1. Home
  2. Cruise Lines
  3. Holland America Line
  4. Holland America Line Cruise Reviews
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: December 2018
The cruise started with the worst embarkation situatin. We need wheelchair assistance to embark because of the long walks. Holland America's Ft. Lauderdale operation to have two wheelchairs used for a significant number of people. who ... Read More
The cruise started with the worst embarkation situatin. We need wheelchair assistance to embark because of the long walks. Holland America's Ft. Lauderdale operation to have two wheelchairs used for a significant number of people. who would be taken to a table top counter, processed and assigned to a holding area to await wheelchairs to board the ship. Never, in our 50 some cruise experiences, have we had to wait 2 1/2 hours to board a ship, NOT EVEN ON A MEGA SHIP! . If anyone thought this was an anomoly, debarkation was no better -- two wheechairs. It was quite apparent, from embarkation, no handicap assistance on the ship in the buffet or other area, and debarkation, the mobility challenged were treated as 2nd Class Citizens and Holland America was doing you a favor rather than providing service. It took three days for maintenance to fix the HVAC in our cabin as it went from FREEZING when we boarded ship to a SAUNA a day later back to Freezing. We asked at one point for Holland America to send us home from the first port stop in Curacao. New Years Night found the ship in a FREEZING mode with passengers wearing parkas and shipboard staff wearing sweatshirts and hoodies. And then, at midnight, the freezing became unbearably hot. Only one more day left -- thank goodness!!! Excursion vendors were not asked to accommodate the mobility challenged or handicapped. They were not asked to provide even step stools on high access vehicles. When I asked Sydney in Excursions about this she became belligerent and offensive. I discussed this with her supervisor, Abigail, who agree that vendors should be asked to provide easier access. I suggested Sydney would make great excursion director on a container ship. We were most surprised by the lack of service and accommodaion. Holland America has historically, and still does, market to more mature audiences. They were quality conscious and most considerate of the mobility challenged. We sailed with them on a number of occasions. Not anymore! Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2018
Iren & Vadim Timof (72 years old. Fremont California). That was our 13-th cruise. We enjoyed with our Panama cruise from Fort Lauderdale to San Diego (December 18,2018 to January 3, 2019). Service on board was excellent, but ... Read More
Iren & Vadim Timof (72 years old. Fremont California). That was our 13-th cruise. We enjoyed with our Panama cruise from Fort Lauderdale to San Diego (December 18,2018 to January 3, 2019). Service on board was excellent, but dining menu in restaurant and buffet was poor. The same we can say about shops range. Very sorry. We liked all our excursions. It was very good arranged. Cabin service was very good. Everything was on time and with smile. We were exited with Christmas and New Year celebration, especially with lighting Christmas Tree and singing Christmas songs! Special thanks to a little girl who lighted Christmas Tree!. The most pleasure we got from Adagio music duo violinist Cristian and pianist Nadya. Cristian is an exceptional artistic talent. He excites the audience emotionally and engages each listener intellectually. He sparks a love for chamber music in the hearts of every listener. Thanks. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2018
We continue to chose Holland America for the customer services, dining experience and how they prioritize you and your experience. The comedian (Andrew Kennedy) was hilarious. Holland America is really trying to appeal to a younger ... Read More
We continue to chose Holland America for the customer services, dining experience and how they prioritize you and your experience. The comedian (Andrew Kennedy) was hilarious. Holland America is really trying to appeal to a younger crowd, which I appreciate. We have traveled Holland America with our daughter, who is now 14, since she was 9. She has always enjoyed Club Hal. She prefers to be in Club Hal, then with us. This was her first year in The Loft. There were no very many teens in The Loft, but she did meet one girl she would make plans with to meet after dinner. They had a great time playing cards, ping pong, video games, etc... New also really appreciate the fact that all persons who work with the children have to have a min of a Bachelors Degree. Club Hal provided an educational experience for her when we went to Alaska on Holland America. The Loft is more about independence for the teens. They can come and go as they please and it is open till midnight. Our daughter would highly recommend both programs. The Panama Canal was an unforgettable experience. I would highly recommend this cruise. Aruba was gorgeous (just remember to bring cash, since there are several shopping locations that only take cash), Curacao was beautiful (make sure you see the moving bridge), zip line in Costa Rica, Guatemala (you can bargain at the shopping location they shuttle you to), Nicaragua (Use the bike taxi to eat at El Pigeon-great fish and beers), and in Oaxaca walk to the city over the hill. If you decided to use a credit card in Mexico make sure you are charged in Pesos. They will not give you the accurate exchange. A return was charging us 118.00 (US) and we asked for our bill in Pesos. The bill then went down to 76.28 (US). Just an FYI---there was an Excursion named Puerto Vallarta Sights and Tequila Distillery. Fist of all your are not taken to a distillery. You are taken to a tasting. The Tequila is good, however they doubled the price of the bottles, just for us. We were also taken to a jewelry store for a waste of 30. min. We did see some downtown sights for an hour and a half. The rest of the time was used to shuttle us around to a photo location, a jewelry store and a shopping area. When all was said and done, I would go on this cruise again. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2018
First time for Panama Canal. Holland America received great reviews. The ship it self was like an ice box! When inquired we were told nothing could be done. Our cabin was never warm as was the rest of the ship. My wife received a ... Read More
First time for Panama Canal. Holland America received great reviews. The ship it self was like an ice box! When inquired we were told nothing could be done. Our cabin was never warm as was the rest of the ship. My wife received a bad rash and when we went to desk for assist they called doctor and I was informed there would be a charge to open the office and charge for any medication. After 9 PM the ship was dead. Staff very friendly, the one high point. Casino staff were great. Food was just average, nothing special. Tea at 3 was good, Shows were so so, One male singer who did Lionel Richey was very good. Magician was also very good. Rest of entertainment not very good. Sorry to say it let a bad taste for Holland America. I will never cruise Holland American again. I have been on 16+ cruises and this was the worst. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2018
We simply chose the Holland America volendam because the dates fit in with several of the party we were cruising with. We do enjoy Holland America and our only bad experience out of 7 sailings with them has been on the veendam in the ... Read More
We simply chose the Holland America volendam because the dates fit in with several of the party we were cruising with. We do enjoy Holland America and our only bad experience out of 7 sailings with them has been on the veendam in the spring 2018 so we were a bit anxious about this booking on the volendam. We were absolutely delighted with our experience on the volume down. She is well maintained. Her food is excellent. The crew was extremely friendly. when we had any issue the staff bent over backwards to help us work it out. If we submitted a common card with anything the least bit negative we got a phone call to our stateroom and if we were not in our stateroom to take the call we got a note on our door. They then followed up to make sure every little thing was perfect. of the seven sailings with Holland America in the last two years I have to say this was probably our best overall experience, even though we did enjoy all of our other sailings except on the veendam. What I'm coming to realize is that most ships seem to go through a low period, And then if the company is smart measures are taken to get its act together and correct their weaknesses and make the ship much more pleasing and accommodating to passengers. The volendam is the same class of ship as the veendam and westerdam. As beautiful as a koningsdam and the eurodam are we do enjoy the smaller ships and this class a ship that the volume down is in is somewhere between 1300 and 1450 passengers. A great experience and we would definitely cruise on her again. It was really hard to even find constructive criticism to give on our end of cruise survey. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: November 2018
Panama Canal cruise, service was great, activities were great, our room was not good, we had banging pipes starting at 5:30 in the morning and 4 hrs every night. We were on the 3 rd deck, dining room up above, they gave us ear plugs, ... Read More
Panama Canal cruise, service was great, activities were great, our room was not good, we had banging pipes starting at 5:30 in the morning and 4 hrs every night. We were on the 3 rd deck, dining room up above, they gave us ear plugs, showed us other rooms that were not acceptable. Will never do that deck ever, when you walked outside on the deck you could hear the pipes, they need to insulate the pipes, duck tape doesn’t make it, needs a upgrade. Activities were good, entertainment, there was a variety of different entertainers that were good. Justen the cruise director was good also, the chef came out every night to talk to every table. Barry from Boston on the piano was Fantastic, went there every night to see him. Joel in the Ocean Bar was Fantastic also. Some of the servers like Alex was very good at his job, Jenny and Dewi in the Lido were also very Great. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2018
First time with this cruise company mainly because we wanted to see the Panama canal in action. From start to finish the cruise was faultless in every aspect. Every destination were worth the visit, with interesting things to see ... Read More
First time with this cruise company mainly because we wanted to see the Panama canal in action. From start to finish the cruise was faultless in every aspect. Every destination were worth the visit, with interesting things to see made more special by excellent tour guides. The cruise staff from top (the captain especially who regularly walks around) to bottom were all happy, efficient and always there to help. Food was excellent and fine dining was true to its word. The most important and impressive part of this cruise company is the fact that they have brought the old style of cruising to the present day. Guests are more sophisticated and pleasant to talk too. I know this might sound snobby but this is not the cruise for you if you like to party till 4am and make noise!! String quartet, piano bar, band, singers and dancers first class. Excellent gym and knowledgeable staff. Food is served by staff everywhere, therefore better for hygiene and waste control. Thank you to all and will look forward to our next cruise. Better than Norwegian, Costa and on par with Royal Caribbean. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: November 2018
We chose this cruise because of the Panama Canal partial passage.Getting on ,and back of the ship was handled efficiently. Food was reasonable. Our biggest ,and nastiest , problem was a liquid that kept coming up from the grout lines in ... Read More
We chose this cruise because of the Panama Canal partial passage.Getting on ,and back of the ship was handled efficiently. Food was reasonable. Our biggest ,and nastiest , problem was a liquid that kept coming up from the grout lines in the tile floor from the Lido buffet restaurant the first few days on the cruise.It was not adequately kept clean for quite a while.Cabin was sufficient and kept clean.Shows were good, especially the Steel band from Trinidad.Ship is clearly dated, lots of fogged up windows because of cracked panes and broken seals between panes.Crew were friendly and efficient. I would not cruise with HAL again, I had really expected a better experience. I would not recommend this cruise if you have young children, I believe the average age of the passengers was at least 65 years.The choice of shore excursions was extensive. I recommend the Canal experience excursion where you are taken by bus towards the Pacific Ocean and then go by boat through the locks on that side. It is pricey but I guess it is not cheap to go through the locks. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: November 2018
The ship, unfortunately, was showing its age. Buckets were set up in different common areas so liquid that was dripping from ceiling could be collected most of the trip. In the Lido buffet area, liquid was coming up from the floor tiles ... Read More
The ship, unfortunately, was showing its age. Buckets were set up in different common areas so liquid that was dripping from ceiling could be collected most of the trip. In the Lido buffet area, liquid was coming up from the floor tiles and being mopped almost the entire trip. Last two days of the cruise, the ship had a problem with one of the azipods and had to max out the other to get to port on time, which caused an annoying vibration for the rest of the trip. Arrived at port over late 3 hours because of the azipod issue, causing some people to miss their flights Can't say enough about the crew, always cheerful and ready to help. Cabins were nice and kept very clean. Been on Holland America before, but on this cruise talent was not as good. BB King lounge was more like a high school band (singer had great pipes though). Main stage acts, half were very good, others were mediocre at best (Other people seemed to enjoy and would disagree with us). Food was varied and again, unbelievable service in dining and lounge areas. I like Holland America and will cruise again with them, everybody has a bad day now and then. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2018
There is a cruise vacation out there designed for sedentary people - the Zuiderdam to the Panama Canal. If you want to go, you should know that most of the good times will be experienced from a chair. No games on the private island, no ... Read More
There is a cruise vacation out there designed for sedentary people - the Zuiderdam to the Panama Canal. If you want to go, you should know that most of the good times will be experienced from a chair. No games on the private island, no band around the pool, little dancing, not even many slot machine players. Hardly anybody out after 9 pm, even though the late shows in the theater don't start until 10pm. And while the very good BB King Rhythm and Blues band was going strong until late just about every night, their audiences were small. My wife and I took this cruise because of the Panama Canal. We considered a trans-canal trip. But at the time I booked, their prices were going up. So we decided to jump in three months earlier than I have ever booked a cruise. I joke that the ship required me to show my grey hair before letting me onboard. But there were only five children on the ship. And one lady who said that her dark hair came out of a bottle. Everybody else - shades of gray. One of the strange things was the folks with walkers who step out in front of people in crowded hallways. There were lots of walkers on the ship. But not all their drivers were so rude. I don't see carelessness like this in the midwest, even with able bodied folks who want to walk quickly. Avoiding running over them on the ship kept me on my toes. I was expecting great food. It was not to be. Breakfast was fine. Other than that, the food in the main dining rooms was poor to middling. Toughest prime rib I've ever tried to cut. My waiter tried to give food advice, and I should have listened to him. The buffet restaurant was horrible, except for the Asian station which had some tasty Thai dishes. For some strange reason the whole buffet area was crowded at every meal. Speaking of pools. They are deserted on this ship. The mid-ship pool has a roof that was generally closed, and which made the area feel like a sauna (as if the tropics needs more heat and humidity). The rear pool was nice for relaxing, except for the clouds of cigar and cigarette smoke that waft across the waters from the smoking section. Our room steward did a good job cleaning up. But after opening the room door several days while we were dressing for dinner, he really should have learned to check the time. The waiters were okay. The assistant waiter was my favorite employee, but unfortunately his main job was to carry food from the kitchen to the wait station. Zuiderdam, if you are reading this, you need to promote Jaja. I don't go out to bars very often, but the bars on the ship were a lot of fun (though of course, sitting down fun.) Happy hour, one at 4:00 and another at 9 pm, had a buy one get one for $2. There was a wine tasting with an inexpensive glass of wine at 5:00. The hors d'ouevres were always interesting. The customers at the bars were the friendliest people on the ship. Yuliya the lady from the deck 1 bar and also the disco person, always had a story about hors d'ouevres; and she was one of the most genuinely happy and friendly people on the ship. Most of the entertainment in the main theater was uninspired. The ship dancers were a big exception - they were really good. And the highly entertaining steel drum band Island Magic played some excellent classical music (and other unexpected genres.) On the other hand, there were some acrobat/dancers who looked like they should have been on Ed Sullivan in 1965 (I see Topo Gigio every time I think about them.) The poorest evening consisted of some old movie. There was a comedian and a magician. The first night was an introduction to entertainment. And there must have been one other night that was even more forgettable. The ship had several other venues. The already mentioned talented BB King band put on a great show almost every night. There was also a piano/string quintet that was quite good. I really enjoyed the cooking demonstrations; they were full of information. Didn't see any of the Oprah shows, and cannot even imagine what they were about. There was a dueling piano show in the casino. And the casino itself was smoke-free, small, and uncrowded. I've got to tell you about the process of going through the Caribbean locks in the canal. Previously, we had been told to be at the front viewing room at 5 am. Then the schedule was changed to 6. I was there, ready to go, coffee and Panama roll in hand. And the windows were so dirty and foggy that they were hard to see through. But a narrator from off the ship came on to describe what we should have been seeing. His first revelation - the ocean is at sea level. It got no better from there. I went to an outside viewing area at the front of the ship, which was already full of passengers. I waited at the side for about an hour, until ship security ran off a bunch of us. Finally went back to my cabin and sat comfortably on the balcony, while the ship just sat in the lower canal. When the ship started moving, I checked out the view again from deck 3. There was nothing much to see; you had to be standing at the very front of deck 4 to even see the lock doors. I could see nothing other than the lock walls slowly sinking. The Zuiderdam cleared the locks about 10:00. We took a really unusual excursion on the canal. The best thing was that we could actually see the workings of the locks. The boat was running late because we kept having to wait for a container ship to catch up and join us in the locks. In the second to last lock, one of the gates opened and we got through, but had to wait for the container ship to get through. After about an hour, the stuck gate opened. The ferry was two hours late by this time, and the passengers got an outstanding sunset cruise in the Pacific Ocean. The private island had a great beach, but it was disappointing that the ship didn't even put up a volleyball net. Went to an Aruba beach that was pretty dirty, but we made up for that experience by having a great seafood dinner at a restaurant near the cruise port. No other excursions. We had a great time walking around Curacao. In Cartagena the heat was so oppresive and taxi drivers so irritating that we refused to leave the port; but that was okay because a small zoo with birds, monkeys and an anteater at the end of the dock was fascinating (I let a parrot climb on my arm, where he proceeded to dismantle my watch). At Puerto Limon, the ship people tried to scare us into not walking around town - we did so anyway, and it was interesting and safe though rather decrepit; we found a vendor selling fresh made empanadas, a park with a sloth high in a tree, a pretty beach, and the best straw-market of the cruise. I wasn't going to rate the exercise facilities. Then I remembered all those walks around the ship on the third deck. It was great. Never windy. Lots of people out walking. There is a running track on the tenth deck, but it is too short to enjoy anything except the act of running. Embarkation was weird. I had gotten an upgrade a couple of days before the cruise was due to leave. The staff on shore didn't seem to know about it, and wanted to give me the old room. Still, got it straightened out and we boarded the ship in plenty of time. Debarkation was great - we were off the ship maybe ten minutes after what had been predicted. Customs didn't even ask what we were carrying. Other non-cruise stuff. Before the cruise, we stayed at the Ramada Inn Airport - Cruiseport; it is a very clean, classic Florida motel from the 1960s, with impeccable shuttles running from the airport and to the cruise port. After the cruise, we rented a car from Enterprise, who seem no longer to claim that "we'll pick you up", at least not at Port Everglades. Drove down to Homestead to the world's best tropical fruit stand - Richard Is Here. Stayed in the downtown Ramada Inn in Fort Lauderdale, which was every bit as funky Florida as the first one. But like a reminder that nothing is perfect, we ended up enduring four hours on the torture devices that American Airline calls seats. The ports were by far the best part of the cruise. Although having cruised in the Caribbean many times, each of these ports was new to me. I would go back to any of them. Considering that I have paid less for a seven day cruise than what the taxes cost on the Panama Canal cruise, I probably won't cruise through the canal again. And if HAL wants me to go on another of their cruises, they will have to convince me that they have improved their food a whole lot. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2018
This 11 day cruise served up an excellent itinerary of ports that were mostly new to us. Zuiderdam is classy and easy to get around on. No place ever felt too busy or crowded, even the pool deck. This seemed like an adults-only cruise, ... Read More
This 11 day cruise served up an excellent itinerary of ports that were mostly new to us. Zuiderdam is classy and easy to get around on. No place ever felt too busy or crowded, even the pool deck. This seemed like an adults-only cruise, mainly because of the time of year and itinerary. There were probably only a dozen children on board. Embarkation was easy, even though we had made a last minute upgrade the night before. We enjoyed our set dining at a table of 8. Dinner conversation with our new cruise friends was lively and entertaining as we shared the day's adventures. Service at dinner was impeccable and the wine sommelier Edison was quick to learn our preferences and to make very good suggestions. Dinner choices were varied and appealed to both of us as well as the table. The appetizers were particularly good. Some chose from the always on offer classic menu that included American standards. We enjoyed BB King Blues after dinner several nights, as well as the steel drum classical band which seemed to be a hit with the audience. Our cabin was carefully tended to and as requested, we had ice provided at least twice a day. We usually ordered coffee and juice the night before and it was always delivered promptly at the requested time. The excursions were mostly a lot of fun and provided a taste of each port. Half Moon Cay is delightful and offers the best of the Bahamas for a quick stop. The beach and water are exquisite and the food, provided by the ship was quite good for a beach buffet. We especially liked the Tortuega Canals excursion (we saw sloths and monkeys!) in Costa Rica and the City Highlights (with less shopping) in Cartagenia. Both times the guides demonstrated great pride in their countries and offered a good combination of interesting facts and historical background. The Panama Canal excursion on the boat to the Pacific was quite expensive and as such, disappointing. The boat itself is kind of run down with uncomfortable metal chairs and doesn't offer much in the way of shade or A/C. Lunch was pitiful -- I hadn't anticipated much based on the reviews I'd seen, but this was likely the worst meal I've ever had anywhere. Fortunately there were plenty of cold drinks and cheap beer. We tried not to let this get us down and parked near the back of the boat for a good view of the canal behind us. There was no viewing area at the front. We did make comments to the EXC staff on board Zuiderdam as well as Guest Services. In all, we enjoyed our Panama Canal adventure. We are glad that we picked this itinerary and liked the sea days in between to rest up. We also appreciate that HAL offers daily mass and participated a few times. Disembarkation was quick and we took the HAL bus to the airport in plenty of time for our flight home. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2018
This is my second Holland America cruise. The first was last year to Alaska, and it was so much fun I wanted to take another Holland America cruise. I wanted to go to the Panama Canal, so this cruise offered the chance to do both. I ... Read More
This is my second Holland America cruise. The first was last year to Alaska, and it was so much fun I wanted to take another Holland America cruise. I wanted to go to the Panama Canal, so this cruise offered the chance to do both. I made an excellent decision. First...I could not disagree more with those who say the food was not good. I thought it was excellent. Not only did I think it was excellent, but every night I sat at a table with 5 to 9 different people, and every single night every single person at the table raved about how good their dinner was. I don't know where the people who complained about the food were, but in 11 nights of sitting with different people, I never heard 1, not 1, complaint about the food. Second...the ship was spotless! The wonderful, friendly crew were out every night, and often during the day polishing and cleaning. I received a last minute upgrade from an ocean view to a balcony and it was wonderful. Loved it! Third, the ports...I booked 5 excursions through HAL. They were a little pricey, but they offered everything they promised. The Stingray experience at Half Moon Cay, the sailing/snorkeling cruise at Aruba, the horse drawn carriage ride in Cartegena, the Embrera Indian village at the Panama Canal, and the arial tram tour through the canopy in Costa Rica. READ the tour descriptions...if you want animals don't book a tour that does not promise animals! My favorite tour, however, was not a HAL tour. I booked the Shete Boka/snorkeling tour from Curacao Actief through tripadvisor and it was amazing...we had a small group and actually ended up snorkeling with about 100 turtles! Fourth...this cruise was during October...school was in session! I don't know how many families with children cruise HAL during school breaks, but there was only a few children that I saw on this cruise, and most of them appeared to be preschool. Don't expect a lot of children's activities. Also, most of the other cruisers said that they choose HAL because there are not usually a lot of children. Fifth...onboard activities. I would take another cruise just to be able to enjoy the wonderful Lincoln Center Stage performance. A delightful piano/string quintet that performed 2 or 3 concerts every day. This is a program offered between HAL and Lincoln Center and it is fantastic. I loved the piano/singer duet who played and entertained every night and the BBC earth movies offered daily. The best evening show was definitely the steel band, Magic. The others were not earthshaking. Sixth...embarkation and disembarkation were handled very efficiently with very few delays. It is hard to load 1800 people on and off a ship at one time...some people seemed not to understand that there is going to be a wait. Patience is recommended. HAL did everything possible to keep everything organized from having luggage delivered directly to staterooms, having the rooms ready for occupancy immediately upon boarding, delivering luggage to staterooms expeditiously, having assigned disembarkation group codes with approximate times to expect to disembark, having luggage sorted into groups to make picking it up and taking it through customs as easy as possible. All in all, HAL offers a laid back, relaxing cruise experience. It does not brand itself as a PARTY cruise, and those who choose to cruise on HAL are glad it does not. My only real complaint was the America's Text Kitchen. It was fine to watch the different foods prepared, but it seems silly to sit and watch a food demo and not get to sample what was prepared. You may as well just watch it on TV. Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2018
We wanted to do the Panama Canal so chose this cruise. The ship cannot handle the hot weather, the AC when finally repaired (5 days no AC at all in rooms) was still not enough to cool the rooms!!!!!!!!!! Dinning room food was very good ... Read More
We wanted to do the Panama Canal so chose this cruise. The ship cannot handle the hot weather, the AC when finally repaired (5 days no AC at all in rooms) was still not enough to cool the rooms!!!!!!!!!! Dinning room food was very good as expected. As was the food in the Lido. Tours were not very well organized, the usual stickers were not used. We were told just to go to the dock and find one of the in many cases 3 busses which resulted in much confusion. Entertainment was the usual Holland American shows in the showroom. Not great but some of the entertainers brought on board were good. The Oceans bar had a quartet that were very good and I encourage Holland America to not discontinue this entertainment. The room stewarts worked very hard to keep the many rooms clean under their responsibility. Towel animals in the room at night was always fun. Read Less
11 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2018
My wife and I were on Holland America's Niew Amsterdam for its 18-day cruise through the Panama Canal, departing San Diego October 3, 2018 and arriving in Ft. Lauderdale on the 21st. Though we had many good-to-great experiences on ... Read More
My wife and I were on Holland America's Niew Amsterdam for its 18-day cruise through the Panama Canal, departing San Diego October 3, 2018 and arriving in Ft. Lauderdale on the 21st. Though we had many good-to-great experiences on this voyage we also had far too many disappointing ones. Highlights of the good-to-great experiences are as follows: 1. The ship's decor is spectacular, a feast for the eyes, beautifully color-coordinated with attractive furniture, fixtures and (especially) carpeting. 2. Staff universally were dedicated to pleasing passengers. Theirs was a "can do" attitude, always served with a smile. 3. Though a large ship (2,000+ passengers), it never felt crowded and there was never a sense of having to stand in long lines. Even entering and exiting the ship was an effortless process, always well-managed. 4. Even with winds and relatively high swells no one seemed to get motion-sick. The ship was wonderfully stable at all speeds. 5. Entertainment was excellent, especially the five young women (playing two violins, one viola, one cello and one piano) in the Lincoln Center Stage and the two individuals playing piano at night in the Billboard Lounge. The Holland America singers and dancers in the Main Stage also were excellent at their crafts. 6. There were many dining venues. Ratings below are from 1 (average) to 4 (excellent): Food Quality Service Value Lido Buffet--2 1 3 Main Dining--6 2 2 Tamarind--3 4 4 3 Pinnacle Grill--2 4 4 3 Canaletto--3 3 4 3 Sel de Mer--2 4 4 3 There were upcharges ranging from $15 per person at Canaletto to $49 per person at Rudi's Sel de Mer. A value rating was given only to the last four restaurants, which were the upcharge restaurants. The numbers following each restaurant's name are the number of nights we ate there. In total we spent $596 in upcharge costs on this trip. Having one bad experience aboard a Holland America ship is understandable and acceptable. Nothing is perfect. However, we had eight experiences that were disappointing (spa, hydropool, food quality in Lido buffet and Main Dining, smoking on ship, bingo, ports of call scheduled, ports skipped and our excursion-related drop-off at the Ft. Lauderdale airport. 1.Spa services were seriously over-priced and spa staff members were unpleasantly aggressive in selling spa products and services. Spa promotions appeared at first blush to offer real bargains but the fine print said otherwise. My wife and I had two couples massages, both of which were fine for my wife. My first massage was so mechanical in was not at all relaxing, so I requested a different therapist for the second one and she was fine. The first therapist was extremely pushy in selling me skin products, which I promptly returned (unused) three days after I'd purchased them. The spa staff person reluctantly processing my refund made it clear she was not happy with my return. 2. The spa's hydropool was OK but was incredibly over-priced. We were not familiar with the Niew Amsterdam's hydropool but assumed it was as large and enjoyable as the one on the Holland American's Koningsdam, which it was not. At $599 for the entire cruise--no daily pricing offered-the hydropool was a total ripoff. We and one other couple apparently were the only two families naive enough to pay $599 so we had the hydropool to ourselves the entire cruise. 3. If the food in the Lido Buffet and Main Dining had been better we would not have gone to the upcharge restaurants so frequently, far more often than we originally intended to do, spending an unbudgeted $596 as a result. 4. Smoking was permitted on the aft deck of the ship on the same level as the Sea View swimming pools, one of the two pools on this ship. We would have enjoyed using that pool because it was not covered by a roof, and it was wide open in terms of views whereas the main pool was enclosed on four sides. Also, the main pool became hot and humid when the roof was covered, which happened frequently. 5. Bingo was over-priced and my perception is that it was literally impossible to win the large cash prize until the last day bingo was played. Consequently, passengers who played bingo daily in order to try winning the large prize (growing from about $1,400 to about $2,200 at the end) spent a lot of money buying cards that probably could not win until the last day, when numbers continued to be called until a winner yelled "bingo!" I say "probably could not win" for two reasons. First, to cover 24 squares (plus "free") within the first 50 numbers called is mathematically almost impossible. Second, because the ship knew which cards were being played it would be easy to program the electronics of the numbers being called to assure that those numbers ensure no one could win. 6. As readers can learn by reading the itinerary for this cruise, the ports of call are not all that great to begin with. We have cruised on Holland America at least seven or eight times and another 5 to 10 times on other ships so we should have known better than to select this cruise. It fit conveniently into our schedules, and included the Panama Canal, but we could have chosen better. 7. We had more sea days than planned (10 days on an 18-day cruise when we had no opportunity to go ashore, versus 8 days originally scheduled as Sea days). High winds prevented the ship from entering one port in Mexico and in another port (Coast Rica) high swells prevented passengers from boarding the ship's tenders for the ride to shore. Both decisions reflected the captain's concerns for the health and safety of the passengers and crew. Nonetheless, Holland America could have offered some token as recompense for the missed ports, but did not. 8. Because we would be getting off the ship October 21 at 8:30 a.m. and our flight home was not until after 5 p.m. we signed up for a four-hour land and sea excursion, which was delightful. The bad part about it was the tour director, Bonnie, having the bus driver take her back to her car, which was parked at the port, before the driver took 40-50 of us to the airport. When we got to the airport two things happened. First, there were some missed luggage issues, eventually corrected with the help of other bus drivers, because our driver spoke virtually no english. The tour director should have been on our bus, at the airport, to resolve those problems instantly. Second, in sending us off to the airport Bonnie said I was to exit the bus at the third of three stops, but using mainly gestures the driver insisted we exit at the second stop, which turned out to be considerably farther from our check-in counter than the third stop would have been. By dumping us out at the second stop the driver then had an empty bus and could skip the third stop. It was a long walk, up an incline, for me. And if a kind airport employee had not offered to get a wheelchair for my wife it would have been a much longer and tougher walk for her. Overall our cruise had many attractive and enjoyable features. Unfortunately, it also had far too many disappointing experiences. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2018
This was a cruise from Vancouver to Fort Lauderdale through the Panama Canal. The embarkation went very smoothly. I had to fly into Vancouver the day before and there was a shuttle back to the airport, which then took us to the port. It ... Read More
This was a cruise from Vancouver to Fort Lauderdale through the Panama Canal. The embarkation went very smoothly. I had to fly into Vancouver the day before and there was a shuttle back to the airport, which then took us to the port. It took very little time for embarkation, and I was directed every stage of the way. My room was ready as soon as I boarded the ship, which was very convenient. My cabin was on the 4th deck at the very front of the ship, and even though the Pacific Ocean was fairly choppy, I had no issues. I found the aft of the ship as choppy as I found the forward. I actually had a great view from my balcony while going through the Panama Canal. The cabin was kept spotless, the 2 cabin stewards were professional and friendly, knew I was traveling on my own and always had a pleasant conversation with me. It was important to me to feel "safe" as I was traveling solo, and I did feel very safe on this ship. The Lido dining area was actually my favorite because I was traveling on my own and could take my food to the aft pool area and have my dinner in the sunshine! I enjoyed the Pizza on the Lido deck and the serving staff on the Lido deck was professional and friendly. The quality of the food was very good, and I really liked the fact that it was not a buffet, but that there were servers who handled your plate and the food. There were tongs for items such as bread, buns. However I did not like to use them because I know there is a lack of handwashing by many people. My one complaint was that the purell stations were "voluntary" and most passengers would walk past them. So I would use a disposable napkin when I had to use the tongs. I did go to the main dining room for some of the dinners, but found that I was wasting time waiting for my food, while I could have been enjoying the sun and the pool. It is also very different traveling on one's own, then on other cruises where I have been with a family member and the dining experience is more comfortable, as I would have to introduce myself, etc., and make small talk with people who I would never see again. However, overall the food was good, the wait staff were very polite and they work hard. I like the music venues very much...enjoyed the BIllboard pianos, BB Kings, the Lincoln Stage, and attended a few shows, I do not gamble or play bingo, or use the spa services, so have no opinions on that. I also did not go to specialty restaurants. The guest services staff were very pleasant any time I had interactions with the. I did have room service on the mornings I did a tour, which was very convenient, and the food was hot and a good start for the day. We were unable to disembark due to weather or waves, and tours I had booked through the cruise line were reimbursed on my Navigator account within the day. Because I was solo, I booked the excursions through the cruise line, and was not disappointed. Don't forget, one does not have to buy anything at any one of the stores or markets that are included in the tour. I went to see the culture, the scenery, and get a taste of the life of other cultures. I did not buy any food on the tours because I had paid for my food on the cruise. I also took my water from the ship, so beyond a tip to the tour guide, if it was a good tour, my days were very economical. I felt safe having booked through the cruise line that I would get back to the ship. The only place I did not book a tour was Aruba, and went on a local bus, knowing I could get back to the ship on time, as the Island is very small and there seemed to be a lot of taxis about. The disembarkation could have been handled somewhat better, but the process was beyond the Holland America Line because it involved American Customs who only had 2 agents on for the international visitors, who made up the majority of the cruise line passengers. So that really slowed things down. But once the Americans made their way through, the customs opened all the lanes for everyone else. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: September 2018
THE FOOD Pinnacle Grill and Tamarind are amazing, both in quality of food and service. Main dining room and buffet also had great service, but the food was hit or miss (which is to be expected for mass production). Also to be ... Read More
THE FOOD Pinnacle Grill and Tamarind are amazing, both in quality of food and service. Main dining room and buffet also had great service, but the food was hit or miss (which is to be expected for mass production). Also to be expected: the buffet area can be a madhouse at times and finding a table for larger groups can be a challenge. The main dining room was just the opposite: most table around ours were empty on the two nights we ate there. ENTERTAINMENT Billboard Onboard was great fun, especially the request shows later in the evening. It was great to see everyone sing along and have a great time with the two performers. Only caught the illusionist on the Mainstage and was surprised at how great his show was. Didn't spend time at BB King, America's Test Kitchen, or Lincoln Center Stage, but did walk by during performances and all appeared to have standing-room only (Lincoln Center Stage sounded incredible, so sorry to have missed that performance). GREENHOUSE SPA Like any cruise, spa treatments on board aren't cheap, even when they offer special discounts. What's worse is the up-sell on products after every spa appointment. However, we did make great use of the "discounted" spa pass that allowed daily access into hydro-pool, saunas, and ceramic-heated loungers (for $149 per cabin with two passengers). Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2018
Convenient as if departed from Vancouver, about 1 hour from home. Good price as is with most repositioning cruises. Love Florida. Ports were poor. A morning in the industrial section of Seattle was not impressive. Several central American ... Read More
Convenient as if departed from Vancouver, about 1 hour from home. Good price as is with most repositioning cruises. Love Florida. Ports were poor. A morning in the industrial section of Seattle was not impressive. Several central American ports were industrial and not worth stopping at. Huatulca was the best. We missed two ports because the captain chose not to enter because of swells. Received compensation. The ship is beautiful and we appreciate Lincoln Center with classical music evenings and afternoons. One gripe is that nearly every room and hallway has piped in music. I fell like I'm in Wal-Mar. After 22 days one gets pretty sick of the same castratos wailing about love and romance and everything wonderful and hot, hot, hot. Good variety of entertainment but quality, as on most cruise ships, wasn't there. Missed having a dedicated movie theatre. A movie in the afternoon doesn't cut it. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2018
We wanted to do the panama from West to East. We were worried that it might be too hot at this time of year. Yes it was hot but it didn't seem to bother us. We met some people who had air condition problems in their room but ours was ... Read More
We wanted to do the panama from West to East. We were worried that it might be too hot at this time of year. Yes it was hot but it didn't seem to bother us. We met some people who had air condition problems in their room but ours was great. We have been on several cruises before , I know that I would pick this size ship again. You just seemed to get to know people better even though there was still 1100 people on board. We loved the open seating plan in the Dinning Room. Enjoyed the Thermal suite. My husband went to many of the Computer classes and I enjoyed several Test Kitchen shows. The shows every night in the theater were not as good as many we have seen. Although I loved the shows by the Maasdam Singers and Dancers most.. The guitar player Louis S... had problems with his sound so it want that great. I didn't enjoy the Skinny German Juggler. The Ventriloquist with Matilda was very good. the Library ( Explorers Lounge) was my favorite place to hang out on sea days. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2018
Panama Canal was on our bucket list, so we were really looking forward to this cruise. It's our third cruise with Holland America and the other two were perfect. Sadly, this was not the case for this cruise. I would definitely go ... Read More
Panama Canal was on our bucket list, so we were really looking forward to this cruise. It's our third cruise with Holland America and the other two were perfect. Sadly, this was not the case for this cruise. I would definitely go with another cruise/ship line. We had a balcony which was great for the canal portion. The drapes in the cabin were shabby and it took 4 days to fix curtain pull. We had fiberglass blowing out of the vent in the bathroom for 2 days. We lost the use of our toilet for one afternoon! The food was OK in dining room and service very very slow. A lot of lukewarm food. Ran out of our choice of red wine on our wine package so they substituted a cheaper red!! Wine manager said he didn't think that many people would order that wine ! Ran out of after dinner ginger the 3rd day of a 17 day cruise! Water dripping a lot in cafe lines; some table blocked off re dripping water from ceiling. The entertainment was just OK, but bar entertainment was great. Not a lot of activities on board unless you like cooking class and tea every afternoon. They were also varishing the decks everyday (so walking path blocked off each day) and once we had to leave our room because of the smell. They just said give them about 4 hours and they'll stop painting around our room. Front & rear camera was so dirty couldn't see. The shop (yes, only one) was a joke-very boring stuff and usual watches. This was the cruises reply to our concerns: We are grateful that you have shared your thoughts and observations with us, such as the condition and plumbing issues in your stateroom, the odor from maintenance work near your stateroom, the quality of the food served, and the availability of wine on board. We take your input very seriously and have made all appropriate senior management aware of your concerns and experiences for their review, consideration in future planning, and corrective action as necessary. If there is anything additional you would like to discuss with us or follow up on, please feel free to contact our Guest Relations team directly; you may reach us by email at guestrelations@hollandamerica.com or by phone at 1-800-599-8256. We thank you for your loyal patronage, and do hope to welcome you both back on board in the near future. Best regards, I feel this was just a standard reply with no recourse or compensation . Very disappointed with Holland America customer service Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2018
We did the 20 day cruise from Fort Lauderdale to Seattle. The ship was excellent. there were a few minor issues but overall it was great. We had an inside cabin, on deck 6, that was rather small, but we do not spend much time in our ... Read More
We did the 20 day cruise from Fort Lauderdale to Seattle. The ship was excellent. there were a few minor issues but overall it was great. We had an inside cabin, on deck 6, that was rather small, but we do not spend much time in our cabin, and at half the price of a balcony, was fine. the service and food was very good. where HAL suffered was in the entertainment area. I realize that HAL caters to an older clientele. but some sea days were really void of any real activities. Once we hit Mexico the Mexican Ambassadors were great! They danced, sang, did crafts, and lectures. This is what HAL should concentrate on. We really felt like we were in Mexico on the ship. More culture is a good thing! The BB King and Billboard entertainment was great! But the main stage entertainment was sorely lacking. That is our biggest beef with HAL. We put together some videos of our trip on youtube. https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCJfB20GbP44qdu1YCLIjs6w Overall a very nice cruise. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2018
Spouse wanted to transit Panama Canal and this cruise was the right time, ports and price. However we found out Zaandam was coming out of dry dock for this cruise from Cruise Critic, not HAL. It was not ready. Our cabin reeked of ... Read More
Spouse wanted to transit Panama Canal and this cruise was the right time, ports and price. However we found out Zaandam was coming out of dry dock for this cruise from Cruise Critic, not HAL. It was not ready. Our cabin reeked of construction adhesive for the while 23 days as the bathroom had been completely remodelled (looked great, smelled horrible but love the new shower which replaced the tub). The ventilation was hanging and the floor was covered with lumps of adhesive. A fine coating of dust covered the flat surfaces in the room, especially in the closets. Our toilet had issues of flushing fine and then overfilling, once flowing into the bathroom and flooding into the cabin. This seemed to be an issue in port. We became paranoid and would count to 5 once the flush took place to insure the overflow situation did not happen again so we could call immediately, although our phone did not always work. The service in the main dining room was at best uneven. We spent many evenings at a table for 6 at anytime dining waiting for the main course to be served. It did not appear to have enough staff in the dining room. Waiters seemed to have 6-8 tables to work on by themselves with no staff to assist. Food was uneven. My lobster on the first gala night was undercooked but rather than wait another half hour for a new one and delay my dining partners, I said it wasn’t cooked. The Lido Market food was also just okay. The fresh items, such as salads and Asian food, were fresh and flavourful as were the cooked veggies, but the other offerings were hit and miss. Trying to figure out hiw to get served was frustrating as lines were often confusing and non existent, if the server liked you or knew you, they would serve you, otherwise you could get told to go back to the end of what appeared to be an arbitrary line. At least a few times I had to go back to the meat line when all I wanted were sides. With no signage, it was confusing. The cruise director, who was moving to a new ship after this cruise was rarely present at the events we attended other than the beginning of the nightly shows. It wasn’t like many activities were ongoing during the day aside from an evening trivia which was emceed by the assistant cruise director as were most of the sports events. Cruise director seemed to loosen up toward the end of the cruise. The activities such as America’s test kitchen or nightly shows were okay, but once we reached San Diego started repeating for the last 6 days of the cruise. We had expected better. The singers and dancers were good but we had expected to see them more often. The galley tour and backstage tours were nice additions as we the coffee talks with members of the crew. The port talks were informative to a point but outside the venue, the person seemed somewhat disinterested in talking. No pool games aside from ‘swimming in the Panama Canal’. Celebrating Kings day was a disorganised mess at tea when many more people than expected showed up. I evnturally left. Shore excursions were as always overpriced with more time spent on the bus than at the activity. The where when which told the daily activities often had errors as did the online Navigator version for use on a cell phone. This free service allowed texting with others on the ship as well as access to the bill and NY Times for free. A nice try, but inaccuracies meant I often missed the start of activities. I really liked Curacao, (where we booked an independent tuk-tuk tour), Hualtuco (with a beach right off the ship and great snorkelling nearby), and Manzanilla, (with a great fresh produce/meat market within walking distance) best. We skipped Nicaragua due to political unrest which was fine. We did SAN Diego, SAN Francisco and Vancouver on our own and had a great time. The docks in these cities were close to local transportation. The gym was great with what appeared to be new equipment, except for mats. Pilates, yoga and cycling classes at $12 each were available but not for my pocketbook. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: April 2018
We've always wanted to do the Panama transit and Curacao has been on our bucket list for a very long time. Overall, the cruise was pretty good. The crew were amazing!!! The ship is a little smaller so we got to know a lot of our ... Read More
We've always wanted to do the Panama transit and Curacao has been on our bucket list for a very long time. Overall, the cruise was pretty good. The crew were amazing!!! The ship is a little smaller so we got to know a lot of our fellow passengers and it was easy to get around. We really enjoyed the Lido for the late night snacks opportunities. The food is always amazing on HAL but this cruise had WAY too much kale/Swiss chard. Every single meal had this greenery. Blecght! We realize the ship had just come out of dry dock so there were some issues, but the worst of it was the plumbing. Pipes were rupturing and MANY toilets were overflowing or plugged. We were lucky and only had one "plugged" moment towards the end of our trip. Our friends had to move cabins 3 times due to overflowing toilets, leaving sewage on their cabin floors. Another woman, with mobility issues, was told to use the toilets near the library as her cabin toilet wasn't working. Great idea except the toilets near the library were NOT working and overflowing water constantly. Overall we had a great time but the plumbing issues all over the ship were problematic. The entertainment in the theatre was terrible - lackluster, amateurish, repetitive. The crew shows were absolutely fantastic! The dancers and singers were horrible. We walked out of all shows. We really were hoping that we'd see more crew shows as they were truly great. Very talented!! Read Less
Sail Date: April 2018
My first cruise!...And the first question asked by almost every other passenger we visited with was “How do you like cruising so far?” My honest answer each time was “What’s not to love?” ...Start every day with coffee delivered ... Read More
My first cruise!...And the first question asked by almost every other passenger we visited with was “How do you like cruising so far?” My honest answer each time was “What’s not to love?” ...Start every day with coffee delivered to your room; go up a couple of decks to find a huge selection of breakfast items; return to your room to find your bed made; check your newsletter for what you’d like to do today; stay onboard or disembark depending on where you are but at lunchtime onboard there is always a ton of food choices; enjoy a lecture or movie, go in the pool, spa, etc.; dinner is another huge selection of food options and venues, too; and after some entertainment and maybe a cocktail in one of the many lounges you return to your room to find a turned down bed with a mint on your pillow! “What’s not to love!?” Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: April 2018
Holland America 17 day cruise from Fort Lauderdale through Panama Canal on to San Diego checked off all the boxes. As usual food was good to great, housekeeping and dining staff friendly, accommodating and truly attempted to meet our ... Read More
Holland America 17 day cruise from Fort Lauderdale through Panama Canal on to San Diego checked off all the boxes. As usual food was good to great, housekeeping and dining staff friendly, accommodating and truly attempted to meet our every whim. The check out procedure through San Diego was exceptional. Took less than 10 minutes! A few specifics worth noting. Aji and Hendry in dining area were exceptional servers. My husband got a $40 hair cut in the salon and the gal cut his ear as well as the back of his neck using the clippers. Not sure if the gal was not experienced or just did not care. We visited the Tamarind restaurant. We got sushi as an appetizer, Sea bass and a steak. The steak was very good. The Sea Bass was severely overcooked and the sushi was worse than the all you can eat sushi restaurants. Why? The chefs were lazy and cut the vegtables in huge chunks rather than thinly sliced. Each bite was all cucumber as huge chunks of cucumber were in all the sushi we ate. I would strongly suggest skipping the Tamarind. Not worth the extra dough. Our largest disappointment with the cruise is frankly nothing Holland America can do. We are in our mid 40's and the crowd as well as itinerary on the cruise was very mature. We normally enjoy trying a few new things on sea days but the activities were Soduko, Crossword puzzles, listening to pianist, learning how to use email. The two events we looked forward to was a pub crawl visiting the 4 bars on the ship. Unfortunately both events were cancelled due to lack of parcipitation. Now the million dollar question...would we do this cruise again. Probably not unless we brought some friends. For sure a yes in 15 years but the lack of activities for physical able adults was low. We still love Holland America but for sure will reconsider longer duration cruises in the future to be sure cursory activities meet our expectations. Once again, NOT a Holland America issue aside from the smaller comments mentioned above. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2018
We always cruise with HAL as our experience has always been very good. The Nieuw Amsterdam is well appointed, tastefully decorated with plenty of public rooms. We especially enjoyed the Explorers Lounge on deck 11, the baristas make a ... Read More
We always cruise with HAL as our experience has always been very good. The Nieuw Amsterdam is well appointed, tastefully decorated with plenty of public rooms. We especially enjoyed the Explorers Lounge on deck 11, the baristas make a great vanilla latte. There was also a great selection of puzzles, board games and books in this lounge which was well used by the guests. The crew on the ship are very professional and extremely approachable. The cabins are clean, comfortable with lots of storage, and the new flat screen TVS are great with excellent reception and lots of choices of current movies and four news stations. The food in the MDR was less stellar than on previous voyages and although we tend to stay clear of the Lido other than an occasional breakfast, however, this time we discovered that the lunch and dinner selections seemed more varied. The tray of various pastries was a pleasant treat in the Hudson Room (card tables set up). The PA announcements were limited which was pleasant. We absolutely loved the Billboard on Board Piano bar, Andy and Polina were excellent. Also the music in the BB King Lounge was well attended. We caught most of the main stage shows and the majority were good. We are HAL devotees. Read Less
Already Booked?

Get to know who you’ll be sailing with

Find a Cruise

Easily compare prices from multiple sites with one click
Compare and book excursions for your next cruise