departed from Amsterdam Waterland Terminal with no connection of public transport. I wish HAL could offer a free or at least very cheap transportation to the terminal but the did not. It was a huge queue for check in when we arrived. No water, no snacks were provided (sorry I still expect that little things for the price I paid). Just a huge hot hangar full of waiting people. Nobody provided us a clear instructions on what to do and how long to wait. We spent around 1 hour there. Not nice start of a journey. 3. Dining Service. Bad if not terrible. Very long waits. Breakfast or dinner takes 1 hour in average. Food is served on broken/chipped plates and cups and old dirty cutlery. One time we found a hair in the bread basket. The staff on the dining room reception does not try to get a good table for you. One time we were followed to the table for 4 in the corner even two nice tables for 2 were available just few steps next to us with a nice windows. Waiters always ask for a paid drinks and forget to offer you a free tea. They do not give you a chance for a water without ice but serving you an ice cubes. The food quality was average: during all 7 days I did not find something really tasty. They even served us a lobster tail but it was prepared in a simple and not tasty way. Starter soups were definetely terrible. 4. Entertainment is limited with a concerts. The concerts were nice. I would like to mention the BB King Blues and the classical musicians. They were awesome! My wife also enjoyed Bilboard on board where the two guys played piano and sing popular songs on requiest. Those things happen in the evening. During the day activities are limited to a "seminars" where the staff tries to sell you insole for 190 bucks or expensive watches or brilliants or strange paints. Who buys all of that? We might expect some educational program like TED or knitting courses or yoga lessons included in the cruise price. But HAL wants to earn every extra penny on you. Do not go on HAL seminars - it is brainwashing and sometimes rude sales activity (nicely named). 5. Security at gates. Rude and unwelcoming. 6. At the evening of last day crew blocked two elevators out of four just because they need to carry a luggage downstairs. Obviously it was comfortable for the stewards but not the guests. That also shows staff attitude towards the guests. 6. During the cruise we received NOTHING complimentary. No free drink, no badge or magnet, no free 10 minutes massage and no PERSONAL attitute from HAL personnel. Again we paid a lot of money for the cruise and we expected something on top of the "below average". 7. That's is funny but with that kind of service HAL automatically includes 15% service surcharge on all onboard purchased. And 13.5 dollars per person per day as a "Hotel service charge". Crazy guys! Fortunately you still can adjust the last point at the end of cruise. So we did. 8. HAL shore excursions were 5 (!!!) times expensive that you could book ashore or just travelling the same route using a local public transport! 9. Port times were inconvenient. Ship arrived early morning at 7 am in average. People wake up slamming the cabing doors with no chance for a good sleep. Ship departed at 5 pm so you basically have a very short time to explore the port. To summarize: that was our first cruise. Norway is beautiful. Cruising is fantastic thing to do on vacation but never again with a greedy HAL. Read Less
Sail Date July 2018
Nice ,new ship.balcony stateroom pretty nice,but on the small size.cramped bathroom,not well designed,difficult to sit.shower head didnt fixed well.first and secod day,steward didnt come to clean the room untill 3p.m,we went to complain ... Read More
Nice ,new ship.balcony stateroom pretty nice,but on the small size.cramped bathroom,not well designed,difficult to sit.shower head didnt fixed well.first and secod day,steward didnt come to clean the room untill 3p.m,we went to complain and after this no problem.Molde port,I think was choosed to give expencive trips.staff in dining room pushed to order drinks,not always in good manner.But all in all nice experience,mainly because of new ,and well organized ship and crew.good port of calls,exept Molde,I think to push you expensive excursions.Super Geiranger and Bergen.embarkation and dis..well organised. Tender in Geiranger good .In dining room crew pushed you yo order drinks ,expensive.Super restaurant Tamarind!!nice experience delicious food also in dining room.In north cruises I think not to order balcony room next time.bit cold to seat.Just ocean view enough.A lot of disabled on board,somrtimes feeled like in reabilitation hospital.but its not much to do.It was world cup and they translated it at the big screen near the pool.by the way jakuzzi near the pool always occupied by children.a problem if you want to seat there Read Less
Sail Date July 2018
Just back from fantastic seven day Norwegian Fjords cruise aboard the lovely and lively Koningsdam. Traveled with a group of extended family members ranging in age from 86 years old to 20 months old toddler. We were celebrating my ... Read More
Just back from fantastic seven day Norwegian Fjords cruise aboard the lovely and lively Koningsdam. Traveled with a group of extended family members ranging in age from 86 years old to 20 months old toddler. We were celebrating my parents Golden Anniversary (50th). Pre-Cruise Stay in Amsterdam We stayed for two nights at the DoubleTree Hilton Centraal Station in executive suites. The suites were spacious and had fabulous views overlooking the city and canals. The hotel's buffet breakfast (included in the rate) was outstanding, so many choices, traditional American and English breakfasts, plus Asian selections and a ton of delicious breads, pastries, cold cuts and fabulous Danish cheeses. Tea, coffee and free mimosas too! The hotel was adjacent to the Centraal Station and an easy walk to many of the city highlights, plus the canal cruise pick up point. Being such a large group, we took two Uber Vans from Schipol to the hotel. One of the drivers was very helpful and offered to give us a three hour tour the next day for a flat rate of 320 euros for all of us. Turned out to be a great deal. He took us to see the Zandam windmills, a charming fishing village, stopped at a cheese factory for samples and purchases and ended with a drive through the city center to see the key highlights. Hotel included drinks and canapes each evening. Overall, very pleased with our choice and felt we got to see quite a bit in a short time and taking into consideration some of the limitations of the elderly and the kiddo in our group. Embarkation The port is only a short distance from the DoubleTree, but given all our luggage etc. we opted to take a quick Uber ride over. We arrived at our appointed check in time of 2pm and sailed through the embarkation process. Plenty of porters on hand to assist with luggage. Had requested wheelchairs for some members of the group and that process went very smoothly. Thirty minutes from arrival to entering our cabins. In general, I think HAL handles everything in a very discreet and low key manner. More about that later. Sailway We headed up to the seaview pool to view the sailaway from Amsterdam. Lovely views and a very festive atmosphere. Aside from the drink specials, the bar staff were circulating with some delicious appetizers and canapes, shrimp, Swedish meatballs, some nice cheeses. Cabins We booked a row of standard balcony cabins on the Gershwin deck aft (Deck 5). The cabins were close to elevators that took us to the main dining room, lido deck buffet, Tamarind restaurant and sea view pool deck. I usually prefer a mid-ship location, but since we booked late, this was not too bad location wise. The cabins are beautiful with a light wood minimalist decor. The storage space is amazing - tons of drawers, generous closet, you will have plenty of space for all your stuff. Like the little corner bar with a glass cabinet. Good size minifridge with plenty of space to put your own items in addition to what is already stocked. The bed was very comfortable and king-sized! The room is compact but very well laid out and comfortable. Lots of movie choices on the large flat screen TV. The bathroom was well appointed and the shower is amazing! Glass enclosed and rectangle shaped so you are not dealing with a tiny corner and wet curtain like I have experienced on other ships. Dining The food in the main dining room was very good but the food in the Lido Buffet was simply excellent! I actually preferred the buffet as there as such a great selection, meat roasts, pasta station, Asian stir-fry, soups, fabulous salads (think seared ahi and ginger dressing), the list goes on and on. We had fantastic Indian food the last night of the cruise. Only quible is that they really should provide trays. The lido seating is comfortable and the decor very modern and light. Between the MDR lobster and other special items and the Lido's fantastic selection, we did not feel the need to try too many of the surcharge restaurants. We did eat at Tamarind one night and it was simply phenomenal. I live in the San Francisco Bay Area with access to incredible Asian food and Tamarind did not disappoint. The sushi, Thai selections and soups were fabulous. Tamarind is positioned aft, just above the SeaView pool and makes for a wonderful dinner spot during sailway. Loved the understated and elegant decor and the service was top notch. My young toddler had been quite well behaved at the MDR and lido, so we decided to take her to Tamarind and of course she was a bit fussy. I was going to leave to let everyone else enjoy the dinner but the host/manager actually took my child and strolled with her so I could finish my dinner. Can't say enough about the excellent service on HAL. In terms of other dining venues, the Dutch Cafe is a little gem. We loved trying the Dutch specialties they have available all day, delicious toasted sandwiches, Herring plate, cheese plate, bitter-ballen and the profiterroles (little pancake-like desserts that taste like beignets). The New York Pizza and Deli is OK - fresh hot pizza but no chili flakes (surprising). I had a pastrami sandwich and was underwhelmed. The afternoon tea was always delicious, tea sandwiches, savories, desserts and scones with clotted cream and jam. They varied the menu and served different items each day. I remember the afternoon tea being almost a cattle call on Princess with tons of people pushing to get in. Here it was low key and with no wait. In-Room dining is good and you can actually order the full menu on offer from the MDR - just have to call during the first thirty minutes of dinner and specify what time you want deliver. I did this one night when my daughter was napping and enjoyed lobster in my cabin. We also ordered tea/coffee toast and jam to the room early every morning. Only issue with the room service menu is that the children's items are only available from 5:30 to 9:30 pm. They should have all day option for children. Crew This is where I feel HAL really shines. The service was impeccable. The crew, mostly from Indonesia and the Philipines, were so kind and friendly. Walking around the ship, crew members always stopped to interact with my young daughter and they would address her by name. I am aware that HAL generally caters to an older crowd, but I felt everyone was also so warm and accommodating to my child, it really impressed me. Our cabin steward Armin was excellent and a magical genius as we hardly saw him but our room was always spotless upon return to the cabin. He also happily connected the balconies so we had one long balcony. Lounges/Entertainment Not sure I am a huge fan of the music walk concept. The piano players were good but did not always engage with the audience. I was not impressed by the B.B. King Blues. The male singers and musicians were ok but the lead female vocalist screamed more than she sang. Lincoln center musicians were very good. The timing of the various performances was not terribly well coordinated so it was hard to catch them all. I think I prefer one main stage show. Did not bother with the comedian or the magician but my fellow travelers said both were amateurish. I did catch the Billboard show/revue of musical hits on the world stage and that was very good. Also enjoyed the BBC Earth production set to live orchestra music. Ship Decor/Cleanliness Koningsdam simply gleamed. I never saw as much as a smudge. The decor is --umm interesting and electic. The music theme is nice but some of the art work is a bit garish. The lounges were comfortable and had plenty of seating. Loved the observer's lounge and there is a great spot just behind the entrance with blue leather sofas. Very quiet and comfortable place to watch the world go by. Enrichment I was disappointed that there were not more cooking classes/demos at the America Test Kitchen. I had really been looking forward to that. I feel this is an underutilized resource. The other talks were OK. More substance would be good. Pools/Spa The pools and hot tubs are spacious, clean and were never crowded. I bought the 7 day thermal suite pass at the Spa. The hydrotherapy pool was huge and very effective at relieving aching legs and neck. The layout of the spa is a bit wonky as the changing area is on one side, check in on another and you have to walk across the elevator lobby to access the thermal suite. Also the hydrotherapy pool shuts down early on the last day for cleaning so be aware of that. There were some lovely dry saunas with big windows overlooking the ocean. The ceramic loungers were delightful. Ports Oslo - Beautiful Scandinavian town. We did the hop on hop off bus which picks passengers up right from the pier. Nice way to get a good overview of the city. Kristiansand - cute little town with an interesting fish market near the pier. We took the trolley for 15 euros round trip into town. Stopped in at the old church, walked the city streets and had some pricey drinks in the Victorian pub ($16 USD for a coke and a cider). Stavanger - there are ferries available just off the pier where we docked. We took a two hour cruise out to Nyerfjord. This was delightful and only the smaller ships can take you right up to the Fjords, into the narrow passages and right under waterfalls. This was stunning and very worthwhile. Flam - we did not buy the train tickets in advance and missed out on the train ride. However there was a lovely ferry ride through the Fjords which was just as enjoyable and much less crowded. General Comment on the Ports - it is VERY easy to make your own arrangements and the HAL excursions are very overpriced. For example, the ferry we took in Stavanger was also offered by the ship at three times the price we paid making our own arrangement. I feel that HAL does a very poor job of providing basic port information for those choosing not to take the ship excursions. Princess provided much better port talks, maps etc. For example, at Kristiansand I inquired about how far the walk is into town and was only told very far. No one on the ship said one word that there is a train trolley available just at the end of the pier. As a result, my mom who walks with a cane did not disembark. Luckily I was able to contact her on her cell and tell her about the trolley. At a minimum HAL should explain that to passengers, particularly disabled passengers. Disembarkation - super organized and easy. We took the airport transfers and had no issues getting off the ship, getting our luggage and getting on the bus for the short ride to Schipol. Also, HAL allows passengers to wait in the cabin until your color is called. Very nice touch and much better disembarkation then I have experienced on other lines. Overall - We had a great time on a new and very clean ship, enjoyed lovely ports and experienced great food and service. I have cruised on Royal Caribbean, Norwegian and Princess and this is my second HAL cruise. HAL definitely feels more refined and elegant. No constant selling/peddling and no rowdy passengers. Despite the ships' larger size as compared to Eurodam and other HAL ships, it never felt crowded and there were rarely queues for anything. One afternoon I had the pool entirely to myself. The service is what really sets HAL apart and I will definitely cruise with HAL again and hopefully on the Koningsdam again. Read Less
Sail Date June 2018
We chose the Viking Sagas 7-night itinerary (from Amsterdam to Oslo, Kristiansand, Stavanger and Flam, then back to Amsterdam) on Koningsdam to celebrate my father’s 80th birthday. Our group of 10 included my active 80-year-old father, ... Read More
We chose the Viking Sagas 7-night itinerary (from Amsterdam to Oslo, Kristiansand, Stavanger and Flam, then back to Amsterdam) on Koningsdam to celebrate my father’s 80th birthday. Our group of 10 included my active 80-year-old father, my family of five including 3 children ages 9 months, 5 and 9 years old and my sister’s family of four which included children ages 11 and 14. This was everyone’s first HAL cruise (various amongst our group have been on RCCL, NCL, Cunard and Celebrity). Between the 10 of us, we had two adjoining verandah cabins and an interior cabin across the hall. The cabins were a bit small for the quad rooms but offered a ton of storage. The bathrooms were decent size and the shower was fabulous compared to other cruises we’ve been on. The décor was very nice. The Konignsdam is beautiful and well-designed. The décor had a music theme and was a bit eclectic, but not gaudy. The common spaces were quite nice and open. The children loved both pool areas and we all enjoyed watching the World Cup soccer matches on the big screen by the pool. Food: The Lido Market food was very good and offered a wide variety to choose from. We ended up eating 4 of our main meals at the Lido Market due to convenience with the children and found it was nice to unwind and talk about our day in a more casual and relaxed atmosphere. We also order pizza a few times from the New York Deli and Pizza and burgers, hot dogs and fries from “Dive-In” which were both a big hit with the kids. We had open seating in the Main Dining room and only ended up eating 2 meals there since everyone enjoyed the Lido so much. The Main Dining room food was good, but service was a little slow. Being a group of 10, they were able to accommodate us quite easily both times if we dined around 5:30. The adults in our group ate one dinner in the Culinary Arts Center which also had very good food. Two of our cabins purchased a 6-bottle wine package which seemed to be of good value (25% less expensive than buying nightly). Some in our group ordered beer, mixed drinks and soda which seemed to be decent pricing ($2.50 for a soda). Entertainment: We did not partake in much of the nightly entertainment since we were with younger children. However, we did see 2 performances on the World Stage… Musicology and the Magician. We all enjoyed Musicology and the Magician was a little hokey, but good for the kids. My father spent every evening watching the dueling pianos and enjoyed the BB King’s Blues Club. The overall demographic of the ship was definitely "an older crowd", 60+. However, we knew that before going on the ship. Knowing this, we were a little hestitant bringing 5 children 13 and under, but they all had a blast! Granted, none of them have ever been on a cruise before, so they were so excited just to be on a ship in the middle of the ocean together Read Less
Sail Date June 2018
Just returned from the Norgewian Fjords, beautiful scenery, pictures or film cannot describe the waterfalls, picture perfect villages, or the serenity one feels. However the Kroningdam was not what I have previously experienced on a ... Read More
Just returned from the Norgewian Fjords, beautiful scenery, pictures or film cannot describe the waterfalls, picture perfect villages, or the serenity one feels. However the Kroningdam was not what I have previously experienced on a Holland American Ship. The ship was boring, no lectures, not much to do when on board. It seemed that they were always trying to sell you something. I'm not a fan of Opra Winfrey so don't like her merchandise being pushed for sale, neither do I want book recommendations. The food was excellent in the main dining room but we had a very rude waiter who kept given us menus in Dutch even though we told him we spoke English. On the 4th night when I received a Dutch Menu again I told him that I do not speak or read Dutch. His reply was "neither do I" then he rudely walked away and practically threw a English Menu at me. He never smiled until 3 days before the cruise ended. Pretty late I would say. We had a Veranda cabin on deck 6 and it was very cramped. When the sofa bed was open you could not walk out to the balcony or use the desk at all. The cabins are much smaller than on the older Holland Ships. The shower was the best part of the cabin. Very nice and roomy. We did enjoy the entertainment and especially Lincoln Stage. We did not take any shore excursions, too expensive, but booked the same trips at the visitor centers in ports for half the price. Especially liked the railway in Flam. You can buy a ticket at the station. I'm glad I saw Norway and its beauty, but probably won't take Holland America Line again as felt it has gone down hill a lot, even though I am a 3 star mariner. Read Less
Sail Date June 2018
This was a charter of a group I belong to. I had been on land vacations to Norway twice & enjoyed the country very much. Thought a cruise would be another way to experience it. The best way to see Norway is on a land vacation w/day ... Read More
This was a charter of a group I belong to. I had been on land vacations to Norway twice & enjoyed the country very much. Thought a cruise would be another way to experience it. The best way to see Norway is on a land vacation w/day trips to the fjords, not a cruise. We only did 4 ports, Bergen, which we did not get to see because of extreme rain & wind, Geirangerfjord, if you have done New Zealand’s fjords this is very similar scenery, and 2 smaller villages. Did two ship excursions which were expensive & not worth while. The best excursions were taking the tourist trains in the towns on your own. There was a ships tour to an acquairium which was a waste of time & money. The ships tour on a speed boat through the fjords was also a waste as you saw the same scenery as you did from the ship although closer. The staff was great, the food very good, room service great & free. We had an aft balcony, 7067. If you look on the ship’s deck plan it appears this is the 2nd room in. It is not. The space next to it is a stairwell which staff uses. Therefore the balcony is much larger than usual and you only have one room on one side of you. The room was quiet. Our charter had its own entertainment for the most part so cannot comment on that except to say, the Adiago violin & piano duo was really great each evening. The casino did not have any of the newer machines so was boring & did not pay out often. Read Less
Sail Date June 2018
We just returned from Norway fjord cruise on HAL Koningsdam. We cruised a few times before; we usually book inside cabin as we don’t spend a lot of time staying in the room. The room itself has a lot of storage space, drawers and ... Read More
We just returned from Norway fjord cruise on HAL Koningsdam. We cruised a few times before; we usually book inside cabin as we don’t spend a lot of time staying in the room. The room itself has a lot of storage space, drawers and hangers. Bathroom design is contemporary, toilet and sink area are cramped but shower space is good size. Overall, it’s a good inside stateroom compared to NCL Epic. There is good selection of buffet at Lido market; however, it’s mostly the same food every day. Pizza and burger at the pool area restaurants are good. We expect dinner at the dining room be excellent, but it was just ok. Wine waiter was a little snobbish when we did not order drinks. Entertainment on the World Stage: Planet Earth II In Concert was excellent. The song and dance entertainment shows were corny and cabaret like, not our cup of tea. Knowing the HAL shore excursions would be over priced, we booked from local tour operation at shore instead. Tender procedure was easy and quick, just go to the designated area and wait for our turn to board tender. It’s much better than the chaotic boarding process on the NCL Epic. Some first time cruisers on the cruise was very impressed, as for us, it’s just OK. Read Less
Sail Date June 2018
This is only our second big ship cruise, so take my opinions with a grain of salt. We took the cruise from Amsterdam to Norway and return in order to see the Fjords. We did not do the Baltic part of the itinerary. Booked trip through ... Read More
This is only our second big ship cruise, so take my opinions with a grain of salt. We took the cruise from Amsterdam to Norway and return in order to see the Fjords. We did not do the Baltic part of the itinerary. Booked trip through Expedia cruise service; some extra help, but no big bargains. This is apparently a popular trip, so do not hang out for bargains. Luckily we had wonderful weather in early June. Embarkation was slow, but smooth. Lots of folks. Disembarkation to airport shuttle bus was quick and efficient. Cabin – We were in 7166, and it exceeded our expectations completely. Adequate space, storage, comfortable beds, excellent service, good location. Mid ships might have seemed closer to whatever, but I think that is really all in your head – on such a large ship it is often a long walk. Room did seem dark with the veranda curtain closed. Room could use more general lighting. Meals – As described, the buffet is very crowded at breakfast, and sometimes lunch, but you can pick something up and take it to a nearby deck area without much trouble. The food in the buffet is really excellent for such large undertaking. Huge variety, and many items are delicious. Some, of course, not. Food in the dining room is a notch more reliable than the buffet – again, pretty good – comparable to decent mid to fine dining experience in USA. Desserts not very good. You can get much better desserts in a lounge called the Dutch Coffee shop, but they charge for the coffee. One night we ate in the upgrade seafood restaurant – the food and service there was truly excellent. We were surprised to find that the food venues described by other passengers, here, had changed – expect some changes. Entertainment – Since we live in the NYC metro area, we have pretty high standards, but I would say the entertainment is OK to good, at least for a week. The big song and dance shows were very good. The blues band good for a night or two, as were the duo pianists and the classical quintet. Lectures not so good, except the lady from the excursions department who did a good job of describing the destinations. A famous wildlife photographer talked about that – rehash of BBC TV documentary, and the Microsoft presentations were rudimentary. Altogether, just enough to prevent boring evenings for a week. Excursions – We took HA excursions from both fjords. At Eidfjord, we took one that went to Voringfossen waterfall, a large dam nearby and an inn for a waffle (not so great). The waterfall is spectacular, and the excursion bus we were on did a good job of getting us there early enough avoid gathering crowds. Another couple we met had figured out how to book a non-HA excursion to the falls ahead of time, and, of course there are excursion operators who meet the boat. I cannot compare, but will say that our trip was great. At Gerainger, we took a bus trip that first goes up the “Eagle Road” to a viewpoint over the fjord, then comes back down and goes up the other side of the fjord to Mt. Dalsnibba. All of it is breathtaking. I noticed that some pick up excursions did not do both directions. These excursions from the ship were well organized and smoothly run. In Alesund, we simple strolled around town, and walked up to the top of Mt Aksla (really a hill). Not too bad, even for us seniors, and a great view. Alesund is more charming than you might expect. You do not need an excursion to see Bergen either – we used the Rick Steves walking tour. Read Less
Sail Date June 2018
Background: After a 2017 made somewhat horrifying by having to confront a potentially life-threatening health crisis, I wanted to give myself something to look forward to, and planned it far enough in advance-- nearly a year out-- that ... Read More
Background: After a 2017 made somewhat horrifying by having to confront a potentially life-threatening health crisis, I wanted to give myself something to look forward to, and planned it far enough in advance-- nearly a year out-- that even if I'd needed to endure a long operation to have the offending organ yanked out, I would still have had sufficient time to recover to make the trip.  Fortunately, it didn't come to that, and the trip was fantastic-- real "bucket list" stuff, and all places I'd long wanted to visit but never had. Two friends from my area-- the mother in her mid-eighties, and her daughter, mid-fifties-- joined me in this adventure. (Because they made their arrangements much later, they wound up at different hotels and on different flights than the ones I'd booked, but we made it work, and spent most of our time together.)  I will get to the ship a bit later, and start with... THE TRIP: We began with a few days in Belgium-- Brussels, plus a day trip to Bruges.  (We're all fans of the dark humor of writer Martin McDonagh and his 2008 film "In Bruges", too!)  Belgium is of course a chocolate fiend's delight, and we brought back plenty-- in my case, several boxes of the same gianduja (creamy hazelnut chocolate) my late mother had brought back for friends and family when she had visited Brussels in 2003.  We also enjoyed a particularly wonderful dinner at Restaurant De l'Ogenblik, just north of the spectacular medieval / renaissance Grand Place. We next transferred to Amsterdam for a few days.  (In both Holland and Belgium, trains between major towns and cities are so frequent-- sometimes at intervals of as little as ten minutes-- that there's no need for reservations; just show up at the station and catch the next one, as you would a commuter train.  Just one caveat-- if you want to use the ticket machines rather than wait for a clerk, you'll need a credit card for which you know the PIN.  Tickets on the high-speed Thalys express cost no more than the slower ordinary trains if you order a few weeks in advance, so that's what we did for the longer Brussels-to-Amsterdam leg of our trip.  On about a third of the journey, north of Antwerp, the Thalys has its own dedicated track, and rockets along at close to 200 mph-- and yet with vastly less noise and vibration than Amtrak gives you when going about 75.  Makes me feel like our rail infrastructure is downright third-world by comparison-- will we ever catch up?  But I digress...) In Amsterdam, we had all pre-ordered the 72-hour version of the I-Amsterdam card-- $100.  We were thus able to enjoy unlimited public transportation and museum admissions (the Anne Frank House being the only major exception) during our visit, and loved the convenience.  In addition to the most famed attractions, (Rijksmuseum, Van Gogh Museum, Anne Frank House) we also got to some less frequently visited ones, such as the Old and New churches; Rembrandt's house; the Willets-Holthuysen mansion; "Our Lord In the Attic" (a townhouse with a small Catholic church hidden in the upper stories); the dramatically cantilevered EYE museum of film (a free ferry ride across the river from Centraal Station); the Gothic-style former post office, converted over twenty years ago into a spectacular shopping venue; the Amsterdam History Museum; the Poezenboot floating cat shelter; and the beautiful Vondelpark. My friends took a day trip to nearby Haarlem, the home town of Frans Hals, a painter from Holland's "golden age".  Culinary highlights included dinner at Olivar, a high-quality Spanish restaurant near our hotels, and another at Kartika, a superb place for authentic Indonesian rijstafel just north of Vondelpark-- highest recommendation! The night before the cruise, a quick train ride brought us to Rotterdam, where we enjoyed another outstanding dinner at New York Basement, in the Hotel New York, the Art Nouveau-era landmark that was once the headquarters of Holland America Line.  And, liner geek that I am, I spent the night aboard a vessel I'd visited back in the early 1970's during her working glory-- the 1959-vintage SS Rotterdam, now preserved as a floating hotel and conference center.  She's a splendid 1950's time capsule, and one of only a handful of classic passenger ships to escape being broken up for scrap. We boarded the newer (vintage 1997) Rotterdam the following morning, then I made a quick wine run to a nearby Gall & Gall liquor store (supplementing a couple of favorite reds I'd brought from home.)  Embarkation was very quick and painless. Operating in Europe is more expensive for cruise lines than the Caribbean, particularly so in Scandinavia.  So it wasn't a big surprise that the shore excursions were the priciest I'd ever seen.  Accordingly, we looked for privately arranged options on the internet, and were able to save a bundle. In Eidfjord, an excursion from gofjords.com (about $50 per person) took us to a nearby "Nature Center", which featured a sod roof with goats grazing on it, then inside, a vertigo-inducing film on the landscapes and wildlife of Norway on a giant screen; we then proceeded up to about 2000 ft to view one of the country's premiere attractions, the falls of Voringfossen, which drop nearly 500 feet in all. In Alesund, my friends took a private (Viator) all-day bus excursion including something called "The Troll Road", and lots of other fantastic scenery; I think it ran them $164 apiece.  In addition to lots of walking around on my own, visiting the Jugendstil Center museum, and snapping photos of the local Art Nouveau architecture, I devoted some time in the middle of the day to the one HAL excursion I wound up booking (about $105, as I recall, and handled very well for passengers who spoke a variety of languages.)  It divided its roughly three hours between some touring of the town, and a run out to the fine nearby aquarium, where the highlight was watching a diver--through a giant acrylic window wall about a foot thick-- send the various species in the tank into a happy feeding frenzy with a ten-kilo bag of shrimp bits.  After our return to town, I decided to be dropped off atop the Byrampen overlook, which is about 100 m / 330 ft up, and then stroll back down through the park and into the city before returning to the ship for dinner. In Geiranger, Sarah and I were driven all around in a car rented by a Dutch passenger (familiar with the area from previous visits) and his son; I had linked up with them via the Roll Call for our sailing some months prior.  (Sarah's mom took a HAL excursion, and visited a few of the same spectacular spots.) And last but not least, in beautiful Bergen, we had again arranged for an economical (about $30 apiece) privately arranged bus excursion out to the suburbs for us three music lovers to visit Troldhaugen.  The property features the home, composing hut, and final resting place of Norway's favorite musical son Edvard Grieg.  A piano recital by an exceptional native player is included; the striking sod-roofed concert hall overlooks the water and the composer's hut.  (Lunch is not included, but there's a nice cafeteria in the visitors' center for anyone who wants to have a quick bite to eat.)  The 11:30 to 2:20 excursion also offered plenty of time before and after to wander around the old heart of the city, soak in its lovely historic architecture, and browse the shops and galleries; we also made time to enjoy the funicular ride up to the thousand-foot-high Floyen viewpoint overlooking the city before returning to the ship. (Crowded because it's so popular, but the spectacular views were very much worth it!) After a final day at sea, we returned to the port of Rotterdam on the morning of June 9th.  Rather than simply hop a train to Schipol airport, I had decided to spend a day and night in Delft, just a ten-minute train ride north of Rotterdam, largely on the recommendation of an architect friend who'd spent some time in Holland.  The two friends I was traveling with were very pleased with this decision-- we all absolutely loved this pretty little town, and agreed that it was the perfect calming way to finish up our trip.  Once again, there were beautiful churches, quiet streets, nice restaurants, the Vermeer Center, and the Delftware factory about a mile north of the historic center.  (We all visited the Vermeer Center, even though it contains no actual Vermeer paintings-- they're all in major museums around the world.  But Delft was his home town, and the Center helps visitors learn a lot about his phenomenal talent and techniques, and his still somewhat mysterious life.  As for the Delftware factory, I did not accompany my friends to that one, but they enjoyed it very much, and found it a better place to purchase an actual Delftware souvenir than the tourist-oriented shops in the center.) And now I will talk about THE SHIP... I thought a few criticisms were in order.  I first sailed with HAL more than a decade ago.  Some slippage of standards, which I realize are common to all the major mainstream cruise lines over the same period, was evident.  Fresh-squeezed orange juice, which had once been served without charge at the Lido breakfast buffet, is now available only for a fee.  And where I recall a nice classical quartet playing on a Nieuw Amsterdam cruise in 2011, it's now down to a duo-- and the violinist frequently sent forth flat notes that were downright wince-inducing.  Any promising Julliard student would surely have done better; I know there are multiple European equivalents of that American institution. Buffet desserts were often lacking in flavor.  And while I love how HAL always features a section of the Lido Market lunch that offers dishes of a different Asian cuisine each day-- curry and beer is my recipe for lunch happiness!-- I was sometimes a little disappointed in the end result.  (Of course, to be fair, it would have been hard for any shipboard buffet to live up to that fantastic Indonesian meal we'd feasted on in Amsterdam!) I thought it was just great that you could go to the front desk and request one of more than 1,000 DVD movies of all sorts on loan...but the execution was REALLY lacking here, at least for me.  I could never get the attached DVD player in my cabin to work-- in fact, it wouldn't even play the music CD's I'd brought along.  I reported this to the front desk as I returned the movie, just minutes after having picked it up, but no offer of repair or replacement was forthcoming.  (My friends, in a deck 6 balcony cabin, were able to view one movie, but told me they'd also had a lot of trouble with the gadgetry.)  So, what should be a wonderful amenity becomes a moot point if passengers can't take advantage of it. Overall, though, I want to stress that our impression of the vessel, and its food and service, were very positive.  For one thing, the Rotterdam is just the right size for us-- big enough to handle weather well, and to offer a variety of entertainment and dining venues, but small enough to be easy to get to know and find your way around quickly.  And the ship was looking great after her drydock refurbishment a few months prior to our cruise.  My friends were very pleased with their spacious balcony cabin on deck 6.  Mine was forward on deck 3, and despite looking out on the wraparound teak promenade, (another much-loved feature of Holland's ships!) the only persistent noise that came into the cabin was a bit of bass boom from the theater upstairs when shows were being performed.  I saw a small leak begin to emerge from the lobby ceiling of deck 3 one afternoon, and alerted the front desk that they'd want to deploy a bucket or two-- but hey, the ship is 21 years old, and is going to have the odd plumbing issue here or there, drydock notwithstanding.  (Thankfully, no such plumbing issues affected either of our cabins!) As usual, apart from trivia, (our team, including that Dutch dad and son, won some beautiful Rudi Sodamin cookbooks toward the end!) I didn't spend much time in the theater watching the big production shows, but I spoke to many passengers who enjoyed them. What's more, my older friend developed a crush on the flamboyant piano lounge entertainer known as Sir Stryker, and left the ship having bought one of his CD's, which she has been playing in her car ever since! We felt no need to pay extra for dinner at Pinnacle Grill-- the main dining room did very good work, and the mostly vegetarian diet of one of our party was easily accommodated.  In addition to the two bottles of wine I'd brought from home, there were five in all brought aboard with the additional purchases made on sailing day; all of those were consumed in the dining room, and thus subject to the $18 corkage fee.  This is quite reasonable in comparison to most restaurants ashore, however, and it was more than worth it to have wines I knew we'd like. I found the front desk staff all very friendly and accommodating as well, even though I know they must contend with some chronically cranky passengers. The Bottom Line: I wouldn't hesitate to recommend the ship, the line, and this gorgeous itinerary to friends & family. Read Less
Sail Date June 2018
This was one of my favorite cruises. Norway is incredible beautiful. We had ports in Eidfjord, Bergen, Alesund and Geiranger and departed from Amsterdam. All the ports were great. Some were very small but none had that overly tourist ... Read More
This was one of my favorite cruises. Norway is incredible beautiful. We had ports in Eidfjord, Bergen, Alesund and Geiranger and departed from Amsterdam. All the ports were great. Some were very small but none had that overly tourist feel which was nice. There wasn't really any shopping. Three of the ports: Eidjord, Alesund and Geiranger were very small and had maybe one or two small very expensive shops. The the ports were easy to get around. Excursions: Eidfjord - waterfalls, the water falls were beautiful and we were very happy with this excursion. Alesund - Isles of Gilroy and Giske, this excursion we took because in the official description it focused on the viking Rollo and viking history. However there was not a single mention of vikings which was a huge disappointment. Geiranger - Goat farm, this was my favorite excursion. It was so beautiful and green on the farm. The free running very friendly residential horses were adorable. They walked right up to us looking for a scratch. Bergen - Hop-on hop-off bus (purchased ticketed of the ship), The bus was super easy to use and went all over the small city. Must do's here are the fish market for lunch and the bakery for a cinnamon roll and hot chocolate. As for the cruise itself there were mostly positives. PROS - the food in the main dining room was very good, the food in the buffet was also very good. The buffet had a really good selection of food choices including Asian, home style food (meat, potatoes etc), there was a bread station, and a great salad station with lots of choices of items to put in your salad. Even the food by the pool was good. The movie by the pool was fun and it wasn't cold so if was very comfortable. The self-service drink machine was great. We got the drink package so we were able to refill at the machines as much as we liked. We were given cup with lids and we just filled them up when ever we wanted. The ship was nice, the staff was great. CONS - we wanted to take the cooking class, as soon as I got on board I went to sign up before it sold out. But sadly and strangely the one class was being held at noon on a port day instead of one of the two sea days. That was a disappointment. The nightly entertainment on the "big stage" was lacking. The cruise ship dancers preformed twice and it was a song and dance show. It was ok. Another night was an illusionist who preformed very "beginner" tricks like tearing up the newspaper and putting it together again and tying 2 pieces of rope together and turning them into 1 rope. another night they placed a planet earth movie. The comedian was very hyper but only mediocre. The last show we didn't even bother to go so I can't say how good it was, it was someone playing classical music. This is a great cruise and would highly recommend it. Read Less
Sail Date August 2017
First time on Koningsdam after sailings with other HAL ships and also other lines. Destination Norway is awesome, sailing through the fjords is amazing. Also we were lucky with the weather. We had arranged a rentalcar in Alesund since ... Read More
First time on Koningsdam after sailings with other HAL ships and also other lines. Destination Norway is awesome, sailing through the fjords is amazing. Also we were lucky with the weather. We had arranged a rentalcar in Alesund since that was a long day. We were there before and now we could drive the amazing road in Trollstigen. Loved it. Avis gave us a nice upgrade in car. Shipexcursions are often very if not too expensive. Ship is beautiful, but lacks HAL atmosphere. Could be a ship of any idea. Modern art, blingbling, we missed the traditional HAL feeling. BB King clus is nice but sometimes very loud. Food and service in diningroom was always very good. Dutch cafe is a great place for special snacks and drinks. We arenot sure if this ship is the type we like. Not the fast it is larger then the other HAL ships, more its style. Read Less
Sail Date August 2017
We celebrated our 40th anniversary on this trip. We only went on 7 days of this 14 day cruise from Amsterdam to four cities in Norway. Several of our group did, however, take the full 14 days. We spent a week in Amsterdam before and loved ... Read More
We celebrated our 40th anniversary on this trip. We only went on 7 days of this 14 day cruise from Amsterdam to four cities in Norway. Several of our group did, however, take the full 14 days. We spent a week in Amsterdam before and loved that city! We traveled with a group of 40+ people and found it extremely frustrating to communicate with each other. We wasted a lot of time looking for each other. Bring stick up notes so you can post messages on each others doors or better yet, bring walkies! Their internet service is expensive and spotty so that was not really an option for communicating. The ship is their newest, built in 2016 but the decor is cheap and dated looking compared to other ships we've traveled on. We were surprised to learn that this ship was so new. There is no beautiful focal point on the ship. Very minimal and European. The fine dining restaurants are worth every bit of their extra costs. We visited 4 differents restaurants (Culinary, Tamarind, Canalettos, Pinnacle). They cost about $15-$20 more each. Worth it! I especially loved Culinary. It was like watching a cooking show on TV and then getting to taste the food. Everyone in our group loved them. Make reservations if you have a large group! The Lido dining (buffet) is ridiculously disappointing. We thought because this was a higher end cruise line, we might expect their food service to be better. It was not. Altho, i did appreciate that the staff served us rather than watching other guests dig around in a dish, leaving it unappetizing. It was always crowded and there was no organization as to ordering food. People stepped in front of you as there's no clear lines which turns your dining experience into a competition. Finding an available seat was next to impossible so most of the time we had to bring our food back to our room and eat it on the bed as there's no table or chairs in the staterooms unless you have a suite. The dining room was fair but crowded as the food here is free (included) and you can eat as much as you'd like. We ate here once. The shore excursions are an expensive joke. They basically herd you into a boat or bus and drive you around. They're both overly crowded and restrooms or refreshments are not available. It was a waste of time and money. Don't be fooled by the fancy names of their excursions. I wish i could've read my review before we traveled on this trip. Flam - We loved this city. It was small and quaint with the most stunning views. What a fun way to wake up in the morning! The shore excursion we took in Flam was called "The Naeroyfjord Cruise & Scenic Drive - $130.@) you will spend half the time driving from Flam to Gudvangen going thru many tunnels (which is a nice place for a nap). Then in Gudvangen, you'll hop on a boat and take a slow ride around the Naeroyfjord & Aurlandsfjorden back to Flam. Very beautiful but if you don't board the boat first, you may end up like us, without a seat during the entire ride. People leave their things on the seats to claim them then go up top to look around so you never get an opportunity to have a seat in the lower deck unless you were lucky enough to get one at the beginning. They do have a few decent restrooms and our tour guide here was somewhat informative. Some of the folks in our group took the train tour and pretty much said it was a good long nap. It was a lovely sunny day, which i know you cannot plan for but if we would've known, there was a kayaking company, a fjordsafari.com, a fun fast boat tour, as well as a small electric car rental company right there that would've been waaaay more fun and less costly. There's several shops, a few restaurants, a cafe, a bakery and some street vendors that were fun. We were able to taste Reindeer meat balls and fish soup prepared by the locals. We also loved the little pub there: Ægir Bryggeri where they brewed their own beer and had coffee at Bakkastova Cafe up on the hill. Stavanger - Lysefjord: Pulpit Rock Cruise - $135@ was interesting as we had a wonderfully personable tour guide who told us interesting facts and even legend about the Fjords, Trolls and the area. Had we known then what we know now, we'd only have done this excursion. The town on Stavanger is big so you'd have to cab to get there unless you felt like a 15-30 minute walk uphill to get in town. We were there the shortest time so when we returned from the excursion, we didn't have time to tour further. The Lillesand: The Jewel of Sorlandet ($170@) was the worse. We were jammed on a boat, 8 people squished into a booth. Some folks had so place to sit and ended up standing along the wall or sitting on a step. They slowly drove around showing us the homes of unsuspecting locals for 2.5 of the 3 hour trip. They stopped in Lillesand for 40 minutes which gave you only enough time to use the restroom (another line) and grab a bottle of water. That excursion cost the most and was the worse. In Oslo, there is Sooooooo Much to see and Sooooooo little time. There's a "Hop On & Off Bus" that will take you to all the touristy places you might want to see. We met friends who live in Oslo there and they took us on a personal guided tour and then back to their house for lunch and Norwegian specialties. Other folks in our group complained that we needed to stay longer. We would've liked to have stayed there for a couple days but the cruise line pays a hefty fee to dock there so they cannot stay too long. There were two stage entertainers on the ship. #1. A lady that sang and played the harp and #2. a magician. Both were not entertaining but maybe to some? We didn't manage to sit thru an entire show. It seems like they mostly just try to sell you more things, spa sessions, their Elemis line, another cruise, Jewelry, Art work, your own photos.... Because we didn't already spend enough money on the cruise? We had a couples massage which was lovely and i had a facial while my husband had a shave at the Greenhouse Spa. 15% gratuities are included but we still tipped them $20@ They try to sell you the Elemis product in a matter of fact way. You need to be good at saying no if you're not interested. It can ruin your relaxing massage at the end, if you let it. We didn't but others in our group did. We didn't buy the drink packages and we did drink about 4-5 cocktails each day (bloody marys, wine, beer) and we didn't spend the $900. we would've spent if we had bought one of the drink packages as both members in room need to buy the full package. Drinks were $7.50 up. Finer wines ranged from $24 to $99 per bottle. Different bars on the ship had different liquors. I love Aperol and was able to find it in the Pinnacle bar. Norway was beautiful and we're happy that we went. We would probably not go back as you need to go in August in order for it not to be too cold. I believe our cruise was one of the last ones for the season. We live in Michigan so leaving in August is difficult for us as we only have summer weather here ourselves for a few months. Holland America - Compared to other cruise lines was not as nice as we had expected it to be but 1000x better than a Carnival cruise but not as nice as Viking or Royal Caribbean. We won't go on another Holland Cruise. Did you know that Carnival Cruise Line owns Holland America? Let that give you a hint... Read Less
Sail Date August 2017
This cruise was a small group of a dozen like-minded cruise friends who had been chatting for years and eager to meet and cruise together in person. It was also a retirement/40th anniversary cruise for my husband and I. We arrived in ... Read More
This cruise was a small group of a dozen like-minded cruise friends who had been chatting for years and eager to meet and cruise together in person. It was also a retirement/40th anniversary cruise for my husband and I. We arrived in Amsterdam two days ahead of the cruise. AMSTERDAM Our group was booked at Doubletree Hilton Centraal Station pre-cruise. Being close to Centraal Station, the city trams, and the Port of Amsterdam, this hotel is popular with river and ocean cruisers. It's clean, modern and situated on a canal, the perfect place to people watch. My husband and I arrived early afternoon, well before check-in time, greeted by friendly folks at the reception desk, and promptly given a room overlooking river boats and the Celebrity Solstice docked nearby. Rooms were average size, but nicely designed with a large window for lots of natural light. A tasty breakfast buffet was included with our stay, as well as free WIFI. The only downside we experienced was dinner in the evening. It was raining and we were tired from the day's sightseeing, so chose to dine at the hotel restaurant. Service took a long time, and when the steak and burgers finally arrived, they were cold and undercooked. And it wasn't cheap. Amsterdam: This is a city of bicycles and scooters, and either one would be a great way to get around. In fact, we had never seen so many 2-wheelers parked in one place before, particularly in the vicinity of Centraal Station, and we discovered that pedestrians need to remember to look both ways, more for cyclists than cars. Otherwise, I highly recommend a day pass for public transit - or multi-day pass if staying longer. We bought the 24-hour pass and used it on trams to get around the city, plus it's also good on city busses and canal ferries. There is so much to do in Amsterdam, and since we didn't have much time, we focused on a just a few attractions. Anne Frank Haus. Words can't convey the emotion we felt on this tour. I was nervous about the steep and narrow stairs necessary to reach the hidden annex, but that was all but forgotten once we were inside, reflecting on what Anne and her family lived through during those years. All visitors are given an audio headset to hear stories and quotes from Anne Frank's diary and guidance through the many photos to the actual diary itself. It's a heartbreaking look at this period of history, the 8 people who hid in the annex and those that helped them. I can't stress enough the importance of securing tickets on line well in advance - as soon as they become available - to avoid the long afternoon queues. Van Gogh Museum: Tickets are available on line in advance to avoid the long queues. We didn't plan ahead, but arrived late morning to a very quick moving line, about 15 minutes. Once inside, the museum is well laid out and easy to navigate. Backpacks are not allowed inside, so either leave it behind or be prepared to spend some time in line checking it in or out at the desk. Canal Cruise. One of the best ways to see Amsterdam is from its system of connecting waterways. There are many boats of various sizes cruising the canals, but we pre-arranged our own smaller vessel through a great company called "KINBoat" in order to give our group a 2-hour private canal tour of Amsterdam, complete with open bar and appetizers. Our skipper, Bob, expertly guided our 12-person boat through the various city neighborhoods, explaining the scenery along the way, and a great time was had by all!  KONINGSDAM Embarkation: We booked a mini-bus for our group ride from the hotel to the cruise port, which turned out to be a good thing, given the distance to the Waterlands industrial terminal, where we were to board Koningsdam, instead of the nearby Port of Amsterdam passenger terminal. Upon arrrival, our luggage was whisked away, and we were directed to a quick moving queue and given the customary health form to complete. There was some confusion about when and where to present our passports, but once through registration, boarding was easy. Interestingly, we never had to show our pre-printed boarding passes. First Impressions: Koningsdam is beautiful, inside and out. She appears modern, yet retains a classic appearance including a true promenade deck (though much of the view from the promenade was hindered by lifeboats). We were welcomed by many cheerful crew members, and by the time we boarded around 12:30 pm, our rooms were ready and waiting. The layout of the ship was a little confusing to this directionally-challenged writer (How I missed the fore & aft-swimming carpet fish from NCL!). Happily, there was a helpful crew member at every turn to direct us to our stateroom. The ship's multi-level atrium is attractive but surprisingly small.  Stateroom: My husband and I had a balcony cabin on Mozart Deck (deck 6) toward the aft elevators. The bath is a good size and bright with a roomy shower, and more importantly, a raised bar to rest a foot upon when shaving legs (a much-appreciated convenience, as any lady will attest to). The cabin is well designed with plenty of closet and drawer space. There is a handy rack for flyers, newsletters, magazines and other papers that accumulate during a week's cruise. The TV monitor is big and affixed to the wall directly opposite the bed. Our steward kept our room clean and tidy all week, leaving us with plenty of ice, chocolates by the pillow, and even the occasional towel animal. Download the HAL smartphone app once on board for daily events, WIFI and account access, as well as each day's dining menus. The standard balcony was a good size and held a small table and 2 chairs. Interestingly, we stepped onto the balcony on arrival and discovered about 15 empty bottles of booze in the corner. We joked that the previous occupants must have wanted to catch up on their beverage package before their cruise was over! In any event, the steward (who was clearly embarrassed) promptly removed all the bottles and apologized profusely. DINING:  Main Dining Room: We chose late (8:15 pm) fixed dining in the main dining room. Waitstaff were friendly, helpful and eager to please. Service was on par each night, and we never felt rushed. The food was delicious, and we thoroughly enjoyed the company of our four other pre-arranged table companions. Specialty Dining: Our group pre-booked a table at the Pinnacle Grill for the final evening of our cruise. Although the waitstaff seemed eager to serve, the food took a long time to come, particularly the dessert course, with over 2 hours to complete the meal. The meal was delicious, though I didn't expect my sirloin to contain as much fatty gristle as it did. As a special after-dinner treat, my husband and I were presented with a small but delicious chocolate mousse cake for our 40th anniversary, thankfully without bad singing waiters. Just a cake with sincere words of wishes from the staff. In the end, the dinner proved to be a fitting and enjoyable way to bid farewell to our newfound friends! Note: None of the wine-by-the-glass offerings on the Pinnacle menu are within the price range of HAL's beverage package. If you have the drink package, be sure to ask for a wine included with the drink package. Otherwise, you'll pay full price for whatever they bring you. Lido Market: This is the buffet located on Lido Deck. Unlike other cruise lines, it's not a serve-yourself set up - the food is served by the dining crew, presumably HAL's way of preventing norovirus. Having just come off a Norwegian Cruise Line cruise the week before, we did notice the absence of "washy-washy" crew at the door - no annoying spray bottles - just hand sanitizer stations throughout the public venues, trusting that guests will remember to use them. As far as food quality and variety in Lido Market, we were impressed with the flavor and choices, both breakfast and lunch (probably dinner, too, though we didn't try their dinner menu), and HAL gets our vote for best buffet at sea. However, finding a table was sometimes difficult at peak breakfast and lunch times.  New York Pizza and Deli: Besides being the ONLY place open for a late night snack, this place served up some of the best sandwiches and pizza on the high seas. The pizza was particularly delicious and rivals our other favorite pizza found on the Princess ships. The deli sandwiches were delicious and equal to those you'd find anywhere in Manhattan.  Grand Dutch Cafe: This is a small, pleasant eatery featuring a limited selection of pastries, salad and quiche, as well as a variety of coffees. It's a nice concept - a place to pick up a quick bite - but it doesn't compare to the much larger International Cafe found on Princess ships. Room Service: We ordered breakfast a few times throughout the cruise, and the food arrived on schedule and still warm. Pastries, coffee, juice, cereals, eggs, bacon and sausage are free. Omelets and such are an extra charge. ENTERTAINMENT: Music: This is where Holland America rises above all the rest. With B.B. King's Blues Club and Lincoln Center Stage, they have a great thing going, and I hope they continue to add it to every ship in the line. B.B. King's phenomenal All Stars band made the Club THE place to be in the evening, dancing and grooving to jazz, oldies, funk and Top 40. The young, talented performers that make up the piano quintet at Lincoln Center Stage were superb, playing a different program each day, including Schubert, Brahms, American and French composers, and even Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody thrown in for fun. Billboard Onboard completes the trio of venues that make up "Music Walk", as well as the Queen's Lounge and Ocean Bar with lighter fare - Beatles tunes, pop, and so on. We had several classically-trained musicians (affectionately called "music snobs') in our group, and all seemed impressed with the quality of music offerings on board. A Special Concert: Speaking of beautiful music, I had pre-arranged a special surprise on board, which took place in the Ocean Bar. We were blessed with a young couple in our group - phenomenal classical pianists - who performed superb piano duets for us, as a surprise and special tribute to their parents. This proved to be a highlight of our week aboard Koningsdam. World Stage Productions: The World Stage is Koningsdam's big-show theatre. It's an attractive space, and the seats are wider than normal, with more leg room than is customary, making it a comfortable and enjoyable night for a show or one of the feature films they show throughout the cruise. We didn't catch all the shows, but here is what we did see: "One World": This was a solid, energetic production with talented singers and dancers. We loved the beautiful panoramic screen backdrop to the music and vocals. BBC "Frozen Planet" Live: A beautiful nature film backed by live music provided by the aforementioned piano quintet. This was absolutely gorgeous and my favorite show of the week. "Musicology": This was very interesting and beautiful to watch, with dancers interpreting the pre-recorded melodies of various musical instruments. Magician/Comedian: He was the weakest of the entertainers on board. His magic wasn't particularly entertaining, he wasn't very funny, and even the guy he pulled up on stage looked bored. I couldn't stop yawning. Pool (mid-ship): The pool area and surrounding deck space is surprisingly small on a ship of this size. I can imagine that if the ship were in the Caribbean or some other warm destination, it would be a problem for many sunbathers scrambling for lounge chairs. Still, with a retractable roof, the lido deck was a popular place to be, even on this cooler-climate cruise. Early birds may be lucky enough to score a lounger or one of the comfy small sofas and loungers situated in alcoves around the perimeter, making for a great place to relax.  Pool (aft): We didn't really spend any time here, except at sailaway or as a vantage point to view the fjords. Unlike other ships, this pool and its twin jacuzzis were full of kids, and there was no advantage to hanging out here. Kids on Board There were fewer kids on this cruise than you'd find on the other mainstream lines, but judging by the action at the pools, you wouldn't know it. HAL needs to do a much better job of monitoring kids on Lido deck. Being my first time on a HAL ship, I'm not sure if it's just Koningsdam or if it's the whole line, but on several occasions throughout the cruise, both the main and aft pools and hot tubs were overrun with kids running, pushing, jumping, and dangerously diving into a 4-foot deep pool. No one supervised that I could tell - neither parents nor crew. I seriously hope HAL improves upon this in the future before someone gets hurt. Even better, let's make the Aft pool and hot tubs available to adults only.  Excursions: Eidfjord: Waterfalls & Waffle. We loved this excursion. The scenery was spectacular, the waffle delicious, and the guide informative. We did wish more time was spent at Voringfossen Waterfall because that was definitely the highlight of the tour, and the walk to the viewing area took some time. Alesund: We didn't book a tour and instead bought a ticket to the hop on-hop off bus, which we used to get us to the scenic overlook. Note: To avoid a massive line for the ho-ho, either get off the ship early or wait and buy tickets after lunch when the rush is over. The ho-ho has a number of stops around town, but we took it half way, getting off at the art and culture center and then walking back to the ship. Geiranger: We chose HAL's Mt. Dalsnibba and the Eagle Road excursion. After a needlessly complicated route from the meeting point in the show lounge to the tender boats, the tour went very smoothly, and we loved it. The scenery just got better with each viewpoint, and the icing on the cake awaited us at the very top of Mt. Dalsnibba. Locals say it rains a lot in Norway, but we lucked out with fabulous weather and, therefore, an exceptionally good view of the incredible landscape. Note: Book the first tour in advance, because the long and winding road up the mountain gets busier as the day gets older. It was amazing to see how the big busses negotiate those turns. Our guide was informative, we learned a lot about the fiord and Norway, and thanks to our driver's expert skills, we made it up and back safely. Bergen: We were conveniently docked at the main port close to town, so I got off the ship in the morning to explore the area on foot, including the waterfront, the fish market, and the famous Bryggen houses. If shopping is on your itinerary, save it for Bergen, where the shops are plentiful. After lunch, we did the ship's tour of composer Edvard Grieg's home and Museum, followed by a concert of his works. Our first stop was the stave church, which was an exact replica of those built by the vikings. Next, was the ride to Grieg's house, which sits on a gorgeously landscaped piece of property overlooking the fjord. The concert hall is beautiful, and the stage with it's beautiful grand piano features a large window with a view of the fjord. We enjoyed the concert, and the hall was not crowded as the guests on our bus were the only ones in attendance. However, the museum is rather small, as are the rooms on display inside the house, and are a challenge to enjoy when visiting with a bus load of people touring at the same time. There are two downhill paths to both his gravesite and the composer hut, which I didn't do, as I chose to sit on a bench, rest my sore knees, and admire the scenery. Note: The walk from the bus to Grieg's house is fairly easy on a level paved road. However, the gravel wooded, hilly path to the stave church was a challenge to a few folks on the tour. In summary, Koningsdam is a beautiful, elegant and classy ship, and we would love to sail her again. The destination, though, was the highlight. As much as we love Alaska, Norway exceeds with its scenic villages, winding mountain roads, dramatic waterfalls, and majestic fjords!  Read Less
Sail Date July 2017
We are three sisters and our 88 year old mother. We pick this 14 day cruise to the Norwegian Fjords because it goes to 8 different ports and no overlap. Koningsdam is a new ship, that is the reason we picked this ship. We cruise at least ... Read More
We are three sisters and our 88 year old mother. We pick this 14 day cruise to the Norwegian Fjords because it goes to 8 different ports and no overlap. Koningsdam is a new ship, that is the reason we picked this ship. We cruise at least once a year with mom and we have been cruising over 10 years. We pick the cruise according to where we want to go. When we read the reviews, we were kind of don't know what we will get into. After 14 days in this ship, I love this ship! Cons: Cabin lack storage space. Entertainment at night, only a handful of good shows. Sometimes was just videos with music.... Guest performers are good. After the first week, we went back to Amsterdam and had to dock at a dock far away and it was a big mess! No one knows what to do and when we came back from the excursion, no security scanning by the entrance. Shore excursions are over priced. Pros: Food was top notch! Even at the Lido buffet, very good, tasty, choices are different everyday. Lobsters at the last formal night, even at the Lido buffet, all you can eat lobsters and mussels. The last couple years we cruised with Royal Caribbean, they had already cut lobsters and you have to pay $35.00 for a lobster dinner. This ship is very generous! Food at the dinning room, every meal was excellent! The best was when they picked up the Norwegian Salmon at Bergen, that was fresh, cooked just right and very tasty. Ship's decor is beautiful! The itinerary was the best. All the ports are different and cruising the Hardanger Fjord and the Geiranger Fjord are the most beautiful scenes. Make sure you wake up very early and go up to the deck to watch the sail in right at the front of the ship. With the sunrise, you will snap a lot of amazing photos. We had a balcony but cannot compare to the front of the ship. I had to stand on the little end table and take the photos past the glasses. We had seafood lunch at some of the ports. The Norwegian shrimps are the best. Lobster and mussels are good. But they are not cheap. Embarkation and disembarkation was painless and fast. I will definitely sail the Koningsdam again! Read Less
Sail Date July 2017
We chose this cruise for the itinerary; we wanted to cruise the entire coastline of Norway. We went to 8 Norwegian towns: Stavanger, Eidfjord, Alesund, Trondheim, Honningsvag (& North Cape), Geiranger, Bergen and Flam. Visiting Norway ... Read More
We chose this cruise for the itinerary; we wanted to cruise the entire coastline of Norway. We went to 8 Norwegian towns: Stavanger, Eidfjord, Alesund, Trondheim, Honningsvag (& North Cape), Geiranger, Bergen and Flam. Visiting Norway did not disappoint; it was a lifelong dream fulfilled! The scenery was so beautiful, spectacular really. The sheer awesomeness of the fjords was so much more breathtaking than one can imagine! We had expected rain for most of our ports, but we were pleasantly surprised that we had more sunny days than predicted, even at the North Cape, which we were told is rare. Each of the ports had so much to see; we enjoyed them all. Koningsdam is a beautiful ship, only one year old. We had an aft stateroom with a larger balcony, off the back of the ship, than a regular verandah, the views from which were great. Despite the larger number of passengers (2600), we didn't find the ship too crowded, except for a few of the information talks, when there was standing room only. Embarkation and disembarkation were a breeze-very smooth and organized! Once aboard the ship we were able to go to our stateroom within a couple of hours of boarding.We ended up tendering at 3 ports, and surprisingly, the tendering process also went smoothly and fairly quickly. Entertainment was ok, nothing to rave about. Activities were lacking. Have to say, out of the 15 cruises I have been on, this one had the least amount of daily activities, even on a sea day. They offered a lot of health and spa related talks and wine tasting for extra $. There were several information talks that needed a second session on the same day to accommodate the number of passengers onboard. Shore excursions were too expensive through the cruise line (most 2-3X more expensive). We booked a couple of excursions online, before we sailed, to avoid them being sold out. The rest of our excursions we booked when we got off the ship, including City-sightseeing Hop On/Hop Off bus tours in 4 of our ports. Dining and overall service were the biggest disappointments. Both were the worst of the 15 other cruises (on RCCL, Celebrity, Oceania, Carnival) I have been on prior to this one. Most of the food was not that good, and because the service in the main dining room was so slow and not very attentive, it was hard to reorder something else (ie: cold French onion soup several times, undercooked salmon, overcooked steaks). We had to wait for a long time to have our dishes cleared between courses of our dinner, sometimes as much as 15 minutes. We reported these issues to the maitre'd, but things really didn't improve to the standard we have become accustomed to while cruising. We ate in one specialty dining room, the Pinnacle Grill, twice. One time the service was excellent; but the second time the service was mediocre, and we had to pay extra! You shouldn't have to pay extra to get great food and great service. Service in the Lido Market and Lido Poolside areas also wasn't up to par. You often had to wait to have a table cleared and bar servers seem to rarely come around. Most of the time we had to get our own drinks. We traveled with 2 other couples (no children). We made our own hotel reservations for before the cruise, again because it was less expensive than the cruise recommended hotel. This was our second time cruising with HAL and we will most likely not cruise with HAL again. Read Less
Sail Date July 2017
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